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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 2)

The pointed white ash on my cigar looks not unlike the snow-dusted peaks of the Catskill Mountains peeking above the orchard in front of me. The trees are now almost leafless and several deer gracefully graze on what's left of the fallen fruit. Just a few weeks ago, the air here was filled with the sweet scent of apples. From my patrol car this morning, I spotted 12 turkey hens pecking in a field in a remote corner of campus. A wonderful, beautiful irony. Yes, I am thankful for the serene setting in which I now work and live. Not long ago, I was surrounded by the maniacal hubbub of Manhattan. New York City is the greatest city in the world, and it's where I learned to appreciate fine wines and cigars. But, I'm thankful I'm in a peaceful place like this at this time in my life.

On a warm, sunny day last spring, my English professor and I strolled across campus (I was a student then), enjoying our Macanudos and each other's company. It was a good time. We laughed and talked about our days in New York City. Also a refugee from the Big Apple, she's one of my favorite people with whom to share a cigar. I'm thankful to know such a wonderful woman and to have such warm memories.

Today is the first Thanksgiving my family won't all be together. We've spoken by telephone to extend our holiday wishes, but for various reasons we are in different parts of the country. Still, I'm thankful that I have a family and that we're all healthy.

In a few hours I'll be going to a dear friend's home to share a traditional holiday dinner. I'm thankful for such caring and generous friends.

I'm thankful that I was raised to appreciate, in moderation, the finer things in life.

And I'm thankful that I am a charter subscriber of the finest magazine available, anywhere, on any subject.

Yes Marvin, it truly is a Happy Thanksgiving.

Ron Holloway
Kingston, New York

 

***

Dear Marvin,

We always read tales of the wealthy person smoking a cigar and leisurely pulling down some Cognac. Articles in your magazine are filled with stories about the rich and famous. However, we do not hear the story of the "Generation X" (I hate that term) smoker. Know why? Because there are so few of us.

I have blue spiked hair. I play guitar in a punk rock band. My vocabulary is littered with four-letter words. I have utter contempt for authority. I am your token 19-year-old punk rocker. Leather jacket with studs and spikes. My left hand often forms a middle finger. My right hand, however, tends to hold firmly onto a Dunhill or an Excalibur or, when money's short, a Padron. I'm afraid I don't ride horses, fly private jets or drive a nice car to my job as a lawyer. I work many odd jobs and scream dreams of anarchy into a microphone for a living. On tour I sleep on top of speakers in the back of a van that is falling apart. Yet somehow I savor a cigar equally to those featured in the magazine (actually, I prefer to call it a journal, but that's just me).

We speak of relaxing with a cigar and wine, but I tell you there is no better feeling than having a Davidoff on your breath while running through a mosh pit and wreaking havoc. After a good NOFX or Rancid show, the crowd hangs around with the band smoking cigarettes. I smoke an Ashton Maduro.

Punk bands don't earn that much. We can pack a room with 300 people and clear 50 bucks (between four people) if we're lucky. We get ripped off by management and bouncers quite a bit. We play for the fun of it, so we don't have much cash. Between living and eating, only a few dollars remain. It took me half a year of saving to get a humidor and I still had to make sacrifices. Cigars are important to me. They are never an ordinary experience; they are always a treat. I can't have them every day. I'd love to, but I can't. But every time I cut the end of a cigar, I do so cognitively, for it is an experience to be savored. If that isn't appreciating the cigar, I don't know what is.

The punk movement stresses unity. The cigar is a catalyst for this. I walk into the local cigar shop with my blue hair and receive stares from the conservative regulars. But the fact that I am a serious smoker allows me to converse with them on a human level. Their jackets and ties and my spiked hair do not get in the way of a common communication. The cigar enables me to talk to people who I would never talk to under other circumstances. Cigars provide this utopia. I light up a Dunhill, you light up a Dunhill; what's the difference between us?

I won't wear a suit or have a lot of cash, but I am a cigar aficionado indeed. I enjoy cigars so much that I've been known to pay for mine with change I find lying around my house. Yes, I've paid for cigars with pennies. There is a new generation of aficionados coming. We have pink mohawks and sing loud abrasive punk rock. We drink awful beer and sneak in an El Sublimado on our birthdays. Punk rockers smoking and appreciating a fine cigar. We're coming. Watch out.

