Yellow Brick Road
The Yellow Brick Road began as a massive, post-war U.S. public works project in 1961 that was meant to be the showpiece of America's new, federally-funded Interstate Highway System. That very year, American President John F. Kennedy began regularly addressing the nation on live television to rally taxpayer support for the multi-billion dollar undertaking, which consisted of constructing a six-lane interstate freeway paved with pure gold running from New York City to Chicago to Los Angeles, California. In the words of President Kennedy, "We might not beat the Ruskies to Moon, but Goddammit, we'll have the first golden transcontinental highway in the history of mankind!" Despite Congress' shrewd decision to reduce costs by hiring a work crew composed of thousands of Munchkins belonging to the relatively-weak Lollipop Guild trade union, the project nearly bankrupted the Federal Government of the United States and caused it to take the extreme measure of violating "Vizzini's Law" by getting involved in a land war in Asia (i.e., the Vietnam War). Indeed, from 1964 to 1975, the U.S. Government paid for the construction and maintenance of the Yellow Brick Road by using the war to rationalize massive tax hikes - it turned out that tapping into widespread fears of a Communist armageddon was a very effective fund-raising technique.
Although the Yellow Brick Road was completed in 1971 after only ten years of work, it quickly deteriorated into a national embarrassment due to a lack of earmarked federal maintenance funds, band-aid repairs using "fool's gold," overuse by bi-sexual British pop stars, and vandalism from flying monkeys and ill-willed apple trees. Today, historians remember the Yellow Brick Road as a testament to the exceptional national ambitions born during America's Golden Age, which have since been undermined by subsequent economic and international setbacks such as the Watergate scandal, the Sub-prime Mortgage Meltdown of 2007-2008, the cash-for-gold mail scams of 2010-2011, and the Glam Rock movement pioneered by English singer-songwriters David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Elton John.
- 1 American Politicians are Inspired to Follow the Yellow Brick Road
- 2 Construction of the Yellow Brick Road
- 2.1 Work Hits a Snag as the Yellow Brick Road Hits America's Heartland and Encounters Corn, Crows, and Scarecrows
- 2.2 President Kennedy is (Figuratively) Crucified on a Cross of Gold and (Literally) Shot in the Head Because of Gold
- 2.3 Anti-Red Plus Pro-Gold Equals the Vietnam War and Mission Accomplished!
- 3 The Yellow Brick Road is Tarnished by Economic Turmoil and British Glam Rock
- 3.1 Gross Political Mismanagement Chokes the Road Off from its Funding
- 3.2 English Pop/Rock Star Mick Jagger Single-Handedly Eliminates Maintenance Funds for the Road
- 3.3 Englishman T. David Bowie Turns Public Opinion Against the Yellow Brick Road
- 3.4 Blue-Blooded English Aristocrat Sir Elton John Scathingly Bids Adieu to the Yellow Brick Road
- 4 The 1980's Bring Flying Monkeys, Destructive Apple Trees, and Mr. T's Pity onto the Road
- 5 America Says Goodbye to the Yellow Brick Road and Moves On to a Better Future
- 6 References
- 7 See Also
American Politicians are Inspired to Follow the Yellow Brick Road
In the mid-1950's, America was in the midst of an economic boom unknown since before the Second World War. Contemporary American writers and poets ranging from Allen Ginsberg and John Steinbeck to Dr. Seuss and Pat Buchanan were spreading the idea of an "American Dream" for recent immigrants to the country. The dream was premised on the irrefutable concept that the streets in American were paved in gold and that anybody with pluck, talent, persistence, and shitloads of money could become a success regardless of his or her social, religious, or ethnic background. The country's leading politicians had long embodied this idea; Abraham Lincoln, for example, was born in a frontier log cabin but still went on to serve as the 16th President of the United States in the early 1860's, a time of unprecedented national crisis. Indeed, President Lincoln kept the Union together despite the War of Northern Aggression and even managed to free a bunch of dark-skinned slaves in the process. He was a classic example of a white, male, landowning American who hoisted himself up by his own bootstraps and killed a bunch of Southern Rednecks. Yet even before that, the country's first President, George Washington, had won the War of Colonial Aggression against the much-stronger empire of Great Britain despite his underprivileged status as a wealthy, aristocratic Virginia planter and slave-owner. The nation was (and remains) rich with tales of rags-to-riches success stories like those of these great leaders. It should thus come as no shock that the country's post-war literary elite latched on to this thread of American history and brought the idea of a Golden Age under the "Pax Americana" to the forefront of the minds of U.S. voters and politicians alike.
