Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Armes of the Tobachonists, 1630

I've never been to Amsterdam, but for some reason this is exactly how I imagine it.

Anyway, apparently tobacco, aka the "heathen weed," suffered a bit of a backlash in the 17th century. It was all well and good when Francis Drake brought it to England in 1573, for sure. Drake even got Sir Walter Raleigh hooked in 1585. In 1586 Tobacco arrived in English Society. That July, some of the Virginia colonists returned to England and disembarked at Plymouth smoking tobacco from pipes, which caused a sensation. William Camden (1551-1623) a contemporary witness, reported that "These men who were thus brought back were the first that I know of that brought into England that Indian plant which they call Tabacca and Nicotia, or Tobacco." [source].

A few years later, the Puritans decided that maybe it could get you high and was a devilish practice, what with all that smoke and burning embers and looking cool. This pamphleteer seems to have gotten carried away about the effects of smoking. This may in fact be the worst anti-smoking ad ever, because I have never wanted to smoke so much until this very moment. Although I will admit that the baby scrotum is a bit off putting.

Who knew surrealism was around in 1630? Now we all do. I hereby submit this image to David Lynch (or Luis Buñuel, if he weren't dead, or maybe Aronofsky) as the basis for a new trippy drug movie about a post-apocalyptic future in which everyone can buy psychotropic cigarettes that make you see shit like this. Although baby scrotums might be too much even for David Lynch. I imagine this scene would be scored by the Nat King Cole song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," which sounds nice enough to enhance the terrifying nature of the visuals (a la Roy Orbison's "Candy Colored Clown" from Blue Velvet.)


Lea said...

Although I will admit that the baby scrotum is a bit off putting.

Ah, but the poem says it's a "Man reverst."

So clearly it's okay, then.

meghan said...

This post reminded me of Robert Olen Butler's story about Sir Walter Raleigh from Severance-- ah, dying memories of a royal post-coital smoke!

I'm terrible at inserting links, but you can listen to the very short story at NPR here:

Now if you'll excuse me, I need a cigarette...

Doug said...

I actually just recently purchased a pipe for no apparent reason. A corncob pipe, no less, because I obviously think I'm Huck Finn or Frosty the Snowman or some shit like that.
I haven't had any visions like this, but I'll keep the Nat King Cole on standby, just in case.
By the way, have you noticed how often Lynch uses Roy Orbison? Blue Velvet also had "In Dreams" and Mulholland Drive had that cover of "Crying." Who knew Orbison could be so creepy, even when he isn't tattooed on Henry Winkler's ass?