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From the Print Edition:
Saturday Night Live: How it Shapes Our Politics & Culture, September/October 2011

Dear Marvin,

I have never been interested in smoking anything other than a good cigar and I have always tried to be thoughtful about others around me who may not be fans of the aroma.

For the better part of 25 years I have led a graduate/professional program which combines high tech and business. I founded it in 1985 and we have produced some very successful people as we turned out about 1,500 alums. 

Part of their development opportunity includes a student social learning program experience which introduces them to wines via an annual wine tasting, golf, skiing, sailing and lots of small group dinners after which I have always offered a cigar experience to both males and the occasional female who was interested. It was always an option and outdoors or in a vented room.

Having always enjoyed cigars with friends on boats, by the pool or by a fireplace in that 30–60 minutes of extraordinary camaraderie, I have tried to help these young people learn that the special experience with friends or business associates created by the sharing of cigars is both unique and universal.

Now, as I gather with alums in the Colorado mountains on a sailboat in the BVI’s or wherever, some alum will inevitably produce cigars and share them with me and my graduate students if they are present.

Recently on a trip to West Cork in Ireland to visit an old friend and colleague, I produced some Cubans which we have shared often over our 20+ year friendship. Due to some health issues, this octogenarian had to decline but he joined vicariously and savored the aroma while we spent the better part of a special hour together.

 My point in sharing the above is a simple one. We live in most awkward times where “purity,” ideology and political intrusions on a number of our freedoms have become almost commonplace.

The unique elements of our culture are either passed from generation to generation or they are lost, since without experience no one will know what to fight to protect in the end.

A good cigar, and more importantly, the freedom to enjoy that special 30–60 minutes with friends which it provides, is a part of life which I have tried to share over generations. You have done a superb job of doing the same with the magazine and the events you arrange.

Keep it up! It is both important and appreciated.

Ray L. Steele, Ph.D.
Muncie, Indiana

Dear Marvin,

In every Cigar Aficionado are articles about our right to smoke cigars. Some of the laws are indeed over the top. But I think we do not help ourselves. This month I attended the U.S. Open at the Congressional Golf Club (great venue) with my grand kids. They had predicted over 250,000 people in attendance. I think they were correct. Not to mention that it was hot and humid. There were thousands of fans lined at every hole waiting for the leaders to play through.

My wife suggested that I bring a couple of cigars as I love to smoke while playing a round. However I thought that there would be too many people I might offend with my smoke.

In general those that had cigars stayed in back of the crowd so as not to bother anyone. However a couple of jerks bullied their way to the front with god awful smelling cigars. Even I objected to the smell, not to mention my granddaughter holding her nose.

I have a suggestion for this magazine—how about publishing an article on cigar courtesy? Maybe call it common sense?

Paul Dube
Baltimore, Maryland

Editor’s Note: We have always urged consideration of nonsmokers. Unfortunately, there are always a few who ruin it for the rest of us.

Dear Marvin,

Your recent issue of Cigar Aficionado certainly gave justifiable and comprehensive coverage to Mr. Joe Mantegna’s successful acting career. However, Mr. Mantegna may have humbly declined to include his unfailing support to military service people and their families.

As you know, he has been prominent in hosting and co-hosting a number of national public television celebratory shows that honor our servicemen and women, as well as their families. I am sure that his actions in this regard include many other forms of valuable support.

Kudos to Mr. Mantegna for this dedicated under-the-radar diligence and dedication. I sincerely hope that you will see fit to bring this fact to the attention of your many readers.

Ray Panczyk
Gaithersburg, Maryland

Dear Marvin,

I was sitting here reading the editor’s note of my first ever issue of Cigar Aficionado which was discussing New York City’s recent ban of smoking in public places. Like you, it saddens me that antismoking fanatics twist the scientific studies to further restrict the freedoms of the American public. I attend graduate school at the University of Michigan, and the campus has recently become completely smoke-free on any Michigan property. I find this another example where the irrational fear of Outdoor Tobacco Smoke (OTS) has caused a loss of personal liberties.

The University also cited littering as another reason to ban outdoor smoking. However, a walk around campus would show that there are more discarded soda cans than there are cigarette butts, yet soda is still sold in every building. My best friend and I would have a “victory” cigar on the way to the bar on Friday nights. Sadly, I fear that this ban will soon spread to the entire city and we will have to drive outside of town to one of the last remaining cigar bars in Ann Arbor. It is a sad day in Ann Arbor too.

Thomas Wolfe
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Dear Marvin,

I wrote to my Congressman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) who responded by reminding me that cigars are not good for you.

I’m glad that our elected reps are not wasting their time on issues such as job creation, the debt limit and the trade balance.
And did I mention job creation?

Wayne Whitehead
Los Angeles, California

Dear Marvin,

I always thoroughly enjoy your magazine; especially the ratings and tasting summary.  Could not help but notice Gordon’s review of the 1931 Juan Lopez Regalia.  “With your eyes closed, you would never guess this cigar was 70 years old.” If you guessed 70 you would be wrong. By my count that cigar is 80 years old.  Just a minor point on a truly amazing cigar.

Thank you again for your wonderful magazine.

Todd Griffin
Winter Springs, Florida

Editor’s Note: Thanks. Gordon is still red-faced, but pleads that he was never very good at math.

Dear Marvin,

First let me say thank you for providing a great publication that provides a great service to the finer things in life during these less than optimal economic times. I especially have enjoyed the in-depth reviews of current and past cigar offerings and the reviews in the section Good Life Guide.

It is in reference to the mentioned section that I find insult in your last issue—August 2011. Specifically, in the article titled “Make Your Own Beer.”

As a professional brewer with over 15 years experience and a share of awards ranging from The Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup, I find offense with the statement: “If you can follow a soup recipe then you can craft brews that will tantalize your palate.” I understand that the writer was attempting to reference the ease for which the Williams-Warn Personal Brewery machine will allow home brewers to more quickly produce beer from grain to glass.

However, some of the greatest and most talented brewers I have ever had the honor to meet and drink beer with have prided themselves in controlling each step of the brewing process just as a commercial brewer. By making the preceding statement, it degrades both their hard work as well as the hard work for the commercial brewer.

David Mathis
Sacramento, California

Dear Marvin,

I’m enjoying my August issue of Cigar Aficionado, my connection to all that’s right in my world.

In regards to the New York smoking ban, my thoughts go back to an earlier issue—the one where Michael Jordan gives his philosophical version of a perfect day in his life. He would step into his automobile, set the temperature, light up a cigar and then let the wheels take over and he did this all alone. A lone rider feeling like king of the road with the windows up, cigar lit and the air system in “go” mode. He didn’t have to share the air with anyone else. This hour of the day was totally his own.

We recently have a new addition to our family, a grand horse named Rosie. When her arrival was announced, I wanted to celebrate with a good cigar, but since retiring to Sarasota, I no longer know anyone whom I can share a cigar with. So, like Michael Jordan, I appreciated my puffs of smoke alone, but smoked for one of the nicest reasons: to celebrate the enjoyment of life.

Carol Ann Jorgensen Lewczak
Sarasota, Florida

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