Today I had my first drink of the year in an English pub garden. It was sunny and almost windless, and as I was driving home, on an impulse I stopped at a pub, and bought a beer.
And a minute or so after I’d sat down and lit up, the piped music in the garden started playing The Boys Of Summer, by the Eagles, or maybe by the lead singer-drummer of the Eagles, who was probably providing both the vocals and the chugging drums.
And with that it almost felt like summer had come.
And so I sat smoking and drinking in the sun, thinking about yesterday’s subject of discussion: an NYC councillor’s proposal to ban smoking while walking on the city sidewalks: i.e. an utterly tyrannical measure.
Last night I was thinking that if I lived in NYC, I’d bombard that councillor with emails. And I ‘d bombard his fellow councillors with emails. And I’d doorstep them. And more than that, I’d press for Peter Koo to be deported back to Hong where the little bastard came from back in 1971.
But I don’t live in NYC. So I can’t.
But as I sipped the beer, I wondered if maybe, just maybe I could.
Maybe I could become an undocumented immigrant? After all, Peter Koo is quite possibly an undocumented immigrant who arrived in the USA just like millions of others, And they’re welcomed by the Democrat party, because they usually vote Democrat, since they’re most of them on welfare.
Maybe I could get myself a home in NYC, with an address to go with it?
I wouldn’t actually ever go to New York, but I’d have a “home” there. And maybe that “home” would just be the house of someone I knew in the city. And they’d collect any mail that arrived for me, and answer any phone calls for me:
“Frank? He’s gone to England. Try again in January. He might be back by then. Bastard owes me a cheeseburger and a milk shake.”
And then I actually could start emailing Peter Koo and his batshit-crazy fellow councillors giving my NYC address. I might even manage to send them scrawled, hand-written notes. Who knows, maybe I could even register for a postal vote, given that Dems think it’s OK for undocumented immigrants to vote? Maybe, like Peter Koo, I could even run for office, given that the Dems think that’s OK too? Why not play the Dems at their own game, and bring in your own undocumented immigrants?
And since quite a few of my readers and commenters yesterday were about as angry as I was, why couldn’t a few of them do the same, and set themselves up as virtual immigrants in NYC. And bombard Koo and co with emails and letters and phone calls?
You could have a whole army of people parachute into New York.
Or anywhere else where an army of people were needed.
And the arrangement would be reciprocal. Want to be able to write to a British MP? Become a virtual English citizen, living in Herefordshire or wherever. You could email him direct, and give the UK address in his constituency. And you could even send handwritten letters to him, which would be opened and re-posted with UK stamps on the envelopes.
And that way you could build up a network of identities and addresses all over the world. In England, in Europe, in the USA, in Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
And every time you were needed anywhere, you could parachute in as another undocumented virtual immigrant.
It needs more thinking about. But it’s right in line with my belief that us smokers all over the world need to come together. We come together already in places like my blog and a few other blogs. And we come together in the Smoky Drinky Bar. And maybe we could also come together as virtual citizens of each others’ countries. And we could form a little Undocumented Parachute Regiment, parachuting in wherever needed.
And nobody would have to do anything much more than they already do. They’d mostly just be sending emails and letters, or making phone calls. No need to actually go anywhere. No need to do what I did at Stony Stratford, which was to drive across England and hold up a placard, and then drive all the way back.
I’m not really any sort of activist. I’m an inactivist. I like minimal action. I always look for minimal ways to do anything. I don’t regard writing my blog as any sort of activism: I think it’s a form of inactivism, because I write all the time anyway. I don’t think the Smoky Drinky Bar is activism either: all I need do is sit and smoke cigarettes and drink beers, and I do that all the time anyway. Even the ISIS survey was inactivism: I just sat in pub gardens like I always did anyway, and occasionally wandered over to talk to people I saw smoking.
Activists are people who do things that they’d rather not do. Activists are people who’ll march on streets and wave placards and stick up posters and spray-paint walls. Who wants to do that?
But I think a mobile army of inactivists could be very influential, if there were enough of them. And the nice thing about inactivism is that it doesn’t require much effort. So it’s probably much easier to raise and army of inactivists than activists.
