A fish in water. The carrier of water.


Your basic fish aquarium. The fight of opposition symbols between the context of a media ecology (like water is to a fish) and the content (fish) living within this ecology. Can one truly discover and understand and use his or her understanding of their media ecology to their benefit? Do the fish above know they are in water? Or, are they the last in the world to discover this? Or, should those of us creating these captions seriously look for day jobs?

Eric McLuhan





That image comes up again. The image of a teenage boy walking around the campus of the Webb School of California in the middle 60s. The book he always seemed to be carrying, mixed up with the big book textbook on the great English writers. The grand book of literature had some royal-sounding ring to it. I can’t remember. Maybe a nickname everyone gave it? Next to the big textbooks I carried around in those years was my dog-eared copy of Understanding Media. It wasn’t so much that it explained so much going on around me as much as it helped explain me. It was the “media” the rest of the “message” content of the textbooks floated in those years. A small book. Yet so much larger than any of the other books in my life. Your father’s voice always like a medium in more than one-way for me.


The book I carried as a teenager … like the tv cowboys carried their guns. 

The voice, the perspective in life that saw the surrounding context of the situation. Like Virginia Woolf saw her “surroundings” in To the Lighthouse. Particularly, the famous passage of mixed narrators, suggesting that her perspective was outside “message” and into “medium.” (Reference to the famous inside/outside scene in The Great Gatsby) As your father quoted with his wonderful Bacon quote, so much depends on participation or not in culture today. The great works of art, require audience, viewer, participation to finish, complete the piece of art. In other words, some bare forms are laid that (hopefully) beckon to young men today to take up some type of quest, or calling.

* * *

I’m beginning what looks to be a fascinating book now called Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products. I heard it recommended by a leader in Silicon Valley and saw that it has about 700 five star reviews now on Amazon. A short book, what I like. It came two days after I ordered it from Amazon. Like almost everything I order from them. (Maybe that’s why I’m “hooked” on products I want from Amazon?)

The book’s by Nir Eyal who spent years in the video gaming and advertising industries where he learned, applied, and at times rejected, techniques described in Hooked to motivate and influence users. He has taught courses on applied consumer psychology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and at Fortune 500 companies. His writing on technology, psychology, and business appears in the Harvard Business ReviewThe AtlanticTechCrunch, and Psychology Today.


Hooked. See it on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Hooked-How-Build-Habit-Forming-Products/dp/1591847788/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455330248&sr=1-1&keywords=Hooked.

Certainly a book to take a look at if your a millennial trying to figure out how “they” control you and how “you” can create another one of those products people are “hooked” on today. The digital culture and technology has created something beyond products and branding. Beyond the normal evolution of marketing science and into something totally new in creating products within a “Hooked” culture. Something new in marketing in the creation of these products that hook us. All of course within the context of our dominating electronic, digital culture. The grand evolution of media forms moves onward. But also upward? Forward and upward? It still seems hard to say the ultimate outcome of this. But if we might view various media throughout history dominated by either a broadcast (one way of early 20th century television, radio and newspapers and magazines) or interactive or digital (two-way dominating culture now and against it, the old one-way broadcast method.)

* * *

As Jung might say, the dominance of broadcast media is an example of the male ego over the female ego in culture. Broadcast media in America has to be associated with the dominance of the mechanical, linear and male controlled culture. At the same time, our current digital dominated culture creates a new non-linear controlled environment. It shows the decline of the mechanical in the world. It is established in symbolism (as well by the writings of Marshall McLuhan) that electricity is a unifying, community based technology.

For that matter, a feminine controlled technology that controls us, less seen than even the past, like water controls fish. Another grand transformation into an electronic way of feeling and perceiving the world. In the communal sense of the current millennial generation against the media broadcast ideology of the baby boom generation.

These two grand symbols of media – the one-way broadcast media of the early years of mass media, and the two-way interactive (digital) media of the Internet. The historical cycle of technology moves certainly towards the communal of the aspects of digital technology and its founding (millennial) generation. I suggested in my 2003 manuscript Media Nations (inspired by my trip to Toronto and meeting Eric McLuan and Donald Theall) that the percentages of media consumption of various devices in nations should be a new way of defining nations and similar cultures. Much more relevant, it seems to me in our digital, media using, culture.


Carl Jung Contemplates His Life at 80.( By Lake Zurich)

The grand two founding symbols of America, freedom and equality. The only nation in history founded on a clash, confrontation (rather assimilation) of opposite (and paradoxical) symbols. In its founding. In the American Civil War. In all the wars the nation has been involved in. In the two political traditions, liberal and conservative. In the two political parties: Democrats and Republicans.

So, without starting the new book, the title has already got me thinking and speculating on things like the above. Not bad for the little yellow book off to my left on my desk! Would Carl Jung associate a digital culture as a feminine symbol. There is little doubt in my mind that he would. It makes sense from the grand perspective of astrology that we are moving from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. From the age of the “Pisces” fish symbol (living in water) to the symbol of one who carries, contains, water – once the total environment of an age. Now, it is “carried” by the symbol of the coming Age of Aquarius.

* * *

The two grand symbols continue to battle in culture, moving through their cycle, the cycle of all life: from equality in birth (surround by water inside a mother) to the growth of inequality (freedom) in one’s life cycle. From the few experiences and views of life (and media) during one’s early years to many millions experiences to media during one’s later years. Of course there is always battle between the old symbols (again the founding symbols of America and those that battle within everyone): the search for freedom and, at the same time, connection or equality.

The author tells us he is going to give us a particular formula for creating products that “hook” people. A big payout for sure and many should be interested. And have been. Its become a classic business book. I’ll have a review on the book after this first review of the culture the book is written in. That’s the effect of a great “hooked” marketing word like the word “Hooked.” The author seemed to be using a rod to immediately signal out to me, the way I’m feeling while living in this culture today we all “swim” around in, like fish. (“I’m not sure who discovered water. But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a fish.” Atributed to various authors.)


