Wednesday, March 14, 2018

63. The Past is Going to Suck! - A Time Travelers Guide: The 20th Century (sneak peek #3)

Note: Peter Wick's new book, "The Past is Going to Suck" will be published summer, 2018. This is a sneak peek at the beginning of the book.

Disclaimer 1: Don’t make it worse!
The history of the 20th Century is all wrong.

Everything we know, all the famous historical events, are all mistakes. They are the result of careless time travelers trampling on the history they visit, altering it, and as a result, wiping out a nearly perfect, idyllic century in which war was nearly unknown, Hitler lived a quiet life as a bad painter, and The Cold War was a TV game show set in Antarctica.

photo credit:  By NOAA (NOAA press release) [Public Domain] vis Wikimedia Commons
The Cold War was a TV game show set in Antarctica

We at the Guide cannot stress this too strongly; please be careful with history. Once it is altered, no one, not even those who lived through it, will ever know any better.
This is not to say that the history of the 20th century didn’t happen the way it is recorded here. It did. It just didn’t happen that way when it actually happened.

Let us try to explain this another way.

This Guide tells the history of the 20th century, but it used to tell a very different history, and that very different history was of the 20th century…before it was altered…

You know what, never mind. We have decided to quit trying to explain this.

The point is, we must sadly accept the fact that the 20th century we are doomed to visit has been permanently changed from a near-perfect age, to the preposterous time that the history books now record.

So, please travel ‘incognito,’ and not ‘interactive’ (more on those options shortly).

Please! People! Do not make it worse!

(Note: look for one more sneak peek before the book is published this Summer.)
-Peter Wick
March 14, 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

#62 - Women Who Have Influenced Me

We live in interesting times.

The wave of change surrounding society’s relationship with women is long overdue.

I’ve been thinking about, pondering, wondering, what is the right way to express my own thoughts on the subject, but it seems that everything is already being said, and mostly being said by women. So, I thought I would take a different approach. I decided I would sit down and make a list – it turned out to be a very long list – of women who have had an influence on my life.

I talk about the men who have influenced me all the time, but I will not list any of those men here. This is only for the women.

It’s eye-opening, even for me, to make this list, and to think about what the list says about me. I am even a little bit worried that people will too easily psycho-analyze me, reading my tendencies, preferences, and psychology based on who I include on the list.

Sometimes I will comment on a particular person listed. Often, I’ll just list names. This would go on forever if I took the time to comment on each name.

Who will you NOT see on this list? You will not see any politicians. Read into that whatever you want. I don’t include any male politicians on my list of male influences either.

Who will you see on this list? You will see a lot of strong-minded, independent, sometimes rebellious women. Everyone on this list has played some role, small or large, in influencing who I am today.

Let’s start with old-school creative geniuses.

Katherine Hepburn. Yes, I admit I’m a bit of classic old-Hollywood film nerd. Lauren Bacall, Meryl Streep (I am listing names in no particular order and allowing some free-association to come into play). Diane Keaton, Jodie Foster, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Natalie Wood, Samantha Bee, Ally Sheedy, Carol Burnett, and Lisa Kudrow.

My mom introduced me to old-school Carol Burnett. Sometimes it was almost as if she forced the 10-year-old me to watch her. She was funny. She influenced me.

And speaking of my mom…

There is no way to put into words….I mean how do I express the influence my mom has had on me? Impossible. I’m not even going to try to write that amazing influence down in English. We would need to invent a newer better language to find the right words for that.

I will address my two sisters shortly.

Chrissy Hynde (of the band The Pretenders), Joan Jett, Janis Joplin. You see, ATTITUDE influences me. Tough women, strong women. Women with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Please do not ask me to explain this in more detail. Like I said you can psycho-analyze me from this list all you want.

Ella Fitzgerald (yep, I’m also a bit of a jazz geek, and she has the same birthday as me), Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Diana Krall, Carole King, the four women in the band Luscious Jackson - Jill Cunnif, Gabby Glaser, Kate Shellenbach, and Vivian Trimble – Kim Deal, Tanya Donnely, and the brilliantly innovative Laurie Anderson.

