Monday, April 27, 2015
Corky Taint, Terrorist Sommelier
It wasn’t the first time Corky Taint had run away from home. But he’d always returned before. Gotten scared, or corraled by a cop, or hungry. Except for a few months ago, when Corky suddenly vanished one night, leaving no clues behind for his desperate family. Months later his family learned the horrible truth. Corky had been recruited online. Hours and hours spent on a website chatting with older males pretending to be his friends, and he had decided to leave everything he knew behind, his friends, his family, his dignity, to join a radical group of misanthropes whose sole aim is to intimidate and brutalize everyone who doesn't agree with them, who doesn't follow their path. Corky had left home to join a highly secretive and dangerous group of people, a group that has systematically and successfully recruited large numbers of young people from across every economic background to terrorize modern society, to intimidate ordinary citizens, people like you and me, in such a way that we are frightened to do something as basic and simple as go out to dinner. Corky had left home to become a sommelier.
Corky’s story is not the least bit unusual now. All over the United States, young men and women are joining this terrorist organization. Where once the United States was home to but a few dozen sommeliers, experts now believe there are tens of thousands. “Sommeliers are proliferating like cockroaches,” says the FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Chief Noah Clue, “cockroaches that can spit.” Many, if not most, of the new members are recruited online, at seemingly harmless websites and chat rooms that turn out to be radicalizing young men, and the occasional woman, into believing that they know everything about wine, and that those who don’t agree with them, or aren’t as knowledgeable, are beneath contempt, and deserve overcharging. Once recruited, these young people are subjected to further brainwashing, as well as tests of endurance and training in the fine arts of oenological torture. Let loose on an unsuspecting world, these radicalized fundamentalists of wine spread chaos and misunderstanding, intimidate hundreds of people every week, extort large sums of money to fill their organization’s coffers, and just generally degrade society. And yet there are many who say there’s little proof this is happening, that there aren’t really more sommeliers than there used to be—these are the microclimate change deniers. Time has proven them wrong. One can no longer lift a seat without seeing a sommelier floating in the bowl.
FBI forensic computer specialists were able to track Corky’s online whereabouts before he disappeared. Without his parents’ knowledge, Corky was haunting a particularly subversive website, a website known for its subtle but persuasive propaganda and dick-wagging. The site is WineBozerkers, a male-dominated forum where women are allowed only if they swear to God they’re wearing a veil. Corky’s first post, dated September 11, 2012, was commented on by most of the iMams (so called because they love Apple and mammary glands), who profusely welcomed Corky to their online world. This is how it usually starts, according to Noah Clue. “Women who comment are usually universally ignored, or asked if they like blush wines, or Randall Grahm. This is a way of making them feel isolated and unwelcome. Young men are embraced, and made to feel that their comments, though often as naive and as uninformed as their female counterparts’, are intelligent. Acceptance into this secretive world makes the young men feel important. It doesn’t take long before an insecure guy like Corky, and this is a terrorist group that personifies insecurity, feels like part of the group; and soon he begins to preach and believe the basic tenets of the iMams. He’s fucked. And not long after that, he tells everyone he’s a 'sommelier.' The two things together make perfect sense.”
Criticism of the iMams of WineBozerkers is forbidden. In the guise of “civility,” members are slowly brainwashed into conforming. From there, it’s a short road to believing you’re always right, incredibly insightful, and one of wine’s chosen people. Most leave it at that and waste their lives on the chat room. But many young men, believing their own press, convinced of a superior palate, feeling invincible and drawn to the mysterious mystique that surrounds sommeliers, take the next step. They move to a different Internet site, lured by the promise of fame and money and a hundred virgins in the afterlife, most of them wine bloggers (almost all of whom, judging from their About photos, are clearly virgins). Corky took that next step. He moved over to the website of the Court of Master Sommeliers. It is every parent’s nightmare.
Each year, hundreds of young people register on the site to try to join the Court. Simultaneously enriching the Court and providing it with young, disposable meat, these young people give up their free time pursuing what for most of them is a completely unreachable goal—becoming a Master Sommelier. In reality, they fall under the spell of a handful of that terrorist organization’s most famous and powerful members, including the ironically named Fred Dame. “If he were a dame,” says Clue, “he’d never have made it past the first test.” The FBI has a list of Master Sommeliers it watches. I wasn’t allowed to view the list, but one assumes it also includes men like Geoff Kruth, thought to be at large as a Jay McInerney impersonator, but without the humility, and Larry Stone, one of the men most responsible for Master Sommelier plots to terrorize the public. “We sent a drone to watch Stone,” an FBI man who wished to remain anonymous for fear of having Stone send him some of his crappy Oregon wine in retaliation, “but it couldn’t find the little bugger. Or, we think maybe the drone felt a kinship to him as another little machine and purposely threw us off the track.”
Master Sommeliers believe their time has come. Their websites are filled with delusional proclamations telling their members to be prepared, that they are the new arbiters of wine, that the old men who have been running wine for years now are impotent and disgraced. Their diatribes tell their followers to take every opportunity to declare “Death to Parker!,” “Death to Shanken!,” “Death to Asimov!” They urge followers to be prepared for war, be prepared for doubters, but to rest assured that sommeliers will conquer, sommeliers will rule, sommeliers will dictate, all at 300% higher than cost. And the Court just doesn't care how many young lives are ruined along the way. The ruthless leaders of Master Sommeliers seem to truly believe their tastes are the future, that they, and they alone, will determine what the public will buy. This is always the way of nearsighted and misanthropic zealots.
Corky Taint, some time in the year 2014 (everything about the Court of Master Sommeliers is shrouded in secrecy, except how often they mention they’re Master Sommeliers, which is more often than Elton John mentions he’s gay, only louder) passed Level One of the Sommelier exam. They all do. The Court makes sure even the dumbest among them pass. Corky was hooked. From a young man with a passion for wine, with a great future and a supportive family, Corky’s online path had led him to the shady underworld of the sommelier. No one knows where he will surface. But when he does, when yet another sommelier infiltrates our society, slips through our complacency and our underfunded security measures to keep them away from vulnerable civilians, who knows how many people Corky will make suffer. And then expect a tip.