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We Interrupt This Blog for Something That’s Been on My Mind


Today I want to talk about something that has nothing to do with uniforms, sports, or even design. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about lately.

And here it is: I don’t care if you smoke because that’s totally your business, not mine. While I don’t smoke myself, and while I’m generally supportive of most anti-smoking initiatives as a matter of public health policy, I also think the anti-tobacco forces often go too far, like when they complain about characters smoking in movies, or when they convinced the U.S. Postal Service to retroactively remove the cigarettes from the stamp depictions of Jackson Pollock and Robert Johnson. When former Orioles manager Earl Weaver died, I urged the O’s to honor him by including a little inner cigarette pocket on each Baltimore player’s jersey, just like the one Weaver used to have.

What I’m trying to say here is that when it comes to smoking and smokers, I’m not a zealot. But there’s one thing about smokers that really bothers me: Why do so many of them litter?

I’m referring to the way smokers tend to throw their cigarette butts on the sidewalk or curb. Sometimes they do this even when a bucket of sand or some other butt-disposal vessel is readily available, or if they’re near a trash can. (Yes, I realize you wouldn’t want to throw a still-lit butt into the trash because it might ignite something, but it isn’t all that hard to stub out the butt on the bottom of your shoe and then toss it in the trash.) One little butt may not seem like much, but dozens or hundreds of them are seriously gross.

Smokers’ tendency to litter is all the more confounding to me because, for the most part, we’ve made huge strides against littering over the past generation or two. When I was a kid, the now-famous Iron Eyes Cody anti-littering ad began running; then in the late ’80s came David Lynch’s surreal anti-littering ad (unfortunately, that YouTube version doesn’t include the creepy voiceover that originally ran at the end of the spot: “Maybe if there were fewer pigs in the city, there’d be fewer rats”). The littering depicted in those ads looks almost comically outrageous by contemporary standards. It’s hard to imagine anyone engaging in that type of behavior nowadays, and that’s to our credit as a society.

And yet so many smokers continue to discard their butts on the sidewalk without a second thought. I’m fairly certain most of these people would never toss a soda can or a candy bar wrapper on the ground, so why do they litter with cigarette butts? After thinking about it a bit (but doing exactly zero reporting or empirical research, I freely admit), I’ve come up with several possible reasons:

• Smoking is very ritualistic, and some smokers may therefore find it ritualistically satisfying to punctuate a smoke by flicking away the butt (perhaps with bonus ritual points for those who step on the butt and grind it into the sidewalk). Omitting that step might make the act of smoking the cigarette feel unsatisfyingly incomplete.

• There’s something appealingly transgressive about smoking. This has always been the case, even when smoking was more socially acceptable, and it’s truer than ever today. I relate to the notion of mildly transgressive behavior — that’s why I always sneak beers into the movies, for example. So I can see how butt-littering might trigger a few extra transgression endorphins or something like that.

• As smoking has become more marginalized, some smokers have become more bitter and defiant. Butt-littering may simply be their way of saying, “Fuck you” to the anti-tobacco crowd.

Of course, none of these would qualify as an acceptable excuse for butt-littering, but they might help explain why it happens.

I want to make it clear that my gripe is not with smoking; it’s with littering. I had a brief smoking period myself in the late 1980s — about half a pack a day for maybe four or five months. Did I butt-litter? I hope not. But honestly and truly, I don’t remember. It feels like a lifetime ago, and smoking was very different then. I was able to smoke in my office cubicle, the very notion of which now seems bizarre.

There’s nothing good or even neutral about cigarette butts (well, unless you count the 4,213 of them that are displayed at the Museum of Innocence). The filters don’t even biodegrade. So what can we do to get people to stop littering with them? Here’s my modest proposal: I’m sure some sort of study could be done — or maybe it’s already been done — to quantify just how many butts are tossed on the ground in a given week, month, or year. So get those numbers and then help people visualize them by making an ad showing a bulldozer pushing nothing but huge mounds of cigarette butts. It would make the point quite nicely.

I’m sure many of you have strong feelings one way or the other regarding smoking, but let’s please limit today’s discussion to smoking-related littering, not smoking itself. Thanks.

•  •  •  •  •

Sept. 11 ”” the day after: The image you see at left was on Google’s home page all day yesterday. It seems like a much more dignified and appropriate gesture to mark the events of 13 years ago than pandering to the “U! S! A!” crowd, but of course dignity isn’t the sports world’s strong suit these days. Here’s what went down yesterday:

• MLB teams wore American flag patches on the left side of the cap. (As usual, there were no flag decals on the batting helmets, which I’m sure has nothing at all to do with the fact that caps are sold at retail and helmets aren’t.)

• The Twins were already wearing an All-Star Game cap patch on the left side, so they wore the flag patch over the All-Star patch.

• The Yankees have been wearing the Derek Jeter cap patch on the left side, but they scrapped it last night in favor of the flag patch. (As you can see, however, they still wore the Jeter sleeve patch, so Brandon Steiner can exhale now.)

• At least one base coach — Chris Maloney of the Cardinals — wore the flag patch on his coaching helmet. Not sure if other coaches did this.

