Author Archives: IrvCigarBroker

About IrvCigarBroker

I'm an independent cigar broker and blogger covering the Midwest.

Imagine tears and turtle shells.


Tears don’t come easily for some people.  There are thousands of reasons why people weep. But I’ve noticed that crying is on the upswing.  And from what I can tell, the natural reaction is not feigned.  The droplets of fluid streaming down someone’s cheek or the obvious globular increase in the size of someone’s eyes who is about to shed tears is visibly obvious.  

As mentioned there are myriad of inexplicable causes for this natural phenomenon to occur. There can be tears of pain, or “Cry for Happy,” George Marshall’s 1961 classic film. 

To limn them would be foolish and insincere prose.  In short, more people are showing their emotions and whether they know it or not are saying “To hell with the social stigma.”  I am emotionally damaged or intensely charged at this time and I’m going to let it out for the world, my coworkers, my family, my wife, my children – everyone to see how I feel.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve been susceptible to this outward showing of touching drama. And as I look around me, it’s fairly obvious why.  I’m an extremely sensitive individual whose sales shell is still forming.  Oh, sure, my protective layers are far thicker than the average, but I’m really not – there – yet.  You know the kind.  The obnoxious ones.  They always stand out.  And as I’m thinking this through, I’m not at all sure I would ever want to be in that group.

turtles chinatown

Yet, here I am – a cigar broker, an independent SALES representative who, according to The Collins English Dictionary as, “. . . a person who sells products on behalf of a company, usually traveling away from their own company’s premises to find and sell to customers.” with a developing shell.

Initially, turtle embryos develop like the birds and mammals do . . . .  But as turtles mature, their bodies undergo an unusual folding process during which certain portions of their skeletons and muscles tuck in on themselves. This folding causes some bones and muscles to connect in ways that they don’t in other animals.  As a result, the turtle’s shoulder blades slip beneath its rib cage, and its rib bones grow out to the sides instead of curving downward.  Over time the flat, splayed-out ribs harden to form the turtle’s upper shell.”  (National Geographic Keer Than 7.9.09)

Ergo the tears.  My shell is not maturing as quickly as perhaps nature intended.  Or, I’m holding back the growth process that would allow my skin to maturate into an adult turtle resembling the staying power of the late, great Zig Ziglar (my raison d’etre not to be your average sales rep) thereby pulling me into the emotive chords of the symphony of sales.  

Masterpieces such as Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47; Verdi – La Traviata; Beethoven – String Quartet No. 14 in C♯ minor, Op. 131; John Williams – Theme from Schindler’s List is sure to drain your tear ducts.  And sales reps like .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . are sure to empty your pockets.

Yes, tears – those tiny, yet heavy, falling drops of water, mucin, lipids, lysozyme, lactoferrin, lipocalin, lacritin, immunoglobulins, glucose, urea, sodium, and potassium are becoming the norm.  Yes, tears are becoming commonplace in the public.  And not just due to the sensitivity to sales rejection, but, because of mass shootings at high schools, churches, concerts, shopping centers, and airports.

Unfortunately what has become the norm is being brought about by the gradual, slow unraveling of man’s mind thereby maiming our sense of what is right and what is wrong and what has become regrettably acceptable and sadly tolerable.



Looks what I found.


“” was in my mailbox this day.  Elegant in style, attractive graphics, with 88 pages of cigars and cigar-related paraphernalia from front to back.  I’ve received other catalogs through the mail and I usually throw them out.

But for whatever reason, I didn’t fling this one into the trash.  So I started to flip through the pages to see what’s offered for this March 2018 issue.  Of course, it’s jammed with deals.  Or so one would think.  I don’t know every retail or wholesale price of every cigar that’s offered in the shops.  So I really can’t say if they are high or low.

As much as this pains me, I thought I’d mention some of the brands that are included in this very readable publication.  Let’s see, Punch, Cohiba Red Dot, Rocky Patel, Davidoff, Graycliff, a wide assortment of cigars by A.J. Fernandez, Oliva, Macanudo, Acid, Nat Sherman, (a brand that’s looking for a rep and may have found one by the time this is published), CAO, Camacho, Diamond Crown, of course Gurkha, a bunch of house blends, (probably made by the same folks who brought you the more recognizable brands).  

