Sunday, March 7, 2010
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.