Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Emeril Lagasse, Sept/Oct 2005
I read with great interest your column in the August 2005 issue applauding "powerful men" for their courage to publicly engage in the enjoyment of fine hand-rolled cigars. I, too, choose to thwart popularity and pursue what I find enjoyable—and legal—in our society: fine cigars, single-malt Scotch and a perfectly aged piece of red meat.
I live my life under the mantle of personal freedom of choice—I choose the things I enjoy in my life and it shouldn't be anyone else's business what I choose to do in the privacy of my own home. However, there are other personal freedoms that I also endorse. I believe it shouldn't be anyone else's business if two people of the same sex choose to commit to a life together. I believe a woman should have the sole right to choose what she does with her body and her reproductive choices. I believe that religion has no place in public education or within the structure of our government.
Ironically, the rationale within which I believe these things is the same rationale that you use to endorse smoking, drinking, gambling and other activities. Under what authority do conservative Republicans—such as the "powerful men" you list—feel it is right to appropriate this mantle of freedom? Why do they feel it is only freedom for their views and beliefs at the expense of contrary beliefs? (Personally, I am ashamed to be from the same state as Tom DeLay and George W. Bush.)
I am a somewhat rare bird—a cigar-smoking, golf-playing, Scotch-drinking, steak-eating, fish-catching Democrat and damn proud of it! The cover of Cigar Aficionado has recently been graced by many people who share some of these same beliefs: Alec Baldwin, Morgan Freeman, Bill Murray and Jimmy Smits, to name a few. It's too bad you chose not to include them in your list.
P.S. By the way, if George is so powerful, why doesn't he have the cajones to fire up in public? He's a second termer…who does he have to impress?!
As the publisher of one of the most respected lifestyle magazines, you should have a pretty good idea about the meaning of life. In reality, life is empty and meaningless. The real meaning poses a challenge and therefore a risk not everyone is willing to take. Some try to stick with the "usual"; others try to live by the "expected." I say winners live by their own rules. Society has come a long way in the quest to find the perfect formula for balance, but it is yet far from accomplishing anything remarkable. As Americans, we claim our freedom and our pride, when the rest of the world looks at us in disbelief.
The purpose of this letter is to touch base on a subject that you've been addressing lately, and on a matter of principles of society. I was absolutely astounded when I heard the news that Fidel Castro had completely banned smoking in public places in Cuba. We thought Castro had lost it thirty-some years ago, but now we know for sure. It doesn't get any more stupid than this! A smoking ban in the capital of cigars, as it is in many places in the United States and the rest of the world, is taking away our freedom by the minute.
Why do we read your magazine? Why do we subscribe and keep ourselves informed about something that could be about to disappear? Does anybody in Congress really believe in and fight for our rights as cigar smokers?