Thursday, June 19, 2014

To Be or Not to Be

I’ve been struggling lately with whether I want to continue writing HoseMaster of Wine™. First of all, let me just say that this is not a plea to those of you who care to flatter me to chime in and tell me how brilliant I am, and how the wine world needs me. I’m not particularly good at accepting flattery. I do much better with vitriol. Rather, this is simply a peek behind my peculiar curtain, about how weary I am of this self-imposed gig, and also how I fear I’d miss it if I do quit. Those of you uninterested in this kind of navel-gazing, leave now. I’m sure there’s something really stupid to read over at PUNCH, the online drinks magazine for the dumbstruck.

I started writing HoseMaster to see how it would feel to write regularly again. I stumbled onto wine blogs, gazed upon their splendid mediocrity, and decided to jump in. So many wine blogs proclaim that wine is too pretentious a business, all the while adding layers to that pretentiousness with their own brand of solipsistic babbling. And in the seven years I’ve been at this, nothing has changed. Worst of all, HoseMaster hasn’t changed much either. Reading the “popular” wine blogs regularly is like eating the same damned food for lunch every single day. It’s depressing that you never get sick of it.

There are a lot of different motivations for writing a wine blog. For many, it has been a way into the business. The most successful of those bloggers have learned that self-promotion, social media skills, parroting disingenuous marketing stories, passing off Wikipedia entries as personal knowledge, and relentless buttkissing are a quicker way up the ladder than actual wine experience. These are the wine bloggers the trade adores. They are overwhelmed with wine samples and offers of free junkets. They’re the equivalent of the “reporters” for “Entertainment Tonight,” who pose as insiders, but really simply spew the copy handed them by actors’ press agents. It’s twaddle, it’s far more harmful than good for the wine business, but that’s what the Internet does best—give you the opportunity to lie about who you really are.

Then there are those wine bloggers who turn a one-sentence thought into an eight hundred word essay with a misleading blurb as a title. Most of these folks think of themselves as “journalists.” Because, hey, this is a journal, right? They climb the blog rankings with a talent for writing headlines, and nothing else. You click on the link because of the headline, you read the piece, and you think, “Fuck, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve read all day.” For them, you’re a stat, an endlessly stupid moth self-destructively flitting around their headline flame. Their contribution to the wine conversation is, “Me, Me, Me.” Though they think they’re really smart, and feel their contribution is, “Meme, Meme, Meme.”

There are aggregate blogs, the cheesy, overrated wine clubs of the genre. Why, every day our panel of experts sends you the finest dozen posts available at club prices! You’re free to cancel at any time, we’re just happy you’ve fallen for it for as long as you have! There are the sad little wine blogs started by people who just want to tell you about really good wines they’ve tasted. Oh, I know I’m not a wine expert, but I know what I like! And I think this has value. They’re like Poodle puppies leaving little puddles for you all over the house. Hard to hate them, but you wish they’d grow up.

All of them make me want to quit.

I’ve not been a popular guy with a lot of folks in the wine business. That doesn’t bother me in the least. I don’t see myself as a truth-teller, some kind of superhero dedicated to cleaning up all the hypocrisy and dishonesty I see. I write comedy. Where I succeed or fail is if I make you laugh—that’s my only criterion. I rarely choose my targets, my targets almost always choose themselves. The wine world is no different than the real world. It’s filled with buffoons, cowards, pretenders, blowhards, pinheads, idiots, stuffed shirts, sycophants, and assholes. I don’t use those words when I speak of them individually. I use satire, mockery, jokes, parody and ribaldry to make my points. I don’t have an agenda, except laughter. I’ve clearly screwed that up today.

