Intorducing… Batmail. The U.S. Postal Service teamed up with DC Entertainment to create a limited edition stamp collection to commemorate Batman’s 75th anniversary. The collection features four renditions of the caped crusader over the years and will make its official debut on Oct. 9 at New York Comic Con 2014.
Oct. 7, 1955: Allen Ginsberg reads 'Howl' for the first time, at San Francisco’s Six Gallery
Before Allen Ginsberg invoked the ire of authorities with the frank (and frequent) depiction of sexual acts in “Howl” — “in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses’ rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too” — he stunned a crowd of drunk poetry fans at San Francisco’s Six Gallery.
On this evening in 1955, Oct. 7, Ginsberg performed the piece in public for the first time at a poetry reading which had been advertised by a postcard proclaiming: “Remarkable collection of angels all gathered at once in the same spot. Wine, music, dancing girls, serious poetry, free satori.”
The wine and the satori — deep understanding, in the zen sense — went hand in hand. In his novel The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac fictionalized the event with a description of circulating gallon jugs of California burgundy among the increasingly raucous crowd, “getting them all piffed so that by eleven o’clock when Alvah Goldbrook [Ginsberg's stand-in in the novel] was reading his wailing poem ‘Wail’ ['Howl'] drunk with arms outspread everybody was yelling ‘Go! Go! Go!’”
Those who were there said the reading felt like a revolution — poet Michael McClure said that it pushed the art form past the “point of no return” — but critics gave the poem mixed reviews. The poet James Dickey called it “a whipped-up state of excitement,” but scolded that “it takes more than this to make poetry.” Poet and critic Paul Zweig was more reverential, saying that “Howl,” “almost singlehandedly dislocated the traditionalist poetry of the 1950s.”
Government officials, meanwhile, found it intolerably vulgar. When it was published about the year after that first reading, U.S. Customs agents seized Howl and Other Poems when it arrived from its London-based printer on grounds that it was indecent and obscene; San Francisco police arrested Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who published it, and Shigeyoshi Murao, manager of City Lights Books, who sold it.
Mid-century America simply wasn’t ready yet for Ginsberg’s offer of free satori, it seemed. In 2007, on the 50th anniversary of the poem’s obscenity trial, Ferlinghetti told the New York Times he believed the charges were related less to the poem’s four-letter words than to the revolutionary ideas it expressed.
A San Francisco judge (and Sunday school teacher) later exonerated both the men and the poem, ruling that Howl had “redeeming social importance.” He may not have supported its ideas, but he was a stickler for self-expression: “Would there be any freedom of press or speech if one must reduce his vocabulary to vapid innocuous euphemism?” the Times story quotes from Judge Horn’s 1957 opinion. “An author should be real in treating his subject and be allowed to express his thoughts and ideas in his own words.”
Hindsight would confirm the judge’s wisdom. In 1985, TIME’s R.Z. Sheppard noted that, “the man once feared as a weevil in the nation’s moral fiber is in a disarming state of equilibrium. Cultural norms have adjusted in Ginsberg’s favor since 1956, when he disturbed the peace with Howl.”
Read the 1985 piece about the poet, here in TIME’s archives: Mainstreaming Allen Ginsberg
"Gone Girl" and other Ben Affleck films highlight the universal challenges of managing financial and career setbacks
“Want to test your marriage’s weak spots? Add one recession and subtract two jobs.”
That voiceover line establishes tension early on box-office topper Gone Girl, which grossed $38 million this weekend—a personal record for director David Fincher, who adapted Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel of the same name.
Ben Affleck, who plays a laid-off journalist suspected of murdering his wife in the film, is no stranger to characters whose motivations involve money. His portrayal of Gone Girl‘s Nick Dunne is the latest in a string of roles in which the pursuit of financial comfort (or the lack of it) drives motives and actions: There’s also the white-collar-turned-blue-collar worker in The Company Men, the rich and corrupt broker in Boiler Room, and the single father struggling to raise his daughter in Jersey Girl.
In these and other films, the economy and its discontents share the spotlight with Affleck. We mined the actor’s filmography for the ways in which these recurring themes raise questions—and, in some cases, offer insights—about money, job security, and work-life balance. Here are 6 lessons gleaned from Affleck’s oeuvre (the hits as well as the dogs).
Without revealing any spoilers, it’s safe to say Gone Girl is a story born of the recession.
