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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Smoking

Did I ever tell you that my favorite magazine is GQ? That, and MAD Magazine. The best part of MAD is the little cartoons they have in the margins. Those are the best, but so often overlooked. Also, I like the the folding back page where it looks like one thing flat, but something else when folded as instructed. It's called the MAD fold-in, and has been in every MAD issue ever since 1964. Okay, anywho, I let these two subscriptions lapse but, today, I made things right.

But, GQ is my favorite magazine. I just love to read about all the little details that go into a man's wardrobe, and the funky things they think about. For example, in the March 2008 issue (the one with Eric Bana on the cover), there is an article about how married men pretend to be single. Can you believe that?! Good read. And, no, I don't read GQ to keep tabs on my bear. I just think men are cool--I LOVE THEM! I don't know why, but I so much rather read about men's fashion than women's. Also, they tell me a lot of neat things from a man's point of view. (Check out their London '007: A Man's Guide to the Coolest City on the Planet--not points of interest that a woman would find on her own, right? I would love to visit all of these places!)

Okay, but I have a bit of a beef with GQ's readers. The February 2008 issue featured Josh Brolin on the cover smoking a cigarette. In the March 2008 issue that I'm reading now, a few readers wrote in about how appalled and disturbed they were to find GQ trying to make smoking look cool. (I'll post the letters later.) Okay, seriously, folks, is this really that a big a deal? We have all these "truth" anti-smoking commercials and entire cities that are now smoke-free zones. But, we can't even photograph a person smoking and put them on a magazine without being criticized anymore?

Look, I don't smoke. I tried it once and didn't understand what was supposed to be good tasting about cigarettes. But, you know what? Smoking does look cool on some people. I mean, check out Brolin smoking (on the cover as well as on a couch). Are you really going to sit there and tell me those cool pictures do not belong in GQ??? Drinking and speeding kill (jointly and separately), but I don't see people complaining about those things.

Also, what about those guys in the 50s and 60s? I think they looked cool:



Of course, the girls were no slouches either:


It seems to me that smoking does come across as being cool if done correctly. So, here I am reading GQ, a magazine that is all about cool, and I see reader letters complaining about the use of smoking as a cool device. What gives? Smoking looks cool, people! I think the editors handled it correctly. They looked through their archives and found only two other issues that featured a man smoking on the cover of GQ. All they said in reply was that they were aware of and acknowledged smoking's detrimental effects to health. Geez, Louise, people. I might take up smoking just to protest all this aggression against smokers.

[edit] Marlene Dietrich needs her own section, but not just because she was such a cool smoker. She also visited troops back in WWII. Here is an account of what she did, followed by more cool smoking photos:

Oh how I learned to love the medical staff and the Red Cross people. It took over a month but I recovered. My outfit was somewhere on the outskirts or Rome, thousands of Americans were storming the Normandy beaches, and I was well on the way to recovery, thanks to the marvelous support and medical attention of the300th General Hospital in Naples, Italy. I was among three thousand patients crowded into the 1000 bed facility. I had recovered to the point that I was mobile. Everyone was expected to pitch and help. I opted to help the Red Cross. Under the direction of Miss Mary Breen Ratterman from Alabama, the 300th General Red Cross detachment was a life saving miracle in action. Ms Ratterman was one of God's special angels and she loved her soldiers. She assigned to escort a USO troop that was arriving to entertain the troops. Bright and early, about 7:30 a.m. one morning I stood at the main entrance and welcomed the troop. To my delight the headline was the one and only Marlene Dietrich! She arrived in a rush, she returned daily for an entire week, she remained and left in a rush. It was her style.

First order of business was a show, presented to the patients who were able to gather in the huge cafeteria/dining hall. Marlene sang, did magic tricks and told raunchy jokes. She was clad in a translucent, shimmering blue gown, slit to reveal those million dollar legs; speaking of nice legs, I was and remain a "leg man.". Before she turned the show over to her supporting musicians and entertainers, she hiked up her dress and paraded across the stage. Then she started tossing autographed blue garters to the audience. There was pandemonium, bedlam. Wheel chairs collided; crutches and canes became weapons as the men fought to capture a prize. The authorities had to stop the show to keep from adding to the casualty list. Marlene then began a relentless, seven day, dawn to dusk tour of the entire hospital. She visited every room except the quarantine ward. She sang, she joked, she gave autographs, she flirted; she ran from bed to bed and room to room. I struggled to keep up with her. She never stopped. She lived on cigarettes, coffee and martinis worked 16-hour days every day, and was a hell of a trooper.

