New Year's Eve at the Smoking Deaths Billboard

KCRW music librarian and DJ Eric J. Lawrence turned me on to this odd annual event. Throughout the year, a giant anti-smoking billboard in West Los Angeles tallies up the number of Americans who have died from lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses. It's a grim message, but Eric told me something surprising: for a few minutes each year, when the counter resets to zero, the billboard becomes the centerpiece of an impromptu neighborhood party. How could I resist checking that out?

wrote about this for the L.A. Times, then did a story for KCRW's broadcast of All Things Considered.