Virginia Beach screws up again

Where there's smoke, there's anger at Beach cigarette tax

By Richard Quinn
The Virginian-Pilot
© June 23, 2008

Max Weiner is mad, smoking mad.

The owner of Papa Joe's Smoke Shop near Lynnhaven Mall is upset about city leaders raising the per-pack cigarette tax 22 percent, to 61 cents from 50 cents. The increase was included in the city budget approved last month, but that particular levy got little public attention.

Now that retailers know about it, they're not pleased. The National Association of Tobacco Outlets even weighed in, questioning how the city could raise the tax without directly informing affected businesses.

Weiner said he found out only after he got a letter telling him the new tax rate. The trade group has not said whether it would take any formal action to protest the increase.
City Manager Jim Spore, in a response to the association, said the city publicized the increase in line with the law.

Still, Weiner said he'd like the Beach to reconsider the increase, as it did with the recently repealed machinery and tools tax increase. That levy also was adopted last month, but council members rolled it back after Stihl Inc. and the Virginia Manufacturers Association complained.

"They reversed the tax for them," Weiner said. "That's crazy. Why are they doing it for them and not for us?"

Weiner said raising the tax will only drive smokers elsewhere to buy cigarettes, including North Carolina, which has lower tax rates.

In South Hampton Roads, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Suffolk all tax packs at 50 cents. Norfolk has the region's highest tax, at 65 cents.

Several Virginia Beach council members said they doubted that the increase in the cigarette tax - which overall will raise $13.2 million in fiscal 2009 - would be repealed.

Spore has said the money generated by the increase, about $2.4 million, will finance projects in the city's strategic growth areas.

Councilman Harry Diezel said the tax is politically popular, especially because smoking is a public health issue. He noted the unsuccessful push to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.

Diezel said he is sensitive to criticism from Weiner and others who question why one tax increase is repealed and another isn't.

Councilman Bob Dyer said the machinery and tools tax increase is different because it could have threatened future expansions of Stihl, the city's largest manufacturer.

"Obviously perception is sometimes 100 percent of reality," Diezel said. "But in this particular case, I think we just have to weather that particular storm."


Although not directly related to Hookah smoking, but rather smoking general, this still pisses me off royally! And I don't even smoke ciggys! Argh, Va Beach is a city of idiots, they are almost as stupid as the lot who "pretend" to run Norfolk.... just raising the tax doesn't do ANYTHING because hard core smokers are either gonna: ignore the tax increase or buy ciggys IN ANOTHER CITY!

NC is less than 40min away... you can buy 2 boxes legally for your own personal use and BRING them back up here to VA with NO ISSUES. NC's tax is considerably less and the even considering gas prices nowadays - it still will save you money!

Va Beach keeps screaming it wants tourist, it wants their money... but what about the LOCALS who have to live here year round? What about us? The city leaders don't give a crap, they scream stupid laws and BS everywhere - smoking is a health issue.... NO SHYT, but what about ALCOHOL?!?! You opened ABC stores on SUNDAY to make more money, more people DIE because of liquor than ciggys..... and you apparently don't care if a few citizens pay with their lives if you can make a few extra bucks!

Blarg... :{

New in the world of gaming...

June 22, 2008 Rock Band FINALLY came out for the Wii. YEAH! About freaking time, kool thing it's white unlike the other systems' versions. Bad part, it's the same price as the other console versions - about $160. Bummer...

Another new thing came out yesterday as well.... Guitar Hero: On Tour for the Nintendo DS. Yes, you just read that right... for the DS handheld. Guitar Hero has invaded EVERYWHERE (but the PSP) - you can even get it for your cell phones!

But here it is for the DS... It runs $49.95 but does come with several items inside. First it comes with a "finger pad" that you plug into the larger "Advance" port on the DS. This part has a clear outer shell that can be removed and the skin underneath can be replaced with diffferent ones, how cute.

Plugged into the backside of the "finger pad" is the puck needed to strum the guitar, although you can use the standard stylus that comes with the DS normally.

