Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aaron Teare: Wal-Mart and Time Travel

The other evening, Natalie and I decided to embark upon a quest to retrieve groceries from our local Wal-Mart. Anyone who has ever been to a Wal-Mart, at any given time of day, for any given reason, knows that it ALWAYS ends up being a quest. Nothing easy ever comes from making the decision to enter a Wal-Mart. Whether you need to simply grab a frozen pizza and a $5 DVD or do a month's worth of grocery shopping, there is no such thing as “in-and-out” when it comes to Wal-Mart.
Actually, I take that back. Judging by the litters of children swarming around dozens of miscreants that tend to populate this place, there’s plenty of ‘in-and-out’ going on.
So after a good hour and a half of the seemingly futile attempt at mentally comparing prices and trying to eat healthy, we made our way towards the check-out counter with a cart full of canned goods, frozen meals and other such items that fit under the category of ‘unhealthy’. Screw it, we’re young. Might as well enjoy my metabolism while it still exists. With every steptoward the front of the store, my mind was racing, trying to think of anything I could possibly need so that I would not have to make another trip to this godforsaken place any time soon.

“Hey…”, I said, turning to Natalie, “lets go look at electronics before we leave.”

“Okie dokie”, she agreed.

We both knew we were not in the market for any new electronics. This was a feeble attempt at avoiding the check-out line. The single worst place in all of Wal-Mart.

After perusing the TVs, DVDs and other such technical gadgetry, we finally made out way to Lane 21. This brings me to another point; no matter what time of day nor what day of the week, does Wal-Mart ever have more than 10 lines open? EVER. But that’s a topic left up to an entirely different blog post.

So, here we are, 2+ hrs later and extremely exhausted from our quest to Wal-Mart. The groceries have been loaded into the trunk of the car and the shopping cart securely placed in the cart corral. As we are pulling out of the parking lot, a long row of various color and sized newspaper machines catch my eye and suddenly my brain is swarmed with a rapid fire series of progressively more absurd questions and scenarios, each one creating a new one in it’s place…

-  Would it be crazy if one day newspapers, and printed media in general really did fade out of existence, like the telegraph?
-  How would homeless people stay warm on chilly evenings?
-  What other type of throw away print is there that one would willing use to line the cage of their pets?
-  What would happen if I somehow traveled time and needed to immediately know what the date was?
-  Would people in the distant future understand the plot device in old films, of someone looking at a newspaper to figure out what the date was, to figure out what the date was?
-  Why the hell was Marty McFly wearing a goddamn life preserver!?

It was at the point of the last question that I burst into hysterical laughter, garnering some very odd looks from Natalie. The looks seemed to take on a confused/worried look as I explained to her what exactly I was laughing at. Though it quickly melted away and turned into a face that I can only describe as the look you give a retard who just told you he can count all the way to potato.

In closing, I would like to implore all of you to continue to purchase newspapers and willingly take the Keels and Wheels you see around town. This will keep the presses running, and in turn, will keep many people at work. Also, I plan to travel time into the future at some point in my life, and would like to know the date immediately upon arrival. Thanks in advance, or in the past.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Zack de la Rocha: Too Angry for Rage

I have come back around to listening to some of the music I had almost forgotten existed. I was heading out for a ride on my bike, so I grabbed my MP3 player and my headphones. I opened up the internet radio program on my phone and searched “Rage Against the Machine.” I was greeted with the angry music that I had grown to love years prior. As “Renegades of Funk” blared through my headphones at the requisite maximum volume, I remembered something I had heard someone say about the breakup of RATM years ago.

I can't even remember who it was that coined the phrase, but I do remember that it was quite poignant at the time, and remained true until RATM got back together to tour in 2007. You see, the disbanding of RATM in the year 2000 was as sudden as it was impactful for me. I was severely distraught when I learned that I would no longer hear the powerful lyrics of the militant poet, Zack de la Rocha, backed up by the creative guitar sounds of Tom Morello and his arsenal of different homemade distortion pedals. Yes, I would still get to hear Tom playing guitar for Audioslave and Zack would later show up as a soloist on a solo list and he would also ignite others' bomb tracks as as a featured guest. I knew then, and I know now, that it would not be the same. According to the aforementioned and now forgotten originator of the phrase, Zack had officially gotten “too angry for Rage.”