Given this historical heritage, it was only natural that American political leaders would desire to fund the American Dream writ large just after bombing the German Third Reich and the Japanese Empire back to the Stone Age in 1945. In the words of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1956, "The American Dream is, quite simply, the right to travel from The Big Apple to the Windy City to the Emerald City on a golden road, all the while black-listing and imprisoning un-American Commies." By the time President John F. Kennedy took office in January of 1961, the entire nation was in a frenzy for all things golden. The Sexual Revolution began in earnest and even the most mild-mannered married couples were taking birth control pills and giving each other "golden showers" in the privacy of their own homes. American pianist Liberace, the "King of Bling," became a national sensation and brought gold personal accessories into mainstream acceptance even when worn by men who were neither Black nor Italian. Mexican-Americans could at long last grin shamelessly in public despite their mouthfuls of gold teeth.
Although witchy women and winged baboons staunchly refused to accept the idea of a yellow brick road, they were in the American minority. Within three days of beginning his term, President Kennedy galloped into the federal Capitol Building on a warhorse named "Camelot" while dressed in gold-plated medieval armor to demand that Congress immediately pass a bill authorizing his 500-billion dollar "Yellow Brick Road" freeway project. Speaker of the House Glinda Goodwich (D-KS) introduced a bill that very day based on her knowledge that Kennedy possessed a national mandate - he had won the presidential election in November of 1960 by utilizing a self-described "King Arthur-based platform," wherein he promised voters that once elected, everything he touched would "turn to gold." The bill quickly passed through both houses of Congress, although neither Congress nor America's electorate realized that Kennedy had confused King Arthur with King Midas until 1962.
Construction of the Yellow Brick Road
Work Hits a Snag as the Yellow Brick Road Hits America's Heartland and Encounters Corn, Crows, and Scarecrows
The American Government quickly secured the materials and funding necessary for the implementation of the Congressional Yellow Brick Highway Act. As soon as the law took force on March 1, 1961, every gold bar at Fort Knox was liquidated in a giant vat and re-cast into sturdy golden bricks that would pave the new freeway from New York City to Toledo, Ohio. Then, to raise money to purchase the remainder of the pure gold required, Congress imposed a special "Liberace Tax" in 1962 on all American taxpayers who owned more than twelve ounces of pure gold. Surprisingly, Liberace voluntarily appeared on billboards throughout American ghettos to endorse the tax. Unfortunately, the new tax barely covered (pun intended) highway construction from Toledo to Chicago, Illinois. At that point, matters took a whirlwind turn and a metaphorical rainbow appeared: in April of 1963, the Department of the Interior offered the numerically-strong but politically-weak Lollipop Guild trade union a contract at a far-below-market price to finish construction of the Yellow Brick Road. Surprisingly, the Munchkin Teamster who headed the union accepted the contract, swearing that he had "verified it legally, morally, ethic'ly, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably." President Kennedy gave a special State of the Union address to the entire nation in order to comfort voters that they were "out of the woods," and that they had, with the patriotic help of the Munchkins, avoided the "lions, tigers, and bears" within those woods.
