Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guest Blogger, Henry Lowenstein: Do You "Hear" The Law Sing?



Henry Lowenstein, Ph.D.
Professor of Management and Law
Coastal Carolina University

In the Legal Classroom Blog Profesor DeAngelis and guest professors provide different and unique approaches to assist students in their education on recognizing, understanding and interpreting business law and legal issues.  One such approach is through the use of music and in the exercise I offer today this learning device based upon one of the world's most famous and successful musicals.  

Many students returning to classes in 2013 doubtless enjoyed the premier and subsequent showing of Universal Pictures movie rendition of the popular and long-running musical Les Misérables starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried.   The story, based upon the novel by 19th century French author, Victor Hugo, takes place in France starting in 1815 and culminating in the June Rebellion (Paris Uprising) of 1832.

Les Misérables-The Musical premiered in Paris in 1980 in French, written and produced by Alan Boublil with music by Claude-Michel Schoenberg.  The English lyric version led to its London premier in 1985, over 30 years of performances, adaptations and now major movie.

Within the musical is a humorous scene and popular song sung by the rogue character, Monsieur Thénardier, a corrupt innkeeper who with his equally corrupt wife later loses the inn to bankruptcy.   The song, Master of the House provides an interesting opportunity for students of business law, and particularly students in a hospitality law courses to reflect on all the federal, state and local laws and regulations Monsieur Thénardier would be violating in the conduct of his establishment where he to find himself in the United States in the year 2013!! 

The exercise can be made to different degrees of challenge for students by adapting to particular states or localities in which they attend their business law class. Those in hospitality law can run down the list of issues posed in each state's Law of Innkeepers.  Other students can meet the challenge of identifying all the various unfair trade practices, statutory, regulatory and common law violations in such areas as bailment, bad faith and fair dealing, fraud and misrepresentation, animal abuse, contract and the list goes on. 

To help demonstrate this point we create two columns.  The first contains the lyrics to Master of the House.  In the second column is space where the students can identify in general (or if they and the professor desire) specific statute and regulation, the violation represented by each verse of this singing allocution of the innkeeper. (I have put some general identifications by a few of the lyrics as a demonstration.)

At the end I have attached a link to a YouTube performance of the song from the 10th Anniversary performance of Les Misérables.  I hope students and faculty find this a fun method to reinforce their learning on business law and the legal environment.

HL  12/29/12


*Lyrics “Master of the House” from Les Misérables (1980 English lyrics by Hervert Kretzmer)

Monsieur Thénardier-Innkeeper

Business Laws Implicated
Welcome M'sier
Sit yourself down
And meet the best Innkeeper in town
As for the rest
All of them crooks
Rooking the guests
And cooking the books
Seldom do you see
Honest men like me
A gent of good intent
Who's content to be
Master of the House
Doling out the charm
Ready with a handshake
And an open palm
Tells a saucy tale
Makes a little stir
Customers appreciate a bon viveur!
Glad to do my friends a favor
Doesn't cost me to be nice!
But nothing gets you nothing, everything has got a little price.
Master of the House
Keeper of the zoo
Ready relieve them of a sou, or two.
Watering the wine, making up the weight,
Picking up their knick-knacks
When they can't see straight
Everybody loves a landlord
Everybody's bosom friend
I do whatever pleases Jesus don't
I bleed them in the end!
Master of the House
Quick to catch yer eye
Never wants a passer by
To pass him by
Servant to the poor
Butler to the great
Comforter, philosopher
And lifelong mate
Everybody's boon companion
Everybody's chaperone
But look up your valises Jesus!
Won't I skin yer to the bone!
Enter M'sieur
Lay down yer load
Unlace yer boots
And rest from the road
This weighs a ton
Travel's a curse
But here we strive
To lighten your purse
Here the goose is cooked
Here the fat is fried
And nothing's overlooked
Till I'm satisfied
Food beyond compare
Food beyond belief
Mix it in a mincer
And pretend it's beef
Kidney of a horse
Liver of a cat
Filling up the sausages
With this and that
Residents are more than welcome
Bridal suite is occupied
Reasonable charges plus some little extras on the side
Charge them for the lice
Extra for the mice
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
Here a little slice
There a little cut
Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
When it comes to fixing prices
There are lots of tricks he knows
How it all increases
All them bits and pieces Jesus!
It's amazing how it grows!
Master of the House
Quick to catch yer eye
Never wants a passer by
To pass him by
Servant to the poor
Butler to the great
Comforter, philosopher
And lifelong mate
Everybody's boon companion
Gives them everything he's got
Dirty bunch of geezers Jesus!
What a sorry little lot!
I used to dream
That I would meet a prince
But God Almighty,
Have you seen what's happened since?
`Master of the house?'
Isn't worth me spit!
`Comforter, philosopher'
- and lifelong shit!
Cunning little brain
Regular Voltaire
Thinks he's quite a lover
But there's not much there
What a cruel trick of nature
Landing me with such a louse!
God knows how I've lasted
Living with this bastard in the house!
Master of the house.
Master and a half!
Comforter, philosopher
Ah, don't make me laugh!
Servant to the poor. Butler to the great.
Hypocrite and toady and inebriate!
Everybody bless the landlord!
Everybody bless his spouse!
Everybody raise a glass
Raise it up the master's arse.
Everybody raise a glass to the master of the house!

Business License- Occupancy Permit?

Fraud and Misrepresentation

Slander per se

False statements



Violation of ABC law and regulation-adulteration of product
Breach of Bailment


Predatory pricing-bait and switch

Food service violations
Food labeling fraud, Violation of sanitation regulations.  Illegal treatment of animals…..etc,

Bait and Switch

Food and hospitality law violations

Deceptive pricing practices

Age discrimination in commerce

YouTube “Master of the House” 10th Anniversary performance Les Misérables.

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