I would not be quite the same writer I am without the influence of the great Dorothy Parker. I have sometimes ended standup comedy sets by quoting her line, "Love your will drive them nuts." Fran Lebowitz is another writer who has infiltrated my outlook on things.

Athletes…First I want to explain a little bit what kind of influence athletes have on me. Athletes influence my attitudes about difficulty in life. The best ones inspire me and give me resolve. Getting inside the head of a great athlete as they fight to come back from a mistake or a set-back, gives a person hope and inspiration. My sister Becky, a handful of years older than me, ran a state-record High school mile once. I was in middle school. I remember watching her round the last curve of the last lap, far ahead of those chasing her. It was a truly life-changing moment. Of course, records are meant to be broken, and her record didn’t last too many years. Becky then received a running scholarship to college.  She ran for four more years, through college, and then swore she would never run again as long as she lived. Today she is a walker and a hiker. I respect these decisions.

My sister Keren, two years younger than me, has been a soccer teammate of mine. I have played amateur recreational soccer through my adult life, and for a while played with my sister in a coed league in Seattle. One team we went up against included five women who were a year removed from playing together in the NCAA, at the University of Washington. The five of them, along with their male teammates, knew each other’s tendencies and tactics quite well. They ran circles around us…and we had good players ourselves! My respect for female athletes is absolute. Here are a few famous athletes who have had some influence on my outlook and mindset; Jackie Joyner Kersey, Mia Hamm, Martina Navratilova, Michelle Akers, Tracy Austin, Steffi Graff, Monica Seles.

Before moving on I want to say one more thing about my sister Keren. She has been a collaborator, creative partner, partner in crime, and co-conspirator. No, there have been no actual crimes, but she will laugh at the comment and understand why I mentioned it.

The rest of the names on this list will be people you do not know.  Listing people who I have known in my personal life is where publishing this list gets a little complicated. I worry that I should not include certain names because of the public nature of this blog. If I want to be fair and thorough, though, I want to list everyone equally. I will try to set up the personal list this way; This list might include an ex-girlfriend or two. It includes my ex-wife. Most of them are just people who have been good friends at one time or another in my life. Some of them I am no longer in touch with. Others remain good friends today. One or two of them might hold some lingering anger towards me for one reason or another, but I will still be fair and list everyone who has had an influence on me. One of them has influenced me within the last few months. Towards the end they also become creative collaborators. I will not say anything about who is who or who fits what category.

Dorothy Frances Kent, Liz Wick, Jena Shinabarger, Cristina Grigoni (who has a different last name now), Jen Youngdahl, Natalie Vause, Elizabeth Newsom, Nancy Ndlela Papas, Deborah Nash, Liza Warfel (Mae), Roberta Orlandi, Jen Casebeer, Jennifer France Talvitie, and Debra Pralle.

That last name, by the way, Debra Pralle, besides working with me on two films, has also been a co-teacher of mine. We taught film classes off an on for a time, in Seattle, and even though we were officially co-teachers I somehow came away feeling that I was also her student. I learned a lot from her in those classes.

I will end with a few more teachers of mine; Barbara Pleuss, who after being my 6th grade teacher, somehow managed to turn up in High School as my Art teacher. Bonnie Wallace Hoffman, who in my opinion is one of the great unknown Acting teachers of all time. Carol Magnuson, who supported a few creative and rebellious high school students when they got in trouble.

I’m not counting but I believe this list has something like 50 names on it.

I would not be who I am without the influences of all these women.

It is with this mindset that I move on into the new world that is being created.

We live in interesting times.
-Peter Wick
February 14, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

#61 - The Problem with the movie "Hostiles."

Before I attended an industry screening of 'Hostiles' in December, I was sure that the film would have a stronger presence in the Award-season conversation than it has. I think Christian Bale is still a possible 'Best Actor' nominee, but the rest of the film probably will not (and should not) be nominated in other categories.