Symbol of Freedom. The amazing thing is being able to examine a culture than has hooked us. Perhaps this is not possible? Perhaps we’re all too much “fish” of our environment. Swimming around in it yet unaware we are swimming. Apps for our iPhones. The most time spent interfacing with little screens. The psychology of things like “Likes” on FaceBook. The power of a political candidate using Tweets to offer his messages out there. There is a great advertising photo of tow couple leaning against the front hood of a car. There is crayoned onto the front window of the car then lean against “Just Married.”They are both busy with their devices in front of them. So different from the paintings of Norman Rockwell on the cover of . I remember so well the thanksiving painting of the serving of the turkey around a table of family members, all leaning into the painting, as well as the concept of being part of a community. The contrast in the two images represents this great clash of symbols we are living through.

The amazing thing is being able to examine a culture than has hooked us. Perhaps this is not possible? Perhaps we’re all too much “fish” of our environment. Swimming around in it yet unaware we are swimming. Apps for our iPhones. The most time spent interfacing with little screens. The psychology of things like “Likes” on FaceBook. The power of a political candidate using Tweets to offer his messages out there. There is a great advertising photo of tow couple leaning against the front hood of a car. There is crayoned onto the front window of the car then lean against “Just Married.”They are both busy with their devices in front of them. So different from the paintings of Norman Rockwell on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. I remember so well the thanksiving painting of the serving of the turkey around a table of family members, all leaning into the painting, as well as the concept of being part of a community. The contrast in the two images represents this great clash of symbols we are living through.

* * *

Before I leave tonight, the title of the book has me again speculating ofn the word hooked. These are technology products  we are ”hooked” on today we use without thinking about them as much as not thinking about our habit. The word hooked is linked to the stae of being distracted seems to be the perpetual state of modern culture. The results of a hooked culture (so note a number of scholars) is declining empathy. The article in a recent New York Times Review of Books (February 2016) discusses four books of leading thinkers on digital culture on society and culture and, really, the overall course of our nation for those who put the “water” of media the great influencer of personal and collective culture and

See this excellent article on much of what we discuss in the great New York Review of Books (some people are still thinking in culture) at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/02/25/we-are-hopelessly-hooked.

So, I’ll have a type of report to you when I finish reading this book.

If all this around me allows me to report on things. Observe it. Outside of it. Third person narrative perspective. Or is it similar to a great Black Hole? Forcing one holding everything within?


Symbol of equality. Half and half. But is this as strong as the symbol of the Eagle?

My thought was that the ideas in this particular book might be used to create “content” or messages within the “context” medium of technological culture and collective psychology today. In other words, using the ideas in this book as a source of ideas for creating screenplays? Might it be possible to “build” inside screenplays, “habit-forming products?” Might the content of screenplays in their words of description and words of dialogue. Might a screenwriter be able to use the insights of this book I’m about ot read to create a new “habit forming” screenplay style?

Anyway, excited to read this little yellow book next to me called Hooked. The always presence to me that just one book (or a sentence, or word) might change the world in the same radical way like M=MC squared changed a world. Is there a formula for the modern TechnoLogical, digital world? A formula like there is in quantum physics? There should be one for Media. Western science is so good at analyzing content (message) while context (medium) always escapes not only analysis but simply recognition that it is even present in the environment. Of course your father understood all of this, understood it like a fish that gets pissed off for all the water pressing against it every day.


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Story Light


Western culture, especially an advanced consumer culture like America, is entranced with the content of life while the context of life remains hidden. The content of life is composed of cultural productions while the context of life involves the natural phenomena of space, time and place containing these cultural productions. One of the key elements of cultural content is a message. These messages exist in the context of space, time and place that form a type of “media ecology” of their time.

This is another way of saying that our culture focuses on the messages of life rather than the medium they arrive in. Yet Marshall McLuhan reminded “the medium is the message” meaning context of messages define the content of messages. Someone once said while we don’t know who discovered water, we can be reasonable sure it wasn’t a fish. This is another way of saying the natural phenomena of context we “swim” in each day (like fish swim in water) is something taken for granted, a given of life, something to be accepted rather than questioned or even observed in the first place.

While cultural content comes millions of shapes, colors and forms, context possesses the common phenomena of light. The phenomenon of “light” defines the space, time and place of context. It is the one element they all have in common. One doesn’t have to go any further than the opening line of the Bible “Let there be light” to understand the importance of the phenomena of light to humanity.

* * *

One of the greatest cultural productions is a story. A story contains a number of contentual elements such as characters, dialogue and action – the productions of the story. These elements of story occur within a particular context of a setting in space, time and place. We can say, the elements of a story occur within a context of light.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that film is the greatest form of storytelling ever invented by mankind. More specifically, that form of storytelling invented by American culture. Modern film storytelling involves formulas for the action of the hero through a film story in the form of plot structure and rules of dialogue. These elements of film content are subject to the teachings of Hollywood story gurus and countless books and seminars on creating film stories.

Given little attention in modern film stories is the manipulation of the context of light. Light was an important element in the early years of film when there was no sound in films and filmmakers were forced to use light to tell their stories. But with the development of sound and theories dialogue and plot structure, modern films have moved further and further away from recognizing the importance of light in film stories.

Many in Hollywood would probably dispute this because controlling film light is a large part of filmmaking today. However, it is one thing to control light in film scenes and another to understand how light relates to the dynamics of the overall story. Little about this is understood or put into practice in the creation of modern films.

