Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

By Louise Ure


OK, it’s been around for a while, but I just heard about it. I guess that makes me not just an old fart, but an out of touch old fart.


The grand old board game Monopoly has been reissued in a “Here and Now” version, with a VISA credit card replacing the cash. No longer will you be able to gloat as your opponent’s stack of pubic pink $500s shrinks to a dwindling stack of sky blue $10s.  Now players can just swipe their credit cards through the electronic reader that records the earnings and payments and transfers money between them. Where’s the fun in that?



But that’s not the worst of the changes. The venerable old tokens (including my favorites: the top hat, the thimble, and the iron) have been junked in favor of a laptop computer, a New Balance sneaker, a Motorola Razr cellphone, a mug of Starbucks’ coffee, and a bag of McDonald’s fries. Yes, you read that right. A goddamned bag of French fries with a Mickey D logo on it. Just for reminders, you know. In case you get hungry lifting that credit card all the time.


If you pass go in this new version, you don’t collect $200. They call it a “salary” now and it’s $2 million. Who does this Monopoly man think he is? Sumner Redstone?

The Jail corner still has a little L-shaped space on it called “Just Visiting,” but now I suspect it’s for celebrities with less than twenty-four hour sentences. Or maybe for Dominick Dunne to use while he’s penning his Phil Spector stories.

Gone are Park Place and Reading Railroad. Now we have Disney World  and the Mall of America. I was glad to see that the Golden Gate Bridge has its own square and you have to pay a cool $2 million if you land on it. But so does Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain, for the same price. WTF? Hey, I’m an Arizona girl, but I guarantee you that it’s gonna cost you more to hang out in San Francisco than in Phoenix.

The two most realistically priced new squares on the “Here and Now” Monopoly Board? “Cell Phone Service $1,500,000” and “Interest on Credit Card Debt $750,000.”

Hell, after landing a couple of times on Income Tax ($2,000.000) and White House ($3,200,000. I think the Monopoly guy is a Republican, so it’s probably not a tax — maybe just a contribution to a PAC) I’d be ready to blow my brains out.


Now, if there were just a little metal token with the NRA logo on it.

And then, to add salty insult to this gaping wound of an injury, my friend Tom sent me a list of things that AOL says will be gone in ten years.


•    Record stores


  • Camera film


•    Crop dusters


•    Gay bars



•    Newspapers


•    Pay phones


•    Piggy banks


•    Telemarketing


•    Coin-operated arcades


•    Used bookstores

I can understand the rationale for a couple of these. Record stores, camera film, and coin-operated arcades have been eclipsed by new technologies. A number of the others – piggy banks, pay phones and the old Monopoly prices – have taken the hit for the declining value of our money. E.Y. Harburg’s song would have to be written now as “Brother, can you spare a hundred?”

I’d add coin-operated parking meters and local TV news organizations to that list. We’ve gotten to the point in San Francisco where you can reserve a parking space on the street in advance, and pay for it with a credit card. And “local news” is as much an oxymoron as “jumbo shrimp.”

But I take umbrage with some of their other predictions. Telemarketers dying off? Nah, they’re like cockroaches. They may mutate, but they’ll be around forever.  There are significant rebellions afoot against them, like Do Not Call lists and the TeleCrapper 2000, but telemarketers are smarter than that. They’ll find a way around all the new rules and attitudes.

And newspapers? They’ll change with the increasing importance of the internet as a news source, but they’ll stick around. So will gay bars. And unless AOL has some new news about genetically altered plants, I think crop dusters are here for a while, too.

The one that really pisses me off on AOL’s list is Used Bookstores. I understand that their distribution methods have changed. The internet has given them a whole new audience for their goods. But to disappear entirely as brick and mortar stores? God, I hope not. There’s no aphrodisiac quite as strong as the mingled scent of dust and old books. And there’s no better way to spend an afternoon than trolling those musty aisles.

You know what ought to be on that list?


•    Color-coded security alerts


•    The Electoral College


•    Reality TV

What about you all? Classic Monopoly or Here and Now? Any additions to the AOL list? Any deletions?

