Monthly Archives: January 2018

Remember the Ashes.

ashes to ashes

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.”

I will post again Sunday.

Why this post?  

It this inimical environment, it is crucial that we take the time out to reflect on what is important and what is not. 

e project cigar

I’m smoking a cigar manufactured by Connshade in the Dominican Republic.  Dean Parsons, of Epic Cigars, Created Project E.  A delightful cigar (6.5 x 54) with a San Andres wrapper, an Indonesian Sumatran binder with filler tobaccos from the DR and Nicaragua.

What sets this cigar apart is its unique band design made from another leaf.  The letter E is stamped out leaving the empty triangular remnant which is then applied to the cigar.  The essences of oak, coffee, bitters, nutmeg, and cream are reminders of what man can create from God’s warehouse.

But we must also keep in mind that this cigar is – as we all are – ephemeral.  And what was once real will disintegrate be it used or not.

Breath deep
The gathering gloom
Watch lights fade
From every room
Bedsitter people
Look back and lament
Another day’s useless
Energy spent

Impassioned lovers
Wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love
And has none
New mother picks up
And suckles her son
Senior citizens
Wish they were young

Cold hearted orb
That rules the night
Removes the colours
From our sight
Red is gray and
Yellow white
But we decide
Which is right
And
Which is an Illusion

Confusion is real.

Immortality is the Illusion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqaiS-sDQyY

Songwriters: JUSTIN HAYWARD  Nights In White Satin lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, T.R.O. INC.

 

 

 

 

 

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if reaching a maximum cigarpacity

ashes

“At the point of saturation, a company can only achieve further growth through new product improvements, by taking existing market share from competitors or through a rise in overall consumer demand.

At the point of saturation, a company can only achieve further growth through new product improvements, by taking existing market share from competitors or through a rise in overall consumer demand.

At the point of saturation, a company can only achieve further growth through new product improvements, by taking existing market share from competitors or through a rise in overall consumer demand.

At the point of saturation, a company can only achieve further growth through new product improvements, by taking existing market share from competitors or through a rise in overall consumer demand.

At the point of saturation, a company can only achieve further growth through new product improvements, by taking existing market share from competitors or through a rise in overall consumer demand.

At the point of saturation, a company can only achieve further growth through new product improvements, by taking existing market share from competitors or through a rise in overall consumer demand.” (Google)

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Breaking through it. That counts!

irv disgusted

From Facebook to YouTube, to digital screen television, all have been sheared off due to my momentary, insatiable piledriving, boredom.  It’s like an alien that has been gestating in my body just waiting to eject itself to begin to terrorize what’s left of my mind.  Oh for the love of Ch. . . t!  Shit, it’s out!  It’s off-kilter.  Dizzy.  Covered in what looks like Karo corn syrup with cherry red strands slowly, silently accumulating on the floor, it’s quivering in a post-orgasmic flutter trying desperately to get its footing to attack. 

I’m out of there!  From the office to the living room to the dining room to the kitchen to the back porch out the fucking back door, pushing with all my might and running like hell into the garage.  I’m momentarily safe.  My breathing comes and goes in quick, sickening spurts.  What the fuck!  No cigars?  Where are the motherfucking cigars?  

In the goddamn basement, you twit.  Fear won!   

Now, what do I do?  The garage has a radio.  But no tobacco.  Nothing.  Zero.  Just matches, and the cutter in my back pocket.  But I’m sure as hell not going back out there. “Go AHEAD you oleaginous bastard!”  Break the bloody glass and get it over with.  But for some reason, this does not occur and I’m shivering in the garage so I flip on the heater that fries my legs but doesn’t warm my body.

It’s the same slim-sucking boredom that I was experiencing inside when I had all my toys lined up in front of me like green plastic soldiers, but without any satisfaction whatsoever.  And so little heat.  What to do?  No paper.  No pen.  Nothing but the radio.  Plus this one has an epileptic channel control so I may or I may not be able to find a program that has something of interest to listen to.  God, how I hate this over-loaded, information-infused world with everything at your fingertips except a DAMN CIGAR when you need it.  

But I don’t need it.  Do I?  Hmmmmmmm.  Now, this is an interesting situation I’ve put myself into.  Ripley!  Ripley.  My voice trails off, “I.  Need.  You.”

alien queen

But this is all in my imagination, right?  All I need to do is open the garage door and walk back over the triangle of brick patio blocks to the cement path and enter the house, patter into the kitchen and run down the stairs and grab a cigar.  There’s plenty down there.  I just have to muster the nerve to do it.  Or have I totally convinced myself that there is a goo-oozing alien in there.