* * *

In applying the context of light to modern storytelling, one needs to keep in mind two key laws of symbolism. One is the law of opposites or difference; the other is the law of correspondence or similarity. The law of opposites involves the movement of symbols in linear time (from a beginning to end, past to future) while the law of correspondence involves the alignment of symbols in non-linear time (moment in time).

A story (film, screenplay) can be envisioned as a movement between a symbol representing the hero of the story at the beginning of the story and a symbol of the hero at the end of the story. The greater opposition (difference) between these two symbols, the greater drama of the story.

Movement between the opposition symbols occurs in a series of sequences or scenes creating plot structure. While the law of opposition rules the beginning and ending of stories, the law of correspondence (similarity) rules the present (scenes, settings) of a film story. These scenes are the steps the hero of a story goes through in making his or her journey from the beginning to the end of the story.
The image of a cross can be used to represent the symbolism of story light. The horizontal line of the cross represents the linear movement of light symbolism from the beginning of the story on the left (Act I) to the end of the story on the right (Act III). The vertical line of the cross represents the non-linear static alignment of light symbolism at one particular moment (scene) within the story. The movement of light symbolism through a film can be envisioned as the movement from left to right of the vertical line along the horizontal line.

* * *

Film lighting has seen huge advancements since the era of silent film. Lighting in films is subject to being controlled more than ever. Yet lighting control is much like the entrancement of culture on content and message rather than context. While lighting can make the content (scenes) of films spectacular, film lighting has little understanding of the overall story context it operates within. Focused on the technology of controlling light, Hollywood has little interest or knowledge in the movement of light through a story or its alignment at particular points of time within stories.

In a general way, one might say that the symbolic change of light in a story goes from either light to dark or dark to light. The former offers the formula for a tragedy while the latter for a romance or satire.

But light has many correspondences and qualities other than its absence or presence. Below are some symbolic correspondence of light to the elements of context we have mentioned in the phenomena of space, time and place.

1) Space

The phenomena of space is associated with light as there is different light within an inside (enclosed) space versus an outside space. Inside spaces are most often cultural productions in the form of structures like homes and buildings. Light within these structures comes from artificial sources like florescent lighting and tungsten lighting. Outside light comes from natural sources like the sun and the moon. Tungsten light of lamps and lights in homes has a temperature between 2,700 degrees and 3,500 degrees and has a gold, yellow tint to it. Outside light has a temperature of 5,500+ degrees and has a blue tint to it. Space also has the characteristics of below or above with above space possessing more light than below space.

2) Time

The phenomenon of time is also associated with light. The major divisions of time on a daily basis are daytime and nighttime. Sunlight controls the day while moonlight the night. Yet between day and night there are the gradations of light contained in sunrise, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, twilight and sunset. Apart from the divisions of daily light, the time of year is also associated with light with the seasons of summer and spring offering periods where sunlight comes from a higher source in the sky than fall and winter where it comes from a lower source in the sky.

3) Place

The phenomenon of place encompasses space and time and involves different settings or locations in a story. All of these locations are subject to being defined by a certain space and time but also by additional elements such as major ecologies such as deserts, forests, mountains, oceans, jungles and prairies. Each has a particular light to it. The desert light has a direct light. Forest light a shaded, indirect light. Place also involves various phenomena such as weather and the various light this weather brings with it. Place has the light stormy weather (snow, rain) foggy weather, smoggy weather, clear weather.

4) Qualities of Light

The above contexts of space, time and place all contain various qualities of light. These qualities can be identified as colors, hues, shades, tones, contrast and the sources of light.

Light color exists on a spectrum of perceived light from orange and red on one side to blue on the other side. If effect, color of light in a story should possess a movement from one part of the color spectrum to the other. If color is held the same throughout the story, then other qualities of light need to be changed to show dramatic movement. For example, a story might remain a “blue” story but the hues and shades and tones within this blue need to change.

Light contrast offers another quality of light that greatly influences the symbolism of the story. The contrast is greatest between black and white and this is one of the main reasons for the symbolic power of the black and white films such as Casablanca and Citizen Kane as well as the the noir detective films where good and evil fight between light and shadow. Regarding the contrast powers of light, an interesting quote from the psychologist Wilfred Bion in his Brazilian Lectures (1973) comes to mind:

“Instead of trying to bring a brilliant, intelligent, knowledgeable light to bear on obscure problems, I suggest we bring to bear a diminution of light – a penetrating beam of darkness: a reciprocal of the searchlight. The peculiarity of this penetrating ray is that it could be directed towards the object of our curiosity and this object could absorb whatever light already existed, leaving the area of examination exhausted of any light that it possessed. The darkness would be so absolute that it would achieve a luminous, absolute vacuum. So that, if any object existed, however faint, it would show up very clearly. Thus a very faint light would become visible in maximum conditions of darkness.”

Another quality of light is whether it comes from an object (radiated light) or falls on an object (reflected light). Light that falls on an object (such as the Hero of a story) can come from above, below, the side, behind, in front of or through the subject. All areas have symbolic meaning. It can be direct light or diffused light.

* * *

Screenwriting recognizes the context of film story scenes in its capitalized directions before a scene. All scenes in screenplays begin with the direction of whether it is an inside scene designated by INT. (for internal, inside) or an outside scene designated by EXT. (for external, outside). The second element of scene direction is place. The third element is the time of the scene designated by the capitalized words NIGHT or DAY. Below these general scene directions is a description of the place and the action happening in this place. For example, a screenplay scene might look like the below.



The Valley of the Moon in full bloom. An explosion of color. Wildflowers. Yellow mustard plants carpet the valley. The vines are beginning to awaken. A car heads along Highway 12 that runs through the valley.


