Cigar Aficionado

Out of the Humidor

Dear Marvin, Thank you and all who were involved in the Els For Autism fund-raising event. I have many friends with autistic children and I also have an autistic niece. I cannot find the words to properly express what I am feeling right now, so I will say God bless you all! Thanks so very much and please keep up the wonderful work. I hope these events continue for many years. Once again thank you.

Don Blondello Reggio Calabria, Italy

Editor's Reply: Thanks, Don. Next year is going to be even better, and we're looking to truly assist in the finding of a cure for autism.

Dear Marvin, I enjoyed the magazine's guide of the various establishments in New York City where a person can enjoy a cigar along with some of life's other comforts. It was informative, enlightening and helps expand the footprint of places to go. I live in Westchester and have frequented nearly all of its cigar-smoking establishments and have visited a number of the ones in the piece. I attended the grand opening of the new Cigar Inn on Second Avenue and it truly was quite an event. I applaud the brothers Fakih.

My only problem with the article was that it was so nuts-and-bolts and filled with rules, regulations, dress codes and membership fees that I felt an air of intimidation. Lost in the leather sofas and book-lined walls was the easy-going comfort of enjoying a cigar. Remiss was the camaraderie between those who become regulars at these establishments, where friendships, bonding and deals take place. Absent was that "everybody knows your name" in a place where people can go, call it their own and enjoy smoking a cigar, one of life's great pleasures.

Peter Wattenberg New Rochelle, NY

Dear Marvin, First off, I would like to congratulate you on bringing the Cuban embargo question to light for the American public. Avoiding political mumbo jumbo and special interest groups, you did not succumb to complaining about free- market enterprise or our right to smoke Cuban cigars, you gave the people facts. In truth, this embargo cannot succeed. We cannot bring democracy and freedom to Cuba, that must come from the people themselves, and the war in Iraq is a perfect example. After years of fighting by our brave soldiers, full democracy cannot be realized while another nation's troops occupy the land. The results will be realized long after we are gone.

The Cuban embargo has only served to tighten the stranglehold that the Castro regime has on its people, and has made many Cuban citizens hate the United States. The embargo has actually helped Castro rally many Cubans against the U.S., making us appear as the evil aggressors who would deny people their right to trade and commerce. If this failed policy has made any progress in bringing democratic reform in Cuba or overthrowing the Castro regime, it has completely gone over the heads of the American people.

Thomas Andros Brooklyn, NY

Editor's Note: It is hard to equate one policy with another in another part of the world. But we agree that our Cuba policy has been counterproductive over the years. Everyone hopes that the years to come will see a constructive change in our approach to our southern neighbor.

Dear Marvin, I just thought it would be interesting to point out that the U.S. government is using Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to incarcerate people who have been kidnapped from foreign lands, and has been using this American naval base for the purposes of torture and humiliation. How are we better than Castro? Does it turn out that he's really better than we?

The Cuban exile community in south Florida cares nothing for the Cuban people; they only care about their hatred for Castro, who effectively disenfranchised them. In fact, these elitists never cared about the Cuban people, even before the revolution. Immediately previous to this, they were actively in the process of handing over that island to well-established and well-known American crime figures, and the common Cuban citizen would never have seen a penny of those ill-gotten gains.

James R. Brennan Santa Monica, CA

Editor's Note: There is a growing sentiment in the Cuban-American community that it is time to change U.S. government policy toward their homeland. While some of the anger and hatred will never go away, it is clear that many people are beginning to believe it is time to end the embargo and restore normal relations.

Dear Marvin, I was very disappointed reading your articles about Cuba. I love their cigars but I wouldn't sell my soul for them.

Just for you to understand why your position is so wrong, I suggest you read the articles again, but this time, subsitute Castro, for Hitler, Cuba for Germany, the 50s for the 30s, the Cuban people for the Jewish people, and I am sure you will realize pretty soon that something is wrong with your idea. And Hitler only lasted 12 years, Castro lasted 50!

I am not Cuban or Jewish, but I love freedom, and the right for people to have it. Dictators like Hitler and Castro do not deserve favorable articles in your magazine. Was Hitler a consequence of America's mistakes, as it is suggested in your magazine? No way!

I hope you recognize your mistake in future editions.

Alfredo M. Blanco Coconut Grove, FL

Editor's Note: Alfredo, you have confused our Cuba position with a belief that we are only adopting it for commercial reasons. And, it is simply wrong to suggest that you can make comparisons between Cuba and World War II. Our whole position is based on a belief that after 50 years of failure, it is time to try to another approach to bring about change inside Cuba.

Dear Marvin, I'm a cigar-loving subscriber, and a fan of the good life. I regard my subscription as something like a fine cigar lounge, delivered regularly to my home. I like nothing better than to relax with my copy, smoking a cigar and sipping a good whiskey.

However, as sometimes happens with a favorite haunt, there's been, of late, something of a fly in my ointment. Have you ever enjoyed a really nice place to hang out? Good cigars, convivial atmosphere, abundant bonhomie? It becomes your favorite club. There's a guy there; always the center of attention. Sharp dresser, good taste, well-spoken, the life and soul of the party. Then, one day, he starts banging on about his new hobby. At first, you listen with interest. Then, after a while, you realize that you don't actually care for his new hobby at all. Eventually, someone has to tell him he's being both a boor and a bore. So, it falls to me.

Cigar Aficionado, you have become a golf bore. Can I please request that you give the golf a rest for a while?

Sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, old chum. Let's go and light one up together. I'll buy you a drink and then we can move on with no hard feelings.

Kevin Kealy Tucson, AZ

Editor's Note: Kevin, we know you're not a lover of golf. But if there's one last bastion of cigar-smoking, it's on the golf course. True, we love the game. But we see it as another way to preserve a place where cigars are welcomed. I'm sure you'll find other stories to read; skip the golf editorial.