For one who generally trends toward the curmudgeonly, particularly around the holidays, this season finds me in an uncharacteristically cheerful frame of mind; though at times tumultuous, the year has […]Read more
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- February 1, 2023 Happy Pipe, Happy Life
Walking about a rock-strewn riverbank, flyrod in hand and pipe clenched firmly, it came time to just sit and observe life around me. It was a misty morning, coolish, water rushing on its destination to, where? Maybe the Gulf of Mexico, or to join one of Tennessee’s great river chains. A pensive moment among the hoary rivers. Moss-covered rocks, patched in green rugs and teeming with unknown squiggly activity, caught my eye. As did a blue heron (Ardea Herodias). The given avian sex, male or female, escaped me as I watched this great fisherman bend its lean neck and long dagger-shaped pointed beak close to the water’s surface. Faster than the eye could follow, the heron stabbed a small fish, leaving me in wonder about what else swam below the rushing mountain stream. Memories of past fly-fishing adventures flooded over me as I smoked my pipe. The peaceful process of pipe smoking presents a more thoughtful approach to life, methinks. The entire script of packing, lighting, puffing, tamping, and relighting, adds to (with many remorseful apologies to Mr. E=MC2) a more thoughtful approach to our existence on this beautiful blue orb floating in the black vacuum of time. Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity (and, yes, he smoked a pipe tobacco blend named Revelation, shadowing the name of his theories), and quantum mechanics are the basics today for modern physics (Pundit was once overcome with trying to parse physics in Dr. Neill G. Whitelaw’s Physics 101 class). The spring 1960 issue of Presbyterian College Magazine has one of the best quotes about Dr. Whitelaw that sticks with the Pundit to this day: “Ask any Presbyterian College graduate of the past quarter-century to name PC’s toughest taskmaster, and his likely reply will be Dr. Neill G. Whitelaw.” Ah, yes. And to add to Dr. Whitelaw’s luster in the Pundit’s memory is that his classroom was his laboratory. Across the top of the spacious room was a shelf, lined with empty tobacco cans: Half and Half, Granger, Prince Albert, Bond Street, Velvet, Tuxedo, Dial, Four Roses, Dunhill’s Baby’s Bottom, St. Bruno, Carter Hall, and, of course, Revelation. These are just a few names locked away in the Pundit’s memory of those days long ago lost in Physics 101, attempting to understand not only Dr. Whitelaw but also his friend, Albert Einstein! And Pundit has always admired Mr. E=MC2’s quotes on the subject of pipes and finding the sublime existence surrounding us: I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs—Albert Einstein, 1950. 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. And hopefully, the Pundit isn’t becoming too Kafkaesque here, but over the years, pipes have become a psychological as well as a philosophical buttress for me. Mayhaps Pundit has been reading a bit too much over the holidays and early weeks of the New Year. Trying to catch up on his education, as it were. Now, this epistle is no Kafka “Metamorphosis” in which the main character becomes an insect. I have known a mean creature or two across the decades. But I have yet to confront a two-legged insect, except on one or two occasions on lands far, far away. Ahem, and where is this taking us today? The simple answer is this is to get us off and running for a spanking new season of pipes and tobacco. And as we all know, our pipes and tobacco blends are both a bit psychological and philosophical, if only in a very basic sense. I’m positive you possess a pipe or three you consider indispensable to your well-being mentally. I do. Pundit has a rather large galley of best briar friends. This, after years of smoking my beloved pipes, brings me to the question of just how this all happens. What is the precise connection? In the beginning, the pipe can be a bit sour, overpowering for a newcomer to the leaf. Then after break-in and conversations with veteran pipe smokers, the vision and some fresh understanding beam up to the frontal lobe. It takes time for the new pipe smoker to find just the right pipe and a go-to blend of the precious leaf. Revelation, by the by, is a recommendation for rookies of the leaf! Not too strong, not too sweet. Just right. That’s the fun part for the frontal lobe, don’tcha see. Reasoning, creativity, and a host of other executive functions filter through that part of the brain. Providing you were blessed with a big brain. Just sayin.’ Ok, class, this part of the lecture is complete. A pop quiz comes at the end of this session. And just to prove the Pundit walks the walk and talks the talk (people who know me well say it’s yakity-yak all the time), new pipe orders and tobacco are on their way to the herd and closet. Make no mistake, the Revelation Match is among the orders. And just in case you are interested PipesMagazine.com had an interesting discussion in its forums section a couple of years ago on Revelation and other long-gone blends. As for the Pundit, I enjoy Cornell & Dihel’s Epiphany, a match for the old Revelation. For one of his great in-depth reviews, check out Jiminks on Epiphany. And now for our pipe-smoking author and poet of February: British-American poet, W. H. Auden, born in York, England, Feb. 21, 1907, and died Sept. 29, 1973. Auden was an occasional pipe smoker and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948. And from one of his poems these words of wisdom: The most important truths are likely to be those which society at that time least wants to hear. Now from the Pundit: Here is to hoping we can enjoy our pipes more in this New Year. Happy pipe, happy life.
