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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
bundle of cigars, Winter 92/93

Dear Marvin:

Congratulations! It was indeed a wonderful experience to read your premier issue. For a Cuban with nearly 45 years of puffing Habanos, it was like reading hieroglyphics in a newly discovered ruin. In other words, a finding of an extinct civilization. The art of cigar smoking has suffered humiliation, snubbing, insults, rages and all kinds of name-calling from groups of people. That it has survived all these experiences is reflected in the success of your magazine.

The articles in The Wine Spectator and the launching of your publication depicting what a cigar really is, made me feel very proud to be a Cuban. I felt the same ecstasy as when I watched the Cubans in the summer Olympics in Barcelona, or the extraordinary Cuban National Ballet with Alicia Alonso.

While this country lifts embargoes to questionable types of governments like South Africa and Haiti, which continuously ignore democratic principles, it has sustained and tightened a totally unreasonable embargo towards Cuba, every year using more abstinence than logic.

What a great opportunity the cigar gives us. What an indescribable pleasure to smoke a good cigar. What an honor to share a moment of peace and enjoyment with so many fine people.

Thank you for your contributions to this cause, and, of course, your magazine will occupy the best shelf in my house.

Sincerely yours,

Manuel Anaya
Los Angeles, California

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Great first issue!

Steve Florio
Publisher,
The New Yorker Magazine

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I am a pastor of a church in Massachusetts and have a Saturday evening ritual that has helped inspire many a sermon. A fine cigar is enjoyed as I struggle with the scripture and seek to bring a message of hope and new life to the congregation. I have known the pleasure, physically and spiritually, of cigar smoking for over ten years and would like to commend you upon a job well done on your publication. The demands and expectations of a minister can be overwhelming, and there is nothing like a quiet and smooth cigar to bring me to a peaceful place.

I am careful not to smoke in front of children, and when it is offensive to someone. But the benefits of a Saturday night cigar far outweigh the detriments. In moderation, ten a week or so, cigar smoking, I declare, is not a sin.

Gentlemen, you have my blessings. Those who do like the art and transcendental experience of smoking a fine cigar need not worry of divine retribution. I think God understands.

Gratefully and respectfully,

An inspired preacher from Massachusetts

Editor's Response: Amen.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

CIGAR AFICIONADO, in just one issue, has converted me into a cigar connoisseur without having smoked more than three cigars or read more than one of your issues.

Colin Wilcken
Washington, D.C.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

My own favorite response to people who accuse me of excessive smoking comes from Mark Twain: "Excessive smoking is when you smoke two cigars at the same time."

Sincerely,

Don Sigal
Chicago, Illinois

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I recently received the premier issue of your magazine. Bravo!

My wife (who grumbles every time I light up) also read it. The very next evening, upon opening my humidor for a cigar--delightful surprise. Inside I found a couple of each of some of the cigars you rated in your magazine with a note:

If you read your cigar magazine you would know that good cigars don't stink.

Marvin, thank you, thank you, thank you. You might have unknowingly ended a 14 year battle.

Gratefully yours,

Tony Palmieri
Scottsdale, Arizona

Editor's Response: Peace on the home front! We hope it lasts forever.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Four years ago, I received an ultimatum from my spouse, as it seems we all have, in reference to my cigar smoking. I now send a cigar wrapper along with the alimony

check each month. My refrigerator contains the various cheeses, wines and the boxes of cigars I have chosen to indulge in currently.

As long as it is legal, I smoke where I want and when I want. I have found that the smell of a fine cigar is not nearly as nasty as the people who express a dislike for them.

Please keep up the fine work as I anxiously await the next issue. Good luck and happy smoking.

Bruce M. Schwalb
President,
Basic Data Systems
North Brunswick, New Jersey

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I'm a nineteen-year-old college student who enjoys cigar and pipe smoking. How excited I was when I saw the first issue of CIGAR AFICIONADO.

Believe it or not, there are many students here at Baylor who share my enthusiasm for the magazine, as well as for fine cigars.

Sincerely,

Winn Jackson
Baylor University
Waco, Texas

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Imagine my glee when I returned from the Labor Day holiday to find the premier issue waiting in my mailbox. The fly fishing tackle and wet waders had to wait while I devoured every page! Congratulations on a superb job. I've already sent the subscription cards contained in the issue to friends who I know will want to subscribe too.

