4 May 2006
Co-Founder & Editor in Chief
PatrickA -at- StogieGuys.com
Co-Founder, Publisher & Web Editor
PatrickS -at- StogieGuys.com
Tampa Bureau Chief
GeorgeE -at- StogieGuys.com
Mark Carlos McGinty
Patrick Ashby credits his father with instilling in him a deep appreciation for cigars, an appreciation that began on the golf course and blossomed in Chicago.
Patrick’s interest in tobacco grew enormously when he moved to the nation’s capital, where he spent six years working, pursuing post-graduate studies, and founding StogieGuys.com with Patrick Semmens. Now that he has moved back to Chicago for a career in investment research, the regard for handmade cigars his father so graciously handed down carries on with him to this day.
Asking Patrick to name his favorite cigar is like asking him to pick his favorite song from his extensive CD collection (yes, Patrick still collects CDs). From mild- to full-bodied tobaccos, from robustos to Churchills, Patrick counts himself lucky that cigars come in a plethora of shapes, sizes, colors, and profiles.
Patrick has a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MA in international commerce and policy from George Mason University. He lives with his wife, Melissa, in the Lakeview East neighborhood of Chicago. When he is not at the office, Patrick enjoys visiting tobacconists, golf, writing, liberty, and rooting for the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Illini. He can often be found on the lakefront trails between Navy Pier and Belmont Harbor.
Spending the late summers of his youth on Long Island golfing and teaching sailing, cigar smoking came naturally to Patrick Semmens. And to this day, afloat under the power of the wind or while enjoying a round of golf remain two of Patrick’s favorite times to partake in a fine stogie.
Despite no longer living in New York, he feels strongly that his cigar preferences reflect his Brooklyn upbringing. Like New York City itself, “big and bold” is an apt description of Patrick’s cigar inclinations. While Padrons and CAOs represent his dependable favorites, he isn’t opposed to variety in his cigar choices, at times all together dispensing with his “big and bold” mantra.
In between living in Brooklyn and his recent move to the Washington area, Patrick spent four years at Colby College in Waterville, Maine where he earned a BA in government and a minor in philosophy, and he also spent one year traveling and working around the world. During that year he bartended aboard a charter yacht in New Zealand, worked on seismic survey ships searching for oil in the North Sea and South Atlantic, and taught English and coached soccer in a small village in Ghana, Africa.
Patrick now works at a non-profit legal defense foundation, and avidly follows politics. In his free time he enjoys tennis, golf, squash, sailing, watching the New York Mets or Rangers, and just relaxing with friends. With the exception of tennis and squash, all those activities represent prime opportunities to enjoy a stogie.
Retirement in Florida seems to suit George Edmonson about as well as the large Hawaiian shirts that have replaced the white ones he wore for years. And what better to complement an air of relaxation than the enjoyment of a nice cigar?
After smoking for a few years, George, 56, remains a firm believer in Robert Louis Stevenson’s (slightly paraphrased) sentiments: “The world is so full of a number of cigars, I’m sure we should all be as happy as czars.” The list of cigars George enjoys is so long and changes so frequently, he’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite.
As a journalist for nearly 35 years, George’s work ranged from participating in the creation of USA Today to covering the September 11, 2001 attack at the Pentagon. Perhaps his most outstanding accomplishment was that he managed to end up with no unfinished novel yellowing in the bottom desk drawer.
He grew up in Richmond, Virginia at a time when the warm aroma of tobacco wafted freely from warehouses, and the price of a pack of cigarettes and a gallon of gas were roughly the same—around a quarter. Interests nowadays beyond cigars include listening to music (one major recent project was converting his LPs to CDs), reading, relaxing, and trying to learn more about the computer.
Living in Tarpon Springs, Florida, George is in the heart of U.S. cigar country. The Tampa-St. Petersburg area has an abundance of great shops, great selections, and great smokers. In all honesty, that wasn’t what led him to move to the area. But sometimes you just get lucky.
Mark Carlos McGinty is a descendant of Cuban cigar makers and the award-winning author of The Cigar Maker. You can read an excerpt of his book here. His work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Cigar City Magazine, Yahoo! Entertainment, and La Gaceta. Mark grew up in Minnesota but spent a good part of his childhood with his Cuban relatives in West Tampa eating ropa vieja and Cuban sandwiches, drinking café con leche and fresh-squeezed orange juice from his grandfather’s tree. His great-aunt rolled cigars for Arturo Fuente so, of course, his favorite cigar is the Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8.
Mark spent seven years writing The Cigar Maker, a time when he ate a lot of Cuban food and smoked way too many cigars. Most of those seven years were spent researching the history of Cuba, Tampa, and the cigar industry during the period of 1850–1910. A labor of love with dozens of family anecdotes woven into the story, The Cigar Maker was a finalist at the Indie Excellence Book Awards in 2011, won the Bronze Medal at the Independent Publisher Awards, and was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s 2010 Book of the Year. Visit the book’s official website to learn more: www.TheCigarMaker.net.
Mark’s first novel, Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy (Beaver’s Pond Press, 2003), won an Eric Hoffer Book Award Honorable Mention for General Fiction. He graduated from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, and obtained his master’s degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati. Mark lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter and pays close attention to the Minnesota Twins, a subject that could one day warrant its own book.