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January 10, 1981 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-01-10

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Page 4

OPINIONry__
Saturday, January '10, 1981

4
.Y
w.
k

hired laus

looks back

onl

w SANTALAND, New York-It's over. Another
Christmas under the jolly fat man's big black
helt, and for this and hundreds of other depar-
Iment store Santas the pillows and boots and
4)eard and slightly frayed bright red suit go
flack into mothballs for another 11 months. And
:we ourselves go back to our comparatively
mundane jobs, or to the unemployment lines.
But for a few weeks there, we were-gods!
g-' THIS CHRISTMAS, as part of Western Tem-
:poraries' Santa Division, Class of '80, I have
Ho-Ho-Hoed at Macy's on Herald Square. The
"largest Store in the World. Santaland. The
Miracle on Thirty-fourth Street. ~
Nearly two dozen Santas, 100telves, dozens of,
technicians and managers came together to
create a grand illusion, a once-a-year festival
of sight and sound-all focused on that
venerable institution of wish fulfillment-Santa
Claus..
It is quite a process. The store figures it
received more than 350,000 visitors through the
maze of six Santa houses this season. On a busy
afternoon early in the season, more than 1,400
persons saw Santa in one hour. That translates,
subtracting for parent companions, into a
minimum of 60 lap-sitters per hour per Santa.
That day the photo concession rang up $10,000
in sales.
THIS ENORMOUS undertaking requires the

smooth coordination of a theatrical production
kept running 12 hours a day for nearly a month.
That explains why nearly all Santas and elves
are actors drawn from the ever-swelling ranks
of New York City's unemployed thespians.
And the Santas, seen as the crucial link in the
chain of Christmas joy, have to be trained to
live up to their role as guardians of the spirit.
Western Temps, which operates Santa con-
cessions around the world, holds interesting af-
ternoon training sessions for the hired Clauses.
"Santa is there for his public," goes the
ideological line pitched by the manager. "He is
not there to sell photographs. He is there to see
that good photographs can be taken.'' We
Western Santas are warned not to fall prey to
the temptation of linking our venture with
commercialism. It is emphasized that Macy's
does not have Santa there to increase store
revenues. Santa is a kind of corporate respon-
sibility program, a way to pay back the com-
munity for its support of the stork over the
years. The stifled chuckles around the table do
not seem to dim the enthusiasm of the trainer.
THE REAL ESSENCE of Santa, we are told,
is his metaphysical role. He is magic, he is
spirit, he is, apparently, a moment of pure gold
light transcending the bounds of time and
space in a vaguely Eastern sense.
"Santa is a =public figure, and once you have

By A. Lin Neumann
put on that suit you have become a legend, a
symbol-you have become God to many, many
children," we are told.
To be honest, most of the Santas see this as a
gig, a source of meager income. Chuckles grow
in volume as our religious nature is em-
phasized.
FINALLY, WE ARE whipped into a frenzy
by our trainer. Robert Schuller, the preacher of
Tower of Power fame, is invoked along with
culture icon Dr. Joyce Brothers on the meaning
of, Santa. We are to attempt a combination of
arm-waving evangelistic joy with TV talk show
understanding.
In conclusion, we are united with the broader
forces of football and collective consciousness
as a sort of benediction is spoken: "You are all
Santa, part of one team, you are all one thing."
But the training has just begun. The week
before Thanksgiving Santas were united with
their underpaid associates, the elves. (Elves
work for Macy's and receive a minimum wage
of $3.20 per hour; Santas work for Western and
are paid $4.50 an hour.) Here, the Macy's
team takes over in grand style. We camp out in
a lounge for three days of detail over photos,
traffic control, rules, regulations, and
boosterism.