I feel like I’ve run my course on HoseMaster of Wine™. I’m not out of ideas, far from it. But I may be out of motivation. Many days I fantasize about how nice it would be to never look at a wine blog again. Hell, I often fantasize about how nice it would be to never look at the Internet again. There’s a kind of peace in the very thought. No more wine blogs would be like moving to the country and discovering just how annoying and stressful all that fucking traffic noise was where you used to live—you were able to tune it out to a degree, but now that it’s gone you see how much it detracted from your life. I think about that. Which seems to imply that I’m ready to move away from the virtual world, all that incessant and meaningless noise, gain some peace and quiet.

I love wine, and I love the wine business. It’s why I write about them both. Out of love, not disdain. But maybe my passion for wine is better served in the privacy of my own thoughts. There’s nothing new to say about wine that hasn't been said more eloquently many times before. Wine outclasses us, and our feeble imaginations and vocabularies. I've tried to bring an interesting voice to the discussion, but it feels like that voice has worn thin. At least it feels that way to me. Oh, I’m still angry. I’m still angry about how we humans manage to trivialize, ruin and degrade just about everything precious in the world, wine being just one example. I’m angry that I’m a part of that myself. But comedy is about anger, its Creator is anger, it needs anger. But it can be tiring to channel all of that anger twice a week. I’m tired.

This isn’t a farewell piece. Or it might be. I don’t know. I’m wrestling with why I do this in the first place, and for what. For those of you who come here for the laughs and are still reading, my heartfelt apology. Every now and then I feel the need to be self-indulgent. From a career standpoint, wine has been my life. For too much of the past three years, HoseMaster has been my life. There’s the rub.


Unknown said...

While I hope you don't stop, I hope you do what's best for you. Twice a week is a lot of creative pressure. Maybe writing less often lets you express that humor and creativity and anger but diminishes the urgency.

Thanks for making me look up solipsistic.

Steve Pinzon

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
There's little more I can say here that you and I haven't talked about privately for quite some time now. I'm here, well I've always been here, but I'm here now just to stand in your corner and rub your slugging shoulders a little. Because I know the man behind The HoseMaster I know how much what you do here takes it out of you, how much energy and thought goes into the glorious posts you share with us...because I love you, I know why you do it, and that in of itself makes me love and appreciate you and what you do even more. You have been a rare gift, to me of course, but to so many others and this often-too-over-stuffed business we're in, there are very few ways we can repay you other than to keep showing up, and thank you. So My Sweet Ron, thank you from the very bottom of my Lighter-Because-Of-You heart. It is a profound pleasure to read you, to laugh because of you and this was a wonderfully honest piece of you and sharing that is just one more gift. I love you.
Just that....

Charlie Olken said...

What Sam said.

And having lived through a couple of episodes of no HMW, I can honestly say that I, you, Sam, your friends and even those who hate you are better off when you write because it pleases you.

So, do what is right. HMW is only right when you are. I am going to take a couple of weeks off now and then later. That always works for me. You need to do what you need to do.

And, I need to stop offering cheap advice which is not worth more than you are paying for it.

Don Clemens said...

Ron: I hope you resolve your issues. I came to your blog about a year ago, and it has provided me with so much in the way of (cringing) laughter that I can't look at other wine writers with the same eyes that I once did. You have pointed out the nakedness of so many self-appointed emperors that I need to start a spreadsheet to remember them. Do what is right for you - but you have made me a big fan of your particularly wicked insights and slicing humor.
Best wishes,
Don Clemens

The Sommeliere said...

Ron dearest, maybe a little vacay from writing will re-start your engine.

Not that I am one to diagnose, but you may sound like you are burned out.

Of course, I (and your adoring, worshipping at your feet minions) hope you do not stop writing. But do what you must and above all enjoy what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

"No man but a blockhead would write, except for money." --Samuel Johnson

Jim Caudill said...

I'm with Steve, I'm going to spend the rest of the day trying to find a way to use solipsistic in a tasting note and who else but you could cause me to do that?

Les Edgerton said...

