In honor of our Tenth Anniversary, the Cigar Society of Chicago presents
A Theater of Curmudgeons
David O'Connor, coeur mechant extraordinaire, will return to the lectern next Tuesday at Iwan Ries to lead a cocktail party in celebration of ten years of regular meetings of the Cigar Society.

The Cigar Society is well known for its curmudgeons---indeed, some visitors have surmised that a disagreeable outlook on life (except in the presence of cigars and copious amounts of scotch whiskey) is a requirement for membership. This is not strictly true. But it is also the case that not all curmudgeons are created equal, even among our august Society.

Mr. O'Connor has pressed several of our membership into joining him at the front of the room to reminisce on some of our past days. Others may be cajoled from the lectern. There is still room for more volunteers. (You know who you are.)

Each curmudgeon---chosen by virtue of either consistent curmudgeonly behavior over the years, or because of great future promise in the area---will have a chance to give some pithy observations, or tell a bad joke, or preach bitterly about some favorite peccadillo, grievance, or hobgoblin---and trade compliments with the moderator, David.

We also encourage those attending to send by return email any questions you might have for what one might call our

Panel of Peccadilloes, Injustices, Resentments, Afflictions,
Peeves, Gripes,
Injuries, and Vexations.

In order to put you in the right frame of mind, here are a few suggestive sample questions, taken from the recent news.
  • An old man running for president thinks emails are not important. What do you think about email?
  • Is gun violence linked to guns?  Why not?
  • Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?  Do Baptists and Congregationalists?  Which department at Wheaton College gets to decide?
  • According to Albert Camus, "There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn."  Describe three personal examples of injustices, injuries, or vexations, and recount any mitigating scorn.
  • Explain the difference between the "slippery slope" and "parade of horribles" forms of argument. Which of these logical fallacies is more preferred by the justices of the Supreme Court?  Cite appropriate justices and decisions.
  • Oregonians seem to be getting fed up with irate male Caucasians pouring into their state and bringing with them guns, violence, and terrorism (and the rest, I presume, are good people). Should the state of Oregon build an immense, beautiful wall, until they figure out what's going on?
  • Compare Martin Shkreli with Judas Iscariot, in the most positive sense possible.
  • According to James Imhofe, does a snowball have a greater chance in hell, in congress, or in winter?
  • Multiple choice: How many verses of the Bible are written in praise of intelligence: (a) 947, (b) 53, (c) 0.  How many in the Koran? (Same choices.)  Justify your answer.
  • What is it that parents are teaching their kids these days, anyway?
Send your questions anytime before Tuesday.

The Lounge at Iwan Ries
Tuesday, January 12, 2016

  Reservations are required.

What we were discussing ten years ago...