The fact that I feel this way is a huge disappointment to me.

I had high expectations for the film. First, I should explain that I watch for films set in the old west. Note that I do not call them 'Westerns,' which I will explain in a moment. When I first read that 'Hostiles' was coming, I targeted it as one film I most wanted to see. I looked forward to a film that perhaps did a little bit to address the cultural blind spot that has been our relationship with our Native American brothers and sisters.

I attended a screening set up for film industry people - at which I am certain I was the poorest person in the room - where the film was introduced by Writer-Director Chris Cooper, who directed one film I love, "Crazy Heart," with Jeff Bridges, and one I still haven't seen ("Blak Mass"), In his introduction Cooper discussed his inspiration for making the movie; "The racial divide in our nation," he cited, "which has only gotten worse since the 2016 election."

So, the rationale for making the film was clear; this was to be a movie about racial reconciliation, an uplifting, inspirational story that would address (indirectly, through 1800's western mythology) the possibility of racial healing.

Cooper also quoted the man he referred to as, "My mentor," the great Actor Robert Duvall. "The English have Shakespeare," Duval had once told him. "The French have Molliere. We in the United States have the Western."

I like and respect Robert Duval, but in the 21st century, I disagree with him about the Western as a genre. It is not our Shakespeare. Instead, it is an anachronistic, out-dated bastard genre that died in the 1990's, and was right to do so.

The vast majority of westerns, through the haert of its 'golden age,' (basically the whole of the 20th century) promoted and abetted a cultural genocide that still continues - despite the 'noble efforts' of films like "Hostiles" - and the film "Hostiles," itself, fails on many levels to deal with the core problems at the heart of the history.

History is where we should start. 'The Western' as a film genre is dead. Clint Eastwood killed it off with his 1992 film, "Unforgiven." In saying this, I want to be clear; Clint Eastwood killed off the genre in the best possible way; he recognized that it was a genre that had out-run its usefulness. The mythology had to be torn down. It had to be broken down into its realistic parts, and in doing so, its mytology would never be truly relevant ever again.

So, the genre is dead. All we have left is the history.

"Hostiles," then, cannot be viewed as a 'Western' film. It can only be viewed as a historical film, and as a historical film, it fails.

Being a writer who often has to deal with the Hollywood 'wisdom' regarding prevailing story-telling trends, I recognize the structure and intent of the 'Hostiles' script; personalize the grand issues. Bring it down to a personal scale. Turn the grand theme into one man's personal story.

So...we have a story about one man's change of heart. This is the character played by Christian Bale, and his performance in that context is good - very good.

On one level, it is a well written script. Structurally it is sound. The characters - not all of them....the WHITE characters - are well developed and 3-dimensional. And this is where the problems begin to arise.

In working so hard to develop Christian Bale's character, as well as Rosamund Pike's, Cooper succumbs to that most problematic trap that plagued the entire history of the western genre; he made the Native American characters two dimensional cliches.

As great an actor as Wes Studi is - and he has been my favorite Native American Actor for years - he is given the thankless job of portraying, and - as all great Actors do - developing through performance a thinly written, inconsistent character, who serves as a plot device more than as a fully developed character.

Let's start with Cooper's decision to call him "Yellowhawk."

There was a real Chief named "Yellowhawk," but Cooper's fictional character seems to bear little or no resemblance to the real historical figure, as far as I can research. So, why use the name? Because it sounds like a 'good Indian name' for a character? This smacks of cultural and historical appropriation of the most ignorant kind.