My only regret is that I have to wait three months for the next issue! Thanks for a great magazine and keep up the good work.

Best regards,

Robert C. Hanna
Advertising General Manager
Field & Stream, Outdoor Life Magazines
New York, New York

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I am a Cuban-born American who has always been proud of both nationalities. In a very prideful way I have noted to my cigar smoking colleagues the high quality of Cuban Havana seeds and their superiority when compared to other cigars. But as I read, I could not help but wonder and ask myself some basic questions which have no logical answers.

My country continues to be oppressed. I cannot forget my fellow countrymen who have shed blood in the fight for freedom and their democratic beliefs.

For these and other reasons I am returning this magazine and the bill.

Sincerely,

Manuel Cornide

Editor's Response: I regret your response. Please understand that this is a magazine devoted to the cigar and cigar lovers. It is not about politics. To publish a magazine like CIGAR AFICIONADO and not include coverage on Cuban cigars would not be possible since they are such an important element in the international market. Other Cubans have taken pride in their heritage and expressed respect for Cuban cigars and their rightful place as one of the truly great natural products in the world.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

For this cynic--I confess to being one--you have somewhat restored my faith in humanity to know that there are still some fine people around, like Marvin Shanken. And I thank you for that.

Your magazine, CIGAR AFICIONADO, has far exceeded my expectations. It is a well put-together periodical, with excellent pictures, facts, articles and opinions. Those of you who had a hand in its birth are to be commended for a job well done.

There are about 68 different titled magazines on the stands devoted entirely for and about women. CIGAR AFICIONADO should make it about five or six magazines for and about men. Thanks to CIGAR AFICIONADO we are getting there--we need all the help we can get.

As I slowly glance through CIGAR AFICIONADO, enjoying the cigar and downing another glass of wine, I look forward to our "resurrection."

Sincerely,

Irv Golden
Phoenix, Arizona

Editor's Response: Irv, the second coming is here.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

As I smoke a favorite Honduran, the following poem comes to mind:

Divine in hookah,
sublime in pipe,
When trimmed and tapered,
sweet and ripe.
But thy true devotees,
O Tobacco, prefer by far
Thy naked beauty,
give me a cigar!

--In Praise of Tobacco , Lord Byron

With best wishes for success,

Dr. Harvey Sicherman
President & CEO,
American Security Council Foundation
Washington, D.C.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Your vision is a grand one, and I'm impressed.

Congratulations on an auspicious beginning, and may the run be as long as a Cohiba and every bit as pleasurable.

Sincerely,

Bill Moyers
New York, New York

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Some people dream--even a little.

Some people do--even a little bit.

A very few people dream and do. But to dream beautiful dreams and to brilliantly execute those dreams is what makes life rich and rewarding.

Marvin, you have dreamed and created for us all.

CIGAR AFICIONADO is the first magazine, in fact, the first media vehicle in years, that makes me happy. HAPPY. Not serious. Not pensive. Not thoughtful. Not compassionate. Not reverent. Not! HAPPY!! Truly and laughingly happy.

Do you realize that virtually nobody in the world is trying to make me happy--except your new magazine and my wife.

Best regards and congratulations,

Sean K. Fitzpatrick
Vice Chairman
North America McCann Erickson Detroit
Troy, Michigan

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I was truly delighted with the premier issue; the concept fills a void too long left unattended.

It is right and verifies the mutual experiences cigar lovers share, both past and present, and it heralds a call to arms for rebelling against and educating the "ignoramuses."

Cigars have been my constant companion for 35+ years, and I consider them my most faithful and truest of friends--to share with only the deserving and to comfort my most solitary moments.

Sincerely,

Stephen X. Giunta, M.D.
Alexandria, Virginia

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Bravo! Is it really true that before my eyes appears an intelligent magazine expounding the many pleasures and delights of fine cigar enjoyment? God, I hope so. Your premier issue is delicious, enticing on every page, creating visions of bygone dreams come true. And not being one to lead or follow trendy crusades, I appreciate your entrepreneurial fortitude in plunging into the deep, cold national sea of a nonsmoking environment.

