“For something to be funny, the audience has to be in a position to sense the truth of it. It has to be primed. Satire can crystallize what’s already in the air, but it can’t really put it there.”--Garry Trudeau
Monday, August 31, 2009
Hate Mail for the HoseMaster
When you annoy people in the name of comedy, you get letters. Slinging unwanted barbs at people can be dangerous work, ask any porcupine. But it ain't satire unless you ruffle some feathers, and HoseMaster of Wine has ruffled more feathers than Big Bird masturbating. I thought I might share some of those angry epistles with my loyal readers.
After I referred to Mr. Jess Jackson as "Huckleberry" a few times I received this note:
Dear Mr. Hosemaster, I'm going to hunt you down and beat you like a Fred Furth voodoo doll. Your implication that I have lost my grip on reality is libelous, insulting and I own thirty wineries. None of which are currently making any money, Sweetcheeks, and I resent the fact that you say they are. Just where do you get off saying that Murphy-Goode wines taste like the grapes want revenge? I bought a perfectly nice blogger, Hardy Burgundy, or some stupid fucking name like that, and look at all the good that's done me. I can't even race the mule. I love mule races. No money in them, not like owning thoroughbreds like Verite, but it's fun to watch those big stupid animals like Hardy Breakfast run in circles. But, hey, don't try to confuse me, I'm here to make a point. I own thirty wineries. Thirty. Calling me Huckleberry rolls off me like integrity rolls of Marvin Shanken, another mule I own, and a good one. I'll buy every blogger alive, don't think I won't. I got the money right here in my pants next to where I keep my keys to the thirty (THIRTY) wineries I own. Which don't make money no matter what you say in your stupid blog. Hey, don't I own you as well as that Hardy Handshake fucker? I need to ask my wife. She must be around here somewhere. She's not in my pants. Hell, she's probably at one of the thirty wineries I own and you don't, Hosemaster of Shit. Sincerely,Huck
I've taken a disproportionate amount of cheap shots at Alder Yarrow whose blog Vinography wins Best Wine Blog every year, which says more about wine blogging than anything I could say. (Sheesh, there I go writing like Alder, who punctuates like an orangutan.)
Ron, While I very much appreciate your background in wine, your rise from lowly comedy writer to sommelier, the passion you've shown for the bounty of the grapes, the wit and eloquence with which you skewer wines, the wine business, wine bloggers and people with deformities, mostly of the mammary persuasion, your mission to redefine wine blogging, an admirable mission, a Sonoma Mission, if you'll pardon my attempts at your trademarked humor, by making me a personal target leaves me ill at ease.
I came to the wine business late in life, some would say so late I missed that ferry, and the one after it. But I've been posting religiously and frequently about wine for five years. I want to thank, first of all, my wife, whose patience and understanding have been astonishing given that writing about wine is not my main occupation! I know, I know, it's hard to believe! Wine is not my main career. How could it be? That would be like a brain surgeon operating with hand tools. Or like a tennis player with no balls. Or like Kevin Costner. My blog is among the most widely read and admired, especially by wineries who know I learned my lesson from my mother who used to always say, as mothers do, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. And if you say something nice, expect free stuff." Aren't Moms always right?
I am ill at ease because I can't think of anything nice to say to you. You're mean. You make my tummy all woozy. When your blog comes up in my Google Alerts, oh, God, don't you love Google Alerts?, I get all sweaty and I want to go downstairs and talk to my wife, only she's not there, she's just out with her girlfriends, she'll be home before I'm done posting Vinography and I'll once again be able to guess what wine she's been drinking from her breath and the stains on her dress, and people still say I can't taste blind. Then I read your mean remarks and it just makes me wish I'd never gotten into the wine business. Just stop. Go after that BiggerThanYourHead guy, he's the real doo-doo head. Sorry, Mom. Sincerely,Alder
And I couldn't believe it when this note showed up in my email.
Dear Mr. Washman,
As publisher of Wine Spectator I take offense when you call it, "a lifestyle publication for those dweebs who sorely need to get a life and get a style." We take great pride in our reader demographics, which skew towards the upwardly mobile, the active, and those who read at a fourth grade level. So, basically, people who run for City Council. Compare that with your readers who wouldn't know a Rolex from a Timex, a Cuban cigar from a horse turd, or a bottle of Hardy Rodenstock Jefferson Bordeaux from a fake. I knew it was a fake all along, by the way, I just didn't say anything. See Thomas Matthews' article on "The Billionaire's Vinegar" in the next issue of Wine Spectator--OK, OK, we have timeliness issues, but we're working on it. It runs right after the article about Jess Jackson's search for a Social Media Director at Murphy-Goode and the piece about William Foley buying Michael Jackson's remains.
And I don't much appreciate the potshots at my weight. "Marvin is so big that last year the tent for the Napa Valley auction was one of his old pair of underpants." "Marvin was a big hero at Sebastiani Winery when he noticed a leaking foudre and quickly secured it with his belt." And, "After Marvin's last visit to Cuba to pick up cigars, 79 people used him to illegally sail to Florida." What is your stupid blog, The Marvin Shanken Roast? (ED. NOTE--which would be enough to feed the city of Florence.) Get off my back, Hosepunk, or I'll sick Laube, Kramer, Steiman, and Suckling on you. Worse than that, I'll give you a lifetime subscription to Wine Enthusiast. See how you like that.
Sincerely, Marvelous Marv Shanken
And those are just three out of the gigantic pile of hate mail the ol' Hosemaster receives! You should read the one I got from Robert Mondavi, postmarked Hell! Maybe next time...
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"...With sometimes crude analogies and occasional droppings of f-bombs, Washam cleverly uses satire to expose the underbelly of the wine business. It's often hilarious stuff as long as you're not the one being lampooned. Washam takes no prisoners in skewering all that is silly, stupid, frustrating and pretentious about wine, and his favorite targets are other bloggers and writers. No one is immune."
--Linda Murphy in "Vineyard and Winery Management"
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity." --JancisRobinson.com
"As serious as the world of wine is, it does allow time for humor. Each Monday and Thursday, Ron Washam customarily posts a commentary on his needling wine blog HoseMaster of Wine. Washam, a former sommelier and comedy writer – he might say they are closely related – is the most opinionated, humorous and ribald observer in the wine world. His body of work is irreverent and remorseless. It’s almost always satire and parody, though he occasionally drifts into straight commentary, sometimes even with tasting notes. This past year, one of his posts was named the best of the year in the Wine Blog Awards. His success has spawned several imitations, which in their awkwardness show just how difficult satire is."
--Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/21/6089630/dunne-on-wine-wine-blogs-and-bloggers.html#storylink=cpy
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."
--Reign of Terroir
Robert (Joseph) was/is funny unlike HoseMaster who wasn't/isn't.