Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Melody of Ambient Podcasts.

me bw

My son, Miles, is the technology wizard behind the podcast – The Sound of Cigars©.   He’s the one with the knowledge, talent and skills, that when all is brought together, produce the wonderfully engaging sounds, fades, and music that make listening to the podcast a worthwhile experience.  All I do is smoke a cigar and muse.

But a funny thing happened the other night when we recorded Moment #3.  First off I could feel that what I was doing was off center.  It was wrong.  I could feel the pressure from the creative side of my brain pushing against the logical side.  (This should be the case because I don’t always think logical, so that side of the brain is not as well developed.)

What was happening was that the pressure was building up so much in my cranium that I became a bit dizzy and my head began to throb to the sound of my heart.  But we finished take one and gave it a listen.  Miles was adjusting the sound dials and continued to come back to the beginning, the beginning, the beginning.

“There’s an electronic click that shouldn’t be there,” he said.   “Here.”  He gave me the headphones and I put them on.  I heard his muffled voice say, “Now listen.”  I did.  Initially I couldn’t hear anything save for the surrounding noise and me talking.  I shrugged my shoulders at him.  More muffled prompts, “Listen to the background!” he said, sounding like Marlon Brando in The Godfather.  I did and would you believe it – he was right.  Given a quick listen and you heard nothing, but over time the micro clicks persisted.

KNow, while I’m listening, I’m smoking a cigar – a lovely cigar by Karen Berger, Kiki Berger’s widow called K.  It has a Habano wrapper to die for.  It is luscious.  So my concentration was on that – not this.  But I was also listening to the content of the recording and it was Class A S%@T.  “I hear it.”  I stammered.  “And I also don’t like the podcast,” I told Miles after I removed the headphones.  “It’s not at all what I want.”

He looked at me, and I think that since the sound production wasn’t right, he went along with my suggestion that we re-record the whole show.  And then it hit me why I hated the first take.  It was antithetical to what I wanted to produce.  The Sound of Cigars© is an “Ambient Podcast” – with a twist.  It’s not just white noise, but an actual moment in this cigar broker’s life that I want to share.

“The term ambient has been used to describe a variety of things, particularly as it pertains to the environment, or more pointedly, space, whether that is a state-of-mind, i.e. metaphysical space, or your living room, and that of physical space.  Ambient music is a music that’s used to complement or alter one’s space, not unlike most music, with one exception. It falls very easily into the background, and this is truly a place where it’s at its best.” (Wiki)

Brian eno“The seed of ambient music was planted in 1975 when two things happened to Brian Eno (co- founder of the art-rock band Roxy Music in the early 1970s, a performer, and more importantly, a producer, and a . . . pioneer in electronic “ambient” music.)  First, he was struck by a car one night after leaving a studio session, and subsequently spent much of the year immobilized. Second, while lying in bed recuperating from his injuries, he received a recording of 17th Century harp music from a friend. Finally, having gotten the strength to move across the room and put the record on, he realized that he didn’t turn the volume up all the way. Unable to make the move again, he surrendered to the low-volume listen.” (

What I’m doing is linking the clear, concise masterful idea of ambient music with the hazy and cloudy world of cigars by giving you the live sounds and actual experience of smoking a cigar and verbally interjecting whatever is on my mind into the space.  You could call it “Stream of Consciousness of Cigars.”  But The Sound of Cigars© rolled off the tongue a lot easier.

I’m taking this moment in time – this block of fifteen minutes – and letting you into my head.  I’m allowing you to enter into my mind and listen to what I experience while smoking a cigar in the backyard, or the garage or wherever I decide to set up.  It’s ambient in that you can listen to nature’s “music.”  But the sounds of the cigar are ephemeral.

So I begin to argue with myself, do I re-record the same content sans clicking?  Or do I listen to my gut and go with what I feel I should have recorded in the first place?  I go with my gut like I always have.  It seems that’s the best way for me to survive the cacophony of craziness we all live in.

I urge you to listen – and regularly experience – The Sound of Cigars©.!podcast/i4fkm


2016’s IPCPR Best Moments.


