Jewish World Review July 12, 2002 / 3 Menachem-Av, 5762
From the article recounting the life of this remarkable man, I also learned that he'd written a comic opera about a New Jersey mosquito epidemic, and "designed comic cutouts-- 'Fat Man in Bathing Suit' for example-- for people to stand behind and smile for the camera."
My jaw dropped. Here are not one but TWO icons that this Renaissance man was responsible for. What else? What other artifacts did this man create or inspire? He wrote an opera, didn't he? Was he the first man to make a horn that plays "La Cucaracha" or "Ah Oo Gah?" The little flourish they play at sporting events: Da duh da duh da-duh!" I'll bet he wrote that.
I'll bet he invented Indian poker, air hockey, Bingo, and bowling, as we know it today, the bowling shirt at the very least, and the Hawaiian shirt as well.
Did he invent inflatable furniture, the Tiki torch, the lava lamp, chili lights, and the concept of the parrot jungle? Unless we find his notebooks we will never know.
But placing classic scenes from classic movies on dinner plate collectibles, well, that has Cassus Marcellus Coolidge written all over it. And the novelty key chain, the refrigerator magnet, the swizzle stick, the platform shoe, lifesized plaster dinosaurs, ice cube trays with unusual formations, the drinking bird that never ever stops, the magic eightball, wack-a-mole, and wind up robots?
What about the message tee-shirt, the bumper sticker, and the cap that's also a beverage holder? I can't prove he is responsible for all this, but a man capable of poker playing dogs is capable of anything.
I think he deserves a statue in a town square, a really big statue draped in black velvet that stands up and speaks, like the Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln exhibit at Disneyland. Phrases could include masterpieces of spoken Americana, like "You got it," "It all good," and "Don't go there."
Even better, for the lovers of the world, when you push a button, the statue would play "Lara's Theme," "Love theme from the Godfather," or the Whitney Houston evergreen, "I Will Always Love You."
Throw in a nearby corn dog vendor, a slushie maker, and a machine that lets
you try to grab little stuffed animals with a steel claw, and I believe we
would have a fitting tribute to the man who gave the world laconic
cigar-chomping mutts cheating at five card stud-- Cassius Marcellus
Coolidge, the man, the myth, the legend, the Michelangelo, the Da Vinci, the
Elvis of kitsch.
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07/09/02: Musicians' brains