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General News    H4'ed 12/27/19

Humor: Remembering "Businessmen" and Hippies

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Who remembers brief cases, carried by dads everywhere? Eight pound, spit-shined, Mahogany-colored leather cases, they sometimes had gold plated combination locks and even "feet" so they could stand up on their own. Some expanded, accordion style, to accommodate extra papers from the office.

Brief cases served an important social function. They were instant status. They told the world the men had jobs--they were "businessmen" who went to the office every day. ("Corporate executive" hadn't been invented yet.) Their dads had worn hats and hid behind newspapers on commuter trains for the same reason.

Why were brief cases replaced by messenger bags? One reason, of course, was that people were now carrying laptops. But the bigger reason was people were now carrying cell phones. As soon as cell phones debuted, no one wanted to waste a perfectly good dialing or texting hand holding a brief case. Almost overnight, the only person still using a hand to hold a handbag was the Queen of England.

(Note: the real messengers who gave the name to messenger bags--the "bike messengers"--vanished with email because documents no longer needed to be biked across town.)

Of course there were other reasons people wanted their hands free and unencumbered by brief cases--swipe cards to get in the garage or on transit, water bottles and ubiquitous Starbucks drinks.

The Flight Bag Reprieve

Occasionally, when "businessmen" flew, they were freed from carrying brief cases and could carry flight bags, which were the messenger bag's ancestors. Flight bags gave businessmen a reprieve from "purse stigma" which was so acute back then that cartoons would mock how men would refuse to hold their wives' purses while their wives tried on dresses in department store fitting rooms. (Who remembers dresses and department stores?) Men of that era would also not push baby strollers and some would not be present in the wives' delivery rooms.

Flight bags did not just signal that strict gender codes were disappearing. They were also the first sign that the faux granite plastic-molded luggage of the day would go soft. Bulky, heavy and not on wheels yet, hard luggage often rode on the top of the family car, telling the world you were going On Vacation. Hard luggage had only three benefits. It was waterproof, crushproof and it kept Red Caps in train stations and Sky Caps in airports employed.

What did "Hippies" Carry?

Like young people today, hippies carried backpacks but it was not to leave their hands free for smart phones and swipe cards. It was to free their hands for cigarette smoking and bics. Asking for a light was the preferred way to meet romantic interests who would usually stay and talk for the duration of the smoke.

In those days everyone smoked and the Camel Filters Man was something of an icon. Though not a hippie, the Camel Filters Man was a Mark Spitz lookalike, always climbing mountains in Nepal or panning for gold with a Farrah Fawcett lookalike and not seeming to hold a day job. At rock concerts, hippies didn't hold up their smart phones, they held up their Bics.

But there was another reason hippies needed their hands free. Hitchhiking. Wherever they were and wherever they wanted to go there was an immediate ride thanks to hitchhiking--and everyone was cool. Hitchhiking was a hippie-era version of Uber except that it was free. Free was good in hippie days because there was no such thing as credit cards, debit cards or ATMs.

Other things hippies carried (besides drugs) could include a transistor radio (no boom boxes, Walkmans, CD players or smart phones yet), a custom pool cue and a can opener called a "church key" since pop tops on canned drinks read beer hadn't been invented yet. Of course the coolest thing that could be carried was a guitar case. Even if it was empty, even if the instrument belonged to someone else, even if the carrier only knew one chord, carrying a guitar conferred instant prestige. An old Mad magazine cartoon showed a child asking a guitar carrier what was in the case and the carrier replied "status."

(Article changed on December 27, 2019 at 17:53)

(Article changed on December 29, 2019 at 03:16)

 

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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Martha Rosenberg

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Why did people stop hitchhiking? Some cite a gruesome 1978 murder

Submitted on Friday, Dec 27, 2019 at 5:50:08 PM

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David Watts

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About a month and a half ago my sister sent an email to my brother and I asking if we remembered whether or not our mother ever dated the original "Marlboro Man," Bob Norris. Our mother was from St Charles, Ill where there was a very rich family, the Norris'. My mom knew the Norris' and mother told us when Bob Norris became the Marlboro Man. He never smoked a day in his life. Anyway, the reason my sister asked us if mom ever dated him was because he just died early November. As a kid I used to see him as the Marlboro man on tv. Neither my brother nor I can remember if she ever dated Bob Norris.

"In the ads, Norris was always featured in a fictional world of ranching, wearing cowboy attire including his iconic cowboy hat as he held a cigarette in either his mouth or his hand.

"His family said it was "his tall, ruggedly handsome, lanky good looks that landed him the unexpected role," but despite having a cigarette in his mouth or hand for around 14 years, Norris never smoked a day in his life.