PERHAPS THE ODDEST moment of the
training came when a longtime Santa strode to
the lecturn to codify the class division between
the elves and Santas. "We are the attraction,
not you. Remember that. There are certain elves
whom I found it impossible to work with last
year.
As the star system is imposed, tense stares
circle the room as the elves size up the Santas
to see whether this is a consensus speech or just
the musing of one too caught up in the act. The
latter is the case, yet the division between the
two groups will remain.
But the elves and Santas do work as a team.
You have to. The traffic on a weekend is nearly
unbearable and without good humor everyone
would climb the walls.
GRADUALLY, AS THE season gets into full
swing, the dressing room acquires the trap-
pings of the trade in the form of gifts, lists and
offerings brought to Santa. There is the oddly
disconcerting sight of a couple of Santas, coats
off and debearded, taking a break with rosy
cheeks and strapped-on pillows.
And, of course, this being a theater crowd,
bits emerge - tag-team Santa wrestling, for
example - "This is Killer Kowalski and I'm
gonna HO IO HO you this Saturday night and I
don't think you're ready!"

The Michigan Daily
is gig
But there is, despite all the mechanism and
form and systems of Santaland, despite the
pretense and the absurdity, despite it all, a kind
of warmth attached to being Santa. You
become the man of a childhood memory, a
manifestation of joy and contradiction for the
collection of souls that wander through the
maze. You can't help but wish you could fulfill
the dreams of a ragged youngster who
straggles in alone, or of the emotionally distur-
bed man who chats with Santa as frankly as he
might talk to a therapist or a priest. Even the
more formalistic "Have you been good this
year?" carries more than a hint of religious
rite.
Finally, gazing into the open eyes of a daz-
zled three-year-old, I find myself wishing that
the camera would not click, that the gifts could
be delivered, that there really was a Santa
Claus.
When not being a Santa, A. Lin
Neumann is a freelance writer and
photographer and works with the United
Methodist Seminar Program in New York.
He wrote this article for the Pacific News
Service.

..I

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCI, No. 86 420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Doily's Editorial Board
Louisiana and njustice

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4

BUCKEYE IS A small, backwater
town in the center of rural
Louisiana. Those who feel that
America is changing too fast, who can
only shake their heads sadly as
America is eroded by the liberal
disease of the federal government,
can look with hope to Buckeye.
# Buckeye is a bastion of traditional
gican values.
uckeye h '4ound its fiercest
: defender of those same values in
N Louisana District Court Judge
' Richard E. Lee. Judge Lee, who
a proudly displays a portrait of Con-
:: federate General Robert E. Lee, a
A distant ancestor, on his office wall, is
a a man of the finest Southern tradition.
' When the federal government star-
ted to reach its long arm into
Buckeye's Rapides Parish, mum-
bling something about racial
equality, Judge Lee, with all the
.: judicial authority he could muster
and more, rushed to the cause of one
"~ of the South's finest
. traditions-segregation.
The federal government enacted a
plan to desegregate the Rapides
Parish schools by redefining the at-
tandance zone of the all-white
. Buckeye school so that some students
who attended the Buckeye school
would be bused to an almost all-black
s school in nearby Alexandria. The
y= parents of three of the students who
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would be bused to the Alexandria
school petitioned Lee's court to tran-
sfer custody of their children to frien-
ds' families still living within the at-
tendance boundaries of the Buckeye
school. Lee, of course, obliged the
parents' request and even personally
escorted the three junior high school
girls to class on several occasions to
ensure their safe passage.
Local observers say Lee has
become a folk hero and claim he is
guaranteed to fulfill all of his many
state political ambitions.
The only catch seems to be that it is
not at all clear Judge Lee has the
authority to fight the desegregation
plan. In fact, he is being threatened
with a federal contempt of court
charge for interferring with the
execution of the plan, which falls un-
der .federal jurisdictipn. But, if his
authority is not clear, his motivation
is. It is readily apparent that Judge
Lee has plunged into this affair not
because of a higher concern for the
law, but rather because of his per-
sonal political opposition to busing.
We are resigned to accept such
behavior in the capitol, but not in the
courthouse.
As long as we have men like Judge
Lee to lead us, we need not fear for
America's future. Inequality and in-
justice will remain firmly entrenched
among the finest of American
traditions.