I took it as a funny twist of words at the time, and it helped put a tag line to my grief over the loss of a great band, but now it left me wondering what that actually meant. I remembered song titles like “Bullet in the Head”, “Killing in the Name of”, and “Calm Like a Bomb.” There were lines like “Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me” and “There's a right to obey, and there's a right to kill.” Those were some of the famous interludes to Zack's screams for “Freedom.” I wondered how anyone could get any angrier than that. What would Zack would turn into during his seven year stint as a rogue artist without RATM around him? Was he driving around the streets of Los Angeles in a perpetual status of “Hulking out?” Was his previous angry self only a fraction of what he would become later? Was that even possible?

I needed to know what became of Zack during those lost years away from the spotlight. Just like Jesus and Robert Downey Jr. before him, there was very little information to be found. So I did what I always do, I made it up in my head. Here is my version of a day in the life of Zack de la Rocha, in the years 2001-2006, a man that was labeled “too angry for Rage.” What started as a sketch in my notebook, eventually turned into this:

Zack would arise each morning at 9:30 am. His clock radio would erupt with the garbled voices of an NPR news anchor, and Zack would club the snooze bar with a forceful fist, and shout “Fuck you Steve Inskeep, turn that shit off!” He would repeat the same action until he was ready to angrily take on the day. He would curse at a bowl of Raisin Bran and announce his displeasure at the level of pulp in his orange juice (breakfast was the most infuriating meal of the day). He knew his limits, and would not drink coffee. He did not need caffeine, and did not want to mix coffee and bran that early in the morning. He wanted to go out and play, and forget about the movement. After he read the newspaper and expressed his displeasure for the headlines and the copy editor's “Marxist viewpoints”, he would head out into the world to spread his resentment to anyone he encountered.

He saw the kids on the playground and said to himself, “He had to start somewhere, he had to start somehow. What better place than here, what better time than now?” He would be berate the children for their innocence, and tell them the trampoline on which they played was the man's way of telling them to jump, and their laughter was them only answering with a question of “how high?” The children rallied around the sand box with their pockets full of shells, their tears of fear and raised eyebrows of confusion would only further exasperate Zack.

That exasperation would be unleashed on the mailman, who according to Zack was “spreading misinformation and capitalist propaganda.” The mailman did not know exactly what was in his satchel, but he was pretty sure it was mostly just coupons and pre-approved credit card applications. Either way, there was no need for such ire, but Zack believed otherwise. No longer could he vent his desperation through song. Now, he has to spread his messages of national and global change on a person-to-person basis. It was tiring, but he knew his anger was a gift, and went forth to testify.

Trips to the grocery store used to be an enjoyable experience. It was where his fans would tell them how much they loved his music. Now, he could be seen smashing vine-ripened tomatoes that were picked by “underpaid and over-worked migrants” or writing hateful messages on the labels of cereals that were “fortified with chemicals that destroyed our bodies from the inside out.” He would tirelessly stare at the different varieties of fruit salad available in the produce section. He would try to decide, and eventually narrow it down to two things, hold them up high and say, “All of this, or some tangerines? All of this, or some tangerines?” That would continue until he would be asked to leave.

Bank tellers would be forced to endure lengthy lectures on interest rates that “perpetuate the working class to indentured servitude while the top 1% of Americans saw their profits grow exponentially.” When they asked him if he wanted to make a withdrawal, he would reply curtly, “I'll withdraw nothing now, and I'll withdraw nothing later.” He would walk away smiling as if he said something deep, but the tellers would look on in disbelief.

The people who inhabited the laundromat where he cleaned his clothes were entertained by his haunting mumblings. Sometimes he would scream about the metaphorical spin cycles of “ethnic cleansing”, where the “white bubbles” would wash away the “filthy brown particles.” Other times he would ask the other patrons “Why is it a bad thing when a red sock fell in with a load of white laundry?” They all knew that a stack of pink blouses was a bad thing, but Zack begged to differ, and he did so with great fury and even greater volume.

