Musings from the street…

In August 2006, in a post on the first Argus blog site, I reflected on some of the discards & detritus one sees while traversing Petaluma’s streets, sidewalks and paths:

  • Why is there only one shoe (usually the right) by the side of the road? Where is the other one?
  • Why are hard hats always in the center of the road, usually upside down?

You can also note the “demise” of a consumer product when you start to see it in the street, the gutter, or sidewalk. For example, you used to see cassette tapes with their innards spread all over the road. They were then replaced by discarded CD’s. So far none of them are playable.

Now it is discarded DVD’s and smashed IPODS.

Perhaps the new IPHONES will quickly appear in the gutter.

But I digress!

While riding over to the recent Petaluma Classic Wings & Wheels Show at the Petaluma Airport last week, I happened to notice something in a creek by Prince Park…

I have long since given up ranting, raving, and photographing the trashy aspects of our environment. However, this scene captured my attention.

How did they get there?

  • Was someone running away from a vampire and they were literally chased out of their shoes (sandals) so to speak? 
  • Did someone buy a new pair of sandals and decide to simply discard the “old” pair by tossing them over the bridge? 
  • Is this what Billie Joe McAllister and his girlfriend tossed off the Tallahatchie Bridge at Choctaw Ridge?

Inquiring minds want to know!

By the bye…I do know what was–or was not–tossed off the Tallahatchie Bridge

You Know You’re Getting Old When…

I have never acted my age and am not about to start doing so now.  However, I must admit that the world is engaged in a conspiracy to remind me that I am getting older…

  • I just received my Medicare Card.
  • I don’t have to ask for the “senior discount” at Noah’s Bagels–it’s automatic.
  • When I order my favorite drink in a restaurant, the waitress frequently brings it to me with a story from the bartender that goes something like this: “He really enjoys making it.  He used to make it for his grandmother.” (Augh! I really hate that!) *

LAWYER

Getting older notwithstanding, I REFUSE to grow up.

*UPDATE: October 30, 2009

A few days ago we were at Point Reyes Station and I ordered my “usual” from the bar.  This time the bartender said: “I make this for my mother all the time. She really likes them.”

Sigh…

9:00 AM–Do you know where your bed is?

Over the years I have witnessed and photographed many an interesting scene in P-Town. 

…Just when I think I have seen everything…

Tuesday morning, August, 25, 2009, I encountered the following in the parking lot of the former Mervyn’s store…

August 23 2009 004

Of course, one can think of many possible captions for this scene and readers are more than welcome to offer their own…August 23 2009 003

Perhaps this is a sign that a furniture store is going to move into the former Mervyn’s building! If so, they already have a potential customer…

August 23 2009 005

In the alternative, perhaps we are looking at a bed-napping victim?

Instituto Vino Advice…Part II

The staff of Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino has been working deligently to complete a comprehensive response to the request for assistance from Vino Blues in New York City.

Tristan E. Isolde (Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling) has been heading up this effort. Vino Blues was seeking guidance on how to deal with friends who were, for lack of a better phrase, decidedly cheap. To view a copy of the letter and the initital response of the Instituto, (Click Here) 

________________________________________

Dear Vino Blues:

We are writing in follow-up to our initial response of  July 18, 2009. We will now address your questions in detail.

YOUR SPECIFIC QUESTIONS 

1.  My husband is pissed off and insulted,…Are these people insane? 

First, this is grounds for a duel. Your husband gets his choice of corkscrews; they do not.  We are not sure that they are insane but they are certainly living in a world of their own–must be very lonely. Minnie Da Moocher is sending a card suitable for the event. 

2.  Does it get any lower than$4 sparking wine? 

The only legitimate use for this product is to christen garbage barges. 

3.  Can these people be extraterrestrials? 

You do an injustice to extraterrestrials! 

YOUR LARGER QUESTIONS

How can they be stopped?  Who should they be reported to?  What retaliation does the Instituto suggest?  