Dressed in my shorts, blue casual short-sleeved shirt and sandals (that fit!) without socks, I entered the IPCPR convention on the last day.  My plane was delayed (finally made it home about Midnight).  So I had time and dashed over to the show.  Dash, for me, is slow walking, but my dash is still faster than the average pedestrian on the strip.

So as I’m walking down one of the aisles looking for a particular vendor – I see a familiar face.

“Roy!”  His infectious smile is often camouflaged beneath his well-kept but longer than usual mustache, plus the salt ‘n peppa beard offers a brilliant contrast so his smile glows right through the face foliage.

“Irv!”  We shake hands.  We are both genuinely happy to see one another and begin to talk about the show.  As we chat, my mind recalls what I saw at the top of The Mirage.

“Yeah, I know I wasn’t supposed to be here today because I had an early flight.  But I get a call from an 800 number close to oh, 7 am.  Ah, American Airlines with a pre-recorded message that informs me that my flight has been delayed by about 10 minutes.  No problem.  I continue to get ready to check out.”

I explain then that the phone rings again – it’s the same 800 number.  I find out that now the plane will be delayed by 45 minutes.  Hmm.  I have a shuttle already booked that will get me to the airport a couple hours ahead of the flight.  My interval for thought is widening.  I can change the shuttle schedule.  I just might have time to go to the show.  I always like to say bye to everyone, and see if I can generate any late orders.  “I didn’t think I’d get a chance, but here I am.”

vegas street

“Isn’t this amazing?” he tells me.   If you would have told me X number of years ago that I’d be with so many good people in the cigar business, I would have said you were nuts.  But it’s true.  Having a cigar with someone can change a stranger into a lifelong friend.”

We continued to talk, but I had to keep walking.  My time was short.  I shook his hand and moved along.  Suddenly I receive a call from a customer.  ”You want to put in an order for Oscar?”  I ask him where he’s at.  “I’m by the booth right now.”   I make a hard left and bounce off the few remaining obstacles and see him in the distance.  We meet.  And in minutes we write the order.

Now this retailer and I have had our ups and downs, and for while I wasn’t even seeing him.  But that’s all over now.  We’re doing business again, trust each other, and have become friends (pause) – did you catch that? – friends, not just business acquaintances.

And this type of thing has gone on for years with various customers, other brokers, and different manufacturers.  It feels so good.

So for those of you who are too squeamish to admit – friendship can, after time – evolve into love, and isn’t that all there is?

Chipz Got Nut-in’ On Compliments.


Got a call the other day and it was from a new customer of mine, seems more like a friend in the short time we’ve known each other.  He called to let me know that the cigar I suggested he try was, “One of the best,” he’s ever had.  It was the Padilla San Andres.


All I could do was smile.  Then he began to let loose about the guys who were in the shop at that moment smoking other cigars that I suggested would do well.  I can’t name ‘em all.  Somebody is going to feel left out.

Manufacturers have egos.  No No they do.  Beneath those public smiles and gracious “Thank yous,” are volcanic personalities that every once and awhile erupt with such fury they make the catastrophic disaster at Pompeii look like a mild sandstorm.

And that’s why I work in this business as I do (not for the egos).  I try my damnedest to pick cigars that will please the customer.  If they don’t, what good are they?  Really.  I can’t move cigars just for the sake of moving cigars.  A monkey on a leash can do that.

It’s taken me quite a few years to gain credibility and I’m still working on it with some in this business who will never let me forget the dog turds I started out with.  But that’s human nature.  I move on.  Sometimes at a turtle’s pace, other times I’m like the Road Runner.  Beep!  Beep!  Get the hell out of my way.

All I know is the warmth that flowed over me when I heard what this man had to say was worth more than a million chips to me.

vegas 2I’m going to Vegas for the next few days to the IPCPR convention and I am stoked.  I love it.  I really don’t give a shit about the weather, the food, the titty bars, or the booze.  I’m there to work and I do.

The only stimulation I need was provided with that man’s compliment.  I thank all the manufacturers that are allowing me to represent their cigars.  I’ll work my ass off for you to get you the sales I know you all deserve.  So don’t bother me when I run from booth to booth or walk the aisles angling for customers.  I’ve been to this rodeo before and I’ve ridden the bulls and I’ve stepped in the bullshit.  You’re all getting a fair shake.

