I’ve been reading the bio about Marlene Dietrich by her only daughter, Maria Riva, for the past few weeks. Then I got an email from the library informing me that the new book “M Train” by Patti Smith was in. So before I went home from a day on the road, I stopped at the library and picked it up. Much thinner than I thought it would be. The book is only 253 pages. But in a way, I was relieved about that, because I knew I could put a hold on reading “Marlene” and start “M Train” knowing that I would be back with Riva’s book in a few days.
It’s odd how an errant thought will enter your mind, but as I was starting to read Smith’s book, I stopped and gave pause to the fact that I’ve been doing this type of change-up reading for years. In fact, I was reading “740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building” by Michael Gross when I put it on hold to start the book “The House of Gucci” by Sara Gay Forden, and then pushed that one aside to devour Gail Sheehy’s memoir “Daring: My Passages.” (I completed this one in a jiffy the read was so enjoyable, and next I also finished “Front Row Anna Wintour: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief.”) Then I started “Marlene…” and now I’m diving into, as mentioned, Smith’s memoir or as she puts it “(her) road map to my life.”
Patti Smith is the iconic writer, performer and visual artist who, if I may quote the bio in the back, “. . . gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released twelve albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by Rolling Stone.”
Of course there’s more, like publishing over eight books, including “Just Kids.” But this isn’t a thesis on my erratic habits. But it occurred to me last night while reading “M” how important that thin thread of a thought is and how I’ve applied it to cigars all these years. That’s why I’ve been able to pick up so much information about cigars because I’ve smoked so many different brands and some not all the way through, and others at the same time.
I started sneaking cigars when I was in grade school. I remember being able to get El Producto and the Phillies brand of cigars. Then as I got older, I scrutinized the real thing because on various occasions my dad would bring a cigar home from a convention and put it in his top drawer. I don’t remember ever smoking one of them, but I would look at it and study it. The fascination with the leaf has been with me for quite a few years.
My first true premium cigar was a Davidoff. I couldn’t begin to tell you which one. I smoked it in the garage. Then I wandered over to Thompson and JR Cigar catalogs, drove often to the Tinder Box in the South Suburbs, and finally landed to the point where I am today – an independent cigar broker with the dream job of having access to an eclectic variety of cigars that I can smoke at will. Hell, being an independent rep, I constantly get calls, texts and messages from various manufacturers willing to send me samples to try – and I do try them. Of course I know they want me to rep them, but it’s trying them first that tickles my curiosity.
It wasn’t until last night that I made the concrete connection between the two habits, and I was fascinated by the mirrored way I have been doing things. I’m cognizant of what I’m reading and what I’m not reading. My memory is such that I can remember the plot line and where I was when I put down a particular book no matter how long I’ve been away from it (the bookmark helps).
I seem to have an incredible recall of cigars as well, such as their tastes and body, whether or not I liked or didn’t like a particular cigar. I can even remember the characteristics about a cigar just by looking at its band. I’ve saved every band of every cigar I’ve smoked since 2005 in the order I’ve smoked them. Nuts, uh?
So my brain has experienced a plethora of sensory experiences with books, and my palate has tasted loads of cigars. So I won’t question this nighttime epiphany, and just enjoy the results for as long as I am able.