Beeeeeyoutiful day. Nothing like 80s in September; it’s a gift, a surprise. Spent the afternoon and evening in the suburbs, where everything was clean and there’s no plywood-covered windows. There was, however, a shooting at the hospital where Daughter was born last night. Let me rephrase that. Last night, at the hospital where Daughter was born two decades ago, there was a shooting. A thug robbed a doctor and shot him. Doc survived. Thug still on the loose, having sunk back into whatever social muck-pit protects him.
This . . . is just priceless.
Utter, complete, total fools. No small irony in the fact that they end up blaming the Black guy in the end, too.
Anyway, it was peaceable in the burbs, but there was hardly any white sauce. IRONIC AMIRITE no seriously, the grocery stores had diminished stocks - in the case of Target, none whatsoever. No white sauce. Cub: just three brands, surrounded by an ocean of red. Changing tastes, or some crimp in the supply line?
I tend to assume the latter now; when something pops back up on the shelf I think oh we had a breakthrough on the Malobar front in South India, so now there’s proper jam instead of that ersatz stuff made from guar gum.
There was also a shortage of quality printer paper. What, you say, you’re . . . printing pictures? Like the 20th century or something? Yes. I don’t do a lot, but A) I have some stuff to archive, because people are more likely to look through a collection of selected pictures than call up an album buried on a hard disk, and B) I am being held hostage by my printer. If I unsubscribe from the $5 a month unlimited ink offer, the printer is bricked, because the company is run by clever bastards. If I don’t print, the $5 a month is for naught. So dammit I am going to PRINT THE HELL out of things until they send me a letter and say “slow down, Weegee.”
The paper shortage is understandable; photo-quality paper probably wasn’t a priority when TP vanished from the shelves and everyone had to switch up.
Interesting how there was always enough liquor.
Otherwise? Driving lessons with Daughter, the Parallel Parking edition. I do get a bit nervous about her driving along, because, well, of course, but also because of the number of people who just decided that traffic signals are suggestions. Wife saw a car blow through two on the way home tonight. Traffic signals are for dopes. They’re for square-johns, as the miscreants used to call the solid citizen. They are also no doubt interpreted as a personal affront to the criminal’s sense of boundless self-entitlement: who are you to tell me I have to stop my car? This is twinned with the protestors’ insistence that they can block any street: who are you to tell me I cannot stop your car?
Well, off to print and upload. Busy day ahead. Column due. Ideas: 0. Chance I will not have 800 words ready at deadline time: also 0.
The daily stroll through the poisonous bramble-garden of Western Civ never fails to produce the discovery of some heretofore unknown species. Here’s a white woman’s latest contribution -
What, you need a name? Why? The main descriptors of people are race and gender; a name would be superfluous, and suggest there’s some sort of individual agency at work that transcends those essential quality. So let’s call her WW36504.
Headline: Wine’s diversity issue starts with the way we talk about the taste of wine
Wine language is so often absurd that it’s a punchline. Notes of smoldering tobacco or forest underbrush or underripe Jonagold apple — it sounds almost farcical in its specificity. Even worse is when the descriptor is inedible. How many people have actually tasted a wet river stone, anyway?
I think that’s an interesting descriptor - I imagine something that has a clean, mineral note. But nevermind.
But now, it’s becoming clearer than ever that the conventional language used to describe wine isn’t merely intimidating and opaque. It’s also inextricable from racism and sexism, excluding dimensions of flavor that are unfamiliar to the white, Western cultures that dominate the world of fine wine and reinforcing retrograde notions of gender.
At this point we should revisit the archives of WW36504, to see if she has raised this issue before. If not, and her work stretches back for years, she has been complicit in racism and sexism, and one wonders why she is being allowed to write about the subject at all.
I’m always thinking about words, but this summer, I’ve been thinking about language in new ways, particularly in how seemingly innocuous words can have a larger impact.
< image of WW36504 staring out the window, thinking about language >
As the country confronts its entrenched social inequities with fresh urgency, the world of wine has experienced a radical call to action, too.
“Experienced.” It just happened. From somewhere! For reasons! Great word choice; she really is always thinking about language.