Then, unexpected financial setbacks surfaced as the road wound its way through Midwestern cornfields filled with crows and scarecrows. The crows would eat the corn adjacent to the road and leave half-eaten kernels laying on the road, only to cause the kernels to heat in the sun reflected from the gold bricks and then pop into popcorn kernels. Thousands of motorists would become injured in car accidents by the sudden, deafening popping and obstructed views caused by the blown-up kernels. The crows would also tear apart straw scarecrows in the nearby fields and drag them into the middle of the Yellow Brick Road, causing motorists to swerve to miss what they thought were human bodies. The resulting traffic pileups could last for miles and take days to clear. To address the crisis, popcorn inventor and expert Orville Redenbacher was air-dropped into the danger zone by a joint Air Force/Crazy Clown Airlines relief team; his conclusion: the crows had to be forcibly relocated away from the road. The cost of deporting the crows to Kansas proved draining and many congressmen argued that the only way to raise the rest of the money needed to complete the project was to engage in a proxy war with Communist China and sell war bonds to finance the project. President Kennedy, an ardent pacifist who had just a couple years before allowed Communist Cuba to annex the state of Florida rather than risk a nuclear war with Cuba and the Soviet Union, threatened to veto any legislation that would support a land war in Asia. By the autumn of 1963, the government was at a loss as to how it could finance the remainder of the Yellow Brick Road project.
President Kennedy is (Figuratively) Crucified on a Cross of Gold and (Literally) Shot in the Head Because of Gold
Then, at just the critical moment in November of that year, an Olympic-Medal winning Skeet Shooter named Lee Harvey Oswald fired a fatal rifle shot at President Kennedy's head as a presidential motorcade passed by a high rise occupied by Oswald in Waco, Texas. Quickly apprehended by Presidential Lifeguards at an X-rated movie theater just two blocks from the scene of the assassination, Oswald admitted that he was motivated to kill the president due to the fact that Oswald had lost out on winning the Olympic Gold Medal in Skeet Shooting by just one skeet in the 1954 Summer Olympics, relegating Oswald to a mere Silver Medal and engendering within him a visceral hatred of gold. The path to money through war was suddenly open to the government.
Anti-Red Plus Pro-Gold Equals the Vietnam War and Mission Accomplished!
With right-wing Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson sworn in as the replacement president on board an underwater nuclear submarine in the Gulf of Tonkin, it was easy for Congress to ram through a host of legislation that declared war in all but name on China's satellite nation of North Vietnam. In one fell swoop the United States thereby violated the international treaty of Miss Saigon, the United Nations resolution guaranteeing Marxism around Manchuria, and "Vizzini's Law" against getting involved in land wars in Asia (so named after the Renaissance philosopher Mario Luigi Vizzini, who famously advised his princess bride that such warfare was one of humanity's "classic blunders"). The United States was quickly ostracized and voted out of NATO and the Bretton Woods international monetary system; the country even had to fend off an attack by the Salvation Army launched across Lake Superior from Canada in 1965.
None of this put a dent (pun intended! hello!) in America's hunger for a gold plated highway. America's military-industrial complex ramped up and by 1969 was providing maximum output in terms of advanced weaponry, breaking-edge machinery, and flower-child draft-dodgers. Tax revenues soared into the trillions as the federal government collected income taxes from millions of American workers hired by manufacturing giants like General Electric, Boeing, and Crazy Clown Airlines to roll thousands of rifles, tanks, fighter planes, and drums of Agent Orange off of their assembly lines. The war in Vietnam continued on until 1975, easily allowing the American government to fund completion of the final stretch of the Yellow Brick Road from Chicago to Los Angeles even before the conflict ended. Indeed, the road was entirely finished on February 2, 1971 (Groundhog Day - U.S.) just under ten years after work began. The gleam from the Yellow Brick road on the day of project completion was so strong that it managed to blind the famous groundhog Puxatawney Phil, preventing him from seeing his shadow that morning and thereby ending the winter of 1970-1971 six weeks early. The American people were ecstatic.
The Yellow Brick Road is Tarnished by Economic Turmoil and British Glam Rock
Gross Political Mismanagement Chokes the Road Off from its Funding
The Yellow Brick Road had been in full use for a number of years by 1975, but trouble was in store. Just the year before, President Nixon had resigned from office in disgrace, leading to a crisis of faith in American political leadership and thus sparking a tumultuous economy that would last into the early 1980's. Increased unemployment, crippling hyperinflation, persistent stagflation, and chronic masturbation had sapped local, state, and federal coffers by 1977. Automobile traffic on the Yellow Brick Road nevertheless continued to increase at a rate of 980,000% per year. With the war in Asia finished, domestic stock markets in a free-fall, and the value of the U.S. dollar dropping precipitously day by day, it became impossible to maintain the Yellow Brick Road in its intended glory. Sinkholes opened up over the plains of Nebraska and had to be filled with iron pyrite (i.e., fool's gold). In extreme cases iron bricks were painted yellow and used to fill in potholes that had opened up.
