On Pipes

5 Jun

While many of you out there (and I especially mean those precocious “tweens”) have expressed an interest in smoking, I’d like to take a short moment to “clear the air” about pipe selection.

There are a large variety of pipes and tobaccos out there. Don’t limit yourself to just one, as you may find yourself miles away from your favorite at a time when you need the comfort of endlessly filling, tamping and relighting your pipe.

I have no particular favorite, but I do tend to stray towards basic blacks and browns while steering clear of ostentatious whites or reds.

I would, however, advise you to steer clear of the corncob pipe. While its rakish “down home” looks may be visually appealing, the actual delivery system makes it taste as if you’re smoking Orville Redenbacher’s ashes.

Warmest regards,
Clifton L. Tanager


23 Responses to “On Pipes”

  1. davehambo June 5, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    Damnation, I thought this post would at least have;

    • Clifton L. Tanager June 5, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

      Dave –

      You’d think it would have, what with “Pipes” being so prominently featured in the title. I’ll have to rectify that in the future, perhaps with a piece on bagpipes, drums and the fact that they seem to be limited to appearances in medieval films and funerals these days.

      Something should be done about that and lord knows I’m not the one to actually do anything about it. But writing about it? That’s right up my kilt alley.

  2. elizabeth3hersh June 5, 2010 at 6:26 am #

    I though of you, Clifton, as I was perusing lovely Meerschaum pipes on eBay the other day. One particular pipe stood out from the rest, themed “The Last Supper.” Some poor soul spent years carving this:

    • Clifton L. Tanager June 5, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

      Elizabeth –

      Thanks for sharing that. Whoever carved that is most likely going to die unappreciated in their time. I would wonder why someone would be perusing Meerschaum pipes just out of the blue, but then again, I wonder about a lot of activities that go on these days, like Fall Festivals and Fun Runs.

      Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned devilish Halloween or not running from place to place in a somewhat guilty fashion?

  3. thestuffinbetween June 5, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    That is a lovely meerschaum sculpture, elizabeth.

    I’m glad you didn’t bring up bongs, hash pipes, crack pipes, and finally the kind of pipes unscrupulous types like the IHH use to crack skulls and who are not passive “freedom” types (what a shock). But I digress.

    Remember the tar and nicotine. While pipe tobacco is probably more pure than cigarette tobacco, it can still cause lip cancer and undoubtedly other types, so caveat, teens!!

    And stay away from snuff whatever you do!!

    Thank you again, Clifton, for your lovely gems.

    • Clifton L. Tanager June 5, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

      Stuff –

      I’m in agreement with you. I perhaps should have clarified which sort of pipe I was referring to, but I mistakenly thought that there was only one sort of pipe that anyone was purchasing these days.

      And thanks for the warning on the unsightly cancer, Stuff. I’m pretty sure that the pipes I purchased in my youth are “cancer-free” seeing as I got my original pipe from my doctor who also attempted to throw in a few packs of Camels and some morphine for my occasional mild headaches. Just steer clear of any pipe manufactured past 1966 and you should avoid the “cancer bug” altogether.

      Snuff was relegated to cowboys and the women who loved them. I was neither.

      Thanks for the splendid comment and return visit, Stuff.

      • thestuffinbetween June 5, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

        Hi again, Clifton,

        I was just reading Nursemyra’s blog and she’s done a post on snuff:


        It turns out Napoleon and other aristocratic types were snuff addicts, although they shot it up their noses with special guns or had special bottles from which they daintily pinched it with their fingers, unlike the cowboy method, which was loud and germy.

        We can’t forget our modern-day ball players spitting snuff-induced, saliva by-products onto the playing fields–not ideal examples for our tweens. We surely don’t want our driveways and garden paths filled with dark, chewey muck, not to mention the dentists’ bills.

        Now I can go to bed, knowing that I may have saved one kid’s life! One can hope.


