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VIDEO: Simian slams suitcase! In praise of a retro classic.

Aaron Chapman 2 Apr 2008TheTyee.ca

Aaron Chapman is a musician and writer living in Vancouver. His luggage is in relatively poor condition.

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Did you grow up watching this?

Ahh, analog. In the pre-digital world of the 1970s and early 1980s, you were basically stuck with watching commercials. Some people recorded them as part of TV shows. And those that remain are like little time capsules, making YouTube a cemetery of lost VHS tapes, thanks to people who have strangely taken the time to digitize and upload them.

I believe the American Tourister ad has always had particular appeal, especially to young boys. When I was young, maybe six or seven years old, I was a quiet kid. My parents were worried how little I talked and suspicious I was too tranquil. Maybe I was?

But when that ad came on -- it was like I was shown the queen of diamonds in a Manchurian Candidate's deck. I'd be enrapt as that ape threw the luggage around as if he was in a prison riot.

I'd be so excited, I'd grab one of my toys and stomp on it, laughing and jumping up and down until I was panting short of breath.

This was heavy fuel for a bored kid in Kerrisdale in the late '70s. While I imagine my parents focused in on the announcer, fearing that their own luggage was treated this way especially in foreign lands, my sympathy always sat with the gorilla. As I threw those toys around, maybe I was thinking I was breaking out of my own proverbial cage? And given that the spot concludes with the ape disappearing with the suitcase into the dark part of his cell -- suggesting he gets away with the crime – maybe I wondered if I would too.

Yep, that ad got me through some tough times as a kid. I loved that damned chimp, and today I am a better man for knowing him.

If you grew up in the '70s, you're also now old enough to appreciate how different the world looked then. The colour of the luggage recalls the real 1970s -- not the disco or punk look, which were brief flashes in the decade -- but the way average people actually looked then, dressed in ubiquitous earth tones. The orange hue of the suitcase that the simian so wildly abuses hasn't been seen before or since. And neither has the 1978, $20 suitcase price tag.

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