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“Walk Through Walls: A Memoir”

marina abramovic

Often we read a book, a paragraph, a sentence, or a phrase that says what we want to express exactly as we would have said it, only better.  Marina Abromović does this in Chapter 1 of her new memoir, “Walk Through Walls.”

The author is a “Yugoslavia-born performance artist. Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind.” (Wiki)

I bring this up to illustrate exactly why some people do nothing and others run circles around those who don’t – despite fear.  Every fear imaginable, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of acceptance, fear of the known and fear of the unknown. I’m sure I’m leaving out other phobias and for that, I apologize.  But when I read this in her book, I could relate so much to it and those who jump into the cigar business.  An unpredictable, charged industry that can give those who dp become involved great satisfaction as well as disastrous devastating defeat.

Here is a woman who has defied the critics.  She has miraculously shoved aside a childhood that you wouldn’t wish on your most reviled enemy.  She has the confidence to look straight ahead and go.  Marina Abromović will be known in history as one of the greatest performance artists to have graced this planet.



“I was walking into the forest with my grandmother one morning.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.  I was only four years old, a tiny little one.  And I saw something very strange – a straight line across the road.  I was so curious that I went over to it; I just wanted to touch it.  Then my grandmother screamed so loud.  I remember it so strongly.  It was a huge snake.

That was the first moment in my life that I really felt fear – but I had no idea what I should be afraid of.  Actually, it was my grandmother’s voice that frightened me.  And then the snake slithered away, fast.

It is incredible how fear is built into you, by your parents and others surrounding you.  You’re  so innocent in the beginning; you don’t know.”



Starry Night. No, Day. Ah, Afternoon?


So help me, sometimes I feel like I have ventured into the chaotic mental maze of Schizophrenia.  For the detail oriented (ergo, what’s the wrapper, the filler and binder, who picked the leaf, what type of music does the roller listen to, etc., etc., etc.) schizophrenia is “a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation or (in general use) a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements.” (Google)

Why do I feel this way?  A first-hand example happened to me today.


First I wanted to write a detailed description of a cigar for a review like all the magazines do thereby placing cigar lovers in the maniacal state of confusion of what to try next.  I do the same on this blog.  I receive a cigar and right away the manufacturer wants to see a review. He or she wants to know how the cigar may fare in the marketplace, and of course to soothe and bolster the ego – as anyone would, they want to see how they are doing.  Even the late Ed Koch, former mayor (and the best) of New York used to stand in the streets of his city in the early morning hours, shaking hands and asking passersby, “How’m I doin’?”  It’s natural.

What isn’t natural is how the review is handled.  There are many, many cigar buffs (and that is the correct word) who have an opinion.  And now through the magic of social media, everyone is an expert.  Oh, yes they are!  Some are revered, some are loathed, some are even, gasp! – ignored.  That’s why  I don’t rely on reviews for the bulk of my posts.  I am not an expert, not does my opinion mean any more than – it’s my viewpoint.  It’s what I think.

The problem of mental malady comes in when I try too hard to adequately and accurately critique a cigar.  But again, my words are my impressions.  Oftimes, I find myself holding back from writing, “Damn, this is the worst cigar I’ve even smoked.”  Other times, I am enthralled.  I’m pulled this way and that.  Ergo, the tease of mentioning the above mental affliction.

farones-band-2I give you an example, I smoked a great cigar today by – Faraones.  I happened to light up the Tutankhamon belicoso.  What do I do?  Clip it.  Light it.  Smoke it.  By God.  Great cigar.  That’s the review.  There it is.  Who cares what the makeup is, who cares what the country of origin is, who cares who manufacturers it?  Well, as Ron Puryear, one of the greatest Amway distributors of all time, once said about why anyone would want to know about him?  His reply, after a dramatic pause, “I don’t know.”  And the same can go for a cigar.  Who gives a s*#t about all that other stuff really?

