Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Wine Blog Awards--Death is Like Fermentation

When I turned up dead, I knew I had an unusual case on my hands. I’d been fine the last time I saw me, that morning, in the mirror. I remember because, since I’ve put on a few pounds recently, it was the first time I’d seen my penis since Anthony Weiner sexted a picture of it all over the damned planet. It winked at me. I’d finished showering (I like my showers like I like my babes—hot, wet, and finished in three minutes) and was shaving. I hate shaving. My electric razor shoots the damned shaving cream all over the mirror. But there I was, the HoseMaster, a private dick staring at his formerly private dick. Alive and dangling.

Or was I?

Funny thing when you die—you’re the last to know. I’d seen it my whole career. I’d be sitting in the square, peacefully drinking Kosta Browne Pinot Noir from my shoe, when I’d look up and I’d see a woman walking by who was dead and didn’t know it. You’ve seen the type. That stunned look on her face, like she’d just finished reading a Matt Kramer column in Wine Spectator, her face frozen like she’s modeling for Edvard Munch, a wine glass suspended between her breasts in a wine yoke, her glittery T-Shirt declaring, “Wine Bloggers Do It Alone in Their Room.” Dead. Her blog readers know it, her prose proves it, her ideas symptomatic of a straight line on an EEG. There are hundreds and hundreds of these wine bloggers among us. I always feel sorry for them, these Walking Dead, these Internet Zombies. Like so many people, they think death is sudden, a moment when the lights go out, your last thought the thought that this can’t be happening to me, it should be happening to Jay McInerney even if it is twenty years too late. But death’s not like that. It’s slow, and it’s apparent to everyone else but you.

Death is like fermentation. Your life happens while you’re growing, when you’ve yet to be harvested. But when you reach maturity, your life is plucked from you, the great Winemaker in the Sky crushes you, and fermentation begins. It takes a while, and you think you’re improving. You bubble with energy and radiate heat. But you’re dying. It might take two weeks, or death might get stuck, it often gets stuck when you don’t know what you’re doing, but once that fermentation is finished, you’re simply dead. Most of us are fermenting even now, especially bloggers, who stop growing even as they begin their “journey to discover wine,” a written journey that virtually defines brain death. It explains the peculiar aromas. Death is one long extended fermentation; it punches us down, over and over, twice a day, to extract everything it can from us. And then it drains us of everything we are, puts us in a large wooden vessel, sometimes new wood, sometimes old, and puts us somewhere nice and cold, like between Natalie MacLean’s lips.

So I woke up the other day and realized I was dead. And, even worse, I knew the people who had killed me. I had all the evidence against them I needed, but how could I bring them to justice? Justice is all you have left when you’re dead. Well, that and a farewell boner. The dead want justice like the living want love. Neither ever gets enough. Perhaps it’s better to want justice when you’re alive, and love after you’re gone. But you’ll never get that either. What do we get instead? Pain, misery, heartbreak, and Wine Blog Awards. It is a tribute to human courage that we manage to endure.

You see, that’s what killed the HoseMaster in the end. Wine Blog Awards. Believe me, this is an ugly way to die. Slowly and painfully, at the hands of ruthless and sinister people. People who have no right to even give you an award, people who intrude into a perfectly fine business, pretend it’s theirs, steal your reputation and standing, and use it to enrich their own lives. They’re like bank robbers, or a Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting. They have no remorse for their foul deeds. They make Frank Cornelissen proud. They declare themselves in charge, and, dopes that we are, we accede. We give in because we lack imagination, and because we seek acceptance and praise like a Cru Beaujolais producer seeks more than 91 points—hopelessly, and because we imagine it matters. Just as we give in to death. Only death is certain, Wine Blog Awards are imaginary.

Sure, the people responsible hire fall guys. I wanted to blame the fall guys for my death. And, that morning, I was beginning to realize I was dead. I was starting to like Malbec. Who likes Malbec? Dead people, people with nothing to lose. But it wasn’t the fall guys, the “judges” (honorary titles to flatter the suckers), who murdered me, it was the organizers, the con men, who killed me.

