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.
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