The Atlantic City Public Works department held an important hearing on January 11, 1973. Up for discussion was a suggested name change to two Atlantic City Streets, Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues. Well such a hue and cry went up throughout the nation that those Public Works people backed right down, going so far as to hide under their desks. Sure, the Watergate scandal and such stuff was going on, but this was major.
For those who have just arrived from another planet, Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues are properties in the game of Monopoly. Monopoly is of course the classic Parker Brothers game introduced in 1935. Hasbro acquired the game and has gone on one of the most amazing marketing sprees in commercial history. Anything is fair game for a spinoff – cities, regions, countries, movies, celebrities, cities and pop culture, to name a few . There’s a Star Wars Monopoly and Star Trek Monopoly, Nintendo Monopoly and Pokemon Monopoly: Superman, Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean. In most of these special editions, Baltic Avenue is the first property to lose its original identity.
Nevertheless, the poor Public Works bureaucrats were targeted for a lynching at the very least. Never mind that Illinois Ave was changed to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and that there never was such a place as Marvin Gardens.
For those of you who haven’t visited Monopoly in a while, you’ll be surprised to see that Baltic and Mediterranean are no longer purple properties; now they’re brown. They’re still the cheapest properties on the board at $60. But they are the properties least likely to be landed on.
A Monopolycentric website 11points.com outlines a strategy for winning with these properties: “Buy as much property as you can early on, even Baltic or Mediterranean…You will very gradually bleed the other person dry… but it will be a long, slow, boring death. Like, if you decided to kill someone by planting a tree in their yard, waiting until it grew taller than their house, then chopping it down so it lands on them. That’s victory via Baltic.”
I think it’s wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly. — Steven Wright
Proposed by a Cat, Perhaps
A 1771 proposal argued that a 5 shilling tax should be imposed on dogs throughout England — and especially in London where far too many dogs were kept. “Ladies and gentlemen who keep lap dogs by way of diversion, and keep them better than many poor families live, cannot refuse so small a sum for the sake of their pretty play-things, and if they would rather destroy them than pay so small a tax, their servants may be employed to much better services, and more to their own satisfaction.”
The author of the proposal calculated that there were a good million dogs and that if half of them were “knocked on the head,” there would be a more reasonable population of dogs still plentiful enough to generate substantial revenue.
Several years later, a tax was imposed on ‘dogs with tails’ for the dual purpose of raising revenue and reducing the number of dogs (and consequently the number of attacks on livestock and people). This led to the trend in doggie fashion of bobbed tails.
But Can You Smoke It?
We may never know why he did it — perhaps as a joke or prank — but on January 11, 1770, Benjamin Franklin shipped the first ever rhubarb to the United States. Americans were unimpressed until years later when Thomas Jefferson began to cultivate it and it finally caught on.
Rhubarb had been around in other parts of the world for a good 5,000 years. Fried rhubarb was used as a laxative in Imperial China. Greeks and Romans used it as well and gave it its name Rha (Greek for the Volga River) and barbarum (Latin for barbarian , anyone who was not a Roman). Marco Polo waxed poetic about Chinese rhubarb. It was a prized commodity on the Silk Road to Europe. And in Europe heavy demand made it more expensive than cinnamon and twice the price of opium (which explains why there weren’t very many rhubarb dens).
Rhubarb is a vegetable but is treated and cooked as a fruit. It tastes like a very sour apple which is why all rhubarb recipes use copious amounts of sugar. Why bother? Because it’s healthy as all get out, jam packed with such goodies as dietary fiber, vitamins C and K, B complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, beta carotene just to mention a few.
Stalk of rhubarb, anyone?