A 1995 movie directed by Wayne Wang and written by New York novelist Paul Auster.

The film rotates around a smoke shop in downtown Brooklyn, run by Auggie (Harvey Keitel), and focuses on the lives of the people who come in to use it.

There is no plot to speak of; the film consists of a series of subplots, which swirl around the central location.

Smoke was based on a short story Paul Auster wrote one Christmas for the New York Times. While little-known, those that have seen it regard it as one of the best films ever.

It has an improvisational sequel, Blue in the face, which sadly is nowhere near as good, although features bigger-name talents such as Michael J. Fox and Madonna.

smiley = S = smoke and mirrors

smoke vi.

1. To crash or blow up, usually spectacularly. "The new version smoked, just like the last one." Used for both hardware (where it often describes an actual physical event), and software (where it's merely colorful). 2. [from automotive slang] To be conspicuously fast. "That processor really smokes." Compare magic smoke.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Military Slang:

To punish or reprimand by forcing to do intense physical training, often until the individual or group being smoked can endure no more.

Back in Basic, we got smoked a lot. The first smokings I got were outside on the paved lot between reception barracks. For some reason there were tiny loose rocks forming a thin layer on top of the pavement. If it weren't shipped in from some mine where Drill Sergeants hand picked the sharpest, smallest rocks, I'd be surprised.

We'd be out there in the heat of the Missouri spring day (having been out there since the cold of the Missouri spring morning). The pavement's heat on our hands was unbearable. This huge paved lot's only job in its recent life was to soak up and distribute the sun's rays to our welcoming hands, and it deserved a promotion. Our hands were sore throughout all of reception. And that wasn't the worst of the smokings.

After reception, when we were actually in the midst of basic training, our platoon did our Physical Training (PT) in the tin can. This structure had three walls and a roof. The floor was probably a few feet lower than the ground around it. In this space was placed minced rubber tires. At first, and for the most part, we thought this was rather considerate; it kept the sun off our backs (or fronts, or whatever wasn't currently in contact with the ground) and it was somewhat cushioning and forgiving when we hit the ground hard.

The one tin can session that sticks out was a group smoking - four or so of the fifty in our platoon had done something wrong - I don't remember what it was. Looks like I didn't learn that lesson, eh? Anyways we front, back, go'd, did somersaults across the length of it, bear crawled, low crawled, high crawled, POW crawled, and much much more.

From the Drill Sergeants' point of view, I then saw the mission of the tin can. It heated up instantly, and kept the dust we kicked up concentrated. We were breathing hot dusty air, getting caked with dirt from sweat and dust, and generally having a miserable time.

When I was a kid, seventeen or eighteen, my friends and I spent the summer at this one diner. We went to this particular diner because...er, because that's what you do over summers in New Jersey - you go to diners, drink coffee and smoke. Occasionally we'd go bowling - you can smoke in bowling alleys in Jersey, too. We loved the waitress, too, used to throw cigarettes in with our tips. After a while she started leaving things off of our bills. T'was a mutually beneficial relationship. She got canned at the end of the summer (I like to think for something other than being kind to a group of bored, lonely kids) and we never went back.

This one specific afternoon we're sitting there talking and smoking and we notice the woman in the booth across the aisle from us shooting us sidelong glances and grumbling to her husband. It wasn't the smoke that was bothering her, couldn't have been - the other half of the diner was non-smoking and completely empty - they could've camped out there if they had wanted some clean(er) air. Still. She didn't look happy and it was abundantly clear that this was somehow our fault.

Eventually she leaned over to me and said 'Excuse me, but how old are you?' I was going to answer truthfully (must've been eighteen, then) when my friend sitting across from me (little muscular punky guy. Little crazy. Looked dangerous in the right light. Oh, and seventeen, by the way) looked her straight in the eye and said 'Why?'

'Because my husband and I don't like seeing young people smoking. We smoke, but we feel it's improper in children.' I seethed at being called a child and managed to keep my mouth shut.

'...And?' He hadn't blinked yet.

She was flustered. Apparently she was one of those people who thought that her age gave her an automatic position of superiority when talking to teenagers. The fact that it took her all of thirty seconds to reveal herself as a hypocritical meddler didn't apparently make it into her head.

She had an idea. 'And I'd like to see your IDs, please.'