After all, we are all out there floating together in this sea of life...from birth to death, collecting assorted friends, loved ones and experiences along the way. And at the end of our voyage, what do we really have left?

For myself, memories and a few moments of quiet solitude to ponder the pleasure of a soothing snifter of Grand Marnier and the exquisite marriage of taste and aroma of a fine Partagas cigar. Isn't that what life is really all about?

Very truly yours,

Curtis John Mimna
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

* * *

Dear Marvin:

The great news is that I was able to sit in my living room reading the magazine while smoking one of my favorite cigars. I guess I am one of the lucky ones...even my 12-year-old daughter enjoys sitting down with me while I am smoking because she "loves the smell." (She'll make a great partner for someone in about 15 years.)

Cordially yours,

John D. Irvin
Daphne, Alabama

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Last week's CNN story on your magazine inspired me to write the sonnet that follows.

POETIC JUSTICE

In what pursuit since Walter Raleigh's time
Have gentlemen of breeding been employed,
Which others now would make into a crime--
Some meddlers who want happiness destroyed?
What innocent indulgence do they claim
Will hasten global warming, cause disease,
And recklessly in other ways defame--
discarding truth, embracing fallacies?
It is the harmless smoking of cigars
That causes all these busy-bodies grief;
They'd put each peaceful puffer behind bars,
And treat him as a murderer or thief.
In light of this all, smokers should embrace
This goal: some smoke in each Cassandra's face.

Very truly yours,

John R. Sandler
Los Gatos, California

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I enjoyed the premier issue of CIGAR AFICIONADO very much. However, I by no means fit the description of a typical reader. I am 24, married and am an over-the-road truck driver. My wife and I do enjoy the finer things in life. On occasion, we do go over our budget. Now and then, we even share a Honduran together. It is truly a shame more people don't know the pleasure of smoking a real good cigar.

At least I have one advantage while driving during the week; I can enjoy my cigars for many hours at a time without being bothered. However, on more than one occasion a good Port would sure have gone down well before sleeping. Oh well. Out on the road, you can't have everything.

For now, I'll have to live with my Hondurans and Dominicans. But one of these days, I'll get my first Cuban. Keep up the great work.

Sincerely,

Mark Grimm
Watertown, Wisconsin

* * *

Dear Marvin:

We are both long time cigar smokers (22 years for me and five and a half years for my fiancée). In fact, as we write this letter, we are both smoking a Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. 1, our favorite cigar. We enjoy smoking our cigars together, relaxing at home after a fine dinner. So keep up the good work. We both look forward to our next issue.

Two Loyal Cigar Smokers,

Albert J. Testa
Janice Miller
Stowe, Pennsylvania

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I recently had a reservation confirmation sent to me from a hotel in San Francisco with the admonition that pipe and cigar smoking is not permitted in any of the rooms. I canceled the reservation with the comment that it was a shame that neither I nor Milton Berle, Bill Cosby, Arnold Schwarzzeneger, George Burns or the late Winston Churchill (if he were still with us) would ever stay in the facility. Churchill must be "turning over about now."

Although I do not anticipate it getting any easier in my lifetime to enjoy cigars, I have every intention of continuing to do so, hopefully as long as George Burns has. When ol' George dies, someone will probably say, "Cigars killed him."

Sincerely,

Leon D. Bess
Phoenix, Arizona

* * *

Dear Marvin:

If detractors only knew what a fine cigar can do for us: It can take a harried businessman and give him an unsurpassed feeling of well-being and even affection for his fellow man. Nothing else can do that.

John D. Clouse
Evansville, Indiana

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I'm 22 years too young, making less than one-fifth the average salary, and I'm still paying off student loans, but I'll be a member of "the club" and a subscriber for life. Your magazine arrived at my door yesterday, and I have hardly put it down. It is everything I hoped it would be...and more.

Due to my geographical isolation, access to a good cigar is more than an hour's drive away. Yet each time I return home, treasure in hand, the reward is well worth the travel.

Sincerely,

Michael Noonan
Albion, Michigan

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I certainly missed the boat of CIGAR AFICIONADO's profile. I'm 51, not college educated. Income, $15,000 a year. Net worth, the clothes I wear. I'll be lucky to pay the bill for my subscription. But I enjoy and love cigars and no other tobacco products. Good luck.

