Cigar Aficionado, Cigar Press, Cigar Snob, Cigar Journal, and whatever other cigar publications I’m leaving out, write about all sorts of things, but their primary goal is to offer interesting (keyword there) content about cigars. Why is it I can so rarely get all the way through one of the articles that are published in any one of those and other cigar-related magazines?
I really don’t have the answer, save for the idea that I may not be interested in the subject matter, or I know about the subject matter, or the subject matter is too blatantly presented. Just an example: October 2017 Cigar Aficionado in the table of contents there are 25 articles. Of the 25, six are what I would call cigar-related. That’s about a quarter of the articles with topics such as, “Tasting: The 10 Cigar Essentials; Is the Party Over (?); Moments to remember (photos); and, Made for You.” The latter is simply a Buy Page with sophisticated items to purchase for the formidable aficionado. In short, it’s not an article. In Journalism, we called such a page a “filler.” No editorial content.
Yet I can, starting on Page 30 in October 26th’s, 2017, New York Review of Books (NYRB) read in its entirety an article titled, “A Visionary of the Real” by Jed Perl about a book I’ve never heard about: “Donald Judd Writings.” It has 1,055 pages, is rather small (roughly 8.5” x 4.5″ x 2”), flashes a cover of blazing reddish orange and costs $39.95 (paper). And I find more fascinating intimations to the cigar lifestyle and cigars in general than are contained in every one of the articles I mentioned in CA? I won’t tally the number of stories in the other publication in deference to space and time. Why is that possible?
I find this to be an intellectual dilemma that has its roots in the old journalistic adage that in order for an article to be engaging, it has to be understood and appreciated by a sixth grader. Yes, an apothegm with solid truth running through it. But is it necessary for the writer to have that philosophical bent in mind in order to draw readers to a publication’s copy? Methinks not.
But as I go through the article by Mr. Perl, I find more information that contains truisms about cigars and life in general than the publications that are supposed to draw us into specific areas of the world of cigars so that we may vicariously visit a topic through the author’s actual experience and/or research.
Judd was not only an artist but a critic as well. But what he had to say can be magnetized to cigars if only the time is taken to appraise an article that expands our thoughts rather than one that has everything spelled out for us. To paraphrase the great Red Auberauch, “This is a match. This is the foot of the cigar.” “ . . . et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” (Thank you, Yul Brynner.)
Relate some of these quotes from the article to a cigar and its cultural milieux:
“It’s possible to think and act without being simple and fanatic and it’s possible to accept uncertainty, which is nearly everything, quietly.”
“This fiercely independent artist belongs in a long line of American aesthetes who embraced an unadorned style . . . ”
“Most works finally have one quality . . . the thing as a whole, its quality as a whole, is what is interesting.”
“(Jackson) Pollock, Judd believed, wasn’t concerned with emotions but with ‘sensations.’ “Emotions were evolutionary; sensations were immediate. ‘The dripped paint in most of Pollock’s paintings is dripped paint,’” he wrote. “It’s that sensation, completely immediate and specific, and nothing modifies it.”
“(Judd) saw a situation in which ‘a lot of new artists’ had ‘developed their work as simply their own work. There were almost no groups and there were no movements.’ He believed not in world history but in what he called local history.”
You can see that the critical aspects of the cigar industry are not specifically spelled out, nor should they be – this article appertains to an artist, not a blender. But the full picture isn’t projected out in front of you and is written in interesting and cogent sentences that challenge the reader rather than just give off a squinty, dissipating spark that flies off into space from a flint rock.
Remember that Judd wanted to be in the now, as most cigar smokers want to be. From the very beginning, Judd felt that the key was in the distinction between emotions and sensations. Same as what any cigar smoker is looking for.
Ok, I guess I just find things that relate. Maybe I’m all wet. But I would like to read an article or two from the major magazines that test my intellectual prowess rather than ABC everything out for me.