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I am writing to thank you for the wonderful time that I had at the New York Big Smoke held on May 25th at the Marriott Marquis. Being a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and stationed in Europe for most of my enlistment, I was able to enjoy many of the finer things in life, but nothing comes close in comparison to that remarkable evening. The display of fine food, spirits, and cigars was out of this world, to say the least.
I want to extend my thanks to your exceptional staff for their flawless display of courteous service which made for a comfortable, pleasing atmosphere. It was a great opportunity to mingle and meet with people from all over the country while doing what we all enjoy most, savoring the quality cigars incorporated with the best food and drink in the world.
Upon returning home that evening, I made the mistake of telling my wife that the evening was the best time of my life. Indeed, it was the best time of my life, without her at my side. She said she was interested in attending the next Big Smoke. It is an understatement, to say the least, to say that my wife doesn't like cigars, but she does tolerate my smoking them, as long as I do not do it in our home or in her car. But I find it to be a remarkable breakthrough and a sure sign of a great event if individuals who are opposed to smoking find it a pleasant experience to attend. Once again, thank you.
David M. Zulla
Bordentown, New Jersey

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Dear Marvin,
Over the Memorial Day weekend, I was shad fishing with a friend on the Delaware River. Although we caught five shad, one trout, and a smallmouth bass over the course of the day, there was a one-hour quiet period. Having just attended the Big Smoke in May at the Marriott Marquis in New York City, I was enjoying my recently acquired Licenciados Toro. The sky was blue. The temperature was in the 70s. This, and the gurgling sounds of the water under the boat, made for a most enjoyable experience, yet, my line had no bites for over an hour. Having finished my cigar, I deposited the remains (being biodegradable) in the river. As it floated approximately 10 feet downstream, I said, "Wouldn't it be funny if a fish hit on my cigar." Twenty seconds later, a smallmouth bass (at least the size of Cleveland) flew two feet in the air with the cigar in its mouth! I considered throwing in a pack of matches so the fish could enjoy the cigar as much as I did.
Robert E. Marinaro
M.D. Morristown, New Jersey
P.S. OK--the fish was almost as big as Cleveland.

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Dear Marvin,
I was an hour and a half late in meeting up with my buddies for the UCLA-Miami opening-day football game at the Rose Bowl. They were ready to write me off and go into the game without me.
But when I finally met up with them in the parking lot, I broke out my humidor and the Macanudo Hyde Park Cafes inside. The next thing we knew, we were on our second cigars and it was halftime, while we were still tailgating in the parking lot.
We had such a great time smoking those cigars and shooting the breeze that the game became secondary to cigars with good friends.
Stephen "Zeke" Zielinski
Thousand Oaks, California

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Dear Marvin,
We thought you would be pleased to hear more evidence that the love of cigars knows no international boundaries.
The Churchill Society of London consists of a dozen male graduate students, all living at the London House for Overseas Students. It was created a few years back by young men who felt that today's "civil" society no longer respected or permitted the higher level of association which our elders enjoyed: namely, the gathering of young men to smoke cigars, drink healthy quantities of Scotch and speak freely.
Our meetings are scheduled whenever the membership feels a need to escape from work, studies and the constraints of a politically correct world. We retreat to the wood paneling, leather couches and fireplace of the Churchill Room downstairs: a refuge in which cigars can be lit and both drinks and conversation can flow freely without the annoyance of contemporary scowls or prohibition.
Cigars occupy a special role in the society, as they should in any club worthy of the Churchill name. Indeed, cigars are enshrined in our short constitution: "Article V: The smoking of cigars is to be encouraged at all times."
You are, of course, not surprised that the Churchill Society would exist, for Cigar Aficionado reports often on the need for, and growing popularity of, such clubs in America. What might interest you, however, is that the phenomenon of political correctness and this resulting desire for cigar clubs is not limited to American soil.
The Churchill Society consists of men from across the globe: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Mauritius, England-- as well as Texas and Washington, D.C. What is common to us all are two basic things: The first is a basic love of fine cigars, good drink, and lively conversation. The second is a regretful feeling that such basic pleasures are deemed déclassé in today's "new and improved" society, be it in Washington or London.
Yes, Marvin, our members can attest that American political correctness and tobacco vilification are slowly but surely spreading across the globe. Anti-cigar fervor and regulation abroad have not yet reached the same level as in the United States, but have no doubt that this low-quality export is indeed finding receptive markets.
Although this is indeed depressing, some solace can be taken in the fact that Cigar Aficionado-style resistance is also burgeoning. As political correctness spreads among many, others are infected only with the increased appreciation for the simple pleasure of a fine cigar.
The Churchill Society salutes Cigar Aficionado for its role in protecting and promoting the good life, and urges it to remember that its efforts are needed beyond the American shores.
Royce Poinsett, John Hennessy
London, England

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Dear Marvin,
I am a 35-year-old physician who, as an avid runner, recently finished the 10-mile Annapolis Road Race with some 4,000 other runners. The Annapolis 10-miler is Maryland's premier road race, attracting runners from all 50 states, who enjoy the beautiful scenery, the naval academy and other sights of the state's capital. As an aficionado, all I could think about during the last two miles of the race was lighting up the H. Upmann Churchill stashed in my glove compartment and awaiting me at the finish line.
With the race completed, and most of us adequately rehydrated, I returned to my car for my "race prize." Unfortunately, just putting this gem in my mouth drew stares from my fellow runners in the congested parking lot. This confirmed my prior suspicions that as a group, runners are pretty uptight. I waited until I was on the road before lighting up, but still enjoyed the ride home and the accomplishment of the day.
Christos M. Ballas, M.D.
Westminister, Maryland

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Dear Marvin,
I am a 27-year-old graduate student in political science at a midsized campus in central Illinois. I have been smoking cigars for over 10 years, and I love them. They soothe and relax me and bring me lots of joy, even when the burdens of school and work start to bear down. I just wish Iwan Ries & Co. and the Up-Down Cigar Shop were in Bloomington!
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