Ultra boutique cigars reign.

serie f

I’m testing cigars right now.  One manufacturer, or brand owner, or private blend – or whatever moniker is appropriate.  Blue. The one 5 X 60. Beats the 6 X 60. Flavor. Draw. Satisfaction. One inch. And they say size doesn’t matter.  Ha! Blue band. A simple choice. Both have blue bands. I like the color. Influenced by that? Unlikely. You never know. Why? I had that one the other day.  Today. Black and gold. Serie F. It’s a toro.  Especial.

No.  I can’t identify the manufacturer.  Remember I’m critiquing the cigars.  Simple.  I may rep it. May. Very good cigar. There’s a Serie S, too.  That’s next. Gloomy day, ’tis. Smooth. It has something. I’ll dispense with the flavor comparisons.  As was once told to me by a respected rep in the business, “It’s all bullshit.”  I agree. The comparisons.  

Burns evenly.  Gorgeous ash. Draw is perfect.  Spice. A tad. Like a few grains of black pepper on eggs.  

I can’t easily get distracted.  I’m focused. The cigar’s reputation.  Mine. Huge plumes of delicious smoke. No retrohale.  Medium to strong. The grand flavor of superbly fermented tobacco.  

The radio is off.  All I hear is the rattle of the table.  Glass and metal. The cigar is silent but screams delightfully paroxysms of pleasure spasms.  The bouquet is lovely. Yes. From My Fair Lady, . . . “loverly.”

No heat this far down.  Spice begins to unwind further.  A compliment to the blender. Who is unknown, at least to me.  Runny nose doesn’t help. Yeah, I’m outside. Can’t put it down.  Good sign.

If I pick it up, it’s an ultra boutique cigar.  That’s what makes this so exciting. No gimmicks.

I have a shirt and tie on and that’s part of the analysis.  Look good. Feel good. This is a business. Not a hobby.

Denzel Washington introduces Vitality for ED.  

Nothing for CD (Cigar Dysfunction)?  Why bring that up?  Whoa. A double entendre.

In this case, the smaller it gets, the better it is – the cigar, mate.  The bloody cigar.

Yes, this is indeed one of the better smokes I’ve tried.  If I pick it up, all hell will break loose.

 

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Woodstock at Fifty. Cigars at . . . .

Michael Lang festival organiser (1)a

Yeah, yeah.  This is a cigar Blog Post.  So ask yourself – Where will the cigar industry be in fifty years from now?  At the rate of visible enthusiasm, it won’t surpass the historic concert that grew not only by ticket sales, but simply by word of mouth, the news (Walter Cronkite!), and the attention thousands of people drew to the fact that you can listen to what you want to without government rules. restrictions and regulations.  So why not us?  What’s holding us back?  

Concert organizer Michael Lang (middle) didn’t have a clue what the solution was, as people, thousands of people continued to stream into the venue.  At one point the tickets became collector’s items and no one needed a pass to enter.  It be FREE!  Everybody and anybody who could get in – did.  It is said that half a million music lovers congealed at the farm site.

Why?  Think back.  And if you can’t remember these 3 Days of Peace and Music, get off your behind and read up on it (or click on the link below).   It’s a lesson for us.  Cigar Lovers.  A lesson in what I call – cigar cohesion.  We need an event that we can look back to and say unequivocally WE WON!

********

August 15-18 of this year marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of one of the greatest music festivals ever created by man – Woodstock.  It was held at Max Yasgur’s 601-acre farm in Bethel, New York.    So let’s light up a joi . . . .  Ah, excuse me, cigar.  I get it . . . .  Light up a cigar and get into the mood to do something to save this industry.  Here’s a rundown:

Day 1: Friday, August 15, 1969

Richie Havens 
Sweetwater
Bert Sommer 
Tim Hardin 
Melanie
Arlo Guthrie 
Joan Baez

Day 2: Saturday, August 16, 1969

Quill 
Country Joe McDonald 
John B. Sebastian 
Keef Hartley Band 
Santana 
Incredible String Band 
Canned Heat 
Grateful Dead 
Leslie West & Mountain 
Creedence Clearwater Revival 
Janis Joplin 
Sly & The Family Stone 
The Who 
Jefferson Airplane 

Day 3: Sunday, August 17, 1969

Joe Cocker 
Country Joe & The Fish t
Ten Years After 
Johnny Winter 
Blood Sweat And Tears 
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 

Day 4: Monday, August 18, 1969

Paul Butterfield Blues Band 
Sha Na Na 
Jimi Hendrix 

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

This post may upset some people.