Robert Goldstein
Glendale, Arizona

Editor's Response: You already possess the only thing that really matters to qualify to subscribe to CIGAR AFICIONADO--a true love of cigars.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

While on a trip to the Caribbean four years ago, I purchased a couple of Montecristo No. 2's as an experiment. I lit up on the beach one balmy evening after a particularly satisfying meal and delighted to a whole series of new and exhilarating sensations as I sampled this fine Cuban cigar under a blanket of stars, enveloped by a sticky-sweet aroma of the tropics that mingled to perfection with the fine sweet complexity of my smoke ... and all at once I was hooked--smitten is more like it, for indeed I was, and have been in love ever since.

Like any young man fully in the throes of love, my infatuation for cigars has turned into something of a passionate obsession, as I search out the very best of the quite extensive variety of cigars still available in this country from places other than Cuba, but I fear I shall always have that place in my heart reserved for "first loves" for that splendid moment in time on that beach, lighting up that Montecristo No. 2.

Your magazine is about as fine an example of specialized journalism as is available on any subject. You are to be applauded.

Jonathan Cutler
Los Angeles, California

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I commute from Rhinebeck, New York, on Metro North. I got on the train, got settled, opened the magazine and guess what happened? A woman sitting next to me said, "You're not going to light that in here are you?!" I told her, "It's a magazine!"

Some people get so paranoid about cigars. When will we get some respect?

Sincerely yours,

Marc Savino,
Rhinebeck, New York

* * *

Dear Marvin:

The long-awaited day finally arrived. I immediately turned off the television, unplugged the telephone, hung out the DO NOT DISTURB sign, and settled in for a read.

Eagerly turning the cover, I discovered a Barneys ad. "AWWWWWRIGHT," I said, "Marvin has really done it this time." Several hours later, after turning the last page, I had to agree with the old saying, "A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke."

Enclosed is my subscription.

Your humble servant,

Fred H. Holt
Clovis, California

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Perhaps we can use your new magazine, CIGAR AFICIONADO, as a medium to convince Congress to repeal the embargo on the importation of Cuban cigars.

Sincerely,

Charles P. Wisdom Jr.
Lexington, Kentucky

* * *

Dear Marvin:

What a birthday present!

I just walked into my mountain condo with my great, great grandfather's humidor which was passed on to me by my father on my 40th birthday.

I just opened an '82 Margaux, my girlfriend is lighting up a Romeo No. 2 from Havana, and the sound of John Klemmer's sax from his 'Touch' CD is emanating from the speakers. The stage is set ... to go through the mail.

I notice a finely wrapped magazine from the back, and I'm wondering what it is...I flip it over, there gazing up at me is the debut issue of CIGAR AFICIONADO. Talk about the ultimate birthday present to close out the night. Well ... not quite the ultimate present to close out the night, but pretty close, Marvin.

I've been fortunate, Marvin, having girlfriends who enjoy a fine cigar. In fact, sometimes it becomes a little nerve-racking when you light one up and your girlfriend keeps taking it out of your hand. You always ask, "Do you want one of your own?" and invariably she will answer "No, I like taking puffs off of yours."

Everyone always asks me what it is about cigars, what I enjoy about them, and you know Marvin, you really can't explain it, only cigar smokers know. We are a fellowship who enjoy one of the most cosmic pleasures this planet has to offer, and now you have completed the cigar mystery with your magazine.

Thomas R. Gross, Jr.
Waterville Valley, New Hampshire

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Your page 11 "Welcome to the CIGAR AFICIONADO Club" pressures me to make some observations. There are probably many other people like me, but it was not apparent in your survey. In any case, just "for the record" I want to go through the following comments: I do not fit anywhere in the profile of the average reader of CIGAR AFICIONADO.

I am female, 45+ with a household income no where near the $194,000 mentioned in your survey and have nothing like a net worth of $1.54 million. I am a teacher of science and computers, and my husband is a professor of geography. I have been smoking cigars for many more than nine years.

I hope that this indicates to you that there are others out there who support your efforts and wish for the success of CIGAR AFICIONADO.

Mrs. Frances R. Stemberg
Bronx, New York

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I just received the premier issue of CIGAR AFICIONADO and having read no further than page 11, you can cancel my subscription.