Next let's look at some historical misunderstandings in the film. The film is set in 1892. It is also established that our fictional Yellowhawk has been in prison for the past seven years. It is thus utterly impossible - and disturbing - that Cooper has two characters in a dialogue scene, discuss how Yellowhawk was at "Wounded Knee." This may seem like I'm nit-picking, but historically, you simply cannot get Wonded Knee wrong. It happened two years before our fictional story - in 1890 - and thus it is not possible for a man 5 years into a seven year jail term to have been there. In addition, this dialogue scene seems to suggest that Wounded Knee was a genuine battle, rather than the slaughter of mostly unarmed innocent civilians. I'm sorry, but Wounded Knee should be considered a fundamental moment in our nation's history, and should not be mis-construed for fictional purposes. It's that important a moment in real history.

Finally, I have to address another cliche Cooper falls into; the trap of 'good Indian' vs. 'bad Indian.' (As a side note; I will often interchange the use of the terms "Native American" and "Indian;" I do this in deference to my favorite Native/Indian writer, Sherman Alexie, who has written about growing up "Indian," "We're Indians," he has said, and I will continue to interchange the two terms unless and until instructed not to by someone I respct on the matter.) There are enemy Warriors in the film. They are the ones responsible for Rosamund Pike's character's presence in the film. They killed her family.

Wes Studi's 'Yellowhawk,' and his family play the cliche role of the 'Good Indians,' who end up tracking and killing the 'Bad Indians.'

I don't even know where to being with this. The 'Bad Indians' are given absolutely zero consideration as real people, by the other characters or, I hate to say it, by Cooper as the writer, himself.

In the end Cooper tries to write a story of personal redemption, as Bale's charater slowly comes to respect and appreciate 'Yellowhawk.' It attempts to be inspirational; we can all learn to grow in our love for those we thought were enemies.

But the historical license taken - which really seems to come from historical ignorance - gets in the way.

I had high hopes for the film, but I left the screening feeling a deep disappointment.

In this era of cultural awakening on so many different levels, across our society, it seems that our ability to come to terms with one of our most difficult historical blind spots, is still many many years from finding its real redemption.
-Peter Wick
January, 15, 2018

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#60 - Battles! - another sneak peek, "The Time Travelers Guide to the 20th Century"

Peter Wick’s book, “The Time Travelers Guide to the 20th Century,” will be published in the Spring of 2018, by Azzurri Publishing. Peter is previewing small samples of the book before its publication. This one begins as World War 2 comes to an end:

Before we leave the war behind, we wanted to give you a list of Forgotten Battles of World War 2:

            A few months before the more famous “D-Day,” several thousand U.S. troops invaded a popular pub on the south coast of England. Unfortunately, the pub was too small to hold them, and collapsed. The Americans declared victory and celebrated with the locals by ruthlessly drinking all of the pub’s left over alcohol.

            -The Invasion of Italy:
            Many people do not realize that The Allies invaded Italy long before they invaded France. It is an understandable oversight, though, since the citizens of Italy had already turned against their despotic ruler, Mussolini, and thrown him in jail. The entire country was now in the mood for some Allied love.

            -King Kong versus Godzilla
            One of the most epic battles of all time pitted America’s beast ape against Japan’s terrifying new monster. Don’t believe the claims that Godzilla came into existence only after the Atomic bomb was dropped. Godzilla was merely waiting in secret for his special moment. This epic battle happened on a remote Pacific island in early 1944. It was reported to be a stalemate. Those who witnessed it reported that it was TOTALLY F---ing AWESOME!
Photo credit, public domain: By Toho/Universal Int. (Trailer for the film) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One of the all-time epic battles of World War 2

So…now it was the LATE 1940’s. The United States had unleashed a new era of fear and peril with their use of the Atomic bomb.
The war was over, though.
What to do next?
Start the next one, of course.
The next war was called “The Cold War,” and lasted for more than 40 years.
The Cold War was less a war and more a tango between dance partners who hated each other.
Russia, in helping defeat Germany at the end of World War 2, annexed just about all Eastern Europe, and called themselves The Soviet Union.
The Cold war might be a more fun time for travelers to visit. Why? Most of the serious killing was over. Now it was SPY TIME.
Americans and Soviets began a several-decades-long spy vs. counter spy game, with big name celebrities like James Bond taking part.
Okay, Bond wasn’t a real person, but you see how things were evolving. Instead of living in fox holes and trenches, suffering from disease, and enduring unspeakably harsh conditions, the combatants played cards in casinos, slept with beautiful double-agents, and sabotaged each other’s diabolical plans. What’s not to love?
But we are getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. The Cold War was barely on yet in the late 1940’s.
First Russia had to catch up with the U.S. and build their own Atomic bomb. Once that happened, in 1949, the real fun started.

