Everything will be all right. Guaranteed.

everything is allright

[Chorus 1: George Harrison]

Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze

Well it’s all right if you live the life you please

Well it’s all right, doing the best you can

Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand

[Verse 1: Tom Petty]

You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring

Waiting for someone to tell you everything

Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring

Maybe a diamond ring

[Chorus 2: Jeff Lynne]

Well it’s all right, even if they say you’re wrong

Well it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strong

Well it’s all right, as long as you got somewhere to lay

Well it’s all right, every day is Judgement Day

[Verse 2: Tom Petty]

Maybe somewhere down the road away

You’ll think of me, and wonder where I am these days

Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays

Purple haze

[Chorus 3: Roy Orbison]

Well it’s all right, even when push comes to shove

Well it’s all right if you got someone to love

Well it’s all right, everything’ll work out fine

Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

[Verse 3: Tom Petty]

Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive

I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive

It don’t matter if you’re by my side

I’m satisfied

[Chorus 4: George Harrison, Jeff Lynne & George Harrison]

Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and grey

Well it’s all right, you still got something to say

Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live

Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive

Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze

Well it’s all right if you live the life you please

Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine

Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMVjToYOjbM

(© 2020 Genius Media Group Inc.  VERIFIED ARTISTS All Artists)

Renowned cigar personalities for all.

emperor2

Do any of the top cigar makers claim to be the emperor of cigars?  No.  For that title, it’s the public’s place to promote an ordinary individual to that pompous position.  And do they?  Of course, they do.

The idea of an emperor of cigars is a rather humorous idea when you really give it some thought.  But many cigar smokers have placed upon a pedestal their person of choice to be number one.  

Question is what is an emperor?  The dictionary definition is one who is a monarch, the “sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm.”  (Wiki)

Would the cigar community be considered an empire?  A secondary dictionary meaning is “an extensive group of states or countries under a single supreme authority, formerly especially an emperor or empress.” Or condensed to a modern-day meaning “ a large commercial organization owned or controlled by one person or group.” (Google)  I suppose if I were to take literary license, the cigar community could be considered as such.  Would you agree?

In a freelance article written by the Classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement, Mary Beard, she expounds on not only what an emperor is but what is most interesting what does an emperor actually do?  To quote from her July 24 essay referring back to the author of “The Emperor in the Roman World,” by Fergus Millar (1977) “ . . . The most familiar image is of one long party, interspersed with off-beat sex, casual sadism, and megalomaniac pretensions of divine power. This is not only the stuff of film and fiction. Many of the most lurid stories come from ancient writers themselves, who told of Tiberius’ unsavoury (sic) antics with small boys in his swimming pool on Capri and of Domitian’s hobby of skewering flies with his pen. ‘Is there anyone in with the emperor?’ a senator, outside the imperial suite, was once asked. ‘Not even a fly’, was the clever (sic), if chilling, reply.”

On the other hand, Beard continues  “ . . . the Roman ruler (could be considered) as an overworked bureaucrat, up by dawn to start working through his correspondence, spending hours of the day adjudicating legal disputes from every part of the empire, burdened with the ancient equivalent of ‘red boxes’ even on his days off.”

So there is a commonality of someone being the “one” who is in complete control.  In our cigar community that “one” individual does not exist in actuality but rather in the minds of cigar smokers.

Some might say, Fuente, Padrón, Patel, or Garcia as the “one” who cigar smokers feel is at the top of his game and rules by brand and not command.  But that would take out some of the newer players that are reaching heights of popularity, such as Oscar Valladares (The Leaf); Johnny Piette (Isabela); and, Ram Rodriguez (El Artista).  All of whom have made remarkable, and indelible marks in the cigar firmament – lasting stars, like the sun.

So it is implausible to give the imprimatur of emperor to any one of those mentioned and so many more left to imagine.  Yet at conventions, appearances, and local events it is not unusual to find cigar groupies waiting and wishing to move near and breathe the same air of JD, RP, or NP.

It takes a lot to move me toward anyone of fame, but as long as the famous don’t let it go to their heads, I guess there is an emperor of the cigar community for everybody. 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PD-MdiUm1_Y 

 

American Buffalo Dominican Style.

buffalo

Walking into any shop’s humidor can be like experiencing the Rapture.  You’re taken into the stratosphere of a religious experience due to all the choices that the owner has made that he thinks are right for his customers – his disciples.

Happened to me a few months back on a road trip.  I’m walking about a humidor talking to the manager to see how he has the cigars I sell there and how they are displayed.  Every once and awhile I’ll notice a cigar that I’ve never heard of on his shelf. So my curiosity is piqued. As we are both standing there hovering over this box of cigars, a customer walks in, excuses himself, and grabs one out of the box and says to us, “Best cigar in the humidor.” 