Oh look, here’s Ashton, Caldwell, Drew Estate, Don Pepín García, My Father, Alec Bradley, San Cristobal, Partagás, more Rocky Patel, Obsidian ( I think that’s PDR), Fratello, Padrón, Sancho Paza, (odd to include), HC, Asylum 13, Warped, Southern Draw (Oops!  A boutique cigar by A.J.?)  Arturo Fuente, Nub (isn’t that odd, too?), and on and on and on and on and on.

Wow!  If I didn’t know better I’ll bet you a dime to a donut that some of these are offered in the shops.  Again, I can’t criticize because I don’t know the prices.  Whoops, forgot Java, just saw that one.  I mean there are so many.  

I used to buy from J.R. in the early days.  In fact, I just smoked my last Champion from that company and despite its age, it was one grand cigar.  I think that was one of the first boxes I bought from a catalog.  Although, I clearly remember Davidoff sending me a five pack of some cigar very early on that I enjoyed tremendously.  Sadly, when I called to reorder, the customer service person said that they couldn’t send me a single five-pack, something to do with a minimum order and I wasn’t about to spend any more than I planned.  Keep in mind this was years ago when I was simply a consumer.  Without sounding too elitist, I don’t buy cigars anymore.

It’s really a treasure chest of cigars that are offered.  And you can buy them from your house.  Click, click, click and they are on their way.  No muss no fuss.  Snow, rain, sleet or snow – I can get a cigar.  Though I will throw in you have to wait a few days for them to arrive.  But then you have to wait in line at the cigar shop, too.  So what’s the difference? Ah, convenience.  You can’t beat it.

So I’m writing as I am and I can still remember one of the stores I visited not too long ago as a broker.  I stood while the owner frantically ran to his computer to see if the cigars I was introducing for sale were offered on the web – the paperless catalog.  I just stood around while this little circus act was being performed because God knows the shop owner wouldn’t dare pick up a brand I was selling if he found it in, oh say Cigar International, or Famous, or Thompson (alas poor Thompson – we knew thee well).

I often wondered why the hunt and peck for my brand when I could have sworn I saw Montecristo, Rocky Patel, HC, Drew Estate, and many, many more brands that are in the catalog are offered on his very sacred cedar shelves.  I’m sure he would have been aghast if he found any I had just shown him on the internet.  But he did not – find any – of mine – on the internet.  No blunt excuse to say, “No thanks.”  “No, thanks.”  Shit.

Today I still stick with boutique cigars that are not listed on the web or photographed for the catalogs.  Though.  Though, that has changed dramatically.  You can find some of the boutique cigars I represent on the net and in the catalogs.  Even though we were told that would never happen.  That was our ace up our sleeve to make the sale.  The customer had to visit your establishment to get the cigar because it wasn’t available anywhere else. Excuse me, I have to vomit.

No, now it’s “Oh, yeah they have it, but it’s price protected by an ironclad contract.”  Good God how I hate to wretch.  Forgive me.

Oh boy.  Whew!  I’m feeling a bit better.  

So, as independent cigar brokers, we go on, “Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or, There Must Be More to Life,” a grand book by Maurice Sendak that explores the daring imagination (that) has woven a simple rhyme into a brilliantly original tale about Jennie, the Sealyham terrier, who seeks Experience and becomes the star of the World Mother Goose Theatre.”  (Wiki)

I’ve been to New York, Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta and I have yet to find this particular playhouse, but I will not tarry and the search I will never give up.  I will go far beyond the false promises, useless ironclad contracts, and sincere foolproof declarations of “No, it will never be on the net,” to find the missing arena where I will someday wear my five-pronged star with pride, dignity, and truth.  I mean, really – who would f**k with Mother Goose?

Cigarlazed over and looking.


Right now – this very second I’m glazed over with cigars.  For the time being, I’ve limited my exposure.  I’ll smoke ’em later.  So . . . . 

. . . . I just ripped open a parcel from Amazon with a book in it that peaked my interest just the other day.  “My Grandfather’s Gallery: A Family Memoir of Art and War,” by Anne Sinclair.

If I may quote from the back cover:

“On September 20, 1940, one of the most famous European art dealers disembarked in New York, one of hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Vichy France. Leaving behind his beloved Paris gallery, Paul Rosenberg had managed to save his family, but his paintings–modern masterpieces by the likes of Cézanne, Monet, and Sisley–were not so fortunate. As he fled, dozens of works were seized by Nazi forces, and the art dealer’s own legacy was eradicated.

