Points of View. See. There.

van goo

If you’ve ever been to the Art Institute, MoMA, Chicago’s MCA or any art museum, you no doubt have ambled by a group of adults or kids who are in front of a particular work of art and there’s a docent explaining some particular aspect of a painting, sculpture, or artifact.  If you listen closely you can get in on the guide’s expertise.

I meander up to as many groups as I desire just to hear what the man or woman is pointing out.  I’m amazed what I can pick up about a particular painter or sculptor. Now the fun part is if you already know about a particular artist and what the guide is pulling from the work.  

Very often I hear about shapes, the repetition of angles and most often light and how it is used to emphasize a framed masterpiece.  Case in point, when I was in MoMA in New York recently, I happened to stop by one of the most famous paintings in the world – Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

Vincent van Gogh painted “Starry Night” in 1889 during his stay at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Van Gogh lived well in the hospital; he was allowed more freedoms than any of the other patients. If attended, he could leave the hospital grounds; he was allowed to paint, read, and withdraw into his own room. He was even given a studio. While he suffered from the occasional relapse into paranoia and fits – officially he had been diagnosed with epileptic fits – it seemed his mental health was recovering.” (www.vangoghgallery.com). 

The crowd was a minimum of some 30 odd art lovers trying to not only take selfies with van Gogh’s signature painting while trying to hear the information they were privy to listen to while the guide spoke.

It was as fascinating to see as watching a torcedor roll a cigar for the first time in say, Honduras, Nicaragua, or the Dominican Republic.  Now, without sounding too egotistical, I am very familiar with the painting so hearing what I already know repeated in the discussion gave me a sense of empowerment that gave my ego a boost.

Same with the cigar roller.  I’ve seen the process dozens of times and I always notice that some people are completely mesmerized by the dexterity of human hands and pay very close attention to his or her every move.  

Others – and I observed this with both the van Gogh and the cigar roller – are not hypnotized by what is being explained or the skills of the roller.  I used to get so annoyed that I used to think, “Look at those assholes. The know-it-alls.”

But that’s not the case at all.  Oh sure, it may be that way for a few, but I’ll bet you those who are not magnetized to the museum’s speaker or the roller are either quite familiar with the artwork or the intricate process of making a cigar. So they begin taking in other things around them.  I wish I had the nerve to ask them why they aren’t listening or watching, but I just keep my mouth shut.  I keenly observe their actions.

And since I find myself oftimes in the latter group, I have discovered that I still learn – but just about something else that’s indirectly related.  I love to watch people and I find that their immediate attention is what I find so fascinating at the time and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  

Like when I took the shot of the painting, I was able to weasel my way right to the front of the group, take the picture and move on to other artists’ work in the gallery that caught my attention. Why?  Most of the people weren’t paying attention to me.

Same way with the rollers.  I often find myself not so much focused on the skills of the torcedor, but rather the face of the individual doing the rolling.  Is he or she bored, engrossed in the process, or feeling electric because he or she has the rapt attention of so many people? That must feel fantastic.

And it does.  

I get such a rush when I write.  I’ve seen people struggle with creating a letter or getting a homework assignment completed and it seems to take them an eternity.  Not fun.  For me the more complex, the more I get out of the end result. It’s what makes this blog so much fun to write. I get this intellectual and rapturous physical surge creating it.

I hope you’re one of those who get high when reading it.  Thank you.

Me.

Heading out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOVW938sr0k

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Why would I do that?

linarus redux

A few days ago I did the most unusual thing.  I sent a text to the national sales manager of a boutique cigar I adore and came right out and asked if I could rep it.  I did at one point, but I had a bit of a rough start with the owner in the very beginning, so who knows what his impressions of me will be at this later date.  I don’t quit easily.

No, I’m not going to name the cigar.   All I’ll say is that it has the most fantastic flavor that is consistent and teeters on the point of becoming addictive. I have a few of them left from the samples he provided before, and I’m going to smoke one tonight when I walk Flo.  Give it another test run and see if it has what I am remembering.

