Monday, July 11, 2016

The Legend of Justin Appleseed

HoseMaster Note: This tall tale inspired by recent events chronicled, among other places, here:

Billionaire Resnicks' Justin Vineyards Bulldozes Forest of Old Oaks, Sparking Uproar

Howdy, pardners! I’m goin’ to tell you about the great Justin Appleseed, and how he done shaped the West. Now most of ya ain’t goin’ to believe my tale, and I cain’t say as I blame ya. But it’s all true, and you can look it up on your goldarned phones if you want. Hell, in my day a “search engine” was what we called the proctologist’s index finger. Ain’t much different today, I guess. Diddlin’ around on your phone is exactly like puttin’ your finger up your own butt. Feels like you’re doin’ somethin’, but you’re really just stirring around some shit.

Anyhow, we’re here to talk about ol’ Justin Appleseed. Now that weren’t his real name, but that’s what folks called him back in the early years of the 21st Century when his legend began. His real name was Justin Fijiwater, and he was one of the richest men on the planet. Yessir, he had a lot of money. In them days, people with a lot of money could do anything they wanted. You could sell two cents worth of water in a nasty plastic bottle for two dollars! Mostly just to yokels, mind you, the kind of folks who think nothing of homeless vets eating out of trash cans so long as their own drinking water comes four thousand miles in a plastic bottle from a tropical island’s aquifer, but there's a lot of stinkin’ ignorant yokels in the world. Yep, you can get mighty rich off folks with no class and imaginary phobias. And Justin Appleseed did just that!

Well, sir, Justin Appleseed had a hankerin’ to make wine. You see, Justin Appleseed believed that all the water in the world was his to do with as he pleased. Now, you own all the water in the world, see, you pretty much own everything. You are God, and you don’t have to answer to nobody, and if ever you do, you have lots of people to sacrifice. That’s the thing about rich folks, they always got people they can toss under the ol’ bus and blame for what their money does. “‘Twaren’t me,” they can say, “I didn’t know nothin’ about it. But, hell, I guess I’m sorta to blame, so, here, take this human I own and do what you want to him. I can buy another one. Hell, they’re cheap right now.”

But I’m gettin’ ahead of myself. Don’t matter, you all know the legend. I’m just tryin’ to set you straight, get to the truth behind the legend. Not the facts, but some truth. What happened done happened, you can stick that search engine up your ass and look it up. The truth can be a lot harder to figger.

So Justin Appleseed starts walkin’ the world looking for a winery to buy. Why didn’t he just start a new winery, what with all the money he had? Well, that takes talent and skill, and he just had money. Money from selling water to people who think their lives are better cuz they drink water out of plastic bottles instead of faucets and drinking fountains like the rest of us. Justin Fijiwater was just like that rancher who fills up the trough with endless water so that the cattle live long enough for him to slaughter them. Only in his case, the cattle done paid him for the privilege.

Well, everywhere Justin Appleseed went, all’s he noticed was trees that was standin’ around doin’ nothing. Suckin’ up his precious water and not givin’ nothin’ fer it. It made him madder than a billionaire with a cellarful of fake wine. He wanted to whip his Koch out and screw everything and everybody. Why, the trees he owned, them beautiful fruit trees, guzzled amazing amounts of his water, but at least they made pomegranates. Johnny Appleseed could sell the pomegranate juice by makin’ up tall tales about how it helps prostate cancer and fixes a limp dick at the same time! And yokels believe that shit! Now that’s a tree that’s worth somethin’! Nothin’ like a hard wood tree, and having hard wood is what folks want. But those other trees, just standin’ around, doin’ nothin’, well, they were gettin’ on Justin Appleseed’s nerves.

Now when Justin got to a little place called Paso Robles, he found the perfect winery to buy. Now, you have to understand, Paso Robles is dry! Paso Robles is drier than a sommelier fart in a service exam. Is that mercaptans, or are you just nervous to see me? So when Justin Appleseed bought his purty new winery, and lots and lots of land around it, he knew he needed lots more of his water to grow them grapes. It waren’t no big deal. He’d just take more of his water, the water he’d been lettin’ the other winegrowers use for a long time, but now he needed for himself. Hey, what’s an aquifer? Fer stealin’! Yeah, I wrote that joke. It’s a knee-slapper.

Now walkin’ around his property, Justin just couldn’t help but notice all these ol’ native oaks just standin’ around suckin’ up all the water and givin’ nuthin’ in return. Acorns. What the hell are acorns? What a-holes get on their feet? Justin walked and he walked around his Paso Robles property, an old sauce pan on his head to protect him from the sun, and because he’d heard it stopped radiation so’s he wouldn’t get brain cancer. And then one day he figgered it out. A perfect plan. It was almost too perfect!

Justin Appleseed called on his ol’ friend Paul Bunyan (he called him “Paul Bunion” because he was an a-hole with acorns) to come to Paso Robles. “And bring that goddam blue ox of yours, Paul, so it can leave big blue piles of fertilizer behind. Them piles of crap look like Smurf remains, but they’ll help my grapes grow! I hear blue wine is the next big thing.” When Paul arrived in Paso Robles, Justin Appleseed tol’ him, “Paul, now go on out there and chop down all those good-fer-nuthin’ oaks, the ones drinkin’ up all my precious water, and don’t tell noboby it was my idea! Hell, might as well just clear everything out while you’re at it. I want to hear my voice reverberatin’ when I walk around after you’re done. Yep, fuck Nature, I’m creatin’ my own kind of echo-system!”

And mighty Paul Bunyan done just that.

