Monday, October 19, 2009

Smoke up Johnny

Smoking in Bars

I've never been a smoker. I mean, I've smoked, and for a regrettable 9 days in the spring of 2006, I tried to become a smoker; but for the most part, I think I've probably bought 11 packs of cigarettes in my life. In addition to this, I'm not a drinker. This may come as a surprise given my profession (bartender), or my roommate (Olsen), but I probably have no more than three drinks a week. I think being drunk sucks, and the alcohol that I like to consume is too damn expensive in this town. All of this being said, I think one of the greatest travesties in this country over the last decade has been the vilification and criminalization of smokers in bars and restaurants.

Last weekend, I watched Chasing Amy, which, given its place amongst mid-90s icons, holds up today. The movie made me nostalgic for many things—clothes, language, New York—but more than any of these things, the movie made me nostalgic for a time when smoking in public was not such a stigma. It made me nostalgic for sitting at a bar with people my age, talking about things people my age talk about, and going through half a pack of cigarettes throughout the night. (How I became nostalgic for an activity that I have no memory of ever participating in, I don't know).

Unfortunately, my generation grew up in the Nancy Reagan, "Just say no," drugs are bad but booze is good, "smoking kills" horseshit era. They lambasted us with classes in school and lessons at home with how bad smoking is. They ran commercials on TV reminding us of the dangers of cigarette smoke. Ironically these commercials ran in between commercials for fast food and inane busy-time tv that corrupted my generation into believing that the couch was more valuable than the front door. Wait, you mean sucking down tar-filled smoke into our lungs isn't good for us? You're shitting me?!?!? Oh shit!!!


But the worst thing they did was make smoking—the act of smoking as opposed to the act of consuming nicotine—a bad thing. I remember growing up and looking down on smokers. I remember learning that my grandparents had been smokers in an earlier era and thinking of this as some sort of incurable character flaw. Something was wrong with them, so surely, someone that chooses to smoke today is bad. And I'm not the only person that was indoctrinated with this garbage. We all were.

Smash cut to twenty years later when we, of legal drinking age, head to a bar to consume alcohol, eat garbage, and do everything possible to end the night in a stranger's bed. All of these things are not only acceptable in society, but encouraged. These are the noble things that our generation does. But if you want to have a cigarette, you have to go outside. FUCK YOU, and I don't even smoke!

It all started here, in Los Angeles: a city where people feign a health-conscious, environmental lifestyle for all the wrong reasons. People drive Range-Rovers on their way to pick up low-energy light bulbs. They buy crates of organic fruits and vegetables despite the devastation of land that these farms exploit. They pretend to care about world issues despite shopping for clothes made by 8 year olds in Bangladesh. And they spend RETARDED amounts of money on staying healthy. Recently it was brought to my attention that certain gyms in this city cost up to 120 dollars a MONTH to join. Obviously this unreasonable fee is for those SoCalites who need EVERY angle possible to feel better about themselves including pretending that their treadmill is better than the one down the street. Hey retards, guess what, everyone is laughing at you.

It is these people who convinced lawmakers that banning smoking around food would be a good idea. "Yeah, how am I supposed to shove my 8 oz. bacon cheeseburger down my throat while my lungs are being poisoned by second-hand smoke." Meanwhile, they stripped the rights of millions upon millions of people that have been smoking since the dawn of FUCKING time. And while I sit here and try to point out the obvious contradictions in these retards' arguments, I offer you this argument:

Bars are not supposed to be health clubs. Bars are where subversive things happen. And there are bars for EVERYONE. If you are a health-conscious, not-that-fun person, I'm sure there are plenty of bars for you. But for the rest of us, those of us who's idea of a bar is a dark, smoky, subversive place romanticized in every genre of film and literature from the Old West Saloon, to Marlowe's Hollywood, through Woodie Allen's Manhattan, we need certain things, like scotch, sexy women, and cigarettes. Bars are not for children. They are not for people paying 120 a month for a gym. Bars are places to meet girls, places to get in arguments over politics, history, music, and sport. Bars are places to see bands, consume poisons that we have cleverly renamed "liquor," and inhale large clouds of first-hand, second-hand, and if you're there long enough, third-hand smoke.

It is unfortunate that we have been indoctrinated by the same assholes who give us BULLSHIT like American Idol, Budweiser, and Jay Leno, to believe that not only are cigarettes bad, but so are smokers. And please believe me I sympathize with those of you who feel as though bars are better places without smoke, but after growing up in a bar and working in one my whole life, I can assure you that there are not as many of you as you think. You are a very small and meaningless minority who do not come in enough, do not drink enough, and do not understand exactly what it is a bar is there for. Next time you roll into a bar six-deep at 11:15 PM and you walk past that group of 15 people huddled outside around an ashtray, remember that they've been there since before the band came on, they are drinking more than just a round of Bud Lights, and contrary to you, they don't give a FUCK what you do at a bar.

And if you happen to be in Santa Monica, the town that my bar is located in, you won't see this group of people; for in Santa Monica, smoking is all but illegal outside of your own home. So to those of you who think that you have made the world a better place, remember that taking away someone's right to smoke is the same thing as taking away their right to have an abortion. If you want a smoke-free environment, go back to your overpriced gym and please leave those of us who are nostalgic for a time that they can't even remember alone with our booze and our smoke. Thank you.

1 comment:

Shervin said...

Fantastic post Matt. I am posting a link to this on my own blog. Nice work.