At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Yesterday I wrote a reaction to Treppenwitz's advocating limitations on smokers and smoking in public. Trepp, of course, is writing from an Israeli point of view. Israelis are flamboyant overindulgers in the noble weed, and many are so addicted that the stale reek of cigarettes can be said to be the aroma of Israel. Especially to sweet innocent little non-smokers, with whom I actually sympathize.

Unfortunately, here in California, it is a different story. Many Californians are such health-nuts and rigidly intolerant authoritarians on this issue that there are almost no places where you can smoke anymore.
This is particularly galling during wet weather. Such as we're having today. It is grim and grey outside, there is a steady rain, and the traffic is slow-moving. The street-scape is all round depressing and dull.
Except for little clusters of those incurable optimists, the indefatigable smokers, in sodden but cheerful little pockets here and there, braving the elements and inevitable drench to happily puff away. Resilient and undefeated. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. Life is good.

Who the heck am I kidding?!!?

A pox on all of you darned puritans. I hope the slow-leaching of chemicals from the layers of ancient paint in your apartment and office walls damages your brains and your chromosomes, whatever the fudge those things are.
I bitterly resent your warm dry comfort.

Robbing you of that gloating pleasure which our quitting would give you is just one good reason why we're unlikely to dump this pleasant habit. I hope you realize what joy we derive from continuing to piss you off, year after year. I hope the indignation and frustration add just enough sourness and bitterness to your days that everything you do is strangely unsatisfying, and happiness always slightly out of reach.

One of the other reasons that many of us are unlikely to quite is the smell aspect. We like the odour of tobacco. It adds a wondrous dimension. It recalls pleasant memories and creates intense moods.

One pipe smoker remarked, in reference to the Balkan Sobranie Smoking Mixture, that the aroma would permeate his jackets, and in consequence his children loved sniffing them. That, certainly, is a nose-memory of which no one should be robbed.
Others associate the smells of particular pipe tobaccos with beloved and departed relatives, the memories of which are awakened with startling intensity by even the merest whiff, how much more so an entire bowl-full.
Certain tobacco fragrances vividly remind me of events and places from many years ago.

All of this means nothing to the anti-tobacco crowd. One may assume that a number of them have no children, hate their relatives, and are memory-deficient in any case.

Now, related thereto, I should mention a tin of tobacco that was recently opened at the tobacconist, as a sample for any one to try (and given that there are probably no more than one or two dozen pipe-smokers in San Francisco, it may be a while before the tin is empty).

It is a rather pongy product.


Which is a rubbed out flake with a somewhat strong soapy smell, an odour that reminds everyone of Sutliff's Mixture 79. Never having smoked mixture 79, I couldn't say, but it actually reminds me of an undertone in Dobie's Foursquare Blue from many years ago. Plus plum, lavender, jasmine, and tea-shops frequented by little old ladies. Cold rainy summer afternoons.

So, two questions to my readers - what the heck is that smell? And is there anything out there which has just the vaguest hint of it behind a solid wall of Orientals?

It is a very recognizable aroma, but impossible to name.
I tried a full bowl of Independence a few days ago, and unfortunately the tobacco itself is not remarkable. Other than the soapy reek, it is an unassuming little flake. Not much there, and what was there seemed whipped into quivering silence by the smell.
It was a satisfying smoke, but much more in the hours after finishing the bowl than during the actual smoking.

The major pleasure I derive from it, however, is distinctly degenerate and decadent.
I love the echo of that fragrance which colours the next two or three smokes in that pipe. There is zest in sparking a memory-feeling that I cannot identify with traces of a perfume that I cannot recognize. It is like enjoying the presence of a beautiful girl who has a vulgar accent, or an old woman with a youthful and springlike eau de toilette. An innocent downy teenager, with scarlet lipstick of a particularly knowing and depraved hue.
Intensely delicious.


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  • At 9:36 AM, Blogger Tzipporah said…

    This is really terrible, BoTH. We have gone from beautiful Indian summer to typical cold, rainy wintry weather overnight, and the combination of the atmosphere with your tobacco descriptions is sending me right back to Jerusalem, 1996. When a friend got me regularly sharing his cigs.

    (I say "sharing" to let you know that I was never a REAL smoker who would do something as vulgar as buy my own tobacco. Oh no. I only ever cadged from others. Except for cloves... "Happy kitten" indeed.)

    OK, going to look for chocolate now so I'm not tempted to go downstairs to the corner market sin shop (aka candy, chips, booze, and smokes).

  • At 8:26 PM, Blogger Spiros said…

    Clove Cigarettes...
    Slowly I turned...
    Step by step...
    Inch by inch...

  • At 4:38 AM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der ┼íteg) said…

    This is particularly galling during wet weather. Such as we're having today. It is grim and grey outside, there is a steady rain, and the traffic is slow-moving. The street-scape is all round depressing and dull.

    In California??!?

    You must be lying. Impossible!

  • At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Eric the great deceiver said…

    If you like Independence, try Liberty by the same misguided manufacturer.

    Quote: "This is likely the most disgusting tobacco I have ever smoked; it was like licking the inside of a perfume bottle, and not a good perfume at that. Simply revolting."

    Sounds positively yummers.

  • At 6:42 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Sounds absolutely 'barf barf gooooood!'


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