We enjoyed this great interview of DIY maven Mark Frauenfelder over at Brand X. The DIY-driven editor of Make magazine and founder of the super-popular Boing Boing weblog waxes rhapsodic on the pleasures of creating and using handmade products.
His interview is not interesting for cigar smokers just because his blog features amplifiers made from cigar boxes and other cool stuff from cigar box musicians. In fact, everything he says about handmade products can be applied to cigars, which are by far and large hecho a mano.
“We are at an unusual point in our culture where it’s unusual to have something handmade,” said Frauenfelder. “For the last 99% of human existence, everything was handmade — but now everything is purchased.”
In a way, us cigar smokers are that spoiled 1%, enjoying a product that is much the same as it was a hundred years ago. Sure, we have different sizes, blends, etc. , but cigars have retained their handmade status because the quality of a human torcedor cannot be duplicated by machine. They’ve tried and come close — but no cigar.
That’s why I always raise my eyebrows at reviews that complain about this burn or that construction. I think most cigar smokers rightly overlook these observations, realizing that part of the allure of handmade products are their uniqueness, brought on in part by their flaws. If a cigar is getting bad reviews across the board, then there may be a deeper problem. But we’ve all smoked the occasional stinker and shrugged it off as a bad egg. Tell me about the construction of a cigar after you’ve smoked a box.
Back to the point — If what Frauenfelder suggests holds true, cigars could be in for another resurgence. In a mass-produced world, people will give ever-increasing value to handmade products like cigars. As long as we don’t get taxed to death, I think the cigar industry has a promising future. The luxurious luster of a cigar will only grow stronger as handmade products become harder and harder to find.