Monday, September 10, 2012

Cigar Smoking Picasso Style

Pablo Picasso, an artist who needs no introduction, was a smoker--he smoked pipes, cigars, and cigarettes--and on occasion the cigar shows up in some of his paintings.  In this instance, in a painting entitled Fumeur a l'Épée (Smoker with a Sword, sometimes also known as the Matador), Picasso shows a swordsman, very possibly a Matador, smoking what appears to be a cigar.

As for the painting, I will let it speak for itself.

Monday, August 13, 2012

St. Holger's Cigar Club

You will notice that the blog has a new name, and this new name has a history.  Originally, this cigar club was  started by Fr. James, priest at the parish at St. Helena of the True Cross.  Later, Fr. James was transferred to Our Lady of Guadalupe (OLG) parish, so we called the club St. HOLG as a sort of blended acronym.  We have decided to "neutralize" the name of the club so that it is not attached to any particular parish.  At first, our idea was to create a fictitious saint, a cigar-smoking, tobacco-carrying, wine-toting saint: imagine something sort of like a Chesterton or Belloc.  But then we thought it might be wiser to use a real saint's name, so the name St. Holger was chosen.  St. Holger (also known as Ogier, Oger, Otger, Autchar, Autgarius, Auctarius, Otgarius, Oggerius, Othergus).  There are actually at least two "saints" by that name, though one is apparently more legendary than historical, and the other more historical than legendary.

St. Holger the Dane (Holger Danske or Ogier de Danemarche), Bullfinch's Mythology tell us, was son of Geoffroy, and it was he (Geoffroy) who wrested Denmark from the Pagans and became the first Christian king of the Danes.  Holger the Dane became one of Charlemagne's palladins, and is mentioned in that famous chansons de geste known about the Battle of Roncevaux known as the Song of Roland.  There may be some truth, however, to his existence, inasmuch as there is a chronicle from St. Martin's monastery in Cologne, that asserts that the monastery was rebuilt after being pillaged by the Saxons in 778 by a certain "Ogerus, dux Daniae," Holger the duke of the Danes, with the help of Charlemagne.  St. Holger the Dane's sword was called Curtana, which, one would think, would make a good name for a cigar.   Some legends developed where St. Holger was adverse to Charlemagne and his Germanic/Frankish influences, for example placing him with the Lombards and against Charlemagne.  This narrative has it that he eventually submitted to Charlemagne and joined a Benedictine monastery, St. Faro at Meaux.  Eventually, our St. Holger became the "El Cid" of Denmark, and became the national symbol of Denmark's resistance to Nazi Germany.  There is a marvelous statute of St. Holger the Dane by H. P. Pedersen-Dan at the Kronborg   Castle in Denmark.

The other less-legendary, more historical figure is known as St. Holger or St. Otger.  This St. Holger was from Utrecht.  He was a deacon and was the companion of St. Wiro, a Catholic bishop, and St. Plechelmus.  He was a consummate evangelizer, is considered essential in spreading the Gospel to the Dutch people, and died around 739 A.D.

St. Holger (Otger) of Utrecht

St. Odgerus (St. Holger) with his companion saints, St. Wiro, and St. Plechelmus.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey Cigar Smoke

Note very carefully  the fifty shades of grey coming from G. K. Chesterton's lit cigar on the ashtray.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Smoking Priests

It is, of course, enjoyable on occasion to be confirmed by the men in cloth that cigar smoking is--in moderation--not only not a vice, but perhaps even conducive to virtue.  This was not always the case.

Here are some modern Catholic clerics who engage in the fine art of cigar smoking.

Fr. H Setter, St. Mary's Church, Derby, Kansas
"I don't know about you, but I think it's time to light one up!"
"Remember . . . keep your smoking holy!"

Fr. Josef Farrugia, Vienna.
"Sometimes a cigar is better than incense"
"Manchmal sind Zigarren besser als Weihrauch"

Augustinian Canon Manfred Hofians of the Klosterneuburg Monastery.
"A cigar is like a conversation with a woman.  Cigars help me to bear the privations of celibacy."

Fr. Philip Cascia (deceased), St. Anthony's Parish, Connecticut.

Prelate Professor Dr. Alfred Sammer
His motto: "ora et fuma," pray and smoke.

There are others for whom I have not found pictures, including Maximilian Timothy Heffron, who is the "Fumarius" of his monastery.  Additionally the German Dominican Wolfgan Ockenfels (Trier) smokes six half-Toscanos per day and he uses his ethical whiles (he is an ethicist) to persuade other that there is a vice in not smoking cigars.  For Ockenfels, smoking has a "symbolic religious meaning," and he believes that they may have a role in Heaven (and their absence a role in Purgatory). Archbishop Reinhard Marx from Munich is supposed to be enjoy a nice cigar and red wine.

Of course, those at St.HOLGS are blessed to have their own smoking priest, Fr. James Farfaglia who is both our heart and our brain and our cigar smoking hero:

 Fr. James Farfaglia, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Corpus Christi, Texas
Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchizedek

This information and the photographs is derived from European Cigar Cult Journal (2009)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Defense of Urinals and Pissing Against the Wall

News just recently hit the internet that the U.S. Navy’s new class of air craft carriers—the Ford Class carriers—are going to be designed without urinals.  Which highly-placed Naval bureaucrat made this decision has not been disclosed—probably for his (her?) own safety’s sake.  It is said that the change is intended to improve the sailors’ quality of life, but it is difficult to see how removing urinals is much of a benefit to men, who, of course, represent the vast majority of persons on carriers.  

This move is—alas, I fear—motivated by latent, or perhaps not so latent, misandry.  It might be motivated by political correctness gone amok.  It could also be motivated by an effort to feminize the Navy, in line with the general tendency toward the feminization of society and anti-Christian animus.  Finally, an particularly ominously, it could be some incipient Islamism—the first sign of dhimittude rearing its ugly head as we accommodate to the urination practices of the Muslims.  In any event, this latest assault on the tradition of urinals is something which, I believe, must be resisted: for the sake of urinals and for the sake of men and the virtues of masculinity.  Conservatism of our mores and our culture demand it.  Indeed, it may be required for the preservation of our Christian manliness.

This move against urinals should be fought on artistic grounds.  We should do everything we can to recruit the aesthete on our side.  Urinals are beautiful.  They are a mainstay of serious art.  For example, Marcel Duchamp’s piece Fountain (1917) was nothing but a sideway-placed urinal signed “R. Mutt 1917.”  Many—including the German literary critic Peter Bürger who wrote Theory of the Avant-Garde (1974), so he must know—consider Duchamp’s piece a vanguard of the avant-garde, which though it sounds like a tautology is not really a tautology.  The value of the urinal has been recognized by the avant-garde, and so it has had to be defended from those who have tried to gain fame by urinating on its or by destroying it.  Additionally, Marcel Duchamp approved the making of a number of replicas in the 1960s, which can now be seen in a number of museums around the world.  Given the fact that the urinal has been used for art, we might suggest that the bureaucrat who made the decision not to put urinals on the Ford class carriers is nothing but a philistine.  

