The issue people take with trend pieces is that [this thing] should be [that thing]. That's not the problem with the "People are Illegally Smoking in New York Bars" pieces, because breaking laws is always trendy! The problem is...
They're just like cigarettes!
1. They all pretty much look the same. Observe:
On the top: "Blowing Smoke at a Ban," Douglas Quenqua, New York Times, 12/31/09.
On the bottom: "Inside NYC's Smoking Speakeasies," Sara Cardace, Page Six Magazine, November 28, 2008.
2. They generally taste the same.
It starts out with what I like to call The Bloomberg Razz:
Page Six Magazine:
It's been five years since Mayor Mike Bloomberg banned smoking in bars. And no offense to Hizzoner, but if this is the best the city can do to put an end to nightlife cigarette culture, we can kiss all hope of a balanced budget goodbye.
New York Times:
Clearly, Mayor Bloomberg didn't make the guest list. Six years after New York City passed a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, it is easier than ever to find smokers partying indoors like it's 1999, or at least 2002.
They also must have empathy from club people:
Page Six Magazine: Former MisShapes doorman turned publicist Thomas Onorato is sympathetic...
New York Times: Mike Satsky, an owner of a new meatpacking-district club called the Provocateur, in the Hotel Gansevoort, acknowledged that some owners did turn a blind eye.
And something from local government people about compliance:
Page Six Magazine: A spokesperson for Bloomberg tells Page Six Magazine they believe the compliance rate to be at 94 percent.
New York Times: Elliott Marcus, an associate commissioner of the health department, said that he knew where the trouble spots were. "It's these high-end places for people who think that the rules don't apply to them," he said.
...And citations by bloggers!
Page Six Magazine: I think the fines are actually extremely low," says nightlife blogger Scott Solish of DownbytheHipster.com.
New York Times: In November, Eater.com called it "the worst kept secret in New York nightlife" that "smoking is now allowed in numerous nightspots, specifically just about any and every lounge and club with a doorman and a rope." A few weeks later, GuestofaGuest.com, a blog about New York clubs and bars, posted a "smoker's guide to N.Y.C. nightlife."
They also must name names!
Page Six Magazine: Rose Bar, Beatrice Inn, Citrine, Libertine (which is where the stock photo is from), SubMercer, Home, Guest House, GoldBar, Circa Tabac.
New York Times: GoldBar, Beatrice Inn, Avenue, Griffin, Tenjune, Provocateur, Butter.
Which brings me to my next point:
3. They're bad for everyone! Especially smokers. When you rat a place out, smokers will no longer be able to smoke there. They'll go to the other places that they can smoke, and those places will lose business, or receive fines for violations, until all the smokers are out of places to smoke but outside, and then the government tells us we can't do that! But really, they just piss off nightlife people and operators and smokers. The only people they're good for are non-smokers, who will always have smoker friends, who now secretly resent them for their stupid victory. It hurts friendships. And what do they actually do? They're not servicey, and no smoking-trend piece has ever gotten a quote from a policy maker about whether or not changing this policy will actually have any kind of effect! Finally,
4. Also, if you try to relight an old, shoddy one, it tastes AWFUL. Especially in the case of the art used by a photo editor for Quenqua's piece, which—the crafty little buggers at NYTPicker pointed out—included a shot of infamously dead-by-maybe-scary-Scientology-suicide artist Jeremy Blake. Gross! And also, totally inept!
NYTPicker also points out that Quenqua speaks of a "new brazenness" with which New York's smokers are smoking in places that they shouldn't be while his piece prints photos of three year-old tragically dead artists his newspaper ran an obituary on. Unlike cigarettes, which kill, this smoking piece brought Jeremy Blake back to life! Except not, and that's kind of fucked up! Maybe the photo editor was too busy looking for a place to smoke. Well, if he has one, he shouldn't worry about being found out. Because the NYC Health Department's too stupid to look in the right places:
The department has increased late-night smoking patrols. Undercover investigators roam the meatpacking district, the Lower East Side and Astoria, Queens, in what Mr. Marcus called a "cat-and-mouse game."
ASTORIA? People don't go out in Astoria. Ha! Yeah, we shouldn't really be too worried. Most of us who know where to smoke will keep smoking in our smokey places, and non-smokers can go to their sober unfun-bars. Though if you want to smoke in New York, you can do it legally at the aforementioned Circa Tabac or the wonderful Hudson Bar and Books! Oh, and also, smoking will fucking kill your ass.
See. And that's how you do a smoking trend piece: fearlessly servicey.