Category Archives: Commentary

I had already connected the dots.

 

lh cover

I connected all the dots with the cigar that I smoked earlier in the day with this article from W Magazine and a comment made by Lauren Hutton for this post?  And then I lost it!  It was deleted.  How?  Read the article.  Point is I rarely type articles directly to the keyboard.  So I had no second copy.  Damn.  Maybe I’ll try again and bring it up in a future piece when I’m a bit calmer.  Please read on: 

Google Docs is a lifesaver for me.  I can write and what I’ve composed is saved almost instantaneously.  But you know what?  It can be a royal pain in the ass as well.  Take tonight.  I’m working on an article that is quite complex.  It has a lot of facts, quotes, and is just an extremely complex piece.

I’m about finished and I notice that there is a syntax error in one of the sentences. Normally, I place the cursor where I want it and repair it.  But today, somehow, WHOOSH!  The whole expletive article is gone.  I’m staring at a blank page.  And because of the speed of the Google Docs save feature – the cut was saved.  I erased the whole article!

I quickly tried to get it back because when an article is trashed it goes into the rubbish pile and you can often retrieve it.  But not this time.  Noooooooooooooooo.  Gone.  Did I go over to the dark side?  Nope, not this time.  I tried everything I knew about this freak occurrence but to no avail.

So I guess you’ll never know why I was surprised to read in the October issue of W Magazine how Lauren Hutton, one of the most famous models of all time, decided to answer a question given her in a larger piece called “The Royals.”

She is asked, “What is your secret skill.”  Her answer left me shocked.  My mouth agape. Ready?

“Fucking.”  Fucking?  (The magazine repeats THE RESPONSE rhetorically.)  She concludes by saying, “Mm-hmmm.  It’s an awfully good thing to be good at, no?  And it goes on forever, guys and girls.  You should remember that.”  By the way, for all you fashionistas, the 73-year-old model is wearing a coat by the label Row (The Ashley Twins).

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_cPEYCbL40

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Blood Beneath the Skin.

alex mcQ

What’s the cigar connection?  Creativity has its price.  Abstract innovation has its critics.  Whenever a new blend hits the market, there will always be a concatenation of dreaded images, crass criticism, and indulgent idea idolotry that will violently try to destroy the individuality of the maker.  It’s endemic in the world of art, sculpture, writing, and tobacco blending.  What needs to be done is in the works.  But the answer is staring you in the face.  

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The first definitive biography of the iconic, notoriously private British fashion designer Alexander McQueen “offers new insights…and provides unprecedented access to a misunderstood soul” (The Boston Globe).

When forty-year-old Alexander McQueen committed suicide in February 2010, a shocked world mourned the loss. McQueen had risen from humble beginnings as the son of an East London taxi driver to scale the heights of fame, fortune, and glamour. He created a multi-million dollar luxury brand that became a favorite with celebrities, including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. He designed clothes for the world’s most beautiful women and royalty, most famously the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore a McQueen dress on her wedding day.

But behind the confident facade and bad-boy image, lay a sensitive soul who struggled to survive in the ruthless world of fashion. As the pressures of work intensified, McQueen became increasingly dependent on the drugs that contributed to his tragic end. Meanwhile, his failure to find lasting love in a string of boyfriends only added to his despair. And then there were the secrets that haunted his sleep…

A modern-day fairy tale infused with the darkness of a Greek tragedy, Alexander McQueen provides “a thorough and emotionally compelling exploration…of a complex and enigmatic artist” (Publishers Weekly). Andrew Wilson’s “magnificent” (The Independent, UK) and “compelling and heavily researched bio” (Entertainment Weekly), featuring never-before-seen photographs and rare interviews, dispels myths, corrects inaccuracies, and shares new insights into McQueen’s private life and the source of his creative genius.”  (Reverse Front Jacket)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJK56sTRNaI

Jaded.

jade smoke lateral

When I started in this cigar broker business I was as green as grass.  Now, twelve years later I’m still green, but the shade is that of jade.  I guess that develops with any business. But it has yet to happen in the area of publishing and writing.  That steady glistening of gold is still there reflecting sparkling shapes and fragments of, triangles, squares, ovals, circles, trapezoids, crescents, parallelograms, octagons, hexagons and pentagons and whatever odd orbed shards refracting prisms of light can produce.

