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The Sad Truth of It

Smoking outside is not what it’s cracked up to be! In fact, it mostly sucks at this time of year. I was thinking about this other night when I was smoking a 1995 Bolivar Belicoso Fino by the pool at my hotel in West Hollywood with a friend of mine. It’s cold in Los Angeles right now, and wet.

It didn’t help that some gorilla-sized bouncer came up and threw us out. “Gentlemen, it’s time for you to finish up and go,” he said, looking like he was going to grab us by the collar and throw us on the street if we didn’t put out our smokes and down our drinks.

“Relax. Talk to the front desk. They know me here. Just give us a little more time to enjoy our smokes,” I said. The dude got pissed. It was only 10:05 and he gave me some B.S. about local noise ordinances. We did get 10 more minutes before we were forced to leave...

Service really stinks in Los Angeles. I can’t tell you how many times I have been abused by receptionists, waiters, parking valets—you name it. My only consolation is that they may never get the acting or music gig they think that they deserve because their attitude sucks. But that’s a different column. Let’s talk about smoking cigars.

We ended up sitting on my balcony, smoking and probably making more noise than sitting at the pool. We just quietly spoke about life and stuff brothers do. I was smoking and shivering at the same time. Granted, it was not like smoking outside in Paris before Christmas with a buddy on the terrace of a café with gas heaters blazing away. (I still remember the cream, cedar flavors of the Romeo & Julieta Short Churchill!) It was cold, even in the sunshine. My ass almost froze to the seat. My hands were blue holding the cigar.

I keep thinking about my poor cigar brothers in super cold places like New York, Moscow, Oslo and anywhere else threatened by ice and snow. You get the idea. They must freeze their asses off when they have to smoke a cigar! In addition, many great cigars go to waste when you smoke out in the bad weather. For example, a subtle smoke like the aged BB loses some of its quality, as the perfumed smoke and flavors fly out in the open air. I kept wondering how much better the cigar would have been if I could have smoked inside. I even looked longingly at the partygoers in the bar of the hotel. I felt like a stray cat wanting to come in to sit next to a warm heater.

Alas, we are cigar smokers. And it’s the best we can do now under the circumstances in many places in the world, even our own houses for some.

Marc Ille Danville California January 24, 2008 8:45pm ET
Amen James!I live in Northern California. This time of the year it is a real challenge to enjoy my one premium cigar a day. I work late and fortunately have a 50-minute or so commute. On my way home I enjoy my music and cigar in the confines of my vehicle without anyone else to bother me. The only drawback is the absence of a snifter of Blue Label or other premium spirit.My weekend alternative in the cold sucks; however it gets me by. Late at night after everyone is in bed, I light the fireplace and park myself right beside it. I can enjoy my cigar with a drink and watch the smoke run up the chimney. My wife is none the wiser.I grew up in a house that was blessed with the aroma of good cigar smoke. My dad is 80 and still enjoys 1 or 2 cigars a day. The highlight of this last year for me was visiting him for his 80th birthday and enjoying cigars together in the comfort of his own home the way it should be. What great memories moments like that make. Better memories than freezing your nards off rushing through a great smoke just to get out of the cold.Marc- Danville, CA
Edward Kobesky January 25, 2008 10:37am ET
It was nine degrees when I woke up this morning. With luck, I might see 22 degrees during my commute if I leave the office early enough that the sun is still shining.

I'll take a cold and rainy day in Los Angeles anyday -- even with the shitty service -- over a sunny January day in my neck of the woods. If I'm lucky, I may get to smoke a cigar outside in late April. That's iffy.

