America the Taliban
The idea that any new film that depicts someone smoking will be given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA] is an example of yet another buttinsky group of zealots worked into a lather about a tangential issue when the world is falling apart.
Is this wonderfully free society being gradually subverted by multitudes of muddled prudes who want to dictate how we think and act just like the Taliban in Afghanistan?
I am reminded of Cole Porter’s delightful—and deliciously racy—musical comedy, “Out of This World,” which opened in 1950 and was based on Greek mythology. I saw it at age 15 at the Century Theater at 59th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan and was scarred for life.
To give you an idea of its horrifying content, the illustration at the end of this issue is a copy of the letter to the theater owner from bureaucratic censors in the Boston mayor’s office who demanded changes before it was allowed to open out of town and corrupt Boston audiences.
In the immortal words of Jimmy Durante, “Why doesn’t everybody leave everybody else the hell alone?”
About the Business of Smoking
I despise cigarettes. I am happy about non-smoking in public places. When Sammy Davis Jr. died, one of his obituaries described how this vibrant, brilliant entertainer was shriveled into a fetal position and weighed 60 pounds at his end. I multiplied the number of packs a day he smoked x the number of years he smoked x 20 cigarettes in a pack and came up with 750,000.
My father was a heavy smoker and, amazingly, lived a reasonably healthy life until I watched him drown in his own bodily fluids at age 76. My mother and uncle were all heavy smokers and died of cancer.