The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. On The Anthropocene Reviewed, John Green rates different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale. This week 99% Invisible is featuring two episodes of The Anthropocene Reviewed in which John Green dissects: pennies, the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain, a 17,000-year-old cave painting, and the Taco Bell breakfast menu. Plus, Roman talks with John about the show, sports, and all the things we love now, but hated as teenagers.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars. On this so we tell stories about what we make and what it says about us humans, but we never rate those things on a five star scale, the enterprise seem reviewed, is here to correct that oversight. I love the show is by John Green. Is the author of bustling books, like the fault nor stars and turtles? All the way down here also make some of the best stuff on you, too, with his brother Hank today working to feature to my favorite episodes of this new podcast. That, I think, will be of particular interest to a nine ip listener. Buzz word an interview with John about a lot of things like sports and worried low pop music as an adult, I think, you're really going to like it after I got done, talk John. I just felt good all day, but life is great, but first here's an episode of the anthem foreseen reviewed
hello and welcome to the answer reviewed a podcast where we review different facets of the human centred planet upon a five star scale. Today a be reviewing seventeen thousand year old painting and the talk about breakfast menu. Let's start with the painting, so if you ve ever been or had a child, you will likely already he be familiar with hands stem cells. They were the first figurative art made by both our kids somewhere between the ages of two and three. My child spread the fingers of one hand out across a piece of paper and then, with the help of apparent traced there, five fingers? I remember my son's face ass. He lifted his hand and looked absolutely shocked to see the shape of his hand still on the paper, a semi permanent record of himself I am extremely happy that my children are no longer three and yet to look at their little
and from those early artworks is to be inundated with a strange souls. Pudding joy, those pictures, remit me that they are not just growing up, but also growing away from me running towards their own lives. But, of course, that's meaning. I am applying to their hands pencils and that complicated relationship between art and its viewers is never more fraught than when we are looking deeply into the past. In September of nineteen, forty and eight, in your old mechanic, named Marcel Robbie DOT was walking his dog robot in the countryside of south western France, when the dog disappeared done a whole robot eventually returned, but the next day Robbie DOT went to the spot, with three friends to explore the whole and after quite a bit of digging, they discovered a cave with walls covered with paintings, including over nine hundred paintings of
animals, horses, stags, bison and also species that are now extinct, including a woolly rhinoceros, the paintings worse, ANA, detailed and vivid with red, yellow in black paint made from pulverized mineral pigments were usually blown through a narrow tube, possibly a hollowed bone onto the walls of the cave. It would eventually be established that these art works, At least seventeen thousand years old to of the boys who visited the cave that day, so profoundly moved by the art they saw that they camped outside the cave to protect it for over a year after World WAR to the french government took over protection of the site in the cave was open to the public and nineteen. Forty eight when Picasso saw the cave paintings on a visit that year here. Let it we said. We have invented nothing. There are many mysteries at less go. Why, for instance, are there no pain,
of reindeer, which we know where the primary source of food for the paleo with humans who lived in that cave, Why were they so much more focused on painting animals than painting human forms? Why are certain areas of the cave filled with images, including pictures on the ceiling that required the building of scaffolding to create while other air, is have only a few paintings and were the painting spiritual he Your are sacred animals or where they practical here is a guide some of the animals that might kill you I'd from the animals. There are nearly a thousand abstract signs and shapes. We cannot interpret and also several negative handstands holes as they are known by art historians. These are the paintings that most interest me. They were created by pressing one hand with. Fingers played against the wall of the cave and then blowing pigment leaving the area around the hand painted similar
Her hands damsels have been found in caves around the world from Geneva to Spain, to Australia, to the Americas, to Africa, we have and these memories of hands from fifteen or thirty or even forty thousand years ago. These hands. Pencils remind us of how different life was in the distant past, amputations likely from frost Bite are common in Europe, and so you often see negative hands. Pencils with three or four fingers and life was short and difficult as and he is a quarter of women died in childbirth. Around fifty percent of children died before the age of five but they also remind us that the humans of the past were as human as we are, their hands, indistinguishable from ours. These come he's hunted and gathered, and there were no large caloric surpluses, so every healthy person would have had to contribute to the acquisition
of food and Water, yet somehow they still me, time to create art almost as if art isn't optional, for humans we see all kinds of hand, then on cave walls, children and adults, but almost always the fingers are spread, like my kids hands pencils, I'm no union but fascinating and a little strange that, so he paleo with EC humans, who couldn't possibly have had any contact with each other. You did the same paintings the same way paintings that we are still making, but then again What the Lascaux art means to me is likely very different from what it meant to the people who made it some action. Next theorize that the hand pencils were part of hunting rituals. Then there is always the possibility that the hand was just, a convenient model situated at the end of the wrist to me, though, the hands