Indeed, we can go further.  Goethe stated that a philistine “not only ignores all manners of life which are not his (her) own, but he (she) also demands that the rest of mankind should fashion its mode of existence after his (her) own way.”  The philistine in Goethe’s day argued that it was foolishness to suggest the need for horse and carriage because he (she) had feet.*  Likewise, the modern philistine argues that it’s foolishness to suggest the need for a urinal because God has given him (her) a . . . . [censored].

The urinal has been embraced by other artists.  Ernest Hemingway—the man who wrote the Old Man and the Sea, for example, converted a urinal from the famous Sloppy Joe’s bar—a bastion for free thinkers and drinkers in the age of Prohibition, and a place he frequented and whose urinals he as frequently used—into a water fountain for his cats, from which even now they drink.  So Hemingway preserves urinals for his cats, but our Navy cannot preserve urinals for its sea dogs?  I think our unimaginative fellow (fella) bureaucrat at the Navy could learn a thing or to from the free-thinking Hemingway.

This latest attack on urinals is nothing other than part of a pattern which—I fear—is accelerating.  As an example of this, one might point to the famous street urinals in Paris—the so-called vespasiennes.  In the 1930s, there were 1200 of these in service, and up until the 1990s these urinals were a sufficiently common site throughout the city.  However, progressively these male-oriented vespasiennes were replaced with unisex Sanisettes--the name sounds hideous, like a receptacle for sanitary napkins.  Today, there is only a lone vespasienne remaining in the entire city of Paris—on boulevard Arago—and it is still used by hearty, biblical men.  

There are some pockets of hope.  I don't want to be a Debbie (Dick, Peter, Jimmy, Johnson) Downer.  The Dutch seem to buck the trend a bit, they have some very attractive pissoirs situated throughout their cities which are self-cleaning and are on hydraulic lifts, so that they can be hid at the touch of a button.  London and Belfast have followed the lead of the Dutch and—in an apparent effort to cater to the manly drinkers at the pubs—have placed these high-tech “Urilift” urinals in strategic areas.  The enlightened mayor of Marikina City in the Philippines Bayani Fernando installed some delightfully pink street urinals in his city,** and, when appointed chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, he installed the urinals in the capital.  Now, here’s a real manly Statesman!  A man who relieves himself in a pink urinal is very secure in his masculinity!

The banning of urinals from the U.S. Navy Ford class carriers is also deeply anti-Scriptural.  Moderns have already “cleansed” our Scripture from the references to men as “those who pisseth against the walls.”  The modern translations disguise it.  Compare, e.g.,as I do below for you, the New American Standard Bible with the old Douay Rheims (which in this regard mimics the King James).  This seems part of a demonic plot.  First, sever the Biblical tie between pissing against the wall and manhood.  Second, sever the cultural tie between pissing against the wall and manhood.  

τάδε ποιήσαι ὁ θεὸς τῷ δαυιδ καὶ τάδε προσθείη εἰ ὑπολείψομαι ἐκ πάντων τῶν τοῦ ναβαλ ἕως πρωὶ οὐροῦντα πρὸς τοῖχον

כֹּה־יַעֲשֶׂה אֱלֹהִים לְאֹיְבֵי דָוִד וְכֹה יֹסִיף אִם־אַשְׁאִיר מִכָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לֹו עַד־הַבֹּקֶר מַשְׁתִּין בְּקִיר׃

haec faciat Deus inimicis David et haec addat si reliquero de omnibus quae ad eum pertinent usque mane mingentem ad parietem

May God do so and so, and add more to the foes of David, if I leave of all that belong to him till the morning, any that pisseth against the wall.

1 Samuel 25:22.

Now look at the modern translation (New American Bible):

May God do thus and so to David, if by morning I leave a single male alive among all those who belong to him.

Another example of this vicious trend:

πλὴν ὅτι ζῇ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ισραηλ ὃς ἀπεκώλυσέν με σήμερον τοῦ κακοποιῆσαί σε ὅτι εἰ μὴ ἔσπευσας καὶ παρεγένου εἰς ἀπάντησίν μοι τότε εἶπα εἰ ὑπολειφθήσεται τῷ ναβαλ ἕως φωτὸς τοῦ πρωὶ οὐρῶν πρὸς τοῖχον

וְאוּלָם חַי־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר מְנָעַנִי מֵהָרַע אֹתָךְ כִּי לוּלֵי מִהַרְתְּ [כ וַתָּבֹאתִי] [ק וַתָּבֹאת] לִקְרָאתִי כִּי אִם־נֹותַר לְנָבָל עַד־אֹור הַבֹּקֶר מַשְׁתִּין בְּקִיר׃

alioquin vivit Dominus Deus Israhel qui prohibuit me malum facere tibi nisi cito venisses in occursum mihi non remansisset Nabal usque ad lucem matutinam mingens ad parietem

Otherwise as the Lord liveth the God of Israel, who hath withholden me from doing thee any evil: if thou hadst not quickly come to meet me, there had not been left to Nabal by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.

1 Sam. 25:34
Now look at the modern emasculation:

Otherwise, as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from harming you, if you had not come so promptly to meet me, by dawn Nabal would not have had a single man or boy left alive.

Without question, the Hebrew, the Greek Septuagint, and the Latin Vulgate are correctly and literally translated by the Douay Rheims.

Other scriptures that identify men as those who "pisseth against the wall" are 1 Kings 14:10, 16:11, 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8.

Finally, we must fight against the demise of urinals because it is incipient Islamism.  Many in the West do not know, but urinals are a Western invention. Except in extreme circumstances (necessity is a defense), Muslims are encouraged to follow the example of their "prophet" who urinated in a manner contrary to the men of the Jewish (and Christian) Scriptures.  One of his wives--his favorite A'isha--relates in a hadith considered authentic (sahih): "Whoever tells you that the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah upon him) used to urinate standing up, do not believe him.  He only ever used to urinate sitting down."  

Christian men! Western men! Traditional men! Cultured men!  Unite to save the Urinal!