Stay tuned for one or two more preview samples before the book is published next Spring…
-Peter Wick
November 14, 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017

#59 - The Tragedy of Attention-Deficit Disorder in Goldfish

I read recently that a new Microsoft study found that our average attention span has dropped to eight seconds.

This is down from an average attention span of 12 seconds, 17 years ago, in the year 2000.

Goldfish, the study said, have a nine-second attention span.

The average human, the study says, has a shorter attention span, in the year 2017, than a goldfish.

This got me thinking.

This is an interesting competition; human versus goldfish. Who has a worse ability to focus? Which species is more easily distracted?

Goldfish are winning for now, but it wasn’t always this way…and I predict this battle will take new, unexpected turns in the future, as we battle each other in the years to come.

The following scene (a transcript of an actual moment from a family of goldfish) will, I think, support my point well enough.

Bill Goldfish was a well-respected goldfish in the bowl.
He took care of his family, at least in those aspects of ‘taking care’ of a fish family that the humans didn’t fully provide. He loved his wife Susan, and provided his son Johnny with that tough-love that only a dedicated father can provide.

At least that’s the way he saw it.

Johnny saw things differently.

Bill worried about Johnny. The boy seemed to be reckless, more interested in finding the next quick thrill than in the sensible business of being a good Goldfish.

Bill and Susan also cherished their quiet time together. They would sneak away and swim calmly over to the castle, and stay there for a time, marveling at the castle’s creative design and homey welcoming feeling.

“Such a nice castle,” Susan said, as the two of them swam idly in front of it.

“Yes, nice castle,” said Bill. “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.”

“Don’t they?” Susan asked absently.

“Sure don’t,” said Bill.

“Who makes castles, anyway?” Susan wondered out loud.

“The humans, of course,” Bill said, in that matter-of-fact way that Susan didn’t really like much.

“I know,” Susan said, “but don’t you ever wonder about these things? Don’t you ever try to imagine what it’s like to be a human, living out there, out of the bowl?”

“No,” Bill said. “I do not ever wonder about that. Damn humans! Who would want to be like that? I hear they only have an eight-second attention span.”

At that moment, Bill and Susan’s tranquil moment was shattered by the wild screeching of their son Johnny, as he swam rapidly into a skidding turn.

“Yeeeeeooowwwww!” squealed Johnny, sloshing the entire bowl’s water sideways.

“Johnny!” screeched Susan.

“Stop right now!” Bill yelled. “What is the matter with you?”

“Just having fun,” Johnny said casually. “Hey, look at these blue rocks down here. These are awesome!”

And before his parents could say another word, he was off to the bottom of the bowl snooping around in the blue rocks.

“Johnny, get back up here!” Bill snapped. “We’re not finished talking to you.”

“Blah, blah, blah,” Johnny muttered. “My parent are B – O – R – I – N – G!”

“Johnny, come here right now!”

Reluctantly, Johnny swam up from the blue rocks. He couldn’t just swim straight back to his parents, though. As always, he became distracted by something else.

“COOL!” he shouted. “Look at this!”

“Johnny, put that down! Do not play with the algae! That’s disgusting!”

“It’s cool!” Johnny insisted.

Susan heaved a sigh as Johnny finally swam back in front of her.

“Goodness,” she said. “You have algae smeared all over your face. Come here, let me wipe it off.”

“I’m hungry,” Johnny whined. “What’s for dinner?”