A dinner at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet was how he really liked to cap off a day of “freedom fighting.” He would stalk the other customers as they wound their way through the buffet. Asking them if they could really appreciate the food they spooned onto their plates. He would ask them, “Do you know that the proprietors of this restaurant are not the smiling faces and bowing figures they seemed to be?” No, according to Zack, they were still “being held captive in the internment camps of the 1940's” but instead of metal fences and barbed wire, they were “enslaved by the white man's need for more Moo Goo Gai Pan.” Those who corrected him by stating that was the Japanese and not the Chinese, would immediately receive the label of “racist” or “xenophobe.” Zack was not very good at admitting he was wrong, and pointing out his inaccuracies would only provoke him further.

As he strolled down Rodeo with his belly full of rice and egg drop soup, he would make his way back toward his home. The people who worked in the retail stores and upscale clothing shops would be met by stiff middle fingers and long diatribes about sweat shops. Valets in front of swanky restaurants would endure comments relating their vocation of choice to the “house slave that thought they were part of the plantation owner's family, but were nothing more than a piece of property with a good meatloaf recipe.” If the store clerks explained how their clothes were hand stitched by well-paid seamstresses from Paris, he would spit on their mannequins. If the Valet's explained that they great health benefits and could personally vouch for the owner's strength of character, Zack would turn his back and mutter expletive riddled tirades about corporate brainwashing.

Eventually, Zack would make his way back to his house in Long Beach, and turn in for the night after writing down the petulant endeavors of his day in his journal. He would curse the US government, the Right Wing Conservatives, and all other “Capitalist Pigs” before he crawled into bed at night as a sort of self-described “Unholy Trinity.” He would need his rest, so he could wake up the next day, and do it all over again.

That is, until Tom Morello would come back into Zack's life in 2007. Putting an end to the cycle of psycho that Zack had created just six years earlier. It was an act of charity for the people of Los Angeles, and Tom should be commended for it. After Audioslave had run it's course and Tom had grown tired of the prima donna antics of Chris Cornell, he realized that Zack was the lesser of two evils. In the words of somebody who I can't remember, Zack had become “too angry for Rage.” In the words of Zack de la Rocha, “If ignorance is bliss, than wipe the smile off my face.” It may not have been ignorance or Tom Morello in the case of Zack, but I am sure his reported net worth of $50 million helped put that smile back on his face. Now Zack is once again like a warm bowl of anger pourage, just angry enough for Rage.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Metamucil's 11

It was 7:10 pm and the Bradenton Bearded Bike Brigade was waiting in front of our normal starting location, Ringling Bicycles. The commencement of the weekly twenty mile ride was being postponed because we were waiting on one last person to arrive. His name was Mike, and he was a founding member of the BBBB, so he was automatically awarded such a courtesy.

At 7:13, Mike pulled into the adjacent parking lot, where the anxious crowd of cyclists glared at him with icy stares. He hurried to retrieve his Cannondale R3000 road bike from the bed of his gray pickup truck. As he approached the group, he realized that we had been waiting for his arrival for some time. His confident response to the tension was, “Sorry I’m late, somebody tried to steal an old person today.”

Nobody asked any questions, and that perplexed me. That was, until Mike explained where he worked and what actually happened. Apparently, he worked at a retirement home, and this was more of a common occurrence than I initially realized. My hopes for a great story about a diabolical caper were quickly dashed. Rather than an elaborate series of hi-tech events leading to a heist of octogenarian proportions, I was told that the family just started moving their father out of the home without providing written notice thirty days in advance. That didn't stop my imagination from creating the caper that I originally desired.

My first thoughts were of Ocean's 11 (the remake, of course). Carl Reiner would obviously be the old man trapped in the evil Bellagio Retirement Home against his will. While his illegitimate son, George Clooney, would be the debonair leader of this rag tag group of criminals. The core group of Clooney's cohorts would be standing out front of the home in an assortment of nondescript costumes, so as to hide their true identities from Andy Garcia, the money grubbing owner of the home.

