Dedicated to the "Firsts"

On Friday of this past week, we closed out the quarter with a one-of-a-kind IPO - the Al Pacino screen-worn tuxedo from the movie Scarface, worn for a portion of the film during the wedding scene in his role as Tony Montana. The $20,000 IPO sold out almost instantly (68 seconds to be exact) once the gates opened at noon, and hundreds of investors now own a piece of cinema history. 

This particular piece of wardrobe was important for a number of reasons, but at it’s core, the creme-white tuxedo represents Tony’s rise to the top, and achieving the American Dream… or his version of it at least. As anyone who’s seen the film knows, that moment was fleeting. Almost immediately after the wedding scene, Tony’s life begins to unravel into a drug fueled paranoia-driven spiral. The walls close in, and in the end we find the hero-villain alone, fighting for his life with nothing left to show for it. 

It’s a tale that had definitely been told before the premiere of Scarface in 1983, but never before had it been told so visually and with the graphic glorification of director Brian De Palma. It made the audience fall in love with a violent antagonist. 

Scarface holds a special place in the fabric of music, fashion, and overall pop-culture. It’s been referenced in hundreds of songs over the last 40 years. The Miami tourist board refused to give the crew permits in fear it would deter tourists, but for all of its faults, Scarface become one of the most iconic Miami movies ever produced. For many who saw the film when it was released in the 80s, it was the first time they connected with the villain. They wanted him to win. They wanted the American Dream. And here, they found someone who literally went from nothing, to everything, and it was the first time for many that they could relate to the main character - regardless of the final outcome. 

It got us thinking about firsts - the debuts… the moment when the public got to witness something truly novel for the first time, and the visceral conviction that triggers a need to immerse oneself in something entirely new.

In issue 122, we touched on the prototypes. This week, in the 125th installment of Shiny Thing$, we pay homage to that “first time” with the official public debuts of some of the world’s most important cultural artifacts, past and present. 

Tesla Cybertruck

Debut: Los Angeles, CA, November 21st 2019. The retro-futuristic, brutalist electric pickup known as the Cybertruck is one of the most polarizing designs to hit the car world since the PT Cruiser. The unveiling event was a scene, as are most of Elon Musk’s public appearances, but not just because of the insane design that was on display. The most shocking moment came when lead designer Franz von Holzhausen smashed two of the vehicle’s “armor glass” windows with a metal ball onstage in front of hundreds in attendance and millions watching online. This wasn’t supposed to happen, resulting in an audible “oh my f*cking god” muttered by Elon as a result. 

The Concorde 

Debut: Toulouse, France, December 11th 1967. The first supersonic airliner was a collaborative British/French venture, and as such, the unveiling came in Toulouse France. The name at somepoint between 1963 and 1967 had been officially written “Concord,” but when the plane was rolled out of its hanger for its first major public presentation, British Technology Minister, Tony Benn coined it “Concorde” with an additional “e” added to the end. It created a nationalist uproar that eventually died down when he remarked that the “e” stood for “Excellence, England, Europe, and Entente.” The first flight would take place 2 years later, when the 001 Prototype departed from Toulouse.

Mickey Mouse

Debut: Unknown Test Screening Location, May 15, 1928. The “original” Mickey as reported by most media outlets was Steamboat Willie, a pre-Mickey film that premiered at Universal's Colony Theater in New York City on November 18, 1928. But it wasn't Mickey's silver-screen debut. Created as a replacement for a prior Disney character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Mickey first appeared in the 1928 short “Plane Crazy” a few months prior. It tracks a crudely drawn version of Mickey attempting a trans-Atlantic flight with an early version of Minnie Mouse. Mickey spends much of the silent film sending unwanted advances at his co-star, which is likely part of the reason this Mickey never gotten the same attention as Willie. 

G.I. Joe

Debut: American International Toy Fair in New York,  February 9th, 1964. Today, G.I. Joe is one of the most collectible toys of all time with hundreds of millions of units sold and billions of dollars in profit. But at its release in 1964, Hasbro took a massive risk betting that boys would want to play with dolls. They built a soldier name “Duke” that was considered macho enough to break the rigid gender lines of the American 60s. To ensure the best chance at success, they coined the term “Action Figure” to prevent any association with Barbie dolls. 

The Jordan III

Debut: Chicago, IL, February 6th, 1988. Starting with the black/red Jordan 1 3 years prior Michael Jordan began a tradition of debuting his newest sneaker during NBA All-Star weekend each year. For the ‘88 All Star Slam Dunk Contest, he walked onto the court in the shoe that would break ground and turn basketball sneakers into everyday apparel: the Jordan III, in the instant classic white leather/cement trim color combination. One of Michael’s personal favorites, they were officially released in February 1988 in 4 colorways, including the “white cement” version from Jordan’s winning Dunk Contest performance. There have been hundreds of colors and variations since, and the Jordan III consistently remains a top 10 best seller for the Jordan brand. 

The iPhone

Debut: Macworld Expo in San Francisco, CA, January 9 2007. We’re not leaving this out. Period. Steve Jobs took to the stage in his signature jeans and black mock neck, and said “Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” He described the device as an iPod with touch controls, a phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device. It would go on to hit store shelves to immediate success in June of 2007. It’s since become the flagship product of Apple, and a generational cash cow selling over 2.3 billion units since its release. The rest, is history. 

The first time we see something, we makes an emotional decision. When it leaves a mark, the stories live on forever.  Until Next Week...