“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, May 17, 2010
A Tea Party of Wineabees
"The Wine Blog Awards judging is almost done. Yes, we had originally planned to have the judging complete by now with the public voting to be opened this Monday, May 17. However, the task blossomed a bit this year: more categories, more nominations, and more judges. Each judge has to sift through many, many blogs and we are waiting for data back from only a couple judges."--Wine Blog Awards Website
I'm sorry. It's my fault. I probably never should have agreed to do it. But I thought it would be fun. I thought it would be interesting. I'd spend long, contemplative Spring afternoons lost in a world of wine and language, savor the wisdom and knowledge of thoughtful and insightful people. I thought it would be hard because there would be this wealth of talent that I would have to whittle down to a mere five nominations per category, but that it would be a good kind of hard, like the New York Times crossword puzzle or a 57-year-old's morning erection. But now the nightmares won't stop. I'm afraid to fall asleep. My waking life has become unbearable. And the voices...My God, the voices won't stop. So many voices, so little to say. Make them stop! Please, for the love of Asimov, make them stop!
Sometimes I think it's the couples wine blogs that haunt me the most. "He loves wine, she loves fashion.." AAAAAARRGGHHH!! Somebody stop them! We don't care! You can't make us care. Your lives aren't interesting. I don't have any idea who told you they are, maybe your high school guidance counselor when you were twenty-five, but, believe me, they're not. And the pictures, the endless pictures, the endless fashion pictures, if you're idea of fashion is early Knott's Berry Farm, it's just more than I can bear. It's not a wine blog, it's Vanity Fair for female serial killers mixed with wine opinions for the addlepated. But they're not the only ones. Is this some sort of new advice couples therapists are dispensing to troubled marriages? Start a wine blog together! "She's a wine expert, he just loves the smell of jockstraps, won't it be fun to follow along as she teaches him to love wine!" NOOO! It won't. It's a nightmare. Teach him in private. Really. We don't want to read about it. Write a blog about him teaching you about something, humility maybe, and leave us alone. Oh God, my head...
I see these Wineabees everywhere. There was a time, back in the golden days of civilization, before the Internet, when people learned about wine quietly, by reading books, by traveling, by attending tastings. They didn't proclaim their ignorance for everyone to read. They didn't form big bands of wine ignorants and endlessly praise each other. "Great post, Thea! Hope to see you at the Wines of Trannies event in the City. Can't wait for those Post-Op Pinots. You rock!" "Great post, Sonadora! I love everything you write. You taste the cheapest wines! You rock!" I've had to read through these blogs and I can't get the voices out of my head. I didn't sign up for this. I hear hundreds of these voices, but they all sound the same. I walk down the street and I hear a sad little voice say, "...comes with a natural cork closure..." and I want to jump off the curb in front of a truck. Did Hugh Johnson ever utter the words, "comes with a natural cork closure?" Has Jancis Robinson ever declared, "This Sancerre would go perfectly with the latest Lady GaGa release?" Did Gerald Asher ever devote 1000 words to what wine goes with Hostess Ho-Ho's? I read through dozens of wine blogs and now there's this constant drone in my head, the kind of drone that goes with brain cells not dying, but committing ritual suicide.
So I thought I'd try a site that sounded like it might be porn. You know, NectarDrinker.com, or something like that. That sounded promisingly sick. But, no, it's not, it's just more of the same dreck. Only this guy, this guy is like the kid who was hit in the hammer by his weird uncle when he was seven and now he goes up to everyone he meets and says, "You're really pretty," and a wet stain develops in his pants, which is only a sign of freshness in baked goods. He just goes to every wine blog and comments, "You're really pretty. I love your blog." And he wants to be Gary V., models himself after the one guy who's living proof that Darwin was right except he should have said "descended" not "ascended." This NectarDrinker wants to package himself. I'm all for that, so long as it's in an airtight package.
It's just that these voices won't stop. The constant whine of the untalented, the voices of the democratization of wine. I hear them nonstop, I can't get them out of my head after sifting through all that tedious prose, those mind-numbing wine descriptions, the incessant noise of their rallying around each other proclaiming their God-given rights to express themselves and their uninformed and dull opinions, a Tea Party of Wineabees drowning us in their witless prose and borrowed opinions. Those voices haunt me. What happens to wine when everyone's an expert, when everyone's voice is heard? I don't know. I can't hear anything amid all the clamor. I can only hear the corporate marketing people laughing.
Oh, the Tea Party of Wineabees declares, if you don't like it, don't read it! We can do what we like. Just don't read our wine blogs. We like what we do, and we like what our friends do, we don't need you, we don't need your scorn or criticism. And, like any respectable Tea Party, on the face of it they have a point. For what's American about criticism? The Internet, wine blogs, they're not about criticism. Criticism is Socialist. The hierarchy is clear and only a fool tries to buck the system--opinion first, facts a distant second, talent just now turning for home. The Tea Party of Wineabees is untouchable and right and we value only the first and foremost of the Internet hierarchy. And we are legion. You have seen the future and it is mediocrity, and you'd better learn to accept it. The old status quo has to go. The hell with them. It's our turn now. Some people like to stand on the shoulders of giants, we prefer to be the midgets who use the giants' genitalia as a speedbag.
Sorry. The voices are getting to me. I've tried to read through all the nominated wine blogs; God knows I've tried. I even read the ones who nominated themselves, the hammerheads who look in the mirror and say, "You're so pretty" to themselves. But the voices only get louder and louder and I fear I'm losing my mind. But I hang on, I hang on knowing that wine blogs, like so many dwarves, won't live long. The voices will finally fade. And all that will be left is just the abandoned sites, like so many strip mines that have polluted the landscape and poisoned the people nearby.
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.