Thursday, December 13, 2012

God Sells His Kingdom

By Jose Saramago

Translated from Portuguese by Ronaldo Jose Meister

When God, who, when he is roaming the Earth tasting all the important wines his only son Jesus, who died for your sins, so in the future could you please make your sins at least worth dying for, is in charge of making, goes by the name of Bob, sold his kingdom to three guys from Singapore, all God’s children were stunned. God didn’t care about his children. He hadn’t cared about his children for a very long time, not even the ones that came to worship at his virtual heaven where they would heap praise upon his wisdom like one heaps more shit on a pile of manure. You have to heap that crap somewhere, and God had a loathsome Squire to carefully monitor it, a simple mark who believed nearness to God gave him remarkable powers, though it didn’t, he had little skill, but God wanted him to believe he had those powers, and the Squire was more than happy to believe him. Three wise men had appeared to Bob just as they had wisely appeared at the birth of his only son Jesus, guided by one of Bob’s dying stars, as though following dying stars was the smart thing to do, a mistake similarly engaged in by all of those jackasses at Bob’s virtual heaven website. Two thousand years ago those three wise men had brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, though how myrrh could be considered a baby gift God could never figure out, so he sent that wise man straight to Hell, Hell being one eternal baby shower, but this time around those three wise men had brought their checkbooks, and not just any checkbooks, but sycophantic, sizeable, Singaporean checkbooks. Bob was pleased. God doesn’t need money, he simply loves taking it from his stupider children, who send him money regularly in the form of a subscription, with the result that because the stupider children have given him money, they tend to believe his proclamations and commandments. No one believes advice that they haven’t paid for, though those that give free advice, for example, God’s lonely bloggers who believe they will one day replace Bob, are convinced that if they just act like Bob, talk like Bob, rate like Bob and, ultimately, bore like Bob, their advice will replace Bob’s. Ah, God thinks to himself, that old Oedipal myth I made up a few thousand years ago has them wanting to kill their father and sleep with their mother, poor things, not knowing that their mother is a flatulent bulldog, though if I gave her a hundred points they’d gladly pay to stick their arrogant noses behind her docked tail.

The three Singaporean wise men bearing checkbooks humbly approached Bob, and the first one, the tallest one, though he was shorter than the subscriber list at Wine and Spirits, acted as spokesman for the three. Bob, he began, we worship you and love you and we want to buy your kingdom, all of it if you’ll let us, but if you only want us to give you money for a portion of your holy kingdom we are prepared to do that, we only want your poor children living in ignorance of your wisdom and guidance in these Bobforsaken Asian countries to have their eyes opened to your word, and that’s not a racial slur for we are of that race and we can say that just like it’s OK for essentially dead wine writers to declare wine writers dead. God was silent. Please don’t misunderstand, the suddenly nervous spokeSingaporean continued, we only want to give you money, and we want to be able to say who will be your Popes and Bishops, your mouthpieces and surrogates, your blessed scribes, who, after all, have already sold you their own names and honor for the privilege of living in your Light, and so are meaningless to you, as they are to everyone who loves your kingdom and the kingdom of the grape, for there is only one Bob from whom all glory and adjectives flow, the rest is all steaming Schildknecht.

When God spoke, the three wise men quaked, for they had only ever dreamed of being in the presence of Bob with their checkbooks, and never really believed that they would be granted an audience with the holy father, for they had never made wine like his only son Jesus and his adopted son Michel, who breathed the very oxygen God had created into his wines so as to make them more holy to his adopted father, and God was pleased with his adopted son, and not so much with Singaporeans, unless they had large checkbooks. Many people, God said, want to buy my kingdom, but they all live in the world I already command, the world most dedicated to loving Bob, a world where I am worshipped in the manner I deserve, my name on everyone’s lips, my lips on everyone’s wines, my words the best they ever hear or the last they ever hear, my commandments obeyed, Thou shalt not filter or fine, Thou shalt honor no other God before me, especially one answering to Marvin Satan, Thou shalt not enter my kingdom without a subscription, and my many other commandments. But you three wise young men come from a world where I long to be worshipped, where I long for my name to be uttered in the same hushed tones as those of Mohammed, Buddha and Wilfred Wong, where I want to spread my gospel of good living, gluttony, and the useless pursuit of perfection that doesn’t exist chasing false numbers that do, where I want to convince your kind, my lost children, to seek out what I tell them to seek out so that they will know truth and, to honor that truth, give me money, as you wise young men are willing to do, and so I will sell a portion of my kingdom to you, how’s a cool 20 mil sound?

