October 23, 2010

My nostalgia sweetspot

Aviation art is this remarkable little corner of the art world. Quite a few representational painters make a decent living painting war birds from days gone by.

I was at an Arby's in Orange County on Monday, where the owner had put on the wall paintings by a fellow named Stan Vosburg depicting Southern California in 1944-1948, with an emphasis on locally manufactured warplanes and on affordable family formation, such as mpressing the Night Shift (note to pilot: flirt equally with the babe in the Barbara Stanwyck slacks carrying the tool kit; you do not want to get on her bad side in she has to repair her plane); Twin Tails and Carrot Tops featuring my Dad's old plane, the P-38 Lighting; I Shooting Star of the 94th featuring what looks like a young me shooting at the Shooting Star jet; and The Spider and the Fly featuring the ominous P61 nightfighter. It's all about a half generation before my time, but I can relate.

Kicking Axis butt and kicking off the SoCal Baby Boom.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

OT: Steve, you HAVE to post on this. Really striking and amazing (and somewhat scary) video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OTSQozWP-rM

James Fallows, one of the bien pensants at the Atlantic, somewhat grudgingly acknowledges this as introducing a new theme in US politics (or taking an existing one to a higher volume)

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/10/the-phenomenal-chinese-professor-ad/64982/

CK said...

Serious question. How long is a generation? Is there an accepted definition? Is a generation constant?

Laban said...

UK equivalents were more class-based:

She sat with a Warwick Deeping,
Her legs curl'd round in a ring,
Like a beautiful panther sleeping,
Yet always ready to spring.

Tweed on her well-knit torso,
Silk on each big strong leg,
An officer's lady - and more so
Than those who buy off the peg.

More cash than she knew of for spending
As a Southgate girl at home,
For there's crooning and clinging unending
For the queen of the girls at the 'drome.

Beautiful brown eyes burning
Deep on the Deeping page,
Beautiful dark hair learning
Coiffuring tricks of the age.

Negligent hand for holding
A Flight-Lieutenant at bay,
Petulant lips for scolding
And kissing the trouble away.

But she isn't exactly partial
To any of that sort of thing,

So maybe the Air Vice-Marshal
Will buy her a Bravington ring.

TH said...

Those are pretty cheesy.

Anonymous said...

Nice paintings. Reminds me of my 60's youth in lower Delaware. As a very young lad the old B-25's would do low level fly by's doing their mosquito control spraying (probably DDT). We could see the pilots and wave. My best buddy's father was a WWII P-38 pilot in Europe. My other friend's was B-24 tail gunner. He called them a bucket of bolts.

Frank

Marlowe said...

Reminds me of Soviet realist paintings, except with the American sentimental romantic gloss. Of course, in Soviet version, woman would be pilot, mechanics men, plane a Yak-9.

Tanstaafl said...

You have a background in marketing. Has it occurred to you that the emotional appeal you're feeling is exactly what was manipulated to sell a fratricidal war (at least on the European front) to an overwhelmingly isolationist public? One of the long-term consequences of that war is that the California you love has been invaded, colonized, and ruined by aliens.

Carol said...

Ah, I like these pictures too. I spent my first few years next door in Eagle Rock, and I remember lots of planes like the P-38 flying east overhead in formation, the noise rumbling around the little ER valley. But at the time I was told they were "flying boxcars" so I guess that would be the C-5?

It was circa 1955 but the war still rumbled on in not-to-distant memory.

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed that you didn't notice the error in the text accompanying "Twin Tails and Carrot Tops"

It refers to supercharged Allison engines. But as everyone knows the engines on the P-38 were not supercharged but rather turbocharged. This difference had many implications.

The Allison engine was like almost all aircraft in line engines a V-12. It was almost exactly the same size as the famous British Rolls-Royce Merlin engine that powered the Spitfire. But this very American design was superior in many ways not the least of which was lower part count leading to greater reliability.

The big difference however was that the American government decided early on to that Allison would focus on turbocharging rather than the more common supercharging. The technical difference being that a turbo captures waste energy from the exhaust while a supercharger is powered by a parasitic drive off the engine's output.

The problem was then that the high temperatures in the turbo required tungsten and tungsten was a strategic material in short supply.