Ron, sometimes there are things going on behind the scene that we aren't aware of. Let me inform you of one. I'm a writer and was turned onto your wonderful blog a few months ago and have, in turn, alerted many others about how funny it was. Recently, I was a presenter at a major writer's conference and while there had occasion to talk to several influential literary agents, suggesting that there was, imo, a book possibility with it. They agreed, and I've since talked to several other agents and they're looking at it also. I don't know if you've been contacted by any of them yet, but I'm fairly confident that you will in the near future. And, on a selfish level, I hope you don't "retire" as you're truly one of the best things on the Intergnat... Best to you, whatever you choose.

Blue skies,
Les Edgerton

Unknown said...

I second the comments above Ron.. take a break, cut back etc.. but don't hang er up.. too much fun still to be had.. reading your back catalogue seems you struggle with this one once or twice a year.. consult the last tour, no this really is, until the next boatload of money for the next one, by Cher, Kiss, the Eagles etc.. ha ha ha.. while there's no money, thought you'd still be on a pink cloud after two Poodle nominations.. sorry, bad example.. hahaha!

James Biddle said...

Food products have some form of drop-dead, sell-by, eat-by etc., etc. dates. As someone who has dealt with organizations for 40+ years, I've advocated (unsuccessfully) that all human endeavors should have a self-destruct date: i.e., XYZ Blog implodes on 1/1/2015. One cannot go beyond that date; to continue, one needs to start all over and recreate it. "Successful" ventures create pressures rarely imagined by their creators; such pressures shouldn't sap the creative juices of the creator. That said, "take care of yourself" is my only suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Ron; speaking selfishly, I'd hate to see you stop---at my age, there aren't too many things that make me laugh out loud anymore, but i frequently do when reading your posts (indeed, when my assistant hears me laughing in my office she shouts out 'are you reading that hosemaster thing again?'). But of course, don't continue this for us, only continue if its good for you...I thought that's why you did it in the first place, sort of 'mental masturbation'. But if even that is giving you performance anxiety, take a break....but do send missives once in a while, and if not you, maybe your friend Lo Hai Qu can keep it going

renzo said...

Hey Ron, screw you! We don't need your stinkin' sarcastic witticisms. Your bilious ranting leaves a sour taste in our wine-holes.

Please reference the fail above if you need inspiration for continuance. And why the need you fulfill is priceless (to say nothing of unremunerated!). Nobody can do it like you do it. Maybe no one is foolish enough either. So I can empathize with your dilemma.

James Biddle makes a good point about expiration dates and reinvention. If you abstain from the ranting and comedy on the internet will it stay bottled up? I imagine you'll find a release. But we'll suffer a loss. No small thing in my estimation. Good luck.

Marcia Macomber said...

What everyone else said above...

For heaven's sake: Take a break! Consider it your Summer Hiatus! As everyone else stated, if your motivation is falling off a cliff, then be sure to tie on that bungee cord and enjoy the ride down on a vacay! Decompress. And feel no obligation to show up every Monday and Thursday. Do what excites you first and foremost. We'll be here if/when you want to hit the keyboard again.

I've long thought there's more than enough material here for a wonderful book too. If that's something that motivates, pursue. If not, have something with an umbrella in it while you enjoy the nice weather mulling over your solipsistic sensibilities.

BobFoster said...

What ever you decide, I will still love you. Pls remember the first weekend in March 2015.

Skyscraper said...

Don't quit, Ron. We need you. Take a break and don't feel like you have to post so often that it becomes a grind.

John Dabney said...

You want to quit now just two days after I sign up? There's an injustice there! Keep going so I can enjoy at least for a while.

Joelle said...

If you hear the words don't quit one more time, you'll probably be forced to trivialise and perhaps even to degrade them, but please reconsider.... or take a break. Your voice is a much needed breath of Riesling like incisiveness in the ridiculous crowded room of self appointed emperors. I love your line about being angry because of the way that humans trivialise and degrade... as usual, you are right on form and right on the nail.

david said...