And goodbye old friend:


June 5, 1994 – October 15, 2007


30 thoughts on “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

  1. J.D. Rhoades

    Sorry to hear about the dog, Louise. he looked a lot like our Clifford.

    That new Monopoly game does sucks. Part fot e charm is how retor and quaint the original was, with its little guy in top hat and spats. But I do like that “Luxury Tax” has been replaced with “interest on Credit Card Debt.”

  2. billie

    Louise, I’m sorry about dear Angus.

    We have the old version of Monopoly but no one likes to play it b/c Dad gets very competitive and I give all my money away, forgive debts when my children land on my property, etc. It’s odd how the monopoly doesn’t work when the players are actually humanistic.

    My kids have grown up playing a collaborative game called “Save The Whales” which has beautiful silver pieces, a lovely game board, and rules complex enough that you have to work together to keep them straight.

    That said, I suspect my son would love this new version.

  3. Mark Terry

    I think that’s too bad about a new Monopoly. One of the points of the game, I think, is to teach kids math. When my family plays it we always force the kids to be the bankers so they are forced to do the math and handle the money.

  4. Louise Ure

    Dusty, if I remember correctly, Clifford was the dog who kept walking out in the road, right? And some folks say Goldens are smart …

    Billie, I love the notion of a game that the players have to actually work together on. We’ve got enough avenues for competition in this world.

    And Mark, looks like your kids might be learning high finance and credit card debt with this version. Oh joy.

  5. pari

    We had an Angus, too, Louise — though it was long ago. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    As to the new Monopoly game — pffffffftttttt!!

    See the above comment for what I think of most of AOL’s predictions.

  6. Jacky B.


    Fine post. Funny, yet chilling. Maybe it’s just the years catching up to me, but this “Brave New World” looks to be an increasingly barren, cold, and sterile one.

    No used book stores? Arrghh!

    As for ‘Here and Now’ Monopoly? Holy shit! What a fucking metaphore.

    Sorry about Angus, but I’ll bet you gave him some wonderful years. Treasure them.

    Jacky B

  7. Jacky B.

    Edit = metaphor.

    Visions of the future got me so pissed I can neither spell nor type. (As if I ever could.)

    Jacky B

  8. Louise Ure

    Jacky, you’re right about the name of the game. Living in the “Here and Now?” I heard on the news today that 51% of Americans have no savings. None. That’s a pretty strong indication of our attitude.

  9. Cornelia Read

    I will miss Angus, and I’m so sorry to hear of his passing.

    I hate the new Monopoly. Disgusting. I don’t know whether I dislike more… the McDonalds logo, or the credit card. FEH!!!!

  10. Elaine Flinn

    My thoughts about Monopoly and/or AOL became suddenly irrelevant when I reached the end and saw Gus’s photo. I’m so, so sorry. I know how much he meant to you and Bruce…

  11. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I am not a board game player, truly hate them, actually, but the new Monopoly sounds even worse than the old.

    I’m intrigued by the credit card aspect, though. My sister was such an accomplished Monopoly cheater (she just stole money right and left) that I’m thinking I might actually have had a chance with a credit card-based game…

    I am so, so sorry about Angus. What a lovely boy. You must be slayed, Louise… I grieve for you.

  12. Louise Ure

    Thank you Cornelia and Elaine. It’s too damn quiet around here today without Angus.

    And Alex, I got the same response when I mentioned the new Monopoly game at dinner the other night. “But how can I cheat now?”

  13. Lee Lofland

    Gosh, Louise. Your post really did me in. I hate the new Monopoly. I hate that color-coded security thing, and I hate the direction the world has taken. But most of all, I hate that your Angus is gone.

    Our beloved dog is older and has been ill for quite some time. We almost lost her a few weeks ago, but thanks to a sharp vet she’s still here. I can’t imagine sitting at this desk writing all day without her snoring at my feet.