So the Allison engines designed for American fighters were stripped of their turbochargers in the P-36 and P-39. Without forced induction these fighters had poor high altitude performance. The P-36, an otherwise fine fighter, just couldn't compete with the Zero or the various German fighters. The Russians used a lot of P-39s successfully in their largely low altitude air war.

America was on the offense so it emphasized bombers and allocated almost all its tungsten to the turbochargers on the big radial engines that powered the B-17s and B-29s. The exception was the P-38 that your dad flew. Flown with the turbo as intended it was a world beater. It had been intended as a high speed interceptor but proved very versatile in many roles.

As Lindbergh demonstrated the P-38 had the greatest range of any Allied fighter. It was faster and more maneuverable that just about any other plane. Alas it was expensive. Compared to the P-51 it took two engines and cost a little more than twice as much. To add to its disadvantage the P-38 required twice the training hours for its pilots. But the trained pilot in a P-38 was the deadliest man in the air. Our highest scoring Aces flew the "Forked Tail Devil".

Albertosaurus

Steiner said...

Great post Steve, but I just can't help but point out that the warbird pictured is the P-51 Mustang, built by North American Aviation, which is now a (defunct) part of Boeing. A few months ago I saw a television spot for Boeing, they showed lots of people on the corporate team, but there wasn't single white man. Not a one: take that, Edgar Schmued and Dutch Kindelberger!

For the life of me, I just can't remember it right now, and I know someone will remind me, but who lost WW2 again?

sebastian said...

How does the artist get away with the distinct lack of diversity in these pictures? I can imagine myself, just 3 years ago, walking into a business with these pictures hanging on the walls. I would have been mildly disgusted by the shameless, idyllic representations of segregated 1940s/50s america.

Anonymous said...

http://www.evehrlich.net/2010/10/gladwell-in-the-new-yorker/

"Gladwell doesn’t understand why the phenomenon about which he writes occurs. It’s gloss substituting for good social science."

Plus baseball statistics!

Kylie said...

Steve Sailer said..."Kicking Axis butt and kicking off the SoCal Baby Boom."

Yes and just look at where that got us.

Sorry. This is a wonderful entry. Custom cannot stale your infinite variety.

My nostalgia sweetspot is those old movies about life on the farm our teachers used to show us in primary school. The two children living on a farm (always two and always one boy and one girl) run out to the barn to see the newborn calf before breakfast. Then after they eat at a table set with a checked cloth, they run down the country lane to catch the school bus. The sky is always blue with big puffy white clouds and life is always about doing wholesome things like growing food and tending animals in a neat, tidy way (i.e. brushing them or filling their water pans, not cleaning up their dung).

I loved these movies (still do), even as I realized they were highly idealized representations of farm life.

The days when I watched those movies had a kind of optimism, a hope and belief in an amorphous future that was amorphous because it had yet to be shaped by American dreamers and doers, an endless horizon of good possibilities stretching before us much like the prairie itself. I tell people I live in the heartland because I like thinking about the days when that meant something quite different from living in a flyover state, subject to the alternating contempt and indifference of our betters.

We still have a future, of course, only now it seems to be at best merely a dreary continuation of the present and at worst, a slomo trainwreck.

Anyway, a wonderful entry.

Let's! said...

Very cool. Except for some inexplicable reason, the stud pilot gets married at 23 and becomes a dad at 24! What is he thinking?

And I'm not talking Affordable Family Formation here. I'm talking Corn Flakes every day (to quote City Slickers) for the rest of your life.

CC-bLF said...

Sebastian,
I take it 3 years ago is when you started reading Steve's stuff?

Mr. Anon said...

"Steiner said...

Great post Steve, but I just can't help but point out that the warbird pictured is the P-51 Mustang, built by North American Aviation, which is now a (defunct) part of Boeing. A few months ago I saw a television spot for Boeing, they showed lots of people on the corporate team, but there wasn't single white man. Not a one: take that, Edgar Schmued and Dutch Kindelberger!"

Yeah, there's a big Boeing presence where I live, and I've seen billboards like that. There is usually a white man (only one) among the ubiquitious (and for all I know EEOC-mandated) white woman, black women, black guy, asian dude, although this is in the south. Funny though, whenevever I've talked to technical or managerial people at Boeing, they were always white men.

Our national discourse is a pantomime of lies.

Anonymous said...

