You May Not Be Interested in Politics, But That Doesn't Mean Politics Isn't Interested In You
So here in Austin a new ordinance is being proposed that would prohibit smoking in all bars and nightclubs. Proponents Onward Austin claim to represent workers who will "no longer tolerate unnessecary exposure to second hand smoke in public places". With that claim being made, you'd think they'd have broad grass-roots support from the innocent bartenders & musicians they are trying to liberate from the evils of nicotine occupation.
According to their website, they have the support of "rockers" like Marcia Ball, Shawn Colvin, Sara Hickman, and...uh...well that's about it. Clubs that support the proposed smoking ban include...well, at this point there are none. Supporters include the usual suspects like the American Lung Association, curmudgeonly ex-Austin mayor Gus Garcia, and the soccer mom contingent. Oh yes, the cliche "what about the children!?!" mantra has been sounded as Onward Austin vows to "improve the lives of youth" with this ridiculous ordinance and the useful idiots that make-up overprotective mothers and well-meaning dupes have responded predictably. But there are more of us than there are them!
In fact, the overwhelming consensus from the people this ban would most effect, the bartenders, club owners, and musicians, is a strong opposition the likes of which I have never seen in this town. This is life & death for a lot of people and will really hit your favorite clubs, their employees, and bands where it hurts the most...the pocketbook.
I play music because it's fun and it's amusing that people will pay to watch me get drunk on stage & bang out a few chords for 20 minutes. But that doesn't mean the dollars and cents don't matter. Even at the lowliest street level, it costs money to be in a band. Things like band equipment, equipment repair, recording costs, t-shirts, gas money, tour expenses, etc., etc., all cost money and when you aren't making a lot of dough at your day job to begin with, every dollar counts. The point being, whether someone is there to watch my band or smoke & pick up chicks, I get their money either way, and those are the only notes that count in the end!
And the same holds true for music clubs & their employees. Many of your favorite clubs are struggling to pay the rent and their employees. They count on the money that cigarette smokers pay at their clubs. This ban may be the fatal blow that a club like Beerland or Room 710 can't get up from. If you vote for this ban, you are not hurting the evil tobacco industry, you are kicking the little guy when he's down. As the smokers stay home, the bartenders need to reach further down into that tip jar for change to pay the bills, club owners become more hesitant to book new, unproven bands that aren't huge draws, and clubs can no longer afford to keep their doors open. And the next thing you know, that pesky punk rock club is long gone and a nice smoke-free Starbucks has taken it's place. Sounds like a real estate scam to me...
Economics aside, I have a problem with people who think the world needs to bend over backward to not somehow offend them. Jesus, I'm not a smoker either but I'm thinking of taking it up just to piss off the arrogant anti-smoking crusader lot. I find it extremely condescending that these people are taking up the anti-smoking cause for people who didn't ask for it...the bartenders, door guys, and musicians. We may act like children at times, but we will not be treated as such! If freedom of choice insn't exercised, what does it all mean in the end? Nothing.
This whole anti-smoking crusade is just another shot in the culture war being waged in America these days. From Janet Jackson's tit & the FCC, the Drug War, the Patriot Act, gun control, and Ten Commandments in every school room, it's cut from the same cloth. The next step is Big Brother decides what you eath and if your lifestyle is worthy of insurance coverage. Enjoy your new freedom. I don't know about you, but I'm stockpiling firearms, buying cartons of smokes & cases of Budweiser, holing up in the Carpetbagger Compound in the lovely Coronado Hills neighborhood, digging grooves in my Dils' records, watching pro wrestling in my boxers, ready for the shit to go down. How does it feel to be in the middle of a culture war?
For more info on why you should Vote No on the proposed smoking ban this May 7th, visit Keep Austin Free.