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30 June 2011

Cucumbers and Moustaches
 Newsletter Introduction for June 30,2011

       -Posted by eric-

It's been an eventful past week or so here at Smokingpipes - people coming, people going, the slow encroachment of the South's sultry heat into our offices as the AC slowly gave way to entropy (though mainly only on mine and Sykes's side of the building - lucky us), even the sudden appearance of an array of cucumbers in the pipe library. That last, as some of you may have already guessed, was the work of Adam Davidson, who followed it by showing up this morning sporting a full-blown Nick Cave-style horseshoe mustache, a look which is only exacerbated by Adam having similar facial features to the aforementioned, also rather recently mustachioed musician - and which led to the use, and possibly coining of the word "beardish".

But working with our resident pipemaker isn't all weird facial hair and randomly appearing foodstuffs. Adam is also a Colonial/Revolutionary War era history buff, which most recently (just after the cucumbers) led to the appearance of a newspaper originally printed in 1798. Judging by a brief perusal of its contents, what I could assess was that the Irish and English didn't particularly care for each other, and that the petty thieves and other assorted miscreants who were made mention of in that day were every bit as incompetent and confused as those of our own police blotters. Given, some things will never change, but I will say this - our forefathers make us look like a bunch of illiterates. They could turn even a notice to the creditors of a man recently deceased into something which would make many a modern-day love letter sound like it might as well have been written in crayon.

Enough of that, though. Today we have for you solid, affordable pipes from Stanwell, Neerup, Savinelli, and Peterson; artisanal beauties from Poul Winslow, Claudio Cavicchi, Randy Wiley, and L'Anatra; last but by no means least, high-grades from Vladimir Grechukhin, Rolando Negoita, and, yes - Adam Davidson.

Eric Squires: Copywriter








Posted by eric at 4:15 PM | Link | 0 comments


27 June 2011

Kansas City Pipe Show
 Newsletter Introduction for June 27,2011

       -Posted by adam-

There was a pipe show in Kansas City last weekend, which is prime beef country. What was I craving? Long John Silvers. Coming from Indiana, where Long John Silvers' are everywhere, I could get it any time I pleased. After moving to Myrtle Beach in 2005 and noticing that there wasn't even one in the entire state (the nearest one is about four hours away), I crave it. Constantly bombarded with "Adam, you are nuts" by my co-workers and other friends because I live two miles from an ocean full of fish of many different varieties, I ignore all of the eye rolling. After being picked up at the airport by friendly locals from the pipe club, they understood my crave, but suggested we get -- you know -- Kansas City barbecue. Burnt ends and ribs filled me to my ears (twice last Friday). Understanding my quirky desire for the 'good stuff', the wife of a club member surprised me with five pieces of fish and sauces. My intoxicating (mentally and nearly physically) lunch on Saturday was frowned upon by my good friend Jeff Gracik, who kindly addressed that he thought I passed gas. Are you kidding me? The Yankee Candle company should have Long John Silvers and Kansas City burnt-end candles as far as I'm concerned.

There was a large variety of pipes at the show, including quite a few from American carvers. Lucky for all of you, we managed to bring some back for future updates. Ted and Kaye represented Smokingpipes in Kansas (or what is Missouri?). A veteran of Richmond, Chicago, and Raliegh, Ted was on his game. Both of us, and many customers, were thrilled (but not surprised) that Kaye did such a fantastic job at her first pipe show. She is one of the best in our team and countless customers shared their admiration for her kindness and enthusiasm working face to face on the show floor.

We have pipes from PS Studio, Radice, Johs, Savinelli, Peterson, and Vauen today. From Brigham, we have pipes as well as Humidification Jars. These little plastic jars are filled with crystals that swell with humidification fluid that you can either place in your cigar humidor or enclosed plastic container where you might store pipe tobaccos to prevent them from drying out.

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector







Posted by adam at 5:23 PM | Link | 2 comments


Radice & Castello Photos
 The first post of many from the Italy and France trip

       -Posted by sykes-

We visited the Castello factory the day after we arrived and visited the Radice workshop the following day. It's been over three weeks since then, but I wanted to share some photos I took during the two visits. The Castello factory wasn't operating that day because it was an Italian national holiday, but we met with Franco and Marco and looked at pipes. The following day, we met with the Radices and Luca diPiazza, their agent for the US and other countries and picked out pipes there, took some video and some photos. We hope to have that video to you soon. In the mean time, enjoy the photos!