Now these are serious questions.  Before deciding on a course of action, one must first determine, as best as one can, their motives: 

1.  Is it because they can’t afford anything else ?

We believe, based on the information provided, that the answer is “No.” 

2. Is it because they genuinely like what others call “cheap” wine? 

If the answer is “Yes,” THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO.  

If the answer is “No,”  please proceed to Item 3. 

3.  Is it because they don’t know any better? Have you, or others, “exposed” them to quality vin ordinaire? If they were exposed to a moderately priced wine (the vin ordinaires exclusively favored by the Instituto) would they detect the difference?  If so, would they admit it?  

If the answer is “No,” THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO. 

If the answer is that they should know better or have been exposed to the “good stuff” then we’re facing a major problem–They are cheap as opposed to thrifty; they are fixated on price without ANY regard for quality. They would not understand Oscar Wilde when he said: “He knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.”  

It is even more serious if they are guzzling Rothschild in private and passing out sparkling wine to their “friends.”

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS 

The obvious conclusion is that these are diehard tightwads beyond redemption.  As to whether they are as cheap with themselves as they are in public requires further investigation. We suggest hiring a private detective with 400mm telephoto and night optics to check out their drinking habits. 

If, on the other hand, they are capable of some degree of redemption, the Instituto suggests the following tactics:

  • To give them a picture of the dark side of cheap wine, consider a copy of Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. 
  • Drop quotes from Homer: “Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: ‘Hold me now no longer, that am eager for the way. But whatsoever gift thine heart shall bid thee give me, when I am on my way back let it be mine to carry home: bear from thy stores a gift right goodly, and it shall bring thee the worth thereof in return.’ And whatsoever gift thou wouldest give me, let it be a thing to treasure.  Therefore I will make exchange of the presents, as I may. Of the gifts, such as are treasures stored in my house, I will give thee the goodliest and greatest of price.” 

If none of the above works….remember that physical assault is still a felony.  Horace, our counsel, will agree to defend you but please remember that he is very fond of Chateau Fleet Street.

Sincerely,

Tristan E. Isolde

Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling

Instituto Vino Advice–Part I

Tristan E. Isolde, our Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling brought an interesting letter to our attention.  The author of the letter was seeking guidance on how to deal with friends who were, for lack of a better phrase, decidedly cheap.

LETTER

TO: Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino, Petaluma, California

We have dissed pals who consistently serve the cheapest wine to be found on earth.  Here’s their new low – AND IT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE!

For my husband’s birthday they brought a lavishly wrapped bottle (these are the same folks with the $80 nitrogen rig to preserve $3 wine) and made much of toasting the occasion with champagne.  I feared the worst, but this was beyond my wildest fears – a $4 unchilled bottle of  sparkling wine!  It may be banned in CA – it’s used motor oil with injected carbonation.  

They are assuredly NOT financially strapped, and this was not a joke gift, so I turn to the Instituto – my husband is pissed off and insulted, while I take a more sanguine view (it’s good for stain removal.) 

  • Are these people insane?
  • How can they be stopped? 
  • Who should they be reported to? 

What retaliation does the Instituto suggest?  Can these people be extraterrestrials?  Please consider flying Vinnie  or your enforcer, Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi here on an emergency basis to “talk” some sense into these two. 

Sincerely,

Vino Blues, New York City

__________________

RESPONSE

Dear Vino Blues:

After several emergency meetings and many bottles of vin ordinaire, the entire staff of the Instituto  reached a  consensus (VERY unusual for this group)  to respond to some of your questions.

1. You say they paid $4 for an “unchilled bottle of  sparkling wine.” 

They paid $4 TOO much 

2.  You say it was ” lavishly wrapped.” 

Unless it was wrapped in the Mona Lisa–IMPOSSIBLE!!! 

3. You say it’s used motor oil with injected carbonation. 

Send them a case of 10W40. Suggest that they serve it at room temperature–as in an igloo in Nome, Alaska.  Tell them it has a body you can “cut with a knife.” 

