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Thread: A Beaux-Arts World

  1. #1

    Default A Beaux-Arts World

    Freedom is merely privilege extended,
    Unless enjoyed by one and all. --Billy Bragg



    A BEAUX-ARTS WORLD

    In French, literally: “beautiful arts.” The art of beauty.

    Architecture in a conscious quest for beauty:






    Can too much ever be just right?


    The Emperor's new palace.



    For some artists beauty is the Holy Grail, their earnest quest. For Botticelli, Wyeth, Mendelssohn, Grieg, Calatrava and Meier, there's never any question what they're after.

    For others beauty is a byproduct of frying other fish. Examples include Van Gogh, Picasso, Beethoven, Bach, Gehry and Foster.

    In the eyes of yet others, beauty eludes certain practitioners entirely. "It isn't even art," some folks sniff when they encounter works by Pollock, Serra, Schoenberg, Steve Reich, Koolhaas or even Michael Graves. What they mean is, they're bored or offended.


    Though we think Beaux-Arts mostly classical, it can also be medieval.





    Is all art beautiful?

    If it’s not beautiful, can it nevertheless be art?

    Is beauty an essential component of all art?” Does that depend on what you mean by “beauty”?

    Or if it’s art, is it automatically beautiful --even if it sets out to be shockingly ugly?

    If --like Penn Station-- it’s unoriginal but beautiful, can it be art?

    Or is it just a great job of styling? Or decoration? Or makeup?


    Or is ornament really crime?




    Beaux-Arts [boh-zahr; Fr. boh-zar]–adjective

    1. noting or pertaining to a style of architecture, popularly associated with the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, that prevailed in France in the late 19th century and that was adopted in the U.S. and elsewhere c.1900, characterized by the free and eclectic use and adaptation of French architectural features of the 16th through 18th centuries combined so as to give a massive, elaborate, and often ostentatious effect, and also by the use of symmetrical plans preferably allowing vast amounts of interior space.

    2. resembling the architecture, architectural precepts, or teaching methods of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris: often used in a pejorative sense to designate excessive formalism disregarding considerations of structural truth, advanced aesthetic theory, rational planning, or economy.

    --Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)


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  2. #2

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    The Emperor liked things fancy. Fancy uniforms, fancy carriages, fancy furniture; fancy rooms, buildings and palaces, fancy cities and lilting waltzes. He wanted everyone to admire and envy his wealth and power; the standing instruction to his suppliers was to put on the ritz.







    The Emperor all by himself took up half the ridge that channeled his mighty river onto the plain. There he builded him a mighty residence. And then just to flaunt his wealth and power he never actually lived in it:



    Even his Empire's moniker was fancy, for it contained the names of both countries the Emperor ruled. Like his British counterpart he was simultaneously King of one and Emperor of the other. But though it was fairly big, his Empire contained no overseas possessions; the ethnic groups he subjugated were all regional.

    He was proof you didn't need a big navy to practice imperialism; you could do it close to home.

    In truth the emperor to the east had a much bigger empire. And a better military establishment --plus a navy-- served the arriviste to the north, with whom the Emperor shared a language and a point of view.

    The Emperor fancied he had spheres of influence. When his Archduke nephew, the Heir Apparent, got shot by an anarchist in one of those spheres, the Emperor started a Great War. Afterwards his Empire was reduced to small shards.



    The Archduke Heir Apparent had acquired the family passion for hunting. He stayed busy, for at his death, he had shot an estimated 5,000 deer. That's one a day for fourteen years.




    * * *

    Digression:

    AN ARCHDUKE'S LIFE

    When he was born, there was no reason to think he would ever be heir-apparent to the throne because he was so far down the line. He got the standard-issue education of an archduke: strict, and with an emphasis on history and moral character. He entered the army as a third lieutenant.

    In 1889, his life changed dramatically.

    His cousin the Crown Prince either committed suicide or was murdered at his hunting lodge, leaving the Archduke's father --also an archduke-- as first in line to the throne. Archduke Senior was apt to die before the Emperor, so Archduke Junior was also groomed for succession just in case.

    In 1895 the Archduke met a Countess at a ball. In a policy that promoted hemophilia and other symptoms of inbreeding, you had to bear the genes of one of the reigning or formerly reigning dynasties of Europe in order to marry into the Archduke's Royal Family.