pencils at less go say. I was here, they say you are not new and because they are negative, prince surrounded by red pigment. They also looked to me like something out of a horror movie like ghostly hands. Reaching up from some bloody backward and they remind me that, as Alice Walker wrote, all history is current. The let's go cave has been closed to the public for many years. Now too many contemporary humans breathing inside of it led to the growth of mould and lichens, which is damage some of the art. Just the act of looking at something can ruin it. I guess, but tourists can still visit and imitation cave called Lascaux two in which the artwork has been meticulously recreated humans, making
fake cave art to save real cave. Art may feel like peak anthropocentric behavior, but I have to confess that, even though I am a jaded and cynical semi professional reviewer of human activity, I actually find it overwhelmingly hopeful that for teenagers and a dog named robot discovered a cave with seventeen thousand year old handprints that cave was so overwhelmingly beautiful. The two of those teenagers devoted themselves to its protection and that when we humans became a danger to that caves beauty. We agreed to stop going Lascaux is there you cannot visit, you can go to them They cave we ve built and see nearly identical, handstand souls, but you will know this is not the thing itself. But a shadow of it. This is a handprint but not a hand
This is a memory that you cannot return to, all of which makes the cave very much like the past. It represents. I give the handprints pencils at Moscow, four and a half stars A few weeks ago, a listener to this podcast named Stephen EMU. We need to ask if I would consider reviewing the Taco Bell Breakfast Menu and that seemed like it. That idea, albeit one that would require me to eat a fair bit at Taco Bell, which is a fast food restaurant Jane with over, seven thousand restaurants around the world that was found, did by Marine Corps veteran named Glenn glow. Did not start out as a taco guy you, after serving in world war. Two he returned to his native southern California to seek his fortune in the Berger business. He ran
restaurant in San Bernardino called bells drive in nineteen forty eight, his business did ok, but across the street a family owned mexican restaurant called the meagre cafe was selling lots of tacos, including its famous hard shell. Tacos bell would often Edith. Amigo cafe and then go back to his hamburger stand and try to reverse engineer those popular tacos, but he could never figure it out. So eventually. And he became friends with the family that own the meat LE and they showed him. The recipe Bell started, making tacos soon thereafter so note. The meta CAFE was the setting for an important moment in american history. In the early nineties, forties public pools and other services were segregated in San Bernardino, Latinos couldn't swimming pool or sit Certain sections of movie theatres, some businesses had whites, only signs and many schools were segregated.
This series of meetings held that the meat Le Cafe Latino Church and civic leaders developed a plan to suit the city of San Bernardino and they won in fact the case Lopez. The second was cited by the Supreme Court in its famous Brown versus board of education. Decision that found segregated schools to be illegal returned to talk about momentarily, but one last note about the Meet CAFE. It's still open and today is run by the. Fourth generation of the family who founded it I've eaten their act. De, and it will not surprise you to learn that their tacos are vastly incalculably superior to talk o bell tacos but of course, taco bill isn't really in the business of being good. It aims to be good enough and consistent and inexpensive right, so
of course, the recipe for Taco Bell. Tacos was stolen by a white restaurant owners from a milk will centre forgot, Tino, community and activism, but the owners of the meat Le Cafe have never publicly expressed any resentment towards bell one. Member of the family, Irene Montana magnanimously said of him. He was a starter and he did push those tacos indeed, after opening the first Taco Bell in Downy California, in nineteen sixty two franchises of Taco Bell, spread rapidly throughout the West Coast back there The menu was extremely simple: tacos tostadas, burritos, frijoles and chili burgers, and everything cost zero dollars and nineteen cents around a buck. Fifty in today's money, people loved it by one thousand nine hundred and sixty seven. There were one hundred Taco Bell's and there were eight hundred and sixty eight when Bell sold his company to Pepsico. In,
in seventy eight four hundred and twenty five million dollars, selling Taco Bell allowed Glenn to pursue the true passion of his life, a quarters gale model. Train adventure park called Bell Gardens Belle was a lifelong model, train enthusiast, but the park which had no rides that weren't corps, her scale model trains went bankrupt after a few years. I mention all of this because I think that simple We need to understand that Glenn Bell, was not like passionate about Mexicans. Food. He saw an opportunity in a market place and he filled it. I'm not try the bashed Taco Bell. I've had many enjoyable meals there. In my younger and less nutrition oriented days and per dollars spent taco EL offers more caloric energy than normal any other restaurant, a big MAC at Mcdonald's, delivers about one point. Four five calories per penny spent a taco bell, beefy free
Here's burrito offers an astonishing four point. Two six calories per penny, also I recently eight or Taco Bell beefy Fritos burrito, under the guise of research, for this review, and for about five minutes after eating it, I felt almost euphoric. It was flavorful in intoxicating mix of crunchy. In Dewey and strangely sweet the beef with stringing the tortillas optimal and I suspect I would be horrified by a thorough accounting of the environmental and socio political costs of the beefy Fritos burrito, but still for those five minutes. I felt pleasantly and entirely satiated. Ten minutes. After that. Force, I began to feel extremely unwell, but that might be down to my generally. We constitution, rather than any fault of, who itself? All I'm saying is that Taco Bell is not like a man
gin driven institution. It seeks to turn a profit and that why I find it so fascinating. The Taco Bell didn't serve breakfast until two thousand and twelve burger king served its first breakfast in nineteen. Seventy nine Mcdonald's introduced the egg Mc Muffin way back in nineteen. Seventy two, maybe taco bill was late to breakfast because they didn't want to recreate actual mexican breakfast food, which is excellent, but bear very little resemblance to the hash, Browns and cinnamon flavoured donor tolls that Taco Bell eventually released as part of their breakfast menu?
