Friday, May 2, 2014

Nurse the Hate: The Smoker's Lament

Allow me to let you into the inside of an indie rock scene.  Let me give you some real “inside access”.  This is an issue at the top of many small time touring rock band discussions right now.  It’s a shocker…  I have received word that Nashville stalwart live music club The 5spot stunned regulars by going “smoke free” without warning last week.  In what can only be referred to as a “shocking turn of events”, local Nashville rummies like ex-Daredevil guitar player Bob Lanphier will be forced to shuffle outside to smoke.  While this is the normal course of action for almost every club in the United States, Nashville has stubbornly hung on to the idea that each venue makes their own decision regarding smoking policy.  The worm has apparently turned for Bob and his musician scenester friends at the 5Spot.  I couldn’t be more pleased for my own selfish reasons, but let’s take a look at the fallout, shall we?

I always find it a shock to the system when I walk into some backwards ass place where you can still smoke inside.  While recently in St Louis I discovered that not only is smoking permitted, it must be encouraged.  I didn’t know.  I only packed a couple t-shirts and underwear for the weekend.  Who thinks about multiple pairs of pants for a weekender?  My jeans after the first night smelled like Keith Richards on the Rolling Stones 1982 American Tour, dirty and spent.   My stomach did a flip flop when I had to put them back on Saturday morning.  I think we can all agree this is an unfortunate side effect of being in a small bar while people chain smoke Marlboro Lights and drink plastic cups of Bud Light.  It’s grim.

The smokers are all worked up in Nashville though.  It is sort of like the Five Stages of Death.  Today in Music City they are definitely in Stage One: Denial and Isolation.  I heard lots of talk today about people not going out and staying home to “mull it over”.  What exactly they are “mulling over” I don’t know.  There are two options really.  They will have to stand out in front of the door creating a “cloud of death” for entering patrons or enjoy the bleak back parking lot which may be dressed up as some sort of Smoker’s Paradise with a picnic table and/or potted plant.  Many of these guys are total creatures of habit in East Nashville.  They spend a shocking amount of time standing in a ten foot radius, talking to the same core group of friends while they all smoke heavily.  The idea that this ritual will be slightly changed has definitely unhinged many of them.  While it is only walking seven steps out the front door, the risk that they will lose their bar stool as well as interrupt the flow of their regular night has been quite a blow to absorb.

I think Stage 2 is Anger.  That will probably happen this weekend.  There will be lots of shit talk about how “I’m not going there any more man!  I’m going to be spending a lot more time at (insert name of bar that will still let them smoke here).  Those guys are going to lose a lot of business!  Almost everyone I know is saying the same thing!”. 

The one thing we know is that smokers have never been good at organizing a counteroffensive.   As a group they are beaten.  There is really no logical ground to stand on to allow smoking in a closed public place.  I also think in the back of their minds they know two things. 

  1) The bar will continue on unabated.  While maybe some people will spend less time in the bar itself buying drinks, that will be far outweighed by the vast majority of people that don’t want to smell like Chris Robinson of the Black Crowe’s fringed Indian leather jacket at the end of the night.  The 5Spot will continue and they'll be fine. 

  2) They will still go to the 5Spot because that is where their friends hang out.  As far more people are non-smokers, or at least smokers that aren’t hardcore enough as to need 17 cigarettes in a two hour visit to the establishment, they will adjust to having to stand outside smoking and give other entering patrons the evil eye as they walk in.   When Ohio went non-smoking all the media sources speculated about how it was going to “kill the bar business”.  It didn’t.  People went outside to smoke even if it was sleeting sideways.  Life continued.  The smokers had lost.

Stage 3 is Bargaining.  I would imagine Bob and his group of regulars will try to find some sort of basement or side room where they can smoke.  Some kind of secret clubhouse.  Maybe they’ll see if they can make the bar “smoking” on a specific day.  They will find themselves settling for something that only a week ago would have been unthinkable.  The worm has turned so fast on this thing, that even now they are still two stages away from being able to formulate some sort of Hail Mary pass for a special area.  It will be an act of pure desperation, one that will make them uncomfortable even thinking about.

Stages 4 and 5 are Depression and Acceptance.  There will be lots of staring into drinks over at the Three Crow Bar across the street, mumbling about “the good old days” when a guy could fire back a pack of smokes while ignoring the band over by the soundboard.  Eventually though, there they will be… shivering in the cold in the front of 5Spot with a hand jammed in their pockets, trying to finish a cigarette and get back inside where their faithful stool by the soundboard will be waiting for them, the band laboring on somewhere in the distance. 

God speed my smoking Nashville friends.  It’s been a hell of a week for you.  I’ll be there next week with my boots on the ground.  By the way, I’m only packing one pair of jeans this time…  Is the HiWatt smoke free too? 


At May 2, 2014 at 7:02:00 PM EDT , Blogger Bobdontgiveaf#ck said...

Frankly, your rant both surprises and offends me sir. I don't feel the least bit bad about your 'smelly dungarees' and care not a whit for your smug opinions on how my friends and I choose to conduct ourselves. Sniveling fitness magazine cover boy wannabes like yourselves would perhaps be best served sticking to things you know about: ridiculously over priced foreign sports cars, GQ inspired men's wear, body waxing, and those restaurants where they serve tiny portions of unrecognizable food for lip smacking corporate drones who are just like you in every aspect. If you come to Nashville, I'll stub my cigarette out in your eye, then go home and sleep like a baby. Your comfort is not my concern.

At May 2, 2014 at 7:18:00 PM EDT , Blogger Bobdontgiveaf#ck said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At May 2, 2014 at 8:10:00 PM EDT , Blogger old man taylor said...

Sniveling fitness magazine cover boy wannabes
this should be the title of the whiskey daredevils box set.

At May 2, 2014 at 8:12:00 PM EDT , Blogger old man taylor said...

and Leo P Love should be on the cover.full frontal

At May 2, 2014 at 9:38:00 PM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

I would respond to your comments more fully, but am busy getting a manicure and having my expensive designer jeans pressed by a tailor named Mr. Alex. Get outside in the rain and enjoy your cigarette but stay away from the door lest your smoke ruin the taste of our dacquiris!

At May 2, 2014 at 10:23:00 PM EDT , Blogger old man taylor said...

the first cuticle is the deepest
-cat"peace train"stevens


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