I did something stupid. It’s partly my fault. Isn’t death always partly our fault, like every tragedy, like the NBA? I opened an email attachment. I knew it was stupid even as I was doing it. Like when you walk down the stairs in your socks, or you check your gas tank with a cigarette lighter, or you buy rare wines at auction. In the attachment were my death warrants. Like Pandora, I’d opened the box. Or selected shitty music. I don’t remember what metaphor works any more. But, when I saw what was in the attachments, I knew the HoseMaster was dead. Dead like “fighting varietals.”. Dead like “soft wines.” Dead like “Mutineer Magazine.” Done. Over. Kaput. Kardashianed. Pamela Sue’d. I was in an Aldered state.

The attachment consisted of nomination badges in four different categories for HoseMaster of Wine™ to win a Wine Blog Award. It was the moment you hear the gun going off just long enough to know you’re a goner. Not that I didn’t have it coming.

Gumshoes make lots of enemies. But, in the end, my enemies didn’t have anything to do with it. Death rarely comes from expected places. That’s one thing I’ve learned as the HoseMaster. Death is slow, and you’re dead before you know it, but the causes, well, they never reveal themselves until it’s too late. It’s like a blind tasting. All your years of experience, all that you bring to the table, all of your insight and passion and love, hell, it just doesn’t matter. Where you stick your nose just might be the end of you. And, on top of that, the idiot next to you doesn’t know crap. Blind tasting is the human condition.

But what’s done is done. Justice will come one day. We have to believe that. I like to think that the Wine Blog Awards ceremony will be the HoseMaster’s wake. People who hate me will still have to say nice things about me. I won’t be there, so I won’t care. My name will be announced, men will gasp and women will weep, but when the shock has worn off, people who otherwise revile me, people whose secrets I’ve uncovered, whose weaknesses I’ve held up to the light, those people will be forced to laud me, to say that, all along, they liked me, admired my work. When it’s not true. I like to think that maybe the whole charade will crumble, that the people who campaigned and begged for votes, who surrendered their talent to vanity, who craved an award given by poseurs and decided by the wisdom of the hopelessly vacuous who live on FaceBook, that they’ll speak my name in false reverence and realize the emptiness of the gesture. And slowly recognize the death of their own souls.

“And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

I’ve had tough cases before, solved The MS Conspiracy and Dial MW for Murder. I battled my arch enemy Frank Anosmia and came out not smelling a rose. I never thought I’d have to work my own death. You spend your whole life fighting the bad guys and then one day you realize you’re one of them. It’s the great mystery of life. And of death. You just don’t know what you’ve got until it’s done fermenting.


Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
I am thrilled to see you are having fun with all of this. As always I am so very proud to be a member of your mouthy little peanut gallery, even more proud to call myself your internet wife. You are an astounding talent, a brilliant man and I've become a better person simply by loving you. All my love you Sweet Man, go get 'em! I love you!

Thomas said...

Do I have to buy a black tie?

Charlie Olken said...

Thomas--Nobody wears black tie to a funeral except the mortuary director.

Jose is dead and you want to bury him?

Personally, I can't stand the agony of waiting for the awards. On the one hand, I love the irony here. The Hosemaster nominated for awards that he has trashed.

Does it serve him right or does it serve the Wine Blog Awards right?

Either way, Thomas, The Hosemaster has beat you to the punch and declared himself dead. It is premature, of course, and I worry that the old boy thinks he is Mark Twain or worse--he could think he is Samuel Clemens.

The real operative question here is which will kill him off quicker? Winning or losing?

Tom Wark, in his infinite wisdom, has already declared the Awards passe'. Does he know the final results already--because if winning does not kill off The Hosemaster, it might just kill off the Poodle awards.

What a juicy two weeks this is going to be.

How can we hate the Poodle Awards if the Hosemaster wins?

How can we respect the Awards if the Hosemaster wins.

It's a mystery.

Unknown said...

This is somber. It is a cry from the heart. From the corrupt heart of a rutabaga.

Ferment already.

Yours vacuously,


Micah Nasarow said...

I read this like an old Twilight Zone episode.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Gang,
I sat down yesterday afternoon to write about the Poodles, not having any idea what I was going to say. I knew that folks expected me to react to my HoseMaster Dominance of the Wine Blog Awards, and, while I always write only for myself, I do realize that the act of writing comedy involves the participation of its audience. One has to know ones audience in order to make them laugh, and in order to surprise them.

