Category Archives: Commentary

Irv CigarBroker creates a website.

new website

I’ve been down in the dumps lately and I wish I could blame it on the weather.  But I can’t.  It’s me.  I’ve let a lot of threads slip through my fingers.  I still hold a pretty good sized hank for all you knitters out there, but it’s been reduced in size and it’s nobody’s fault but my own.

Most right now some will guess it’s that the business is getting smaller.  You’re wrong.  I haven’t had such a good run in ages.  Plus it’s really none of your business save for the fact that this is one cigar broker who is going to stir things up.  It’s fixable.

As you know I have one of the more unusual blogs that I post most days that goes by the name of https://irvcigarbroker.wordpress.com/.  I write and post something every day. Sure, I’ve missed a few, but after writing close to 800 individual articles, I figure I can take a day off now and then.  Plus, I get my fill of cigars.  So to take a step back is allowed.

Which brings me to the positive growth news here.  Months ago my son and I created a website https://www.irvcigarbroker.com/.   I tried to put as much pastrami on the rye as I could and I found that I had just created another job for myself.  So over time, I let it just sit there and go stale

When I first got into writing I had to be fully committed.  I mean typewriter, paper, carbons, mailers, stamps, you name it.  Today, anyone can get on WordPress and you’re perceived as another John Updike, or Charles Adams, or a seasoned journalist, or a magazine editor, or egads – a cigar expert.  It takes very little to create the appearance of being professional and with all the new electronic gadgets that are available, the personal computer is putting recording studios and printers out of business.

So I figured, ah fuck it.  Everyone is doing it.  So why not give it another roll in the hay.  

Well, I’m back on the bandwagon with the site, and I’m going to make it as simple as possible and as entertaining as I can.  Right now it’s new, I just put it online with what current information I feel is important.

Click on it.  And don’t think it’s going to stay as pedestrian as it appears right now.  I have to get the wheels turning and the word out.  Facebook has soured on me.  Will I continue to post my blog https://www.facebook.com/IrvCigarBrokerPage/ Of course?  But I, a glump of fresh bread dough with plenty of yeast in it, will expand.  I will no longer depend on FB.  Nor will I be in the dumps.

Why?  Well, If I wanted to be policed I’d go to Korea or China – or Illinois.  Big Brother is watching and you do not have complete control over what you can do on that media outlet.

My site will be informational, but I’m going to have to tweak it until I get it right just like I did with the blog.  Who wants to read the same old shit 1000 times.  Not I.  So with all the gusto of a frothy pilsner, I’m going to leave you with a high that you will want to share with others.

It’ll have information you cannot find on the other sites.  Why?  Because I’m writing it.

God, how I love the act of creation and the ability to share that with you without restrictions.

Love you all.  Peace and love.  Peace and love.

https://www.irvcigarbroker.com/

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A cigar steps up?

old cigar

First read the following: https://irvcigarbroker.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/curb-your-cigar/.  It’s a piece I wrote about finding one of my own half-smoked cigars in a parking lot and relighting it on the drive home.

Next, consider the above.  Yeah, another cigar.  A few variations on a theme.  It’s not mine and frozen firm.  It’s between the steps at the entrance to Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) near the top.  It old.  Faded.  God knows how long it’s been there or who smoked it.  And guess what?  It’s going to stay there.  Save for the photo you see above.  Its disappearance will be due to what the ravages of nature will incur upon it, or if some new city worker notices the stub and sweeps it up.  My vote goes to natural deterioration.  (Ain’t no such individual as a “new” city worker.)  

Point.  Point.  Point?  There is no POINT!  Yes, I’ll smoke a cigar that I know is mine even though I found it by chance seven hours later next to a curb in a parking lot I visited earlier that afternoon.  But I won’t smoke a, a, yetch!  Almost makes me want to vomit just thinking about it.

I guess cigars do have their downside – even on their way up.  Get my drift?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY0WxgSXdEE

 

 

Controversial but Necessary.

voice of God

My gut tells me to leave this post in the recesses of my mind.  I usually listen to my gut.  I have a lot of experience with that lengthy organ.  A lot.  So even as I pen this post, I’m questioning my reasoning to bring the subject to the fore.  