Why would I go to that extreme?  It’s gold – 24k is pure but too soft to use, so it is mixed with other metals to strengthen it. Note that 18k gold is 75% pure.  But I think he’s using 24k to keep the temper of the cigar at its freshest. In short, akin to a puro.  

Few cigars excite me to the point of reconnecting with the manufacturer.  Too, by now I would figure a rep is in place. But by asking the right questions, the answers led me to believe that the company is in good hands on the national level.  Having a rep, however, would relieve the manager’s tasks overall – at least in the Midwest. No one can do it alone. God knows I’ve been going it alone since day one. And as Ringo says, “It don’t come easy.”  You know it.

So I’ll wait for a reply – if any.  Though I’m not very good at that skill.  But I have a choice?  Remind me, and I’ll let you know one way or the other of the decision.

Wish them luck.

The Value in Vulgarity.

crushed can

That can is the direct result of absolute frustration.  I find that if I take the aforementioned emotion out on an inanimate object the reactive retort is usually predictable.  So what irritation caused the destruction of the can? Why was I so annoyed that I had to crush an object to feel at ease?  

It’s because I cannot comprehend why an established cigar manufacturer would be so unaccountable in getting back to me regarding my contractual representation of one of his cigar brands.  I’m completely baffled by slothfulness.  (Or maybe he changed his mind?)

My business is to introduce new brands of cigars to prospective buyers.  The object is not only to make money, but it’s to jump-start building brand recognition.  I visit the lounge, the store, the shop and with my persuasive techniques and samples.  I have the owner or manager light one up.  And then if there is a lifted-eyebrow moment, I will be fortunate and make the sale.

Then between visits, if the cigar catches on, the next time I stop in, I will be greeted with a smile and not a scowl.  A smile means money has been generated.  In fact, I may even be offered a pop, or like the other day an invitation to lunch.

So with the prospect of making more money and slowly building the brand, why is the manufacturer not on the phone, sending me a text, or emailing me faster than the speed of light?  I DON’T HAVE A CLUE!  I do give the manufacturer the benefit of a doubt though.  Life does get in the way of expediency. 

But after what I consider a reasonable period of time, I quote Sonja who always seemed to have the right answer for this type of situation.  Do you know what her return to serenity was?

“F++k It !!!

 

Cigar musing number 4629.

golden age notes

Got back from the field early today.  Having a cigar in the PRESTO Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7) because there was half a cigar left so I stopped in to finish it.  The radio is scratchy. Quite annoying really, but right now I prefer that to silence.

Finally secured an order from a shop that should be a model for all lounges. But I’m still in the embryonic stage of decision making.  

“Look at them guys lookin’’ at me like I’m a fool

But aww, deep down inside they know I’m cool

I said, “Now” I said, “Now, the moment of truth has finally come”

When I have to show you some, some of that cool jerk

Now, give me a little bit of drums by himself there

Now, give me a little bit a bass with those 88’s” (“Cool Jerk” by The Capitols)

My persona is being compared to that of Ernest Hemingway because of the beard?  You can’t think cigar, cigar, cigar.

Karen Carpenter couldn’t cope.  Sad.  That voice could soothe the Middle East.  But there’s always conflict.  Maybe it’s because they can’t listen?  Focus. Stay focused.

So when the day goes well, I take a break. The effort is worth it.  It’s the push and shove that gets to you.

Smoking a Golden Age by Saga.  Perfect burn.  Mellow flavors.  Copy reads “It narrates (cigars can’t talk) better than words can describe, the history of a family’s tradition in tobacco, delivering a cigar much like the ones they used to smoke in the times of Hemingway.”  An odd juxtaposition, coincidence, wry.  Me.  Ernest. Saga. Beard. (By the by, “according to myth, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drink was the Mojito, which he drank often at one of his favorite bars, La Bodeguita del Medio, in Havana, Cuba.{eater.com})

Sun is out.  I’m still at PRESTO.  The flexibility of independence.  The bane of individualism. You must have discipline.  The latter is not genetic, but a sharpened highly-honed learned skill.