Pugs (the punk kid. Shortened form of his last name. Didn't find out till years later that he really hated it when I called him that. Whoops) still hadn't blinked. He paused for a bit then said, evenly, 'I'd like to see yours first.'

The light in her eyes fizzled. 'Excuse me?'

'You have no authority to ask us to see our IDs unless you're a properly designated law enforcement officer or if we're buying something with an age restriction. Added to which, it won't help - it's not illegal to smoke in New Jersey if you're under 18, it's illegal to buy cigarettes. Well, actually, it's illegal to sell cigarettes to a minor. But once we got 'em, there's nothing you can do.' He closed his eyes, slowly, and inhaled a massive quantity of smoke. He could've made it up, probably did, but it sure sounded good.

She sputtered for a bit before going to find the manager. He asked us to stop smoking and we said we were on our way out the door, just needed to get money together, etc. It seemed like the best solution - we were regulars and well paying customers who had just thrown down fifty bucks for a meal for four and they were respectable people getting coffee and pie. That way, he got to look stern, she got to feel effective and we got to stay right where we were for a bit longer. Long enough anyway for all four of us to simultaneously light up one last smoke as we settled the bill. Nicotine makes you telepathic, you know.

The smoke hangs in the air between us like a serpent. It accompanies most of our conversations over the table. To my right sits my wife, Lo, she’s wearing her red dress today because she’s menstrual. Opposite Lo and I are our neighbours, Frank and Dawn, a married couple ten years our senior. We’re friends by geography more so than nature, but we don’t admit this. We invite them over every Sunday and try to find common ground.

“You have an impeccable lawn,” says Frank.

“Thank-you,” I say, “I like to think of it as a smart lawn. Flat surface, even ground. I visualise it divided into seven lanes and that’s how I mow it. The second lane succeeds the first. The third, the second. And so on. No bumps, and no surprises.”

I like to say I am approaching fifty rather than pushing it. There are connotations of a struggle in the word push, that every day upon waking I march outside to nudge a large stone. Fifty. It has weight, recognition. A prestige not yet within my realms of consciousness, but it’s charming, that elusive nobility.

Dawn compliments Lo on her dress and I keep quiet because there is something disconcerting in the way Lo always wears red on the first day of her period. Her presence in public alters, demanding a certain kind of attention only perceptible to me, that she is divulging a private matter of ours without my consent. Over time it has manifested itself into a kind of brilliant warning. Her red clothes have developed a hostile vitality of their own.

I also know that, in years soon to come, Lo will no longer have need for her red clothes.

Sometimes this keeps me up at night.

Frank and Dawn leave, we all shake hands, stomp on our cigarette butts and say, “same time, next week.”

I sit outside and watch the sun set behind the power lines, and imagine Lo drifting through the house in gentle harmony. We have no children. I imagine her fixing askew paintings, tapping a cushion, wiping the sink, the kettle’s wheeze. Lo became pregnant twice in her thirties and each time our babies were stillborn. Later we bought a dog for three hundred dollars and named it Hank.

Fridays are very cleansing for us; we unravel ourselves into the weekend. Lo does the washing and I wash the car. A direct sensory route causes me to smoke when I see her red clothes in the washing basket. If I see the past in anything, it’s in that slump. I pace the backyard. My arm rises and falls like windscreen wipers, up, down, up. I go through two cigarettes. Three. Four. The smoke is a flash in the air. Once Lo screamed through my hands and punched things with her fists. The air was like smog. She fell asleep in the kitchen with the oven door open.

Dinner’s ready.” She calls.

Sometimes I walk into glass doors and don’t react. Sometimes I don’t need to ask Lo for a light because she strikes the match before I have the time. Our passions have become more concentrated, yet acute. We depend on a faith that, if decoded, our utterances will retain their initial intensity.

Lo offers me a cigarette and I say thanks.

Sunday peels by again and my lawn smells fresh. I clip my toenails and shave my face. I smoke a cigarette and watch the shapes that form in the air. Lo says they are designs. I read the newspaper and drink coffee, later I will drink beer. Lo and I run out of cigarettes and we must decide which of us will go to the store.

“I’ll go,” she says, “because I smoke menthols.” We agree on this.

When Lo returns I ask, “Who taught you to smoke?”

“You.”

“Oh?”

“You?”

I forget.”

“Oh.”