We are humbled and honored to give you our money, holy Bob, money we have earned screwing so many of your little children in ways that would most impress you, we believe, and we thank you, and we promise to help spread your gospel, the gospel according to our wise and all-knowing father, to every corner of our land in order to make it your land, where your word is final, your Book of Numbers the holiest of books.

It is done, God said, but, my sons, may I inquire what it is you get out of this, aside from being forever associated with me, with all that is right and good about my kingdom?

Yes, Bob, replied the middle wise man, finally able to speak through his tears, tears generated by Bob’s very presence, his Light, or perhaps by his relentlessly slinging shit everywhere, I will tell you what is in it for us. We want to rule the kingdom with you as our God. With prior access to your bimonthly Book of Numbers we can invest more of our checkbooks in your wise proclamations, corner the market in all of the nineteen future perfect scores from the next great vintage in Bordeaux, accumulate even more money with these investments, reselling your perfect Bob wines to the stupid, cash-laden brothers in our land. It should be easy, the Singaporeans agreed, and we thank you, God, for all these blessings you have bestowed upon us.

The pleasure, God said, was gold mine.


Mockingbird said...


Shekels Daddy said...

In the humble words of Sylvester Stallone, and words that now mean more to me as I contemplate that it could have been me rather than Bob who sold out to Singapore for a shekel or three, "Charlie, I coulda been a contender".

Someone once tried to buy my rag. It was a sweet deal. He would own it. I would work there. He would pay me less than I was making. Bob got it right. I am still waiting.

Hey, Ron, wanna buy a wine newsletter?

Sisyphus Daddy said...

Another way to look at this story is that Parker has come back to life. Clearly, he had backed away from tasting and writing so much but even though he was dead, he was still responsble for little things like payroll, hiring and firing, marketing, editing.

People who think that what critics do is all swirl and spit forget that there is a whole business behind those numbers.

Parker has now tossed off those burdens and has come back to life as a dilettante. He was already wealthy so his extra millions won't mean all that much--maybe a chateau somewhere, but really, the guy is old and he is not about to climb Everest or buy a bunch of race horses (he's not Jess Jackson wealthy, after all), so good luck to him.

All he has to do now is swirl and spit and take a few notes.

Come to think of it, being born again is not so bad after all.

Hey, Ron, wanna buy a wine newsletter?

Marcia Macomber said...

Ah! The final word on this subject from the HoseMeister. Why am I not surprised?

My fave? The commandments, of course: "Thou shalt not filter or fine, Thou shalt honor no other God before me, especially one answering to Marvin Satan, Thou shalt not enter my kingdom without a subscription..." Is that available on a plaque to order for $19.95?

Samantha Dugan said...

I love you!

Marlene Rosman said...

Hose, I love you more!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

OK, "I coulda been a contender" is from "On the Waterfront" and was mumbled by Brando. Who are you, Lettie Teague?

And who tried to buy your magazine? I'm guessing Rupert Murdoch.

The Wine Advocate's days are done if Parker is just a figurehead. Those Parker buttboys will not become Lisa Perotti-BrownNoses. It's like when Steve Carell left "The Office," the whole show just started to stink. However, Parker can't be in great health, especially since he's been dead for four years, and he's earned his big payday, so Bobspeed to him. Maybe he's just the first of the current bigshot critics to hang it up...Who'll be next?

No plaques. I just had my teeth cleaned.

Baby, I love you soooo!

I'm blushing. Thanks.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh, no, you, di-ent.

Dean Tudor said...

Ron, can I nominate you for the position of Jesus? That way you get a birthday coming up in 12 days...

Way to go, great writing, put it in your new newsletter WA (Wine Ass)...

Dean Tudor said...

I'm sorry: I meant to say Wine Associates...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I received numerous emails asking me to weigh in on the latest Parker brouhaha, so I gave in and wrote this post. I kicked around several ideas, including a "Citizen Kane" sort of parody, a "The Great Gatsby" satire, "The Wizard of Oz" was running around in my head, but after several days it was the idea of Parker as Our Wine God who had decided to abandon us that kept speaking to me. And using the voice and style of Saramago made it work for me because Saramago, the genius, was an avid and vocal atheist. Plus, his style is made for comedy, and is a joy to write.

It's clear that I'm no Saramago. But I wanted to approach this tempest in a teapot from a peculiar, perhaps enlightening, maybe even funny, angle. God, or Bob, being vain and longing to be loved, and well-paid too, at the end of a long span being Deity, just appealed to me. Everyone else can decide if there's any truth here.

WA would be more like Wise Ass around here.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that the new Advocaters are in talks with both Wilfred Wong and Deborah Parker Wong to chisel out point scores as new disciples for the publication.
Two Wongs make a Right according to Singapore legend.
I wonder how the ratings will change given that the Durian is so highly prized in Singapore (this fruit is appreciated, if you want to call it that) for its aromas of gym socks, rotting onions and turpentine.
It's been said the country's airline is soon to offer "flights of wine" on what will be called Singapour Airlines. "Only 90+ Parker Point wines will be featured."


