Entertainment, Films, Books, Television…My Life, a little…

Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette…


Meg and I have been watching the first season DVD collection of Boardwalk Empire. A superior bit of television drama produced by HBO and starring Steve Buscemi, Kelly MacDonald and Michael Shannon. It is set in the 1920’s; that era of flappers, Eddie Cantor, the Charleston, Prohibition and “oh you kid.” It was also a time of deep-seated corruption in government, both local and not-so-local.

The sets and the costumes are brilliant. The casting, so far, has been beyond admirable; the choice of the Liverpudlian actor Stephen Graham as Al Capone exceeds genius. Of course giving Steve Buscemi the chance to shine and show just what he really has to offer as an actor, goes without saying. But despite my utilizing over 120 words to talks about the series, its plot, and its stars, that is not what I wanted to talk about. And to be honest none of these aforementioned things was what caught my eye.

The thing I noticed above anything else was the smoking.

Now those of you who follow my blog already *and to you good people, I say thank you from the bottom of my slightly malfunctioning heart.* will know that I finally gave up the devil weed after having a heart attack and two subsequent surgeries to save my life. The surgery has left me with a damaged Aorta and this fact alone has made me more health conscious than ever before in my 54 years of treading upon this earth.

My doctor and the lovely “smoking cessation” nurse feed my ego every time I go to my local clinic. I smile and nod each time they praise me on my abstinence and write me a prescription for more nicotine gum. But as I’ve told everyone, the urge to smoke pretty much dissipated after the heart attack. I actually had three (or maybe more) cigarettes on the morning of the heart attack; accompanied by about three cups of coffee. Now this nicotine (and countless other poisons) and caffeine intake was not before the heart attack, it was during it.

But the entire incident was so damn traumatic and bloody painful that I’ve had no real problem staying off the “fags.” That’s not to say I don’t want one, because I do. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about how great it would be to take out a cigarette, light it and drag real deep on it. Fortunately for me I a) don’t have any of the damn things in the house, and b) the thought only lasts for a split second.

I always snap back to reality pretty quickly and remember that not only are the damned things really bad for my heart, but they are also a lung sapper. I don’t fancy carrying an oxygen bottle around with me. Of course the amount of stress I am going through at the moment with my, pretty much, forced ill-health retirement and my sudden drop in income of around 23,000 pounds per year has guaranteed that I need to continue taking the blood pressure medicine irrespective of my heart issues.

I’ve just realised that not only have I taken the “long way around the barn,” but I’ve also taken the journey via a “slow boat to China.” I will get to the point I promise.

As every “ex-smoker” knows when you watch television or a film you notice every time an actor lights up and starts smoking a cigarette. In fact it looks like the entire cast of Boardwalk Empire chain smokes. They don’t just chain smoke, they also smoke filter-less cigarettes, which of course they would.

And don’t forget that tasty strychnine and cyanide!

This was the era of Lucky Strike and Camel and Chesterfields and all the other brands that helped America to fill their passion for smoking. Adverts are everywhere along the boardwalk of Atlantic City and everyone, it seems, smokes like there is no tomorrow. While watching the pilot episode I noticed that the actors were smoking a fag and then putting it out. This was followed by immediately lighting up another one.

At one point during the pilot episode I turned to my daughter Meg and said, “Just watching those guys’ makes my chest hurt.” But people smoked like that back then, and by back then I mean when smoking was not the leprous activity that it is considered now. I remember when I was a kid; people had cigarette boxes (or cigar boxes) with a “communal” lighter in their house for guests. Ashtrays adorned every room and you grew up getting acclimatized to the smell of smoke and ash.

Now it’s different, shockingly so. As I watch the remainder of the first season my heart goes out to the actors. I think about the amount of un-filtered cigarettes that they are alternatively puffing on and inhaling via someone else’s smoke and it does indeed make my chest hurt. That is, unfortunately, one of the hazards of the acting profession. I know that the Canadian actor who worked on the TV series The X-files as the Cancer Man (titled that by David Duchovny’s character) smoked herbal cigarettes through the entire series. Very commendable until you realize that herbal fags smell horrible and taste even worse. So while it might have been healthier, it stunk far worse than real cigarettes do.

I just wonder if I would have noticed the amount of folks smoking and the astronomical numbers of cigarettes being smoked in the TV series if I had not quit in August. I have a feeling that I probably would not and that I probably would have enjoyed the show that little bit more. But be that as it may, I’ll continue to watch the show and keep trying to figure out brand names are on the cigarette packet. Not that I’m looking all that hard…

1920’s deadly sophistication.

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Categorised in: Entertainment, Personal, Reflective, Social, Television

5 Responses »

  1. the brand mostly shown smoked on the show is “old gold”

    Like

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog and the pingback :-)

    Like

  3. As a fellow ex-smoker, I always notice smoking these days. Worst are the 1930 and 1940 movies where I wonder how anyone can breathe at all, or, for that matter, see through the haze. The expression “smoke-filled room” really takes on meaning. It’s amazing they didn’t all day of lung cancer and/or emphysema … well, actually, come to think of it …

    Like

    • Yeah, a lot of actors had careers “killed” off. William Powell after he’d been diagnosed with cancer; was asked by a well meaning friend if he “needed anything.” His response was, “Yeah a cigarette sandwich.” Hard times and hard deaths…

      Like

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