ASK MAX:: Anti-Passive

April 30th 2013


Dear Max,

 I recently moved in to a new apartment in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. It’s a lovely place and I’m really enjoying living there … with one exception: my neighbour is a chain smoker.

 Every afternoon he sits on the balcony adjacent to mine and smokes more than a pack of cigarettes, meaning I can’t sit on MY balcony without copping his secondhand smoke in my face.

 How can I get my neighbour to exercise some courtesy?





In this life, there are many problems you can deal with yourself. This is not one of those problems. You did the right thing coming to me.

Secondhand smoke – or Nature’s Viagra, as it’s known in scientific circles – is one of the leading causes of cancerous death in men and women and also retirement in Menthol Mooses (Meese? Mose? Meese.) worldwide. To be honest with you, it’s horrible and sad and gross and no laughing matter at all, but I’ll be damned if that hasn’t stopped me from trying before.

To get to the bottom of what you can do about your discourteous neighbour, you need to get inside his mind. To do this, you could attempt some form of Men in Black style neutralisation resulting in the accidental whitewashing of Agent K’s memory RIP4evaTommyLeeJones, or, more simply, you could start by asking yourself two very poignant questions:

1) What is the plural of ‘Moose’? Is it Meese? (THE ANSWER IS YES GOOD JOB).

2) Why does he smoke in the first place?

While the real answer probably has something to do with all of that sweet, sweet addictive carcinogenic tar and arsenic that first-hand smokers get to inhale on a day-to-day basis, the answer you’re about to read is different. In truth, the reason that smoking has become such a popular social pass-time is twofold:

Firstly, it’s undeniably cool.

What better way to show your society/your dad/whoever it is you are mad at that you’re a total fucking hell man than by slowly and confidently coughing your way through your first pack?  Lookatchu, tempting fate in such an insidiously menial way, staring Satan coyly in the eyes, blissfully unaware that HE IS WINNING AND YOU ARE DYING.

More to the point, it’s also an excellent way of giving back to the community that has given you, the smoker, so much: plain packaging, never-ending taxes, arbitrary and ultimately nonexistent music festivals… the list goes on. Capitalism is alive and well in the smoking community, and you’d be wise to remember it. Sure, we could talk about the obscene amount of money that gets kicked back into government by tobacco lobbies, more or less meaning that the smoking community’s continued march along the consumerist drumline indirectly facilitates the government’s ability to continue to supply the plain packaging, never-ending taxes and nonexistent music festivals that they do love so dearly – but it’s much easier to say that it just feels nice to be a part of something and leave it at that.



So what can you do about your neighbour?

It’s obvious. If he’s intent on smothering you with socialist smoke, you need to one-up him with something that is even more damaging: obnoxious punk music. START A BAND, TIM. Make sure it’s loud, derogatory, and most of all, terrible. If you’re looking for an example, I have provided one in the video below. Of course, you can’t just go around starting punk bands willy nilly to solve all of life’s problems: you need a name first. For your convenience, I have supplied several semi-offensive puns for you to choose from:


  • X-Ray Charles
  • Marlon Blando
  • Duran Duran Duran
  • Gang Grape
  • Kevin Devine Fits
  • Starland Vocal Band of Horses
  • First We Take Manhattan Then We Take On Me By A-Ha


I will say, however, that being in a band can be a stressful time. Prepare yourself for endless infighting and creative differences to contend with, alongside the disappointing reality that you’re never going to make any money ever.

If you’re looking for a stress release, I’d suggest you take up smoking.


Live your dream,





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