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Steve Jobs featured in new 'American Cool' exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery

post #1 of 20
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Visitors to the National Portrait Gallery's new "American Cool" exhibit will find late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs highlighted alongside cultural icons like Miles Davis, Paul Newman, and Jay-Z.



Jobs is shown in bearded, long-haired form, wearing jeans and a long button-down shirt while riding a motorcycle between meetings on Apple's campus. The portrait was spotted in the gallery by Blake Patterson of Byte Cellar.

The exhibit is designed to celebrate people who made America "cool," which the National Potrait Gallery describes as carrying "a social charge of rebellious self-expression, charisma, edge and mystery." The concept is not unlike the one behind Apple's celebrated "Think Different" advertising campaign that featured luminaries such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Baez, and Richard Feynman.

Jobs's ride was captured by well-known photographer Charles O'Rear, who later gained notoriety with another computer-related image: O'Rear is responsible for the infamous "rolling hills" background that shipped with Microsoft's Windows XP operating system.

The portrait's caption, as transcribed by Patterson, is embedded in full below.

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

"Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" -- the concluding thought in The Whole Earth Catalog -- served as Steve Job's unofficial motto. Drawing inspiration from that bible of the counterculture, Jobs recast how people think about and use technology. As the cofounder of Apple, he worked in the shadow of such behemoths as IBM and Microsoft. Yet, with great nimbleness and much brashness he led an upstart company that transformed the consumer electronics industry with revolutionary products such as the Apple II and Macintosh computers, iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. Jobs was always the face of Apple, and his much-publicized ambition to create more elegant and "user-friendly" devices made him part of a national tradition of inventor-heros dating back to to Thomas Edison. "Think Different," Apple's highly successful advertising campaign introduced in 1997, was not only a shrewd marketing slogan but also exemplified Jobs' relationship with the larger industry. Channeling his inner Steve McQueen, the jeans-wearing executive often raced his motorcycle between meetings during Apple's early years.

Charles O'Rear (born 1941)
Reproduction print from 1981 original
National Geographic Image Collection, Washington, D.C.

post #2 of 20

Living on the edge. No helmet, no gloves, no jacket. Clearly not an experienced motorcyclist. Those fashionable boots would get all scratched up within three minutes of shifting.

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post #3 of 20
"The exhibit is designed to celebrate people who made America "cool," which the National Potrait Gallery describes as carrying "a social charge of rebellious self-expression, charisma, edge and mystery.""...

That's me!!! However, for some reason, I don't see my portrait?!?
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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Living on the edge. No helmet, no gloves, no jacket. Clearly not an experienced motorcyclist. Those fashionable boots would get all scratched up within three minutes of shifting.
This.
He could afford to replace the boots though.
..... the greatest fame comes from adding to human knowledge, not winning battles.
Paraphrased from Napolean Bonaparte, 1798
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..... the greatest fame comes from adding to human knowledge, not winning battles.
Paraphrased from Napolean Bonaparte, 1798
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post #5 of 20

I think that's the picture of all of us born rebels, wearing no helmet, riding a black BMW motorcycle defying all reason and logic in the face of great danger on the California Roads! ;-P  ......I mean who doesn't want to be the guy on that bike whizzing past traffic jams on freeways and interstates like they're all standing still? lol.... especially since he most likely didn't even have it licensed...... just like he never licensed his cars and got away with it! AND..... that's something only Steve could get away with! ^_*

post #6 of 20
I don't know, maybe I am not cool enough, but why is J-Z in with Paul Newman, McQueen et al? What has he done besides what any rap singer has, butchered music!

Start the flames....
post #7 of 20
I was just thinking the same thing, MacMan. Jay-Z? Really? Why not just throw in Justin Bieber, too, for good measure?
post #8 of 20
More or less agree about the Jay-Z criticism. He's more of a businessman than a musician. Anyone capable of selling the garbage he records MUST be a genius.