all of which goes to show again that Taco Bell, as a company, is not and never has been interested in mexican food, except for what could be efficiently appropriated from it, which is why the taste profile of its breakfast menu more closely resembles that of burger king than anything at the Meta CAFE. I thought the donut holes were good, but it's hard to mess up fried dough. I found the grilled breakfast burrito fiesta potato to be like its name a bit over complicated. The stand out to me was the breakfast crunch rap, which wraps hash rounds, bacon, eggs and cheese into a grilled tortilla, and that Wasn't bad, but mostly my taco bell. Breakfast was what taco bells frantic and relentless marketing campaigns seem to fear the most it was boring. I find it revealing that. While there are taco bells in Romania and Australia and Brazil, you won't find one in Mexico they ve tried to
ice in ninety ninety two and two thousand seven, but both times the rest once faced the same fate as Glenn Bells Railroad, adventurer land, you can add a vow. The end of every menu item, and you can make your catchphrase yo? Kyoto taco Bell, but you can't sell your tacos in Mexico. They ain't mexican. I give the talk about breakfast menu, two stars now: here's my interview with the creator of the EP to proceed reviewed John Reed, You don't want someone asked you what you do, what in the world you say I usually say that I work in educational videos that they don't ask more questions, but if I'm feeling a little more talkative, I usually say that I'm a writer and a Youtube her right,
But I guess now I'm also applaud Gaster. So I don't know what I'd do you described the enterprising reviewed the others It is a show where I look at different facets of the human centred planet and then review them on a five star scale. It started out as as like a bit. It started out as a joke. I had with my brother, because if Yelp an Amazon reviews and good reads that everything now is reviewed on a five star scale. Not everything gets a thumbs up or a thumbs down or recommend, or I don't recommend, and what, if we applied that reviewing framework to like tracks, cones now that the initial joke that I made with him or like argyle socks and anchors, like it's good, it's funny but and so I think he ended up making a video where he used the bed. And then a higher
did up writing an essay about diet, doktor Pepper and Canada Geese, and the end of writing the essays I was like you know this isn't very funny and I gotta thought that it was going to be a funny thing by, I like it and it interests me and because I started out my career as a book reviewer it felt kind of like going home to me in a way because, even though like it is obviously a little stick to be reviewing, for instance, cholera on a five star scale, there's something about the value judgment thing that inherent to reviewing that interests me. Is it everything that we are reviewing everything on a I star scale in the world, they give it to stars. I definitely understand the urge to make simple qualitative judgments about experiences, but
If you read one STAR Yelp reviews, are you read one star good reads: reviews I think a times, there's some missing of new wants to put it generously, but also, if you read a lot of five STAR Amazon reviews theirs, of missing. If he wants, you know perhaps our read reviews of of my own books had I'll be like we both know. It's not that good. I wish it were. I wish it were the book that you're describing- and I am so grateful that, like the book ended in the hands of a reader so generous that they were able to make the book much better than the one I wrote. I do feel like over simplifies human experience, and it also gives us this constant urge to review everything we do like now. It's difficult to have a meal and not think about it in the context of a recommend. Don't recommend spectrum, and I dont know that I did that before they
if yelp tonight. So when I was talking to my producer, An editor on the show is news. Crisp Rubio is too we were talking about which stories to highlight of the increasing reviewed. I sat either I want to do to you, know cave paintings and talk about breakfast menu. And pennies and piggly wiggly and is also for and was acknowledged. No those are two so is that how you view them yet I try to pare them in ways that makes sense to me so, for instance, when I was writing about their cave paintings at go, I wanted to so right about the Taco Bell Breakfast Menu in part, because it seems so different. It's seems like a huge contrast, but also because I'm really
fascinated by the way that people try to make an impact on world, or they try to leave a trace of themselves. And I was fascinated by the way that Glenville, the founder of Taco Bell, tried to do that and by the way that the people who were painting the cave paintings at less go tried to do that. I'm MRS Schleicher, is about The combination of wine pizza environment enjoyed meningitis. What made you to us. Would argue that they're both forms of suffering, I reckon I remain essay before I wrote the Hawaiian Peter Essay and at the the viral meningitis essay. I was thinking about how the all these phenomena in human life that are really resistant to language. I think physical pain is the one that's perhaps most dramatically resistant to language, but
For me, there is also something about taste, that's resistant to language, and one of the reasons we fight, I think about hawaiian pizza is because we almost not describe to each other, how it tastes to us, and so I think, some people say, will wind, he is amiss, is, and your? U no obvious we wrong to hate it and then the people who hated are like no. No, no. No. You don't understand how tastes to me, and indeed we don't it's funny to me. What am I Pepys with? Nobody whatsoever. So it's not like I like an know. Not necessarily right is I hate when people use food, to describe other things like I did it when somebody says that, like pro, it's delicious or something like that morning. Sumptuous, our economies wanna die out so go the other way to like you can't use food words for other things: the goose only for food and there's not enough of them yeah well and even the food words that do exist.