The men would complete their surveillance undetected. Clooney's decision to all dress as Ben Affleck allowed them to go completely unnoticed. Casey Affleck was the mastermind of that plan. He knew better than anyone that even the people who did recognize them as Ben, wouldn't really care to say anything to him, nor would they care to listen to anything he had to say. Matt Damon wholeheartedly agreed.

Brad Pitt would be the head of the secondary crew of overtly attractive, yet slightly scruffy criminals. He would lead with a suave sensibility, but with a demeanor of aloofness that only Mr. Pitt could provide.

The plan was simple, yet complex. Confusing, yet easy to understand. Delicious, yet full of vitamin C. They would distract the uninterested and lethargic staff of the Bellagio Home with an assortment of reenactments from a few of the famous actors' most brilliant scenes plucked directly their most popular movies without express written consent from movie studios who owned the rights. That was least of their devious deeds that evening (but could turn out to be the most costly).

On the front lawn by the oversized and obviously pretentious dancing water fountain was Matt Damon. He was reciting a scene from Good Will Hunting. The people watched in awe as he remembered every line that he wrote years prior. Throwing out his speech from the Harvard bar where he tore the pony-tailed Yuppie a new one by citing Marxian history, Gordon Wood's theories of pre-revolutionary utopia, Vickers' Work in Essex County and so on. The crowd would smile in enchantment, and their numbers would grow into scores of people before he concluded his soliloquy. He finished with the payoff lines comparing Harvard's tuition and the knowledge learned to what one could gain for only a “dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.” As he did so, the infiltration team had easily snuck past the home's security staff and was making their way to free Carl Reiner. Surprisingly, Ben Affleck was in the crowd, and asked what movie that was from. Apparently, he had forgotten the Oscar winning lines he claimed to have co-written.

In the front hallway of the home, they were eventually stopped by the receptionist. At that point, the next thespian would put her in a trance with yet another famous monologue. Don Cheadle fell into his character, Paul Rusesabagina, from the movie Hotel Rwanda. He spoke with great emotion about the plight of the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda, and uttered soft pleas for help or rescue. He called for intervention in his war-torn country, and shouted sweet words of wisdom pertaining to the genocide of his people. Don was struggling to choke back the tears he was producing without assistance from glycerin or a director's “motivation.” He finished strongly by saying, “But when you say goodbye, say it as if you are reaching through the phone and holding their hand. Let them know that if they let go of that hand, you will die. We must shame them into sending help.”

The receptionist wiped the ever growing flow of tears from her cheeks, and removed her glasses to clear the salt and fog. As she did so, the remaining members of the crew moved swiftly past her and into the elevator. They were almost there.

They reached the floor where Carl Reiner was being held captive against his will, and at the request of his family (C'mon Rob Reiner, would you have what he's having?). Carl was on the fourth floor of the pretentious retirement home, and they knew they had to hurry. Matt Damon is only interesting for so long, and Don Cheadle was about to go into a monologue from Hotel for Dogs (a contrasting movie, and a very different hotel).

They searched for the answer to life, the universe and everything. His name was Carl Reiner and they found him in room 42. If they were to escape they needed Brad Pitt to provide the necessary diversion. Carl Reiner, in his infinite wisdom, whispered to Brad to remove his shirt. Neither male nor female could resist the allure of Pitt-abs. He walked 37 paces in front of them, and once they approached the elevator, he veered off toward the cafeteria. He was not purposefully leading the ab-gazers astray, he just had a hankering for pudding, and he knew this was the place to get it.

George Clooney and Casey Affleck stayed behind to complete the final step of their plan. They couldn't just spring Carl from the home without anyone noticing he was gone. No , they had to leave a “ringer” in his place.

