smokingdeathsEvery December 31st, huge crowds of people all around the world gather to welcome the New Year. They huddle together in barren public squares, exhausted and freezing, in the belief that if enough people do something unpleasant at the same time that makes it worthwhile.

I’ve never been tempted to join them. Why would I, when a neighborhood near my own home has a public year-end ritual more memorable, communal and weird than any other I know of?

I’m talking about New Year’s Eve at the Smoking Deaths billboard.

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