• Umpires wore the flag patch too — except the ones who didn’t.

• The Blue Jays had the day off, so we were spared the annual “What will the Canadian team wear?!” routine.

• As per their annual custom, the Mets wore first responder caps during BP, one of the few Sept. 11 gestures that actually make sense.

• The Nats wore their star-spangled costumes.

• The Brewers always adjust the team logo on the back of the Miller Park mound to suit the occasion (throwback, Negro Leagues, etc.), and yesterday was no exception.

• The bases had a commemorative message.

• Turning to college football, Louisiana Tech did the stars/stripes thing.

• I’ll say this much for BYU: When they say, “Never forget,” they mean it. Very, uh, somber. Plus they tarted up their midfield logo and helmet.

• BYU’s opponent, Houston, also waved the flag.

If I missed anything, feel free to post it in the comments.

• • • • •

’Skins Watch: The New York Daily News, having already decided to boycott the ’Skins name and logo, is also boycotting Chief Wahoo. ”¦ In a related item, here’s an up-to-date list of writers, broadcasters, and media outlets that are boycotting the ’Skins name, although the list is somewhat suspect because it has at least one omission: me. … ’Skins merch sales are way down in the last quarter — maybe because of the name controversy, or maybe just because the team sucks. ”¦ Faaaascainting article on the 2000+ teams, mostly from high schools, that still use Native American-related names. Highly recommended reading. ”¦ Dan Snyder’s PR operation keeps shooting itself in the foot (thanks, Phil). ”¦ All three members of ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast team stated their personal policies regarding the ’Skins name this past Monday. You can see what they said by scrolling about halfway down this page (thanks, Phil). … Etsy will no longer allow the sale of items featuring the ’Skins name or logo. … Here’s the latest development regarding the Coachella Valley Arabs (Phil again). … A state lawmaker in Colorado is drafting a bill that would strip state funding from schools using Native imagery that isn’t approved by the state commission of Indian affairs (from Stan Bush).

Baseball News: Following up on yesterday’s discussion on players who wear religious symbols, several readers noted that Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen has had a cross on his armband for at least the past two games. “He tapped it after the Bucs won on Thursday,” says Bill Monti. ”¦ Why is the MLB season 162 games long? Look here (thanks, Brinke). … No photo, but Detroit firefighters gave Tigers reliever Joe Nathan a fire helmet emblazoned with the Tigers’ logo after he gave a $50,000 donation. … Here’s Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista wearing a cap with his own personal logo (from Britton Thomas). … Oooh, check out the Angels’ old logo-emblazoned stirrups! (big thanks, Phil.) … Mets 3B Daniel Murphy was hit on the left wrist by a pitch last night and suffered some gruesome-looking swelling. X-rays were negative.

NFL News: With all the controversy swirling around Roger Goodell, Joe Bailey asks an interesting question: “If Goodell resigns or is asked to leave his position during the season, would the league swap out all the game balls with his signature? Would the Wilson factory in Ohio have to punch out a bunch of new game balls on short notice, with the new commissioner’s name? Or would they play on with the Goodell balls?” … Ray Rice’s high school has taken down his Ravens jersey. … Meanwhile, here are some Ravens fans explaining why they were still wearing Ray Rice jerseys last night. … Then there was the guy wearing a Ravens jersey with 53 on the front and 52 on the shoulders (from Zach Conrad). … Broncos CB Aqib Talib was wearing Peyton Manning socks in practice yesterday. Here’s a front view. … Packers RB Eddie Lacy is abandoning the SpeedFlex helmet (from Jeremy Walker). … Someone at CBS was asleep at the switch last night. When I tweeted that image, someone responded with this one (Ravens screen shot by Richard Paloma). … For reasons that aren’t clear, at least to me, Ravens LB Terrell Suggs ran onto the field yesterday wearing a gladiator’s helmet (thanks, Phil). … Mark Gonillo notes that Giants QB Eli Manning was wearing Under Armour footwear during the preseason (here’s an example from another game) but switched to Nike for the first regular season game. What’s up with that? … This is too funny: Microsoft paid the NFL $400 million to use its Surface tablet, but TV broadcasters keep referring to them as iPads (big thanks to Adam Hancock, and congrats to longtime reader/contributor Cork Gaines for writing another great article). ”¦

College Football News: Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was given a visor-shaped birthday cake — complete with a Nike swoosh — the other day (from Paul Deaver). … Will Oklahoma State wear throwbacks against Texas Tech? Maybe. … New uniforms for Hobart College. … Here are this weekend’s uni combos for Baylor, Illinois, Syracuse, Washington, and Arizona State. … We’ve all seen quarterbacks wearing red “no contact” jerseys. But how about a red jersey and red pants? That’s Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott (from Dustin Semore). … North Texas debuted a new black helmet last night. … Hmmm, new helmet in the works for Kentucky? ”¦ Leo Chomiak, who attends the University of Florida, says: “I spoke to one of my fraternity brothers who is on the UF football team and he said the players want to go mono-orange against Kentucky [this Saturday]. I searched to see if the Gators have ever gone mono-orange and, ironically enough, they did many years ago against none other than Kentucky.” … This just in: Fancy uniforms do not win football games. Glad we cleared that up.

