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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pipe Trolls I have Known

Biz News - I've just added three new Ligne Bretagnes. These will probably be the last for a while, as I have some Talbert billiards to do, more mortas to make, and a Club PIpe to do... not to mention Halloween pipe work!


Today's pipe pics show off a Goblin I just finished for a collector, which came out pretty neat, I think. It's a fun combination of the Squidling's bulbous octopoid head and Seawocket's scrambling "feet". And it's also the perfect pipe to go with today's "pipe thought" - What exactly do pipe forum trolls get out of their strange behavior?

The subject came to mind due to a recent observation in FdP, the French pipe club. I've noticed in recent months that, when I happen to be using Google to browse the forum, some unknown person seems to be assigning a one star Google rating to every post that I or any of the other halfway knowledgeable members make, while giving five star ratings to any posts that are basically rants about "those greedy artisans who won't sell their pipes for 45 €". This is funny for several reasons - One, when I post to FdP, I usually try to post en français whenever possible, and if I'm going to that much work to post, I definitely try to say something of value. Second, it's amusing to think of whoever this odd person is, lacking the actual courage to confront myself and his other targets, just sort of sitting out there in cyberspace feverishly scanning the forum for any posts to vent his passive-aggressive spleen on.

I really don't understand what drives such people. I mean, it's a hobby - I love it to death, and love making pipes and talking about pipes and tobaccos and favorite makers and blends and techniques and all, but at the end of the day, it's just a hobby. The only "enemies" I've ever had in this hobby were people who've attacked me directly without just cause, and the whole concept of these entrenched camps of opinion really depresses me. FdP, in particular, has had its share of flame wars, nearly always started by the fans of low-price pipes who seem driven to see "elitism" in any discussion of artisan pipes simply due to their own personal insecurity. I'm not at all intimidated by discussion of pipes I'll never be able to afford... Hell, I find them fascinating! But then again, I survived moving to France; I'm not intimidated by much of anything these days. But there is a fierce, almost Communistic streak running through the French pipe world that believes firmly that the only pipes of value are fifty euro French factory pipes, and everything else is scary scary elitism. This is just nonsense - There is room for all in the family of pipe smokers, and the fact that high grade pipes exist doesn't take anything away from that $75 Peterson I just bought. I know it isn't a Bang, but if I like it and it makes me happy, why on earth should I care what anyone else thinks of it? I've seen flame wars carried to the point of the utterly ludicrous, with angry "anti's" insisting their Ropps are every bit equal to the best Bo Nordh... What can you do, at that point, but just shake your head in bemusement?

Here is some food for thought:

A Ropp is similar to a Bang in that it has a bowl, a stem, it smokes tobacco, and is made of briar. Beyond that, it has little more in common with a Bang than my Clio does with a passing Ferrari. Both will take me from one destination to another, but they are made for totally different buyers with totally different interests. This does not in any way state that one buyer group is "better" than the other.

The sky is blue. Damn it.

The anti-artisan brigade should pause for thought, because they are exactly the same people who are pushing today's anti-tobacco crusades... They simply have a different cause. Most conflicts boil down to this simple basis - One group of people who only wish to do as they like, and another group who believe the first group should be forced to conform to their wishes. In "factory pipes versus artisan high grades", unfortunately it is the "All pipes should be cheap" crowd who fall into the anti role.

Class warfare does not behoove pipe people. Simply by virtue of enjoying pipes, we are ALL automatically smarter and wiser than the masses, and should content ourselves thus. Now how's THAT for elitist? ;)