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
• Pay phones
• Piggy banks
• 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?
June 5, 1994 – October 15, 2007