Maybe I should do a poll of readers to ask them whether they’d like to become inactivists? Would they be prepared to offer their homes as the homes for a few undocumented virtual inactivists? Would they be prepared to write a few letters or emails? What were they prepared to do? And how often?
Rose brought up something interesting today:
“Since 1 October 2012, at least 1 legible no-smoking sign must still be displayed but owners and managers are now free to decide the size, design and location of the signs.
How about printing a few No Smoking signs that are the size of postage stamps? Or smaller?
And stick it on the back of the front door, right at the top?
That’s a very noble idea but it won’t work. The only thing that will work is mass civil disobedience. All of the smokers in New York need to come out in force the day it is introduced and start walking and smoking on any sidewalk, better still chainsmoke their way round the city on foot, smoking.
Yeah it was Don Henley on his own, a brilliant song and still one of my favourite 80’s songs. :-)
Or better still, form a smoking queue behind Peter Koo. https://youtu.be/rYHEX2ehR8A
All of the smokers in New York need to come out in force the day it is introduced
Since they didn’t do that whenever smoking was banned in NYC bars and restaurants, are they likely to do it when it’s banned on the streets?
This is one that I’d leave to Ms. Silk.
NYC Clash site hasn’t been updated since early 2017, however my understanding is she’s very active on Facebook and I have no doubt she and her group will have a plan of action.
You could offer your help, even a guest post if she needs it.
Re an address. Used exactly what you described for many years. Get a hold of a mail forwarder or, if you want bells and whistles, then get a virtual office in Queens to do the scanning and re-posting for you..
This sort of thing http://www.nybox.com/about/how-it-works/
There are literally hundreds in the greater NYC.
Re Gù Yǎmíng (aka Peter Koo). He was not born in HK, rather Shanghai was his place of birth in 1952. So the likely story is the family fled from Mao Zedong and the communists, then got into HK – very possibly illegally or (unlikely) because his Dad had some crucial skill and got a legitimate job there.
And regards his comments that we’re racists because we don’t read the crap about him in the Chinese or Korean media. He overstepped himself by including the Korean media. Koreans don’t give a flying fart about Gù Yǎmíng.
Yes, Audrey is active on Facebook. I’ve no idea why the CLASH website is relatively inactive.
But I don’t want to “Leave it to Audrey”. I think New Yorkers need help. I helped out with California Prop 29, and also in New Orleans. I’m trying to think of new ways to do that.
And a virtual office in Queens sounds expensive.
Koo was interviewed about it on a local news show this morning. Report below. To Frank’s point, though: anyone with a yahoo or google, gmail account can send an email that’s country-neutral. Not sure if actual addresses or zip codes are required (some council people have online forms) , but I can supply addresses/zips and e them to Frank who can e or fb message them around. In time, we can learn and share names, edresses of key council members. Let me know if there’s interest.
As for the interview: He has (only? or do we say as many as?) 4 co-sponsors (in a council of, I think, 51) but is “confident it will be passed” and urges viewers to call their council reps and the mayor. Q: He had the idea 2 years ago, why propose it now? A: Because “I suffer when I walk….Rush hour…elbow to elbow…walking behind…it’s terrible” And then those poor “babies in strollers…” [never mind that smoke rises ] Q how will it be enforced? How are tourists to know? A: people obey laws. We won’t “throw the book at them, it’s a civil penalty. If they’re caught they pay a fine…the police would enforce it as part of public health. and safety…
They also found a self-defined “reformed smoker” who agreed with the idea, and another, undefined, agreer, and one tepid opposer, suggesting that texting while walking was more “dangerous.” While a reporter cheerfully reported the great success that only 14.2% of New York state (note, the whole state) smoke.
Mr Koo, it might be added, has such an impenetrable (almost vaudeville-routine) Chinese accent, it was hard to understand him.
Byw, he has a fb page (search for Peter Koo) that anyone can post on, for openers.
I’m not sure I’ve seen many stores with children plying the avenues of Manhattan at rush hour. Beside that the avenues (north-south) have rather wide sidewalks and most streets (east-west, and multidirectional south of 14th Street) aren’t generally crowded (except in Wall Street and Midtown where some streets like 34th, 42nd, etc. have rather wide sidewalks. Back in 2011 they banned smoking in pedestrian plazas like Times Square (arguably one of the densest areas in the city).
