Sunday, October 7, 2007

Smoking, slavery, and Why i didn’t come to your show last night

Current mood: annoyed
Category: News and Politics
This might just be my most controversial blog to date. I'm not a confrontational person, but I do have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I have an opinion. You're entitled to your opinion, as long as it doesn't bother anyone else. Obviously, that's a basis for a lot of our freedoms in this country. And smoking in my face at a non-smoking bar is extremely invasive, FYI.

To those bars in Louisville who are actively ignoring the city-wide smoking ban: just who do you think you are impressing? Are you proud to be making my throat hurt and my eyes water after playing what was supposed to be a non-smoking show? Are you happy that I stepped inside your bar for 30 seconds last night, and my hair STILL smells like an ashtray? Are you glad to know that my throat doctor told me to quit smoking, when I've never smoked a cigarette in my life? And that my throat looks like that of a smoker's because i used to sing in bars for a living? Do you honestly think that allowing smoking in your club despite the ban is something you will be PROUD of in 25 years? I think it's embarassing, especially having toured the country playing music over the last year, and noticing that the rest of the country figured out that secondhand smoke is hazardous YEARS ago, apparently.

Just like the rest of the country figured out that slavery was bad, and it took Kentucky until 1976, yes nineteen-seventy-six, not 1876, to ratify the 13th Amendment. And then there's the fact that slavery was legal in Kentucky after the Emancipation Proclamation. Way to go, guys. Did everyone back in 1865 just take up a collection pot for when they got busted with slaves? Still probably cheaper than paying minimum wage, i guess. (And to be fair, we should now laugh at Mississippi, who was officially the last state to ratify the amendment that abolished slavery -- they took until 1995.)

Has Kentucky ALWAYS had this i'm-not-gonna-play-along complex? Don't get me wrong, here, i love living in Louisville. Were my canvas not already covered in freckles, i, too, would have a fleur-de-lis tattoo. I have tobacco growing and flowering over 6-feet-tall in my front yard. (Hey, i'm into gardening, and the pink flowers are gorgeous). I'm typing this with my bare feet in the air, bluegrass on the radio, and a bourbon in my hand.

BUT... Why are we always so late to admit certain things? Not so long ago, all across America, people could smoke in grocery stores and hospitals. Hospitals. And elevators. I think I speak for the 80%ish of Americans who don't smoke when i say: Ewwwww.

So, d.w. box, I'm sorry I missed your show last night. I stepped in for about 30 seconds, and had to leave. Same for Johnny Berry. I wanted nothing more than to dance all night to my favorite honky-tonker. But I'm not spending money in establishments that flaunt their defiance of the smoking ban. And I'm sorry that YOU and your band had to breathe it when you were at work, putting on the fabulous shows that you do.

Have a little respect, folks.

And to the in-your-face-smokers, please don't give me that crap about your civil liberties. I'm not alone in wanting to listen to the fabulous music this town has to offer and still be able to breathe. I also saw several other people walk out of bars for the same reason.

I know i'm one of the few musicians with a loud enough mouth to support the smoking ban. But i know a TON of you music-lovers out there who have gone out for the first time in years because you can finally enjoy a smoke-free environment. Smokers, do what you need to do -- but please don't yell at me when I ask you to smoke outside.

And club-owners and musicians, i know a LOT more people who would come to your shows if they were promised a smoke-free evening. It's nice to be able to take a shower before you go out for the night, instead of right before you go to bed.

I also want to publicly thank a few of my favorite local bars that are smoke-free, fresh, and fun: Gerstle's Place (LOVE monday night bluegrass with Steve Cooley, Larry Raley, Stephen Couch)
Monkey Wrench (stopped in last night for the Wax Collective featuring Woodrow on the Radio, Matt Anthony, and Kim Sorise)
Nachbar (always a good time, and NEVER a cigarette inside)
thanks for helping me breathe easier. support the bars that support your health.

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