Sitting in my Asylum office, relishing a drizzly, dreary and dank day – the kind of day we rarely get here in the summer in this part of the States, reading an article in “In Defense of Cigarettes”, got me thinking.
I’m almost 62 years old. It doesn’t seem that long ago (though it was) that one could light up a cigarette, at work, and not one humanoid would cast a sour and disapproving glance in your direction. Some people smoked, others did not. Either way, it was cool.
The Human Resource department wasn’t busy back then with the frivolous BS of today. Oh, they might have had to field a complaint or two with someone who felt slighted over the promotion of a co-worker but that was the extent of their trying day. Lighting up a cigarette – just part of the work day.
There were no sensitivity seminars laced with corporate group-think with whatever god-awful, untried, sugar-laced new way of looking at the world. It was a simple work day. There was work to be done, and for the most, you did your part and maybe enjoyed a Marlboro here and there, along with several – what now would be considered – “taboo” jokes to lighten the day. No one thought twice about it all. Hard to believe, but there was laughter at the workplace back then. Lunches might have consisted of a martini or two but it was cool. People came back a little lighter in the heart but still finished off the work day working.
Present day – If you work in corporate America, or any version thereof, it’s filled with the mundane, mind-numbing nonsense that would drive any sane person to light up a cigarette no matter the status of their pristine lungs. It will drive you to drink, no matter the that one might have an aberrance to the stuff, or don’t want to contact the local taxi service for a depressing ride home.
As a kid in the 60’s, I remember parents getting dressed up to go to a…movie!!! A dress and perhaps white kid gloves for Mom, and at the very least, a jacket, with tie and dress pants for Dad. Imagine the horror they went through to get ready for their night out.
Now, one is lucky if they see a woman in yoga pants, and a dude in their ever-present cargo shorts and flip-flops. If not lucky, you get to see pajama bottoms as a fashion statement.
Those laid-back times when a cigarette and drink, leisurely enjoyed, along with the company of another, did more to soothe the soul than any social media post of one’s latest epic adventure seem to be long gone. Too bad.
I remember the first time I listened to “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis and thought, now this would be a cool vibe to feel throughout the day. It was and still is but seems society today has opted instead for a fragmented and isolated island of ugliness where everyone seems to be at each others throats and few can get along anymore. Hell, few can even find the time to talk anymore and even more rare is finding someone who will listen.
It was cool at one time to get along. It was cool to respect one’s self, as such a demeanor or way of living always afforded others their deserved self respect as well. People weren’t defined or outcast because they smoked a cigarette, had a drink at lunch or told a joke or two.
The effort to be better, though maybe not always outwardly acknowledged, was certainly respected.
As Herbie Hancock has said, “if it’s devoid of the heart, then it doesn’t mean anything”
These days, were forced fed an acceptable way to think and much of it is simply crass and empty – devoid of taste, of elegance, of heart.
But just to indulge a bit in tastier times we pour ourselves a drink and groove to a time when the world wasn’t dominated by such an uptight, easily offended cast of misfits…and hope for a trend back to a more tasteful and elegant time of live and let live.
Sinatra Live At The Sands with Count Basie and The Orchestra (1963)
“Where or When”
Photo credit (front page): By Columbia Pictures (Source) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit (Ms. Kelly): By Los Angeles Times photographic archive [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit (Mr. Davis): By Tom Palumbo from New York City, USA (Miles Davis) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons