Sunday, March 28, 2010

Taking the party online

I'll admit that I spend way too much time at Romeo's pipe shop. (And no, contrary to popular belief, I'm not associated with the shop, let alone the owner.) It's my second home, and maybe my third. My wife thinks I spend too much time there, but she also recognizes that I come home much happier than when I left. And while hanging out during business hours can bring you in contact with lots of enjoyable people, while you clear your tampers and pipe cleaners off the seat to make room.
It's still no comparison to the pipe club meetings, where you pack the room or fill a table or pile around an ash tray with people you look forward to seeing all month long. But you can't hang out all the time, can you?
There are, however, places where the gatherings only slow, not stop. And if you're reading this, I'll assume you have the means to find your way to them. Online pipe forums are a fantastic way to reach out to pipers all over the country. And each one has it's own personality.
The biggest is Smokers Forums, an extremely large community and a wealth of institutional knowledge. If you have a question, expect an answer fairly quickly. There are people who know answers to questions you haven't even thought to ask yet. There is a formality to Smokers Forums. It's very similar to a country lodge meeting, with a kind of parliamentary procedure to it but not without it's charms.
But another forum corners the market on corncob information. Corncobs and Briar was started by John Patton, who some call the Cobfather. He is the founder of the Corncob Snob Society and the author of the Corncob Primer, the definitive work on the subject.
And there are plenty of forums around the Web, including The Pipe Smoker's Forum and Brothers of Briar. All it takes is a quick Google search to find at least some of them.
The one I spend most of my time at is Pipe Chat, which may be the most sarcastic of all the forums. I joke sometimes that Smokers Forums is where you go to learn about pipe smoking, but Pipe Chat is where you go to enjoy your smoke once you light up.
I know what you're thinking: "Isn't this a little bit nerdy?" Yes, yes it is. And sometimes it gets a little more nerdy than others. Guys will talk about wood grain and pipe shapes and tobacco blenders almost intensely as Star Wars geeks (with all due respect to geeks everywhere), and occasionally the high-end vs. low-end pipe discussion gets as heated as if it were the great debate over whether Han or Greedo shot first.
I truly believe there's a forum out there for everyone. And when you find it, say hello to TommyTree. I'll say hello back.


  1. Hey! There's plenty of that fancy learnin' to be had at Pipe Chat. The first thing you learn is that it's, "all Earl's fault".

    Nice article, Tom.

  2. Yep, it's all my fault. And we all know I am nver sarcastic!

    It is the place where you can be friends yet have good livley debates and discussions without having to worry about being over moderated and still be buddies afterward. I have yet to see a blowup on the forum.

    Where else can you also discuss beer, tea, wine, games, cows, and literature and all the things pipers are interested in besides pipes?