May 10, 2010

The Irregular Blather May 10, 1931

No Journal was published Sunday, May 10, 1931.

A brief blather on 1931 matters. It occurs to me that we're at or approaching an interesting time in the Depression. To review, we are now almost two years into the economic downturn, and about a year and a half past the initial crash; the Dow, at 154, is off about 60% from its peak (although, to be fair, it only spent a short time significantly above 300, in that final blowoff top in the summer of 1929).

A while ago I came across this diary of the Depression, in which a Youngstown, Ohio lawyer named Benjamin Roth recorded his real-time observations as things were unfolding. Now, one interesting thing about that book is the time it starts - right about “now,” specifically June 5, 1931. I'm not sure if earlier entries were edited out, but I do think there's a reason why Mr. Roth might have started keeping a journal at this time.

Up until this time or a little earlier, I think a well-informed and logical person could have looked at the stock market, the economic news and statistics, etc., and reasonably concluded that we were in a bad but not unprecedented downturn. As I quote from time to time, the stock market patterns still could be lined up to parallel the bad bear in 1921; the economic downturn also looked bad, but not clearly beyond earlier experience. It's probably within these few months that things start going off the rails, and it becomes clear (to coin a phrase) that “this time is different.” So, I'm really curious about how the realization dawns ... is there an “Oh, crap!” day or week or month when things crystallize, or is it a slow and grinding process?

And, on the fun side, a followup on last week's James Cagney appearance in The Public Enemy - here are some of the more unusual Cagney videos on Youtube. A fight scene from Blood on the Sun (1945), where he shows off some very nice judo technique:

Play "Blood on the Sun - judo fight" on Youtube.

His appearance on What's My Line?, where he has the panel stumped until he gives it away by letting his accent drop at the end:

Play "What's My Line? James Cagney" on Youtube.

After watching this next video, I always go down stairs like this ... and it's been well worth the five trips to the emergency room:

Play "James Cagney Dancing Down Staircase" on Youtube.

And last but not least, getting back to 1931, a pretty interesting “candid” interview with Cagney from that year (please no remarks about the shorts):

Play "James Cagney 1931 Interview" on Youtube.


  1. Sorry to throw this in a comment but I couldn't find any other way to contact you. Your RSS feed seems to not be working. The latest entry was on 4-22-2010. Thought I'd give you a heads up. I really enjoy reading this blog. Thanks for posting!

  2. Still no RSS feeds since April 22.

    Like everyone else, we have to mention this here as there's no other way to contact.

  3. Hi achille and Terry -
    This has happened in the past, and appears to be an intermittent Blogger glitch that I don't really have control over (except by switching to another service, which would be a pain ...) I will try to look into the problem again and see if there's any solution at hand. Incidentally, there should be a working email link on the upper right of the blog page (click on the Radiogram ad).

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