The Mill
May 23, 2017;
  I have just one more pipe to post and I'm
finished with this latest case of 12, but I'm too
drained to do more.  It's the heat.  It's 79 in
here and I'm typing in my shorts.  Did those
great Southern writers (Faulkner, Carson
Mccullers, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor,
Pat Conroy, whom I met and who called the
store at least twice) write in the hot weather
and did it melt their brains?  Well, I don't have
those standards to live up to, but I do have to
keep the fingers going on this board.  I don't
have an editor telling me that a deadline is
arriving (or come & gone) but I feel an
obligation to fill up this page.  (Does not
nobody, then, feel an obligation to fill up my
brain with ideas?  Apparently not.)
  Well, maybe this one last time, I think I have
an idea for this section.  It comes from an
e-mail exchange with one of my good
correspondents, who is also a customer (one
thing is not dependent on the other...I am an
equal opportunity communicator.  I would stop
this kind of democratic behavior, but clearly,
as the girl once said, "I just can't help it." )
  He's a Professor at a major university (no, I
do not know what that means, but it was a line
that cheap, & sleazily covered paperback
novels used in the 40's & 50's and I always
imagined that the school I went to was one &
was peopled with those "easy" girls who went
to "a major Eastern university."  Nothing was
easy.  It would have been a lot easier if they
gave courses back then with titles like "Major
Detective Fiction in the U.S.," as they do today.
Can you imagine what that would have done
to my GPA?  I was reading that stuff anyhow.
I coulda been a contenda.) and we recently
had a discussion about the quality of today's
youth...not a rare topic among people who are
not among today's youth and probably a bit
sore about it.  
 The issue must have been brought up by me
at this location, and seems I said something
mildly derogatory about the quality of writing
by today's youngsters.  My Prof. friend, while
also asking to buy a pipe included this in his
e-mail: "By the way, your 4/10 column was
right on the mark. There is little reverence for
the written word. Should we blame our
penchant for texting, tweeting, and emailing? I
really don't know."
  Knowing, by now, that I'm usually wrong
about 95% of the time, in everything, I tried to
stick up for the young generation and
responded with, "it's my understanding that
every single age/generation, has scolded the
succeeding generation for being responsible
for a deterioration of the language.  That's
probably what prompted the French to
establish their Academy, which is an attempt
to prevent poisonous influences, such as
American English, from destroying their
wonderful language (and Prof. Henry Higgins
was not far off the mark when he said that the
French don't really care what they do, as long
as they pronounce it correctly).  Thus, I can't
answer your question except from the
perspective of a 74 year old who does revere
our language and the best use of it's 500,000
That said, I am not a fan of emojiis and such
and the incompetence of so many when it
comes to writing a complete, comprehensible
sentence.  On the other hand, there appear to
be a great number of really good writers out
there today.  I can't possibly read 1/100 of what
I'd like to get to.
I'll just bash the offending individuals and try
to stay away from a general disparagement.
 What's your take on this?  You probably have
to delve into many painful reports all the time."
  The Prof. wrote back: "I take your point
about the generational censure of the young.
That is just human nature and the aversion to
change. And I apologize for my over-broad

But really, you don't perceive a change in the
last twenty or thirty years? And isn't it
prompted by a technology dedicated to
spontaneity and speed? To immediately
express the inchoate as it brims from our

I don't mean these questions to be rhetorical. I
am jaded by years of student essays, I admit. I
am not claiming that they are unintelligent; on
the contrary they are very bright (by the way,
there is social scientific "evidence" that
average I.Q. has been rising slowly in the last
sixty years. This is the so-called Flynn Effect).

They just don't read. In my humble opinion, if
you don't read, you don't write well.

