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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Premier Issue, Autumn 92

Talk about people seizing an opportunity.

That's the best reason we can come up with for our mailbox overflowing with letters and faxes since we announced the coming of CIGAR AFICIONADO nine months ago. We've been literally flooded with mail from cigar lovers. It seems that people have some pent-up desire to express their feelings about cigars, anti-cigar fanatics and just about everything else, including our new magazine.

CIGAR AFICIONADO had always planned a Letters to the Editor page. But we had no idea the response would be so overwhelming. So, this is really more than a letters page. It's a forum. It's a place where you, the reader of CIGAR AFICIONADO, can talk about the subjects that matter most to you.

So, keep the cards, faxes and letters coming. Send them to me at CIGAR AFICIONADO, 387 Park Ave. South, 8th Floor, New York, New York, 10016, or fax (212) 684-5374. In the next few pages, you'll see a small sample of what people had on their minds.

Here's to happy smoking.

Marvin R. Shanken
Editor & Publisher

* * *

Nov. 3, 1991

Dear Marvin:

Please include my husband, Mark Bivins, on your mailing list for the first issue of your forthcoming publication for cigar lovers. I know he will want to subscribe.

Thank you,

Ellen Bivins
Amarillo, Texas

Editor's Response: Thanks Ellen. I only wish there were more wives out there like you.

* * *

March 8, 1992

Dear Marvin:

One of the simple pleasures in life for a gentleman is fine cigars and somehow this has been lost in America. I applaud your efforts to publish a magazine devoted to the cigar. It needs a comeback and your magazine should be a great help.

Sincerely,

W.C. Thompson
Salisbury, North Carolina

* * *

Nov. 22, 1991

Dear Marvin:

I am one of the unfortunates whose wife won't let him smoke cigars at home (unless I'm outside, at least 50 feet from the house).

I have just one request--could you put a Field and Stream cover on it?

Sincerely,

Doug Grissom
Arlington, Texas

Editor's Response: Your wife shouldn't mind your CIGAR AFICIONADO at home; after all, it does not contain smelly perfume ads like many of the women's magazines she probably subscribes to.

* * *

April 12, 1992

Dear Marvin:

There are, as you most probably know, various subtle and not-so-subtle ways of getting Havana cigars here in the U.S. I hope your new magazine never investigates this; it will ruin it for the rest of us who maneuver to the best of out abilities to keep ourselves content.

Until not long ago, there was a store in Moscow called "Gavana," where Cuba's best was on sale, for rubles. When I found myself writing a movie in Moscow in late 1989, my producer, a devout cigar smoker who knows Cohiba is the best in the world (and there's no point in debating this), told me where to find the shop.

I arrived to find an empty storefront and an even emptier interior. A white-coated elderly woman sat collapsed in a chair behind the bare counter. When I asked her whether there were any cigars available, she muttered something about coming back the following day. The next morning I arrived to find 300 people cramming the shop, and spilling outside. Elbowing my way in, I found one self-appointed fellow giving out numbers--a familiar Soviet (now Russian) way of maintaining order. I tried to ask him what the drill was, and as I sought an answer, 15 people signed up. So I stopped the politeness, got myself a number, and then asked my question. He ignored me, yelling out only that there would be cigars for maybe 100 people if any even appeared. My number was 167. As I left, he was still handing out numbers. I walked out the door as he called, "21 1!"

I write this smoking a small Jose Quintero and wishing you every success.

Sincerely,

George Malko
New York, New York

* * *

Nov. 25, 1991

Dear Marvin:

Great idea! Put me on the mailing list for your cigar publication. It should be sent to my home address so my wife can enjoy it too!

Sincerely,

David W. Knowlton
Managing Director
Manufacturer's Hanover*
New York, New York

*Mr. Knowlton is now Managing Director of Chemical Bank

* * *

May 6, 1992

Dear Marvin:

I applaud your efforts for cigar smokers. I have been one for over 50 years. Before Castro, I used to smoke H. Upmann 1s and 2s. How fine they were, and modestly priced.