Without invitation, Julia Roberts had embarked on the journey with them that night. Through quick thinking and never-ending intuition, Clooney had devised the coup de gras. They bound the arms and legs of Julia Roberts, gagged and sedated her, then proceeded to removed her makeup. She was the perfectly hideous replica for Carl Reiner. They staff wouldn't be able to tell the difference unless they looked close enough to see her lack of an Adam's apple. By the time they did such a thorough examination, the crew would be halfway to Las Vegas or Boca Raton. A perfect plan indeed, carried out with perfection. The only hiccup in the design was that they accidentally left Ben Affleck waiting for them at the dummy rendezvous point. Then again, maybe that was their intent all along. Just an elaborate way to finally be rid of the talentless ham actor that has ridden the coattails of the famous for too long. Well played Matt Damon, well played.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Two Jews Walk into a Bar...

It was a night like many others where my destination included a few bars in which I would sample a flurry of alcoholic concoctions. However, tonight I was in the company of a couple of newer friends in a city where I have only been during the daytime. A visit to the art museum down the street would generally be followed by a short walk and a stop in one or maybe two bars as a cap to the trek northward. This time, I was there at night, on a bike, with the sole intention of visiting as many bars as possible in one evening. It was our two-wheeled version of a pub crawl (a pub-pedal, if you will). My friends, Jake and Mike, were from the recently formed Bradenton Bearded Bike Brigade. They are a couple of Jewish twenty-somethings that invited me to join them on their adventure. I was merely along for the ride, and it was indeed a ride to remember.

We rode through the streets past many drinking establishments to get a feel for the area before we settled on our first destination. Throughout the evening, we made numerous stops at a handful of bars. Some of which are not worth detailed descriptions. However, the terminus of our alcoholic expedition is what gave me the fodder I needed for another story. Me and the two self-proclaimed “chosen ones” I was flanked by that night had seen a place called “Fubar” on our initial ride through the streets of downtown St. Pete. We originally hadn't planned on going in there, but after a couple of other bars had requested a cover charge upon entry, we decided it didn't look so bad after all.

We walked into the bar that had a jumbo neon Pabst Blue Ribbon sign hung ominously in the front window. We expected the crowd, the ambiance and the beer selection inside to match the facade. We were wrong. The patrons came from all walks of life, and came in many different shapes and colors. Black men with stiff-billed baseball caps were seen sitting at high top tables with Hipster white kids dressed in khaki shorts and Oxford shirts. The music that blared through the sound system was equally as diverse. Wu Tang Clan was playing when we entered, and was immediately followed by the melodic metal sounds of DragonForce (a welcomed sound on both ends of the spectrum). As was our luck, the beer selection was as diverse as it was delicious. I selected an IPA, while Jake (aka Jew #1) went with a St. Bernardus (10.5% alcohol by volume), and Mike (aka Jew #2) was swayed by the neon sign and loudly a PBR.

I couldn't help but think about the age-old jokes as we entered the bar that night. I though to myself, “Two Jews walk into a bar....” I looked around at the other patrons and saw a series of other “... walks into a bar jokes” that could be made. I then wished for every character from all those jokes to be mingling amongst us in Fubar that night. I drifted into though as to what those conversations would entail.

I imagined a horse and a giraffe ponied up to the bar together (yes, I'm okay with the occasional pun). The horse would nay angrily, his long face smeared with a frown as he discussed Sex and the City with a his giraffe confidant. The giraffe would counter his hatred with his own disgust. Snorting woefully about all the “high ball” and “long neck” drink jokes he'd heard every time he talked to the snarky bartender. A pirate and cowboy talked loudly by the jukebox. The cowboy tried to explain in language the pirate could understand that he is more than just two six-shooters, a horse and a pair of chaps.

He would exclaim, “I am a complex individual with feelings and a sense of adventure.”

The pirate would retort by saying, “Yarr, all I ever hear is jokes about me having scurvy or wondering where me booty is. I is more than just a peg leg and a bottle of rum. I is a man with a lifetime of stories that nobody wants to hear me tell the tales.”