More than half a century later, Anne Sinclair uncovered a box filled with letters. “Curious in spite of myself,” she writes, “I plunged into these archives, in search of the story of my family. To find out who my mother’s father really was.” Drawing on Rosenberg’s intimate correspondence with Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and others, My Grandfather’s Gallery takes us through the life of a legendary member of the Parisian art scene. Rosenberg’s story is emblematic of millions of Jews, rich and poor, whose lives were indelibly altered by World War II, and Sinclair’s journey to reclaim it paints a picture that reframes the history of twentieth-century art.

The book is in pristine condition.  I am as particular about my reading materials as I am about the cigars that I smoke.  In fact, I know one shop owner that is so fastidious that he will, when time allows, make sure that all the bands are in the same direction in the box and that the box is as full as it can be.  

The contents though, methinks are the same in nature.  There is no difference.  Both objects are made from nature nudged into shape by man.  Paper is a thin material produced by pressing together moist fibres of cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets. It is a versatile material with many uses, including writing, printing, packaging, cleaning, and a number of industrial and construction processes.”  (Google)

The editorial copy is pressed or sprayed onto each sheet from an author’s soul and diligent research and is arranged in such a way as to make sense and to the reader, not only knowledge but the sweet fruits of entertainment, be it an intellectual or whimsical end.  

“Tobacco is Nicotiana tabacum, or cultivated tobacco, an annually-grown herbaceous plant (plants that, by definition, have non-woody stems. Their above-ground growth largely or totally dies back in winter in the temperate zone, but they may have underground plant parts (roots, bulbs, etc.) that survive.  It is found only in cultivation, where it is the most commonly grown of all plants in the Nicotiana genus, and its leaves are commercially grown in many countries to be processed into tobacco.”   (Google)

It too goes through dozens of stages of growth, fermentation, drying, and blending to produce, for our purpose, that lusty and provocative end product – the cigar.  It too provides a variety of results from relaxation to the sheer enjoyment of a nicotine buzz if that’s what’s desired by the consumer.

Maybe I’m not really as bored with cigars as much as I am being unproductive as defined by the Urban Dictionary when it states, and I paraphrase, bored is what I probably am if I’m looking up the word.  “Get off the computer and do something interesting.”  Like, read the book, “My Grandfather’s Gallery.”

My Grandfather’s Gallery tells Paul Rosenberg’s story in bits and pieces that construct a life and a legend through association . . . A detailed and important record of twentieth-century art”The Boston Globe

Now, who is this Paul Rosenberg?  Butane on . . . .  

Tilting the Damnation of Dimensions.

irv imagination

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” (from the original Twilight Zone Intro 1959)

Seems like I got swooped into it, but I call it “The Cigarlight Zone.”  It’s a crazy place, man. Nothing is real except everything that is really surrounded by the solidity of reality. Cigars are everywhere.  I mean everywhere. Twirling in zero gravity, cigars are flying all around me, all I have to do is reach out and gently pick one out of the silent air. There is no sound in space.  All you hear is the wheezing of oxygen.  No flat lines.  There’s life here, but it’s all the same.

Every cigar I pick is the same.  Brown. Cylindrical.  5 ½ inches.  54 ring gauge.  Go ahead light it up.  It’s the same as the last one. The same ash.  The same length of time to smoke it. The same flavor.  The same notes. The same draw. No bands. Same quantity in each box.  The same filler, the same wrapper, the same binder. Same bouquet. All the f**king same, same, same, same, same.  Same price.  Same store.  Same manager.  Same “Thank you. Have a nice day.”

This has been going on for seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades,  – all the time it’s the same.  Go ahead pick another cigar.  (Saga Short Tales.  Wrapper: Cotui; Binder: Indonesian.)  Bless the Beast and the Children.  It’s the same, the same, the same. Same pictures, same reviews, same people, same magazines, same nonsensical descriptions, same blender, same manufacturer, same salesperson, same jokes – same skatá.  NO!  (Filler: Dominican and North American.)  Same?  Peacock.  Spread your wings to distinguish the M-theory that looks at eleven dimensions, which looks like 10s+1t=11d and String Theory at 9s+1t=10d. ( New frontier?

