My Thoughts: Why Hilton?

Hilton is an absolutely fantastic company to work for. I should know, I’m in the middle of my third year with the company. There is so much to this company, from it’s deep history, it’s strong culture, to it’s bright future that leads me to think this is the right place for me to work.

Hilton ranks #1 in best companies to work for in 2019, according to Forbes.

Hilton is a company of FIRSTS

Hilton was established in 1919, which makes it the longest running chain of hotels currently standing. Marriott comes in a close second with a start date of 1927. Even then, Marriott wasn’t a hotel chain until later on.

Hospitality Net does a great job at cataloguing what Hilton has pioneered through the last century. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Hilton’s CEO is Highly Visible & Active

Hilton is the only company I’ve worked for that I can honestly say that I would recognize it’s CEO if he crossed my path.

Chris Nassetta is the CEO of Hilton, and he’s one of the most known and respected CEO’s in the world. His executive biography can be found here. Chris Nassetta turned the Hilton brand around from a complacent, almost struggling hotel chain into a world class place to stay. The story behind that can be found here. More recently Chris Nassetta was featured on Glassdoor rankings, see Hilton’s press release here. Chris Nassetta has given interviews on what he does to insure success, as seen here.

It’s such a motivator to know who my CEO is and that he’s active in making this company run to the best of it’s abilities. It’s a dream of mine to have my photo taken shaking his hand one day.

Hilton’s Recognition Website & Programs

Hilton goes above and beyond when it comes to recognizing it’s employees. It all started with Conrad Hilton’s original vision. It means so much to know that the place I work wants to shine a light every time I do the right thing.

Hilton has a specific program where it encourages every guest and every employee to recognize the people that work for Hilton while they are doing the best job that they can. Hilton calls this: Catch Me At My Best.

The way it works: if someone made your day special, you fill out a comment card about them so they can know in writing that you made them feel special. This happens hundreds of thousands of times every single year.

Hilton is consistently being ranked as one of the best places to work in various formats. Like being known for it’s LGBT diversity and being a great place to work for women.

Hilton Takes Care Of It’s Employees

Hilton has partnered with Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Global to make a concentrated effort to ensure that every one of it’s employees has a good work-life balance. Hilton employees thrive in body (eating well, exercising, getting proper sleep), mind, and spirit. Hospitality extends even to employees. Side note: Ariana discussed this very program on a Podcast I follow.

Hilton has made a point to not only lift up military veterans, but also people who never completed high school. They have a program to help employees finish their high school diploma.

Hilton’s Community Efforts

One of the things that Chris Nassetta has advocated for is to employ youth and veterans at Hilton. He wants Hilton to give youth something to get them out of unemployment and trouble and a vision for the future. Chris Nassetta wants to give veterans a sense of home and opportunity after their military experience. Hilton also provides support for returning military who have to travel for job interview efforts.

Every property under brand in the umbrella of Hilton has an onsite committee that’s partially dedicated to making a difference in the community around them. I was very active in the Brighthearted Committee for my Hilton Garden Inn in Burlington, VT.

Hilton’s History & College

Conrad Hilton, the company founder also founded a Hospitality college program, the Hilton College of Hospitality Management. This has since gone on to be ranked one of the best hospitality degree programs in the world. They teach everything hotels, and even beyond into other aspects of hospitality. It also houses the hospitality industry archives. 93% of graduates have jobs lined up at their time of graduation. I am working on getting accepted into this school. 

Excellent Travel Program

It’s thanks to Hilton’s travel program that has allowed me to travel as much as I did in 2017, and hopefully even more beyond that!

Hilton promises to lock in employee rates for life to anyone who has given them 20 years of service. I see paring lifetime team member rates with Lifetime Diamond Status as the best possible win for Travel for the rest of my life.

Closing thoughts

When I come into work, I try really hard not to fall into the typical “it’s just a paycheck” mentality. I take homage to one of my favorite TV shows (Rupaul’s Drag Race) and turn my time on the job into “Conrad Hilton’s Hotel Race: The search for America’s Next Hotel Superstar!” This company stands behind me as a person, and it’s only right to channel my energy and my talent into making every person feel special when they stay at my property.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Milo Yiannopulous

Before reading my own thoughts, I strongly encourage you to read the piece by Out Magazine on Milo, which can be found here.

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Who Is Milo Yiannopulous?