I think James put it best. Smoking outside this time of year just plain sucks.
Jose Blanco January 25, 2008 2:06pm ET
James, come to Santiago cigar smokers are always welcome, and we are happy in this coutry to see people smoking.
James Suckling January 25, 2008 5:37pm ET
Marc. God bless your dad. Nothing better than hanging together with your dad and enjoying a good smoke.
James Suckling January 25, 2008 11:44pm ET
Jose: Does Punta Cana count? Coming next week for a couple of days and then Havana!
Steve Cohen Oakville, Ontario January 26, 2008 7:10am ET
Welcome to the Canadian cigar smoking experience. You just drink more fine spirits to dull the numbing cold.
Nicolas Fauteux Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec January 26, 2008 7:41am ET
I know how you feel James -- times 10. Here, it's been between -15C and -20C for almost 2 weeks now. And it's been freezing, snowing and blowing since November. In the winter, I don't smoke outside and I can't smoke in the house. I can only get enough free time once in a blue moon to go smoke one at a cigar bar in Montreal (last one was a yummy Bolivar Simones RE last week).This said, I don't mind winter that much. Of course, the natural beauty around here makes it worthwile but, more than that, it's a time to stock up on cigars. Hunt down those great cigars you fantasize about. Drool on them in expectation. And care for them waiting for more serene weather.
Jose Blanco January 26, 2008 8:45am ET
James, you are a smart man, when you see Deborah Garcia at Partagas give her a big hug from me, take care and have a nice trip.
Harold Killam Casciago, Italy January 26, 2008 5:11pm ET
Ciao James!In this newest video you posted it appears that one of your fine cigars may be a H. Upmann Magnum Especial... If so I am very interested to hear how they smoke as of now. I purchase a Habanos book full of 20 of them but Im thinking it's way to early to burn one. I would be very interested to hear your opinion of them. Also, while in Amsterdam last week I picked up some Ramon Allones Exclusivo Benelux sticks. Have you sampled these yet? Please keep posting your online videos... They are great to watch!Harold
Olakunle Odetola January 27, 2008 12:46am ET
We are an endangered species!
Dion Giolito January 27, 2008 3:36am ET
I smoked in and outside all week with no issue whatsoever. But then again, I was in Nicaragua and Honduras... ;)
Paul Benfer January 27, 2008 9:58am ET
Hey, aren't you supposed to be at the vanguard of the cigar smokers right's movement? You sound like a beaten man. I think it's time you and the Cigar Aficionado crew start to fight back. We have a right to boycott establishments that treat us as second class citizens. Let's start taking our business to places where they don't treat you like a leper. Let's start naming names and organizing to protect our rights!
Anthony Armeno Southbury, Ct January 27, 2008 2:39pm ET
James,I just returned from Arizona, weather was GREAT Cigars were ENJOYED , but now back in Ct. We must come out with a fresh list of cigar friendly establishments and take our business and love of cigars to where we are welcomed!
James Suckling January 27, 2008 9:23pm ET
I am with you in heart and soul. Just smoked a Fuente Hemingway Work of Art in Punta Cana in a restaurant and I felt sort of guilty. Can I ship some sunshine your way?
dean freeman January 28, 2008 10:21pm ET
Jamesfirst off I concur with the others -- keep the videos coming. Very enjoyable. I am off to Havana in four weeks, Suggestions?Even in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia smoking is banned indoors...
Jim Kraekel Tucson, AZ January 28, 2008 10:59pm ET
To prarphrase Charlton Heston, they can take my cigar from my cold, dead hand!
Luis Molina January 28, 2008 11:43pm ET
Sorry to hear about that experience, James. Those problems, the cold and poor treatment, don't happen as much here in New Orleans compared to many places in anti-smoking California. And I know Central America welcomes foreign smokers with open arms!
Ken Coleman Paris January 31, 2008 7:41am ET
But soon, James, the weather here will be just right for sitting and smoking on a cafe terrace. Until then I've found the smoking room at the Cubana Caf¿n the Montparnasse area does very well by me. Yes, there is what amounts to a cutting fee but considering the options, it's worth it. The way things are going for cigar smokers, here in France, in the US and many other countries, it and its kind, may be one of the few options left.

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