The PCA Cigar Con.

PCA.jpg

On the evening of June 19th, 2019 Halfwheel.com confirmed that the IPCPR would be officially renamed the Premium Cigar Association (PCA), AND, that in 2020 at the annual convention in Vegas, on Day One, consumers would be allowed into the show BEFORE the retailers, in what has been christened – CigarCon.  (This same latter proposal was attempted in 2013 but was quickly shot down.  Where’s the NRA when you need ’em?)  This has led to a drop in confidence (60%) by retailers of the efficacy of the PCA as it ignores the obvious and is moving ahead with its unpopular agenda.

On June 28th, 1969, “a group of (angry) queers resisted routine police harassment at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, leading to thirteen arrests and days of street protests.” *  Fifty years later, in The Stonewall Riots, edited by Marc Stein, he writes that what was a partial cause of the riots was “inspired and influenced by other social movements”; or, simply, as a “spontaneous eruption of anger.”

The same could be said about this polymorphous decision on the part of the PCA to add CigarCon.  It has indeed ignited a fire while we had hoped a few bright minds within the PCA were still glowing and trying to logically figure out what to do about the cigar industry’s dismal attendance at the annual trade show and at the same time how to handle the insatiable onslaught of the FDA (and our own culture) to obliterate tobacco from the landscape.  (Though methinks the association’s intellectual embers are stone cold.)

Lee Grossman, in an article written for Vanity Fair’s Summer issue about the final episode of the Star Wars Trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker, details how George Lucas after his making of THX 1138, and then the spectacular success of American Graffiti, quotes the legendary director, “I realized that after THX that people don’t care how the country (or an industry?) is being ruined.  We’ve got to regenerate optimism.” Grossman goes on to write “Like American Graffiti, Star Wars is a work of profound nostalgia, a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate anthem of longing for the restoration of a (sic) true and just power in the universe – the return of the king.”

And that “king” is Accountability.

Maybe, just maybe, like how the Stonewall Inn Riots produced the Gay Right’s Movement and turned the public’s attention to the oft-maligned community for no particular reason other than it’s different from what society perceives to be the norm or conventional (the cigar smoker).

And maybe the zeal of Lucas’s desire to give hope to moviegoers through the art of film-making by capitalizing on the popularity of Star Wars prompted this quote from the Grossman article,  People wanted movies that gave them something to believe in instead of relentlessly autopsying the beliefs that failed them. 

I think the PCA created the CigarCon concept to try and solve its low attendance problem by allowing Day One of the 2020 Vegas Convention to be cannibalized by voracious consumers – in any form.  But the idea backfired by giving industry retailers the catalyst they needed to take a closer look at what the PCA’s priorities really are.    

For eighty-seven years the retailers have faithfully handed in their fees in the hopes that the association, whatever its initials, has been using its polished prowess to be the one bright light for the shops, lounges, stores, and events of the tobacco industry.  Lord Acton, the British historian, said that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  This statement may be something to ponder here.

Retailers are stomping mad at a lot of things: the FDA, the government, CigarCon – and the PCA.  Perhaps this is the right time for that “spontaneous eruption of anger” to take place.   

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

(*Times Literary Supplement June 28, 2019, Article by Hugh Ryan)
Advertisements

Cigars the world wants and needs.

drip cigar

I just got back from the PCA in Vegas and I thought this was an interesting connection.  

“Your editor has asked me to give you some practical advice about the kind of labour involved in planning and executing a book of the kind I have just published – a work of some 80,000 words about a fellow-author whose name is D. H. Lawrence. I would not normally be willing to give such advice since no writer’s method of work can be of much value to another: a method is an emanation of a personality.”

So starts an article in the April 26th issue of the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) written by Anthony Burgess, (“John Anthony Burgess Wilson, FRSL, who published under the name Anthony Burgess, was an English writer and composer. Although Burgess was predominantly a comic writer, his dystopian satire, A Clockwork Orange remains his best-known novel.”)

The short piece centers around how he went about to write a book about – D.H. Lawrence, the English writer, and poet who is is best known for his book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  A challenge indeed.

But this is a cigar blog and if you substitute a few words in the very first paragraph, you will see that what I’m eluding to is quite succinct and right on the dime.