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GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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post #9 of 20
The article cites "cultural icon" not some evaluation of talent. The National Portrait Gallery is clueless about what "cool" is anyway. It only takes a quick look at their website to figure that out.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

More or less agree about the Jay-Z criticism. He's more of a businessman than a musician. Anyone capable of selling the garbage he records MUST be a genius.
Well, he had the cojones to get a woman like Beyoncé. That gives his some chops in my book.
That being said, looking at the picture I did feel a tinge of sadness. I miss Steve being around. The world is a lesser place without him.
..... the greatest fame comes from adding to human knowledge, not winning battles.
Paraphrased from Napolean Bonaparte, 1798
Reply
..... the greatest fame comes from adding to human knowledge, not winning battles.
Paraphrased from Napolean Bonaparte, 1798
Reply
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostkiwi View Post

Well, he had the cojones to get a woman like Beyoncé. That gives his some chops in my book.
That being said, looking at the picture I did feel a tinge of sadness. I miss Steve being around. The world is a lesser place without him.

And I blame Jay-Z for ruining Beyoncé's music. She hasn't made one memorable song since he took over.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


And I blame Jay-Z for ruining Beyoncé's music. She hasn't made one memorable song since he took over.

Yep, 100% agree with that.  

..... the greatest fame comes from adding to human knowledge, not winning battles.
Paraphrased from Napolean Bonaparte, 1798
Reply
..... the greatest fame comes from adding to human knowledge, not winning battles.
Paraphrased from Napolean Bonaparte, 1798
Reply
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostkiwi View Post

Well, he had the cojones to get a woman like Beyoncé. That gives his some chops in my book.
That being said, looking at the picture I did feel a tinge of sadness. I miss Steve being around. The world is a lesser place without him.

How's marrying Beyoncé makes him a cultural icon? I think money and status becomes the deciding factor. It simply makes them good business partners. Attracting Beyoncé is nothing in the world they live in. There a lots of ugly people who attracted successful and beautiful women. The only thing I remember about him is the Shamsung scandal.

I think we need to step back and think about who's a cultural icon, folks who dedicated their lives to make life better for everyone. Jay-Z has a good taste for women and makes a good pair of head phones. What else Am I missing.
post #14 of 20

All losers you mention!

post #15 of 20

It's great to see that a CEO of a huge international corporation can be "cool".  Apple is nothing like Exxon or Monsanto.  They are just out for the money.

post #16 of 20
For anyone commenting about safety gear (helmets, gloves, goggles) this photo was taken on the large Apple campus. That is, riding through parking lots, between buildings. Not cross town.
California has helmet laws so it would be a very ticket-able offense. I think of Steve as radical, not stupid, so I think he probably wore safety gear when going down the street or highway.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by leadbottom View Post

For anyone commenting about safety gear (helmets, gloves, goggles) this photo was taken on the large Apple campus. That is, riding through parking lots, between buildings. Not cross town.
California has helmet laws so it would be a very ticket-able offense. I think of Steve as radical, not stupid, so I think he probably wore safety gear when going down the street or highway.

As far as I know the CA motorcycle helmet law began in 1992. That bike appears to be a mid 80s R60. The shoes are definitely from the 80s and Steve looks 30-ish. How do you know the photo was taken on the Apple campus?

 

Correction: That is a R60/2 probably 1968, so whatever, perhaps the photo was even taken earlier than the mid 80's but I suspect that it predates the helmet law by quite a few years.


Edited by mstone - 2/11/14 at 5:37pm

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #18 of 20

Nice forensics. It is just a supposition on my part.

I'm from Calif, but I did not remember the helmet law date (I 'thought' it was in effect when I rode a bike in college, mid-70's).

The article says 'between meetings', the building sign behind him seems similar to the early Apple look'nfeel, the campus was huge even then, and there are white buildings (like the Apple campus) set pretty close to the curb, like in a parking lot. Buildings are more set back from the street due to the runaway car problem. So just a half-baked guess on my part.

post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by leadbottom View Post
m from Calif, but I did not remember the helmet law date (I 'thought' it was in effect when I rode a bike in college, mid-70's).

Yeah, helmets saved me on more than one occasion. Road racing in the canyons can kill you if you don't have your protection on. I've dropped a bike a few times, fortunately survived.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #20 of 20

The long haired Harley rider, riding off in to the sunset, enjoying his freedom is definitely one kind of iconic American cool. And so is the young maverick businessman/CEO. But they combined both these ideas in one photo here and it really deserves two separate ones.

 

The aloof but clever Paul Newman or Humphrey Bogart "Rick" type character is another (somewhat historical now) version of American cool, definitely belongs. As for the rappers, I think mainly young people think they are cool, to older people they look vain and ridiculous.

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