A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
1902 – Ray Kroc, not the founder but the guy who is actually responsible for the omnipresent McDonald’s brand. In the 1950s, Kroc took a hamburger joint in San Bernardino and turned into a fast food phenomenon with over 20,000 restaurants worldwide. McDonald’s is everywhere and catches a huge amount of flak because of it. It’s the corporation everybody loves to hate. Over the years, McDonald’s has been accused of everything from inventing obesity to slavery. I’m not kidding; they actually have. When McDonald’s is not issuing statements and fighting lawsuits, they’re serving 58 million customers a day. This is despite huge negative press from books like Fast Food Nation and films like Super Size Me. It’s ironically fascinating that even though everybody and his friend takes cheap shots at Ronny Mac, there’s always a line at McDonald’s.
1954 – Sir Bob Geldof, a used-to-be musician whose string of hits with the Boomtown Rats equals one – “I Don’t like Mondays”. In 1984, he made a bold career move and became an activist, specializing in African famine relief – virtually a recession proof-profession. He co-write “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and organized Live Aid, the mega concert that featured all manner of musicians — except African ones. It was a huge success, and the rest is history. Geldof went on to become Sir Bob; and now he dines with presidents and kings. He’s also available to speak about poverty and famine at about $100,000 a whack. He doesn’t like criticism, though, and once called Russell Brand a very bad name. Brand retorted, “It’s not surprising that Geldof is such an expert on famine: he has, after all, been dining out on “I Don’t Like Mondays” for thirty years.”
Nobody knew it at the time, but the universe changed completely on this day in 1962. The Beatles released their very first hit, “Love Me Do”. An innocuous little ditty, it simply swept aside everything else. To say the Beatles were more than just musicians is like saying a tsunami is a big wave. They were the sound, style, touch and attitude of the 60s and of the huge generation of Baby Boomers who inhabited it. For the first time in human history, youth had a voice. And even though it wasn’t any different from any other generation’s, it existed, and it was loud, and the Beatles symbolized it. Their music, their look, their slang, but mostly their hair said, “Your children are different.” It was a clear, visible separation of the generations. Richard Lester, in his movie A Hard Day’s Night (1964), captured the sense of the early Beatles. In essence it was the first music video, and it was filmed around style and social commentary (very mild-mannered), not a dedicated love interest. It showed the Beatles as more than entertainment, but as an irreverent lifestyle that was being emulated by young people all over the world.
1892 – It was the old West. In a spectacular show of bravado, the Dalton Gang decided to rob two banks simultaneously, and, to really put mustard on the hotdog, decided to do it in their home town: Coffeyville, Kansas. The Daltons had been robbing trains for about 2 years, so they knew their business. Unfortunately the townspeople knew them. The minute they went into the banks, the locals went for their guns. In the shootout that obviously followed, Grat and Bob Dalton were killed, as well as two other members of the gang, Dick Broadwell and Bill Power. A third Dalton, Emmett, survived, even though he was shot over 20 times. Incidentally, every one of the Dalton brothers had started out as a lawman.
1983 – Earl Tupper, the fellow who invented Tupperware in the 1940s. Originally, it was the only product of its kind (Tupper owned the patent) and it was sold in various stores. In the 1950s, Tupper teamed up with a marketing genius, Brownie Wise, who withdrew Tupperware from the shelves and sold it exclusively through home parties. It was the first multi-level marketing plan, and it succeeded beyond anybody’s wildest expectations. Suddenly suburbia was up to its elbows in Tupperware parties. Everybody had Tupperware, and everyone was making money – including Tupper. In 1958, he sold Tupperware to Rexall, renounced his American citizenship and bought an island in the Caribbean to live on.