    The Countess didn't qualify, even though some princes could be found among her ancestors in the female line. Hence the Archduke and Countess kept their relationship secret for more than two years.

    One day, the Archduke left his pocket watch lying on a tennis court at his mom's home. She opened the watch, and was horrified to find inside a photo of the disqualified Countess.

    Obstinately, the Archduke refused to even consider marrying anyone else. The Pope, the Czar and the arriviste emperor to the north all made representations on the Archduke's behalf, arguing that the disagreement undermined the stability of world order.

    Little did they know the world order was due for revision.

    Finally, the Emperor relented, on condition that the marriage would be morganatic, meaning the pair's offspring would enjoy no succession rights to the throne, while the Countess would not share her husband's rank, title, precedence, or privileges. As such, she would not normally appear in public beside him, and she would not be allowed to ride in the royal carriage, or sit in the royal box.

    The wedding took place on July 1, 1900; the Emperor missed it, along with the Archduke's brothers.

    Whenever a function required the couple to gather with the other members of royalty, the Countess was forced to stand far down the line of importance, separated from her husband.

    Fourteen years later, at approximately 11:00 am, the Archduke and Countess were killed by a Black Hand assassin with the euphonious name, Gavrilo Princip. With his trusty Belgian firearm, this little man gave history the shove it needed to start lurching (a little late) down the highway of the Twentieth Century.

    Earlier, the couple had been attacked with a bomb thrown at their car. It had missed them, but many civilians were injured. The Archduke and Countess both insisted on going to the hospital to see the injured. As a result of this, the assassin saw them and shot the Countess, who died instantly. Then he shot --in the jugular-- the Archduke, who was still alive when witnesses rushed to his side.

    His aides struggled to undo his coat, but the Archduke had sewn himself in so he would look less fat. By the time they realized they needed scissors it was too late. He died within minutes of being shot.

    The assassinations, along with an arms race, nationalism and the alliance system all contributed to the beginning of a Great War, which commenced shortly as soon as the Emperor declared it.

    --condensed and adapted from Wikipedia

    * * *

    You can find detailed eyewitness accounts of this event in an Appendix at the end of this series of posts.





    The Emperor lolled atop a vast and layered pyramid of country squires, barons, counts, dukes, archdukes and princes. Like them he skimmed wealth from his underlings' gains. Being on top, he had so many layers of underlings that the wealth was great indeed.

    He would rebuild the two great cities of his realm. These would surpass Paris in magnificence and proclaim the power of his Empire.

    Here certainly was a sign of disposable wealth. When combined with wretched poor folks, it was, however, a bad sign.

    The wealth needed to accomplish his goal the Emperor's civil service would extract from his vigorous and productive middle class, which consisted of dynamic industrialists and managers of a burgeoning industrial machine. Most of these were Jewish, and they in turn derived their prosperity from their wretched workers, who were not.

    Everyone was living on the edge, but only some knew it.

    We want no condescending saviors
    To rule us from their judgment hall,

    No more tradition's chains shall bind us,
    Arise you slaves, no more in thrall!

    No saviour from on high delivers,
    No faith have we in prince or peer.

    Our own right hand the chains must shiver,
    Chains of hatred, greed and fear.


    Oh, it was all so aristocratic...



    No, really it was all so royal:


    The Emperor's matching sets of footmen and his carriage.

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  3. #3

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    Beaux-Arts was the right architecture for an imperial age. It projected might, wealth, heritage and inexorability. It mixed high culture with manifest destiny, pride in heritage with the certainty of a triumphant future. It would plant European civilization in the darkest wilds. And it clearly expected to be around for at least a thousand years; only bombs or developers could put a dent in its granitic piles.

    This architecture of imperial power could be fused with engineering for a convincing precis of Western achievement traceable to Classic times: culture and technology, both ongoingly the best. The humanities and science in bed together:


    34 years older than its Beaux-Arts cousin in Brooklyn.

    More an attitude than a style, Beaux-Arts could be either classical or gothic. Here it's a little of both:


    Parliament.

    Domes are good for projecting power. They can be imperially affixed to virtually any building:


    Basilica.


    Theatre.


    Bathhouse.

    Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
    Arise, you wretched of the earth!



