Agent 007 - Camelot Lives
He was the embodiment of class, sophisticate, an officer and a gentleman. For decades he was the poster boy of suave, boldness, mystique – Alpha male personified. Our knight in shining armor, Agent 007 has now begun his walk through the hallway of angels. Sean Connery, who passed on October 31, 2020 at the age of 90 leaves behind a legacy of unmatched style and corporate machismo and unmatched sophisticate.
His most memorable role was the come to life character of Ian Fleming’s, “James Bond”. Ian Fleming once stated that when he wrote the first James Bond novel in 1953, he wanted the Bond character to be an extremely dull and uninteresting person that managed to find himself in the midst of danger. He’s actually gotten the inspiration from an American ornithologist who’d authored a book, “Birds Of The West Indies” that was
on the coffee table in Fleming’s hotel room in Jamaica. “I thought, by God, James Bond is the dullest name I ever heard”. Sean Connery as Agent 007 with a license to kill, was an MI6 British spy. Previously he’s been a Commander in the British Royal Navy.
With class and swagger, he seemingly took on the Cold War and international bad guys with style and grace. Even his weaponry was technologically suave. The iconic figure set the tone for the gentleman of the 1960’s and left its mark on other period-based shows such as Mad Men. Known for his tailored suits, several stand out. Most notably his most iconic suit is the grey glen check suit in Goldfinger. Although Connery wore other Grey Glen check suits and other three-piece suits, none were as memorable as Grey Glen check. This was Bond’s first three-piece suit of his tenure as Bond, but none ever matched its iconic elegance. From his Turnbull & Asser shirts to White tuxedo jacket, Omega watches to Slazenger sweaters, John Lobb Ltd and Espadrille shoes, and the Aston Martin DB5 he epitomized sterling aristocracy of the bougie gentleman.
To pay tribute to this international gentleman who was a partaker of the finer things of life, I chose to honor him by taking in a couple of smokes. There I meet cigar connoisseur Erik E of Vitoli in Mt. Brook, Alabama. He recommends Atabey. “The taste is smooth and creamy with nutty flavor. This is not your everyday cigar because of the price. It’s more celebratory.” This was very befitting of the man who embodied GQ. The Atabey cigars are produced in limited quantities by the "Selected Tobacco" factory in Costa Rica. Atabey is the name of a supreme female divinity of the
extinct Taino people, who once occupied and dominated a large part of the Caribbean islands. In Taino mythology, Atabey was the first female in the world and was the mother of Yucahu, the main male god of the Tainos. Besides being the mother goddess, she represented the divinity of the Moon, the Sea of Fertility and Birth. Her figure is also associated as "Mother of Waters", associating it with rivers, lakes and seas to give life to the cultivation of cassava, tobacco and agriculture in general.
Atabey was worshiped during nocturnal full moon ceremonies, where through unique rituals performed by men of the tribe during dances performed in a circle called a cohiba, around the leader and spiritual shaman of the tribe, called Bejique. All of the men carry tobacco leaves rolled
as a cigar, blew the smoke over the Bejique. The names of different formats Atabey cigar brand are associated with these spiritual ceremonies: Ídolos, Divinos, Brujos, Sabios, Delirios, Ritos. The taste has the distinct flavors of apricots, graham cracker cinnamon and brown sugar. Two inches into the cigar and the main flavor shifts to a salty cashew nuttiness while still maintaining a creamy sweet caramel flavor. The aroma hints of cedar and molasses. Atabey is the ultimate among the shade brown cigars - flawless. A great pairing would be Uncle Nearest whiskey, but for the sake of commemorating the life of Sean Connery, a martini or scotch.