Stones hurled at others made up my
fortress, a last defense alas
now in ruins
All the world's a screen and all
the men and women cleverly
contrived projections

Daniel said...

I'll be the selfish one to tell you that you are not allowed to stop writing! You might need some time off, but you'll eventually explode if you don't get all of that stuff out of your head once in a while. Even if you randomly and only occasionally post, it gives us a nice break from the pomposity that infects this business.

The problem is that you are so very good at writing, and skewering everyone with equal satiric joy. It's hard to do. Everyone thinks they are funny, everyone thinks they can write. Neither is true.
Remember, half the people in this business are below average!

Selling wine and writing are really just about telling stories, and thankfully we never run out of stories to tell. Take your time, drink some wine, and try to think fondly of us out here in the universe.

I say spend your summer with cases of rosado/rose and enjoy the silence!


Ron Washam, HMW said...

As I wrote in my piece, I am not begging for adulation. But thank you to those who took the time to comment. I don't have a lot more to say on the subject, but I'll respond to the general tone and themes of the comments.

As to taking a break, well, I doubt seriously I would return from a break. I have in the past, but that was then. I've written twice a week for almost 30 months, nearly 400 pieces, almost 37 jokes--just thinking about starting up again would end quickly with a "No Fucking Way." The main reason I'm agonizing over the decision this time is that I'm pretty certain that would be it. And I'm not sure I want that. Yet.

As for money, well, I don't give a crap about money. I've written jokes and satire since I was eleven years old, self-published in junior high school on a mimeograph machine (my mother was a teacher and would run them off at her high school), wrote eight hours a day, five days a week, for five years as a freelance and professional comedy writer (a tiny bit of that stuff I was paid for), and have written for fun and my own enjoyment forever. Sure, getting paid is better, but I don't think about that. I love the creative part, and I love having created the HoseMaster (and crazy Lo Hai Qu--it's her I'd miss), and it's nice to have the Intergnats to send it out there to all the mysterious folks who read and never, ever let me know they read. I do lots of things for money. I write because I love to write.

I'm burned out with the shithole that is the wine blog world. Not burned out of jokes, not burned out of ideas, not burned out at all. Yes, I could ignore that world to a degree, but, even being the recluse I am, the rest of the world lumps me in with that world, bombards me with that world, begs me to write about that world, so it's hard to ignore. And, well, I'm tired of it. So the Poodles win.

As for the anonymous and puerile quote about casting stones, that's what satire is. Dimwits call it snarky or juvenile or mean-spirited, which is like calling Barolo "red wine." No shit, genius. But it's where you hurl your stones and who you hurl them at, and it's about having the stones to not do it behind the cowardly cloak of anonymity, the sort of courage sorely lacking on the Intergnats. I've tried to have the courage of my satiric convictions, and not pull punches because the softheaded imbeciles say, "You shouldn't say mean things..."

I wrote this piece about three weeks ago. It was written, I think it's clear, out of enormous frustration. How that plays out, even I don't know. I'm wearing my loved ones out talking about it (Samantha will vouch for that, as will my gorgeous wife). My life has gotten a lot busier the past few months, and finding the time to write is also difficult. But I can find the time. I just don't know if I want to find the time.

Oh, you'll still have Blinky and Alderpated, those fine writers and thinkers. There will still be Pallet Press, and PUNCH, and Grape Collective to make you miss actual journalism and great writing. It will be OK if I retire. And if I don't, well, you'll all just give me shit about this entire episode. I'd expect no less.

Bob Henry said...


Think of your gig like the original and successor versions of the "Tonight" show

I'm not old enough to know if Steve Allen ever had substitute hosts. Likewise Jack Paar.

But Johnny Carson did. (And Carson cut down the length of his show from 90 minutes to 60 minutes during his 30 year run.)

So write less frequently.

And invite some guest pundits to sub in while you indulge in a little "R & R."

You love wine and the wine country?