Anonymous said...

"like it’s OK for essentially dead wine writers to declare wine writers dead"

Funniest thing I have heard in a while!

Nameless Assistant at Nameless Napa Winery

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Anonymous 1,
So Durian smells like Authentic Wine! Thanks for clearing that up.

I usually fly on the budget airline overseas, Singapoor Air. You bring your own jet fuel. Couple of cases of Lodi Zin usually works.

Nameless Squared,
Thanks. If you get bored, send me a private email and tell me where you're assistant winemaker. I'm always curious about my eleven fans. Email is on the About page. I promise to keep your location a secret.

Thomas said...

OMG! or is that OMB?

Fabio (Vinos Ambiz) said...

Sixteenth, dammit! That's because I couldn't get up bright 'n' early because I was drinking some non-natural wine and all the chemical toxins contained therein made my eyes and brain shrivel up and had assume the foetal position in the dark for 2 days!

Thomas said...

Do you pour the tea over the warts? And what is done about assholes?

Dean Tudor said...

Ron --

You could add Dorothy Parker to your list of those parodied sources.

Isn't she the sister of Robert Parker Jr? Or just one of his bitches, always in heat...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

It's actually OMFB.

It must be tough to be so sensitive to imaginary things. Coincidentally, I usually write in the fetal position.

I know I did a quick Dorothy Parker parody in one of my Tasting Note posts. I don't think she's Robert's sister--I assume you're confusing her with Truman Capote.

Stillman Brown said...

101 durian-flinging siamang points for this piece, sir. I can't believe I was the first person in the biz that Parker threatened to sue, but I might have been the first to publicly mock him. You're funnier; thankyouverymush!

Anonymous said...

All - nice parody, first of all - creatively does reign supreme. Coulda done without the piling of feces comments, but...gotta catch 'em somehow, eh?

I'm continually amazed at how the whole blogger community continues to throw grief at WA, while somewhat acknowledging Bob's impact. I see a continual disconnect/denial with reality in the US Wine market. Cheap crap wine still prevails...and there have been few drivers for novice wine fans to learn/upgrade/guide to better wines. Still 20-25 years post-revolution (of fine US wines), still 80% of the market is under $8/bottle...and we all know it is tough to make a fine wine for less than that.
My point - to all - is that America still needs pundits, guides, make the whole wine thang less scary, less confusing, less snobbish. The 100-pt scale took off because there was/is/will be a need to translate in-depth wine knowledge into a simple tool others can use. Smiley faces, thunbs up, whatever. But don't lose touch with the average American (or even ore difficult, the up-and-coming Asians) who are trying to demystify the wine world and steer towards better bottles and experiences.


Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks, funny is in the eye of the beholder, but I'll take 101 points of anything, and especially because I have an inordinate fondness for siamangs. And, after all, Christmas is the time for gibbon.

Yeah, I get it. But most folks, the under $8/btl crowd, drink wine for the alcohol--not the terroir, not the points, just the buzz. They don't read Parker and have never heard of him and don't care.

No one owes Parker anything. He had a great life, made a lot of money, and influenced his chosen field in ways none of us will ever come close to. He influenced my generation, but not the current one, who must be seriously confused about all the fuss over his selling part of his kingdom.

The point of my parody was, in a sense, that he never cared about us, he only pretended to. But he was convincing, and passionate, and in the right place at the right time. When God sells out, we'll always ask, What will we do without Him? The truth might be that we'll be better off.

Bill Klapp said...

Ron, were you not invited to Suckling's funeral? If not, I think that there is a video of it on his website. I went, and really enjoyed the Mexican wines that his will provided should be poured. I also wept at his famous daughter's rendition of the Eurythmics classic, "Thorn In My Side", as a proper sendoff for her dear old dad. I was asked to deliver the eulogy, which went as follows:

"On balance, letting his hair grow to unreconstructed-hippie length proved far more effective in disguising his combover than Bob Parker's did in life."

Bill klapp said...

Z, Americans can only afford cheap crap wine after they blow all of their disposable income on rags cataloguing the idle ramblings and musings of a bunch of amateur wine poseurs passing themselves off as professional critics!

Wineguy999 said...

Nicely done!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I was invited to Suckling's funeral, but I couldn't make it. I was at a Gruner Veltliner tasting. Though I would have liked to hear your eulogy, which, oddly, foreshadows my next post coming up in about five minutes. Man, it's like you're a Mayan, all foreseeing the future and stuff.