    Skating pavilion.


    Zoo entrance.

    Or you can substitute cones --for that been-here-since-the-middle-ages look:


    Belvedere.

    All willing and able to last forever.

    Two more Beaux-Arts bridges:


    Named for the Empress.

    Its companion was named for the Emperor himself:


    (For the sake of aesthetic harmony, this truss bridge somewhat illogically mimics the form of its suspension-bridge neighbors. Or is it a double cantilever like the Firth of Forth?)

    Though the Empress was also fancy, she was in addition a free spirit.

    Some things even an Emperor couldn't change, including court etiquette. The Empress tired of this and, liberated, she roamed the world until an anarchist stabbed her in the heart with a stiletto.


    * * *

    Digression:

    LIFE OF AN EMPRESS

    Born a princess, the future Empress tagged along with her mother and 18-year-old sister to a resort, where mom hoped Sister would attract the attention of her cousin. The cousin was the Emperor, who was 23.

    Instead of Sister, the Emperor chose the Empress, whom he married. She later wrote that she regretted accepting his proposal for the rest of her life.

    Openly sympathetic to the Emperor's subjugated ethnic groups, the Empress found few friends at court, and --too liberated for her own good-- she adapted poorly to the etiquette and intrigue. Still, she bore the Emperor three children in quick succession, including the hoped-for Crown Prince.

    In thanks, she was denied any major influence on her own children's upbringing; they were raised by her mother-in-law. The marriage deteriorated.

    To ease her pain, the Empress embarked on a life of travel, seeing very little of her kids, visiting places such as Madeira, England, and Corfu.

    She became a celebrity renowned for her beauty, wit, fashion sense, diet, and exercise regimens. She was also known for her devotion to horsy sports and a series of reputed lovers. One of these was a dashing Scot who probably fathered Mrs. Winston Churchill.

    Fair-minded, the Empress tolerated in return the Emperor's own indiscretions.

    She was obsessed with her appearance and directed much effort to preserving her beauty. Diet and exercise helped her maintain a 20-inch waist and reduced her at times to near emaciation (symptoms of what is now recognized as anorexia).

    In due course, a fourth child was born. Afterwards, however, the Empress resumed her life of restless travel, decades of what basically became a walking trance.

    The Empress wrote poetry. Most of it concerned her journeys, classical Greek and romantic themes, and ironic mockery of her husband's dynasty.

    In 1889, her life was shattered by the double suicide or murder of her only son, the 30 year-old Crown Prince, and his mistress. They were found dead in the Crown Prince's hunting lodge.

    Many stories were floated about the pair’s death, the most widely accepted being that the lovers had carried out a suicide pact after Emperor demanded their separation. Crown Prince reputedly shot mistress, then sat by her body several hours before shooting self. Alternative conspiracy theories abound.

    After her son's death, the Empress remained a sensation wherever she went in her trademark long black gown, white leather parasol and brown fan to shield her face from curious looks. Only a few snapshots of her are left, taken by lucky photographers.

    The moments she would show up to see her husband were rare, though their correspondence increased during those last years as their relationship grew both platonic and warm.

    On her imperial steamer, the Empress coursed restlessly through the Mediterranean. Traveling had become the sense of her life but also an escape from herself.

    On September 10, 1898, in Geneva, the Empress, aged 60, was stabbed in the heart with a needle file by a young anarchist named Luigi Lucheni, in an act of "propaganda of the deed," a somewhat targeted form of terrorism. Bleeding to death from a punctured heart, her last words were "What happened to me?"

    The strong pressure from her corset kept the bleeding back until the corset was removed. Only then did her staff and surrounding onlookers understand the severity of the situation.

    Reportedly, her assassin had hoped to kill a prince from the House of Orléans and, failing to find him, turned on the Empress instead as she was walking along the promenade of Lake Geneva about to board a steamship. As Lucheni afterward said, "I wanted to kill a royal. It didn't matter which one."

    While the Empress' role and influence on history and politics should not be overestimated, she has undoubtedly become a 20th century icon, often compared to Diana, Princess of Wales, also a free spirit who abhorred court protocol. She has inspired filmmakers and theatrical producers.