But I’m also extremely convicted about certain subjects.  One is the truth.  I don’t cotton to folks who lie or shall we say bend the facts that allow falsehoods to score.  I’ve been blessed with the ability to ferret out those who do just that.  

A double-edged sword to say the least.  

So my reaction to liars, cheats, and scoundrels has always been the same since I was a kid.  Once I detect that a person’s personality is rife with raw sewage, I am unable to look at that individual straight in the eye.  And the way I was brought up was when addressing or conversing with another, despite his or her station in life (in short don’t get bowled over by fame or notoriety, keep your jacket on) my eyes always look deep into the other person’s eyes.  It’s a show of respect and confidence.  

So when I read the review of “What the Qur’an Meant: And Why It Matters,” by one of the most respected authors of our time and beyond, Garry Wills, (Viking) I was unable to stop reading it.  The review has added credence because it is written by G.W. Bowersock. One of the most influential historians of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Near East.

That article Is titled “The Voice of God.”  (New York Review of Books.  12.7.12.)

Ok.  Even if you’ve read this far I’m convinced you’re asking yourself “What the f**k does this have to do with cigars and why do I need to go on?  

The answer is simple – to find the truth!

Mr. Wills’s work is a remarkable attempt to offer a perspective on such a controversial subject that it would never be possible to be broached if we did not live in the United States of America.  It’s the same with cigar smoking.  If we did not live in this country there would be no discussion.  Simply a dictatorial edict.  

Contentious subjects beg for discussion.  But what is more salient is the fact that we must seek the truth.  Unbiased.  Irrefutable.  Concrete.  This, no matter how many feathers are ruffled and strewn in every imaginable direction.

Subway consciousness.

 

reader bw

For me trying to relax is a challenge.  Yes, there are times when a cigar will do the trick. But not every time.  Like right now my evening has been upset.  What I find is that when my expectations are high and things get turned upside down I find my anxiety level can spurt right out the top.  “Splurt!”

Keep at it.  Just keep at it.  JUST keep at it.  Who quits?  Losers quit.  It’s damn cold out. The temperature is well below freezing.  WCF.  That never used to be in the weather report.  P.J. Hoff.  Chicago’s original weatherman with personality.  He never mentioned the wind chill factor.  He used to draw pictures on a pad of paper anchored on a tripod. He was an extremely good caricaturist. He was made by his own personality. He was before all this electronic jive that can track a storm from its conception to its completion.  

What!  A book being read on a New York subway.  God, I wish I was in New York.  I took a shot of Nat Sherman’s shop when I was there and I felt something.  What?  Personality. That’s what.  I go for walk to the movies, maybe to the park.  Just another day.  We laugh. Tell a few jokes.  Have you seen her?  The cold wind blows.  Why, oh why did she have to leave and go away.  What personality. Have you seen her, tell me have you seen her.  Oh, yeah.  I’ve been used to have someone to lean on and I’m a lost, baby I’m a lost.  

Another day comes to an end.  What’s to think about?  Have you seen her, baby have you seen her?  What?  Personality?  Cigars try so hard to have this gift but it’s missing.  Gone. Electronics.  Damn.

Oh yeah, yeah.

Reading a book on the subway.  That’s personality.  The tears of a clown.  When no one is around.  Who cares about a fourth.  Tears of a clown when there’s no one around.

A kid was asked on the subway in the October 16-29 New York magazine, “Where are you going?”  His response, he’s fourteen, “What’s your biggest fear?” His response?  “I’m afraid I’ll die before I can upload my brain to the cloud and live forever in a video game.” I can’t imagine what his interlocutor Hanna Goldfield thought when she heard such an answer from this seasoned ninth grader from New York.

Where’s the personality that was gifted to us?  It’s being taken away in bits and pieces and being trashed like beer cups at a Yankee’s game.  Where did we take the wrong turn?