Why?

I feel the answer is simple – there is one constant I wrestle with when I write – me.  One. Not two, or three, or four, or a committee of eleven.  Just me.  I am comfortably aware of my own personal , perplexing predilections.  I can deal with them in the way I want to deal with them without any anxiety, angst, or anger surfacing.

I can’t do that with the cigar broker business.  I can’t do that with any business.   There are always the outside variables clinking, clunking and clanking making all sorts of noises and vibrations that toy with you, taunt you, creating intangible tangles of physical confusion that make trying to do what you need to do to get the job (sell a cigar) done possible.

Now there are specific skills I need to properly introduce a cigar to a prospective client.  I use these skills, and I add in my own personality to make the mix malleable, or I couldn’t do it.  My techniques are mine, the other guy uses whatever finesse works for him.  Job done.  But the one element that is what makes this such a challenge is the buyer.  He’s the unknown factor and that’s where the separation of selling and writing begins to split.

I could recite my articles as the elders once did to the tribesmen.  No interference.  Just facts, with I’m sure was a little élan thrown in for color and thrill.  But producing a cigar is far from a one-man operation.  Stitch this to the cloth, selling a cigar is eons from a one-man operation.  The variables are in the thousands, whereas the elements exposing an idea are as simple as cracking an egg shell.  “Clink.”  Yoke and whites, plus the chalaza—pronounced cuh-LAY-zuh— (the little white stringy thing next to the yoke) and it’s totally normal and safe to eat.  Put it in the pan and fry.  All in the solitude of the mental kitchen – the imagination.

So really I only need the idea – the egg.  And then I can begin constructing the concatenation of words to form phrases and then sentences and then paragraphs and then it grows from pieces to segments to develop into an article.  From what?  An idea. An invisible seed?  

Tobacco grows from a seed, but that seed is an actual physical atomic particle that takes up space.  An idea takes up no space anywhere until it gestates on the page, the stage, or in film.  Gestates.  What does that really mean?  To carry a fetus in the womb from conception to birth: “rabbits gestate for approximately twenty-eight days” “these individuals gestate male-based litters”.  Ideas?  Do they gestate?  Or do they germinate. They do both.  The germination of a seed or spore OR AN IDEA begins to grow and put out shoots after a period of dormancy.  Synonyms: sprout, shoot (up), bud, develop, grow, spring up, vegetate.  Though I don’t like the connotation of the word “vegetate” as to me that means to be still.

But still, the idea becomes a book, an article, a novel, a biography, an encyclopedia just as the tobacco seed becomes a tiny plant and then a strong stalk, that yields huge and flavorful leaves, that will be fermented and eventually become a cigar.

The difference is one object is from a thing – the other is from thin air.  You cannot grow tobacco because you think tobacco.  But you can create words with meanings without anything physical.

One makes you crazy the other can calm you down.  Which one is for you to keep your sanity?  What are the billions of particles that can never be made extinct, homogenized, genetically altered, or destroyed.  Ideas.  Whereas a cigar can be made to burn into ash and never be recreated.  A parallel world of creation with just the exact opposite its methodology of bringing forth life.  

One can give you solace, the other a headache with rushes of thunder that beguile Niagara falls.  Yet I stay with both as conjoined twins.  I dabble, I am the piledriver of both but one is at the end of the yellow brick road the other at the edge of   Snæfellsjökull which served as the magnificent setting of the famous, 19th-century novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.

Both greens are exquisite.  Each has its own connotation.  Colors that contain the same hues but varying amounts of density and reflective properties and over time denote different meanings to the one who is able to think beyond the physical and become permanently embedded in the whimsical world of ideas.

