Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Francis Ford Coppola, Sept/Oct 03
(continued from page 1)
I was lucky enough several years ago while on a summer adventure (as I like to call it) in Costa Rica to discover the world of cigars. Picture it, a young man from small-town Ohio on the busy streets of San JosÈ with a group of friends. I was on my own for the first time away from home. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a cigar shop. I turned to my group and said, "Hey guys, let's check this out." We walked into this small corner shop filled with nothing but pure cigars, and we all took a collective, deep breath. The smell alone had me hooked right from the start. I can't remember now how many I personally bought, but I can tell you everyone in the group was buying. We retired to our hotel and made our way poolside. We wanted three things: girls, drinks and cigars. I remember that first Cohiba. It was an instant love affair. From that time till now, I have been completely drawn to cigars and the lifestyle around them. I am older now, and I have to tell you, most people my age have no idea how to savor the fine things in life. My idea of a great evening is lounging on my back patio, the sounds of hot jazz in the background with good friends. Who can live without billows of cigar smoke?
No doubt, young and beautiful female flesh sells magazines (June issue), and if you want to pull a Sports Illustrated, I can't stop you. I can, however, tell you what I think, especially since this concerns Cuban flesh.
The article on Cuba's fledgling modeling industry is as predictable as it is depressing. A first-world wheeler-dealer, Canadian Dean Bornstein profits from the "really appreciative" third-world girls, with the obvious and indispensable cooperation of the ruling dictatorship, which profits as well. Naturally, Bornstein declines to reveal the percentage of the government's cut, which you can bet is not the same as income tax in a democracy. If nothing else, it's "taxation" without representation, since average Cubans have no say in government policy.
The article's author, James Suckling, trumpets the entry of Cuban models into the international scene as "evidence that Cuba is opening up to the world." That is, of course, as long as the world pays in hard currency and doesn't challenge the dictatorship's chronic and pervasive human rights violations. Curiously, the world's nearly universal condemnation of recent long prison sentences for dozens of peaceful dissidents, as well as the execution of three young black men for trying to escape the island "paradise," has met with no opening of any kind by the Stalinist Cuban regime.