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Pipe Smokers vs. Lawn Crappers

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RPGPundit:
The RPG hobby is plagued with what the internet community has come to call "catpiss" men... what i have called "lawn crappers" in an earlier entry.
 
I think Lawn Crappers has a much more appropriate tone to it, because in reality they are engaging in their undesireable activities in public. By being asses, by going to games or cons or game stores unwashed and filthy, by making publically inappropriate displays, hitting on female gamers (or potential female gamers), etc etc etc. they are in fact, crapping on their front lawn in the RPG community. Sometimes even crapping in the front lawns of others.
 
So its the community's choice whether or not we tolerate these socially retarded individuals doing what they do in the public eye. And if we do, you can bet that pretty soon the good people will move out of the Lawn-crapper's neighbourhood, and more lawn-crappers will come in droves, drawn by the fact that we "tolerate them" (ie. let them crap on lawns).
 
Now RPGs are by far not the only hobby that has these kinds of problems. Star Trek fandom has it. Furry fandom was killed by it. I've been told that model railroading has it in a really bad way.
 
But one hobby where this really isn't a problem is the Pipe smoking/collecting hobby.
 
I've been a pipe smoker for 11 years now, and in that time I was very active in the "pipe collecting" scene, including a brief stint as the manager of a tobacconist.  This would be, I guess, the equivalent of having worked in a friendly local gaming store for the gaming community.  I had a chance, at that time, to see pretty well everyone who was a pipe smoker or collector in that city.
 
I've also seen the community online: pipes.org doesn't have, for whatever reason, the same level of asshattery that you see on ANY roleplaying forum. It also doesn't have the totalitarian moderators that you see in the non-commercial rpg forums, petty dictators with delusions of grandeur.
 
I've already mentioned that there aren't many lawn-crappers in the gaming community here in Uruguay, but I will add to say that the pipe-smoking community in Uruguay is very nice too.
 
So I mean, there have been wierd characters I've run into, over the course of my time as a pipe smoker. But in all my time I would say that there's only been one that has ever even come close to being a Lawn Crapper, and he was only around because his dad was president of the local pipe club.  This guy was seriously disturbed, but he wasn't so much a pipe smoker as a leech who was only there because of the old man.
 
But lets count him, just for statistics sake. Thats one. One catpiss man/lawn crapper in eleven long years of being HIGHLY active in the pipe smoking community. Compared to about 2590 lawn crappers in my 18 or so years in roleplaying games. I really doubt that the pipe scene will make it up in the next seven years, so its fair to say there's something about Pipe Smoking that makes it more resistant to Lawn Crappers.
 
But what is it? Surely at this point some of you might be reading and assuming that there are just different social factors that make it an unfair comparison.
 
For ex, you might say "but pipe smokers are much older, so they don't have the adolescent wankers to deal with".  Well, in reality the pipe smoking scene is not all that old.  In the tobacconist where I'd worked, there were as many guys in their 20s as there were guys in their 40s. On any given night of the week the lounge would be full of guys in their 20s. Here in Uruguay the average age is about 35, with several guys in their 20s in the club, and the youngest being 19 or 20.  On the active level of pipe smoking as a hobby, the average age is actually not more than a decade older than the gaming community is now.  And some of the best pipe makers and tobacco blenders in the world are very young; GL Pease, who makes what are probably seen as the finest tobacco blends around today, is only barely in his 30s, and was already a legend when he was in his mid-20s.
 
And really, I've seen as many Lawn-Crappers in their 20s or 30s as I've seen in their teens. Usually the teens that have what could be considered "lawn crapping" personalities are still young enough that they might be able to grow out of it, whereas the fuckers you really need to get rid of are the ones that are over 21, by which point you can be fairly certain they're not going to stop pooping on your pasture.  The kids, on the other hand, can be turned around, IF they don't see the Lawn Crappers being tolerated and figure its ok to keep sliding down that slipper slope to soiling their garden.
 
Next you might say, "but surely pipe smoking is more socially and financially exclusive".  Not true. In fact, its one of the most varied cultural experiences I've ever seen.  Its one of the few places where I've been able to literally see a minimum-wage factory worker who never finished high school sit next to a multi-multi-millionairre and have a conversation.   Pipe smoking transcends all boundaries of class.  

It is true that you have to have some money to be a pipe smoker in a serious way: a good quality pipe costs at least $100US, and a truly good pipe, like a Dunhill or a Castello, is going to be in the over-$500US range, with prices going on into the thousands. Pipes can be a very expensive hobby; spending that much on a little piece of wood that loses a great deal of resale value the moment you start smoking it, and not to mention spending money on the tobacco itself.
 