I dont, know what they mean to some one else. Road, like I, don't, really know what sumptuous means, anyone whose as the hawaiian pizza is delicious. My definition of Delicious doesn't include why and so I'm already I'm already lost. I have no way in and they can say. Oh, it's, a wonderful mix of sweet and sour I understand what Sweden sour taste like, but that is not a wonderful mix of them to me, and so is that personalization of experience, and then the urge to share experience like wheat. We all desperately want other people to hear us and to hear our our stories and to know what our feelings feel like and they can't The subject, your show is literally everything on earth kind of centred around when you men's, where the dominant species on earth yet kind and how do you then choose things talk about? I choose what to write it,
a partly based on listener suggestions, so listeners can right in and a lot of time really interesting ideas or ideas about why. Something is interesting that I hadn't thought about before the talk about breakfast menu is actually an example of that I'd never thought about the talk about breakfast menu until somebody wrote to ask me to review it, and- and I was like this- isn't that interesting and but then fell away down the Glenville Rabbit Hole and ended up reading Glenn bells like Self published commission. And biography, and at the end it out. I was totally fascinated by why Taco Bell didn't have a breakfast menu for. So, but also have a running list of topics that I care about and I'm interested in, and that I think I have a way into whether it's story I want to tell about my life or just a story
find really fascinating. Like the cave paintings ATLAS go. I learned about those I think when I was in my twenties and I've just been a lot of time, thinking about them in reading about them, and so ready to write that review, and we each of these reviews it becomes the small memoir. Was that always your intention, initially my idea further The show was that I was gonna be separate from the reviews. I would be like an authority on everything I was gonna, be an authority on Canada, geese and diet, doktor pepper, an cave paintings and talk about breakfast menu and who I was didn't matter because I was the authority. And my wife read the first couple of essays. And she s head, you know like by you as an authoritative expert in the taste of doktor, pepper Craig. I just
Think I don't think you're a chemical engineer. I dont think that you're a professional taster and they are more interested in what your relationship is with this stuff and that's when it began. More memory, and I do right about self in it, and I do right really personal things about myself, but I am very careful to protect the parts of me that I need to protect if that makes sense- because I wasn't always careful about that and now I feel like, I have to be When I was younger, I wanted so bad we to be known. I think what I wanted was to have people like me for some reason I wanted, especially for people who didn't know me well to like me
and it just seemed like that with such an incredibly desirable outcome to have strangers. Like you win that version If that started, to happen to me, I almost immediately recognized that what I thought it would give me was not what it was given me, because I never felt- and I still don't feel like strangers like me, I feel like they like a construction that is only tangentially related to me. I'm obsessed with this think he on a real said. Once he said I worked it reads alot someday I might someday. I am I right in Haryana, Reeves enterprising, reviewed review vote. Ten countries in an interview said: I'm Mickey Mouse, they don't know, whose inside the suit, and when my
Work started to become more publicly known. That's how I felt I didn't really feel like people liked me. I feel like they liked Mickey mouse. I was inside the suit I think the difference between Keanu reads in me is that key on a reasoned knew, who he was he he knew who is inside of the suit, but I kind of didn't do you find that when you, because you listen to a lot of podcast- and I assume before that or maybe while in Philippines a public, radio and stuff, when you find like a little TED bit of personal knowledge like when Terry Gross, reveal something a little about herself. Does it feel you with them? light. The way it fills me with delight it died, and I ve done is especially when Terry Gross does it, because I've ever listening to fair growth, Verlag twenty five years, so winter growth you share. Even the smallest detail about her wife, I M completely. I love it.
Such a good feeling. I've gotta go oh well. That makes sense not always what I expect of us, describes the piles of cities on some, unlike oh my god, she's, tower and yes delicate, picture the entire home, and we want to things I've learned about you over time and when it things, I think is fine, is and I dont know about I anticipated this have from reading your books and other things and my brothers, but you of sports or certain about exports. I mean in as my growing up experience was that the people will of sports were the people who hated me. I save that these are not linked traits, but you ve decoupled them. For me in these ways that I found really profound, and so you re talk about penalties you doubts were. I know your love of
if she Wimbledon end in an indian five hundred, which is like which it kind of floored me as a subject of the fact that you love- and enough was five hundred. I think that you could assemble the parts of your character, and I can construct a version of you that would hate the Indianapolis five hundred well yeah and it passed me, did hate the Indy five hundred end panda past me: did hate sports there's a lot of my first novel looking for Alaska that something like I hate sports and I hate people play or support or participate in any way in the sports industrial complex, and that was taken right out of my high school self. I I I would watch people care about ports, and I would just think to myself. This is actually the dumbest thing you can do. We what Mary Oliver called your one. Wild and precious life like this is the worst possible way for you to use your resources
learned anything in adulthood. It's not to judge anyone else, West, you become them. That's enough! all this time. You will become all of the people that you claim to revive. I think what I love about sport is The same thing I love about going to church, which is not much to do with the extensive topic at hand, but instead the pleasure and joy that comes from a bunch, if people who otherwise might not have a lot in common orientation, their love in the same direction- and I think there a lot of value in that, and I think what I like about sports is- is the community aspect of it which why I enjoy the India five hundred so much because it's this huge gathering of all kinds of human beings and
the sport to save it at secondary would be an overstatement. I mean there's no place in the end it was five hundred seeding. Where you can see all of the Indianapolis five hundred, so it can possibly be about the sport, because you literally can't see the sport from inside the stadium ass to be about something else, and I think what it's about is tradition an shared experience and being in a community really like in the end sports are about being together. I found him, life, and I a census in your life, is that you spent a good site then the being your life being defined by the things you hated and then You yes took a hard pivot, enjoying being defined more by the things he loved do you know? Yes? Why and how that happened in both you and I I do not know when I was a teenager if you'd
asked me to say. Like ten things about myself, I would have told you ten things that I hate it here. I would have told you about what I was opposed to. I would have told you about what I thought was stupid and embarrassing and ridiculous about the human experience. I would have told you like how deeply I reviled space girls who, by the way, made good pop music- and I think I got- I got fed up with irony. I got fed up with sarcasm. I got fed up with this urge to create distance between my self and emotion- I wanted to be cool when I thought it to be cool- was to be distant, and then I stopped wanting to be cool because to be cool is to be a form of cold and I dont want to be distant from emotional expense.