Then there is the game cartridge itself - it even comes with a clear plastic carrying case similar to what you find with memory cards (Like a SD). There's also another black piece that is only used if you have a Original DS, not a DS Lite (so, yes both owners can play GH:OT!).

Now after reading the included instruction sheet and simple game play guide, most people will figure out how to set everything up and be ready to play. BUT... I will warn you, this device wasn't meant for the adult hand. It gives you some tips on how to hold the unit to play, but you will quickly find it is somewhat uncomfortable. A massive downer for me was the "finger pad" wouldn't stay plugged in, the way I had to hold it, would cause it to fall off during game play.... But Necessity is the Mother of Invention - 1 piece of duck tape later, I can play.

If you have played ANY of the other GH games, you know the premise - hit the colored keys while strumming in tune with the song. It has (5) sets per section, 4 levels of difficulty, a new method of activating Star Power (shout at the device) and does support 2 player games, but both players need the game/set-up. 25 songs in total, a few that I've played on other games, but many more that are new to the series.

It's kool, but I quickly got annoyed at the thing - my arm and hand hurt considerably within 30min of playing. If you thought normal GH was hard, this sucker is worse - hitting those strums just right takes ALOT of practice, the touch screen isn't as sensative as I would like. Another really annoying thing is the sound - it even tells you to get headphones! Unless you're wearing 'phones you're not gonna be able to hear it well enough to play along.

Out of 5 stars, I'd give GH:OT for the DS...


Hookah Freak Blueberry Pancakes Review

Hookah Freak Blueberry Pancakes

Shisha Cut: fine, some twigs (too small to call stems), med-dark brown, slightly moister than HH.

Hookah Type: 27" Green Syrian

Duration: 1hr15min to 1hr20min

Bowl: modern

Foil / Screen: foil + windcover

Coal / Amount: (3) .75 Dyni naturals

Smoke: thick (after 5 mins)

Buzz: none

Smell / Flavor: Smell = Not blueberry pancakes, but muffins + Diatap Grape. Taste = Blueberry muffins with undertone of Grape.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzBLkXeAW1s

Rating (1 to 10): 7

Well, it's not quite Blueberry pancakes or even Blueberry syurp, but more like Blueberry muffins with a undertone of Grape. Not bad, some people may not like it, but it's a alright smoke.

Better handling of heat than HH, but still can be heat picky so watch your coals (and use a windcover).

Hookah Hookah Black Label Lemon Review

Hookah Hookah Black Label Lemon

Shisha Cut: course (chunks, sticks, leaves), black color, and gooey.

Hookah Type: 27" Red Syrian

Duration: 30min MAX

Bowl: Egyptian clay

Foil / Screen: foil + windcover

Coal / Amount: (3) .75" Exotica (moved around alot)

Smoke: thick, but after 10min of cooking

Buzz: none

Smell / Flavor: Smell = lemon, but strange. Runs the gambit from Lemonheads, juice and Pledge. (I smelt Lemonheads) Taste = Lemon, but again strange. Starts sweet, goes sour, then bitter then disappears.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxSCag_q-z4

Rating (1 to 10): 4-5

For an herbal smoke, it was alright. The taste was strange, starting sweet then shifting to sour, then bitter and then about the 30min mark it disappears completely. I've smoked it 4 times now, it repeats the same pattern - 30mins will give you smoke, but NO TASTE.

It's better than Soex (MUCH BETTER THAN), but nothing compared to a standard tobacco smoke.

Hookah-Hookah 7 Spice Review

Hookah-Hookah 7 Spice

Shisha Cut: typical HH, fine cut, no stems, med brown in color and moist, not drippy.

Hookah Type: MYA QT

Duration: 1hr 30min

Bowl: standard MYA

Foil / Screen: foil + windcover

Coal / Amount: 33m Golden (2 per session atleast, 1 @ a time)

Smoke: thick

Buzz: none, even with chaining

Smell / Flavor: Smell = like a spice cupboard, similar to the spice used for Pumpkin Pie. Taste = Shisha Gobstopper! Anise, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cardamom.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1CJbK0Ynok

Rating (1 to 10): 9

OMG! This flavor rock! It's a spicy mix of flavors (all spices) that's not too strong, fading from one spice to the next. Each hit can have a different taste. I've identified most of the spices: starting with Anise, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cardamom. There's got to be another if it's a true 7 spice, but I can't pin-point it.