Posted by sykes at 1:36 PM | Link | 0 comments


23 June 2011

Accosting the Resident Crank
 Newsletter Introduction for June 23,2011

       -Posted by eric-

I had originally written an introduction whose subject was the latest, ridiculous anti-smoking campaign launched by the US Department of Health and Human Services - which led to Alyson and Pamela appearing beside my desk to ask me to consult my co-workers the next time I "go off on a tear", as it were, when writing a newsletter introduction. Aside from the resident office crank giving management grief, there have of course been other developments in and around Smokingpipes. The invaluable members of society who purloined Adam's wife's scooter were apprehended - apparently if you show up at a pawn shop with a vehicle that's had its ignition knocked out, they're inclined to run a check on its serial number (Who would have guessed?) Alyson and Sykes have returned from Europe, obviously, and the rest of us are all already well into the process of covering up our transgressions of the past few weeks, while simultaneously pointing out those alleged of others so as to direct attention elsewhere.

And lastly, in sadder news, our resident photographer Bobby "Awesome" Altman is absconding with his own, remarkably self-satisfied person to take a position elsewhere, working from home and thus allowing him more time for his own freelance photography. I will truly miss the inter-office feuding between myself and the lanky egomaniac, which has kept us both so entertained over the past year and change, and taken so many staff meetings off into completely unprofessional tangents - like this one.

We have a big update to roll out today, busy-bodies be damned. Stanwell, Peterson, Savinelli, and Brebbia; more than a dozen meerschaums from IMP; artisanal briars (and a few mortas) from Il Duca, Posella, Ser Jacopo, Ardor, and, for the first time at Smokingpipes, Maksim Nazarenko; and at last - high-grades from Kent Rasmussen, Smio Satou, and Michael Parks - one of the few pipemakers working today whose Pipedia entry features a picture of them holding a shotgun.

Eric Squires: Copywriter








Posted by eric at 5:10 PM | Link | 0 comments


20 June 2011

Summer in the South
 Newsletter Introduction for June 20,2011

       -Posted by adam-

There is no denying it: Summer is just around the corner (tomorrow, actually). This isn't anything shocking, really, like "Oh, by the way, bacon will be healthy tomorrow". Mother nature has been giving clues by cranking up the sun, drying out the grass, and making heated moon-bathing nearly possible. Myrtle Beach is also really busy. Tourists are everywhere and often look like they are intentionally covering themselves from head to toe in suntan lotion, as to not look like the unfortunate hundreds that look like they fell asleep under a broiler or in front of a flaming onion and oil volcano at a local Habachi. I've never liked intense heat, like many other people. Upon hearing their lust for the 90-degree temps, I will ask if they have air conditioning in 1) their home and 2) their car. Without fail, they say "yes" to both. If they really liked to sweat and risk arrest for indecent exposure they shouldn't hide away in climate-controlled environments. Similarly, people who love rain and snow don't tend to like being stuck in the elements without a quick safe-retreat. I must admit, however, that driving in the summer doesn't bother me anymore with my new vehicle.

Going out to the pool or grilling at the beach is best when the sun is up and water is near, so I’m looking forward to summer. The season also means regular trips to farmers markets to stock up on tomatoes, cucumbers, and other seasonal delights that are best to eat at this time of year. Pink cotton is how my father describes tomatoes from grocery stores in the winter. They just shouldn't crunch like under-cooked potatoes. After this weekend, my wife and I will load up on some Russian salads, fruit, and grill skewered chicken and onions (like many Russians do), while sipping on sweet tea before a dip in the ocean. Smoking my pipe when the meat is sizzling over a charcoal fire, while the sun peaks out and around the trees at the state park, has become a summer tradition for us. We hope you can also find a way to enjoy the summer, all while trying to stay cool and take full-advantage of what the season brings.

Today we are offering some cigars from Que America that are aged in Jack Daniels barrels as well as quite a variety of pipes to consider. Summer is officially just one day away, so make these final spring judgments good ones!

 

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector







Posted by adam at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments


16 June 2011

Low Speed Chase in the Low Country
 Newsletter Introduction for June 16,2011

       -Posted by eric-

While my co-workers have been contemplating training for strange tobacco-fueled triathlons, teaching their wives to drive, or arguing over the merits of philandering presidents in the office kitchen, it's by and large been an uneventful past few weeks for me. Sadly, the most exciting thing I've witnessed of late was the aftermath of what appeared to be a low-speed collision on the main drag in Myrtle Beach between a tourist's minivan and a golf cart. A police golf cart, I should note - on account of which I'm open to the suggestion that it was, in fact, the result of an inexplicable pursuit which ended with the golf-cop cutting off the minivan and sacrificing his trusty, electrically-motivated steed to bring the chase into endgame. Supporting this theory was my observation, after having continued some ways farther down the street, of a bicycle cop speeding past me in their direction - he had clearly been called in for backup; the cavalry was on its way.

