Cigar Aficionado

The Cigar Bridge

"Cigars bridge all kinds of gaps, ideological, political…they promote harmony and a feeling of getting along.”

Those words from Rush Limbaugh drew huge applause from the cigars lovers gathered in New York last night for Cigar Aficionado’s Night to Remember dinner, the magazine’s annual fund-raiser for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Talk about good feelings: The room was buzzing with camaraderie and fellowship. And, the talk wasn’t about politics. It was about the good that was being done to combat the scourge of the disease that affects so many men in America.

Rudy Giuliani, a prostate cancer survivor, talked only about how his life had been saved because the advances that had been made against the disease, in large part with the help and guidance of Michael Milken, who founded the Prostate Cancer Foundation and pays all its costs so 100 percent of every donation goes to research. Talk about bridges.

Giuliani and Milken share a history going back to the financial scandals of the mid-1980s, when Giuliani was a U.S. attorney. When he got sick, he called Milken. Today, they are best of friends, a friendship forged in the aura of the Night to Remember.

Limbaugh, often a lightening rod for controversy, exemplifies what this night is all about. He reaches out to everyone, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, and glorifies the camaraderie of the cigar, the symbolic unifier. As he said last night, “I hope this never ends.”

The crowd also was treated to the words of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who reminded everyone about how important it is to devote the time and energy to good causes, like the Prostate Cancer Foundation. That, he said, is the only way to achieve success.

Of course, the night also revolves around Marvin Shanken, my boss, and the true engine behind the incredible success of the Night to Remember. He is a staunch advocate for “giving back,” and over the years that the dinner has been held, the donations have exceeded $15 million. It is a tribute to Marvin, and to the legions of cigar makers, many who attended last night, of the support they given to this great cause. In fact, the list of cigar makers and important businessmen is so long, it doesn’t fit in a blog; it is certainly a who’s who.

In the end, the Night to Remember is not about the money raised, or the food and wine, or the cigars. It’s about the people, and the good will that is generated by everyone who attends. As Rudy also said, it’s about optimism that this disease can be conquered, a goal that Milken told the audience will happen within five years,

(For complete coverage and photographs of this event, check early next week)

"Amen to all that. I was fortunate enough to be at the dinner and Mr. Mott is right, it was clearly about good will, common cause and botlhood. I sat at a table with the owners of 3 different cigar companies, but for all the unity you would have thought they were from 3 different, non-competing industries. Still, it clearly was about helping the cause. Mr. Shanken got people to bid big bucks to buy back ultrapremium wines they had donated, only to pop the cork and pour for their tablemates!! Mayor Giuliani eschewed all politics and spoke intimately to a hushed crowed about his ordeal and his father's unfortunate succumbing to this disease. Although it seemed that most of the room would like to see him in the White House, talk of that was left for another time. With Mr. Shankens forceful determination and optism you were left with the clear feeling that , left in the hands of himself and Mr. Milken, this disease will be defeated. And even though I was left in the dust on a lot I was bidding on, it was a privelage to participate and, aptly named, a night I will not soon forget." —April 15, 2007 03:48 AM