I represent a variety of cigars; please go to for that information.  If you need to call me – call me 224.558.9712.  And call often, the phone is in my pocket and the place is noisy, so don’t give up.  I’m not ignoring anyone.  I just can’t hear the ping – or I’m busy.


Then at the end of each day, after dinner, very often I’ll just sit back alone at the hotel and contemplate the day and have a restful smoke.  This year I may venture out more.  Obi-Wan Kenobi I’m not.

So see you in a few days.  (Gotta be back for the new Bourne Movie on the 29th.  Check out IRV
TV!)  Podcast Moment #2 will be published while I’m away, thanks to my son, Miles.  I’ll publish a recap of the show in the blog when I return.  I love you all.  God Bless.  Safe travels.  I’m off!

Sound of Cigars © is Live!


Every cigar smoker has moments that he or she allows themselves.  “The Sound of Cigars” will be moments in time at various locations and times of the day when you can listen to nature, conversations, and simply enjoy your smoke, peacefully without the pressures of the day if only for fifteen minutes once a week.

“Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.”   –  Lao Tzu


So why produce a Podcast now?  I see this technology two ways, one is to entertain and/or enlighten.  The other is an art form.  You all remember those ambient recordings that would play the sounds of a bubbling creek, or the sweet chirps of birds, or the misty thunder of waterfalls.  Well, I decided to bring cigar smoking moments to you – the listener.  For fifteen  minutes each week I will record the natural sounds of whatever is surrounding me as I light up a different cigar and comment or read quotes, converse with a guest, muse, or remain silent.

That last one can be very uncomfortable for many.  But it is what most of us never hear.   On a trip to Wyoming, we were driving in the car to our hotel up in the mountains, and I suddenly remember to this day asking E to stop the car and turn off the engine.  And it was at this precious moment – surrounded by God’s vision, that I first heard absolute and complete silence.  I looked at my wife and I remember saying to her “Do you hear that?”  We all stood there, she, Miles and I, and marveled at the magnificence of the moment. (Pause)  I will never forget it.

What you will learn, what will entertain you, what will draw you in during those fifteen minutes of “Sound of Cigars,” will be your state of mind at the very time you’re listening.  This Podcast is a work in progress.  It will be a journey turning corners and seeing what’s on the other side.  Enjoy.!podcast/i4fkm



Nail it down!


Flo and I walk by this telephone pole most every day, depending on her mood, of course.  But since I’ve lived in this neighborhood, I have never seen a new sign go up on it.  Only the empty pole with bent, rusting nails remains.  I can only guess at some point those nails supported cardboard signs that had written on them Garage Sale Today, or Open House This Weekend, or some kind of festival being held over at the park’s band shell.  Someone thought of pounding that first nail and sign into the wood that would give passersby some instant information of where to go, what direction to take, or the days an event would be held.

And I suppose for those who had an interest as they whizzed by in their car, or walked by with their dog, they might have mentally taken note of a particular happening and later followed the words on the cardboard to get to a particular place at a particular time on a particular day.

But since I’ve been around here (and that’s many years), I have yet to see a sign attached to the pole with all the nails.  Maybe it was a police order that stopped the practice, maybe it was a lousy site for the notice, or maybe technology took over and everything is now done over FB, Twitter, or text messages.

“The thrill is gone.” wailed BB King.  “The thrill is gone away.”  Indeed one method of communication has been silenced.

no nails

I walked across the street and examined another telephone pole, not as old as the first one.  But it still shows its age – the wood is dry and the cracks are widening.  It’s just bland wood.  Yet nary a nail is found on this pole.  There are a few staples.  Yet, a sign here would be visible by traffic going the opposite way.  Just change the direction of the arrows.

This newer pole serves a single purpose, whereas at one point in time the one across the street served a dual purpose.  Its main job, of course, was and is to support the wires.  Its secondary use was that of a sign post.  It was sturdy and available.

Yes, I know the electronic age reaches more people, but written words out in the public will always capture the attention of people.  Our eyes naturally go toward words.  Not barren telephone poles.

