David Bruce: Boredom is Anti-Life — Prejudice, Problem-Solving


• In 1936, the Nazis invited modern dance pioneer Martha Graham to perform at the International Dance Festival, an event they were holding in conjunction with the Olympic Games. She declined, pointing out that many members of her dance company were Jewish and that she would not dance in a country that persecuted Jews. After World War II was over, Ms. Graham’s name appeared on a list of people the Nazis were going to “take care of” once they had conquered the United States.

• Many teenagers, and especially gay teenagers, have a difficult time in high school. After high school, a gay man attended a Forgiveness Workshop, where he was told to bring photographs of the people who had hurt him in his youth so that he could throw the photographs into a pink, heart-shaped wastebasket. The gay man threw his high school yearbook into the wastebasket.

• Bert Williams was a famous black comedian who performed in the Ziegfeld Follies early in the 20th century. While touring in a southern city, Mr. Williams walked into a bar and ordered a drink. The bartender said, “OK, but it will cost you $50.” Mr. Williams reached into his pocket, took out three $100 bills, laid them on the bar, and said, “I’ll take six.”


• Michael Wigge, a German television personality, is able to come up with good ways to make money when needed. In San Francisco, California, he wanted to raise money so that he could fly to Costa Rica. He raised the necessary $300 with pillows. He says, “I took two pillows from my couch-surfing hosts and offered pillow fighting to passersby for a little donation. San Franciscans really seem to be in need of a good pillow fight. A young man in Dolores Park took a pillow and hit me in my face as hard as he could — I didn’t even have a chance to fight back. Two businessmen opted to fight each other on their lunch break and gave me $20 to stay out of it. People started queuing up in Golden Gate Park to take part.” This worked: He raised enough money to fly to Costa Rica. Other ways that he has raised money to fund his travel is by acting as a human sofa: He gets on all fours and lets people sit on him and catch their breath. His sign said, “Relax for one dollar by sitting on the human sofa!” In addition, he has worked as a hill helper. San Francisco has steep hills, and he helps people climb up hills. He says, “As the Hill Helper, I pushed groaning tourists up the incline [of Lombard Street] by holding their back with my hands. They leaned back and put their entire weight on my hands to be pushed uphill. It was real backbreaking work (my back, not theirs).”

• Early in Marilyn Monroe’s career, when she was a model, a photographer told her that her nose was too long. Emmeline Snively, owner of the Blue Book Agency, examined Ms. Monroe’s face and told her that she needed more space between her nose and her upper lip. One way to solve the problem would be to develop a new smile — one in which as she smiled she pulled down on her upper lip. Ms. Monroe developed the new smile, but the effort of smiling in this way made her lips tremble. By the way, in 1953, both Ms. Monroe and Jane Russell, co-stars of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, had the honor of being immortalized outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater by putting their handprints and writing their autographs in wet cement. Ms. Monroe signed her name, then dotted the “i” in “Marilyn” with a rhinestone in honor of her song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Unfortunately, a souvenir seeker quickly stole the rhinestone.

• Screenwriters Ben Hecht and Charlie MacArthur once had a hard time dealing with their mail — reading and answering it took too much time away from their work. Finally, they found a way to solve their problem. They hired someone to dump their mail — still unopened — into the fireplace each morning. By the way, Mr. Hecht once said, “A town without a newspaper is a dead town. Without newspapers, without their daffy headlines, their pontificators and buzzing columnists and pictures to look at, a town loses its identity. You don’t realize how important papers are when they’re rolling off the presses, but when the presses stop, you feel Scheherazade has left town. One can’t help but yearn for the fellow who writes the daily mad-hatter drama of the town, Mr. Journalism.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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