This was published in HARPERS Magazine in October 2012 about the “Landlord’s Game” versus “Monopoly

I published this blog in June 30, 2015. So what I publish here is a copy of that old blog. I do want to publish it again, so people that like to play Monopoly in its present form, may perhaps start thinking about it, that one could say that:

Monopoly Is Theft

Anyhow, as a game it is quite interesting and to this day a lot of people do like playing it. I did not have this game anymore for a number of years. Recently I had the opportunity to buy this game in a department store. I quickly decided to purchase it for myself in the hope that maybe in future I might have some visitors who might like to play it with me. Playing it again would bring lots of memories for me!

I just hope, some people might be interested enough to play it with me in the near future! Maybe around Christmas time? We’ll see.

So here is the copy now of my post from June 30, 2015:

http://harpers.org/blog/2012/10/monopoly-is-theft/?single=1

The antimonopolist history of the world’s most popular board game

By Christopher Ketcham

The players at Table 25 fought first over the choice of pawns. Doug Herold, a forty-four-year-old real estate appraiser, settled on the car. The player across from him, a shark-eyed IT recruiter named Billy, opted for the ship and took a pull from a can of Coors. The shoe was taken by a goateed toxic-tort litigator named Eric, who periodically distracted himself from the game on a BlackBerry so that he “could get billable hours out of this.” The dog was taken by a doughy computer technician named Trevis, who had driven from Canton, Ohio, as a “good deed” to help the National Kidney Foundation, sponsor of the 25th Annual Corporate Monopoly Tournament, which is held each year in the lobby of the U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh. On hand for the event, which had attracted 112 players, divided into twenty-eight tables of four, were the Pittsburgh Steelers’ mascot, Steely McBeam, who hopped around the lobby grunting and huzzahing with a giant foam I beam under his arm; three referees dressed in stripes, with whistles around their necks; and a sleepy-looking man, attired in a long judges’ robe and carrying a two-foot-long oaken gavel, who was in fact a civil-court judge for Allegheny County donating his time “to make sure these people follow the rules.”

I had spoken the night before with Doug, who won the previous year’s tournament, about his strategy for victory. “Well, last year I managed to get Boardwalk and Park Place, and then everybody landed on them,” he explained, chalking his success up to dumb luck. “What you have to do,” he said, “is get a monopoly, any monopoly, as quickly as you can.” I asked him if he knew the secret history of the game. He confessed that he did not.

The official history of Monopoly, as told by Hasbro, which owns the brand, states that the board game was invented in 1933 by an unemployed steam-radiator repairman and part-time dog walker from Philadelphia named Charles Darrow. Darrow had dreamed up what he described as a real estate trading game whose property names were taken from Atlantic City, the resort town where he’d summered as a child. Patented in 1935 by Darrow and the corporate game maker Parker Brothers, Monopoly sold just over 2 million copies in its first two years of production, making Darrow a rich man and likely saving Parker Brothers from bankruptcy. It would go on to become the world’s best-selling proprietary board game. At least 1 billion people in 111 countries speaking forty-three languages have played it, with an estimated 6 billion little green houses manufactured to date. Monopoly boards have been created using the streets of almost every major American city; they’ve been branded around financiers (Berkshire Hathaway Monopoly), sports teams (Chicago Bears Monopoly), television shows (The Simpsons Monopoly), automobiles (Corvette Monopoly), and farm equipment (John Deere Monopoly).

The game’s true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”

The Landlord's Game, 1906

Magie called her invention The Landlord’s Game, and when it was released in 1906 it looked remarkably similar to what we know today as Monopoly. It featured a continuous track along each side of a square board; the track was divided into blocks, each marked with the name of a property, its purchase price, and its rental value. The game was played with dice and scrip cash, and players moved pawns around the track. It had railroads and public utilities—the Soakum Lighting System, the Slambang Trolley—and a “luxury tax” of $75. It also had Chance cards with quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson (“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living”), John Ruskin (“It begins to be asked on many sides how the possessors of the land became possessed of it”), and Andrew Carnegie (“The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich”). The game’s most expensive properties to buy, and those most remunerative to own, were New York City’s Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Wall Street. In place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”

For close to thirty years after Magie fashioned her first board on an old piece of pressed wood, The Landlord’s Game was played in various forms and under different names—“Monopoly,” “Finance,” “Auction.” It was especially popular among Quaker communities in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, as well as among economics professors and university students who’d taken an interest in socialism. Shared freely as an invention in the public domain, as much a part of the cultural commons as chess or checkers, The Landlord’s Game was, in effect, the property of anyone who learned how to play it.

Thousands of Monopoly tournaments are held in the United States each year: county tournaments, school tournaments, church tournaments, corporate tournaments, tournaments in basements, in boardrooms, in lunchrooms, in public libraries, and online. Every four or five years there are the big officiated tournaments—the U.S. Championship and the World Championship—sponsored by Hasbro, which hands out $20,580 pots to the winners of each. I missed the big tournaments—both were last held in 2009—and instead ended up in the lobby of U.S. Steel. I thought the venue fitting, as the corporation was the brainchild of supermonopolists Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan, the latter being the inspiration for Monopoly’s top-hatted, monocled, tails-wearing mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags.

The emcee called the lobby to order, shouting into his microphone, “You have ninety minutes. Let’s play Monopoly!” Immediately, the men at Table 25 began rolling dice and frantically buying property as they rounded the board. Doug snagged Pacific Avenue (an expensive investment at $300), two yellow parcels, and several slummier properties. Trevis’s portfolio included two railroads and Marvin Gardens, the most expensive property in the yellow group. Billy held the ultrachic Boardwalk ($400). Eric got Tennessee Avenue and St. James Place ($180 each). These last are among the properties most coveted by competitors, because they are relatively cheap and frequently landed on, along with the other properties that sit directly downboard of the jail, where odds are the players will spend a lot of time.

Sixteen minutes into the game Doug offered Billy a trade. (“The propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another,” writes Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, “is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals.”) Land was already growing scarce, and as land becomes scarce in Monopoly—as in the real world—its market value rises, often beyond its nominal value. “This,” said Doug, holding up one of his yellow deeds, “for that,” pointing at one of Billy’s slum deeds, “plus three hundred bucks.”

Billy was unimpressed. “No, you give me three hundred bucks.”

“Give you three hundred bucks?”

“Cash is king!”

This in turn inspired Trevis and Eric to start haggling, with Billy and Doug interjecting to gum up the talks when their own interests were threatened. The table got loud. The parties offered, counteroffered, rejected all offers, sweetened the original offers, rejected the sweetened deals with greater aplomb. Doug heaved a great sigh. “We’re just gonna go around the board and around the board,” he said, “and collect our little money.”

“It’s gotta make sense for me,” said Trevis.

“This guy wants my left testicle,” Doug replied.

In what amounted to open conspiracy, Billy then told Eric that if they made a trade and each received a monopoly as a result, they’d share a “free ride”—no rent would be charged—when they landed on one another’s monopolies: a corrupt duopoly, in effect, targeting Doug and Trevis.

Doug shrugged as Eric pondered the deal, but Trevis was aghast. “You can’t do that—it’s against the rules.”

“Rules!” said Billy. “I’m gonna set my price.”

“Bullshit!”

“Ref!”

A referee, whistle around his neck, hurried over—the judge with the gavel had disappeared—to decide on the matter as the players barked at each other. “You can’t do that,” he said finally.

