The Allure of Cigarettes

“Je fume, je bois, je baise – triangle équilatéral.”
“I smoke, I drink, I fuck – equilateral triangle.”

– Serge Gainsbourg

While I am only currently a half smoker, I did previously smoke a lot for a few years, and I’ve always been fascinated by the allure of cigarettes. I’m sure I’m not alone. Today, I read design observer’s view on the modern assault on cigarettes, which leaves me thinking about what is to come in a day where the smoker is increasingly becoming a pariah.

Montreal used to be a city of smokers; one that, like any other modern city, received similar smoking bans to those of Toronto et al., where it would no longer be permitted indoors at all. This caused an epic struggle among our smoking population the likes of which has never been seen before in the city. Never mind what happened to the cigar lounges, whose living depends on that mystique.

But what is happening to the romance of cigarettes? People love seeing a classic movie star photo of a smoking rebel or artist (James Dean, say), looking distantly into the horizon with a certain attractive apathy. What will make the movie stars look this good now? How will the poets seem as tortured as they once were? I wish I was being sarcastic, but seriously, there’s a struggle here – how can I make myself look as good as i did when i was smoking, how can i give myself that certain allure, right? I don’t want to die, but dammit, I would almost die to look that good, to be that tortured poet, that movie star, in my mind’s eye.

That look is dying. That blasé attitude, a romantic blend of fatalism and rebelliousness, and I don’t think there is a single item as powerful as the cigarette that will ever resurrect it.

Is there?

(PS: This is a reprint from 2005. Thought it was interesting and worth re-publishing. Minimal editing.)





4 responses to “The Allure of Cigarettes”

  1. Whitney Avatar

    I think it’s been replaced by the latte, don’t you? Red Bull in certain cultures- but I think Coffee is our new prop.

  2. Rob Avatar

    Je fume, je bois, je baise – tous par moi…!

    Are you still smoking Julien?

  3. CT Moore Avatar

    Smoking makes you seem bad-ass for the same reason that fire-breathing dragons and angels-of-death are bad-ass:

    No f**king latte can ever make up for that.

  4. kali Avatar

    Be yourself. Really yourself, naked, raw. The good the bad the ugly. Care less about what others think of you or how you look. Be genuine, strip the masks.

    You’ve studied Buddhism? You know about ego.
    Destroy ego til the day you die.

    Cigs suck. They make you look like a moron and smell bad. And you should see what it looks like on the inside, in the only 2 lungs you got.
    (from an accidental occasional ex-smoker)

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