Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The Real Man: Searching for the Marlboro Man
After the funeral I spoke with a close friend of the Man. Leland June had known the Man since the seventies. He invited me to visit with him in southern Tennessee near the Georgia border. Contrary to popular belief the Marlboro Man lived there near North Potato Creek in a tiny burg called Turtle Town. Leland showed me the man's horse, Toby. Toby is a miniature horse, probably four and a half feet tall. The Man suffered from sciatica in later life and could no longer mount his "prop" horses in the ads. Leland told me that the Man liked to ride around on Toby in the backyard roping goats. What came as a shock to me was Leland's disclosure that the Man's funeral contained an empty coffin. Apparently he had been cremated with the express idea that his friends would smoke him once or twice a year. The Man thought it would be a good reminder to all about what went wrong with America and smokes. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to smoke the Man that afternoon with Leland June. June mixed some of the ash with some Bull Durham and rolled us a smoke. It was a powerful experience. As I stood there inhaling the Man I noticed that I could not get my head out of profile for a good fifteen minutes. "He was something," Leland said. "Not was, is," I corrected. For the rest of the day Leland walked around shaking his head, repeating the words "is" and "was", chuckling to himself.