A few weeks before the tournament, I’d had a conversation with Richard Marinaccio, the 2009 U.S. national Monopoly champion. “Monopoly players around the kitchen table”—which is to say, most people—“think the game is all about accumulation,” he said. “You know, making a lot of money. But the real object is to bankrupt your opponents as quickly as possible. To have just enough so that everybody else has nothing.” In this view, Monopoly is not about unleashing creativity and innovation among many competing parties, nor is it about opening markets and expanding trade or creating wealth through hard work and enlightened self-interest, the virtues Adam Smith thought of as the invisible hands that would produce a dynamic and prosperous society. It’s about shutting down the marketplace. All the players have to do is sit on their land and wait for the suckers to roll the dice.

Smith described such monopolist rent-seekers, who in his day were typified by the landed gentry of England, as the great parasites in the capitalist order. They avoided productive labor, innovated nothing, created nothing—the land was already there—and made a great deal of money while bleeding those who had to pay rent. The initial phase of competition in Monopoly, the free-trade phase that happens to be the most exciting part of the game to watch, is really about ending free trade and nixing competition in order to replace it with rent-seeking.

Henry George was not formally trained in economics. At age sixteen, he shipped out of his native Philadelphia as a mast boy on the freighter Hindoo,bound for Australia and India, where he watched the crew threaten mutiny over their miserable working conditions. By the age of twenty, transplanted to California, he was working as a printer’s apprentice, a rice weigher, and a tramp farmworker. George was soon married and broke, caught up in a wave of unemployment on the West Coast, and by the winter of 1865 his pregnant wife was starving. “Don’t stop to wash the child,” the doctor told George upon the birth of a son that January. “Feed him.” Poverty turned his mind to economics, to the question of why poverty proliferated in a land of plentiful resources. Economics turned him to newspapers, where he imagined he might get paid for his ideas. Eventually, journalism brought him to live in New York City.

What puzzled George was that wherever he saw advanced means of production arise in the United States—wherever industry was built up and capital accumulated—more poor people could be found, and in more desperate conditions. It was for him a stunning paradox. “It is the riddle which the Sphinx of Fate puts to our civilization, and which not to answer is to be destroyed,” wrote George. “So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes . . . progress is not real and cannot be permanent.” In 1879, he published the book that made him famous, Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth—The Remedy, which provided a sweeping answer to the riddle: land monopoly was the reason progress brought greater poverty. As American civilization advanced, as populations grew and aggregated in and around cities, land became scarce, prices soared, and the majority who had to live and work on the land paid those prices to the minority who owned it. For the laboring classes, rent slavery was the result. “To see human beings in the most abject, the most helpless and hopeless condition,” George wrote, “you must go, not to the unfenced prairies and the log cabins of new clearings in the backwoods, where man singlehanded is commencing the struggle with nature, and land is yet worth nothing, but to the great cities where the ownership of a little patch of ground is a fortune.”

From those little patches, primarily in New York City, had arisen the dynasties of the American nouveau riche: the Astors, the Beekmans, the Phippses, the Stuyvesants, the Roosevelts, and, later, the Tishmans, the Rudins, the Roses, the Minskoffs, the Dursts, and the Fisher and Tisch brothers. According to George, the sequestering of valuable land assets in private hands was itself the product of a system of property “as artificial and as baseless as the divine right of kings.” “Historically, as ethically,” he wrote, “private property in land is robbery. . . . It has everywhere had its birth in war and conquest.” This was, in fact, the original sin of Western civilization:

In California our land titles go back to the Supreme Government of Mexico, who took from the Spanish King, who took from the Pope, when he by a stroke of the pen divided lands yet to be discovered between the Spanish or Portuguese—or if you please they rest upon conquest. In the eastern states they go back to treaties with Indians and grants from English kings; in Louisiana to the government of France; in Florida to the government of Spain; while in England they go back to the Norman conquerors. Everywhere, not to a right which obliges, but to a force which compels.

George noted that many premodern tribes recognized no right of land ownership; the tribesman’s property was the bow and arrow he built with his hands, not the land he hunted on. Nor was such a right recognized under the laws of the Old Testament, in which land was “treated as the gift of the Creator to his common creatures.” Moses had, after all, instituted the jubilee, under which land was redistributed every fifty years, and the debts incurred against land were canceled—a tradition ended by Roman rule. Everywhere George reviewed the annals of the precapitalist world, he saw the “struggle between this idea of equal rights to the soil and the tendency to monopolize it in individual possession.”

By the nineteenth century, however, the “superstition” of “absolute individual property in land,” represented by the complex array of state-sanctioned deeds and titles, had become fundamental to the American legal system. It could not be crushed—nor should it be, said George. Land seizure and nationalization, he believed, would lead to tyranny. “Let the individuals who now hold it still retain, if they want to, possession of what they are pleased to call their land.” George would not revoke the right to buy and sell property or to will land to one’s descendants. Instead he argued that society might leave landowners “the shell” of their holdings if it could “take the kernel.” As George wrote, “It is not necessary to confiscate land; it is only necessary to confiscate rent. . . . In this way the State may become the universal landlord without calling herself so.”

Rent was the key. In line with classical economics from the time of Adam Smith, George defined rent as the unearned income owners derived from the rising value of land, meaning it was distinct from the labor that went into property in the form of improvements, the construction of homes and offices and factories, and the cultivation of fields. A community’s productivity was the invisible hand that caused land values to increase. The cabin in the woods became a prize when a mine opened up across the field, a road linked the cabin to the mine, a country store opened to supply the miners, more homes were built, a railroad came in, a town was born. The land under the cabin derived its worth from what society built around it. Its increase in value therefore belonged to society, and George said this value was to be assessed and taxed at market rates. This “single tax” on land and natural resources offered a reform of capitalism—whose self-destruction George believed it was his task to prevent—that “open[ed] the way to a realization of the noble dreams of socialism.” [1]

Georgism, as it came to be known, was denounced by wealthy landowners as the most radically lunatic notion of its time, and the single tax as more insidious than all the writings of Karl Marx put together. The Catholic Church ruled George’s thought “worthy of condemnation.” Yet within five years of the publication of Progress and Poverty, hundreds of thousands of Americans would come to believe in the gospel of the single tax. In New York City, the populist priest Father Edward McGlynn referred to George simply as “this prophet . . . this messenger from God.” Mark Twain proselytized as a Georgist, as did the philosopher John Dewey. “It would require less than the fingers of the two hands,” wrote Dewey, “to enumerate those who, from Plato down, rank with Henry George among the world’s social philosophers.”

Leo Tolstoy proclaimed that George would “usher in an epoch.” “The method of solving the land problem has been elaborated by Henry George to such a degree of perfection that, under the existing State organization and compulsory taxation, it is impossible to invent any other better, more just, practical, and peaceful solution,” wrote Tolstoy. “The only thing that would pacify the people now is the introduction of the system of Henry George.”

In 1886, the United Labor Party, fresh from the battles and boycotts of the first May Day, nominated George as its candidate for mayor of New York. His campaign offered a radical vision for the time: wherever railroads, telegraphs, telephones, and gas, water, electric, and heating utilities could be operated more efficiently at scale, as “natural monopolies,” the public would own them; transit in New York would be made free for all; city government would be responsible for social services; he would end child labor and mandate an eight-hour workday. The land-value tax would pay for his programs.

