Europeans aren’t content to smoke themselves to death; they want to make sure you smell their butts also. The lady in the buffet line in Madrid smokes a cigarette while she peruses the entrees, ash dangling off the end of the ember precariously. British pubs smell like death warmed over, old Las Vegas, broken hearts and broken dreams, all your failures splayed out before you with a splash tray to catch the liquids gone astray. Italians lean on the counter, coffee in one hand and cig in the other. Let ‘em sit down and they’ll never leave. French twirl cigarettes like batons leading the band of romantic endeavors. It’s all changing, but I won’t miss it, unless it’s all a sinister plot to shut down the Amsterdam coffeehouses. Even though I hardly smoke pot anymore, and am rather pathetic when I do, that’s a point of progress not to be undone. The first time I was in an Amsterdam coffeehouse, I took a couple hits, then had to leave, weaving my way back to a hotel that I could barely find, trying to insert my key in a lock that kept moving the closer I got. I finally made it through the door and into my room, literally crashing down on to the bed as the universe spun around me, and the lights ‘did funny’ for the next two hours. Not only did I not make it to the bathroom to piss, I could barely make it to the sink. Russians come to Amsterdam and think they’ve found the Promised Land, no milk and honey, just cannabis and hashish. The wizard behind the counter mixes weeds instead of drinks. Of course there’s always a backlash and some new places proudly advertise ‘no drugs’. Worse than that, though, are the bozos right off the bus ready to show off their newfound freedom, toking up in the Burger King. French police wait with dogs in the Paris bus terminal waiting to greet buses from Amsterdam. Apparently they’re threatened by the whole thing in the heartland of liberte’. Somehow the picture of lovers smoking joints over candlelight just doesn’t work, I guess. Of course, they’re so anal that they’ve learned how to fart with their mouths.