    --condensed and adapted from Wikipedia

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  4. #4

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    The Emperor's easterly contingent of subjects was proud of its barbarian heritage. Descended from cousins of the Goths and Vandals, their country suffered from a shortage of actual medieval architecture. Beaux-Arts architects rectified the shortage with a vengeance:


    Disney done right.

    Conjectural restoration of an actual medieval church, parts of which survived conversion to a mosque:


    More conjecture than restoration, perhaps, but very convincing. Roughly contemporary with St. Patrick's.

    An encyclopedic and somewhat mythical compendium of architecture from Romanesque to Flamboyant, and all dating from the Emperor's reign:



    Good stuff:














    The miracle of arc lamps.

    * * *

  5. #5

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    1890's.


    Domes again: this time on a train station by Eiffel.


    The other main station.


    1890's.

    Daniel Burnham may have made big plans for Chicago, but they were Johnny-come-lately and they bore little fruit.

    More complete even than Napoleon III’s revision of Paris, the Emperor's grandiose building boom reflected his wish to leave the world a better place.

    Stand up, ye victims of oppression,
    For the tyrants fear your might!

    For justice thunders condemnation:
    A better world is in our sight!


    We can be grateful an insubordinate Wehrmacht general saved Haussmann’s creation from the torch; however our boys bombed much of this one to smithereens toward the close of World War II to soften it up for conquest by the Reds.

    By the time the Columbian Exposition rolled around and Burnham's New York Flatiron had proposed and aborted the mega-streetwall, an entire city had been converted lock, stock and barrel to the Beaux-Arts style --save for one enclave of medieval antiquity and a few wretched favelas.


    Eat your heart out, Daniel; check out this vast, fully-integrated, multi-partite neo-Baroque arrangement spanning two sides of a river to a towering bluff. Topography and landscape unified by monumental architectural composition over a vast area.

    Boulevards followed Haussmann's pattern:


    1897: Like the Ansonia stretched out for blocks.


    Dome to dome.


    1900.


    * * *

  6. #6

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    There was, however, this little matter of the few wretched favelas:


    Shades of Washington, DC: from his hilltop perch (background), the Emperor could get a clear shot of some of his subjects' financial condition--even without field glasses-- though the sight might not have disturbed his sleep.

    Then as now privation was often attributed to moral decay.


    Palace top left.


    The undeserving poor.


    Morlocks.

    Arise, you, branded by their curses
    The whole world, the starving and enslaved
    Our incensed minds boil
    Ready to fight to the death.

    We will destroy this violent world
    Down to the foundations, and then
    We will build our new world.
    He who was nothing will become everything!

    Only we, the workers of the world-wide
    Great army of labour,
    Have the right to own the land,
    But the parasites - never!

    And if the great thunder rolls
    Over the pack of dogs and executioners,
    For us, the sun will still
    Shine on with its fiery rays.

    This is our final and decisive battle.
    With the Internationale the human race will rise.





    Shantytown: a settlement of rural peasants in process of metamorphosis. In their next incarnation they would emerge as the urban proletariat.




    1870. Think what hay the gentrifiers would make in this almost center-city place today if it had survived slum clearance --especially if historic district status preserved its general configuration. Supply and demand would drive square foot asking prices to Carmel or Georgetown levels. Every newly-minted Russian billionaire would have himself his pied-a-terre.






    * * *

  7. #7

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    You radicalize a group of people by getting them angry at others.

    When you get the working class angry, you can sell them communism.

    When you radicalize the middle class you get fascism.

    You can radicalize the middle class by directing their anger at the poor or minorities, as Goebbels and Rove knew.

    You can radicalize the poor by getting them mad at the undeserving rich. Sometimes you can convince them that that includes everybody who isn't poor; Castro and Guevara knew this.

    It helps to have a majority to stay in power. In the city, the Emperor's realm was about equally divided between the middle class and poor; he needed the former to play off against the latter. The moment of danger had the potential to arrive when the two joined forces, as they had in France more than a century before.

    Since the middle class took up more room than the poor, the greater part of the Emperor's city looked prosperous:


    1878.






    1879.



    The business and shopkeeping contingent of the middle class was mostly Jewish; business, industry and shopkeeping were seen as not quite respectable:






    The Great Synagogue (Oriental Beaux-Arts, naturally).