*“Der Philister negiert nicht nur andere Zustände, als der seinige ist, er will auch, daß alle übrigen Menschen auf seine Weise existieren sollen. Er geht zu Fuß und ist sein Leben lang zu Fuß gegangen. Nun sieht er jemand in einem Wagen fahren. "Was das für eine Narrheit ist", ruft er aus, "zu fahren, sich dahinschleppen zu lassen von Pferden! Hat der Kerl nicht Beine? Wozu sind den die Beine anders als zum Gehen? Wenn wir fahren sollten, würde uns Gott keine Beine gegeben haben."  Letter to Rimer, Aug. 18, 1807.  
**The pink color is genius.  It helps disguise the pink urinal cakes.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Difference between a bird with a cigar and a cigar with a bird

The pictures below show the difference between a cigar with a bird and a bird with a cigar:

Cigar with a bird

Bird with a cigar

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Crack Shot and a Good Smoke

Happy Fourth of July all you Brothers of the Leaf!  Thought you all might enjoy an old postcard of Uncle Sam resting on the Fourth of July with a huge stogie in his mouth and a long-barreled rifle aimed at some threatening enemy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Smokin' an' Writin' fer da Pope

BOTL: I stumbled across this article in the "Culture" section of L'Osservatore Roman.  You can find the original here, but I have cut and pasted it because of its unusual content.  The story is about Antonietta Klitsche de la Grange, the first female writer for the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.  (A novelist, she wrote a type of fictional series a la Honore de Balzac.)  She smoked cigars, which is unusual.  It is a shame that this was not given greater emphasis in the piece.
The first woman to write for the Osservatore Romano

Smoked cigars
and wrote for the Pope

Antonietta Klitsche de la GrangeWho knows if Guido Reni will manage to rid himself of the vice of gambling and if Baldo, his youngest and most fragile student, will understand in time the plot of Madam Vittoria and her daughter Alberica, before he is trapped in an unhappy marriage? These are some of the questions that today, 144 years later, make one quickly scroll down the digital pages of the archives, just as they did in January 1867 for readers of L'Osservatore Romano who immediately looked to the bottom of the front page for their favourite Soap Opera (ante litteram), An Episode in the Life of Guido Reni, by Antonietta Klitsche de la Grange.
A reading of our newspaper from a century and a half ago reserves many surprises: ads for balsams, cosmetics and hair dye, Russian stocks, second-hand gigs, steam boat trips on the Nile in Upper Egypt, lotteries to finance the missions and charitable works, besides serial stories which aimed to attract new readers and make them faithful to the paper.
Indeed, the so-called “fogliettone”, or “serial story” (from the French feuilleton), considered a lesser genreand found at the bottom of the page, was introduced by Honoré de Balzac. In 1831 he considered it a good means of creating suspense before a book's publication. Thanks to the custom of serial stories published in newspapers and magazines, works such as Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, Mystères de Parisby Eugène Sue or The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, were born.
Glancing through the minute and sometimes wobbly print of L'Osservatore of the 1800s, the lively and quick prose of the author brings to life stories about the bad guys mercilessly enact their wicked plans and the good ones confront the troubles of life with courage and a spirit of sacrifice, “sublime in content, firm in pain”; two-dimensional characters, without real artistic value, who, however, manage to capture the attention of the reader through freshness of dialogue and a good plot.
The smug smile of the modern reader in front of the ingenuous 18th century-prose soon gives way to the curiosity to learn simply “how it is going to end”. Will the crafty Alberica, a social climber without scruples, succeed? Or will the young and beautiful Stefania, whose naivety stretches the limits of obtuseness and who was shielded from the dark plots of the Tibaldi da Renzi family, get the upper hand? Stefania is the fiancée of Baldo, the most promising of Guido Reni's students, who from the beginning was in love with her but ready to give her up in order not to betray the friendship of his young colleague, who a few years earlier had introduced him to the Bolognese Master's studio.
Dialogues and action scenes enrich the long descriptions of glimpses into 17th-century Rome and in accordance with Horace's delectando docere. These descriptions do not lack references to paintings and works of art which readers in the mid-18th century could see in the churches of their city, complete with precise foot notes. The dated vocabulary and the archaic style take nothing from her capacity to “hook” readers and hold their attention for long periods of time.
Antonietta Klitsche de la Grange claimed she wrote quickly without re-reading the text (“she dictated her stories to the first literate person she found, or jotted down her thoughts as they came, and considered re-reading and editing a kind of handicap or admission of incapability”, her great-grandson, Rodolfo Palieri, noted with a dose of irony). In fact, the dialogue often retains that sense of just having been spoken.
From her pen, some 40 novels came, published in installments in periodicals such as “The Friend of Families”, and “Arcadia”, (signed with a pseudonym, Asteria Cidonia) and later published in volumes by Vigoni.
An Episode in the Life of Guido Reni marked the beginning of her collaboration with L'Osservatore Romano on 2 January 1867; that the writer was to continue for a long time by sending in stories fromLeone, the Bricklayer to A Fatal Romance. Her biography, too, reads like a novel: granddaughter of Luigi Federico Cristiano di Hohenzollern (known to historians as Luigi Ferdinando) and Maria Adelaide de la Grange, daughter of Teodoro Klitsche de la Grange, who came to Rome to serve under Pius ix after the Battle of Waterloo and subsequently became Brigade Commander of the King’s troops in Naples.
Antonietta (described as “a tall, valkyrie brunette with strong features and dark eyes”) fell in love, reciprocally, with the Papal Zouave, Emanuel de Fournel, a French official who, however, died shortly thereafter, with his brother in the combat in Viterbo. From that moment, Antonietta considered herself, “a widow, abandoning forever any idea of marriage” and Palieri adds, “like George Sand, she began to smoke cigars” spending much of her life, “between the mines and the forests of Tolfa”, in Allumiere, where her brother Adolfo, a geologist and archeologist, lived.
In accordance with her last wishes, the inscription on her tombstone in the cemetery of Verano, Rome, reads: “Lived unmarried, wrote much, suffered greatly and now happily reposes in God”.

Nobody who has an abstract standard of right and wrong can possibly think it wrong to smoke a cigar.

The following essay by G. K. Chesterton is entitled "On American Morals."  In it, he distinguishes between custom and convention and moral principles.  He takes to task an article by Miss Avis D. Carlson who viewed smoking and tobacco (and drinking) as an evil without ever considering whether it was evil as a result of an unthinking [Puritan-derived] convention, or whether it was in fact evil based upon moral principles.  Based upon moral principles, and not relying on mere convention, G. K. Chesterton insists that smoking cigars cannot be considered wrong.  I have underlined some portions of the article for those who want to get to the meat.

America is sometimes offered to us, even by Americans (who ought to know better), as a moral example. There are indeed very real American virtues; but this virtuous attitude is hardly one of them. And if anyone wants to know what a welter of weakness and inconsequence the moral mind of America can sometimes be, he may be advised to look, not so much to the Crime Wave or the Charleston, as to the serious idealistic essays by highbrows and cultural critics, such as one by Miss Avis D. Carlson on "Wanted: A Substitute for Righteousness."* By righteousness she means, of course, the narrow New England taboos; but she does not know it. For the inference she draws is that we should recognize frankly that "the standard abstract right and wrong is moribund." This statement will seem less insane if we consider, somewhat curiously, what the standard abstract right and wrong seems to mean--at least in her section of the States. It is a glimpse of an incredible world. 