TLS pic

Clay Quinn, a former AAU bodybuilding promoter, once said to me, “How many times can a magazine show you how to build your biceps?”

The point he was making was simplicity in a nutshell.

Irv CigarBroker, the current independent cigar rep asks “How many times can a slice of social media, a magazine article, or any one of thousands of pictures on the internet show somebody smoking a cigar???

Some might say, going back to the bicep routines, there are constantly new bodybuilders flowing in and out and simply may not know the proper way to engorge the muscles with blood by squeezing the bicep as it is being tortured to grow to mountainous proportions.  I get that.

But for the love of Mike, does it really interest the cigar smoker to see someone else smoke a cigar?  It ain’t rocket science. (However, there are YouTube videos that teach the beginner.)  Think about it if the smokers and childish videos were to disappear half the cigar content on social media would vanish resulting in a void unable to be filled.  Then what would the bored scrollers spend their time doing? Maybe something important?

The question is, “What’s important?”

Seriously, it’s akin to filling up a bucket with holes in it, there’s really very little content on the net involving the cigar business that pulls you in.  Oh, sure. Sexy women slowly releasing a thick, cloud of alluring smoke into the atmosphere may be of interest to some, but even gynecologists get tired of seeing a women’s genitalia.  Don’t they? At least in that context.

And you can say that about anything, cars, boats, private jets, even dental hygienists. Yuk. Good content isn’t easy to find in our industry. Perhaps the plethora of new brands that continue to appear attracts our curiosity. The new always has a way that turns our heads. The old?  Well, the old just gets older. Unless the subject matter is interesting. And isn’t that the secret? Being interesting?

For the newbie, everything in the cigar world is a discovery.  Even cigar smokers puffing away on their favorite brand. But after a while the new becomes old and the cycle repeats itself ad infinitum.

Why do I read so many books, periodicals, magazines, articles, memoirs, and biographies?  Because I’m looking for something that magnetizes my mental molecules to at least decelerate, maybe stop, and pay attention.

For example, in the February 22nd, 2019 issue of The Times Literary Supplement, there are a variety of titles of articles on the front page.  “Hirsh Sawhney’s, Addressing the legend of Gandhi; Yasmin Khan’s, Giving voice to Indian soldiers; John Bowen’s, Dicken’s his wife and the asylum; Ladee Hubbard’s, Racial problems in Green Book; and The Mind of Anthony Burgess (author of Clockwork Orange) by Margaret Drabble.  Only one illustration graces the cover.  

What do I do?  Simple. I follow my instincts and the first article I get into is the one by Drabble.  Why? Because I am more familiar with the fiction of Burgess than I am of the others’ disciplines.  But the point is, it caught my interest. What if the front page had printed “There are a lot of neat articles in this issue . . . start flipping the pages.”  Or in the case of Facebook . . . Scroll, brother. Something will hit you. Maybe. In the meantime, look at this gal or guy smoking a cigar. Eh? Interesting?  It’s like watching a hunting or a fly-fishing program.

I try not to waste my time and I spend what little free time I do have on something that I find to be of significance.  Time is precious. We only – each and every one of us – have only so long on this planet so why dissipate it on repetitive drivel?

Ohhhhhhh.   Did I upset somebody?  Probably.  But the fact remains that captivating content is king and it always will be even if it’s just a photo or illustration.  

So back to Clay.  Yes. He was right.  Repetition is essential in learning something.  But to take time to watch something as banal as another individual drawing on a cigar blowing smoke is simply a waste of time.

For those who want to try, click the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whQLERsQSh0

For those who can’t do without the boredom, click below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vI4oUqAMf8

And for those who really need a fix, click below (Yawn!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP-tlr_1kvE

Cigar brokers CAN b . . . .

gps

What happens to a cigar broker when he or she temporarily doesn’t feel like brokering? I’m asking myself this question as I sit and try to eat my lunch. This has not been the best of days.  I forgot my money clip (paid for lunch with the debit card), forgot my phone, (a blessing), forgot my mid-day donut (a curse), the 21st-century plastic, useless GPS suction cup will NOT – STICK – TO – THE – F** – KING – WINDSHIELD!  It just hasn’t been a good day.

