Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Gen. Tommy Franks, Nov/Dec 03
I am writing this letter to share with you and all fellow cigar smokers an outrage that happened to one of my closest friends, Gust Geralis. In May, Gust, a longtime cigar aficionado and an upstanding member of the community, was at his son's Little League baseball game (outside) and was enjoying one of his Cuban Cohibas. During the third inning, to Gust's total surprise, the umpire called a time-out, walked into the stands, approached my friend and told him that this was a "nonsmoking" league and that he would have to extinguish his cigar. Gust's obvious response was that this was a public city park and he was outside. The umpire retorted that he had three choices: one; extinguish the cigar, two; go smoke it in the parking lot, or three, that he would actually "call the game." Gust, in total shock, and not wanting to cost his son's team a loss or have him endure any further embarrassment by creating a scene, walked to the parking lot and finished his smoke sitting on the bumper of his car.
What is this world coming to when a man can't smoke a cigar at an outdoor Little League game? I was so outraged that I actually called the city's parks department and asked them if there was any rule about not smoking, and if so, would they send me a copy. They responded that there was no such rule, and after hearing the story, said that the umpire's actions were apparently his own.
I am so tired of being treated like a leper or a criminal just because I smoke cigars. I feel that this was a violation of my friend's and all cigar smokers' civil rights, and it must stop. If somebody doesn't like cigar smoke, either at an outdoor event or in a cigar-friendly establishment, they can exercise their rights by leaving. Is there any organization that we can join to help stop this persecution? What happened to America, the land of the free?
Ronald Zambetti II
Editor's note: Ron, that is an outrage. Just when we think the health police can't get any worse, we hear a story like yours. The best thing you can do is to keep raising cries of protest when people exceed their authority under the current laws. And, keep working with your local politicians in search of compromises that honor the rights of all Americans, including cigar smokers.
Your interview with Francis Ford Coppola in Cigar Aficionado (October 2003) is a classic. You did a wonderful job, and got inside the emotions of the filmmaker of a classic—a real revelation.
President/New Line Cinema
New York, New York
Your interesting October 2003 interview with one of the world's premier filmmakers, Francis Ford Coppola, was outstanding—especially his lengthy background remarks on the torturous difficulty in making and casting The Godfather his way. His candid depictions illustrated the dozens of threatening roadblocks he encountered with Paramount brass that could have derailed the project at any stop along the way, from location to budget to vision. To think of The Godfather placed in modern-day Kansas City with others (Robert Redford, Ryan O'Neal, Carlo Ponti) in the seminal roles rather than Brando, Pacino, Caan and Duvall makes a moviegoer's mind whirl—especially for the millions who consider the film one of cinema's best. The Best Picture Oscar must have been sweet justice; Best Director for The Godfather: Part II the icing.
That said, it was surprising to learn that for Coppola, the process of making his most famous film is still viewed by him 30 years later as a horrible, exhausting experience that nauseates him to this day. Thank God for the profit percentage points that helped him buy his winery in the mid-'70s. Perhaps a great 1993 bottle of his Niebaum-Coppola Estate Cabernet Sauvignon helps dull his painful memories these days. What wonderful medicine!
Los Angeles, California
Two thumbs up for your extraordinary interview with Francis Ford Coppola. As one who was actively engaged in the movie industry during the Coppola years, I was fascinated with the candor of Francis's comments and his revelations surrounding The Godfather saga.
Francis is an industry giant who not only raised the level of filmmaking, but also spawned an unusually talented generation of filmmakers and actors. All of them learned from both his special genius and steadfast commitment to his principles.
The Godfather era coincided with a low point in the fortunes of the movie industry, which had been decimated by television. It brought new owners and studio heads, some of whom were incapable of walking the difficult line between business realities and creative imperatives. His success was clearly a victory for creative freedom, but it also was achieved within the constraints of economic necessities.
I particularly enjoyed his comments regarding the cast of many who took credit for his success—not an unusual Hollywood trait. Knowing most of those who claimed this credit, it was not surprising. We all know who would have been blamed had The Godfather failed. From close observation of all the circumstances, I can assure your readers that The Godfather belongs to Francis.
Former CEO/Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
I read your article, "The Godfather Speaks," in the October 2003 issue of Cigar Aficionado with great pleasure. As an avid fan of the trilogy of Godfather movies, I enjoyed the bird's-eye view of the whole project and feel like I know the characters and Mr. Coppola better. I plan to now go back and read Mr. Puzo's book. I had no idea that the book differed in so many ways, though not surprising when it comes to books-turned-movies. It seems that many things in life that are full of struggle and tribulation end with a product matched by no other. The Godfather is no exception. Even though Mr. Coppola does not wish to enter the world of the Mafioso any longer, he still appreciates the end product that came from the whole experience.