Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Cap'n's Cabaret #68: The Shock of the New!!

Shock! Riot! A new and scandalous breed of "Modern" artists are violating the ancient rules of beauty!!

Broken forms, harsh lines, dissonant sounds...will 1913 become the year that art died?!  Some are saying as much as radical new painters like Marcel Duchamp and Picasso and discordant conductors like Igor Stravinsky break all the bounds of art and produce chaotic works with little to no connection to the established rules of the ancient masters.

Take Duchamp's radical new painting Nude Descenting a Staircase (#2), which shocked the denizens of New York City at the recent and already infamous "Armory Show".  It depicts a broken blur of a figure which seems to be at all points of her descent at once. This one offends on many levels. First off is the shock of the title alone: painting has rules, and one of which is that nudes should be seated, or prone, or...well certainly not descending a staircase!  Nudity...in motion?  The horror!  Next the tangled mess of lines and shapes, as if the movement of the figure was broken down into component parts and superimposed on a single canvas.  Nudity in motion without any sense of eroticism? Sacrelige!

Well, give it one thing, it certainly is...dynamic!

This shocking new trend in art is certainly not limited to painting either.  Take tonight's musical guest, the strange master of the discord of the primitive, Igor Stravinsky.  Already rather infamous for his bizarre, dissonant Firebird, his latest orchestral foray has taken an even greater step into the world of the ancient primitive, the Rite of Spring.  This singular work of what we will still grudingly classify as "classical" music harkens back to the primitive, bloody sacrifices of tribal peoples.  it features strange, off-beat ballet that invokes the stuttering pagan dances of the wild men, accompanied, of course, with moaning woodwinds and pounding drums. 

Audiences were not pleased.  When this work debuted this last April at the new Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, the crowd grew so angry and violent that the performance had to be halted to preserve the safety of the performers and audience alike! 

Be warned: we present for you today the opening, which we provide to you for the sake of information.  The Record Cabaret takes no responsibility for the shock and anger these sounds may induce in the casual listener!


Will this, as the European radicals hope, redefine artwork? Will these new asymetrical, broken-formed "Cubist" and "Futurist" movements or the dissonant new primitivity in music be the harbingers of a new way of thinking about art? We'll see. It should be interesting either way.

And what does the Cabaret, this "radical hotbed of miscegenation and perversity" as some have called it, think of these shocking new trends in art?

Well, what do you think, pops?


Have an appropiately-bizarre Monkey Gland Cocktail:


Monkey Gland Cocktail:

[image from voronoff.wordpress.com]

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1/4 oz Grenadine
  • Dash of Absinthe

Swirl Absinthe in a dry cocktail glass, discarding excess.  Shake other ingredients well over ice and strain into coated glass.  garnish with an orange twist.  [Author's note: yes, this 1920's cocktail post-dates the setting of the article. Flagrant anachronism in a historical setting! The shock!! The horror!!!]

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Comment by Cap'n Tony on March 21, 2013 at 10:31am

Actually, Docneg, Warhol and the Beatles made hardly a stir by comparison.  Andy painted soup cans as a commentary on commercialization which rich Manhattanites paid out the ass for.  They were displayed in top museums the world over the years they were produced.  Duchamp signed an actual urinal and submitted it to an art show in a not-so-subtle commentary on the art world. It was thrown angrily in the trash and is lost forever. The Beatles caused swarms of screaming young girls to mob the stage in excitement.  Stravinski caused an actual physical riot in a crowded concert hall and he and his performers had to be evacuated for their own safety. 

Even Punk and Gangsta Rap and Death Metal hardly made such a stir. The 1910's were such a shockingly transformative decade in art between Cubism, Futurism, and Dada it's hard to find a true comparison from our lifetimes.

Comment by Docneg on March 20, 2013 at 12:18am

I hope all those shocked people passed on before Andy Warhol and The Beatles came along.

Comment by Cap'n Tony on March 17, 2013 at 10:18pm

Oooh...I like! It's like a liquid time bomb!

Thanks, Ed!

Comment by Ed Lacy on March 17, 2013 at 9:30pm

The shock!! and the horror!!! were certainly still disturbing the pre-modern sensibilities of Americans and Europeans throughout the 1920s. You may need that Monkey Gland (with healthy dashes of absinthe) to deal with the reactions. You might even need Fire in the Mouth:

1 oz whiskey,

1 liqueur cherry, rolled in cayenne pepper powder

1/4 oz red (sweet) vermouth

1/4 oz strega

1/4 oz Alkermes: Alkermes | Seeing and Savoring

honey (in a squeeze bottle works best)

In an absinthe glass or cocktail glass, insert the cayenne cherry in the bottom and add the whiskey. Then add a layer of honey to seal in the whiskey and cherry. Next gently pour in the remaining liquids. Garnish with a blood orange wheel.


(See La Cucina Futurista, by Marinetti for more information. There was an English translation in print a few years ago.)

Comment by Tome Wilson on March 17, 2013 at 4:17pm


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