My conversations with wine professionals like Jirka Jireh and Martin Reyes for a recent story about the need to improve wine education for BIPOC really put into focus just how limited and unwelcoming the established wine lexicon can be.
Unwelcoming. S’truth; if you live in a food desert, you’ve no way to know what a Jonathan apple tastes like. It’s this sort of casual racism that saturates the conversation about wine, like a Cabernet soaking into a white tablecloth. I almost said spotless white tablecloth, which shows how I’ve internalized supremicist notions of purity and goodness.
The conventional words used to talk about the taste of wine may be excluding large groups of people from wine, as both makers and drinkers. For starters: The vocabulary used for fine wine is nearly exclusively rooted in flavors and aromas familiar to western Europe.
Consider the extent to which French words have crept into English-language wine talk. A Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine tastes like brioche. Inky Cabernet Sauvignons recall cassis, a flavor of concentrated, ripe black currants. Grenache blends have the distinctive taste of garrigue — a specific combination of herbs like lavender and sage that grow near the Mediterranean coast.
It’s not surprising that French words dominate the American wine imagination; most of this country’s wine tradition is imported from France. But these terms carry considerable class baggage with them.
Most of the existing wine classes — the ones that many sommeliers need to advance in their careers — demand familiarity with this wine-flavor lexicon. Winery owners and winemakers need fluency in this language in order to interact with distributors, retailers and customers. Given all that, it can hardly be surprising that less than 1% of U.S. wineries have a Black owner or winemaker: Exclusionary language is a part of that larger exclusion.
Because - and I cannot stress this enough - Black people are routinely denied access to brioche. It is causing harm to even expect Black people to know what brioche is, let alone tastes like. When you see BIPOC people, assume a complete ignorance of brioche.
. . . accessibility needs to become more of a priority, too. As wine fights to diversify its industry makeup and, hopefully, its consumer base, it will have to get used to new registers of speech in settings where “garrigue” doesn’t carry a lot of currency. It’s not that western European flavors should be vilified, or use of French restricted; it’s that the dictionary should be expanded. And as new pathways are created to usher in a more diverse new generation of wine professionals, the resources to do that expansion will grow.
So use more words. Fine. No one has a problem with that. No one cares if someone references a jackfruit or a Filipino flavor, as the article cites; in fact, it would probably make the average pretentious wine drinker eager to seek out those flavors. Or more likely pretend that they get the reference.
In an article for Punch, New York sommelier Miguel de Leon wrote about his associations with the flavors of the Filipino food he was raised on: a Chenin Blanc reminds him of jackfruit, a Cabernet Franc of tamarind candy.
Is Jackfruit and tamarind candy familiar descriptors in the Black community that have food deserts? No? So this helps, exactly, how?
Say, didn’t WW36504 say something about sexism, too?
For example, it’s commonplace to describe wines as “masculine” or “feminine.” A masculine wine, we’re meant to understand, is aggressive and muscular; a feminine one, delicate and floral. I’ve used these terms myself in the past, but I won’t in the future — not only because this wine-gender binary feels like it adheres to an outdated, irrelevant set of gender norms, but also because it happens to be vague and unhelpful. Sexism aside, these terms fall into the same obnoxious camp as “wet river stone.”
And masculine and feminine are innocuous compared with some of the sexist wine language that has passed as normal for many years. It astounds me that the word “slutty” — used to describe a wine whose appeal is obvious, rather than subtle — remains in circulation. (“Slutty” in a wine context is almost always used pejoratively, not used to summon the reclaimed-feminism, owning-my-body attitude that the word lately has come to inhabit in some circles.) More than once, I’ve heard the critic Jay McInerney discuss why he thinks comparing a wine to Pamela Anderson (implying it’s rich and voluptuous) as opposed to Kate Moss (implying it’s lean and taut) is a useful way to describe it.
The critic Jay McInerney? Sorry about the whole novel-writing career, laddy buck. But let me say that I know exactly what he means by that remark, and that it would be fine if a critic compared an Orson Welles wine to a Don Knott wine, and that there’s something a bit touching about McInerney’s fallback on 80s glam icons.