Milo Yiannopulous is a journalist who was raised in the United Kingdom, although he has Greek heritage. He got his start in writing with The Kernel and some other projects, before breaking into the mainstream for his role as a reporter of the Gamergate controversy. After rising to infamy (he does refer to himself as the Supervillain of the internet, after all!) he went on to join to team at Breitbart News as the tech editor, and also host his own Podcast, and now a traveling college campus speaking tour. In his own words:

I’ve never bought a knockoff bag.

After a controversy that the media threw at him, Milo left Breitbart to start his own media company. Milo is a provocateur who understands the art of trolling.

The difference between trolling and cruelty is that cruelty has no purpose except to hurt someone. Trolls may hurt the feelings of delicate wallflowers, but they do so because reasoned argument and polite entreaty have failed.

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How Did I Discover Milo?

At first, I was hearing about Milo from one of his adversaries, Joe Jervis in Joe’s blog, JoeMyGod. Joe did a good job of painting Milo as a super villain, although Milo didn’t get much mention at first.

Being a gay man, I related to Milo in that respect at first. Milo is a controversial political figure, so many of his views took some time for me to swallow. Over the course of calendar year 2016, I did an “inquiry” into the mind of the political conservative, and found three key figures who were able to explain various points of the conservative persuasion that I was able to understand and relate to. On some level, I think having to work two jobs, 65+ hours a week to handle cost of living, pay off debts, and try to make something of myself had a subconscious impact on my politics as well.

I started hearing more references to Milo in 2015 as he rose to stardom and joined the team at Breitbart. The exact point where I started following him is a little fuzzy, but Milo, Paul Joseph Watson, and Steven Crowder have been the three figures guiding me in my exploration of the political right in the United States.

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How Does Milo Inspire Me?

Unlike what his critics say about Milo, he’s an intelligent man with a warm heart, who wants to see the best in others. Being a controversial figure himself, he’s had many candid conversations with hot-button people on his old Podcast, including Phil Robertson and Martin Shkreli. Both of them, and several other guests on Milo’s show were “villains” in my mind, but since Milo had gotten me to listen to him, I gave the rest of them a chance. Milo was able to humanize these people in my mind, and I found myself agreeing with quite a few of them on various issues. This exact point gives a nod to what the queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race need to do to succeed – get people to love them as an individual and root for them to win. (See Magnolia Crawford for instance!) For Milo to get me to “root for” (and I use that phrase a bit loosely) Martin Shkreli or Phil Robinson is an accomplishment in and of itself. I’ve talked many times in the past about opening my mind and exploring new ideas, and I credit Milo with bridging my way into this sphere of politics.

“Most people aren’t political obsessives. They don’t care about your 14-point refutation of Obamacare. They want to hear things that relate to their own experiences.”

Politics isn’t won by commanding the facts, but by connecting with people’s experiences. That’s why it’s so important for conservatives to re-engage with culture and entertainment, which are the commanding heights of people’s experiences in the modern world.

That’s why this civil war has to end. Conservatism needs its great thinkers and its brilliant minds— the Debate Club brigade— to persuade voters who are already open-minded. But we also need provocateurs and clowns, to grab the attention and challenge the biases of those who don’t want to be challenged.

Milo is an excellent public speaker, who uses humor in his talks to get people to understand his message. Because of this, I see him as a Bianca Del Rio of the American Political world. His college campus tour is titled “The Dangerous Faggot Tour” and he has given talks on a multitude of subjects. I got the honor to meet him in person at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire for his talk, “In Defense Of Hazing.”

My ego is massive but I am not so far gone that I can’t admit when I’ve said something stupid.

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Milo has reminded me about a lot of the things that were first taught to me by Brian Kinney when it comes to being a gay man.

I became a homo precisely because it is transgressive. And I want homosexuality to continue being transgressive, and even degenerate.

I’m ceaselessly amazed by the gay community’s myopic eagerness to sacrifice everything that has made our lifestyle unique, exciting, and dangerous, in exchange for heteronormative domesticity.

Smart gays who have been around the block, like celebrity drag queen RuPaul, understand this instinctively. RuPaul correctly tells gay men they should strive to stay outside “the matrix.”

I have struggled to reconcile being gay with trying to become more normalized and find my place in the world. Brian and now Milo have strong points about not trying to fit a mold that’s been set for me. Milo also has some very good points about why I crave luxury, particularly in my interest in hotels:

And if there’s one thing a good gay appreciates, it’s extravagance. We aren’t all divas who crave opulence and fame, but enough of us are for it to be considered one of our natural characteristics.

