Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Jay-Z, May/June 2009
I have been a reader of your magazine since the beginning. In fact, I believe I have every single issue. I compliment you on your accomplishments and fine publications.
However, I am writing to object to your featuring the Montage Laguna Beach resort in the April "Good Life Guide" because it is not cigar friendly. Over the years, I have noticed that you accept ads for hotels and restaurants that are not cigar friendly. I figured that business is business and that you shouldn't turn away revenue (even though I believe that these ads should feature a disclaimer that states that these places are not cigar friendly).
The feature about the Montage Laguna Beach resort is not business, however. It's a free plug in a nonpaid editorial feature. It is not advertising. The resort doesn't deserve the free mention. Surely there are many fine resorts in the world that are cigar friendly—feature those. We readers are interested in learning about nice vacation spots where we can enjoy a cigar. I and too many of my friends have traveled to expensive and fancy resorts only to learn that there is no smoking permitted. (I now know, always ask prior to booking.) Even in business, I try not to schedule seminars and conventions in hotels and locales that are not hospitable to all guests. A leadership nonsmoking state like California has been on my non-schedule list for years. If more people would cancel conventions in these places and tell them why, perhaps they would rethink their policy.
Although I understand that you must accept all paid advertising, I hope that in the future you will never have an editorial feature on a resort, hotel or restaurant that is not cigar friendly. They do not deserve this publicity in your publication.
Editor's note: Mr. Levinson, we understand your point of view. But with cigar smoking being prohibited in more and more places, we don't feel it is right to punish the hotels. When possible, we do recommend cigar-friendly outposts, but we also point our readers to great destinations, regardless of cigar policy.
I just returned from a Caribbean cruise with seven of my favorite cigar smokers from our local cigar shop in Plano, Texas. The line was Celebrity, the ship, the Solstice out of Fort Lauderdale.
The service and the food on the ship are amazingly good and the smoking environment is nonexistent. Well, almost. The cigar smokers were relegated to eight chairs manned by six ashtrays at one corner of the fantail on the very top deck. On a nice day, it might have been tolerable, but our first three days at sea were in 20-foot swells, 50-mile-an-hour winds and lots of rain pouring over the only six-foot overhang that protected us at all. But as cigar smokers must do nowadays, we coped. This included turning chairs upside down, making a fort like we used to do as youngsters and all crowding in to have our cigars and a little camaraderie. And just as cigar smokers do everywhere they go, we had other cigar smokers from the ship discover our secret hiding place and join the festivities.
We met some great people and all shared some great cigar stories. Then we took a blood oath (it might have been brandy) to never, never, consider Celebrity in the future for our cruising and cigar-smoking adventures.
Douglas S. Keane
I am a longtime subscriber of Cigar Aficionado and have never thrown out an edition. Today I was surprised to read in your letters pages [April 2009] a letter from someone who's off the wall. The reader and writer (I guess former reader now) says you should "print Cigar Aficionado in Spanish and sell it in Cuba."
Forgive me and pardon me, if I just say that this now former reader should go and screw himself. That last issue was one of your best!
Not only do I subscribe myself, but I make sure I always give a gift subscription of Cigar Aficionado to one of my friends in the hope that he will pass on a gift himself at some future point. Please keep up the good work.
Larry M. Cohen
Utica, New York
Editor's note: Thanks, Larry. We like to believe we have built a big tent where all our readers' opinions are respected. But we can't please all of them. And, we do believe it's time for a change of our Cuba policy.
I am currently stationed in Afghanistan, with the "Centaur" Battalion. Out here, in the middle of nowhere, I sometimes find it difficult to relax. I have tried watching movies, playing video games, surfing the Net and reading books. None of those pastimes are as relaxing as getting together with a few of your soldier buddies, "brothers," to chat about the good times back home while enjoying a big ol' cigar. It seems to be the only time when we can escape the reality that we are living in at this time.
Just the other day I was lying in my "B HUT" in Afghanistan (basically a wood building with four walls), reading the June 2008 issue of Cigar Aficionado. I personally enjoyed the article "The Mind of a Tiger." Tiger Woods is the best at what he does because he is physically conditioned as well as mentally conditioned for his profession as well as in his daily life. We as military service members must be just as mentally conditioned as we are physically conditioned to perform our job. Unfortunately, nothing can fully prepare anyone to witness his fellow soldier/brother losing his life right beside you. It seems to me that no matter what your profession might be, it is essential that each person is mentally prepared to be able to tackle any situation that may come his way. If at any time my soldiers and I are not mentally prepared, it could easily cost us our lives.
While reading the June issue, a smile was brought to my face when I read the letter from Bill Weeks from Knoxville, Tennessee, in the "Out of the Humidor" section. I really enjoyed his letter on how he wishes more people would appreciate the sacrifice of the military members and their families. The letter only got better when I found out that he was a Centaur as well. So, Bill Weeks from Knoxville, Tennessee, all of us here from the First Battalion, Sixth Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division in Afghanistan, we salute you and give you a roaring "HOOAH!" For those of you who do not know what that means, ask the next Army guy you see. I bet he would be honored to tell you. Thanks again for such a fantastic magazine.
I enjoy your magazine and wish to thank you for it. Also, I would like to tell you that I am a cigar expert, with many years of experience. In fact, there isn't much that I don't know about cigars.
Having said that, I want you to also know that the finest cigars I have ever smoked in my life have all been Cuban, and they have been far and away better than anything else made anywhere. I travel abroad very often, and have sampled all the island has to offer. However, there hasn't been a good Cuban cigar made on the forbidden island since the early '90s. I don't understand how you can give Havana cigars consistently good ratings in your magazine. They are currently some of the worst cigars in the world. Virtually every cigar built on the island is plugged solid, made from very poorly handled tobacco, with no regard for blend and rolled by some of the most inexperienced rollers in the business.
There is no one in the world who would like Cuban cigars to return to their former glory more than me, however it is just not the case. They are currently horrible and in most cases unsmokable. Until things change on the island, I'll just keep smoking my Padróns.
Summit, New Jersey