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Bright & Brief

September 9, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ Is togetherness out of fashion for the rich? That’s one way to interpret the new Christmas catalog from Neiman-Marcus, the Dallas-based department store that offers holiday goodies for conspicuous consumers.

Nearly every year since 1960, Neiman-Marcus has offered his-and-hers gifts for those with a touch of whimsy and a ton of money. There have been his-and- hers airplanes, submarines, bathtubs, camels, buffalos, windmills, ostriches, diamonds, dirigibles and hot-air balloons.

This year’s centerpiece, announced Friday, is another hot-air balloon - for one. It’s labeled ″his-or-hers.″

″That’s because it only seats one person,″ said Neiman-Marcus spokeswoman Jan Roberts, who said there wasn’t any deeper meaning behind the gift. ″It could be a his balloon or a hers balloon.″

The balloon, which attaches to the pilot like a backpack, is being offered for $18,000, well under the price of some past Christmas gifts.

Not to worry, though. For those who want to be together, the store also is offering customized Harley-Davidson motorcycles at $25,000 each, with matching his-and-hers helmets and jackets, and bicycle tours of Italy’s Tuscany region at $25,000 - for two.

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) - ″Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,″ Robert Frost wrote, but that’s something a gentleman farmer can’t agree with.

Robert T. Vanderbilt was so upset a part of an old stone wall on his property was taken apart by neighbors that he called upon a 19th-century tradition to settle the dispute.

The law calls for town selectmen to become ″fence viewers″ and settle such disputes for a fee of $2 each.

The neighbors, Jack and Nancy Oken, are willing to replace as much stone as their builder took - four truckloads - but they maintain that the wall was nothing more than a pile of rocks. The builder used the stones in constructing their home.

Vanderbilt wants them to rebuild the wall. The section in dispute is about 3 feet high and 600 feet long.

Fairfield’s three selectmen this week agreed with the Okens that the wall was a little more than a pile of stones, and said the neighbors were only obligated to replace the rocks.

Vanderbilt must now decide how much he loves a wall. He’s received estimates from contractors of $22 a foot, not including materials, to rebuild it.

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Those attending the Beer Can Collectors of America were busy Friday swapping cans and tales - and drinking a little beer.

An estimated 53 kegs of beer were expected to be polished off during the 18th annual Beer CANvention.

But, said organizer John McGuire, ″that isn’t counting all the cans of beers sitting in ice in our bathtubs.″

McGuire has collected about 5,000 cans since he started his hobby in 1964. He estimates there are about 21,000 varieties of beer cans that have been made in the United States since the 1930s. About 1,100 beer can enthusiasts are attending the convention, which ends Saturday.

What’s the most popular beer at the convention? ″As long as it’s cold and wet and has suds, they’ll drink it,″ said convention-goer Robert Leslie of Worthington, Ohio.

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