Clarksdale is Smoking …

Cigars smokers at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.

Cigars smokers enjoying themselves at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.

A Whim by POOR WILLIAM, a reformed smoker and libertarian

(Clarksdale, Mississippi)

Smoke! What you gonna do with it? Put it out? Fire it up? Run from it like the plague? Grin and bear it? Or stay at home? All good questions! The choice is yours!

I am a reformed smoker; quit almost five years ago on the same day that a good friend did; it was his birthday! Even when I smoked I did not like smoking inside! I would even go outside to smoke in a smoking bar! Weird huh?

Many towns and cities across America have banned smoking in public places, as have many private businesses—a trend likely to continue in response to customer preferences and feedback.

Clarksdale Semi-Fixture Aussie Matt Rock enjoying a smoke at Red's Blues Lounge. Photo by DELTA BOHEMIAN

Clarksdale Semi-Fixture Aussie Matt Rock enjoying a smoke at Red’s Blues Lounge. Photo by DELTA BOHEMIAN

Many visitors to our Hamlet so fair (Clarksdale) tell me they go into the local blues clubs and some restaurants and find it offensive to be around inside smoke. Some work through it and listen to some killa blues and eat some fine Delta groceries, some come home early as a result of the smoke and some say they love blues but the smoke is just too much for them to go out a second night or to a second club the same evening!

I am libertarian enough to believe that autonomy should reign central to private property rights. In other words, I stand strongly behind clubs and restaurants allowing, not allowing or ameliorating smoking inside.

Tourists enjoying a cigar at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Tourists enjoying a cigar at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Many consumers and customers don’t like being around smoking, and find it offensive, harmful to their health, and deeply entrenched in a bygone era void of health consciousness. I often have a hard time breathing after a night on the town, which is quite often, and I detest the smell of smoke on my clothes in the morning.

However, the blues are gritty and if one wants to hear them, he or she might have to put up with a little smoke. Clarksdale sells a bygone era. That’s the blues!

There is a national trend and a burgeoning local push for the city to ban smoking in public places. I am not in favor of this, as public too often co-opts private. It might be nice though if the owners of local music and dining venues either banned it on their private property, spent money on good filtration and smoke removal systems, or provided attached smoking areas where smokers could smoke and non-smokers could breath air a bit fresher.

Come what may, I am here to stay! I love the blues and love what’s left of the rights of property and business owners to decide how they want to operate. pw

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Sean Bad Apple giving a knuckle bump to a visitor at GZBC in Clarksdale.

Sean Bad Apple giving a knuckle bump to a visitor at GZBC in Clarksdale.

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  1. Jo Baker says:

    Seriously now….Red put in a good filtration system?? We are very lucky if he has toliet paper!
    I can see if the newer places want to do something along those lines, but for the real jukes people need to leave em be. I quit smoking a few years back and I hate the smell on my clothes too. And it gets in my hair as well, but it will NEVER stop me from spending time in Reds listening to REAL BLUES played and sung by REAL BLUES MEN. I dont want there to be a day when all we can do is talk about how it used to be, before the remodeling and the air systems and the air condition and central heat were put in. The folks that sang the Blues were not real comfortable a lot of times….Im kinda thinkin.

  2. Well said, Jo! Thanks for comment!

  3. Seriously. Has anybody asked Red about this new ban? In the 40 years I’ve been going to juke joints, I’ve seen them change from the dirty, smoky bucket of bloods into the sanitized damn near fern bars they’ve become. Red and I once recalled the upgrades he made since I first went there 25 years ago. It’s a lot cleaner and polished from then. Why not put up a sign like Margaret’s Blue Diamond had, ” No dope snocking. ( sic ) think you?” I guess the professors from Vermont will like the ban. But what next – a vegan blues bar? That BBQ smoke is killing them!

  4. Thanks, Andy. The truth!

  5. I’m with others that think Red’s and Po Monkey’s etc. wouldn’t be home without lettin people do their thang – smoke included! Private businesses – real people – real decisions we all make – let us make them on an individual basis!

  6. Update: Clarksdale ended up adding an ordinance to ban smoking inside and around front doors to businesses. I’m glad.

    Before the law even went into effect, Red instituted No Smoking at his place! He was ahead of the curve!

    Much time has passed since the genesis of the new law and it is a relief to no longer have the smell of smoke on me or have to inhale the residual smoke! It has helped Clarksdale!

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