Yet, I, and many others fall into this vicious maelstrom of trying to explain to you, the reader, what it tastes like, or how it shows etc.  Hell,  Adam Platt of New York Magazine does it with food, Marvin Shanken does it with wine in Wine Aficionado, and the late Pauline Kael did it with movies, and on and on and on.  Television (do they still call it that?) has a plethora of shows about reviews.  A good example is Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern ( a master at description, by the way).  So the practice is not unusual.  People make a living at it.  Praise Walter Winchell!

What is new is the excruciating detail that goes into the commentary.  JHC how detailed does the reviewer have to go?  That’s where the mental distortion comes creeping back in. I quote, “a sense of mental fragmentation,” begins to appear and what could be said in one word, comes out in a tsunami of verbiage that has indeed blended the truth with the fluff.


I can review today’s smoke in one word – great!  That’s it. My mind is at rest and I have no reason to create lusty, ornamental, flamboyant blather that no one really cares about –  sometimes the manufacturer doesn’t even acknowledge that a review has been published!  But, be that as it may, cigar reviews will continue.  Mental distortion shall win out.  I will plunge into the drink myself.  No lifejacket.  It’s hard to be simple.  It’s not appreciated.  Or it’s referred to as glib.  So what?  Divide your mentality.  Split!  

“It’s as simple as that. Simple and complicated, as most true things are.” David Levithan, Every Day

an adaptation. . .


  . . . i have had to adapt today and quite frankly i am a bit unhappy with my having to do so i cannot go into the details as they might bore you to tears because it is my situation but it destroyed my schedule for the day and even though i am quite good at adjusting the vagaries of the day i do not appreciate  when i have to restructure my whole day due to the mistakes of others however i did and the day continued on but not as you may guess as planned so i tell you this now so i can get this venom out of my system and continue on even though because of this situation that occurred quite early in the day it still trapped me into a predicament that dulled my enthusiasm for wanting to continue as i planned simply because  i could not do what i originally planned so in the end i got the short end of the stick and the other party went along their merry way without a wrinkle in their plans so with that i bid thee farewell december fourteenth and i am indeed looking forward to december fifteenth with no expectation that this is a groundhog day experience what does this mild rant have to do with cigar brokering everything . . .


Time for a cigar.


When John Cage performed his most famous (or in some minds, infamous) composition, 4’ 33”, in 1952, the end result was a scandal.   People called the piece “a gag . . . a joke . . . a provocation.”  Yet, over time, the oft misinterpreted piano solo has become de rigueur to disciples of Mr. Cage and is a key to understanding what made him tick.  4’ 33” gave me a respite from the storm of ideas that continually swirl around in my head.  A much-needed break indeed.  Why not a cigar for you, too?  Relax and listen.



Listen to yourself . . .


“ Ok, so you’re heart broken.   You sit around mopin’.  Cryin’ cryin’.  You say you’re even thinkin’ about dyin’?  Well, before you do anything rash, dig this . . .  –  The Main Ingredient.

Yes, I get it.  But I ain’t no fool neither.  I know we all have to go back to work sometime. But we also all have the ability to hold onto our memories – and realities.  I still have this deep love in my heart for the place I left no more than 24 hours ago – The Dominican Republic.  We all can make our dreams come true, and right now that is my main focus or motivation – to make a crystalline vision I hold into my real world.

So as I sit here, smoking a Cuban Crown by Luis Gutierrez, I give you fair warning that you will begin to see, hear and feel changes in this blog.  For the astute, these differences will quickly become apparent.  For the rumble-headed nitwits, this subtle morphing may not be as clear.  But honestly, I don’t feel the latter are my readers.  (Shrug.)

All that surrounds me has been transformed.  The details will slowly appear, drop by silent drop.  Keep your eyes on the ball.  Keep your eyes on the ball.  Keep your eyes on the ball and eventually, you will smack that solid orb right out of the park.  And I’m hitting the ball waaaaaaaay over Waveland Avenue!  (For non-Chicagoans, look it up.)  And all it took was a moment in time when I said to myself, “Listen, do you (I, me) want to know a secret?” – and I let myself hear the answer.