Reflections in the Mists

14th January, 2010: Posted by glpease in Pipes, Enjoyment, Editorial

This morning, I took a somewhat extended walk after dropping my son at school. Our walk is only a few blocks, and I always seem to be in a rush to get back home to begin the daily routines that have become my work over the past few years. This morning, it just wasn’t long enough.

The air is fog-chilled, and the feeling on my face too inviting to ignore. I decided to take the long way home, wandering towards the shore, and stopping off at the water’s edge to watch some ducks and some coots (birds, not old men) fishing in the still tides. A Castello Collection stack, deeply colored with a rich mahogany patina from years of smoking, filled to its beveled top with some old Garfinkel’s Orient Express #11 was my sole companion. Read more…»

Us vs. Them

20th January, 2009: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Pipes, Enjoyment, Cigars

From what I’ve read on various pipe smokers’ fora, there is some crossover between cigarettes and pipes or cigars and pipes, however, “We,” as pipe smokers, seem to be more than a bit jingoistic about the way we choose to enjoy tobacco. Pipe smoking is seen as superior by many, both smokers and non-smokers alike. I suspect this has much to do with the historical image of the pipeman as thoughtful, educated, considerate. We’re not all Albert Einstein or Fred MacMurray, but there is a strong iconographic link, forged over decades, that still persists to some extent today, even despite the popular influence of the rabid anti-tobacco movement.

The pipe draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts up the mouth of the foolish: it generates a style of conversation, contemplative, thoughtful, benevolent, and unaffected.

—Wm. Makepeace Thackeray

Personally, though I thoroughly enjoy both pipes and cigars, I have never really been a cigarette smoker. Sure, I’ve had more than a few of the little things over the years in moments of weakness or curiosity, and some have been exquisite. I fondly recall the Balkan Sobranies in their little tin boxes, and the French Boyards, with their black tobacco and yellow corn-paper, sweet and powerful in flavour and in effect, not to mention the Old Holborn RYO tobacco that was splendid. I’m sorry to say these have gone the way of all flesh, even though I would only rarely indulge in their guilty pleasures. Read more…»

Home from Chicago

9th May, 2008: Posted by glpease in Pipes, Enjoyment

After a fantastic weekend with far too much fun and far too little sleep (my dear friend Tom says, “You can sleep when you’re dead”), and an amazing thunderstorm, I’ve returned to the slightly more mundane California sunshine. Monday night, I couldn’t sleep at all, so I went down to the shop to restore a pipe that I’d gotten at the show. Yesterday, I napped. Twice. Today, I begin to feel human, but only just, so it’s time to share some thoughts from the show, beginning with a single word. Read more…»

A World of Choices

15th April, 2008: Posted by glpease in Enjoyment

Some years ago, I was having lunch with a friend, a classical pianist with a penchant for the avant-garde. We always had lively conversations, and hours would fly by in what seemed minutes. He was telling me about the challenges of some of the latest pieces he was adding to his already impressive repertoire.

It was always a joy listening to his insights into the music, though, at the time, I didn’t share his passion for much of the modern 20th Century works. It was all Baroque-and-Roll for this longhair, whilst my shave pated friend, with the countenance of a Zen monk, was a gently walking lexicon of Hindemuth, Shoenberg, Arvo Pårt, Philip Glass, none of which I really ever got my musical brain wrapped round. Read more…»

Just Old Tobacco…

10th August, 2007: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Enjoyment

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Old tobacco is amazing stuff. I mean the really old stuff, the vintage tins that people talk about and pay astronomical sums of money for. By now, most of us are cellaring tins of our favored blends for the blessings that time bestows upon them, and, of course, we should keep doing this while we continue to explore the pleasures of getting to know tobaccos in their juvenescence, and at various stages of their development. In fact, some enjoy their smoke most when it’s still possessing the exuberance of youth, and some tobaccos seem to lend themselves particularly well to being enjoyed while young.

I’m talking about something different, though. I’m talking about those distinguished old blends, long unavailable; those marvelous and revered tobaccos that have been sitting on dusty shelves for years or decades, lying in wait as little hermetically sealed time capsules containing something of both our collective, and our individual pasts. There is sometimes much more in those tins than old weeds. Read more…»

Curiously Strong Brand Identity

25th July, 2007: Posted by glpease in Enjoyment

The other day, I was compelled to pick up a couple tins of the Original Celebrated Altoids, the Curiously Strong peppermints that have been an almost constant fixture in my house since I was a lad. I can easily remember the first time I popped three of the little lozenges into my eagerly waiting gob, and thought my head would leave my neck, and rocket into orbit from the rsulting blast of curiously strong peppermint multiplied by three. Lesson learned. Even a single Altoid was intense enough to make the senses take serious notice. Peppermint isn’t a match for capsaicin for a pure incendiary wallop, but it freshens the mouth, settles an upset stomach, and can be pleasantly refreshing. Altoids did their job with aplomb, if not a bomb. Read more…»

Matching Pipes and Tobaccos—Part 2

5th April, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes, Enjoyment, Technique

Read Matching Pipes and Tobaccos—Part 1.

A friend of mine dedicates every new pipe to a specific tobacco. I applaud his rigorous bookkeeping, somewhat retentive attention to detail, and his dedication to methodology, but I’ve always wondered if he’s really getting the most out of his experience, or winding up selling some of his pipe and tobacco choices short. How do we know, at the start, what tobaccos will work best with a given pipe? I wish there was some sort of metric, as the process of discovery can sometimes fill a great deal of time. Read more…»

Matching Pipes and Tobaccos—Part 1

1st December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Pipes, Enjoyment, Technique

For quite a while, I’ve been attempting to discover some rhyme and reason for why some tobaccos just seem to “work” better in some pipes than others. At first, I looked to the conventional wisdom of my pipe smoking brethren to find answers. “Flakes are better in small pipes.” “Latakia blends are best smoked in larger bowls.” What I found there was a lot of disagreement, both amongst the folklore I collected, and within the context of my own experiences. I had to seek further to find the key to this particular mystery. I attempted to forget everything I thought I knew about the subject, and set out anew. Read more…»