Friday, July 31, 2009

The Year of the HoseMaster

In August of 2008 an unemployed sommelier (OK, that's redundant) decided to start a blog. Looking back nearly a year later, this still seems like a really stupid idea. I think I've written about 80 posts--that's nearly a dozen jokes! I've insulted virtually everyone in the wine business one way or another, and done the best I can to slap around a few bloggers as well. There are a lot of overinflated egos in the wine biz, and I'm just the prick to puncture them. Originally, I thought I should do the blog anonymously. But anonymity and blogging go hand in hand anyway, and once I'd decided to call it HoseMaster of Wine, well, there went anonymity--I've been the Hosemaster for about 25 years now and a lot of people know it. Besides, I despise the folks in the biz who decide to post anonymously, like
they have something to lose. Usually all they have to lose is their credibility, which was imaginary in the first place.

In its first incarnation, HoseMaster of Wine featured a lot of photos of naked women, tasteful, but definitely naked. When it first came to me to do it, I was very curious to see what sort of reactions I would get. I personally loved the mix of wine blogging and nudity. Hell, I'm mostly nude when I write the posts. Which would explain why they're so sticky. And why I write standing up... The reactions were kind of amazing. They ranged from "Why is he doing it?" all the way to "Why is he doing it?" I just thought it was funny. There is something inherently funny about nudity. It may be erotic, but it's also just funny. We have this cultural notion of beauty, the kind of youthfulness and perfection of the girls in the photos I displayed, but when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we have to laugh. I'm the guy who tries to hold up the mirror to the wine biz. I can't tell you how many women have laughed when I was naked in front of them. Virtually the entire auditorium.

What actually happened was I started getting really weird comments that I had to delete. Sexual stuff, weird spam--and that was just Tom Wark. Then I got slapped by Google with an adult warning page when you clicked on HoseMaster of Wine, and that sealed the deal for me. I pulled the plug. And then the Murphy-Goode Merlot really hit the fan. I started getting lots of emails from people I didn't know who loved my brand of stupidity (trademarked, by the way) and irreverence begging me not to stop. Not to stop with my plan to quit, that is. And almost everyone mentioned the nudies, almost everyone loved the naked girls, people signed on just to see what pinup I had selected. Strange, really. One has the sense that wine lovers are sexually retarded, but having proof is a bit discouraging.

I restarted HoseMaster of Wine six weeks later. Only this time I put a big sign on my computer, just like the one Kirstie Alley has on her Scientologist refrigerator (What's a Scientologist have in his refrigerator? L. Ron Hubbard's head) that says, "NO CHEESECAKE!" Only I obeyed mine. I sure didn't miss surfing the net for nudes, however. Yikes, that was an education. I once made the mistake of doing a search for "naked girl with a baseball bat." I'm begging you, don't go there. Honestly, one should never put a Louisville Slugger in her Pujols. I learned quickly how to avoid the worst kinds of sites; and it's amazing my computer never got a virus. It did, however, get a couple of STD's. So, please, if you're reading HoseMaster, and you're not already, wear a condom or a mouth guard or your usual Saran Wrap--just to be safe.

For me, the strangest thing about writing a blog has been the general lack of response. I have a few regular commenters (My Gorgeous Sam, I am so in love with you), and I am flattered that they stop by (Charlie Olken, Puff Daddy, founder of the rag that I have been consulting since I first started loving wine? How cool is that?), but mostly I just fling this crap out into the Cyberspace and have no idea where it goes or who is reading it. Very strange, really. When I was young and wrote a humor column for the weekly college newspaper (I graduated from the school that Obama just couldn't quite hack--Occidental College) I would get instant feedback on the day my work was published, much of it critical, much of it threatening, much of it angry, but if you're writing satire and you don't make anyone angry you're just performing the Heimoff Maneuver. You grab them from behind and give them a gentle hug. Doesn't save them, but it feels so yummy. By the way, for the record, I pretty much hate everything I write, so I tend to agree with those who don't find me funny--I think they're the smart ones. But it's strange to deliver jokes and get very little response. It's like being Jay Mohr. That's blogging though. The attention barking of lonely poodles.

My original idea was to write about wines, you know, review them, rate them, wait for UPS to deliver free samples then sell them online to monetize my blog. How monumentally stupid are wineries who send wines to the pinheads who blog? Of course, it's no surprise wineries and their marketing people do stupid stuff, this is a given in the wine business. But catering to bloggers, whose credentials are that they can type, is astounding to me. I think I've received all of about three bottles since I started. Marketing people are stupid, but not stupid enough to send free wine to a guy with actual knowledge and somewhat educated opinions. Nor do I solicit samples; nor do I want them. When I have lampooned some poorly made wines, just written what I felt was an apt, if derogatory, description, I've usually received private emails from those wineries either griping about my words, or asking me to visit them and retry their wines. I usually don't respond.

Eventually, HoseMaster morphed into the piece of garbage it is today. A way for me to rail and vent and spew and regurgitate all the useless opinions I have about wine and the people who make it their hobby or passion or business. I decided after a year of doing this I would step out of character for a minute, drop my HoseMaster pants, and share a bit about the strange experience that is writing this blog. There's so much more. The strange people who have passed through and then vanished. The friends I've made along the way (Tom Wark and Gorgeous Sam and Bruce Patch and on and on...) So much that I could never have anticipated.

But that's it for now. Back to being the HoseMaster. I hate that guy.


Anonymous said...

Hiya, Ron - It's KC from the PDC. Just wanted to let you know that I'm reading your stuff, always smiling and sometimes laughing aloud at it, and mostly not making comments about it (at least not to you), mostly because it would make for dull reading. Maybe there are lots like me out there, which means you probably have tens of tens of readers you don't know about.

Anonymous said...

I may not post, but I'm a regular reader. Love your sense of humor and the detraction from highbrow wine discussions - Tim in California

Samantha Dugan said...

Awe, I adore you without your pants....the HoseMaster ones. I loved this Ron, so sweet and so open, so NOT HoseMaster. And while I love your smart ass posts it was nice to see your soft underbelly for a minute. I read because I think you are smart, funny, insightful and I absolutely adore you....I comment because I want you to know it.
Big hug, (put your pants back on!)

Lar said...

Loving your work, a hosemasterpiece if you will. Looking forward to reading, laughing and giggling like a girl with the next installments.

Any chance you could send some free samples of those naked girls my way?

Anonymous said...

I read every blog, most are very funny and the wine tips are great. We have quite different political views and as I read some of the blogs I wince amd totally disagree. Political disagreements aside, I always consider you my friend.

Andy K.

Anonymous Puff Daddy said...

Hi. I'm Charlie Olken and I am posting this anonymously because I don't want anyone to know I actually read the drivel that appears here.

Andrzej said...

I read you not only because you make me laugh (which you do), but also because you make me think about what I do. It's good to have a perspective! Let's have some wine and celebrate, even if it is 3:30 AM here in Poland, where I am from.

vickibarkley said...

Yes, HMW, I read you religiously, because you're linked to my friend, Sam, and you're funny! What, lurk? Me?


Ron Washam, HMW said...

Wow, eight, count 'em, eight readers! Thanks to every one of you.

Now back to our regularly scheduled broadcasts.