- January 31, 2023 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 542
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 542! Our featured interview tonight is with Gabe Skypala. This is the first in our series of interviews with “Journeymen Pipe Smokers” – guys that have been smoking pipes between five and 10 years. Gabe is a native Texan from Amarillo. He grew up helping out on his uncle’s cow farm and thought that might be his trade at the time. He also played college basketball (he’s 6’9″), was pre-med at Samford University, did some youth ministry, and is now in sales in the electrical equipment business. Gabe also is a BJJ white belt, and amateur pipe maker. At the top of the show, Brian will give us a list of pipe makers that have quit making pipes that you should seek out on the estate market. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
- January 24, 2023 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 541
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 541! We have a pipe personalities packed show tonight. We’ve been running two different series with two different prominent pipe collectors and authors. We have “Inside Fred’s Head” with Fred Hanna. He is the author of the book, “The Perfect Smoke”, and known for collecting straight grain pipes. The other series is a follow-up to Fred, “Rich Responds” with Rich Esserman. Rich has penned innumerous articles about pipes and tobacco for several publications, and he is known for collecting quite large pipes. We’ll be featuring the final remnants of those two series all in this show. As if that’s not enough, at the top of the show our segment will feature pipe artisan Jeff Gracik with another installment of “Ask the Pipemaker”. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
- January 18, 2023 Country Squire Radio Announces The End of its Decade Long Podcast
Via Press Release – JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI – January 18, 2023 – For the past ten years, Jon David Cole, owner and operator of The Country Squire Tobacconist, and Beau York, founder of the podcasting company PODASTERY, have been delighting pipe smokers worldwide with their weekly podcast Country Squire Radio. Long time listeners have enjoyed uninterrupted weekly content from the podcast including the celebrated pipe tobacco focused series such as TOBACCO TALK, PIPE CULTURE, SQUIRE SELECT whiskey and pipe tobacco pairings, and PIPE SMOKING 101 as well as the newer series geared to bring the spirit of conversations had over a bowl of premium pipe tobacco amongst good friends such as HALF BOWL HISTORY, FROM THE LIBRARY, and FATHER TO FATHER. As they approach the 500th episode this year, Cole and York have decided the time has come to bring the show to its conclusion with a live recording at The Country Squire in Jackson, Mississippi. “The amount of content for and by the Pipe Community is higher than ever before with newer pipe podcasts, instagramers, youtubers and more” Cole said. “We have enjoyed our tenure representing and at times shepherding a section of the community, but it’s time to increase the spotlight to this next generation of content creators.” Cole and York have often taken cues from their listening audience who, over the years, have made several trips to the famed Country Squire Tobacconist shop in Jackson, MS. This practice has been dubbed a PIPE PILGRIMAGE by fans of the show who have visited the shop that inspired many hours of listening pleasure. “We want to finish strong,” York said. “There is certainly no better way to do this than inviting all of our listeners, who are able to make the trip, to the Country Squire for the grand finale of the show in a Pipe Pilgrimage like no other!” York explained, “we’ll have music, share stories, and record the final episode of Country Squire Radio together, all while enjoying a one of a kind Pipe Tobacco and BBQ pairing of epic proportions.” The Country Squire Radio Finale will be held at the Country Squire, Tobacconist in Jackson, MS Saturday, March 4th. Tickets are on sale today at The Country Squire Tobacconist (thecountrysquireonline.com) For more information, visit CountrySquireRadio.com or listen to the latest podcast “Episode 490: The Time Has Come” from Country Squire Radio (Country Squire Radio on Apple Podcasts)
- January 17, 2023 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 540
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 540! Our featured interview tonight is with Pete Prevost. Pete is a pipe maker and the President of the BriarWorks pipe factory in Columbia Tennessee. BriarWorks is a a pipe maker co-op with several other pipe makers, including Todd Johnson, who co-founded it with Pete. Brian and Pete will be talking about that as well as the up-coming 2023 Muletown Pipe Show which is held at BriarWorks. In a past life, Pete was the guitar player in the band Sanctus Real. Our music segment will feature one of their Grammy-nominated songs. At the top of the show, Brian will give us his comparisons between three different vintages of Sutliff’s Kringle Flake tobacco from the last three years. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!
- January 10, 2023 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 539
Welcome to The Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 539! Our featured interview tonight is with Matthew McCranie. Matthew is the third generation from McCranie’s pipe and tobacco shop in Charlotte, NC. Matthew tells us of the founding of McCranie’s by his grandfather in 1979. There’s a fun Florida connection including inspiration from Edward’s Pipe & Tobacco in Tampa, and some streets named McCranie in Lakeland. We’ll also hear about McCranie’s long-running, highly popular tobaccos, and how things have evolved from the early days. At the top of the show, Brian will give us a recap of his pipe trading from the Chicago and Columbus pipe shows. Sit back, relax with your pipe, and enjoy The Pipes Magazine Radio Show!