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Pipelines

Is it a Dublin?
Is anyone else as bemused, befuddled (and impressed) as I am with the pipes that were submitted to the Greater Kansas City Pipe Club carving contest? I could have sworn that the standard shape chosen this year was the Dublin. As I looked from pipe to pipe I couldn’t believe my eyes. Of the 44 pipes submitted, guess how many are actually Dublins? Two. Thank you, Russ Cook and Jesse Jones, for following directions. Now, guess how many of the seven finalists are Dublins? None. Of all the winners, the closest shape to a Dublin is the understated, Italian-like elegance of Thomas Richards’ Honorable Mention.

The vast majority of the shapes submitted are freehands. Freehands are not Dublins. And if the shape chosen next year is the cutty, Gunnar Weber Prada, Eric Koldt and Nathan Rimkus will be all set with their exquisite-looking pipes. Nathan King’s submission, by the way, seems to float off the page in fluid elegance. But is it a Dublin?

After Cook and Jones (who nail it) and Richards’ excellent “riff,” the pipes that come the closest, in my opinion, to a “version” of the Dublin shape are Ryan Alden’s plateau, Grant Batson’s, with its “athletic” shank, and Steve Norse’s. Submissions from Will Purdy and another beauty from Victor Rimkus are also quite stunning. The understated lines of Chris Morgan’s straight-grain are also beautiful and Dublinesque. It looks to me a little like Charatan shape 58.

If the contest had called for “Danish freehands,” Matt Brannon, Jerry Crawford, David Huber, Nathan King, Don Marshall, Tonni Nielsen, Bill Shalosky, Joseph Skoda and my favorite, Scott Thile, would certainly be in the running. Again, these are not Dublins.

Next year, I suggest that everyone who submits a pipe to the contest at least glance at the excellent Standard Shape Chart by Bill Burney. As an artist—a painter—I may be the last one in line to stifle creativity. But if you are entering a pipe-carving contest where the only rules are that it conforms to a certain standard shape, it occurred to me that you should at least be in the same ballpark. Just a thought.

Mark Barsness
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Response from contest judge George Dibos: The shape question is one of those things that looks obvious and simple from afar, but gets exponentially more complicated the closer you get. Quinton [Wells], Greg [Pease] and I have drilled into it many times, and I’m sure Tad [Gage] has had his own share of conversations. I invite anyone who thinks otherwise to give us a call when they think they’ve found the answer. I guarantee that within 30 seconds they’ll be saying, “I see what you mean … I hadn’t considered that.”

Quinton has been working on a conceptual shift for the 2014 contest that will hopefully make things tighter going forward: Instead of trying to please all the people all the time (i.e., reward execution and innovative design equally), the judging would emphasize and reward one, then the other, in alternating years. In essence, make even-numbered years true, literal classic shape contests and odd-numbered years “wow us with your imagination!” ones.

Such an approach is the only way to keep everyone happy and measure all the qualities that need measuring, I think.

Rewarding execution brilliance and design brilliance under a tightly defined shape umbrella is impossible. There is no clear line that constitutes “too much departure” from a shape. The limit becomes wholly subjective, and because subjectivity cannot be quantified, decisions regarding it can only be subjectively defended. That road leads straight to disaster. Which is why only grossly fundamental and demonstrable characteristics have been employed as shape criteria so far: (2010) Volcano = cone; (2011) Panel = smooth/flat area; (2012) Bulldog = twin “bases facing” cones; (2013) Dublin = inverted cone. It was far from ideal, but the only way both design and execution could be accommodated.

George Dibos
Cyberspace

Corn cob chuckle
I lit up a pipe (corncob, of course) and read “Grandpa and the game warden” [“Editor’s Desk,” Fall 2013, page 4]. I laughed all the way through it. Great story!

Phil Morgan
Missouri Meerschaum Co.
Washington, Missouri

Pipes’ health benefits?
I have seen articles online and in print occasionally that cite various studies by neurologists that suggest a definite link between smoking cigarettes and a decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. There seems to be a neuro-protective
compound in tobacco that has a beneficial effect in this regard. Whatever this compound is has not yet been isolated. This has led me to wonder if this same thing could also carry over and be true for pipe and cigar smokers. I have been especially alert to these studies because of the people in my life who have this disease: my father, my older brother, my wife and her father. My dad was a pipe smoker for many years and developed Parkinson’s later in life after giving up smoking. I realize that simply living longer improves one’s chances of developing this disease so there isn’t necessarily a correlation there. (It’s not clear if there is a genetic predisposition to contracting Parkinson’s. What causes it is unclear.)

I certainly wouldn’t advocate that anyone begin cigarette smoking because of the possibility that they may lessen their chances of getting the disease, as we all know the other dangers associated with cigarette smoking. However, that being said, we as pipe smokers certainly know of the pleasures of smoking a pipe. Perhaps there is actually a health benefit as well!

I remember the surgeon general’s report from the 1960s that showed the correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. That same report also stated that pipe smoking did not pose the same danger and that pipe smokers actually live on average a bit longer than nonsmokers. Another plus for pipe smoking!

I have smoked a pipe since I was 17. I am now just a month shy of my 60th birthday and enjoy smoking my pipes more than ever. I regret to say that I have been unable to persuade my wife to take up pipe smoking even though it may have some beneficial effects on her Parkinson’s. At least she has never minded my smoking.

I have no intention whatever of giving up smoking. If it decreases my risk of contracting Parkinson’s and adds a year or two to my life all that much better!

Chris Reinhart
Cyberspace

Pipelines needs you! We keep hearing how much people like to read our letters column and learn about the experiences and opinions of other pipe enthusiasts. If you think the column was too short this issue, we agree, but we need letters to fill it up. Please write us about anything pipe-related in your life and share it with the pipe community. Send letters to Pipes and tobaccos magazine at 3101 Poplarwood Court, Suite 115, Raleigh, NC 27604 or email Chuck Stanion at cstanion@pipesandtobaccosmagazine.com or Steve Ross at sross@pipesandtobaccosmagazine. com.

To read the rest of the letters in “Pipelines,” subscribe to Pipes and tobaccos magazine or on the online digital edition.

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Category: Pipe Lines, Winter 2014

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