The Secretary's Report for December 2005

PLANNING AHEAD, we settled on Ground Hog's Day, February 2d, 2006 for our next Cigar Dinner, to be convened in the University Club Board Room. Details will be forthcoming in January. The delight brought on by such decisive forethought elicited a flurry of further suggestions. Tom O'Brien called for a "spring cleaning" cigar meeting at the Division Street Baths, and Jerry Bauman reminisced fondly of post-pugilistic rubdowns at the baths at Roosevelt and St. Louis. O'Brien countered with an adventure involving five simultaneous masseurs in the basement of a jazz club in New Orleans, but denied any decadence. O'Leary said that limousines would certainly be the only reasonable mode of transport between the club and the baths. Caught up in the extravagance of the planning and noting that David O'Connor had not yet arrived to suggest it himself, naval commander (ret.) Farley Hinterthorpe proposed a special $2000 a plate cigar dinner to benefit the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Tower Club opera goers that Tuesday (non-E series), unaware of the largesse being proposed on their behalf, arrived well prepared to complain about the "ghastly, modern" (1955) opera by Sir Michael Tippet, A Midsummer Marriage, and got their digs in early by complaining to the club manager about the smoke emanating from the bar as they strolled past to the dining room. In support of Ms. Newton, O'Leary sacrificed his cigar. Your Loyal Secretary, reporting on his own attendance of Midsummer the previous week, contradicted the received view by pointing out that Tippet's music was not only accessible but beautifully performed, and concluded that most of the audience must have decided beforehand that they would depart after the first act, with fashionable scorn for the 20th century, whether they were enjoying the music or not. Noting that David O'Connor had still not arrived, Hinterthorpe proposed a special $5000 a plate cigar dinner to benefit the Lyric Opera. O'Brien, lighting his second cigar (O'Leary's cast off), sought to reopen the subject of cigar event planning by promoting a fall meeting at his favorite B&B in Saugatuck, Michigan, where a dozen of us could take over the whole place for a full Saturday of verandah smoking followed by a gourmet meal, to return Sunday. When O'Connor finally arrived, sweating slightly, with tie askew, and muttering something about being sidelined by a wee dram or two at the Ceres Cafe, Hinterthorpe heartily proposed a special $10,000 a plate cigar dinner to benefit the Lyric. O'Connor immediately stood and prestidigitatiously produced a deck of Lyric donor cards, which he dealt to the table. Hinterthorpe then upped the ante by insisting that we all join the Aria Society. Ignoring that suggestion, O'Connor bragged that he had skipped Midsummer Marriage entirely, and when Bauman proffered that he himself had actually attended, O'Connor interrupted, "Why? Browbeaten by Tuckey?" O'Leary called the opera a drug-induced fantasy, "Not that I'd know from experience", he said, and Ashish Kothari immediately offered him the opportunity to do Acid (the highly spiced Nicaraguan cigars from Drew Estate, that is). Others asked what all the fuss was about and O'Connor's guest, Vadim, offered to let us listen to the opera for free at any time from his web site, The table compared Michael Tippet to Benjamin Britten, and O'Connor recalled ribald stories (second hand, one presumes) of the wild parties Britten and Sir Peter Pears threw while staying at W. H. Auden's apartment in Manhattan. This prompted more bath-house stories, and O'Connor proclaimed that "The bath house idea is superb, so long as there are towels enough to go around [our respective girths]." Bauman mentioned that he will be the next Cigar Buyer for the Chicago Club and was planning a cigar-purchasing spree, which induced jealousy within the U Club ranks. Doug Johnson proposed that we procure our own humidor, but then non-sequitured into his weekly topic of recent interpretations of Martin Buber. John Flanigan stopped by on his way to Midsummer Marriage and reported on the progress of the largest squash tournament in the country, to be held at the U Club in January. (Later he confessed that his party of four very fashionably quit the opera house after the first act.) As the evening wore on and the empty glasses accumulated, O'Brien called for a beer spigot to be installed in the bar that is open at all times of the day and night to all members, on the honor principle, but there was concern about potential water damage to the club house. Hinterthorpe reported that both State Farm and Allstate Insurance were presented with bills from the State of Louisiana for $10 billion for flood damage, even though damage by flooding is specifically excluded from those policies. As we adjourned, O'Connor reminded us that heavy drinking made our brains smarter, on the average, since with each drink we kill only the weaker brain cells.

The Secretary's Report for February 2006

GROUND HOG'S DAY saw a perpetual low overcast, auguring a low-slung fug at the University Club's Winter Cigar Dinner as well as an early spring. Our guest speaker was Chicago author Billy Lombardo, who entertained the table with selections from his award-winning collection of semi-fictionalized memoirs of growing up in the Italian part of Bridgeport in the 1970s. Stephen CONDREN provided a different perspective, telling of mansion-hopping through South Shore, Hyde Park, and Kenwood, where he grew up, and Greg O'LEARY told unlikely stories about being bullied as a weak, skinny adolescent. Jason BUSCH and William CRAIG talked about squash and elite colleges, and Lombardo explained what it is like to teach at the Chicago Latin School. Doug JOHNSON recommended additional coming-of-age stories, and Marshall ABBEY pontificated while his son-in-law grumbled. Chef Baker amused our palates with fresh green onions in aspic, followed by sharply flavored duck ravioli and squash gnocchi. The main course was an oversized rare beef tenderloin with chanterelle mushrooms. Alexander SHERMAN helped clear our literary palates with a short poem about eating iced plums, and Lombardo read another story. Later, in the billiards room, O'LEARY and TUCKEY bought redundant and seriously unnecessary extra rounds, and were shortly seen slumped chins to chests at the poker table. Evidently concerned that our manly bastion had not experienced sufficient testosterone-induced violence and harsh language, a cue-stick wielding Michaeline GORDON, fresh from a long evening in the President's Bar, made mincemeat of the competition and inadvertently caused Tom O'BRIEN to break two wine glasses and a highball glass. What remained of the party dispersed after a brief shouting match, promising to do it all over again next month.

Other highlights from our early days...
For the permanent archive of all our current and previous events, visit the Cigar Society home page at

About the Cigar Society of Chicago

ONE OF THE OLDEST AND greatest traditions of the city clubs of Chicago is the discussion of intellectual, social, legal, artistic, historical, scientific, musical, theatrical, and philosophical issues in the company of educated, bright, and appropriately provocative individuals, all under the beneficent influence of substantial amounts of tobacco and spirits.  The Cigar Society of Chicago embraces this tradition and extends it with its Informal Smokers, University Series lectures, and Cigar Society Dinners, in which cigars, and from time to time pipes and cigarettes, appear as an important component of our version of the classical symposium.  To be included in the Cigar Society's mailing list, write to the secretary at