Breaking Broker.


I’m not in the garage or a lounge smoking a cigar.  I’m in my office and that’s why I may be so damn grumpy.  No cigar. I also drove seven hours up and back to a store today, drew up a small sale and had multiple issues with other orders that were filled wrong and orders that I made errors on that I have to fix.  At one point I had to stop at an oasis to correct them right then and there.

But what really upset me was what I read in a post that this person writing was seemingly addicted to FB.  And then the thought came to me that as much as it sounds like sheer lunacy, I think this person is right.  FB can become enslavement.  Tin Foil?

Whatever happened to people talking to people?  Are we being pulled into the world of FB by design?  Think about this? What do we check every few seconds?  How do we communicate with each other? Are we paying attention to what’s going on around us?

Chicago’s Alderman Ed Burke, recently indicted for alleged extortion, (Federal agents were seen at Chicago Ald. Ed Burke’s offices at both City Hall and in the 14th Ward Thursday morning. The glass doors to Burke’s City Hall office were papered over, while the purpose of the visit(s) was unclear. Carol Marin reports. (Published Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, Chicago Trib) was recently REELECTED!???

What?  Are we intellectually slowly going the way of the dodo bird?  A free society so consumed with distractions and apathy and fun, fun, fun that the string theory i.e. “a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings . . . (and that) these strings propagate through space and interact with each other,”  actually makes sense? We’re not human beings anymore.  We’re “particles!” (Wiki)

Yeah.  I’m nuts and the rest of the world is sane, right?  Indifference has been around since the dawn of time.  It preys on our subjectivity of what is and what isn’t.  (I really need a cigar!!! Gotta calm down.) It was highlighted in the 50s and 60s during the reign of Khrushchev.  A period of time when peoples’ minds were so preoccupied with the threat of communism becoming the norm our uncontrolled thoughts began to play tricks on people. Who was (is?) in charge?  “We the People . . . “ And why the constant electronic distractions?  It’s much worse now than in it was in the 60s.  And Zuckerberg?  Who does he really work for?   Look at history.


“Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964.” (Wiki)

Apocryphal quotes attributed to Khrushchev:


“We cannot expect Americans to jump from capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have Communism.”

“We will bury you without firing a shot”

“We will bury you from within without firing a shot.”

“We will take over American and never fire a shot”

“We will destroy America without wasting one bullet”

“We will take America without firing a shot…….We will BURY YOU! We can’t expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism. We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.”

“You Americans are so gullible! We don’t have to invade you! We will destroy you from within without firing a shot! We will bury you by the billions! We spoon feed you socialism until your (sic) Communists and don’t even know it! We assist your elected leaders in giving you small doses of Socialism until you suddenly awake to find you have Communism. The day will come when your grandchildren will live under communism” (

Is any of this getting through?  Communism?  No!  Socialism?  Ask Bernie Sanders!

“A Cigar PLEASE!

My point.  Too many distractions cause the populace to wax and wane from truth to fantasy to indifference.  “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. For the next hour (?) we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits.  And what keeps us inattentive today?  Tiny glass screens.  FB! Instagram! Cell Phones! Tic Toc. Mascara that won’t run! Artists that just sign their names!  New Cigars!  Commercials!

“Remember the shoe incident!  Remember the shoe incident!“

“Hold it.  Stop him. Somebody get a cigar, hurry.”

“He’s freakin’ indoors!”

“Fuck it.  It’s gettn’ bad this time.”


Nice glow.

“Now draw, damnit!  DRAW!”



“Yeah, better.”



The Rule of Three.

three radish.jpg

“The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that a trio of events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers.  Examples include the Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and the Three Musketeers.
“The rule of three is (a) powerful speechwriting technique that you should learn, practice, and master. Using the Rule of Three allows you to express concepts more completely, emphasize your points, and increase the memorability of your message. That’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

“The rule of three for survival is that you can (most likely) survive for three minutes without air (oxygen) or in icy water.  You can survive for three hours without shelter in a harsh environment (unless in icy water). You can survive for three hours without water (if sheltered from a harsh environment).  You can survive for three weeks without food (if you have water and shelter).

It’s a shame or should I call it an oddity that the rule of three doesn’t exist in the cigar manufacturing business.  In fact, if I would take an educated guess, there isn’t a cigar manufacturer that knows what “The rule of three is.” That begs that question – why?