The sentence that stood out was “ . . . since no writer’s method of work can be of much value to another: a method is an emanation of a personality.”  My point. No blender’s method of producing is of any value to another blender: ergo, a “method is an emanation of a personality.” The clincher – we, us, humans, blenders, sales reps, manufacturers, rollers, distributors, and on and on and on hold value because we, us, deez, dem, and doze all are distinct identities with intricate thoughts that will only be attached intellectually to the individual.  

In short – Unique!

Burgess goes on to say, “Indeed, there are times when the author who has accepted a commission to write a book, who has completed his research, and who may even have composed a rough draft, finds himself unable to push through the task to the end.”

In short, so close yet so far.  The blender has it, he knows he has it, but what he does not possess is the temerity to toss aside the criticism and go for broke.

Which leads us to the belief that time, energy, and most importantly, money has been rolled into a miniature funeral pyre and burned out of existence.  Burgess goes on to say that, “(t)here is no other trade in the world that offers such time wasting and such frustration.” Ah, but he did not consider the cigar maker.

In fact, when this article republished in the April 26th issue was written in 1986, Mr. Burgess is quoted writing, “We’re living in an age when books (cigars) go out of print (production) with terrible speed – one of the curses of an epoch in which too many books (cigars) are published (produced), warehouse space is short, and publishers (manufacturers) concentrate on the new rather than the worthy.”  How bloody true a statement has ever to be written.

Yet, new brands are coming out of Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Brazil with blazing speed.   Not a logical step to stem the tide of saturation. Or even a thought of what the FDA will decide to do – whose wheels are already in motion like the bulldozers in The Medicine Man without a whit of concern of the damage that is being done as long as the land is cleared (read until the cigar industry is abolished).

Know this, if you plan on producing a cigar, don’t do your homework – make the cigar. Despite the emphasis on the fact that this article in TLS concentrates on literature – it alludes to the cigar industry.  He closes by writing, “All the research in the world won’t help you if you lack the flame of conviction. Every book you write is fundamentally about you. And it is your peculiar uniqueness, good or bad, that the world wants.”

In short, if you lack the passion, every cigar, every blend, every vitola is “fundamentally about you.”  He continues, and take this to heart, “it is your particular uniqueness, good or bad, that the world wants.”  

So just do it and damn the opinions of others, the squeamish – and the FDA!  

My recap on the 2019 PCA Convention.

no trespassing

(Sung to the tune by Peggy Lee “Is that all there is? Click on the link below and return to this page – and sing along.   And think!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCRZZC-DH7M&list=RDLCRZZC-DH7M&start_radio=1

********

I remember when I was a little boy, I took my first cigar out of my Dad’s top dresser drawer.

I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face when he discovered it was missing from the tray.

As he questioned me about taking the cigar, I stood there shivering in my pajamas.  I watched as my father took it from my hand.

And when it was all over, I said to myself, “Is that all there is to taking a cigar?

Is that all there is?

Is that all there is?  If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep smoking.

Let’s strike up a match and have a draw.  

If that’s all there is.

And when I was old enough, I visited the nearest cigar shop and marveled at the vast array of cigars.  There were so many.  

There were skinny ones, pudgy ones, long ones, short ones, – and some shapes I had never seen before.

And so as I stood there trying to pick out which one would be just right for me, I had the feeling that somehow I was going to make a mistake.  I couldn’t know but picked one out.

And when the purchase was complete, I said to myself, “Is that all there is to choosing a cigar?”

Is that all there is?

Is that all there is?  If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep smoking.

Let’s strike up a match and have a draw.  

If that’s all there is.

Then I fell in love with cigars, head over heels in love with the most wonderful past time in the world.

I would take long walks through the neighborhood or just sit under the porch for hours watching the smoke fill up the small space, we were so very much in love.

Then one day I got caught and be punished, and I thought I’d die.  But I didn’t. And when I didn’t I said to myself, “Is that all there is to love a cigar?”

Is that all there is?  Is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friends, then . . . 

I know what you must be saying to yourselves.  If that’s the way he feels about it, why not just come out and let everyone know about it?

Oh no.  Not me. I’m not ready for my passion to be reviled.

Because I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you – But when that final moment comes, I’ll feel so relieved to finally be telling the truth.  I’ll be saying to myself.

Is that all there is?  Is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep smoking.  Let’s strike up a match and have a draw.  

If that’s all (long pause) there (another long pause) –  is.

Oom-pa.  Oom-pa. Oom-pa.  Oom-pa. Oom-pa. Oom-pa.  Oom.  

(Written by the American songwriting team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller during the 1960s, became a hit for American singer Peggy Lee and an award winner from her album of the same title in November 1969.)