NBA News: Chris Douglas-Roberts plans to wear John Stockton-style shorts this season, which should be interesting to see on the court (thanks, Phil).

College Hoops News: Michigan State’s uniforms appear to be unchanged from last season. I guess that counts as news nowadays. … New uniforms for Dayton. … Here’s a photo of the Kansas bench from January that shows a bunch of towels embroidered with the players’ uni numbers. Is that a standard thing? (From Coleman Mullins.)

Soccer News: New denim-patterned kit for SSC Napoli. … And if you think that’s kinda out there, check out TSV 1860 Munich’s new Oktoberfest kit — yowza! … “I was watching the Netherlands vs. Czech Republic soccer game and noticed that the numbers on the back of the Netherlands’ jerseys in this game were slightly different from the numbers on their World Cup jerseys,” says Archie Troxel. “Apparently UEFA, which was in charge of this match, has rules stating that numbers must be a solid color, while FIFA doesn’t. What’s interesting is that they only filled in the blue inline on the back of the jerseys, and not on the front.”

Grab Bag: Hmmmm, was former NHL goalie Glenn Hall wearing a modified baseball glove instead of a goalie’s glove? (From Nick Maibroda.) … This is cool: Venus Williams went curling the other day (big thanks to Will Scheibler). … I’m lucky enough to have an original edition of the amazing New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual from 1970 — basically a style guide for the entire NYC subway system, and a landmark in graphic design history. For those who are into such things but don’t have a copy of their own, it looks like the manual will soon be reissued (big thanks to Graham Bakay). … Here’s a gallery of a dozen wack-a-doodle cycling kits (from Sean Clancy). … I had previously reported that Boston College’s football team was wearing red bandana-patterned gear to honor Wells Crowther. Turns out the school’s lacrosse team is doing something similar (from Zack Kurland). ”¦ Two breweries are involved in a legal tussle over their logos, both of which involve a hiker wearing a backpack.

Comments (135)

    re: the Ravens fan with 52/53 jersey – people that age should not be painting their face. He looks like he just left the county fair. I don’t even know what he is supposed to be…

    As a once-and-future cigarette smoker (had to give it up for a while after a heart attack in 1996, but have missed it for the last 6768 days and will start again on my 70th birthday should I live so long), grinding the butt into the ground made sense when unfiltered smokes were the norm. The problem is with the damn plastic filters. On occasion when I smoked ’em filtered, I was guilty of dumping a few butts a day out the car window onto highways. Also would leave on the floor at stadiums when it was allowed to smoke in the stands. Otherwise I’d find somewhere to pitch ’em.

    . . . anyway, back to your other question. The CDC earlier this year estimated that 42 million Americans smoke cigarettes. If each smoker smoked a pack a day, that would be 840 million cigarettes. Let’s round down to 600 million to avoid overestimating. If only one percent of butts get littered, that’s still 6 million butts per day. Average butt is about 3 ccs. That makes a cube a bit bigger than 5 feet on each side. Every day.

    Right on about the smokers. Everytime I see someone outside my office smoking, flicking the butt on the sidewalk, I shake my head. And it’s mostly the older people, so you’d figure they’d be responsible. Their motto is “The World is my Ashtray”.

    Whenever I see someone toss a cigarette butt, I want to pick it up, and run after the person helpfully saying, “Excuse me! I think you dropped this!”

    Also, I think this is very relevant to this blog, because it’s about everyday inconspicuous aesthetics.

    In the article about the 2000+ Native mascots, he includes “Orangemen,” which were supporters of William III of Orange, so wrong continent.

    I also don’t buy including “Raiders”. This is a nickname associated with pirates, not Native Americans. And “Reds”? come on!

    I’ll certainly give him “Warriors”, though. There is a local high school that uses that name and refer to their football stadium as “The Reservation”…highly offensive.

    The Orangemen had nothing to do with William III of Orange. The nickname was chosen because it was a school color.

    The Orangemen established a Native American mascot in 1931: Nathan March also known as Saltine Warrior. The school banned the mascot in 1978, one of the first schools to take such action. link link

    The “Tribe” of Judah Christian School in Champaign, IL has nothing to do with Native Americans; it is a reference to the Tribe of Judah in ancient Israel.

    The author only counted 4 of the 7 results in the database which have the word “Tribe” as a nickname. The article appears to agree with you.

    It is definitely about the marginalization. It’s however not about the “f-u” but rather a “I really don’t care anymore”. I know I’ve seen some research about this at some point, maybe someone can dig it up? Bullet points I remember(?) are:

    1. Due to the marginalization, generally poor people are more likely to smoke. Generally poor people are less educated.

    2. Being marginalized leads to “numbing” your sense of caring for the world, which results in you not even giving your littering a thought.

    This makes sense – smoking rate is down for everyone except ethnic and sexual minorities and the poor (and tobacco companies are really focusing their efforts on poor, minority neighborhoods).

    And people who’re not getting the most out of society are going to feel less invested, obviously.

    Bingo. I think REByrnes is right about size being a significant factor here.