Though not a single major newspaper endorsed him, clubs were founded in George’s name in twenty-four districts across the city. Members financed his campaign, each contributing twenty-five cents, and George, in between sixteen-hour days of speeches and rallies, sat at headquarters rolling coins for distribution to his workers. The coalition he built with the ULP was big-tent, crossing lines of class, ethnicity, and religion that had long divided New York. Three days before the election, his supporters—merchants, lawyers, doctors, tailors, plumbers, cigar makers, brassworkers, Germans, Irish, Russians, Poles, Italians, Jews—gathered by the tens of thousands in lower Manhattan. They carried banners reading HONEST LABOR AGAINST THIEVING LANDLORDS, and at Tompkins Square, in driving rain, they chanted, “Hi! Ho! The leeches must go!” But George was defeated, amid allegations that Tammany Hall had engineered massive voter fraud to ensure his loss.

George returned to journalism, went on the lecture circuit, wrote five more books, and dedicated himself to spreading the word of the single tax. He has been credited with inspiring a generation of progressive reformers. William Jennings Bryan said thatProgress and Poverty “ought to be read by every thinking man and woman.” Samuel Gompers, Jacob Riis, Upton Sinclair, and Ida Tarbell read him and sang his praises. But George showed little interest in reform beyond the single tax. A believer to the end in Adam Smith, he denounced the socialists and labor organizers who were his strongest supporters, and, as one critic wrote, came to lead single-tax supporters “of intolerably dogmatic and doctrinaire spirit.” He refused to accept that unearned income might be gleaned from investments other than land, and thus he was accused of failing to confront the rising power of finance capitalism, which made money off of the socially created value behind stocks and bonds. By the time of his death in 1897, when 100,000 New Yorkers lined up to view his body in state, George’s “great idea” was already, as Tolstoy would lament in 1908, on the long road to being forgotten.

About a month before the Pittsburgh tournament, an amateur Monopoly historian and game collector named Richard Biddle invited me to the village of Arden, Delaware, to have a look at the first Landlord’s Game ever fashioned. Arden had been founded as a Georgist experiment in 1900, four years after a failed attempt to implement the single-tax system across the state. It was envisioned as a self-sufficient utopia on 160 acres of woodland, and it soon attracted artists, poets, actors, anarchists, and freethinkers. Upton Sinclair had a cottage there, dubbed the Jungalow. Ardenites were barred from “owning” their plots, instead purchasing ninety-nine-year leases on cooperatively held land. It didn’t matter whether the residents built mansions or shacks: they were taxed only on the underlying value of the land, often at very high rates. This revenue paid for roads, parks, a commons, playgrounds, and utilities.

Lizzie Magie visited the village not long after its founding, and brought with her an oilcloth mock-up of her Landlord’s Game, which soon became a pastime among residents. While at Arden, she built a board for the game with the help of a resident carpenter. Biddle spoke solemnly of this alpha board; he estimated that it could be worth a million dollars.

We met at the village green and walked a few blocks, where we found the owner of the board, an eighty-year-old retired autoworker named Ronald Jarrell, standing outside his cottage looking nervous. Apprised of our visit, Jarrell had earlier in the day gone to his safe-deposit box at the local bank to retrieve the board. We entered his living room, where, amid a collection of antique china, jade statues, and old dolls, he laid out the prized artifact on his coffee table. Jarrell’s three yapping poodles made it difficult to talk.

“It was the summer of 1903,” he said. “A woman was down visiting here—”

“Lizzie Magie,” said Biddle.

“I don’t remember the name,” said Jarrell, “but she had an idea for a game.” He told us his stepgrandfather, a Georgist carpenter named Robert Woolery, had grown tired of playing checkers at the general store and needed new entertainment. Woolery looked over the plans drawn up by Magie on the oilcloth and immediately set about making the board.

Arden Board, 1904

Biddle held it up and nodded his head approvingly. It was hand-painted and hand-carved out of the backside of a reclaimed pressed-wood crokinole board, and it smelled like an old shoe.

I had earlier looked up Magie’s 1904 rule set, which she produced several months before she and Woolery completed the original board. Oddly, it contained no rule about forming monopolies out of the property groups, nor did it mention charging players higher fees after they’d built houses or hotels (constructions that also didn’t exist in Magie’s original rules). Nor was there anything about Henry George, land-value taxation, or the evil of rent. If the game was designed to teach Georgism, it seemed Magie hadn’t quite thought out the lesson. Two years later, when the game was officially published,the rules had evolved: the business principle of monopoly was fully established, as was the Georgist alternative of cooperation. Theories abound as to how the changes arose; one holds that someone in Arden had pushed The Landlord’s Game in the direction of Henry George, and also in the direction of the Monopoly we know today.

I asked Biddle about the discrepancy. “Ask the Monopoly monopolist,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“Patrice McFarland. The Monopoly monopolist. She’d have all the answers because she is now the possessor of Lizzie Magie’s diaries. And a lot of other key stuff. But she isn’t talking.”

McFarland, I later learned, was a former exhibit specialist at the New York State Museum who in 1992 had received $25,000 from a Georgist organization, the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, to produce a biography of Magie. In the ensuing years, Biddle said, she had acquired, along with Magie’s diaries, a trove of early Landlord’s Game prototypes handcrafted by players in Arden and elsewhere. But she had never produced her book, nor, according to Biddle, had she been willing to share the information or documents she’d amassed. “She’s a tough player,” he said. “I once bid against her on eBay for my 1939 Landlord’s Game. Bid almost $10,000.” (I called and emailed McFarland several times to ask about her alleged Monopoly monopolism, but she never responded.)

With us in Jarrell’s cottage was Mike Curtis, an Ardenite who twenty years earlier had played a round of Magie’s original 1906 Landlord’s Game (one of his opponents, as it happened, was Patrice McFarland). The Georgist rules by which Curtis had played were known as the Single Tax set, and they went beyond having players simply pay rent into Magie’s “Public Treasury.” They also aimed to teach the shared ownership of public goods. Under Single Tax rules, when the amount in the treasury reached fifty dollars, the player who owned the lighting utility was forced to sell it, and thereafter the utility cost no money to land on, as it was now publicly owned. This process repeated itself with the Slambang Trolley, then with the railroads, then with the Go to Jail space, which became a public college that, instead of sending players to jail, provided extra wages at the end of the game. After that, each fifty-dollar deposit in the treasury raised players’ wages by ten dollars. A “win” in Single Tax, which Magie later dubbed Prosperity Game, occurred when the player with the least amount of money had doubled his original capital. “The Landlord’s Game,” said Magie, “shows why our national housekeeping has gone wrong and Prosperity Game shows how to start it right and keep it going right.” Curtis admitted that he didn’t think much of the game, pronouncing it “kind of boring after a while.” [2]

In the summer of 1971, Ralph Anspach, a game inventor and retired economics professor who lives in San Francisco, emerged from a crushing Monopoly defeat in his living room—his eight-year-old son had bankrupted him—and found himself considering the salability of a board game that was explicitly antimonopolistic. “My game would have to start,” he wrote in a self-published memoir, The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle, “where Monopoly ends, when the board is full of monopolies.” The goal of play would be to break them up, with monopolists fighting off trustbusters. The game Anspach created, Anti-Monopoly, sold 200,000 copies in 1973, its first year of production, and was on pace to top 1 million sales by Christmas of 1974. Parker Brothers, at that time a subsidiary of General Mills, was not pleased. The company threatened to sue Anspach for trademark infringement. Instead, he preemptively sued Parker Brothers—“a sort of buckshot maneuver,” his lawyer called it—on the theory that he could show the company’s Monopoly trademark was invalid.