    Because some of these folks had the gall to grow humungously rich, they rankled the barons, counts, dukes and archdukes, who saw them as parvenus. Would-be aristocrats ... self-made men ... menaces to a system based on birth.

    So the barons, counts and dukes tried to get laws passed to limit opportunities for Jews, but they failed, for the Emperor's tax men loved the wealth generated by their Jewish industrialists. Some were even given titles of their own by the Emperor; "Jewish aristocrat" ceased to be an oxymoron.

    The barons, counts and dukes had, however, antagonized their natural allies, among whose pampered sons the romantic Marxist message of global egalitarian solidarity now resonated. Bored with the prospect of running a factory, one could dabble in revolution. Why, Engels himself was an industrialist...

    The idle aristocracy resented the Jews who siphoned peasants and the nation's economic base off their agricultural estates into the city's sweatshops. It was getting hard to stay rich without working.

    Meanwhile, the Jews had grown fat off the exertions of their indolent workers, the wretched poor.

    Everybody was a little mad at everybody else. It was the usual dog-eat-dog world.

    The stage was set for things to go horribly wrong.

    Satan loved it.

    * * *

  8. #8

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    Some members of the middle class grew rich enough to build villas out the pioneering subway line:


    Servants in the basement, the new rich above.


    All such places end up as embassy row.

    The newly-opened subway line emerges from the nether realm:


    Opened 1896, the world's second, and the first in continental Europe. The other earliest electric subways after pioneering London (1890): Boston (1896), Paris (1900), New York (1904).



    Eight years after this subway was built, New York emulated its cut-and-cover construction:



    An eerie foretaste of the IRT?


    Right down to the little shallow barrel vaults spanning between riveted girders and a plethora of columns.


    1896.


    * * *

  9. #9

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    Another engineering marvel bored beneath the Emperor's ridge. It was dressed in proper Grecian style:



    New suspension bridges fused two cities into one:







    And vast hotel complexes sprang up to accommodate visitors arriving on the Orient Express. Three hotels of different classes:


    Like a gaggle of McSams?


    * * *

  10. #10

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    It was the best of times.



    The Emperor's second capital flared to dazzling luster on the tail of an industrial comet. Smokestack entrepreneurs fueled a building boom to match New York's, while the glamour and opulence rivaled Paris. A cafe culture emerged:




    A well-known restaurant that today belongs to New York restaurateur George Lang.


    The New York Coffee House.


    New York Coffee House Game Room.

    The city joined London, Paris and Berlin as a locus of cosmopolitan fashion and entertainment. A new opera house was built to rival the one in Paris:





    And boulevards emulated Haussmann's even streetwalls:



    An astonishing tenth of the city's population belonged to one or another level of the aristocracy. Not all could rely on inherited wealth; many had to work as civil servants or freeloaders. Together with the middle class, they formed society's upper half.

    The middle class comprised government employees --who were rarely Jewish (the government discriminated)-- businessmen --who were rarely not-- and professionals --who were evenly divided. The biggest group was businessmen; 27% of the city's population was Jewish.

    The working class made up the lower half of the city's population.

    Together with their peasant relatives in the country, they constituted the proletariat and supported everyone else.

    The Emperor made brief visits to parade about his unfrequented new palace:





    * * *

  11. #11

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    It was the worst of times.

    The industrialists built the usual dark, satanic mills.



    Here the migrant peasants morphed into workers. They became full-fledged members of the proletariat.



    They had machines to tend, like their descendants in today's China:





    They enriched their masters, the industrialists, and they rented hovels from them in the usual slums.





    Labourers, peasants, we are
    The great party of workers
    The earth belongs only to humans
    The idle are going to live elsewhere
    How much they feast on our flesh
    But if the ravens and vultures
    Disappear one of these days
    The sun will shine forever

    It is the final struggle
    Let us gather, and tomorrow
    The Internationale
    Will be mankind!
    CHORUS: This is our final
    and decisive battle.
    With the Internationale
    the human race will arise.


    (You know the tune.)





    From Wikipedia:

    The majority of communist revolutions have occurred in relatively conservative countries, and most of the governments overthrown by communists have been conservative governments.

