Breakfast of Champions

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This single-sourced brush with greatness in a nearly deserted NYC park sounds a little too much like Kramer's celebrity sighting of Salman Rushdie, but if it's true, it means Kurt Vonnegut—muchmocked in these here pages—is a hero of liberty twice over: first for defying the city's cigarette ban, and second for proving a robust smoker can live to be 500 years old.

Update: Reader/smoker David Rollins notes that Greenacre is not officially a city park, so the no-smoking rule there is not part of the city's smoking ban (which apparently doesn't apply in parks…yet!).

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  1. Why is Vonnegut mocked on H&R? Who dare mock the great Kurt Vonnegut?

  2. Oh, wait, sorry. I just realized I should have probably clicked on the “much-mocked” links before asking that question. Sorry for the pre-emptive strike.

  3. I read “Breakfast of Champions” when I was thirteen or so. Quite by accident, it was one of the remanded books I pick up ($5 per brown bag full). I loved it, it was probably the first crafted American literature I ever read. I read most of the rest of his stuff over the next decade, and gradually figured out he was a purveyor of political obscenity. Still, the man could put together a rattling good yarn.

    Oh, and I LOVED his cameo in Back to School.

  4. I read “Breakfast of Champions” when I was thirteen or so.

    yea…I read it around then too. I think it might have had something to do with the drawing of a vagina.

  5. His “Player Piano”, I think, has more relevence today with reference to the Schiavo case. An alegory about technology vs. humanity, Player Piano disturbed me when I first read it. I’d love to hear what the author’s thoughts are today.

  6. They can’t even smoke in parks? What are they trying to do there in NYC, breed a race of super-weenies?

  7. Of course you can smoke in NYC parks. Greenacre Park is not a “real” park — it’s a slice of private real estate on which the owners have granted an easement to the city, probably in exchange for building some fantastically high (and evil NIMBY-despised) skyscraper. The corporation gets to set the rules, such as the park not being open 24 hours and (presumably) no smoking.

    I work next to Madison Sq. Park, which has a great burger shack run by the very trendy Danny Meyer (meaning it attracts a lot of yuppies and the NY equivalent of soccer moms, the Prada-wearing, MacLaren-stroller-pushing automatons who can’t stand the “real” NY). I like nothing better than lighting up with a beer and a cheeseburger. One of the things I like best about smoking is its inherently misanthropic attitude. And in a crowded city, it’s a great way to enforce your “personal space”.

  8. Googling reveals that some cities–including San Francisco–have banned smoking in their parks, but New York City does not seem to be one of them. At least, I could find no reference to its having done so.

  9. Inherently misanthropic? I disagree; there’s a good reason there’s a distinct and large category of “social smokers”

  10. In NYC, you can’t smoke in Bryant Park. And Bryant Park is a public park.

    Or at least you can’t smoke in 70% of Bryant Park. There may be a smoking area.

  11. The Park in question is private property.

    The Greenacre Foundation, which owns and masterfully maintains the park, also operates a reference center at 457 Madison Avenue (51st Street) in conjunction with The Municipal Arts Society.

    …the Greenacre Foundation, (founded two years earlier by Mrs. Jean Mauze, the former Abby Rockefeller

    http://www.pps.org/gps/one?public_place_id=70

    Nurse Bloomberg or not, if the GF allows smoking, or not, that’s their business. Has the city tried to outlaw smoking out-of-doors on private property, yet?

    Kevin

  12. I thought the Breakfast of Champions was “69.”

  13. In that case, I’d like some Breakfast of Champions, please.

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