As Somerset Maugham— who once described himself as “a quarter normal and three-quarters queer”— admitted, the homosexual “Loves luxury and attaches peculiar value to elegance.”

I realized recently that another thing I like about Milo is that he’s the male version of Karen Walker.

Thank You Milo, for being an inspiration!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie


January 2019 UPDATE: I’ve fallen behind in my personal following of Milo. While I still remain a fan of his, I see more of the person, including his faults. What I continue to take from him is the backbone to push the boundaries and stand up for myself. That being said, I take a more nuanced approach to being a fan of his these days.

This thread on Reddit points out that Milo and a few of the other conservative voices I used to follow have since fallen by the wayside.

My Reviews: Be My Guest by Conrad Hilton

Be My Guest

I picked up this book because Hilton Hotels have been wonderful to me. From employment to my travel adventures, it’s been a life changing experience. So the next logical step (to me) was to hear the story of the “RuPaul” of hotels. After all, even TIME Magazine called him the Innkeeper to the World:

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Conrad Hilton (or “Connie” as he was more commonly known by during his lifetime) is quite a man. Given the time period in which he was growing up and active, I was surprised to see how much of him I can relate to.

Connie was born on Christmas Day, 1887 in rural New Mexico. He was the son of a Norwegian immigrant father, and a devoutly catholic mother. Before starting his Hilton Hotels chain, he had his hand in many different industries and jobs. He operated a general store, ran for and served as a political representative, and was seriously interested in owning a bank when he stumbled into hotels quite by accident.

“There was a vastness here, more air, more sun, more space, and I thought that here a man drew some of that vastness into his soul He could dream big dreams, think big thoughts because there was nothing to hem him in.”

The above quote is from when he was beginning to expand his business contacts, still running the store with his father. He is talking about the vastness of Texas and New Mexico at the end of the 1800’s.

This is almost literally what I felt Vermont was when I first moved there, and what I expect Texas will be like in 2018. A new frontier gives a person room to breathe, room to dream. This is one of Connie’s recurring themes – the power to dream. He was always dreaming, thinking of the next big thing for himself. Before hotels, his greatest dream was a bank. Once he realized that hotels were his “thing” the Waldorf Astoria in New York was his “mountaintop” dream. He repeatedly referred to the Waldorf as his “queen.”

“Now bargaining was – and is – a very personal thing with a great deal of tradition behind it. You have to know the rules. But if you do, and have a zest for it a good bargaining bout between well matched opponets can be as exciting as a major leauge ball game. The trick is to know the value of an article to learn to regard a price tag so that it is flexible – not of course, staples like salt or coffee, but on such items as feathed hats or coffins. The buyer is entitled to a bargain. The seller entitled to a profit. So there is a fine margin in between where the “price is right.” I have found this to be true to this day whether dealing in paper hats, winter underwear, or hotels.”

Hilton was an expert businessman, no doubt about it. It’s these little nuggets of wisdom that really show how he thought. It’s knowledge like this that you only really get by going out into the world and digging your hands into it.

Bargaining in particular is a skill that I never acquired as a child, nor even really understood until very recently. A former roommate of mine relied on it heavily, so I first started seeing it in action in 2014. Hilton’s insight on the topic is superb.

“After feeding and tying the mules I’d put on bacon and coffee, the two most comforting smells I know, and huddle over the campfire.”

Anyone who knows me knows how important coffee and bacon is to me. Glad to see Hilton felt the same way. Connie goes on to mention the traditional importance of drinking a cup of coffee with someone in Turkey, and what a different world we would live in if that tradition was shared in America and worldwide.

Hilton had moved to Texas towards the beginning of his quest for expansion and growth. He was in Cisco, TX looking to purchase a bank in 1919 when the deal fell through. As the deal was failing, he found a 40-room hotel called the Mobley (which still stands today) and he purchased it when he couldn’t get a room for the evening. The Mobley Hotel was doing so much business that it was turning over every room three times per day, the dining area had been converted into extra rooms, and Hilton was sleeping in his office.

“It was a paradox. I was home, yet it wasn’t home. I was the same man, but changed. I had gained a vision of a wide, wide world beyond my native river, my native state. My former dreams bound up in past limitations.”