I miss going out for dinner the way I used to, unable to light up a cigar in restaurants now.

We live in a landmark building and the walls and floors are very thick. The lady below us has tried to stop me from smoking cigars in my own apartment. She complained to the building owner, the superintendent, and the elevator man that she could smell my cigar. Did you ever hear anything like this? Real chutzpah!

Good luck, and I wish you the best for your magazine.

Sincerely,

Paul Benson
New York, New York

Editor's Response: A man's home is his castle. Or at least that what's we had been raised to believe. Most cigar lovers share your frustration.

* * *

Dec. 13, 1991

Dear Marvin:

As a fellow cigar lover, one who smuggles Cuban cigars, and one whose wife forbids smoking in our house, please sign me up for your publication.

Anonymous
President
International Hotel and Resort Chain
Somewhere U.S.A.

Editor's Response: We wish we could publish your name but since you acknowledge smuggling Cuban cigars, we choose to protect your identity.

* * *

May 8, 1992

Dear Marvin:

Your article on Cuban cigars in the February 15, 1992 issue of The Wine Spectator was wonderful and brought back memories of 40 years ago when my U.S. Navy destroyer stopped in Cuba. I was a kid of 18 and it was 1952.

I picked up a cigar and smoked it and have been at it ever since. From that first cigar in Cuba, I have loved the finest cigars.

Lew Bracken
Bridgeport, Connecticut

* * *

Nov. 1, 1991

Dear Marvin:

Cigar lovers need all the help they can get. Your cigar publication sounds very interesting. Put me on the list. We cigar smokers are made to feel it is a crime to light up. Bring back the smoke-filled room.

Randall C. Baker
Cincinnati, Ohio

Editor's Response: Given the candidates running for president, maybe a smoke-filled room would help clear the air.

* * *

Nov. 20, 1991

Dear Marvin:

Despite your sexist ad: "wife who won't let you smoke at home", etc., there are women out there who smoke cigars and are interested in your new publication. Count me in on the cigar publication.

Thanks,

Elaine Futhey
Charlottesville, Virginia

Editor's Response: We're not sexist. In fact, we hope the ranks of female cigar smokers swell in the coming years.

The sad reality, however, is that many women seem to be "programmed" against letting men light up. It is especially frustrating that we can't smoke in our own homes, my home included. There needs to be some kind of compromise.

* * *

Nov. 6, 1991

Dear Marvin:

I certainly enjoy cigars and my wife likes them, too. She likes them because her father used to smoke cigars and when I light up, it brings back fond memories for her with such emotional overtones that she becomes docile, like I am her father substitute! Truly, cigars are unique items which conjure up much about the smoker's personality, style and savoir-faire.

There is nothing finer than a good smoke, except a good magazine that reports on a good smoke.

I look forward to your publication.

Sincerely,

James Milner
San Francisco, California

* * *

Feb. 24, 1992

Dear Marvin:

I'm an American who smuggles "Cubanos." My wife says about my smoking at home: "If it makes him happy, what the hell."

Put me on the list.

P.S. If you need some info on the L.A. cigar scene, an occasional contributor, or just a pep talk, call. Good luck.

Mark H.
Los Angeles, California

Editor's Response: It's a shame we can't publish Mark's name in full as we would love to give recognition to his very smart wife.

* * *

May 1, 1992

Dear Marvin:

Here's to a smoking success!

My best,

Phillip Guarascio
General Manager,
Marketing and Advertising*
General Motors Corp.
Detroit, Michigan

*Effective July 15, 1992

* * *

March 3, 1992

Dear Marvin:

As I witness attacks on the two most civilized vices left to man (wine drinking and cigar smoking), I know I must join you in singing the praises of cigars.

Please include me as a supporter of your new venture.

Yours truly,

J.L. Bruzzone
Alameda, California

Editor's Response: We hope that CIGAR AFICIONADO is merely the first step in defense of our constitutional rights.

* * *

Feb. 23, 1992

Dear Marvin:

The important thing is that this stick of tobacco is drawing together men who would otherwise never meet. It transforms diversity into universality, stress into relaxation, strangers into friends. The cigar is powerful on many levels.

