Whisky & Cigars is a collaboration between writer Dmitry Sokolenko and photographer Shunsuke Ohno. For 2 or 3 weeks of the year they each travel independently to their chosen destinations around the world . They take separate journeys, to different cities resting in different airbnb’s and speaking different languages. What they share in common is the profound pleasure they derive from smoking cigars and drinking whisky . Between them, their correspondence covers history , culture ,politics and stuff of life. Like seasoned chess players contemplating their next move they create a playful dance, which becomes manifest through the sumptuous photographs of Shunsuke Ohno interwoven with Dmitry Sokelenko’s enigmatic text

Install yourself in a chair, ideally an armchair, one of leather, by a fireplace. Sip at a whisky, light a cigar, and visualize the accomplishments you might attain within year. Ponder upon what actions will facilitate said accomplishments, and what actions will act as a hindrance.

My friend and I decided to get a job at the Colosseum. The one in Rome. To work there as masons. Dragging stones from one side to the other, exchanging old stones for new ones and the like. We rented a seven-room apartment nearby for a week. But when we got there, it turned out that smoking was not permitted inside the apartment. For Italy, and especially for Rome, an all-out scandal! Not to smoke in an apartment? And it was so convenient to drop ashes on the floor there—it was a stone floor. And even if it had not been a stone floor we would have laid it out with stones, using stones from the Colosseum. We were upset and began drinking whisky around the clock according to the following plan: I drank from morning to night, and my friend from night to morning. We then crawled to the adjacent room and continued drinking there. So we drank whisky for a whole week until we ran out of rooms. What did we manage to get done in those seven days? Our answer: we ended up not going for an interview to the Colosseum, and all the stones remained in place. The ensuing benefit of our having thus preserved Italy’s cultural heritage is simply enormous! The moral of the story: Michelangelo and his friends did not drink whiskey. A great loss!

Su tutti i testi si trova scritto che la sua principale differenza dallo Scotch è dovuta alla tripla distillazione. In realtà questa non viene fatta: molto semplicemente le code, anziché confluire nella cotta suc- cessiva, sono distillate a parte. Nulla di male, ma anche qui c’è l’arte sottile della narrazione per giustificare la minore personalità che in genere (non sempre) il prodotto presenta rispetto al fratello scozzesi. Un indovinello: di che tipo di whisky si tratta?

Εάν σας πλησιάσουν κάπου, ας πούμε στην όπερα, ας πούμε από μια πολύ διακεκριμένη κυρία, και αν σας ρωτήσει αν σας αρέσει το ουίσκι και τα πούρα, η καλύτερη απάντηση είναι “όχι”, ακολουθούμενη από μια παύση 42 δευτερολέπτων και στη συνέχεια “εγώ αγαπώ το ουίσκι και αγαπώ τα πούρα και είμαι έτοιμος να κάνω οτιδήποτε για αυτά “Μπορείτε να κάνετε το εν λόγω ουίσκι διπλό. Παρεμπιπτόντως, αν είμαι σωστός ο Αριστοτέλης κάποτε παρατήρησε ότι όλα είναι συνδεδεμένα βοηθούν το ουίσκι και τα πούρα. Η δημιουργική ενέργεια του ουίσκι και πούρα δεν γνώριζε όρια, αλλά ποτέ δεν υπήρχε μεμονωμένη. Δεν υπήρχε ποτέ χωρίς ανθρώπινο σώμα. Σας παρακαλώ φροντίστε το σώμα σας για περισσότερο ουίσκι για περισσότερα πούρα και ακτινοβολεί μια ενέργεια που είναι ταυτόχρονα φυγοκεντρική και κεντρωμένη!

There was a person, let us say a man, who smoked a cigar and died of lung cancer. Another, let us say a woman, drank whisky and died of cirrhosis of the liver. And there was a third, without specified gender who, having drunk whisky and smoked a cigar, got a job. He or she is living the life! He or she likes flowers, does karate, smokes cigars by the box, and drinks whiskey not in jugs but in buckets! I met this person on the Kyoto–Osaka train. In a special cigar compartment we smoked a lot of Cuban cigars. Then we played a number of games. For example: Throw Momma from the Train! Then we smoked more cigars, but the cigars were not Cuban. At the end of the journey we began to ponder and debate the question, what is MAN? And we came to the conclusion that a person is the sum of all his illnesses or the absence thereof. At the end of the day a business card materialized on which was written: The Third Man.