After spending time in Vermont and being so far away from everything I knew, this is also the frame of mind I felt about my then-new state. Hilton’s quote here is the heart of why I think it’s good for everyone to leave the place they were born at some point while they are young and go out and see the world. It really changes your perspective and deepens you.

(Conrad’s Mother) “You’ll have to find your own frontier, Connie” When I hesitated she added, “A friend of your father’s; a great pioneer, once said, ‘If you want to launch big ships, you have to go where the water is deep.'”

Connie’s mother, Mary Laufersweiler Hilton was a driving influence in his life. Throughout the entire book he references how her Catholic beliefs shaped his own faith, and she really helped drive him forward.

“Go to Texas, Connie, and you’ll make your fortune!” – Mr. Vaughey

No wonder Hilton College is in Texas! Seriously though – it wasn’t until after he transitioned to Texas that he began to to accomplish his major life goals.

On esprit de corps: “Pride plus incentive. Wages won’t do the whole job. We had to sell the idea that our men belonged to the best durn outfit in the A.E.F. and they were the ones who made it that way.”…”Self interest plus pride added up to increased efficiency and we simply blossomed with esprit de corps.”

This right here is the Heart Of Hilton. Hilton prides itself as being a great place to work, and there’s sound reasoning behind that. It was a vision of Hilton himself to give every single one of his employees a reason to believe in the company they were working for. This started with the very first Hilton Hotel, the Mobley in 1919. I personally make it a point to be proud of my job, no matter where I am, and I feel like Hilton is the first company to back that idea from their side. This is a beautiful sentiment that I think more companies should adopt. Furthermore, Forbes has consistently put Hilton on the list of 100 Best Places To Work.

Hilton is the first company that I’ve ever had the idea to want to one day say “I gave 30+ years of my life to that company.” These days, people jump ship for various reasons, always thinking the grass is greener somewhere else. Hilton showed his employees that it won’t be true because they will make the company they believe in the best of all.

“I thought I was about the luckiest fellow there was. Funny, I think so still. I do believe in luck. But the kinds I believe in has to do with people, and being in the right place at the right time, and receptive to new ideas.

All of this right here. I believe in these words; luck has little to do with universal “magic” per se, but rather understanding how people function, what people need, and what drives them. Hilton went to great lengths to understand other people, be it during business dealings or romantic pursuits. Understanding people and their needs is a cornerstone of any service, and Hilton shows that throughout his book.

“I think maybe the fact went to my head a little. I think maybe I was verging on complacent self-satisfaction and I do not know of any single thing that will halt a business career so rapidly. A further facet of my “luck” has always been that, when I was riding a little too high, something or someone dragged me back to earth again.”

“I realize now that there has never been a war without casualties, never a true victory, for something treasured has been lost on both sides.”

Even Kai once said that “we should never rest on our laurels.” This is one more pillar that Hilton understood, and learned from. It’s too easy to get comfortable and get knocked down. I have gone through many a breakthrough myself. Loss and defeat helps to make us stronger as people and as professionals, and the great depression provided that life lesson to Hilton. He lost nearly all of the hotels he had acquired at that point, and had to fight his way to holding onto the rest.

“As I believe in my own faith, as I believe in America, so I honestly believe that brotherhood is the platform on which a lasting peace must be built – in business, in a nation, in the world at large.”

Hilton believed in other people. These words may have been written back in 1957, but they ring true today. America is a wonderful country, and we only got to be so great by the brotherhoods (and sisterhoods) that we’ve formed amongst ourselves. Recently America has felt divided, and it’s very disheartening. I make it a personal point to place myself in everyone else’s shoes and my own faith involves listening to and empathizing with others.

Conrad Hilton lays out his blueprint for hotel success right in his book in pretty explicit detail. His seven point plan can be summarized as follows:

  1. Each hotel mush have it’s own personality. (This is routinely asked in the guest surveys from each hotel of guests to see if they can notice the personality.)
  2. Hotels should be able to forecast their volume.
  3. Mass purchasing. (Of materials and supplies)
  4. “Digging for gold.” (This means utilizing every inch of space to maximize it’s use in each hotel.)
  5. Training good employees.
  6. Sales efforts.
  7. The advantage of inter-hotel reservations. (This has evolved into the Hilton Honors program)

“I believe that idealism can be practical, as I explained. ‘I work for our stockholders,’ I said. ‘I am in business to make money for them. All right, here’s the way I see it as a hotel man. The world is shrinking. What used to be a month-long vacation trip is now almost a week-end possibility. Businessmen can cover far-off territories. The airplane is here to stay. Americans not only can but want to travel farther, see more, do more, in less time. This is progress and the hotel business must progress right with it…Today you can fly over a whole string in a few hours. If we were to set our hotels a day’s journey apart, we’d be around the world in no time. So perfectly sound business is in line with national idealism.”