While the contexts of scenes are labeled via the above method, the symbolism and movement of light through the film left to the discretion of the film’s art director, cinematographer and director. More often than not, their discretion is focused more on the content of the individual scenes of the film rather than the context of the scenes related to the overall story. Certain scenes might use light in a creative manner to make them “pop out.” While they might be creative and “pop out” they seldom adhere to the rules of light symbolism we have discussed.

* * *

The question comes down to who should be the main creator (author) of light symbolism in a story. We suggest it needs to come more from the screenwriter who creates the story rather than those who interpret the story in producing a film of it.

In other words, screenwriters need to be made aware of the use of light in a screenplay and have some new scene direction device that shows this use of light. The current scene description of EXT or INT and DAY or NIGHT simply does not place lighting of scenes in their symbolic context of the materials discussed above.

By creating some additional scene description device, the screenwriter (creator) of a story gains more control over the symbolic power the story and makes it less influenced by the temperament of those (set designers, artistic directors, cinematographers or directors) who produce the story.

In the next chapter, we’ll suggest a template for adding to screenwriting elements that allows the screenwriter to discover and use the power of light in stories.

Stories From Images


The Diner – Ryan Schude

The German photographer and media artist Andreas Müller-Pohle observes that there are two types of photographers: the discoverer and the inventor. The discoverer acts “in motion,” after the model of the hunter and gatherer. His activity can be described as “scenic searching” in that he extracts something from the scenery, acting perceptually. The inventor, on the other hand, acts “stationary,” after the model of the sedentary producer. His activity is an “in-scenic” (staged) researching: he places something into the scenery, acting conceptually.

Therefore, Müller-Pohl notes, “searching and discovering” describe nature-oriented gestures, whereas “researching and inventing” are culture-oriented. He who becomes an inventor has been denied nature. It is exactly this which characterizes the current situation in photography. Reality – the photographer’s natural realm – has begun to be denied him. When reality has been denied, one must invent it anew.

This might explain some of the reasons for the growth of staged photography today where the photographer often uses actors and actresses and props to set up scenes in much the same way a film director might set up scenes in movies. Yet, staged photography often tells more of a story in one image than a two hour film tells in 172,000 images (at 24 frames per second, the standard film projection rate). One of the reasons for this is that staged photography is a “cool” medium inviting viewer participation in the story being told whereas modern films are often more similar to a “hot” medium, bombarding the viewer with more dialogue, music and action than immersive images.


Ryan Schude – Jaguar

Note the two staged photographs of LA photographer Ryan Schude. In his “Diner” a man in a derby stops and looks in at the various lives taking place inside a diner. A waitress spills a plate on a couple. An old woman looks out the window. A marching band rests against the diner. What is the story being told? Or, consider “Jaguar” above. A car has broken down but no one seems to care and a strange nightlife of play continues on around the broken car. It reminds one of Pieter Bruegel’s famous painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” (1590) where Icarus falls to earth but no one seems to pay attention.

Look at the below staged photos of Gregory Crewdson, probably the leading staged photographer working today. The viewer is placed into a story that has already started. Unlike a film where the viewer is present at the beginning, here the viewer is thrown into the middle of a story being told and needs to make sense of it. Unlike film which uses genre, dialogue, action and structure to explain what the story is about, staged photography offers a mystery to the viewer, a mystery that beckons the viewer to solve. In the end, those “inventors” of staged photography (as Andreas Müller-Pohle might define this group) makes viewers into “discoverers.”


Gregory Crewdson – In a Lonely Place


Gregory Crewdson – Maple Street


Gregory Crewdson – Maple Street

Commercials Move Toward Stories


“Turner Native Plus will extend storytelling into the commercial pod by developing the right environment for the client, increasing exposure to the brand, and as a result, driving higher ROI (return on investment.)”

Commercials on Turner Broadcasting (owner of TV networks CNN, Cartoon Network, TNT) will become longer and more like program content under their new Native Plus product. The new service will replace some commercial breaks that tend to showcase anywhere between five and 10 different 30-second ads a with 2-to-3-minute-long “native” ad for a single advertiser.

Turner will work with advertisers to create the longer-form content, which Turner says will be more “powerful and impactful to the viewer.” A longer ad (presumably) will give the advertiser more space to convey their key messages and that the elongated slot will provide standout compared to traditional commercial breaks.

Will this open up a new area for screenwriters creating miniature screenplays based around products and brands? Will there be a new class of heroes based on three minute stories? Will program content and advertising merge together more? All interesting questions to ponder.

Generation Heroes


Baby Boom Hero

I was a huge fan of Neil Howe’s book The Fourth Turning about generational cycles. I began corresponding with him and we kept in touch over the years. Neil has now set-up a company called Saeculum Research which syndicates marketing research on big trend issues today.

Neil writes a blog on his site and here is an interesting post to his blog titled “Millennials (and Xers) Taking the Tough Mudder Pledge.”

I know about these as my 30 year old daughter-in-law does a lot of these tough mudder events.

Neil posts an enightening comment by an Andrew to his blog. Andrew is a 27-year-old Millennial and compares his generation (and generation X) with the baby boom generation noting:

Baby boomer generation = Woodstock, self-expression and spiritualism
Millennial generation = Tough Mudders, teamwork and physical prowess

The tough mudder events play out in muddy fields around the nation yet the events are indicative of larger changes in culture today. Some of it is expressing itself in an emerging new political structure.


Tough Mudder Heroes (No, not the border but a Tough Mudder event)

Much can be observed at the box office as the main group who consumes and creates films today are the Millenials and Xers. So those outside these generations writing screenplays need to think about the needs of this generation. Heros and heroines to baby boomers (the self-expressive, independent cowboys like John Wayne) are no longer heroes to the Xers and Millennials whose heros and heroines fight villains by teamwork (and the physical prowess contained in the plethora of super hero films now flooding the market.)