English Pop/Rock Star Mick Jagger Single-Handedly Eliminates Maintenance Funds for the Road
The next blow came in 1977 when Mick Jagger went on tour in America with his band, The Rolling Stones, and their tour bus traveled the Yellow Brick Road from New York City to Chicago. Jagger hated the glaring light that reflected off of the road and into his bus and said it was worse than a jumping jack flash. Upon finishing his final stage performance of the tour in Chicago, Jagger abruptly left the Stones and enrolled in a one-year Masters Degree program in Monetary Policy at the University of Chicago. Then, in 1979, Jagger paid one of his Hell's Angels security guards to drown the serving Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Paul Volker, in Lake Michigan. Jagger was thus free to use his rock'n'roll wealth to campaign for an appointment to the suddenly-vacant position, promising that "time is on my side," and that he would soon have the economy "under my thumb" if just given the chance. Without him, he threatened, the American economy would suffer its "19th Nervous Breakdown."
Jagger's stump-thumping worked. On October 1, 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed Jagger as the Chief of the Federal Reserve. Unfortunately, Jagger had planned all along to use his new position to destroy the American economy, and with it the Yellow Brick Road. On Tuesday, October 2, 1979, Fed Chief Jagger called an impromptu press conference at the steps of the New York Stock Exchange and announced, "Don't you know the Prime Rate's going up, up, up, up!" The day of the conference came to be known as "Paint it Black Ruby Tuesday," with alarmed stockbrokers, anxious business executives, depressed rockers, and other people jumping out of Wall Street high rises. Global markets crashed overnight. On October 15, 1979, Congress held an emergency nighttime session - interrupting its monthly midnight kickball league competition in the process - to address the crisis. As part of the solution, Jagger was banished from the country and the entire maintenance budget for the Yellow Brick Road was cut out of the annual federal budget, effective immediately. For years afterward, the road would deteriorate without repair.
Englishman T. David Bowie Turns Public Opinion Against the Yellow Brick Road
Some ten years before the events described above, Royal Air Force officer Major Thomas David Bowie was sent on a space odyssey by the United Kingdom's national space exploration program, "Space, Heavens, and Intergalactic Travelers of England," commonly known by its acronym, "S.H.I.T.E." Major Tom D. Bowie left the Earth as an English national icon and celebrity - newspapers had even wanted to know what kind of shirts he wore. Unfortunately for Major Tom, the radio in his capsule lost contact with SHITE's Ground Control shortly after liftoff, and the lack of communication meant that his spaceship did not know which way to go.
The astronaut was lost in space for over ten years until, without explanation, his radio began working again in 1971 and he managed to collaborate with Ground Control to effect an emergency terrestrial landing in Capetown, South Africa. Major Tom's spaceship ended up crashing through the roof of a Capetown home owned by Nelson Mandela, such that Major Tom lost consciousness only to wake up in Nelson Mandela's Bathroom. Despite the fact that Nelson Mandela was a black political leader engaged in a desperate struggle against white oppression under his nation's system of Apartheid, Mr. Mandela displayed the spirit of racial reconciliation he would soon become known for by offering the white British officer in his bathroom a pre-paid, first-class ticket to London on British Airways. Major Tom gratefully accepted the offer and was back in England within a few days.
Upon returning to his native soil, Major Thomas David Bowie was quickly debriefed by his superiors at SHITE. SHITE ended up learning very little of the astronaut's actual experience in outer space because the man did nothing but rant and rave about the Yellow Brick Road. Transcripts of Major Tom's debriefing - only made available to the public in 2001 - quote Major Tom as repeatedly screaming:
Follow the Yellow Brick Road! Follow the Yellow Brick Road! Follow, follow, follow
The debriefing caused the British Government to deem Major T. David Bowie unfit for further service in either its Air Force or within SHITE, and Bowie was granted an honorable discharge in 1972. Having lost his rank, Bowie stopped referring to himself as "Major" and decided to further distance himself from his past life by dropping all use of his first name, Thomas. Henceforth known simply as "David Bowie," the man adopted a radically new persona that included wearing make-up, pastel wigs, and androgynous clothing. He also switched careers from military aviation to pop-rock singing. Bowie's novel fashion style and outrageous song lyrics gained him the nickname, "a Space Oddity," but he nevertheless garnered a number of imitators, including Mick Jagger. The "Glam Rock" movement was thus born and Bowie's popularity and influence as a rock star skyrocketed (pun intended, again).