Hilton’s vision outlined about to his board of directors back in the 1950’s sounds very much like today’s world. It’s within this vision that I can personally see 1/5th of the whole country in just a few months. Hilton saw his hotels as an integral part of the American dream, and even references that they stand as an argument against communism, which was much more of a threat in the 1950’s when the book was written.

Thank you, Conrad Hilton, for this amazing journey through your life. I’ve been your guest, and now I’m inviting everyone I know to #BeMyGuest!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas A. Condie

My Travels: Hampton Inn Providence, RI

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What led me to this Hampton?

This was still at the beginning of my travel life. I had only Silver Status as a Hilton Honors member, so I knew the “focused service” level brands were going to be my first stepping stones. I wasn’t ready to shoulder additional costs for breakfast and whatnot at the time I was in Providence. Two of Hampton’s signature brand benefits are free hot breakfast, and free WiFi.

This particular Hampton does not offer free parking, but I’m in the middle of a known US city – parking typically isn’t free when you are at this level of urban. I’m always mystified by people who think they can get free parking in a hotel with a hot location. (A regular complaint at both hotels I worked at.)

My other choices at the time were Hilton Garden Inn, or flagship Hilton, both of which would have netted me an extra cost for breakfast on top of my room rate and parking. (In hindsight: parking is cheaper at both of those options, so that could have offset my costs. Location would have been another thing to consider. Forgive me, this was still early in my travel experience!)

The number one thing that drew me here though: the coveted #1 spot on the TripAdvisor rankings (sorted by traveler ranking). I will say, this hotel has been endorsed by The New York Times.

From my TripAdvisor Review:

There’s a good reason why this hotel is rated in the top of Providence – it’s quality is superb! The hotel is an older building, so the history really gets to shine through, but Hampton’s standards are clearly present.

Erin was warm & welcoming – and granted me the PRIVILEGE of a 2 PM check in (typically starts at 4 PM), and was helpful with some of my area questions.

Valet was a little overwhelmed on Saturday night, but pleasant during the rest of my stay. The secret behind the $28/night cost is making sure to take advantage of the shuttle (which is by appointment). For the most part, I kept my car secured on property and took the shuttle where I needed to go.

Bob the shuttle driver in particular is super friendly, knowledgeable, and great to chat with. Alisha was another fine example of hospitality – welcomed me back in the evenings and also wonderful to talk with!

Historic letterbox inside the building.Historic letterbox inside the building.
Mail drop on the 6th floor.Mail drop on the 6th floor.

Hampton offers free hot breakfast which always great, and they do rotate out meat selections from day to day.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

What Makes Me: My Patch Jacket

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I am pretty well known for having this jacket that to this date has over 100 patches sewn onto it. It started in 2007 with my ethnicities, and expanded into other areas of my personality.

I like to say that it’s hard to accuse me of being fake, since I literally wear myself on me every day I put this on. This post is going to show all of the 100+ patches on the jacket, with references if I have another post related to them.

HERITAGE & PRIDE

THINGS ABOUT ME

POP CULTURE REFERENCES

 

LIFE LESSONS & FUNNY THINGS I BELIEVE

ALCOHOL REFERENCES

SEX REFERENCES

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Reviews: The Chocolate War

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The Chocolate War is one of my two all time favorite pieces of literature. (The other being Inherit The Wind) Now that I re-read it recently, I figured it’s time to write a post explaining how much this book means to me.

The Plot

The main storyline of the book revolves around high school freshmen Jerry Renault. It’s sometime in the 1980’s and he goes to a private Catholic school. Jerry has just experienced his mother passing away from cancer, and his father moved him out of their house and into an apartment because they couldn’t deal with the memories of her around every corner.

Jerry is a skinny kid but wants to be a football star someday, so he’s trying out for the team and pushing himself to succeed there.

Archie Costello is the antagonist, although there’s a handful of moments from his point of view. Archie acts as a ringleader in a gang in the school called the Vigils. The Vigils act as a “control” in the school – an underground organization that bullies kids into doing prank-like “assignments.” Archie is the one who creates the assignments and uses psychological warfare to make his victims carry out their tasks.