Certainly there are great America writers.
There are many. I have recently been reading
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian. It has been
described as an "anti-western" and by others
as a novel that stands next to Moby Dick! It is
epic and extremely violent. But the man has a
real gift for imagery and metaphor. He stirs my
dull imagination at least, in the way poetry
does sometimes. "
  To which I said, " In fact, I was thinking of
writing back even before your e-mail.  I do
think there is a deterioration in standards, and
it hit home this morning when I bought my
coffee for the melitta.  I only had a C-note
and the clerk (in dyed, garish colored hair, but
that's beside the issue) took a long time to
make the
change and then just handed it to me in a wad,
not only failing to count back, but neglecting to
it at all.  I'm a retailer.  I know how it should be
done, and it is rarely done properly any more.  
Blame always starts at the top, in my
estimation (hence the United Airlines kerfuffle
happened because the way the passenger
was treated is how the employees are treated
by their superiors...a funny word for
management, "superiors" when they are
hardly, and only rarely, superior.)
 Rarely, maybe never, it seems, is a
cashier/clerk taught how to count back.  That
is a deterioration in society.  Minor?  Sure, but
a sign of 1,000 other deteriorations, none of
which immediately come to mind, but we all
absorb the little indignities every day. (There's
this 8th or 9th grader at our local Sunday
Farmer's Market, assisting her parents,  who
counts back change properly.  You can be
sure I have praised and encouraged her every
time.  She, and many of the other farmers, also
know how
to say "thank you" at the end of a transaction.  
How quaint.  Most often I get a "no problem,"
when I say 'thank you.'  I'm tempted to ask,
"why, might there have been a problem in my
placing an order and giving you money?"  Is
that just a grumpy old man talking or is it an
example of lowered standards?)
  I was trying to be nice when I typed my
earlier reply.  But I am not nice and it pains me
to see what I consider to be lowered standards
and values.  Certainly, there appears to be a
lowering of what is valued.  Is it the technology
...the phones, for instance?  Yes, I think so.  
You say they don't read.  You are closer to that
scene than I am, but no, I rarely see a book in
the hands of a younger person...maybe as
often as I see a pipe in their hands.  In short,
"never" is barely an exaggeration.
  On any trip, other than a short, designated
errand, I always have a book with me.  Who
else does that anymore?  
  Reading is the key, or was my key, at the
least, to what I feel was a rich life.  The stories
and insights of good and great writers provide
grist for a huge part of my communications
with others.  It's an integral foundation.  If that
foundation were, instead, 40 spaces as in
tweets, I'd be a mental cripple.
Is that world of readers just about lost?  Might
well be, huh?  I'm not sorry I'm old.  (I'm not
even factoring in the simplification of the
language used.  Think of the nearly Baroque
sentences of the 15th, 16th ,17th, 18th, & 19th
centuries that were employed all day, every
day by all levels of society.  We'd none of us
comprehend 1/2 of what quickly came out of
people's mouths and pens.)
  As for Cormac McCarthy, from everything
I've heard and read, he is an excellent writer.  
He just seems too dark for me.  I know there is
a lot of violence in the world; I'd rather not
delve into the details.  I'm weak that way.  I do
read fiction, as much as I can, being a slow
reader.  There are so many good authors
today.  David Mitchell, Michael Chabon,
Jonathan Lethem, Hilary Mantel, just
to name a few that are current, plus old timers
like Robertson Davies and then going back to
the hundreds that I've not touched.  I'm
somewhere in the middle of "The Iliad," which
allows me to say that I'm 3,000 years behind in
my reading.  I'll plod on.
Thank you for reading this, if you did.  I
apologize for taking up this much of your time.  
At the end of our inquisition, I guess the
question is, 'have we, as a specie, peaked?  If
so, when?"  (Makes me think of the leader of
the rats of the world, addressing their annual
congress in his/her stump speech: "We rats
are at the dawn of an even greater world of
possibilities.  For us, the best is yet to come."
The dirty rat is probably right.)
The last e-mail in this series then came: "You
read Davies! I love that Deptford trilogy.

