Cigars & the End of a Decade

mayancalanderinsidepicture1The decade comes to a close as the Mayan Calendar tells us we only have 2 more years to live. That’s just a peachy thought. I bet right about now, Tiger Woods doesn’t think that’ll come fast enough. I’ve talked many times on this blog how time flies by… but ain’t it the truth? I remember very vividly sitting on my friends couch, counting down with Dick Clark as we entered the new millennium. I blinked my eyes and then ten years has blown by and my 4 and 8 years-olds are now in high school and college.

smoking_nazisI’m not going to do some memory lane thing because over the course of a decade – even in just a year, way too much has happened. So since this is a blog that resides on a cigar website, I figured I’d focus on the cigar – the one thing that stays constant and withstands the test of time. Sure it costs more than it used to and the fascist anti-smoke Nazi’s are hammering harder than ever at the industry’s thinly worn armor, but the cigar itself truly remains the same. It’s is a piece of artwork, a thing of beauty, completely unpretentious and exists only to do the thing it was born to do – bring an hour or so of pleasure to the person on the receiving end of its smoky existence.

HumidorThe decade didn’t start with a boom – in fact, it started with the end of a boom… the cigar boom of the 1990’s. The hoopla had finally died down and the charlatans and knuckleheads went back to selling insurance or whatever the hell they did before calling them selves “cigar experts” as their brand, the proverbial “Don Nobody” disappeared into the oblivion from which it came. All of those next great brands rolled by supposed authentic Cuban torcedors, ended up as bundled specials in the famed JR catalog for ten cents on a dollar. Who can forget everybody’s favorite Filipino brand of the boom, Fighting Cock? Little did the creators of the ill-fated brand realize that the name lost a whole lot in the translation. I so much wanted to be in charge of their marketing… “Say Smoker – Have you put one between your lips, today?”

1I started writing for Cigar Magazine in 2004, in their second issue. The article was a 5,000 word epic entitled: The Cuban Mystique and it took me a month to research and then write. There are many incredibly cool things about writing for CM, as you might imagine. Of course, the very first is hanging with Lew Rothman, which is one hell of an experience. I have never met a more straight forward person in my life – a guy who would tell the Pope to STFU if he was talking during a movie. I have gained an incredible amount of cigar knowledge from the man, the kind of stuff you could never learn in a book, the web, or a magazine. The guy took me to the DR and Honduras for a week and as James Earl Jones said in Field of Dreams, “The memories are so thick, I’d need a brush to wipe them ChristianEiroa_300from my face.”

Then there’s the industry people I’ve met, interviewed, and befriended – Christian Eiroa and Dylan Austin of Camacho, Bobby and Eric Newman of JC Newman Cigars, and not a finer gentleman in this world than former General Cigar CEO, Daniel Nunez (who I hung with as well on my Honduras and DR excursion.)

I started this here bloggy in October of 2007 and have fraternized with all of you. Writing this thing once a day, five days a week was an unbelievable challenge and I can’t believe I was able to come up with something every single day. Not sure how the bloody hell I did it.

cover2Last year I got to go to the Cigar Show in Vegas, the former RTDA Show, now the ICPCR. That was a hell of an experience, meeting tasting, talking, and comparing. Going home with about 200 premium sticks was a wonderful thing, for sure.

But now we’re all aware that the cigar industry is in the fight of its life as legislators and Smoke Nazis look to put an end to out happy time. Between that and the smoldering taxes, the pastime we love is in serious trouble, my amigos. I just found out that the famed Villazon Factory that I spent three days at in Cofradia, Honduras has shut down all operations and moved it’s product six hours away in Danli. I met every worker in that facility and those hard working, dedicated people are all out of jobs. And of course our legislators don’t give a rat’s ash, as long as they retain votes and public favor by riding the PC wagon.

Who knows what the next decade brings for those of us who light the leaf. With the FDA in charge of tobacco, this just might get brutally ugly like it is in Canada and parts of Europe. We CAN NOT let that happen, my brothers. This is the land of the FREE and we can never forget that. It’s hard to even comprehend that a man can be shipped to a foreign desert to defend our freedom, but he soon may not have the freedom to smoke the cigar that he loves.

Thanx for all the support from the readers of the Blog and I really do hope those Mayans were stoned out of their fucking minds when they created that calendar. Oh yeah… my birthday is Wednesday December 30th, so wish me a happy, happy!

Til we meet again in 2010!

Tommy Z,

JR CIGARS Blog With the Zman

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