The conflict (and title of the book) arises when Archie assigns Jerry the task of refusing to sell Chocolates for 10 days in the annual school chocolate sale. Not wanting to be bullied, Jerry accepts the assignment but then continues to deny the Chocolate sale after his assignment is up. This causes other students to rebel against the sale, while unbeknownst to them the acting headmaster is counting on the sale to save the school and his own reputation.

Characters

Jerry Renault represents very accurately who I was when I was his age – 15. Jerry lived through his mother’s passing from cancer, I lived through my father’s passing from cancer at that age as well. Jerry was just starting to come into his sexuality, and I was just starting to understand mine at that point. Although Jerry went after girls, whereas I did not. Jerry starts with a poster in his locker that reads, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” Back when I was 15, I was so trapped in my own universe and had no concept of the real one outside my window. After I turned 18, I slowly began to disturb the universe, and move around in it, much like Jerry ends up doing over the course of the book.

I found myself relating to Jerry at my original reading of the book, but didn’t see just how similar he and I were at the time.

“The exhilaration of the moment vanished and he sought it in vain, like seeing ecstasy’s memory after jacking off and only encountering shame and guilt.”

All of the references to masturbation went completely over my head when I read this in 8th grade, but they are glaringly obvious to me now. This book follows teenage boys just developing into their sexuality, and I came into my own about 2 years after I first read this book.

Archie is more complicated. Whereas Jerry is a freshman, Archie is a senior, and closer to 18. Archie has a much more adult mentality.

“Archie believed in always doing the smart thing. Not the thing you ached to to, not the impulsive act, but the thing that would pay off later. That’s why he was the assigner. That’s why the Vigils depended on him.”

Archie strikingly reminded me of Draco Malfoy the first time I read the book, and he still does to this day. Archie is a true Slytherin type – resourceful with a disregard for the rules. Archie is also a puppet master, able to adapt any chaos thrown at him and control everyone and everything around him. The 15-year-old Lukas saw him as a villain, but the present Lukas sees where that kind of personality is truly a life skill to have. While Archie is obviously not a Harry Potter character, he’s a Slytherin I relate to in present day. Many times throughout the book he feels the controlling thought of “I am Archie, I cannot fail.” Another one of Archie’s lessons, from the sequel, Beyond The Chocolate War:

“The point is nobody’s perfect. There’s always a flaw. A secret. Something rotten. Everybody has something to cover up. The nice man next door is probably a child molester. The choir singer a rapist. Look at all the unsolved murders. Which means the man standing in line next to you could be a murderer. Nobody’s innocent.”

Much of Milo Yiannopulous reminds me of Archie, which is probably a subconscious reason why I’m so drawn to Milo as a person/speaker. Archie also strongly reminds me of Kai Hiwatari, an anime character I idolized during my high school and early college years. Archie has a lot of lone wolf characteristics in him; to quote from the sequel Beyond The Chocolate War:

“No response, no echo. Which is what he wanted; to be alone, separate from the others, untouchable except by the knowing hands and mouths of the girls at Miss Jerome’s.”

Also:

“Archie realized anew why he kept himself distant from people. Let them approach a bit and they come too close, take too many liberties.”

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Themes & Motifs

More of Archie’s thoughts:

“It was good to have people hate you – it kept you sharp.”

And Archie’s thoughts from the sequel, Beyond the Chocolate War:

“Everybody likes the smell of his own shit.”

Archie pulls some thoughts out of the mentality from another book I enjoy, Lord Of The Flies. He speaks the following to the leader of the Vigils, Carter:

“You see Carter, people are two things: greedy and cruel. So we have a perfect setup here. The greed part – a kid pays a buck for a chance to win a hundred. Plus fifty boxes of chocolates. The cruel part – watching two guys hitting each other, maybe hurting each other, while they’re safe in the bleachers. That’s why it works Carter, because we’re all bastards.”

This mentality plagued the characters of Lord Of The Files as well. I was still very much an innocent little kid when I first read this in 8th grade, but I’ve definitely seen too much of the world to deny this thought on my own now. I’ve seen the overwhelming greed and cruelty from far too many people at this point, it really makes you lose faith in your fellow human. I’d even add to this: distracted. While people watching at the airport during the holiday season in 2016, I saw the vast majority of people only looking at their phones, or so wrapped up in their moments that they were leaving bags unattended, or dropping things and just walking away. Every day I see people fail to read documents agreeing to financial transactions that they don’t bother to even look at. People give their credit cards over the internet to criminals and scams that they don’t even realize are fake. I’ve seen people kill & hurt over their greed and desire for drugs. Forensic FilesNumb3rs, and other crime shows reveal so much about the negative side of the human psyche.

