Thursday, July 13, 2006

Arthur Pope Day

This Sunday, July 16th, Arthur Eli Pope will be 62 years old.

Who is Arthur Pope?, you may ask. He was the subject of the 1988 movie, Running On Empty, directed by Sidney Lumet. He’s also a son of Plattsburgh, NY.

As depicted in Running On Empty, Arthur and his wife are radical hippie types on the run from the feds. They have lived all over the US-– and by now, the world-- under various disguises. Back during the upheaval of the Vietnam War era, Arthur and Annie Pope blew up a napalm lab. They assumed the building was empty-– but they were wrong and someone was injured.

Trying to stay free, Arthur and Annie went underground, thanks to the help of their friends in the radical network. They became fugitives who couldn’t afford to make one slip about their true past.

In a key scene in the Lumet film, Arthur gets drunk one night and starts to rant about his real identity. He states that he was born in Plattsburgh, NY on July 16th, 1944.

Since Plattsburgh likes to hold celebrations to draw in visitors-– for example, the Battle Of Plattsburgh event-- I’m surprised that it hasn’t held an Arthur Pope Day every year. OK, Pope is a felon and he did make a tragic mistake, but instead of celebrating his criminal act, we could focus on both sides of the division caused by the Vietnam War.

Arthur Pope Day could be modeled after Guy Fawkes Day in the United Kingdom, complete with fireworks. For those against Pope, they could burn his effigy with a bonfire.

The pro-Pope crowd could invite Jane Fonda to speak, defending the radical ways of the 60s Era. Judd Hirsch, who portrayed Pope in the movie, could pay a visit during the event. (He’s still alive, isn’t he?)

Of course, people would have to behave and not get worked up about their differences of opinion. After all, shouting matches and fistfights will keep the tourists away. You don’t want that. Just stay focused on the one, true symbol: $.

Arthur Pope Day promises to be another great moneymaker for the city.

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