So your average reader has a household income of $194,000 per year, a net worth of $1.54 million, is a manager, has a $35,000 car, takes foreign trips, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Well, guess what, I don't fit the mold. And I would be willing to bet that there are more cigar smokers who do not fit the mold than there are who do.

Quite frankly I am insulted. If you only wish to cater to rich snobs, why don't you require that a personal financial statement be attached to every subscription application.

As for me, I will take my $35,000 annual income, my $10,000 car, and my accounting job and start reading a magazine in which I am made to feel more welcome. Since I cannot afford most of the products and places mentioned in your ads and editorials, I am sure my departure will not matter to you or your advertisers.

Peter Glassman
Schaumburg, Illinois

Editor's Response: I can appreciate where you are coming from, but you've got me all wrong. The joys and pleasures of a cigar are for all. This survey of reader demographics was a survey, nothing more. It was not intended to be a political or economic statement that some cigar lovers were welcome and others not. With your permission, I'm taking out a one year subscription for you, with my compliments. Give me a second chance.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I have just spent about two weeks trying to locate your magazine after I read about it in Esquire. I wish I had enough money to invest in the very best, but, unfortunately, being 19 and a college student, I am in a severe budget crunch. So I have recently tried to locate the least expensive "best" cigar I could find. I purchased your first issue at a local bookstore and promptly set out to find a La Gloria Cubana dealer, to no avail. I was then forced to bow to quality and purchased two Dunhills at $3.50 apiece. And while it strained the budget, it was worth it.

Let me tell you as a newcomer to the premium cigar market, your publication is a godsend. I sent in a request for a two-year subscription. Please remember all of us devoted to cigars are not yet schooled in its finer points, but we're trying.

My sincere gratitude,

Erich Dietz
University of Oregon

P.S. I am going to have to scrounge to afford this publication, but I feel the rewards I will reap will make the effort worthwhile.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

My husband is a "cigar aficionado." We enjoyed your first publication very much and wish you continued success. My husband and I are very happily married and try to share in each other's interests. I was amazed at all the letters you received from men who could not smoke in their own homes. There should be some kind of compromise for these couples. At least one room in the house where men could go to enjoy a good cigar (crack a window or something). I personally enjoy the smell of a fine cigar. Come on ladies, give that hardworking man some relaxing pleasure.

Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Alicia Bee Ross
Henderson, Texas

Editor's Response: In time, maybe attitudes among women regarding smoking at home will change. And, we are already seeing a number of restaurants stepping forward to welcome cigar smokers. Please see the "expanded" list of cigar friendly restaurants on page 126 of this issue. We urge all of our readers to patronize these establishments.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I am a 26-year-old doctor, awake at 2:20 A.M. waiting to deliver a baby. What do I have on my mind? CIGAR AFICIONADO. I read about 75 journals, magazines and newsletters a month, and I must say you have a winner. I've read the premier issue cover to cover--twice already.

Sincerely,

James M. Govino, M.D.
Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

* * *

Dear Marvin:

If I may, as the longtime mâitre d' at the Everest in Chicago that was inaccurately portrayed in David Shaw's article "Where Can I Smoke In Peace?" I would like to take this opportunity to clarify to you and to your readers the restaurant's position on cigar smoking.

It is true that, unless you are the last table in the dining room, cigar smoking is not permitted in the Everest. This is not because we are intrinsically opposed to cigar smoking. Quite the contrary, our chef/owner, Jean Joho is from France and is very familiar with the smoking customs of Europeans. In fact, Chef Joho has a great affection for fine cigars himself. It is, however, a reality that in the U.S.A. we, as restaurateurs, must respond to the wishes of an overwhelming and (as your article points out), highly vocal majority of diners which believes that cigar smoke isn't appropriate in a fine dining atmosphere.

In an effort to try to accommodate the wishes of both smokers and nonsmokers, we invite those who would like to smoke a cigar into one of our private dining rooms, when available.

When our private dining rooms are occupied, we always have a comfortable lobby area where guests may enjoy a cigar and a selection from our extensive list of after-dinner Cognacs and cordials. In either case, there is always some accommodation we can make for our cigar smoking customers.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

David Schlismann
Mâitre d', Everest
Chicago, Illinois

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