I can’t remember who took P.J. Hoff’s place but it was when Willard Scott came to the Today show that there was a resurgence of personality to the weather report.  It’s there. We just have to feel it.  Oh, baby what you’ve done to me.   You make me feel –  What does that?  Personality.  

Ricky Wortman was also on the subway.  He’s 26, homeless and unemployed.  “Where are you going?”  He responds, “Well, I just came from the methadone clinic in Soho, and I’m going to Flushing to meet my friend.”  “ What were you thinking about when I stopped you,” Hanna inquired.  “I was spaced out.  I get, like, panic attacks, on the train, especially.  That’s why I get into benzos.  That’s the things I like.”  From the South Bronx, he’s had a rough life but he ends the conversation  with “Cause I want to write a book, too, that’s one of my goals.”

Personality.  Sure a bit off center, but it’s there

Why do you think cigars have crazy names, ridiculous shapes, ludicrous flavor profiles. Personality.

I’m running over the brim with ideas.  They are shooting and speeding through my mind like sparks on the third rail.  Catch us if you can.  Catch us if you can.  Catch us if you can. Three more times.  Harmonica, guitar, a blues bending Horner.  One of the best harmonicas ever produced.  Why?  Personality.  To this day.  Remember Johnny Puleo? Pure personality.  Standing out.

And when I die and when I’m gone there’ll be one child born to carry on.  Have no chains on me.  And all I ask of dying is to go naturally.  Just let me go naturally.  There’ll be one child born and a world to carry on.

It’s inherent. Whatever.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DEANIkZu38

 

Distorted counts what matters.

demolition ball

“I got it bad (And that ain’t good.)

First heard in public on July 10th, 1941 at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles.  It’s just one of the many songs that were presented at this venue.  It ran for nine weeks (222 performances.)  (Wiki)

The lyrics were by Paul Francis Webster and the music by none other than Duke Ellington.  The review never made it to Broadway, but the songs made it into history.

After that, the tune was sung by such luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Etta James, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole, and instrumentalists such as Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Count Basie, hat and all.

When a song hits the right notes, and the music is right on key, the song can only be considered a classic.  And when it is interpreted by so many artists the once unknown melody becomes a standard.

And that is what I have here – a standard case of writer’s block.  A huge, twenty-ton weight held in the air by a thick, rusted chain held together by Heliarc or Tig welded links of hardened metal composed of carbon steel, which is simply constituted of iron and carbon.  “Low alloy steel is an amalgam of other elements, usually molybdenum, manganese, chromium, or nickel, in amounts of up to 10% by weight to improve the hardenability of thick sections.” (Wiki)

So this exaggerated 40,000 pound (excluding the weight of the chain) monolithic block is above me.  I can detect the slight movement.  It seems to be taunting me, whispering in the voice of Joe Gage in QT’s “Hateful Eight, “Go ahead try to get through me punk.  Try to whizz your ideas through my hulk of horrendous, hideous hardened hell.”

chris burden and doomed

And below me?  I’m on my back.  Just like Chris Burden was in his 1975 performance at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art christened “Doomed” which consisted of the artist “lying down on the floor under a five by eight inch plate of glass that leaned against the wall, while a clock recorded the duration of the performance. In this piece, the artist put his life in the hands of the audience and museum staff. He had predetermined that the piece could only end in certain ways, one of which was interference with one of the three elements of the piece – the clock, the glass, or himself. After 45 hours, one of the museum staff members interfered by placing a pitcher of water next to Burden as concerns started to arise about his health.” (theartstory.org)  It was then he determined the piece was over because of this unannounced, and troublesome intervention.

Would I go this far to conjure up an idea?  Some say it is best to walk around, move your muscles, get away from the present environment that seems to be holding you back.  But how do you get away from yourself?  Your mental block?

No, right now it is late, very late into the night.  In fact, it is the next day.  It is silent in the house, save for the hum of this computer.  An occasional car travels on the street by the front window where my studio is located.

I have to look upon this modern, and imaginary Stonehenge as my mental, temporary hell.  It is my cavernous, bottomless, pitch black perdition of time that I will need to pass through the weight of mass and not fall.  I know not when a rational pinprick of light will appear.  I need the creation of an idea, a stinging jet of icy, arctic air that I will suddenly feel piercing my skin that will awaken me from this torturous mental damnation.