Old Internet Articles

The other day, I went on a round-up of old articles of mine posted on the Internet over the years. Some of them are posted below in no particular order. Some had wandered far away and found themselves posted on strange sites (like an Australian gold speculator’s site). Others were gathered under one roof. Going all the way back to 1995 and the article published in Psychological Perspectives (the journal of the LA Jung Society) “Visionary Rumors and the Symbolism of the Psychoanalytic Movement.” Check out the top article Electric Symbols which garnered me a meeting with the VP of Publicity at a growing internet company called Google in 2000. (I still can’t believe I wrote this!)

Electric Symbols

Islam As Medium Cool 

Maximum Conditions of Darkness

Friendly Persuasion

The Sonoma Valley Historical Society

The Pledge: To A Murdered Girl’s Mother? Or To A Little Girl?

War of the Worlds

Myths of Reality

Lost in Translation

The Organization as Patient?

The Symbolism of Popular Culture: Sexy Ice Cubes And The Evolution Of An Idea

The Long Birth Of Psychohistory

Friendly Persuasion: The Postmodern Ubiquity Of Advertising

Marshall McLuhan. The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion

The Hidden Medium of the Modern Workplace: Speculations On The Digital Economy

Maximum Conditions of Darkness

Salman Rushdie. The Religion Of Celebrity

A Rolling Deal Gathers No Loss

All Business Is Show Business

Six Cardboard Boxes Full of Love Letters And Old Picture Postcards: The Search For Jung’s Symbol

The Palace Of Illusion: The Rise and Fall of a Grand Mythology

Collaborative Filtering, Engage & Webmining … The Internet Store Moves Closer To Reality

The Symbolism of UFOs and Aliens

Visionary Rumors and the Symbolism of the Psychoanalytic Movement


Lee Henry

By John Fraim

In the winter of 1948, eighteen-year-old Leland Henry was completing his senior year at Oakwood High School in Dayton, Ohio and contemplating his future before entering The Ohio State University in the fall of 1949. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do but there was a definite streak of entrepreneurism in his life. When his father died, Lee’s mother Helen Henry married Dayton entrepreneur Loren Berry who had founded the Yellow Pages form of advertising in 1910. Growing up in the home of his stepfather Loren Berry, Lee was exposed to the constant conversation about new business ideas.

While Lee did not know what the future held for him, one of the things in the air at the time, even in the cold winter of Ohio, was the South Pacific. In the late 1940s, one of the leading phenomena in popular culture was interest in the South Pacific and Polynesian culture. Soldiers returning from World War II brought with them stories of the war in the South Pacific. The interest in the South Pacific helped James Michener’s collection of stories Tales of the South Pacific win the 1948 Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for the 1949 Broadway musical South Pacific.

In addition to the returning WWII veterans, several other factors contributed to the mid-century American interest in Polynesian culture. Post-war America saw the rise of the middle class as an economic force with ever-increasing affordability of travel. In particular, newly established air travel to Hawaii helped to propel the nation’s interest in all things tropical and the eventual statehood of Hawaii in 1959. Polynesian design began to infuse every aspect of the country’s visual aesthetic, from home accessories to architecture. Single family homes, apartment complexes, business and even large shopping and living districts of some cities were heavily influenced by Polynesian aesthetics.

* * *

Although Lee was not sure what he would do after college, he did know that he wanted to visit his eccentric aunt Gertrude Embry who lived in Los Angeles in the coming summer before entering OSU in the fall. Therefore, after graduating from high school, Lee drove to Los Angeles in the summer of 1949 to stay with Gertrude and her husband Higsby.

Higsby Embry inherited a good deal of money and the couple lived an exotic lifestyle. Higsby owned a 75-foot-yacht called Rainbow and they would often cruise to the Catalina Islands off the coast from Los Angeles and party until all hours of the night and sleep until noon. They owned a home at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains in the Las Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. Their home was right next door to the famous old movie star Adolphe Menjou and just down the hill from the Griffith Park Observatory. Higsby and Gertrude had some monkeys and one time their monkeys escaped and were found up at the observatory.

While in Los Angeles, Lee took a few trips to Catalina Island on the Rainbow. Most importantly for his future, Gertrude and Higsby took him to a number of the new exotic restaurants in LA. He visited restaurants like the Brown Derby, Musso & Franks and Lawry’s which were all setting new restaurant trends, going against the rise in franchise restaurants like McDonalds, Denny’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. The most exotic restaurant in Los Angeles at the time was a Polynesian-themed restaurant named Don the Beachcombers.


Don The Beachcombers

The restaurant was founded in 1934 in a vacated tailor shop of Hollywood Boulevard by Ernest Gantt, a twenty-seven year adventure-seeker who had travelled around the world in 1926 visiting islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific and collecting souvenirs and stories from them. In 1931, the proto-beatnik came to LA when his money ran out looking for something to do. Gantt made do in the Depression economy through his wits and odd jobs working in restaurants in Chinatown, parking cars at commercial lots, and doing a bit of freelance bootlegging in the months before Prohibition ended. Sociable and charming, he befriended such Hollywood personalities as David Niven and Marlene Dietrich and through them found occasional work as a technical adviser on films set in the South Pacific. Directors evidently were impressed not only by his knowledge of the region but also by his collection of South Pacific artifacts, which could be borrowed for set props.


Ernest Gannt = Don The Beachcomber

By 1937 Ernest Gantt’s Polynesian restaurant in LA had outgrown the tailor’s shop and Gantt moved to a larger spot in Hollywood. He added more South Pacific flotsam and imbued the place with a tropical twilight gloom. The joint became so much part of his personality that he legally changed his name several times, first using Donn Beach-Comber, then Donn Beachcomber and finally settling on Donn Beach. The new name was Ernest Gantt’s vision of himself as a mellow, dropped-out aesthete, a sort of Gauguin who’d moved to Tahiti permanently without bothering to bring along any paints or canvases.