One of Anspach’s first discoveries as he built his case was the existence of The Landlord’s Game. But he could not explain how Magie’s invention, with its promotion of socialized land and shared wealth, had been transformed into the proprietary commodity that made billions of dollars for Parker Brothers. The key to the mystery, he learned, was a radical socialist professor of economics named Scott Nearing, who taught at the Wharton School of Finance from 1906 to 1915. Anspach spoke to Nearing in 1974, when Nearing was ninety-one years old. The professor said he had learned to play the game around 1910, while living in Arden, then taught it to his students at Wharton in order that they might learn, in his words, “the antisocial nature of monopoly,” and in particular “the wickedness of land monopoly.” The students apparently taught it to their friends. It was around this time that the game became known as “monopoly”—denoted in lowercase, like checkers, chess, or dominoes. The game spread widely over the next several years, to the hometowns of Nearing’s students and to other universities. It would slowly lose its antimonopolistic message, however, as players came to the conclusion that Magie’s vision of Georgist redistribution was not nearly as entertaining as ruining one another.

By 1913, monopoly had made its way to Altoona, Pennsylvania, and four years later it arrived in Philadelphia. The economist Rexford Tugwell, a future member of FDR’s “kitchen cabinet,” remembered having played it in 1915. By the 1920s, camp counselors in the Poconos were playing it, as were students at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Harvard, Haverford, Princeton, and Swarthmore. During the early stages of the Depression, the game reached Indianapolis, where a Quaker schoolteacher-in-training named Ruth Hoskins played it. Hoskins soon traveled to Atlantic City and taught the game to two fellow Quakers, Jesse and Eugene Raiford.

The brothers were so taken with the game that they worked to improve it. Along with other members of the Quaker community, they changed the pawns to household objects: tie clips, hairpins, keys, thimbles. They changed the names and property values to reflect those of Atlantic City. Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues, slums in the Raifords’ hometown, became slums on the board; Boardwalk and Park Place, the carrefour of chic, became the most expensive deeds to purchase. The rules related by Ruth Hoskins stipulated that properties were to be auctioned when players landed on them; Jesse Raiford instead set the prices on the board. (This change later made the game marketable to children, who had difficulty understanding how auctions worked.)

The Raifords taught the game to a friend of theirs, Charles Todd, who taught it to its putative inventor, Charles Darrow. Sometime in 1932, Darrow copied the layout of the board, the rules of play, the property names, the deed values, and the Chance cards, and made his own version of the game. His only innovation seems to have been to claim the mantle of sole inventor. He would soon be assumed into the pantheon of American heroes of commerce.

The irony was not lost on Anspach. Before being monopolized by a single person working in tandem with a corporation, Monopoly had in fact been “invented” by many people—not just Magie and the Raifords but also the unknown player who gave the game its moniker and the unsung Ardenite who had perhaps aided Magie in advancing its rules. The game that today stresses the ruthlessness of the individual and defines victory as the impoverishment of others was the product of communal labor.

None of the information Anspach uncovered helped his case when it went to trial in 1976. The widows of Eugene and Jesse Raiford testified, as did seven other witnesses who claimed to have played monopoly as many as twenty years before Darrow marketed his game. Anspach even put Robert Barton, the former president of Parker Brothers, on the stand. Barton, who was pivotal in helping Darrow secure a patent for his “invention,” admitted under oath that he was fully aware of the game’s history and that he knew Darrow had not in fact invented it. The judge was unmoved. He dismissed Anspach’s complaint, ordering all unsold copies of Anti-Monopoly to be “deliver[ed] up for destruction.” Seven thousand of the games were bulldozed into a garbage dump in rural Minnesota, where officials from Parker Brothers oversaw the interment. [3]

After forty minutes of play, the game at Table 25 had stalled—or, depending on your view, was going along just fine, because no one had a monopoly and no one could raise rents. So Billy paid rent to Eric, who paid about the same rent to Doug, who paid to Billy, who paid to Trevis, who paid to Eric, who made a bad roll and briefly went to jail. Then Doug Herold landed on his third lucrative green property, allowing him to form a monopoly. He had enough cash on hand to build several houses, and one after another the players fell afoul of his outrageous rent hikes. Billy and Trevis handed over several properties in lieu of cash, giving Doug three monopolies. “You see,” he said, turning to me, “I don’t have to deal with these knuckleheads anymore.” There was no further need for trading, no need for the dynamism of the marketplace. He had done the work, built the houses, invested in the properties. Now he did no work, took no risks, made no investments. And yet wealth moved inexorably in his direction. When after ninety minutes time was called, Doug oversaw five monopolies and a wad of $10,293 in cash, more than half the money in the Monopoly bank. He was declared not only the victor at Table 25, but the all-around winner of the U.S. Steel tournament for the second year in a row.

I’d invited Richard Biddle to the tournament, and as Doug had started his run Biddle wandered off to watch the other tables. Every so often I could see him peering over the shoulders of the players, a pinched look on his face. He did not like what had become of Lizzie Magie’s invention. “My brother taught me how to play Monopoly when I was five,” he had told me. “It was pivotal in helping me understand the importance of lying, cheating, and stealing.” I’d asked him to bring along his reproduction of The Landlord’s Game, which he carried in a backpack. Earlier in the evening he had gingerly taken it out to share with whomever he could waylay. “This is the real Monopoly,” Biddle would tell the players, before attempting a sort of CliffsNotes explanation of what Lizzie Magie had in mind. The players nodded politely, their smiles freezing into nervous masks. “That’s very nice, thank you so much,” they said, and then they walked away.


[1] University of Missouri–Kansas City economics professor Michael Hudson has noted that property tax today functions in exactly the opposite fashion from George’s proposed single tax. The Federal Reserve Board is responsible for assessing the total market value of real estate in the United States, Hudson says, yet it routinely produces “nonsensical undervaluations of land.” In fact, the FRB mostly ignores land itself; instead, it considers buildings and capital improvements as the chief markers of value, basing its calculations on the historical cost of original construction and the replacement cost of structures. Land value is an afterthought. The amateur in the real estate marketplace need not read Henry George to know this flies in the face of common sense, the mantra being “location, location, location,” not “replacement cost, replacement cost, replacement cost.” Hudson has conducted some of the few authoritative analyses of the FRB’s sleight of hand, the tax losses that result, and how it benefits the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors, which together have lobbied the FRB to maintain its approach.   [2] Curtis also didn’t think much of Arden’s Georgist experiment, saying it had degenerated into something of a failure. The leaseholders, he told me, had learned to game the system by electing land assessors who based their assessments on the town’s budget needs rather than the land’s real market value, and so they avoided paying taxes at appropriate rates. “To be frank,” he said, “the people in Arden today don’t give a damn about Henry George.”   [3] Anspach twice appealed the decision, and in 1982 a California appellate court ruled in his favor, concluding that Parker Brothers had in fact committed fraud in the Darrow patent, and was thus under threat of losing its trademark. General Mills Fun Group appealed to the Supreme Court in 1982, backed by amicus briefs from nearly every major American industry group, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Trademark Association, the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and the Committee on Trademarks of the Bar of the City of New York. The Court declined to hear the appeal. Anspach was nearly bankrupted, his house thrice mortgaged, his game business on the edge of ruin, his distributors unwilling to work with him because of a ten-year legal cloud. He was free, however, to continue selling Anti-Monopoly. In the past four years, he has sold 454,000 copies in European markets. Domestic sales, he says, have been comparatively small because Hasbro has used “its monopoly power to monopolize the Monopoly market” in the United State

Diary, 24th of October 2021

After looking up the two above posts, I did become a bit teary. I had no idea that there was something like a World Polio Day, but Mecca mentioned it this morning in his Regional ABC Morning Program!