    It’s so darn small… it’s a “marginal” imposition on the universe. “Nobody will notice.” “I’m not doing that much damage.” “It’s not that big of a deal.” (literally)

    Excuses all, but as someone who abhors the very practice and is increasingly disturbed by the littering… I think “small” is a real issue.

    My downtown neighborhood street (across from a cemetery) has a horrible trash issue. I see it every day, and it’s mind-boggling.

    Most every left turn lane I pull into, especially ones that have a grassed median separating the lane from the left lane of oncoming traffic, is covered with hundreds of butts discarded by drivers waiting for their left turn arrows.

    Our local Wal-Mart’s have added cigarette-disposal units by their entrances and, I must say, it has helped reduce the amount of ground-cluttering butts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help the fact that non-smokers must hold their breath while entering and exiting as the entrances are now the prime havens for the ‘gathering of the smokers.’

    I don’t enjoy having a driver in front of me toss his lit cigarette butt out his car window, and the butt then skitters up the hood of my car.

    I was going to say the same thing. Every time it happens I flash the car. Wish I could do more. It’s so disrespectful and selfish of them.

    If I was a police officer I would pull over every car that flicked out a butt and give them a ticket for littering.

    And don’t forget the smokers at the beach. Nothing is more relaxing and satisfying than walking in the sand or along the water line and seeing the smokers’ trash lying around. (And lets not forget how great an experience it is when they light up a few feet from you and you’re breathing in their cancer exhaust.)

    On Glenn Hall’s catcher, it might have been modified but it was almost surely a Rawlings hockey product. A quick search for ‘Rawlings hockey gloves’ turns up numerous image hits. All skaters’ gloves, that I could see, but it places them firmly in the market, at some point at least.

    I like that additional tab on the end of the pocket. I guess with the additional velocity of a puck, extra reinforcement was needed. Even if that was a glove specifically designed for hockey, the pocket design is probably similar to ball gloves of the era.

    I know that Rawlings did dabble in hockey equipment, but mostly in the 1980’s for player gloves and later in the 1990’s with Brett Hull (see gloves and pants) link

    This glove pre-dates these products and looks to be a six-finger baseball glove. I have searched for different views of this glove but can’t tell if it is based off of a regular fielder glove or a first baseman’s mitt. At any rate, I just love the adjustments made to strengthen it for hockey use.

    Amen to not littering! Although your post made me think immediately of the opening scene of “Supertroopers.”

    Cigarette butt litter has always bothered me too. One way to help solve the problem would be to institute a butt deposit, similar to a bottle deposit that some states still use. Of course there are some disgusting logistics to returning and redeeming used cigarette butts, but if the streets were littered with “nickels,” I’m sure they would be clean in no time.

    On butts in the street, I remember Danny Kaye in an episode of the newer incarnation of The Twilight Zone, an episode called ‘Guardian of the Lost Hour.’ His character is crossing the street and from a car stopped at the light, a very big, strong guy drops his lit cigar butt out the window. Kaye’s character spots it. He ambles over, picks up the butt, turns to the guy in the car, and says ‘Excuse me. I think you dropped this in our living room.’ He then proceeds to drop the cigar butt–very gently, mind you–into the guy’s lap. Admittedly, his character was, for various reasons, written as a little detached from reality, issues of personal safety, etcetera. Nevertheless, when I saw that scene played out (back in the mid-80s, I think), I practically stood and applauded.

    That was written by Harlan Ellison. I seem to recall Harlan Ellison may have done that in real life or something similar at least I remember something similar being discussed on the old Tomorrow program.

    I should have remembered that! He’s one of my favorite writers. It does sound just like something he’d do–though probably less kindly!

    RE: Flags on coaching helmets

    I know in the Marlins/Brewers game many of the coaches also had flags on their helmets. Brett Butler was the first one I saw, which can be seen here: link

    Completely agree with your opinion on smoking and butt littering. I occassionally have to pick them up from my yard or sidewalk, which is gross. I’ve also noticed a growing number of e-cig littering. At least of those disposable ones.

    Yep, butts are bad. Totally agree w Paul and fellow readers.

    My particular peeve, however, is chewing gum spat out on sidewalks and subway platforms. Innocent shoe heels then convert the gum into near-permanent blotches. Some might argue that the result is a not-so-bad terrazzo effect, but I don’t like it.

    “… I’m lucky enough to have an original edition of the amazing New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual from 1970 – basically a style guide for the entire NYC subway system, and a landmark in graphic design history. For those who are into such things but don’t have a copy of their own, it looks like the manual will soon be reissued (big thanks to Graham Bakay). …”
    Excellent news! There’s a cool little exhibit at MOMA these days on this subject.

    I agree about spitting chewing gum onto a sidewalk or road, that is one of my biggest pet peeves. Especially when it gets stuck on my shoe or my bicycle tire. Fortunately WD-40 does a pretty good job of getting it out.

    Ironic that a school founded by a religion that would be a model for a sanitized and pacified form of Islam had the boldest message of rememberance.

    “a model for a sanitized and pacified form of Islam”?

    What in the world does that even mean? Because Mormons tend to be more devout to their beliefs, they become a form of Islam? I doubt you’d find a more patriotic, community-conscious group of people than Mormons.