* * *

After visiting Don the Beachcombers with his aunt and uncle in the summer of 1949, a vision began to crystalize in Lee’s mind on what he might want to do in the future. It wasn’t much more than a vision but there was the seed of something planted in his mind that summer after visiting his aunt and uncle and seeing Don the Beachcombers.

In the fall of 1949, with the popular music from South Pacific swirling in the air, nineteen-year-old from Lee Henry entered The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The next few years were filled with traditional college activities and notable things like the 1950 “Snow Bowl” where Ohio State played Michigan in the middle of a full-scale blizzard, five inches of snow on the ground and snow whistling through the air, borne on a 29-mile-per-hour gale. It was the worst blizzard in 37 years in Columbus, and the Ohio capital easily defended its title as the football craziest town in the nation. The worst part of the game was that Michigan beat OSU 9 to 3.

In 1954, Lee graduated from The Ohio State University and traveled to Europe for a few months contemplating his career. When he got back, he began work at the staid old Union Department Store in Columbus. It was called “The Union” because founder S.M. Levy started the business in Chicago during the Civil War and the Union of the north was on everyone’s mind. Lee began work as a salesman in the men’s department of the store. After a short time, he became bored with the job and realized he is not made for a career in the retail industry. And too, he becomes a little worried about his male supervisor at the store who wanted him to model underwear after hours.

union store-1955

The Union Department Store in Columbus

A good friend of Lee’s at OSU was Bill Sapp and the two began discussing getting into business together. In 1955, they scraped enough money together to open The Top steakhouse in Columbus. While he enjoyed running the Top, Lee could not forget the exotic Polynesian restaurant in LA he had visited with Gertrude and Higsby. During the next year, Lee made a number of trips to visit other Polynesian restaurants around the nation. The American interest in Tiki culture and Polynesian-themed restaurants was exploding at the time. Lee made more trips to LA to see Gertrude and visit other Tiki-themed restaurants. The Los Angeles Trader Vics opened in Los Angeles in 1955. Besides Trader Vics and Don the Beachcombers, there were other popular Polynesian-themed restaurants in Los Angeles like the Zamboanga South Seas Club and the Pirate’s Den. All were doing a roaring trade.

Los Angeles was particularly fertile ground for this growing new restaurant trend called “themed” restaurants. At the time, most Angelenos were immigrants from somewhere else, so the city had little of the sort of shared traditions and conventions that governed how things were done elsewhere. And most importantly, LA was also full of out-of-work movie set-designers who found new employment in making restaurants into movie sets.

* * *

While Lee was influenced by the Los Angeles Polynesian restaurants, his final inspiration came from Florida not California. In 1957, with The Top steakhouse operating in Columbus, he visited the largest Polynesian restaurant in the world in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called the Mai-Kai.

The Mai-Kai opened in December of 1956 in an open field on the two-lane Federal Highway on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Brothers Bob and Jack Thornton who were inspired by Don the Beachcomber’s restaurant as children created it. When they opened the Mai-Kai they hired away number two chef from the Chicago Don the Beachcomber’s restaurant, Kenny Lee, and the number two bartender Mariano Licudine as well as the head Maitre d’ Andy Tanato along with many staff members.

Their original design cost three-hundred-thousand dollars. It is the most expensive restaurant built in 1956. In its first year it earned over one million dollars, becoming one of the most successful restaurants of its time. Fort Lauderdale in the late 50’s was a seasonal place, catering mostly to “snow-birds” and in the first few years the Mai-Kai was only open during the Winter Tourist season.


The Mai-Kai in Ft. Lauderdale: Final Inspiration for the Kahiki

Upon his return to Columbus, Lee and his partner Bill Sapp started their own Polynesian-themed restaurant. However, it wasn’t anything on the grand scale of the Mai-Kai or the LA restaurants. It was really no more than a grass shack. In fact, it was called The Grass Shack and it was located at 3583 E. Broad Street. From the start it had a rough clientele.


Matchbook Cover for the Grass Shack

However, the real purpose of the Grass Shack was for it to be a testing ground for a larger restaurant Lee and Bill had in mind. At the Grass Shack, they tested drinks and food. One of the most famous things they tested was what they termed “The Mystery Drink.” Perhaps the forerunner of the Mystery Drink was described in Mystic Isles of the South Seas by Frederick O’Brien, published in 1921. “I had been introduced to a Doctor Funk by Count Polonsky, who told me it was made of a portion of absinthe, a dash of grenadine, the juice of two limes, and half a pint of siphon water. Dr. Funk of Samoa, who had been a physician of Robert Louis Stevenson, had left the receipt for the concoction when he was a guest of the club. One paid half a franc for it, and it would restore self-respect and interest in one’s surroundings when even Tahiti rum failed.”

Lee had learned much from observing the operations of the other Polynesian restaurants, especially the Mai-Kai in Florida and how the two brothers had brought great people with restaurant talent to their operation. As a result, the Kahiki began advertising in a number of the Chinese language papers in San Francisco looking for help. Later, Lee would hire Craig Moore, right out of the famous Cornel School of Hospitality Management, to manage his future Polynesian restaurant.

* * *

Even thought there was a certain “planned obsolescence” for the Grass Shack, its end was brought about quickly by a fire that burned it down on June 14, 1959 – Bill Sapp’s birthday. Bill had gone home when one of the perpetual parties were going on at the Grass Shack. He got a call from Sondro Conti, his bar manager and drink inventor who told him the place had burned down.