I’m not moving.  My breathing is returning to normal.  I’m listening to the radio, scratchy as the reception may be.   It sounds like “The Moth Hour, (NPR) a weekly series featuring true stories told live on stage without scripts, notes, props, or accompaniment. Each Moth Radio Hour mixes humorous, heartbreaking, and poignant tales that captivate, surprise, and delight audiences with their honesty, bravery, and humor.”(prx.org)  

My heart is now beating normally.  There’s no maniacal pounding on the steel garage doors. The window glass is intact.  I can now actually hear the wind chimes.  I’m sitting in my favorite chair, thinking about what my next move will be.  I glance out the window and I don’t see anything.  So the scenario I conjured up was asinine.

My hand grabs the cold doorknob.  I turn it.  And like Dorothy coming out of the fallen house after the twister dropped it on the Wicked Witch of the East in Oz, I’m met with warm air and sunshine.  Nothing to be afraid of here.  So get the motherf#@king cigar! 

I walk over the triangular patio bricks, and rather quickly traipse across the cement path, open the rear door and head up the back porch stairs.  I make my way through to the kitchen and open the basement door, walk down the stairs, no ghosts to contend with, and head for the humidor.  I open the plastic sheathing and grab one of my favorite cigars.  I stop cold.  No slime trail at all.  Anywhere.  Odd.

I look at the cigar band.  Had this one recently.  So I scrounge around a bit more, sifting through some of the worn plastic bags with all varieties of blends.  Let’s see.  Had that one.  Hmmm.  Not now.  I go through about 15 or 20 different brands and none of them pique my interest.  NONE!

JHC!  I AM bored to the core!  

So, sans cigar, I retrace my racing ascent and lethargically head back to the office and find myself sitting in the same leather chair just as disinterested as I was before all that cumulative Walter Mitty imaginary shit that took hold and put my life on the line.

irv bored

Pixie dust, ganga, brown sugar, Charlie, jibb, snappers . . . .  Tempting all.  Naw.  No access.  But maybe I will go for the potent parasympathomimetic stimulant and alkaloid known as Nicotine –  seems simpler.  It certainly is legal.  Or should I just read?  For me. A donut or a piece of chocolate would hit the spot – a plan that leadeth away from thou approaching apocalyptic apathy.  I just need to get out of this BOX.  Back to the basement for a good cigar.  Then.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8PxG5zvgOM

Juan to Passion to MOMIX.

Pole Dance - Steven Ezra.jpg

MOMIX is a company of dancer-illusionists based in Washington, Connecticut, founded in 1981 by choreographer Moses Pendleton. MOMIX developed out of work Pendleton did for a celebration of Erik Satie at the Paris Opera in 1978.” (Google)  Impressive.

asquenaPassion was blended for Asquena Martinez Calderon by Juan Carlos Céspedes in the Dominican Republic and was made to duplicate the deep emotional bond she has with tobacco.

********

“After ten-years absent from their amazing spectacle, Opus Cactus is back again bringing the landscape of the American Southwest to life with Pendleton’s signature illusionistic style. With dynamic images of cactuses, slithering lizards and fire dancers, Opus Cactus is a show designed to dazzle and delight every member of the family.”

I found out about Moses Pendleton from my wife, who saw the performance in Arizona. She was introduced to his work by our niece.  I immediately looked him up on the internet and what I witnessed was some of the most imaginative choreography ever produced. The lighting was stunning, the movement to the point of thinking so far out of the box, the enclosure is invisible and only the strange remnants of Pendleton’s inventive imagination remain.  What if I said, “Uh, uh.”

********

juan

Juan is an incredible blender and has taken his ideas into another dimension of tastes, flavors, essences, and extracts.  Yes, he only uses tobacco, this natural gift, in such a way that he can create and match subtle feelings.  I’m sure that is why Asquena chose Juan to be the arrow to hit her target – Passion.

MOMIX and Passion ignite moments of happiness and joy you will want to tell everyone about.  And now to know that these miracles have joined, the reason for living expands.  There will always be shards of the unknown floating through the ether that will be revealed if only we remain curious.  They become phantasmagorical moments that should never be missed.   Otherwise, you will reach the end of your life without the thunderous fury of delectable discoveries.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZKhV69B0RQ

 

 

XO IS IT

XO

While I was brain cleansing in the DR a few months ago,  I was able to stroll around with a sparkling smooth interior cranium.  I had a lot of room to place ideas, move things around once they entered, and was able to open my eyes to new cigars.  While I was there,  I finally met up with Juan Carlos Céspedes.  

We met at the hotel I stay at while I’m in the Dominican and he was wise enough to bring along an interpreter, Yeni – and a lot of cigars.  Lots.  We met.  It was refreshing and relaxing to finally have a face-to-face conversation with Juan via Yeni.