G. K. Chesterton with cigar in hand

She takes the case of a young man brought up "in a home where there was an attempt to make dogmatic cleavage of right and wrong." And what was the dogmatic cleavage? Ah, what indeed! His elders told him that some things were right and some wrong; and for some time he accepted this strange assertion. But when he leaves home he finds that, "apparently perfectly nice people do the things he has been taught to think evil." Then follows a revelation. "The flowerlike girl he envelops in a mist of romantic idealization smokes like an imp from the lower regions and pets like a movie vamp. The chum his heart yearns towards cultivates a hip-flask, etc." And this is what the writer calls a dogmatic cleavage between right and wrong! 

The standard of abstract right and wrong apparently is this. That a girl by smoking a cigarette makes herself one of the company of the fiends of hell. That such an action is much the same as that of a sexual vampire. That a young man who continues to drink fermented liquor must necessarily be "evil" and must deny the very existence of any difference between right and wrong. That is the "standard of abstract right and wrong" that is apparently taught in the American home. And it is perfectly obvious, on the face of it, that it is not a standard of abstract right or wrong at all. That is exactly what it is not. That is the very last thing any clear-headed person would call it. It is not a standard; it is not abstract; it has not the vaguest notion of what is meant by right and wrong. It is a chaos of social and sentimental accidents and associations, some of them snobbish, all of them provincial, but, above all, nearly all of them concrete and connected with a materialistic prejudice against particular materials. To have a horror of tobacco is not to have an abstract standard of right; but exactly the opposite. It is to have no standard of right whatever; and to make certain local likes and dislikes as a substitute. We need not be very surprised if the young man repudiates these meaningless vetoes as soon as he can; but if he thinks he is repudiating morality, he must be almost as muddle-headed as his father. And yet the writer in question calmly proposes that we should abolish all ideas of right and wrong, and abandon the whole human conception of a standard of abstract justice, because a boy in Boston cannot be induced to think that a nice girl is a devil when she smokes a cigarette. 

If the rising generation were faced with no worse doubts and difficulties than this, it would not be very difficult to reconcile them to the traditions of truth and justice. But I think the episode is worth mentioning, merely because it throws a ray of light on the moral condition of American Culture, in the decay of Puritanism. And when next we are told that the idealism of America is to set a "standard" by which England must transform herself, it will be well to remember what is apparently meant by a standard and an ideal; and that the fire of idealism seems both to begin and end in smoke. 

Incidentally, I must say I can bear witness to this queer taboo about tobacco. Of course numberless Americans smoke numberless cigars; a great many others eat cigars, which seems to me a more occult pleasure. But there does exist an extraordinary idea that ethics are involved in some way; and many who smoke really disapprove of smoking. I remember once receiving two American interviewers on the same afternoon; there was a box of cigars in front of me and I offered one to each in turn. Their reaction (as they would probably call it) was very curious to watch. The first journalist stiffened suddenly and silently and declined in a very cold voice. He could not have conveyed more plainly that I had attempted to corrupt an honorable man with a foul and infamous indulgence; as if I were the Old Man of the Mountain offering him hashish that would turn him into an assassin. The second reaction was even more remarkable. The second journalist first looked doubtful; then looked sly; then seemed to glance about him nervously, as if wondering whether we were alone, and then said with a sort of crestfallen and covert smile: "Well, Mr. Chesterton, I'm afraid I have the habit." 

As I also have the habit, and have never been able to imagine how it could be connected with morality or immorality, I confess that I plunged with him deeply into an immoral life. In the course of our conversation, I found he was otherwise perfectly sane. He was quite intelligent about economics or architecture; but his moral sense seemed to have entirely disappeared. He really thought it rather wicked to smoke. He had no "standard of abstract right or wrong"; in him it was not merely moribund; it was apparently dead. But anyhow, that is the point and that is the test. Nobody who has an abstract standard of right and wrong can possibly think it wrong to smoke a cigar. But he had a concrete standard of particular cut and dried customs of a particular tribe. Those who say Americans are largely descended from the American Indians might certainly make a case out of the suggestion that this mystical horror of material things is largely a barbaric sentiment. The Red Indian is said to have tried and condemned a tomahawk for committing a murder. In this case he was certainly the prototype of the white man who curses a bottle because too much of it goes into a man. Prohibition is sometimes praised for its simplicity; on these lines it may be equally condemned for its savagery. But I myself do not say anything so absurd as that Americans are savages; nor do I think it would matter much if they were descended from savages. It is culture that counts and not ethnology; and the culture that is concerned here derives indirectly rather from New England than from Old America. Whatever it derives from, however, this is the thing to be noted about it: that it really does not seem to understand what is meant by a standard of right and wrong. It is a vague sentimental notion that certain habits were not suitable to the old log cabin or the old hometown. It has a vague utilitarian notion that certain habits are not directly useful in the new amalgamated stores or the new financial gambling-hell. If his aged mother or his economic master dislikes to see a young man hanging about with a pipe in his mouth, the action becomes a sin; or the nearest that such a moral philosophy can come to the idea of a sin. A man does not chop wood for the log hut by smoking; and a man does not make dividends for the Big Boss by smoking; and therefore smoking has a smell as of something sinful. Of what the great theologians and moral philosophers have meant by a sin, these people have no more idea than a child drinking milk has of a great toxicologist analyzing poisons. It may be a credit of their virtue to be thus vague about vice. The man who is silly enough to say, when offered a cigarette, "I have no vices," may not always deserve the rapier-thrust of the reply given by the Italian Cardinal, "It is not a vice, or doubtless you would have it." But at least the Cardinal knows it is not a vice; which assists the clarity of his mind. But the lack of clear standards among those who vaguely think of it as a vice may yet be the beginning of much peril and oppression. My two American journalists, between them, may yet succeed in adding the sinfulness of cigars to the other curious things now part of the American Constitution. 

I would therefore venture to say to Miss Avis Carlson that the quarrel in question does not arise from the Yankee Puritans having too much morality, but from their having too little. It does not arise from their drawing too hard and fast a line of distinction between right and wrong, but from their being much to loose and indistinct. They go by associations and not by abstractions. Therefore they classify smoking with vamping or a flask in the pocket with sin in the soul. I hope at least that some of the Fundamentalists will succeed in being a little more fundamental than this. The men of Tennessee are supposed to be very anxious to draw the line between men and monkeys. They are also supposed by some to be rather too anxious to draw the line between black men and white men. May I be allowed to hope that they will succeed in drawing a rather more logical line between bad men and good men? Something of the the difference and the difficulty may be seen by comparing the old Ku Klux Klan with the new Klu Klux Klan. The old secret society may have been justified or not; but it had a definite object: it was directed against somebody. The new secret society seems to have been directed against anybody; often against anybody who drank; in time, for all I know, against anybody who smoked. It is this sort of formless fanaticism that is the great danger of the American Temperament; and it is well to insist that if men must persecute, they will be more clear-headed if they persecute for a creed

*Avis D. Carlson was a contributor to Harper's Magazine.  You can read the cited article here.  Biographical information on her may be found here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Literati cum sigaro--Evelyn Waugh and Cigars

In our frenetic effort to justify our vice, we have tried to invoke other cigar smokers as a sort of foil against any incipient anti-matter Manicheeism or hyper-rigorous Jansenism.  Why, against such as these, and with Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton, and many others, the holding of a cigar in hand is virtual proof of Orthodoxy (except that--alas--a lot of heretics, even unbelievers, also smoke cigars).  While our group does not have unbelievers, we do have what in our group what we would not-so-ecumenically call our heretics.  But we love our heretics, and our group would suffer were they not in fellowship with us.  Besides, of all heretics, drinking and cigar-smoking heretics are the best kind, and that's the only kind we allow on our campus.  

