Sunday, March 7, 2010

Monopoly House


How can you not wax nostalgic about finding a Monopoly piece amongst the tons of plastic washing ashore? A little green house, instantly   recognizable—a poignant reminder of summer days spent in fierce economic battle with your bandit-mogul buddies. The fake bills tucked under the board, the property deeds lined up, waiting to get all the Yellows...waiting for Marvin Gardens. The lowly Baltic Avenue, the posh Park Place. Phrases high on the cliché list—“Get out of jail, free”…”Do not pass Go”…Agony, ecstasy, domination and loss. And how can you not recall that the game was first mass-marketed in the depth of economic crisis? 1935.

A quick web search reveals that Socialists first used the game as a teaching tool early in the 20th Century. First called The Landlord’s Game to show the ravages of unfettered Capitalism—a pleasant surprise to find it was used back then by Scott Nearing. Who, in the 50’s, with his wife Helen, authored Living the Good Life, a dog-eared copy of which lived on my night stand. The Nearings became the gurus of the 60’s back-to-the-land movement, something I took on as a personal mission in a lasting enthusiam.

And when did the neat little painted wood houses and hotels change to be made of plastic, a development that made the game cheaper to make? Then again, is plastic really cheaper? What are the real costs of plastic? Who will bear these costs? Finally, and a happier consideration, that the unequivocal mystery of mind reveals itself in all these thoughts materializing out of a tiny bit of plastic marine debris? Washed up on Kehoe Beach.

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