Monday, April 19, 2010

BLANDNESS



Translated from the Portugese by Ronaldo Jose Maestro




The following day, every wine tasted the same. That is, every red wine tasted the same as every other red wine, as if they'd all been made by Siduri, and every white wine wine tasted the same as every other white wine, and sadly that white wine was Rombauer, and this fact, a fact that it took everyone a long time to acknowledge, no surprise given that so many people's livelihoods depended upon wines tasting different, just as if every baseball game had the exact same score every day and you only had to wait and see which number your team scored because the box scores were exactly the same every day and all the sports writers and morons on ESPN would be out of work and Peter Gammons would go back to being the janitor he should be, this fact that every wine tasted the same began to worry everyone in the wine business. It worried the winemakers, who swore that every vineyard designated wine they made, all 23 Pinot Noirs and all 15 Syrahs, had to taste different from each other, they came from different terroirs after all, though, when asked, they couldn't actually define terroir, speaking about terroir as if it were indefinable like God or Love or Biodynamics, which was created by God, and each wine was made differently, but even they had to admit when tasting wines that they did all taste the same, something even the pundits had to finally confess after looking at their carefully composed notes, notes that contained eerily similar phrases, dull and lifeless writing, as though tasting notes were by definition written by the thunderstruck and mentally unbalanced, notes that led to the mysterious, mystical, God and Rudolf Steiner, for they are the Same Being, inspired number 89, a number that was created for wine and only for wine and was no longer allowed to be used in any other context for it now meant the quality of every wine on the planet, red or white, still or sparkling, fortified or late harvest, and had no meaning to people outside of wine, and even BevMo, the very Cathedral of wine blandness ruled by its titular Pope, Pope Wong II, the Pope Wong as Wong can be, changed it's name to 89 Wines and everyone understood that to mean the score of every wine and not the actual count of wines available for sale there.
And after the winemakers and pundits were forced to admit that all red wines tasted like all other red wines, and all white wines tasted like all other white wines, something they were loathe to acknowledge for it surely meant that their services were no longer necessary or needed, that a winery could hire any fool, degree or no degree from UC Davis, an agricultural school in California known for its viticultural program and its veterinary program, ensuring its graduates treated animals all the same or made wines that all tasted the same, and the fool would produce a wine that was awarded 89 points from all the wine pundits who used the 100 point scale but who had now become obsolete because all the wine publications did was list wines that were released, red and white, and then print a large number 89 and awarded it to all of them, leaving its critics to look for actual jobs, something they were completely unqualified to do, so many of them went to UC Davis and became veterinarians and began to rate dogs and cats on 100 point scales, as in, Your dog is cute, has a nice wet nose, smells strongly of sulfur problems, and his tail is a bit crooked so I'd say he's an 85 point dog, which is good, not great, but nothing to be ashamed of, I rarely award dogs points over 95, that will be 100 dollars. Most pundits became homeless, ironically forced to forever drink 89 point wines, wines they had always contended were perfectly fine wines but which secretly they abhorred and had only given those scores to because it gave them pleasure to score them just below 90, a number most desired by wineries, especially for wineries that had not had the common courtesy to flatter them, send them walnuts every Christmas or buy them lavish dinners or fly them to foreign places and praise them ceaselessly, their palates, their noses, their gift for language, though these traits were clearly absent and all they really possessed was a business card and a reputation for loving sycophants, but being homeless now meant that no one praised them, no one cared what their opinions were about wines because all wines tasted the same, all wines scored 89 points, they were completely worthless as pundits, something they'd always known, but had hoped no one would discover.



