Friday, September 16, 2011

Smokin' Like A Villain

I’m not going to justify my enjoyment of smoking and drinking because it will inevitably result in a debate with some blue nose, usually female, who takes great pride in leading a supposedly sanitized lifestyle. The argument usually culminates on how the sanitized female will live forever, which of course raises my favorite question: Who the fuck wants to live forever? What are you looking forward to? Economic recovery? World peace? Another awful contest show on television?

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I want to talk about smoking. I first started smoking when I worked as a clerk in bustling downtown Los Angeles in the 1970’s. Girls in skimpy outfits stood on street corners around 5 o’clock handing out free packs of Winston cigarettes, and they just wanted to get rid of them sitting on those trays hanging around their necks. I liked Winston a lot, and soon tried out different brands to taste the difference in the tobacco.

I tried Kool menthols which made my sinuses freak out worse than pot, I tried lights which felt like smoking toilet paper, and I even tried old school unfiltered brands like Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, and Chesterfields, which Captain Beefheart once said should come with your own iron lung. I stayed with Winstons.

Owning cigarettes was only part of the ritual: Zippo lighters were the next step. I got a great one with an image by Robt Williams that Amphetamine Reptile used to sell back in the day. They sold lighters with images by Pizz, Dennis Worden, Gary Panter and Kaz, to name a few. Then you had to have a rockin’ cigarette case because those crush-proof boxes were garbage. I got a nice metal one with a Chinese dragon on it to match my Chinese dragon bracelet. A vice is incomplete until one acquires the proper paraphernalia for it.

One of my favorite stops in Palm Springs used to be The Tinder Box which had at least three cigar stores on every block. There’s a good one in West Hollywood, too, and I always like checking out all the smoking paraphernalia, like smoking stands for your sofa for that old lounge vibe. Cigarette holders are pretty weird, too, the longer the better. Some of the best smoking paraphernalia can be found at truck stops, so on that next trip to Vegas keep your eyes peeled for that Winchester rifle lighter.

I do confess to calling a moratorium on smoking several years ago when I started chain-smoking and having choking fits, which I no longer do and no longer have. When I did chain smoke, I didn't do it as weirdly as I've seen some people do it, which is lighting the next cigarette with the butt of the previous one that's burning out. Even as a smoker I found that practice creepy, quite frankly. These days things are different. I have one coffin nail a day and even skip a few days here and there. It’s not that terribly important like it was 20 years ago, so when I skip a few days I don’t start nervously twitching or overeating.

But if there's anything weirder than chain smokers it's the actual haters themselves. While some people object to cigarette smoke in patios they think nothing of toting their dogs. If there's an odor more offensive than Marlboro Lights it's the smell of a wet dog when I eat. Then there are those hipster parents that shoot daggers at me when I light up in front of their children like I'm the devil. These are the same clowns that think nothing of dragging their kids to the supermarket at 10 pm. Perhaps these Orwellian moms and dads are bugged because the kids look a little excited to see my cigarette case, lighter, and other tobacco toys in action. Roll over, Joe Camel!

The most extreme case of smoking hatred might be the time someone posted a movie review on the Independent Movie Data Base ( ripping into an old Cary Grant movie because he counted people lighting up 35 times in the film. His review didn't critique the nice set design, cool Edith Head wardrobe or dazzling performance by Cary Grant, no - cigarettes were lit up and smoked 35 times in this movie, so he hated it. What a freak!

Why do people smoke anyway? Why do people consider this recreation relaxing? I’ve always felt that smoking is the only time one can breathe deeply in a social situation and not look like a total freak. The calm inhaling of tobacco makes the body relax and stimulate the mind. So the next time you see me and my friends standing twenty feet in front of a building out on the sidewalk puffing away it’s because we’re chillin’ while the healthy blue noses are insanely screaming at each other driving on the road.


Busy Gal said...

Nice smoking accessories. I just hate smoke.

Kimchi said...

Amen Andy...

Anonymous said...

I'm a closet smoker, only my friends who are also closet smokers know... Went to visit my parents a few months ago and didn't smoke for two weeks. I felt great but started back up when I returned home. Thinking about quitting.....
Saw J Edgar yesterday and noticed the end credits had a disclaimer that production didn't receive anything from tobacco companies. Never noticed that before in end credits.