"But enough teasing, Eric," you are surely thinking, "...what is on the way, today?" Well, then, how about: Savinellis, Petersons, Stanwells, and hand- made Neerups; artisanal briars from Poul Winslow, Randy Wiley, L'Anatra, Ashton, Claudio Cavicchi, and, being introduced this very day, Kevin Arthur. Finally, to top it all off, we have exquisite high-grades from Vladimir Grechukhin, Peter Heeschen, and Benni Jorgensen.

Eric Squires: Copywriter







Posted by eric at 4:00 PM | Link | 0 comments


13 June 2011

Let's Get Physical
 Newsletter Introduction for June 13,2011

       -Posted by ted-

In the last eight months my life has become increasingly sedentary. I suppose that’s one of the (very few) hazards of office work. I get out of bed each morning, having been on my back for eight hours, only to drive to work to spend most of the day resting upon my posterior. I will then drive home from the office and sit in front of the computer or television, or behind a book or magazine. Then I will go back to bed. Then repeat ad infinitum. I wish I could say I spend my weekends rock climbing or hiking or engaged in hand-to-hand combat, or some other such equally aggressive cardio activity, but I don’t.  Recently the weekend has included sitting around on the beach.

My wife also works in an office. She recognized a trend towards physical inactivity months and months ago and has since addressed her concern with regular visits to the gym. She’s working out five or six times a week now for forty minutes to an hour at each interval.  While she’s busy panting and sweating I smoke my pipe and enjoy the idleness and quietude. But I know something has got to change. A flight of stairs should not have me winded.

I'm tempted to say Shelly dragged me to the gym with her this Saturday, but alas, the truth is I volunteered, having submitted to the ever amplifying anxiety in my bosom when accounting my health. Or maybe I’m just having chest pain anymore. Either way, it means it’s high time I get my heartbeat up once in a while.

The gym is not my idea of fun. Especially when you’re not fit. Plus, you can’t smoke a pipe when you’re working out, so automatically I don’t find it very conducive to my lifestyle of choice. If I can get to the point where I can run a few miles while smoking I think I’d enjoy torturing myself in this way a lot more, and, as I’ve been told, when getting into shape you need to set a goal. So that’s my goal - as contra-indicated as it might sound to some. I will give up being a lazy slob, and I'll get back into shape... but I will do it on my terms and with my pipe.

Hey, this sounds like an excuse to buy a new pipe if I ever heard one; something light-weight, agile, and sporting a nice saddle bit. Or perhaps, for those longer treks, a proper, old fashioned, deep-chambered Oom Paul?

Tonight’s choices include new works from the likes of Johs, Vauen, Peterson and PS Studio as well as Savinelli and Radice. And what’s a new pipe without some fresh tobacco? McClelland and Altadis have you covered with this update. Now I’m actually looking forward to my next workout.

Ted Swearingen: Sales Manager







Posted by ted at 2:00 PM | Link | 2 comments


09 June 2011

Weekend In Charleston
 Newsletter Introduction for June 9,2011

       -Posted by adam-

April was a very short month, or at least it seemed that way. Preparing for the Chicago pipe show meant long hours in my shop and precious little time with my wife. It was decided that we would take a small vacation in Charleston, SC to celebrate my 30th birthday, as I had begun my actual birthday with a 5:30AM trip to the airport (another thing she was not happy about). The preceding week had been bizarre enough for us. As Eric noted in the last newsletter, someone stole my wife's scooter and I was in the process of getting a healthy upgrade from the $1 (not kidding*) pickup truck I've driven for the last six years. It was time to relax. Cruising down on Monday morning in my new Victory Red Chevrolet HHR allowed us some comforts we've never had before. Air conditioning and music! Speeds in excess of 50mph, without immediate mortal peril! We eventually arrived at a little bed and breakfast in the heart of downtown that was constructed prior to the great fire of 1778, which also happened to be directly across the street from the home George Washington stayed in for a week in 1791. This is my favorite historical period, and yet I left one important thing at home: my clay tavern pipe. As we sat in the little brick house with a fire going after a fantastic dinner at McCrady's, my wife asked where my pipe was. Trying to be a caring husband, I told her I left it at home because she might not enjoy me walking around the grounds smoking Virginia tobacco and damning the British. While she might have been a little embarrassed if I was wearing my 18th-century militiaman costume, she probably wouldn't have actually minded the pipe. The next time we drive down for a visit, you can be sure there will be a proper clay in my luggage.

