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 The Mill
July 28, 2015;
I will not argue the charge that I am a bland
and insipid individual and that fact is reflected
by what is posted on this spot and throughout
the site.  I have to own that and I can see why
it's so frequently stated.  Take a look at any
other site and you will see exuberance,
excitement and passion expressed, pretty much
non-stop, in the description of every single pipe.
If that kind of enthusiasm can't be matched by
me when it comes to every single pipe, maybe I
can bring some of it to my recent experience in
New Orleans, having been there for 6 nights
because of the annual tobacconist trade show.
The food, of course, was delicious.  I don't
go anywhere without researching the restaurant
scene, and in New Orleans, it is tough having to
eliminate places that you won't have time to
visit.  Indeed, David Field and I are already
talking about going back, when the weather
is less hot and sticky, and availing ourselves of
more of the city's culinary delights.
I could be convinced that New Orleans is, on
balance, the best food city in the country, and
who knows, maybe the world.  Coming from a
San Franciscan, that is an unwilling compliment.
But San Francisco doesn't really have much of
an indigenous style.  There is Dungeness crab,
and a wonderful soup/stew called Cioppino
(quite possibly a derivation of Italo-American
English meaning, 'chop it and put it in) but
after that, it is an amalgam of different,
imported styles.  
New York has a lot of European cultures
contributing, but many of them are from
northern Europe or Eastern Europe, where there
are few strong flavor elements.   Plus, the best
restaurants in New York and San Francisco (the
top contenders after New Orleans, in my
opinion, although Chicago is coming on strong
and a lot of other cities are clearly improving
their food scenes) are very expensive and often
exclusive, making reservations difficult to get.
Restaurants in New Orleans seem to be more
affordable (good food, well prepared, is
not inexpensive anywhere) and getting in didn't
require letters of recommendation.  The only
problem with them, that I can see, is that the
food is so rich that I got my second bout of The
Gout when I got home.  Back to salads and
beans and grains, which should help me lose a
few of the pounds I acquired there.
Another positive feature, spotted by David, is
that there are a lot of youngsters manning the
jobs, and all of them with a very upbeat, friendly
demeanor.  Those who grew up in New Orleans
have decided to stay, or have returned, to make
sure New Orleans survives the devastation of
hurricane Katrina.  Additionally, many young,
eager and ambitious people have migrated to
New Orleans because the city has both a certain
lure and can provide inexpensive housing.  
From a population of about 500,000 pre-Katrina,
the population of the city dropped to just over
200,000 after that tragedy.  It now appears to be
back to close to 400,000.  
To an outsider who made a quick visit to the
town, it looks like that growth can be sustained,
but it also looked as though the less affluent
Wards were still in very bad shape, with no
great infrastructure (stores, industry, schools)
to turn things around from near-slums to
attractive places to live.  Perhaps if enough
people migrate to New Orleans, those areas will
have to gentrify, and while there is always a lot
of complaining that such activity pushes out the
people who have lived in those neighborhoods,
I wonder if the overall effect of money doesn't
enhance the lives of one and all.  In any case, I
don't think you can stop progress, so it might
be wiser to be aware of it and direct and focus
the impact so that all classes benefit.  
(Remember, this is my attempt, maybe my one
and only attempt, to put a positive spin on
That, in sum, is what I did on my summer
work-vacation, although a trade show and the
long hours on the exhibition hall floor do not
really add up to a vacation.  The trade shows in
New Orleans typically draw fewer retailers than
those in Las Vegas, so we will not be returning
to Louisiana for business any time soon.  Las
Vegas is a much less interesting town, but we
are contracted to have our trade show there for
at least the next three years.  It may wind up
being the home for the premium pipe and cigar
industry as there not many places to smoke
indoors.  That's a shame because it is more fun
to travel to new cities, but nobody else wants or
will put up with we pariahs.  But wait...that
sounds as though I'm devolving into negativity
again.  Better quit typing right now.  I'll try to
post some pipes for you real soon.  
P.S.  I did not proof or even carefully re-read
what is written above, it's past 2 AM, so please
do not be shy in alerting me to mistakes.  I am
not sensitive about being corrected when
wrong and I know that I make a lot of mistakes:
typos, grammar, factual.  Let me know so I can
correct them.
P.P.S.  Talk about prophetic.  I ran into a friend
today and he told me about a young lady we
both know who decided that this area is just too
expensive and she has moved to New Orleans,
and will resuscitate her food career there.
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

Method acting?  There are quite a few methods.  Mine involves a lot of
talent, a glass and some cracked ice.       John Barrymore

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
Georges Clemenceau

Make money and the whole nation will conspire to call you a gentleman.
George Bernard Shaw

In the forties, to get a girl you had to be a GI or a jock.  In the Fifties to
get a girl you had to be Jewish.  In the Sixties, to get a girl you had to be
black.  In the Seventies, to get a girl you've got to be a girl.
Mort Sahl

By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying--
One of you is lying.                                          Dorothy Parker

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

It is a mistake to speak of a bad choice in love, since as soon as a
choice exists, it can only be bad.                         Marcel Proust

It's possible to love a human being if you don't know them too well.
Charles Bukowski

Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve the continuation of the
species.                                                                        W. Somerset Maugham

The only true love is love at first sight; second sight dispels it.
Israel Zangwill

Boy Meets Girl.  So What?                                       Bertolt Brecht
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