Yet another great way to celebrate a royal man, our knight with an exploding ink pen
and gun built in his shoe, is with a Davidoff Royal. According to Erik E, “it’s a perfect mild to medium blend with a cream and cocoa flavor. Its not an everyday cigar because of the price”. It is the most elusive and the most sought after in Davidoff’s portfolio. It comes extensively aged, silky-smooth Ecuadorian wrapper leaf that contains notes of cedar wood, leather, citrus, chocolate, cream and honey taste. Davidoff Royal Release are medium bodied cigars handmade in the Dominican Republic and are aged for 8 years.
There are only eight rollers who work on the Royal Release cigars, individually who have at least 15 years of experience. There are four different cigars in the Davidoff Royal line: Robusto, Salomones, Royal Release Robusto, and Royal Release Salmones. The specially chosen Aromatica Dominica wrapper is a thoroughly oiled mottled dark espresso brown. The aroma from the wrapper is a culmination of earth, hay, dark chocolate, coffee beans, barley and molasses, while the cold draw is full of cedar, dark cocoa nibs, leather, a slight soapiness and taste of raisins. Pricing is set at $80 for the Royal Release Robusto while the Royal Release Salomones carries an MSRP of $100. At Vitoli, a box of 10 will cost you $800.
The Davidoff Royal Robusto embodies and personifies the agent charged with
service to Her Royal Majesty. This particular cigar comes with double band, white and gold with Royal italicized font. The package loudly whispers regal. Just as Bond had his accessories, Davidoff partnered with S.T. Dupont to produce a soft flame lighter that features the blue and white color. Only 50 pieces, priced at $970 were made for the American market. The company also produced glass ashtrays blown by Murano based Italian glass blower artisans. Production was limited to 50 pieces and priced at $290.
Not all cigars are created equal. For Davidoff Royal, from seed to cigar is a 10-year process. Cured in the Royal Barn, it is harvested separately from other crops. These choice and refined grades of tobacco are then given the Royal stamp are then left for an 8-year aging process. Everything that is required for a superior cigar is undertaken. Select cigar seeds are chosen selected for growing. The seeds germinate for approximately six weeks before being taken to the field. Then another six weeks elapses for the tobacco plant to grow into maturity. From there the plant will harvest after approximately another six-week process. In the final stage, the tobacco undergoes a host of fermentation processes. It is in this stage that the tobacco is baled in which temperatures inside the bales reach nearly 140 degrees. This process during fermentation is referred to as “sweating”. It is during this process that ammonia is released from the tobacco thus affecting its nicotine content. The finished product? One of the most prestigious cigars on the market.
What better cigar to honor a man who was the epitome of prestige? Watching Sean Connery co-star in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade made you desire to become an ivy league history or archeology professor. He knew much about everything from lost civilizations to ancient artifacts in remote places around the globe. His interactions with the lead character made for some the most loved father son scenes in cinematic history. He was the brains and seemingly backstory behind Indiana Jones himself. After all, Indiana Jones had to begin somewhere.
As a child I thought that HBO and Cinemax existed just to show James Bond films and they were provocatively imaginative. He resembled the men who got things don in this world, a cavalier corporate cowboy. His vilians were not buffoonish or campy like those of the original Batman television series. They did however resemble more so the Justice League. "And when I get rid of those Super Friends, I'll rule the world ! ________(<insert evil laugh). These international billionaire bad guys had global reach with their ruthless antics and heavily financed weaponry. Even the villians had style.
Watching the usual cat & mouse back and forth between bond and his assignment unfolded as if a theatrical ballet. At some times throughout the entire James Bond franchise, the drama between opposing characters resembled more like parochial school or a fraternity rivalry between arch enemies. He had an acquired taste for fine liquors, a master poker player and presumably chess too.
All cinematic heroes and even the anti heroes were known by their firearm. Sean Connery's Bond was somewhat of a combination of Dick Tracy, "Broadway" Joe Namath, and Steve McQueen. Bond's weapon of choice was the Walther PPK. But even more intriguing and sexier than his pistol were his customed weapons. First was the air tight sea gull scuba diving wet suit. After he climbed a wall and plants dynamite, he then sheds the wet suit to show him wearing a perfectly dry white coat tuxedo. Who else could pull that off?