Plus there’s this rushing sensation in my head that’s eliminating any ideas that happen to enter my brain.  (“It turns out that that reality and imagination flow in different directions in the brain, researchers say. The visual information from real events that the eyes see flows “up” from the brain’s occipital lobe to the parietal lobe, but imagined images flow “down” from the parietal to the occipital.”)  (Google)

The first shop I stop at – me finds the help is fast asleep behind the counter on a cocked chair, mouth agape, unshaven, and hardly recognizable.  I cannot wake him up. It’s cold but sunny. I head back to my car. I won’t bore you with the details of my other visits. (This lunch is pathetic.)  I’m way too early for my 3 pm appointment (which turns out to be the highlight of my day). Arrrrg!

Time to smoke a cigar.  Slip the cello off.  Snip the cap.  Torch the foot.  Crack open the window and drive to the next stop.  Hey, this is an idea . . . isn’t it? 

Reviewing my stance on too many blends.

diderot

Yes.  I’ve bitched and moaned about how there are too many cigar brands on the market.  And I still think there are too many.  However, all thought is up for adoption and so I posit the following.  Stay with me.

“The most radical thinker of the eighteenth century, Denis Diderot (1713–1784), is not exactly a forgotten man, though he has been long overshadowed by his contemporaries Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.”

The review in the New York Review of Books March 7th issue written by Lynn Hunt critiques two books “Diderot and the Art of thinking Freely,” Andrew S. Curran; (Other Press) and “Catherine and Diderot: The Empress, the Philosopher, and the Fate of the Enlightenment.” Robert Zaretsky (Harvard University Press).  (Quotes are from both)  Hunt goes on to write: 

“Diderot was far from being an intellectual magpie who simply scavenged bits to build a nest out of other people’s ideas. He took seriously his own pronouncement in the article “Encyclopedia” in volume 5:

‘I have said that an Encyclopedia could only be attempted in a philosophical century; (sic) and I said it because this work requires a more courageous spirit than (sic) can commonly be found in centuries of pusillanimous taste. We must examine everything, stir up everything without exception and without restraint.'”  (Note latter word.)

What this reminds me of is the epic flood of cigars and the plethora of blends that are constantly being placed (trying desperately to be placed) on humidor shelves.  But the fact is if there were no other brands to chose from, what would the cigar connoisseur do?  (What do you call this “back-peddling?”)

Read on please:  “When he (Diderot) roused the authorities with his first novel (The Indiscreet Jewels, 1748, the “jewels” being vaginas that talked when bidden by a magic ring) and a deliberately provocative philosophical tract (Letter on the Blind, 1749), which even Voltaire found too boldly atheistic, the thirty-five-year-old transplant from the provinces was sent to prison by royal command. The king did not need to specify the charge or set the term. Diderot could conceivably have languished there forever.

“The budding iconoclast was released within the year; he quickly learned his lesson and from then on kept his most daring works in the drawer or made them available only in an underground newsletter of exquisitely limited circulation.”

Which is exactly what some “budding” cigar blenders are doing today.  They have the cigars for mass consumption, and they have the cigars for those who want what everybody doesn’t – or can’t have.

In fact, “When (one) of his most uncompromising works came to public attention in 1796, they inspired wildly divergent reactions, which is hardly surprising given their subject matter . . .  (e.g.) The Nun is (a) political commentary disguised as a licentious novel of convent life, including scenes of lesbian sex.”

One of his novels brings to the fore a rhetorical question but needs to be brought out in the open.  For example, In Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew, (a satirical novel) ” . . .  the nephew of the immensely influential composer Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764) carries on a running dialogue with ‘me’ (Diderot) in which ‘him’ (Rameau’s nephew, an actual person fictionalized for Diderot’s purposes) mocks every traditional verity. The point of life, for ‘him,’ was ‘to keep emptying one’s bowels easily, freely, pleasurably, copiously every night.’” 