Hence I think the risk of that is that it may make you into a sentimental list. It may make you into some sort of like cheesy version of yourself for me, if that's the cost of having an iron ized emotional experiences. It's worth the cost. It took me a long time to like be ok with that urge within me, I just think that ironic detachment is the single most overrated character mystic in a human being, like emotion, I like to feel things I like to feel them intensely, and I like to be able to ask big questions without creating a lot of distance between myself and the questions
if you were to review other things near life, signs sports in the spice crawls, where some of the things that had the most change, one star or zero stars to five stars and in your life that's interesting. Oh I mean the biggest one is Mary in my mind, seventeen year old self thought that marriage was the stupidest institution that humans had ever conceived of, and I love being married? That guy was crazy. I really really really being married. I think that an marriage has gotten a lot better. Since I was a kid, it's gotten a lot more inclusive. It hasn't gone all the way to where it needs to be throughout the world, but I think that's one in general pop music. I was very dismissive of partners, when I was younger and
now. I listen to a lot of pop songs. Like you know, that's on old town rode by will not ex it's been mentioned a few times, but I actually haven't heard it, but I I've heard good things. I Jenny we recommend that you listen to it. It's a good song. Is it good enough tat, my kids play at forty or fifty times day every day, but it's very good. I've also gone from one star to five stars on genre fiction, mystery novels romance novels. I love a good romance novel. I used to think that they all in the same way and their so cheesy in there. Just wish fulfilment well shot like what's wrong with which fulfilment What, when did we ve, become opposed to fulfilling wishes?
go on man, I've, just the hey. I read a very big. I got I probably now to critical of my high school self, because that means that, like in the next ten years, I'm gonna become my high school self again, so that I have to like cease being critical towards the thing My high school self- and I don't know if you're like this- is that I very dismissive of pop culture, but thus a dismissive of like large swaths of high culture that my hatred of them is just super embarrassing, like the quintessential example from my life- is that when I was a teenager, I hated the great Gatsby I thought it was. I wrote a paper that I still have done. I should destroy before I die I wrote a paper that I still have in which I called the great Gatsby, a bunch of rich Yankees with Yankee problems. I grew up in Alabama for to and like the lack of understanding in that characterisation of the great gatsby.
Is a reminder that, like one star good reads use are not necessarily reflective of the quality of work also like I'm so glad that my high school self did not have access to twitter eyes if he had I would still be living with that, and people would be like you know this guy hates the great Gatsby and got thank you for making me born in nineteen. Seventy seven when you see the things you make, in writing with the world and the image I have in my mind is at me reading. The fall our stars in bed with a moment of delight for me, but when you see your things that you make interacting with the culture of the world, how does it make you feel well and its things like aunt man reading them
on their stars? It's just like a wonderful, delightful, unexpected moment and that, when in particular was fond, because I was with my son in the movie theater: He like said out loud dad. That's your book like I know. I know that he is like that. You know that was going to happen and I like no, how could I have noticed that tape? You know called me to clear it. I would have thought they called you declare it actually he didn't, or at least if they did, they didn't call me they called someone, but to be honest, it can get overwhelming. It can get it Rolex scary, somehow were yeah Dona House how to say it, except for scary, bigger member right when the foreigner stars movie came out because it was for a few weeks like fairly close to the centre of U S pop culture like
a people were saying things about it that I thought were really kind of unfair in the way that we always are judging popular cultural phenomena. You know like I've, always felt like if something that comes very popular, there must be something at least a little bit wrong with. It was weird and uncomfortable to be in that position, but I the things like having like a Saturday night LIVE sketch, or something made out of your work that parodies your like in a way. It's fine and I thought the sketch of they made was very funny, but yeah targets not to feel really like kind of overwhelmed by it in a little like almost an urge to shut down? You know, I don't think it's a coincidence But I didn't write a novel for like six years after that book him out. I've been interviewed on tv just only a couple times a handful of times and I've never seen any of em. I just can't. I don't want to know. I don't want to know if I felt bad about it and I want to know I just know. Yes,
it is hard not I mean you know. Obviously these are like incredibly rarefied problems that I am extremely grateful to have you know like. I definitely had a moment there, where I could have chosen a path that I didn't choose like could have moved to allay or New York and gotten lots of work, and there were lots of opportunities and what I kind of chose to was to come Accurate Indianapolis and to work on making crash course, our educational video series better and to work on the stuff that I wanted to work on, that it was both lower profile, but also that I had more control over because I think part of what was so disorienting about that experience was losing some concern, oh over, both my work, on some level over might myself were released like the way that myself was being portrayed in imagined, I'm really like.