But okay, no one use these binary terms again and everything will be great.
Attempting to convey the taste of a wine through written words is never an easy task, and I’m not sure I ever really get it right. Part of the work, certainly, has to do with deliberately exposing oneself to new flavors, something that happens to be very feasible when you live in the Bay Area. Another part of it is really, truly paying attention to those flavors, whether it’s the pungent saltiness of XO sauce or the mouthwatering tang of umeboshi.
She does not tell you want umeboshi is, or tastes like. She’s using a word from another culture and assuming you know what it is. SEE! SEE? HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW? IT’S LIKE THE BRIOCHE SITUATION
Wikipedia: “The word umeboshi is often translated into English as 'salted Japanese plums’”
And Black people should know this?
Actually, that’s a stupid question, because it makes monolithic assumptions about individuals and the diverse cultures they create, but I guess she gets her allyship badge today for expanding the language and striking a blow against entrenched systemic racism in wine adjectives.
Then again, talking about wine isn’t just about fruits and flowers and sauces. Sometimes, the exercise of conveying what a wine tastes like may require a little more imagination.
The best example of this that I know is the word “petrichor.” It’s a delightfully compact word that means “the smell after the rain,” and it’s one of the most evocative wine descriptors I’ve ever heard. Yes, it’s an esoteric Greek derivative. It’s not available at Safeway. But the fragrance and the feeling it evokes, it seems to me, are universally intelligible.
Not if you live in the desert. She’s marginalized those people entirely. By using a Western word. But here’s my favorite part: the etymology of the word.
1960s: blend of petro- ‘relating to rocks’ (the smell is believed to be caused by a liquid mixture of organic compounds which collects in the ground) and ichor.
Wet river rocks, bad! Wet street rocks, good. Adjust your parameters accordingly.
Hard to tell exactly what Rusk means here. The cut didn’t happen? It’ll be costly for the economy?
Ah, the days when foreign aid was the top story of the day.
And unsolved - so far. A 2019 story on the case:
Another break in the case occurred decades later in 2000. Forensic scientists extracted DNA from a stain on the back of Peggy’s shirt and tested it against DNA samples obtained at local, state, and federal crime scenes. The tests garnered no results.
This stain just may be the key that unlocks the entire mystery. Now, if they could only find a match.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
Papers were just a jumble of stuff.
Wonder which side he came down on.
Really. He sounds like a nice fellow, but a lot of the religious types could go soft on the Reds for the sake of higher purposes. Years later, a little feature on his life.
What do you have today?”
“Foreign trade bill.”
“Okay, what’s the gag?”
“It’s having difficulty moving through the Senate. I just need a clear, concise metaphor.”
I never liked Fred or Ethel.
She’d do three seasons, then would be dropped when the show retooled for a fourth season.
By the way, “The Lucy Show” ran six seasons, after which Ball said “got enough for syndication, enough of that” and promptly returned to TV with her kids in “Here’s Lucy.”
She was a mainstay in my youth, always on TV.
I never really liked her character, either. Too much drama and trouble. I admire Ball, though, and love her early movie work; what a knockout.
My mistake: I didn't clip the name of this one. It's a Tombstone rip-off.
That sun in the third panel is like something a high-school girl would draw in her notebook.
The limitations of the artist make you think the statue is inside the tent.
There’s stylized chefs, and then there’s stylized chefs.
By 1972, Burger Chef was second only to McDonald’s. Who knew?
In the early 1970s, the chain introduced the Funburger and the Funmeal, with packaging that included stories about Burger Chef and Jeff's adventures and friends (including the magician Burgerini, vampire Count Fangburger, talking ape Burgerilla, and Cackleburger the witch), with riddles, puzzles, and small toys. When McDonald's introduced their Happy Meal in 1979, the chain sued, but ultimately lost.
And now here we are, in a different world of fast-casual burgers taht are . . . what's the word? Oh right BETTER.
That'll do - time for the Patented Bleat Time Whipsaw, and head back to the 80s. Or forward if you're still in the ads we saw above.