    Since communists advocate social equality, they are theoretically opposed to monarchy, aristocracy, and other forms of hereditary privilege. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the young communist movement was at odds with the traditional monarchies that ruled over much of the European continent. At the time, monarchists were the most prominent anti-communists, and many European monarchies outlawed the public expression of communist views.

    Monarchists viewed inequality in wealth and political power as resulting from the natural order of things, and they believed that kings and emperors had the right to take any steps necessary to prevent the spread of ideas that threatened this natural order.

    However, the Great War shattered the balance of power in Europe, and delivered a fatal blow to traditional monarchy. Kings and emperors drew their legitimacy from their image as wise protectors of the people and stewards of the country. It was assumed that the king always knew best, and that the king's judgment was, if not infallible, at least better than the judgment of the common people.

    But the Great War, which had been started by the kings of Europe, brought death and misery on a scale never before seen. The image of the king as a wise ruler was replaced by the image of the king as a detached fool who knew nothing of the suffering of his people. The old European monarchies were overthrown in a series of revolutions and military engagements. The most conservative European monarchy, the Russian Empire, was replaced by the communist-run Soviet Union.

    --condensed and adapted from Wikipedia





    * * *

  12. #12

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    Architecture discovered it was the Twentieth Century before that fact dawned on politics.

    The massing may be Beaux-Arts...



    ...but the treatment is Art Nouveau:



    And the hero is capitalist:



    As in Brussels, Paris or Vienna, the step from Beaux-Arts to Art Nouveau was nowhere near as big as art historians like to claim; you just squeezed out the Greek and Roman precedent for ornamental inspiration and substituted seaweed.



    Other architects followed Loos into hard-edged severity. A small step from this to Mussolini's designers or the New Deal:



    And can you see the beginnings of the flat bas-reliefs so favored by the re-classicizing aggrandizers of tyrannies to come. Hitler and Stalin could agree to like this one, I think:


    1913, the Eleventh Hour.

    And finally, full-tilt Sezession. Taut, Behrens, Wagner, Loos (and maybe even MacIntosh and Wright) would have applauded this one:


    Exactly the kind of thing the Post-Modernists liked to revive (much later).

    "Ornament is crime," intoned the puritanical Adolf Loos, presaging Modernism's aesthetic and political leanings. Working class architecture, affordable housing for noble workers:


    1913.

    And a whole city of it as proposed for the slum at the foot of the Emperor's ridge. Here the precedent is Tony Garnier's utopian-socialist Cité Industrielle:


    Note Emperor's Palace anomalously perched on hill at upper right.

    They tore down the slum, alright, but they left it as parkland. Hardly anyone visits:



    * * *

  13. #13

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    Corbusier was imminent. His romantic leftist politics were also stirring. Just a matter of time:


    1919: "World Proletarian Fellowships."

    After the Emperor's Great War, the Twentieth Century arrived.


    "Red soldiers forward."

    After the Armistice, liberal Socialists and devotees of Lenin filled the vacuum left by the Emperor's defeated government. In one shard of the Emperor's shattered realm, the Communists were led by a scion of the educated bourgeoisie, the recreational bolshevik Bela Kun, who --to seem less Jewish-- had changed his name from Kohn:



    Like his counterpart in Russia and his later emulator in Germany, Kun bamboozled the well-meaning liberal majority government into letting him take over with an offer to restore order. This he could plausibly promise because he maintained a largish gang of thugs in uniform-colored shirts. The thugs were anxious to better themselves, so they beat some people indiscriminately to inspire respect, and murdered others --though in fairly modest numbers.

    Because the "government" had consisted chiefly of dreamy liberals, Kun and his cronies were able to take charge.

    They enjoyed themselves enormously. They had a country to play with.


    Kun (Kohn) and cronies.

    His cohorts were mostly intellectuals. Kun and 32 of the 45 communist leaders were Jewish --sons of the industrious middle class businessmen who had created the country's wealth by exploiting the very workers whom the industrialists' sons were claiming now to champion. Their hearts bled crocodile tears.

    The situation was Oedipal, a generation gap similar perhaps to the one that opened in Sixties America. Comfort and economic security enable dad's sons to utopian rebellion.

    Inspired by Lenin, Kun instituted secret police and a tragicomic terror which he dubbed a "revolution" --though it was really a coup d'état.