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/australiaallover/

Here are two pictures from 1958 and another two pictures from 1960

auntyutaCopyLife in AustraliaMemories  January 21, 2019 4 Minutes

I could not resist publishing this older blog once more. It certainly does bring back memories!

Peter with Gaby
Peter with Gaby

This pictures was taken in Düsseldorf, Germany, in a park called ‘Hofgarten’, on 17th June 1958. Gaby was not quite nine months yet at the time.

Uta and Peter with Gaby
Uta and Peter with Gaby

This pictures was taken by Uta’s Mum on her balcony in Berlin in August 1958. Gaby was nearly one year old. We were for a visit in Berlin at the time.

Uta with Baby Martin, two months, Monika, eighteen months, and Gaby  thirty-three months.
Uta with Baby Martin, two months, Monika, eighteen months, and Gaby thirty-three months.

This pictures was taken near Fairy Meadow Beach, New South Wales, Australia, in June 1960.

Uta and Peter (25) with all three children
Uta and Peter (25) with all three children

This is where the pioneer family ended up in Oak Flats, NSW, Australia, which was ‘the sticks’ at the time. This picture was taken on the 28th August 1960 which was Gaby’s birthday. We were building a garage at the time. One year later the children were stricken by polio; as it turned out, Gaby very severely.

I wrote the above in January 2013. I was looking for a photo from our Berlin visit in August 1958 and found one in this blog. I was pregnant at the time. In December our daughter Monika was born in Düsseldorf where we had one room in my father’s apartment. We thought being given the opportunity to go to Australia as migrants was the best thing that could have happened to us.

11 Responses to “The “Pioneer Family””

berlioz1935
January 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm Edit #
The beginning in Australia was tough and sometimes we felt like a “pioneer family”.. On the beach picture you can clearly see the Fairy Meadow Hostel were we lived for a while.

REPLY

auntyuta
January 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm Edit #
You’re right, Peter, the beach was only a few steps away from the hostel. I thought it was great to have the beach so close. The picture you refer to was taken in June, in the middle of the Australian winter!

REPLY

Robert M. WeissR
January 25, 2013 at 8:41 am Edit #
Great archival type photos, which reminds me it’s time to straighten up our family photos.

REPLY

auntyuta
January 25, 2013 at 11:12 am Edit #
Thanks for commenting, Robert. I read your profile, which is very interesting. Do you do any writing? You seem to be a very contemplative person. If you’re writing, I’d like to hear more about it.
Cheerio, Uta.

REPLY

backonmyown
January 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm Edit #
I love the old photos. Your family was beautiful. My youngest sister Gerry had polio when she was two years old. Fortunately she had no lingering effects, and recovered completely. I was ten at the time. I remember how scared we all were.

REPLY

auntyuta
January 26, 2013 at 6:01 pm Edit #
Hi, Pam. We always love to look at all our old photos. Gaby was severely effected, She became a quadriplegic and needed an iron lung.
Monika had some lingering effects in one of her legs and Martin recovered completely. It was a very scary time for us when all three children suffered from the disease.

REPLY

backonmyown
January 27, 2013 at 2:44 am Edit #
I can’t even imagine how terrified you and Peter must have been with all three children seriously ill at the same. My middle daughter is a public health lawyer. She has asked me lots of questions about the polio epidemics. I’ll tell her about your family’s story. Thanks for sharing it. Pat

Three Well Beings
January 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm Edit #
I really enjoyed seeing family photos, Uta. From what you’re sharing, the children were very young when they contracted polio. I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been! I do remember when that disease frightened families and changed lives forever!

REPLY

auntyuta
January 26, 2013 at 6:07 pm Edit #
That’s right, Debra, they all contracted polio. Martin was 1, Monika 2 and Gaby was struck down with the disease on her fourth birthday. No vaccinations were available at the time. A bit later oral vaccinations were introduced. I think this stopped the spread of polio in Australia.

REPLY

Three Well Beings
January 26, 2013 at 6:50 pm Edit #
I really can’t imagine, Uta! As a mom, this must have been devastating. They were just babies. I’m a little awed you can even talk about it. oxo

auntyuta
January 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm Edit #
It was a very emotional time for Peter too. All three children were admitted to Wollongong Hospital. Gaby went on to Intensive Care at Prince Henry Hospital in Sydney where she was in a coma. According to the specialist there was not much chance of her surviving. We had gone in the ambulance with her and stayed with her through the night. Early in the morning we went back to Wollongong on the milk-train. That morning after a lot of weeping we went to see Monika and Martin in Wollongong Hospital. Martin Baby soon became the darling of the nurses. He looked so cute. When we saw him he started throwing all the toys out of his cot the nurses had put in there for him. Monika was more sick than Martin and absolutely quiet. A few days later Martin was allowed to go back home. We were overwhelmed when we had him back home. Monika had to stay in hospital a bit longer. Once she was home she was referred to a specialist who treated her leg. Some muscles were weakened because of polio. She had to wear special boots and a splint on her left leg which she hated!

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Related

The “Pioneer Family”January 23, 2013In “Diary”

The “Pioneer Family”April 30, 2015In “Memories”

Australian BeachesAugust 26, 2013In “Diary”

Edit”Here are two pictures from 1958 and another two pictures from 1960″

Published by auntyuta

Auntie, Sister. Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Mother and Wife of German Descent I’ve lived in Australia since 1959 together with my husband Peter. We have four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. I started blogging because I wanted to publish some of my childhood memories. I am blogging now also some of my other memories. I like to publish some photos too as well as a little bit of a diary from the present time. Occasionally I publish a story with a bit of fiction in it. Peter, my husband, is publishing some of his stories under berlioz1935.wordpress.com View all posts by auntyutaPublishedJanuary 21, 2019

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3 thoughts on “Here are two pictures from 1958 and another two pictures from 1960”

  1. Debra EditI see that I responded to the original post. I was then ‘Three Well Beings.” I love the photos of your sweet family, Uta.Reply
  2. auntyuta EditThanks for commenting again, Debra. I find it very rewarding to look at some of the old photos again and again. Some of these photos just seem to stick to my memory. Time and time again I love to look at them again to strengthen my memory. Gee. was that really our family at the time? And how amazing is it how much time has elapsed since these photos were taken! Reply
  3. doesitevenmatter3 EditYour vintage photos are so special and lovely! I know they bring you smiles. And memories of wonderful and not-so-wonderful. Oh, that is so sad and challenging that all of your beautiful, precious babies got polio.  I can’t imagine how difficult that was for you as their mama. I have an older friend who had polio as a child. From then on, he always had struggles with his legs and walked with difficulty.(((HUGS)))

New polling: Australians say fire up the nukes

Charles Pier

Getty Images

Charles Pier

28 September 2021

This is one of those bonus weeks for poll wonks when we get a Newspoll on Monday and the fortnightly Essential Research poll just 24 hours later.

Essential’s topics can vary and this week they’ve got a beauty. They haven’t just asked about support for the AUKUS/nuclear submarines announcement (a solid majority are in favour). They’ve also asked about nuclear-generated electricity.

In a fascinating development, 50 per cent of Australians support the idea while 32 per cent are opposed.

Interestingly, while the strongest support for nuclear power is found among the over 55s, there are solid blocks of younger voters prepared to entertain the concept — indicating a recognition of the significance of nuclear energy in maintaining reliable baseload power and the limits of renewables.

Indeed, the Essential Poll shows that as many as 29 per cent of Australians would support the use of nuclear energy “to establish Australia’s nuclear weapon capabilities”. That’s a fascinating result.

The simplistic nuclear taboos of the past are crumbling as Australians recognise both the challenges of providing reliable electricity and our strategic environment.