“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!” (from episode two of The Twilight Zone.)



Your fifteen minutes of fame will be?


“15 minutes of fame is short-lived media publicity or celebrity of an individual or phenomenon. The expression was inspired by Andy Warhol’s words “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, which appeared in the program for a 1968 exhibition of his work at the Modern Museet in Stockholm, Sweden.  Photographer Nat Finkelstein claims credit for the expression, stating that he was photographing Warhol in 1966 for a proposed book. A crowd gathered trying to get into the pictures and Warhol supposedly remarked that everyone wants to be famous, to which Finkelstein replied, “Yeah, for about fifteen minutes, Andy.”  The phenomenon is often used in reference to figures in the entertainment industry or other areas of popular culture, such as reality television,  and YouTube,*”  –  and cigars.  Oops?!   Did I just commit a mortal sin? (

“Andy Warhol, a founder of Pop Art whose paintings and prints of Presidents, movie stars, soup cans and other icons of America made him one of the most famous artists in the world, died yesterday. He was believed to be 58 years old.

The artist died at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, where he underwent gallbladder surgery Saturday. His condition was stable after the operation, according to a hospital spokeswoman, Ricki Glantz, but he had a heart attack in his sleep around 5:30 A.M.”  (excerpted from the story by Douglas C. McGill.)

(Andy Warhol was born on August 8, 1928, and died unexpectedly on February 22, 1987.)


“Death of a Legend: Carlos Fuente Sr., age 81, born and raised in Ybor City and resident of Tampa, Florida, and Santiago, Dominican Republic, passed away on August 5, 2016. Carlos was born in Tampa on May 6, 1935, to Arturo and Cristina Fuente.” (Google)

“Avo Uvezian (April 22, 1926March 24, 1917) one of the cigar industry’s most colorful, best-known and most dearly loved figures, has passed away. The iconic composer of both music and cigars was 91.” (Tobacconist Magazine)

Oftimes that “fifteen minutes of fame,” lasts decades.  More often than not it lasts a few nanoseconds on such social media goliaths as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  

If I could rewrite the equation of death, I mean really influence the Being that put us here, I would guess our discussion of the perception of the reality and time affects us would boggle the mind (at least it would mine . . . . )

Look at the string theory for an example of our attempt at explaining the physical property of matter.  

“The fundamental particles of the universe that physicists have identified—electrons, neutrinos, quarks, and so on—are the “letters” of all matter. Just like their linguistic counterparts, they appear to have no further internal substructure. String theory proclaims otherwise. According to string theory, if we could examine these particles with even greater precision—a precision many orders of magnitude beyond our present technological capacity—we would find that each is not pointlike but instead consists of a tiny, one-dimensional loop. Like an infinitely thin rubber band, each particle contains a vibrating, oscillating, dancing filament that physicists have named a string.” (   And what do these particles travel in?  Space?  Or Time.  Or both?

There’s more, but this is a cigar blog.  Cigars are wrapped up (excuse the pun) in reality and reality is totally relational to our dimensions (more punsters?), our dimensions allow us to have access to the five senses and use them at will, provided we have that opportunity.  And, if we are fortunate – we will take advantage of our senses through the notion of creation.  What we don’t take into account is the notion of time.  

How often do you read a book, watch a movie, smoke a cigar and are completely taken off guard as to the amount of time that has passed by once that fact is made dramatically clear?  We don’t.  We take time for granted, thereby begging my previous question of having the ability to influence Our Creator to bend, twist, scrunch, stretch, squeeze, or pull the matter that makes up time or spacetime – the fourth dimension, at least according to German mathematician, Herman Minkowski – and possibly Einstein.  

Warhol, methinks, thought he would wake up from the operation.  Fuente planned what his next day would have entailed, and Avo Uvezian would, I believe, have played a bit on the piano if given the chance on his sunny morn probably smoking a cigar. 

We have, each of us, complex limitations to our ability to take into consideration the conclusion of an instant.  A kiss can last forever – though, really, it is over in seconds.  We swoon. We sway.  We dreamily go back over the precious feeling of that one physical show of affection.  That group of strings (that I find difficult, if not utterly impossible to comprehend), creates that momentary memory but with the time element vastly distorted – IF we allow that to be the case.