It refers to supercharged Allison engines. But as everyone knows the engines on the P-38 were not supercharged but rather turbocharged. This difference had many implications.

Technically they are correct because a turbocharger is a form of supercharger and in WW2 was referred to as a turbosupercharger. Today people just call this a turbocharger.

Anonymous said...

Where is the diversity in these paintings?

Looking at these paintings depicting life just 65 years ago versus what we have today, one might think the US lost the war.

Mr. Anon said...

If you like old American nostalgia, Steve, you'll like this site:

http://www.plan59.com/main.htm

Ad artwork from a time when America believed in itself and the future.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a generation thing, Steve. The younger generations don't have the positive feelings and nostalgia for aviation like you do I think largely because it's been increasingly associated with and involved in things like chemtrails over the years.

Carol said...

Well my Uncle Stud (bomber crew) got married right after the war too, but he kept on hustling women. He used the GI Bill to take night classes at LA State, a target-rich environment.

Plenty of husbands were uncertain of their children's parentage.

Severn said...

Reminds me of Soviet realist paintings, except with the American sentimental romantic gloss. Of course, in Soviet version, woman would be pilot, mechanics men, plane a Yak-9.



The people would be posed differently in Soviet art. None of this flirting with each other, you'd see figure gazing defiantly into the distance, shoulders back, chest out.

Anonymous said...

Carol - this is the C-119 Flying box car. Much bigger than the P-38 Lightning.

But one can see the fundamentally similar shape.

alonzo portfolio said...

I agree Barbara Stanwyk was hot.

Whiskey said...

Anon -- China is as bad as the US. The US spent all the "stimulus" money no social welfare programs, not a bridge or road built. The Chinese spent about half their stimulus on stuff like roads going nowhere, the rest on overpriced apartments. Domestic consumption is nothing, Chinese science is plagiarist junk, and they rely totally on exports to the US and EU. Africans and Latin Americans are not buying Iphones.

Effective ad, short answer is they're doomed too, just differently.

Ages 23-24 used to be ages of men. A man who's seen combat at an early age can hardly go back to an extended adolescence. And cornflakes every day seems better than living it up after you've seen buddies blown apart.

David said...

>he stud pilot gets married at 23 and becomes a dad at 24! What is he thinking?>

Hi, Roissy.

airtommy said...

Steve, you HAVE to post on this. Really striking and amazing (and somewhat scary) video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OTSQozWP-rM


That's one of the dumbest things I seen in a while. It's bad on so many levels. Most of the things described aren't happening in America. And the Chinese wouldn't laugh at those things since they are the blueprint for how China runs its own country.

We have one and only one wasteful program in the government: the Department of Defense. Any "small government" person or group who doesn't single out the DOD for major spending cuts is not to be taken seriously.

eh said...

OT: Steve, you HAVE to post on this.

A proper link to the YouTube video.

And: General help on HTML.

In general, Mr Sailer seems to have not enough interest in financial-themed matters.

Anonymous said...

it's positively Norman-Rockwell-esque

that's why you like it

and that's why I like it.

This is called Projection, btw. and i'm guilty of it. but i suspect i'm right.

Norman Rockwell don't paint sluts.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever review Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow?

Googling suggests that you didn't.

Kylie said...

Let's! said..."Very cool. Except for some inexplicable reason, the stud pilot gets married at 23 and becomes a dad at 24! What is he thinking?"

He's thinking, I'm lucky I made it back and now that I have, it's time to settle down and start a family. I fought over there so my kids would have some kind of world, some kind of future to grow up in. (Prospective dads in those days often ended sentences with prepositions, due to the influence of Churchill.)

You may be too young to remember when "settle down" didn't mean "settle for".

And..."And I'm not talking Affordable Family Formation here. I'm talking Corn Flakes every day (to quote City Slickers) for the rest of your life."

If you've ever gone hungry, corn flakes for breakfast every day for the rest of your life is a promise, not a threat.

I'm guessing you're nowhere near my age (old).

travis said...

Those are pretty cheesy.

There's only so much an artist can do with machines. But those beautiful, courageous men! They could stir a poet's heart! (and the hearts of women, too. Hence the baby boom).