Nick and Amy Dunne, onetime New York “it” couple, experience “his-and-her layoffs” from their magazine-writing jobs in the city, forcing them to relocate to a quiet (fictional) Missouri town.
Their marriage disintegrates as financial tensions build, in part because of how emasculated Nick feels borrowing money from Amy’s trust fund—and how annoyed Amy feels watching Nick spend it.
While the whodunnit that follows is hardly typical of most American spouses, the Dunnes share one thing in common with the average U.S. couple: disagreements about finances.
When MONEY surveyed more than 1,000 married adults this summer, we found that money is the biggest cause of conflict for couples, with 70% of respondents saying they argue about finances—above chores and even sex. In fact, 60% of those surveyed said they check their bank balances more often than they get frisky in the bedroom.
Improving communication with your spouse about money is not something easily fixed overnight, but there are a few steps you can take. Take a cue from some real couples who have bettered their financial relationship: Create a fair division of labor when it comes to managing household finances, be conscious of showing appreciation of each other, and bring in a third-party mediator before things get really out of hand.
Though it’s based on the same pump-and-dump penny stock sale scheme that sent New York broker Jordan Belfort to prison, the 2000 film Boiler Room is no The Wolf of Wall Street.
For one thing, the “I am a millionaire” speech Ben Affleck’s character delivers to prospective brokers is the closest the film comes to making wealth—and greed—seem sexy. And unlike Wolf, the movie focuses on the consequences felt by victims of the scam, many of whom were older adults conned out of their life savings over the telephone.
Two big money takeaways from Boiler Room? First, in addition to stressing a relationship, bad communication also makes it harder to protect your family from scams. Harry, one of the film’s fictional victims, might have avoiding losing his money along with his marriage if he had involved his wife in his investment decisions. Likewise, it’s hard to protect vulnerable people in your life—aging parents, for example—if you don’t know how they are managing their money. So, after you sign up for the FTC’s scam alert emails, schedule that tough talk with your folks.
Second, it’s never wise to invest in something you don’t understand—and most people don’t understand penny stocks. Even if outright fraud is not involved, here’s an explanation from MONEY’s Pat Regnier of why you should beware of penny stocks.
Another Ben Affleck flick that plays on class and recession themes, The Company Men focuses on the aftermath of mass layoffs at a shipbuilding company.
Affleck’s character, Bobby Walker, must adapt to a blue-collar gig installing drywall with his brother-in-law (played by Kevin Costner) after losing his management job at the company and kissing his six-figure salary goodbye.
Though Walker’s storyline touches on tough experiences that anyone who’s unexpectedly lost a job might recognize, like “humiliating outplacement seminars” and moving in with parents as an adult, an even harder fate is had by Walker’s colleague Phil Woodward. He gets hit not only by downsizing but also ageism, “advised to dye his gray hair and to tweak his résumé to omit any work reference before 1990.”
Which is not to say that anyone facing a job loss should be without hope. First, if the writing is on the wall, prepare yourself by reviewing your company’s exit policy and downloading the professional contacts you’d like to keep to your personal computer or phone.
Second, consider this a chance to remake yourself in a new career, as Affleck’s character eventually did. Just be sure you revise your resume to focus on the transferable skills that are relevant to prospective employers.
If there’s one takeaway from 2010’s The Town, which Affleck both starred in and directed, it’s to choose your bank wisely.
Affleck’s character, Doug MacRay, robs a nearby bank with his gang and briefly holds hostage (then releases) a bank manager who happens to live in their neighborhood—a dangerous turn of events, since she can help identify them to the police.
Hopefully when you’re picking a bank you’re focused on how to avoid fees, not arrest, but choosing the nearest branch still has consequences. The biggest and most visible banks with brick-and-mortar locations tend to be the ones that charge the highest fees and pay the lowest interest among competitors.
Until MONEY’s 2014 Best Banks in America story comes out on October 31, start evaluating your current bank and decide if you’re ready for a change. If you’re paying ATM fees—or, really, any fees at all—you are probably paying too much.
Kevin Smith-directed Jersey Girl includes many of the same financial motifs found in other Affleck vehicles, including layoffs and the indignity of going from riches to rags.
But there are a few key distinctions: In this case, when Affleck’s character, Ollie Trinke, loses his job as a glamorous New York publicist, there’s no recession to blame. He is sacked after trashing client Will Smith (who is cast as himself in the film). Though the situation is played for humor, it is set against a somber backdrop; Trinke’s self-destructive behavior is driven by stress following the recent death of his wife, who left him a newborn to care for on his own.
