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I have been subscribing to Cigar Aficionado for over 10 years. I have read with interest many of the interviews that you have conducted during those years, but none of them affected me as deeply as your most recent interview with Gen. Tommy Franks.
For the last hour or so, while sitting on my patio and smoking my favorite Montecristo No. 2, with the sound of the ocean waves in the background, I found myself totally enthralled by your insightful questions and the general’s thoughtful answers. This is an issue of your great magazine that I shall keep forever.
Seeing the photograph of Gen. Tommy Franks, Vice-Admiral Keating and Lieutenant Caceres sitting in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces smoking what appears to be Cuban Cohibas begs a question that I wish you would have posed to Gen. Franks.
Does General Franks, a beacon of democracy, smoke Cuban cigars?
Eric Stanton Weiss
New York, New York
Editor’s note: We wouldn’t comment on the private affairs of anyone. But in this particular case, even if General Franks is smoking a Cuban cigar, it was not in violation of the law. The law does not prohibit the possession of a Cuban cigar, just the purchase of a Cuban product with U.S. currency (except fot authorized travelers). If those cigars were liberated from the enemy, then, in the immortal words attributed to many U.S. government officials, he’s simply destroying enemy property, one cigar at a time.
Smoking a cigar to me has always been more than just “lighting up.” It is an event. It provides a moment to slow down and not only enjoy the flavor of the cigar, but time to think.
I found myself in November in the middle of some type of motivational seminar. One man told of his dream to start a magazine and how that magazine surpassed his wildest expectations. Another man spoke of his dream to serve his country and lead his people to a new era. I was sitting there smoking wrappers from around the world. While it was very interesting and educational to learn of their individual distinctions, I became even more fascinated by the history of the industry itself. There before me were men who had spent their lives pursuing their dreams. Not only following their own visions but those of their fathers and even grandfathers. Families having to pick up what little they could and start again, and through their struggles, leaving an even greater legacy. An international industry born from visions that became realities shaped by determination.
Before my first Las Vegas Big Smoke I wondered why premium cigars were so costly. After last year and learning what was involved, I was astounded that they could be made so inexpensively. Last year I learned the value of a good cigar. This year I learned the value of a dream.
Am I being just a little too dramatic? Maybe, but then again, that attention to detail is one quality that separates the aficionados from the neophytes. If you can appreciate the nuances of a cigar, then how can you not appreciate the nuances of people who manufacture and promote them? Thanks for having the courage to pursue your dreams.
Perry D. Harbin
I thoroughly enjoyed Geoffrey Gray’s article, “Tyson vs. King,” in your February issue of Cigar Aficionado. Mr. Gray is an excellent writer. However, there is often more to truth than just facts. As one who has followed Mike Tyson’s career since he was a 12-year-old, there were some important aspects to Mike’s life that were omitted, which I feel your readers should be made aware of.
First, had Cus D’Amato lived, Mike’s life would have been entirely different. Cus was not only Mike’s mentor and father figure who adopted him, but Mike knew Cus cared about him as a human being and was always there for him to discuss his innermost thoughts. In fact, in one of the many books written about Mike, he mentions that when Cus was alive he had someone to talk to about his feelings, but after Cus died, he just kept everything bottled up within himself. This withholding of feelings was a form of lying that not only affected his self-esteem, but also created psychological baggage that affected his ability to focus. Mike soon found himself immersed in a negative self-image cycle and actually created negative events in his life based on how he felt about himself. This is not unlike many other inner-city kids who get into trouble because they have no one in their lives who genuinely cares about them and is there to listen to their issues and problems without being judgmental.
In addition, Mr. Gray neglected to mention two important figures in Mike’s life: Jimmy Jacobs and Kevin Rooney. Jimmy Jacobs was Mike’s co-manager and Kevin Rooney was his trainer. I knew Jacobs and have interviewed Rooney. Jacobs was my son’s handball coach at a handball camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Rooney was the one whom Mike would kiss at ringside just before every fight.
What has happened to Mike Tyson in his career is really quite sad and yet the media tends to be relentless in their attacks upon him. As Mr. Gray stated, Mike is an insightful heavyweight boxing historian. This came about as a result of his watching hours and hours of films supplied him by Jimmy Jacobs. I am pulling for Mike 100 percent so that justice will be done in his lawsuit with Don King. Tyson is not a bad person. But life has thrown him a curveball and it all began with the death of Cus D’Amato.
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