“Goldfish food,” Bill said.

“Again? Why can’t we have something different?”

“Well,” Bill began, sounding slightly sarcastic, “I don’t know, maybe because we’re GOLDFISH?”

“Hey, what would you do if you woke up one morning and saw me floating upside down in the water?”

“Johnny!” his mother shrieked, “Do not talk like that!”

And a moment later Johnny was off again, inspecting the back wall of the castle.

“Hey, did you know there are some really weird bumps on the wall back here?” Johnny yelled.

Bill looked at his wife and shook his head. “I swear, that boy barely has a five-second attention span. Worse than a human!”

“What are we going to do?” Sighed Susan.

“The boy needs discipline. That’s all,” said Bill. “Leave it to me. I’ll knock some common sense into him.”

“Oh, Bill, I worry,” said Susan. “Try not to be too hard on the boy.”

“I’ll be just as hard as I need to be,” he said, and he swam off behind the castle.

When he got there, though, Johnny was nowhere to be seen.

Bill looked to the left of the castle, to the right, up, down. He did not see his son.

Then, out of a small window in the castle’s turret, Johnny came speeding out like a bat out of hell, leaving a swirling wave in his wake.

“Got you!” he yelled at his dad. “Yeeeooowwww!” And he was off again.

Bill took a moment to collect himself. He took a deep breath. Then he turned away from the castle and began swimming toward the small plastic scuba diver, where Johnny was trying gamely to remove the small plastic scuba tank from the diver’s back.

“This is going to be harder work than I expected,” Bill said quietly to himself.

-Peter Wick
October 14, 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

#58 - Pets

This is the last picture I ever took of Bella, earlier this year:

She just made it to the age of 13 this month, before fading away in what I want to believe was a peaceful final few days. I like the picture. Even though it's from her final year, she looks healthy to me. She doesn't seem to show any of the signs of fading that seemed to hit her suddenly at the end.

In her final year she still had the ability to jump, often amazing me with her skill and dexterity.

I probably didn't feed her as well as I could have. Friends told me from the beginning that the grocery store food I was giving her - and her brother Bailey (more on him shortly) - was like a lifelong diet of fast food for a cat.

I'm sure it didn't help that I would often sit with her on my lap, in the evening, as I munched on some sort of chips, and occasionally gave in to her pleading demands to let her lick the salt off my fingertips. I tried to say no most of the time, but I admit that I gave in once in a while.

Bailey was her twin brother. I adopted them as kittens, impulsively, in 2004.

I am using the following 2 pictures without permission, because I am out of touch with Natalie, and I can only hope she is alright with me using these 2 pictures from either late 2004 or early 2005. Natalie has Bailey on her lap, and she took the picture of me with Bella. I think the pictures are a few months apart (Bailey looks like 7 or 8 months old, Bella probably just 3 or 4 months) but they are definitely both from the first year of their lives.

I turned these two cats into travelers. Beginning in 2007 I split my time between Seattle and L.A. before finally settling in L.A full time in 2012. I have to think back and calculate, but I am pretty sure that the cats traveled in a car with me, up or down the west coast at least a dozen times. They were loose in the car, in the back seat. Bailey was always more high strung. It took him longer to accept being in a moving car. Bella, on the other hand, came to accept what was happening after the second or third trip. I remember her settling down into the back seat, curled loosely,looking peaceful and calm, as we set out from Seattle one time. It was quite clear that she knew exactly what was happening, and she was okay with it.

Bailey's life ended with a little more trauma than Bella's. He was just short of turning 10, in the Summer of 2014, when a blood clot found its way through his body until it paralyzed his hind legs.

After her brother passed, Bella's final 3 years chugged along without incident.

I have been reading about the expected lifespan of cats - that Bailey's close-to-10-years equated to about a 50 year-old person.

Bella was on par with a 60-something person.

The end of Bella's run in life got me thinking about pets.

Some cats live to be 20, I've read recently. A 20 year-old cat equals a 100 year old person. 

