di Luca di Piazza, w/ Mark Irwin

Like every writer I’ve ever met, I’m hungry for feedback—positive, negative, in-between—anything to create dialogue and talk about pipes and pipe-smoking. I got lucky this time and shortly after the Five Laws began appearing on the blog, Luca returned from a short seaside stint, straightened up the studio and went out roaming the Italian countryside via train. This is his standard modus operandi in the quest for the best new Italian pipes for the boutique. Fortunately for me, his sitting on the train all those hours plus one or two sleepless nights gave him some time to process the laws, and it wasn’t long before I began to receive little tidbits about one or another of them as he traveled from station to station, sometimes assenting to what I’d written, sometimes not, but always illuminating my understanding.    Leggi di più

di Mark Irwin

Back in the early 1990s my only regular source for pipes and tobaccos was Jim Robinson’s Cavalier Pipe & Tobacco in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I’d wander as often as I ran out of MacBarens Virginia #1 or the occasional tin of Balkan Sobranie. While I smoked my pipe nearly every day, I only added 3 or 4 pipes to my rotation during the 10 years I was working on my Ph.D., all of them from Jim. After milling around as long as I could and trying not to drool on anything, I’d finally get on his nerves, at which point I’d beat a hasty retreat. One day, however, he was in an uncharacteristically sanguine mood, and instead of getting annoyed asked me why I didn’t consider buying “an estate pipe,” shoving a tray of Ferndown, Upshall heavy Danish free-hands (the kind that are no longer in style) in front of me. Leggi di più

di Mark Irwin

I was lying under the Mini-Cooper this morning wiping off grime that had accumulated around the oil-pan gasket I was replacing, wondering how all the muscles in my back and neck could be so sore, when the epiphany came to me. Why do a lot of guys like to work on their cars? It’s a macho-thing for some, but that’s not it. Mundungus says it’s so we can save a pot of money and re-channel it for pipes and tobaccos (look in the mirror, Charles).* But that’s not it, either. The real reason is peace. When you take care of something you enjoy, you create balance and order in your own section of the cosmos. The fruit of taking careis a heightened appreciation and enjoyment of the objects of your concern.  Leggi di più