    I think I’ll go watch a rerun of the Andy Griffith Show to cheer me up. On second thought, Don Knotts is gone, too. Sigh…

  14. Louise Ure

    Lee, we’re on the same wavelength today. Cherish that sweet old dog of yours. Give her a kiss for me.

    Angus was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis about a month ago. That meant that the cartilage in his esophagus was softening, and could close with any kind of exertion or anxiety. After much deliberation, we decided not to go through with the surgery, but to keep him calm and comfortable for the rest of his life.

    Then yesterday he got into a barkfest with a dog on the street, and his throat simply closed down. We got him to the emergency vet in time, but they couldn’t save him.

    I miss him terribly today.

  15. toni mcgee causey

    Louise, so sorry to hear about Angus; my own sweet dog is 13(ish, we were never sure since she’s a rescue) and she’s my shadow, so I’m going to really be bereft when she’s gone.

    French fries? Good grief. And used bookstores will always be around–they may become subsumed in some other enterprises (imagine a coffee shop with a used book section) but they’ll be around. Of course, I thought the electric typewriter was going to be the thing I wrote all my books on, so I’m probably not the best judge.

  16. simon

    Why mess with perfection, I say. I wish they’d left the game alone.

    I’m sorry to hear about Angus. I know we just talked about Angus and his future the other day. I hoped he had a little longer.

  17. Sharon Wheeler

    Sorry to hear about Angus, Louise. What a handsome chap.

    Newspapers will be around for a while yet. They will change to fit the new media market — they might even become even more parish pump — but we haven’t seen the back of them.

    Ugh, hate that Cluedo. Mind you, I’m a lousy loser, and no one I know will play board games with me!

  18. Louise Ure

    Toni and Shaz, I hope your predictions about newspapers and used bookstores come to pass. I need both of them.

    Love to your 13-ish pup today, Toni, and to your crazy houseful of pets, Simon. I thought we’d have a little longer with Angus, too.

  19. B.G. Ritts

    Oh, Louise, I’m so sorry to hear about Angus.

    I don’t think I could play the new Monopoly. What’s the purpose if you can’t see your stack (or lack thereof) of money sitting in front of you as you play?

    Electronics and communication is changing so fast now that I’m not sure anyone really knows what may soon be obsolete. I only know that my former company got completely out of photography — cameras, film and photographic paper.

  20. Tom

    I am very, very sorry to hear about Angus, Louise.

    Not surprised, though, to hear about the Monopoly makeover. Capitalism is predictable in some ways, as are marketeers.

  21. Louise Ure

    Thanks, B.G. I’ll bet landlines will be the next obsolencense in communications. Or maybe operators.

    JT and Tom, I match you with my cynicism.

    Thanks to everyone for their kind dog-thoughts today.

  22. Fran

    Let me add my condolences to all the others. I look at my aging pooch-face and immediately think of other things. Get a big hug from someone, and it’s from me.

    That Monopoly game? *shudder* No. Just – no.

    NO GAY BARS? But then where will my lovely lady and I go…oh no, wait, we don’t go there. But darn it, we could!

    There will always be used bookstores, as long as you guys keep writing great books that other folks will keep recommending. Brick and mortar bookstores that sell new books? That I’m not so sure about.

  23. Louise Ure

    Thank you, Fran. I got that big hug you sent.

    Funny thing about AOL’s suggestion that gay bars would disappear. I couldn’t figure out if they thought a) we’d all be so open-minded in ten years that a bar specifically for gays wouldn’t be necessary, or b) there would be such a right-wing crackdown that they wouldn’t be allowed. Either way, feh!

  24. patty smiley

    I’m late to the party. So forgot it was Tuesday. My condolences about Angus. We animal lovers forever mourn the loss of all our beloved pets, but Angus was so lucky to have found your loving home when he did.

    Tom is one smart cookie, but he got it wrong about telemarketers. They’ll NEVER disappear. What a pity.

  25. John

    They’ve modernised everything except ‘free parking’ it’s still that strange old jalopy. And as for used bookstores this prediction is the same as ‘the paperless office’. It does not take into account peoples overwhelming desire to touch and handle.


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