Alas, smoking a cigar is not communicatio in sacris, but it is a communicatio in sigaris, a weak analogue, but an analogue nevertheless.  We think that maybe the horrible Thirty Years' War could have been avoided had Luther and Cajetan smoked a stogie together instead of battling it out at the Diet of Augsburg.  You will note in the depiction below, that the then-Augustinian friar Luther and the Dominican-friar Cajetan were not smoking cigars.

But this posting is not about Luther or Cajetan, it is about the cigar-smoking habits of a Catholic novelist known as Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966).  Evelyn Waugh's most famous or at least most popular works include Decline and Fall, A Handful of Dust, and perhaps the most famous, Brideshead Revisited (1945).   Evelyn Waugh was not raised Catholic; rather, he converted to the Faith at the relatively young age of 27 in 1930.  He was a traditionalist, and found himself frequently fighting against the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.  (He would have referred to our cigar-smoking "separated brethren" as "heretics".)  Politically, he was also quite conservative, and was most disdainful of the modern welfare State.  

In fact, in one of his novels, Brideshead Revisited, he mentions the Partagas brand by name ("the box of a hundred cabinet Partagas on the sideboard"), a mention of which the Partagas Company is very proud.  But for all his faults (and he had many), Waugh loved cigars.  He is said to have stated the following: "The most futile and disastrous day seems well spent when it is reviewed through the blue, fragrant smoke of a Havana Cigar."  Well, that may be.  But better yet, it would seem, is not to review such a "futile and disastrous day," but rather to forget it in the company of friends, even if they be heretics, and the "fragrant smoke of a Havana Cigars."  In one of his letters, he observes how he bought a complete set of Max Beerbohm (that's different from a Beer Bong or Beer Pong, in case you're wondering) and "am re-reading him all day in bed-room slippers with a big fire & a box of Havana cigars sent me from the USA so life is not all as beastly."  

His habit was pretty prodigious.  He stated in his diary that he had had a good year in 1942 (at age 39) inasmuch as he had "begotten a fine daughter, published a successful book, drunk 300 bottles of wine, and smoked 300 or more Havana cigars."

There are many more mentions of cigars in his letters and in his diaries, but I'll get to those and anthologize them ONLY if I am given 300 bottles of wine and 300 or more Havana cigars (and his diaries and letters) by some enterprising cigar aficionado.

But enough, here's a photo of Waugh, somewhere in France, cum sigaro:

The sign on the gate (which is in French) says: "Entry Prohibited to Walkers," which I suppose means that entry was not prohibited to cigar smokers who ran, jogged, skipped, rode bicycles, unicycles, horses, or ostriches.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Smoking is Healther than Fascism

Recently, during writing an article on Memorial Day, I Googled the phrase "dulce et decorum est pro patria mori," so that I could confirm its authorship (Horace).  (The phrase, which comes from one of Horace's Odes II.2.13 means "it is sweet and noble to die for one's country.")  In the Wikipedia article, I noticed that the noble words had been humorously co-opted into a drinking song:
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori,
Sed dulcius pro patria vivere,
Et dulcissimum pro patria bibere.
Ergo, bibamus pro salute patriae.

It is sweet and right to died for the homeland,
But it is sweeter to live for the homeland,
And it is sweetest to drink for it.
Therefore, let us drink to the health of the homeland.
This was obviously written by a man who did not smoke cigars.  Accordingly, it needs to be adapted.  And here goes:

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori,
Sed dulcius pro patria vivere,
Et dulcissimum pro patria bibere et fumare.
Ergo, bibamus et fumamus pro salute patriae.

It is sweet and right to died for the homeland,
But it is sweeter to live for the homeland,
And it is sweetest to drink and smoke for it.
Therefore, let us drink and smoke to the health of the homeland.
By writing these lines, I do not mean to deprecate the memory of the fallen.  We should honor the fallen who have sacrificed their lives in our defense.  Without the sacrifice of those who defend this country, we would not have the ability to have our Monday herfs.  So let us drink and smoke to the health of our homeland, but drink and smoke first to those who gave their lives so that our homeland may be healthy.

And remember, smoking is healthier than fascism!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Life's Like a Cigar: "And like tobacco--you--to ashes turn."

I offer our readers a poem about cigars which compares the fleeting smoke to our fleeting lives. It is written by a largely unknown German philosopher, theologian, and writer, Christoph Weißenborn (1699-1731). There is not much biographical material on the internet regarding him; however, I am quite sure that he was a Lutheran by confession.  This goes to show that cigar smoking is valuable ecumenical device, as it encourages of dialogue, builds camaraderie, and, if our friend Weißenborn is followed, helps promote reflection and contemplation.

I stumbled upon a poem attributed to him sort of accidentally:

Betrachtet man den flüchtgen Rauch,
so muß man als ein Christ gestehen.
Wir müssen endlich eben auch,
wenn Zeit und Stunde kommt, vergehen.
Und steigt der Mensch gleich noch so hoch
und wär der größte auf der Erden,
so muß der Leib doch endlich noch
wie du, Tabak, zu Asche werden.

 The poem is quoted in Georg Böse, Im blaue Dunst: eine Klutrgeschichte des Rauchens. I have provided a (very) rough translation.

Consider one might the fleeting smoke,
Indeed, as Christians we ought consider
Just like we also should invoke
That time and hours are here and hither
And though you as man may rise so high
To be the greatest on our earthly sojourn,
So must your body's end draw nigh
And like tobacco--you--to ashes turn.

Christoph Weißenborn (1699-1731)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Errrr, a tongue tied cigar

I found this Spanish tongue twister on the internet.

Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barril,
Rápido corren los carros cargados de azúcar del ferrocarril.

 Translated one might render it thus:

"R" with an "r" cigar, "r" with an "r" barrel,
Rapid run the rail cars carrying the railroad's sugar.

Holy Smokes!

We have struggled to find a photograph of St. Pius X, our heavenly patron, smoking a cigar. It is reputed or rumored that he smoked sigari toscani, tuscan cigars, and had a humidor. I have not been able to prove this by contemporary evidence or by photographic evidence. 