In short, are the blenders doing just that?  Ideas that are being put to the test on those who just love to try forbidden fruit.  (Think Eve?)  They feel relieved, but the cigar smoker is still all bound up, if you will, with the career of being a simple pawn in a chess game without a mate?  Draw!

No permanent revision.  There are too many brands.  Yes, there are too many coveted blends that only the privileged (social media junkies) can get their stained little fingers on.  But that seems to be the case – be it in literature or cigar making.  

So I will go on my quest to preach that manufacturers at least slow down the rushing to market of brands as well as keeping those that haven’t a prayer (ergo – limited editions), save for a few, off the shelves (via social media tendrils) and concentrate on bringing out cigars that have a chance.  But what of it?

Diderot ” had to hide the true significance of his work during his own lifetime, and he wrote for posterity in dialectical and often self-contradictory ways that make it hard for most readers to get a clear sense of his meanings. But it’s no accident that Diderot studies took off after World War II, for he is distinctly a thinker for our times.”  Yes.  Today.

As is true of the exceptional blender and the manufacturing magpie with moxie,  exceptional talent and skills, not the least of which is a golden palate that may please all.  Do it!  You never really know if you’re a pseudo-Diderot.

Cigar Cessation Class Room 401

cartoon classroom

(Overheard at a recent Cigar Cessation Class/Adult Education at Harper’s.  It was very difficult to hear being in the hallway with the door closed, so this is what I think I heard.)(This group of students is loud, rowdy and making quite a commotion.)

Good morning, class

Good morning, class

Class, good, SHUT UP!

(Total silence)

Thank you *

 

As you know your regular teacher

Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Esther Whitmer is on a small vacation

However, she does send her love,  (The talking begins to get louder again.)

And these Nicotine patches and roach clips she is making

 

I am your substitute teacher, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, head of the FDA

(Laughter)

Class, attention, attention, class, class, SHUT UP!

(Again, you could hear a pin drop.)

Thank you

 

Young man, now give me that butane torch lighter, thank you

Now class, you all know who I am

So let’s find out who you are

(The students obviously have no interest or respect for the substitute.)

 

Class, class, SHUT UP!

(“Far out, man.”)

(Momentary calm)

Thank you

 

Now, class, Governor Whitmer has informed me

That your assignment for the last two months

Has been to write an essay entitled

‘How I Tried to Quit Cigar Smoking.’

Who would like to read theirs before the class?

 

Class, class, cla . . . , SHUT UP!

Thank you

 

Young man in the first row, stand up

State your name and read your essay

 

Who me?

 

Yes, read your essay, please

 

Uh, I don’t have it finished yet

 

Well then, read what you have, young man

 

(Quiet whispering and talking continue)

 

Okay, the first day I tried to quit cigar smoking.

What I did to stop cigar smoking

The first day . . . , I woke up

Then I went downtown to look for a cigar

Then I hung out in front of the drugstore

 

The second day I tried to quit cigar smoking, I woke up

Then I went downtown to look for a cigar

Then I hung out in front of the drugstore

 

The third day I tried to quit cigar smoking, I woke up

(Now that’s fine, young man)

Then I went downtown to look for a cigar

That’s fine, young man

Then I found a cigar

 

Young man, young man, young man

 

Then I hung out in front of the drugstore

The fourth day I tried to quit . . .

 

SHUT UP!

(The noise level decreases slightly.)

Thank you

 

Now class, I have a surprise for you

I’m going to read you some information

Out of this lengthy book of smoking regulations

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently finalized a rule that extends its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookah and pipe tobacco, as part of its goal to improve public health.” (www.fda.gov)

(Snoring can be heard)

 

Class, class, cla…

 

WAKE UP!

 

I gotta go to the can, man

Anybody have a freaking cigar?

********

*A parody of the infamous Cheech and Chong skit “Sister Mary Elephant.Sister Mary Elephant” is a comedy skit by Cheech and Chong. The recording appeared on the duo’s second album, Big Bambu, released in December 1973 .” (Wiki)

(The original skit can be heard by clicking on the link below.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDaCNA3pink

 

Life Plays Itself Out.

play

Here’s an excerpt from a conversation between Mikael Blomkvist, the editor-on-leave of Millennium magazine, and business mogul, Henrik Vagner from Stieg Larsson’s film adaptation of his novel , “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” describing some of the members of his wretched family:

Henrik Vanger: This is Harriet. The granddaughter of my brother, Richard.