In the other boroughs, I can’t see much sidewalk crowding in most parts of Brooklyn (maybe downtown), Queens (maybe Queens Plaza), the Bronx (maybe near some businesses on the Grand Concourse (which again has rather wide sidewalks), and especially not Staten Island–unless he meant Main Street in Tottenville (sarcasim).
This proposed ban isn’t based on reality. it is a construct toward incremental prohibition.
Not sure if actual addresses or zip codes are required (some council people have online forms) , but I can supply addresses/zips and e them to Frank who can e or fb message them around. In time, we can learn and share names, edresses of key council members.
In the UK, MPs only reply to their own constituents. You have to have an address in their constituency. And my current MP replies by email, usually to tell me that he’s sent a printed letter to me. So in the UK at least, it’s important to have a physical address.
I know it’s possible to get addresses and zip codes quite easily. But if someone replies with a printed or written letter, it needs to be intercepted and read. Same if someone phones.
As it applies reciprocally, I was thinking of just using my own address and phone.
Doing this sort of thing could also enable UK residents who want to write to some MP in another constituency to use someone who lives in their constituency as a proxy who’ll pass messages on.
Here they either don’t reply or emails are answered by email only. It’s ok to send raspberries to Koo but they won’t change his mind. ( tho I still suggest posting on his fb page just ftr.) Will try to find out who the other sponsors are and what committee this is currently in, but ultimately can get addresses in each district. I was once interested in legislation either in Virginia or something national sponsored by a Va. senator. I used a nonexistent address that was a couple of numbers off from a friend’s house that no one would know didn’t exist. On the very off chance that mail was sent it would be returned tho the senator himself doesn’t monitor the mail room and wouldn’t know it, and besides, could have just been a typo on my or their part. Long way of saying, don’t worry about it.
I have a call in to Audrey’s vm and will find out what if any plans she’s got.
OT Rant: I followed a link to an album review of the Kinks’ classic, “Something Else” which was posted earlier today. As a fan of the Kinks, I figured I’d give it a read to see how the album is being interpreted 51 years after its release.
I was appalled to find the reviewer, Luc Sante (whom I initially assumed was in his early 20s, but after a quick search discovered he was born in 1954), completely misinterpreted lyrics in order to spread his Antismoking prejudice (emphasis mine):
“The degenerate smokers”? You mean like this guy?
Oh, right. That’s Ray Davies. The “degenerate smoker” who wrote the fucking song.
Sante did enough research to know that “Harry Rag” is British rhyming slang for “fag,” but I’m not sure if he ever paid attention to the actual lyrics of the song. It seems like all he needed to know was that the song was about smokers. He probably couldn’t even bear to listen to the song after learning this. It’s as if he wished the song portrayed smokers as “degenerates.”
First of all, I believe (and please Frank and other Britons who lived through the late ’60s, correct me if I’m wrong) during the counterculture movement, the term “Harry Rag” was also appropriated for use as slang for a joint. Therefore, the “Harry Rags” Davies refers to in the song could very well be marijuana cigarettes, not tobacco cigarettes. In fact, I’ve always thought the lyrics were about pot. For example,
What’s more suitable to smoke when you want to “put [your]self to bed”: tobacco or marijuana? And for which would you need to “do anything just to get” one — tobacco, a legal product that you could purchase at pretty much every shop — or marijuana, which was completely illegal?
Secondly, the lyrics are in absolutely no way disparaging of those who enjoy smoking (be it tobacco or marijuana). In fact, I believe it is quite the contrary. The song is actually about the plight of the working class people of England. It’s about the simple pleasure one finds in smoking (whether it be a joint or a cigarette) at the end of a grueling, mundane day in order to relax and escape. There’s nothing “degenerate” about it.
It seems like there is Antismoking propaganda everywhere I turn lately. Fuck Luc Sante for trying to trivialize a great song and for using it as a vehicle to throw a cheap shot at smokers.
I’ve never heard of Harry Rag. But it’s probably Cockney rhyming slang.