-30-

KISS

rapture

Just because I’ve changed my business methodology does not mean I have altered my focus on giving my customers the best service I am able.  I get bored very easily.  So I decided to go about the holiday ordering in a whole new way.  How’s this sez I?  Simple, I’m keeping my philosophy intact, but I’m just having a bit more fun that I have been having.  And what good is any business if it gives you more grief than enjoyment.  And right now I’m having a ball.  I’m even smoking a cigar while I go about this new approach.  

I used to practically kill myself trying to do everything around the holidays.  Visiting all the shops, making hundreds of calls, sending out Christmas greetings, following up on every order that went out to make sure the client is happy.  

And guess what, I’m getting everything above done with exuberant flair.  Worrying less.  No tension.  And I can’t tell you how much this new idea has reached the top of, dare I say, Einstein ingenuity?  And no, I’m not going to reveal what the new plan is that I’m using, but it’s working so well that I guess I had to go through the effluvia of experience to finally come up with the idea to attach some brass balls to get the same jobs done without becoming unhinged about the results because they are forthcoming.  It’s working like a finely-made Swiss watch sans the stress.

Ha.  Ha.  I feel like a genius.  

Of course, the end of the year numbers will positively prove whether or not I’m right or just a seasoned independent cigar broker who has gone mad.  And maybe that won’t be so bad.  Why?  Because the thrill is back.  The blood is coursing through my body, and my heart is beating to this side of joyous ecstasy so magical it’s almost as if I’ve been transported to some other world.

And it’s early yet.  And I’ve gotten more done in one day than I used to get done up to the end of the buying season.  Fewer expenses, less wear and tear on the body, the car, and a happier person all around.  Really.  Try this out.  But first, you have to figure it out.  If I told you, the thrill would not be as exhilarating.  It’s the discovery process!  

Just think it through.  Take the time you need to think about what people seek the most and if you can do that you will experience one of the most fabulous rushes known to man.

Repetition.  Repetition.   Repetition.  What a hoot!  What a freaking hoot!

(Photo by Nobuyoshi Araki.  Model: Anja Rubik)

He Knew What Hit Him.

sonny

If you can’t handle rejection, don’t think that because you adore cigars and becoming a cigar broker is going to shield you from the psychological pain that you will feel when your cigars are given short shrift.

“Oh, but I love cigars, the camaraderie, the community, the romance, the friendships that are created when I’m out there every day.”

Land back down on the ground my friend.  There isn’t a rep out there whose skin is thick enough to honestly tell you, “Not to one’s taste doesn’t matter.  It’s just business.”

If you tell me that, you have swallowed the pill that dissolves every day in your idyllic imagination.  Rejection in any business is very difficult to get used to.  And to be gut honest, you really never get used to it.

Yes, it’s a fact of life.  You can tell yourself that it doesn’t bother you, but if you’re human, it causes a cramping twinge in the pit of your being.  

So what do you do?  A sane person would call it a day and become a solitary writer, an artist, or a musician.  But you know something, you get pushed aside in those businesses as well.  So what do you do?  You make a decision that you will manage the pain.  You can’t ignore it.  Even a professional boxer will tell you that that last uppercut hurt like hell.  The burning pain is real.  You never really can ignore it.

No.  The aches and soreness never go away.  So why do it?  That’s a rhetorical question not even the best of ’em can answer.  Even the rewards, aka the money made, makes little difference.

You know why you stick around and put up with the abuse?  Hope.  You have convinced yourself that there is an underlying chance that the constant rejection won’t destroy you to the point of giving up.  But as one who has been in the cigar broker business for near 12 years, it still hurts.  If I am honest with myself hearing “No,” still feels like a sucker punch from Rosa Klebb in “From Russia with Love.”  And the rejection will continue to take the wind out of me until I make up my mind to do something else.

Get out of the tunnel of love future cigar brokers.

Welcome to reality.