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  Barber sells Neil Armstrong's hair clippings (Page 3)

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Author Topic:   Barber sells Neil Armstrong's hair clippings
lunarrv15
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Posts: 1323
From: Cincinnati, Ohio, Hamilton
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 06-04-2005 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunarrv15   Click Here to Email lunarrv15     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by derek:
That's one small snip for a man..."
...uh...one giant hair trim service fee for mankind.

KC Stoever
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Posts: 1011
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 06-04-2005 03:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In our household, there's a bit more than the giggle factor — there's the ick! factor, especially upon learning that the collector in this case has the largest private collection of "historic" hair.

What Armstrong's barber did with his floor sweepings, without asking his celebrated customer about their disposition, strikes me as unethical. What the collector and his intermediaries did is icky.

Reznikoff defends his practice by citing Victorian-era mores.

Yet for fun on slow afternoons, Victorians also liked to gaze upon assorted freaks of nature — human beings, among them the Elephant man — carried from parlor to parlor in baskets for the horrified delectation of society types (in time giving us the term "basket case").

Don't suppose we'd countenance this behavior today.

Armstrong's attorney has probably achieved his client's goal, embarrassing the barber and exposing an unsavory aspect of some collecting and some collectors (and their intermediaries).

RK
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Posts: 61
From: Mount Kisco, New York
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-04-2005 06:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RK   Click Here to Email RK     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After reading this thread that goes on for three pages, I am amazed at all the attention this is getting and the diverse views expressed. I find myself comparing this to other people and businesses that do terrible things all the time for money yet are often viewed with a different value system and sometimes even praised for their actions. Different context, different perspective.

I wonder if Mr. Armstrong would just like this to go away. Remember, he does not like publicity. And what is this thread doing? Adding to the publicity.

earlyduke
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Posts: 90
From:
Registered: May 2005

posted 06-04-2005 11:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for earlyduke     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Though Armstrong disapproves of both the high trading value of his autograph, and the shady acquisition of his hair strands, there's a big difference between the two. Any Armstrong acquired signature was done so with his full consent, and knowledge that it could be sold or traded. The same cannot be said of the hair in Mr. Reznikoff's possession. The proof is that though Armstrong isn't happy about the high trading value of his autograph, he accepts it. He clearly does not accept what happened in this barbershop incident.

I don't believe it's up to us to judge the seriousness of Mr. Reznikoff's offense by how badly we feel Mr. Armstrong has been "damaged." It's enough that Armstrong feels the way he does. Anyone here can simply say "I don't see what the big deal is," but it's Armstrong's call, not ours. And frankly, even if Armstrong just shrugged the whole incident off, it still wouldn't mean that Reznikoff didn't act unethically.

RK
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Posts: 61
From: Mount Kisco, New York
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-05-2005 05:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RK   Click Here to Email RK     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately, ethics is not congruent with the behavior of most of society. The line of "what is right" has shifted so far that what we once thought absurd and unethical has now become normal. Look at all the corruption in business and government. It is everywhere.

It is a sad statement on the current state of affairs in this country regarding values, respect for your neighbors etc.

1. Do unto others

2. Do the same thing when nobody is looking as when somebody is looking.

If we followed those two rules we would be a lot better off as a society.

MCroft04
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Posts: 1398
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 06-05-2005 08:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've read this thread trying to maintain objectivity. But I've read enough to give me a clear perspective. No matter how the hair was obtained, it was an invasion of Neil's privacy. No different than people picking through the trash of movie stars; they don't allow it for obvious reasons.

What amazes me is that some folks are tying justify this invasion. No way. I'm just glad that we now have toilets that flush crap away, otherwise I'm sure some folks would be selling that too. My apologies for the crappy analogy, but it symbolizes what the actions of a few individuals who knew better smells like!

barnstormer
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Posts: 105
From: Niceville, FL
Registered: Mar 2000

posted 06-05-2005 10:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for barnstormer   Click Here to Email barnstormer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not going to change anyone's mind. Just regret seeing a well respected autograph dealer judged so harshly for something so minor.

