Albert Camus and Humphrey Bogart both smoked and looked good in a trench coat. Albert Camus, according to his daughter, enjoyed the frequent comparisons made between himself and Humphrey Bogart. I think American hard-boiled movies and fiction were as much a precursor to mid-century existentialism as say the philosophy of Kierkegaard.
The Green Party of Marseilles would like to ban the use of the classic 1947 Cartier-Bresson portrait of Camus. Why? Because he’s smoking a cigarette. The English-speaking world is now under the domination of the new Prohibitionist. These 21st Century Puritans want to ban relaxation. Pleasure will sometimes be tolerated in small appropriate doses. But the rest of the time you must remain on the treadmill, both literally and figuratively. The new Puritans might be as effective as the Old Victorians. Anglo-Saxon morality once again will triumph in the entire world.
Once or twice a month I conduct tours at the Spring Mountain Ranch. Spring Mountain is a Nevada State Park, about 14 miles from the border of Las Vegas. For many years the ranch was part working farm and part hobby farm. During the 1930s Willard George raised chinchillas on the ranch. In the 1950s Vera Krupp owned the ranch. Vera Krupp bought it after she divorced Baron von Krupp. Some of her wardrobe was given to the ranch by her secretary. Nobody wears chinchilla coats anymore, and no one would wear fancy clothes at a country house. My mother said I was lazy slob. Probably true about me and many other baby boomers. Little did our mothers realize that the slobs would triumph.
In Las Vegas, even the crooks lament the lost world of elegance. Remember the last lines of “Casino”, the 1995 Martin Scorsese movie? Ace Rothstein narrates over a panorama of tourists entering a new hotel, “Vegas will never be the same. It looks like Disneyland.” In the casinos polyester replaced chinchilla.
Last year I went back to New York. It was a retro journey. I wanted to eat a j and I wanted to visit a jazz night club. If it was 1960, the year I imagined it to be, I would have worn a suit to the nightclub and the restaurant. Back in the 60s, I did once in a while go to jazz clubs. In those days, the drinking age was 18 and even that rule was not strictly enforced. I remember smokey night clubs, the air so thick you could hardly breathe. Now, of course, clubs are smoke free but the decibel level is so high it’s almost unbearable. I wonder if in 2047 the decibel levels in public places will be tightly regulated and old guys writing blogs will reminisce about their memories of the old 100 decibel scene.
By the way souffle was pretty good and the jazz at Small’s was good too.