“Twinkle,” my phone is ringing.  Wait.   A follow-up email.  You have to stay on top of things.  Regardless.

“All I want is what I – have coming to me.  All I want is my fair share.” (Lucy from “A Charlie Brown Christmas – original track.)  Is that too much to ask you, I ask you?

Smoking a great cigar that is half enjoyed is like having your favorite song playing on the radio (87.7 FM) just as you pull into your driveway or spot and it grabs you like a magnetar would attract iron filings – it’s virtually impossible to get out of the car.  You stay put and listen to the whole damn song. I sit there and smoke the whole damn cigar. Could I toss it? Turn off the radio? Sure. But what’s a molten moment of sizzling ecstasy worth to you, uh?  

Madonna sucks on this fingernails-on-the-chalkboard staticky radio.  Buts that’s why I’m out here – to finish my cigar. My choice. Not the sales manager, boss, or the “Massa.”  My doctor once said to me, “Your business. Your plan.” Spot on.  Gorgeous.

But this isn’t made up.  This is my mind whizzing through thoughts – impressions of an independent cigar broker.  I just have had to learn to like roller coasters – tall, scary, vertical vomit comets.  I hate ‘em.

Ja, the radio has lost the guttural, electronic insolent chatter.  It’s custard. Kopp’s. Smooth.  An anteater’s delight. It’s stupefying.  A lot more pleasant to listen to.  “Take it – to the limit, one more tiiiiiiiiiimmmmme.”  I’ve adapted.

Corporate is being cooped up like a chicken in a cage.  You can see the outside, but you ain’t never gonna walk “da Earth, like Kung Fu.”  Sun is down. Getting chilly. Gray. Cigar sill smoking great. One more chorus and I can get my ass into the warm house.  

Maybe the air, the sun, or lack thereof has allowed the radio waves to penetrate the sound gristle thereby smoothing out the Tom Waits cackle.

Ending the day feeling good.  Like chocolate with hot peppers in it.  Close those eyes. “California dreamin’ (California dreamin’).” (Mamas and the Papas)

“No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be.”  (Turtles)

Finish that Golden Age.

To a close, man.

Buttery in-the-shell escargots.  (Elitist Gastronomy)

Right On Henshaw Street.

henshaw street

Flatbed’s (latest) release: HENSHAW STREET (is) a back road tribute. (No.  I don’t know what the latter means and the latest is 2016.  I printed this straight from the copy.) Perfectly rolled with a perfect burn…razor sharp.  An earthy, countryfied, old-school blend.  It’ll take you back to when cigars were cigars.  Just leaf.  No coloring, no flavoring, no “infusing.”  No trying to hide, flavor, or cover up an inferior leaf.  This cigar is going to rival our “Kentucky Fire Cured”, and “Peacemaker” meteoric releases!  Flatbedders have been ravin’ ’bout (sic) it already! Grab this cigar and your favorite chair.  Put on some Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd and just kick back.  You”ll see why I call it a …back road tribute.  (I’ll have to give that phrase some serious thought.)

The dark, chocolaty (sic) wrapper is from Mexico’s San Andres Valley.  Binder is Cuban seed, Dominican grown.  The filler is Pennsylvania 41; Dominican and Nicaraguan Ligero, and Seco Cubano.  

Box of 20!

Cigar Size is 6 1/2 x 53

********

Ok.  That’s what Paul Bush of Flatbed Cigars has to say.  Now it’s my turn.

henshaw st

Clip!  Spicey from the first draw.  Habanero. West Virginia.  Decent draw.  (I never could figure out why “Moon River” was included in Capote’s classic short story “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” that morphed into a movie anyway.)

What does smooth and creamy really mean? Synonymous with smooth: mellow, mild, agreeable or pleasant.  I chose the latter. Creamy: velvety, whipped, or buttery.  I’ll go for velvety.