      • nursemyra June 6, 2010 at 2:51 am #

        “cowboys and the women who loved them”….. haha, very funny CLT

  4. thecodger June 5, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    My biggest complaint about the tweens is that they don’t know how to pipe down until they become full-fledged teens. By that point, they should be fully independent and could conceivably have a valid opinion, provided they’ve stayed in school.

    My grandson Max has met with quite a bit of success selling tobacco pipes he makes himself out of glass.

    The Codger

    • Clifton L. Tanager June 5, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

      Codger –

      In addition to having one of the best professions in the blog business (one can’t have too many professional codgers, in my opinion), you’ve also raised a very good point about the general “mouthiness” of these unpredictable and incredibly expensive teens. It’s certainly true that lacking a valid opinion has never kept them from expressing them loudly and repeatedly.

      Add to that the fact that their opinions are in constant upheaval and you’ve got a recipe for some of the most annoying beings on earth. We can only hope (for their sakes but mostly ours) that it’s just a “phase.”

      Pass my congratulations on to your grandson, Codger. He sounds like he’s got a pretty solid head on his shoulders and most likely, a pretty full head of hair.

  5. Fundamental Jelly June 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    I am not sure if it it widely known, but Orville Redenbacher’s remains were actually microwaved. As to taste, I couldn’t say.

    • Clifton L. Tanager June 5, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

      FJ –

      Thanks for that information. I was previously unaware of that but it does all make some sort of cosmic sense. That would explain all the Redenbacher sightings following an intense and thorough popcorn burning. It’s as if he can be summoned by any stoner with more cravings than attention span.

      I’ve got to imagine it all tastes the same once the hair has been seared off.

  6. Scott Oglesby June 6, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    I’m not much of a pipe smoker these days Clifton, not much of a smoker at all anymore since I gave up the coffin nails a while back. But I did have a question I was hoping you could help me with.

    My wife’s brother (who’s British) also gave up the cancer sticks about the same time that I did. The problem is that he used to enjoy the occasional hashish puff. I know that it’s wrong but it is very European…you know how Godless these people are. Anyway, do you happen to know a delivery method that would allow him to smoke the hashish without having to use any tobacco at all? You see, he’s frightened (cowards, these Europeans) of becoming hooked on the tobacco again.

    I know that it may be inappropriate, even rude to come to a gentleman such as yourself with such a boorish and pedestrian query but you are simply the most experienced and knowledgeable person I know. Plus you were in the Koreas… I’ve heard about what went on in the Koreas.

    • Clifton L. Tanager June 6, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

      Scott –

      Thanks very much for the question. I’m not sure what’s available for the hash smoker who’s wishing to avoid ingesting fully legal drugs into his system.

      Normally for us, it was the other way around as we spent our limited R&R time looking to down as much of the fully “non-legal” substances as possible in preparation for our return to the front.

      We’d hope that by the end of 72 hours that our systems would be a veritable smorgabord of hallucinogens, opiates and contagions. This would take the “edge” off our return to the DMZ where we were frequently fired upon by both sides of the front.

      We never took the shots from the back personally, as we were sure those soldiers were still conquering their own self-ingested demons and probably has mistaken us for some sort of atomically mutated insects.

      I don’t find your question out of line at all, Scott, but perhaps I should refer your friend to Codger, whose talented grandson is in the pipe-making business.

  7. Donald Mills June 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Excellent advice once again, Clifton.

    An odd coincidence but I met a woman at the 1960 Republican convention in Chicago who claimed to have smoked Orville Redenbacher’s ashes. I thought it odd at the time, seeing as how he was still alive and staying just down the Hall in room 222.

    Still, you know how it can get at conventions. People say some damned odd things – especially if they’re Everett Dirksen supporters.

    Good times, though.

    All the best,


    • Clifton L. Tanager June 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

      Don –

      Wonderful to see you again.

      You do speak the truth about conventions, seeing as they’re filled with people getting heavily intoxicated on the company’s expense sheet.

