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!) *


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.”


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.


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!


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.”


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.


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.


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.


Vino Blues, New York City



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!


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.


Your Friends At The Instituto