Bill and Lee’s plans to open their Polynesian-themed restaurant were put into high gear with the Grass Shack fire. By this time, Tiki culture was in full swing. Hawaii was admitted to statehood this year and Luaus were a popular theme for parties in the suburbs as tropical-themed drinks began appearing at bars and restaurants.

Grass Shack

The Grass Shack: Testing Ground for Kahiki

In August of 1960, a year after the Grass Shack fire, the Columbus Dispatch wrote the “Foundation is completed for the Kahiki, a Polynesian supper club to be located at 3583 E. Broad Street. It is expected to be the largest restaurant of its type in the world.” The Kahiki was being built on the site next door to the old Grass Shack. The restaurant was designed by Columbus architect Coburn Morgan at a cost of $1 million dollars. It would be able to hold over 500 guests and would have waterfalls, tanks of fish, live birds, large drums, and an iconic monkey fountain known as “George.” At the center of the building was a giant stone Moai fireplace. The year 1961, brought two important events into Lee Henry’s life. The Kahiki opened and Lee was married to Marilyn Mansfield. In the coming years, Marilyn would help much in the operations of the Kahiki and produce two beautiful daughters for Lee, Karen and Dawn.

The vision of a restaurant Lee first saw at Don the Beachcombers in LA, was now a reality. Doug Motz, past president of the Columbus Historical Society notes that the design of the building was based on men’s meeting houses of New Guinea and the details featured along the curved roof were found on many of the war canoes of the region. Pelicans and fish lined the apex of the roof, thought to be symbols of plentiful good food. Two replicas of the Easter Island heads stood guard at the doorway that was lined with murals to ward away evil spirits. Shaped like a Polynesian fighting boat with 40-foot-tall giant flaming Moai Heads outside the main doors opening into a tropical rainforest with a reproduction of a typical Pacific Islander tribal village.


The Kahiki: 1961

It was an easy landmark to identify. Doug Motz recalls a provocative billboard for the Kahiki during the early years. On the billboard, “A Tahitian maiden with a gardenia in her hair would ‘wink’ at me every Sunday morning when my parents drove us from our home in the Huber subdivision of Reynoldsburg to the Brookwood Presbyterian Church in Bexley. The Polynesian Goddess on the billboard seemed to be beckoning me to join her for dinner and drinks and scared the devil out of me. I would duck down behind the seat of my parents’ station wagon for fear she would see me.” Motz notes that “Little did I know how that mystery girl would find her way into the hearts of hundreds, if not thousands, of Central Ohioans.”


Kahiki Drink Menu

Inside the Kahiki, patrons became immersed in a total world of the South Seas and could order their choice of exotic fare and island drinks such as Malayan Mist, Blue Hurricane, Instant Urge, Maiden’s Prayer, Misty Isle, Jungle Fever, Head Hunter, Zombie and the Smoking Eruption. Each one of these cocktails had its’ own sculpted mug designed just for the drinker who could then purchase it from the gift shop and take it home as a souvenir. Bill Sapp’s wife herself made the original mug for the Zombie. The various bars of the Kahiki used up to 1,000 pineapples and 2,000 bottles of rum monthly to keep up with demand.


A Newspaper Article on the Kahiki

As amazing as all these drinks were, the ultimate Kahiki drink was the “Mystery Drink” which could serve 4 people and contained 8 ounces of rum and brandy. It was served in a bowl with a smoking volcano in the middle and brought by the “Mystery Girl” who ceremoniously danced it to one’s table after being summoned by a giant gong. The pretty, scantily clad “Mystery Girl” who brought the “Mystery Drink” had a number of male fans but perhaps her biggest fan was the television celebrity Arthur Godfrey who was taken with her on his visit to the Kahiki and took her back to California with him.

Kahiki restaurant memorabilia. Kahiki - a Polynesian adventure - ran in the Columbus Sunday Dispatch on September 24, 1961 . The Kahiki is a Polynesian-themed tiki restaurant in Columbus. (outtake, not used in story that ran 5/6/2000)

The Mystery Girl Makes her Offering of the Mystery Drink

As the 60s went by, the Kahiki gained in popularity until it was known worldwide as one of the great themed-restaurants in the world. Besides Arthur Godfrey, many other celebrities such as Milton Berle, Andy Williams, Robert Goulet and Zsa Zsa Gabor visited the restaurant while in Columbus performing Summer Stock Theater for the Kenley Players at the Vets Memorial Theater.


Zsa Zsa At The Kahiki


* * *

Despite years of incredible popularity for the Kahiki, trends in culture at the beginning of the 70s were changing and Tiki culture was declining in popularity. The novelty of the South Pacific and Polynesian culture was fading and new trends were emerging. In 1972, Bill Sapp and Lee moved away from their exclusive focus on the Kahiki when they opened their second themed restaurant in Columbus named the Wine Cellar.


Lee and Bill Sapp Start the Wine Cellar in 1972

While the Wine Cellar proved to be a very successful restaurant, Lee’s full-time attention to the restaurant business was waning as his attention to his growing family and other interests increased. During this time, he took his family on a number of trips around the country and world. He and Marilyn bought a condo in Aspen where the family went skiing in the winter. When he was young, Lee earned a multi-engine and instrument pilot license and now used it much more than ever. He was an avid sailor and sailed to many places around the world. He was also a scuba diver, bicyclist and exercise enthusiast.

Eventually, Lee and Marilyn sold their home in Aspen and bought a home in Ketchum, Idaho. Lee loved many things about Ketchum, the home of Ernest Hemingway. But probably his most favorite things were spending a lot of quality time with Marilyn and his new grandson. His daughter Dawn had moved to Ketchum a number of years before Lee moved there and it was wonderful being with her and his grandson. In August of 2015, Lee returned to Columbus with an illness and passed away at his home on September 22.