    He and his friends never really succeeded in radicalizing the docile working class, but they did inadvertently radicalize the rest of society, which subsequently directed its backlash at Jews.

    Kun was an obnoxious and murderous little creep. His "government" collapsed after 133 days and 590 executions, deposed by an invading foreign army that no one was willing to fight (shades of the 1871 Commune of Paris?).

    Kun fled to Russia, where he organized a few massacres and made lists of people for Lenin to have killed. Lenin eventually came to despise him, and Stalin had him taken out and shot.

    The invading foreign army withdrew, a short period of anarchy followed.

    And then...

    * * *

    Help arrived on a white horse.


    Late 1919.

    Entering on such a creature, the Regent took the country's reins on his Emperor's behalf. But there was no Emperor, for he had died during the Great War he'd started; and his successor had been deposed by victorious Allies.

    Nevertheless a Kingdom was decreed, and the Regent appointed himself the King's surrogate.

    You could think of the Regent as a kind of proto-DeGaulle. After the foreign army had deposed the farcical commies, he rode in triumph into town:


    1919..

    He was a laissez-faire dictator who antagonized almost no one, so folks were content to have him around as long as he wanted.

    He could often be found parading around in the company of fancy troops. It was one of his ways of staying popular, it made his countrymen feel better about losing two-thirds of their territory, and it showed he wasn't too afraid of getting killed. Combined with a moderate manner and an avuncular look, this made him seem less like a dictator.


    1930.



    Also, calling himself "regent" was cagey; it implied he was only a temporary caretaker. In truth, he was not so different from the late Emperor, but without a pedigree (the Great War had made these superfluous). He hung around for 25 years, during which time his capital's boulevards, shops and women again came to rival those of Paris:





    * * *

  14. #14

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    Not so secretly, the Regent harbored an ambition to pass his position to his son (temporarily, of course).

    And like the Emperor, the Regent enjoyed fancy uniforms:


    Normally he wore one himself.


    In the course of his Regency, however, fashion in military headgear changed. And now others rode white horses. You could see where this was headed:


    1939.

    Some folks in the neighboring country were again mad at Jews; they inspired some to emulation in the Regent's land, where some folks had never quite forgiven the murderous punk commies for being Jews. After the Great War resumed for Round Two, the Regent's days were numbered:



    There were several reasons for this. One was that the Regent could see who would win the War and was secretly negotiating to surrender to the British, who were seen as potentially benign conquerors. Another was that being only casually anti-semitic, the Regent was not especially keen to kill Jews. They kept the factories running and the country prosperous, and they were 27% of his capital's population.

    For a while they were only lightly persecuted.

    But then the Regent's masters brought him to heel. They sent an agent to kidnap his son, and he caved.

    After that, the deportations began, and the 27% was decimated.


    1940.

    And the next step followed logically:





    No more Regent, no more pretense of autonomy.

    Shortly, the Emperor's elegant city turned battleground. Lasting months, the siege was the War's longest urban battle.




    * * *

  15. #15

    Default



    The Storm Troopers blew up all the bridges and refused to leave. The battle for the city commenced:





    The USAF and the RAF wrecked 80% of the Emperor's buildings, including his palace.



    Caught in the crossfire, citydwellers were buried in the streets, while starving horses foraged for food:


    Citizens' graveyard with starving horse.

    You were lucky to find a horse; you could carve it up and eat it:



    Folks who tried to escape the siege were mowed down at city's edge by the surrounding Red Army, which fought its way into the city street by street:



    Of all Europe's major cities, only Dresden, Berlin, Warsaw, Coventry and Rotterdam were more utterly destroyed.



    Ever idealistic, the liberal Socialists thought they could soften Bolshevik hearts with demonstrations of women:


    "All we are saying is give peace a chance"?

    Unmoved, the freedom-loving Russians engaged in the customary pillage and rape. An estimated seventy percent of the city's girls and women were raped. Many committed suicide.


    Victorious liberators.

    From a Swiss embassy report:

    "The worst suffering is due to the rape of women. Rapes --affecting all age groups from ten to seventy-- are so common that very few women have been spared. They are sometimes accompanied by incredible brutalities. Many women prefer suicide to these horrors ... The misery is made worse by the sad fact that many Russian soldiers are diseased and there are absolutely no medicines."

    * * *

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