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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Sylvester Stallone, Mar/Apr 98

Dear Marvin,

After reading the article on cigar smuggling in the December issue of Cigar Aficionado, I was quite understandably disturbed. Along with the unavailability of Cuban cigars, and the vast market of fakes, we now have to worry about the ATF or U.S. Customs Department invading the sanctity of our own homes. And for what? A couple of boxes of cigars? We are not drug dealers; we are not arms dealers; we do not sell government secrets to the enemy (do we have any enemies left?). We are mostly law-abiding citizens--citizens who wish to enjoy a good smoke, to enjoy our hard-earned money's worth of premium cigars. We are not asking anything of our government--not welfare or unemployment benefits. We are not taxing the economy, or our fellow citizens. Yet we are treated with indignity, looked upon as if we were common criminals who were harming the public. Handcuffs and graybars for cigars--are they kidding?

The worst part is that the agents who seek to seal our fate are smug, they think this is fun, they enjoy what they do. The system in every state of our great union constantly releases murderers and many other violent offenders, rapists, child molesters, armed robbers, etc. Yet somehow they would find the money, time and resources to catch us, prosecute us and then house us for a number of years in a federal jail. Any fine they could levy on us for importing Cuban cigars would never come within a country mile of even matching the taxpayer funds that it cost to do it all.

For more than 35 years, and eight different administrations, the U.S. government has forced this idiotic embargo on the American public. In school they teach us that this is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Complete horsecrap! That line is full of more inaccuracies than a tabloid newspaper. I am sick and tired of the government sticking its bureaucratic nose into my personal business. New laws, new taxes, new policies, new agendas, new sanctions and other new crap. I am tired and downcast; but, that's when I fight back hardest: I'm going to do something about this.

If the embargo on Cuba is not dropped by July, on the fourth of that same month, when our forefathers once announced that they would no longer endure mistreatment by their government, I will fire up the twin 454-cubic-inch Chrysler engines on my family's 38-foot Magnum and begin my southern trip to the sovereign nation of Cuba. I will fly my "Snake" over my "Don't tread on me!" and I will dock in Cuba, step off my boat, break the seal on my H. Upmann Corona Majors, and light the first one my hand touches. Now, alone I stand little chance of avoiding arrest upon return; but, with my friends and countrymen at my side, it gets harder. I can see it now: 200 boats, pleasure craft, fishing boats, bass boats and rubber dinghies. Sailing in defiance of a 35-year-old ban that was written by men, many long dead--a ban that violates my rights under God, as promised by the Constitution of the greatest country on this God's earth.

I say this again, I will go alone, without video cameras or news helicopters. Or I will go like the Allied Forces to Normandy. Stand with me, stand together, stand united and stand strong, and we shall prevail! For this is the American "do or die" spirit. We didn't get to where we are by sitting on our asses; we just got used to it. Now, WHO WILL GO WITH ME?

Jonathan L. Goldstein
Miami Beach, Florida

* * *

Dear Marvin,

I never really considered writing to you with my own story, but something happened to me this past weekend that I will never forget. I have been an occasional customer of an absolutely fantastic cigar establishment, The International Cigar Store, located in Federal Way, Washington. The humidor is nicely stocked, the food and beverage selection is superb, and it would be difficult to find a more knowledgeable and hospitable wait staff. On a recent Sunday, my father happened to be visiting from California; he wanted to watch the San Francisco 49ers game and I suggested we go to the ICS. I have wanted to take him there for some time, and since my father had recently retired from United Airlines with 41 years of service, I felt that it was time for him to sit back and relax.

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