Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Barry Smith
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

Perhaps you heard – fitness guru Jack LaLanne died last week. And, perhaps you didn’t hear – so did Uncle Tony.

And no, “Uncle Tony” isn’t a fictitious character that I’ve created for my own semi-comedic purposes. Uncle Tony is the real name of a real person – he was my wife’s uncle.

So why mention Uncle Tony while on the topic of Jack LaLanne? Good question. As far as I know, Jack LaLanne and Uncle Tony never met. And you’re not likely to find two men with less in common. Here, let me show you:

• Jack LaLanne lived in California, home of fad diets and exercise gurus. Uncle Tony lived on Staten Island, home of lots of pizza parlors.

• As part of his diet, Mr. LaLanne stressed the importance of fresh fruits, vegetables and vitamins. Uncle Tony ate a lot cheese. He also liked chicken cutlets, lasagna, crumb buns, and Italian deli takeout.

• Jack LaLanne routinely swam major channels of water, sometimes handcuffed, and often towing various boats behind him. Uncle Tony rode the Staten Island ferry countless times, often carrying bags of bagels and, on special occasions, sausage.

• Jack was vivacious and peppy and outspoken. Uncle Tony mumbled so profoundly that, not unlike Jeremiah the bullfrog, I literally never understood a single word he said.

• The Jack LaLanne Power Juicer was designed to provide the nutritional benefits of fresh, homemade juices. Uncle Tony preferred to chew things, especially the ratty end of his cigar butt.

• Jack LaLanne opened his first gym in 1936. This is right around the time that Uncle Tony opened his first bottle of whisky.

• Three hours a day was spent on exercise at LaLanne HQ. Uncle Tony spent at least that much time tinkering with his Alpha Romeo. Then, in his later days, on watching game shows.

• Jack LaLanne changed our culture’s concept of health and fitness by introducing exercise as a lifestyle. Uncle Tony, well … didn’t.

See what I mean – not much in common.

Oh, except for that one thing: They died within a few days of each other, and they BOTH LIVED TO BE 96!

Uncle Tony checked into the hospital last week and passed away two days later. He was married for 65 years, seemed to enjoy his life, wasn’t obese, and as far as I could tell was a pretty nice guy. He didn’t bother talking about longevity, he was too busy doing it.

So what am I supposed to take from this? Jack and Tony, radically opposing approaches, yet they both made it to the finish line at the exact same time after an impressively long race.

There’s plenty of information out there on the LaLanne philosophy and methodology of living a long life. But I fear that, unless I intervene, Uncle Tony’s secrets will go unrecorded.

I’m not claiming that Uncle Tony’s choices are better than Jack’s, and I in no way want to downplay the importance that Mr. LaLanne has had on the lives of so many. I’m just saying that if your goal is to live to 96 – like Jack LaLanne did – well … Uncle Tony did it too.

So, you might want to clip-n-save …


Week One: Cigar, whisky, cheese, Wheel of Fortune.

Week Two: Whisky, cheese, cigar, Jeopardy.

Week Three: Repeat week one.

Week Four: Etc. …

(Repeat until age 96, then take a well-deserved break.)

I realize that new workout routines can be challenging, and some of you might have a hard time adjusting to this one. At first you’ll be tempted to fall back into your old habits of deep breathing, healthy eating and regular physical activity. Hey, nobody said The Uncle Tony Longevity Workout would be easy. Like any worthwhile pursuit it’ll take some discipline, but isn’t a long life ultimately worth it? I mean, 96 years! Damn!

So, what are you waiting for, maggots? Grab a cigar and a hunk of cheese and get to work! Your life is calling!

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