Interested in you deciding to us or a pull back and do crash course and stuff instead of doing punch up on some scriptores? Something no its not because you have disdain for, though, things. It's just that no not at all. You know it's like well, I got my thing in my things: Great Cathay, my fate, junk. I'm sure you for this joke, but you ve never heard me do so a moth walks into a paddle. Dress, offers to know this joke. I don't know, I don't know it from that. Set up. Are it then you don't know that your company, a moth likes it Who podiatrist office and their podiatrist says what seems to be the problem off and the moths as doc? If only there were one problem I mean you know my wife does love me anymore. It's not just that! You doesn't love me. I don't even remember a time when she did love me. My daughter has married a man whom I despise and who despises me My son is a wretched failure and, to be honest, when I look at him
Oh I see as a reflection of my own failures, just don't know how to go on doc. I don't know I don't know, do you know, and the podiatrist says, although seems like a very serious problems, moth, but I'm a podiatrist. What brought you here today, and the more says, oh, the light was on. I love the joke because, like The joke is that moves are stupid and let us go where the light is on, but the other thing about the joke. Is that almost all the time, human is also just go where the lightest and so I really love moments
where humans don't go where the light is on, and I really try and my own life thinking hard about. You know am I doing this because I want to do it or am I doing this because the light is on. So how would you rate our conversation on a five star scale that mean from my side, four and a half I was but I'm more worried about how you would rate it now, I'm nervous I can. We get in the moment, but I'm thinkin solid five stars. I don't mean to be one of those reviews that reviews that your skeptical of lost your to it. That's been great start here. After the break John Green Reviews, the Piggly weakly, and he just lays and the banning honestly, it's the angriest I've ever heard him more
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let us begin with the american penny, which is worth one one hundred U S dollar and is almost as old as the nation itself, the first? U S! Penny was minted in so eighteen. Ninety three, it was made of copper, wait about half an hour and was the size of a contemporary one dollar coin, which come to think of it is a useless comparison, since nobody uses. Dollar coins, even though their adoption would save the United States hundreds of millions of dollars per year, but we're not here to review the two star. One dollar bill: we're here to review the penny since one thousand, nine hundred and nine is featured the profiled face of Us President, Abraham Lincoln on the penny, was actually the first? U dot S money to be stamped with a president's face many of the? U S is founders, including George Washington felt it would be too monarchical to mint coins. Featuring? U S, leaders in fact, they're. U S meant act
one thousand seven hundred and ninety two explicitly stated that one side of copper coins should state the denomination and the other side should have a quote impression: emblematic of liberty. Today's pennies weigh about a fifth of what the eighteenth century ones do and while there still coded and copper pennies are now over. Ninety seven percent, zinc, which is cheaper than copper. But even so, everyone's coin minted in the United States costs one point eight to sense to create last year, the: U S meant law. Sixty nine million dollars minting pennies. That would be annoying, but forgivable. If penny served a purpose in our economy, but they don't money is,
the post to facilitate the exchange of goods and services which pennies manifestly fail to do. You can't use them in vending machines or parking meters, and if you attempt to use them to purchase goods or services, you will often be met with resistance and for good reason. I mean it requires overt, two pounds of pennies around a kilogram to purchase a single gallon of gasoline, and yet every year the? U S meant, makes more pennies than all other coins combined not because we use them so often to buy things, but because we don't use them, store them in jars or leave them in the terrifying nether world of our cars centre consoles, and we throw them away the million, because pennies do not work as currency, now. There are many arguments in favour of the continued production of the penny. I just don't find any
convincing some argue, for instance, that in a penniless world prices might go up and that those price increases with disproportionately affect the poor. Who are more likely to use cash in transit? since, but in fact eliminating the penny would not increase prices. We know this because Any nations have already retired their penny equivalents without any problems from the Netherlands to New Zealand. We would simply begin rounding prices to the nearest tenth of a dollar instead of the nearest hundredth of a dollar. Assuming we have the common, sense to also eliminate our five cent coins, each of which cost six point two cents to mint. If anything. This system would benefit those who use cash because they would spend the same amount of money, but no longer have to deal with pennies, which are so. Easy to receive as change and so difficult to spend people. Often resort to cashing out their small denomination coins via coin counting machines like COIN Star which charge
an astonishing twelve percent fee for the privilege of turning your pennies and nicholls in the money, you can actually spend other defenses of the penny that it honours. In order that it somehow limits inflation or just absurd. None of the kind trees that have eliminated one cent coins has seen a corresponding rise in inflation and why Abraham Lincoln want to be the face of a coin that is worth negative, sixty nine million dollars per year. The whole thing is ridiculous:. But then again, righteous indignation at the ongoing existence of the penny is also ridiculous, sixty nine million dollars represents a tiny fraction of the. U S. Federal budget like we spend about sixty eight million dollars on the military per hour. We have much bigger problems than the penny,
United States is one of the only nations that has seen life expectancy decline in the past two years, despite the fact that we spend more on health care than any other country are mass. The economic inequality is inhibiting economic growth and limiting opportunity are political systems are far too profoundly influenced by money too. Dressed and eliminating the penny will fix. None of that. But our failure to bid farewell to the penny seems to me indicative of a larger political failure. We cannot accomplish simple and obvious things, because there is nothing to be gained politically by accomplishing them. Almost all of our political discourse is focused on issues that concern Four points and energize supporters. Should this Supreme Court nominee be approved is an issue that can drive donations, should the pie