As Trinke adjusts to life in New Jersey, where he’s moved back in with his own father, he must grapple with a tough new job (as a garbage collector) and the even tougher challenge of raising his daughter. When, eventually, he gets the opportunity to return to a PR career in New York, the story gets interesting—and highlights big questions about work-life balance.
Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say one lesson from Jersey Girl is that time with family is precious, and sometimes the best career move you can make is to focus less on your career and more on your kids.
This 2003 film adaptation of the eponymous Philip K. Dick short story might be a tale you can relate to: It follows one man’s quest for justice after receiving a disappointing paycheck.
Yes, there are some differences between the protagonist (Affleck’s Michael Jennings) and most people. He is, after all, a memory-wiped “reverse engineer” who is also reasonably worried about a future-predicting device that threatens to destroy the financial system and cause nuclear war.
But more relevant to the everyman, a key plot point involves Jennings anticipating a $92 million paycheck and instead receiving a envelope full of trinkets—an only slightly exaggerated version of how many people feel looking at their post-tax pay stubs.
If, like Jennings, you find your paycheck isn’t quite what you hoped for, it’s not actually the end of the world. Just as Affleck’s character discovers that the trinkets are worth more than they seem, you might find you’re able to work with what you’ve got if you follow these two simple moves.
First, make sure you are minimizing the taxes you owe to the IRS. Contributing the maximum to your retirement account and taking investment losses when appropriate can help you reduce your taxable income, meaning you’ll fork over less to Uncle Sam at tax time.
Second, consider negotiating for a raise. Since there’s less opportunity to snag pay bumps as workers get older, there’s no time for procrastination on this point.
An exhibit at the Charles M. Schulz Museum highlights Charlie Brown's place in a changing society
Peanuts, which debuted on this day in 1950, is sometimes remembered for the cute kids and dogs that filled the comic strip’s boxes — but, as an exhibit now on show at the Charles M. Schulz Museum shows, that didn’t mean it stayed away from weighty topics.
Rather, Schulz, who created Peanuts, used Charlie Brown, Snoopy and their friends to talk about some of the most controversial issues out there. Schulz didn’t often take sides, but rather — as can be seen in the examples shown here — let his characters prompt readers to think a little more deeply.
Social Commentary is on view at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., through Nov. 2.
Captions above courtesy of the Charles M. Schulz Museum.
Oct. 2, 1950: The comic strip “Peanuts” is first published
Despite their wholesome, all-American reputation, Charlie Brown and his friends embody an amount of malaise better associated with French existentialists. Over nearly 50 years and more than 18,000 comic strips, Peanuts made punchlines out of loss and futility. The joke was on humanity. And it started right away: creator Charles Schulz relied on themes like unrequited love and the cruelty of children as early as the comic’s newspaper debut on this day, Oct. 2, in 1950. The very first strip shows Charlie Brown walking by two children, one of whom declares, over four panels: “Well! Here comes ol’ Charlie Brown!/ Good ol’ Charlie Brown… Yes, sir!/ Good ol’ Charlie Brown…/ How I hate him!”
That combination of wit, pathos and social commentary was why TIME put Peanuts on the cover in 1965, and why the power of the strip persists to this day, as evidenced by plans for a 2015 Peanuts movie, complete with 3D computer graphics, and the fact that the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., is currently hosting an exhibit about the way the strip addresses still-relevant social issues.
“Most of us will lose more often than we win. That’s the joke of Peanuts,” TIME’s James Poniewozik wrote in 1999, when Schulz announced that he would quit writing the comic. “Schulz made it funny with characters who faced a Sisyphean suburban world of kite-eating trees and yanked-away footballs with resilience and curiosity.”
Schulz, who struggled with depression and anxiety, poked fun at his own challenges by exaggerating them in his main character. (One example that Poniewozik cites: “On Tuesdays I worry about personality problems,” Charlie Brown commented in a 1960 strip. “Thursday is my day for worrying about the world getting blown up.”)
And Schulz drew on real-world friends and relations to populate the strip with its quirky characters. One, the Little Red-Haired Girl, for whom Charlie Brown pines but to whom he is invisible, was based on a former co-worker who had rejected Schulz’s marriage proposal. In his biography, Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz, he acknowledged that he had never gotten over his disappointment.