    Look at what Mormons believe about duty to country and community, and then see if you’re surprised they have “the boldest message of remembrance.”

    I’m just glad my kids are no longer picking every random crap they find on the ground, because holy shit, people just leave their butts everywhere, even in playgrounds. But you know what bothers me the most? When people flick their cigarettes into the path of kids. You’d be surprised how many cigarette near-misses I’ve seen with my kids, because the smokers aren’t looking where they flick.

    Also, in link. It solves a couple of problems, the littering and the threat of being downwind from a smoker. Again, smokers are often oblivious to people around them.

    “…kids … picking every random crap they find on the ground…”

    I just added this to my list of reasons I don’t want to have kids.

    FWIW, the pick-any-kind-of-shit-off-the-ground phase doesn’t last long. But having kids is a great cure for germophobia.

    I had a shocking realization about cigarette butts earlier this year when Illinois enacted a law to make them finally criminalized under littering laws. Is it a common thing for butts to not count under littering laws, or was that just a stupid loophole in the law in Illinois?

    The Louisiana Legislature passed a law at this year’s spring session specifically targeting cigarette butts as litter, $300 for the first offense, $700 for second offense, and so on. It went into effect about 6 weeks ago but I haven’t seen anything in the news about its enforcement (or lack thereof). Every intersection around here (I live in Baton Rouge) is cluttered with mounds of butts.

    Very coincidental that your topic is cigarette butt litter, it’s been a peeve of mine that’s been spiking recently.
    Last week someone flung one on the ground and i was going to be snarky and say “here let me pick that up for you” and walk the 10 feet to the butt bin, but I would have felt like a total square.

    I don’t smoke, but I’m against anti-smoking legislature and sin taxes. It’s great that science has and public opinion has swung to the point that people know it’s bad for your health, but I also thanks it’s great that people are free enough to make bad decisions.

    My Dad was a massive smoker for 60 years. It was the one vice he could not give up (and it ultimately killed him). He NEVER threw a butt on the ground. It went in an ashtray or a trash can or a soda can or even his pocket! Anywhere but the ground.

    Perhaps that is why I’m a stickler for littering. I’ll spare you my Disney World story. LOL!

    way back when I was a smoker, I was walking down the street in San Francisco having a smoke, and coming to the end of it near the Moscone center, so (as a conscientious smoker whose mother would go ballistic when she saw other smokers dropping butts,) I started looking around for a trash bin. handily there was a public works guy sweeping the street nearby, so I asked him if he knew where the nearest bin was and his response was “Just drop it there man, it’s my job.” so I did as he asked, that time… And while I reflexively don’t litter, it did at least further expand my view of economic systems…

    (note: I do not believe that smokers, as a group, are altruistically keeping the street sweepers in clover by dropping butts on the ground and littering, but it is interesting to note that SF as a municipality thinks that it’s worth employing a large number of people to continually clean up after them. (with varying degrees of success…) a good place for your tax money to go?)

    I heard, “…the iPad, er.. Surface Tablet (sorry)…” everal times last Sunday.

    Has “iPad” *already* become the “band aid” or “kleenex” of portable devices??!

    I think part of is that until this season, most teams were using iPads (they just covered up the logo). This is the first season when all teams are required to use Surface Tablets. I imagine most organizations without endorsement deals are using iPads.

    “Has “iPad” *already* become the “band aid” or “kleenex” of portable devices??!”


    Indeed — check out the comment string that followed Paul’s tweet on this.

    I’ve posted this link before, but the link is eye-opening. Look at the one after “Escalator” and “Kerosene”.

    And every December, the Champagne producers put out an ad asking not to use the word for sparkling wine produced in other regions.

    Speaking of which, shouldn’t Miller High Life be the Sparkling Wine of Beers?

    Interestingly, that Miller slogan was originally “The Champagne of Bottle Beer”:

    That’s always bugged me — why not “Bottled” (instead of “Bottle”), and why singular “Beer” (instead of plural “Beers”)?

    I’ve always thought of “Beer” as plural of the liquid, and “Beers” as plural for containers of said liquid. Just my $.02

    I have talked to clients who have tried to file a trademark with “champagne” in it.

    As you can imagine, the government of France (through the division that controls such names in France itself) always files a proceeding to block such an application from turning into a registration.

    As you can imagine, nobody wants to fight the government of France.

    I think for the general public in everyday use you will get more of the kleenex, fridge, champange, xerox, etc. whether or not it is trademarked. The alternative for the generic word(s) for the item are usually an unappealing multi-syllabic mess.

    Not sure exactly when, but at some point Johnson & Johnson changed the Band-Aid TV jingle to include the word “brand.”

    The jingle used to go: “I am stuck on Band-Aid, ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me!”

    Now it’s: “I am stuck on Band-Aid brand, ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me!”

    “Kleenex,” I think, is in rather less danger of becoming genericized than Band-Aid, Jell-O, Frisbee, Q-Tip, Wite-Out and Dumpster. Interesting that “iPad” (and “iPod”) are getting there already.