The Irishman and the Polak, at a table by themselves, would sit discussing xenophobia and the generalities that plague them in the United States. The Irishman swaying on his stool would explain that although he does occasionally go into a bar, it is not uncommon for him to leave the bar as well. No matter what the bartender might lead you to believe. The Polak would respond by saying he has never walked into a bar carrying feces just to show everyone what he almost stepped in. In fact, he had never knowingly carried feces, nor had he ever wanted to do so.

The priest and the nun would not step one foot in the bar that night, but rather they would stand outside watching these characters from afar. The priest would bless them as they went by and the nun would silently pray for their souls. They explained to one another that they would never do the things so many had attributed to their ilk, for they were a reverent people with not one ill-intentioned bone in their pious bodies.

Each generality would be met with a worthy counterpoint. Blacks, whites, Nazis, clowns, deaf, dumb and blind people all living together as one in a sort of Utopian bar experience. I laughed heartily to myself as I imagined them in one place drinking PBRs in harmonic bliss. That is, until I was snapped out of it by the realization that my two friends had left me there to pay the bill.

I tried not to make any generalizations about them, but I couldn't help myself. I didn't make them leave the bar without paying their tabs. I was in full daydream mode, but that was no excuse. I guess I got what I deserved for not paying attention. It was getting late, and I was their ride home. I walked up to the bar, gave the bartender my credit card to run the tab, begrudgingly paid a 20% gratuity, and met my two friends outside. They knew what they had done. I knew this because I was met outside by two smiling faces. Sheepishly smiling faces.

A grin replaced my frown as I thought to myself, “Two Jews walk out of a bar...”

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Skinny Atlas Shrugged

It was my first full vacation in quite some time, and it was a welcomed respite from the Florida heat. My wife and I flew north to Syracuse, NY to visit her family. Many leisurely activities were planned, and we really only had a few days in which to experience them all. However, the most enjoyable outing was our trip to the Finger Lakes Wine Trail.

There are eleven lakes in all that make up the “fingers” in this area. Prodding me to make more than one Inigo Montoya reference during our journey that afternoon. In only a few hours, we visited an acceptable amount of wineries along the trail. Five in total. Each wine we tasted seemed to be better than the last. We eventually realized that was no coincidence. It had less to do with the quality of the wine, and more to do with the ever loosening standards of our palettes. There was indeed an inverse relationship between the amount of wine we drank and our affinity to enjoy the next sample we were presented.

From the back seat of the Honda SUV, I perused the map of the trail. I read each lake name and was frequently corrected on the pronunciations. Keuka was pronounced Kay-oo-ka. Cayuga was Cay-oo-ga (you can understand my confusion). I correctly articulated Canandaigua as Cannon-day-gwa, and was given my due praise from the front seat (albeit in a somewhat patronizing tone). However, there was one pronunciation that completely escaped me at first, and has since entertained me for hours. The lake name was spelled S-K-A-N-E-A-T-E-L-E-S. I fumbled through each syllable hoping to get approval again from the front seat. “Scan-ee-tel-eez... uh... er... no... Scan-ay-tell-ez... or... um.. Scun-eet-uh-lez.” I paused for the impending correction.

My wife's father calmly said, “No Wade, it is pronounced Skin-e-atlas.”

My mind quickly drew up a picture of a gaunt figure with the world resting on his shoulders. A Gandhi-esque figure taking the place of the Greek Titan, supporting the weight on frail shoulders and looking out for much needed assistance. I quickly turned to Ayn Rand's famous masterwork “Atlas Shrugged” and a tale of Upstate New York's struggle to maintain their pursuit of wine making happiness fell into place in my imagination.

Who is John Galt? Ask any proprietor of the wineries, and they would most certainly stare at you with a mouth agape and a bottle in hand. Ask them if their wine contains sulfites, and you would be met with dagger-like gazes and a monologue of epic proportions. You see, they believe that there is a governmental conspiracy about sulfites. In many circles, it is believed that wines that contain sulfites will cause the wine drinker to get what is called a “Red Wine Headache” (or RWH for short). Wineries that introduce sulfites to their wines do so to take control of the fermentation process and avoid toxic oxidation. Oxygen has its place in the process, but not until the wine is ready to be consumed. Any introduction prior to that time could cause the wine to go from a master-crafted concoction of grapes and yeast to a useless and unpalatable slosh of vinegar. The wine makers would wholeheartedly decree that sulfites should be commended and advertised as a savior in wine, not demonized as an evil additive with the sole aim to give you throbbing temples and general discomfort.

