Our government has just announced that within the next five years we will be putting the image of a famous American woman on the $10 bill. All I can say, and I do so with the utmost conviction, is this: Well, okay.
This does of course mean the removal of Alexander Hamilton. Many people are up in arms over his removal citing that while they don’t know what he ever did, it must have been very important given that he’s on the $10 bill. For those of you who don’t know what he did, I will tell you: What he did was get accidentally shot by Aaron Burr when Burr pointed a pistol at him and deliberately pulled the trigger.
I’m sure it was hard to decide who would get booted off their current currency. We probably have to retain Lincoln and George Washington since they were presidents. That would leave Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, though, was a founding father of our country, not to mention a goodly portion of France from what I understand. He was an extraordinarily creative and brilliant man. One of the things he was noted for was his book called Poor Richard’s Almanac. In this book he had a whole bunch of pithy and thought provoking expressions that he originated and which we use to this very day. Included in this vast canon are “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” as well as, “I’m rubber and you’re glue–whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you,” and “I know you are but what am I?” Along with that, Franklin was an inventor. While his most notable invention was bifocals, he was also the inventor of a little known musical instrument called the Glass Harmonica. This is a fascinating device that has a series of differently sized cones half submerged in a tub of water. While not one of my favorite instruments, it is, I admit, an improvement over his earlier musical creation, the hand cranked Nails On A Chalkboard.
There are a great many female candidates who would be fine choices to grace the $10 bill. I’ve heard Eleanor Roosevelt mentioned and I think she would be a fine choice if for no other reason than in recognition of her having to put up with FDR. But she visited the wounded in World War II and did many other humanitarian good deeds. She also once said, “People would be less concerned about what other people thought about them if they realized how infrequently other people think about them at all.” I think we should put that on the bill in place of “In God We Trust.”
Another talked about possibility is Harriet Tubman. She was instrumental in the development of the Underground Railroad which today–in New York city alone–serves over five million people daily, connecting all five boroughs with 842 miles of track.
I think Sacajawea has been brought up, and again a good choice as she helped Lewis and Clark on their expedition across America in their attempt to find out where the hell it ended. Her quick thinking was instrumental during one particular interaction with a Northwest tribe whose name escapes me but I think it was the Shady Persons tribe. The conversation went like so:
Shady Person 1: “What do you want to do with these white men?”
Shady Person 2: “Let’s kill them and take their stuff.”
Sacajawea : “No. They’re cool.”
Shady Person 2: “Really? OK.”
On another occasion their boat tipped over and all of the expedition’s notes went floating down the mighty stream. Sacajawea dove into the water (well, she was probably already in it but if they make a movie about this incident I’m sure she’ll be dramatically diving in from a rock offshore) and she rescued the important documents which included a recipe for tabasco sauce. So, she is impressive but I really think we should retain her name and image for when the U.S. military designates a medal for Pluck.
Looking at our more contemporary era, Gloria Steinem comes to mind. She was a bold and determined pioneer in the women’s liberation movement, teaching women everywhere that they are more than just sexual objects and that they should take pride in their individualism, intelligence, and spirit. And I’m sure today, fifty years after she began, she can look out across the vast American Sea of Wonder Bras and thongs and proudly say, “What the hell happened?”
One of my personal selections is Marni Nixon. This is not somebody related to Richard Nixon so it’s okay. Marni Nixon dubbed the voices of Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Ker, and Natalie Wood in movie versions of My Fair Lady, The King and I, and West Side Story respectively–and nobody knew about it! It was a secret. She wasn’t even allowed to discuss it with her family. This was in her contract. Now, at the time they were working on the first one of these, My Fair Lady, Julie Andrews had just concluded a multi-year run of the show on Broadway. You’d think they would ask her to be in the movie since she’s such a good singer, but back then it was much more important to have someone famous star in a movie musical than it was to have someone who could actually sing. This explains MGM’s original choice for the role of flower seller Eliza Doolittle going to Broderick Crawford. He was very well known to Americans at that time because he was the star of a current hit TV show that had the word “highway” in it. I don’t remember the exact name of the show and I’d look it up except for that fact that I don’t think anybody currently living cares. But he was unable to get out of his contract and so the studio had to settle for Audrey Hepburn.
But I’m not nominating Marni Nixon for her lovely “light soprano” voice. Nor am I nominating her because for decades she didn’t get credit for dubbing those three big parts. No, I’m nominating her to be on the new $10 bill because she NEVER COMPLAINED ABOUT IT! How often does that happen, huh?
Here’s another choice of mine from the musical world. I nominate bass guitarist Carol Kaye. From 1960 to 1978 this studio musician was on every record ever recorded in the world. Really. She not only played on all the Beatles songs, but she played all of the instruments. As we have since learned, the Beatles were just actors and not actually able to play their instruments. I think it was the Beatles. Anyway, she was a lone woman in a man’s world. And if we put her on the new $10 bill, on the waving banner just below her image, we should have the motto JUST DO IT! JUST DO IT IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF THE NIKE CORPORATION. ANY USE WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE NIKE CORPORATION IS IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW AND SUBJECT TO PENALTIES OR IMPRISONMENT. IF YOU ARE IN POSSESSION OF THIS BILL, YOU ARE PROBABLY IN VIOLATION OF THE TRADEMARK ACT OF 1922. YOU SHOULD DISPOSE OF THIS BILL IMMEDIATELY.
And last on my short list is Hedy Lamarr. You may (probably not) remember her from her titillating role in the 1933 Czech film Ecstasy–where she ran completely naked through the woods–and which that year was voted Best Foreign Language film by the Boy Scouts of America. She left Germany and came to America and became a big time movie star.
“Yeah so?” you say. Well, while being a big time movie star she invented a wireless guidance system that would keep American torpedoes from being destroyed by the Germans. This technology is what makes WiFi and Bluetooth work. And in 2014 she was entered into the Inventors Hall of Fame.
I have to say I was somewhat stunned upon hearing all this as it’s like finding out Lady Gaga just received the Noble prize in Physics for her development of cold fusion. I originally thought, “Did some scientist boyfriend actually invent this and she typed up the notes, or was she captured by space aliens who put her through their brain enhancer device and then brought her back to Earth, or what?”
No, she was just one smart cookie. Later in life, after getting married six times and becoming estranged from her children and suing Mel Brooks for naming a character in Blazing Saddles Hedley Lamarr without her permission and then suing some software company for using a drawing of her on their software package without permission and then suing the publisher of her ghost written autobiography for salacious things they put in that she didn’t know about because she didn’t bother to read it first including when she was trying to sneak out of Germany and for two hours had to hide in a brothel and “pretend” to be a prostitute and yes “pretend” is in quotes for a reason, then getting a gazillion plastic surgery operations and then never leaving the house but talking on the telephone for seven hours a day, she died. Okay, fine, she was nuts. I withdraw her. Carol Kaye–all the way! Carol Kaye–all the way!