- Kevin Godbee
- Oct 1, 2009
- 1 min read
On Saturday, May 2 at The 2009 Chicagoland Int’l Pipe & Tobacciana Show, John N. Low gave a 1-hour presentation entitled, "The Weird, Unusual, Imaginative and Curious Pipes". John N. Low is the Executive Director of the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, IL
The Program for Mr. Low’s talk read as follows; "Mr. Low’s talk will focus on the use of tobacco by North American Indians and the use of Catlinite pipes. As a part of his presentation he will have with him items from the collections of the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian. Pipestone is a special red stone which has been quarried in what is now called Pipestone, Minnesota, for thousands of years. The Pipestone quarries are considered sacred ground by many American Indian people. All tribes could come here in peace and quarry this buttery soft red sacred stone. Today American Indian people still come to quarry the stone to make pipes and other articles. Objects and pipes made from the red pipestone (also known as Catlinite) have been eagerly collected ever since the white man first knew about the stone. Pipes and artifacts are found all over the United States, among the ruins of ancient Indian campsites and villages, tending to prove the Indians assertion that the quarry was a common gathering place for all the tribes, or at least, that all Indians knew the veneration attached to the stone. The name for the stone comes from the artist George Catlin who was an early visitor to the quarries in 1835."
We would like to thank the Chicago Pipe Collector’s Club for the exclusive rights of publishing their videos from the show.
Written by Kevin Godbee
View all posts by: Kevin Godbee
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- August 9, 2022 Pipes Magazine Radio Show Episode 517
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- August 1, 2022 Heat Waves
I do not like hot weather. When the mercury pushes close to body temperature, my icy heart begins to melt, and when it reaches the point where I break out in a sweat as a result of the strenuous act of sitting upright, I consider calling around to see if I can book time in one of the refrigerated drawers at a local morgue. Heat and I just don’t get along well. We never have. Indulge my rambling, if you will; this really is about pipes and tobaccos. During the cooler months, I’m most often drawn towards fuller mixtures, rich with latakia, redolent of those wonderful aromas of campfires and leather and the smells of classic British sport cars and motorbikes that occupied so much of my youth. Seriously. It’s not the spice of orientals alone that brings comfort, but the warm blanket of latakia itself. These fuller mixtures recall some of my fondest smoking memories. I’m reminded of walks in the woods on cool, misty days, when the smoke would hang in the air, chilled by the moisture, its perfumed clouds delighting my senses, or evenings by the fire, accompanied by a wee dram of a fine malt, a comfortable chair and a good book. When the weather is all “hotting up,” though, I find latakia, in more than gentle seasoning proportions, to be too much of a good thing, almost overwhelming, so I turn to lighter mixtures and especially virginia blends, with or without perique. It’s something I’ve always found interesting, if occasionally vexing. Is it the temperature? The humidity? The pressure of the air molecules as they dance around, mingling with the tobacco’s smoke? Cosmic rays? Is it a subtle change in body chemistry that results from seasonal changes in diet? Set and setting? Or, is it some confluence of all these factors, and others not noted, that has such a profound influence on my smoking pleasure? I know I’m not completely alone; over the years, I’ve had conversations with pipe smokers who experience similar changes in tastes as the weather shifts. Interestingly, others insist that I’m delusional, that climate has no influence at all upon their choice of tobacco, and that they smoke the same tobaccos year round. Perhaps they live in relatively constant climates, or choose tobaccos with smoking characteristics that are less influenced by climate. Sometimes, I’m a little jealous of them; having my choices limited by something as intractable as the weather can be challenging to my inner control freak. But, the influence of climate on smoking can be subtle or alarming, and no amount of note-taking has led me to anything resembling actual understanding. Hold that thought. I first became aware of this phenomenon one cool autumn evening while waiting with some friends for a table at a popular restaurant. I had with me a lovely smooth Drucquer/LaCroix apple, one of my finest smokers at the time, and a tin of my recently discovered Benson & Hedges Finest Smoking Mixture[fn]The B&H was a beautiful mixture, produced by Gallaher, Ltd, and it came in a beautiful red and gold tin. Virginias, with a bit of latakia and perique, and it was this blend that inspired my own Piccadilly. Tonight, as I scribbled my final paragraphs, the weather was cool, breezy, and felt like rain might be coming; rumor has it there’s a storm developing off the coast. I’m enjoying that very combination that I enjoyed so much that evening so long ago. We’re all quite a few years older, tobacco, pipe and smoker, but the experience is no less superb, and the memories kindled, equally so.[/fn]. Knowing that we’d have at least a 45 minute wait, I had time for a bowl. That smoke was one of those memorable ones that always brings a smile when recalled. (How many remember when you could smoke a pipe in public without a torch and pitchfork brigade instantly forming a circle, insisting you are killing babies not yet conceived and chanting demands for your head? How far we’ve fallen in so few years.) It wasn’t the first time I’d smoked that tobacco in that pipe, but it was somehow different. It led me down a path of wonder just how much environmental factors can influence the enjoyment we take from burning a bowl of shredded leaves. One of the most dramatic examples of this that I can recall happened in August of 2002, while visiting friends in Denmark. There is a certain tabac, a Virginia flake loved by many, but one that I generally find tortuous; smoking it has always seemed to me to be the pipe smoking equivalent to sucking on the business end of a plasma cutter. I figured it was just a body chemistry thing. But when a friend offered a fill of this hell-spawned leaf, his regular smoke, I graciously accepted, rubbed out a flake, tamped it into the smallest pipe I had with me, and was astonished by the experience of a cool and enjoyable smoke. What? Figuring there must be some difference between the “home trade” tobacco sold in Denmark, and what was exported to the US, I bought a couple tins for further exploration. During my visit, I smoked through most of the first tin, enjoying every bowl, but when I returned to California, that very same tobacco, in the very same pipes, reignited my fear and loathing of the stuff. The temperatures at home and in Copenhagen at the time were not much different, so clearly something else was at play. If I were to throw a dart at the guess board, it would be that humidity was a factor. Another, albeit somewhat embarrassing anecdote might put a bit of meat to the bones of this hypothesis. One morning, some years ago, while still brain-fogged by insufficient sleep following a late night gig, I found myself coming to barely-waking consciousness whilst in the shower. Nothing odd there. But, the pipe clenched between my teeth at the time […]
- August 1, 2022 More Is Better, Maybe!
