Friday, June 29, 2012

Atticus 06/27/12

Atticus 06/27/12

Shade-dappled, mocha steaming, slightly hidden
In a café alleyway, the smoke from my Ruination
Gliding – the only cloud on this blazing day –
As the street passes by, left to right.

Temporary sanctuary, granted by the owner’s wink
And the mention of increased fines, has cost me:
1 espresso
1 large tip
1 Ave Maria St.
1 promise to stop, if asked

The book lies unopened, the cell
Set to vibrate, hospital rooms
And bills and ex-wives
And dead end jobs and regrets
And nostalgia and angst
Lost to the low croon of leaf
On leaf and long legs
Delicately perched on very
High heels.

I will eventually stand up,
Take one last sip, scatter the ashes,
Leave this outlaw life, enter
Stage left and deliver.

But, right now, the wind is soft,
The world is slow, and this stick
Is just getting interesting.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Wanderer's Man o' War Sonnet

Man o’ war, oh, Man o’ war,
verily the cry rings out.
A weak man's plea with hands aloft,
Poor fool, what be he about?
Man o’ war, oh, Man o’ war,
away with all worries bout.
Burn thine torch, brighten thine eye,
Truly a fine made redoubt.
Man o’ war, oh, Man o’ war,
Sweet scent of each Virtue bought.
I fear at last through the last Ruination,
My bank account has finally run out.

-The wanderer A

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ATY's Tobacco Sonnet #1: A Yawlp of Identity

My world, perceived through a pipe, through patient
puffs on a Lucite tip: warm briar bowl
breeds twirl and billow, smoke's brief ballet.
Handmade clouds allow visions, the pageant
of matches' flare and fade, fire fills the hole
and tobacco, age mellowed, purveys a
portal to the immortal – spiritual
pilgrimage, philosophy, and debate –
procured by Perique, by Virginia's
best. This grasp at perfection, personal:
a passion for pipes, a way to placate
the ills of life plentiful on terra.
Philosophy, if I owe anything
to you, it's my pipes I should be thanking.


 Of course, the last line rephrases Davidoff.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quotes from Zino Davidoff's The Connoisseur's Book of the Cigar

This will be three reviews for three different audiences.

1. Review for the Seasoned Smoker Knowledgeable about Cigars:

If you smoke cigars, and are interested in the history of this fine hobby, Zino Davidoff needs no preamble. This book is full of anecdotes, advice, and humour by a name all but unmatched in cigars. You need this book. Even in translation the wit, poetry, and philosophy of this man still communicates.

First published in 1967, it contains but the briefest of hints about what the Castro cigar market would be: Davidoff admits to other countries making good cigars, but to him, the Havana is king. I wrote down about fifty great quotes out of this book, and half remember about fifty more I'll catch on my next read through. If it can be faulted, it is for two things: Davidoff's personal preference of Havanas is communicated as objective superiority, and, at 92 pages, it is too short of a book. This book has given me many phrases with which to describe our hobby, and you need this book.

2. Review for the New Smoker of Smoker Unconcerned with Cigar History:

Among Zino Davidoff's many roles are: inventor of the humidor; tobacconist for royalty, pre-revolution Bolsheviks, and the rich or famous; and connoisseur extraordinaire. He fills this lyrical little tome with witty words about his passion: a life well lived. For him, a love of cigars is the signifier and signified of an enjoyed life. Like a good pet, at the end of the day, the cigar treats you the same way whether your day has been blessed or cursed. The book alternates between advice, philosophy, and humorous anecdotes. Read the following excerpts, then purchase this splendid book.

If you love cigars, this book needs to be on your shelf. In it, Davidoff clearly lays out his personal preferences, general cigar etiquette, and the important factors of cigar smoking in a poetic, funny, and honest fashion that can help the new smoker organize their thoughts. These things have not changed. However, some of the specifics have changed in the last 45 years, but the passages that are too specific to his time are brief.

3. Review for the Non-Smoker:

This book offers a glimpse into the philosophy of one of the hobby's most famous proponents. If you're interested why people smoke, this book will not answer that question because it is a personal choice. To quote Davidoff, “We never know exactly why we smoke.” However, we have ideas why we do, and this book presents some of those ideas in an amusing intelligent manner.


"If tobacco is a lost cult, if the cigar is surrounded by a mystery that alludes us, it is necessary to bow before the mystery. We never know exactly why we smoke."

"To know how to smoke is to recover certain forgotten rhythms, to re-establish communication with the self. If there is a secret of the cigar, it is to be found in the slow movements, the dignified, measured smoking. The movements are more than mannerisms; they are ceremonial acts."

"The cigar should never be treated like a cigarette. It is something that commands respect. It is the king of the tobacco products and should be treated according to its rank."

"How can one say that the cigar -- nothing but an object -- has a soul?"

"In a recent book, _Du Miel aux cendres_, [Claude Levi-Strauss] explains that tobacco has always been an instrument of communication with the supernatural."

"If I have acquired over the course of the years some bit of philosophical perspective, it is again to the cigar that I am in debt."

"I have had to refuse service to valets because no honest man will have his servant choose his cigars."

"I discovered Cuba's perfume and her sensual warmth as an immature adolescent discovers an ardent, knowledgeable woman."

George Sand: "The cigars numbs sorrow and fills the solitary hours with a million gracious images."

"Such is the respect that I hold for the British royal family that I refuse to give them the advice Edward VII proffered to a young lord in his entourage: pierce the cigar with a lance and, after lighting it, wave it in the air."

"In any case, the cigar is even more attractive in its nudity."

"Use a cigar holder? No, please do not. Who would want to drink a good wine through a straw?"

