“…any food product that feels compelled to tell you it’s natural in all likelihood is not.”—-Michael Pollan
Monday, April 15, 2013
The M.S. Conspiracy
Here's the first chapter of a Pulp Fiction novel starring the HoseMaster that I first published on September 29, 2009. Written in a strange style that's sort of a cross between Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane, the form is the perfect platform for one-liners and outrageous plots. I wrote fourteen chapters of this very shaggy dog story, and never concluded it. But, man, they were fun to write.Here, from the Golden Age of HoseMaster of Wine, long since past, is The M. S. Conspiracy.
A HoseMaster of Wine Pulp Fiction Classic
Chapter 1Strange Path
a dick. A private dick, but a dick nonetheless. I make a living as a
dick, if you call digging through people's trash for private information
about them living. You should see what people put in their garbage.
It's disgusting. You can tell a lot about a person sifting through their
garbage. You see everything that fills their rotten insides, all the
filth and refuse they fill their lives with. In fact, life is like a
garbage pail, you fill it with useless and stomach-turning stuff and
then pay people to haul it away. But not before the putrefying smell of
it sickens everyone. I'm the dick who gets paid to sift through life's
disgusting garbage. Which is how I got involved in the worst case of my
career, a case that nearly got me killed, a case that led me to depths
of inhumanity I didn't know existed, which is like Sean Hannity
discovering a whole new level of stupid. I thought I knew about garbage,
about conspiracy, about evil. But then I got involved with a group that
changed me, that filled me with a loathing for people I'd never felt
before. Where do I begin? I
don't know how these people find me. I've got a rundown shithole of an
office in the sleepy little wine country town of Healdsburg, a town so
dull the main hobby is going down to the local hospital to watch folks
having contractions. And those are at the proctology ward. Healdsburg is
a tourist town now. Once upon a time it served the farmers in the
community, now it serves expensive wines and fancy meals. Healdsburg has
more tasting rooms than Dick Cheney has condos in Hell, but I like it
here. The landscape is beautiful, and when the urge hits me it's the
easiest thing in the world to find a drunken tourist in a see-through
cotton dress to come home with me and learn how to spit. I see it as a public service.
just wrapped up my recent case involving the Illuminatti, the
Freemasons and the Osmond Family, having successfully foiled their plans
to prove Michael Jackson was married and had fathered several children
and primates and that the titles to his greatest hits were actually an anagram
of "Diana Ross is Mary Magdalene's daughter with Thomas Jefferson,"
when she walked into my Healdsburg office. She smelled dangerous with a
pinch of crazy, but I like that smell. It's like Ann Coulter farted on
Lou Dobbs--you get the same smell in a good vintage of Silver Oak. But
she was gorgeous--blonde and busty with the kind of legs you get in
Tokaji Essensia--long and oily. I've seen puttonyos before, and she was
way more than five.
"Are you the HoseMaster?" she asked.
"Sure," I said, "how can I help you?"
told that you know people in the wine business, important people." I
was having trouble looking her in the eye. I hadn't seen jugs stacked
that high since I bought my wine at a gas station.
"Yeah, I know
some important people. Who is it you're looking to meet? And don't say
James Laube. I killed him two weeks ago. It was self-defense. He threw
his 100 point scale at me--it was banged up, utterly useless, but it
damn near killed me. So I plugged him. Just heard they're giving me a
James Beard Award for it."
"No, you misunderstand." She sat down
across from me and when she crossed those legs I'm pretty sure I got a
glimpse of the Sacramento Delta and most of its tributaries, but it was
hot enough to be Lodi. "I want to hire you to help me join the secret
society of M.S."
I'd heard those evil bastards were going to be
in Healdsburg. Recruiting. Their rituals, their "tests," were secret,
and they were very careful about who they allowed to pass, who they
allowed to join their putrid ranks. But I'd heard stories, horrifying
stories, stories that revolved around ritual disemboweling,
waterboarding, and Evan Goldstein lectures. Why would this babe want to
be an M.S.?
"From what I know, Ma'am..."
"Call me Veronica."
what I know, Veronica, the Master Sommeliers don't like women, don't
really want women in their ranks, make the whole thing a nightmare for a
woman to join. And that's if I can even get you in the door. Do you
have the faintest idea what it's like to be an M.S.? Do you really know
what evil those people are capable of?"
"I know more about it
than you can even imagine, HoseMaster. I have no fear of them, I know
exactly who they are and what they stand for. Now, can you help me or
"Oh, I can help you alright, but it comes with a price."
"My friends and I are willing to pay any price to penetrate the M.S. society. Name it."
I paused, took another sip of my Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, noting the lovely Musque fragrance. Or was that Veronica? "Let's just say I want to dredge the Sacramento Delta when all this is through."
a strange one, HoseMaster," Veronica said, leaning over my desk and
giving me a view of the Cote Blonde and Cote Brune, making me think of
Guigal and his Bodacious La-La's, "but I like you."
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"...With sometimes crude analogies and occasional droppings of f-bombs, Washam cleverly uses satire to expose the underbelly of the wine business. It's often hilarious stuff as long as you're not the one being lampooned. Washam takes no prisoners in skewering all that is silly, stupid, frustrating and pretentious about wine, and his favorite targets are other bloggers and writers. No one is immune."
--Linda Murphy in "Vineyard and Winery Management"
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity." --JancisRobinson.com
"As serious as the world of wine is, it does allow time for humor. Each Monday and Thursday, Ron Washam customarily posts a commentary on his needling wine blog HoseMaster of Wine. Washam, a former sommelier and comedy writer – he might say they are closely related – is the most opinionated, humorous and ribald observer in the wine world. His body of work is irreverent and remorseless. It’s almost always satire and parody, though he occasionally drifts into straight commentary, sometimes even with tasting notes. This past year, one of his posts was named the best of the year in the Wine Blog Awards. His success has spawned several imitations, which in their awkwardness show just how difficult satire is."
--Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/21/6089630/dunne-on-wine-wine-blogs-and-bloggers.html#storylink=cpy
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."
--Reign of Terroir
Robert (Joseph) was/is funny unlike HoseMaster who wasn't/isn't.