Lee will probably be remembered mostly as the creator of the legendary Kahiki that exposed mid-Ohio to the exotic South Pacific culture of Polynesia. And this of course this is all a good thing to be remembered by. But I am sure that many friends of Lee will remember him for different things.

Like his memory for me, one of Lee’s nephews. I visited the Kahiki a few times and loved it like those who went there. But most of all, I remember Lee for the unique person he was rather than the incredible place and experience he created. More than anything else, he was always interested in life and all the humorous little quirks of life that went with it. He was always exploring new things and curious of everything. Lee always wanted to know more about everything. Whether it was the workings of a new television monitor or the latest product from Apple.


Lee and Marilyn Visiting The Desert in 2013

This was the uncle I knew and loved so much. I was not alone in this love of Lee. So many loved him and were amazed at how he lived life, squeezing out of it all it might offer like some piece of fruit. So many loved him, even if they never knew he was the guy who created legendary places like The Top, the Wine Cellar and the Kahiki. They knew various “facets” of Lee but few ever understood the entire “diamond” called Lee Henry.

John Fraim

John is the nephew of Lee Henry and grew up in Los Angeles a few blocks away from Trader Vics in the Beverly Hilton Hotel. He is President of Desert Screenwriters Group (www.desertscreenwritersgroup.com) and GreatHouse Stories (www.greathousestories.com) and has recently moved from Palm Desert to Columbus, Ohio.


Super Structure

Spirit Catcher

(Our first book on symbolism)

John Fraim


James Scott Bell hits at the most important topics for writers of drama in his Super Structure. His is a short but important little book on creating the most drama in a story. The first chapters of his important book are concerned with the following as creating the beginning segments for a powerful story:

– Disturbance – From the daily life of character.

– Care – Needs a fuzzy friend to show compassion and emotion.

– Arc – Theme of story. Show Hero on one side when begins story and on the other side when the story ends.

Really, clear statement the structural landmarks of a story. The author who wants to make a dramatic statement needs to go through these particular “segment/signposts/milestones” of a particular story in order for the power of the drama to build.

The disturbance needs to rock the crap out of the world of the hero. It shouldn’t be some little piss-ant event that no one really cares about. But rather the big event the author can conjure up when attempting to put this down into writing in a truthful manner.

* * *

And, the hero (or heroine) needs to undergo a symbolic change during their journey from the beginning got he end of a story. In effect, drama is the most effective when it poses opposites between the beginning and ending of a particular story. This type of dynamic represents the real dynamics of symbolism at work. The grand change from masculine to feminine or from feminine to masculine. These are really the underlying dynamics of all modern stories.

And, of course, in the collective swings of modern collective culture.

All of this was envisioned in our manuscript written around 1993. The first expression of our beliefs on modern symbolism. The manuscript was The Symbolism of Place. It has never been traditionally published except on our website http://www.symbolism.org. It is behind much of our theories and ideas on screenplay structure.

The ideas of Symbolism of Place proposed a two-dimensional view of a story. The dimensions representing by the vertical and horizontal symbolism of the cross. There is the linear (horizontal) movement of the story from the beginning to the end. Linear time is always a conflict between opposition symbols. The symbols at the beginning of a story for a hero or heroine are opposite from the symbols at the ending of the story for the hero or heroine. If true drama is to be engaged.

While the horizontal bar of a story is between symbol oppositions, the vertical bar of a story is about correspondences of symbols, or,  that are similar and not opposite from each other. The symbolism of the cross in Christianity has always been about time more than anything else. Between linear time and present time. The intersection of horizontal and vertical. What could be a more important intersection?

The proposition symbolism brings to the movies is simple. It sees a symbolic change in symbols between the first part of a story and the end part of a story. And, the vertical scenes told at points in this horizontal, chronological, line. It is individual points in time, or scenes, that need alignment of similarities.  The true Theory of Correspondence is a theory related to the moment in time rather than the movement of time.

The theory of applying symbols and symbolism to stories was expressed in the above manuscript. To this date (August 2015) I still do not believe it has found much (or really any) application to modern drama or writing in general.

Those intertersted in seeing the original manuscript click on the below link.

Fire me an email if you’re interested in discussing something.








The Devil Vine


A famous old actor in LA is hired by the president of a small south American country to help him promote the harvest of a mysterious magical vine that only grows in the small country. The president knows about the actor because his old television series is the top television program in the nation. When the actor arrives in the small country, he becomes involved in a great battle between the president and rebels.

Interestingly, we wrote the story using screenplay structure technique from one of Hollywood’s leading structural forms. It might be translated into a screenplay. But for now, it seems to work fine as a short novella.

The Devil Vine


Screenplay Personality Types


In the PDF below, is a new article by me after reading a brilliant short little book on screenwriting called The Inner Game of Screenwriting by Sandy Frank. (Michael Wiese Productions). The book suggests the application of the Enneagram personality type system to screenplays. Unfortunately, Sandy passed away last year so the screenwriting world lost one of its most brilliant minds. Buy the book!

In my article, I suggest a mixture of the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs personalty type systems in creating characters and their emotional arcs., The Enneagram is believed to have been taught orally in secret Sufi brotherhoods in the middle east. It was introduced to Europe by the Russian mystical teacher G.I. Gurdjieff in the 1920s and arrived in the United States in the 1960s. Myers-Briggs is based on the classification developed by Carl Jung.

The article is in the form of an introduction and some charts that let screenwriters see how the systems can be applied to stories. To me, it is amazing that screenwriting has yet to really apply these theories of Gurdjieff and Jung to characters in stories. Posted below in PDF but also added to our Overview Page on our website at http://desertscreenwritersgroup.com/overview/ and the link “Personality Types in Screenplays.”

Much more needs to be done in this area. Attempting to apply the systems to creating characters in our stories is one of the first things to be done.

Screenplay Personality Types