Who Owns the Land?

When I was a 20-something my family received a copy of the board game Monopoly as a gift. Being all varying levels of anti-capitalists, but certainly united in not being fans of rich guys in top hats and interminable games based on acting like tycoons, we were all quite satisfied with our decision to save the various game pieces for use with other games (especially those from the departed and sorely missed [update: actually resurrected!] Cheap Ass Games, for which you always had to provide your own game pieces, dice, and counters) and toss the rest in the garbage.

Imagine my embarrassment to learn, at a recent conference on community land trusts, that Monopoly was first invented under the name The Landlord Game to illustrate the problematic effects of private land ownership and the system of rents. Continue reading

Calling Don Draper

Many years ago, I took a humor writing class in New York City. It was one of the most rigorous, challenging classes I’ve taken. (And for those who don’t know, I was a biochem major.)

Unfortunately, I’m not really quick enough on the draw to have ever developed even a freelance sideline in the genre, but one of the main lessons about the construction of humor—that the punch line is where you twist or challenge the expectations you arranged in your set up—stuck with me.

I was reminded of that when reading about the condescending responses from the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center to members who called them to complain about their recent ad campaign. Continue reading