In the alternative, give them a bottle of  sparkling cider.  If you can’t find one (We don’t know why you would normally want to do so), the Instituto will gladly provide a bottle for this worthy purpose.

As to the remaining questions in your letter, rest assured that the entire staff is locked in the wine cellar working up further suggestions to aid you in your time of need. 

We will be in touch with you shortly!

Sincerely,

Tristan E. Isolde

Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling

Instituto Vino Festival 2009

Dear Instituto Members: 

The entire staff of the Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino (and their parole officers) once again attended the First Annual Instituto Wine Festival on your behalf.  The weather was exceptionally friendly and the ranch was never in better form.  Music was the usual combination of Western Swing, Swamp Rock and Mariachi–NO RAP. 

This year we added an equestrian event.  Now none of us understands horses but they were exceptional (not to mention the million dollars worth of silver and gold on the saddles). One of the rides can only be described as an “Only in California” happening; the riders charged around the ring at full gallop carrying glasses of champagne (Piper Sonoma of course).  The object, we surmise, was to demonstrate a stride or gait that did not spill the champagne.  It worked.  Not a drop touched the ground.  We thought it a bit unkind, however, that they did not let the horses taste the champagne.

All of this horse stuff is well and good but we at the Instituto prefer drinking our champagne at a table–or standing up.  

After a time we must sit…… 

In any event, we can report that we endured (on your behalf) apple fritters, apple pies, chicken pesto, Willie Bird turkey sandwiches, garlic chips and assorted artery clogging foodstuffs (burp!) all in the pursuit of GREAT VINO–which, as you know, unclogs the arteries. Perhaps that explains why Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi (our bouncer) spent so much time by the wine table.

Sincerely,

Your Friends At The Instituto

Biblical Vino

The Scholars in the Scholarly Department of Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino recently published a paper detailing the history of wine as recorded in the Bible. This article summarizes their research.

OLD TESTAMENT

Wine was not looked upon favorably. There are several admonitions—“Do not drink wine nor strong drink”— throughout the Old Testament. We are repeatedly warned against the bad effects of wine:

  1. Binding his foal unto the vine and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.  His eyes shall be red with wine and his teeth white with milk. (Hangover?)
  2.  He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. (Well, OK. But don’t drink the water either!)
  3. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. (Perhaps a little Alka Seltzer would have helped?)
  4. Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment. (The Instituto Scholars are engaged in further investigation as to what kind of grape produced such wine.)
  5.  He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. (The Instituto Scholars now understand why they are poor.)

BUT IS THERE A SECRET AGENDA IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?

When it comes to what you are to do with the wine that you should not drink—YOU GIVE IT TO THE LORD!

  • And to bring the first fruits of our ground, and the first fruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD.
  • And that we should bring the first fruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God.

NEW TESTAMENT

(The Winemaker’s “Bible”)

  • So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine.
  • And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.  But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
  • Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. 

En Vino Veritas…

Wine Reviews

The staff at Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto de Vino Wino has developed a report critical of wine critics.  They dare to take them on!

Quite simply, the Instituto claims that wine critics are merely former music or art critics.  Well, the prose style suggests that there’s some truth in this observation.— you only need to change a few words of a Metropolitan Opera Orchestra review to create a wine review.

Examples… 

Music—Compared with the lush, full-throttle sound the orchestra produced at the climactic moments of “Das Lied von der Erde,” the Mozart had an almost Baroque trimness.

Wine—Compared with the lush, full-throttle nose the wine produced at the climactic moments, the Barfman Zinfandel 1999 had an almost Baroque trimness. (Hmmm! Almost sounds like a line from an Erica Jong novel. Fear of Flying Cabernet?)

Music—Ms. von Otter sang ravishingly and with the sensitivity and flexibility necessary to touch the heart of this work’s nostalgic, fatalistic texts

Wine—Barfman Cabernet sang ravishingly and with the sensitivity and flexibility necessary to touch the heart of this wine’s nostalgic, fatalistic flavors.  (The perfect wine for Socrates?)