So we look for whatever “it” is in our supposed designated fifteen minutes.  Finkelstein was right.  Don’t get lost in the mist of seconds, minutes, hours and days.  Take advantage of that slippery intellectual, conundrum and blend another cigar because time is diaphanously ethereal.

Turned left. Canned Heat does it best.

on the road again 2

This year it may take the customers, shop owners, managers, cashiers, manufacturers, pseudo-sales managers, etc., etc., a little time to figure it out (if they make any attempt at all) about how I’m approaching my business in 2018.  Because as we all know, romance aside (Cough!  Cough!!  Cough!!!), we all be in this business for da money.  Deny it and you headed to hell.  Roll your eyes at the swaying tobacco leaves, straw hats, the former Buena Vista Social Club and Compay Segundo.  This is a cash crop business.  So this year for some, working with me may be hard to figure out, but give it a dash and come along for the ride.  We gonna have some fun.  Finally!

Cataclysmic Cigar Clutter Conundrum.


Let’s really dissect the reason anyone would want to have their own cigar brand.  I know doctors, lawyers, mechanics, other cigar brokers, men and women from all walks of life that have this prickly itch that apparently has to be scratched to survive.

Distinction here.  I’m talking about the guy or gal from Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, or whatever other states you can think of who has this insatiable yen to bring a new blend into the marketplace.  Problem is it’s really just a cigar made by someone else’s factory.  All they really do is approve the blend.  They think they are all master blenders, but they are not.  May I repeat – They think they are all master blenders, but they are not.  Don’t confuse the latter with the landowner who has fields of tobacco they own with acres of green leafy stalks of nature’s gift wafting in the winds of the Dominican, Honduran, or Nicaraguan sunshine.  Clear?  These are men or women who go to Placencia, AJ Fernandez, Connshade, Espinosa, Alec Bradley too many to mention and ask to have a blend made for them so they can wrap their band around their cigar.

Now, I can’t tell you why this lust is so heady.  I would have to call these people and interview them individually to find out what it is that compels them to get into a market that is already saturated, being attacked by the general public, legislated to the point of absurdity, and misunderstood by the majority of the population.

Yes, this is America, Land of absurd laws, disruptions of our constitutional rights and personal freedoms, and oh yes, “Land of Opportunity.”  That America.  Ok?

We are on the same page?


Think about it.  Why would anyone want to risk their savings or whatever else money they have worked so hard for to get into a battle that at the present time isn’t on the winning side of the field?

I don’t know.  So I have to talk from the only perspective I can guarantee I am absolutely sure about – and that’s my own.  Yes, as mortified as I will admit – I have given some serious thought to becoming a cigar brand owner.  An epochal absurdity.

I’m the little guy who is barely able to afford to buy tobacco and would have to mortgage everything I own.  I go to a well-known factory and have a cigar made exclusively for me “ecausebay i’myay ethay upidstay itewhay uygay owhay oesn’tday owknay uckfay aboutyay endingblay obaccotay  So I ask myself “Why???”  

I have to think this through.  Because it can’t be for the money.  Ego?  “A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.”  But is it just ego?  I can boost my ego so many other ways other than pseudo-blending a cigar?

Romance?  I’m not even going to dignify that one.  That’s bullshit from square one.  Go to any cigar factory and you tell me if what you see is romantic?

Individuality?  Another dose of bovine intestinal matter.  Popularity?  “He’s smoking my blend.”  You see him or her all the time in cigar publications.  That touches on ego.  Because now you’re a ☆.  You are a celebrity.  Are you?

I’ll never forget the time my wife and son were shopping for shoes in that elongated shopping center next to the convention hall in N’awlins and who do you think is also looking for deals.  Henke Kelner,  a 30-year veteran of blending tobaccos who maps out “flavor zones and papillae” and is considered to be one of the most famous men in the cigar world, was trying on shoes.  He wears socks like you and me by the way.  The shoe clerk wasn’t impressed, the people in the store weren’t falling all over him, hell even I was blasé at his presence.  But I still went up to him, introduced myself, took a picture together, and had a quirky conversation on the way out – not even about tobacco.  No cascading celebrity there.

Ok. So what’s the pull?  Why did I entertain the thought of “making” my own cigar?

 Self – indulgence.

As defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “…excessive or unrestrained gratification of one’s own appetite, desires or whims.” Is it so I can pleasure myself in public?

Good Lawd!