he be eliminated, is not in part, because it's not very important and in part, because it's not very divisive. There is, of course nothing surprising about the fact that Congress can't find the political will to eliminate pennies. I mean if Congress were drowning, it would struggle to pass the throw Congress, something that floats act. The EU s political system is complex by design. Change is supposed to be difficult to enact but I'm not convinced it should be this difficult in eighteen, fifty seven, the United States was only a few years away from a civil war. I know sixty years ago seems like ancient history, but consider this too, of the grandfathers of my grandfather's fought in that war on opposite sides. I know history can feel settled, but we the results of history or anything
but settled so right. It's one thousand, eight hundred and fifty seven political divisions over slavery are such that a year earlier and abolitionist senator named Charles Sumner had been beaten with a k, in nearly to death in the chamber of the United States Senate by a pro slavery congressmen named Preston Brooks who, by the way, would go on to be re elected by his constituents And yet, even then, as the house divided against itself was learning that it could not stand the United States Congress past the Coinage ACT of eighteen, fifty seven into law, among other things, the act eliminated. The half penny. Which had become too small a monetary sum to be worth minting at the time the halfpenny was worth about twelve sense in today's money. To me. The ongoing existence of the penny. Symbolizes, not only our inability to find common ground, but also
our inability to acknowledge the places where common ground already exists. In fact, I think the only vaguely convincing case when can make for the me is that as a nation, we all share it no matter where you're from or What news outlet you rely upon? No matter your age or race or gender We can all agree that the continued King of the american penny is an absolute abomination. Maybe it's worth sixty nine million dollars a year to have something that we can all dislike together and anywhere there, is something kind of american about putting our best president. On our worst coin, I give the penny one and a half stars
in nineteen twenty, my maternal grandmothers father was working at a grocery store in a tiny town in Western Tennessee. Like all? U S, grocery stores at the beginning of the twentieth century, this one was full service. You walked in with a list of items you needed and then the grocer, perhaps my great grandfather, would gather those items, they'd wait a flower or corn meal or butter or tomatoes rap everything up for you and then charge it to your account. You'd either wait for the to finish your shopping for you or for a small fee. You'd have your ordered delivered your house later in the day, like almost all grocery stores at the time, make grandfather store. Also allowed customers to purchase food on credit, which the customer would then be usually pay back over time. That story,
supposed to be my great grandfathers ticket out of poverty, but it didn't work out that way. Instead, the store closed thanks in part to the Self Service Grocery revolution, launched by Clarence Saunders Saunders was the self educated child of impoverished sharecroppers. He eventually found his way to the grocery business in Memphis Tennessee. He was thirty five when he developed the concept for a grocery store. They would have no clerks or counters, but instead a labyrinth of isles. The customers would walk themselves, choosing their own food and placing it in their own shopping. Baskets This is it Saunders Self Service Grocery would be lower because his stores would employ fewer clerks and also because he wooden offer customers credit, but instead expect immediate payment. The prices would also be clear and transparent
for the first time, every item in a grocery store would be marked with a price, so customers would no longer fear being overcharged by unscrupulous grocers Saunders called his grocery store, Piggly weekly Why? Nobody knows when asked where the name came from Saunders Its answered that it arrived from out of K, us and in direct contact with an individual's mind, which gives you a sense of the kind of guy he was usually when he was asked why anyone would call a grocery store, Piggly Wigley, he would answer so. People will ask that very question. The First Bigley Wiggly opened in Memphis in nineteen. Sixteen. It was so successful that the second Piggly Wigley opened three weeks later, two months after that, another opened Saunders insisted on calling it Piggly Wigley, the third to lend his stores, the quote
royal dignity. They are due. He soon began attaching a catchphrase to restore front signs. Piggly wigley all around the world. Of course, at the time the stores were barely all around Memphis, but Saunders Business do grow phenomena. We quickly Within a year there were three hundred fifty three Piggly weeklies around the United States. In news, for advertisements, Saunders wrote if his self service concept nearly messianic terms. One day, Memphis shall be proud of Piggly weekly one add red and it shall be said by all men that the Piggly wigley shall multiply and replenished the earth with more and cleaner things to eat. Another time he wrote. The mighty pulse of the throbbing today makes new things out of old and new things. Where was nothing before.
Basically, Saunders spoke of Piggly wigley. As today's Silicon Valley executives, talk of their companies were not just making money here, we are replenishing the earth Piggly Wigley in the Self Service Grocery stores that followed did lower prices, which meant there was more to eat. They also changed the kinds of food that were readily available to save costs and limit spoil which piggly wiggly stocked west fresh produce than traditional grocery stores. Pre packaged processed foods became more popular and less expensive, which altered american diets. Brand recognition also became extremely important, because food companies had to appeal directly to shoppers which led to the growth of consumer oriented food advertising on radio and newspapers, a phenomenon that Saunders understood better than almost any one. During the late nineteenth
in and early twenties. Piggly wigley was the single largest newspaper advertiser in the United States. Of course, lower prices and fewer clerks also meant that many people lost their jobs. Including my great grandfather. There is nothing new about our fear that automation and increased efficiency will deprive humans of work in one newspaper retirement, Saunders, imagined a woman torn between her long time, relationship with her friendly grocer and the will will prices of piggly wiggly this for he concluded, with Saunders, appealing to a tradition, even older than the full service grocer, with his protagonist, saying now away Back many years there had been a dutch grandmother of mine who had been thrifty. The spirit of that old grandmother asserted itself just then within me and said, business is business and charity and arms are another, whereupon