The humor of Peanuts lies in the extremity of bad luck the characters — particularly Charlie Brown — endure. Schulz’ obituary in the New York Times pointed out that Charlie Brown “once held onto the string of a kite that was stuck in a tree for eight days running, until the rain made him stop.” The obituary, reporting Schulz’s death from colon cancer the day before his final Sunday comic strip was published in 2000, goes on to quote Schulz’s summary of his formula: “All the loves in the strip are unrequited; all the baseball games are lost; all the test scores are D-minuses; the Great Pumpkin never comes; and the football is always pulled away.”
But Charlie Brown persevered nonetheless, and Schulz kept writing. More than 350 million readers joined him in laughing at life’s cruel absurdities. “You can’t create humor out of happiness,” he wrote in his 1980 book, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Me. “I’m astonished at the number of people who write to me saying, ‘Why can’t you create happy stories for us? Why does Charlie Brown always have to lose? Why can’t you let him kick the football?’ Well, there is nothing funny about the person who gets to kick the football.”
Read a 2000 remembrance of Charles Schulz, here in TIME’s archives: The Life and Times of Charles Schulz
The theme park opened on Oct. 1, 1971
A few decades ago, it was incredible to imagine a theme park surpassing the size and scope of California’s Disneyland — but Walt Disney World, which opened on this day, Oct. 1, in 1971, did. “‘World’ is right,” TIME marveled in the Oct. 18 issue of that year, alongside a map of the new attraction. “The latest Disney enterprise, four years in the building, includes a spotlessly clean amusement area, two enormous and elaborate hotels with marinas and beaches, two championship-caliber golf courses, lavishly landscaped lakes and a futuristic transportation network linking everything.”
The article went on to praise the “futuristic unisex jumpsuits” worn by workers, the $4.25 roast beef dinner at Cinderella Castle and the skill of the lawyers who worked to make Disney World “in effect a city-state” with near complete control of what goes on on its property.
So we can only imagine how much ooh-ing and aw-ing there would have been if those writers in 1971 had gotten a load of this modern map of Disney World:
Roll over to zoom; on mobile, click.
Everything included in the original map fits into the upper right-hand corner. Though the basic layout of the Magic Kingdom is unchanged, the resort — that’s Epcot, Animal Kingdom and rest of the whole shebang — now covers an area about the same size as San Francisco, by Today.com‘s count. But the craziest thing of all on that up-to-date map isn’t a new addition to the park; it’s that there’s still so much empty space into which it could still expand.
Read the 1971 article about the theme park’s opening, here in TIME’s archives: Pixie Dust Over Florida
Sept. 30, 1955: James Dean is killed in a California car crash
James Dean’s career picked up considerably after he died.
The budding film star was killed on this day, Sept. 30, in 1955 after crashing his Porsche Spyder en route to a road race in Salinas, Calif., in which he was scheduled to compete. Just 24, he was “barely a celebrity” at the time, according to a 1956 story in TIME, which went on to report that within a year of his death he had gained more popularity than most living actors. Magazine and book publishers looking to memorialize the enigmatic icon were preparing “to jump aboard the bandwagon that looks disconcertingly like a hearse,” the piece proclaimed.
When he died, Dean had acted in only three movies: East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant, only one of which had yet been released. He had worked his way up from smaller to larger roles: from appearing in a Pepsi commercial to working as a “test pilot” for stunts on a TV game show called Beat the Clock — a sort of precursor to Minute to Win It in which contestants competed in absurd timed challenges — to a well-reviewed role as a young gigolo in a Broadway adaptation of Andre Gide’s The Immoralist.
After he died, though, his fame reached new heights. By September of 1956, TIME noted Deans’ bewildering ascent to Hollywood superstardom:
Today he ranks No. 1 in Photoplay’s actor popularity poll, draws 1,000 fan letters a week (“Dear Jimmy: I know you are not dead”) at Warner’s — more than any live actor on the lot. Marveled one West Coast cynic: “This is really something new in Hollywood — boy meets ghoul.” Hollywood’s explanation: Dean not only appeals to a “mother complex” among teenage girls, but his roles as a troubled insecure youth prompted many young movie fans to identify with him.
Business types were eager to cash in on his posthumous popularity. In 1956, the story continued, Dean was still “haunting” newsstands with “four fast-selling magazines devoted wholly to him.”