The next day we go to the store together. We drive mostly in silence. Traveling bids for a silence between us beyond our regular quiets, mutually withdrawing into opaque thoughts. Our surroundings turn to motion; a flux of cars, houses and lawns, streams of cryptic time and movement. We assign a distinct concentration to this. Speak only if necessary. If I laugh I’ll fall apart.

Lo and I buy our cigarettes and, as we leave, we read aloud a sign by the exit that warns of uneven grounding in the pavement.

Smoke (?), n. [AS. smoca, fr. smeocan to smoke; akin to LG. & D. smook smoke, Dan. smog, G. schmauch, and perh. to Gr. to burn in a smoldering fire; cf. Lith. smaugti to choke.]

1.

The visible exhalation, vapor, or substance that escapes, or expelled, from a burning body, especially from burning vegetable matter, as wood, coal, peat, or the like.

⇒ The gases of hydrocarbons, raised to a red heat or thereabouts, without a mixture of air enough to produce combustion, disengage their carbon in a fine powder, forming smoke. The disengaged carbon when deposited on solid bodies is soot.

2.

That which resembles smoke; a vapor; a mist.

3.

Anything unsubstantial, as idle talk.

Shak.

4.

The act of smoking, esp. of smoking tobacco; as, to have a smoke.

[Colloq.]

Smoke is sometimes joined with other word. forming self-explaining compounds; as, smoke-consuming, smoke-dried, smoke-stained, etc.

Smoke arch, the smoke box of a locomotive. -- Smoke ball Mil., a ball or case containing a composition which, when it burns, sends forth thick smoke. -- Smoke black, lampblack. [Obs.] -- Smoke board, a board suspended before a fireplace to prevent the smoke from coming out into the room. -- Smoke box, a chamber in a boiler, where the smoke, etc., from the furnace is collected before going out at the chimney. -- Smoke sail Naut., a small sail in the lee of the galley stovepipe, to prevent the smoke from annoying people on deck. -- Smoke tree Bot., a shrub (Rhus Cotinus) in which the flowers are mostly abortive and the panicles transformed into tangles of plumose pedicels looking like wreaths of smoke. -- To end in smoke, to burned; hence, to be destroyed or ruined; figuratively, to come to nothing.<-- same as go up in smoke. -->

Syn. -- Fume; reek; vapor.

 

© Webster 1913.


Smoke, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Smoked (?); p. pr. & vb n. Smoking.] [AS. smocian; akin to D. smoken, G. schmauchen, Dan. smoge. See Smoke, n.]

1.

To emit smoke; to throw off volatile matter in the form of vapor or exhalation; to reek.

Hard by a cottage chimney smokes. Milton.

2.

Hence, to burn; to be kindled; to rage.

The anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke agains. that man. Deut. xxix. 20.

3.

To raise a dust or smoke by rapid motion.

Proud of his steeds, he smokes along the field. Dryden.

4.

To draw into the mouth the smoke of tobacco burning in a pipe or in the form of a cigar, cigarette, etc.; to habitually use tobacco in this manner.

5.

To suffer severely; to be punished.

Some of you shall smoke for it in Rome. Shak.

<-- To be smoking, (a) [Colloq] (Entertainment, sports) To perform in an exciting manner. (b) (Gambling) To be winning in a long streak -->

 

© Webster 1913.


Smoke, v. t.

1.

To apply smoke to; to hang in smoke; to disinfect, to cure, etc., by smoke; as, to smoke or fumigate infected clothing; to smoke beef or hams for preservation.

2.

To fill or scent with smoke; hence, to fill with incense; to perfume.

"Smoking the temple."

Chaucer.

3.

To smell out; to hunt out; to find out; to detect.

I alone Smoked his true person, talked with him. Chapman.

He was first smoked by the old Lord Lafeu. Shak.

Upon that . . . I began to smoke that they were a parcel of mummers. Addison.

4.

To ridicule to the face; to quiz.

[Old Slang]

5.

To inhale and puff out the smoke of, as tobacco; to burn or use in smoking; as, to smoke a pipe or a cigar.

6.

To subject to the operation of smoke, for the purpose of annoying or driving out; -- often with out; as, to smoke a woodchuck out of his burrow.

<-- also used metaphorically, to expose, to cause to be made public; to drive out, as if by smoke. -->

 

© Webster 1913.

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