Tuesday, August 28, 2007


The ten year period that, as if reluctant to die outmoded in its bed, leaped to a spectacular death in October, 1929, began about the time of the May Day riots in 1919. When the police rode down the demobilized country boys gaping at the orators in Madison Square, it was a sort of measure bound to alienate the more intelligent young men from the prevailing order. We didn't remember anything about the Bill of Rights until Mencken began plugging it, but we did know that such tyranny belonged in the jittery little countries of South Europe. If goose-livered businessmen had this effect on the government, then maybe we had gone to war for J.P. Morgan's loans afterall.

But, because we were tired of Great Causes, there was no more than a short outbreak of moral indignation, typified by Dos Passos' book, Three Soliders. Presently we began to have slices of the national cake and our idealism only flared up when the newspapers made melodrama out of stories such as Harding and the Ohio Gang or Sacco and Vanzetti. The events of 1919 left us cynical rather than revolutionary, in spite of the fact that now we are all rummaging around in our trunks wondering where in the hell we left the liberty cap-- "I KNOW I had it..."-- and the moujik blouse.

It was characteristic of the Jazz Age that it had no interest in politics at all.

--F. Scott Fitgerald, from Echoes Of The Jazz Age (Nov. 1931), from his book, THE CRACK-UP.