We have quite a spread of new and estate pipes for your perusal this week. Three pipes from Rolando Negoida - including two of his Tubos designs. For the record, Rolando made tube-shaped pipes years ago and has played around with turning them into calabash pieces. Tom Eltang and Rolando are good friends and each has fun playing with the idea, and you can be sure that Rolando's versions are completely "Rolando". Former and Lasse also make up the new pieces, along with Ardor, Ser Jacopo, and the introduction of Posella. With increasing summer heat around the country, choosing to savor a pipe in early morning or after dinner might be the best options. Just remember to bring a pipe if you take some time away from home.

* - He is not kidding; it is a $1.00 truck in every way imaginable, and yet worth every penny. - Eric

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector







Posted by adam at 4:00 PM | Link | 1 comment


08 June 2011

Why We Were Wracked

       -Posted by ted-

As you likely know our site was down for a few hours yesterday. OK, it was a few hours more than a few hours, but who is counting, really? Well, us, for one - and our loyal customers, for another.

What went wrong? If I were William Shatner (or John Lithgow, if you prefer) I would tell you that gremlins climbed into our server and wreaked havoc with the digital guts that hold the site together. If I were Fab Morvan or Rob Pilatus (of Milli Vanilli) we could blame it on the rain. But those are stupid explanations.

The real truth regarding how our website was suddenly updated with ten units of every item we’ve ever sold in the history of our company (possibly a slight exaggeration, but we will never know) is this…

‘I dunno.’

And that’s right from the mouth of our extremely talented IT guy, Tommy Ready.  Yeah, that’s right folks; we don’t know what the hell happened. All we know for certain is that it’s not our fault. Honest! Nobody but Sykes, who’s on vacation right now and out of the country, would dare to tangle up the backside of the website in such a way as it evidently tangled itself.

Our best guess is that one of the hundreds of queries that run behind the scenes of our site somehow went awry and changed the count of every item we’ve had in stock.  One of the many joys of working with complex technology is the way in which it sometimes seems to take on a personality, and intelligence all its own - at least to those of us who don't understand it. And, granted, that intelligence does tend to come off as a malevolent one... particularly to those of us who don't understand it. Fortunately, Tommy, who understands well the intricacies of technology, won't rest until every server log file has been scanned for clues as to what might have happened. Whether this results in him gently asking the system to tell him about its mother, or he gives it what Eric has referred to as ‘brisk wall-to-wall therapy’, we have full faith that Tommy will ensure that it behaves in a more socially acceptable manner in the future.

So we took the site down and set to work putting all the pieces back together again. It wasn’t fun for us and we know it wasn’t fun for you. In fact, it was kind of embarrassing.

We’re good now, though. The site’s back up and we’re monitoring our inventory very carefully. If you have any questions or concerns about an order you might have placed with us while we were down, please give us a call.

We’d like to apologize for any inconvenience that we may have caused anybody during this hiccup. And thanks for your continued patience throughout. You guys are the best.








Posted by ted at 3:00 PM | Link | 1 comment


06 June 2011

Staring at the Sand
 Newsletter Introduction for June 6,2011

       -Posted by ted-

Wherever I go, I tend to carry at least one pipe, a pouch of tobacco, a couple pipe cleaners, and a lighter. I even have a stash of pipe cleaners in the glove compartment of my car for emergencies - sudden-onset gurgling, and the like. You never know when the wife will unexpectedly veer into a store, leaving you with the option to either tag along to gaze at the season’s shoe selection or sit out front of the boutique with a pipe, waiting for her to spend forty-five minutes conjecturing on foot wear. I really don’t mind. Just as long as I have my pipe.

So when we went to the beach this Saturday morning to get some fresh air, some sun, and to play around in the warm Atlantic water, along with our bag of beach towels, swim suits, cell phones, house keys, car keys, digital cameras, sunglasses, magazines, extra sandals, and a couple twenty ounce bottles of Mello-Yello, I managed to pack a Lasse Skovgaard sandblasted Blowfish, an Old Boy pipe lighter, and a leather pouch filled with my own personal blend of Gawith & Hoggarth tobacco (tweny-five percent Kendal Kentucky and seventy-five percent Kendal Light/Gold). Yeah, we brought a lot of junk for a two hour visit to the ocean. But the pipe is a must. You don’t even want to know me before I’ve smoked my morning pipe.