It’s a natural number that goes way back not only in humanistic terms but spiritual ones as well.  Per example, “ . . . Three is the number of perfection or completion. This number is repeated throughout the Bible as a symbol of completeness. God’s attributes are three: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. … On the third day, the earth rose from the water, symbolic of resurrection life.”   The Holy Trinity? (Wiki)

So here’s what you get in the cigar business is scrambled eggs and not only from those who have one or two years (candela novices – expected) in the business but sadly even from those who have been around for decades.  (And please don’t bring up the European size connection, stay here in the USA if you can just for a moment.)

Sizes for brands today include 7 x 64, 4¾ x 54, 5⅛ x 55, 8 x 80, 7½ x 40, 4½ x 60, and on and on and on.  When and if the manufacturers would follow the rule of three there would be a 4⅞ x 50 (Cuban Robusto), a 6 x 52 (Cuban Toro), and now the 6 x 60 (USA Gordo).

Now, of course, there are many, many, many more vitolas that are adored by the cigar smoker, but if you had to stick to the rule of three – the Robusto, the Toro, and the Gordo – would fill the bill.

I can’t say the corona (5⅝ x 42), or the Lancero (7 x 38) or even the Churchill (7 x 48) are goofy sizes.  They are traditional and have been made for decades. But for the reason that really no one can explain, a newbie manufacturer comes on the market with as many as 20 sizes!  Are they nuts? Are they trying to cover all their bases? Or are they just ignorant business people (excuse me cigar lovers) who have been swayed by the manufacturers with the old sales adage, “The more the merrier?”  Who can say? I sure can’t. At least not with any certainty.

The only conclusion I can come to is, “Oh, what the hell – why not?”  But by bringing out such a shamble of sizes – that’s not a marketing plan.  That philosophy is simply slinging s..t against the wall hoping that something sticks.  Give it some thought. Perhaps the times they are changing, but three is a sacred number in more ways than some may ever be able to grapple with to succeed in the cigar trade.

I AM in control, not cigars.


What do I do when my tank as a cigar broker reads empty?  I fill it with ideas, shapes, forms, crowds of people, the silence of a church, noises, artists, sculptures, images, contemporary thought, ancient scripts, books, magazines, brochures, architectural masterpieces, an hour at Chicago’s Art Institute the Modern Wing, Rembrandt, I visit mentally and if possible, physically someone who I am afraid of, I drink fizzy Coke®️and revel in the effects of caffeine, I listen to my heart racing in my throat, I stand in front of a Gerhard Richter painting and discover all of its implications, I try to decipher Cy Twombly’s diction, or I cock my head trying to understand Portrait of Marevna by Diego Rivera (above), I get onto the train early, I ignore those who arrive after me, then I stare, I listen for a sound that I have never heard before, I change my seat due to a bad smell, I scribble notes, I imagine myself as a dry sponge that’s just now beginning to expand, I feel guilty, I regret not walking to Christie’s, I remain grounded, I sense a trickle of energy as one would sense a suture without pain relief, I marvel at the green-colored glass that makes me sleepy, I take a photo, I review those I took, I try to remain in the present always and can feel that the sponge has overflowed and its drippings are filling my tank, and most of all I try to feel safe and reject consternation (Ha!), I can have a dry vessel but the opportunities to keep it brimming with life is always my choice, no one else has the power, the strength, the temerity to tangle with my vision, be it oftimes blurred or crystalline clear. Peace is difficult to capture but reaching out isn’t.

(Painting: Portrait of Marevna About 1915, by Diego Rivera – Mexican 1886-1097)


You are HOW you smoke.


You are how you smoke?  Not what you smoke?  What?  Take this tact for clarity:

“Typography can be elegant or clumsy, alluring or off-putting, but the reader may feel that the authorial presence is only partly there on the printed or electronic page. Handwriting conjures up not only the voice but the movement of the writer’s hand that Richard Wilbur once compared to “fresh tracks across a field of snow.’  In the eighteenth century, the Swiss philosopher and physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater observed: I have remarked a perfect analogy in the language, movement of the body of a person, and his handwriting. The more I compare different handwritings, the more am I (sic) convinced that handwriting is the expression of the character of him who writes’”.*

This could be expanded to include – IF we write at all –  “Anne Trubek, (the) author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, once wrote ‘I am a college professor and a freelance writer, and the only time I pick up a pen is to sign a credit-card receipt . . . We cling to handwriting out of a romantic sense that script expresses identity.’”

