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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

22 Responses

  1. James D. says:

    Dr. Fleming, that is a good point about nicotine and caffeine. If you recall the Apollo 13 movie (I know its just a movie,) the mission control personnel were chain smoking and guzzling coffee while they attempted to come up with a solution for the damaged craft. Similarly, I recall watching older folks, from my grandfather’s generation, tying flies, woodworking, or doing precision work on an engine, etc., all while puffing away on cigarettes, with cup of coffee nearby. Something about the combination seems to concentrate the mind and focus.

  2. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I don’t recall whether or not I included one tidbit in the podcast, namely, that a recent study showed that using nicotine sharply increased a baseball player’s concentration, and that the most effective delivery system is the cigarette. Because I try to stay away from the medical system, I do not plan to trade in my one cigar per day for the daily pack of cigarettes I gave up when I was 21. The Greeks, without either coffee or tobacco, created our civilization, but we’re only Euro-Americans, from a long line of barbarians. We need all the help we can get, including Latin and Greek.

  3. Harry Colin says:

    The great song that closes out your reflection says “St. Peter at the golden gate, you just hate to make him wait, but you gotta have another cigarette!” This suggests an interesting question… for those who treasure a smoke of any kind… would there not be smoking in heaven? Only the pleasure, none of the pain? I’m a non-smoker, so my interest is purely academic

    Those of us who grew up in ethnically-influenced households where polka held prominent position can recall another tune – replete with Shakespearean-level lyrics – “In Heaven There Is No Beer.” A terrible thought! I would suggest an incorrect one, although I would say mass-produced “light” beer would not only be banned but confined to Hell where one was forced to consume as punishment.

    Finally, speaking of needing Latin and Greek, a friend today shared on Facebook a post on the feast day of Saint Peter Chrysologus; the problem was that the Catholic firm that put up the image she shared had posted a picture of Saint John Chrysostom. Obviously, if there was anyone there that could even read the identifying Greek letters on the icon, it would have saved some embarrassment!

  4. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I found out only recently that “In Heaven There is No Beer,” was originally something like
    Im Himmel es ist kin bier.. composed for a 1950’s German film. Our friend Ched Rayson and his monster like Frankie Yankovic’s classic version.


  5. Curtis says:

    I chew nicorette at work for the nootropic benefits. It does not enliven the mind quite as well as a cigar; there is something more than nicotine in a cigar that justifies God’s ways to man.

  6. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Tex Williams’ recording of “Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette” is a bit before my time, but I recall my parents’ having an old 78 single that my sister and I would play and laugh ourselves silly. It was almost as good as Cowboy Copas’s “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It.” I don’t know where my parents got the records, because they were more apt to listen to Broadway musicals, Gilbert and Sullivan, and the German classics.

  7. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    It’s about that time….

  8. James D. says:

    Dr. Fleming,

    What brands or styles of cigar do you smoke? I purchased a humidor a few years back and now I have too many cigars and too little time to smoke them.

  9. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    What an enviable position to be in! My current favorites are Avo cigars, created by an Armenian folk singer. My fallback inexpensive cigars are Maria Mancini, especially the Magic Mountain. People tend to give me better cigars than I am willing to buy for myself, and I bless them for their generosity. I generally buy online from JR, especially via their auctions. When I. can find them, I smoke panetellas, not because I am not aware that the shape–long and comparatively thin–gives a full-bodied smoke, which it doesn’t, but because the length keeps the smoke away from my eyes.

  10. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    PS We’re having people to dinner so I had to content myself with a rather small Hojo de Monterrey. For dinner, my wife has made cucumber soup and blackberry gelato. My contribution is to put together an antipasto of son Garret’s smoked prosciutto, plus a dry Italian salami and some cheese and to grill a butterflied leg of lamb accompanied by a sauce out of Apicius–lovage, celery seed (both toasted), fish sauce (not real garumm but Asian), vinegar, wine, and juniper berries (a substitute for myrtle berries) and. lot of fresh chopped mint, plus some olive oil. It’s a sauce to go easy with.

  11. Clyde Wilson says:

    Dr. Fleming, I am quite amazed that you smoke such cheap and inferior brands.

  12. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I am a poor man, but Dr. Wilson is wealthy enough to smoke the creosote-infused ropes that go by the name Te Amo.

  13. Dot says:

    Way back when, my grandfather rolled his tobacco in cigarette paper. My father smoked stogeys. Neither of them died of lung disease.

  14. Harry Colin says:

    Saw a story last week of a gentleman celebrating his 112th birthday; in the interview he said he smoked a half-dozen cigars each day and washed them down with 3-4 whiskey/bourbon and waters. Perhaps he unlocked the secret to longevity?

  15. Ken Rosenberger says:

    My grandfather made it to 103. In his later years he attributed his longevity to quitting smoking at age 90. So apparently there is something to cessation.

  16. James D. says:

    I probably don’t even average one cigar per week. My consumption is limited to a cheap stick when I mow the lawn and a cigar or two on the rare occasion that I am able to go fishing, or after a hunt. My father-in-law is a bourbon connoisseur and has quite a collection. Once a month, we try to sit down and have a bourbon or two and a cigar. Often, the schedule does not permit it, but I do look forward to it. I really enjoy the CAO Brazilia in the toro size or robusto size. These can often be had for $2 apiece on Cigarbid. Another one that I enjoy is the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 in the Churchill size. I bought a box last year and still have quite a few left. I was told to let them sit in the humidor for a while. The flavor is excellent, but they are quite a time commitment. I could easily smoke one for 90 minutes or more.

  17. Raymond Olson says:

    Enough of cigars! I haven’t been able to afford them for a decade, at least.

    Back to “In Heaven There Is No Beer”, which is a great polka tune, to be sure, but also, with the addition of a question mark, the title of a marvelous documentary film of 1984 by the late Les Blank. Blank took his non-interruptive style to polka pubs and festivals from western Pennsylvania to my own state and let polka dancers and musicians do the talking, with plenty of dancing and singing included. It’s 51 minutes of Upper Midwestern bliss, available in a 5-CD package, “Always for Pleasure”, from the Criterion Collection and, perhaps, your public library (definitely, my public library). Every thing else on those 5 discs is also well worth watching; the subjects range from Texas songster Mance Lipscomb and Appalachian fiddler Tommy Jarrell to Cajun cooking and the self-styled King of the Cowboy Artists.

  18. Clyde Wilson says:

    Dr. Fleming–Macanundo, Perdomo, Romeo & Juliette, or El Rey del Mundo would be a step up for you from Maria Mancini and not too expensive. Real men take La Flor Dominica.

  19. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I smoke all the above quite often but Avo, alas more expensive than Macanudo, is worth the extra money. MM is my fall-back until my investment portfolio picks up.

    Ray Olson’s “my own state” reminds me of Dante’s evasive e answer when Cato asks him where he comes from. No need to be ashamed among friends. You can say “Minnesota.”

  20. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    One more tedious observation on cigars. Like most people, I distinguish between cigars I smoke while fishing or working and those I savor. My MM’s are a working cigar.

    CDs or DVD’s, Ray?

  21. Jerry Brock says:

    My apologies to Ray but I’m compelled to mention that if Drs. Fleming and Wilson have not tried a Southern Draw, which I assume since they did not mention it, then by all means consider it a viable alternative to those brands that were mentioned. A sound smoke by all means.

  22. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I have never tried a Southern Draw but will look out for it.