But at the same time, it doesn't have to be. Yes, you can be one of these obsessed fucks with 50 pipes in your living room, who'd spend $1000 on  a Dunhill or what have you, but you don't have to be. There are limits to fit almost any price range. The "obsessed fuck" above more or less describes me, but I know other more obsessed fucks that buy nothing but S.Bang or Tony Rodriguez or Kai Nielssen, pipes that don't dip under two grand. Because they can afford it.  And those who can't afford it can still build up a good collection of five or six $100 pipes, something most people can afford, and be none the poorer for it. If you have good smoking pipes, that's all you really need to be part of the "hobby", and only a few Pipe Swine would suggest that you're doing it wrong because you don't have a Bang.
 
So in most ways, the pipe smoking hobby largely resembles roleplaying. It has the same demographics more or less (by which I mean it's majority male, and majority white), it has the same variety of education levels, more or less the same variety of social and income and age scales.
 
What has pipe smoking done differently, that it has largely avoided the catpiss-men/lawn crappers that we see in roleplaying and other such hobbies?
 
To be honest, I don't have the answer. I would like to think it's the pipe itself. Its very difficult to be a shithead and really appreciate a pipe. Most pipe smokers, I have found, are fundamentally great people.  Whether it's that pipe smoking makes you decent, or that you have to be decent to like the simple honest pleasure of a pipe, is a bit of a chicken-egg argument. But it is a truth. Any variety of shitheads can be roleplayers, but only a very certain personality, one that appreciates delicacy, enjoys relaxation and contemplation, admires beauty, and seeks out the fraternity of his fellow collector can be a pipe smoker.  With very few exceptions, the Swine and the Lawn Crappers just can't get into it, it is so inherently contrary to their natures.  And of course, the pipe smokers themselves, with their contemplative relaxed attitudes, will not put up with the nonsense of those few swine or LCs who attempt it.  A pipe smoker knows substance when he sees it, and will not put up with the fake flashy pretentions of the swine, nor will he tolerate the antisocial infirmity of the Lawn-crapper.
 
Not that this helps Roleplaying much. Ah well... I've created a few pipe smoking roleplayers in my years; maybe over time there'll be more, and those pipesmokerroleplayers will help change the face of the hobby.  Hope, after all, does spring eternal.

RPGPundit July 25 2005

Zalmoxis:
I don't smoke... never have. Although I guess if I were to try it, I would do so with a pipe. As for stinky gamers, that's something I never understood. I only played with one stinky gamer in my life. Smelled like an Egyptian sailor, and yes, I do in fact know what that smells like.:p

mythusmage:
Actually, it's all about social attitudes. Pipe smokers have a reputation of being discriminating people. They simply don't tolerate clods and clowns. That's the pipe smoker way. Role-gamers were raised under a different socialization meme. Namely, you don't discriminate. To bar people because of what they are or how they behave is wrong, and so you don't do it.

Never mind that some people simple can't be tolerated. Serial killers for example. It's a matter of physical, social, and environmental health. As former New York City Mayor Rudolf Guliani pointed out, you don't clean up the litter in a neighborhood, in due time you'll lose the neighborhood.

We let people in the RPG neighborhood litter in the early days, and now we face the possibility of losing RPGs. The current situation continues we may well see RPGs go the way of the dodo.

So here are some proposals of mine.

1. Only those who make a serious attempt to be clean shall be admitted to any gaming convention. Those who appear at the convention in an unclean state shall be turned away, their money refunded if they have prepaid for membership.

2. All children 17 or younger must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

3. All convention GMs shall have the right to refuse entry to a game to any person who, in his opinion, stinks. Said player shall have his game fee (if any) refunded, and may be escorted from the convention and given a pro-rata refund for the convention as a whole.

4. The convention shall have the right to rescind the membership of any GM who allows a stinky person to play in his game. Refunds as appropriate.

5. Any tournament game or game session that allows a stinky player forfeits any and all prizes due for participation and/or winning.

And that's as far as I've gotten. I'm sure there is more that can be done, but I'll leave it up to respondents to add more.

beejazz:
There isn't really much potential for obsession is all.

Is there some sort of massive theory to back up your enjoyment of a pipe? Are there 32,000 pipe books to be painstakingly memorized? If you're "obsessed" with pipes, do you smoke alot, dress up as a pipe, or speak in a fictional pipe-language? Probably not the latter two.

Also, pipes are mainstream and accessible. There are no "pipe geeks" who feel the need to support other "pipe geeks" because pipe smokers are some sort of persecuted minority.

Just some thoughts.

Zalmoxis:

--- Quote from: mythusmage ---Pipe smokers have a reputation of being discriminating people.
--- End quote ---


Really? Cite please. The only people I know in real life who smoke pipes are old people and snobs. Oh, and old snobs. That doesn't mean I think all pipe smokers are like that though. In fact I imagine they are just like everyone else, but they just enjoy a pipe. No biggie.

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