By early 1975, Bowie turned his charisma and popularity to the service of his political aims. He wrote an open letter to all young Americans chastising them for allowing their country to sink into the kind of over-indulgence, political corruption, and fiscal waste that had led to the construction of the Yellow Brick Road. Bowie's letter, which was published in the New York Times on January 30, 1975, is still remembered for the following, stinging rebuke against America's youth:
Do you remember your President Nixon?
Bowie's published letter was so popular that he followed it up with a second open letter to the American public in 1976, again published in the New York Times. This time, Bowie aimed his attack closer to the Yellow Brick Road, indirectly rallying against it by highlighting the coming end of America's "golden" years:
Last night they loved you, opening doors and pulling some strings,
Having said his piece on the subject, David Bowie moved on to other endeavors like starring in movies with muppets and trimming hedges into labyrinths on his massive new estate in Manchester, England. This being said, the United Kingdom was not ready to leave the Yellow Brick Road to its fate: there was one Englishman left who had yet to leave his footprint (literally and figuratively) on that long and winding road.
Blue-Blooded English Aristocrat Sir Elton John Scathingly Bids Adieu to the Yellow Brick Road
Upon taking up residence on his new property in Manchester in 1979, David Bowie became neighbors with Sir Elton John. Sir Elton's lordly ancestors had come to England with William the Conqueror in the year 1066 and had been the scions of Manchester ever since. In addition to being one of the most esteemed nobles in the realm, Sir Elton John was also a renowned classical pianist and a local protector of the environment. He had carried on the work begun by his grandfather, repeatedly traveling to London to speak in Parliament against corporate manufacturing conglomerates that would have otherwise turned Manchester in to a bleak and polluted industrial wasteland. Thanks to the House of John, Manchester remained a bucolic and wooded burg with crystal-clear streams and healthy, prosperous farmers. These facts made Sir Elton all the more alarmed by the tales his new neighbor told him about the Yellow Brick Road just across the Atlantic Ocean.
Sir Elton John did not waste a moment after speaking with David Bowie about the Yellow Brick Road. Within a month, the local lord of Manchester had himself joined the Glam Rock movement, just as had Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Sir Elton adopted the stage name of "Elton John" in order to avoid American prejudices against nobility. He then bought a wardrobe of bright, over-sized fedoras, ridiculously large tinted glasses, and mismatching ruffled blouses and trousers. Finally, he recorded a rock album for which he provided the piano and vocal accompaniment.
To promote his new album, Elton John announced he would undertake a "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" tour of America. The tour would begin in New York City and follow the Yellow Brick Road to its end on the west coast, stopping at every sizable city en route. As the coup de grâce, Elton John declared he would walk the entire way while wearing shoes with diamond-tipped stiletto heels. Each step Elton John took on the Yellow Brick Road thus left a sizable dent in the soft gold pavement. The American Government attempted to fine Elton John over $100,000,000.00 dollars after the tour was over, but by then he had returned to England and was beyond the reach of U.S. jurisdiction.
The musical tour was a resounding success and played to sold-out auditoriums at every venue that hosted it. Upon reaching the end of the Yellow Brick Road in Los Angeles, a reporter asked Elton John if he had anything to say to his American fans after such a long journey. Elton John responded with his now-famous quote:
So goodbye Yellow Brick Road,
Elton John had nothing left to add and went back to his lordly life in Manchester, England. Sadly, he later developed a destructive obsession with Marilyn Monroe and could not accept the fact that she had died when he was still a child. By giving into his obsession, he let the sun go down on his life and career. He killed himself without warning in 1992, leaving behind a suicide note that began with the words, "Goodbye, Norma Jean...." The suicide note and its reference to Marilyn Monroe's birth name have since become famous in their own right.