We’re stretched out on the beach, my beautiful wife in her new blue bikini and I in a cotton tee and blue jeans rolled up at the cuffs. I figure it’s way past time I get down to relaxing with a big bowl of burley. Because I’m a Californian native, where smoking is a no-no, this will be my first pipe smoking at the beach episode. As you may already know, I’m a great proponent of public pipe smoking. I think it’s good for the apathetic denizens of a general population starched in anti-tobacco sentiment to see us in action. I’m pretty used to the customary bemused reaction of children and grownups alike when seeing either their first pipe smoker ever or their first pipe smoker in twenty plus years. But smoking a pipe on beach is a little different.

There already exists on the beach an attitude that it’s OK to stare at anyone who also happens to be at the beach. Some people go to the beach to stare. Some people go to the beach to give other people a reason to stare. I learned that when smoking a pipe on the beach you are inviting people to stare at you.

That’s why it’s important to carry around a good looking pipe. Fortunately we’ve got you covered. Tonight we’re offering new works from Savinelli and Luciano, as well as Brigham, Peterson and the ever-stylish Dunhill. To go with these briars, you'll also find new tampers from Macek and Tsuge. Pick up a new pipe and a tin of Mac Baren’s HH Highland Blend and you’ll be worthy of all kinds of gawking, glaring, and gazing the next time you step foot near the seashore. And for when you choose to stay home, why not try out one of the fifteen new Lampe Berger fragrances on offer?


Ted Swearingen: Sales Manager







Posted by ted at 4:00 PM | Link | 1 comment


05 June 2011

Coolest Dessert EVER
 Where food and tobacco collide...

       -Posted by sykes-

Yes, that says what you think it says. It's the dessert menu from dinner three days ago. It literally reads "Chocolate fondant cigar 'cru Acarigua' with sweet Scandinavian style pipe tobacco ice cream". I didn't even read the rest of the menu. I had to have it. Alyson and I split it; it was fantastic, but the ice cream wasn't quite as pipe-tobacco-y as I would haved hoped. Still, for an evening after a day visiting the Castello factory, it was the perfect conclusion to the perfect pipe day!

In the past three days, we've visited Castello, Radice, and Sébastien Beaud, owner of the Genod pipe factory and maker of the Sébastien Beo line of pipes available on Smokingpipes.com. We promise to blog about those visits over the next few days.

 








Posted by sykes at 11:10 AM | Link | 0 comments


02 June 2011

Four Day Work Week
 Newsletter Introduction for June 2,2011

       -Posted by eric-

On account of the Memorial Day-lengthened weekend, it's been a short week here at Smokingpipes. Which is to say, an overly busy one, as we've attempted to pack a full week's worth of work into four days. Subtract from this the considerable amount of (what would have otherwise been productive) time we all spent Tuesday morning gawking at the unprecedented state of Sykes's office (i.e. - clean) before he and Alyson left for Italy, and our deadlines only grew that much more ominous. We were also rather perplexed, I should note, that the air conditioning was, for the first time in living memory, working quite well Tuesday, too. Fortunately, any perplexity over that was short-lived, as after Sykes an Alyson made good on their escape, it promptly gave up the ghost once more. At least, on my end of the building it did. As a final monkeywrench, some low-minded miscreant absconded with Adam's wife's scooter, putting his schedule into disarray. Conferring in the kitchen, he and I agreed that, indeed, the traditional punishment for stealing scooters from young, blonde Russian girls is, as near as either us can recall, being shot, in public, in the buttocks.

 

Despite all this nonsense, however, we have managed to throw quite an update together for this Thursday; pipes from Stanwell, Neerup, Peterson, and Savinelli; the introduction of English artisanal pipemaker Chris Askwith, as well as plenty from old favorites Ashton, L'Anatra, Cavicchi, and Wiley; high-grades from J. Alan, Larrysson, and Eltang. Last but not least, we're also introducing something our estate restoration department has been using for sometime: Obsidian pipe stem oil, a product which has proven for us very effective at bringing out the beauty of vulcanite and cumberland stems.

Eric Squires: Copywriter







Posted by eric at 2:30 PM | Link | 0 comments


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