Now when Justin’s neighbors complained about all them oak trees being chopped down by some giant Village People guy in a plaid shirt, Justin Appleseed was astonished. “Why it was just a mistake, and I had every right, and, besides, I had no idea it was happenin’.” Now this was a lie, but Justin Appleseed knew that lyin’, and lots of money, work in your favor. ‘Member that Pom baloney ‘bout making your dick hard? Some kind of strap-Pom, I reckon. “But I’m gonna make it right,” he told his angry neighbors, “just you wait and see.”

And when Justin Appleseed pledged to give the folks his now treeless property to make up for destroyin’ the place, the legend was born. Oh, it cost him a little money, and by little, I mean like takin’ a flake of gold out of Fort Knox, and it cost him some embarrassment, but you know what? Them oak trees was gone forever. I guess they learned a valuable lesson. You take legendary Justin Appleseed’s water, you have to pay. It ain’t about the environment, stupid. It’s about money. And hubris. And having plenty of fall guys bought and paid for and ready to toss on the Smurf dung heap you left behind.

And, oh, them yokels is still buyin’ the water, and still buyin’ the fruit juice, and still in the wine clubs. And Justin Appleseed? Well, sir, if you walk around that ol’ property, you can still hear the echoes. The ones of him laughin’ all the way to the bank.


pam strayer said...

And that's leaving out his whole involvement in Westside Water District and the lawsuits he faced there! And why is DiFi in his pocket?

He also owns Landmark in Sonoma County.

Charlie Olken said...

Here are a couple of ugly truths that no one is willing to talk about:

--What good is an oak tree that cannot be made into a barrel?

--When you have seen one tree, you have seen them all.

gbgolfer71 said...

Arrogant pricks (rich pricks, but still pricks). Read

Don Carter said...

What’s an aquifer? Fer stealin’! Priceless!
What a great new voice! A little twang in yer speech opens up a whole slew of new pun possibilities. Keep drinking the Pom juice HoseMaster - we need you to keep it up.

Aaron said...

Thanks for this! I'm letting my friends (who love Justin wine) know about this. Hopefully changes their mind about buying any more.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Water is the next oil, and he, apparently, believes he has the rights to all of it. It's a shame to me on a personal level because I loved the founders of Justin, Justin and Debby Baldwin. That their hard work is now dragged through the mud, well, I guess I'm not helping there, is a shame. They helped raise the level of Paso Robles wines, and made the entire region a better wine-producing area. Thanks to the Resnicks, they've lost whatever respect they once had. Winery owners with your name on the label--be wary of which rich jackass you sell to!

Yup. Is that like saying when you've had one 89 point wine, you've had them all? I bow to your expertise.

There's a special place in Hell for them. I think it's next to Suckling.

Well, it ain't much of a new voice. I wanted to write about the Justin debacle and didn't know how. Then I thought about Johnny Appleseed in reverse, and decided to write it as a tall tale. I guess in my head I was leaning towards the voiceover Voice in the old Disney Tall Tales, a kind of exaggerated and homespun Voice. It always seems to me that in cases like this, satire is the most efficient bludgeon.

It's outrageous what the Resnicks pulled. And then the predictable lying about it afterward--they didn't know it was happening, because, you know, rich folks really don't pay attention to how their money is spent--and the token sort of makeup money. It's appalling, and sad. And made for the HoseMaster!

Beentheredonethat! said...

If you look a little further at the purchase of the particular property that was trans-morphed into a wasteland, Resnick purchased it from the non-profit Dancing Star Foundation. Dancing Star purports to be a champion of biodiversity conservation and just happen to have their offices located a few doors down from Resnick in LA. So Resnick gets a $4 mil write off on the purchase and then another $4 to $6 mil write off on the donated land. Definitely pays to be rich and greedy!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

That's interesting. I wonder if they sold all the wood from the oaks, too. The whole thing stinks, and what's worse is the apology clearly written by a publicist. It's a sad thing for Paso Robles, and reminiscent of what KJ did many years ago in Santa Barbara County. Consumers have short memories. And rich folks have highly paid spin control flunkies.

I was sort of bummed how the SF Chronicle wrote about it as a terrible "mistake" that they'd learned a lesson from. Yeah, right. And "welcome to the real wine world, Paso." That's letting them off too easy, and borderline irresponsible. Sorry, Esther, I adore you, but hard-hitting, that wasn't.

Like she reads me...

Beentheredonethat! said...

Evidently that was one of the ways they were found out: Huge trucks loaded with firewood going down the rural roads. Leave no stone unturned when there are dollars to be made.

John Slattery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Moe said...

Housemaster. Camus. Shots of wine. All reasons why we love millennials.

Deborah Bennett said...

Hosemaster, I received an epiphenal revelation tonight I think you might appreciate, that sometimes wine is a sacrament, and sometimes it's a Sacramento. All my best to you.

Don Clemens said...

Ron - WOW! I've been trying to gather my "why am I so angry about this" thoughts into some kind of bundle. You just completely nailed it! And, I love the "Voiceover Voice" angle. It immediately put me into the "let's sit back and listen to the story" mode. Of course, "Hey, what’s an aquifer? Fer stealin’!" will live on for a LONG time. Poor California. Too many rich, uncaring jerks who either don't understand or don't/won't care about future generations.
Thanks again, Ron.

Orris Cowgill said...

Check out the 2011 Justin Fijiwater 15,000 trees on Chimney Rock Road. This is episode one, Paso is episode 2.

Don Clemens said...

Orris Cowgill - what an amazing coincidence...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Gang,

The joy of having a forum like this is to be able to express my outrage at stupidity. For the Resnicks to allow this to happen, and then no doubt stress in the tasting room how "green" they are (doesn't every winery preach that, especially to Millennials, whose planet we've fucked?), is shameful. Not that they give a crap.

I'm not very influential, in truth, but it's so therapeutic to have even my 11 readers hear what I have to say. Thanks for sharing my outrage.