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#ripitz’ Since 1866 The Place in Austin GOOD FOOD GOOD BEER 1607 San Jacinto 477-4171 Personal wombs and other gifts This year, though, I am a trifle contact with your push-button consoles. disappointed in Neiman’s for the first time. /-The panels around you will soundlessly Interspersed among pages of the confident slide aside to reveal either the outside By Chet Flippo Dallas Call me an old softie, if you will, but there’s always existed a special place in my heart for Neiman-Marcus. Texas’ Grand Old Dame has long been the arbiter of taste among our nouveau-nouveau set and many was the Christmas Eve I spent with an N-M Christmas catalog huddled up to a kerosene stove and praying that Santa would stop off long enough in Big D to pick up and bring me the tools of the good life, as graphically spelled out in Neiman’s elegant Christmas Book. It wasn’t so much the Noah’s Arks that you could find under your tree \(if your old man could spring for the necessary Ms-and-her airplanes; it was simply the inner well-being that came with being the owner of an N-M object: I would have gladly settled for a plain hair shirt \(as long person just moves more confidently and becomes a person of consequence when Stanley Marcus is guiding one’s personal life. VELVET AND suede, linen and pewter, diamond and crystal: such was the stuff of which my childhood dreams were spun. Unhappily, I had to settle for a pair of positively inelegant N-M boxer shorts which my mother, finally acceding to my ceaseless whining, bought one bleak Christmas against her better judgement \(“For the same price, I could get three Now that I am become a man \(and my for N-M is well, it’s not exactly waning, but it doesn’t burn with the same intense fire and bitter tears of disappointment that marked Christmases long ago. I now approach the Christmas Book with a certain cynicism and I hold it at arm’s length \(manhood also brought on weaker But the Neiman magic is still there. I turn only one page of the Book and am moved to reach for the checkbook: who, after all, could resist a cut-crystal crouched ram that will hunker down under your artificial tree for only $3,500? I whimper audibly at the next page: which dizzy oilman instead of me will plunk down ten crisp thousand-dollar bills for the Chinese figurines from the Tao Kuang period? Not Mrs. Flippo’s boy, I know that. It becomes painfully obvious that the only thing separating me from the full life is a checking account in six figures. Chet Flippo is an Austin freelance writer and a contributing editor of Rolling Stone. His real name is Chet Flippo. glowing colorplates of necessary gifts \(His & Hers ’73 is a $5,000 pair of is a bitter pill to swallow gifts that might be said to be relevant, insofar, that is, as N-M deems them so. The first clue comes to light on the page titled, “Secure the Future.” Times must be hard indeed when Neiman patrons feel obliged to put aside coupon-clipping to scrabble for security, of all prosiac, mundane things. The ad copy, coyly apologetic as it is, explains the pitch: “Many of our customers have been turning to the purchase of unset diamonds as a very real investment in these somewhat unsettled financial times. The gift suggestion we offer on this page could well be the gift of a secure future for the recipient. . . . The price of this precious cache of security will be of your designation, between $50,000 and $250,000.” AFTER LYING down for a spell and ingesting a bit of clear broth \(the police report later identified it as “Pearl tackle the rest of the Christmas Book. Until, that is, I ran across this year’s blockbuster gift. You, like me, have always felt that the future was where it damned well belonged: somewhere off in the haze that might one day inundate us but, for God’s sake, not yet. I regret to inform you that it is here. Self-contained cubicles and total isolation and vid-screen existences have been a lurking shadow around’ the corner of the distant 1980s but now, my dear, they’re upon us. This year, Neiman’s offers “The Impossible Dream: Privacy.” What it comes down to is a 12 x 15-foot egg that becomes one’s personal womb. Once you shell out the base price of eighty grand \(that’s Space Design of Atlanta to lay for you a personalized egg: “a contemplative environment totally your own.” You, and , you alone \(should you ‘accept this admittance card that will pop the shell of your world. Once you’re there, your bank balance is the only limit. You want total video-audio communication with the world you used to inhabit? You got it. You also got your multi-media matrix, your kinetic communications console, your simulated solar projection screens, your lounge chair on a rotating control disc that whisks you in a 360 orbit to keep you in constant world or exotic films of your choice. Above, you got your retractable oculus \(in the dim past, it was known as a ever feel the need for same. Won’t cost you but $80,000 plus accessories. At last, you can withdraw forever from this painful vale and transcend yourself to a setting of pure mental endeavor. Which brings to one’s febrile mind Associated Space Design’s last coup: to wit, the hamburger-shaped “Think-Tank” that was designed expressly for McDonald’s, the cut-rate burger empire. I remain forever indebted to Modern Office Procedures magazine for the crisp color picture of a young McDonald executive squatting \(a la giant hamburger patty, cleverly camouflaged as a 700-gallon waterbed heated to 72 . The expression on the burger tycoon’s face suggests that he has at last found a legal way to shave a micro-ounce off each burger patty. The burger chamber also includes an alpha pacer \(you’ll recall that from the exec begins generating alpha waves \(a sure sign that McD is onto a million-dollar As for me, my alpha waves are wafting out the window along with the torn leaves of my N-M Christmas Book and, if you see any of them blowing down the street, please call the police ‘department. I’ll be much too preoccupied with stacking Z’s to chase them down. You would be too, if you had spent the afternoon with the future. December 14, 1973 19 Bookkeeping & Tax Service CU 503 WEST 15TH, AUSTIN 78701 OFFICE HOURS: 9 A.M. TO 5 P.M. AND BY APPOINTMENT ANYTIME