IPCPR or Premium Cigar Association.

showtime 2.jpg

See you after Independence Day 2019 for more ESSAYS on the cigar industry from this cigar broker’s perspective. 

But for now, I’m heading to Vegas (6.27 – 7.3) for what may be the greatest former trade show for cigar retailers – the IPCPR, ah, or is it the PCA, or ah, maybe it’s the PCA – RTDA reboot or, or, or, OR – how about the IPCPRPCARTDA-CRA?  Who the blazes cares!  Fact is:

IT’S SHOWTIME!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot11DMJKhj8

to err is human; to forgive, divine

 

irv from top

What do I do when I screw up a cigar order?

I apologize and move on.

I’m only human.

I’m not perfect nor did I ever claim to be perfect.

Perfection is NOT possible in anything I do.

Don’t expect it.

If you do, you expose your own imperfections.

Then you’re just like me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5FzErmhi34

CONVICTED.

convicted

I work as a Cigar Broker.  I sell and promote various brands of cigars.  I am convicted, as the archaic adjective is entomologically defined in www.dictionary.com,  as “a person of a strong persuasion or belief.”  In short, I am convinced of the efficacy of my choice to promote cigars.  To be clear, I am convinced, or “firm in (my) belief with regard to a particular cause or issue ie. (that) selling, promoting and smoking cigars (as) an honorable profession of which I take pride in not only in my decision to do so, but to do it openly.”  

But I do feel as if the general public has been convinced that since I am convicted of my conviction – that I am the one who is guilty of doing something wrong.   Balderdash. On the contrary, it is the public’s obtuse opinion that what I do is promoting a product that will cause harm to little boys and little girls.  Thus making me a criminal, to be precise, “a person who has committed a crime.”

And crime, as defined by Merriam Webster, is “a grave offense, especially against morality.”  And as we all know, the general public, the government, the courts, the legislators, the church, are all experts on the notion of morality.  Which, to be precise, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is “ (A) principle . . . concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.”  Or in more simple terms, “The extent to which an action is right or wrong.”

Which brings us to the obvious question, who determines what is right and/or wrong? “Every human being is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; James 3:9). Part of what it means to be in God’s image is that we have a conscience that instinctively recognizes good and evil and tells right from wrong. Every civilized culture in the world has adopted similar standards for its people based on this inherent understanding of good and evil.”

Is it right or wrong to smoke a cigar?  That decision is up to me and you. It is up to no one else.

There is an economic principle called Laissez-faire.  It is “an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from government intervention such as regulation, privileges, tariffs, and subsidies. The phrase laissez-faire is part of a larger French phrase and literally translates to “let do,” – but in this context usually means “let go”. (Wiki)  If I may take literary license to extend this fundamental theory to Laissez-faire of the mind or intellect.  

So in short.  I abhor restrictions!  I salivate when I harbor intense convictions.  I am empowered to have the guts to know in my heart what is right or wrong for me – not my neighbor.

As Adam made his decision, let us make our own choices and let us accept the consequences.  Good or bad. That is freedom.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rynxqdNMry4

 

Taking cigar cues from Harry Callahan.

clay

“A man’s got to know his limitations.”  Harry Callahan. Magnum Force. 1973.

“A man’s got to know his limitations.”  Irv CigarBroker.  Hotel. 2019.

One scene ends with an explosion.

One scene ends with a take-out KFC.

Smug?  Yeah.

Smug?  Yeah.

One is a movie.

One is real life.

One has a blue hue to the film.

One has darkness from the hotel window.

Harry Callahan is a fictional San Francisco police officer.

Irv CigarBroker is a real flesh and blood human being.

Harry’s job is finding the bad guys.

Irv CigarBroker’s job is finding the stores that will carry the cigars he reps.

One has a time limit.  I think the movie ran for 124 minutes.

One has no time limit.  I think the job runs 24/7.

Harry uses a Smith & Wesson Model 29, chambered in .44 Magnum.

Irv CigarBroker uses his wits, impatience, anger, and sense of humor.  

The script tells Harry what to say.

There is no script that tells Irv what to say.

Inherently, though, “A man has to know his limitations.” – Harry Callahan.

Inherently, though, “An independent rep has to know his limitations.” – Irv CigarBroker

Credits roll by with all the assistance from 100s of people.

Credits are nonexistent with no assistance from 100s of people.

The End.

The End.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If3SXJeZzMQ