 I do have another additional piece of evidence we may cite to in our constant effort at rationalization or justification of our little habit. In this instance, I would point to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. Although I have not been able to find a photograph of Blessed Pier smoking a cigar, I have found one where he is clearly enjoying a pipe. However, in his biography by Luciana Frassati, we have quite convincing proof that our Blessed Pier smoked and enjoyed cigars, a habit he acquired--hard to believe--from his cigar-smoking mom!
[Pier] had also learned to appreciate the strong smell of tobacco.  Neither my father nor I [says his sister and biographer] was permitted to express annoyance at that cloud of smoke, and, if I complained, Mama retorted by calling me "delicate," a sure sign of contempt.  Proud of his smoking mother, a custom unusual among women, my brother [Pier] tried a cigar in the garden at Pollone with his inseparable friend Camillo Banzatti.  Banzatti felt ill after a few puffs, whereas Pier Giorgio stood the test brilliantly.  Much later he became a placid smoker of Tuscan cigars (the cheapest and smelliest Italian cigars).  If anyone asked him the reason for his bad taste, he replied: "Even my mother smokes Tuscans."  Or he proudly explained the origin of his innocent vice by saying: "My mother smoked over me when I was being fed at the breast."
(Luciana Frassati, A Man of the Beatitudes ( San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), 68 (Dinah Livingstone, trans.).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Religious Smoking and Drinking

In our constant effort to justify our cigar-smoking pecadillos, which invariably is tied to a little bit of imbibing, we have invoked Pope St. Pius X (reputedly a smoker, though I have no photographic evidence of same), Pope Pius IX (and his cigar-making factory), etc.  In prior posts, we have also mentioned some tobacco-using saints, for example, the English martyr-priest St. John Kemble, the Mexican martyr-priest, San Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez.  There is, of course, ample examples of cigar smoking Catholics, including some of our top intellects and literary giants such as G. K. Chesteron and Hilaire Belloc.

Continuing in that self-justifcatory vein, I thought I would invoke the witness of the German artist Eduard von Grützner (1846–1925).  This artist was famed for his genre paints of monks and other religious, often depicted in more jovial moods, holding up a claret to the light, sniffing a wine's the bouquet, taking a big swig of a liter of German Pilsner, or, even smoking a cigar.  We find Grützner depicting secular priests, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans, even . . . on occasion, a Prince of the Church.

 A Capuchin Friar Enjoying a Fine Cigar and a Beer

 A Cardinal Enjoying a Wine's Bouquet

 A Dominican Friar Admiring the Clarity of the Wine

 Dominican Friar Admiring the Vintage

 Dominican Friar Toasting

 Secular Priest Admiring a Claret

"The Catastrophe"

Grützner was born to a Catholic family in Groß-Karlowitz near the town of Neiße, in Upper Silesia, an area that is now Poland. Grützner displayed his artistic ability when very young.  The village parson encouraged the development of the talent, and enabled him to attend the grammar school of Gymnasium in Neiße.  The parson then sent Grützner to Hermann Dyck's private school in Munich in 1864, and this enabled Grützner to study drawing in the city of Munich. Other teachers that influenced Grützner included Hiltensperger and Strähuber.

In 1865 Grützner finally joined Hermann Anschütz's painting class at the Munich Akademie. There he also sought advice and ideas with Carl Theodor von Piloty before being accepted in his class in 1867. Three years later he left the Akademie and moved into his own studio.

Already in his student years--one might turn to his youthful work "Im Klosterkeller" (In the Cloister Cellars)-- focused on depicting monastic life. Most of his scenes depict the merry atmosphere in monastic cellars, kitchens and alehouses in a humorous and anecdotal manner.

Grützner's technique was traditional, in both style and palette. 

Grützner was appointed professor at the Munich Akademie in 1886.  In 1880 he was awarded the Order of Merit of St. Michael (Knight's Cross) first class, and he was knighted in 1916.

In addition to his monastic paintings, Grützner also produced a Falstaff-cycle, theatre and hunting scenes, and studies of interiors. 

Grützner married Barbara Link in 1874, who bore him a daughter, whom they named Barbara. After ten years of marriage, Barbara died.  In 1888, married the much-younger Anna Grützner Wirthmann, from whom he had a son, Karl Eduard.  This second marriage was unhappy, and the younger wife eventually left the artist for a Viennese singer.

Grützner died in 1925 in Munich.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Papal Cigar Factory

There is a sort of neo-Jansenism in Christian circles as to smoking. In our secular society, we are bombarded every day with the evils of smoking, and so we seem to be more concerned about regulating smoking than, say, regulating our sexual mores, our marriages, and so forth. This sort of rigorism has crept into the Church.

Remember, it is not what goes into a man which makes him foul, but what comes out from within. (Matt. 15:11)

In a perhaps more innocent time, tobacco was not seen as the devil's leaf. Indeed, the Pope had his own tobacco plant wherein he manufactured all sorts of tobacco--for snuff, for cigarettes, for pipes, and cigars. 

The building in which the tobacco business was housed still stands. It was known as the New Tobacco Factory because it was where the various tobacco operations were ultimately consolidated. The building, which is found in the Piazza Mastai, was built in 1863. Its architect was Antonio Sarti, and it has a similarity to the Colonnade du Louvre in Paris, though it is actually a narrow building in its seeming grandeur. 

 The Latin inscription, a detail of which I show below (double click on it to make it larger), makes it clear what its purpose was: 


Loosely translated, the the inscription is "Pius IX, Pope. Office of Tobacco Works, Built 1863." Nicotianis foliis means "nicotine leaves," which is clearly a reference to tobacco whose commercial possibilities were introduced to Europe by the French diplomat Jean Nicot. 

 The fountain at the center of the square was designed by Andrea Busiri Vici. As a result of this building, the various various tobacco operations of the Papal States could be consolidated into one place. This was the result of the plans initiated in 1859, by the Pontifical Director of Salt and Tobacco. Eventually, the building was acquired by the Italian government.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Suffer the little children to come to tobacco?

My, my, times have changed. I've just discovered that in the 18th century, a Catholic priest named Abbé Gabriel-Charles de Lattaignant wrote a popular song, "J'ai du bon tabac", "I have good tobacco," which French schoolchildren still sing today.

I have posted the original French, and a translation which is not exact, but which is taken the book Lyra Nicotiana, edited by William Sharp.

J'ai du bon tabac

J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.
J'en ai du fin et du bien râpé,
Mais ce n'est pas pour ton vilain nez !
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.
(Fin du refrain)

Ce refrain connu que chantait mon père,
À ce seul couplet il était borné.
Moi, je me suis déterminé
À le grossir comme mon nez.
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.
Un noble héritier de gentilhommière
Recueille, tout seul, un fief blasonné.