So -- when you're not fulfilling commitments at Rodney Strong Vineyards tasting room, grab your wife, grab the duffle bag, grab the car keys and hit the road . . . like Jack Kerouac and John Steinberg and Charles Kuralt.

Just don’t make this a modern-day “Odyssey” journey.

Or descend into madness going upriver to find your “Colonel Kurtz.”

And in expecting your triumphant return, in the immortal words of Tom Bodett: “We'll leave the light on for you.”

~~ Bob

david said...

That wasnt a quote but part of a poem i wrote. I dont think anger is bad if it helps in an endeavor. But for a brilliant mind to assume that its tired of the endeavor might be short sighted. Maybe it is the anger that has become dystonic. That a lessening of anger would result in a lower quality of writing or less funniness is an idea that i dont totally agree with. Perhaps it might take someone of great writing talent to other places, perhaps even greater heights.

david said...


I want to send you the poem but dont want it to be on the internet.

Unknown said...

If you leave the blogosphere, I will miss this little piece of the Interwebz. For a newbie wine blogger like myself you have helped me understand that it's best not to take it all so seriously because it's way more fun to drink and be merry!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Guest bloggers? Really? Like who?

Carson, in the original incarnation, was actually an hour and 45 minutes long! Imagine that five nights a week. Paar didn't have guest hosts, and neither did Steve Allen.

Writing less often, as others suggest, is, for me, silly. I need to be up at the plate four times a game, not a guy coming off the bench to pinch hit every once in a while. Hard to keep a comedic edge if you only do it once in a while. It's not like commenting.

If I misinterpreted your poem, and you took offense, my apologies. As for anger, anger is the fuel for comedy. Some days you need a lot of fuel, some days only a bit, but you certainly need it almost always. Is it a hindrance? Sure. It's a heavy backpack, but I can't hire a Sherpa to carry it for me. It's mine, and to reach any height, I have to carry it.

Unknown said...

To be or not to be, that is the question.

It must be exhausting to churn these things out twice a week, for no pay, year-round. I understand your frustration.

But honestly, you should keep writing this thing so I can submit wines to you one day. I've still got a lot of growing to do as a winemaker, but when I'm ready to submit wines to the world of writers, there is nobody I would rather submit wines to.

Bob Henry said...


Guest bloggers don't have to be stand-up comedians.

They can write in a more whimsical or ironic tone.

Is there no modern day James Thurber, Roald Dahl, Vincent Price, Burgess Meredith, Victor Buono, Tom Lehrer, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert et. al. whose persona and/or writing style you admire sufficiently to extend an invitation?

We’re talking about composing about 8 paragraphs –- a short “op-ed” page length essay -- not a book chapter.

C’mon man, think harder!

~~ Bob

Samantha Dugan said...

Dude...Bob, you cannot be the king of copy and paste and aggregation and tell Ron to "Think harder". You have a suggestion? Any one person you think could pull off a guest spot here at The HoseMaster of Wine? I've been reading and...erm, typing in this wine blog world for over 7 years too and I gotta tell you, there is only one, This One and we have been lucky to have him all this time. Sure, if John Stewart's team of writers were willing to write a guest stint, for the same price Ron does, then yes, that would work but outside of that unicorn of a moment?! C'mon man.

nickh said...

These kind of writing gigs can be hard, one becomes aware that one is repeating oneself even if the reader doesn't. And so it becomes hard to muster the energy to go back in again week on week. The other problem for you is that you only have a few targets and you've pretty much shot them all to pieces now but they show no signs of giving up. Which must be depressing.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about having to delete the Unknown post - couldn't get my name at the top. Damn internet.

I haven't been a common tater but have been a reader of - no, make that laugher at - your material.

I hope you do what you need to do for your own sanity. Nothing more important than that. If you go, I'll miss you.

Quizicat said...

You mean you're doing this for free? May the Flying Spaghetti Monster touch you with his noodly appendage.

Joe Roberts said...