The manager looks at me and delivers his opinion of what the man just said.  “He’s right you know. We can’t keep those in stock they’re moving so quickly.”  Well, I hadn’t heard of the cigar so I picked up the box, turned it upside down and discovered it’s made by a factory in the Dominican – Tamboril to be exact.  Too, I noticed that the price was inexpensive and that would be a dramatic changeup from what usually comes out of this factory.

My eyebrows raise just enough to give a silent indication to the manager that I would like to try one to prove the customer’s remark.  He reads me well and so I’m handed a stick.  I place it in my shirt pocket and we continue to talk business.

Throughout the rest of the trip, I never had a chance to try it so when I returned home I took the cigar into the garage and lit it up.  I took a few puffs and I could tell right away that this one is an anomaly. An inexpensive cigar made by one of the oldest factories in the Dominican (El Artista) coming up with this quality that matches the exquisiteness of its more expensive offerings?  Yes! 

Right there and then in the garage, I text the owner of the factory and ask if he has a rep in the area, and if not, could I be considered?  

After a day or two, I receive a positive response.  I’m in.  

Samples are sent out to me and I’m ready to introduce the cigar asap.

So I take it to one of my test shops where I have known the owner for years and I proudly give him the stick and he lights it up.  I’m like a kid, waiting for the whoops and hollers about how good this find is.  I’m just foaming at the mouth wondering how many boxes he’ll order and begin selling millions of ’em.

Instead, I get this sour look.  An expression of quizzical disappointment. 

“Well?”

 You’d think I just gave him a machine-rolled turd.  From the screwed up look on his face, I could tell he didn’t like it at all.

That’s when I knew I had a winner on my hands.  A true blue, knock it out of the ballpark home run.  Our tastes differ you see. But I always run it by him just to see his reaction so I can get a baseline of just how good it is. 

The cigar is known as the B10 short for Buffalo 10.  It comes in maduro and natural.  A review will follow.  But I gotta tell you – this cigar is off the horn!

A boring New Yorker and a dull cigar.

joe p

There are always many articles of interest in The New Yorker.  However, the March 9th issue was like Bonneville – flat.   Even the cover was boring. In fact, I leafed through the weekly periodical in less than ten minutes.  Oh, I did rip out one article from the subsection, The Art World (page 82) titled “The Shape of Things: Donald Judd in retrospect,” by Peter Schjeldahi, the magazine’s art critic, but that was it.

I then took a photo of the cover (see above) and threw this New Yorker in the recycle bin.  I usually don’t do that;  I’ll give it a second read-through.

I’ve noticed over the past few months that the publication has gotten entirely too steeped in the politics of the day.  It’s getting boring. To wit, however, I know this may be the trend now, but with my subscription running until 2027, I am confident that the editors will become as bored as the rest of us with the art of government, and return to its original intent best summed up in this quote from Wiki, “The New Yorker was founded by Harold Ross and his wife Jane Grant, a New York Times reporter, and debuted on February 21, 1925. Ross wanted to create a sophisticated humor magazine that would be different from perceivably “corny” humor publications such as Judge, where he had worked, or the old Life.”

I know times change, editors change, writer’s change, interests change even the original vision of a magazine can change.  But I think Mr. Ross would be rolling over in his grave if he knew how many pages are being devoted to politics – not to mention the covers.  (Bring back Peter Arno!)

I’m smoking a cigar right now, I’ll keep the brand to myself because the cigar is considered to be one of the best on the market by one of the most famous manufacturers in the industry.  Unfortunately, it, too, is blah. (My opinion.  Please don’t get your panties in a wad because I won’t name it.  It serves no purpose to name it.  Can you handle that exclusion?  Good.)  I’ll smoke it to its finish, but I certainly wouldn’t pick up another one of the same kind. I have no cigar subscription to think about, but it is a surprise that two of the most famous products have the same challenge — a lack of pizzazz.

So we all can’t get a buzz from what we believe are specifically being offered to give us pleasure be it intellectual – or taste satisfaction.  I could just be in a bad mood. Maybe it’s time for a Snickers®️ bar. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MixNh9L7G5M

 

Change is natural.