It does suffer from the typical HH heat issue, but do everything you can (rotate coals, move often, use a windcover) to prolong this flavor as LONG as you can to fully enjoy it.

Hookah-Hookah Cranberry Review

Hookah-Hookah Cranberry

Shisha Cut: typical HH, fine cut, no stems, med brown in color and moise, not drippy.

Hookah Type: 22" Egyptian

Duration: 55-60+ min

Bowl: modern

Foil / Screen: foil + windcover

Coal / Amount: (2) 1" Dyni naturals

Smoke: med to thick

Buzz: none, even with chaining

Smell / Flavor: Smell = not quite cranberry, but a tart sweet fruit. Taste = again, not quite cranberry but a sweet-tart fruity taste.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo7Jz8lXX7I

Rating (1 to 10): 6-7

This flavor tries to be cranberry, but it doesn't quite hit the mark. It's a nice sweetish-tart fruity flavor, but not what I would consider cranberry. Even when smoked with cranberry juice in the base, it's still not hitting the mark. It's a good flavor, but don't expect a realistic cranberry.


Al Fakher Watermelon Review

Shisha Cut: (unknown since it was at a lounge)
Hookah Type: 3-hose Egyptian
Duration: 1.75 hour (+/-)
Bowl: modern
Foil / Screen: foil + windcover
Coal / Amount: 1 belgum QL @ a time (2 coals total)
Smoke: thick & puffy
Buzz: slight
Smell / Flavor: Smell was a sweet almost candy watermelon. Taste was candy watermelon, similar to a Jolly Ranger or Bubbleyum.
Video Link: [ none since it was a bar - maybe later ]
Rating (1 to 10): 7

Considering I normally avoid Watermelon flavors (not my cup o'tea), but this was very good. Alittle sweeter than I would have liked, it was overall excellent smoke. Reminded me alot of Watermelon Jolly rangers and Watermelon BubbleYum! Good smoke, long lasting flavor, it lasted till the end of the second coal.

Highly recommended.


Baja Kahlua Review

Baja Kahlua

Shisha Cut: med to semi-fine, twiggy stems (very few). Moist and sticky, dark brown/black in color.
Hookah Type: 4-hose Egyptian with Nammors/Razans (1 port sealed)
Duration: 55-60 min
Bowl: standard clay E
Foil / Screen: foil + windcover
Coal / Amount: 1 Golden QL - 33m
Smoke: Med then turning to thick
Buzz: slight to none
Smell / Flavor: Smell was a mellow coffee. Taste was the same, a nice mellow coffee - similar to Kahlua
Video Link: [none - no more to sample :( ]
Rating (1 to 10): 8

Considering the Baja Raspberry was a slight flavor disappointment, I was greatly surprised at this one's flavor. It was a nice mellow coffee flavor, not quite Kahlua, but very tasty. Didn't turn harsh till the end (as many coffee flavor may do) no got the "burn popcorn" flavor some get. Nice cut and a good smoke, if you want some coffee tobacco to try, consider this one of the mellower versions.

Al Fakher Golden Line: Rose Review

Al Fakher Golden Line: Rose

Shisha Cut: (unknown since it was at a lounge)
Hookah Type: 3-hose Egyptian
Duration: 1.5 hour (+/-)
Bowl: modern
Foil / Screen: foil + windcover
Coal / Amount: 1 Belgium QL @ a time (2 coals total)
Smoke: thick & puffy
Buzz: slight
Smell / Flavor: Smell was that of a fresh rose. Taste was interesting mix of rose (just like you'd expect one to smell) with an undercurrent of lemon.
Video Link: [ none since it was a bar - maybe later ]

Rating (1 to 10): 7

I like AF's normal Rose, this one added alittle something to the mix that made it even more enjoyable. There was the faintest undercurrent of lemon on the exhale. It also seemed to be slightly "sweeter" than the normal. This isn't one of the "soapy - incense" type roses (as most tend to be), this tastes JUST LIKE you would expect a Rose to smell like.


