It’s June 1961 – You Live In L.A. – You Are Staring 13 In The Face – Your Burning Issue Is: “Do You Inhale?”
KDAY – Art Laboe – June, 1961 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Summer of ’61 – you remember. That was the summer you started smoking. Santa Monica – Station 8. You and your pals decide it was time. Your not kids anymore. You’re on a crash course to becoming one of the cool people. Todd and Buzz – Route 66 and wraparound Foster-Grants. Cigarettes appear – raided from dresser drawers and jacket pockets – your parents wouldn’t notice. Pack of Phillip Morris Commanders and a pack of Tareytons. One of the guys has the ritual down cold. Tap the pack hard four times. Pull the cellophane band in one stroke – tear open carefully – tap again – cigarette pops up. Like magic. Packs get passed around. You can’t decide – you take a Tareyton – guy next to you shoots a look and grabs a Commander. A tarnished Zippo lighter follows and you casually look for pointers. Cup your hand – turn away from wind – flick lighter – cloud of smoke – you’re in.
First drag has a gag reflex – its also burning the crap out of your lungs – you’re doing something wrong. You look around to see how everybody else is doing it – half of them are gagging but a couple are veterans. Take a half a second and then inhale. More like it – you’re head’s going to explode though – you’re having an out-of-body experience and you’re going to fall over. Couple more drags- now you’re in gear.
You settle in and start getting lofty thoughts – the world is cool – the world is possible. Manhood has arrived – you nod your head and flick your ashes and check out the music coming from hundreds of transistor radios all over the beach. The girls sitting on towels twenty feet away from you glance in your general direction for a half second. You stare at the water. The world is beautiful – the world smells like cigarettes and hamburger stands. The world has wraparound shades and Coppertone and you just grew a foot taller. Still haven’t figured out what to say to the girls twenty feet away from you though. The straight haired blonder-than-blonde blonde with perfect tan reaches into her bag and pulls out a pack of Tareytons. She lights – she inhales – she goes back to her book. She has to be at least five years older than you.
And to accompany that beach adventure – here’s an hour’s worth of Art Laboe, exactly as he sounded in June of 1961 over 1580 KDAY.