Monday, December 5, 2016

Ask Sid Heil, Your White Supremacist Sommelier!

As a young boy, Sid Heil decided he wanted to make wine his career. “My Dad taught me that white people had invented wine, and that it was an industry that was still about 99% white. But that was a long time ago, and things have changed. That might not be the case any longer. It’s probably only 97% white now. Bunch of Yao Ming types buying property, which nobody seems to care. None of those on my wine list.”

I have no idea what's wrong with me. This premise occurred to me over lunch with my beautiful wife, but I was very uncertain whether I could make it work. A few minutes later, the name "Sid Heil" jumped into my head, and I knew that the piece was demanding to be written. In a strange way, it's connected to my feelings about how sexist, even misogynist, the wine business is. If it can be misogynist, why not bigoted? And so it goes...

You'll have to jump over to Tim Atkin's award-winning site to finish reading the post. I wasn't sure Tim was going to accept the piece, truthfully, but he loved it. It says much about his character, and his four-year support of my HoseMaster nonsense. I hope I get to meet the man one day.

As ever, please feel free to leave your brilliant comments on Tim's site, or come back here and leave your remarks while disguised under a big tall, white hat.



Unknown said...

Amazing what some "bloggers" think is funny, or at best, satire. Even more disgusting is a "blogger" that re-post it on his/her own site.

Mark Rader said...

See, unlike Tom Truth, I use my real name. Great piece, Ron---even if I am the only person who thinks so. And you are spot-on right about your wife: she is beautiful.

I am headed back to Spain in late March, Anne is going with me. I'm busily selecting our restaurants, she is arranging visits to bodegas in Valencia and Andalusia.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Tom Truth,
I'm not sure what some "anonymous commenters" mean when they say it's disgusting to repost it. Let me explain how it works. I wrote the piece and sent it to Tim Atkin MW. He loved the piece and decided to post it on his site. He expects me to repost it here so that I drive traffic to his site. He pays me for my "at best, satire" because it generates those hits and because he likes my work. OK, so maybe you're right about disgusting.

Your use of quotation marks is funny, though, I'll give you that.

Oh, man, I want to go! How'd you talk her into that? Never mind, I know you, I know exactly how you talked her into that.

And, yup, my "wife" is beautiful.

Don Clemens said...

Funny how pain pills can take one out of a happy routine... I've been missing your posts lately, Ron. Glad to have re-emerged to catch this one. You haven't lost a step! And hopefully, when my knees are functioning again, I won't worry about losing any steps, either!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Don,
Sorry about your suffering, my friend. Thanks for the kind words. This was a strange, and a tricky, piece to write. But I always try to challenge myself to work the edges, go new places, stir the pot... I hope I did a bit of that here.

Get well soon!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
This is a ballsy and brilliant piece. Period.
I love you

Aaron said...

Ron, I love your satire, and you definitely are satirizing (and saying) a few things with a lot of your latest pieces. I know Trump et al. are so easy to make fun of or satirize, but isn't there any other ridiculous personalities available? I don't know, I've mostly stopped paying attention to the news for a while, so maybe there hasn't been.

Keep up the good work, all I'm saying is you're sounding more political (as in real politics, not wine politics) even this far after the election. If that's your goal, please keep doing it, I'm just pointing out the pattern if you didn't notice it on your own.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Ballsy I'd agree with. Brilliant? Well, not so much. However, I would never argue with you. I love you so.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I mentioned Trump in the very last section of the piece. I needed a closer. I went to the reliable one. Plus, in the context of the piece, it seemed right.

All satire is political. The same anger that has you avoiding the news is what fuels my comedy. Wine reflects society, Aaron, that's one of its most rewarding and interesting qualities. When I satirize any part of the wine business, it's also a tirade against the culture at large--the culture of materialism, or the culture of sexism, or the culture of self-centered consumerism. I also just try to write very stupid jokes.

Toning it down because it seems too political is death for satire. Of course, maybe I'm death for satire. But as for a goal, well, I don't really have one. I try to be honest and I try to be funny. I try to say things that others don't seem to have the courage to say about the wine business and all the pretentiousness and phoniness that is so much a part of it. I try to make people angry, and I try to make people cringe. Because it's so fucking hard to make them think.

I would have written this piece had Clinton won the election. It struck me as an interesting and dangerous premise, and I live to write those. Sid Heil is a man of the moment--a white sommelier who feels threatened because his importance in the world is fading, as much for being a male sommelier as for being white. And the demise of his kind can't come soon enough.