No one’s talking about nuclear weapons but the time is clearly ripe to begin serious policy discussions on nuclear energy.

Australians are ready. Can our politicians please catch up. Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

$1 million per month: more secret costs of vaccine failure

Charles Pier

Getty Images

Charles Pier

17 August 2021

6:37 PM

The Innovation Australia website has another cracking story. What’s the reward for the government’s vaccine rollout failure? A million dollars a month.

Over to InnovationAus:

The federal government is paying global consulting giant PwC nearly $1 million per month across 2021 to assist with its troubled COVID-19 vaccine rollout, under a previously secret contract released publicly nine months after it was signed and nearly eight months after government was obliged to make it public.

The Department of Health entered into a contract with PwC worth $11.4 million on 14 December last year, running until 14 December 2021, for “COVID-19 vaccination program management support”…

PwC’s role in the work was announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt on Christmas Eve, but no contract was posted to AusTender and further details on its work have been significantly restricted, and no information has been provided on what has been delivered by PwC.

The contract, which will see PwC paid $950,000 per month for all of 2021, was issued following a closed tender process, with the Department using an exemption due to its necessity to “protect human health”.

PwC is acting as the federal government’s “program delivery partner for the vaccine rollout”.

And how did this scandalous “previously secret contract” get made public. That’s a second scandal of its own:

Despite signing the contract nearly nine months ago, it was only made public last week, on the same day InnovationAus published a story on the lack of a contract with PwC for its vaccine rollout work, and after questions were put to the Department on this issue.

The Department said the contract was kept secret due to it being “incorrectly registered” as being exempt from reporting. The exemption does not, however, apply to consultancy services, and the error was picked up by “routine assirance activities” with a correction made “as quickly as practicably”, a department spokesperson told InnovationAus.

The government can’t manage its own programs, can’t provide fundamental accountability — but is going to keep us safe from the virus.

Yeah. Right.Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Therapeutic Goods Administration

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therapeutic_Goods_Administration

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to search

Agency overview
Formed1989
JurisdictionAustralian Government
Employees750 (2016)[1]
Annual budgetA$170 million (2020–21)[2]
Agency executiveJohn Skerritt, Deputy Secretary, Health Products Regulation Group[3]
Parent departmentDepartment of Health
Websitetga.gov.au

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the medicine and therapeutic regulatory agency of the Australian Government.[4] As part of the Department of Health, the TGA regulates the quality, supply and advertising of medicines, pathology devices, medical devices, blood products and most other therapeutics. Any items that claim to have a therapeutic effect, are involved in the administration of medication, or are otherwise covered by the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990, or a ministerial order, must be approved by the TGA and registered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.[5]

Contents

Structure of the TGA and medical regulation in Australia[edit]

In Australia, medical products are regulated by the TGA and, for controlled drugs such as cannabis, the Office of Drug Control (ODC). Together the TGA and ODC form the Health Products Regulation Group within the Department of Health. The Health Products Regulation Group comprises 11 regulatory branches and one legal branch, organised into three divisions. The Regulatory Services and Drug Control branch is the only one to not be part of the TGA.[3]

Division nameBranch nameHead
Not in a divisionRegulatory Legal ServicesJenny Francis
Medicines RegulationPrescription Medicines AuthorisationGrant Pegg
Complementary and Over-the-counter MedicinesCheryl McRae
Scientific EvaluationMichael Wiseman
Pharmacovigilance and Special AccessElspeth Kay
Medical Devices and Product QualityMedical Devices AuthorisationMeryl Clarke
Medical Devices SurveillanceKate McCauley
LaboratoriesLisa Ker
Manufacturing QualityBen Noyen
Regulatory Practice and SupportRegulatory Services and Drug Control[a]George Masri
Regulatory ComplianceNicole McLay
Regulatory Engagement, Education and PlanningAvi Rebera

The TGA also includes seven specialised statutory committees, which the agency can call upon for assistance on technical or scientific issues.[6] Four other committees also exist to give guidance on annual influenza vaccines, industry consultation matters, and the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code.[7]

Proposed regulation agency with New Zealand[edit]

In September 2003, the Australian and New Zealand Government signed a treaty to establish a common therapeutic regulatory agency for the two countries. Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency, as it was to be called, would replace the TGA and Medsafe, the national regulator in New Zealand. In June 2011, eight years after the original treaty, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key signed a letter of intent, reaffirming plans to create such an agency.[8]

In November 2014, both Australia and New Zealand agreed to cease plans to create a shared regulator, citing “a comprehensive review of progress and assessment of the costs and benefits to each country”. The joint statement announcing the cessation outlines that both the TGA and Medsafe would continue to cooperate on medicine regulation and that the New Zealand Government would still participate in the, now defunct, Council of Australian Governments Health Council.[9]

COVID-19 vaccine approval and distribution[edit]

See also: COVID-19 vaccination in Australia

Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine[edit]

Wordmark of the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine (2021)

On 25 January 2021, the TGA provisionally approved the two-dose Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, named COMIRNATY, for use within Australia. The provisional approval only recommends the vaccine for patients over the age of 16, pending ongoing submission of clinical data from the vaccine sponsors (the manufacturers, Pfizer and BioNTech).[10] Additionally, every batch of vaccines have their composition and documentation verified by TGA laboratories before being distributed to medical providers.[11]

The Department of Health planned the administration of COVID-19 vaccinations in five phases, organised by the risk of exposure. Border, quarantine, and front-line health and aged care workers were vaccinated first, followed by over 70 year-olds, other health care workers, and essential emergency service members. Following the provisional approval of COMIRNATY, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that it was planned for the first group to begin vaccinations by February 2021, six weeks earlier than originally planned.[12]

The first public COVID-19 vaccination in Australia actually took place on 21 February 2021 with the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine at Castle Hill in Sydney. An 84 year-old aged care resident was the first Australian to receive the vaccine. To show confidence in the national immunisation vaccine rollout, Prime Minister Morrison and Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly also received vaccinations.[13]

On 23 February 2021, Australia’s second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine arrived at Sydney airport. Health Minister Hunt confirmed the arrival of 166,000 doses, and 120,000 more doses expected to arrive in the following week.[14]

On 9 April 2021, Prime Minister Morrison announced that Australia had secured another 20 million doses of Pfizer vaccine on top of 20 million already on order, meaning 40 million doses should be available to Australians in 2021. This was amid concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine, in rare cases, causing blood clots; see section Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine below. The additional doses of Pfizer were expected to arrive in Australia in the last quarter of 2021.[15][16]

On 23 July 2021, the TGA approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for teenagers between 12 to 15 years old.[17]

Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine[edit]

Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (2021)Main article: Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

On 16 February 2021, the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine was approved by the TGA for use in Australia. The administration of this vaccine is scheduled to start in March.[18] Two weeks later, on 28 February, the first shipment of the vaccine, around 300,000 doses, arrived at Sydney for rollout from 8 March.[19] On 5 March 2021, Italy stopped the export of AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia due to their slower rollout of that vaccine in the EU.[20] On 23 March, TGA approved the first batch of locally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine by CSL-Seqirus in Melbourne, and 832,200 doses were ready for rollout in the following weeks.[21]

On 17 June 2021, Federal Health minister Greg Hunt announced a rise in the age limit for administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine. After new advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), the vaccine was no longer recommended for people aged under 60 years. This advice came after new cases of blood clotting, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), in those under 60 after AstraZeneca vaccinations.[16]

On 23 June 2021, the Federal government released vaccine allocation projections and forecast that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would be in “little need” past October 2021 when all Australians over 60 years were expected to be fully vaccinated.[22]

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine[edit]

On 25 June 2021, provisional approval was given by the TGA to the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, the third vaccine for potential use in Australia. Strict conditions were imposed on Janssen which includes further investigation documents related to the efficacy, long term effects and safety concerns that must be provided regularly to TGA. It is still[when?] not included in the vaccination programme.[23]Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine developed by Janssen

See also[edit]

TGA basics

https://www.tga.gov.au/tga-basics

TGA basics

Quick links

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is part of the Australian Government Department of Health(link is external), and is responsible for regulating therapeutic goods including prescription medicines, vaccines, sunscreens, vitamins and minerals, medical devices, blood and blood products.

