Friday, August 23, 2013

The Next Chapter of My Life

It is said that all good things must come to an end.  After 12 years in the newspaper industry, on the advertising side of house, it is time for a change.  Two weeks ago I was offered and accepted an position with Voice Media Group the owners and publishers of the Phoenix New Times and 11 other publications throughout the country.  I have gone to the dark side, the world of digital, that's right SEO, SEM, Local Search (mobile and tablet), Social Media, and Re-targeting. I am looking forward to the challenge and not being bound to deadlines.

Oh and what did I smoke for the celebratory cigar? The Ezra Zion Reagan!

 The 7-20-4 Dog Walker is a petite corona with tons of flavor.

7-20-4  also has a cool back story that ends with the resurrection of a brand once owned by the RG Sullivan Cigar Company.  At its height the company claimed to be the countries largest producer of 10 cent cigars. The cigars were handmade, the filler was pure Havana tobacco with a Sumatra wrapper. According to a story in Time Magazine, the name 7-20-4 supposedly came from the numbers of a winning lottery ticket that RG Sullivan used to start the business. 

In 1963 the company closed; two years after being sold to a company who moved production to Scranton, PA.  An official from RG Sullivan essentially blamed Castro who's "regime has made increasingly difficult for us to secure Havana tobacco, which is, and always will be and important part of the 7-20-4 and Dexter Cigars made by the company"

The building was never sold and in 2008 Kurt Kendall, who owns the rights to the 7-20-4 brand, announced plans to market a modern version.

The week after the #IPCPR new cigars started to roll into our local B&M's.    The newest line to the humidor, at Goodfellas Cigar Lounge,  is distributed by Kuuts (Koots).  John Gonzales, National Sales Director for Kuuts (pronounced Koots), joined us at Goodfellas Cigar Lounge, for the Arizona Launch Party for the Placeres Reserva, Miro and Tabacalera Zapata.  These Cigars have been a top selling cigar in Europe for over a decade.   A new factory in Honduras, has given the company the manufacturing capacity to produce more cigars allow them to bring these cigars to the US for the time in its history. 

The Placeres Reserva, pictured below, starts out on the mild side of the spectrum and works it way to solid medium bodied smoke.  I do think the cigar would benefit from some time in a humidor.

This past Sunday my wife and I went out for some breakfast, and we ended up at the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Goodyear.  I stumbled upon a few cigar boxes for sale, nothing really special until I found this....a Cigar Box, from Don Raphael, with 10 Cigars still in cello for $14.95.  Some quick research Google and Twitter, found that the box of 20 retails for under $30, so I passed.  I'll keep looking and maybe, just maybe, I will find that hidden gem. A pre-embargo Cuban cigar.

And somewhere along the way, I paid cash for something, and got this bill back in my change...

My last week at the West Valley View  I was busy transitioning my clients to their new account executive.  Wednesday I took some time for myself and I spent an hour, or so, with Sam over at Fine Ash Cigar.  I picked up this El Triunfador from Pete Johnson and Don Pepin Garcia, this cigar was originally released in 2008 with a Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper, however the current release uses an Ecuadorian Habano Wrapper.  This cigar starts out medium bodied and works its way up to full bodied smoke that is very complex. 

Monday brings new challenges, new colleagues, and a few old colleagues.  Until next time #KeepATightAsh

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Habit or Hobby

This post is a result of seeing a blog post from Scott Lancaster who posed this same question on his blog,, a few weeks back.

For me is a cigar is neither. In fact I have gone as long as five years without lighting up a cigar and I never smoked cigarettes and never tried weed. Until I was 10 my Dad, and Grandpa, both smoked a pipe but no one in my family, ever smoked a cigar.  Interestingly enough I did learned that at one point there was a General Cigar factory in my mom's hometown of Mt Carmel, PA.