Music—and the beauty the musicians coaxed from this had as much power, though differently focused, as the fortissimo passages

Wine—and the beauty the vintner coaxed from this had as much power, though differently focused, as the Barfman Chardonnay

Finally there is wine as a health food—“But Dr. Broustet… advocated a regimen of a daily consumption of a half bottle of red wine with food.”

Robert Mondavi claimed to drink two liters a day and another liter mixed with water when he was in the field.  He lived to a ripe old age of 94.

En vino veritas!

Instituto Special Report–Bottleless Wine!

The Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino proudly announces the results of years of research and development.

We have been following the work of  several wineries to do away with corks and to convince winos to buy wine with screw caps.  They have solid scientific evidence to support their position that screw caps are as good as, if not better than, corks.  Granted it will take some persuasion to convince people not to associate screw caps with “Thunderbird” or “Old Nauvoo Red.” 

But we have taken vino  innovation  a step further.

Our Winos demand cutting edge innovation! 

So the Instituto is proud to announce that our wines will be distributed with screw caps at $23.49 a bottle. 

What makes our new screw cap wine so unique? 

Well…….. 

there… 

will… 

be… 

NO……………….bottle!

Imagine! 

Bottleless Wine!! 

In fact, there is no container whatsoever!!! 

Just the screw cap!! 

Imagine the “Bottle(less) Shock” as new customers check out the display.

So…………….Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) or Bring Your Own Glass (BYOG)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Remember to wash your hands! 

The Officers & Staff of Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino

We at the Instituto are working  24/7 to make you a better wino!!

FAQ-Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino

Many “visitors” and new “members”  repeatedly inquire about the Instituto’s background and benefits of membership.  This newsletter will address these FAQ’s

Q–Do you have a logo?

A–See below

Vino Logo

Q–Does the Instituto have the coveted tax-exempt status? 

A–Vinnie & Guido (our esteemed former Enron accountants)  want to know what are “taxes?” “Tribute”  or “Bribe” they understand.

Q–Is there an annual membership fee?

A–Only if you drink box wine from with a straw, in which case the annual fee is $1,000,000 Brazilian. 

Q–Do you conduct tours? 

A–Not at OUR facilities for God’s sake! To do so would be to alert the authorities as to our location. 

Q–Do you have a unique wine appellation? 

A–But of  course! While our vineyard is small (we have only one vine) we were able to secure a very distinct appellation.  It was quite an involved process. The examiners noted that our single vine  had a mound of dirt on each side.  That made it a valley. They then examined the “characteristics” of the valley and considered several names….

  • Fog and Foggy were rejected because, too many vineyards and wineries already claim these attributes.  
  • Stray Cats, Feline Valley or Litter Box Vineyards did not seem to present the proper cachet. 
  • They finally noted that there was one characteristic that had not been used by other wineries–Snails! So they settled on Slug Valley.  They also approved our label: “Slime Wine!  Legginess you won’t believe!” 

Q–What is “gout de terroir” and does the Instituto have any?

A–To answer the last part of the question first, we have a great deal of “gout” at the Instituto. 

As to the meaning of gout de terroir, many mistakenly believe it is French for “taste of the earth.”  However, our research reveals this to be in error. We are amazed that this has not been revealed before.  After all, who wants to drink wine that tastes like dirt?

We discovered that “gout de terroir” is in fact gout da terrier, an ancient Miwok Indian phrase meaning  “Small dog with gout.”  At the Insituto we employ several gouty dogs to add a special flavor to 0ur wines!!

It has worked out very well for us.  Petaluma is famous for its Ugly Dog Contest and Ugly Dog Stout. 

We have Gouty Dog Wine!!

That’s all for now. Next week’s newsletter will bring you even more useful information.

Happy wine tasting and remember to stop by our undisclosed location!

THE STAFF

Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wine-Located in the Casa Madrone de Vin Ordinaire

Where all our Champagne is only a bubble off! 

Where we take the snob out of wine and bring back the slob!