"Robert Norris, was recruited after it was discovered he was a friend of John Wayne; Norris also never smoked, and after a 12-year run as a Marlboro Man, he quit the role to avoid being a bad influence on his children. Norris died, age 90, in 2019."


Muere el hombre Marlboro Robert Norris | Su impactante historia en el siguiente video Hola que' tal, el da de hoy les traigo un nuevo video acerca de la muerte e historia del famoso Robert Norris quiera fuera la imagen de los cigarros ...
Muere el hombre Marlboro Robert Norris | Su impactante historia en el siguiente video Hola que' tal, el da de hoy les traigo un nuevo video acerca de la muerte e historia del famoso Robert Norris quiera fuera la imagen de los cigarros ...
(Image by YouTube, Channel: ZEN STORE VLOG)
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Submitted on Saturday, Dec 28, 2019 at 6:55:20 PM

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David Watts

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Another thing, while I never was a 'hippie' I did hitchhike some, way back when. But, while I never carried a brief case, my status symbol back when I used to fly airplanes dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, was my flight bag, my pilot hat and the epaulets on my shirt -- I never felt like that ever impressed anybody very much. But, while I was dumping CO2 into the air, I never spewed out any chemtrails so it wasn't all bad. :)

As to hippies carrying a pool cue, I doubt they were custom made. Custom pool cues can be quite pricey and hippies weren't known to have much money. I play a lot of pool and do carry my status-symbol-pool-cue case in and out of the bars I play in. And just like my epaulets, carrying a pool cue case into a bar doesn't seem to impress anybody. My cue is pretty good, but it is not custom made. :)

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 28, 2019 at 7:30:27 PM

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Martha Rosenberg

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Reply to David Watts:   New Content

I think pilots still derive status from their uniforms. But of course the CO2 pollution was not such an issue until recently

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019 at 3:14:24 AM

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Martha Rosenberg

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I think pilots still derive status from their uniforms. But of course the CO2 pollution was not such an issue until recently

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019 at 3:14:34 AM

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Martha Rosenberg

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interesting that they never smoked!

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019 at 3:09:48 AM

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Actually, many did smoke; but that was quite a long time ago. Not positive but I think they "outlawed" smoking in the cockpit at the same time they prohibited smoking in the cabin. And, there are a few pilots that don't smoke in the cockpit but do when they are just out and about.

An interesting angle to the CO2 is, if I had been more aware of just how bad global warming is becoming, I am thinking I would probably not have stopped flying anyway. I would guess there are probably many similar examples where one might not agree with what they are doing, but like me, if I stopped flying they would just back fill with other pilots. So, my quitting would not really do anything. I guess a person could make a decision based simply on the principle of the thing, but like today for me, I could say I won't drive a car anymore because of the CO2; but unless an awful lot of people start not to drive anymore, it won't make a difference. There are 7.7 billion people in the world they say, so getting even a few tens of millions to do the right thing won't help much. It is kind of a catch 22 kind of thing; it will remain bad either way. The only hope is a massive stream of consciousness affecting the way people think and the way the world works; that is, I believe that is the only hope for avoiding the runaway train heading right at us on so many fronts. What I am saying is, I don't see much hope. Not much fun to think about. But, maybe I will start hitchhiking again ... just for the heck of it. I might even start carrying a briefcase. :)

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019 at 6:03:20 AM

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Dave Lindorff

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I still hitchhike periodically, at 70. Oddly, as a young guy, when I hitched everywhere (From Connecticut to Fairbanks via the Alcan Highway, on to Denali and Anchorage and back across the US on I-70, several times across the US and back, out to Aspen and back to NYC, down to Florida a couple of times and everywhere else in between), I rarely got picked up by girls or women, but now, more often than not it's a girl or a woman who gives me a ride. Probably sympathy for an old guy on the road. The single guy who was my staple ride on long trips, almost never stops. They're not interested in company and don't have any empathy even on bitterly cold days. The zeitgeist of the country is totally different. Kids these days almost never give rides. I think there's a vicious circle: almost the only ones who hitch these days are derilects and winos, and so anyone else who hitches is classified as that and ignored. Even I, when I pick up a hitchhiker (and I usually do) fell like I should put down a newspaper on the seat before letting a rider in. It's gotta change. The lack of trust and empathy in this country these days is depressing.

Dave Lindorff

founding editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 28, 2019 at 10:16:46 PM

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Martha Rosenberg

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Reply to Dave Lindorff:   New Content

very cool you still do it. Yes empathy is really lacking these days. And there is so much fear of everyone. But hitching was a great way to meet people while traveling free

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019 at 3:12:10 AM

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