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

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