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Tucson Weekly Smoke Signal

What's It Take To Make A Good Cigar?

By Emil Franzi

OCTOBER 20, 1997:  THE RECENT GROWTH in popularity of cigar smoking has brought forth a whole catalog of cigar books, most of them as useless and shallow as the yuppie scum of both sexes who've now invaded the world of the stogie. Real cigar smokers are getting screwed. The price of the Monte Cruz Gran Ducs I used to enjoy steadily climbed from $1.31 each to over two bucks, then disappeared completely because high-grade tobacco's being sucked up for a multitude of overpriced new brand names.

The cigar market resembles the stock market: There are actually people buying cigars as investments, storing them like gold and silver bullion. May the market collapse and the bastards lose their shirts. It is fascinating, however, to watch cigar smoking become an "in" thing with People magazine-type elites, even as cigarette smoking continues on the trend toward social unacceptability.

It's nice to see mystery novelist H. Paul Jeffers, with visual aides from portrait painter Kevin Gordon, cash in on a trend with a book that's actually useful even to old cigar chompers like myself. Both are New Yorkers, and obviously a couple of old cigar smokers. Unlike some of the other stogie-inspired coffee-table books flooding the market of late, their's is a good, solid book explaining things like the basic differences in cigar types, where they're grown, and how variations in flavor are derived. Historical notes profile lady cigar smokers dating back to the 1600s. Sorry about that, Demi. One of the greatest of the many subtle gags in that wonderful black comedy Prizzi's Honor has the old Mafia Don retiring his inept son to Vegas with a ceremony in which he presents him with 10,000 of his favorite Mexican cigars. Mexican cigars basically suck. You'll learn why from Jeffers and Gordon, and a whole lot more. If you count yourself among the honorable and the die-hard, light up and enjoy this little gem.

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