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.

Sunday, December 07, 2014


The person who scribbles this blog is NOT the most social of persons. That is almost a given, because truly gregarious souls are often too extrovert and garrulous to actually write anything. The converse however is not necessarily that people who write are introverts worth reading.
Judging by the internet, very little that has been written is actually even bearable. This blog could be in that large category.
Thank you for getting this far.

This past Thursday wine, cheese, bread, and stout beer were consumed. In between the generation of a dense cloud of smoke. One or two head-colds, in remission, may have taken a few steps back in consequence. One of the gentlemen present asked if the door could be opened because of the smog.
Naturally I allowed the heretic to enable the entry of fresh air.
His deviance is purely temporary in nature.
He has a collection of Barbies.
It's fabulous.


By which are meant pipes carved by Rainier Barbi, doyen of German pipe makers till his untimely exit in 2011. The man with the fab assortment of handmade pipes was at the tail-end of a sinus infection caused by Costa Rica, which has more birds and butterflies than half the rest of the world put together. It's a very infectious place, and filled with bugs.
He survived the ghastly ordeal.
Birds. Butterflies.

One of our oldest friends, however, was not there to enjoy his return, and we smoked his favourite tobacco to remember him. Given that some of us are into aromatics or VaPers, this was, in its own way, a form of tribute.
Fitting in any case.

Dr. George Couris passed away on November 15

From his obituary in the SF Chronicle: "Born in Greece to Demetrios and Ioanna Kouris, he immigrated to the United States in 1958. He obtained his medical degree in Greece and his surgical training in the United States and the United Kingdom. George enjoyed the art of surgery (general, vascular and thoracic) and practiced in San Francisco, New York and Sun Valley, Idaho.
George's non-surgical life was filled with his passion for ballet, classical music, and his love of skiing. His retirement involved considerable travel, his self-taught oil painting, drawing humorous cartoons and writing poetry. He remained an avid pipe smoker all his life."

[End quote.]

Dr. Couris only smoked Dunhill's London Mixture. So that evening, we all smoked London Mixture. Not all of us stuffed it into a Hungarian, however. The Hungarian, or Oom Paul, is the pipe shape that Dr. Couris favoured, because it allowed him to do his paperwork after slicing up patients and putting them back together.

Personally, I find a pipe that I cannot jam a cleaner through while it is in use somewhat problematic, and consequently I own only one example. But to match the mood I puffed a Peterson Rathbone. Which is sort of Oompaulish, but with a lazier bend.

There was NO strange behaviour, despite our natural praedilections.
We restrained ourselves. We were adults.

We also decided that the monthly meeting should move to the second Thursday of the month, because one of the key members has a surgical department meeting every first Thursday. And seeing as the number of medical dudes among the membership has fallen, we must treasure the remaining doctors; they give us plausible deniability.

I am all about plausible deniability. There are NO health repercussions from sensible tobacco use, I couldn't have done it your honour as I was nowhere near the scene of the crime, and whether or not the young lady with the intriguing cleavage ever slept with the fat pig is none of your business.

She's from back east. They do peculiar things there.
In addition to growing fine tobacco.

We are all going to miss George. He was a splendid fellow, with a wry and puckish sense of humour. In particular I remember his intelligence, thoughtfulness, and well-considered interactions with others, as well as the time he brought an illustration of a nineteenth century medical device to one of the meetings.

Imagine a wry and elfin presence at the centre of the table. A scarlet labelled tin in front of him, a pipe of a familiar shape issuing whisps of fragrance. One glass of wine. Twinkling eyes. Eventually an astutely calibrated rhetorical question upending someone else's far too deeply pursued opinionation, or an insight that somehow added breadth to what had been a narrowly-focused conversation.

"The shape is unimportant; how does it smoke?"

I wonder how long he knew about the nineteenth century medical device before he decided to share with us the queer particulars.

"First look at the picture, then guess what it is."

My stab was probably closest.
A clyster.


From Wikipedia: "The tobacco smoke enema, an insufflation of tobacco smoke into the rectum by enema, was a medical treatment employed by European physicians for a range of ailments."

And further: "In the 1780s the Royal Humane Society installed resuscitation kits, including smoke enemas, at various points along the River Thames, and by the turn of the 19th century, tobacco smoke enemas had become an established practice in Western medicine, considered by Humane Societies to be as important as artificial respiration."

And a poem pf praise:

"Tobacco glyster, breath and bleed.
Keep warm and rub till you succeed.
And spare no pains for what you do;
May one day be repaid to you."

—Dr. Houlston (24 September 1774)

[End cite.]

I think you will agree that that is a completely unique way of enjoying the noble weed. Surprising that it has not had a resurgence. If marijuana is "therapeutic", then certainly the modern generation of hipsters should enjoy blowing smoke up their whatisits. Highly recommended.
And backed by centuries of medical practise.

A germane and incisive quote from somewhere else comes to mind:
"You must NOT have an illegal experience. Men here will try to sell you black market watches, and if you talk to them, they will take you to a room, and try to sell you "other" things!"

Perhaps a nozzle, a fumigator, and a bellows.
A mouthpiece which is attached to a pipe.
And a conical rectal insertion cone.

All the several members of the Golden Gate Pipe Club are strongly vested in more traditional nicotine delivery systems.

Kindly do not fall off your camel.

After the meeting adjourned -- no, we did NOT dissolve in a puff of smoke, who said that? -- a few members repaired to a den of equity in downtown San Francisco, where we were surrounded by cigar freaks talking loudly.
An illustrator joined us, chatted for a while, and then headed out.
After someone got distracted by a tweeting love god and left, I was joined by a very sober gentleman who likes La Flor Dominicana cigars, shortly followed by a severely intoxicated engineering personage partaking of a Padron 80th. Anniversary perfecto with a quadruple Bourbon no ice.

I'm not entirely sure what I was drinking. It was a singlemalt oddity distilled in California. Perhaps I am the only customer who gets it.

The problem with cigar bars is that there is never any cleavage, other than the vistas presented by large middle-aged gentlemen.

I am not a large middle-aged gentleman. I have no cleavage. Undoubtedly a little cleavage on the right person is a wonderful thing, assuming the suitable gender. But it does not suit middle-aged gentlemen.
Eventually the crowd thinned. Boruch Hashem.
The young lady from way back east was not there, the fat pig who may or may not have had something going on with her did not stay long.
The racist with the fedora left in due course.
No aromatics were smoked.

It had begun to drizzle again as the last few patrons went out into the silent San Francisco darkness.

According to my apartment mate, the smell of aromatic pipe tobacco "makes old stale pee smell good".

Curtis would agree.


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  • At 10:04 AM, Anonymous MA said…

    In order to translate the writings of Atboth, one must be armed with a dictionary. thesaurus,
    a copy of Midsummer night's dream, and the talmud.
    If you can hold your breathe while reading this entire blog and release it when finished, if you survive the experience, you will have qualified for a degree in vocabulary.
    A smoking enema? What tobacco would one employ in such a procedure? Dunhill"s "Baby's Bottom"?

  • At 11:26 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Good choice. I was going to suggest Cornell & Diehl's 'Exhausted Rooster', or perhaps Erinmore Flake, but 'Baby's Bottom' is better.

    Too bad it is no longer made


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