He hasn’t stopped earning since. Forbes reported that in 2000, Dean’s estate raked in $3 million, very little of which took the form of royalties from his three films. Most came instead from licensing and merchandizing: “The rebellious heartthrob currently hawks everything from Hamilton watches, Lee Jeans, and Franklin Mint collectibles to cards by American Greetings, funneling funds to James Dean Inc., which is run by cousin Marcus Winslow.”
One of the many teenage girls pining for the departed heartthrob wrote to the advice columnist Dorothy Dix in the year after Dean’s death, lamenting, “I am 15 and in love. The problem is that I love the late James Dean. I don’t know what to do.” Dix advised her that time would lessen the sting of love and loss. In this case, however, the platitude’s been proved not entirely true: more than half a century on, society’s love for the late James Dean is still going strong.
Read about James Dean’s legacy here, in TIME’s archives: Dean of the One-Shotters
Rejoice, lovers of all things 80s
Popples, those iconically colorful 1980s toys that turned briefly into cartoon characters, are getting a new lease of life next year on Netflix.
The online video streaming site announced a partnership with Saban Brands — the company behind children’s shows like Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation — to create a show based on the Popples, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Netflix has ordered 26 half-hour episodes that will be available for streaming in late 2015, the Reporter says.
The series will revolve around five Popples named Bubbles, Sunny, Lulu, Izzy and Yikes, who are colorful creatures that live in Popplopolis and try to help everyone around them. Their good intentions usually backfire, leading to rather comical attempts at damage control.
Popples previously featured in a Saturday morning cartoon series that ran from 1986 to 1988.
“With the global reach of Netflix, we know Popples will reach a whole new generation of kids that will love it as much as their parents,” said Saban Brands founder Haim Saban.
Kris Jenner has filed for divorce, but her future ex-husband has something no one can take away
But don’t be too sad for the Keeping Up with the Kardashians stars: she’s got her momager empire to keep her busy, and he’s got his Olympic memories. Though she’s a much bigger presence in the reality-television world for which they’re best known these days, we would like to take this opportunity to remind readers that he was a celebrity first — and not just a celebrity. In the Aug. 9, 1976, issue of TIME, the Olympic athlete was lauded as the greatest sportsman on Earth:
Cheered on by a wildly whooping and whistling crowd of 70,000, the United States’ Bruce Jenner grimaced his way across the finish line late last Friday afternoon to claim the one Olympic honor more precious than gold: the title of “the world’s greatest athlete.”
With the waning light shining on his flapping chestnut hair, the beautifully sculpted Jenner had powered his way through the 1,500 meters, the last of the ten labors that make up the taxing, two-day decathlon competition. Too uproariously happy to notice that he had left several contestants crumpled about him in pain on the track, Jenner jogged, danced and leaped through his victory lap. Then embracing his tearfully grinning wife Chrystie, he exulted: “It’s all over. We did it!” With the single-minded ambition that distinguishes Olympic champions—a characteristic that the two-week extravaganza in Montreal brought vividly to an audience of a billion people—the 26-year-old Jenner had achieved a goal set four years ago at Munich: that he would beat Soviet Champion Nikolai Avilov in 1976.
A fierce beating it was. By the end of the first day, the only question that remained was by how much Jenner would break Avilov’s world record of 8,454. The powerfully built (6 ft. 2 in., 195 lb.) Jenner had run faster, thrown farther and jumped higher and longer than ever in his life. “I’m sitting pretty,” he said, with typical elan. “All I have to do is show up tomorrow.”
Jenner and his wife Chrystie separated in 1979.
Read more about Bruce Jenner’s Olympic glory here, in TIME’s archives: The Decathlon: Ten Tests for Two
But he performed as scheduled in Melbourne the same night
Kanye West was reportedly rushed to a hospital in Melbourne for unknown reasons on Wednesday afternoon — but was able to perform a scheduled show that evening.
Woman’s Day said that the hip-hop artist visited a Melbourne hospital for an emergency MRI.
Nurses at the hospital had to clear the MRI waiting room so that the superstar rapper could get private treatment, Woman’s Day reported, but a woman who saw West there said the singer had either experienced a seizure or was believed to be on the verge of experiencing one.
“We were shocked because it looked so serious,” Loraine Terry told the magazine.
West, who has yet to comment on the incident, left the hospital within about two hours and performed that night at the 15,000-seat Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. He will conclude his September tour of Australia with two more concerts in Sydney and a final show in Brisbane.