As a both man and an artist, Michael brings a fascinating duality to the table, be that table at a pipe show or at a fine restaurant. At his workbench and when discussing his pipes, Lindner displays a serious intensity that makes Kent Rasmussen seem like Benny Hill in comparison. Relaxing amongst friends, however, his boundless energy, quick wit, and irreverent world view will find your sides cramping in laughter.
I first met ‘Motown’ Michael Lindner when he flew into Phoenix in 2001. Happily, he brought roughly a half a dozen of his pipes for Paul Buza and I to evaluate. Well, ‘evaluate’ brings with it some air of detachment, but ‘drool over’ hardly sounds professional. Even a decade ago, Michael’s shaping was highly advanced and I wouldn’t see the likes of his attention to detail and interior work until I encountered the pipes of Smio Satou four years later (and their respective approaches could not be more different).
Crafting his pipes from Mimmo briar that has been seasoned for a minimum of three years after acquisition, Lindner steadfastly refuses to use stem blanks, preferring instead to hand shape German ebonite and brindle rod stock into some of the most recognizable bits in the pipe world. Michael also distinguishes his work with his own, unorthodox, methods of interior engineering. One example? In pursuit of an effortless draw, Lindner eschews ramping the airway "ramping messes up the airflow (in my opinion.)". While unconventional, most any Lindner aficionado will tell you that the smoking qualities of Michael's briars are unsurpassed.
When Michael speaks on his mental process of creation, I can almost see my late Zen master smiling. To quote the artist, ‘When I am working on my pipes, when I’m “in the zone”, it’s very similar to the peace one feels when meditating – my mind becomes still, my focus becomes singular, and I “let go” of all external influences. It is a time of rejuvenation and introspection. Pipe making becomes an opportunity to connect with nature – I connect with the briar and the earth it came from, I connect with the mastodon that died 25,000 years ago and gave up its ivory… ‘. Yeah, I believe that Seung Sahn and Michael Lindner would have gotten along splendidly…. Well, until Mike asked the septuagenarian ‘What’s up with the dress?’.
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