David Bernick
Boston, Massachusetts

***

Dear Marvin,

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your publication Cigar Aficionado and I look forward to each new informative issue. I also wanted to share with you how varied the cross section of the cigar loving public is and is becoming.

First, let me state that I have enjoyed premium cigars for years and have some idea as to what tastes good to me and is also within my price range so as to give me the "best for the buck." I am a third-generation lover of cigars, and I am a weight lifter and runner (not jogger). I live on mostly fresh vegetables, fruits, grains and occasional seafood as my only flesh meat.

There are many of us that are lone smokers that prefer to be outdoors when lighting up and would never entertain the thought of inhaling. I never consume alcohol and am very considerate of others that may have a problem with what I like to smoke, as I know that the time I choose to light up are very happy ones, so the maintenance of the happy ambiance is important for my overall enjoyment. I do limit myself to one glorious premium cigar daily, which pushes my monthly smoke budget to around $180. Premium cigars are my reward each day for getting things done and I do view them as a kind of kinetic meditation. Some of the greatest free thinkers of our times pondered great thoughts while contemplating with their favorite roll; Thomas Edison is but one example.

I do have fond memories of visiting cigar factories with my dad when I was a boy and how the Moser Cigar Factory on Braman Avenue in Fort Myers, Florida, was somewhat like a shrine back in the 1950s, with several busy experts, hard at their craft. If my memory serves me correct, I think they used to use a form of pine resin that was obtained fresh from the factory grounds to secure the end.

I enjoy the fact that I have this reward to look forward to at day's end, and to have my sailboat anchored in a quiet lagoon, dinner over, cup of steaming Constant Comment tea, full moon, lots of stars, wife and dog, great cigar, ahhh--life is good. In a world that is becoming more and more hectic, it is very important to slow down, relax and smell the wrapper.

Keep up the good work, as I can well imagine the effort it takes to put out a publication that is thicker than my telephone book.

Chas. H. Foster
Fort Myers, Florida

***

Dear Marvin,

I am 26 years old, a husband and a father of three beautiful children. I was introduced to cigars about 2 1/2 years ago and have been smoking on average one cigar a week. At first my wife disapproved of this art, not because she disliked the idea of me smoking them, but was concerned about our very impressionable children.

With this in mind, I asked if she would approve of me visiting my grandfather on Friday nights so I could enjoy a good smoke with him. Friday nights are reserved for poker, which has been an ongoing tradition for as long as I can remember, and one I have been a part of the last two years. Needless to say I was granted approval.

Allow me to introduce the players. My grandfather, who is 92 years young and has been smoking and sipping brandy most of his adult life. My father, a real estate broker who has worked hard all his life to provide the best for his family. My uncle Carlos, a.k.a. "Mr. Nickname," who has dubbed me "Castro chico," or young Castro. (I believe my beard and cigar combination have something to do with that.) Finally, my uncle Raul, a.k.a. "The Enforcer," only because legends say his best friend was made from 100 percent cowhide and he would wear it around his waist.

As time went on I, along with my cigars, had become an intricate part of the poker tradition. This had nothing to do with my record losing streak, but due to the size and aroma of the cigars I would smoke on these semi-religious occasions. Unfortunately, due to the demands of my business, I had been unable to participate in a Friday night ceremony for several months. As the months passed my father would call and ask, sometimes insist, if I would be attending another poker night, because my grandfather has been asking for his "Castro chico." Then, after missing approximately four months, I had managed to attend another poker night, but by now Father Time had begun taking control of my grandfather's eyesight and he couldn't recognize me as I walked in. I approached him carefully, hoping he would be able to focus in on my features, but no luck. When I gazed around and noticed the different expressions, I realized why my father had insisted as he did. Quickly, I reached into my shirt pocket and placed an Onyx No. 750 in my mouth and almost instantaneously my grandfather called out "Castro chico!" Holding back the tears I gently kissed him on the cheek and we commenced with the ritual. At that crucial moment I came to understand the finer points of life, family and an excellent cigar.

Rafael C. Sanchez
San Antonio, Texas

***


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