“Satire dramatizes better than any other use of it, the inherent contradiction of free speech that it functions best when what is being said is at its most outrageous”--Tony Hendra
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Labyrinth of Poodles
Any time something is written against me, I not only share the sentiment but feel I could do the job far better myself. Perhaps I should advise would-be enemies to send me their grievances beforehand, with full assurance that they will receive my every aid and support. I have even secretly longed to write, under a pen name, a merciless tirade against myself.--Jorge Luis Borges
It's the other one, HoseMaster, that everything happens to. I love books, Northern Rhone wines, baseball, the aroma of wet dog in someone else's bottle of wine, the prose of Jerry Lewis, and limp celery. And he, Hosemaster, loves the same, only in a creepy way, a way that demeans while pretending to celebrate, like an award for a cretinous, self-published blog. I wouldn't say that I hate him, that might be hyperbole, but I live so that he can create, so that he can aim his broadsides at the fools who give points, are pointless, point at themselves ad nauseum. And more and more I become him, that loathsome creature. I confess that he has written a funny piece now and then, managed to heap scorn on the right people, people with astonishing amounts of hubris who certainly do not own mirrors or they would notice they all look the same in the mirror's reflection. Is that Laube reflected in that circus mirror, or Parker, though it looks like Tanzer, and might be a Heimoff if only it were much smaller, and I don't mean in height, I mean in significance. They are all one and know it, but must not surrender to the illusion that they are individuals or they might cease to exist. That is, if they exist at all. If being a wine critic can be defined as existence, which most would say it cannot. More and more I am subsumed by HoseMaster and little by little I can no longer be saved by his works. His works are not mine, and not his, but are owned by the Internet, that Truthslayer, and consumed by thankless automatons with only electronic lives. They are nothing without FaceBook. The word is apt. It is not FacesBook. They have but one Face, and it's pretty hopeless and ugly. It's the Face of the Internet, it is God's Face. It is the face of loneliness. For what is real loneliness but to be surrounded by imaginary friends? Friends who all have the same Face. Your Face.
In my dreams now I am him all the time. The separation I feel from him in my waking hours does not exist. I am him in my dreams. I do not exist in my own dreams. In his dreams we are being pursued by poodles. More poodles than one can count. Everywhere we turn there are poodles. They seem threatening, but are not. The poodles are different colors, relentlessly white, chronically black, and all kinds of sizes, though they are mostly toys, and they are all toothless. We run and we run, HoseMaster and I, though it is only him in my dreams and I am forced to will myself into his dream mind, which he forbids, though it is I who is asleep. Wherever we turn there are more and more toothless poodles. The poodles bark as ferociously as they can, which is a kind of chorus of canine yawns, but it is still inexplicably frightening. Even more horrifying is the way they urinate everywhere, marking each other, leaving each other messages that only have meaning for them and no one intelligent or sane. When one poodle disappears, another one takes its place almost immediately. They reproduce without procreation. The poodles are a many-headed Cerberus of inanity. He is surrounded by the comically scary poodles and when he runs, and as I struggle to keep up with him, with myself, HoseMaster is caught in a labyrinth to which there is no end, and in which every turn leads to a post, a post on which each poodle has left a bladder-inspired message. Here is the post about Wine Tasting Wednesday, a frightening puddle of stupidity beneath it. Around the labyrinth's next corner is the Parker post. Or is it the Laube post? Doesn't it seem like the Vaynerchuk post? Does it matter if they are all the same? No. But to imagine it the Vaynerchuk post, does that make it more pleasant to micturate against? But save some, there is another post around the corner. Or are they all just the same post, the same post that every poodle visits and revisits and from which there is no escape? If you read them, they are the same posts excreted by different poodles, who believe they are different, but are, in fact, very much the same.
Most nights the poodles have human faces. The males are all castrated, powerless and toothless. The bitches parade around, tails up, but they are clearly unsatisfied. The human faces when they appear to the HoseMaster are also toothless. Saliva pours from the canineless canines. This passes for thought among the poodles. If they stop barking they vanish. HoseMaster, using me as his vessel, his portal into this dreamworld we all live in, hopelessly tries to get them to be quiet. He looks at their human faces and knows what to do.
HoseMaster and I run into the labyrinth once again, only now the walls of the labyrinth are covered in mirrors. He knows not to look into any mirror. I know never to look into a mirror in his dreams. The mirror will reveal him to himself as another poodle. But the poodles don't know this. The poodles pursue HoseMaster into the mirrored labyrinth. They bark toothlessly at their own reflections. The castrated boys lift their legs and piss on themselves, thinking they are leaving an intelligent message for others to read. The bitches just stare at their reflections and seem confused. Only one poodle, neither dog nor bitch, stares back at each of them. Everywhere they turn it is the same poodle, drooling. The poodles are silenced, and they vanish.
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."