Sing it Al!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M_s0C_ID5w

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Nooooooooo Cigar Can Help This Now.

dead skunk

Look.  You think you got problems???  This little critter ain’t got a problem in the world.  So take your mind off your pea-sized worries – and THEN get the hell back home (for me it is The Patio Cigar Lounge – Open 24/7) and THEN light up the cigar!   You can part with three minutes and eight seconds.  WATCH!  LOOK!  and LISTEN!

He didn’t!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK3wuvQeE8I

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My Business. My Plan.

My business. My plan.

I’m slowly getting to the number of cigars I want to represent.  I won’t go into the history of getting to this moment, but it’s been a long journey with many, many, many cigars involved.  I would love to list all the brands that I once represented.  I would thoroughly enjoy sharing with you the exultation I felt when I was asked to introduce a new cigar into the marketplace when I was a nobody in the Independent Cigar Broker business. (Some might say, I still am.)  My tact was different.  It’s called keeping a low profile.  And it seemed as if the brand owners liked it.  As Neil Young was asked how he keeps his head in the music business, he nonchalantly answered that all he did was that he kept his focus clear, his head down – and kept moving forward.

And that, my cigar brethren, is my philosophy that I still adhere to as I write these words. I’m in the office now.  It’s too damn chilly to be out on the Patio Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7). My plan all along was to find cigars that have legs.  And it’s taken me years to come up with the brands I carry.  Brands that glow like when Vincent in “Pulp Fiction” opened Mr. Wallace’s briefcase in Brad’s apartment and upon witnessing the sun-colored brilliance, took Vincent’s breath away – and momentarily snatched his concentration from the job at hand.  

I just turned down a cigar that is damn good, but I know me by now and there’s a tick of disturbing doubt that’s sucking the cigar’s life out of it.  It’s the proverbial flash in the ashtray.  It won’t be around by December 31st.  But I don’t say that to the brand owner.  I just listen to my gut.

So I’m reducing the number of cigars I carry.  Not expanding.  Unless I find one that captivates my attention.  (Coincidently, I have found just this one.  But that won’t be discussed here.  And I have to ask myself, do I break my own rules?)

My point now is I’m slimming down the brands I represent.  I’ve almost reached my goal. It’s been difficult to let any cigar go.  But as was once said to me by a very wise doctor, “It’s your business.  It’s your plan.”  And that’s been my steady mantra for years and I’m sticking with.

Not getting stuck.

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“Never Gonna Give You Up.”

nude h & a

I’m smoking a Hiram & Solomon Veiled Prophet. Now, before you, Ed – and George, have a conniption, this is one of my own.  I’ve been holding onto this one for a long time.  Why would they get upset?  It’s the most expensive cigar the company makes.  It comes in its own coffin.  But, since I’m bleeding all over the place, I might as well let you know it is my favorite.  The entire line is blended by D. Blanco.  This one just happens to hit my palate in the way a DewBeer© (Mountain Dew© and just a spritz of root beer foam) mixed in quenches my thirst – every time.

It’s thick, viscous and smooth as raw sourwood honey.  “A bold buttery sweetness on the front end and a round caramelized aftertaste on the back end.” (ashvillebeechamber.com) Complemented by willowy wisps of sprinkled roasted, pulverized coffee beans, mixed with swirls of creamery custard and rich, deep dark semi-sweet chocolate from Deutschland.  And pure, perfectly aged tobacco.  (This is where Barry White begins to sing “Never Gonna Give You Up.”)  

It all comes in rolled into a canon of ecumenical essences that makes hedonism look like a play date with Rusty Hammer.  Then all those aromas and essences are moistly masticated together into a slow moving sluice of phenomenal flavors that simply cannot be found in any other cigar that I have smoked to date.

Why such a heady reward?  I have been diligently working on organizing my desktop and to my surprise, there’s wood under all those papers.  Solid, glinty glowing oak possessing a light patina of an antique shade that finds its value in the years it has atmospherically absorbed so many stories, seasons, and sensuous slices of life that it has become one of a kind and will remain that way.