Il dit à son frère puîné Sois abbé, je suis ton aîné.
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.
Un vieil usurier expert en affaire,
Auquel par besoin l'on est amené,
À l'emprunteur infortuné
Dit, après l'avoir ruiné
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.

Juges, avocats, entr'ouvrant leur serre,
Au pauvre plaideur, par eux rançonné,
Après avoir pateliné,
Disent, le procès terminé
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.
D'un gros financier la coquette flaire
Le beau bijou d'or de diamants orné.

Ce grigou, d'un air renfrogné,
Lui dit, malgré son joli nez
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.
Neuperg, se croyant un foudre de guerre,
Est, par Frédéric, assez mal mené.
Le vainqueur qui l'a talonné
Dit à ce Hongrois étonné
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.

 Tel qui veut nier l'esprit de Voltaire,
Est, pour le sentir, trop enchifrené.
Cet esprit est trop raffiné
Et lui passe devant le nez.
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.

Par ce bon Monsieur de Clermont-Tonnerre,
Qui fut mécontent d'être chansonné ;
Menacé d'être bâtonné,
On lui dit, le coup détourné
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.

Voilà dix couplets, cela ne fait guère
Pour un tel sujet bien assaisonné.
Mais j'ai peur qu'un priseur mal né
Ne chante en me riant au nez
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.

I have  good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
 I have good tobacco, but ne'er a rap for thee;
Both fine and rappee, but don't suppose
That they are meant for your poor nose.
For I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
I have good tobacco, both powdered and rappee ;
I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
I have good tobacco, but deil a rap for thee!


I have Good Tobaco

This well-known song which my father sang
Had but one verse when I was young, B
ut I determine and propose
To make it as long as this my nose;
For I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
 I have good tobacco, but deil a rap for thee !

The eldest son of a baron great Inherited the whole estate ;
 Thus to his brother did he say :
"I am the elder — be an abbe!"
For I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
I have good tobacco, but deil a rap for thee!"

A usurer his job completed,
And not a drop is left to skim,
Says to the wretch whom he has cheated,
When he's completely finished him :
"I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
 I have good tobacco, but deil a rap for thee!"

Judges and lawyers with a client,
Whom they have flayed close as they can,
To him, no longer soft and pliant.
They cry, "Be out of this, my man!
For I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
I have good tobacco, but deil a rap for thee!"

An actress had a heart, and set it —
On a diamond brooch a banker wore;
He said, "Don't you wish that you may get it?
But then you won't — of that be sure!
For I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
I have good tobacco, both powdered and rappee
 I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
 I have good tobacco, and deil a rap for thee!"

Those who deny that Voltaire is clever,
Have too bad a cold in the head to smell ;
The perfume will escape them ever.
 Till the catarrh be cured and well;
For he has good tobacco, tobacco in his snuff-box,
He has finely scented, as I can smell and see ;
He has good tobacco, tobacco in his snuff-box,
But if not up to snuff, there's none of it for thee !

Behold eight verses which I offer,
Full many more on the theme might be ;
But I am afraid that some jolly snuffer
May cry aloud, while he laughs at me :
 "I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
I have good tobacco, both powdered and rappee
I have good tobacco, tobacco in my snuff-box,
Very good tobacco, but deil a rap for thee!"

(trans, by Charles Godfrey Leland)

Laird's Papal Faux Pas: Was it Black or White Smoke

Robert M. Gates tells of his most embarrassing moment when he traveled with Nixon and Kissinger and their retinue, including the Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, to Italy to meet with Pope Paul VI.  

 Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and 
General Creighton Abrams Lighting Cigars
An-Hoi Village, South Vietnam (1970)

Melvin Laird was a cigar aficionado, and it was his liking for cigars and his carelessness that caused this diplomatic faux pas.  I will let Gates's speech* do the talking:
Kissinger and Nixon decided that Laird shouldn't be invited to the meeting with the Pope, as a sort of Minister of War. 
And so, Nixon was in the next morning having his private audience with the Pope, and the rest of us were waiting outside. And who should come striding down the hall smoking an enormous cigar but Laird. He had clearly found out about the meeting, probably through good military intelligence.
And Kissinger was kind of beside himself, but he finally said, "Well, Mel, at least extinguish the cigar." So Laird stubbed out his cigar and put it in his pocket.
The American party a few minutes later went in to their general meeting with the Pope. The Pope was seated at a little table in front, Americans in two rows of high-backed chairs. Bacl row, Kissinger on the end; Laird next to him. A couple of minutes into the Pope's remarks, Kissinger heard this little patting sound, and he looked over, and there was a wisp of smoke coming out of Laird's pocket. The Secretary of State thought nothing of it. A couple of other minutes went by and the secretary heard this patting sound, slapping going on, and he looked over and smoke was billowing out of Laird's pocket. The Secretary of Defense was on fire.

The American party heard this slapping, and thought they were being queued to applaud. And so they did.

And Henry later told us, "God only knows what his Holiness thought, seeing the American secretary of defense immolating himself, and the entire American party applauding that fact."
Nixon with Melvin Laird

*Understanding the New US Defense Policy Through the Speeches of Robert M. Gates (Rockville, Md: Manor, 2008), 128.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Y-otoot 'U-may

There is substantial historical evidence that the Maya used tobacco.

For example Mayan hieroglphics which refer to tobacco have been translated.

Moreover, carvings of deities, kings, and shamans are often depicted smoking in Mayan art and iconography. Perhaps the most famous of these is the The God L, which may be the same as Bolon Yookte' K'uh, and a prince of Xibalbá, as well as a wealthy god of commerce and trade,is frequently seen smoking a cigar. For example, the God L is depicted smoking a cigar on a wall relief in the Mayan city of Palenque, Mexico. Similarly, the Madrid Codex contains multiple images of people smoking, including one of the God L.

Madrid Codex Showing God L Smoking a Cigar

Wall Relief from Palenque showing God L Smoking a Cigar

Recently, Dmitri Zagorevski, a scientist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Jennifer Loughmiller-Newman, an anthropologist from the University at Albany, discovered physical evidence that the Mayans stored tobacco in vessels. These scientists tested the residue inside a number of Mayan vessels from the Kislak Collectionat the Library of Congress. They used gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LCMS). These highly precise but non-invasive methods can detect the presence of the specific substances even from minute samples. The report can be obtained here.

One of the vessels tested, a small 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch clay flask made around 700 A.D. in Southern Campeche, Mexico, unquestionably showed nicotine, which is quite certain proof that the Mayans were cultivated and stored tobacco. This would suggest that the God L was indeed smoking cigars.
Zagorevski and Loughmiller-Newman’s analysis of the vessel found nicotine, an important component of tobacco in residues scraped from the container. Both techniques confirmed the presence of nicotine. In addition, three oxidation products of nicotine were also discovered. Nicotine oxidation occurs naturally as the nicotine in tobacco is exposed to air and bacteria. None of the nicotine byproducts associated with the smoking of tobacco were found in the vessel, indicating that the vessel housed unsmoked tobacco leaves (possibly powered [sic] tobacco) and was not used as an ash tray. No other evidence of nicotine has been found, at this time, in any of the other vessels in the collection.

