Tuesday, January 09, 2007


One of the geists of my youth's zeit was “The Shrinking Planet.”

Historically, distance of space meant distance of time.
People conducted inter-personal communications through first class mail. There was something called “penmanship.”

Long distance telephony was expensive and used sparingly. “I’m on long distance,” would get anyone to stop bugging you.

My home didn’t have a TV until I was five years old. In my teens I saw the first trans-atlantic live TV show.

And travel demanded significant time investment. In 1958 my folks went to Europe for the first time on a Constellation, the biggest commercial passengerairplane at that time. It was the first generation of planes that could go from the west coast (we were in L.A.) to Europe non-stop. Still, it was many hours in the air..

When my parents were born, the only way to cross the Atlantic was by boat.

In the early 1960’s, jet engines were introduced to commercial aviation, which was a major shrinkage of the earth. Travel, the locomotion part, ceased to be a major investment of time.

You could board a plane in New York, have a drink, take a nap, and deplane in Puerto Vallarta, or on the Riviera. We’d read marveling reports of breakfast on this continent, lunch on that, and dinner on yet a third.

The first prominent users of jet travel were the rich and the rootless, the Jet Set. I think of Liz and Dick.

Mine was the first generation for whom the cost in money and time was a not very significant factor in travel planning. A lot of kids spent some of there extended, idle adolescence hanging out in Europe, interacting with each other.

Not so rich, even more rootless, they were Eurotrash, deformed offspring of the Jet Set.

The new technology was extolled in pop music. There was a popular instrumental called “Telstar,” about a damn satellite. The ‘60’s car songs, GTO, 409, Little Deuce Coupe were still celebrating automobility—great stuff!

This greater mobility became a theme of love songs, too. Today’s guilty pleasures are two of my faves.

BTW: I'm amused by the use of the word "set" to mean a social grouping. My favorite graffito appeared in a large demented scrawl on a blank wall near a prominent "punk" cafe in the late '70s:

The Psychosurgery Set

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