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Ah, the wonders of the internets. On his blog page, Reuters correspondent Erik Kirschbaum mentioned a 1979 movie called ‘Americathon’. I’d never heard of it but it sounded interesting because it featured an America that had run out of gas, forcing people to either jog or bike to get around.
I searched on YouTube and, true to form, found a trailer for the movie:
According to a number of film websites, Americathon is a 1979 comedy with bit-parts for Elvis Costello, Jay Leno, and Meat Loaf.
As well as featuring the radical concept of urban movement using musclepower alone, Americathon raised the issue of a bankrupt America. The ‘thon’ in the title is a reference to a national telethon, run by the president, to generate some cash.
Although there are some wild misses in the movie (such as Jews and Arabs forming a Middle Eastern bloc) there’s some prescient stuff, such as China embracing capitalism and becoming a global economic superpower; the collapse of the Soviet Union; an America with a devalued dollar and heavily in debt to foreign lenders; and the UK - re-named as Limeyland- relying heavily on tourism for income.
‘Americathon’ also featured an obscure Beach Boys track, ‘It’s a beautiful day’.
Amazingly, the lyrics to this song include:
The freeways there are jammed with all kind of folks on their bikes
With fastball surfers, their all doin’ their lefts and their rights
Roller skating, joggin’, or a fancy bike
You can get around most anyway you really like
The freeways are jammed now
The cars have disappeared from the scene
Cause’ gone to work or to play
They use a whole ‘nother kind of machine