Almost any product for which therapeutic claims are made must be entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) before it can be supplied in Australia.

On this page: About the TGA | TGA corporate information | TGA website

About the TGA

TGA corporate information

  • Structure
    The TGA is part of the Australian Government Department of Health
  • TGA plans & reports
    TGA plans and reports, including business plans, market research reports, key performance indicators, records listings
  • TGA reforms
    Reforms to the TGA help us remain adaptable to community and industry expectations
  • Freedom of information
    The Freedom of Information Act 1982 is designed to give the Australian community access to information held by the Australian Government

TGA website

  • TGA Internet site
    How to navigate this website
  • Publications
    TGA publications
  • Forms
    TGA forms
  • Acronyms & glossary
    A list of acronyms and glossary terms likely to be found within TGA information
  • Copyright
    Information about copyright in relation to the TGA website
  • Privacy
    Privacy and security information for users of the TGA website
  • Disclaimer
    Disclaimer information for users of the TGA website
  • Security
    The Department of Health applies a range of security controls to protect its website from unauthorised access

David Gulpilil takes centre stage to tell his incredible life story in intimate documentary My Name is Gulpilil

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-26/david-gulpilil-documentary-my-name-is-gulpilil/100156218

ABC Arts / 

By Annabel Brady-BrownPosted Wed 26 May 2021 at 4:37amWednesday 26 May 2021 at 4:37am, updated Wed 26 May 2021 at 3:42pmWednesday 26 May 2021 at 3:42pm

Actor David Gulpilil, an older Yolngu man in shearling coat taking off his akubra, in the documentary My Name is Gulpilil
The film homes in on Gulpilil’s magnetic performances, from his breakout role in Walkabout to his turns in critically acclaimed films, including Rabbit Proof Fence.(Supplied: ABCG Film)

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In early 2017, when the legendary actor David Gulpilil was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer and advised that he had only months to live, he told filmmakers Molly Reynolds and Rolf de Heer that he wanted to make one more film.

He wasn’t well enough to appear as planned in Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s revisionary western, High Ground — he requested that his role be taken by Yothu Yindi’s Witiyana Marika, who is a close relative.

But the three decided “that the best way we could go forward was to do his life story, right until the end,” Reynolds says.

The result is My Name is Gulpilil, an intimate documentary about the actor squaring with the end of his life.

Actor David Gulpilil, an older Yolngu man standing in a hospital corridoor, in the documentary My Name is Gulpilil
Gulpilil has been living more than 3,000 kilometres from home in Arnhem Land, as he receives treatment for lung cancer and emphysema.(Supplied: ABCG Film)

“This film is about me. This is my story of my story,” he says at the outset.

Moving between hospital visits and scenic excursions through the South Australian landscape, the film interweaves footage of Gulpilil speaking direct-to-camera with news archives and clips from his movies, reliving his astonishing half-century on screen.

“I like to show my face to remember,” he says.

Viewers are taken on a bittersweet journey — from his debut in the 1971 Australian New Wave classic Walkabout, through some of the country’s most popular and critically acclaimed films, including Storm Boy, Mad Dog Morgan, Crocodile Dundee and Rabbit Proof Fence.

Refreshingly, the movie clips are presented without title cards that name the directors, as the documentary instead homes in on Gulpilil’s magnetic performances.

‘I’m an actor, I’m a dancer, I’m a singer and also a painter.’

My Name is Gulpilil is likely the final entry in a fruitful, two-decade collaboration between Gulpilil and the white Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer and his partner Reynolds, which started with the Yolngu actor’s phenomenal lead role — his first — in The Tracker in 2002.

Play Audio. Duration: 15 minutes 57 seconds
Listen: David Gulpilil and Rolf de Heer

Over the four films they’ve made since then — which are widely held up as examples of best-practice collaborative filmmaking — Gulpilil has increasingly asserted creative control over his story.

He initiated and narrated Ten Canoes (2006) — the first Australian feature entirely in Indigenous language — and co-wrote and starred in the semi-autobiographical drama Charlie’s Country (2013) and the follow-up essay-documentary Another Country (2015).

Actor David Gulpilil, an older Yolngu man in a white singlet out in the forest on 2013 film Charlie's Country
Charlie’s Country won Gulpilil the Best Actor award at Cannes’s Un Certain Regard section and the AACTA Awards in 2015.(Supplied: ABCG Film)

It’s fitting, then, that My Name is Gulpilil sees him occupy centre stage.

“It’s like, ‘Over to you, David,'” says Reynolds, who directed the film. 

“It’s a fabulous progression, for all of us really.”

Reminiscing direct to camera, Gulpilil recounts his youth as a tribal man from the Arafura Swamp region in Central Arnhem Land, and how it was his talent as a ceremonial dancer that led the British director Nicolas Roeg to “discover” him as a teen and cast him in the biblical desert horror Walkabout.

The experience ignited Gulpilil’s love for cinema and his abiding diva-like delight in front of the camera.

As he said in his 2004 one-man stage show, “Acting came natural to me. Piece of piss. I know how to walk across the land in front of a camera, because I belong there.”

Walkabout toured the world, which took the Yolngu teenager out of his ancestral home and catapulted him into the European film world — and Hollywood-level excess.

Actor David Gulpilil, an young Yolngu man in traditional paint dancing, in the 1971 film Walkabout
At the time Gulpilil was cast in Walkabout, non-Indigenous actors were still being cast as Indigenous characters. (Supplied: ABCG Film)

He amusingly relates some of his adventures: dining with the Queen, carousing with Dennis Hopper, partying with Muhammad Ali and getting high for the first time with Bob Marley. It was the start of a lifelong balancing act for Gulpilil — straddling two worlds, Yolngu and Balanda — and the documentary emphasises the great personal toll this took.

He’s sober these days, but he speaks openly about his well-publicised substance abuse and his time living in the long grass in Darwin.

“Drinking all this grog, smoking all this tobacco, smoking all this ganja. I ended up good in prison every day in Darwin,” he says.

The film uses audio clips from news reports that run through his numerous convictions, including one for domestic violence in 2011, after he broke his wife’s arm.

“I forgot about her,” he says. “Because I was a drunken, drunken man.

“I’m a drug and alcoholic.”

‘No one else can do the life of me, it’s only me. I can do the life about me.’

Unlike other biographic treatments, such as Darlene Johnson’s 2002 documentary Gulpilil: One Red Blood, or Derek Rielly’s 2020 book Gulpilil, there are no other interviewees or talking heads.

“People, usually whitefellas, sort of speak for or about David,’ says Reynolds, explaining the reasoning behind the “clear choices” that she and David made about how to present the documentary.

“David is the consummate performer, the consummate artist, actor. I thought, ‘What happens if he just spoke for himself?’

“I knew David’s capacity to deliver. I thought, ‘He can hold the screen,'” she says. 

