20 February 2009

Benito vs. the Cigar: Partagas Natural #10

Winter can be a rough time for the cigar lover. For many it's too cold to stand outside for an hour, and the dry air makes it difficult to maintain the proper humidity unless you've got a really good humidor and humidity control system. I find it to be a perfect time for cigars packed in tubes.

While the glass or aluminum tube isn't a perfect seal, it does a pretty good job of protecting the cigar against lots of environmental factors. They're also popular for taking to the golf course, traveling, gifts, or any occasion when you don't want to lug around a travel humidor. This is a Partagas Natural #10, 7½"x49. Cameroon wrapper, Dominican and Mexican filler. Cherry and cedar flavors, wonderfully mild. A long thin cigar smokes faster than a thick cigar, but the length still allows for a moderation of flavor. Highly recommended, and it's light enough for the novice or occasional cigar smoker.

The graphic novel here is The Quitter by Harvey Pekar, with art by Dean Haspiel. Harvey Pekar is famous for his American Splendor series of comic books, drawn by dozens of different artists over the years. We're not talking about superheroes in spandex leaping over tall buildings: the autobiographical books are about an old guy in Cleveland complaining about his life or musing on the world around him. For instance, the award-winning Our Cancer Year was co-written with his wife and covered a painful struggle with his diagnosis and treatment.

The Quitter takes a lot of stories that had been told piecemeal over the years and documents Pekar's early life in an orderly fashion. His childhood with Jewish immigrant parents, his pugilistic teenage years, and his aimless and conflicted early adulthood. Sounds depressing, right? Well, it can be, but I'm a fan of Pekar for two reasons. 1) He's brutally honest and regardless of who is drawing him, it's evident that this is a living and breathing human being. 2) It's a sometimes loving, sometimes harsh, but always real view of my second city, Cleveland. I've walked through the neighborhoods and patronized the little local establishments that serve as the backdrop of the stories, and reading them can take me back instantly.


The Wine Commonsewer said...

As a cigar guy, do you know the entire story of what happened with Chibas? I have read and heard about three different stories, including the one where the Cuban Government sues in US court over rights to the name which they expropriated from the owners.

TWC said...

Cohibas, dang it!

Benito said...

I'm far from a cigar expert, and can't comment specifically on the Cohiba issue, but there are lots of cigar lines that either split off at the revolution or ended up with the same name at some point. For each company or family it's a different story. You can find Cuban and non-Cuban versions of Cohiba, La Gloria Cubana, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, and even Partagas like in this post.

Same thing happens with rum: Matusalem, Havana Club... The embargo produced a lot of weird biblical-style restrictions, in that it's legal to buy a Cuban cigar in the US as long as it was imported before 1962, and you can buy all sorts of Dominican cigars made from Cuban seed tobacco, and if you live in Detroit you can just drive a couple of miles across the border and enjoy all the Cubans you want in Canada.

My stance on the embargo is that it's pure insanity, and I'd love to have the opportunity to travel to Cuba freely and legally as a U.S. citizen. Whatever they've done in the past 40 years to "justify" the blockade is exceeded by China on a daily basis.

Jasper said...

I think that pure cohiba are better then other ones.. from pure Cohiba's i mean cuban cohiba. yes we want to go to Cuba legally and want to buy cigars legally and also enjoy them legally...