I don’t get the chocolate yet.  I get more of a coffee lilt.  And countrified?  What did Billy Joe McAllister throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge?  No answer since the sultry Bobbie Gentry released her classic hit “Ode to Billie Joe” in 1967.  Similar, uh?

Burns like a champ.  No distasteful bitterness despite the PA tobacco that weaves its way through the Dominican and Nicaraguan ligero.  That’s an art.  Pennsylvania tobacco can be a bitch to blend with balanced success.  I’d say Paul has this challenge behind him.  

The beginning offbeat rhythm of Simon and Garfunkel’s hit “Cecilia” reminds me of this cigar’s resultant experience.  Unbalanced?  Né rather teetering on an Ellington-like counterpoint in the beginning but it eventually finds its tempo.  

I have to say it’s a bit rugged halfway through.  Now if that’s what Paul’s referring to when he says “back road tribute,” then he’s right on target.  If not then I’ll switch the experience to the dictionary’s definition: “rough, hilly, jagged.”

It’s the William F. Buckley etymological-based rule.  Every word has a specific origin, ergo meaning.   Be cautious.  Henshaw Street.  Why?

You decide.  I’ll go for Paul’s interpretation.  Like the late Mayor Daley of Chicago once said to a reporter during one of his infamous press conferences, “Don’t write what I said, write what I mean.”  They had to “Chuckle, chuckle.” 

The cigar may be beginning to head down that “tribute”  road now.  Still spicy, but it’s dragging along some of that royal characteristic Pennsylvanian machismo.   How do you define that?  A man’s smoke.  This is not a bad thing.  I’m sure he knew exactly what he was going for when he wrote his description and thankfully it wasn’t an attempt at Johnny Cash’s monotonous vocal pulsation of, “I Walk the Line.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xObSJWIWui0

 

A love affair to remember.

jtaime

You can’t buy this cigar.  I own the last two.  I know this.  I’m smoking one.  It is Honduran.  It has absorbed about four to six years of age.  And it is absolutely seductive.

Its rapture is that of the romance between Rick and Ilsa’s in Casablanca.  To touch the smooth, burnt sienna-shaded wrapper is like caressing a snoozing baby lamb.

It has no band, the only distinguishing mark is its tight pigtail.  I know it was made in the Dominican Republic at the Connshade Cigar factory.

Its flavor is literally indescribable.  And what it returns is beyond sensuality. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlpDf6XX_j0

Just Another Industry To Fall.

industry to fall

Song Parody Written by Irv Cigar Broker

(To be sung to the tune of Pink Floyd’s, “The Wall”  Originally Written by Roger Waters.  Mixed by Steven Hyde.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXgdMmYG8aU

Click on link, return to post and sing along)

 

All And All We’re Just Another Industry To Fall

The FDA will own the scepter

Leaving us a memory

There will be laws passed by Congress

Thus destroying our industry

What did you leave behind for me?

If we don’t do something we’re another industry to fall.

If we don’t do something we’re another industry to fall.

 

(Music, Effects, and Voice Overs)

 

We don’t need no regulations

We don’t need FDA control

No dark sarcasm in cigar shops

Your blatant ignorance will show

Hey G-men, leave cigars alone

If we don’t do something we’re another industry to fall.

If we don’t do something we’re another industry to fall.

 

(Music, Effects, and Voice Overs)

 

We don’t need no taut restrictions

We don’t need outside control

No dark sarcasm in cigar shops

Lest your stupidity will show

Hey G-men, leave cigars alone

If we don’t do something we’re another industry to fall.

If we don’t do something we’re another industry to fall.

 

(Music, Effects, and Voice Overs)

 

We don’t need to bow to pressure

We just need to be left alone

We have seen the writing on the wall

Don’t think we need rules or checks at all

No!  No!  Leave cigars alone.

If we don’t do something we’re another industry to fall.

If we don’t do something we’re another industry to fall.

The End