Maybe I've been struggling with my casual approach to life with Bella. Maybe I worry I could have done something to prolong her life.

I asked my friend Smitty what pet he remembers the most and how long it lived. He responded with this:

"The dog Molly died in 2011 and I think she was 17, perhaps older, as her past was not known. She was found injured in the wilderness by some nice person. Why she was there we don't know."

Then Smitty went on; and if you know Smitty at all, some of this description is absolutely hilarious;

"She was the pet most like me; aggressive, smart, and crazy. She even had a sense of humor. She would growl in a crazed demonic voice, and then 'laugh,' like she knew she was playing."

Outside, walking down the street this week, I definitely pay more attention to people out walking their dogs. I look at the dog, and the person, and find myself wondering about their pet-human relationship. I want to read the pair. I want to get some sense of what they mean to each other.

I could write more about Bella. I could write about how she never let me leave papers out on the desk - she could not resist the urge to sit ony my papers and clean herself on them. I could write about how she would get annoyed with me for shifting my position during the night when she was sleeping on top of me. I could write about some of the car trips, or how annoyed she would get with her brother, who seemed to have rare and completely random impulses toward mild violence.

I could write a lot...

But I'm just going to sit here quietly a little longer, dealing with my fantom impulses to look up where she should be.

Peter Wick
September 14, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

57 - (Very) early preview - The Time Traveler's Guide to the 20th Century - July, 2017

NOTE: The book, "The Time Travler's Guide to the 20th Century" will be published in the Spring of 2018. This is a very early preview of a small section.

In the 1920's the United States banned the sale of alcohol, ensuring that thousands of people from coast to coast would become blinded and disabled by cheap, poorly made moonshine, sold in back alleys.

I suppose this means it is time to start the chapter on the 1920's.


The 1920's was the decade when sex was invented.

Not that people didn't have sex before this. Obviously no one would have existed if humans hadn't been having sex with each other.

And (never start a paragraph with 'and' except this one) Signumd Freud had been writing about how everything is about sex since the 1890's.

But (never start a paragraph with 'but' except this one) the 1920's were the first time that 'modern life' allowed for the excess and indulgence that would finally make sex the hip new thing.

If you visit...DO NOT HAVE SEX!

Just don't.

The youth of the 1920's were called "The Lost Generation." It was the first time anyone had thought of naming a generation. Prior to the 1920's people just slaved away trying desparately to survive. By the 1920's, however, modern life had created so much leisure time that an entire generation had time to get lost.

Let's take a look at a few things time travelers might want to see.

The New York Stock Exchange:

Since computers did not yet exist, all stock trades had to be made by sweaty over-stressed brokers who lived on the floor of the Exchange, yelling, throwing slips of paper around and, at the end of the decade, throwing themselves out of a 15th floor window.

the 1920's was the heyday of overblown stock value.

The market was growing rapidly, and everyone wanted to get in on the action, often borrowing money to invest. When the bubble burst in 1929 billions of dollars were wiped out overnight.

But it sure was fun while it lasted.


The law that made alcohol illegal in 1920 was really just a grand experiment to see if America's organized crime families could get their act together.

The experiment worked besutifully.

People who illegaly smuggled alcohol into the country were called 'bootleggers.' Others, who distilled their own alcohol in makeshift backwoods homemade distilleries were called 'blind' or in some cases, 'dead.' This is because some of the homemade experimental concoctions that desparate people drank were laced with methanol. And even better than that; some desparate people drank paint thinner.

Congratulations! The experiment got results!

More common, though, were the secret underground bars and taverns known as 'speakeasy's.' Every major city had several of them. This is where the smuggled alcohol - usually from that corrupt and overly drunk country, Canada - was served.

Al Capone was the country's most famous smuggler.

(End note: There will likely be another early preview or two of "The Time Traveler's Guide," between now and when the book is published in the Spring of 2018. Watch this space!)
-Peter Wick
-July 15, 2017