Revisiting The Classics

31st January, 2019: Posted by glpease in Tobacco, Editorial

It’s the last day of January 2019 already, and as is increasingly true with the passage of time, it seems to have arrived far too quickly. I’ll start by getting the obvious something-in-the-room out of the way. Yes, it has been a very long time since I last updated the Chronicles. Though I’m tempted to attempt baffling my five or six remaining readers with lots of semi-plausible excuses for why I haven’t done anything with it, it’s probably best to dispense with that and just say that I hope to be updating this more regularly, again, and will probably take it in some new directions as it goes along. We’ll see as the year rolls on. There will be longer and shorter things, and probably things that can best be described as photo essays. One thing that will NOT happen in the coming months is the emergence of a GLPease uSnooze channel. I still believe in the written word, and there’s more than enough video rubbish for people to wade through without my contributing to the mire. With those potatoes out of the way, it’s time to press the “Boldly Go” button, and get on to the meat.

A couple weeks ago, I thought it might be a fun to embark on a little art project, revisiting the original sketches I did for the labels of the Classic Collection, recreating them photographically as best I could while making room for a bit of artistic license. Of the six pipes that originally modeled for the labels, five are still in my collection, so it would be mostly pretty straight forward. Get the pipes out, gather the appropriate props, decide on the lighting design, and get to work. Those five would be easy.

The sixth, though. That pipe was a Sasieni 8-dot army mount bent billiard. It left my collection years ago. Fact is, I’m not really a bent-pipe guy, generally preferring stems that are either straight or with a very slight curve, so I didn’t have many applicants to choose from when recruiting the Sasieni’s understudy. But, I did find, amongst my GBD hoard, a lovely silver spigot that I’ve never been able to bring myself to part with. It offered, graciously, to stand in for the Sasieni, as long as it would be presented in such a way as to remain in relative anonymity. I agreed. In the final image, it actually makes perfect sense. Shot in the shadows with the lens wide open, the blurry suggestion of the pipe serves as a reference to the one that got away, as a tribute to it, while still fulfilling my desire to reimagine the original sketch.

The other five photos will be presented later. Those who follow me on Farcebook or Instacrack have probably already seen them, but it’ll be nice to have them presented together in one place. Though small, this project has planted the seeds of other ideas in my brain that I look forward to exploring, nurturing some to fruition. With it now behind me, I have to say that the absolute bestest part of doing this particular shoot was opening that tin when it was over. It’s from the first production run in early 2003, a bit puffy, and more than a bit dusty. The aromas emanating as I pulled the ring and the pressure was released took me to another time and place, as did the first puff when I finally stopped sniffing it, filled the GBD, and lit up. When I originally blended Charing Cross, I wanted the blend to recapture memories of countless tins of what is now vintage Balkan Sobranie — the stuff I smoked in my early days with the pipe, made long after Syrian latakia had been replaced by Cyprian, but before the transition to Gallahers production in 1982. Sixteen years later, how does it fare?

Generally, I find myself smoking more recent vintages of my own blends, or the vintage tins of classic blends I’ve squirreled away through the years, which is why this tin and one other have survived until now. I’m rethinking that. With that first bowl, memories from the past sparked to life in an almost hypnotic way, inducing a state of pipe smoking bliss that went beyond the mere sensory pleasures of taste and aroma. And, for me, the personal satisfaction of knowing that I hit the mark with this one brings it to another level. It took 16 years, but the satisfaction was well worth the wait.

Having now already smoked too many bowls of this, I have a feeling this tin’s contents won’t be around long. So it goes. There’s always that other one sitting there.