Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95
(continued from page 5)
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It is always a pleasure to find unexpected treasures in life. Your excellent magazine is certainly one of them. I am an incarcerated 23-year-old in the Maryland prison system, yet this setback does not hinder my joy in being able to associate with other cigar aficionados. I started smoking cigars four years ago while attending college at the University of Maryland at College Park and had found other friends who enjoyed the exotic tastes of a fine smoke. Unfortunately, my incarceration stopped short my newfound indulgence.
I found solace, however, that we inmates are allowed to purchase cigars through catalogues at certain times during the year. My habit of smoking in my housing area earned me the nickname of "Castro," which I accepted as a compliment, considering the luxury he has [had] of indulging in a Cohiba. While I felt I was a dedicated Arturo Fuente and Te-Amo man, I certainly did not pass up the opportunity of asking my brother to consider bringing me a Cohiba or two back from Amsterdam (which he visited as part of a college class assignment). To my utter surprise, not only did he brave the misguided custom officials in smuggling a box of five Cohiba Especiales for me, but he also acquired a box of 25 Montecristo No. 5s (all Cuban).
While I acknowledge that prison is a place of penitence, some things are simply necessary to encourage a fellow not to give up on the many benefits and treasures of life. On those dreary nights of loneliness, I need only open my latest issue of Cigar Aficionado and light up one of my tobacco pals to bask in the fellowship of the discriminating smoker.
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My son will be 50 years old on October 30, and my daughter-in-law is planning a party to celebrate.
Knowing that he loves to smoke fine cigars and knowing that some people dislike cigars and cigar smokers, she has asked the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas, to set aside a separate room off the party room for cigar smokers. She is doing this to keep her husband and all the cigar smokers happy--and the rest of the party goers as well.
I write this only to let you know to what lengths nonsmokers will go to keep smokers happy.
Coconut Creek, Florida
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The first thing I would like to do is express my appreciation for your fine magazine, your cause, and your obvious love for those who enjoy good cigars. I recently became a reader of your publication when I was handed, by my employer, the issue with Rush on the cover. With the magazine came a personal invitation to join him at Mr. Marc Adams' weekly cigar camp on the south side of Pittsburgh, and most important, a Partagas Limited Reserve. I thorough-ly enjoyed the cigar that evening, bought a few others the next day and now I can't stop!
I am 25 years old and convinced that what my eyes (and palate) have been introduced to is not an evil, disgusting habit, as almost all I have encountered think, but rather an opportunity to meet some great new friends and smoke a lot of fantastic cigars. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what my favorite brand is, as I haven't found it yet, but I am having great fun trying. Thanks to my boss in Pittsburgh (he knows who he is), and thank you again.
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From the land that gave the world Errol Flynn, Olivia Newton-John, the great white shark and Crocodile Dundee: to see the machinations and drama in your country on television regarding the nicotine-in-cigarettes-inquiry was pretty sorry stuff. But you are not alone. Virtually the same kind of thing is happening in this country. Watching the top brass of your major cigarette companies being grilled before Congress was, in my opinion, totally uncalled for. I say it smacks of political grandstanding.
No doubt our antismoking group would take heart in the developments in your country in furthering the cause here. Their agenda would be to try to duplicate (in whole or part) any far-reaching precedent set in your country.
A smoker is now treated like an outcast. But how the tide has turned, from being able to smoke in your office (I used to chain-smoke cigars in my work area, a government building, till 1989 when the total nonsmoking restrictions came in), in buses, planes, trains, shops and supermarkets, restaurants and cafés and most other buildings, etc., to the present situation where all of these areas are or will be out of bounds. You can see the hilarious spectacle of groups and sometimes hordes of people puffing away (on cigarettes, mainly) around the main entrances of government and public buildings. There's a movie here, I think.
The federal government is reaping a few billion dollars from the sale of tobacco products on one hand, and on the other placing restrictions on sales and consumption, with higher prices on tobacco products in the years to come. The government uses the guise of regular, hefty price increases to try to influence smokers to give up smoking, and, to some extent, this has worked. Common sense would dictate that this on going "war" between smokers and nonsmokers (and the legislators and tobacco consumers) has come far enough. Compromise should be the key here.
In the meantime, I'll con-tinue to enjoy smoking Cuban, Dominican and Honduran cigars.
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My wife and I read your review of Morton's in New York in Cigar Aficionado and have tried the restaurant on two occasions.
The first occasion, shortly after reading your review, was in either late May or early June 1994. My wife made reservations and requested one of the banquettes. We arrived at the restaurant and were delighted that our wait for the requested banquette was minimal. The service, wine and food were excellent. I particularly enjoyed the ability to sit and have a fresh cigar after dinner.
Our second visit to Morton's was quite different from the first. About a month and a half ago, my wife again called and requested a banquette. Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were advised that there would be a wait. That wait approached 30 minutes or more. After that time, we were advised that if we desired, a table was available in the main dining area, but that the wait for a banquette would be slightly longer. Upon asking, we were advised that the table was not in the smoking section and that the banquette was also not in the smoking section. We were further advised that due to high demand the downstairs dining area was nonsmoking on the weekends. What a disappointment we experienced in learning that the smoking section was a small upstairs area, which was more suited to be an attic.
If restaurants have a policy change as drastic as this one, it would be courteous of them to so advise your publication and the public.
George B. Wolfe
Hackensack, New Jersey
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I have a story that I must share with my fellow aficionados. While on vacation on the Caribbean side of Puerto Rico in February 1994, I was enjoying a beautiful day, poolside at a fine resort. Unfortunately, I forgot the one thing that would have completed this perfect day: my cigars. When a gentleman next to me lit up what I quickly identified as an Avo, I knew I was a conversation away from a good smoke.
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