In my previous post, I posted one of Kipling’s Post on Cigars. As you can see from this poem written in the 19th century, cigars and Cuba go back centuries.
My first exposure to cigars was as a young child when I would see my Abuelo, who I nicknamed “Pow”, puffing on his Churchills. He would complain that they were nothing like the H. Upmann Churchills he used to smoke when he lived in Cuba.
In his later years, he lost his desire for cigars as he became convinced that his exile would be a permanent one. He came here in the mid 1960’s via Spain. Already a man in his 60’s. He came here ready to work; he had worked his whole life. But in those days, men in their 60’s were considered “too old” to be hired for work. So he would spend his days at home, playing with his grandson, drink my grandmother’s God awful Cuban coffee as if it was the best coffee ever made, read El Dario Las Americas, listen to Spanish radio, and finally, watch the one Spanish TV station at the time, Channel 23.
I really liked the aroma of cigars, but hated the smell of cigar butts my Abuelo would leave around the house. My father smoked cigars every now and then, but it was rare. He was a cigarette smoke having grown up in the 30’s and 40’s in South America. I hated cigarettes.
After my Abuelo passed, I came reacquainted with cigars when I was in high school in the early 1980’s. This was many years before it became chic to smoke cigars and before Cigar Aficionado. I would buy cigars from the local Cuban Cafeteria (typically a Partagas No. 2 or Partagas Tubo). I would smoke them, in part, to annoy the cigarette smokers and also in part because of my rebellious nature. There was only one other cigar smoker in my high school, and that was and continues to be my best friend, Craw.
In college, we would go to Mike’s Cigars when it used to be on Arthur Godfrey Road in Miami Beach and get boxes of fine cigars for $ 35. I would also order boxes of Arturo Fuente Hemingways for $60 in those days out of Tampa (usually Ed’s Pipe and Tobacco). In the early 1990’s, my buddy Craw turned me on to the La Gloria Cubana, Torpedoes, which we used to get in a bundle from the factory in Little Havana for $ 40.
Prices went through the roof with the mid 1990’s cigar boom until them stabilized in the late 1990’s. A good box of cigars will now run you close to $ 200.00.
I enjoy smoking a nice stogie with a fine spirit, but always prefer smoking one at the counter of a Cuban cafeteria where the aromas of café Cubano and cigar smoke mingle.
Until the last election in Florida, we used to be allowed to smoke cigars in bars, billiard rooms, restaurants, etc. In fact, my days of law school, it was a weekly event to get together with my friends, usually Craw, and go to the billiard room at Bird Bowl in South Miami and smoke a few while we played a few hours of pool. When I started practicing law, I would smoke one after work at the local billiard parlor as well. I used to enjoy smoking a cigar at a nice bar with a martini or a fine ale.
Well, those days are gone. The pleasure Nazis decided to make it unlawful for businesses to allow smoking indoors. Here in Florida, if you serve food, forget it; no cigars. These same idiots who want to deny free enterprise and choice to people and business feel it is in my best interest that smoking be prohibited in public places such as restaurants and bars. In some other states such as the People’s Republic of California, they want to ban it even outdoors. Even New York has gone crazy. I used to enjoy drinking bass ale and smoking cigars at the pubs on Bleacher Street in the village. Can’t do it. The irony is that in a way, these pleasure police and their tactics are no better than what totalitarian dictators do: they want to inhibit the freedom to choose. They feel that they and the government knows what is best. Of course, these closet communists will argue that in Florida, the voters passed the constitutional amendment to prohibit smoking. Yes, and they voted to give protected status rights to pregnant pigs too. Of course, they bombarded the airways with ads of 14 year old girls with breathing problems saying that they were suffering because of smoke in bars. What the hell is a 14 year old girl doing in a bar? Adults are treated like children. Soon, adults will have to ask permission from some bureaucrat just to take a leak. Crazy I tell you.
In any event, I digress. I now smoke my cigars outside while it is still permissible and if someone is offended by it, then get out of my airspace. Finally, because this is a photoblog, the image I’ve posted herein is of the one few places you can smoke, a Cigar Bar. Specifically, this bar is in the Cigar City of Tampa, in Ybor City. The image below is of a cigar roller from the Grove.
So have a cafesito and a smoke for me. Ciao.
Posted by Michael Pancier Photography at 4/20/2006