I had a lot of questions and one of the first was whether or not he set up to distribute in the United States?  I got the impression that he has his papers in order but sans distributor.  Not good.  But I didn’t care at this point because I had yet to try all his cigars. From the corner of my eye, I could see he took special care to have his samples neatly arranged for a professional presentation.  Wise man.

He and I talked about where they are made, what factory they are produced in, types of tobacco used, available sizes, and certainly price.  Always price.  He could have a great cigar, but if his costs are too high – he’s not in contention.  Period.

So I picked out one that he had been mentioning via text messages.  It seemed like that would be the proper protocol for starters.  But I had so many questions I barely took the time to notice the cigar.  But I will say this, my attention soon became aware that this sample was not your ordinary attempt at fame but rather an exquisite example of his blending prowess.  (In fact, I just finished a review for that cigar which will soon be published.)

We talked for about 90 minutes.  Then, as I tend to want to continue to move on, we quickly went over the other samples he brought.  Those will be smoked later and my comments will follow.

Yeni and Juan seemed to be so happy as they left (and I really did have another appointment that I needed to get to).  So I looked at the array of cigars Juan left on the table in front of me as their car pulled out of the parking area talking about what I shall never know.

********

It wasn’t until I was settled back home in the United States that I even considered lighting up another one of his other samples.  But I knew which one it would be. It, what shall I say, is his signature cigar.  The brand’s name is simply – XO.   I had asked Yeni what the XO stood for and to be honest, I never received a clear answer or didn’t pay attention. Though to me it didn’t matter.

A few days went by and when I had some free time I went to the PRESTO Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7) to try an XO.  The first dry draw was laser clear.  The tobacco aroma at the clipped cap intrigued me even more.  Oils.  Perfect construction.  Proportional swirls.  Tobacco rolled in order.  Now all I had to hope for was that once the flames singed the leaves and I drew in the resultant smoke – the cigar would arouse my senses.  And it did.

I’m going to dispense with the descriptions of its nutty caramel lilt that sprang onto my palate, slathering creamy smoke within my mouth, and the absolutely perfect balance of the essence of tobacco and civet cat coffee.  It was an exhilarating smoke.  Its bouquet brought me back to where I was on the white porch across the driveway from the hotel in the Dominican Republic.  I felt the warm humid air fill my soul once again despite the 38-degree temperature here.  My vivid memory was able to draw upon the past experience of just a few months ago.  Remember my cranium was wiped clear in the land I love and was primed for absorbing all that surrounded me without the kinetic confusion of work, cars, sales, numbers and thoughts of cigars.

Shit!  Another hopeful.  It takes a wow factor for me to consider a cigar to represent.  The one I smoked while we were at our meeting seemed to veer in that direction.  But I was in La-La Land then – I’m here now.  USA.  Taxes.  Work.  I just hoped that the remaining samples would be as sensuously satisfying.  And I knew I would only smoke them after my return. And that time was now.

Wow!

Yep, the XO has it – as certain women do (you gotta read into this ok?).  Elinor Glyn, the socialite, and novelist defined the meaning of It: “To have “It”, the fortunate possessor must have that strange magnetism which attracts both sexes.  “It” is a purely virile quality, belonging to a strong character . . . There must be a physical attraction, but beauty is unnecessary,*” to move ahead and become a radiant luminary.  

(Come closer to the screen, I’m whispering here.)  But you know something –  in the entire, sparkling, segmented and seismic cigar firmament – I  believe I’ve discovered another  “It”.

 
*(The Telegraph)

You will not be able to ignore his cigars.

purple juan

Hello Juan Carlos Céspedes!

Where has this guy been hiding?  I’ve tried all his blends, and each one has been near perfect.  Flavor, balance, smoothness, delightful notes of perfectly aged tobacco.  Flawless construction, quintessential draw.  

There’s a mystique here that defies numerical logic.  None of his cigars are available yet in the United States.  He’s a wizard in the Dominican Republic hiding behind the curtain of anonymity.  Rare for a blender of his caliber.  More often than not there’s a dog in the mix.  So far this hasn’t happened.  

Luckily, I’m the guy who ran across him.  (Or he serendipitously ran across me.) 

Dumb luck?  No, I don’t think so.  I’m always open to trying a cigar.  This association is due to my incessant desire to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  I never stop looking.  I never stop trying.  

Admittedly, I’ve run into more bad cigars than good.  It’s the Babe Ruth philosophy.  Just keep swinging.  But to find a guy that hits four home runs in a row is as rare as being offered a twenty percent commission.  

If all goes as planned his products will be available by next year.  And I can’t see his success going to his head.  He’s humble, sincere, and totally committed to becoming a major player in the competitive market of ultra boutique cigars.

Guys are tired of the same thing.  And I can assure you that once you try any one of his remarkable blends, you will find yourself adding all four to your rotation.  Do we have a lot of work to do – you bet.  But hard work is the secret to success.  And he’s not a stranger to that notion.  

