Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

John L. Sands's Articles (21)

I Can't See My Bass Player!

Jazz is a language. The live performance of jazz engages an audience in a conversation that is both interactive and communicative. The audience benefit in a live concert is enhanced by the spontaneity and body language of the group.

In the jazz ensemble it is impossible for musicians to communicate vocally. It would ruin the moment for the leader to shout, "CODA!" over the music.(although it is acceptable for Count Basie to say, "One more time" at the end of a…


Added by John L. Sands on September 17, 2013 at 11:00pm — 1 Comment

A Stab in the Dark - The Night Pistol

On the subject of rare variants of Georg Luger's pistols, consider his flashlight assisted pistol. Today there are two of these known to exist. They were used by the personal bodyguards of Adolph Hitler and were called the "Night Pistols." Besides illuminating the darkness, they were loaded with tracer rounds which made them an awesome and terrifying night…


Added by John L. Sands on April 10, 2012 at 3:00pm — 1 Comment

The Toggle-Lock Pistol

On my 16th birthday I was awarded a California Driver's License and my father gave me a 1949 MG Midget. The only things I loved as much as sporty cars were classic firearms.The first place I drove was to a gun shop in Culver City,Ca. It was called Martin B. Retting's "Ye Old Western Hunter." This was 1956 and at this time Retting was a major collector and the gun shop…


Added by John L. Sands on April 3, 2012 at 8:00pm — 6 Comments

Russian Retro-Future

Tehnika Molodezhi

The Soviet era (1918-1991) was a time of huge upheaval, but was also a period that produced some of the most radical and memorable printed…


Added by John L. Sands on December 1, 2011 at 9:30pm — 7 Comments

Another Classic British Marque - HRG


 My first automobile was a 1947 MG-TC Midget Roadster. The 1947 had skinny 19" wire wheels and my dad called it,"a coffin on four harps." It had sweeping mudguards with "top of the wing" mounted trafficators and Lucas headlamps mounted between the wings and the bonnet. It was British…


Added by John L. Sands on November 25, 2011 at 10:30pm — 1 Comment

The Egg with a Classy Chassis

Picture us in 1934 on the streets of St.Louis, Missouri. The most noticeable automobiles are works of art with massive pointy grills and huge engine compartments. The headlights are mounted between the radiator grille and the sweeping fenders. The most advanced design seems to be the 1934 Ford with a 60hp V8.

Suddenly we spot a bold breakthrough in design. It is our…


Added by John L. Sands on November 20, 2011 at 7:30pm — 1 Comment

Radiola, the Box that Glowed

Before we could have wireless sets in the home, we first had to have a broadcasting station to listen to. Most radio historians assert that radio broadcasting began in 1920 with the historic broadcast of KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.  Few people actually heard the voices and music which were produced because of the lack of wireless receivers at that time.…


Added by John L. Sands on November 14, 2011 at 6:00pm — 4 Comments

Purambulator of Death - 1915

The Lebedenko Netopyr (Нетопырь, bat) Tzar Tank (1915)

Throughout the history of armor one lesson was learned early on: it is easier to hold the line than to attack. A defensive position always has an advantage over an offensive one. An attacking side needs protection. There were armored vehicles invented for that purpose, but they were useless on bad roads…


Added by John L. Sands on November 12, 2011 at 7:00pm — 5 Comments

Pilot's Lounge, 1950


A group of the usual US Air Force pilots are at a table near the bar. One of them sits at the old upright piano and starts up a favorite drinking song:



"No! Don’t give me…


Added by John L. Sands on November 10, 2011 at 5:30pm — 3 Comments

Metamorphosis - From Moth to Dragon

It started as a moth and evolved into a dragon.

