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John Palcewski's Journal

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Lovely Dreams

I’m starting to more fully understand the fascination De La Concha holds for me. It’s not just an elegant, comfortable place where powerful men gather to do something that might soon be banned in all public places. There’s a lot more to it.

Sit for a while and watch. A man comes here to conduct a serious ritual. He takes great care in the selection, the trimming, and the lighting of a quality cigar. He sits quietly, and is fully attentive to what he’s doing. Often he’ll take sips from his strong double espresso, or large cup of French Roast drip.

But his primary focus is on the smoking and all that surrounds it. He feels comfortable in the company of other powerful men who fully approve of and embrace this practice. He examines and savors the veined texture of the leaf that binds the tobacco into a rigid phallus, the ultimate symbol of a man’s perception of himself as omnipotent.

It doesn’t take long for a look of utter rapture to appear on his face. Does it come from a narcissistic admiration of his own sexuality? No, I don’t think so. That look is not precisely one of lust or sexual release.

I recall a book I read a long time ago in college, in a course about Native American history. Tobacco was a key element in ritual, in religion. Yes, that’s exactly it. This man with a big cigar, his face lifted reverently to heaven, is having nothing less than a spiritual experience.

In “The Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion,” professor Weston La Barre describes the use of tobacco in virtually all of the tribes of North America. To the people of these cultures “Not only men and animals contain ‘power,’” La Barre says, “but also plants, in particular those plants containing psychotropic substances.”

He goes on to say that the Native Americans believed such mind-altering substances obviously contained “spirit-stuff.” The mind, after all, is the spiritual, and the mental the sacred.

“…any visionary or psychotropic state—whether a sleeping or waking REM-state or dream, or a sensory-deprivation hallucination in the vision-quest isolate…—is in itself a manifest experience of the supernatural. Hence narcotic and other drugs are inextricably connected in Indian religion with dream visions and supernatural power.”

Now when I light up a Cohiba and sip a French Roast at De La Concha I feel much less guilty. It’s not entirely an idle pleasure, a waste of time. I am, after all, cultivating both my mind and my sprit. And re-experiencing the lovely dreams of this country’s first inhabitants.

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what? no women in there? this reminds me, i have a cohiba in the car, that the kids keep trying to steal. it is the last from my husband's stash. the last time i smoked one was a during a trip last fall to and from burlington vermonth. i'll have to plan a special trip to smoke this last one.

The last woman I saw in there gave me a cold, hard stare. Probably because I wasn't in my Armani but my Levi. And sweat shirt. Women are welcomed, actually. I never picked up any negative vibes when one showed up and shared a table. Cohibas are the best.

well, she was a fool if she only responds to armani! and yes, cohibas are the best.

And - experiencing the power of fire. In one of the few safe/legal ways we're allowed to experience it today.

Excellent point! I never thought of it.

There's so much more to any situation than most percieve. Especially ones involving mind altering substances and phallus shaped objects. I like the way your writing caught this in such an elegant and eloquent way. I only wish that you had presented the image of phallic cigar in all its glory in the picture that you posted with this.

Being in an establishment prefered by the powerful men while resonating with the spirt of the land's natives is quite the interesting contrast, an interesting reality to program yourself into.

There's a gorgeous example of it a few days back in a picture with the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Nice of you to say, thanks. And yes, that place is quite fascinating as realities go.

My best friend in the whole wide world is a full-blooded Arikara woman. She is the great-granddaughter of Little Sioux, one of Custer's Indian Scouts who told him, at the Little Big Horn, "If you go over that hill, you're gonna die."

From what I've learned from Indian Religion from her family, I know what you say to be true, and appreciate the fact that you give credit where it is due.

I've never smoked a cigar, although I've been told it is not something a woman necessarily needs to experience.

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