Modern Pulp Aug 8 2009
MOTORCYCLE INQUIRIES
Japanese chopper show borrows Nazi terminology.
Now this is interesting. In our constant digging for pulp from all countries, we are always struck by how symbols, images, and terminology are appropriated by different cultures or subcultures, and how the meanings of those images mutate from their original form. So here we have a promo poster for Japan’s New Order Chopper Show, this year’s version of which takes place tomorrow, August 9.
 
Anyway, you’ll notice the above figure is sporting a Prussian helmet, or Pickelhaube, emblazoned with a Prussian Iron Cross. Or at least that’s what they look like, but a biker will tell you these are entirely different symbols that have nothing to do with Prussia or Germany, save that the shapes were borrowed, much like Hitler borrowed his swastika from a similar Hindu shape. So, symbols evolve—we get that. The Pickelhaube was phased out during World War I and was just a relic by the time World War II arrived, so the many people who associate the helmet with Nazism are mistakenly mashing up two distinct eras in Prussian/German military history.
 
But here’s the question—when people already tend to think your symbol has something to do with Nazism, why call one of your biggest events the New Order show? After all, that was the name of Hitler’s grand vision of world domination. And since Japan was neck deep in this scheme, via an agreement to evenly divide Asia, millions of Japanese, as well as Westerners, know what the term means. Bikers tend to get bent out of shape about these kinds of discussions, but the reaction strikes us as hollow indignation. Which is to say, even though they pretend otherwise, they’re deliberately mindfucking us and we know it.
 
Okay, enough of that. We only brought it up because it would have seemed strange to post the art without addressing the point. And what art it is, by the way, painted by one of Japan’s foremost illustrators, who goes by the name Rockin’ Jelly Bean. Jelly Bean specializes in these sorts of voluptuous cyberbikers and has built a worldwide cult following. He’s often imitated, but never duplicated. You can see more of his work here, and below.   

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 31
1957—Arthur Miller Convicted of Contempt of Congress
Award-winning American playwright Arthur Miller, the husband of movie star Marilyn Monroe, is convicted of contempt of Congress when he refuses to reveal the names of political associates to the House Un-American Activities Committee. The conviction would later be overturned, but HUAC persecution against American citizens continues until the committee is finally dissolved in 1975.
May 30
1914—Aquitania Sets Sail
The Cunard liner RMS Aquitania, at 45,647 tons, sets sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City. At the time she is the largest ocean liner on the seas. During a thirty-six year career the ship serves as both a passenger liner and military ship in both World Wars before being retired and scrapped in 1950.
May 29
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.
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