"That particular voice may sound vaguely Southern or Southwestern, but it is specifically Appalachian in origin. It originated in the mountains of West Virginia, in the coal country, in Lincoln County, so far up in the hollows that, as the saying went, "they had to pipe in daylight." In the late 1940's and early 1950's this up-hollow voice drifted down from on high, from over the high desert of California, down, down, down, from the upper reaches of the Brotherhood into all phases of American aviation. It was amazing. It was Pygmalion in reverse. Military pilots, and then, soon, airline pilots, pilots from Maine and Massachusetts and the Dakotas and Oregon and everywhere else, began to talk in that poker-hollow West Virginia drawl, or as close to it as they could bend their native accents. It was the drawl of the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuff: Chuck Yeager."

-- Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

Anonymous said...

"Except for some inexplicable reason, the stud pilot gets married at 23 and becomes a dad at 24! What is he thinking?"

look you had to hear it sometime

Roissy is a retard

sorry, life is more complicated and wonderful than one douchebag can possibly understand

happy to help, though

now go be normal instead of a sexual predator

ironrailsironweights said...

Vosburg describes the little boy in his painting set in 1948 as a "future Phantom pilot." Many people claim that today the last-ever fighter pilot has already been born.

Peter

kurt9 said...

Locally manufactured airplanes? I guess if you consider McDonnell Douglas to be a "local" company when it was in Long Beach. Just like Boeing 747 jumbo jets are "locally" made airplanes if you happen to live in Everett.

I know people who worked in the Long Beach plant. The WWII planes were built by giant factories run by giant bureaucracies that were no different in 1942 than they were during the 1980's Reagan defense era.

Giant bureaucracies with huge factories does not strike me as "nostalgic". Steve, you have a strange sense of nostalgia.

eh said...

OT

Some interesting analysis of Sailer-sphere relevant data on Social Security:

The results of the CBO analysis is that there is societal/economic trouble in front of us on this issue...If you were born in the 1940’s the probability that you will receive 100% of your scheduled benefits is nearly 100%...If you were born in the Sixties things still do not look so bad. Depending on how long you will live the odds (76+%) are pretty good that you will get all of your scheduled benefits. However, if you were born in the Eighties you have a problem. The numbers fall off a cliff if you are between 30 and 40 years old today. In only 13% of the possible scenarios you will get what you are currently expecting from SS. If you were born after 1990 you simply have no statistical chance of getting what you are paying for.

Definitely an ethnic/demographic issue brewing here, as an increasingly non-white working America, a growing proportion of which will be low-earning Hispanics, faces a HUGE entitlement cost burden, with the vast majority of that money going to white retirees.

eh said...

OT

Mr Sailer,

Regarding my previous comments (including one made just a few minutes ago) highlighting the coming difficulties with Social Security and other entitlement programs, including specifically and especially the ethnic/demographic angle there, please suggest that Mr Rubenstein take a look at that.

anony-mouse said...

Which one of those kids in the paintings becomes a weirdo hippie freak?

Dutch Boy said...

On slow days back in the 1950s, my SoCal brothers and I would go looking for "P-38 pieces" (as we called them). A P-38 had crashed on our property during WW II and there were still numerous fragments of it scattered around (still with grey on one side and camouflage on the other).

afadfasdfa said...

There's something creepily ironic about these images. Big bombers flying over happy children in America yet built to drop massive bombs on (women and)children in other countries. Oh well, better them than us, I guess.

bjdouble said...

OT

Jonathan Alter, author of a book on Obama, just admitted on CSPAN (interviewing Dinesh D'Souza) that he has NOT read Dreams from My Father. Amazing, and confirming what Steve's been saying, that nobody read that book. (I've skimmed it, not that anybody asked).

Sword said...

To Steiner:

I just had a look at the executive profiles on the Boeing website:

http://www.boeing.com/companyoffices/financial/execprofiles.html

31 people are listed, of which one is an african-american male, 3 are white females, and the rest are white males.

Laban said...

Re the pilot who becomes a dad at 24 - I'm surprised Steve has never mentioned the one 60s/70s rock star who seemed keen on family formation. He might have got his lovin on the run, but all he really wanted to do was get the chores done, clean up, and raise a family.

"Cause the time is right
For walking in the moonlight
I have suddenly found I'm
ready to settle down
We'll have a boy for you,
we'll have a girl for me
Come on babe, we'll raise a family"



Only tangentially on topic, but for those of you who love aircraft and love The Right Stuff, I can't recommend highly enough Ernest Gann's aviation memoir Fate Is The Hunter.

