Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Lots of Smoke at Blackhawk Saloon

The leader of the local fight against the Kanawha County Health Department's smoking ban is Paco Ellison, owner of The Blackhawk Saloon, a little dive off Piedmont Road just east of Charleston. Interestingly enough the place is, at this writing, burning down.

Paco's last quote in the Gazette was ironic: "I think they're bluffing," Ellison said Wednesday. "We're going to continue to smoke here until they prove to me I can't. I'm going to stay right where I'm at until they take action."

As I see it there are two possible explanations for the fire:

1. The militant anti-smoking activists torched it (unlikely).
2. Friction Fire - a bad investment rubbing up against a good insurance policy (likely).

It will be interesting to see Paco's public reaction to the fire.


Bemused said...

Glad to see you back and hope you have been well.

Pet peeve: A fire at a place that advocates smoking is not "ironic." English lacks a really good word for something appropriately coincidental or that seems like poetic justice, but that doesn't make "ironic" correct.

Charles said...

Coincidentally, I have the same pet peeve. I can't stand when people use "ironic" when they mean "coincidentally".

And yes, I agree I used it incorrectly - a result of bad editing. But couldn't it be argued that Paco's statement would be ironic for him if it was proven that the fire resulted from a cigarette?


The words ironic, irony, and ironically are sometimes used of events and circumstances that might better be described as simply "coincidental" or "improbable," in that they suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly. Thus 78 percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of ironically in the sentence In 1969 Susie moved from Ithaca to California where she met her husband-to-be, who, ironically, also came from upstate New York. Some Panelists noted that this particular usage might be acceptable if Susie had in fact moved to California in order to find a husband, in which case the story could be taken as exemplifying the folly of supposing that we can know what fate has in store for us. By contrast, 73 percent accepted the sentence Ironically, even as the government was fulminating against American policy, American jeans and videocassettes were the hottest items in the stalls of the market, where the incongruity can be seen as an example of human inconsistency.

Chris James said...

Welcome back.

Bemused said...

Not really. in the strict or original sense of the word, "ironic" refers to using language to convey a thought contrary to the literla mening of the words. such as:

The owner watching his building go up in flames remarked that he was glad he had just invested in a state of the art sprinkler system.

In the broader sense, now approved by many dictionaries if not English teachers, "ironic" is uses to refer to something happening that is the opposite of what would be anticipated from conditions and actions. Such as:

The health and fitness guru who constantly attempted to persuade his brother to quit smoking learned today he has lung cancer, but his older brother with the two pack a day habit remains in perfect health.

Here, a fire resulting from a cigarette might be called "just deserts," "poetic justice," "karma" or something like that but because it is consistent with rather than contrary what one might expect from allowing burnng material it is pretty much the opposite of ironic.

Wv Sky said...

The two comments that Paco made to the Press were hilarious:

1... "There was so much smoke in the bar, we had no idea the place was on fire."

2... "We could have gotten the fire out a lot quicker if we'd had fire extinguishers in the bar".

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