Strumming our way into history


A history professor at my beloved Temple University once told me that the best thing about history is that it never gets old, because it’s being made every day.

Coastal Point

I often keep that in mind when thinking about current events, and wonder to myself what, if any, impact a particular situation will leave on the world in the future. I think about the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the horrific images of Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake, the realities of multiple wars being fought in the Middle East and the jaw-dropping oil-spewing events taking place in the Gulf of Mexico right now.

There’s little doubt that those subjects will all be discussed for decades in history classes around this nation — if not the world. And they should be. They will remain important because they each left some impact on the planet and modern civilization.

I would also opine that the economic climate over the past several years will leave an imprint of its own. Some sketchy banking practices have been revealed to the general public, people have had to go back to solid personal financial budgeting and competition amongst businesses has led to lower prices for consumers and improved products for the masses. In fact, one could argue that in a true capitalistic society, competition is the one factor that truly causes advancement.

Of course, competition can also create some ugly situations.

The New York Post recently reported that New York City’s somewhat-famous Naked Cowboy is steamed that he has competition. Robert Burck (the cowboy’s given name) has made himself somewhat of a cult figure in Times Square for strumming his guitar while wearing his underpants and a cowboy hat. People from around the nation have photos of themselves posing with the Naked Cowboy, and he has appeared in several television shows.

But now the Naked Cowgirl is two-stepping on his turf.

Sandy Kane, who is said to be in her 50s, is a former stripper who has taken to the streets of New York in a red, white and blue cowboy hat and matching bikini. And Cowboy has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Cowgirl.

All would be fine in the world of semi-naked guitar picking if Kane would sign a “Naked Cowboy Franchise Agreement.” According to the story, “most of his licensed franchisees are required to pay $5,000 a year or $500 a month and go through a screening process.”

I’ll let you chew on that “screening process” thought for a minute. It’s been haunting me since I first read the story. I’m really struggling with the image of a bunch of 50-something ex-strippers lining up for an audition at the global headquarters of Naked Cowboy Inc. and strumming away to their heart’s content as Cowboy and his posse ...

But I digress.

Of course, the story of the Naked Cowboy will probably not be the one taught in history classes down the road. No, there will be tales of foreclosures and shuttered businesses and families in despair. Students will learn of people so distressed by monetary woes that they turned to second and third jobs, or moved or committed crimes to pay their bills. But they probably won’t hear about Brennan Breene of Bridgeville, Pa.

Breene was driving down a busy highway near Pittsburgh when he found an envelope on the road. He stopped and picked it up and found $3,600 in cash inside. Certainly, he was pleased with his discovery — who wouldn’t love to find $3,600 literally lying around?

But Breene saw a story online about a couple from Bridgeville that lost the envelope full of wedding cash after their reception. He called the police, turned in the envelope and the couple got the start to their marriage that so many people need. To make up for the lost cash, Breene decided to sign a “Naked Cowboy Franchise Agreement.”

Yeah, I made that last part up. But, you have to admit, that would be a cool story for future history classes.