Under the steady guidance over four decades, pioneer Geoffrey de Havilland, designed and crafted sturdy and reliable aircraft that changed…


Added by John L. Sands on November 8, 2011 at 9:00pm — 6 Comments

Stored in an Old Brownie Camera 1941

I received a startling email this morning from Noella1B@aol.com. My first thought was to post it as a photo album, but it tells such…


Added by John L. Sands on November 8, 2011 at 11:30am — 7 Comments

A Flight of Silver Arrows

At the start of 1933, Grand Prix racing was dominated by French and Italian marques. Nothing could win against Bugatti, Alpha Romero and Maserati. Adolph Hitler had just risen to the position Chancellor of Germany, and one of his first directives was that the Germans should dominate world auto racing. To be beaten by the French was intolerable to the German…


Added by John L. Sands on November 2, 2011 at 8:30am — No Comments

The Strange Case of the "Midnight Ghost"

Duesenberg ceased production in 1937 after Cord's financial empire collapsed. However, between 1937 and 1940, one automobile put the final touch to this historical marque. It it took three years to complete both the tailor-made interior and futuristic body. By command of the owner, it was to be painted in a two-tone grey paint scheme so it would look like a ghost in the…


Added by John L. Sands on October 30, 2011 at 8:00pm — 6 Comments

The Highest Alto

Although the alto saxophone has never been the popular solo instrument that the tenor has, it has created a few jazz giants. The great ones from the Dieselpunk Era include Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, Charley Parker and Cannonball Adderley. This article will introduce you to Johnny Hodges whose friends and fans called, “Rabbit.” He was the artist that took an…


Added by John L. Sands on October 28, 2011 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Harmony with Machines

One of the keynotes of our Dieselpunk subculture would be the visit to the auto factories of Detroit by the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, Rivera arrived in Detroit, where, at the behest of Henry Ford, he began a tribute to the American worker on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts.…


Added by John L. Sands on October 25, 2011 at 1:30pm — 5 Comments

The Tube that went Spro-ing!

The history of armor development has been plagued by the simultaneous development of armor-piercing projectiles. When I was eleven years old my family visited the American Museum of Natural History(the Met) in New York City. The most impressive exhibit was a 1700 pound pull crossbow that had a winch to draw the cable back and had to be fired from the prone position. It was from the year 1200 and was the predecessor of the ballista. Its bolt would skewer four armored horses…


Added by John L. Sands on October 20, 2011 at 10:00pm — No Comments

Lifting the Fog of War

“War is an area of uncertainty; three quarters of the things on which all action in War is based on are lying in a fog of uncertainty to a greater or lesser extent.”

-Carl von Clausewitz,1806

The two ways of gaining situational awareness in wartime are to scout on the ground from a hidden building or hilltop, or use an aerial observation platform. The view from the sky is the far superior of the two.



Added by John L. Sands on October 17, 2011 at 2:30pm — 1 Comment

The Dog That Got in "Der Fueher's Face"

The German people, including Adolph Hitler, are not known as a people having a sense of humor. There were jokes about Der Fueher told in secret by the Germans(1) knowing that if the Secret Police, the Hitler Youth, or members of the Nazi party overheard them, the teller would disappear forever. People knew you did not joke or make fun of Hitler. He was known to fly into a rabid range when he heard of anything that would shed a bad light on his dogma or his person. His retribution was swift…


Added by John L. Sands on October 15, 2011 at 5:30pm — 1 Comment

The Sparrow and the Whale

The Sparrow

The Curtis F9C-2 Sparrowhawk is a very small fighter(nicknamed a parasite fighter) that was constructed in 1930. Although the Sparrowhawk was armed, its primary duty was reconnaissance, and it provided the ships it served with a much wider search area. But wait, what is that ugly structure on the upper…


Added by John L. Sands on October 14, 2011 at 3:30pm — 2 Comments

The Lineage of the Black Widow


This account comes from a friend of my father who influenced my early life and is fondly remembered today. John K. (Jack) Northrop was a true pioneer and futurist.  He invited my family to the maiden voyage of the YB-49 Flying Wing Bomber (1949) which is the first time I ever saw a jet airplane. He introduced me to the hobby of plastic modeling, and guided me to getting a BS in Aeronautical-Astronautical Engineering at Northrop Institute of…


Added by John L. Sands on October 13, 2011 at 3:30pm — 3 Comments

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