Monday, September 2, 2013

Making Sense of Matt Kramer


The first Monday of September honors the American work force as part of the Endangered Species Act. But the first Monday also means the HoseMaster is in England at Tim Atkin's award-winning website. This month, inspired by a comment from Tim, I've written a tribute to Wine Spectator's Matt Kramer. One of my favorite blurbs in the wine business is Wine Spectator referring to Kramer as "irreverent." He's about as irreverent as Velveeta. I don't know about you, but, to me, he reads like a cross between Dear Abby and HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

As always, please feel free to be a common tater over at Tim Atkin, or leave your thoughts here in a paper bag you've set on fire.

MAKING SENSE OF MATT KRAMER


13 comments:

gabriel jagle said...

parody, not satire. correct?

love the contrast with the 1winedude piece.

David Pierson said...

Fun stuff Ron but I gotta confess I really like Matt Kramer's Wine Spectator columns... I can see his latest Wine Road's Not Taken kind of lends himself to a shot.. but I find him informative, funny and not pompous like a lot of those mag blowhards, bloggers, Alder, RJ, etc, jaw dropping dull HawkWakaWakaWaka.... another eye glazer about some terroir of a winery you could care less about.. or the fellatial drivel of Winedoody, oh I can't believe I got this freebie and what an honor it was to serve on this panel...

Steve Lay said...

I have written some articles and blogs about wine, the industry and its people. Obviously nowhere near the quality of HoseMaster of Wine. Once I contacted 2 prominent wine writers (via e-mail and phone) for information about themselves for a story/blog. In both cases I found the persons to be rude and maybe even antagonistic.
I do not know Matt Kramer, never met him, but if he is like the high visibility types I have had some dealing with he isn't worth a pinch of ant whatever.
Little people buy wine also. Where do the average wine drinkers go for fun information about wines; other than HoseMaster?

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
We've only recently started getting the Expectorator at the shop again. We gave it up years ago seeing as none of us read it or ever even looked to see if the wines we had chosen to carry were scored, so I never really got comfortable with Kramer's voice, that was until about 4 months ago. I've found that his is often the only column I can bother trying to get though. Can't say that I've ever gotten much out of it but, well I find him the least like a cheese grater in my underpants.

I often feel like I was lucky to come to wine the way I did, at least for me, the whole reading obsessively thing would not and still does not suit me or feed any kind of passion for me, with wine, cooking, fucking or anything else. I was lucky that it was never really a hobby and dug right into my core with both practicality and raw passion...Kramer, Suckling, STEVE!, Parker, none of them would have inspired that, least not for me. That being said, I have read a couple things from Kramer lately that I can sort of agree with, at least a little and that is a welcome rarity. Now that also being said, I think you've captured his bits-o-douche here perfectly and with deft precision. Damn sexy that cutting tongue of yours...I love you!

Thomas said...

Writing is the expression of one's inner voice. This piece displayed a well-captured voice.

Gabe, so much of what Ron does marries parody with satire.

Has anyone ever told Tim that the slide show on the right of the screen while one is trying to read what's on the left of the screen is wildly annoying? Or am I just the David Pierson of the visual arts???

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Gabe,
By George, he's got it. I think he's got it!

I see these parodies of wine writers, or bloggers, as practice. It's not simply about imitating their writing style, though trying to find their voice is interesting, it's also about trying to hear who they are from what they write. I've never met Mr. Kramer. The fun is simply imagining who he might be from his work, and then coming up with an amusing way to express that. Once I had the first two sentences, I knew where it would go.

On the Washam scale, I'd say this is about a B-. Or lower.

David,
My piece just has to read, in tone and attitude, like a Kramer column for it to work. I don't agree about "pompous." When I read ten or so columns preparing for this piece, I felt that the undertone of everything he wrote was exactly that. Is he better than those bloggers as a writer? Well, that's a low bar to get over.

Steve,
Wine writers get lots and lots of criticism, and tend to be pretty defensive in general, I've found. Charlie is a rare exception. So your story doesn't surprise me. I don't know where "average wine drinkers go for fun information about wines." Judging by my stats, not that many read HoseMaster.

My Gorgeous Samantha,
I'm like you, only I didn't read those guys, or gals, when I started loving wine because most of them are my contemporaries. Wine Spectator was a folding newspaper, and didn't assign numbers. Parker had just caught on, STEVE! was a stringer at WS, Suckling was just a little piglet. I read the Brits--Hugh Johnson and Gerald Asher. And I closely followed Connoisseurs' Guide. So we share that sort of evolution of wine loving.

But you might start reading more about fucking if you have a cheese grater in your underpants. Though I suppose it does make you grate in bed.

I love you!

Thomas,
My mother, when she was older and flickering electronic stuff bugged her, used duct tape. Just a little hint from Heloise.

Thomas said...

Cheese grater.

That's one I (gladly) never encountered, but it sounds like effective birth control.

Duct tape.

This blog is full of informashit.

Like you, Ron, I never read those guys or gals. Do you remember Ron Fonte's Les Ami du Vin? I had been a wine drinker already, but that's where I started to get serious, and I remember Robert Mondavi on the presentation circuit.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thomas,
I don't remember Ron Fonte. But I knew his brother Harry Bela.

"Informashit"--that's about right. And as for the cheese grater, well, you can overcome that turnoff with Boner in a Can!

TWG said...

I liked this and thought you captured his voice perfectly. It's hard to believe only 5 out or 10 posters "got it" on one of the popular wine boards. They must never have read Kramer.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

TWG,
Thank you. As for popular wine boards, well, I'm just glad they talk about HoseMaster. I'm not at all worried what they say. 5 out of 10 getting it? Hell, that's way above my usual batting average.

Jamie said...

Dear HM, I wrote a blog post Feb 1 2013 with that very same title

http://www.wineanorak.com/wineblog/new-zealand/making-sense-of-matt-kramer-pinot-noir-2013-keynote

TWG said...

Suddenly everyone's a humorist. Jamie your piece was satire, right? I mean Kramer didn't make those statements, did he?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Jamie,
I think all of us wine bloggers have learned that the headline is what can make or break the piece, determine how many eyes actually land on it. "Making Sense of Matt Kramer" is the low-hanging fruit of headlines. And I'm sure it won't be the last time that headline appears.

Your post about Kramer's speech is quite fascinating. And a nice complement to my silly parody. Kramer imagining crap. Deciding atheists can't make great wine, for example. Damned funny premise. I'm sure that Thomas Mathews would have vetoed that particular sort of angle if Kramer had tried to use it in Wine Spectator. Kramer has the gift of eloquence that convinces you he's making a valid point when he's often blowing smoke, or imagining facts.