Tobacco Vessel: Y-otoot 'U-may

The vesel is decorated with a hieroglyphic text that reads “y-otoot ‘u-may,” meaning “the home of [his/her/its] tobacco.” Given the presence of nicotine and the hieroglyphic text, it looks like what we may have here is an ancient form of humidor!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Primitivism and Cigars

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) was a German expressionist painter and printmaker. Karl Schmidt was born in Rottluff, today a district of Chemnitz, (Saxony), and in 1905 began to call himself Schmidt-Rottluff, in honor of his birthplace. He was a member of Die Brücke (the "Bridge"), a group of expressionist painters formed by four Judgendstil architecture students Schmidt-Rottluff, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl and Erich Heckel. The name was a reference to a quote from Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end..." ( Was groß ist am Menschen, das ist, daß er eine Brücke und kein Zweck ist), Later members included Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller. The group had an interest in primitivist art, and had its first exhibition in 1905. In the Fall of 1911, Die Brücke moved to Berlin. The group eventually dissolved in 1913.

Die Brücke Group Members by Kirchner
(Schmidt-Rottluff is on right with glasses and goatee)

In 1937, the Nazis seized 608 of his paintings from museums and were classified as "degenerate art" ("Entartete Kunst"). After the war, in 1947, Schmidt-Rottluff was appointed a professor at the University of Arts in Berlin-Charlottenburg.

Schmidt-Rottluffwas a prolific printmaker. His oeuvre is graced with 300 woodcuts, 105 lithographs, 70 etchings, and 78 commercial prints described in the Rosa Schapire Catalogue raisonné.

He died in Berlin in 1976.

In this particular posting, we focus on a self-portrait, where Schmidt-Rottluff paints himself with a cigar.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Magyar szivar dohányos

The Hungarian Jewish composer Emmerich (Imre) Kálmán (1892-1953), was a composer of various genres, including a symphonic poem, some pieces for string, and lieder of various kinds, but became most famous for his operettas which were very popular in his day. Born in Siófok, on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, in Hungary, Kálmán studied to become a concert pianist. Unfortunately, early-onset arthritis barred his ability to continue his plans. As a result, he turned to composition, studying at the National Hungarian Royal Academy of Music. He was a fellow student with the famous Béla Bartók.

His first great break was with his operetta Tatárjárás, which is known as Ein Herbstmanöver in German, meaning 'Autumn Maneuver', although in English the work is known as The Gay Hussars. His fame caused him to move from Budapest to Vienna, and it was there, through a series of operettas--Der Zigeunerprimas, Die Csárdásfürstin, Gräfin Mariza, and Die Zirkusprinzessin, etc.--that he achieved international fame. He eventually wrote twenty-two of such works.

Statute of Kálmán in Pest

Die Csárdásfürstin has been particularly popular, as it is said to have been performed more than 100,000 times since its premiere in 1915. Some of his operettas were put into film by Louis B. Mayer of M-G-M. He worked on some operettas in English, and at least one of his completed operettas was in English, in particular his last one, Arizona Lady.

Despite being Jewish, his music was enjoyed by Hitler, who offered to make him an honorary Aryan. He refused the offer, moved to Paris, and eventually ended up in the United States (in California). Many of his family who stayed behind were killed in Nazi death camps. After the victory of the Allies, he returned to Vienna in 1949. He moved to Paris two years before his death in 1953.

But the reason I have selected our Hungarian composer is that--you guessed it--he enjoyed cigars. A picture portrait of the composer taken in his later years is shown in this posting, as is a statue of him in Pest, arm stretched out over a park bench, cigar in hand. Clearly, he appeared to have been an ambidextrous smoker.

There is quite a charming story about and incident between Kálmán and his much-younger-wife Vera Makinska, by whom he bore three children. When he first rejected her (thinking himself much too old) during a meal at a restaurant, she retrieved the composer's cigar band from the ashtray, slipped it on her finger, and cried her way to sleep. Eventually, the young Vera was successful in her suit.

About as much as you would ever want to know about Kálmán can be found here: "A Survey of the Operettas of Emmerich Kálmán.

By the way, in case you are curious, "Szivar" is the way you say cigar in Hungarian.

Portrait of Kálmán

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cigar Smokin' Norwegian!

Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was a Norwegian painter whose famous paintings addressed such themes as love (e.g., The Kiss), fear, death, melancholia (e.g., Melancholia), and anxiety (e.g., The Scream). The painting The Scream, is, of course, very famous and recognizable.

Edvard Munch--The Scream

Munch was the son of a Lutheran pastor, but he seems to have misplaced his Christianity as he got older and dabbled in spiritualism. His pious, if somewhat imbalanced father, was angry when Munch decided to become an artist, as he saw it as an "unholy trade" and unworthy of a Christian. His father even destroyed one of Munch's paintings (probably a nude) and stopped supporting Munch and his studies.

After enrolling at the Royal School of Art and Design of Christiania, focused on various styles, including Naturalism and Impressionism. There he came into contact with bohemian types, including radicals and nihilists. During this time he became increasingly introspective, and therefore his paintings began to reflect the emotional states in what is called "soul painting."

Eventually he moved to Paris to study under the painter Léon Bonnat. Applying the techniques of Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Toulouse-Latrec, Munch learned to use colors to convey emotion. Art was not to be imitation of Nature, but was rather to be a subjective human expression and invention.

By 1892, Munch had perfected his style, called Synthetist aethetic, where color plays such an important role.

Edvard Munch--Melancholia

Munch moved to Berlin, where his exhibition created a great stir (called "The Munch Affair") which pleased him greatly. It was in Berlin where he fashioned the idea for one of his great series of works called The Frieze of Life, of which the famous painting The Scream is one. The Frieze of Life was conceived as a sort of painted poem of life, love, and death.

Munch also painted some paintings with religious themes, most notably perhaps his Golgotha and his The Empty Cross.

Edvard Munch--Golgotha

Golgotha is striking by the fact that no one is paying attention to the Crucified Christ; rather, all have their backs turned on Christ. It is a depiction of modernity and its rejection of Christ.

In 1908, Munch suffered a nervous breakdown. His health was further weakened by excessive drinking. After significant medical treatment, he appeared to recover and returned to Norway. There, he seemed to settle into a sort of normalcy and his paintings took a turn from their pessimism and melancholia, eventually concentrating on farming and rural scenes as well as a series of nudes. He also painted a series of self-portraits. His paintings were categorized as degenerate, and there was fear when the Nazis took over Norway that his works would be destroyed.

Munch enjoyed cigars, and one self-portrait shows him completely encircled in smoke, with a cigar in his left hand, as he gesticulates with his right.

Edvard Munch-Self Portrait