“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, July 15, 2013
Matt Kramer on Bull, and Other Literary Endeavors
Our nation’s dullest form of writing is the writing of wine descriptions. Unless you count USA Today. (I love USA Today’s motto, “We sell it in airports cuz it’s terminally dull.”) Do you actually read wine descriptions, or do you just skim over them like everyone else? Here’s a real wine review lifted from Wine Spectator:
GIANFRANCO FINO Primitivo di Manduria Es 2010 (91 points, $75) A toasty version, with ample notes of baking spices and mesquite to the rich plum reduction and macerated blackberry fruit. Mouthcoating, featuring a long aftertaste of fruit, spice and tarry mineral. Better than previously reviewed. Drink now through 2015. 1,250 cases made. —Nathan Wesley
And here’s how a normal wine consumer reads it:
GIANFRANCO FINO Primitivo di Mandiblahblah 2010 (91 points, for $75 fucking dollars!) A toasty version, with ample something or other spices, damn I’m horny, mesquitoes and plum reduction, whatever, macerated blackberry fruit, oh who doesn’t macerate blackberry fruit…mouthcoating, oh man I need a new mouthcoat…long fruit, spice and tarry mineral…wait, did I read that right, tarry mineral?...yup, that’s what it says…what the fuck is a tarry mineral?…I used to own Atari video games… a tarry mineral must be like when James Cagney says, “You dirty copper…”…Better than previously reviewed…man, must have gotten a nasty letter from Advertising. Drink now through…my balls itch.
I read that original description and I have no idea how that Primitivo tastes, though it did make me want to invest in tarry minerals. But it takes a special gift to be able to write hundreds and hundreds of wine descriptions every year. It’s not a gift I want any more than I want to be able to fart “Stars and Stripes Forever.” OK, I actually would like that gift. But then I started thinking (ah, here comes the premise, I knew it was here somewhere), what if wine critics famous for their wine descriptions wrote actual literature? What would that look like? I have a couple of ideas…
ROBERT M. PARKER writing as Mystery Writer ROBERT B. PARKER
In my experience, absolutely the greatest private detective is Spenser. In 2010, generally a cool year, though there was a heat wave the second week of August that made the whole city of Boston smell like a fat guy in a wool suit with hints of marzipan, Spenser was already the greatest private detective in my experience, and every genuine crime fan should get to know this awesome Juicy Fruit gumshoe, with that distinctive note of leather sole.
When his phone rang, a high note tone reminiscent of a tuning fork clanged on the metal plate in James Laube’s head, Spenser answered it in his usual sophisticated and unctuous manner, “Hello.”
Regular readers will know that at this point I introduce a femme fatale, and only one that’s 96+. Long and supple, she is redolent of sandalwood, Asian spices, and lingonberry, with a distinct perfume of Elizabeth Taylor’s newest fragrance, “Rigor Mortis,” the perfume designed to make him stiff. I’d lay her down for 3-5 years.
MATT KRAMER writing as ERNEST HEMINGWAY
It was a hot and dusty day in the arena and the bullfight was about to begin. Robert was alone and he was thinking about what he would tell his friend Marvin about bullfighting. Marvin didn’t understand bullfighting. He was new to bullfighting, and Robert felt Marvin needed his insight.
It’s fine to like what you like, Robert would begin. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. If you like it for the gore, that’s fine, gore is a good place to start. Once you understand gore, how it affects the soil and how it affects your sense of smell, you can move on. If you like the pageantry, I get that. Once I only came for the pageantry, but the pageantry isn’t really the essence of the bullfight and one day you will come to see past it. Only then will you be a real connoisseur of bull. I am proud to say that I am a highly respected connoisseur of bull. Hear me, and one day you will be, too. Maybe you just like little Spanish boys in tight pants. I can see that, but you must also begin to see that there are some fine French boys in tight pants too. We are living in a golden age of boys in tight pants from all over the world.
The bullfight, Robert continued to lecture Marvin in his thoughts, is more than just man against beast. It represents respect and reverence for death. Many times the bull dies, but a matador risks his life as well. But throughout the battle, he champions the bull. As do I. We, the matador and I, pretend to attack the bull, pretend to cut through the bull, but, in truth, we are glorifying bull. Remember, there is no business here without the bull. Therefore, I am the bull.
The corrida was about to begin. Robert was in his usual poor seat. Right behind his stupid column.
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.