Nimbus Hookah Lounge Part 2

Nimbus Hookah Lounge
Providence Square Shopping Center
1005 Kempsville Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
Hours: 4pm to 3am

Ok, got up with two friends and headed over to the new place. Little shop, next to a Chinese restaurant, be careful you might drive by it (BadJuju spotted it). They had a sign out front stating their "Special" of the day - Black Grape. Nice :)

So inside we go and it's a nice, simply laid out place. Large sofas line the front, a few tables and chairs toward the back. Some extra seating tucked away and coffee tables scattered around. The walls had some nice ethic artwork/hangings, plus they had a kick-arse fountain inside.

They had a good collection of hookahs - some syrians, a few MYA's, mostly Egyptians and some moderns. They were offering to sell some of them, but not many (for now). They said they also sold hoses, but were currently out of extras for purchase. Always nice to know ;}

Now on to the important part: the shisha }:)

They offered 4 brands: Nakhla, Al Fakher, Layalina, and Starbuzz. They have a good selection of flavors for each brands, Starbuzz having the largest selection. Prices ranged from $10.95 for Nakhla to $14.95 for Starbuzz. The cool thing (we found out later) was the price was for the first bowl (or the hookah) and each additional bowl was basically half price. Very nice for people who want to come and chill for a few hours (like we did).

Also, they were using Belguim instant lights - they cooked quickly and didn't smell, provided good heat and did last a good chunk of time. We gave them a few tips to try instead of the BIC lighter - a candle works just as well. They had a coil stove, but didn't use it due to limited bussiness (don't need that many coals at one time).

They were selling some tobacco - only Starbuzz, 200g tubs for $23.95. Alittle pricer than I'm used too, but for a local shop it's a good price. I've seen it as high as $25 locally.

Now, due to VA laws they don't sell "real" food inside. Silly Commonwealth of Virginia... BAD VA! But good thing, they do sell snacks (chips, cookies, candy) and bottled drinks/water. Always a plus! Plus, if you are starving - head next door! Chinese is oh so yummie (next time I plan on hitting that place).

We talked with the woman working there (and later one of the owners, nice fellow)- I will say, she does know how to pack a good bowl (I watched her pack our second one). Offered up some tips, tricks and so on. She sat and chatted with us for awhile, they liked our hoses (I brought my Nammors). :)

All in all, it was a good time. They have some games in there, some nice music playing in the background (mellow) and even a playstation and TV! There was another fellow in there with his laptop, so they are PC friendly as well.

Other than more brands of shisha, a few more hookahs (the one we were using had a small leak), it was a nice overall experience. They are on there way to becoming a nice A+ lounge - they already seem to know a good chunk about what they are doing. We are most definitely coming again!

And of course, now for some smoking pictures


New Hookah Lounge in Town

This morning while listening to Tommy & Rumble (WNOR FM 99 - Virginia) and one of the sponsors for their golf thing was a place called Nimbus Hookah Lounge. Well, blow me down - when did this happen? @_@???

A quick Google search provided some answers, they opened just recently - April 22, 2008. They are located at Providence Square Shopping Center (1005 Kempsville Rd, Va Beach, VA) - according to the article, they are open 4pm to 3am, offer 3 different brands of tobacco (Starbuzz for 14.95, Layalina for 12.95 and Nakhla for 10.95) and sell various hookahs. Their phone number is 757-200-6406.

Well, since I LOVE to scout out new local Hookah places, you can bet I made a few phone calls and this evening, me and a friend will be heading over there for some Hookah fun. I ran home and picked up my 2 Nammors and silver mouthtip (I have a cold, if they won't let me use my hoses, I have my own tip). Cell will be charged for pictures and I will give the place a good look-over and full review later. (Maybe even a quick Youtube vid if they allow).

Alittle pricey, but if they offer good service and such not, it will be worth it (So I have a place this side of the water to go and hang with friends - who for some reason WON'T come over and smoke :P).

Peace for now... more later!