    Just to add to the litany, what I really hate are those who throw their cigarette butts (or anything really) into urinals. Not as common now with less indoor smoking. It used to drive me nuts because they had to know some poor cleaner would have to fish it out at some point.

    Ah, but allow me to be the first (of what I assume will be many) to say I miss the days of using the urinal butts for “target practice.”

    “….but you get a Kent with a micronite filter …it takes 3 guys and a keg of beer to get rid of that one!”

    ~George Carlin

    So, I sit here in the doctor’s office, waiting for my appointment, and realizing that today’s main subject is likely to send my blood pressure spiking to dangerous levels before they test it. This could actually be fun.

    In full disclosure, my parents were lifetime chimneys, and because of it, I lost my mother to lung cancer at the age of 19. I’m a little bitter towards smoking in general.

    With all that said, I too, have been been curious about this for years. To me, though, it runs deeper than just dropping butts. It’s smoking outside building entrances, it’s about close talkers with cigarette breathe, it’s about parents in enclosed minivans puffing away with kids strapped in just feet away. I think there’s a certain level of arrogance, of God complex, of selfishness involved with a large percent of smokers.

    Honestly, I think for most smokers, once the smoke leaves their mouths, it’s not their problem any more. It’s understandable, if still annoying.

    Anyone want to quit smoking?

    get Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr (paperback or audiobook)

    I’m not shilling, I promise you its the best thing. Google it, theres tons of stuff about it on youtube if you want to research it

    I beep the horn when they do that.

    And I have no problem with the anti-tobacco lobby going after Hollywood, because so many movies and shows featured people littering in this manner. That’s a huge influence.

    We have a “Ticked Off” item in our local newpaper every week where people air their community gripes–and responses are posted as well. Someone sounded off about motorists dropping butts in the road. One smoker’s response was, “Well, cars don’t have ashtrays anymore!”.

    Well, howzabout you still not drop you butts in the road.

    I think it’s because it’s fun to flick them. Like mini-catapulting. I appreciate a good arch, with distance.I’m guilty of doing this with foil mini reese’s wrappers and paper straw wrappers. Ball it up and fling!

    I’m much more confused and disgusted by seeing spit on sidewalks, parking lots AND boogers on bathroom walls … friggin animals.

    As a smoker I think your first thought more applies to me than the other two. It’s a very habitual/ritualistic thing. I know I’m not the only smoker who knows how long it takes to smoke a cig and will use that as a timer of sorts. I think flicking it away doesn’t necessarily make it more satisfying, it is just something that you do without even thinking about it. I try to be conscious about where I throw my butts when in public and make all attempts to use receptacles, but I’ll admit to having tossed a butt out right next to a receptacle. It was just habit, I didn’t even think about it.

    Also, I don’t know how widespread this misconception may be, but I was shocked by the number of smokers that I know personally who think that the filters ARE biodegradable. That may account for why some would toss a butt on the street but not a Coke can.

    So funny, Paul – I put a Facebook post up a few months back that summed up your post: “All smokers are litterers – am I wrong?” I especially love (read: not love) when people flick their butts out of their windows while on the highway and while I’m right behind them. That’s always a pleasant experience.

    I’d add condom and syringe users to the list of common litterers since I see too many of those on the streets.

    Dang. Where (city) do you live? Any other city dwellers have this same problem/experience?

    During a trip to Greece when I was in the military I saw many a used condom washed in the bay by a sidewalk. It would seem that people would chuck them out of the windows and into the water (it was that close). Different part of the world, but it happens I guess. Although this was in the ’90s.

    The south end downtown (Fort William) of Thunder Bay is far from immune to this. In certain areas condoms, syringes, other garbage, and even fecal matter that didn’t come from a dog are not unheard of.

    In the past month around supper time in the other downtown (Port Arthur) of Thunder Bay I saw one “lady” stagger and weave going down the sidewalk, end up in On Deck’s (a bar) parking lot next to the sidewalk, pulled down her pants and let loose with a stream.

    As far as the cigarette butt issue it’s a problem in some locations; other locations, near some of the buildings with cigarette butt containers that are well used, there isn’t much butt litter.

    I’ve seen condoms in Denver gutters near a few bars and restaurants that happen to be on a particular street noted for streetwalkers, but it hasn’t been as bad in recent years.

    Totally with you on the cig butt thing. I knew a girl who was fanatical about the environment. Detested trash (litter), if I tossed a candy wrapper on the ground she’d flip out. But, she was a smoker, and never gave a second thought to tossing her butts on the ground. Anywhere and everywhere. It’s just a different mentality.

    “For reasons that aren’t clear, at least to me, Ravens LB Terrell Suggs ran onto the field yesterday wearing a gladiator’s helmet”

    Because ‘Gladiators’ was the mascot at his link, right?

    Speaking of Etsy’s ‘Skins ban, the site may not allow anyone to sell items with the ‘Skins logo, there’s still plenty of Chief Wahoo merchandise available:


    LOVE the photo with TG, Brett, and Jimmie Reese!! I think that must have been taken during a traveling caravan that Tony and George participated in, probably in ’88. George and his brothers had recently purchased the minor league team in Spokane and were moving it to Riverside, CA to be the Cal League affiliate for the Padres (the Riverside Red Wave). To commemorate that, the caravan was held. They started in San Diego, stopped off and used our field at UCR for a clinic, and continued up the I-15 corridor to Las Vegas. To think that this photo has my two all-time favorite players and I have never seen it before amazes me!

