About two years ago, I started spending a good amount of time at these underground, vaguely illegal dance parties. Despite the fact that the bouncers diligently enforce an over-21 door, nobody ever cares if you smoke inside. I'm guessing because they don't want people congregating outside the party door and blowing their cover. I can pretty much deal with the fact that when I get home, my hair and clothes reek of cigarette smoke. That's the price I pay for getting to dance all night and drink $4 beers. And in a warehouse, it's not so bad, with high ceilings that lets the smoke to dissipate. But the worst are the people who drunkenly smoke on the dance floor, waving their cigarettes around, blowing smoke in your face and burning you. Then they get self-righteous about it when you point out that your sweater has a cigarette shaped hole in it now, thanks to them. At this point, I would honestly prefer that you smoke a crack pipe on the dance floor. If you blew lines of coke on the table next to me, I would turn away, because it really has nothing to do with me. But when you light up a cigarette, you have to understand that you have just become everyone around you's problem. The reason why they are glaring at you and covering their mouth is because you've given them no choice but to be a part of your decision. You can say, "It's none of your business," but really, it is, the way a belligerently drunk person is everyone's business. I'm bored with the people congregated outside a bar near my apartment, that I have to walk through a haze every time I go by. And the people who smoke in the park when I'm trying to get a much-needed taste of fresh air. The people who reek so badly, they leave a trail of stale smoke in the elevator behind them. And the people who smoke as they walk down the sidewalk. Just hold up a middle finger to everyone behind you, please. Smoking is over. It's an incomprehensible bad habit that makes everyone around you (except for other smokers) annoyed. It smells bad. It makes your apartment repulsive. It makes you a chore to kiss. And it has increasingly become correlated with lower income and lower levels of education. Only freshman college students think it's cool. Only French and Italian people think it's normal. And it's only admirable for the rare badass souls over 75 who don't give a shit, like wealthy former socialites and fishermen. What really sucks is that I have friends--all party people--who smoke. In every other way, they are authentic, smart, and kind people. They just do this one thing that makes me not want to be around them. I just awkwardly pretend I don't see it and wander away, because I'm sure they know it sucks. (Though I did lecture one dear friend--hard--who decided to start smoking recently. Then I let it go and we shall never speak of it again.) It's sort of like having a friend who has terrible taste in men. You love them anyway, but it's a struggle to keep your mouth shut. At least with your friend who is dating the misogynist pig, you don't come away from hanging out with them reeking of bad choices, one step closer to getting lung cancer. And I've noticed something: people who live in Brooklyn and who like the idea of buying organic, locally-made artisan food, like smoking American Spirit cigarettes. This confused me, so I decided to do some investigating.
Health Nuts Love American SpiritsIt's not just people I know in the scene that smoke American Spirit, which come packaged in colors reminiscent of a kid-friendly dime store from the 50s, with an American Indian smoking a pipe on the front. It's been spotted clutched in the manicured paws of such It Girls as Chloe Sevigny, Alexa Chung, Alyssa Milano, Kate Hudson, and Kirstin Dunst. Katherine Heigl, from what I can tell, is an especially heavy and ardent smoker of the Spirit. Gwyneth Paltrow, lover of all things farcically healthy and organic and natural and overpriced, admitted to Harper's Bazaar that she smokes once a week, and her cigarette of choice is American Spirit. American Spirit used to set up an air conditioned tent and hand out free packs at Coachella, before giving out free cigarettes was banned. A 1997 report described American Spirit smokers as artists or activists, who read “hippie and intelligent/successful” magazines like the New Yorker or The Atlantic, and were likely to “hang out in Greenwich Village at a non-trendy bar” or “have friends over for dinner and drink microbrews.” That was in 1997, so replace Greenwich with Williamsburg, and you get the point. It's telling that my boyfriend, who lives in Williamsburg, gets American Spirit direct mail once or twice a year. I, who have lived in Gramercy for three years, have never received a mailing. A Chicago Tribune article from the same year said that health food stores were carrying American Spirit. A shop owner on San Francisco's Haight Street said he has a customer who no longer spit up blood after switching to American Spirit. Heartwarming. Of course, that was back in the 90s, but it still holds true. A vegan blogger wrote this past December, "I see how strange it is that I espouse a healthy vegan lifestyle yet I smoke cigarettes. I tell myself that I'm AT LEAST smoking American Spirits so I'm not inhaling as many chemicals (ha), but in truth, I know what I'm doing is hurting me in the long run. And in the short run." American Spirit packs were included in the "hipster traps" set around Brooklyn a few years back. And as one store clerk put it:
People who buy American Spirits fall into one of two categories: One, the kind of people who think that because American Spirits are, and I quote, “100% additive free natural tobacco”, that it means that it’s better than the “trash” those other simpletons buy (yes, a regular of mine did use the word “trash” to describe other brands). Two, the kind of people who think that because American Spirit is “natural”, and it has a pipe-smoking American Indian as a mascot, it’s, like, totally less destructive on the environment, man! American Spirit cares about the earth, and poor small-time tobacco farmers!When you get this many people who love craft brews and pickling smoking cigarettes, you end up getting reviews like this:
"The taste is unprecedented. The flavor is loudly bold for a light cigarette, but I see that as a plus because they do maintain a light yet balanced drag. One of my favorite things is how when I smoke these, I feel the urge to smoke less, not just because they're American Spirits, a cigarette done right, but I even crave these less ... because they leave you not only more satisfied, but also, for some unexplainable reason, offer a smoker a little bit more control over one's habit."It's like a combination of a review of a craft brew and quinoa. And I'm not sure what this tells you, dear reader, but I had to include this gem for entertainment value: "Oh my Buddha! These cancer sticks give me the case of the runs. because every time i smoke one of the american spirits i just flat out crap my pantie loafers." What pantie loafers are, I have no idea. I think that reviewer might just be a crackhead.