Get Smart

A hybrid of “get rich quick”, but with social responsibility and a sense of flair.  I’m itching to do these projects.  Anyone want to help?

     1.      Norman Rockwell Movie: Representational painting made a brief comeback a few years ago, but quickly disappeared again. Now everyone is gaga for weirdness, abstraction, “magic realism”, graffiti art and comic books. The traditional maturity found in religious art was kept alive by Rockwell for many years. However, this form of popular culture has vanished in the US. Kids are no longer familiar with Rockwell. Years ago I stayed at a fat farm near his home and museum in the Berkshires. Inspired after a visit, I decided all his classic narrative paintings could be strung together over a story line, “tableaux vivant” style. Each moment caught in the paintings would freeze for 30 seconds or so and then the movie would resume. Great way to introduce youth to one of the country’s greatest artists.
  2.   Large Print:  This is about where “health food” was fifty years ago—drab, one-windowed, cement-block outlets off the highway shopped by nurses and an occasional elderly person.  A couple of publishers are trying to respond, but their efforts are negligible.  Most paperback books are difficult if not impossible to read.  Not only are the paper horrid and print tiny, but also the books themselves have become unusually small, as if to imitate the size of hand-held devices, or in order to cram more units on a shelf.  However, as baby boomers mature into the macular degeneration stage and, simultaneously, public schools fail to instruct reading effectively, the days of even normal print are coming to an end.  Soon all print will be “large print”.  Not only will middle-aged eyestrain be less, but—much more importantly—children will learn to read more efficiently.  An epidemic of physical obesity is nothing compared to one of intellectual deficit, which is more lasting.  Some grade school textbooks, here and there, have responded to the research showing clearly that kids and teens read and retain large words, but most have not.  And don’t bother trying to find a decent large print selection at your local bookstore.  None exists. This is a huge opportunity for the publishing industry.
  3.   The MAC Car:  I get warm and fuzzy when I drive behind a MAC truck.  Good old American product with a fabulous brand, logo and history.  Great image of toughness and durability, second only to Ford.  But no cars!  End run around the foreign manufacturers by designing a basic “model T” or VW of type breakthrough, such as an improved Smart car, an extremely simple hybrid, or a covered 3-wheel motorcycle.  Then use MAC’s manufacturing and distribution to market it, not just in the US but worldwide.  Blow the competition away.  Find the best designer and make him the product czar.  He’s probably finishing up his last year at Missouri State at Rolla (or ending his last year of high school in Novosibirsk).
  4.   Boot Camps:  In the 1990s, after the Soviet Union collapsed and our military bases began closing, I thought someone would start civilian boot camps, utilizing retired drill sergeants and the old training locations, especially in the southeast to get the winter pre- and post- holiday traffic.  Most spas and fat farms are luxurious social clubs for the elderly, as they’ve been for centuries.  However, the obesity epidemic requires that everyone “drop and give me 20”.  The lazy of all ages require the consistent external discipline that children love.  People enjoy being trained and pay big bucks for it.
  5.   Penitentiary:  Similar to #4, allow people to send themselves to jail from time to time, whenever they want.  Again, like obesity, we also suffer a moral softness epidemic.  Shame!  Thirty days hard labor, bread and water.  Or Pilates, multigrain bread and Fiji water, if necessary, to sell the concept, but no pleasures and no freedoms.  Look what it did to Martha Stewart.  It could actually become trendy.
  6.   Reverse Pedagogy:  Just as the Rockefeller-funded progressive movement in public education spawned the failed “whole word” method of literacy instruction, the science establishment influenced secondary schools to teach a progression from biology to chemistry and finally physics. However, this is wrong.  Just as a child must learn first the sounds and letters of the alphabet and syllables, so students must learn the basics of motion, heat and light, etc., before moving on to more complex elements, molecules and, eventually, organisms.  The natural progression should be physical science in freshman year, chemistry (liquids and gases) and then organisms, from lower to higher.  For advanced kids, a senior year of genetics.  High schools have it exactly the reverse, just as grade schools require illiterate children to memorize the visual image of a word before they’ve learned the alphabet.
  7.   Mass Production of Adulthood:  After many years in horticulture, I’ve seen countless generations of plants come and go.  Although they are much simpler than animals, they still follow precise stages of growth.  Humans do also, and our complexity makes our stages even more important and dynamic.  Yet, as a society, we marginalize adulthood, recognizing it by a numbered age.  Indeed, public education was envisioned to do just this, but now that it has failed so spectacularly—and in a free society to boot—perhaps the private sector could offer “maturity centers” to train and advise our youth on adulthood issues such as voting, drinking, driving, personal responsibility, family.  Perhaps I’m all wet and this is already being done.  Not having a family, I don’t see it, or anything like it, anywhere.
  8.   Choral Marches:  Many folks listen to music while hamstering away on a treadmill, elliptical or Stairmaster.  This surreal image is multiplied 50X at my health club.  Why do we not sing?  Many people have great voices.  And why wait for July 4th or an ethnic festival to participate in a march or parade?  Every town and village should have a regular schedule of all-day parades—at least four seasonal marches per year—with choral directors to organize popular festival and historic songs related to each season.  This would enable singing, as well as neighborly fellowship, to become normal—a pattern of life rather than isolated events. Perhaps if just one group of towns did it, it might spread from there.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 at 9:01 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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