Soon the public wondered why, if all the red wines tasted the same, which they had suspected was the case all along and that the whole rating system was some kind of inside industry joke, not particularly funny, but lucrative, and if all white wines tasted the same, which they knew from experience, all you had to do was serve them all cold from the refrigerator and no one could tell if it was actual white wine or Santa Margharita, a famous wine substitute, which now tasted exactly like Rombauer anyway, why do we pay different prices for them? Well, I only made 90 cases of this wine, a winemaker might say, even though he'd actually made 89 cases but knew that 89 was no longer a recognized number so he had to say 90, And it's from the very best part of my property and thus it's the finest wine I produce and worth every penny, though in this economy if you want to buy six bottles I can give you thirty percent off, not that I need to bargain with my hundred dollar wine, I don't, I just like you and you've been a loyal customer and I want to reward you by only charging you seventy dollars for my 89 point wine that tastes like every other red wine. But if it tastes just like every other wine you produce, if indeed it tastes like every wine produced everywhere, consumers started to say, Why should I pay one hundred dollars for your bottle when I can get exactly the same flavors and aromas, as described by famous pundits who awarded you 89 points, pundits who are now deservedly homeless and scorned, from a bottle that costs three dollars? Because those bottles, the winemaker replied, Do not have my label on them, and my label is famous, recognized the world over as desirable and rare and special, and that three dollar bottle has a cheap label that will say to your guests that you are cheap, you don't care much about them or their happiness, and, furthermore, that you know nothing about wine or you would have nicer labels in your collection, not just a bunch of cheap labels, which may taste the same but are not the same because when your guests see my label they are going to think, oh, this is great wine, surely this isn't an 89 point wine, surely this is one of the greatest wines ever made, I can see that by the label, and so it must be me, must be my inability to understand wine, to list the aromas I'm smelling, to enjoy wine without knowing what the label looks like, and that will be worth the ninety-seven extra dollars you spent, dollars you will have spent on self-esteem and imaginary prestige. This argument worked for a while.



22 comments:

tflemingo said...

And I thought my marriage was the longest sentence...anyway, nice Rosenblum review!

Sip with Me! said...

Never have I read such beautiful and magnetic run-on sentences that left me spellbound and smirking (probably for at least another 89, no 90 minutes)! ;)

Ernest Daddy said...

I once read a Hemingway novel, probably for Whom The Bell Tolls because I was on my way to Spain and I did not want to sit in my tiny, cramped seat doing nothing for seventeen hours while the Captain and the stewardesses frolicked up in the cabin with the plane on automatic pilot and I, sitting there in a stupor as if on automatic pilot even though I wasn't and I need to pee but the fat lady next to me was asleep and I could not climb over her without stepping on her protruding bustle, so I read the book and I was amazed that this book about war and people dying and love and a thousand ways to love without actually touching the object of your affection but then giving in and getting her preggers just so you could die at the end of the book, and it was all written in one long sentence as only Hemingway could write and I read it all and it only took 17 hours because I lost my place once when the fat lady rolled over and knocked the book on the floor and passed gas and I was rendered unconscious, only to recover some few hours later but I had lost my place and had to start over.

I once read a Hemingway novel, probably for Whom The Bell Tolls because I was on my way to Spain and I did not want to sit in my tiny, cramped seat doing nothing for seventeen hours while the Captain and the stewardesses frolicked up in the cabin with the plane on automatic pilot and I, sitting there in a stupor as if on automatic pilot even though I wasn't and I need to pee but the fat lady next to me was asleep and I could not climb over her without stepping on her protruding bustle, so I read the book and I was amazed that this book about war and people dying and love and a thousand ways to love without actually touching the object of your affection but then giving in and getting her preggers just so you could die at the end of the book, and it was all written in one long sentence as only Hemingway could write and I read it all and it only took 17 hours because I lost my place once when the fat lady rolled over and knocked the book on the floor and passed gas and I was rendered unconscious, only to recover some few hours later but I had lost my place and had to start over.

Points Daddy said...

I rate this post at 890,001 points.

Ron Washam said...

Ernest Daddy,

Wrong writer. I don't do Hemingway parodies. Too easy. I go for other Nobel Prize winners. But yours was quite good, though you left out bullfighting and impotence and Boner in a Can.

Sippy,

Style is everything. Punctuation is highly overrated. And thank you for the sweet words. I wrote this one strictly for myself, and, will confess that I am proud of it. Maybe the first time I've ever said that about a HoseMaster post.

TFlemingo,

Well, also like a marriage, you're avoiding a period.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh
My
God....
Someone that uses more commas than I do, didn't think that was even possible.

I know you hate this kid but, this is a really great piece of work, loved it.

abc said...

Ron
This is perfect for my time here at the Vegas airport. I love few things as much as a good run on sentence.
-Amy

Sip with Me! said...

I can't wait to show it to my husband, who loves wine but only loves my wine blog, who also is my unofficial editor and official hater and giver of grief for production of run-on sentences and overindulgence of commas. Thanks, now I can point to you and see "look, he did it". Did anybody count how many commas (89, 90?)?

