The Flying Fool

Charles Lindbergh was “The Flying Fool” no more after flying nonstop across the Atlantic to worldwide acclaim. The New Yorker shared in the enthusiasm, although it tried its best to appear not too impressed by the feat. But as we shall see in subsequent issues, the New Yorker, along with the rest of the media, wouldn’t be able to get enough of the now “Lucky Lindy,” at least until he started spouting fascist sympathies.

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May 28, 1927, cover by Ilonka Karasz.

But that’s in the future. Here’s what the New Yorker had to say following Lindbergh’s famous flight in “Talk of the Town…”

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And from its distant perch the magazine also took some shots at the media hype surrounding Lindbergh, and the usual retinue of money-changers (see title image above)…

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So what was the New Yorker saying about the historic moment? Well, for most of us, life goes on…

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HE’S A GOOD BOY…Still from Movietone newsreel showing Lindbergh with his mother before the historic flight. (Movietone)

…and for those who missed it on TV (because it wasn’t invented yet), they could catch a newsreel of Lindbergh at the Roxy, complete with crude sound effects:

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OH CALM DOWN…A gendarmerie links arms in a futile attempt at crowd control as a mob closes in on the just-landed Spirit of St. Louis at Le Bourget airport in Paris. (parisdigest.com)

 * * *

On the other side of the pond, Paris correspondent Janet Flanner wrote about the Paris media’s complete denial or ignorance of the deaths of their own Atlantic flyers, Nungesser and Coli, who were lost at sea in their crossing attempt.

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 * * *

The New Yorker offered more observations on the Machine-Age Exposition, this time in a column titled “About the House,” by Repard Leirum, which was Muriel Draper spelled backwards. Under this pseudonym Draper served as interior decoration critic for the New Yorker — she was one of the most influential personalities in the American interior decorating in the early 20th century.

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Muriel Draper, as photographed by Carl Van Vechten on July 30, 1934. (Muriel Draper Papers, Yale)

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This model of a radio station by Knud Londberg-Holm was displayed at the Machine-Age Exposition in New York City May 16-28, 1927. (artblart.com)

About Muriel Draper: Although she wrote on interior design for the New Yorker during the late 1920s, she was more widely known as a “culture desk” writer, and was prominent in promoting the Harlem Renaissance. She became active in left wing politics after a trip to the Soviet Union in 1934, and in 1949 she was investigated by the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee and thereafter ceased her political activities.

The Machine-Age Exposition Draper visited had a decidedly socialist flavor with its prominent inclusion of the Soviet Union and its touting of the International Style of architecture. Before it was appropriated by post-war corporate America, the International Style was developed as housing and workspaces for the masses.

A side-note: The Exposition was initiated by Jane Heap, who like Muriel Draper was a follower of the charismatic Russian mystic G. I. Gurdjieff (among Gurdjieff’s other followers were architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the writer P. L. Travers (Mary Poppins) and 1960s counterculture figure Timothy Leary).

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George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, circa 1925-35 (Library of Congress)

Marxists with spiritual yearnings — and especially guild socialists — were attracted to Gurdjieff’s ideas about something he called “The Work,” in which crafts and community life provided ways to cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves and our purpose amidst the activities of daily life.

 *  *  *

And now on to a different kind of Marxism…this odd little item from the “Talk of the Town”…

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In 1927 the Marx Brothers were still known as a traveling vaudeville act–their first feature film was still two years away. But thanks to the vaudeville circuit of the day, an astonishing number of people in cities large and small across the country would see them perform. The “Talk” item concludes with this story that references Henry Ford’s well-known anti-semitism:

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OH THE MOVIES THEY WILL MAKE…The Marx Brothers, from left, Chico, Zeppo, Groucho and Harpo. (biography.com)

Next Time: The Age of Innocence…

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Published by

David O

I read and write about history from the perspective that history is not some artifact from the past but a living, breathing condition we inhabit every moment of our lives, or as William Faulkner once observed, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." I read original source materials, such as every issue of The New Yorker, not only as a way to understand a time from a particular perspective, but to also use the source as an aggregator of various historic events. I welcome comments, criticisms, corrections and insights as I stumble along through the century.

4 thoughts on “The Flying Fool”

  1. I have to admit I thought of the Roth book when I was writing this entry. I will probably explore that further down the road when the New Yorker starts to take less of shine to Lindy. Hearing the shouts of “America First” these days certainly gives the Roth book a bit more prescience.

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  2. FYI, the New Yorker Book of Covers 1925-1989 says that the cover at the start of this post (May 28, 1927) is by Ilonka Karasz. It doesn’t look like her usual work, but that’s what it says.
    I continue to be fascinated by your posts!

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    1. Thanks Virginia, I will update the entry and give Ilonka credit. I agree it doesn’t look like her usual work, but it does resemble her earliest covers, especially in the manner the buildings are rendered. Thanks for reading!

      Like

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