Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Late at night a man smokes Cornell & Diehl's Red Stag in a squat bulldog from E. Wilke, formerly located in New York City. While a crazy person on one corner changes his clothes (flashes of pallid flesh), a crazy person on the other corner goes through the garbage cans (discarding everything that isn't tin or bottle on the sidewalk), a crazy person on the third corner makes strange mooing sounds, and two damsels on the fourth wait for their ride.

Earlier I had deployed the "Pipe for Watching Rats in Spofford Alley", even though due to an early delivery in a few hours the bookseller had regrettably cancelled our usual jollifications in C'Town, which have been going on once a week for over two decades, more or less. We are men of habit.

Cornell & Diehl's Red Stag is a medium English, not very top-heavy in the Latakia department, fair amount of Turkish, and consequently well-suited to a cold night in December in San Francisco. The venue being Polk Street, near a Japanese restaurant, a fancy bakery, a wine lounge, and one of the screamingest gay bars in the city. And also near Bob's Donuts, where late night booze hounds go for a sugary snackipoo after closing time.
And, naturally, crazy people.

When I smoke Virginia-Perique mixtures here, sometimes people ask me for cigarettes. Orientals do not suggest a fag, and no one has importuned me yet when I smoke those.
Which is strange. It seems no one remembers Yenidje straights from Balkan Sobranie, Khedive ovals from Austria, or Kyriazi Frères, located in Suk El Tawfikia, Kahira el Misr (Egypt). Similar smells to what I was smoking.

The tin of Red Stag had benefitted from being opened five weeks ago. Much better now. Tin-note pleasantly resinous and degenerate. Reminds me rather of Constantinople (not made since the seventies), and John Cotton's Smyrna.

Wilke closed down New York operations in the nineties, after a fractured history. Their pipes are sweet smokes, quite desirable.
And squat bulldogs are a rarity.

My dad favoured bulldogs, and his pipes were what as a teenager I always considered the paradigm of smoking equipment. And, if well made, that shape in all its variations still commands my veneration.
The squat version, especially, speaks.

Some tobaccos take longer than others. Earlier I enjoyed Greg Pease's Navigator, in a bent bull. Over an hour smoke. But Oriental (English) blends are a faster load, and in the Wilke that was barely thirty minutes.

The "Pipe for Watching Rats in Spofford Alley", with a Virginia, is around thirty to forty minutes. With a Lat blend, considerably less.

Over two years ago I would enjoy a pipe under the overhang of the old Four Seas (四海酒樓) on Waverly. It no longer exists, alas, and there are changes in the neighborhood. Uncle's on the corner is gone too. But the two clinics for bumps, bruises, contusions, and muscle aches are still there.
As well as the First Chinese Baptist Church, where occasionally "odd" individuals doss down in the entryway of their social hall.

C'town is half a dozen blocks away. Late nights there are different.
Here, there are louder crazy people.
More drunks.

Actually, all of San Francisco is filled with loonies.
And disturbing behaviour.

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