It’s an ancient practice. I will bet anyone who wants to bet. I bet that in 200 years, long after governments who band smoking fade away, people will still smoke.
Tobacco has been around and through so much persecution, most would have thought by now it would have disappeared. From the time smoking was stumbled upon in Egypt 6000 years ago, to the tobacco of the Native peoples of the Six Nations, to when it was taken back to Europe by Columbus, tobacco has been a part of human experience. All these anti-smokers of our day think they are winning some heroic battle against the evil weed, but they are just one more buzz kill in the long history of smoking. Long after corporations like Phillip Morris are gone, long after conservatives and liberals are gone, long after the lobbyist and special interests are gone, somebody somewhere will roll a cigarette, fill a pipe, or light a cigar.
I told you about the Peterson, my “favorite pipe”. It still is. But this Mastro De Paja I bought in 97 just before recording in Vancouver is a close second. It’s a Pesaro Media 1b. I’ve never seen one quite like it. Whenever I load it with Penzance, I am back in Vancouver walking by the boats of the quaint fishing village. The view of the restless ocean reminded me of a Bruce Cockburn song, “Salt , Sun, and Time.”
Pipes. These ancient reminders of man’s need for pleasure. I walked into my study a few minutes ago. I call it “my study”, but really it’s just a small bedroom where I have a desk, my books, guitars, and pipes. So yes, it is my “study”. It’s where I sit and smoke, read, and write songs. I have numerous rosaries hanging on the wall. I love the rosary. I went without it for 42 years. Now, I can’t go anywhere without it.
I polished my Ser Jacopo Van Gogh “Picta” pipes today. Beautiful work. Jean Carlo Guidi is truly an artist. Van Gogh is my favorite painter. He was the Bob Dylan, the Leonard Cohen, the Luciano Pavarotti, the Jim Harrison of his time.
One of the most intriguing places in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque. No matter how many times I walked or drove past, it demanded my attention. The stone wall in this photo is from ancient times, back when it was called Constantinople. Istanbul is an amazing city with an even more amazing story. From Crucifix’s to the Crescent Moon, so much of who we are today plays well with how this city became what it has become.
One night I was walking near the Blue Mosque and smelled a familiar scent. It was latakia. I walked toward where I thought it was coming from but never saw anyone smoking a pipe. I did notice many cigarette smokers. I kept walking and came upon some Bavarian tourist. They were waiting in line for coffee. I decided to have a cup of this very strong muddy liquid so unlike Starbucks. By the time I left Turkey I had grown very fond of it. After a bit of small talk over our steaming brew, I pulled out a pipe and loaded it with my recently acquired Balkan Sobranie, Joseph, from Bavaria, asked to smell the tobacco. “Ahhh, this is very much like what my grandpa smoked.” I lit up and they all lit up their cigarettes. If I recall correctly, they were smoking Dunhill Reds. A young Turkish man walked by smoking a hand rolled cigarette and it hit me why I was smelling Latakia, it was in the Turkish mans cigarette. At least, it smelled very much like it.
We finished our coffee and they invited me to join them for dinner. We had a wonderful time eating Lamb Kabob, drinking Raki, and smoking the Hookah.
Last week I went to Nashville to do some writing and recording with my band mate Jeff. We recorded the new set for the live show, and worked on a new tune called “Inside”. The next day I met up with Jody Davis and we went and had dinner with Pete Prevost. These are two very cool dudes folks. Pete had prepared an incredible meal. That, along with some high gravity IPA’s, made for a very nice evening.
Pete is a great collector of tobaccos. He even gifted me with a tin of Grousmoor from 2010. Thanks Pete!
As most know, Jody and Pete are very successful musicians. I also play and write a tune every now and then. As the night wore on, and the Hops kept pouring, we found ourselves making music. Pete on the Lap Steel Guitar, Jody on the old Les Paul, and me on a 1920’s Parlor acoustic. We jammed!!
I always travel with several pipes. On my journey to Istanbul I took two J.Davis’s, one Julius Vesz Zulu, a Lars Ivarsson, a Peterson Emerald rustic, and a Mastro De Paja two tone sandblast. I didn’t take any tobacco. I usually wait to see what I can find where I’m traveling. This is an adventure for sure. The other reason I don’t take any is the bizarre ever changing rules about carrying tobacco on flights to certain places. It seems odd that one can take a baseball bat and not a 2 ounce pouch of tobacco.
Istanbul is a mesmerizing city. Bordering Asia and Europe, the only city in the world to do so, it has exotic sounds, smells, and brilliant architecture. I spent any time I had alone walking the narrow cobble stoned streets of the old city. The Bizarre, their version of a mall, is enormous! Surely I could find some pipe tobacco here. As I walked the maze of shops I stumbled upon a vast array of Hookah pipes. So beautiful in color and design. Oriental rugs covered the ground in many shops, hung from ropes, hundreds of them. Near the rugs was a coffee shop with small round wooden tables . I sat down and ordered. As I was waited I read from Leonard Cohen’s book of poetry, “Book of Longing”. I had found an English version in a book shop near the Blue Mosque the day before. Suddenly I smelled it. Latakia! I looked around and saw a tall blonde haired man smoking a Meerschaum. He was approaching my location and as he passed I asked him where he bought his tobacco. He was German, from Frankfort, and was very happy to meet another pipe smoker. He spoke very good English and I asked him to sit down. I ordered him a coffee and found out he and his family holiday often in Istanbul, as do many Germans. He reached in his jacket pocket and pulled out a very well worn leather pouch. He offered and I accepted. We smoked and drank coffee like two old friends. He directed me to a very ancient smoke shop not far from the Bizarre. Don’t you just love the pipe smoking fraternity?
I found the shop. Part cigar shop, Hookah shop, and a small but encouraging pipe tobacco selection. I was floored to see they had some old 2 ounce Balkan Sobranie!! I bought the two boxes they had and felt good about life. I walked back to the Bizarre hoping to see my new German friend to share some of my spoils. Sadly, he was gone.
I have numerous estate pipes for sale. Please email me if you are interested. firstname.lastname@example.org