The wineries pointed to a government group known simply as the Wine Regulation Committee as the perpetrator of this heinous myth. There were many theories as to why this myth was created and spread through word-of-mouth and posted on such reputable sites as Wikipedia.com and Yahoo Answers. Most of those theories associated the committee's connection to federal and state taxation on wine. New York is 3rd in the nation in sales tax percentages on wine (only Tennessee and Washington State were higher). Therefore the federal agency just tried to get their piece of the pie, while the wineries and wine drinkers were forced to pay them their hard earned money. John Galt indeed. The happiness of the wine makers depends on the ongoing happiness of the wine consumers, and the RWH conspiracy has been planted in their minds for eternity.

Obviously, visiting five wineries in a day and consuming more than nine different variations of grapes in those wines, anyone would be left with a headache. Before, people just thought it was a hangover, but they were led to attribute it to those pesky sulfites.

Oregon was the only state in the union with no additional state sales tax on wine. I am quite sure the other wineries were aware of this as well. I imagined there to be a quietly inebriated commune in the woods of Oregon where the barons of the wine barrel met to ferment their wine with the finest sulfites in the country. Perhaps, there was even a genius wine maker living in a shack working tirelessly to create a new way to provide the timely arrest of oxidation and categorically claim no side effects whatsoever. I think his name is Buddy Peterson.

Who is Buddy Peterson? He is the man who worked the tasting counter at the Swedish Hill winery nestled between Highway 414 and Cayuga Lake. Those who approached his counter were taken on a tasteful tour of their many offerings, and he would keep pouring until they had their fill. The flight would run through sweet white wines, dry reds, and finish off with a couple of Brandies. Buddy's favorite was the Blanc de Franc. He described it as a white wine with the attitude of a red. That wasn't what drew him to the special release wine. No, Buddy knew that it went great with sandwiches. It was like he looked into his soul, then turned to his arsenal of wine barrels and created the one that would speak directly to the world's undying love of sandwiches. Well played, Buddy.

He went on to pour out offerings of Vital Blanc (citrusy with an herbal finish), Marechal Froch (a great picnic red), Viking Red (dry, with a touch of oak), Optimus (transforming vanilla and currants into a smooth finish), Valvina Muscat (a grape created at Cornell University), and Raspberry Infusion (exotic taste in a locally grown grape). All of them were worthy of their award-winning reputations. However, Buddy always saved the very best for last.

The wine was called Blue Waters Chardonnay. He was not generally a fan of Chardonnay, nor were many of the wine snobs you would meet on the wine trail. It was the white wine equivalent of a standard Merlot. Buddy's Chardonnay was different, because it was fermented in a stainless steel barrel. Buddy always wanted to tell everyone more about it. At which point, he would lean in closely and asked if you could keep a secret. His patrons would slur out their promises, and he would began to tell the story.

He would ask, “What is Blue Waters Chardonnay?”

The patrons would attempt to answer him quickly and metaphorically, because they assumed that it was not a literal question.

He would interrupt their meager attempts to do so by paraphrasing a literary interpretation of John Galt's speech by Daryl J. Stroufe (1), “For twenty-eight minutes you've been asking 'Who is Buddy Peterson?' This is Buddy Peterson speaking. I'm the man who's taken away the harmful sulfites and thus destroyed your headaches. You've heard it said that this is an age of herbal spices and that wine's sins are destroying the wine itself. But our chief virtue has been sulfites, and you've demanded more sulfites in every barrel without the so-called side effects. You've sacrificed taste to mercy and happiness for fruity. So why should you be afraid of the grapes around you?

