Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Life in LA: The Cigarette Woman


















As one who was once addicted to cigarettes, but finally managed to quit, I understand the lure and appeal of smoking. And as a then-new ex-smoker (this was 30 years ago), I swore on the proverbial stack of bibles that I'd never become one of those well-meaning but incredibly irritating born-again non-smokers determined to convert all their lost soul (read: still-smoking) friends to the joys of a smoke-free life. Nor do I ever want to turn into a sour old crank like Andy Rooney, whose professional-curmudgeon act on CBS's "60 Minutes" was tiresome twenty years ago, and is even worse today.

So I won't.

Still, I don't quite understand the actions of this young woman, who I spotted on the way to work one recent morning. With a burning cigarette between her fingers, she's clearly a smoker, yet she insisted on keeping the smoldering weed outside the car (so other motorists can experience the pleasures of second-hand smoke?) until her lungs were ready for the next infusion of toxic burning chemicals.

Presumably she enjoys breathing smoke -- after all, she's a smoker -- so why not keep the cigarette inside until all but the filter had turned to ashes? Why assume this very awkward and possibly painful posture?

Back in the day, I kept my cigarette inside the car until I'd smoked it down to the nub -- then I put it out in the ashtray. Maybe her car doesn't have an ashtray, or perhaps she was afraid she might burn a hole in her blouse, or stink up her outfit with the stale reek of smoke.

I really don't know.

This didn't bother me -- I couldn't even detect the smoke from her cigarette through the famously noxious LA air. Besides, although the Health Nazi Goon Squad would pummel me with tough-love clubs made from organic, free-range hemp for admitting such heresy, I kind of like the scent of second-hand smoke. Maybe it reminds me of my youth.

This just seemed odd to me, but then life in LA is nothing if not odd.

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If you’ve read this post, you know exactly how I feel about stunts and why. Still, although I haven’t enjoyed watching truly dangerous stunts since that ugly day, I have tremendous respect for the people who perform them, and love to hear their stories. So it’s no surprise that I was riveted by a “Fresh Air” broadcast this week featuring a long interview with Hal Needham, the acknowledged king of modern stuntmen – who by his own reckoning, remains the highest-paid stuntman in Hollywood history. Whether that’s really true or not, I don’t know, but this is a fascinating and highly entertaining interview. Whatever your feelings about stunts or stunt-people, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Patrick Goldstein had an interesting column in the LA Times last week, on the kind of people who make it big in Hollywood, where a degree from Harvard or Yale might help get you in the writer’s room of a sit-com, but won’t necessarily propel you to the top. That level of success requires something a considerably more basic than a fancy academic pedigree.

Needless to say, working below-the-line requires no such credentials. I'm trying hard to imagine some guy with an Ivy League degree hauling sandbags and mombo-combos or a cable cart full of 4/0 -- but no image is getting through the static. A fancy degree is just about the last thing anybody needs (or would want) when working in the trenches. But if you do happen to have such a degree hanging on your bedroom wall -- and have somehow fallen through the looking glass all the way down to the Hell-Hole of below-the-line toil -- I wouldn't recommend broadcasting the fact.

Believe me, you'll never hear the end of it...

1 comment:

boskolives said...

I'm thinking maybe it's a rental car with a non-smoking clause that carries a big fine on return with evidence of smoking, or.... perhaps her husband / lover / significant other wants her to stop smoking and she's promised not to smoke and she's on her way to pick up him / her / it and doesn't want any trace of smoke smell in the car?

Jerryw
www.boskolives.wordpress.com