I, personally, do not see anything wrong with buying and selling anyone's autograph, or hair. (Collecting locks of hair has been perfectly acceptable for centuries.) Most other astronauts apparently agree and willingly facilitate the ongoing trading and collecting market. So I disagree with Mr. Armstrong's position.

My disagreement is not illegal and it is not unethical. I do not believe it injures him or disrepects him (as most autograph collectors apparently believe that trading in his autograph is just as harmless). And I feel the same about a lock of his hair being in someone's collection.

I just don't feel you can have it both ways. You cannot say "Let's respect the man's wishes and not distress him," by collecting a hair sample, but it is fine to completely disregard his wishes and continue causing him discomfort and distress by selling his name at public auctions and sales, day after day, year after year. He clearly does not accept this commerce and stopped signing to prevent more ot it. You can only be on one side of the fence.

The barber knew (or should have known) he was betraying a confidence. We don't really know if he was first tempted by the agent or if the collector was involved until after the agent secured the hair sample and offered it to him. I don't believe everything I read in the newspapers.

gliderpilotuk
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Posts: 3341
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 06-05-2005 11:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
What Armstrong's barber did with his floor sweepings, without asking his celebrated customer about their disposition, strikes me as unethical. What the collector and his intermediaries did is icky.
In my opinion you've summed it up very well!

pokey
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Posts: 346
From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 06-05-2005 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for pokey   Click Here to Email pokey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nothing in the 'hair saga' passes the sniff test no matter how you look at it. Excuses are just that. Nuff said!

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 33704
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-05-2005 01:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by barnstormer:
He clearly does NOT accept this commerce and stopped signing to prevent more ot it.
This is incorrect, at least based on what Armstrong told me directly. He said he no longer signed because people he thought he could trust had taken advantage of his generosity, and he no longer felt confident he could discern those honestly wanting his autograph from those looking to exploit him.

Separately, he has told others that he finds the autograph market to be "unsavory" and "didn't want to be part of it" — but that is a far cry from objecting to all who sell his autograph. There is a difference between an estate selling off a collection and a "professional collector" scoring a free autograph outside the guy's home and listing it for sale hours later (or writing to him under the false identity of a teacher and requesting 25 autographs for the "students", etc.).

I believe this subject will be covered in the upcoming biography by James Hansen, so perhaps its best to wait for the full account, but it's always been my impression that it wasn't the NASA employee who turned around and sold an autograph 30 years after getting it that was considered the problem; it was the neighborhood acquaintance who saw and took the opportunity to line his own pockets at the expense of violating Armstrong's day-to-day life.

RK
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Posts: 61
From: Mount Kisco, New York
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 06-05-2005 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RK   Click Here to Email RK     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, you are right. It all comes down to greed. Greed is ruining our country.

Yet somehow the almighty dollar is more important than fair play both in business and in personal life. I see it all the time. Most people want something for nothing and think nothing about taking advantage of people. They often hide behind a veil false justification for their behavior.

earlyduke
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Posts: 90
From:
Registered: May 2005

posted 06-05-2005 02:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for earlyduke     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by barnstormer:
I just don't feel you can have it both ways.
There's a big difference between ongoing trading in Armstrong's autograph, which is impossible to make a case for Armstrong not knowing about when he signed freely for people, and his hair being collected for sale without his knowledge. And, again, it is beside the point to argue whether or not, or how extensively, Armstrong has been injured. It doesn't change being able to judge the actions of others.

That is not to say there may not have been some mitigating conditions in this affair. If Reznikoff, Mueller and Armstrong's barber had been able to keep the entire matter secret, I suppose someone could make the case that nobody really got hurt. Reznikoff hinted at this. It's kind of the same question as, for example, what if a man cheats on his wife, and she never finds out; is it wrong? Some people would say yes, some people no, but that becomes a different type of debate altogether.

The problem here, however, is what happened after the story broke. Had Reznikoff simply returned the hair (thereby following up on his own statement where he implied that had he known Armstrong wouldn't have approved of the selling of his hair, he [Reznikoff] wouldn't have gotten involved) this would've been a minor incident.

