Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Eroding Legacy of Curious George

(all images from: Curious George Takes A Job, copyright 1947.).

"He was a good little monkey _ but he was very curious."

As a strong advocate of the simian races, I remember Curious George as one of the important role models of my youth. So I was sorely disappointed when I purchased "A Curious George Treasury" recently from for my son.

Gone were the tales of mad monkey adventure I remembered. In their place were a bunch of predictable, harmless stories with the life and danger sucked out of them.

My son wasn't interested at all.

Then, while I was back home this month, I picked up one of my old Curious George books, called "Curious George Takes A Job" and it was every bit as good as I remember. My son loved it too.

I figured out later that the "Treasury" they're selling on Amazon actually wasn't done by either the original illustrator or author. They date from around 2000. What a scam.

"Curious George Takes A Job" begins with George stealing his keeper's keys and busting out of jail. He then goes nuts with some spaghetti in a restaurant and has to wash dishes to pay it off.

He gets a job as a window washer on a skyscraper and eventually breaks into somebody's house to paint it up like a jungle. When he gets chased away, he gets a compound fracture while jumping off a fire escape.

This is the Way of the Monkey.

But the ether incident is definitely the highlight.

"There is nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a man in the depths of an ether binge."

-Hunter S. Thompson.

If you're wondering, the story concludes with The Man in the Yellow Hat smoking big cigars after landing a movie contract for the story of George's life.

On a serious note, according to Wikipedia, the "Curious George Gets a Job" story is closely based on the life of a German boy with Down Syndrome who eventually became an artist. He's believed to have killed by the Nazis, presumably for either eugenics or as a producer of 'degenerate art.'

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