It was a hard piece to write. It comes close to some edges no one wants to fall off. To be truthful, I think I chickened out on what I really wanted to say. Or at least chickened out on how I said it. But I can live with that.

Anyhow, thanks Aaron for a thoughtful comment. I also strive to make each visit here surprising, and different from the previous post. That this visit is dark, and uncomfortable, and sick, well, that's just me.

Aaron said...

Oh, I certainly enjoyed reading it, and it was quite amusing. Just commenting that you seem to be going somewhat dark recently in the trope/meme that you use to write your wine commentary on top of.

I don't really mind it, generally, just don't know if you intentionally have been making your recent pieces in similar tone or it just so happens that they have. I actually feel that the wine part was very much secondary, and you were doing satire on current events/people/types instead. Which is good and necessary.

I think what I'm trying to say is I feel you're writing is getting a little distracted from writing what I feel was primarily satire on the wine industry. And that part is now more of a secondary to your satire on the rest of the world (well, US events). Not that we don't need it, just feels less wine specific these days.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


You may very well be right. I never give it a thought. It's fall, the days are getting short, the election is over, maybe darkness just feels right to me. This place is a hobby for me. I write what occurs to me to write, and without any agenda. I've written a lot lately about natural wines, and Wine Critics in Hell, and stupid nursery rhymes about wine, too. The Trump pieces began last January, when almost no one was parodying the guy. It was just a voice that was fun to write. And then it wasn't. Truth is, I'm just screwing around here.

I will say this, also, Aaron. In the years I've been writing this blog, I have been approached constantly by people who think I should be writing about whatever they feel needs to be written about. I'm glad that people like what I do, and that somehow I've engaged them, but it's odd to me when people express opinions about what I should be doing, or shouldn't be doing. And I get that endlessly. I'm interested in their opinions, and I occasionally solicit them, but I'm still amazed at how many people in the biz think I need guidance. I don't. Therapy, yes, guidance, no.

It's been a political year beyond anyone's wildest imagination. This, too, shall pass. And then everyone will go back to writing about wine and whatever the current topic is in their usual lifeless prose. I'm certain I'll follow suit.

Samantha Dugan said...

Awe, I was just going to give you a suggestion on what you should be doing......

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I just do whatever you tell me. You know that. But that's dangerous work.

I love you!

Unknown said...

I’m not an anonymous commenter. That is my name! Maybe I’m just not getting your Hollywood, artsy-fartsy, arTIST writer's type of blogging. I do see the point in getting traffic flowing to a site, and it seems there are followers of “that type” of blogging, or so-called satire. As a serious wine consumer and consultant, I overheard your site mentioned at a wine writer’s seminar some months ago, and looked it up. Then, and as I did recently, found it to be less about wine, but just a venue to post such commentary as that piece of literary gibberish. But, as they say, everybody has their own taste. Obviously, I’m not a fan of satire meant to “stir the pot” using disgusting racist slurs and stereotype references as the spatula.
Tom Robert Truth, CSW

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Oh Tom,
First of all, I didn't accuse you of being anonymous. But that's neither here nor there.

I'm thrilled to have been mentioned at a wine writers' conference. Goody. As for satire, Tom, it's actually meant to "stir the pot." You can look it up. As for disgusting racist slurs, they were used in the context of characters. Trump, for example, who is a disgusting racist. And a misognynist know-nothing. Or they were used in the context of Sid Heil, a fictional White Supremacist sommelier. If you were offended, Tom, that's the fucking point.

My blog is mostly about the wine business, and peripherally about wine. My thought behind this piece was that the business is still very much sexist, which is shamefully tolerated, why not tolerate racists, too? It's a satiric concept. Meant to be edgy, and meant to make folks like you angry. So, thank you.

I think it goes without saying that you are a serious wine consumer and consultant. You might try to take yourself less seriously, and wine less seriously. But "Hollywood, artsy fartsy?" I've been called a lot of things, but that just might be the stupidest. So, again, thank you.

You join a long list of people in the wine biz who hate what I do. Have fun with them. They're what make the business great! I'm content with the list of people who like and admire my literary gibberish. I'm not here to teach people about wine, Tom. I'm just a guy who spent a lifetime in the biz and thinks it needs a lot more criticism, and a lot fewer self-absorbed people with letters after their names.

Ronald Joseph Washam, HMW

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Be careful sweet man, those guys with vegetable soup behind their names know far more about our business than you and I. Let the "truth" rise.
I love you!