Then there is the trick briefcase in From Russia With Love. James Bond flying through the air wearing a jet pack added thermometer shattering heat of bravado and death defying machismo. Fans got a delight in the agile and nimble Wallis auto-gyrocopter. Far from the American UH-1 Huey and the AH-1 Cobra and Eurocopter, this one person contraption was armed with guns rear mounted flamethrowers, and infrared missile launchers. This was completely mesmerizing for viewers at that time.
In order to get the hot body Bond girls as he always did, it took the iconic chick magnet - Aston Martin DB5. The most pristine piece of sterling silver, or pewter gray ever assembled on four wheels had a radar and a homing beacon encased in the dashboard, bulletproof window, one tail pipe to spout oil and another to produce a smokescreen, a door mounted telephone, front and rear battering rams, it could jettison nail spikes, a protruding tire slasher, rotating license plates, and the ultimate novice - a passenger side ejection seat. If "hate me because I'm rich" or "Can your car do this" was a car, the Ashton Martin DB5 would be it. It was unlike any car we'd ever seen before.
In the novel, Casino Royale, Ian Fleming wrote that, "Bond's car was his only personal hobby. One of the last of the 4.5-liter Bentleys with the supercharger by Amherst Villiers, he had bought it almost new in 1933 and had kept it in careful storage through the WWII years. Bond drove it hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure. It was a battleship-grey convertible coupé, which really did convert, and it was capable of touring at ninety with thirty miles an hour in reserve." What a coincidence that just in time for what would have been the delayed release of this year's the iconic Aston Martin DB5 is now being faithfully rebuilt for avid collectors for a goldfingered $3.5 million. When the DB5 reemerged in "Spectre", Aston Martin Chief Creative Officer Mark Reichman said, "There was a cheer in the theater". This is because the vehicle makes a statement and is just as much of a character in the film as the actors. Recently, one fan just spent more than $200,000 on a replica of 007’s iconic Aston Martin DB5 that was void of an engine. The replica DB5 is painted in the identically same Silver Birch as the original. It also comes with matching leather upholstery and also has the identical front grille, badging, trimming, bumpers, lights and the 72-spoke rims. The replica version also contains all of the weapons and features as the authentic version such as a removable ejector roof, a rear bullet shield, a smokescreen machine and oil sprayer, tire slashers and non firing machines guns. However, unlike the one driven by Connery in 1964, it can't be driven.
Only 25 of the reproduction DB5's are being built. It went on to become the most iconic car in motion picture history. It would even be safe to say that the DB5 created the character and car connection and paved the way for Bullitt, The Duke's of Hazzard's General Lee, and Knight Rider's K.I.T.T. At the 1964 New York City World's Fair the Aston Martin DB5 was dubbed, "The most famous car in the world". With the release of Goldfinger, Corgi Toys produced a toy version of the car, which became the biggest selling toy of 1964. It is a testament to the quality of the character and the Bond series that a little more than 65 years after making its motion picture debut, a vehicle not just sparks nostalgia but still sets a standard of luxury super cars and able to fetch millions of dollars at auction. The car was an extension of the character, so revealing but yet mystical, as if it had a life of its own. It was more than a motor vehicle. It was a modern mechanical marvel, seemingly a Swiss Army knife of capabilities.
And to cherry top it off, it was a symbol of alpha male muscle and sophistication enshrined in Silver Birch. Even in death, through the Aston Martin, Sean Connery lives on. Just as impeccable as the Aston Martin were Bond's love interests, the Bond Girls.
