Saturday, July 7, 2018

When The Onion is beaten by reality - the REAL imitation of Yellowstone National Park

Several years ago, well-known satirical website The Onion ran an article entitled Yellowstone National Park Concerned About Competing 'Yello-Stone Natural Park' Built Right Across Street. The article described the opening of a competing, similarly named park right next to the well-known national park. Well, perhaps not so well-known, according to one park visitor quoted in The Onion's piece:

"At least it was great to finally see Old Reliable in person," Danaher added. "I had no idea that it spouted every hour on the hour and erupted in sync with classic rock hits each night at 7:30."

Of course, The Onion (unlike some of its detractors) often writes pieces that make you think. And while that probably wasn't the intent of this article - it was written during Barack Obama's first term, back when Ryan Zinke was an obscure Montana state senator. But it did get me thinking about something.

Basically, the Onion's story about an imitator to Yellowstone National Park happened for real.

And it happened decades before the 2011 Onion article.

Let's go back to the summer of 1968. While some people were protesting the Vietnam War, Doug Haag was driving around Wisconsin.

As he whizzed past numerous cars packed with families and pulling pop-ups and trailers, the concept struck him. All these campers needed a place to stay and might want something better than a campground along a busy highway. What if there was a “destination” campground, where families could spend their vacations swimming, playing, and enjoying nature?

Having bought the land for his destination campground, Haag had to name it.

From his advertising experience Haag knew, “In order to draw campers, we needed a clever and recognized name for our campground. My partner and I and our families had many discussions about names. Paul Bunyan, Lewis & Clark, Hiawatha, Pocahontas, Robin Hood, sports stars, and historical figures. We went through them all, but nothing seemed to fit.”

But then one day Haag happened to hear his kids listening to a cartoon on a TV set, and he had his name. He went to the producers of that particular TV show, Screen Gems, and got the license that he needed. Now there are Jellystone Parks everywhere.

The TV show that inspired Haag, of course, was the Yogi Bear show. It was the story of two bears with a love for pic-a-nic baskets, but who had to beware of the watchful eye of the Ranger. The bears and Ranger were at a park called Jellystone Park, a name that was obviously similar to that of Yellowstone Park. That wasn't the only thing that the cartoon borrowed - the star bear's name was remarkably similar to that of a then-famous baseball player, and the bear's mannerisms were remarkably similar to the Honeymooners' Ed Norton. (Another Hanna-Barbera cartoon, The Flintstones, had characters similar to Ed Norton AND Ralph Kramden.)

Yogi Bear originally appeared in 1958, as a secondary character to Huckleberry Hound. But even before Yogi Bear got his own TV series in 1961, he had attracted the attention of the real Yellowstone National Park - in a good way:

Yellowstone Superintendent Garrison first wrote to Yogi Bear in December of 1960. In his letter to Yogi, Garrison complemented the bear on his success, and invited him to think of Yellowstone as a second home considering its similarities to Jellystone. Superintendent Garrison also wrote to Yogi about some of the troubling behavior of the bears in the park at that time. He extended to both Yogi and Boo-Boo a permanent pass to the park as well as a certificate thanking them for their efforts to educate the public about bears. This letter began a relationship between Yellowstone and Superintendent Garrison and Hanna-Barbera and Yogi Bear....

Hanna-Barbera agreed to produce bear education pamphlets and signs for park non-commercial use. The park set about writing and creating handouts to give to park visitors detailing bear safety measures. The pamphlets reminded people to not leave food in their cars, keep their windows rolled up, and properly store their food when camping. Hanna-Barbera and [Kellogg's] agreed to produce standing signs as well. These cut-outs of Yogi Bear were placed at the entrances to the park. Visitors in the sixties were greeted by Yogi Bear himself, holding signs reminding visitors to be safe in the park.

But sometimes the fictional Yogi Bear, like the fictional Onion, would confuse people:

The public’s love of Yogi Bear led to great public involvement when the park began to alter its bear management policies. When the Park began installing bear safe trash cans and dumpsters in the park, many people were concerned that the bears would starve. “What will Yogi eat?” was a common theme in these arguments.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The song of business

OK, I goofed.

I just wrote a wonderful piece for the Empoprise-BI business blog...and accidentally posted it to the Empoprise-MU music blog instead.

I'll just leave it right there.

Which means I need to say something musical, so I will. Instagram's new feature that lets you share Spotify tracks on Instagram stories is addicting.