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Another Portland Blog

Saturday, December 04, 2004

 

Commie Week #6

Like all good things, Commie Week must come to an end. This last one hails not from Seattle's Fremont district or the comic section of Powell's Bookstore but Sweet Mother Russia herself. Take a peek, if you will, at an authentic communist cigarette case.




OK, maybe it's not authentic and maybe it's not communist but it did come from Russia. "Eatyourdamnpeas," whose comments you may have read in W2B's feedback boards, made a twelve week trek through the former USSR over the summer. I asked him to bring me back one of these and, sure enough, he did. And what did I bring him back from Japan? Not a damn thing but I did buy him a few drinks in exchange his efforts.




Peas also tossed in ten Russian cigarettes. Unlike the more western death sticks that litter the continent-size nation, these are made up almost entirely of empty, cylindrical tubes. The brown part at the tip is not a filter, it's the tobacco, composing only a scant 20% of the total cigarette.

Packs of these run .25 cents. To smoke them, you have to fold the tube twice, creating a pseudo-filter that prevents flaming balls o' cancer from entering your lungs, not that it matters much. The tobacco is incredibly low grade and the smoke feels like broken shards of glass. If ever there was an argument for the free market, this is it.

I took the case with me to Eugene a few months back and offered the cigarettes to "Flog" and a few friends. After we lighted up, they were immediately disgusted by them. I'm pretty sure I was the only one that managed to get an entire cigarette. Sometime later, Flog claimed they caused him to "see weird colors" in the bathroom. Maybe that isn't tobacco in there.




The cigarettes themselves may be interrogation devices meant for the lungs of US spies. The case itself is also potentially deadly. On the side is a button that deceptively looks like a trigger to access the cigarettes inside. Instead, it's a high-powered lighter. On my first attempt to open the case, I nearly lit my right hand on fire.

A booby-trapped cigarette case loaded with hallucinogenic cigarettes. For obvious reasons, this is the best present I've recieved since the mogwai I was given last Xmas. Apparently, I'm supposed to keep him away from sunlight and water but, really, something must have been lost in the translation. I've never heard such stupid rules for a pet.

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