"You do not fit a cigar into your schedule; you give it a moment and it occupies your time and enriches it."

Paraphrasing the "Terry Report" (, better known today as _Smoking and Health_: "Surface of resorption for the cigarette (that is to say, with inhalation), fifty square meters of membranes. Surface of resorption for the cigar (smoke rests in the mouth), one hundred square centimeters."

"Respect the ash -- as you do the rest of the cigar -- but do not make it an object of worship, giving it importance it does not merit. It is pretty to contemplate. It is the point of departure for the smoky spirals, the generator of dreams and oblivion. But it also represents pleasure that is past."

"After you have smoked a cigar, don't pick up a cigarette. After even an average cigar, the best of cigarettes is bland, useless, disappointing. The pleasure of the cigar, don't forget, is not found only in the smoking. It precedes is and lingers long after the fire is out." (Mr. Davidoff was a cigarette smoker as well)

"Whether in a box, case, in your hand or mouth, treat your cigar with care. Your pleasure depends on it."

"Don't forget, a cigar is a companion, and a rare one that will never slip away. You can call upon it at any time. But different cigars suit different circumstances or situations."

"A cigar cannot truly be enjoyed without contemplation, without thinking. You cannot smoke anything at any time, in any place. A cigar should fit your mood, habits, personality, surroundings."

"[American Flavored Cigars] are a humiliating form of candy for adults."

"Do not smoke a cigar when working. If you do, you will smoke badly – and what is worse? You will smoke badly when writing, when thinking of something else. The cigar is exacting. It gives its all only to those who are consecrated to it, body and soul. Such an expression is not too strong."

Robert T Lewis: "The day has been difficult or pleasant or lyrical or savage. The man has fought, loved, and perhaps suffered. The weight of all the day's events and decisions is on his shoulders, and, with it, the consequences. These he may now measure or conjecture about. But he may also, for a moment, return to himself, return to his own contemplation. The blue smoke of a well-chosen cigar disappears into the air, a symbol, perhaps, of the vanity and precariousness of all things. No other object or person is capable of giving him such an opportunity to indulge in introspection, to contemplate his own being which is of such little significance in relation to the greater Being."

"The Corona is the king of cigars. Its five and one quarter inches in length constitutes the ideal size. Its diameter is so calculated that the flow of smoke is perfect. It embodies all that is necessary for the connoisseur -- the perfume, the aroma, the essential vapors. Each man has the right (and the duty) to defend his favorite Corona."

"The Lonsdale gives to the smoker the maximum of pleasure, a quantity of abundant, fragrant smoke."

"Double Corona -- Sometimes termed a "chair rung," this super cigar varies in size from eight to nine inches. It is often associated with those men who are searching for a special effect, or possess the complex of a tycoon, of little Caesars. It is true that the size harmonizes well with a champagne bucket." (This is a complex, double-sided attack by Davidoff who hates people "searching for a special effect", and people who drink anything but water while smoking – it ruins the experience of giving yourself, "body and soul," to the cigar. In essence, he thinks most people who smoke big cigars are compensating.)

"All of this is, to say the least, a matter of taste. What is most important is to be sure of your taste. In the midst of all these ifs is one sure thing: whatever your tastes, your habits, your needs, there is a cigar which will be right, one that is adapted to your constitution, which harmonizes with your mood. There is no more faithful servant than a Havana. To learn to choose a cigar which is right for you is to exercise your talent for self-awareness. To find the cigar which suits you is a particular joy."

And the famous quote: "A well-chosen cigar is like armor and is useful against the torments of life. A little blue smoke mysteriously removes anxiety."


Three stories:

"Three Spainards, unknown to me, absolutely confounded me one day at my shop in Geneva. 'Show us,' one of them said, 'your very best Havanas.' I opened several boxes. They smoked for a while in silence. Each took a different selection. Then the first, opening his eyes, said: 'Cape de Vinales, tobacco of Palicios.' The second: 'Cape de Vinales, tobacco of San Luis.' And the third: 'Cape d'Isabel Maria, tobacco of the Semi Vuelta.'

That had been all. They left enchanted after having purchased several boxes. I never saw them again. But the certainty of their identification struck me so forcefully that on a trip to Cuba, I checked them out. They were not mistaken. Never had I met such connoisseurs. There probably aren't any others quite so expert.

This anecdote gives an idea of the degree of sensibility that can be obtained. Recognizing the plantation from which the fermented leaf had been gathered is a miracle. But to know how to identify a good cigar, one made by an expert, is the work of all enlightened smokers."

"My father's store was a small one and all the family made cigarettes by hand, cigarettes with gold tips and filled with blond tobacco imported from Turkey. This store was not like any other. From time to time, bizarre gentlemen with conspiratorial looks would gather there. They were conspirators. And just like the liberator of Cuba, Jose Marti, exiled in Florida, used to send messages rolled in cigars, so the enemies of the Czars in Kiev carried out their plans behind a cigar smoke-screen. Eventually the conspiratorial ring was discovered and I, with my family, left Russia in a covered wagon. In Geneva my father opened a small workshop and began again to build up a trade. Other exiles came to the shop. They were feverishly preparing for a revolution. One of them greatly impressed me. He had a thin face, brilliant eyes, and spoke in a loud voice. He also took cigars and didn't pay for them. My father never tried to recover the money. On a bill which I have kept as a souvenir are stamped the words Not Paid and the name of this customer -- Vladimir Ulyanov. Not until later was he known as Lenin."

"One day, Paderewski told me that when a violinist plucked certain strings of his Stradivarius, all the Stradivari in the surrounding area vibrated in their cases. In the period corresponding to the Cuban summer, Havanas everywhere in the world, kept under the right conditions, ferment together."