Tahoe Pine Nuts: Oh, to smoke a cigar in Cuba
Special to the Bonanza
Cuba. The most intriguing Island in the world. Besides giving us Cuba Libra, they have given the world Upman Cigars and preserved our old Chevys. They have Hot August Nights every night down there in Cuba.
Their people honor family, sports and art, and they seem eager today to get out from under our thumb and rejoin the community of nations.
I first became enamored with Cuba while in college, when I learned that President Kennedy asked an aide to procure as many Upman Cigars as he could get his hands on, and he managed to land in the neighborhood of a thousand. I then made it my goal to become President of the United States, or to visit Cuba.
In full disclosure, I have yet to taste an Upman, but I’m not dead yet. Once I was lucky enough to have a University of Nevada, Reno professor, who had just returned from Cuba, offer me a Havana, which I smoked in the truck on my way home.
It kicked my ___. I had to pull over and walk around about half way home before I stuck that Havana in the ashtray and promised to tackle it the next day. But upon taking it up the next day the result was the same: Havana 2 – McAvoy 0. It kicked my ___ a second time.
Anyway, once Kennedy got his Upmans safely humidored, he announced a full-court-press embargo on Cuba and started planning the Bay of Pigs Invasion, which went over about as well as the old saw “when pigs fly.”
Then along came the shoe-pounding, but nuclear armed, Nikita Khrushchev to Cuba’s rescue, almost. I say “almost” because we came within an ace of blowing the Western Hemisphere into the Eastern Hemisphere before Nikita blinked, and we lived to fight another day.
Meanwhile, back in Nevada, Bugsy Siegel built the hotel that would herald the golden age of Las Vegas, the Fabulous Flamingo. Rumor had it that Bugsy was building a bunker in the basement of the Flamingo Hitler would have envied, and that perhaps he didn’t need the mob anymore. A meeting of the Combination was called in Havana. Bugsy was the only director not invited.
When Lucky Luciano demanded Bugsy turn over his wire service to Chicago, Bugsy flew to Havana and told Lucky to go to hell — bad judgment. Two weeks later Bugsy Siegel was found on his girlfriend’s couch in Beverly Hills. Two steel-jacketed slugs had changed the face of America’s wildest town.
So what’s that got to do with anything? Well, some of those American-owned properties in Cuba were confiscated by Castro, and we’re now asking for reparations.
Personally, I believe we should first compensate our Native Americans for confiscating their property and our Native Hawaiians for confiscating their property before we start demanding reparations for property we lost to Cuba. Were I superintending things would be different.
In closing, I have long since given up the idea of becoming President of the United States, but I shall never give up my dream of smoking an Upman Cigar in Cuba.
To learn more about McAvoy Layne, visit http://www.ghostoftwain.com.
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