Long, long ago, the wind from the Atlantic carried the scent of cigars onto the territory of Europe, arousing and exciting absolutely every- one’s mind and body. The European monarchs wanted to know where this wonderful and magical pungence originated, and so they began to dream of voyages to the scent’s source. As children, the monarchs, being princes and princesses, learned from “The Most Boring Book” (#boringwindowdisplays) that Egyptian priests during the time of the farmer Ming had released into those waters two (II) rainbow whales from Alexandria. The whales did not return. The naval expeditions outfitted by the grown-up monarchs, now kings and queens, also did not return, or else returned without having found the source of the scent, though their holds were full of sardines, which in the future would be much loved by a certain scandalously famous American professor of Italian descent. Apparently that magical aroma left the sailors and the two rainbow whales there forever. During this very period of mysterious stupefaction by tobacco, each labourer who worked on Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence received one (I) litre of red Tuscan wine every morning. It was thought that this would help with fear of heights, allowing effective work without head spinning. Nevertheless, some workers fell from the cupola, apparently especially those who had drunk quite a lot of wine. In our day, when tobacco leaves in the form of cigars can be found in every DIRTY FREE, in order to do the work of the White House, no matter whether it takes place in Washington, D.C. or near the Kremlin, bureaucrats drink one (I) litre of whisky every morning! This helps them with their balance and helps keep fear at bay. Even so, the bureaucrats also fly from their work- places, though it seems this happens only to those bureaucrats who drink too little whisky.

En auktionist nämnde en gång att konst skall vara dyr. Då tar man nämligen hand om den och vårdar den så att den får chansen att medverka i ett längre historiskt perspektiv. Det motsatta gäller för en jobbintervju. Där vore det bäst att omedelbart ta fram en flaska whisky av medelgod kvalitet. Detta är viktigt då du egentligen inte känner din framtida arbetsgivare och dennes smak för kvalitet eller kvantitet. Om arbetsgivaren har dålig smak så har du genast im- ponerat med ditt urval av whisky och om det motsatta gäller så är besvikelsen över en generisk variant heller ej för stor. Vissa svenska krukväxter inom större företag har på så sätt utvecklat alkoholpro- blem, men endast från varianter av medelmåttig whisky. Cigarrer är tyvärr ingen idé att nämna då rökförbud inomhus och utomhus på restauranger och kaféer och daghem gäller numera i Sverige. Man gjorde nyligen detta förbud till en central valfråga vilken medverka- de till att Sveriges regeringsbildning 2018 blev försenad med ganska exakt 129 dagar. En mindre debatterad fråga var August Strindbergs latenta kvinnohat.

eros + amor = whiskyphilia + amicitia = whisky

philia + fraternitas = whiskey

agape + caritas = whisky

storge + affectio = whisky

. . . — — — …

Gli strumenti più importanti per conoscere il mondo sono i sigari e il whiskey. Tuttavia anche la prospettiva sull’accaduto ha molto peso. Indubbiamente non sarà difficile immaginare un capitello dentro il Castello Sforzesco su cui un mostro spaventa 4 uomini. Quel capitello fu creato nell’epoca romanica e porta il nome «L’esorcismo d’un inde- moniato». Direi comunque che si tratta di un’interpretazione comple- tamente sbagliata. Quel mostro in realtà rappresenta il produttore discografico George Martin, che non essendo riuscito a bere il whi- skey di mattina e a fumare un sigaro di pomeriggio, di sera caccia via The Fab Four. Il primo a fuggire via è Paul, seguito da Ringo, dopo di cui viene George. L’ultimo a fuggire è John, a cui il mostro sembra aver già dato il morso. La prospettiva ovviamente cambia nel corso degli anni. Per esempio Fabrizio ha passato la sua infanzia a Genova dove i familiari spesso gli chiedevano: «Fabrizio, vuoi un po’ di zuc- chero?» Lui rispondeva sempre di sì. Allora – aggiungevano: – «can- taci una canzone» – Fabrizio sapeva cantare molte canzoncine sui diversi fiori e raccontava ai suoi ascoltatori di magici universi in cui questi esistevano. Passati gli anni Fabrizio è diventato grande e la si- tuazione si è ribaltata. Da allora in poi era lui a domandare se le per- sone intorno volessero ascoltare le sue canzoni e in cambio chiedeva del whiskey e dei sigari. Intanto non sono cambiati i fiori di cui canta- va ma gli universi che li circondavano hanno perso la loro magia.

Images Shunsuke Ohno ©

Text Dmitry Sokolenko ©