So how did I start smoking cigars. Right at the start of the cigar boom of the 1990s  a colleague had his first child and passed out the ubiquitous  It's a Boy cigar.  I took one, and out of curiosity one evening I cut it, OK  I bit the cap off as that was how I saw it done on TV and in the movies, toasted it; OK I burnt the hell out of it,  and thoroughly enjoyed it. Shortly thereafter B&M's started to open up in Orange County and LA County and a few nightclub had smoking lounges.  I worked for custom clothier in Beverly Hills, and Orange County and I was "that guy" usually dressed in a suit and smoking a cigar.  My cigar of choice, was usually a Romeo y Julieta, a Hoya de Monterrey, or a Dunhill as far as B &M's there was a Tinder Box in Santa Ana, The Bombay Cigar Society in Redondo Beach, and Dunhill had a clothing shop near mine, that had a small humidor where they sold cigars by the stick.  In 1995 California enacted the statewide smoking ban and I really didn't smoke again until 1998 when my then wife and I moved to Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania I had worked for Radius Communication, an interconnect that sold local advertising on top tier cable networks, and was based in Harrisburg.  One day I was meeting a client for lunch and wandered into Rae's Tobacco. Rae's became my escape and almost each day I would "smoke" my lunch at Rae's. One of the members started a club.  We could contribute $10 a week that was pooled.  Once a week Joan Baker would select a cigar for the club members to taste and when we accumulated enough money we could buy a box, or two, and split the contents up between the members.

I left PA, in 2001 and moved to Arizona

I would enjoy a cigar, as a "treat" here and there, such as the day my cousin Sarah and Kevin (below) married in 2003.  Chances are these were probably Macanudo Robusto's as my resources were somewhat limited at the time.

And when I was road warrior, traveling each week for 48 weeks out the year, for Freedom Communications I would enjoy an occasional cigar.  There were ad director conferences in Tampa, where any free moment I had was spent either at Steinbrenner Field or in Ybor City visiting many of the historic cigar factories and Cuban coffee houses.

I spent a lot of time in South Texas, and being across the river from Matamoras or Progesso/Reynoso I had access to "Cuban" Cigars.  Again I became that guy,  the one wearing the suit from out of state, sitting at the patio bar of Louis Backyard  or Tequila Sunsets, smoking the forbidden fruit a Romeo y Julietas Exhibicion #3, Cohiba, or Montecristo #2.  Which based on what I know now were most likely counterfeit Cubans. 

It was one of these nights in 2004, Gary Thorn, my then finance who we shall just call S, and I went to South Padre Island for dinner and I sat at that bar at Louis Backyard, my with my counterfeit Montecristo #2 and Don Julio Resposado and thought. I thought about family, friends, my career, and life.  On the way back to the hotel my cellphone rang.  It was my mother, my father had passed away....

I really did not start enjoying cigars on a regular basis until 2008 when I moved into an outside sales role with the Arizona Republic and my first cient call was to Ye Old Pipe and Tobacco in Phoenix. I was able to work from their lounge and relax for a few moments. So there you have it, it is neither a hobby or habit but a...Hell I don't know what it is, except for a way for me to relax, and pure enjoyment!

It's been a bout 3 weeks or so since the #IPCPR ended and the stuff that was ordered during the show.  I have had to luxury of trying some of the newer brands and blends offered at the #IPCPR before they arrive in the store. 

Here is the Fratello Toro which has a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, a Ecuadorian Sumatra Binder, and the filler comes from both Nicaragua and Peru.  I liked this cigar a lot and can't wait for its arrival in humidor at my local B&M

Nomad Cigar Company created the LE (Limited Edition) Esteli Lot 1386. There are only, or will be only  307 boxes made of this cigar.  Holy Hell Fred hit for the cycle with this cigar! Now what ya gonna do next Fred? Huh? Huh?
Finally, on Saturday, the Arizona Cigar Community lost a great friend in Tommy Pupillo  Tommy, was the rep for some of your favorite cigars including Perdomo and Tatuaje, passed away after a lengthy illness.  I will share one story about Tommy.  I was in the Man Cave at Cigar King and Tommy came in and sat down.  I asked Tommy,  "How does one become a cigar rep?"  Tommy took a long draw on his cigar, tilted his head back, blew the smoke into the air and said "Now, why would you want to do something that stupid?!?"
Tommy you will be missed. #RIP