Chicagoland International Pipe & Tobacciana Show is the Super Bowl of pipe shows, the megafauna of pipes and tobacco. Count yourself fortunate, smiled upon by the tobacco gods, if you are a regular attendee. And if you have never been, get thee hence to Chicago so you can say you have been to the mountaintop, where the masters of the universe reside.
The 2015 show, sponsored by the Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club as usual, is not only special, but also historic. This is the 20th year Chicago has demonstrated how to stage a world class event.
In this, our current winter of storms and tantrums and the solid silence of ice and snow, and as the years advance, it has become more and more apparent to me that my pipes are more comforting than I have ever imagined.
Especially since I have been manacled by ice and covered by weather customary to more northern climes. This New Ice Age has locked me away, unable to smoke my beautiful pipes. Blessedly, spring is not far away. Not all hope is lost through these wicked, cold portals.
When does a fad cease being a fad and become an exciting hobby? And following that line of thought, when does that compelling hobby cease to be a hobby and become an all-encompassing serious obsession?
Personally, I’m at the serious obsession stage right now today. My pipe smoking and collecting began shortly after college, in the 1960s when I came across the old Royal Cigar Store on Forsyth Street in Downtown Atlanta and actually thought I had found heaven.
The appeal of the smells, the tins, the pipes, the cigars, the men smoking both and everyone talking pipes and tobaccos hit me so hard, it was as if I had found the Court of Montezuma and someone handed me a pipe to join in the ceremony.
Not to beat a dead horse. . . . Well, okay, maybe one more time. It’s a new year. Trying to get a read on the Food and Drug Administration is like attempting to decipher one of those post-World War II 10-inch television test patterns: You get a lot of numbers, voodoo math figures, shifting scenes, screen noise (read that as pixels the size of dimes), all in black and white, which is not how the FDA deals. The FDA has never-ending shades of gray produced by a bloated bureaucracy, which eats your tax dollars by the millions.
Several years ago, a sundown farmer walked his fields of tobacco, looking, watching and wondering about the future. His farm, roughly 300 acres, had been in his family for more than 200 years. Many of his ancestors arrived along the Tennessee-Kentucky border shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War and settled upon rich valley croplands to raise crops, especially tobacco.
During the South’s Civil War, the family had to defend the land from marauding troops from both Union and Confederate. Good tobacco was as necessary as food in the war.
In a brief tour, the farmer pointed out a graveyard where the family had buried its dead over the two centuries. They had become part of the soil, he said, just as his soul was also part of the soil.
As I reflect upon our current condition, meaning the fraternity of pipe tobacco smokers, I am concerned that we are running out of sanctuaries, and that we are in some sort of middle earth of dragons and awful flying things. I fear that we will be overcome.
Recently (July 13, 2014), I watched CNN’s re-run of its news feature by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Weed. I missed the first episode and decided to tune-in to this re-run.
Now, I did not just ride in on the turnip truck, but I was stunned to learn from the piece that the federal government owns a patent on marijuana. Did you know that? Why didn’t you tell me?
Over the next weeks and months, I will endeavor to write a series of essays that will be on a different plane than those in the past. Basically, the Pipe Pundit will attempt to go ethereal.
What has me disturbed and agitated is the state of things in our nation, outside of what is going on, or not, with the political process.
I’m more interested in individual rights than group rights.
Several years ago, I interviewed that great Southern Gentleman, Shelby Foote, the famed Civil War author. He invited me to his beautiful 1927 English Tudor cottage in Memphis, Tenn., to talk of things past.
You, over there. The guy with the pipe in his mouth. How do you like being a FDA target? Feel good being zeroed-in by one of the largest federal bureaucracies in the known world? Getting accustomed to the big red and white target on your back? Maybe you are getting that ol’ hunted down feeling?
I just thought I was a pipe smoker. After returning from the amazing Chicagoland Pipes and Tobacciana Show in early May and reflecting on the event, I have decided that even after more than four decades of smoking a pipe, I am a neophyte.
I mean, there are some fellas who take this hobby very seriously. Me, I toss some tobacco into a bowl, light ‘er up and go on about my business. I don’t pay much attention to the tobacco being smoked, let alone the pipe!
There is an old adage in Major League Baseball, when the rookie leaves the minors heading to the big leagues. It’s called going to “The Show.”
That’s where I’m headed the first of May, thanks to Kevin Godbee and PipesMagazine.com. I’ll be among those writing daily coverage of the Chicagoland International Pipe & Tobacciana Show, the Big League of Pipe Shows, from May 1-5.