A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

What would Marshall say?

Me (August, 2010, age 58). McLuhan in conversation.

Forty-five years ago, in August 1965, McLuhan was in San Francisco to take part in the Marshall McLuhan Festival organized by the PR team of Howard Gossage and Gerald Feigen, who had organized the event to build McLuhan as a public figure.   One day they took McLuhan for lunch at a topless restaurant  along with journalists Tom Wolfe and Herb Caen.  In the article Caen wrote about the outing he reports this exchange between himself and McLuhan:

Being President of the Leg Men of America, I never felt a primal urge to lunch among the topless ladies, but in such distinguished company who could resist?  ‘Strip steak sandwich,’ I said to waitress Marilyn, who was wearing blue sequin pasties and not much else.  As she walked away, I commented ‘A good-looking girl.’

Question:  What do you think McLuhan said next?

(a)    “She certainly is.”

(b)   “I hear you Herb.”

(c)    “Excuse me, Marilyn, I’ll have the strip steak too.”

(d)   “Interesting choice of words.  Good-LOOKING girl.  The remark of a man who is visually oriented, not tactually.”

Marshall McLuhan (August 1965, age 54).  The answer is …

Of course (d) – I have little in the way of small talk.   And, if memory serves me, after I said that I said this:

And I further noticed that you could not bring yourself to look at her breasts as she took your order.  You examined her only after she walked away – another example of the visual: the further she walked away, the more attractive she became.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Herb Caen, “Rainy Day Session,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 12, 1965, p. 25.

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Michael Hinton Friday, August 20th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

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