According to this source:
Anyways, this brings me to the Kinks, who have a song called “Harry Rag” that, until I met the IT guy in Lampeter, has never made much sense to me. Harry Wragg was a famous British jockey, and his name, you might note, rhymes with “fag,” which in Britain means “cigarette.” (Let us pause to observe that “bumming a fag” means very different things in Britain and the US. Useful to know this, perhaps.) In any case, rhyming slang picked up on Harry Wragg’s name as a substitute for “fag” sometime around the 1940s; and so someone looking for a cigarette might very well say, “Ah, give us a Harry Wragg, will ya?”
In the late 1960s, things got more complicated still, as “Harry Wragg” became slang not just for a cigarette, but for a joint. And so, after years of loving this song, I finally understand what it means.
This is probably true. The Kinks were a 60s band, and Ray Davies would have known a lot more slang than I ever did, and he probably smoked pot long before I ever did. I think any reference to smoking anything in the 60s (and thereafter) meant something quite different to whatever it may have beforehand.
Thanks for the info, Frank. This pretty much solidifies my interpretation of the song. It absolutely doesn’t portray smokers as “degenerates,” and it’s most likely not even about tobacco smokers.
However, I’m sure the first time Luc Sante heard the line, “Do anything just to get a harry rag,” all he could think about were “filthy addicts.”
I’ve never cared much for music critics to begin with, so I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised to see this kind of closed-minded smugness. They’re just another form of self-appointed “experts.”
In addition, in the UK back in 1965 or so, there weren’t any antismokers. My Dr W was the very first one I ever encountered in my life. Shortly afterwards I began to come across one or two more. And when pot arrived in 1968, a lot of the potheads would say how much better for them joints were that carcinogenic cigarettes – but lots of them smoked as much tobacco as pot, because in the UK most joints were made of tobacco with cannabis resin mixed in (we hardly ever saw any grass).
It was really only in the early 90s that I began to hear more and more people worry about tobacco, and tobacco smoke.
So there’s no possibility whatsoever that Ray Davies could have been an antismoker. They simply didn’t exist back then, except in the high ranks of the medical profession, like Dr W.
Wonder if he understands what’s meant by old stoggies?
King of the Road https://g.co/kgs/Q4eEVT
The antismokers are the ones that should be recognized as ‘degenerates’. After all they sow hate, societal division, and intolerance.
I wonder what Mr Sante would make of this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXIAwQsgfcc
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To sum it up, we need an e-mail address for sending protesting letters. Not to Khoo, he’ll just ignore it. Does the Council have an e-mail address? Maybe Audrey could provide one? And I think we don’t have to be residents, we may say that we used to love the city, but it’s been bastardized by uglies like Khoo. If we are talking about an international army of passivists, it’ll have to train itself locally (and later fight locally). And why not in NY?
I think the days of letters direct to council members are over. Why go private (where no one but them know you’ve written and can find it’s way to a dusty draw) when you can go public!? In this day and age you can write “directly” to them while allowing the public to see that you have. Council members have Facebook and Twitter accounts. They also have one general “NYC Council” accounts in those forums. You don’t like Twitter? Tough shit. You know who does? Society. The media. Posts made on Facebook and Twitter are accounted for/referred to by those entities ALL. OF. THE. TIME. You want to “DO” something? Don’t whine “I don’t like Twitter.” Create a Twitter and Facebook account and use it just for these occasions — where the public and the media can SEE the opposition. And where the council critters can SEE that everyone else SEES. Also, this is one of the rare occasions where I think it’s a great benefit (maybe even greater than for NYC resident) to write as a tourist! No need for fake NYC addresses. Just this past week the focus in the news was on how great tourism has been in the city (the point was that the mayor said Trump’s presidency would kill it and he has been proven badly wrong). It’s not a pretty picture for the city to be chasing downs millions of tourists on its streets for a teeny (like spitting on the street) law about smoking. Tourist dollars are one of the city’s greatest economies next to Wall Street.
Sound advice, thanks.
NZ has lots of (smoking) Asian and European tourists too.
I’d created a twitter account a few months ago, inactive so far, and partway Facebook.
Although I’d eschewed both for years – until now.
Other networks like
seem promising as well.
And when you tweet,to these people add the NY Post @nypost