    But one other fascinating uni-worthy item from the photo — I have NEVER, EVER seen Tony in uniform wearing low stirrups!! I watched him from his college days all the way through his career and I’ve never seen his stirrups in that fashion. Interesting . . .

    Great find on that photo!!!!

    Even as the number of smokers has gone way down, it seems like litter from smokers has gotten worse.

    As indoor smoking is virtually banned, the number of smokers outside of office buildings, bars, restaurants, airports, etc. who would formerly have butted out in ashtrays are now littering them.

    And cars don’t come with ashtrays anymore. A smoker’s choice is either to (a) buy some kind of ashtray that fits in the cupholder or (b) throw all the butts out the window. It looks like most have chosen (b).

    As an aside, I find the end of ashtrays and lighters in cars interesting.

    At the same time as automakers don’t supply lighters anymore, the number of accessories powered off lighter sockets is skyrocketing. The “standard” lighter socket is becoming more and more entrenched as a standard for socket design at the same time as the reason for its original design has vanished.

    Yep – the cigarette lighter is how I power my Bluetooth dongle, which in turn charges my phone via USB.

    Meanwhile, the ashtray is replaced either by a change compartment (which is how a lot of people used them anyway) or removed to accommodate touchscreen monitors.

    I know several smokers who are diligent about not littering virtually every other aspects of their lives, but it doesn’t even occur to them that flicking cigarette butts on the ground is littering. When I’ve mentioned to them, they’ve invariably given me an astonished expression like a light bulb has just gone off in their head for the first time. Some seem contrite, like now that they’ve realized the true character of their actions, they’ll try to change their ways. Others sputter through some sort of justification about how tossing cigarette butts is different and doesn’t really count as littering.

    In Russia, is bad idea for throwing cigarette from moving car window to street, because driver behind is filming on dashboard video camera and reporting you to KGB. You are staying for one month, minimum, in gulag for this crime.

    When I was in military school in the mid-’80s, nearly everyone smoked. They typically tossed their cigarette butts out the window. When AFI rolled around (Annual Formal Inspection), we had to pick up, by hand, every single one; off the ground behind the barracks, and off the top of the colonnade in front (the building had front- and back-facing rooms/windows). I remember, as a 9th-grader, thinking that the smokers should be assigned to that detail.

    “I remember, as a 9th-grader, thinking that the smokers should be assigned to that detail.”


    You just got lesson number one: don’t think; it can only hurt the school.

    Well, maybe the company. See, the companies (viz., military subdivisions, about 50 cadets each) competed with one another to “win” AFI, so anything anyone could think of to impress the inspectors (and thereby out-do the other companies) was done.

    One year, I remember B Company went out of its way to ensure every shelf in every room was uniform, to the point where everyone’s toothbrush was the same color and everyone had the same brand of shampoo. Another year, one company had a cadet with artistic skills hand-paint a company logo on every barracks door.

    Now only someone on the Penguins needs to have a cross on their uniform or piece of equipment to go along with Polamalu and ‘Cutch so Pittsburgh can claim a sporting holy trinity

    I actually appreciate what was done in the BYU game. They wore the flag and had the card section as a tribute in memorial to those who have died as a result of 9/11. And they said that over and over again.

    Well thought out article on the smoker littering. I’ve had this same thought for a long time, only conveying to my wife. There is a red light I hit on the way home from work everyday. I have no idea why, but off to the side of this intersection (across the lane of oncoming traffic) there must be 1000 cigarette butts in the shoulder of the road. It is disgusting. I don’t mind smokers either, and smoked a bit myself in college, but the litter has to stop. If you were to get out of your car on any roadway, and start walking on the side of the road and start counting butts, you wouldn’t walk 50 feet before you got into the thousands.

    I had a scary experience with a cigarette butt once–I was in the left-turn lane at the intersection of two streets, and one of the cars heading in the opposite direction flicked their butt out the window and it handed on my windshield, still burning. Due to the fear that the butt would somehow fall under the hood and start a fire, I turned on the windshield wipers, which swept the butt off the windshield (and off my car altogether).

    I have always wanted a bumper sticker that says “Hey smokers, the world is not your ash tray”. Thanks for the rant.

    Light smoker, but never litter. Never smoke when I’m walking around or driving, etc. Mostly saved for one or two in the evening on the back porch, or at a bar that still allows it, etc. I’ve never really understood the whole smoking while trying to do something else thing. For me it’s 7 minutes to literally blow smoke and relax.

    Paul I’d love to see an entry about the New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual

    Posted previously, but FWIW the commemorative statue of Earl Weaver at Camden Yards depicts his signature sewn-in cigarette pocket:

    Apropos of nothing, yesterday afternoon I saw a guy wearing an old-school Buffalo Bills jersey. #32, some guy named “Simpson.” Mind you, this was in downtown Baltimore, mere hours before (and just a few blocks away from where) the Ravens were hosting Thursday Night Football in the immediate aftermath of the whole Ray Rice imbroglio.