I smoked my first cigar 30 years ago, and in this time, little else has given me the pleasure of watching my money go up in smoke!

It's been a life-long dream to visit Havana. Articles like yours help keep the dream alive.

Best Regards,

Michael Nouri
Pacific Palisades, California

* * *

March 13, 1992

Dear Marvin:

I have only recently discovered cigars--over the last year. My boyfriend is a pipe smoker and I just bought some (cigars) in a tobacco shop for us to share together--preferably with a great Port or Scotch. Now we smoke cigars quite frequently and enjoy choosing new ones together.

Please send me a copy of your new publication. I can't wait.

Sincerely,

Cindy Weglarz
Bedford, Texas

Editor's Response: Cindy, if you ever break up with your boyfriend, please write us with your telephone number. No doubt there are thousands of cigar lovers across America who would be happy to make your acquaintance.

* * *

Nov. 14, 1991

Dear Marvin:

I'm 31 years old, and have enjoyed cigar smoking since the age of 11.

David A. Ladisheff
Dover, New Hampshire

Editor's Response: While we do not encourage underage cigar smoking, we would be curious to know where you were able to practice outside the view of your parents and schoolteachers. By the way, did you have a favorite brand as a boy?

* * *

May 6, 1992

Dear Marvin:

In an era where publishing companies, and entrepreneurs, first have to put together carefully worded and packaged mailers, develop business plans that will pass muster in financial circles, here you are, starting a new magazine on your own gut instinct (and passion for cigars). And my gut tells me you've got a winner!

All the very best with CIGAR AFICIONADO. I'm sure it will accomplish everything you wish for it.

Cordially,

Fred Danzig
Editor, Advertising Age
New York, New York

* * *

Nov. 8, 1991

Dear Marvin:

I love cigars--have smoked them for many years. Please put me on your mailing list.

Thomas Evans, Jr.
Managing Director
Bear Steams
Chicago, Illinois

* * *

Nov. 10, 1991

Dear Marvin:

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus...and he looks like Marvin and doesn't give toys but promises a cigar lover's magazine! You have made my day!

Dave Preston
Publisher
RV West Magazine
Pleasanton, California

Editor's Response: And your letter has made mine. Your reward? A lifetime subscription to CIGAR AFICIONADO with my compliments.

* * *

Nov. 13, 1991

Dear Marvin:

You are absolutely correct--my wife will not let me smoke my Cuban cigars in the house. At this time of the year you can find me in the yard with my hat and gloves on smoking my Havana...even the dog refuses to come out and share my smoke with me.

Alan W. Kosloff
President and CEO
American Marketing Industries Inc.
Kansas City, Missouri

Editor's Response: Hey Alan, maybe it's time for a new dog?

* * *

Dec. 15, 1991

Dear Marvin:

My husband fits the profile--including the wife who hates cigar smoke at home. Yet here I am, putting him on your list.

(wife of) Ray Schipani
Edina, Minnesota

Editor's Response: You sound like a great wife. And Ray's a very lucky guy.

* * *

Nov. 19, 1991

Dear Marvin:

We are a much maligned minority. Does the phrase, "Pipes and cigars prohibited" stick in your craw? I am smoking a cigar, and I am beginning to feel the world closing in on me.

There are fewer and fewer public places in which I feel comfortable taking a draw on a cheroot--even some of the club-like leather and brass restaurants now ban cigars. Even the Palm in Washington, D.C. seems disconcerted when there is even a suggestion that a patron (meaning me) might fire up a heater. What is this world coming to?

I really do not want to impose my fancy on others if they want to avoid it, and I will not, but cigarette smokers seem to have a real advantage. Our voice must be heard, if even only by ourselves. Your magazine might serve that noble purpose.

Good luck and Congratulations,

Bruce D. Collins
Washington, D.C.