Yeah, I guess "no problem" is the new
"thank-you". What can you do? But I will say
this for the millennials
on my campus -- they always hold the door for
me! When that began, I knew I had finally
achieved true senior status. Don't get me
wrong, these are nice kids.

I concur also with your point about returning
change. Counting back was the first thing I
was taught when I  worked at a bookstore
several years ago. It did not have a cash
register, so you needed to.

I have four different translations of the Iliad.
Now that is a dark and beautiful tale . I admit to
only reading it through once - and I skimmed
some of the battle scenes and the genealogies
(my reading is pretty spotty, by the way. I tend
to find something and read it again later). A
game a school friend (also retiring) and I play is
to recite the titles of "Great Books" we never
read! He is trying to do something about it ( he
is reading Zola!!), but I am reading old science
fiction novels from the fifties. I just finished
reading "Forbidden Planet" and "Day of the

Can I suggest another novel? Since you can't
say no here it goes. A River Runs Through It.
Norman Maclean, I think. This one will lift you
up. And these days, we need it.

Human progress? I ask my kids about that
every semester. If there is something called
"human nature" it is slow to change.

Cheers and Be Well,"

Once again, I managed to fill in a lot of white
space.  I think there should be a medal for that.

Posted were a large Tao on the Danish page,
an Ascorti/Radice Caminetto on the Italian
page & a Julius Vesz on the U.S. page.
I should have put a Sam Learned on the U.S.
page, but it looks the same and costs the
same sitting on the German page, so live with
it.  Two Ingo Garbe pipes, one unsmoked, are
also newly there.

Pease Southlinch from 2002 NASPC show. $90
Friedman & Pease Winter's Tale.  $100
Balkan Sobranie Virginia # 10 50 grams. 4 tins.  
$250 each.  
New Tins arrived, including
Mephisto, Blackpoint, Abingdon, and a bunch of
others from 2003 and starting @ $40 a tin.

More old, collectible tins from the 1990's:

McClelland Mixture #1 (2000?) 100 grams. $50
McClelland Virginia Woods. 1997. 100 grams. $50
Ashton 1997 Old Church 4 oz., $125
Ashton 1997 Celebrated Sovereign 4 oz., $100
Esoterica Pembroke...2 oz., 56 grams. $80
Davidoff Royalty 50 grams. $30
Davidoff Danish 50 grams. $25
Dunhill Nightcap from Lane Ltd. 50 grams. $85
Dunhill Std. Mixture Mile from Lane 50 grams. $65
Butera Matured Ribbon 1996 & '97 50 grams. $50
Benjamin Hartwell Pvt. Reserve 50 grams from
Consolidated Cigar (thus from mid '90's) $30
Quotes & anecdotes from "The Portable Curmudgeon"

The earth has a skin and that skin has diseases; one of its
diseases is called man.    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Man is a puny, slow, awkward, unarmed animal.
Jacob Bronowski

I love mankind.  It's people I can't stand.  Charles Schulz

To succeed in the world, it is not enough to be stupid, you
must also be well mannered.   Voltaire.

Manners are especially the need of the plain.  The pretty can get away
with anything.                                   Evelyn Waugh

He marries best who puts it off until it is too late.  H.L. Mencken

All tragedies are finished by death.  All comedies are ended by a
marriage.                                               Lord Byron

When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most
insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are
required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal and
exhausting condition until death do them part.   George Bernard Shaw

A ceremony in which rings are put on the finger of the lady and through
the nose of the gentleman.                Herbert Spencer

A friendship recognized by the police.    Robert Louis Stevenson

The dread of loneliness is greater than the fear of bondage, so we get
married.       Cyril Connolly

I got married the second time in the way that, when a murder is
committed, crackpots turn up at the police station to confess the
crime.                                 Delmore Schwartz

It is often pleasant to stone a martyr, no matter how mch we admire
him.                                     John Barth

There is a certain impertinence in allowing oneself to be burned for an
opinion.                               Anatole France

