What IF...
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13 February 2012

What IF...
 Newsletter Introduction for Monday, February 13, 2012

As you've all probably been able to detect through our various newsletters, Eric and I have many bizarre conversations within the confines of the pipe library. In the course of concocting descriptions for pipes, cigars, tobaccos, and accessories, along with writing various blogs, newsletters, and anything else that happens to come up, countless tangential thoughts abound, and we typically wind up bouncing them off each other. In the balance between our need to write about hundreds of pipes, tobaccos, and so forth in the course of any given week, and the inevitable tendency towards developing writer's block, this back-and-forth is what keeps the wheels from coming off. (Although Pam, having walked in on us in the midst of many a far-straying conversation, probably thinks the wheels have indeed thoroughly come off of both of us, regardless.) Often, Eric will hold up a pipe and ask what I think about it. Perhaps it is a strange color, has some sort of unusual accent, or is as beautiful as a lump of coal. We try to find something of beauty in every pipe, but beauty is, as they say, "in the eye of the beholder". What would we change about this pipe if we could go back in time and sit alongside the carver? Starting with this prospect, we naturally soon found ourselves discussing what we would introduce if we had the ability to go back in time for a few days to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the year 1776. Well, it was a natural progression for us, at least.

I've always been fond of clay pipes, so I wouldn't change anything about those. Perhaps I would have introduced different shapes or materials. After all, in 1776, not only could a man smoke a pipe pretty much anywhere he pleased, it was almost demanded of him. Indulging in wine, spirits, and hard cider were also part of everyday life. Eric not only thought it would be great to smoke and drink comfortably in various taverns, but was sure that teaching people how to make instant Jello would make him a popular, and more to the point, filthy-rich fellow. Personally, I would have introduced Philadelphia cheese steak sandwiches, which I proposed would become so popular with our founding fathers, that they would soon be seen as a national dish, portrayed grasped in the talons of an eagle, or maybe even on the flag itself. And of course, since we could smoke our pipes freely everywhere, the introduction of smoking jackets would also be favored. Just imagine Trumbull's or Christy's famous paintings, with our nation's forefathers all decked out like Hugh Hefner.

Yes, Eric holds up a pipe that is rather... unfortunate-looking, and we end up with a scenario five minutes later of us smoking clay blowfishes in a tavern that serves Philadelphia cheese steaks and Jello, and Washington and Hamilton exchanging ribald witticisms with Billiards clenched in their jaws and one hand in the pockets of their opulent smoking jackets. Perhaps another good idea to pitch would be the inclusion of tobacco in the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, Enjoyment of Tobacco, and the pursuit of Happiness."

I think they would go for the slight change. Because after all, not only did Eric and I introduce good foods and some stylish clothing, but we also handed out Smokingpipes.com socks.

Turning back to the present, we have some great cigars from Carlos Torano and Vega Fina, along with nine brands of fresh pipes and twenty-four estates.

Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector

Posted by adam at 4:30 PM | Link | 3 comments

Re: What IF...
would it be too much to ask to see this...unfortunate-looking pipe?

Posted by Max on February 14, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Re: What IF...
Ja, ryge pibe usete åbner sindet til mange scenarier, som læseren får lov til at visualisere i hvilken som helst hæslig form, der passer bedst til den enkeltes ideen om ubehagelige æstetik, ligesom Lille Nemo i Drømmeland vågne op i et ryk af feberagtig træfyring!

I just wanted to thank y'all for the descriptive summaries of each pipe passing thru, many of the write-ups are quite literary as well as informative, along with the precise technical dimensions, the short highlights complete the picture & give the enthusiast a good grasp of what is presented.

The fact that y'all go thru the time, trouble, labor & contemplation to achieve this does not go unnoticed & the fact you have written on this topic put new light to this reader in regard to the actualities involved with such endeavor, thusly prompting me to take short note of thanks, so thanks!
= )

In poetry, one may challenge oneself to innovative techniques hopefully to discover startling new possibilities, when you wrote of the challenge of describing a pipe you didn't have an eye for & how it's essential to overcome the roadblock, perhaps even in some cases altering your aesthetic viewpoint & coming to like the pipe? I would wager those cases are rare tho, clunky is just clunky, but some people like the clunkers!

Anyway, the poets call this "constraint writing", made famous by a buncha French mathematicians:

Recently my eye fell onna estate CHP-X, mostly causa military bit & poker shape; as well as garnering useful info (that the black militbits were popular during the 70's), upon quick search I found a parallel to the famous Queneau book:

When you see a pipe again that has passed thru your hands do you recognize it immediately? Is it like an old friend? Has your opinion ever changed from previously when you held & gazed at that very same pipe? All very interesting stuff & how lucky you are to fine tune your gauges by examining so many different pipes!

Without further ado, here's the "Exercices de style" moment, circa 2010 circa 2012:

*Estate Pipes: American Estate: CHP-X (by Michael Kabik) Smooth Freehand
Michael Kabik made this piece with a style similar to many Danish Freehand designs, particularly from companies like Preben Holm and Stanwell. While the style of the bowl is similar to Preben, the vulcanite mount and stem were popular designs. In the end, this is somewhere between a Freehand and a Poker, but a style unlike either.

*Estate Pipes: American Estate: CHP-X Smooth Freehand with Plateau

This was created by Chuck Holiday and partner Jay Rostov; Baltimore, MD. CHP-X sounds like the cool name of a sports car, or the name of a robot in a 1970's film. Being somewhat of a hybrid between a billiard and a poker, this piece is reaching a wide range of onlookers.

= "CHP-X sounds like the cool name of a sports car, or the name of a robot in a 1970's film." =

Well done mate! How right you are! That zinger had me LOL!!!
= )

Posted by MR. LOWERCASE on February 23, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Re: What IF...
Mucking about, I've been inspired to "write" like a Romeo an Ode to 63M, a "conceptual poem" composed via clip&paste (altho I prefer the Swe term: klipp o klistra) using other people's words to sing the praises of my favorite pipe thru the throb -

Unmistakably Danish:
straight to the grain shaped flame a certain shape making M-series sixtythree the most recognizable popular model being bent into dublin undulating so lucky & rustic such stem to stain as always topped raw in fantastic texture banding the bowl most plenty with rim plateauing crown complexity to contrast juxtapositions through thoroughness this title to pipe pronounced distinctly under rugged sturdiness the surface an impression unto themselves for particular instance as an artful simplicity engineering each entire piece of 100+ process made military mount majestic the jetblack classic something freehand-y shaped angular in aesthetic from solidly-formed shank & ferrule smoking warm patina elsewhere with time alone in easy breakdown sandblasted with character presented here a design motif to sport Stanwell the sort of form so solid & highlighting perfection as an example & especially fetching is this legend in any interpretation.

. . .
The novelty of "conceptual poetry" wears off rather quickly, it amazes me just how seriously the academic lit-types take this stuff:

Posted by MR. LOWERCASE on February 24, 2012 at 1:26 AM

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