Furthest Right

Pipe Meditation (March 31, 2019)

Smoking Brown Twist Sliced presents a challenge to even the experienced smoker. This blend consists of mostly smoke-cured Virginia leaf with a small amount of air-cured sweet Virginia and is spun on vast machines, crushing the cellular walls within the leaves and causing the fermentation of sugars and pH shift that makes this tobacco so strong.

Somewhere in there, they spray it down with some ancient English potion that further strengthens the potency of these tasty little leaves. As a result, the oils that later make up tar in the smoke tend to ooze out all over these leaves, making a wet and dense result.

That means for you that smoking Brown Twist Sliced will involve lighting something that is denser, oilier, and wetter than most blends, but a great delight awaits if you get it burning. These smoky leaves are both tangy and sweet, not to mention strong.

To make this blend work, fill the bowl loosely and do not tamp more than a “gravity tamp” or letting your tamper fall gently against the leaf. Then, get ready for your initial light: stroke this with the flame of a match until the whole round area of the top of the bowl glows.

Then, paradoxically, tamp — again, with light gravity only — that top layer of ashes. Repeat your lighting process, but go twice as hard this time, and draw in sharply to get the flame down into the pile of leaf. You want it to blaze when you light so that it smolders later.

Once one of these pipes is going, you may need to relight, because this blend resembles a green log in its burning qualities. Until you get it going, you may have problems keeping it alight; even then, you might hit a denser and wetter patch, and have it sputter out.

Those who adore this old school English blend, like those who relish 1792 Flake or even Five Brothers, are a bit of a rare breed. You have to like strong tobacco with a strong smoky and oily top flavor and a subtle layering of tastes within.

You also have to not mind smelling like you have been loading a coal stove. Of course, if you are loading a coal stove, you might as well smoke this stuff anyway, because it will not make you smell any worse. You also might smoke it just because.

The trick in my experience is to keep your lips sealed around the pipe so that there is a slow steady draw, and when you blow the smoke out of your mouth — for the sake of the ancient gods, do not inhale! you will die — do so quickly. Keep that fire alight.

I would claim that this is difficult, but really, it resembles the process of keeping a civilization alive. You must always exert slow and gentle but unyielding pressure forward, and that does not mean to new ideas, but to qualitative improvement and cleanup of messes.

What is qualitative improvement? If you produced ten bushels today, maybe next year you produce ten bushels as well, but they will be tastier, healthier, cleaner, and maybe you bred something into the apples or barley or whatever you are growing.

Messes are a fact of life. Someone will screw up, always. The trick is to get the mess before it gets out of hand and then clean it up entirely and set everyone back on the right track. Otherwise, you will become a glorified babysitter, dumping out diapers with all of your time.

You also have to pay attention to how people visualize the future. Most do not have the imagination to translate from concept to example in their minds, so to them, abstract terms are arbitrary, based on how you could use them in conversation and unrelated to reality.

For that reason, you have to always show them. It is like a puppet show: we want more turnips like this one and less like that one, and when we have turnips like that, we can make more rich tasty stew like this… see it? smell it? taste it? Good: now go.

Humans do not like to admit that natural law is within us. Some are born to be kings, some to be warriors, and some to be anonymous bit part actors who do the unskilled labor. Each life can be pleasant, but that requires good leadership, which is the rarest thing, really.

A good civilization operates like nature, by sorting. It sets up a goal, does not regulate method, and says that the point of cooperation is to achieve this goal. It rewards those who contribute toward this achievement, proportionate to what they did.

A bad civilization operates like the neurotic human mind. It declares everyone to be equal robots, tells them what methods to do, and has no goal except the perpetuation of its power structure. This we call tyranny, even when it is tyranny of the mob as in democracy.

Like Brown Twist Sliced, working with human groups requires patience and the recognition of differences. This tobacco does not smoke like ordinary tobaccos, but if you take note of what it is in reality, it can be a rewarding, powerful smoke.

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