Filmmaker Molly Reynolds,  a white woman in red hat and glasses, and David Gulpilil, the Yolgnu actor and dancer in an akubra
“The terrific thing was that throughout this project we developed a real affection, love and regard for one another,” says Reynolds.(Supplied: ABCG Film/Bonnie Paku)

“David really embraced that, because there were no intermediaries at all. He could just look straight down the lens, and speak it as he saw it. 

“Having said that, he’s also an actor and he likes having a director to support his work.”

Needing to stay close to doctors and hospitals, and too sick to travel to Arnhem Land, Gulpilil is observed living in a modest house — kitted out with posters of his films — in Murray Bridge, east of Adelaide, with his indefatigable carer Mary Hood.

Before each shooting session, Reynolds and Gulpilil would discuss what he wanted to talk about that day.

“I quickly learned to be a different director to what I’d normally be,” she says, describing her role as “sort of the brains trust who holds the information”.

“I was there to support his performance, even though his performance was really him.”

The interviews would run for hours. 

“Then he’d just conclude somehow so poetically, and ‘boom’, we’ve got it.”

Tying the film together into effectively one long interview, the unhurried monologues allow the viewer to really listen, and to sink into the rhythm of Gulpilil’s storytelling.

‘I like to make a film, it’s a history. I like it because it won’t rub out.’

Gulpilil’s role extended far beyond being the star interviewee.

“One day he called me up,” recounts Reynolds. “‘Molly, Molly,’ he said. ‘What I’d like to do is, I want you to wrap me in our film, in my cemetery box.'”

She had to break the news to him: “David, we’re shooting digital, not 35mm … but I got the image he was evoking, and that was really poetic, so we did end up shooting it,” she says.

The shot shows Gulpilil lying inside a coffin with his eyes closed, resting on a bed of unfurled analogue film – one of several dreamy images that appear in the documentary to suggest he is confronting his own mortality, and which often foreground his connection with the land.

“He’s got a true sense of cinema,” says Reynolds.

Actor David Gulpilil, an older Yolngu man standing on empty train tracks, in the documentary My Name is Gulpilil
The film is in English and Mandhalpingu and was filmed and produced on Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna and Andyamathana Lands.(Supplied: ABCG Film)

The new film sees Gulpilil credited for the first time in his career as a producer — alongside de Heer and his Ten Canoes co-director Peter Djigirr.

Reynolds describes Djigirr as “critical to everything we do with the Yolngu mob up there… He’s been involved in every single film we’ve made in Ramingining.”

Acting as a kind of “pivot point” between the filmmakers and the community, Djigirr also ensured that everything was done in accord with cultural protocols and traditions.

There was another crucial, if sombre, reason for his involvement, says Reynolds: “There was the expectation that David would be dead by the time we finished. So we wanted someone who … would be able to look at the film and determine how David would feel about it.”

That Gulpilil is still alive to see the finished film, walking the red carpet at the Adelaide Festival for the premiere in March, is a surprise twist ending.

“It felt so right that it worked out this way,” says Reynolds.

“One thing that pleases me about the film, for David, is that I think it has cemented his legacy,” she says. 

“It’s the culmination of all that he has done.”

‘This film will remember to generation to generation.’

In 2002, academic and cultural commentator Marcia Langton said: “David has been absolutely critical to both representing Aboriginal people in modern Australia in the cinema … and also, in his own ironic and charismatic way, undermining the stereotypes that were forced on him. He’s a tremendously important person to us culturally.”

Reflecting on this important role, Reynolds says, “I don’t think Australia yet appreciates [David’s contribution] enough.”

“And I really, really do hope that, on behalf of all of us, whitefellas and blackfellas alike, that we do get to that point.

“My Name Is Gulpilil may just be a reference to help us get there.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/vK1DLvEkvtA?feature=oembedYOUTUBEMy Name is Gulpilil trailer

Peter wrote in 2014: My Granddad and World War I

One hundred years ago the most terrible of wars began. Up to that time there had been no war like this. I blame the industrial societies for it. In their search for growth potential they did not allow any restrictions; “markets, customers and resources,” was the cry for the “promised land”.

My Granddad, Otto Hannemann, was a carpenter foreman in the growing city of Berlin. Born in the small town of Lukenwalde, south of Berlin, he looked for work in the big city to support his growing family. In the first picture we see him with one of his two daughters and my dad. It seems they are all dressed up for  a Sunday outing. In July 1907 my father was six years old.

July 1907

July 1907

These were the years of peace and  future  well being. I don’t know much about my Granddad. My father seemed to be proud of him and proclaimed that “he built all the bridges” over the railway lines out of Berlin to the South. In the next picture we see him with some workers on a building site. I have been assured that he is in the picture. I think it is him on the far left with his hat on. The occasion is most likely a “Richtfest”,  the celebration of the erection  of the roof supports.

IMG_20141103_0001

When the war started he was not called up straight away. Only later, in the beginning of 1916, he was called upon as he was a reservist (Landjäger). In the picture he looks rather serious, probably anticipating what lay ahead of him.

Early 1916, it is still Winter

Early 1916, it is still Winter

It is the same picture my Grandmother had in a large frame on the wall of her bedroom. It seems he had his training in Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg.

The next picture was taken on the 15th February 1916. He was sending the card as a birthday gift. For whom, I don’t know. You can see him on the left in the back row.with the arrow pointing at him.

15.2.1916

15.2.1916

In the next picture you can see him second from the left in the centre row. On the back he wrote that those are the men from room 13 and he added, which mystifies me,  “the ‘washer children’ are not in the picture”. Whatever this means?

14.4.1916

14.4.1916

The next picture could be from the same period. The soldiers in “drill uniforms” usually worn on work duties. It looks to me they are waiting to be issued with food. He is in the centre and is marked with a red cross.

IMG_20141103_0005

I have no idea when he was sent to the Western Front. Perhaps he was even opposite Australian forces.

The following photo was made on Sunday 14th May 1916. It tells on the sign  “Rat-Goulash on the menu for the day”.

14 th of May 1916

14 th of May 1916

On the 15th of July 1916 he wrote at the back of the photo that he sent to his loved ones, that really they don’t have to eat rat-goulash yet. The picture has been staged he assured the readers, but still there are lots of rats to be seen. And they say Germans have no sense of humour.

I don’t know what happened to him after his arrival at the front. We know from the war reports and history books that it was hell. On the 2. 12. 1916 he fell. Some reports tell of cold and frosty days. He is buried in a war cemetery just  outside Lille.#

Granddad's final resting place.

Granddad’s final resting place.

When the fighting stopped all soldiers hoped they saw the last of it. But the struggle was not over. World War Two, the next conflict, was even worse.

Sacred Space

https://iview.abc.net.au/video/RN1911H003S00

Series 34 Sacred Space – James Ricketson

Geraldine Doogue seeks powerful connection with prominent Australians through an investigation of their sacred space. Filmmaker James Ricketson talks about his connection to his home in the northern beaches of Sydney.Share

This episode was published 9 months ago.PLAYduration: 27 minutes27m

I, Uta, think this is a beautiful documentary!

James Ricketson

Australian film director

James Staniforth Ricketson is an Australian film director who, in June 2017, was arrested while flying a drone at a Cambodia National Rescue Party rally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and charged with espionage, a charge he denies. WikipediaBorn: 1949 (age 71 years), SydneyRelativesStaniforth Ricketson (grandfather)Criminal chargeEspionageEducationAustralian Film Television and Radio SchoolAwardsAACTA Award for Best FilmAACTA Award for Best Adapted ScreenplayAlan Stout Award for Best Short Film