"Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith."--Christopher Fry
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The Teachings of Don Jon, Master Shaman
I first met the old Don Jon, Master Shaman (M.S.) and former host of several rare parasites, of the great Taqui Nation, at a bus stop in Lodi. I was there while in a witness protection program having successfully testified against Lorena Bobbitt in the famous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest controversy, which I'd done with relish, which is more than you can say for her. Don Jon took one look at me and seemed to peer into my soul, which is when he removed my watch and wallet. A friendship was born, and it was through Don Jon that I discovered the Road to Wine Enlightenment and became a Wine Warrior. Don Jon was the Wine Road Runner, and I was his Wile E. Peyote.
The Taqui Nation is the guardian of all wine knowledge, and has been since Jerry Mead went to the great Wine Pow-Wow in Poway, which is where Taqui believe all wine warriors go when death claims them. They believe there are only a few certain wine deaths--cirrhosis, poor storage, and being floor-stacked at Trader Joe's (Trader Joe was one-sixteenth Taqui, though his eponymous stores couldn't be Taquier). The Master Shamans of the Taqui are the teachers and mentors of all who desire to walk the Road to Wine Enlightenment. It is only because Don Jon saw in me a true Wine Warrior, a man of the vine, a wine lover gifted with pure vision, that he accepted me as one of his students. That, and I blackmailed him for having stolen my wallet.
I was to become a Master Shaman myself, versed in the Taqui lore of wine and tested over and over again by my mentor, Don Jon. But it was a difficult journey, one where I was forced to drop my foolish notions of reality, like wine blogs matter, and see the wine world in the way of the Taqui. So much of the wisdom of Don Jon has been lost. So often I was in an altered state of consciousness, an alternate universe, which was a lot like French Laundry only the service wasn't as good, though it was equally hard to get a reservation, and never on a Saturday, unless you're blowing a sommelier, even for a Taqui, who'd been raised on a reservation. My notes from those sessions are indecipherable, like an Alice Feiring blog post. But I did manage to record some thoughts from Don Jon about the Road to Wine Enlightenment. It all begins when you accept that everything you've read and heard about wine is a reality that does not exist. Especially in the Wall Street Journal.
"The first thing you have to accept is that all paths lead to the same place. Nowhere. All wine knowledge is passed along to you in order to get you Nowhere fast. And then it is your path to continue to spread that knowledge so that others can get Nowhere. This is the point of all great wine books, and the point of all wine classes and wine blogs, to lead you by the hand, one incorrect thought at a time, to your final destination in wine knowledge. Nowhere. It is only once you have reached Nowhere that wine enlightenment will be yours. For wine is everywhere and yet Nowhere, like the Jonas Brothers, those douchebags."
"Every opinion, everything anyone tells you about wine, even a Shaman, is subjective. Except your own opinions, which are always objective. The Wine Warrior does not suffer disagreement from others. That is not the path to Wine Enlightenment. The Wine Warrior has one foot in the world of fools and sommeliers, though they are equivalent, and one foot in the alternate world which is true Wine Enlightenment. He is the bridge to Enlightenment, though many are more like dark chocolate tunnels. The Wine Warrior has seen Nowhere, and it is being a Las Vegas sommelier. The Wine Warrior states his opinions about wine, about winemaking, about the culture of wine, and he is always correct. Others do not matter, they are but pustules on a Taqui butt, irritating and full of pus. This is the Road to Wine Enlightenment, the denial of others thoughts and opinions. Your opinions are sacred, your credentials impeccable, those who disagree are hopelessly lost in a reality they cannot see is mistaken and their comments should be ignored. This is the Taqui way. You are an M.S., others are simply stupid. And stop Bogarting the peyote."
"All wine is natural wine. Unless it is Meritage; then it's decidedly perverted. The Wine Warrior does not fall for the notion of natural wine, a notion promoted by women who want their wines untouched but their makeup and hair dye tested on the Lepus tribe. Wine is for man and should be controlled by man. Man is wiser than yeast, though he doesn't smell as good after a long hot day eating. The Road to Wine Enlightenment does not go through the land of Wine Superstition. These are beliefs meant for knaves and boneheads who believe Nature is always best. I ask you, if Nature were always best would we need personal vibrators? The belief that you can tell a natural wine from another wine is simple hubris, foolish self-deceit, a kind of willing idiocy. Natural wines do not have a different 'energy,' a higher quality, more 'complexity,' this is ancient human self-loathing in a New Age package. The Wine Warriors, the Enlightened Ones, do not believe this for a minute. Great wines are like great men, they are a product of thought and work, not left to grow by their own whims. Natural wines are not better than other wines, they just come with more solemn and holier-than-thou baggage. The Road to Wine Enlightenment does not have a natural wine offramp. Hey, was that you? Sheesh, get some Beano."
There is more, so much more, on the Road to Wine Enlightenment, the Road to Nowhere. Perhaps the Master Shaman will return...
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.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
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
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"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."