Many of us have seen the “Get Out of Jail Free” character from the board game Monopoly. He’s the guy on the game’s Chance card with the little round head and the bushy mustache. Depending on the card, he could be wearing a one-piece, striped prison uniform that was popular in the early years of the 20th century. Or he might be dressed in a tuxedo and top hat, along with other clothes that show wealth. I saw this guy a few days ago while riding my bicycle through Southwest Detroit. No, he wasn’t walking by or taking a bike ride, he was on a couple of walls.
The wall where I spotted him is part of a major graffiti gallery. It is packed with colorful, 3-dimensional masterpieces in a variety of styles. Within them is a series of simple paintings of the character from the Monopoly game cards. The fat-cat man, or whatever his name is, was strategically spray-painted on the walls in various locations between the large graffiti pieces. It was as if they were guarding them from vandals. The illustrations of the bald man were quite large, almost life-size in scale. Surprisingly, the renderings of the Monopoly character were close to an exact match of those found on the iconic board game cards.
In one illustration, the bald man was standing in a tuxedo next to a sign that read, “pay poor tax $20”. He had a bewildered look on his face and his shoulders were hunched up. His hands were pointed away from his body and turned-upward as if to say, “What the hell?”
In another rendering, the little man was once again formally dressed. But in this version, he was holding a bag of money with a joyful look on his face that I interpreted as, ”look at me, I finally got the money!” Of course the “Get Out of Jail Free” version was there too. In that one, he was wearing the traditional prison garb of the time while getting a boot in the rear. The whole piece was outlined in orange. I forgot what a cool character this guy is.