He made the effort to see me while I was in the Dominican.  He made the effort to have plenty of samples for me to try.  He made the effort to stay in touch despite the language barrier.  

Why am I keeping all the brand names to myself?  My decision for now.  Because in the short time we’ve known each other I can tell there is a synergistic friendship with a heavy-linked concatenation of trust.  And in the cigar business, that’s all two people have.  Hell, in life trust is more important than the product itself.  Build trust and success will follow.  And not a temporary faith but a solid inner long-lasting relationship.  Brand names will follow as we get closer to the reality of national distribution.  (Or I might just slip.)  

Damn, the one I’m smoking now is placing me in the netherworld of disbelief.  I can’t wait to see the reactions when others light up one of these gems.  Slosh through enough effervescent effluvia and eventually, you will find gold.

And Meirda!  I hit the Motherload.

Is Cigar Smoking An Art?

balthus large

Men smoke cigars.  So do women.  Both draw in the smoke and release it.  It’s an adult pleasure that we enjoy.  Then why is there this penchant for showing women smoking cigars as if they were performing fellatio?  Too raw?   My apologies.  And, perhaps.  But I writes what I sees and this is what I sees.  All the time.  All over social media.  Some magazines.  All in full color.  Why is it allowed?  What does it prove?  It certainly isn’t good advertising.  So there must be another reason.  To wit:

There’s a controversy going on at the MET in New York about the showing of “Thérèse Dreaming,” by Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, known as Balthus, the Polish-French modern artist. If I may quote from Peter Schjeldahl’s article in the January 1st, 2018, New Yorker:

“I both like and dislike “Thérèse Dreaming” (1938), the Balthus painting that thousands of people have petitioned the Metropolitan Museum to remove from view because it brazens the artist’s letch for pubescent girls—which he always haughtily denied, but come on! The man was a creep. The subject sits with head turned, eyes closed, and a knee raised to expose her panties. On the floor, a cat—a personal totem for Balthus—laps milk from a dish. The picture is strongly painted, with a dusky tonality in which colors smolder. There is a sense of time run aground on a day—in the afternoon, you somehow know—without end. Thérèse was the daughter of a restaurant worker, a neighbor of Balthus’s in Paris. At the time, she was twelve or thirteen years old, and Balthus was about thirty. He had been making paintings of her since she was around eleven; he stopped three or so years later.”

The article goes into greater detail about the description of the painting and mentions for continuity’s sake I’m sure, the fact that his 1934 work, “The Guitar Lesson,”  a much more erotically provocative piece, was not printed in the New York Times in 2001, nor was it shown in the 2013 MoMA  Balthus retrospective.  Nor did any gallery, even the brazen Gagosian, place it on display.  

The angst, the insistence that the art world is pure and the artist is a “creep” is a classic case of the double standard.  Balthus used his predilection for nubile women and declared this without shame or regret.  But as is further quoted in The New Yorker article, “The provocation and the artistry of “Thérèse Dreaming,” the artist’s licentiousness and his genius, don’t balance. They claw at each other. The picture seethes with prurience.  And—not ‘but’—it is beautiful.  Balthus sticks us with a moral conundrum because he can. His elegantly nuanced violations of taboo won for his conservatively figurative art enthusiastic esteem in the largely Surrealist, devoutly libertine Parisian avant-garde of the nineteen-thirties, and secured him a lasting place as one of the twentieth century’s greats.”

It isn’t the subject matter (sex) that has riled up the pure, devout art patrons.  It is the fact that his paintings of such young girls are set within the subject matter usually set aside for adults.  Some have mentioned his obvious leanings toward pornography as the distraction that carries our thoughts away from the art and into the perversions that the human mind can and often does pander to.

Then why not an outcry from the moral readers, viewers, and social media addicts on why some women are depicted smoking cigars the way they do on the internet?  Why is it that a woman can appear to indulge in hyperbolic oral sex with a cigar in still photos or video footage and nothing negative is said?  No petitions to stop.  In fact, it is encouraged.  Ahhhh, perhaps it’s the age, not the action.  The woman must be at least 18. That makes the action ok?  And the art not ok?  

But who wants to see a woman (or a man for that manner) smoking anything anyway?  I mean, it’s like watching a woman eat a banana. What if that were shown on your screen. No problem, uh?  

Oh, damn it all.  The quest for purity isn’t the goal of art, nor is how a woman smokes a cigar – be it like a longshoreman or a sultry seductress.  As was once said on the Howard Stern show, “It doesn’t matter!” 

So why do it at all?  Why Balthus went in the direction he did may never really be known, only conjecture can conjure up a conclusion.  He’s dead.  But we can ask the women who smoke cigars in such a sexually suggestive style why they do it.   What is the point!?  

Art?