Editor's Response: Your letter is confirmed by independent research which concluded that the single greatest barrier to cigar enjoyment is the fewer and fewer public places there are to light up. Perhaps, in time, this situation will change. I would certainly encourage you to patronize those restaurants which allow or encourage cigar enjoyment. Please see David Shaw's article, "Where Can I Smoke In Peace? "

* * *

Dec. 5, 1991

Dear Marvin:

I returned tonight from Hong Kong with two boxes of Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas in my wife's underwear. Sign me up.

D.N.B.
Los Angeles, California

Editor's Response: I know of others guilty of the exact same sin. It's a popular approach to packing, especially in Geneva and London.

* * *

Nov. 1, 1991

Dear Marvin:

I am a lover of fine cigars and have been waiting for something like this for a long time. I'm very excited and wish you good luck on your new cigar magazine. I am eagerly awaiting the first issue.

Happy Puffing,

Skip Scaggs
Logan, West Virginia

* * *

Nov. 17, 1991

Dear Marvin:

Good luck in your efforts to bring cigar smokers "out of the closet".

Yours sincerely,

W.J. Sterling Sunley
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada

* * *

Nov. 26, 1991

Dear Marvin:

I eagerly await your next literary endeavor. It is reassuring to know that in this neo-prohibitionist society there will soon be a new voice to defend and encourage cigar smoking.

Much success!

Joseph C. Nowaczyk
Catering Manager
Buffalo Hilton Hotel
Buffalo, New York

* * *

Nov. 5, 1991

Dear Marvin:

Finally, a magazine with one of my favorite interests at heart!

Francesco Antonucci
Chef/co-owner
Remi Restaurant
Los Angeles, California

* * *

May 9, 1992

Dear Marvin:

I do have a passion for cigars and cannot smoke them in my own house! Please include my name on your mailing list for your new publication for cigar lovers.

Thanks,

John R. Ballie
Salinas, California

* * *

May 24, 1992

Dear Marvin:

It's about time! As a professional chef my passions are good food, drink, women, and of course, cigars! Until now there are publications covering all of the above except the many aspects of cigar enjoyment.

I wish you the best of luck and am looking forward to starting my subscription.

Thomas A. Lightcap
Montauk, New York

* * *

March 13, 1992

Dear Marvin:

I think that a magazine for cigar lovers is way overdue.

We should work on getting rid of this foolish embargo we have with Cuba. I am getting tired of traveling to Canada, Europe and the Caribbean just to enjoy a good Cuban cigar!

Yours truly,

Glen DiGirolamo
Garfield, New Jersey

Editor's Response: It's my understanding that after the election this November, Washington plans to take a fresh look at the current situation vis-à-vis Cuba. With all that has happened in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, one wonders why this relationship is not being re-evaluated.

* * *

Nov. 10, 1991

Dear Marvin:

I sell cigars, I buy cigars, I occasionally enjoy a cigar, but I am woefully ignorant about cigars. If there is such a thing as "Cigars 101," I need it.

Please, please, please include my name on your mailing list.

Best wishes,

Graham Dewsbury
Food and Beverage Director
The Woodlands--Race Track
Kansas City, Kansas

* * *

May 29, 1992

Dear Marvin:

This morning I went to my tobacco store to pick up my usual two boxes of cigars, which lasts me about two weeks, and I showed the May 26th USA Today article on cigars to Richard Hopkins Jr., the owner. He smiled as he read it, and then reached under his counter and showed me the Feb. 15 issue of The Wine Spectator. I was as much taken in by the "The Allure of Cuban Cigars" article as he was with the USA Today article. Result, we both are ordering the premier issue.

Also, as an aside, we both love wine. In fact, I am enjoying a bottle of it while attempting to type this letter.

I have been smoking cigars since I was 18 years old. Should I make it, and at this point there seems to be absolutely no reason why not, I will be 74 years old this September. The reason for this attitude (should I not be giving myself a "Kinahora?") is that I rarely have been to a doctor, never been in a hospital (as a patient), never had a physical checkup, enjoy the better things in life (although not as often as I'd like to, but it's "still there", have a wife who cooks and bakes everything from "scratch," will not eat chicken in any restaurant, and always have a glass of wine or brandy every night.

