ReBlog Wednesdays – “Coffee and Cigarettes”
It’s so cliché, it ought to be reviled, but it seeps into the soul hinting at deep mystery like a secret language. Anyone who has partaken in the ritual knows this to be true. It could be the late-night burn, the exclusive province of the paranoid, or the insomniac. Cups of black mud, king-size coffin nails burned down to the butt. An overflowing ashtray, the only benediction for the damned, or the desperate. Or it’s a clear morning on a concrete patio. The roast is dark, the cream and sugar have blended into the South American, or African pour to create deep notes of chocolatey bitter-sweetness. The flick of the lighter and the first drag of the day. Smoke billowing white in the morning sun. Could be Paris, Vancouver, New York, Madrid, it doesn’t matter. The scene is the same.
I still smoke and drink coffee, although never together. My coffee is relegated to a single, large cup in the morning. These days it’s a local dark roast by a company called “End of The World Coffee Co.” Their “Dark Winter” roast is smooth as silk. The morning cigarette is a thing of years past, though. As a rule, I indulge myself one cigarette per day, taken in the evening with a single cold Coors Banquet (or “Original”, as the Philistines in this country have decreed.) A ritual moment still, but not the solemn and transcendent one that used to start my day and feed many long nights.
“Coffee and Cigarettes”, as a piece, speaks this occult language. These days us smokers are like a rare breed of bird. Some sub-exotic nuisance species believed wiped out, but still clinging to our smelly, cancer inducing existence. Strangely enough, I remember reading that over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of cigarette smokers increased for the first time in 20 years, or some such thing. I’m not surprised. If the world is going to end, there is a sizeable percentage of the population that are going to decide to look cool as hell while doing it. Because smoking, however maligned, will always carry the cache of the rebel and the outsider. Perhaps now more than ever.
This piece hints at the rhythm of a Mark Lanegan song. It could very well be that it’s where the meter came from. I can’t be certain. If so, then it’s nothing if not adequately inspired, as I spent many nights, and even a few insomnia driven mornings drinking cheap commercial grade Joe, and chain-smoking to the lonely baritone of albums like “The Winding Sheet”, and Mad Season’s “Above” record. Mark Lanegan died last year, but if anyone spoke the secret language of the Coffee and Cigarettes society, it was him. He knew it deeply. It may have even been his mother tongue. Before I wrote this post, I had to double check when the piece was written, because I thought for a brief moment I might have written it In Memoriam, but no, it was penned back in 2019. Still, a fitting tribute, to him and so many more who found solace and inspiration in the ritual.
R.I.P. Mark Lanegan 1964-2022
I hope you enjoy the piece.
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*Picture Credit – Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. From the movie “Coffee and Cigarettes” 2003.*