The 1980's Bring Flying Monkeys, Destructive Apple Trees, and Mr. T's Pity onto the Road
Time was not kind to the Yellow Brick Road. In 1981, a cadre of experimental winged baboons broke free from a clandestine government animal research laboratory outside of New York City. The flying baboons took a keen interest in the road for reasons that even today remain unexplained by scientists. The monkeys would soar in packs above predetermined parts of the road and then descend on single portions of the highway, only to tear up its golden bricks and launch them at motorists and passers-by. It took months for state Animal Control officers to round up and exterminate the beasts. By that time, $300,000,000 worth of damage had been done.
Then, in 1983, naturalists noticed that the gold from the highway was leeching into the surrounding soil due to rainfall, contaminating the ground. Apple trees growing along the Yellow Brick Road were particularly afflicted by the contamination; their apples would rot and then seem to jump off of their branches and onto the highway. In the aggregate, this problem affected over 1,000 miles of distance on the Yellow Brick Road. Road crews had to work day and night for years to contain the problem, costing American taxpayers gazillions of dollars.
The federal government became hysterical in the face of these developments. By 1986, untold amounts of money had to be found to pay for the expenses that were being racked up because of the Yellow Brick Road. In a last-ditch effort to save the Yellow Brick Road, Congress passed the now-infamous "America Pities Mr. T" tax. Mr. T was a soldier of fortune from the Los Angeles underground who owned thousands of neck chains of pure gold. Having learned of this, the American Legislature sought to expropriate all of Mr. T's chains to use as raw material to repair the road. Mr. T resisted the tax with a team of high-priced lawyers out of Washington, D.C. He then called each American Senator a "fool."
Litigation ensued and wound its way up to the United States Supreme Court by 1987. The case led to a landmark decision in which a majority of Justices decided that the "America Pities Mr. T" tax was an ex post facto law that could not stand without violating the federal Constitution. In a concurring opinion, Judge Dredd agreed that the tax should be struck down, but for a different reason:
By passing its pitiable tax in a misguided effort to save the Yellow Brick Road, the Legislative Branch has forgotten the Golden Rule: He who has the gold pities the fool.
Judge Dredd then concluded his opinion with the timeless legal maxim: Ego sum lex. Congress balastro est. Mr. T was allowed to keep his gold neck chains and the federal government went away empty-handed.
America Says Goodbye to the Yellow Brick Road and Moves On to a Better Future
The Yellow Brick Road began a slow death after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Mr. T. v. United States. By 1994, large stretches of the highway were closed off to traffic as safety hazards. Then, by the year 2000, the few remaining segments of the highway were decommissioned and came to exist solely as tourist attractions under the care of the National Park System. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, however, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security determined it would be too dangerous to allow any stretch of the highway to remain exposed to Islamic extremists. Every last remaining gold brick was taken from the road and returned by federal workers to Fort Knox in the state of Kentucky. The circle of life had run its course for the Yellow Brick Road.
The United States emerged from the loss of its treasured highway determined to find a new path to prosperity. In 2010, Congress passed the "America Steps Up" Act. To finance the Act, Congress imposed special taxes on the huge banks that had received federal "bail-out" money in the wake of the 2007-2008 mortgage meltdown. The government also taxed companies that had recently profited on "money for gold" mail scams. In 2011, cash in hand, the Federal Government contracted with the world-renowned engineering firm of Page & Plant to design and build the Stairway to Heaven.
Completion is scheduled for December 21, 2012.
- Luckily for the U.S., a Castro-hating Cuban refugee called Tony "Scarface" Montoya used his "little friend" named cocaine to fund a private army and eject the Castro regime from Florida in 1980.
- For more information, see "plight of Kennedy."
- To add insult to injury, the yellow paint was lead-based and resulted in the most expensive environmental Superfund clean-up in American history.
- Again, for more information, see "plight of Kennedy."
- Translated into English, the maxim states, "I am the law. Congress is the fool."