Why did I start to smoke cigars 57 years ago when I was 18? In 1936, I got a job in a foundry for $12 a week, damn glad to get it, pouring molten metal into a mold, by hand in a smoke-filled room with little ventilation, no masks, no goggles and beat-up gloves. The "older guys" there (25 or 26 years old) told me, "Kid, if you want to work here you better chew tobacco or smoke cigars." I chewed tobacco ONE TIME ONLY! Then I bought some 5 cents Amerada cigars and worked my way up to 10 cents Royalists. My cigar goal was to smoke a 25 cents La Palina or El Producto.

I worked in the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia for 15 years as a melter ($6.60 a day) pouring gold, silver, bronze and nickel, all by hand, in a smoke-filled room, no mask, no goggles but better gloves.

I used to smoke eight to nine cigars a day, but today have cut back to about four or five, only because of the cost, since a half-decent cigar could run at least $1.50 each. My wife does not object to my smoking in my home (I come with the cigar) but I will not smoke in front of people who object, like my daughter-in-law or anyone else. What do they know about the better things in life? They are brainwashed by screwball groups.

Anyway, in 1967, my wife and I went to Expo `67 in Montreal, Canada--you're probably too young to remember it. We had a lovely time and met some fine people. Among others, I visited the Cuban exhibit there and, of course, bought a box of Cuban cigars. I was told, much to my surprise, that I would have some problems getting those cigars across the border. (We were driving.) So I took the labels off the cigars and put the cigars in an empty U.S. cigar box.

As we arrived at Sault Ste. Marie, coming into the U.S., we were stopped at the border by the idiot custom people. One of them asked us where we had been (when we crossed over into Canada we were welcomed). When I told him we were at Expo `67 and he saw I was smoking a cigar, he asked if I had visited the Cuban exhibit.

I told him I did, as I did all of the other exhibits. In a very stern and arrogant voice, he asked me if I bought any Cuban cigars, like I was bringing in drugs. I told him no. I wanted to tell him it was none of his damn business, but my wife held me back. Anyway, the moron told me to open my trunk. I did, and he saw the box of unlabeled cigars. He asked if they were Cuban. I told him they were Canadian.

He did not believe me but had no choice (my wife was shaking), and I finally was permitted to cross to my own country. I cursed him and the unconstitutional law that made me lie.

I still believe that the law has no business being on our books. We were not, and are not now, at war with Cuba, but nobody in our Congress has the guts to ask that it be repealed. It is an affront to our freedom of choice. And, John Kennedy ordered 1,200 Cuban cigars before he signed the order.

Today, I am enjoying the Dominican Republic cigars. They are almost equal to the Cuban product. But if I had any Cuban cigars, and I would like to have a few, nobody would confiscate them from me. Nobody, or they will wish they never knew me. That I can promise.

Very truly yours,

Irv Golden
Phoenix, Arizona

P.S. This letter consumed a full bottle of dry white grenache. I would have retyped it but did not want to start another bottle of wine.

Editor's Response: Should I ever get to Phoenix, Irv, I would certainly look you up. I'd love to meet you--shoot the breeze and share a bottle of wine. In the meantime, I hope you got the box of special cigars I sent you last month. Guys like you are what make my job so great!

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Comments   2 comment(s)

Gary Frandsen — Port Byron, Illinois, usa,  —  April 12, 2013 2:15pm ET

Dear Marvin:

After reading the latest edition of Cigar Aficionado,I realized that our article about Laurence Fishburne left out an acting credit. He was in the 1986 CBS TV Show
"Pee-wee's Playhouse" as Cowboy Curtis.
I do enjoy reading your magazine cover to cover and will be a life long reader. Thanks


john zakes jr — La Porte, Indiana, USA,  —  May 13, 2013 12:17pm ET

I have been a subscriber for at least 15 years. love the articles and especially the ratings. Enjoy the pictures also. I just wish they would print only pictures with the cigars actually lit. was no big deal for awhile but in the last year,I have seen people holding unlit cigars the wrong way!! the wedding pictures are really prone to this. just doesn't seem to be right-my opinion.


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