Last week was the first time I didn’t share my blog with the groups I belong to.  This week will be the same and forever more. I’m concentrating on opening the door and inviting everybody into my new website: www.irvcigarbroker.com.  My reason is simple, Facebook has too much control over what I can and cannot say, and when I can say it.  I’m still stymied why the platform has a problem with my methodology of sharing a simple post to all the groups I belong to in one fell swoop.  (Sure, blame the algorithms.) I can’t remember exactly what the wording was, but it would not allow me to share my blog to all the groups. And right now I really have to say that the old adage “When one door closes, another is sure to open,” is real.

And indeed, I feel fine about it now.  I was angry at first.  My sight was seriously blurred by the myth that Facebook is the only place to go to communicate with my cyber chums.  It’s a myth. I have always linked up with Twitter (Although this may change considering the amount of porn that keeps popping up – excuse the pun.), and LinkedIn – with excellent, and sometimes even better results than Zuckerberg’s monster. But, I will still post my blog on Facebook’s news feed and my page (https://www.facebook.com/IrvCigarBrokerPage) But not to the individual groups.

Of course my primary goal is to draw people to my site.  Here is where I will have complete control over all editorial content as well as give the reader information about the cigars I rep. I can write about anything I want. Even some of the groups were beginning to become a bit too restrictive despite the fact that all my posts were about cigars. True, my essays, as anyone who has read even just one, are not your typical editorial comments.  I probe, I propose, I personalize every one in a style that not only informs but entertains the astute reader – often with a t…y twist dynamic. But they always have one thing in common with the groups – CIGARS!

So, I ask all of you who want to read about cigars and their impact on our culture – and how our culture impacts cigars, to take a look at www.irvcigarbroker.com and click Blog Essays for a change of pace.  I promise what I write will intrigue you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x

Let me smoke my cigar in peace.

The thought came to my mind about cigars after reading an article in the September 24th issue of The New York Review of Books, by Susan Tallman: “Who Decides What’s Beautiful?”  Tallman is reviewing two books on art, “A History of Art History” by Christopher S. Wood, and “The Barbarian Invasion: A Genealogy of the History of Art” by Eric Michaud.

Both books delve into the question of what is pleasing and what is not and who comes to the conclusion of either and why.  A fairly heady read, but one of great interest if the reader is a cigar lover and poses the question, “Who decides what cigar is good?

A conundrum to be sure simply because the question really has no answer.  What it comes down to is pure subjectivity.  An agreement can be made that equals many similar answers.  True.  But is it definitive?  The capitalist may reduce the answer to, “The cigar that makes the most profit or money.”  Whereas a cigar aficionado might derive his or her conclusion based on taste, construction, country of origin so on and so forth.

But the fact of the matter, “Who decides what cigar is good” is a solid, and hardened-steel rhetorical question that may be akin to, “Is there a God?”  The latter’s answer may be based entirely on a person’s belief, faith, or hope.  But the fact is that the question is a revolving one in intellectual space that can be discussed but one that, even initiating the Socratic method (“ . . . a form of (a) cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions  . . .”) no definitive answer can be said to exist.  

Now some might posit that there are indeed questions that have precise and rock-solid, conclusive answers such as the mathematical equation, 2 + 2 = 4.  Right?  Wrong.  “It depends on what type of measurement scale you are using.  There are four types of measurement scales nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio. Only in the last two categories does 2 + 2 = 4.” (Google)  

But before I lose you completely, go back to the simple question “Who decides what cigar is good?  Well, then we need to study the word, “Who,” which is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “what or which person or persons . . .”   So we can at least understand that who must be a living, breathing human being making that decision.  But in reality, it is not a decision, but rather an individual’s opinion.  Based on?  (Pause)  What?

So then we have to further dissect the question and ask, “What is “good?”  A totally subjective word that in and of itself means – depending on whether it is used as an adjective (“to be desired or approved of,”) or as a noun (“that which is morally right; righteousness.”).  Regardless of its usage, the question remains unanswerable.   There is no right or wrong conclusion for this inquiry, either.  In Cigars!  In Art!  In Poetry! In ANYTHING!

So where do I go from here?

“To the garage where I can relax in my favorite chair, drink my precious root beer, shit on the COVID virus, and smoke my f..king cigar in peace.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JIq8Zn0AJE

A row about cigars and art.

rant no 1

Believe it or not, I’m just about fed up with the garbage that’s being presented as art and cigars.  Give a person a canvas, some paint, and a little exposure, and after that person slaps some combination of pigments on a flat surface and puts in on Facebook or Instagram or Saatchi’s site, immediately he or she becomes – an artist.  

Same with an individual who has access to some extra cash, tobacco, a few rollers, a table, a chaveta and he or she instantaneously becomes – a master blender. 

