Public Enemies

About a month ago, my wife Lisa and I drove out to Wisconsin to visit family in the North Woods, which is what they call the northern section of the Badger State, an area full of lakes and trees and hundreds of charming little towns. Manitowish Waters is one such place, and we were told that a movie had just been shot up there starring Johnny Depp. The movie is called Public Enemies, and follows the exploits of several bank robbers from the early 1930's- you know, the Great Depression. Now not all of the movie was filmed up there, but one section, which revolved around a famous gunfight at the lodge Little Bohemia, does. The lodge is still there today, and the food is great. If you're ever anywhere near the area, go. But I'm not writing today on behalf of the Wisconsin Board of Tourism. No, I'm writing today because after we went up to Little Bohemia and heard all about the gangsters who hid out up north, my mother-in-law Red Miller gave me a copy of the book Public Enemies- which I am fairly certain is the main source for the movie. It's a great read, and follows the exploits of Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, the Barker Gang, Machine Gun Kelly, and Bonnie and Clyde. (on a tangent, click here for a very funny short music video about B and C that features Bridgette Bardot) As I read of these famous outlaws, whom have all been lionised to one degree or other by our collective pop culture, I began to think about what it was that made them popular with so many people. Never before, for me at any rate, has the answer been so clear, and so resonant. In general, American banks and the folks who run Wall Street are perceived as institutions that screw the American people over and over, all in the name of greed- and when someone comes along and takes money away from those avaricious bastards, it feels good.
I wonder what would happen if someone starting looting Bank of America somehow, or Morgan Stanley, or whoever- what if there was a gang who kept taking money from these giant operations and somehow got away with it for a while? Would there be people who cheered them? What if some rogue found a way to rob some of those CEO's of their "golden parachutes"? Wouldn't he or she be an instant hero? I bet you, in the current atmosphere of fear and desperation pervading the American psyche, that if some nut job walked up to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and kicked him in the balls, said nut job would be an instant hit on YouTube, and on the cover of every major news magazine, web site, etc. within a day.
Isn't that amazing? We now live in a time where it's really easy to understand the mindset of the average American during the Great Depression.
Speaking of which, the Dow dropped over 700 points today after the House failed to pass the economic Bail Out plan. Just exactly who are the public enemies these days?

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