Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97
(continued from page 3)
Although I do not mean to imply that all cigar smokers who are of the nouveau riche are uncultured, ignorant and lacking morals, or that cigar connoisseurs who aren't wealthy are necessarily lowlifes or unsophisticated, it is an obstreperous phenomenon that there are suddenly so many loutish cigar smokers who seem to have the refinement and wits of a lotto winner.
Unfortunately, in recent years, many of this same class of feebleminded (and frequently journalistically illiterate) vulgarians, whether cigar smokers or not, have begun dabbling with publishing. Crass and shoddily edited magazines seem to proliferate. However, in a time when desktop publishing has made it possible for even literary imbeciles to get into publishing, you have maintained the highest standards for Cigar Aficionado in virtually every respect. First, you clearly do not depend solely upon computer software to check your spelling and grammar, as a number of magazines that have come out in recent times apparently do; you have "real live" copy editors who meticulously check every line of type for errors.
Second, while Cigar Aficionado is no Sunday school magazine, in my mind it does display a sense of social and moral responsibility. You regularly encourage your readers to exercise courtesy and self-restraint, and you encourage civic responsibility (e.g., your promotion of concern regarding prostate cancer). You certainly do not condone or encourage the socially irresponsible and injurious behaviors that so many new lifestyle magazines seem to do.
Third, while you may, on occasion, transgress the bounds of good taste, you clearly know what those bounds are and you strive to maintain them. And, when your readers let you know that you've erred, you do not impertinently rush out to offend them by excelling in poor judgment; you even publish their criticisms! In this respect, you evidently understand that, just as one does not want to hear the wait staff of a fine restaurant using obscene language and discussing their finer points of various sexual practices, sensible readers of a magazine that deals with a cachet item like cigars really don't care to read such things in their publication, either. Although, on rare occasions, plebeian speech has crept into your magazine, it's not habitual.
And fourth, you are what you are. Cigar Aficionado is a magazine for cigar smokers, which means it is primarily (even if not exclusively) for the upper middle class, the wealthy, and those who want to be wealthy. There are no pretensions of guilt or embarrassment, no pseudo-sophistications and no phony attempts to pretend your audience is anything other than what it is; nor does your audience make any pretense about itself (as indicated, in their letters to the editor, by all absence of sour grapes about what others might think of them). While you do not talk down to open-collar workers, like myself, neither do you seek to offend, distance or ignore us.
Over all, Cigar Aficionado is and has been a superior magazine. While I wouldn't know how to rate Cigar Aficionado by number, I do know it would be keyed to the word "Classic" on the Cigar Aficionado 100 point scale. Keep up the fantastic work!
Ian A. Paul
This past Christmas I was so moved and excited at what happened that I had to write this letter. I come from a loving family who happen to despise smoking, be it a cigar or anything of the sort. I, on the other hand, have become very fond of the "art" of cigar smoking. However, of all the members of my family who dislike the act, my grandmother had a very interesting attitude toward my newfound passion.
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