Art has never really been defined.  Marina Abromović, the most famous performance artist in history, has said during interviews that not one interlocutor has ever asked her, “What is art?”  Nor has any master blender ever been able to unequivocally been able to define what a premium cigar is.  

So I can take a spray can of paint, just the can, mount it on a marble platform and name it “Spray Can on Marble” and call it a sculpture, or for lack of a better term – art.  Or worse, I can take that same can and spritz some of the pigment ON that same marble platform and call it “Destiny.”

I can also purchase some fermented tobacco leaves, have a torcedor bunch it, and roll it, wrap it in whatever leaf is available, have them cut the cap with a chaveta, smooth it out with a quick roll on the table, finish the foot with one swipe of a cutter and place it in front of me and call it a cigar.

Hell, Duchamp did that same process with a porcelain urinal and called it “Fountain,” Jeff Koons had sex with his then-wife and porn star, Cicciolina in his “Made in Heaven” series and call it performance art, and Damien Hirst took a tiger shark, placed it in a glass showcase, filled it with formaldehyde and called it, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” – a masterpiece.  Today all three are considered great artists.  Debatable.   

The fact is art cannot, and may never be adequately defined – even by its creator.  The fact is no one can really and truly define what a cigar is really.  If you doubt my words, go to any Summertime arts and crafts show and look around and you tell me if you can discern what is or isn’t art – if any.  Or visit a cigar convention and you tell me if you can really pick out a true premium cigar.  Hell for all practical purposes cigars are identical – save for the graphic work on the band, the size, its shape, or the shade of the wrapper.

I’m a serious and dedicated hobbyist when it comes to art.  I’ve studied it, gone to lectures, read a number of books, been to some of the world’s most famous art museums, created pieces of whatever, but I’m certainly not a professional artist despite the knowledge, exposure, and creation.

I’ve smoked enough of what is called a cigar to fill a shipping container.  In fact, despite my knowledge that I’ve gathered by going to factories in Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic, observing cigars being rolled, tobacco being grown and fermenting and I still don’t have enough behind me to call myself a master blender.

It’s very straightforward.  Both creations are subjective.  Our senses call them what we think they are because that’s what we’ve been told they are.  But the question is, “Are they what they are?”  Senses do lie!  

So, as a result, we continue to accept what is in front of us as being what others have led us to believe.  We cannot define either one with alacrity or accuracy because it is impossible to do so.  There is no sensory, factual baseline in subjectivity.  

Therefore we will go on living, allowing those who are simply painters to create what is perceived as “art,” and call them artists; and permit those who blend cylindrical tubes of tobacco known as “cigars” to be called master blenders.  

Silly, eh?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohDB5gbtaEQ

The Charm of Creation.

torcedor

Watching a torcedor create a cigar can be fascinating.  There is a tremendous amount of skill involved but an egregious amount of repetition.  Not the next 24 hours but within the next few minutes.

I’ve seen literally hundreds of men and women sitting at their tables in a factory work hour after hour producing the same elongated habit for our consumption.  Some will smoke cigars while they are rolling, others just keep their heads down and concentrate on what they’re doing, others will do both and listen to music through earbuds.

There is little talking within the rows of Metropolis-like workers.  Some obviously can’t sit still, others are glued to their benches or chairs while building up a small wall of cigars in front of them to be eventually examined by the foreman.  Some cigars are accepted and others are rejected for various reasons.

Pay is by piece.  But there are limitations to keep the quality secure and confirmed.  Consistency is the “c” word in the manufacturing of cigars. If everything remains the same, then the consumer will be satisfied, as will the foreman.

Watching a black and white documentary about the artist, Jasper Johns (1930), famous for his painting of flags, targets, and numbers the other evening, I couldn’t help notice the similarity to the methodology.  True, Johns works – at the most, on two paintings, but at different times and locations. One is at his residence in South Carolina, the other in an apartment on the Hudson in New York. Whereas the torcedor remains at the same table most, if not all, of the day.  No walks in the woods, no strolls by the beach. The similarity is that Johns smokes cigarettes almost constantly, while the torcedor may have one cigar a day or none at all.

But both have the tincture of monotony swirling in the mixture.  Yes, the GM assembly line design of producing the same thing over and over and over and over and over is alive and well. 

Of course, Johns’ work can be generalized as varied works of art.  Some are similar, such as his American Flags.  But for the most part, they are subjectively the same.  The torcedor may have feelings for his or her end product, but in the end, it, too, remains the same.  Johns has no foreman, only his inventive intellect (which could be considered his governor and worst enemy).  Whereas the cigar roller has no need to think about the end result for it will not change.  It can’t.