I actually started a piece about the emails I've received since I was nominated--solicitation emails, invites, other Spam--including one from my biggest fan, Chlamydia Jones. But I didn't like the tone. Then I started a straight-faced post, but that was horribly jejune. Then I started with this opening line, and my subconscious took over.

Many years ago, late '70's I'd say, I wrote a script about a dead detective (the bad guys were in the Gang Green). There were a bunch of detective shows with handicapped detectives at the time--Ironside with Raymond Burr in a wheelchair, and one with James Franciscus where he was a blind PI. So I wrote one about a dead detective. Somehow that premise reappeared in my mind in this "Aldered" state as a way to talk about the Poodles.

Awards are a form of obituary. Being up for four seems a death threat. So I just used as dark a tone as I could manage, and thought I'd have some fun, make some points about the authority of the Wine Blog Awards, and leave a weird taste in everybody's mouth.

It's what I do.

Thomas said...


The black tie was to attend the awards ceremonies, but now that you bring it up, owning the tie would kill two birds, so to speak.

In my opinion, the award organizers engineered the nominations as a way to silence the HoseMaster. But the collapse of my blog clearly illustrates that my opinion is generally as worthless as an award.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Yeah, Thomas, that was it. It's not like I have any talent that the judges might recognize. Or that that plan would work.

Hey, don't tell anyone, Obama's a Muslim.

Thomas said...

Yeah, Ron, you are probably right. It's good to know that the organizers have finally figured out what talent is. of course, we in the peanut gallery were first to recognize it, and that will never change.

The Sommeliere said...

Poodle awards? I thought it was the Doodle awards. For the Doodle awards, I have two huge Labradoodles, who own me completely.

But I digress--I guess I have to get behind Samantha as your second internet wife. Are you leaving us anything of value or just empty bottles and corks?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

It's a myth that HoseMaster of Wine has any effect on anyone who blogs. Wine bloggers don't care what I think. I am, and always have been, just another barking Poodle, albeit with a whisper of talent. There's no gain for the Wine Blog Awards folks to nominate me. Do I seem like the type to change my bark because they're nice to me? That's insulting. Besides, I know many of the judges, and there isn't a single one whose integrity I would question, who wouldn't "out" the WBA folks if something phony was going on. All they'd have to do would be to inform me and I'd run with it.

I am having fun with the nominations. I've had them before, but never five of them at once. It's my blogger group sex. The main problem with the awards, in my view, aside from the lack of worthwhile nominees, is that the voting process tries to mix merit with popularity. This is profoundly stupid. They recruit qualified judges, accept their decisions, then toss it to the FaceBook and Twitter power of the nominees. Awards based on merit are great, and awards based on popular vote are fine, but the mix makes the results next to meaningless.

Marlene Darling,
Ah, My Love, I'd just leave you with a smile on your face.

Max Murrey said...

Haha nice.

Thomas said...


The FBs and Twits among us have to be included; they are the audience and this is how the social media revolution works. Everyone has a say, whether or not we know anything or have anything to say. We are all stars and our opinions are like clusters of en-light-ening. It's fright-ening.

I shall shut up now and go back into my work cave until the next massively important subject brings me back out.

Mike Dunne said...

As I read this I kept thinking, "Will rigor mortis never set it?" (Insert your own joke here.) Then I got it: He's writing longer to accommodate all those badges over on the side. Badges! Must be a recond high. Congratulations!

David Fish said...

He would be missed
not by those he dissed
for he spoke the truth
and enlightened youth
and somehow brought to light of day
the image of Parker nursing Jay...


Catie said...

Death becomes you. And you are welcome, as I voted for you in every category you were nominated. Best wishes.

Daniel said...

awards can only be used for evil. either you become a narcissist who brags about winning all over your blog, or after your signature (to go with the run on of letters after your name...CS..MS...CSW...MSNBC etc...)

or you become Roberto Benigni and we never hear from you again.

aren't poodles like kindergarten graduation ceremonies, participation trophies, or 'best wine steward' awards for grocery store buyers?

long live the revolution!

gabriel jagle said...

congrats dude. or condolences, if you prefer.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Ah, you're a princess. Thanks for your votes. And no one ever looks as good as their death mask. I'm wearing mine now.

Lovely tombstone sentiments. Something for my grave's visitors to spit upon.

Yeah, well, I was feeling a bit longwinded last night. And, damn, those are big badges. I need to shrink them. I'm thinking some Preparation H might help right now.