The story line was simple, exotic as well as erotic. The best that the Crown had to offer in Her Majesty's Service, saved the world from global tyranny through charming wit, as a master escape artist with the aid of superior technological gadgetry. He had an acquired taste for the finer things of life, he accessed unique vehicles both on the road, underwater, and in the air. Every scene left you saying, "I've gotta get me one of those". And in the end, he always got the girl. Two of the most beautiful starlets to ever grace the stage in the entire franchise belong to Sean Connery. Actress Ursula caused the world to seemingly stop turning in her memorable exiting the ocean scene. The white bikini with a sheathed knife on her is forever stamped into the hearts and minds of men. It would later be given homage in 2006's "Die Another Day" with Halle Berry. I would also say that it laid the foundation for another classic water based exit by actress Phoebe Cates in Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
The most loved Bond girl unanimously was Goldfinger. This is evident in the snickers and smirks. "Who are you? My name is Pussy Galore...I must be dreaming...." She was the personal pilot of Mr. Goldfinger. At the time, just as provocative as this scene was the notion that women could fly aircraft. More than just a stunning vixen, this aviatrix commanded an all female pilot Piper PA-28 Cherokee air force, something the world had never seen. With just one seductive kiss, Bond causes her to rethink her allegiance to Goldfinger and his criminal quest to rob and sabotage the gold of Ft. Knox.
Upon learning of Sean Connery's death I located Thunderball on VHS and watched this cinematic masterpiece on 1980's technology. I turned the volume completely down and listened to on YouTube, the Bond theme and classic songs from the movies, rather than the dialogue. The theme and opening credits and trademark viewing of 007 through a gun barrel is like no other. Even the way he said his name, simply oozed swagger and coolness under fire. What man didn't want to be like Bond and what women didn't want a man like him to some degree ? Taking slow draws on my Atabey I couldn't help but reminisce on what this legendary actor and character meant to the world.
His theme music seemed as if royalty was being summoned. In many ways it was. His choice in Martinis, and his classic command, "Shaken but not stirred" is forever engrained in our lexicon. Even if you're not a partaker of any alcoholic beverage, his
typical line has become synonymous with alcohol consumption altogether. Everything about this man and his most memorable role suggested not just polished and refinement, but a commitment to excellence and a quality life. His eloquent British/Scottish accent spoke with scholarly wisdom and well groomed leadership that could best the brightest of minds and swoon the elitist of women. It would add even more depth to the Bond character to produce a prequel that shows what 007's path to MI6 was as well as his Royal Navy's service. Other than perhaps James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman, only Sean Connery can add eloquence to a talking dragon in 1996's Dragonheart. Shortly after his death, it was announced that the first Walther PKK firearm used by Connery in the first Bond film, Dr. No is set to be auctioned for at least $200,000. This but a mere reflection of what the actor and his iconic character meant to the world.
True to his persona, as knighted by Queen Elizabeth, he left us with his royal decree in First Knight. "I am Arthur of Camelot and I command you all to fight ! Never surrender, Camelot lives !" Thank you Sir for your wealth of gentlemanly qualities and virtues. Your cinematic opus clearly showed us that chivalry is not dead. With a sense of duty and loyalty to
The Crown, you championed good over evil with a standard of corporate cool, a suave devotion to sense of self assuredness that enabled one to use wit and charm, as lethal as any Walther PKK. You showed the world the value of a commitment to excellence, a cultured taste of refinement while championing the righteous cause of a free and civilized world. In doing so, you proved that a gentleman could be wealthy and affluent, void of supercilious and pretentiousness behavior while protecting the world's most vulnerable. You illustrated that a person could be conservative but yet provocative. Bold, daring, to the rim with confidence. Endowed with a vast knowledge of science and math, it was in fact sexy to be an alpha male nerd, intellectually pedantic while bathing in a tub of testosterone. Somewhere inside of every man is the desire to be a real James Bond. Inside of every woman is a desire to be courted and romanced by a real James Bond. Your exemplary life was perhaps shaken but not stirred. With our Omega Seamasters lifted to the heavens, forever shall you be our Bond, James Bond. From the world with love Sir Connery.