We can choose which pole we’d like to be.  We can serve as the singular method of communication or as the dual purpose one.  As singular use poles we can just stand there – without a message.  Or we can serve a dual purpose by telling others the predicament we are in with the FDA breathing down our necks and trying in every conceivable way to destroy an industry that has been around for so long, has employed so many people for decades, and has given pleasure to those who wish to participate in lighting up a cigar or two to release some of the tension of the day.

Who wants to listen?  Those who want to, just like those who wanted to read the signs nailed to the telephone pole.  I’m not asking you to go evangelical on me about the matter.  But it never hurts to help people understand what our industry is going through and how its demise will affect countless lives, destroy fragile third world economies, and fracture the futures of so many people who work in the background of the cigar world.

Question is – which telephone pole are you?

Brother to BOTL.


My brother, Ralph, aka Michael, was in town for a couple of days – today being his last.  He just drove away in his red rented Nissan with a hearty wave.  We just finished what I think is one of the best pizza’s in Palatine, Pizza Bella on Northwest Highway.  Just look at that piece of artwork.  (Mike P, I’m not at all trying to take away your thunder brother!)  Sausage and pepperoni with just the right amount of cheese and sauce.  Enchanting eating.


As he drove away, I was saddened that he had to leave so early.  He had to return the rental car and get a shuttle back to the hotel so he could be up with the birds for an early flight back to Texas.  And here I am, waving goodbye sorely disappointed that he and I couldn’t have a cigar together in the backyard.  I looked so much forward to that.

It was amazing how much I would miss that time with him.  He’s not a rabid cigar smoker, but when he gets a chance he partakes and enjoys the cigar to its fullest extent.   I think he has some stogies that I gifted him from Christmas still in the humidor I gave him.  They are probably in good condition according to his analysis, but you know how that can go.

But in truth, it really wasn’t the cigar that I was missing so much as it was the time I would have been able to spend with him just chatting about Mom, his life and family.  He has a great sense of humor.  And he can be very engaging in conversation.

patioSee, it wasn’t always this way.  We had quite a few rocky years where we hardly spoke to one another.  I guess you could say we were estranged from one another for what I thought was a damn good reason.


Today, many wounds have healed.  Some are still a bit sensitive, but since we started talking, they too have been forming scabs.  Yes, perhaps the scars will always remain but the pain will be gone.

I gave him one of my favorite cigars to take back with him.  Where he lives in Texas, it’s hotter than hell and he claims there’s no enjoyment with that temperature and a cigar.  What’s that called – a wuss?  But I say that with love and affection.

Eventually we will be in the backyard smoking a cigar together laughing, talking and healing.  Do I look forward to that moment?  Never as much as I ever thought I could.

The Sound of Cigars©

irv writing.jpg

The term “podcast” is derived from the media player, “iPod”, developed by Apple, and the term “broadcast”, the traditional means of receiving information and leisure content on the radio or television. When the two words were merged, the terms podcast, podcaster, and the art of podcasting were born.

A Brief History

Adam Curry, former MTV Video Jockey, with the cooperation of RSS feed developer Dave Winer, created podcasting, a sophisticated method of broadcasting that makes audio content available to listeners at their convenience, in an always on state. Starting at the grassroots level through the “Daily Source Code” podcast, a podcast was directed by the developers who worked at From there, many of these developers improved the code and produced their own iPodders. When people discovered that they could create and host their own radio shows, a community of pioneer podcasters was born. (

Can you guess what’s coming to

My son and I experimented today and it appears as if the test was a complete success.  Now you will ultimately be the judge.  I have to work with him to edit the program – The Sound of Cigars©.  (Registered Copyright is in the works for the program’s title.)  It will be a weekly, fifteen minute broadcast that will converge on all things cigars.  No guests – only the cigar and me, and the sounds that surround us during the program.

I’ve listened to quite a few cigar podcasts and The Sound of Cigars© is not among what is available.  Nor will it ever be.  If it morphs into banal banter, the program will change or be pulled.  That’s a promise.  The show will be a reflection of our culture.  Apolitical.   A respite from violence, vengeance and vitriol.

Give me some time to work it into the site.  There’s a lot going on this week and next, not only in the world of cigars – but in my own personal world as well.

I duly want to deliver to you my best.