Point of fact, note how any smoker holds his or her cigar.  Some are grabbers, others are prissy, such as those who hold the cigar with his or her thumb and index finger.  Rocky always holds his cigar to pose. He’s always posing. Most cradle the cigar within the index finger and the crook of the thumb joint against the middle finger.  Others just don’t have a clue how to hold the damn thing.

Question is, what does this say about you?  Are you an aficionado if you hold it one way or considered a classless prole if you hold it another fashion?  So that begs the question, what is the right way?  Which will immediately be answered by the smarmy smart ass in the lounge, “Who gives a fuck?”   Slop, slop, draw, draw.

That wasn’t polite.  My apologies.  But he’s right.  Who does give a hoot?  The real conundrum at hand is HOW you smoke a cigar NOT the position it’s held in your hand that reveals your character.  Though it is part of the equation.   Hmmm.  That edges into the realms of philosophy, manners, and ultimately – civility.  Yes? The latter word that seems to have lost all its gusto over the years.  Merriam-Webster defines civility as, “archaic : training in the humanities.”  OhhhhhhhKay.  The definition that may turn our head is really quite mundane,  having a modicum of “courtesy or politeness.”  Which is fine but not realistic, considering were closing in on 2020, teenage girls say “Fuck you at a drop of a hat, and condoms are offered free at least in one cigar lounge’s loo.  “For the times they are a changin’.

So in reality, if, as suggested by Christine Nelson, editor of “The Magic of Handwriting” the latter practice, i.e handwriting, is an extension of our identity, isn’t how we smoke a cigar the exact same thing?  Methinks it is.  “Sam!

I mean,  “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world she walks into mine.”    Life.  Sorry.  I digress.  Terrible affliction (a blessing?) to have rushing thoughts.  Look around at any lounge in any city, in any country, in any town. The guys and gals come in to smoke a cigar. If a patron can take his or her eyes off the big screen and observe how other people smoke cigars, they might have an inkling as to why this or that person is acting one way or why another person acts in a totally different manner.  Character, man.  Woman?  

But the fact remains, there is a certain amount of truth in the fact that a person smokes a cigar a certain way for a variety of reasons such as vanity, self-consciousness, ignorance, intimidation, arrogance, shyness, or even illness.

It’s all up for discussion.  Note TLS reviewer Alberto Manguel writes that “Electronic type allows anyone to be a published author.  Future generations will tell if this miraculous technology has also eliminated what Lavater saw as ‘the expression of character’ in the movements of the writing hand.’”

Or to further this postulation “the expression of character” in the movements of how one smokes his or her cigar.  And does it really actually matter.  Or is it just another variation of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  Could be.

(*Times Literary Supplement 3.15.19.   Quotes from “”You are how you write.”  From “The Magic of Handwriting,” edited by Christine Nelson, reviewed by Alberto Manguel.)















The Burroughs Cigar Connection.

cigar burroughs

Every cigar has a fan.  There is not one rolled up cylinder of fermented tobacco out in the marketplace that will not please someone.  I call this the “Burroughs Cigar Connection.” Why?

It’s so simple I’m surprised I’m writing about it.  I can name hundreds of cigar brands and I can name hundreds of authors or writers, you can call them what you will, depending on your pedigree and ego.  They both put pen to paper, or now – fingers to a keyboard.

William S. Burroughs was a writer of what some call the “Beat Generation.”  Summed up the “Beat Generation” was a group of writers that included, of course – William S. Burroughs (1914-1997); Jack Kerouac (1922-1969); Allen Ginsberg (1922-1997); Neal Cassidy (1926-1968); Gregory Corso (1930-2001); Peter Orlovsky (1933, 2010); Ferlinghetti, Snyder, Holmes, Herbert Huncke ((1915-1996) and so many more.

Why the moniker “Beat Generation?”  “Kerouac introduced the phrase ‘Beat Generation in 1948 to characterize a perceived underground anti-conformist youth movement in New York. The name arose in a conversation with writer John Clellon Holmes.” (Wiki)  And on the Steve Allen show broadcast in 1959, Kerouac himself said it meant “sympathetic.”

It was in a sense similar to the Dada Art movement.  “Dadaism is an artistic moment in modern art that started around World War I. Its purpose was to ridicule the meaninglessness of the modern world. Its peak was 1916 to 1922, and it influenced surrealism, pop art, and punk rock. It favored going against the standards of society.” (Wiki).