But he didn't. And apparently, he won't. It seems he has "gone to ground." Read all the posts here again; it's easy to see the attempts at deception, distraction, and finally, just total evasion. These are not the statements and actions of an ethical person.

Before you lament about having to see a well respected autograph dealer being judged so harshly for something so minor, think about how little this well respected dealer thought of the intelligence of the people he addressed here, and the way he played fast and loose with the truth and was willing to gamble with his reputation, just to hold onto something that isn't rightfully his. I believe your sympathies are misdirected.

Astro Bill
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Posts: 1329
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 06-05-2005 11:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Astro Bill   Click Here to Email Astro Bill     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now that Neil Armstrong knows that a lock of his hair has considerable value and since he is so concerned that the funds go to a charity, why doesn't he cut off a few locks every month and donate THEM to charity. This would accomplish three things: he would get a free haircut, he would contribute a considerable amount to charity and he would make a few points with the people who are considering voting for him for the "Greatest American." Also, if he does have the energy some day to have a "signing", he should donate all of the receipts (less fees and expenses) to his favorite charity.

Astro Bill
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Posts: 1329
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 06-07-2005 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Astro Bill   Click Here to Email Astro Bill     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the case of hair, how does the collector know that what he has is genuine? In this case in particular, how does the collector actually know that it is a lock of Neil Armstrong's hair? It there a COA attached or is it stamped with the seal of a notary public? For that matter, how are ANY of the locks in his collection authenticated?

The point of this is that the collector would have benefited enormously by asking Neil Armstrong for a "snip" of his hair attached to an autograph sealed in an acrylic Apollo XI capsule, in exchange for a very hefty donation (perhaps $5,000) to a charity chosen by Armstrong and the pledge of non-disclosure until after the death of the original owner or the passage of many years. There would have been no news to the press and no anxiety attacks by either of the participants. That would have been the proper procedure in a perfect world.

earlyduke
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Posts: 90
From:
Registered: May 2005

posted 06-07-2005 11:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for earlyduke     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's been suggested this "normal" procedure you described would have been followed by any ethical person truly considerate of Mr. Armstrong's feelings or concerns. The fact that it was bypassed completely, followed by feigned hand-wringing after different tactics were used to acquire Armstrong's hair... (Oh, had we only KNOWN he would've disapproved!!)... tells you a lot about the people still refusing to do the simple right thing.

Astro Bill
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Posts: 1329
From: New York, NY
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 06-08-2005 12:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Astro Bill   Click Here to Email Astro Bill     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suggested that this would have been a "proper" procedure not a "normal" procedure. Obviously, this situation developed because someone was unethical (sneaky, immoral, unfair). The fact that they are defending their unethical position is not surprising given the manner in which the hair was obtained.

Scott
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Posts: 3303
From: Houston, TX
Registered: May 2001

posted 06-09-2005 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by earlyduke:
Had Reznikoff simply returned the hair...
I have it from irreputable sources, but ones which must be kept in confidence, that at least two other people aside from him have some of the hair in their possession. And no I'm not one of them.

earlyduke
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Posts: 90
From:
Registered: May 2005

posted 06-09-2005 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for earlyduke     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Todd Mueller readily and publicly admitted he kept some of Armstrong's hair. But what is your point? That if enough people have the ill-gotten strands it makes it more acceptable? Any one holding any of the hair is as ethically challenged as the next.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 33704
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-09-2005 06:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having come across Neil Armstrong's commencement address he delivered on May 13 at the University of Southern California, I could not help but think that some of his closing words were very applicable to this discussion:
You can lose your health to illness or accident. You can lose your wealth to all manner of unpredictable sources. What are not easily stolen from you without your cooperation are your principles and your values. They are your most important possessions and, if carefully selected and nurtured, will well serve you and your fellow man. Society's future will depend on a continuous improvement program for the human character.

dss65
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Posts: 949
From: Sandpoint, ID, USA
Registered: Mar 2003

posted 06-09-2005 08:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amen to those words, Neil. Thanks for sharing them, Robert. It's not just how we deal with astronauts — it's how we deal with life in general. As a society, we'll reap what we sow.


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