Monday, May 31, 2010
One year ago I revived the ol' HoseMaster and started my wine blog over again. On the anniversary of that first post, I wanted to step out from behind the curtain and say a few things. It has been a very interesting year, minus a three week hiatus, filled with bombast, tomfoolery, raillery, pantagruel, persiflage, mockery and buffoonery. And very little regard for human decency. My kind of year.
When I began HoseMaster of Wine, I knew that it would take me more than a year to get my tired old comedy writing muscles back into fighting shape. The HoseMaster, as I call him on this blog, is an old and familiar voice to me, one I've shaped and been shaped by since I was a teenager. I am not the HoseMaster, and he is not I. In the course of writing this blog I have encountered lots of people in the real world who are surprised that this is the case. The HoseMaster exists to channel that part of my brain that thinks all of life is a comedy, and that there is no target that cannot be insulted, demeaned, leveled and disemboweled. As a longtime student of comedy and satire, I am in love with its traditions as much as I am in love with wine, maybe more so. But when I look back at my earlier posts I see how much of a struggle I've had to find that familiar voice, that voice that haunts my waking life, that evil Jiminy Cricket that whispers jokes into my ear. So thank you for putting up with me. I'm still not there yet.
It's been a year of Vornography and 1WineDoody and Mis(s) Feiring--hell, at least one of them took it in the spirit with which it was written. And I've managed to insult many wine bloggers with far less talent--Harlots, chicks with Brix, chicks in caftans, chronic people of color, and so many others. The HoseMaster expresses my genuine horror at the vapidness of the Internet, the sheer collective stupidity it displays, the sorrowful replacement of quality with quantity, the debasement of authority and experience, the very death of truth. Yet I hope it comes out funny. There are very few days it's funny to me.
It was also a year of M.S. Conspiracy and Grape Guides and my misguided attempts at literary parodies, Saramago and Castaneda. I love the silliness of comedy as much as I love aggressive satire. Wine is the great creator of silliness and truth, so it seems a fitting way to honor it. The genuine joy of doing HoseMaster is discovering for myself what the next post brings. In the past year I think I've made myself laugh about four times. This is probably your experience as well. And it's the stupidest stuff that makes me laugh. The coroner's name in M.S. Conspiracy, Avril Cadavril, still makes me laugh out loud. In my life I have spent countless hours, an unbelievable number of hours, writing jokes, alone, in a quiet room, on a pad of paper, on a typewriter, and now on a computer screen. I have always believed the well would one day run dry. Many would argue that if Timmy fell in my well Lassie wouldn't have to worry about him drowning. Sadly for so many people, I've never suffered writer's block. Ideas fill my head from when I wake up in the morning until I fall into a drunken stupor, around noon. I assure you, it is the purest from of ecstasy I know to sit down and take dictation from the HoseMaster and have it end up like "BLANDNESS." It is for those moments I sit down twice a week and channel the HoseMaster. He's my Comedy Channel. But he's a pain to live with. I hate the guy.
I have had a very long romance with wine. Wine ripped me from the arms of comedy writing as a profession and seduced me into a lifelong affair. At least I wear protection. I know a lot about wine, I think of myself as a skilled taster, but I also know enough about wine to know that I know very little. During the past year I've also flirted with reviewing wines, with the Million Point Scale, with What's the HoseMaster Drinking. But wine reviews mean very little if you don't know the person reviewing the wines, if you haven't tasted with them, understand their background and biases. So I just decided to stop. No one, and I mean no one, cares what I think about wines. And, frankly, I see wine after crappy wine touted on wine blogs that I wouldn't serve to Glenn Beck's prostate. One of the truisms about wine is that you cannot be an adequate judge of wines, assign them numbers or smiley faces or idiotic songs, if you haven't tasted the greatest wines on the planet. You simply cannot know how high the bar is set, you have no frame of reference. Your opinion is as worthless as the blog it's written on. It's the blind judging a beauty pageant. And while every wine blogger has the right to express his opinion, only an idiot would listen to it. What wineries who send wines to wine reviewing bloggers believe is that there are mostly idiots out there. They may be right.
To my surprise, the HoseMaster has become instantly recognizable, a presence in the insignificant world of wine blogs. I am amazed. I am Tweeted about, FaceBooked, speculated about, and both admired and abhorred. I see HoseMaster popping up all over the place, in comments and posts, mentioned with the understanding that most everyone will know who he is. I'm beginning to be recognized at wine tastings, the curse of having an uncommon surname. It seems to have even become something of a badge of honor for the HoseMaster to satirize or insult a wine blogger, though someone might mention that to Alice Feiring. It's alternately flattering and scary. But I do take it as a compliment, and I'm not especially good at taking compliments. It speaks to the strength of the HoseMaster's voice, something I am only nominally responsible for. Enough people identify with his brand of outrage that he's become a real character in people's lives. That is the scary part.
Finally, I am so grateful for all that the HoseMaster of Wine has brought to my life in the past year. 130 posts later I still can't believe how lucky I've been, how much I value this little community--the people who frequently comment, and all of the rest of you who don't want to. I don't know about other wine bloggers, but for me, HoseMaster of Wine is an end in itself. I'm not looking for free trips or free wine or a book deal or an award or adulation. As crazy as it seems, I do this for the sheer joy of creation. Nothing has come of it, nothing will come of it. After my first post of this past year, "I'm Baaaaack," an anonymous commenter said that instead of insulting everyone and making fun of the wine world I should use my talents to contribute to the conversation. I like to think I have.