I'm taking a different approach here. In calling bullsh!t on this post and on all of the comments above. Seriously, this quit/don't quit thing is older than Gerald Asher's smoking jacket. The bottom line is that while you've got an audience, since this is a hobby for you it could be argued that you don't owe them anything. If you need to go, just go, do what's best for you. Personally, knowing you as I do, I don't see you staying away for long, you love this stuff too much. I could go on, I haven't even touched on the fact that complaining about having to look at wine blogs is like complaining about having to taste boring wines to find the interesting ones... But let's stop here and just say that the way to make this fun again is to stop worrying about it existentially.

Unknown said...

Ron, I love you so
I want you to know
That I'm goin' to miss your blog
The minute you walk out that door

So please don't go, don't go
Don't go away
Please don't go, don't go
I begging you to stay

If you leave, at least in my lifetime
I've had one dream come true
I was blessed to be blogged
By someone as wonderful as you

So please don't go, don't go
Don't go away
Please don't go, don't go
I'm begging you to stay

Hey, hey, hey, I need your blog
I'm down on my knees
Beggin' please, please, please
Don't go, don't you hear me, Ron
Don't leave us now, oh, no, no, no, no
Please don't go, I want you to know
That I, I, I, love you so

Don't leave us, Ron
Please don't go

Yours sincerely
Tim Wildman

Brad Johns said...

I'm a recent addition to your loyal band of followers and am disappointed that your considering retiring. It seems I'm always the guy that shows up as the party is almost over. I can certainly understand the pressure and frustration associated with dealing with the blogosphere. Thank you for your efforts, and best of luck in whatever you decide to do.

Rico said...

"Fuck that's the stupidest thing I've ever read", now pull your big girl panties and pour yourself a glass of fine wine.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron in "Big girl panties"?! My first thought is, "Get out of my dresser!" and the second, "Um, could I get a picture of that?"....

Anonymous said...

My own solipsism is that only the beautiful slut Lo Hai Qu and I exist, so I'll just continue to read her insightful and intuitive posts. Down with the king, may the queen live forever!

Bob Henry said...


No one expected a guest host to "replicate" Johnny Carson when they subbed in.

Same applies to subbing for Ron.

Not my call to suggest candidates.

Only Ron knows who he respects and admires.

Those folks, in turn, might be wine enthusiasts who have reciprocal feelings.

And would be delighted to step up to the plate as a pinch hitter (using Ron's metaphor).

But it all starts with making "the ask."

So Ron, put some feelers out . . .

~~ Bob

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Common Taters,
In hindsight, I probably should have kept my personal struggles with continuing HoseMaster private. No one really likes to read this solipsistic shit. The response has been overwhelming in a small way, and I am genuinely moved by the many kind emails I've received in my personal email, as well as all the remarks here. I wasn't searching for a solution, or suggestions on how to conduct the blog, but thank you, each of you, for even giving the tiniest poop.

I am in San Francisco judging at a wine competition, and the support I've gotten here has been very heartening. The wine business is filled with people who understand my anger, my comedy, and who encourage me to keep going after those targets who, as Nick Harman points out, are always with us. Their persistent presence doesn't frustrate me, Nick, it makes me laugh. I feel very lucky to be part of this extraordinary and privileged business.

1WineDoody has the right idea. For a change. I think he had one once before, but it must have been when he first started. I am almost tempted to delete this piece and just vanish, a la Ambrose Bierce. It is a horribly self-indulgent post, but, hell, it's my blog and you get what you pay for.

I don't care about wine blogs. They're a time suck. In the history of mankind, has there ever been a bigger, more wasteful, time suck than the Internet? OK, maybe high school, but other than that? I sometimes wish I could retrieve the time I've spent working on HMW and use it for something worthwhile, like spending time with my gorgeous wife, or counting my endless blessings. But that ship has sailed, and I'm hanging from the yardarm. The question I face is, do I want to continue sacrificing that more and more precious time at the altar of throwing shit at the bozos of the wine biz? I don't know.

