Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Teachings of Don Jon, Master Shaman

I first met the old Don Jon, Master Shaman (M.S.) and former host of several rare parasites, of the great Taqui Nation, at a bus stop in Lodi. I was there while in a witness protection program having successfully testified against Lorena Bobbitt in the famous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest controversy, which I'd done with relish, which is more than you can say for her. Don Jon took one look at me and seemed to peer into my soul, which is when he removed my watch and wallet. A friendship was born, and it was through Don Jon that I discovered the Road to Wine Enlightenment and became a Wine Warrior. Don Jon was the Wine Road Runner, and I was his Wile E. Peyote.

The Taqui Nation is the guardian of all wine knowledge, and has been since Jerry Mead went to the great Wine Pow-Wow in Poway, which is where Taqui believe all wine warriors go when death claims them. They believe there are only a few certain wine deaths--cirrhosis, poor storage, and being floor-stacked at Trader Joe's (Trader Joe was one-sixteenth Taqui, though his eponymous stores couldn't be Taquier). The Master Shamans of the Taqui are the teachers and mentors of all who desire to walk the Road to Wine Enlightenment. It is only because Don Jon saw in me a true Wine Warrior, a man of the vine, a wine lover gifted with pure vision, that he accepted me as one of his students. That, and I blackmailed him for having stolen my wallet.

I was to become a Master Shaman myself, versed in the Taqui lore of wine and tested over and over again by my mentor, Don Jon. But it was a difficult journey, one where I was forced to drop my foolish notions of reality, like wine blogs matter, and see the wine world in the way of the Taqui. So much of the wisdom of Don Jon has been lost. So often I was in an altered state of consciousness, an alternate universe, which was a lot like French Laundry only the service wasn't as good, though it was equally hard to get a reservation, and never on a Saturday, unless you're blowing a sommelier, even for a Taqui, who'd been raised on a reservation. My notes from those sessions are indecipherable, like an Alice Feiring blog post. But I did manage to record some thoughts from Don Jon about the Road to Wine Enlightenment. It all begins when you accept that everything you've read and heard about wine is a reality that does not exist. Especially in the Wall Street Journal.

"The first thing you have to accept is that all paths lead to the same place. Nowhere. All wine knowledge is passed along to you in order to get you Nowhere fast. And then it is your path to continue to spread that knowledge so that others can get Nowhere. This is the point of all great wine books, and the point of all wine classes and wine blogs, to lead you by the hand, one incorrect thought at a time, to your final destination in wine knowledge. Nowhere. It is only once you have reached Nowhere that wine enlightenment will be yours. For wine is everywhere and yet Nowhere, like the Jonas Brothers, those douchebags."

"Every opinion, everything anyone tells you about wine, even a Shaman, is subjective. Except your own opinions, which are always objective. The Wine Warrior does not suffer disagreement from others. That is not the path to Wine Enlightenment. The Wine Warrior has one foot in the world of fools and sommeliers, though they are equivalent, and one foot in the alternate world which is true Wine Enlightenment. He is the bridge to Enlightenment, though many are more like dark chocolate tunnels. The Wine Warrior has seen Nowhere, and it is being a Las Vegas sommelier. The Wine Warrior states his opinions about wine, about winemaking, about the culture of wine, and he is always correct. Others do not matter, they are but pustules on a Taqui butt, irritating and full of pus. This is the Road to Wine Enlightenment, the denial of others thoughts and opinions. Your opinions are sacred, your credentials impeccable, those who disagree are hopelessly lost in a reality they cannot see is mistaken and their comments should be ignored. This is the Taqui way. You are an M.S., others are simply stupid. And stop Bogarting the peyote."

"All wine is natural wine. Unless it is Meritage; then it's decidedly perverted. The Wine Warrior does not fall for the notion of natural wine, a notion promoted by women who want their wines untouched but their makeup and hair dye tested on the Lepus tribe. Wine is for man and should be controlled by man. Man is wiser than yeast, though he doesn't smell as good after a long hot day eating. The Road to Wine Enlightenment does not go through the land of Wine Superstition. These are beliefs meant for knaves and boneheads who believe Nature is always best. I ask you, if Nature were always best would we need personal vibrators? The belief that you can tell a natural wine from another wine is simple hubris, foolish self-deceit, a kind of willing idiocy. Natural wines do not have a different 'energy,' a higher quality, more 'complexity,' this is ancient human self-loathing in a New Age package. The Wine Warriors, the Enlightened Ones, do not believe this for a minute. Great wines are like great men, they are a product of thought and work, not left to grow by their own whims. Natural wines are not better than other wines, they just come with more solemn and holier-than-thou baggage. The Road to Wine Enlightenment does not have a natural wine offramp. Hey, was that you? Sheesh, get some Beano."

There is more, so much more, on the Road to Wine Enlightenment, the Road to Nowhere. Perhaps the Master Shaman will return...


winebookgirl said...

Nice to have a laugh first thing in the morning.
I was starting to worry.

Charlie Olken said...

Thanks for reminding me to stay away from Poway--although it would be nice to see Jerry Mead again. I'll wait, thanks.

Samantha Dugan said...

Truly enlightening.
Very deep.
Funny as hell.

Junkie, I am a true HoseMaster junkie...I am in freaking Florida and I still need to check in for my morning giggles. Kisses from the Keys!!

Ron Washam said...

I guess I have to wax didactic and cliche about corks, 100 point scales and the power of wine blogs to generate any comments. Or insult Feiring, Yarrow and other assorted titans of wine knowledge.

My Gorgeous Junkie,

Nah, not that funny. I'm wearing on people. Which is how I like it.

Ah, kisses from the Keys! I keep my keys in my front pocket nestled against my, well, you know.

I adore you!

Samantha Dugan said...

No it's funny Love but it does not leave much room for comments, well aside from your favorites "Great post Ron" and "You're a funny guy". Hell I had to fall back on the junkie thing, now that was weak.

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I suspect if I had just written 1000 words on the bogus cult of "natural wines" I'd have had a lot of comments. But using a bad parody of Carlos Castaneda, the bogus shaman of the 80's, to talk about wine seemed more fun to me. Those who are determined to kindly comment on my tiresome crap find a way. The rest do what humans have always done--don't stare, honey, the poor man's just crazy.

winebookgirl said...

A two sentence comment was the best I could do this week.

John Cesano said...


I don't think you wrote a bad parody of Carlos Castaneda, I think it is great.

One of my college English classes 30 years ago was on the collected works of Carlos, so it was great to find your send up.

Thanks for doing what you do.


Ron Washam, HMW said...


It just seemed to me that the whole natural wine movement is full of the same fraudulent mysticism as Carlos Castaneda. But I couldn't stomach actually reading Castaneda again so I just mocked his Yaqui shaman's borrowed, often plagiarized, mysticism.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Dave said...

We were supposed to read it? I just put it in a blender with some buttons, seemed to work just fine, now where are we again?


Dave's Not Here