Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Many Moons Later, Making a Case for Mars

I had two impressions as I sat listening to astronauts Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin speak yesterday at the American Museum of Natural History. Specifically, BA. The first impression was that I was in the presence of greatness.

In my humble journalistic career, Yours Truly has interviewed/been in the room with/rubbed shoulders with a fair number of famous and prominent people, but there was only one other time that I felt I was in the presence of greatness. I will comment on that in a future post.

Here I was listening to JL, the man who was the commander of the tragic Apollo 13 mission. And to BA, the second man to walk. On the moon. I’m thinking, “BA is not someone you’re in the same room with. BA is someone whom you’ve read about in your history books. He’s a trivia question and a trivia answer.” (Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to space, was invited but did not show).

The second impression I had listening to BA: “here is this guy who walked on the moon in 1969 and most of the people here listening to him were not born in 1969.” A number of celebrities, or should I refer to them as "stars" – Cassie, Whitney Port, Jessica Szohr Lance Bass, Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima – not even knowing their birthdays, I’m pretty sure they weren’t born in 1969. Maybe by 1979 or even 89. But not 1969.

The occasion (and part of a larger travel-themed advertising campaign) is a Louis Vuitton reception celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Lunar Landing on July 20, 1969 and the introduction of a hypothetical, special order travel case. For those who didn’t know, host Daniel Lalonde, President and CEO of Louis Vuitton North America, informed them that his company made its name as a purveyor of luxury travel gear. To commemorate the moon landing, LV imagined the “Malle Mars” (pictured above opened, at left, and closed, at right), an egg-/space ship-shaped trunk resting on a pedestal/launch pad that would be the perfect carry-on for a trip to, say, Mars. Alas, LV only imagined the one, and it is not for sale. Also on display at the reception were NASA original photographs, antique space toys, sculptures and astronomy photographs by French artist/photographer Jean Larivière.

The venue for the reception was the Rose Center for Earth and Space. What an interesting room! For instance, if you’ve never quite understood or you’ve forgotten what a planet is, it is explained in a very accessible and interesting way. Or if you really don’t know what a solar system is and have been too embarrassed to ask for fear you’d be thought an idiot, there’s an explanation. And then that whole story about the rings around Saturn. They did not come from Tiffany’s. Check it out.

And if you want to catch a glimpse of the “Malle Mars” and some of the other items shown at the Rose Center, hustle over to the LV store by Monday (20 July). Should you shop at this location through Monday, do so responsibly and with the knowledge that LV will hand over a percentage of sales from travel-related items to Al Gore’s The Climate Project (

Louis Vuitton is situated at 1 E. 57th St. @Fifth Avenue.

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