An Open Casket of a Smoker, a Street Fair, and a Natural High

Jim Christopher Health Guide
  • This Sunday morning I arrived a few minutes late at the Center for Inquiry – Los Angeles, to help with our booth preparation for the 17th Annual Los Feliz Village Street Fair event, literally just around the corner.


    An entire street (Vermont Avenue) was blocked off starting at Hollywood Blvd. and stretching for a number of blocks up to Franklin Avenue. There were two performance stages – one at each end – and bands were scheduled to entertain throughout the event (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.).


    A volunteer from the center helped me carry the casket containing the body of the unknown smoker, a grotesque display poster, created years ago by COLORS Magazine, which has “attracted” countless individuals at such events, much like a train wreck would compel notice.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    The ravages of cigarette smoking graphically shown via male and female body parts pieced together in the display, startles, motivates, repulses, inspires: at day’s end, about 8 p.m., as darkness was descending, a twenty-something couple beamed at me, as I was beginning the casket pack-up.


    “Awesome, man!” was her exuberant approval. “Yeah, awesome!” was his exuberant agreement.


    Our center’s booth was visited, I’m very confident, far more times than it might have been, by folks of all ages and all walks of life, had the smoker’s casket not been on display.


    As I shared the SOS International addiction recovery component of our center’s booth with visitors, I met folks throughout the day who wanted to stop smoking, drinking, drugging. I presented each person with an overview flyer which included the website of this blog. The day seemed to pass quickly. An SOS volunteer came by to take event photos; he’d stopped boozing almost 20 years ago via SOS support group meetings at age 25. He finally stopped smoking “the occasional cigar” several years ago. “The occasional cigar” smell has long since disappeared from his person and his automobile.


    I walked the entire length of the fair twice, stopping at a popular frozen yogurt/fresh fruit emporium with some friends. For many years now, I’ve been able to taste bursts of flavor thanks to my freedom from tobacco.


    Each sound stage blasted top of the line talent via its performers.  Alternative rock, ballads, jazz thrilled applauding throngs gathered to hear every band and the music never clashed, due to the distance separating the two stages.


    In another part of the city, an annual Gay Pride Parade was in progress, and its influence of love, respect, diversity, and tolerance was also present at the Los Feliz event: one of the fair stage groups was holding forth, as I passed by during a booth break. A handsome vocalist (he was about 20, I’d guess) vigorously belted out the following lyrics: “Some people don’t understand, why I need a man!”  He strummed an acoustic guitar backed by three beautiful young women, another male guitarist and a violinist. The crowd surrounding the stage seemed mesmerized by the performance, including an elderly white-haired man who danced and swayed to the music.


    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    “How in hell does this tie in with nicotine addiction?” one might query. Here’s how: I realized in that magical moment of brotherly-sisterly love during a feeling of “all oneness,” my “natural high,” goosebump rush of humankind united was unimpeded by nicotine or booze. The barriers of my past addictions were no longer blocking my “oceanic” experience. I’ve felt numerous natural highs since I stopped boozing and smoking years ago. This particular glorious moment reminded me.  I felt empowered, renewed.  Other folks have shared having felt similarly after breaking the shackles of their individual addictions. There’s no toxic block to special times. 


    How are you today?  If you are nicotine-free, “Awesome!”  If you’re contemplating freedom from tobacco slavery, drink it in and take action.


    Visit the powerful resources on this website and I’ll see you at


    I look forward to being with you again next week.

Published On: June 11, 2008