Would you?

Charlie Olken said...

Would I? Of course. I like nothing more than skewering the false prophets, the bullshit artists, the self-serving backslappers, the plagiarists who rarely have a thought to call their own.

And if I could do it with satire, so much the better. That is how we all feel or we would not be here.

But none of that is compelling if it is not fun for you. Sure, Joe Roberts was right, but screw him. Screw us all. You are entitled to use this space however you see fit--and we can stay or go as we see fit.

You cannot write for Sam or Anonymous 1 or Joe or anyone else.

If you leave, we will still manage to get breakfast every day despite missing our twice weekly fix of desparately needed and much appreciated humor in a business that too often has none.

david said...

I still think you are tiring of your own anger though it still feels good. And is very funny. Seems like i am the only poster who wants you to stop the vitriol but want to see what else you can produce. Maybe i am tired of my own anger and therefore want you to get rid of yours...there is no such thing as altruism

Bill Klapp said...

Hmmm....this looks to me like a case of the cramps. Whether writer's or menstrual, I cannot say for sure. I vote with the "do this when you feel like it" crowd. I think that Mike Steinberger has a blog with no new posts in YEARS now. Part of this is surely burn-out, but I submit that a lot of it is the world of wine and perhaps even wine itself. Rudy, Kapon, Koch, Greenberg, Parker and many, many more have fucked up the enjoyment of a beverage for a whole lot of people. Look at the wine boards as well...all of the smart, interesting people (like myself! :) ) have moved on, the activity level has slowed to a snail's pace and only saps without lives and newbies waste their time with them any more. The problem is a broader one, Ron. Too many people cannot just drink and enjoy wine. They must fetish it, score it, covet it and talk it to death in trite and useless fashion. It is for this reason that your services will always be required, whether you feel like providing them or not. Somebody gots to do the mouth-to-mouth on the wine corpse-to-be. Nobody better qualified than you, Ron!

Unknown said...


Graham said...

Hi Ron,

Never posted before. I run a wine shop in Ireland so I am uniquely poised to write about both your international influence and the craft that is our national pastime of getting pissed.

Two things. First, I read your blog while researching for the WSET diploma. They set us a research question on wine writing. Quoted you in the exam.

Which leads to the obvious Second point. Satire isn't solipsistic. It might feel that way when you write it. Put simply, you can't make your brilliant, incisive jokes without an inherent awareness of the wine world. The Commander of Wine thing made me laugh so hard I nearly spilled my Guinness on the Catholic Nun blessing my eleven children.

I can't tell you to continue but the internet means you are not pitching to a limited audience. You know about the wine world so you can write about it. We know to so we laugh about it. You might not hear people laughing in Ireland or Iceland or India but we are here. Keep informing us and making us laugh if you like. Just realize satire does both.

And is more fun.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Much of this is burnout. While it may take someone five minutes to read a post, most with their lips moving, it takes me several hours to write one. There is certainly joy in that for me, and I'm grateful for all that HoseMaster has done for me, but, yeah, more than anything, and more than usual, I'm weary.

I'm seriously mortified by this piece. Crap, if some other blogger had posted its like, I'd have made it a point to lambaste him. Funny how the kind words have only appeared from all these different quarters when I threaten to quit. But no matter, it's been fulfilling to feel some appreciation. I'd be lying if I said it didn't matter.

Ah, yes, my international influence! We can all thank Tim Atkin MW for that. I'm more than happy to be internationally reviled.