Btw, did I ever tell you I think you're brilliant and I love the way your wicked mind works (and I don't say that to all the boys either!)? One more thing, I really prefer "Darling" to "Sippy", definitely not a baby's cup, though I am known to spill now and often?

John M. Kelly said...

Jeez, Ron - this is good; I think I'm starting to hate you, but I'll get over it. Wow.

John M. Kelly said...

BTW - I like Saramago in translation anyway but I think my acceptance of him as a great writer might brand me as a heterodox in certain circles, so maybe I need to rethink my position.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

John,

I don't know where the idea for this post came from, honestly, except that I love Saramago, think he is one of our greatest writers, living or dead, and I wanted to try his style. Of course, I don't have the talent to carry his jock strap, but it was completely invigorating and fun to do. Saramago always works from an amazing and unbelievable premise and then writes brilliant parables. His most recent book in translation, "Death With Interruptions," begins, "The following day, no one died." I stole that opening and then used the premise, perhaps not so unbelievable, of all wines tasting the same and imagined what Saramago would do with that premise. But only Saramago can truly write like Saramago; I almost feel like my work is insulting to him.

For those of you who haven't read Saramago, the long sentences filled with commas and dialogue are his trademark. It looks daunting on the page, but is entirely engrossing in his hands.

The more I learn to just write what's fun for me to write the more I enjoy this stupid blogging thing. I like to think that HoseMaster is a wee bit more unpredictable than the "leading" wine blogs. Unpredictable, and more fun. There are hundreds and hundreds of dreadfully sanctimonious, predictable and thoughtless wine blogs. Just shoot me when I join their ranks.

Tamara Darling,

I love you!

Shucks, you made my day. Thank you for your kind words. Saramago is brilliant. I'm unworthy of that adjective, but honored to have you believe I am.

Thomas said...

Ron,

For now, I've sworn off most blog commenting, but you are making it difficult for me.

This entry was fun to read.

Alfonso Cevola said...

It was equally difficult to understand this post as any Saramago book I have read, so I guess you have been successful in emulating his style.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thomas,

Thank you. Swearing off is hard. I know, I am the king of Hiatuses (of is that King of Haiti?). Moderation is the best course. Comment now and then, just never get involved in the same tiresome back and forths. Anyhow, thanks for the breaking your silence here.

Alfonso,

Oh, then I guess I shouldn't do my James Joyce parody next.

Alfonso Cevola said...

Ron

what can I say, but...
Yes! Yes! Yes!

Thomas said...

Ron,

Not swearing off--waking up!

I began to feel like Bill Murray in a small town in Pennsylvania on a cold February day, and worse, I wanted to do to everyone what Bill did to the insurance man, but I wanted to use a sledge hammer, and I'm a pacifist...was.

If you do Joyce mix it with some cummings--that way you can forgo the upper case and even forget the many commas, which makes writing so much easier, don't you think?

Ron Washam said...

Thomas,

Joyce mixed with cummings? Hmm, sounds like a porn title.

Samantha Dugan said...

And you said you don't take the easy ones...

Joe said...

this popped blood vessel in my eye stings.

Dave said...

Honorable HoseMaster Sir,

I believe you may be on to something and fear it may be just the tip of the icecube. Turning all the wine bloggers into 89ers is just the first, and easiest step since the label can also be applied to the upper limit of the requisite IQ scale.

What's next? Why the Arizonification of varietals and their clones of course. I can just see the CA National Guard being called out to stop every suspicious trucker hauling alien grapes... "Hmmm, them shore don't look like cab (or chard, or merlot) in those trailers, boy. You haulin' some of that socialist sangiovese or nebbiolo? Gonna have to take you in."

I would love to contribute to your donations to the blooger awards but having spend a month this past week rearranging all the words in "Blandness" to form a coherent sentence and staying up night after night trying to figure out who the hell saramago is and why ee cummings did that to his name and the remainder of this post i have been unable to locate anymore commas to add to the collection however i did come up with quite a few comas i will gladly return for your use (approximately 89 of them i believe at last count).

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Dave,

Enlightening thoughts. Why aren't you here contributing more often? You have a future as a member of the HoseMaster peanut gallery.

Thanks for chiming in. Nicely done.

Dave said...

Ron,

Thanks much, I would be honored to stick around and will surely enjoy having peanuts thrown at me. Bound to be less scarring and blood than the missiles and arrows I'm used to.