Ah, the dog days of summer. Just think of your poor family dog who must endure the heat and humidity in a fur coat. The Pundit’s beautiful Golden Retriever just plops down on the floor exhausted and sleeps. A lot. And speaking of heat and humidity, a frightful thought on the global front, it is time to think of good summer tobaccos. Nothing too heavy, just a light little tap on the shoulder, so to speak. Maybe a Virginia-burley blend with a touch of Perique. I like the ribbon cuts for summertime smoking when the “livin’ is easy and the fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high,” with thanks to George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess opera. And, yes, back in the day, Pundit was quite the fly-tying, pipe-smoking, chest-wading, trout-hunting, crazy rod-toting, fly-fisherman. Corn cob pipes were for smoking when fat, high-flying trout were jumpin.’ Never one of those beautifully designed and lovingly hand-crafted pieces of old wood briar. No sir. No risks are taken when excited and shouting for joy with a large trout on the other end of the fly line. Only to note in the splashy chaos the magnificent briar leaped from mouth to the fast-moving stream and sped off downstream. But now back to dog days and pipe tobacco. Virginia-burley flakes are also a fav in the blistering days of summer. And let’s not bypass our light English blends. Or the noticeably light aromatics. Nothing drenched in dressing. A wee dram of topping will do. A few of the heavier Virginia-Burley blends, say from Cornell & Diehl, require patient puffing. Nothing rolling down the tracks at full steam sort of thing. Slow and easy with some of the heavier VaBurs. Especially if you are a nicotine wimp like the Pundit. A moderate nic hit is fine. But I have occasionally gone so far over the dark nic abyss with strong tobaccos loaded with nicotine so as to experience the onset of that most disconcerting sensation of falling, spiraling into the dark unknown, with cold sweats, hazy thinking, and hallucinations. “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore.’ Poe’s “The Raven!” would then be the exquisitely apt verbal utterance we squeak out involuntarily when suffering the turbid depths of that awful green gills feeling. Okay, light up the Virginias with perhaps a little touch of perique and a dab of burley. Slow and easy on puffing, like hot evenings in the South. This next thought from the Pundit might be too much of an existential question, but here goes. Is it possible to own too many pipes? Have you successfully reached the end of pipe collecting and stuffing the cellar with more tobacco than you will ever consume? And do you then find this quiet realization quickly subsumed by a sudden and viral case of PAD, compelling one to add even more to the seemingly ever-expanding herd? Which then sends PAD sub-variants of TAD into whirls of ignition. Thus adding more pipes and tobacco to a sagging pipe shelf and a bloated tobacco cellar. How does one curtail the lifelong pleasure of collecting beautiful handmade pipes and artfully created tobacco blends? Cull and sell much of the overgrown collection, did I hear someone say! Nay, nay, replies Pundit. This is just not going to happen on Pundit’s watch. So, what to do? That’s a reasonable question. With perplexing problems that arise in every life, I fill a briar bowl with an aged blend of Virginia and puff away until a light goes on somewhere within the deep folds of the mind. No lights yet, but I’m working on it. Maybe a museum! Mayhaps my daughters will decide to keep them instead of tossing them (oh, the horror, the horror!). All suggestions toward a possible solution to this nagging problem will be greatly appreciated. No need to mention sales talk. It won’t compute. And now for a notable major cigar smoker and pipe personality from the past—Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. And commander of the “Birds” and other scary movies such as “Psycho,” both of which should not be viewed alone in the dark. Sir Alfred was born in Leytonstone, England, near London, on Aug. 13, 1899, and died in Los Angeles, Calif., on April 29, 1980. His legendary films collected 46 Academy Award nominations, including six wins, although he never achieved the award for Best Director despite five nominations. But he did earn two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! He was once referred to as a “young man with a mastermind.” And Sir Alfred was indeed the master of melodrama, suspense, and thrillers. Just the memory of “Psycho” gives Pundit the heebie-jeebies after all these years. A quote or two from the master of suspense: There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it A glimpse into the world proves that horror is nothing other than reality. And yes, boys and girls, Sir Alfred did indeed smoke pipes, despite his fearsome film noir. No less authority than guru tobacco reviewer Jiminks says the wizard of the thriller smoked Dunhill pipe blends. Amen to that. And one more notable consummate pipe smoker, former President Gerald R. Ford, who served our great nation from August 1974 to January 1977. The 38th President stepped up his vice presidential duties and guided the nation through its “long nightmare,” after Watergate took down his predecessor, President Richard M. Nixon. Again, Jiminks, says Ford reportedly smoked Field & Stream, Walnut, and also noted in a book publication he also puffed Edgeworth Ready Rubbed. The Pundit leaves you with one of his gems of thought: Pipe smokers are the mind workers of the world, an oft-repeated pipe proverb by the Pundit. We are an eclectic group that enjoys each other’s company and conversation. Those qualities seem to be in scarcity today. We need more pipe smokers, Quoth the Pundit.