Thank you for joining us for The Pipes Magazine Radio Show—the only radio talk show for pipe smokers and collectors. We want to thank you for listening and being one of our loyal 15,000 weekly fans. Your host is Brian Levine and in tonight’s "Pipe Parts" segment he will talk about the reasons why tobacco get so beat up politically, but the alcohol industry can put out bubble gum flavored vodka and no one cares. As you may be aware, pipe smoking has been seeing a resurgence amongst the younger generation. We will be talking to PipesMagazine.com Forum Moderator, Ben Szpaichler, known as “Uberam3rica” in the forums. Ben has been smoking a pipe for two years, and he is 20-years old. We thought it would be interesting to hear the perspective of one of the new generation’s pipe smokers.
G. L. Pease
Some pipes don’t treat us well. They seduce us with their beauty, their charm, only to tease us cruelly, never delivering what they appear to promise. They can be likened to horrible relationships that we keep revisiting, either because of the intensity of our shallow lusts, or because we keep forgetting how bad they were, or because the wellspring of optimism continually bubbles to the surface, and in the reflection of its pool, we see the only the possibility that, maybe this time, things will be different, only to later discover that they’re not. I’ve had pipes like that. Pipes so beautiful, so perfectly constructed, so promising that I cannot help but go back to them time and time again, despite the fact that every smoke is more punishment than pleasure. Don’t think of me as a masochist, please; I’m just naïvely romantic.
Exploring the Mac Baren line of offerings has been a recent preoccupation, and I was excited to embark on a journey into the past with Roll Cake. My editor Avi and I had scored some vintage tins and spent an early evening sampling them at Merchants, one of the few remaining smoke-friendly watering holes in NYC. The three selections on our menu were Mac Baren’s Royal Twist, circa the late 1970s or early 1980s; the newly renamed Roll Cake from the early 1990s; and a current production tin of Roll Cake from 2011.
One never knows what the effects a few decades will have on a blend, or a brand; it’s one of the mysteries that make unsealing a vintage tin so appealing. It’s also a good bit of tobacco archaeology to see how blends have changed, both in constituent ingredients and through the lens of time. The Balkan Sobranie, for example, had famously transformed over its history, as well as the perhaps infamous transitions that Dunhill went through as it changed manufacturers.
As you might guess, I love working with tobacco. I equate my profession with that of a chef; each component having unique properties that make it a valuable addition to a blend. Of all the available leaf that’s out there, nothing is more versatile or widely used as what we most commonly call Virginia. To the government, this leaf is referred to as flue cured. The name addresses the method used to cure the tobacco. The individual leaves are tied in "hands" and attached to a pole and hung in a barn. Indirect heat is introduced by pipes, or flues, that run throughout the building. The heat "sets" the leaf, so its color and chemistry become stable. This tobacco, also called brightleaf, and has two qualities that set it apart—it’s high in natural sugars and relatively low in oils. Its nicotine content ranges from low to moderate, but different methods of processing can increase the content significantly.
G. L. Pease
Amongst pipe tobacco aficionados, there seems to be no end to tightly held beliefs, some of which may have at one time had a basis in reality, some of which seem to be just frivolous flights of fancy. We are participants in a pastime rich with both history and romance, and the intersection of these presents an interesting playground for speculation and folly. Usually, it's all in good fun. We love the colorful stories of briar and burl and leaf and smoke and the many characters that surround them, and some stretching of truths only seems to add to the mystery. With that in mind, let's dive in to this month's first question.
I've interviewed several people over the past years and decades in many different roles and endeavors, but nobody has ever interviewed me ... until now. Olie Sylvestor is an artist, graphic designer, pipe maker, father, husband, and all around really cool guy. He also has been producing the OomPaul Podcast for several years, and I was honored that he asked me to do an interview.
We mostly talk about the PipesMagazine.com business, and there are several background, behind-the-scenes stories that have never been told, which you may find interesting. At the end of the interview, Olie asked me some personal questions, and the answers may surprise you.
Adam J. Smith
Tin Note: Balanced Smoking Tobacco - Cool with a rich flavour. From the Website: A robust English blend with character. Plenty of Latakia, Pressed Virginia, and Burley provide the base.
This blend surprised me - but in a very good way. With a very ambiguous tin description and a post-modern abstract label that would look at home on a cigarette package, I really wasn't sure what I was getting into when I popped this tin. Expecting a cased Burley (perhaps something minty from the "cool" descriptor used in the liner notes), I was quite taken aback when I first popped the seal and raised the tin to my nose.
Kevin GodbeeThank you for joining us for The Pipes Magazine Radio Show—the only radio talk show for pipe smokers and collectors. We want to thank you for listening and being one of our loyal 15,000 weekly fans. Your host is Brian Levine and in tonight’s "Pipe Parts" segment he will talk about the reasons why [...]