I nearly inaugurated the HoseMaster of Wine Awards, but, you're right, they would only be used for Evil. So I should.

It's hard enough for me to accept praise much less awards. Awards only have power when we grant them power. Just like scores for wines. If I win, and that's incredibly unlikely, it won't change a thing. But I am flattered that some talented judges gave me a wink and a nod. That's all the award I need. Campaigning for it, not really who I am. I already have HMW after my name. I don't need more than that.

Back at ya!

Dean Tudor said...

If it's Canadian, I wear a black tie...otherwise...

Anonymous said...

Sam, looks like we need to plan that get together. 'Ol Ron is a weinnnner!

Chris / 'Knurd

Joe Roberts said...

Papa Olken - "Does it serve him right or does it serve the Wine Blog Awards right?"


This is like irony cake with Conundrum icing (okay, maybe the icing isn't quite as sweet as that...)

Anonymous said...

Hosemaster cleaning up would bring credibility to the Wine Blog Awards. It would be horrible.

Georges Meekers said...

In lieu of flowers, vintage birth year port.

Bob Henry (Los Angeles wine industry professional) said...

Regarding your Hollywood anecdote:

"Many years ago, late '70s I'd say, I wrote a script about a dead detective (the bad guys were in the Gang Green). There were a bunch of detective shows with handicapped detectives at the time -- Ironside with Raymond Burr in a wheelchair, and one with James Franciscus where he was a blind PI. SO I WROTE ONE ABOUT A DEAD DETECTIVE. [Capitazlization used for emphasis. - Bob] Somehow that premise reappeared in my mind in this "Aldered" state as a way to talk about the Poodles."

Was your nom de plume "Joe Gillis" ?

(More contemporarily substituted for the nom de guerre "HoseMaster" ?)

Get ready for your close-up if you win.

A paraphrase: “It’s said in Hollywood, it’s not enough for you to succeed. Your friends must also fail.”


Ron Washam, HMW said...

You, me and STEVE! in the same category! Wow. Some braggin' rights on the line. But watch out, as you know, people tend to vote for the tallest candidate...and at a statuesque 5'8" I rule!

Hell, it doesn't matter. What's funny is that most of the bloggers I read who yearn for a Poodle nomination never even get a mention, while many of us who don't really care get a bunch. I don't write this crap to garner awards, or even to gain recognition. I have too damned much recognition these days. But all that is fleeting, it always passes, it's the work that matters. Getting wrapped up in awards is death to a writer--part of the point of this lame post.

Was '52 a declared vintage? I think it may have been for a few houses, but not many. Also, like me, probably dead by now.

Charlie Olken said...


Joe Roberts (see the CGCW blog of Weds last--I did not write it, Steve Eliot did so I am not responsible for its content) claims in the comments section that He voted for you.

I would be very wary of incestuous relationships between you famous bloggers.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Awesome. I got a vote!

Not sure why you capitalized "He." Though, to be certain, 1WineDoody is a God among mere mortal Poodles.

Is this damned Poodle thing over yet?

Charlie Olken said...

Is this Poodle thing over yet?

And therein lies the irony. If you win, it will never be over. And if you lose, your community of fanatics will never get over it and say all kinds of nasty things about the Poodle awards.

Of course, you will have said them all before yourself.

That is why I am rooting for you to win. Because life is full of ironic twists--and this would be one of the more amusing.

Joe Roberts said...

HMW - but if the winnings went to who among us most comfortably fits in the overhead bins on a commercial airplane...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

It's funny, I was saying to my wife last night that I think my readers have more invested in HoseMaster winning a Poodle than I do. Winning or losing won't change who I am or what I do here, it won't change my lack of career, or enhance my already corrosive reputation. It may gain me a few more readers. I may end up with more than fifteen!

Yeah, but you're over the weight limit. Otherwise, man, you and I could save a bundle on airfare. Not that, with all the junkets you go on, you pay airfare.

Beau said...

I hope you win. I think you will win. It would be great to see actual talent get recognition.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks. I'm not particularly concerned about winning. In fact, I don't really care at all. But it is nice to have such kind words and support tossed my way.

Anonymous said...

Send a beautiful Indian princess in your place.

Joe Roberts said...

I might not be over the weight limit, actually...