Our shopper saw the light and converted to Piggly weekly by eighteen. Twenty two there were over a thousand Piggly Wigley stores around the. U S and shares in the company listed on. The New York Stock Exchange. Saunders was building a thirty's six thousand Square Foot Mansion in Memphis and had endowed the school now known as roads college, but the good times would not last after a few. Piggly wiggly stores in the northeast failed investors. They up all the available shares of Piggly Wigley using borrowed money, but the gambit failed spectacularly I up all the available shares of Piggly Wigley using borrowed money, but the gambit failed spectacular way and Saunders lost control of Piggly wiggly and went bankrupt. His vitriol at Wall Street Short sellers priests aged contemporary corporate titans, just as his reliance on big advertising and hyper efficiency did Saunders was, by many accounts, a bully verbally abusive, cruel
and profoundly convinced of his own genius after losing control of the company, he wrote they have it all everything I built the greatest stores of their kind in the world, but they didn't get the man that was father to the idea. They have the body of Piggly weekly, but they didn't get the sole Saunders quickly developed a new Concept for a grocery store, this one would have isles and self service, but also clerks in the Meat Department and the bakery, basically a contemporary super market. In under a year, he was ready to open the new owners of Piggly Wigley took him to court, arguing that the use of the Clara Saunders name in relation to a new grocery store would violate Piggly, Wigley trademarks and patents in Response Saunders defiantly named his new grocery store. The Clarence Saunders, sole owner of my name store, perhaps the only
business name worse than piggly wiggly, and yet it succeeded tremendously and Saunders made it. Second fortune as sole owner stores spread throughout the south. He went on to invest in a professional football team in Memphis, which he named the Clarence Saunders sole owner of my name tigers. Really, they played the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago bears in front of huge crowds in Memphis, and they were invited. To join the NFL, but sound there's declined because he didn't want to care revenue or sent his team to away games. He promised to build a stadium for the tigers that would seat over thirty thousand people, the stadium he wrote we'll have skull crossbones for my enemies who I have slain Then, a few years the sole owner stores were crushed by the depression. The football team was out of business and he was broke again
Meanwhile, the sole body of Piggly Wigley was fairing quite well without Saunders by the supermarket chains. Eight in nineteen thirty two there were over twenty five hundred we will, in the United States and even to hey there over six hundred, mostly in the south, although like many grocery stores, they are struggling under pressure from the likes of Walmart and die our general, which can undercut traditional grocery stores on price, partly by providing even west fresh food and fewer clerks than today's picture. Weeklies do these days, Bigley Wiggly adds tend to focus on tradition and the human touch one North Alabama Piggly Wiggly tv spot from ninety. Ninety nine included this line at Piggly wiggly. It's all about friends serving friends:
call to the kind of human to human relationships that Saunders ridiculed. In that dutch grandmother. Add the mighty pulse of the throbbing today does make new things out of old, but it also makes old things out of new. Today. Prices are lower relative to average wage than they have ever been in the United States, but our diets are often poor. The average american ingests, more sugar and sodium than they should largely because of processed prepackaged foods. As for Clarence Saunders. He spent decades after his second bankruptcy Trying to launch a new concept called the key diesel I totally automated store that looked like a massive bank event: machines and involved purchasing food with almost no humor. Into human interaction.
He was also one of the first business people to spend private money on newspaper advertising for political candidates running adds, including virulently racist ones, for his preferred gubernatorial candidates. Saunders grew more vitriolic and unpredictable as he aged. He could never get the key diesel to work. The machinery broke down constantly and people found the shopping, experience, slow and clung He eventually entered a sanitarium, the treated people with anxiety and depression. The mansion Saunders built with his first fortune became the Pink Palace museum. Memphis is science in History museum the estate he built with his second fortune became victim in nature centre in nine Thirty. Six, the journalist Ernie Pile, said: if Saunders lives, long enough Memphis will become the most view before city in the world. Just with the thing Saunders built and lost
but Saunders never made a third fortune. He died at the wheel. The sanitarium in nineteen. Fifty three at the age of seventy two one. Obituary bit pined some men achieve lasting fame through success, others achieve it through failure. Saunders was a huckster. He made securities fraud he helped usher in an era of food that fills without nourishing. He was also a genius ahead of his time, who understood the power of branding and efficiency, but mostly when I think of Piggly Wigley, I think of it swallowing up the small town grocery stores only to be swallowed itself by the likes of Walmart, which will in turn be swallowed by the likes of Amazon. Joyce called Ireland, the south that each her Pharaoh. But Ireland has nothing on american capitalism. I give piglet,
two and a half stars the ever seen. Reviewed is written by John Green edited by stand mother and produced by rosy ANA Hoss, Rojas, Antonia, Philips Floored is their technical director and his brown makes the music the enterprising reviewed as a co production of complexly and w in Y see studios. Every episode is a job, find it and download it. Wherever you get your PA guests many represented visible was Bruce this week by crisper reuben mixing,
production by refusing music by Sean Rio Katy Mingle is a senior producer. Critical stance is the digital director recipe senior editor Delaney Home every Trautmann turn Massa in it. Fitzgerald Vivian leaves Sophia clots, cordial Rosenberg. In me, roman Mars, we are project to ninety one point: seven K, L W in San Francisco in produced on radio row in beautiful, downtown, Oakland, California, ninety nine percent, invisible as a member of Radio Tokyo from Pierre acts are fiercely independent, collective of the most innovative shows in all a pod casting vine mom. Radio Toby done at you can buy the show enjoying discussions about ashore on Facebook. Entreated me at Roman Mars in the show at ninety nine p I or a groan, Instagram Tumblr, and ready to have links to the intimacy reviewed and the entire catalogue of ninety nine July episodes. That John says inspired him to make the intimacy reviewed. I hesitate to say this because I know how
sound, but what I was thinking about what I wanted to do in terms of podcasting. I thought a lot about the way that ninety percent invisible approaches stories and that concept of always reading the plaque. If you pay really close attention to something, you can generally learn, unexpected and exciting ways on the website its nine ip I dot. Org Radio do.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.