Why Dada?  “The founder of Dada was a writer, Hugo Ball. In 1916 he started a satirical night-club in Zurich, the Cabaret Voltaire, and a magazine which, wrote Ball, ‘will bear the name ‘Dada.’  ‘Dada, Dada, Dada, Dada.’ This was the first of many Dada publications. Dada became an international, (legitimate art) movement and eventually formed the basis of surrealism in Paris after the war.” (

It’s contrarian thinking at its most base form with a permanent moniker attached that somehow stuck and has, through time, remained.  But what it was, or is, is simply going against the grain. Splinters. Mostly painful, but the insertion heals and the bump remains.

Ergo, the Burroughs Cigar Connection.  Oh, I’m sure one could call it, the “Contrarian  Generation,” or “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama.” “A pistol.”  It doesn’t matter.

What’s inimical is there were (are) so many detractors to anything new.  My raison d’être (taken from a sentence in a book by Carl Gustav Jung: the individuation is the raison d’être of the self) for calling out those who have (a) harsh criticism of a cigar to be forever known as being unaware or of the “Burroughs Cigar Connection.”

Burroughs would try anything – often drugs, experimental filming techniques, but mostly novels – and he would attempt to jerk you to one side with his phrasings and subject matters in his literary works of addiction.  For example, from his most famous, infamous nee notorious novel “Naked Lunch.”  If I may quote Wiki, “‘Naked Lunch’ is a non-linear narrative without a clear plot. The following is a summary of some of the events in the book that could be considered the most relevant. The book begins with the adventures of William Lee (also known as “Lee the Agent”), who is Burroughs’ alter ego in the novel.” Sounds innocent enough. But it ramps up to “Because there’s always a space between … giving away the basic American rottenness.”  Escalating to  “Well, as you can plainly see, the possibilities are endless like meandering paths in a great big beautiful garden.”

May I quote a small portion of Stefan Beck’s review from of the underground classic as it turned Fifty.  “Naked Lunch” is one of those regrettable works that must be defended on the grounds that it does well what it set out to do, with no consideration given to whether what it set out to do is worth doing. It is very . . . like a nightmare — so? Its vocabulary is pathetically limited, with ‘insect,’ ‘erectile,’ and ‘atrophied’ appearing as adjectives over and over again, whether or not they make any sense; its stunted imagination reaches reflexively to drug culture and medical or anthropological gross-out lore. Its satire is all telegraphic . . . .”

As in the literature of the underground, including Charles Barovsky, there are those boutique cigars that can be considered immersed in that same viscous milieux.  But they are enjoyed and revered among those who like them!

My point of view of cigars today.


As the body bag on the gurney was wheeled down the steps, one of the well-dressed men slipped slightly on the chipped concrete causing the black cocoon to jiggle briefly emphasizing the outline of my neighbor’s gut.  He was a big man.

My bag of cigars was at my side as I poked my head out the front door window staying slightly back so I wouldn’t feel like Mrs. Kravitz – the busybody from the 60s TV show Bewitched.  Whatever prep that needed to be done seemed to take very little time from when the transporter hearse first pulled into the driveway.

My phone signaled me that I had received a text.  I signed in and read the note. It was a question about shipping charges.  Yeah, shipping.  Ironic. The trip down the steps was now smooth and the dull-shaded gray plastic bag was no doubt being sprinkled with the light rain that was falling.  

Two women stood in the doorway.  It was only a few feet to the rear of the car.  My neighbor’s wife was tall and thin. The other figure, maybe the daughter or daughter-in-law, was much shorter.  As the men grappled with the gurney, I saw both women just standing there. I couldn’t see any trembling, or hugging, or closeness between the two.

Placing the body and the fold-up stretcher into the oversized rear of the car was taken care of quickly.  Both women watched and just stood there behind the open doors that had been propped open by the hydraulic mechanism.  It would be the last time my neighbor would ever leave his house.

Once the transfer was completed, the rear door of the black car was gently closed.  The younger woman waved as the car simply drove away as if it had just delivered flowers. It was only then that the doors to the house were closed. First the winter storm door, and then the wooden one.  The shades were drawn.

