Guest Blogger

Say Goodbye to Fun, San Francisco! Sex and Smoking Ban On the Way

Guest blogger Neal Pollack has been a satirist (Vanity Fair), a sexologist (, and a cultural anthropologist (McSweeney's). Here, Pollack will explore all the wild, weird, and noteworthy stories you may have missed.


When it comes to progressive social reforms—gay marriage, medical marijuana, locavore soup kitchens for transgendered anarchist bike messengers—no U.S. city is even close to San Francisco's equal. The news recently broke that S.F. was considering an incredibly comprehensive smoking ban to supplement the now-quotidian smoking ban that it adopted in the late 1990s. After all, cities in Texas have adopted their own smoking bans. San Francisco must stay ahead of the curve.

According to the amazingly-still-published San Francisco Chronicle, the ban would extend to the "doors, vents and operable windows of any building—restaurants, shops, offices and housing complexes," as well as outdoor tables, transit stops, "farmers' markets, lines for movie theaters, concerts and sporting events, near ATMs and cab stands."

The tiny Venn diagram of people who smoke at farmers' markets must be crushed, but the ban would go further, says the Chronicle. Though we're no fan of secondhand smoke, this seems a bit excessive: "Courtyards, yards, hallways, elevators, lobbies, stairwells, laundry rooms and other common areas of any residential property with two or more units. People who smoke outside would have to stand at least 10 feet away from doors and windows. And anyone who smokes inside their own apartment would be required to keep their doors shut. Single-family homes would not be affected." Sure. For now.

Meanwhile, a small percentage of San Franciscans with nothing better to do are debating whether or not the city should allow public displays of sex at the annual Folsom Street Fair, where whippings and fellatio are what corndogs and Indian fry bread are to to the rest of us. One mayoral candidate has discussed the prospect of setting up a "sex tent" so people can still get their drunken blow jobs on the street, just not while the kids are watching. "There are definitely people interested in seeing more public sex," he said.

That's one politician who understands his constituency. But where are they going to enjoy their cigarette afterward?

—Neal Pollack

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