At one time she met up with Rita Hayworth's kid brother. He was wounded and distraught because he couldn't get a message home to tell his family that he was recovering. La Dietrich marched into the hospital commander's office, commandeered a phone and put through a call from Naples to Hollywood. She was able to link mother and son, transoceanic.

She was middle aged, she was a mother, in fact she was a grandmother, but unlike any grandmother that I had ever met. She was kind, caring and fun to be with. She autographed a picture for me and even signed a cartoon-like drawing that my girlfriend then, later my wife of many years, had sent me. Unfortunately the cartoon disappeared from the letter I sent to Jane. I always suspected some dishonest censor. I even tried to trace it but to no avail.

Finally the week was up and Marlene and company moved on. It was a tearful good bye. Few entertainers matched the Blue Angel with her husky voice, her glamour, and her genuine dedication to the troops. When she finally left I had to go back to bed for two days to recover from the pace of trying to keep up with her.

You can be certain that I became and remain an avid fan, loyal to memory of Marlene Dietrich-the lady who laughed at Hitler, refused his command appearance order and poured body and soul into the WW II effort.



[edit] Here are the letters to the editor of GQ:
My girlfriend and I look forward to receiving GQ in the mail every month--and then we fight over who gets to read it first. We always enjoy GQ's mixture of fashion-related, funny, and serious material. But the appearance of a cigarette on the cover with Josh Brolin was distasteful. I don't know aboutyou, but I see cigarettes in the hands of slobs wearing double-breasted suits or bib ties, not in the hands of GQ men. If you want to smoke, go ahead. Just don't try to make it into a statement of how chic or edgy your magazine is.
Leslie Schumacher
St. Paul, Minnesota

As the editor-in-chief of the number one men's magazine in the world, don't you think it is your responsibility to monitor the cover images you show? By printing "Josh Brolin: Return of the Tough Guy" next to the subject holding a cigarette, you are basically claiming that to be tough you need to smoke. You have a responsibility to your readers and advertisers, and this has crossed the line. I hope next time you review your covers, you think harder about the effect a picture has, especially on readers who are influenced by such images.
Ori Zemer
San Diego, California
Here is the response from Jim Nelson, GQ's editor-in-chief:
The cover shot of Josh Brolin is not an endorsement of smoking. We recognize, and have seen in our lives, the severe health risks and addictive nature of smoking, and we think that Mr. Brolin should get hypnotized, but we also acknowledge that, no matter what the science demonstrates, some people will continue to smoke. We aren't trying to make it cool. We continue to believe that the future will be largely smokeless, and we know that's a good thing.
Also included in the March 2008 issue of GQ is this awesome picture of Leonard Bernstein sporting cuffs and...drumroll please...a lit cigarette! Who knew Bernstein was cute?

7 comments:

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

Screw smokers! Let's have some pictures of drunk guys!

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

Hey, NN. You missed my comment in TWoNNCotY V.

Cl. Panic said...

I agree NN. I received this month's issue and was surprised that so many people were angered by that picture. I mean, it's not like the cover of Men's Health for heavens sake!

Nonny Nu said...

Okay, folks, I posted the readers' letters and also an extra photo of Leonard "Cutie Pie" Bernstein.

Are you a fellow GQ subscriber, Cl. Panic? It's a wonderful magazine, isn't it?? My favorite section is the Style Guy Q&A section. He always has such a neat way of answering questions, and will outright tell the questioner that they are lame for even asking such a question in the first place.

Nonny Nu said...

OMG! Here's another great picture of a smoker. It's the Best Looking Man I've Ever Seen in My Entire Life smoking a cigarette! Here he is smoking again! Here he is smoking and playing pool!

But, for Man from U.N.C.L.E., here's Paul Newman with his lovely wife Joanne Woodward getting ready to get gassed with style. And, here he is in one of my favorite movies () drinking and smoking at the same time (such talent). Here's another one of him just for good measure. Okay, do you all see why I love GQ now??

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084855/

One of the best movies ever, I agree! Newman should have won the Oscar that year. And he is hot, as in SMOKING hot!

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