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

6

An ex-member defends Moonies'

To the Daily:
For the past four months, I
have read every article that I
could get my hands on that per-
tained to Rev. Moon and the
organizations that he founded,
such as the Collegiate
Association for the Research of
Principles and the Unification
Church. To my surprise, most of
the articles were based on the
comments of ex-members who
were extremely negative about
these organizations. Some of the
former members were so
negative that hey lied in some of
their stories. One man, for exam-
ple, told of how he was held
against his will, but later in the

article gave accounts of fun-
draising alone in different cities.
There are also tales of people not
getting enough sleep or enough
nutritious food, and, of course,
there are many accounts of the
dreaded "brainwashing."
Since most of these articles are
based on the comments of ex-
members, I would like to see an
article based on the comments of
positive ex-members. That is
where I come in. For the past
four months, I have been living
with the "Moonies" (which ex-
plains my interest in newspaper
articles), but now I am preparing
to return home. I feel I should
give my view on some of these

4(l

matters before I leave.
First of all, the matter of sleep.
While I was at home I averaged
five-and-a-half hours of sleep per
night during the week, and
around ten.hours sleep over the
weekends. Both of these I feel are
ridiculous. I now get an average
of seven-and-a-half hours sleep
each night. Also, there is the tall
about the quality of the food. I am
a chemistry major and my minor
is biology. I have taken just about
every biology class I can think of,
so I feel I know just as well as
anyone else what foods are good
for me, and the food that I am
eating here is good for me. That
brings us to the infamous subject
of BRAINWASHING. If Rev.
Moon brainwashed me in any
way, it was by showing me that I
should love my brothers and why.
In that way, I think the world
should be brainwashed, and that
the communists, Klansmen, and

Nazis should be given a double
dose.
I guess two more questions
need to be answered before I end
this letter. First, where are all of
the other positive ex-members,
and, second, why am I leaving?
Well I know a few more people
who have left here, although thei
have a good impression of the
movement and its members. The
reason these people do not ex-
press their feelings is that they
still have to make a living in the
world, and people connected with
Rev. Moon do not command very
much respect in society as yet. As
for why I am leaving, I do not
really connect with some of thei
ideals, but I still have a great
respect for everyone in the
movement and hope that others
will see that they are entitled, to
their beliefs.
-Brian Roman
December 18

Wcp

p \

I

King, queen self-centered

.k k I iz_

To the Daily:
In response to the article that
appeared in the. January 8th
Michigan Daily, as well as the
Detroit Free Press, the
Kalamazoo Gazette, the Grand
Rapids Press, and the Los
Angeles Times, among others, I
believe that the behavior of the
Michigan "royalty" -
Homecoming King Timothy Lee
and Homecoming Queen Sherry
King-has been self-centered,
arrogant, and totally ridiculous.
In the first place, Homecoming
king and queen presentations are
only in their second year here. It
is unreasonable to expect their
benefits to be similar to those of

king and queen should, indeed,
end with Homecoming. Further-
more, I find it utterly amazing
that any member of any minority
would have the nerve to cry
"racism!" as an excuse for not
getting everything he or she
demands, as Sherry King did on
several occasions.
In the second place, all can-
didates for Homecoming king,
queen and court positions were
well aware of the benefits they
were to receive at the time of ap-
plication and interviewing. These
positions are an honor, not
something to be taken advantage
of. Sherry King and Timothy Lee
have made a imockerv of this

To the Daily:
One must assume, after
hearing President-elect Reagan's
remarks about gun control in the
wake of John Lennon's murder,
that Reagan does not support
capital punishment. It is difficult
to see how one could implement a
5 to 15 year additional sentence
on top of the death penalty.
Perhaps the rack could be

brought back? The incidence
murder with guns could be
diminished by an intelligently
devised gun control policy. The
disturbed and the wicked will still
be with us and will find means to
act out their intentions. Ask Andy
Warhol (knifed some years ago)
who is nonetheless still with us.
-Sharon Katie
Decenber 10

Bring back the rack?

W"ALI 1,77

_ a

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