Labor Day: Created in Six Days from Collective Guilt and a Stubborn Landlord

This weekend, we’re celebrating the end of summer–the bookend to Memorial Day and a great Monday to have off.  Labor Day was created to supposedly honor the American worker but was  passed in record time in 1887 by a Congress and president with a guilty-conscience. It began with a broken promise–probably one that shouldn’t have been made.  But it was made–and believed to be made for all the right reasons on one side and the more logical reason on the other side–the reason of profit. George Pullman, like any great American businessman, found his niche.  He grew up near the Erie Canal and witnessed the importance of creating luxury transportation and adapted it to the newborn railroad system. After transporting Lincoln’s body through 180 cities and seven states demand for Pullman’s cars grew, in spite of the cost being five times traditional railroad transportation.  (Interestingly, not only did Lincoln’s macabre road-tour change rail-travel it also perfected funeral science… Read More…

Walt, Jim and George: The Wonder of Storytelling

I just saw “Saving Mr. Banks”. To my surprise, it was nothing like “Saving Private Ryan”. Regardless, it was a good flick. Without spoiling much, Walt Disney ends up convincing writer P.L. Travers to hand over the rights to her beloved “Mary Poppins”. Throughout the film, Ms. Travers struggles in letting her characters go to be turned into a typical, jolly, Disney musical filled with laughter, joy, cheer, redemption—all of the things that Ms. Travers knows all too well rarely find their way into the truths of the world. There is a line in the film, where Ms. Travers is told that Dick Van Dyke, “one of the greats”, will be playing the character of Bert. Her response is that of pretentious laughter as she tells her silly American counterparts that Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness are the greats, not slap-stick-happy Dick Van Dyke. At which point, I wanted to… Read More…

The Ring Around the Rosie: Nursery Rhymes & Nightmares

    Have you ever wondered why every child under the age of 10 is a sociopath? OK, age 20. Psychologists talk about the years kids spend consumed with themselves, the years spent acknowledging only their own needs. I’ve developed a theory about this after about two hours of moderate research. Here it is: consider what we’re putting in our kid’s heads? When we force them to turn off the television to protect them from stories like Sandy Hook, Zimmerman, and from crazy people like Adam Lanza and Antonin Scalia, what are we using to replace these disturbing images? Here are a couple examples from my own experience.  Like every other kid ever, I frequently heard the singsong rhyme, “Jack and Jill.”  When Jack fell down and broke his crown, my brother told me, “You know, that means Jack died.”  What?  I couldn’t sleep that night.  Years later, driving home with… Read More…

Disney’s Bid for World Domination

   A world domination planning session? Walt Disney had an insidious plot astounding in its evil audacity. It was a plan for world domination so complete, it rivaled the greatest plans of Lex Luther, Ernst Blofeld or even Dr. Evil. Using an ever-expanding cast of animated characters, led by a giant, falsetto mouse, charged by a driving beat devised by a group aptly named They Might be Giants, Disney’s plan was to attack the American populace at its weakest point, its children. Capturing the hearts and souls of these impressionable children was the first and necessary step in ultimately seizing control of the minds, and more important, the wallets of people all over the world. Soon, like a cult derived from a science fiction novel, Disney’s reach spread into Florida, Los Angeles, and then Europe. A quick visit to one of its indoctrination centers referred to as “Epcot” will make it… Read More…