Both activities can be fascinating to watch at first, as mentioned.  But even painting can have its tedious side. Unless the artist does indeed produce the art by his or her self.  Instead, some use (or used) workers like on an automobile assembly line such as the late Salvadore Dali, and Jeff Koons (yes, he’s still smirking), or the interminably dull, Takashi Murakami.  Indeed, the three artists mentioned (will) provide(d) the blueprint – the idea, and then the apprentices will create the “art.” (Dali just added his signature to many “originals.”) 

While watching a torcedor roll a cigar can be absolutely engrossing, it can become rote.  As one could say the same about the individual artist I suppose. It seems as if both the artist and the torcedor can absorb the damning compulsiveness of boredom.  Though that in no way dilutes their magic of creation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vNEtPE7xWE

Bad reviews and challenges prove mettle.

anna kavan 2 jennifer Sturm

When you ever get a bad review for your cigar Mr. or Mrs. Manufacturer think about why you made the cigar in the first place.  If purely for cash, maybe you deserve the bad review.  It probably IS a bad cigar.  But if you made the cigar out of a passion for tobacco then good will follow – if only once.  To wit . . . 

“It takes more than hostile reviews to crush a vocation,” from the article The Awful Force of Inanimate Things, a book review by Miranda Seymour about stories written by Anna Kavan (1901-1968),  (NYRB May 28, 2020).  Kravan was a British novelist who is often forgotten, would it not be for her most famous contribution to literature, “Ice,” (published one year before she died.)  She saved the best for last.

Throughout her career, she was rewarded – and reviled, by the critics for other tomes of her ideas.  But bad reviews never stopped her from writing.  Nothing did.  She produced over 21 books.  She was a heroin addict for 40 years.  She died of a heart attack at 67 – alone – when she was found “. . . stretched out on her bed . . . enough heroin was stashed about the property at 19 Hillsleigh Road (or so the police allege) to kill the residents of the entire street.”  Complications overwhelmed her life, including several attempts at suicide.  Institutionalization in a mental asylum (prompting her to write Asylum Piece published in 2001).  She made no excuses.  Her mother was indifferent toward her.  Her father drowned himself in 1911.  Yet she persevered.  Why?  Because she had something to say.  She had a purpose.  And lo . . . she lives on through her efforts in prose.

So stop crying when and if your cigar gets a bad review.  Those who give the review are only people with opinions.  Trudge through.

 

Truth revealed from lost 2019 cigar convention notes.

looking glass

Here’s the backstory: I take notes about whatever I see, hear, and do.  It’s a writer’s habit, at least it’s mine.  I’ll scribble on whatever is available, be it a napkin, a receipt, the top of a Kleenex box.

Occasionally I come prepared.  In short, a notebook is nearby or in my satchel.  And so apparently that was the case at last year’s IPCPR convention in Vegas.  From what I can decipher from the undated notes, it seems that I had some serious thoughts, doubts, criticisms about the show, and how I was feeling at the time.  I can’t remember if they were written at the beginning, middle, during and/or at the end of the convention.  My guess is during lunch.  But, I found them in the middle of a composition notebook recently – they intrigued me.  Here are the fragments that I could make out . . .

“Truthfully, I was finished with the convention.  I went.  I saw.  I conquered.  But what did I actually conquer?  Three and a half days of cigar sales pandemonium.  Three and a half subpar lunches . . . . It’s like that black, sticky, crawling tar-like goo that eventually envelopes Peter aka Spiderman.  Its purpose is clear.  Complete domination, not over my body but into my soul.  Let your guard down here, even for a moment, and you will lose your identity.  But who’s really paying attention?  No one?  Or Everyone?  Straight on stares or with calculated peripheral vision.  A fly’s view?  Who knows.    

“I’m alone a lot when I’m in Vegas.  My choice.  Despite the pincers of millions of militant ants destroying everything in their path.  I try to claw and pull off the elastic black tentacles but they are more powerful than I am or ever will be.  

“Who can I go to once I am encased in the throes of this convention?  Hundreds of people are all walking by without a concern.  They cannot see what’s going on in my mind.   Nor do they care.  The constant pestering of sell, sell, sell.  It’s all there and it’s beginning to restrict my blood flow.  I’m becoming woozy from the thousands of pounds of pressure being exerted upon my being in Sin City.”  

Inward I mold my disparate thoughts into one clasped musing rumination that’s pleading, “How did this happen?”

********

That’s where the notes stop.  Two words are scratched out.  I apparently attempted to write another sentence. All that remains is the balance of a single blank page and the thin blue lines that guided my pen.