Thank you for joining us for The Pipes Magazine Radio Show—the only radio talk show for pipe smokers and collectors. We broadcast weekly, every Tuesday at 8 pm eastern USA time and are available on nearly all podcast sites and apps. Listen on your computer, tablet, phone and even in the car! Our Featured Interview tonight is with pipe artisan J.T. Cooke. Brian calls him "The Master Blaster" as he is well-known for the amazing, unique style of sandblasting that he does. (Listen closely, and you’ll find out what the "T" stands for too). See more on J.T. Cooke at Pipedia.org. In our "Pipe Parts" segment, Brian will continue our series on Oriental, a.k.a. Turkish tobaccos. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
G. L. Pease
"A pipe is the fountain of contemplation, the source of pleasure, the companion of the wise; and the man who smokes, thinks like a philosopher and acts like a Samaritan." -Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (19th C)
I grew up with the notion that other people’s views, no matter how different from my own, even if those opposing ideas were completely unsupportable, often have nuggets of gold buried within them that we can mine and learn from. It was one of the best lessons my dad taught me, and even though he didn’t always follow his own advice, and I certainly don’t, his instillation of the value of tolerance has served well.
This is the weather I live for—hot, humid, and hot. What some disparagingly refer to as the dog days of summer, I refer to as thank God I’m sweating. All the important work of the beginning of the season has come and gone, and it’s finally time to kick back a little and not worry, not even think, about a thing. The stove hasn’t been used in a month and I gave the maid a week off—it’s all delivery, no cooking in this heat. This is the uncomplicated time of year, and I revel in it.
In my early twenties I was fortunate to become friends with Mel Feldman, who owned The Smoker in Albany, NY. Mel was kind enough to spend hours talking to me about blending tobacco, which led to some admittedly amateurish attempts at creating my own mixtures. With a little perseverance my work became good enough that we offered a few of my blends at The Pipe Den, also in Albany. They did reasonably well. Well enough, in fact, that some of them were used by other stores in the chain. As I did more blending, I tried to codify things so I had firm guidelines to follow.
G. L. Pease
Early this morning, a dear friend packed a hired truck with boxes of pipes, tobacco, books, and all his other important belongings, preparing to set off eastward to make a new home on the other edge of the continent. I know we'll see each other again, but I'm very much going to miss his company in the meanwhile. We've shared lots of good food, good drink, good conversation and laughter, almost always enveloped in a comforting fog of fragrant smoke.
Perhaps that's the true magic of the pipe; it seems to catalyze fellowship whenever it's present in the company of good people. Of those I hold close in my life, many have come to that place over a bowl or twenty. The pipe has a way of bringing people together through a common passion, whilst simultaneously creating something of a sacred space in which to discover our overlapping interests, and to peacefully explore both our similar and our divergent views.
As should be expected of someone who taste-tests tobacco for a living, I'm
intolerably outrageously somewhat opinionated about my choice of drinks, both "on-duty" and "off-duty", so to speak. It's only natural that in addition to spending a good amount of time thinking critically about tobacco, I apply some small rigor to my selection of beverages. Considering the average human requires a couple of liters of liquid added to their engine every day, I see this as an opportunity to have no shortage of variety on the menu. Drinking some kind of beverage while enjoying a pipe is essential for having the best experience. The continual cleansing of the palate can help you discern tastes better, and it's beneficial to you by both mechanically cooling the mouth off after an influx of hot smoke, and counteracting the mildly dehydrating effects of smoking. As an added bonus, a beverage with a slightly acidic pH will have the effect of counterbalancing the slightly alkaline pH of pipe smoke, smoothing out any rough edges.
So, from the lowbrow to the high life, here's a selection of what I've been tippling this summer.
Both the ladies and gentleman should find application in this month's column. I rue the day Rupert Murdoch got control of the Wall Street Journal. Over the twelve years I spent working in journalism, the WSJ was always respected and considered pretty reliable when it came to the ideals of journalistic integrity. Since the name Murdoch and the word integrity go together like oil and water, or hacking and privacy, I am surprised to find inspiration for this column among the pages of the Journal. The style and travel section to be precise. I doubt Mr. Murdoch spends much time trying to influence style and fashion, so I imagine the Personal Journal section is fairly uncorrupted.
Summer's here, finally, and the time is right for dancing in the streets. And by "dancing in the streets" I mean, of course, settling into a comfortable lawn chair with some good friends, adult beverages, and a tin and pipe. My often-repeated insistence to pay no attention to popular conventions aside, VaPer blends—that's Virginia-Perique for the uninitiated—simply and consistently make for damn fine warm-weather smoking. My personal cellar contains a depth and breadth of them that is perhaps less than a surfeit, but much, much more than a dearth. That is to say, around 50 different varieties that I return to with regularity.
Peterson of Dublin has started another Irish revolution, but with no manifestos or righting of wrongs. With a "declaration of independence" from the ways of yester year—not in quality, hut in concept—the 136-year-old company has recently positioned itself for the coming millennium. A carefully planned marketing strategy based on consumer research and testing, has enabled Peterson to design new collections for the smoking revolution of the '90's. Every way that pipes, cigars, and accessories suit a well-turned, affluent, and varied lifestyle has been thought out and developed, from cutting-edge contemporary artifacts to nostalgic recreations of glory days past. This is the story of a successful marketing campaign.
A few months ago a friend of mine took a look at my pipe collection and furled his brow slightly. "You know," he said, "You wouldn't burn the rim of your pipes so badly if you loaded them less full, smoked inside, and altogether avoided the wind."
True. And my nicer briars would prefer I stuck to those rules. However, I'm the kind of guy who hates to feel owned by the things I own. I almost exclusively smoke outdoors and I don't ever want to say no to a bowl just because it's windy. And while these reasons are certainly all good reasons to smoke primarily cobs, I smoke corn cob pipes because nothing, in my opinion, offers as consistently good of a smoke. My cobs never gargle, stay clean almost by themselves, and forgive me when I drop them on the road. Every time I see a friend take out a pipe cleaner and use it to clean out moisture mid-smoke, I remember why I love my cobs so much. You can therefore imagine my excitement when Missouri Meerschaum recently released new pipes.
G. L. Pease
Early this morning, a dear friend packed a hired truck with boxes of pipes, tobacco, books, and all his other important belongings, preparing to set off eastward to make a new home on the other edge of the continent. I know we’ll see each other again, but I’m very much going to miss [...]