Your wine is only the product of your sulfites. While you were drinking the grapes who made your happiness possible to your sacrificial altars, I beat you to it. I fermented them first and told them about the game you were playing and where it would take them. I explained the consequences of your 'Merlot-love' morality, which they had been too innocently generous to understand. You won't find them now, when you need them more than ever.

We're on strike against your yeast of unearned rewards and oak-barreled duties. If you want to know how I made them quit, I told them exactly what I'm telling you tonight. I taught them the pourality of Stainless Steel - that it was right to ferment one's own happiness as one's principal goal in wine. I don't consider the headaches of others my goal in wine, nor do I consider my headaches the goal of anyone else's wine.

I am a wine maker. I earn what I get in grapes for lack of other produce. I ask for nothing more or nothing less than what I earn. That is Chardonnay. I don't force anyone to drink with me; I only pour two ounces for mutual benefit. Pours are the great evil that has no place in a rationed world. One may never pour for another human to drink against his/her judgment. If you deny a man's right to Riesling, you must also deny your right to your own Cabernet. Yet you have allowed your world to be run by means of pours, by men who claim that sweet and dry are equal incentives, but that sweet pour is more practical.

You've allowed such grapes to occupy wines of power in your glass by preaching that all wines are evil from the moment they're poured. When brains believe this, they feel nothing but aching in any way they please. The name of this absurdity is 'Red Wine Headache'. That's unpourable. That which is outside the possibility of grape choice is also outside the province of pourality. To call 'headache' is outside man's choice is a mockery of Chardonnay. To say that wines are born with a free will but with a tendency toward headache is ridiculous. If the tendency is one of choice, it doesn't come at fermentation. If it is not a tendency of sulfites, then wine's will is not free.

And then there's your 'Merlot-love' pourality. Why is it moral to serve Merlot, but not Chardonnay? If enjoyment is a value, why is a pour experienced by others, but not by you more palatable? Why is it unpourable to produce something of value and keep it for yourself, when it is pourable for others who haven't earned it to accept it? If it's virtuous to make, isn't it then selfish to drink?

Your acceptance of the code of sulfitelessness has made you fear the grape who has a sulfite less than you because it makes you feel that that sulfite is rightfully his. You hate the grape with a sulfite more than you, because the sulfite he's keeping is rightfully yours. Your code has made it unpourable to know when to pour and when to drink.

You know that you can't pour away everything and leave yourself thirsty. You've forced yourselves to live with undeserved, irrational thirst. Is it ever proper to pour for another man? No, if he demands it as his right or as a glass full that you owe him. Yes, if it's your own free choice based on your judgment of the value of that person and his thirst. This winery wasn't built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this winery showed the rest of the country what greatness was possible to wine and what happiness is possible in a bottle.

Then it began apologizing for its tastefulness, and began giving away its cellar, feeling guilty for having produced more than its neighbors on the lake. Twenty-nine minutes ago, I saw what was wrong with the world and where your battle of thirst had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was a Merlot-pourality and that my acceptance of that pourality was its only power. I was the first of the men who refused to give up the pursuit of his own oak barrels in order to ferment in stainless steel.

To those wines who retain some remnant of controlled fermentation and the will to add your sulfites for yourselves, you have the chance to make the same choice. Examine your recipes and understand that you must choose one barrel or the other. Any compromise only hurts the wine and helps the evil.

If you've appreciated what I've poured, stop supporting your destroyers. Don't accept their conspiracy. Your destroyers hold you by means of your ignorance, your oxidation, your innocence, and your future vinegar. Don't exhaust yourself to help build the kind of wine that you see around you now. In the name of the grapes within you, don't sacrifice the wine to those who will take away your happiness for it.

The wine will change when you are ready to pronounce this oath:
'I swear by my wine and my love of it that I will never ferment in the oak of another barrel,
nor ferment another barrel to live for the sake of wine
Only then will I truly be one with the barrel and be free to quench my thirst.”

Wow Buddy, just shut up and pour the fucking wine.

1. Daryl J. Stroufe, “John Galt's Speech: Mini-Version”- http://www.working-minds.com/galtmini.htm