While reading "Still Searching for Pipe Dreams" you feel like you’re hanging out with the author Rick Newcombe as he tells you all kinds of stories, with tons of interesting information and opinions about pipes and tobacco. Maybe it feels that way because I have had the opportunity to sit down with Rick and smoke some of his specially-aged and formulated Dunhill Early Morning Pipe—for which he provides the recipe in the book. Or perhaps it’s just because the book is well-written and easy-to-read, with a relaxed conversational tone to it. This is Rick’s second book in the series with a third one planned. Three books have been published, but the second one is a revised edition of the first, so not really a whole new book.
2019 is the year that all tobacco will be permanently banned … at least according to the new fiction novel, "Tangent" by Mike Pomery. Tangent is a politically-charged, time-bending, dystopian view of the distant and not too distant future. The story starts in the year 2051 where former pipe smoker, Alan Febras is scheduled for his "Complete Synthetic Upgrade" as mandated by the "Life Extension Act of 2048".
Alan Febras’ apathetic trudge through another day of forced retirement is interrupted by the sudden arrival of James, an old friend he thought lost. In an instant, Alan is offered an escape from his upcoming scheduled mechanization by traveling back into his own past. With Alan’s assent barely uttered, he is whisked off to a hidden laboratory to make his journey back.
The story follows Alan as he rediscovers the everyday pleasures of our modern world that had been lost to him in our boringly Utopian future. Armed with the flippant wisdom gained from his sixty-five years on earth, Alan decides to make a few divergent changes from his first run-through at life.
Pipe smoking is a big deal in Denmark. The Danes have the highest per capita population of pipe smokers in the world. So it seems fitting that the Scandinavian region would also produce some of the most famous pipe makers in the world. If you really want to be knowledgeable about the past, present and future of pipes, then you must be informed about the 50+ pipe makers from Denmark, Sweden & Norway. There are not many books published for the pipe enthusiast. Of the small amount, in and out of print, just a few have chapters on Scandinavian pipe makers. Now we have a brand new, complete book about them.
It’s not often that a new book targeted to pipe smokers and collectors gets published. We are after all, a pretty small niche market. So when a new book does come out, it almost feels like there should be a celebration. In this case, I think a celebration of Fred Hanna’s latest labor of love is warranted … and you should buy the book too. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m planning on getting an autographed copy when I see Fred at The Chicagoland Int’l Pipe & Tobacciana Show on May 5 & 6. I already know the book is going to be great. Fred is a genius when it comes to pipes and tobaccos. He has a PhD in psychology, and was awarded the "Doctor of Pipes" designation at the 2010 Chicago show. He has been in the hobby for countless years, is known for his love of straight grain pipes, and has his own tobacco blend produced by McClelland, called Wilderness.
Fred has spoken publicly and has been published innumerous times on the subjects of pipes, tobaccos, and in his professional field of psychology. He has many extremely fascinating insights that tie together psychology, physiology, health, and relaxation with pipes and tobacco. The way Dr. Hanna expresses his knowledge, information and wisdom is just purely captivating. The book is a combination of past works, and new writings, and is the perfect opportunity to get inside the mind of one of the brightest people in the hobby.
By G. L. Pease
It seems, at first thought, a bit unfair to present such a short review of such an imposing book as the second edition of Gary Schrier’s History of the Calabash Pipe, but since I’d encourage you to get a copy of the book and spend your time with it rather than reading what I think about, it, a short review is exactly what I’ll offer. In fact, I could probably sleep with, "If you’re a calabash collector, or a pipe smoker with even a vague interest in the things, or just someone with a love of craft and history, this volume deserves its place in your library." You could stop reading here, order your copy, and sit by the postbox, anxiously awaiting its arrival. But, here’s a little more.
First, this is not really light reading, nor should it be. It’s not a fluff piece about the imposing gourd and meerschaum pipe that many incorrectly associate with Sherlock Holmes (a subject addressed in Chapter 13). Schrier has devoted over ten years to the research and writing of his dissertation, taking the subject very seriously, and it shows. To date, no one has approached the calabash pipe with greater depth or such breadth.
But, neither is it dry, ponderous or inaccessible. It’s a truly enjoyable read, especially for those of us whose interest in our pastime extends beyond the instruments themselves, and reaches into the fascinating histories that our pipes symbolize. Much has been said about the briar, too little about the Calabash. Schrier sets out to right that wrong, and does so admirably, with discussions of the dramatic pipe’s history, its construction, insight into the botany and cultivation of the humble gourd that makes the calabash pipe possible, and a look at its makers and collectors. Too, there are reference sections on makers’ marks and hallmarks to help with identification, and a chapter of questions and answers.
The book itself is beautifully printed, and richly illustrated; most of its 390 pages are adorned with wonderful images, modern and historic. Flipping through its pages is a visual treat, and it’s a great way to start with it, but that’s only the beginning. Schrier’s History of the Calabash Pipe is not an afternoon’s read, but something to linger over and enjoy in all its glory. Highly recommended.
Disclaimer: It will be noted that I took some of the photographs in the book–most notably, those illustrating the collection of John Fabris. Some cynics might feel that I may be recommending it to my own profit. For those cynics, let me make clear that I receive no compensation from the book’s sales; my recommendation is based solely on its merit as an excellent treatise on the calabash pipe. -glp
IN SEARCH OF PIPE DREAMS: A METAPHOR FOR HIGHER SMOKING PLEASURES
By Steven Van Puyvelde
Dreams, passion, trying to reach that state of nirvana that only us pipe smokers know about … that is the point of Rick Newcombe’s book, which was first published in 2003 and was just recently reissued with 16 pages of beautiful color photographs. It is also one of the few pipe books available on Kindle.
If you enjoy your pipes, you will enjoy this book. It is a revelation, especially because Mr. Newcombe was one of the first connoisseurs to champion great Danish pipe makers who include Sixten, Lars and Nanna Ivarsson, Jess Chonowitsch, Bo Nordh and S. Bang.
Now, I can imagine that some people might be thinking, "this book is mainly about high grades" that I can’t afford, so why should I read it?