I put a couple of chunks online - the links are here.

Tanstaafl said...

Oh well, better them than us, I guess.

Guess? You can be certain they think exactly that about us - right here, right now.

Kylie said...

afaetc. said..."There's something creepily ironic about these images. Big bombers flying over happy children in America yet built to drop massive bombs on (women and)children in other countries."

How so? Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. One makes the other possible.

And..."Oh well, better them than us, I guess."

You guess? Well, in that case, I won't bother saving a spot for you in my bunker.

Make no mistake, the thought of any human being killed by another is repulsive to me. But I value my life more than the lives of those who would harm or end it and of those who would stand by them.

I prefer walking away from a fight whenever possible. But it's not always possible.

Anonymous said...

The people would be posed differently in Soviet art. None of this flirting with each other, you'd see figure gazing defiantly into the distance, shoulders back, chest out.

Like this?

http://www.cirota.ru/forum/images/11/11134.jpeg

Severn said...

There's something creepily ironic about these images. Big bombers flying over happy children in America yet built to drop massive bombs on (women and)children in other countries



None of these aircraft are bombers, big or otherwise. They're all fighter planes.

Anonymous said...

The cover for this music album has always amazed me. That such a world could exist. Or even be dreamed of. A whole world full of our own people, happy, with our own culture.
http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Age-Light-Music-1950s/dp/B00142X514/ref=pd_sim_m_12

Anonymous said...

Also, the paintings of Edmond Blair Leighton may speak to your heart. It's mostly about your duty to protect and to honor and to receive respect for doing so.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leighton-God_Speed!.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leighton-Call_to_Arms.jpg

Anonymous said...

"One of the long-term consequences of that war is that the California you love has been invaded, colonized, and ruined by aliens.
"
Mexico gained a border with the US as a result of our involvement in WWII Europe? Who knew?

Anonymous said...

The stud pilot gets married at 23 and becomes a dad at 24! What is he thinking?

Those were my ages too--would have been happened even earlier but I had a military commitment to finish up. What I was thinking was that I was a man, not a low-rent playboy.

Anonymous said...

The America those people knew and fought for has been destroyed forever by the post-1965 tsunami of immigrants. Much like Britain too. The two wars were fratricidal and phyric. We should have minded our business - especially in 1917.

Anonymous said...

Marlowe said... "Reminds me of Soviet realist paintings, except with the American sentimental romantic gloss."

Exactly the same.

Except for the difference that one was a style imposed upon artists and the public by a dictatorship, against their will and at the cost of one's career or even one's life.

And the other is an insurgent style, a labor of love that grew from the ground up, against the disdain of the establishment, and that manages to limp along among a small group of devotees because of the free support of its fans.

Geez.

You do realize that these paintings are recent, right? That they're nostalgia for a long-past WW2 & Cold War, not propaganda contemporaneous with the Cold War?

-Sluggo

Anonymous said...

afadfasdfa said... "There's something creepily ironic about these images. Big bombers flying over happy children in America yet built to drop massive bombs on (women and) children in other countries."

Ironic? Sorry, I don't understand why it's ironic.

Or at least, why it's any more ironic than the ancient dictum "If you want peace, prepare for war."

Considering the staggering success of American policy in the period 1948-1991, that has got to be the wisest advice and the most successful strategy in history.

I mean, you are glad America won the Cold War. Without firing a shot. Right?

-Sluggo

kurt9 said...

I fail to see the nostalgic attraction of giant corporate bureaucracies employing thousands of people, which is what any aircraft manufacturer is.

John Seiler said...

At what Arbys in O.C. is the art?

Kylie said...

kurt9 said..."I fail to see the nostalgic attraction of giant corporate bureaucracies employing thousands of people, which is what any aircraft manufacturer is."

You would, perhaps, prefer to wax nostalgic about unemployment? No problem, you have only to cast your mind back past the era referred to in these paintings to reflect on the good old days of the Great Depression.

If you like, I can relate some of my mother's stories about those golden days. The railroad tramps coming to the back door, begging for a sandwich, underwear made out of flour sacks, my grandfather extending credit at his grocery so people could eat, etc.

Yes, so much nicer than people working at a giant corporate bureaucracy.