Yes, this is my reward.  This line of cigars has so many to choose from but I am very much in tune with the notes that my body needs to “resonate” satisfaction that any discordant, jerky dissonance would void the joy.  Any sudden movement would take away from what I am seeking –  solace, silence, fluidity of thought – and to enjoy the amazing pleasure a fine cigar can bestow upon the sensuality of human consciousness.  

I’ve already written too much . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and I am beginning to melt, to dissolve into the state an anesthesiologist monitors and the patient is so unaware of but solely is lulled into

total

re

laxed

un

con

scious

nessssssssssss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5zP7eQltDE&index=4&list=RDEMYtv2Vgg8pmO3SrIZeL3eMQ

(photo by Mario Sorrenti British Virgin Islands 1993)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From your lips.

mrs lips

We all make mistakes.  Verbal miscues.  We just don’t all admit to making them.  I have made a few in the past weeks and I’m just now beginning to realize that under the circumstances they weren’t that major.  The world didn’t end, split open, and spew out hot splashes of fiery retribution by the other party.  Life went on.  It always seems to. The papers are filed with the atrocities of mass murder and mayhem and then on the next page there are stories of new electronic gizmos that will again take our minds away from the next splatter of homicidal horror.

And so it is with the gravitational circulation of cigars and how they enter and leave the world.  What seems to be a tragedy one moment is overshadowed by the birth of another blend that will surely cover over the ersatz notoriety of the first.  It’s life and death.  Of everything.  A smidgen of this and a scatter of that and with it a swirl of the moisture of life’s blood and you have a situation that will last for a brief moment and then dissipate into the darkness only to be brightened by the next wave of “new.”  

Are they mistakes?  No they are attempts by homo sapiens to get into their inner selves. And at times we do what might be termed the right way and other times we do what others may consider the wrong way.  But the fact remains, we are all trying to be who we are.  To be able to get up in the morning and realize we have chinks in our armor and that we are not ashamed of the blemishes.

Sales is the greatest reflection of how a man or a woman handle themselves.  And if he or she is honest, gut honest to the core – they will be the most sincere individuals you will ever meet.  If they are bathed in self-honesty.  Sales is what everyone does everyday.  Oh, you may think you’re above others being a doctor, a lawyer, a professor, or a banker. But in every one of the latter professions the work gets done by selling.

The doctor sells personality and knowledge, the lawyer, his experience, a professor his mastery of a subject, and the banker his prowess with numbers.  The recipient of these notions is either a believer or not.  The gray sale is made up of billions of shades of truth.

That’s why the cigar broker is so much like the Chinese Century egg or Pidan.  He has broken down the complexity of the presentation creating a conversation of the variety of observations and information allowing insight into some of the more intricate flavors of the blend.   He has little to do with regards to the sale.  Oh, sure he or she (now I bring them together) can be all of the above, and spit-polished in every characteristic.  But the cigar?  It just sits there.  It waits to be put ablaze, drawn upon – and this is where sales means absolutely nothing – it’s neither good nor bad.  No hazy blurs, no snide-looking sneers glancing the other way.  It’s bitters or it’s chocolates. The cigar is the one thing the broker has that cannot be misconstrued – or mistaken.  It is certitude.  The broker may make a human error, but the cigar reveals its authenticity – its truth.  

And, as is said in John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” 

Ah, life is good.  Even when mixed up with the negative, asinine, preposterous pusillanimous bullshit that’s shoddily shmeared over each and every day by men and women.  A slip of the tongue.  As long as we have an azimuth of direction (our soul?) that orientation will take us higher than any now legal joint or illegally, chopped granulated street drug ever will.  It’s the cigar that shows us the way – right through all those so-called catholic mistakes.  

I’m going to light up a cigar right now and, ahem, prove my point.  Again.  Perfection does not exist.  Forgive me.  

(An extended period of time has passed.)

I’m back.  Quite a pleasure.  That.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKhrRgadxhc&list=RDMMA0WvXpyufT8&index=24

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