I think wine writing is at its nadir. And I'm happy to have contributed to that. There's so little that is insightful. Most is puffery and pretense, an exercise in Roget, while the rest seems to have an expiration date of tomorrow. I don't think it was like that when I began in wine. Where once there was Hugh Johnson, now there is James Laube, who makes a tractor seem interesting. I don't think I'm being nostalgic for a bygone era, though perhaps that's the case, I simply think the quality of the writing, and the quality of the thought, have precipitously declined. I can't read an article these days without cringing at the syntax and the grammar. Or when those aren't a problem, it seems there's so little beyond that. Hey, the guy can punctuate, it's cogitate he stinks at. (See, there's poor grammar right there.) I wish the wine blog world would produce someone brilliant, a new voice for wine. It may yet. I want to think wine writing has hit bottom and can only rise. So far, not much evidence of that.

Thanks, Graham, for the kind words and encouragement. But it's mostly the paranoid who believe people are out there when there's no actual evidence of them. Well, the paranoid and the Poodles.

Unknown said...

You make me laugh! You'll have to decide whether that helps with the motivation. I can understand that the spontaneity is difficult with the pressures of regular deadlines, even if they are self-imposed. I've been there.

I only hope that you'll find some solution that doesn't drive you away from your blog altogether, like a less frequent posting for those occasions when you're moved to share your humor or driven to poke a big hole in some pontifications.

If not, I'll miss your postings. I often send your writings around to others -- especially to those who need (IMHO) some pinpricks in their pompous balloons!

jock said...


Need more vitriol?

You really, really suck.

Need more? Just let us know.

Mike Dunne said...

Whew! Took a break from blogs for a few days and look what I almost missed. Didn't pick up on the angst in San Francisco, but sensed by the comments of others that something was stirring in your future. Whatever it is, you have a rare talent - truly, as much as you hate to hear that - and if the HoseMaster takes a sabbatical, temporary or permanent, I suspect your satire and jokes will resurface somewhere sometime and again give us not only welcome laughs but keen insight.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I do enjoy making people laugh, but when you write humor, you don't hear the laughter, you only hear silence. That's why humorists, Trillin and Sedaris and Keillor, go on the road and read their work. For the rush of laughter.

Nonetheless, thank you, Lynn. I appreciate the kind words.

It's not so much angst as it is acid reflux.

I'm not sure my talent is rare, Mike, but, coming from you, that's a high compliment. Satire always dwells on the outskirts, and isn't often invited to the nicer parts of town. It's too unkempt and unpredictable, and it makes all the talentless people, who are legion in the wine blog world, nervous and defensive. I love the work, but I need some kind of break. Forever would be nice, but I'm still contemplating the HoseMaster's fate. I should probably kill the bastard.

Your support and friendship over the years has meant a great deal to me, Mike. Thank you.

Bill Klapp said...

Ron, "the nicer parts of town" are overrated. Parker is invited to watch Daniel Boulud steal tips from the help at close hand all the time, but still prefers mass quantities of the veal parm at Vito's Cafe in Cockeysville, MD. Lipstick on a pig and all that jazz!

W. Blake Gray said...

Like Spinal Tap, you fill a much needed void.

You can criticize other bloggers all you like, but most of us don't whine like this.

Bob Henry said...


Damn it man, don't hold back. Tell Ron what you REALLY think!

~~ Bob

From The Wall Street Journal “Op-Ed” Section
(April 21, 2006, Page A1f4):

“When Blogs Rule, We Will All Talk Like ----”


By Daniel Henninger
“Wonder Land” Columnist

Bob Henry said...

I've been "punked" by The Wall Street Journal on their URLs.

Try this:

kschlach said...

Please, pretty please, tell me that Jackson Family Wines offered you a fun title and a chance to blog for them...

Joe Roberts said...

"To be, or not to be... NOT to be!"

You're welcome.

Den Master said...

I have no advice, just gratitude.

Dean Tudor said...

I too do not know what to say..burn out is severe..I had it three times in my teaching career. The best thing I ever did was change teaching subjects after a sabbatical.

But then you are not looking for advice: just an audience to hear you.

Maybe you could reinvent yourself as Lo Hai Qu.

Whatever you do, Ron, stay in touch. For Chrissakes, you could even move to Canada. I'll nominate you as a permanent resident.