I looked at my bag of cigars and the briefcase.  I just stood there imagining that I could hear the silence in the house across the street even though the sounds of a landscaper’s lawn mower continued to whirr despite the cold mist.  I know that feeling of silence.  Its deafening memory will never be stilled.  Even after the grieving process, that black, dark void will never leave the mind’s consciousness.

It was getting late – for me.  I had an appointment. I hoisted my briefcase and grasped the handles of my cigar bag.  I was going to smoke a cigar on the way to my first stop, but – now, I just didn’t feel like it.

When I walked to my car, the stillness I imagined continued to pierce my eardrums.  My eyes couldn’t avoid looking at the house, as if I were guilty in some way.  My eyes. Looked up. Looked down. Looked up. Looked down. The dull brown, aluminum-sided house. In all the years we’ve been here, the occupants never updated the aluminum siding on the outside.  But today, dramatic differences were indeed on the inside.

I entered my car and turned the key to the ignition – slowly drove down the driveway, unavoidably staring at the house and made my usual turn – trying desperately to keep my mind on my first stop. But it just didn’t seem important.


Published in 1839.

treatise 2

When smoking a cigar, the duty of the participant is to enjoy the stick while watching the TV, listening to the radio or reading.  For certain, the following author will most likely not be found amongst the printed materials in any lounge, but the point is to relax.

But!  If the occasion should arise and one can get his or her hands on the works of Honoré de Balzac, give it a thumb through.  I did and was delightfully educated on the subject matters that fascinated him. “One thing is essential about the characters of Balzac: they are multi-faceted. Even the simplest ones are morally ambiguous, complex, completely human. In his profound observation of the human soul, Balzac mirrors human character in inanimate objects and the city of Paris itself becomes a character full of life.  

“Through the seven short stories selected here, you can know a little more about this author and a little more about yourself.”  (Wiki)

More about the author?  He’s was a roustabout.  “Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) was a French novelist and playwright. The novel sequence La Comédie Humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is generally viewed as his magnum opus.”  (Wiki)

I beg to differ.  Not only was he a bit of a pip, but he was a pseudo-philosopher with opinions laced with an acerbic wit that are long forgotten today but are available to read should you have the curiosity to look them up.

For example, instead of his oft-cited magnum opus, methinks one of his greatest contributions to literature was his small but curious Treatise on Modern Stimulants. May I quote:  “Honoré de Balzac’s Treatise on Modern Stimulants is a meditation on five stimulants–tea, sugar, coffee, alcohol and tobacco–by an author very conscious of the fact that his gargantuan output of work was driven by an excessive intake (his bouts of writing typically required 10 to 15 cups of coffee a day) that would ultimately shorten his life.

no3First published in French in 1839 as an appendix to Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s Physiology of Taste, this Treatise was at once Balzac’s effort at addressing what he perceived to be an oversight in that cornerstone of gastronomic literature; a chapter toward his never-completed body of analytic studies (alongside such essays as Treatise on Elegant Living) that were to form an overarching ‘pathology of social life’; and a meditation on the impact of pleasure and excess on the body and the role they play in shaping society.”  (Google)

Despite his ruminations on coffee, sugar, tea, and alcohol, we shall skim this tiny classic (79 pages in toto – 11 on the subject at hand) shining the light on his thoughts concerning tobacco.  (Koop would be delighted at his caustic prose denigrating yet uplifting the “evils” of the leaf. I’m sure there would be spin.)

While I have not enough attention span to deliver another treatise, I can say, without doubt, that Balzac did not see the total efficacy of the stimulant as a total negative, but took note of its prowess as, shall we say –  a cure?  But, of course, with his belief of the pitfalls of anything that causes the body to produce mucus, his opinion is up for discussion. His words exactly: “All excesses that harm our mucus systems shorten our life spans.”

He writes of one case on the assumption that a man (or a woman I presume) “believes he can smoke indefinitely.  Wrong. . . . a heavy smoker was built like a strongman, and had it not been for overwork and excessive smoking, he would have lived to over a hundred. He recently died in the prime of his life, at least in terms of his robust constitution. And to conclude, one tobaccophile dandy had a gangrenous throat and, because its surgical removal was obviously quite impossible, he died.”  (Treatise p.30)

But “given a choice between his beloved and a cigar, a dandy would not hesitate to leave his woman, just as a convict would stay in jail if he could have unlimited quantities of tobacco at his own discretion.”

What does this say about tobacco?  I really don’t know.  I’m just sitting here enjoying the read with my cigar.