Homesick for California
We moved from urban California to rural Washington five months ago – talk about culture shock.
Some of the things I miss about California: let’s see, orange air; bumper to bumper traffic everywhere, always; gentrification; Yuppies; having our humble Neon (or pickup) surrounded by BMWs and Mercedes’ everywhere we went…
And now this. Too f*ckin’ much. “Only in San Francisco” stories have always been a popular item in northern California (second only to “only in Marin” stories), but this takes the cake. San Francisco probably has more homeless people per square foot than anyplace outside of Calcutta, plus a sky-high crime rate. So what’s the top priority for the Board of Supervisors? Oooohhhh!!!! People are smoking in parks – we’ll get right on it!
Granted, smoking is an important health issue and everyone should quit (or not start) – for health reasons. But there’s a point where it’s no longer a health issue, and just becomes a chance for people who don’t smoke to feel virtuous and sanctimonious and to be appalled at the sight of someone (ugh!!) smoking.
I don’t smoke but my wife does; so do most of our friends. The looks and reactions we used to get in Sonoma and Marin Counties were not coming from a heartfelt concern for anyone’s health. It’s more like the looks you’d get if you walked into a black tie event wearing torn jeans and a dirty T-shirt.
In many cases, it’s an undeclared class war disguised as a health issue. If smoking was associated with people sipping Chardonnay and wearing $800 suits, there wouldn’t be any of this nose-wrinkling “eeewww, look what they’re doing” attitude. Since it’s mostly those lowly blue-collar types that still smoke (according to the stereotype anyway), they’re fair game. Have at ‘em!
Rob Reiner pushed for a state referendum several years ago to create a huge cigarette tax increase in California. All the proceeds would go towards a wide array of children’s programs. Radio and TV stations and newspapers were flooded with ads for all the wonderful programs that would be possible only if this tax were enacted.
It passed – barely (probably the closest statewide election this side of Washington’s current gubernatorial mess). I always liked Rob Reiner and the projects he used to work for, but he alienated a lot of his fans with that cigarette tax. I was glad to see him get dissed on a South Park episode. Archie Bunker was right, Mike: you are a meathead.