Dear David Hockney,
Your two letters to The Guardian, “The trouble with tobacco haters” and “The pleasures of tobacco,” and pretty much everything you say therein, has me convinced that you are kind of the coolest. You are, indeed, someone who is immune to the manipulations of advertising. You are looking out for number one, and you don’t care who knows it. Your acute awareness that “we have to die” someday makes me want to live for today, to hell with caution! (Ah, if only cigarettes didn’t cost $14 in Manhattan!)
The examples of smokers who died young used by Professor Simon Chapman, whose own letter in The Guardian attacked your love of sweet and pleasurable tobacco (“Patrick Swayze (57), Nat King Cole (45), George Harrison (58), George VI (56), Betty Grable (56), Mary Wells (49), and Beach Boy Carl Wilson”), cannot hold a candle to your own, more canonical life-long smoker examples “Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne” (George Harrison notwithstanding). Your doubts about whether medicine is even a science are delightfully cranky. You are the kind of person I would like to run into at a bar, and talk with about my distrust of doctors, the Internet and optimistic people in general, like that guy who I got in an elevator with this morning who said “good morning” to me and wanted to talk about the weather. That guy was a jerk. Also: You often wear cool hats (pictured at left).
Michael H. Miller
New York, N.Y.
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