I’m always tickled when life imitates art; while much of the resounding resonance from a successful television sitcom like Seinfeld could be debated as to whether the show was the impetus for the event or the other way around (chicken and egg) but the fact is that there are some things which are just all too real. Like the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill from BP. That happened. This year. 2010. However in 1997 principal player Kramer (played by Michael Richards) announced his idea on the TV show for how to stop exactly the event which would occur 13 years later in real life, in real time. Kramer had the idea how to stop an event just like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill; should Kramer’s ideas (or, more largely, the ideas of the writing staff of Seinfeld) be paid more heed?
Kramer & The Bladder: Setup: I did a double take when I’d heard this minor plot point when I was recently watching the episode in question, “The Voice,” (1) the other day on a late night Seinfeld binge at work. Kramer was complaining to Jerry about how his time was being wasted. “Look at this,” he cried, “they are redoing the Cloud Club!” The Cloud Club (2) was a real place in the Chrysler Building which opened in 1930 and closed in 1977. Various plans have been floated to re-imagine high flying, high society, high altitude dining in Manhattan but so far none have come to fruition. Kramer goes on to demand that the real reason for his not having achieved the success of his myriad of ideas is not lack of ideas or intuition, “it’s all this meaningless time. Laundry, grocery, shopping, coming in here (Jerry’s apartment) talking to you. Do you have any idea how much time I waste in this apartment?”
Kramer & The Bladder: Enter Darren: Kramer does what any self-invested businessman in New York City with no budget for help would do; he gets an NYU intern for his Kramerica Industries. Darren becomes the catalyst for Kramer’s keeping going and as Kramer is getting Darren set up, Jerry is exasperated as to why he of all people has the need for an intern. Kramer’s cool and rebuts: “Well, this will really free up my time so I can focus on more important things, like my bladder system.” The bodily phobic Jerry shuts him down before he’s able to continue further, but Kramer is persistent. “Jerry, it’s not for people, it’s for oil tankers…You see the idea is for a rubber ball inside the tanker so if it crashes, the oil won’t spill out.”
Kramer & The Bladder: Today: I’m not sure if the writers of Seinfeld had any idea how much resonance their line would hold all these years later. Even those who are familiar with the show (as I was and still am) the resonance of such a minor plot point as Kramer’s oil spill retention system was something of an ignored afterthought. While I don’t know how much help The Bladder would have been in the current BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill (untold scores of gallons having been spilled) and while I don’t know how practical an idea like this would be for the more than 3000 oil wells (3) in the Gulf of Mexico alone, wouldn’t that have been weird if Deepwater Horizon had been outfit with something like The Bladder?
Then we all, in unison, could have said “What’s the deal with oil spills?”