Women want mediocre men, and men are working hard to become as
mediocre as possible.                           Margaret Mead

The main difference between men and women is that men are lunatics
and women are idiots.                          Rebecca West

When an opera star sings her head off, she usually improves her
appearance.                                            Victor Borge

If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment,
other people's opinions will rush in from all quarters.
George Bernard Shaw

The amount of noise which anyone can bear undisturbed stands in
inverse proportion to his mental capacity.
Arthur Schopenhauer

I can forgive Alfred Nobel for having invented dynamite, but only a fiend
in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize.   G.B. Shaw

Assassins!      Arturo Toscanini to his orchestra.  

Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the
whole girl.                                                                       Stephen Leacock

Many a man has fallen love with a girl in a light so dim he would not
have chosen a suit by it.                                         Maurice Chevalier

Nature is a hanging judge.                            Anonymous

The murals in restaurants are on a par with the food in museums.
Peter DeVries

A mother-in-law dies only when another devil is needed in hell.
Francois Rabelais

Getting out of bed in the morning is an act of false confidence.
Jules Feiffer

On Marilyn Monroe: She was good at playing abstract confusion in the
same way a midget is good at being short.    Clive James

Morality is a disease which progresses in three stages:
virtue--boredom--syphilis.                                    Karl Kraus
This photo was taken only days before my beloved San Francisco
store, Sherlock's Haven,  was closed for good in June of '06, thereby
diminishing the quality of life on this planet no little and quite some.  
The man to my right was my trusty pipe tobacco and cigar taste-tester,
Johnson, of the sensitive palate.  He is now  plying his trade in
Phoenix.  The tall gent behind him is Jimmy Walker, hand picked to be
my successor until lease negotiations broke down.  The hoodlum
looking character to my left is my good friend and Consigliere, Steve
Brunner.  Among the regulars are a number who are still friends and
with whom I have regular intercourse.  There has never been a more
congenial spot than Sherlock's Haven, the Camelot of tobacco stores.  
As its proprietor is how I'd like to be remembered.
I wanted to caption this photo, "I knew more about pipes when I was
seven than you know now," but my P.R. firm nixed that idea.  So, let's
try, "With the pristine palate that accompanies youth, Marty smokes a
blend without a full complement of Latakia for the first time in his life."
I don't actually know what was going through my mind at the time, but
the photo was taken circa 1950, and probably in Williamsburg, Virginia.
(And no, I did not actually smoke a pipe until I was 18 years old, really.)
Shortly after my mother met my wife, she told Joy that all it took to
keep me happy in the back seat of our 1938 LaSalle during our annual
one week vacations was a pipe in my mouth and a cap on my head.  
Joy responded with the fact that nothing has changed except that now
I'm in the front seat.  
Above is my sister, with whom I contentiously shared that large back
seat, and my father.  The sweater was knitted by my Aunt Rae.  The
site was most probably Niagara Falls and the year 1949.  I'm guessing.
Welcome to Pulvers Briar
This website is devoted to pipes and my enjoyment of talking
about and showing them.  For your part, I hope you derive some
pleasure in seeing and reading about briar and meerschaum
There are plenty of pipe websites and lots of good pipes other
than mine.  What will distinguish my site from most of the others
is the willingness to voice my  opinion in the relatively rare
occurrence when a pipe is not superior, or has a noticeable flaw.
Mostly, I'm pleased with the pipes I choose to offer for sale, both
in pipe quality and price.  But please, look and decide for
You will see new and used pipes for sale, the new often having
been hand picked and the used always having been cleaned
and reconditioned and ready for you to smoke upon arrival.  
Please enjoy your time spent here today, and please come back
I'm almost always happy to hear from you and to field your
questions, concerns, ideas or other input.
Feel free to write.
Marty Pulvers
Pulvers' Prior Briar
P.O. Box 61146
Palo Alto, CA  94306

(650) 965-7403