    Mind. Blown.

    Oof, both Washington and Illinois are wearing white helmets when they play against each other tomorrow. There should be a rule against that.

    “I was able to smoke in my office cubicle, the very notion of which now seems bizarre.”

    Would that bizarre notion be smoking, or working in a cubicle?

    “I was able to smoke in my office cubicle, the very notion of which now seems bizarre.”

    Would the bizarre notion be smoking, or working in a office/cubicle?

    Couldn’t agree more with the lede story. The sidewalks in Columbus are FULL of cigarette butts. Especially campus! While the university has a “No Tobacco” policy for all of campus, you still see a good amount of students smoking away, and flicking their cigarette butts on the sidewalks already full of cigarette butts. Not to mention, walking to class behind a smoker is incredibly annoying because that smell blows back in your face.

    Paul, my daughter’s high school volleyball team has towels on the bench with embroidered numbers. I’ll try to get a pic.

    I think it is a sanitary issue. No need to share sweat. When I was coaching high school basketball, I issued towels to my players with their number written on them with a Sharpie.

    “I was able to smoke in my office cubicle, the very notion of which now seems bizarre.”

    That is bizarre…you in an office cubicle?!?

    I worked in various office jobs, all relating to book publishing, from June of ’87 through February of ’96. Or to put it another way, I’ve now been working at home for about twice as long as I worked in offices.

    Late to the game here, Paul. I smoke, and rarely litter. But I’ll admit I do every now and then. For me its just laziness. (Again, I rarely do it and I feel bad when I do).

    If I can’t find something to throw the butt into, I almost always kill the cigarette and stuff it into my back pocket.

    But there are times where even that little amount of work seems like too much and I’ll throw it on the street.

    Looks like Under Armour is extending their design and “storytelling” tendrils into NASCAR- they’re sponsoring a contest to design Kasey Khane’s #5 car next season. Note color selection is not final: link
    link link

    More info here: link

    Re: Paul’s comment

    “The Blue Jays had the day off, so we were spared the annual “What will the Canadian team wear?!” routine”

    It turns out we only got a 24 hour reprieve. Saying that, overall I think MLB got it reaonably right tonight – for a change (if you’re do something for the occaision), US flag on one side, Canadian flag on the other of the Blue Jays cap. I would still prefer if the flags were interlocked – to capture the friendship between the two countries, but better than the oblivious to: we’re a different country for godsake, approach sometimes taken by MLB. I don’t know the number – but there were more than a few Canadians working in NYC killed that day.

    That’s just insane. If you didn’t play on Sept. 11 this year, *then you didn’t play on Sept. 11 this year,* the end. You can wear the pandering cap next year.

    But no, every team has to be part of this silliness, even if it’s on the wrong day. Utter bullshit.


    (This falls into the category – if you’re going to do something – do it right)

    I gave it more thought, while it’s an improvement over what MLB subjects the Blue Jays (while playing at home)on other such occasions), if I was to say what’s truly optimal – could not both teams playing in Canada, wear both flags – if MLB feels obligated. I’m not saying do this in games played in the States, but it would seem a little more balanced. Afterall – 9/11 did result in this


    Great comments by everyone on the smoking etc. As it’s been an annoyance of mine for a long time, I’ll add my thoughts. First I agree that while smoking annoys me it’s still up to every individual to decide for themselves if they want to risk their health or not. I just can’t stand the littering. I also hate the anti-smoking commercials on TV showing people with all the disgusting effects of years of smoking and squeezing gunk out of dead smokers’ arteries, etc. If in this day and age people haven’t already been informed by all the other means out there that smoking is bad for you, then too bad. Those of us who have no interest in smoking don’t need to have our television enjoyment suddenly ruined by this “public service”. :)

    Long ago in my younger days I worked first at fast food and then at a grocery store. Always a pleasure to get the duty to sweep up the lot. Always a ton of cigarette butts out there. And as Paul and others have noted, when working an hour shift on the grocery drive-thru pickup lane, it was common practice to see someone approach the door smoking, finish up standing next to the door and the sand filled ash tray provided and then flick the butt into the lane for us to sweep up later. Never could understand that one. I also agree with everyone about the flying butts on the highway. So awesome to see the window of the car in front of you slip down a crack and the litter to fly out.

    I bought a 2000 Caravan and there’s a space between the two cupholders that seems about perfect for ash tray purposes. However, there’s actually a no smoking symbol printed on the bottom of that space. I do wonder if that is a feature of all Caravans from that time or just something a previous owner had painted there. Still, no ashtray is no excuse for flicking them out of the window. By the same logic, since I don’t have a built in garbage can I should just throw out the window every pop bottle, candy wrapper and fast food packaging that I have in my car.

    As far as condoms being found, I recently moved into a new apartment complex and my car was in the shop. My brother came to pick me up once and pointed out that there were three condom wrappers scattered around the ground near where he had parked. Welcome to the neighborhood! At least there was no sign of the actual condoms I guess. :)

    Anybody that’s ever been in the military and had to police call the company area knows that smokers lead the way in littering.

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