Saturday, June 30, 2007

Old World & New: Hecho A Mano series

I had the pleasure today of going to the butcher. S. Maresca & Sons Fine Meats, in Sergeantsville, NJ. I make the trek over the hills and down the winding country roads as often as possible. It is an extraordinary experience to see two brothers carrying on the family traditions and keeping this honorable profession alive. I won't wax on about their unbelievable bangers, chorizo, Neapolitan flank steak, or anything else. They are precious artisans: enough said. Joe and Emil are getting along in years, yet they refuse to let anyone else do their work. They refuse to compromise their standards, and that means doing it themselves, the right way.

Today we got to talking about modern times. I complained about people wearing bluetooth earpieces while Joe reminded their assistant that her 10 earrings were fine as long as she didn't pierce her nose or mouth. Then Emil proceeded to cut me a Porterhouse out of an enormous carcass. He used, what looked like, a hundred year old saw to cut through the bones. In fact, nearly every knife, saw, and butcher block they use is an antique. They still use the tools and knowledge handed down to them from their family and forefathers. And while most people continue to shop in grocery stores and buy processed foods, Joe & Emil admit that they are not great business men because they cannot grow beyond their own talents. But they are great Artists; and even better business men. Like great Cigar and Pipe makers, they labor away to honor their product, their consumer, and their time. Always staying true to an idea or ideal: this is art. Ultimately, they have lives with real value which I feel fortunate to share in.

Every day that goes by, life becomes a little more fast paced, communication a little quicker, and our time a little shorter. There is no better moment to sit back, relax, and have a great cigar than right now.

Some things should live on forever...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Absolute Present

At this moment I am about to light up a Padron 1926 no. 40. I must confess that I have a profound love for these cigars, but they require my full attention: they are too good to smoke while dilly dallying. In fact, the 1926 series, like other great cigars, COMMANDS your attention... and that is a spectacular compliment. Anyway.... a few weeks ago I visited Jose Orlando Padron in Miami and I asked him to cut my no. 40 to show me exactly where he thought the cut should go. Obviously, you can cut your figurados however you want... but I wanted first hand advice on this cigar. He took his guillotine and cut mine at about a forty ring gauge: so, to me, this must be the perfect cut. I have just replicated the cut on my new (actually 2 year old) no. 40 and I am staring at it wondering how in the world anybody can create such a firm cigar with a perfect draw, especially after box pressing. As I look in wonder, I put the cigar in my mouth and start to draw... then I put my hand on the foot to see if I could feel the suction. Lo and Behold... the skin on my palm starts to be sucked into the cigar!!! The wonders never cease with great cigar makers. It's like MAGIC.

I'm reminded that I got into this business so I could be privileged enough to smoke cigars like these.... and I'm glad I did.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Future

Here is a glimpse of the future... a sample of the hundreds of videos to come for the Tobacconist University website. This video was a mock-up we used to work on the graphics so it is not a "finished" product.

Over two dozen videos will go up in the next month... so stay tuned. Check out the Academic Curriculum on Cigars to view the enhanced content that will compliment the videos.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Legislating A New Low

The Feel-Good laws have reached a new height of absurdity here in New Jersey. One of the latest bills to be submitted to the legislature attempts to make flavored tobacco products illegal. The revised version limits the new law to cigarettes, for now.

The so-called "logic" behind this bill is that delicious flavorings like chocolate and fruits make tobacco products attractive to children. The super-geniuses in our legislature have decided that they must pass a law making flavored tobacco illegal. Of course it is illegal to sell tobacco products to children, so this ridiculous law makes no sense; unless you are "just blowing smoke" and pretending to actually care about 'public health', children, or whatever else may get you re-elected. Is alcohol next?

Professional Disclaimer: Professional Tobacconists and moral professionals go to great lengths to protect children and abide by legal age limits. The NJ legal tobacco smoking age is 19.

Personal Disclaimer: I personally do not favor tobacco with any additives or flavorings. But I fully support any adult who does.

Why would you pass a law restricting choice, commerce, freedom, and taste to protect a class of people that are already protected? Is that American? Is that reasonable? Does it make any sense?

The sponsors of this bill and any legislator voting to support it have reached a new low. I hope that they stop wasting our time and money on these empty, politically self-serving laws. The only thing worse than wasting our time and money is what they might have accomplished if they actually focused on something substantive. History will not judge them or their hysterical compulsions favorably. Where are the great thinkers, minds, and statesmen of our time? Certainly not in New Jersey.

And ohhhhh , the hypocrisy!!! They will allow menthol and mint flavored cigarettes. Why? you may ask. Probably because if they don't, the full force of the cigarette tobacco lobby will come down upon them. By limiting this new law to 'other' flavorings, NJ legislators are avoiding infringing on a massive profit vehicle for the major cigarette companies. Ultimately, only the smaller companies will be effected. Sadly, the most moderate and healthy consumers will be the ones hurt: The majority of people who smoke cherry, chocolate, vanilla, rose, or other specialty cigarettes are usually infrequent, once a month, or once a week smokers. People who occasionally want to have a premium cigarette ( healthy smokers), are having their rights usurped. And, as usual, the the little guy, with the little voice suffers. Bit by bit, this is the erosion of freedom and democracy.

Check it out:

"The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee reports favorably and with amendments Senate Bill No. 1400.
As amended, this bill prohibits the sale of certain flavored cigarettes in New Jersey.
The bill prohibits selling or furnishing to a person a cigarette made of tobacco, or any component thereof, which contains a natural or artificial constituent or additive that causes the cigarette or any smoke emanating from the cigarette to have a characterizing flavor that is attractive to youth.
Specifically, the prohibition applies to cigarettes with characterizing flavors other than tobacco or menthol, such that the cigarette or any smoke emanating from that product imparts a distinguishable flavor, taste or aroma prior to or during consumption, including, but not limited to, any fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb or spice flavoring; ...."

"According to public health experts, the existence of these products increases the incidence of tobacco use among children;
c The earlier a person begins using tobacco, the more likely the person will become addicted to tobacco products and continue to smoke throughout that person's life;
d. As a result, flavored 1[tobacco products] cigarettes1 lead to increased tobacco use and addiction, higher health care costs, and a greater incidence of smoking-related illness and death; and
e. Therefore, flavored cigarettes 1[and other tobacco products]1 pose a significant threat to the health of the general public..."

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

TU Email News: 6/4/2007

Dear Friends & Fellow Tobacconists;

“Houston, we have lift-off”

It is my great pleasure to announce that Tobacconist University will give its first RTDA Seminar for Retail Tobacconists at this year’s 75th Anniversary show in Houston. On Saturday, August 4, it will be our privilege to address an audience of esteemed Retail Tobacconists between 4pm and 5pm: just one hour before the 75th Anniversary Celebration!

This historic Seminar will punctuate Tobacconist University’s debut year with a lecture on the importance and value of Tobacconists. In addition we will show our fellow Retail Tobacconists how to leverage education as a Promotional and Sales Tool as well as increase customer loyalty, service, credibility, and overall success.

Space is limited, so please sign up for the Seminar through the RTDA website at

And visit or for updates and an enhanced perspective.

My Best Wishes;