      And as for the Everett Dirksen supporters, say no more. I had a run-in with a few of those during a speaking engagement at a local high school. It was supposed to be an ordinary “Career Day” speech, in which I attempting to “spice up” an anecdote about filing requirements for SEC submissions. One thing led to another and I was being quizzed about local bylaws of which I was unfamiliar.

      Before it was all said and done, I was miles away from my prepared notes and attempting to delineate some minor Egyptian dieties when all heaven broke loose and I was on the run from an irate schoolboard and their petition to put prayer back in school.

      Fortunately, I had “borrowed” a jeep from the Army and was able to hightail it across the football field, some adjoining backyards and finally into a ravine and my eventual freedom.

      Thanks again for visiting, Don.

  8. RubyTwoShoes June 6, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    I too was going to add a recommendation I gleaned from Nurse Myra – the double barrel snuff gun, a direct hit straight up the snozzer! But seeing as though thats already been put out there, may I suggest the young ones keep themselves open to experimenting with a good ole chillum pipe for a hearty hit to the chest

    (this doubles up as my suggestion for Scott also – along with Chamomile tea leaves – thats what we used to smoke pot with in my ole hippy house where everyone was ‘down’ with inhaling pot, traffic fumes and other everyday chemical concoctions, but thought tobacco was, like, evil, man…)

    • Clifton L. Tanager June 7, 2010 at 7:04 am #

      Ruby –

      I appreciate the suggestions, along with Stuff and Nurse Myra, for several varieties of snuff delivery devices. I’m not much of a fan of snuff so it would please me to no end to watch snuff enthusiasts shoot themselves in the face.

      Thanks also for your assistance with Scott’s “friend’s” problem. I’m unfortunately unfamiliar with this new generation of pipes, especially those that need to be hastily shoved into closets or down toilets whenever the knock at the door seems way too parental/official.

  9. bschooled June 7, 2010 at 4:19 am #


    Sorry for my belated comment. I’ve had company this past week, and they’ve been a little “needy”, to say the least.

    I swear, if I hear “Are we going to do something besides watch “Kate Plus 8″ while you hang out on the computer?” one more time, it will be too soon.

    Anyway, I couldn’t agree more with your post. The first pipe I ever owned was a corncob pipe, and besides being forced to endure the incessant name calling (“Hey Frosty! When you gonna melt away?”), I was the only kid in high school whose clothes smelled like “Movie Theatre-Style Mary Jane”.

    I’m revering your blog, Clifton. Keep up the distinguished and respectable advice-giving work.

    • Clifton L. Tanager June 7, 2010 at 7:10 am #

      bschooled –

      How wonderful to see you again despite your hectic schedule. I guess the old adage is true: Houseguests are like fish. After three days you really begin to wish the Lent was the hell over already.

      I’m also pleased to hear that you bucked the trends and took up pipe-smoking early in life. Too many teens and tweens are putting off this formative experience for way too long.

      Of course, pipe selection is still key as we can’t have the future of our great nations being chided for resembling mythical winter figures or reeking of herbs and butter (at least not until they’re in culinary school/Devry).

      Thanks for your continued patronage, bschooled. Always great to see you.

  10. Overconfident Orientalist June 14, 2010 at 1:24 am #

    Orville Redenbacher is dead? Damn. When did that happen?

    • Clifton L. Tanager June 14, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

      O/O –

      I’m not sure when it happened, but I’m fairly sure it had something to do with someone not removing the plastic before firing up the microwave. The warning is on there for a reason.

      Not only does the smell take forever to clear out of your neighbor’s apartment, but the law of unintended consequences specifically mentions that anything from local brownouts to large-scale riots could result from such inattention.


  1. Word Around the Campfire – the Man Who Couldn’t Cry edition « Hidden Leaves - June 6, 2010

    […] Clifton L. Tanager: How to be Popular and On Pipes […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: