Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Brief, But Still Panoramic History of the Dole Fruit Plant, Part I

The Dole Fruit Plant is not associated with the Dole Food Company, Dole Food Company, Inc. or Castle & Cooke, Inc, currently headquartered in Westlake, California. Neither is the Dole Fruit Plant affiliated with the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, the historical forebear of Dole Fruit. This much needs must be made clear right at the start of things; despite appearances which were designed to fool the public into believing the contrary, the fine people at the Dole Food Company have done absolutely nothing to deserve having their names and reputations besmirched by any association with the scandalous and unsavory history of the Dole Fruit Plant in New York City. At various times though the years, Dole Food Company has attempted to sue the Dole Fruit Plant for trademark infringement and various other things (i.e. a 1978 nuisance suit over a particular Dole Fruit Plant employee’s bad breath), but the Fruit Plant has two distinct advantages in this regard: first, its internal legal staff has had surgical alterations to their brains to allow them to be extra-vicious and need less sleep than ordinary human beings; and second, said legal staff enjoys a close relationship with the governments of the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Vatican City, the Principality of Monaco, France, and an endive salad made in 1982 that rules most of northern Africa and the Middle East.

In short, they are not to be trifled with.

The Dole Fruit Plant was founded in New York City in 1921, at the height of a trend of fashionable political discord that the Fruit Plant’s Founder, Dr. Joseph Dmitri, wanted desperately to get in on. Dr. Dmitri was raised by his proto-fascist godparents in an obscure Greek corner of the Tyrolean Mountains, and he had always dreamed of being able to freely libel and slander anyone he chose for the express purpose of establishing them as villains in what he liked to think of as “The Great Comic Book of Life.” Given the state of world politics in the early 20th century and the seeming obsession with ideology-based “scares,” Dr. Dmitri perceived the time was right to create his own. So he set sail for America – America, the Home of the Brave And Also of the Highly Susceptible to Paranoia; America, the Land of Opportunity for Extreme Political Fear-Mongering. Dr. Dmitri saw America as a melting pot, but also as a seething cauldron of anxiousness and unrest ready to boil over if heat could simply be applied. And he saw himself as just the man to apply that heat. “America is a melting pot,” he wrote in his journal in 1919, “but also a seething cauldron of anxiousness and unrest ready to boil over if heat can simply be applied. And I am just the man to apply that heat.”

America was full of opportunity for scores of tens of dozens of hundreds of millions of thousands of pounds of immigrants in those days – and not just for extreme political fear-mongering, either. The American economy was festooned with plum, high-paying jobs in fields as diverse and satisfying as 18-hours-a-day-sewing and rock-breaking-from-sunrise-to-sunset. Some immigrant laborers earned entire, luxurious pennies every day.

Dr. Dmitri, however, did not need to seek his fortune. His family was already wealthy. His journey to America and his quest to capitalize on the “scare” phenomenon were predicated largely on boredom, the sort of deep malaise that had led so many other great men (such as Einstein and Hemingway) to lives of decadence and sloth and murder. So Dr. Dmitri spent some of his considerable family fortune purchasing a zeppelin, which he flew to America and then detonated for no better reason than it was simpler than paying for hangar space. Also, because it really impressed a girl he had picked up in Paris whose name he failed to learn before she perished in the zeppelin’s fiery explosion.

Dr. Dmitri was not a man who sensibly dispensed his considerable sums of money. It was well known in Tyrol that Josef Dmitri could get a bit slack in his guard on the old purse strings, particularly if you fed him enough feta cheese. Also, he had terrible luck with women. his combustible companion from Paris was neither the first nor last woman who would explode at his hands.

Dr. Dmitri quickly discovered that there was no money to be made from scares in the private sector. Government funding seemed to be the way to go. And in order to secure said funding, Dr. Dmitri quite sensibly approached the venture under the guise of research. “Far easier,” he wrote “to convince the American government to study the ill effects of a major social movement than to simply vilify and eradicate them, though extermination is obviously still the objective here. Muhuhahahaha.”

How Dr. Dmitri settled on existentialists as his choice of scare targets is, at this point, a mystery lost for the ages, a mere pebble dropped into a vast ocean of time and meatball parmesan sandwiches from one of the finer Italian restaurants on the eastern side of midtown Manhattan. Why someone would need to drop a pebble into such a ridiculous and confusing metaphorical ocean is beyond the power of scholars to understand because scholars are really nowhere near as smart as they’re always rumored to be. Also, it’s irrelevant, because the metaphor is really weak. An ocean of time and (really, really good) sandwiches? Even really good sandwiches have limits to their usefulness at some level, and this is that level.

The point is that Dr. Dmitri chose, as his scare victims, existentialists. That jerk.

Coming in part 2: Dr. Dmitri gets an enemy.

1 comment:

Pete said...

Very much looking forward to part II: Josef goes to Camp.