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Archive for the ‘Smoking’ Category

A chucklesome comment from Sali Lamo, New Yorker cartoonist: “Not to be a downer or anything, but Michael Jackson’s dying is really going to hurt the credibility of the hyperbaric-oxygen-chamber industry.”

Which is an insightful and previously neglected thought; although I would say this:  people didn’t seem to be put off running when the health convert Jim Fixx, doyen of jogging, dropped dead from a heart attack at the age of 52.

joggers bw

Even now you can’t throw a plimsoll in Central Park, Hyde Park, Stanley Park or Albert Park without it bouncing off the cranium of somebody sweatily loping around its perimeter. And at times it seems that there are more people at any one time taking part in marathons around the world’s great cities than laying on the couch watching them.

Death can kindly stop for anyone, though, and slowly drive them off in his carriage. His  lifetime-sized hourglass currently hangs over Patrick Swayze; and he has previously transported away Syd Barrett, Luciano Pavarotti, Rene Magritte, Dizzy Gillespie, Randy Pausch and Bill Hicks in the glossy landau he calls ‘Pancreatic Cancer’.

death carriage

This coach usually draws up alongside octo- and septuagenarians but can also squeak to a halt alongside the young and healthy. Nobody really knows why. Pancreatic cancer is not genetic. Bill Hicks blamed it on his energetic smoking, which certainly cannot have helped; yet Keith Richards still somehow walks the earth, while Randy Pausch never let a cigarette pass his lips.

Professor Pausch was a computer science lecturer and researcher at Carnegie Mellon whose ‘last words’ were an inspiring ‘Last Lecture‘. Which I’ll get around to watching and getting inspired by at some point. Before I die, let’s say.

The last words of Bill Hicks were a more pithy “I’ve said all I have to say” on Valentine’s Day 1994. And he was as good as his word, staying silent for his final twelve days on this world.

Bill Hicks

To come full circle, though, here are some of the great(est) comedian’s thoughts on the subject at hand:

“Does anyone remember this, when Yul Brynner died, and came out with that commercial after he was dead? ‘I’m Yul Brynner and I’m dead now.

What the fuck’s this guy selling? I’m all ears.

I’m Yul Brynner and I’m dead now, because I smoked cigarettes.’

Okay, pretty scary. But they coulda done that with anybody. They coulda done it with that Jim Fixx guy, too, just as easily. Remember that guy, that health nut who died while jogging? I don’t remember seeing his commercial. ‘I’m Jim Fixx and I’m dead now. And I don’t know what the fuck happened. I jogged every day, ate nothing but tofu, swam five hundred laps every morning, and I’m dead. Yul Brynner drank, smoke, and got laid every night of his life… he’s dead.

Shit.

Yul Brynner’s smokin’, drinkin’, girls are sitting on his cueball noggin every night of his life! I’m running around a dewy track at dawn. And we’re both fuckin’ dead. Goddammit.

Yul used to pass me on his way home in the morning, big long limousine, two girls blowing him, cigarette in one hand, drink in the other. “One day that life is going to get to you, Yul.” ‘

They’re both dead. Yeah, but what a healthy looking corpse you were, Jim. Look at the hamstrings on that corpse! Look at the sloppy grin on Yul’s corpse! Yul Brynner lived his life. Sure, he died a 78-pound stick figure, okay. There are certain drawbacks.”

“Does anyone remember this, when Yul Brynner died, and came out with that commercial after he was dead?
‘I’m Yul Brynner and I’m dead now.’
What the fuck’s this guy selling? I’m all ears.
‘I’m Yul Bryner and I’m dead now, because I smoked cigarettes.’
Okay, pretty scary. But they coulda done that with anyone. They coulda done it with that Jim Fixx guy, too, remember that guy, that health nut who died while jogging? I don’t remember seeing his commercial!
‘I’m Jim Fixx and I’m dead now. And I don’t know what the fuck happened. I jogged every day, ate nothing but tofu, swam five hundred laps every morning, and I’m dead. Yul Bryner drank, smoke, and got laid every night of his life… he’s dead. Shit! Yul Bryner’s smokin’, drinkin’, girls are sitting on his cueball noggin, every night of his life! I’m running around a dewy track at dawn. And we’re both fuckin’ dead. Yul used to pass me on his way home in the morning, big long limousine, two girls blowing him, cigarette in one hand, drink in the other. “One day that life is going to get to you, Yul.”‘
They’re both dead. Yeah, but what a healthy looking corpse you were, Jim. Look at the hamstrings on that corpse! Look at the sloppy grin on Yul’s corpse! Yul Bryner lived his life. Sure, he died a 78-pound stick figure, okay. There are certain drawbacks.”
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Oh, Canada

Whole nations, it seems, are making New Year resolutions.

Canada, for example, has resolved to not skin seals while they are still alive. Hooray for Canada.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has ‘tweaked’ its seal-hunting legislation on the recommendation of independent veterinarians ‘to make sure the hunt is as humane as it can possibly be’.

Now, I’m no expert on harp seals, or indeed any other fish, but I flatter myself that I don’t need to lean on the advice of expert zoologists to realise that live de-pelting might be less than comfortable for our pinnipeddian pals.

Still, credit where it’s due; I made the decision on January 1 to give up eating quite so many custard creams, and I’m already feeling the pangs just a day later.

Moreover, I understand that smokers have a much tougher time, not just withdrawing from the wholesome yet strangely addictive ingredients of cigarettes such as nicotine and arsenic but from it’s accoutrements: the heft of a virgin packet, the coolness and clickiness of the lighter; also from the sensual pleasures: sliding off the flimsy film, lifting the foil, tamping the filter; and the physical actions: the lifting of the hand, the inhalation, the oral exercise. No wonder ex-smokers not only chew gum but brush their hair a lot and take up the piano. ‘For something to do with their hands’, you understand.

So spare a thought for the plucky seal hunters. Now they have to hang around waiting for the goods to expire before harvesting their furry treasure, while another rule disallows them from striking older seals using a fearsome implement they are pleased to call a ‘hakapik’ — unless they have shot the creature first (making that more rudimentary weapon rather redundant, one would have thought).

The hakapik is like the Swiss Army Knife of seal hunting, it seems, comprising a heavy wooden club, a hammer head (for crushing skulls), and a sturdy hook (to drag away carcasses). And a tool for removing stones from Mountie’s boots, I shouldn’t wonder.

Should they be subject to even tougher rules, the sealers are going to suffer the fate of the smoker. If their clubs are ever taken away altogether, they would need to find something to do with their hands; and there aren’t many grand pianos out on the floes. Perhaps they can each make do with a piccolo secreted about their hairy, black-and-red-checked coats. At the very least, though, they can chew gum –- and it should be a special blubber-flavoured gum. Let’s call it ‘Blubber-Gum’.


A sealer with a very large piccolo. Yesterday.

A sealer with a very large piccolo.


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