[pointing to an old photo of Richard]

Henrik Vanger: Uh…Richard was a Nazi of the first order, joining the Nationalist Socialist Freedom League when he was seventeen. Isn’t it interesting how fascists steal the world (sic) freedom?

[they hear the clock chime]

Henrik Vanger: Oh, the four thirty! Yes, I know. Okay. Anyway, Richard died a martyr to the Nazi cause in nineteen forty. Missed uh…all the real excitement, but Nazi opportunity to regularly beat his wife, Margareta and their son, Gottfried. Now Gottfried, Harriet’s father, was what they used to call ‘Good time Charlie’.

Mikael Blomkvist: Oh, they still call them that.

Henrik Vanger: Do they? Okay. He was a charmer, a ladies man and a drunk. In other words, a born salesman, which he did for the company traveling around and taking clients out to dinner and so forth.

Mikael Blomkvist: Well, somebody’s gotta do it.

Yeah.   Right.  

What line do you think I heard as loud as the gong in the crescendo of the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin?  Of course. Yet, here I am “a salesman” of cigars with none of the aforementioned character traits. Being a salesperson was in my opinion, the nadir of professions that I thought I would ever become involved in –   andererseits.

But, because I was taking care of both my parents at the time before and after graduation from University, I felt I needed a position that would give me the ultimate in flexibility to be sure I would always be available if necessary.  But sales?

It wasn’t always that way.  Sales, I mean.  I was a meat cutter before my dad had his stroke, add to that a freelance writer of résumés, a chief deli man, and a cost-to-value insurance inspector of residential and commercial real estate.  I also created my own magazine and published news on competitive bodybuilding and power-lifting, plus a small leaflet reviewing cigars because all during this time I was wanting to be a writer of biographies and/or plays.

But when my dad’s stroke hit, the dreams I had nourished since grade school slowly began to starve and wither away.

It was during this time of being a caregiver that I was deeply embedded in the inspections.  It was a 24/7 position. Inspections during the day, hand drafting, and writing detailed descriptions of the properties at night, on the weekends, during the holidays. (This of course due to the infancy of computer programs, cell phones and the like that are now in use today.) Indeed, the job and the role of caregiver consumed all my time. And this just after having been married only 14 months.

So I stuck with the inspections because I was a private contractor and could maintain a modicum of flexibility – a priority.  Plus it brought in regular income. But any job can wear you down and this inspection gig was draining all the energy I had in toto.

So one day, a Tuesday (I’m positive), I was informed that my inspection commission percentage would be reduced but my workload would increase – an even trade, uh?  It was that Tuesday I called several cigar manufacturers I had a rapport with after having written articles about their brands for my publication. I was surprised and pleased that three jumped on my suggestion that I rep their brand in the Midwest – commission only. The only costs to them would be samples.  And it was on that day my life morphed into what I do today.  (I can still hear my wife, E, with her incredulous comment after I told her what I was going to do, You!  Sales!?”)

Isn’t it strange?  My dad told me he fell into his position (oddly enough insurance but in a corporate setting – NOT sales!) due to the scant job opportunities during and after the great depression – plus the fear that it just may happen again.  I didn’t have that demon to compel me to do what I did, but I had to do something that would bend and stretch to fit my responsibilities not only as a husband but my inherent familial responsibility of being the oldest son.

Well, it turned out that I was (and still am) pretty good at what I do.  Desperation and fear are a volatile combination that can become combustible and either immolate you or make you.  And as is said in “Goodfellas,” I became, in a sense – a made man. I was now fully ensconced in the realities of selling.  

Do I regret my choice?  At times, without a hesitating doubt – Yes.  But in truth, I learned to embrace selling and as a result, I am succeeding.  It’s just a fact that my life took a turn, albeit a long, winding and sometimes infuriating detour.  But I’ve always held onto the belief that I can still achieve my goal of writing biographies and producing plays – it’s just taken me 40 years longer than I had planned to get started.

(Yes, my first play is in the works.  Photo at top is page one of act one.  Exhilarating.)