The 2016 election (and it’s consequences) has been a great example of so many people devoting their lives to their political beliefs, wearing them on their shoulders, having a self-righteous attitude about them, but then refusing to act when it comes time to vote, or work gracefully with others when their team has lost. (I used to be that person once upon a time.) In particular, the UC Berkeley riots over Milo were gut-wrenching to read about.

I have seen so much that people complain about problems in the world, but are doing absolutely nothing to change them. Too many have come to believe that sharing a picture on Facebook will feed a starving person, fill up a blood donation bank, get someone trapped in an abusive relationship to safety, get someone off their drug addiction, and so much more. If you want to see good things happen in the world, you have to go out and do good. You really do have to be the change you wish to see in the world.

Humanity has good moments, but as life continues these moments get increasingly rare. I have a harder time each passing year believing that people will do the right thing.

Carter’s reaction to Archie’s explanation:

“Carter disguised his disgust. Archie repelled him in many ways but most of all by the way he made everybody feel dirty, contaminated, polluted. As if there were no goodness at all in this world. And yet, Carter had to admit that he was looking forward to the fight, that he himself had bought not one, but two tickets.”

Even Jerry realized what Archie’s mentality does when it infects people:

“A new sickness invaded Jerry, the sickness of what he has become, another animal, another beast, another violent person in a violent world, inflicting damage, not disturbing the world but damaging it. He had allowed Archie to do this to him.”

Jerry has started his journey in the book with a poster in his locker that had the phrase, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” Jerry ponders this before deciding to take his refuse the chocolates assignment further than he was supposed to, thus going against the Vigils gang and disturbing the universe that is Trinity School.

Other characters’ views of the world are ripped apart by Archie and Brother Leon, the teacher who is the grown-up version of Archie. From the mind of another student, who was just blackmailed by the acting headmaster:

“And he did see-that life was rotten, that there were no heroes, really, and that you couldn’t trust anybody, not even yourself.”


I do like to hope though, that I don’t make people feel dirty, contaminated, & polluted. Archie falls into the evil side of the spectrum because he uses this outlook on life to inflict harm onto others. For me, I take this worldview and use it as a way to find compassion for others. We all have our sins to bear, our battles to fight, or opponents to defeat. I have a dim view of humanity these days, and it makes those who are kind, loving, and warm all the more special.


Another bully at the school, Emile Janza has a moment where he describes his view of people & life:

“He found that the universe was full of willing victims, especially kids his own age…….Nobody wanted trouble, nobody wanted to make trouble, nobody wanted a showdown. The knowledge was a revelation. It opened doors. You could take a kid’s lunch, or even his lunch money and nothing usually happened because most kids wanted peace at any price.”

Emile is one of the more true villains in the story. He inflicts brutal beatings on other kids, and is the physical torment to compliment Archie’s psychological torment to others in the school. Emile is the kid I was always scared to run into when I was young, and still fear to an extent even now.

Another thought Jerry has about the universe and the people within it (about his father in this particular example):

“Listening to his father’s snores, he thought of how his father was actually sleeping his life away, sleeping even when he was awake, not really alive…..What was it the guy on the common had said the other day?….You’re missing a lot of things in the world.”

This strongly sums up how I feel much of this world is, even more so today than I did when I first read it. Jerry sees that his father is worse than just grieving over the loss of his wife/Jerry’s mother, but going so far as to have become an empty shell in life. Part of what makes me a UU is to listen to the life stories of others and hear them talk about their dreams, their hopes, their passions. I’ve met people who, like Jerry’s father is portrayed in Jerry’s mind, have no passion. They are walking through lives as an empty shell. They have no desire, no energy.

Harry Potter teaches us to pity those who are incapable of love (i.e. Voldemort’s of the world), The Chocolate War shows that it’s also the people with no souls & passions for life that need to be loved and cared for as well.

the-chocolate-war

The Chocolate War resonates with me just as strongly now as it did back in 2001. Many of the life views it shows are ones I’ve been carrying with me for some time now, and will continue to do so.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie