Turn out the Lights, the Party’s over

“My sales people sell nothing.” “The bank is our customer.” In one day, I had a phone meeting with one title executive and a face to face with another (both in the Mountain Time zone). I had worked hard to score these meetings and they represented an opportunity to do business with some very big people in our industry. One said the first thing the other said the second. It was as if I had just arrived to the party, but my hosts’ insight told me the party was already over. No goody bag, no party your ass off ’till the sun comes up, the party was over.

I saw the writing on the wall. The “leadership” of a once proud trade began believing they had something to do with their success. They could repeat it. Keep your staff numbers in line, keep the magical 19:1 ratio, and everything would be fine. If you needed more business, steal an office and then pare back to 19:1. Title executives really believed that they could make money on the way up, make money at the top and make money on the way down. They weren’t smart enough. They money made yesterday didn’t make tomorrow better. Tomorrow was going to look like today, except we’d be a day older.

These guys congratulated themselves for being so smart. They didn’t realize they built big, powerful, consolidating houses on quicksand. As soon as home values stopped rising, they were in world of hurt (at least their employees would be). Home values had already stopped rising. Resets were on the horizon in numbers that were too big to understand. The party was over.

I left the title industry, after 16 years, to re-join my hi-tech homeland; Silicon Valley. I found other housing ex-pats all around me. We looked as shocked as newborns. How’d we’d end up here? The next week Alliance Title failed. I tried to reason it. I searched the web for comment and understanding. I found PBE.

I’m thrilled to be a contributor here. Wine Dog’s perspectives are right on the money. I hope to listen, to read, to comment and to provide all of you another perspective to think about. Thank you for inviting me to write with you, Wine Dog.

The party’s over, but tomorrow’s another day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsTAUs_h_uY&feature=related

But where I live the game to play is compromise solution

This morning I have a little announcement.  I have a couple of little announcements, but just one is occurring this morning.

Y’all know I like when there are comments and when PBE is collaborative.  Over the last couple of years, one commenter has consistently caught my eye.  I look as his comments and think “Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?”  Example:

Different kind of stuck on stupid for you. This morning the Wall Street Journal has published the top 25 earning CEO’s of the last decade. Larry Ellison tops the list and Steve Job is #4.
The dark lord of the evil empire comes in at #16. He’s featured in an article about smaller companies CEO’s who made the list.
Here’s the link to the table of the most generously paid-
http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/st_execpay1007_20100725.html
Here’s a link to the story that features the burgermeister
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703834604575365640318883822.html

If you don’t have steam pouring out of your ears yet, then look at this months Wine Spectator. A small piece about Sauv Blanc with Chalk Hill Winery featured. These are the good ole’ days for that institution!

At tax time, many tea party folk were up in arms that 40% of earners didn’t pay any taxes (they didn’t earn enough), and in some cases, a few got checks from the IRS. Doing very little digging I found that over the past 30 years the bottom 40% of earners have seen their wages stand still. That group has had a 15% increase in pay, over those 30 years. The top 20%, on the other hand, have enjoyed a 75% increase in pay. Consider that when you look at this table. The folks on this table have enjoyed large salaries AND large raises. The folks who worked at Fidelity have enjoyed more time off and pink slips (or if they’ve kept their jobs, pay cuts and more work). When someone earning $500K gets a 75% raise that’s $375K! When someone who earns $50K gets a 15% raise that’s a $7.5K raise. It does take much to understand the massive wealth re-distribution.
During those same 30 years (yes, that begins with the Reagan deconstruction), we’ve continually heard how the top income earners are carrying more of the tax burden and we’ve heard that’s not fair. Try this one on; pay the folks at the bottom enough to tax them! Take a small sliver of the kings’ treasure you enjoy and pay the bottom 40% a little better. If they earn enough to tax, you’re tax burden becomes less.
Also on this list; Richard Fuld (Lehman CEO), Angelo Mozilo (Countrywide CEO), Sanford Weill (Citigroup)and Ray Irani (Oxy petroleum). Everyone one of these companies either had a hand in the financial failure and 1 company helps keep energy costs nice and high (Oxy actually makes fertilizers and ag products from oil).
I’m going to look in to Yoga or Pilates, or I’m going to pop a 2007 Davis Family Pinot for breakfast. At least I’ll be relaxed for the rest of the day!

Or why didn’t I know that.  Halfway through a Canis Major Syrah the other day I thought “Hey!  I don’t have to think of it, I can just let him think of it and put it on the blog”.   I would like everyone to welcome my first legitimate contributing author here at PBE, titleslug.  I’ll let him tell you about himself, but instead of his thoughts being buried in the comments section, he’ll have his own posts.  Opinions of the authors are just that.  I encourage everyone to log in and comment.  The more collaborative PBE is, the more fun it is.  What happens on PBE, stays on PBE.

[youtube r2PM0om2El8]

But that train keeps a rollin’ on down to San Antone..

Many of you may recall that speeding ticket I got on Ygnacio Valley Road.  You know, the one where the cop came into court and railroaded me.  And lied.  Because no 2001 525i BMW can go from 0-64 in 300 yards.  Not possible.  Well, I didn’t necessarily remember the part where I was supposed to pay the ticket.  Last Wednesday I spent three hours of my life that I will never get back standing in line, getting chased around and appearing before the judge again.  He’s kind of a nudge.  He gave me 38 hours of community service and then until August 19th the finish it.  Mathematically that’s pretty challenging when you work six or seven days a week.  I went back to the clerk of the court the next day and got a list of where I could do the work.  The choices are pretty interesting.  Last time I did community service it was in Santa Barbara and they made me do some paperwork with parking tickets.  Then they lost my paperwork and that ticket never showed up on my record.  This time was a list of places to go and do your community services.   I saw a place called Heritage Trails in there, I called them.  The lady called me back a couple of days later and was pretty gruff, but I agreed to show up at 9am today.  I also chose to break it off into six hour chunks.  As it turns out she has six hour shifts, because that’s how long horse camp goes.  Seriously, my job today was to be an assistant at horse camp.  Do you know horses?  Well, I know animals.  If you tell me what not to do, I won’t do that and I can read an animal.  OK, you’ll be fine.  And I was.  I can read horses.  They are amazing animals with the patience of Job.  I spent the morning leading a pony or a horse around the arena with a child astride her.  Mine were all girls.  I learned that horses have itches and they’ll use you to scratch it.  You best not be between them and the rail while they’re choosing their itching post.

This is Winnie.  She was excellent.  She scratched her forehead on me.  We played Red Light Green Light with the horses, which for the record teaches the children to control the animals.  I taught several kids that if you want the horse to stop you have to tell it like you mean it.  That was a pretty cute lesson.  Don’t ask it to “ho”, tell it.  It’s not a question it’s a command.  In the afternoon the children painted the horses with some sort of washable paint.  And then all the horses got baths.  Horses are like Dobermans when it comes to baths.  My job was to make sure no child got hurt today.  I spent a lot of time saying “stay back from the creek”, “don’t climb on the fence” and “don’t stand behind the horse”.   At one point the kids all wanted to be in the bath bays with the horses and the horses weren’t having it.  I raised my voice just enough to sound stern and said “Everybody sit on the steps for me”.  To my surprise there were sixteen little butts perched on the steps in seconds.  I thought “Shit, now what am I going to do with these kids, I can’t leave them there on the steps”.  So I brought them out a couple at a time and gave them little tasks.  Who knew that they’d listen to me.  I have 32 hours of community service to go.  For all the crap the cop and the judge and the court put me through, I hope I continue to have this much fun doing community service.  You can suck it judge.

The weight of unravelling where we went wrong

I have a nomination for the stupidest guy on the planet.  And I don’t think there are very many people who would dispute this.  Guys like this guy make life difficult for the rest of us.  This guy shouldn’t even be allowed around sharp objects he’s such a jackass.  Steven Hayashi.  Yep.  Steven Hayashi.  He’s the stupid ass that owned the five pit bulls that killed his two year old grandson.  I got a feeling Thanksgiving is going to be a little tense at the Hayashi house in the future.  For the second time in two weeks a ghetto bird circled over my house.  That’s how close these dipshits live to me.  It’s not easy to work with the ghetto chopper circling over your house, trust me.

First off, five dogs is a pack.  The dynamics change when you get to five.  He starts with a bitch who was pregnant and has two puppies.  Now, you’re such an idiot that you can’t afford to spay and/or neuter your dogs so those three make more dogs.  And you’re not smart enough to get new homes for the puppies.  And you’re so stupid that they aren’t fixed either.  And they kill your Chihuahua and you don’t think that’s a problem?  You don’t see the attack but you’re sure it’s just the one.  You didn’t see the attack you freaking moron.  You don’t know what the hell happened.  You only know the result.  You are an idiot.  All the dogs were gentle and friendly except for Kiwi.  Unless of course they were busy killing the family dog or your grandson, then they’re a little temperamental.  I promise you, I would never have a dog unsupervised around children and I would absolutely under no circumstance ever have a dog I couldn’t trust around children.  Anybody who thinks differently than that is a complete moron.  At the end of the day, they’re animals.  Never give jailhouse interviews, it just lets the rest of us know what an idiot your are.

According to Hayashi, all of the dogs had been raised to be family pets and were gentle and friendly except for Kiwi. “I never let Kiwi around my grandchildren because I didn’t trust him,” Hayashi said. About a year before the attack, the dogs attacked and killed his pet Chihuahua, “Ruby.” Although nobody saw the pit bulls kill the Chihuahua, Hayashi said he believes Kiwi was the one that killed it. The dogs had never displayed any aggression toward humans, though, and everyone except Jacob and his brother could handle them without a problem, Hayashi said.

Yeah, not a problem until they killed your grandson and left his corpse on the garage floor.  Or this jewel:

Hayashi described himself as an animal lover who was surprised the animals turned so violent.“I thought pit bulls had a bad rap,” he said. “I’m one of those animal lovers who thinks dogs are dogs. Now I mistrust all dogs.”

No, pit bulls have a bad rap because of stupid guys like you doing stupid things that allow horrible things to occurr.  Get it?  It’s your fault.

I’m going to use one of The Brother’s terms here. 

will·ful/?wilf?l/Adjective

1. (of an immoral or illegal act or omission) Intentional; deliberate.

2. Having or showing a stubborn and determined intention to do as one wants, regardless of the consequences or effects

Pit bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Akitas and Doberman Pinschers are willful dogs.  If you are not a strong enough owner to establish yourself as the Alpha, there is going to be problems.  Period.  I get challenged daily.  I do not lose.  I transport these dogs in the cab of my truck, secured with a dog seatbelt more often than not.  I never have any trouble.  Why?  Because I get into that truck and they know to sit down, shut up and hang on.  And they do.  If you can’t look at your dog and they stop what they’re doing, you have no business owning a willful dog.  You or somebody else is going to get hurt.

Now let’s get back to another stupid thing this guy did.  He tied on of the dogs to a tree in the front yard.  From Karen Delise

“Chained dogs have killed at least 127 people. Of the 127 people, 112 were children that wandered into reach of a chained or similarly restrained
dog. Another 11 occurred from dogs who were chained and broke free before attacking.” She also states in her book: “Statistically, chained dogs are more dangerous than free-running packs of dogs.”

That was written in 2003.  The media would like to tell us that there is an epidemic of dog bites, but truth be told, dog bites are down.  Way down from 1971 when I was the right age to get my ass bit and never did.  Here’s another interesting stat from the National Canine Research Council:

There have been 18 fatal dog attacks in Pennsylvania in the past 45 years (1965-2009).  11 different breeds or types of dogs have been reported in connection with these incident.  NONE were pit bull type dogs.

That is in spite of the fact that criminal offenders and drug dealers prefer pit bull type dogs.  Once you get back to the real numbers, there is little evidence that pit bulls type dogs are more aggressive.  There is evidence that stupid people go to a pit bull to make up for what nature shorted them.  And that is a bad combination.

Not everybody can own a pit.  Not everyone can own a Doberman.  Not everyone can or should own a Rottweiler, or a GSD or an Akita.  Not everyone should even own a dog.  I mean, if somebody has an aggressive Chihuahua or an aggressive Shiz Tzu, what makes them think they can raise a balanced willful dog?  Somebody has to say, no, you can’t have this.  And for the sake of responsible dog owners, I wish someone had said that to Steven Hayashi, because he’s a moron.

They have the authority to kill a minority

* WARNING: Today’s post contains more offensive language than usual.  Because I find these people repulsive.

Yesterday Ygnacio Valley Road was closed for several hours right in the heart of the commute.  It was closed so a bunch of stupid white people could spew their racist hate in the guise of “Supporting Johannes Mehserle”.  I call bullshit.  To me it’s just as stupid as the “Free Mumia” crowd.  Mehserle was convicted of a crime.  Now he gets to do his time.  Mumia Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, killed a cop.  There’s no freeing him.  He did the crime, now he gets to do his time.  Personally, I don’t want criminals “freed”.  Do the crime, do the time.

Mehserle was convicted of a crime.  He wrongfully pulled and discharged his weapon and took a young man’s life.  It was pretty much the crime he copped to.  No one presented any evidence that he was a racist cop, rather a lot of evidence was presented that he was a dumb ass.  So does Walnut Creek and Concord support dumb asses who kill people?  Here’s the link to some photos from yesterday.  The organizer, who is pretty much a jackass himself, pissing and whining at the media because they covered his announcement on his Facebook page.  This idiot doesn’t understand the conviction any more than all of the folks who think it was murder.  We’re a whole society full of dumb asses.  Ignorant dumb asses.

It was just an excuse for them to go out there and show their racism.  The Oscar Grant supporters are accusing Mehserle of racism.  He may be a racist, most people are.  Yeah, I just said that.  Most people are, the issue is whether it’s overt or not.  But did his racism lead him to willfully murder that young man?  I don’t think so.  I have never thought so.  Did the fact that he’s just an idiot contribute?  Probably.  But the organizers and participants in this rally used their right to free speech to air their own overt racism.  And it allowed the ugly truth to bubble up in public.  And that disgusts me.  We should be heading towards more tolerance, more acceptance and more diversity.  Let me cut through the crap and tell you what it was about.  It was about a bunch of racist white suburban assholes getting out and saying the the only good nigger is a dead one.  It ain’t no crime to shoot one.  There you go.  That’s it in a nutshell.  That’s what those people think.  And they are repulsive.  But they didn’t use those words.  They said they were supporting their local police.  BULLSHIT.  They all think that Oakland is this cesspool of lazy ignorant drug dealers that needs to get off their collective asses and get a job.  They think that because they’re so scared of black people that they won’t even go to Oakland.  Personally, that’s fine with me.  Oakland’s got it’s problems, that’s for sure, but there are some really great things going on in Oakland. Things these people are too stupid to understand.  Oakland is full of great folks, good families and some amazing culture.

There is no reason to “Support Johannes Mehserle”.  He was at the very least a lousy cop, possibly a bad one.  The police force doesn’t need lousy untrained officers.  Do these Walnut Creek racists support poorly trained police officers?  Let’s take it one extension.  The cops bust down your door guns drawn because they’re busting a meth house.  Except you’re on 6th Avenue and they were supposed to bust down the door at 6th Street.  You’re confused and in your confusion your actions become “resisting arrest”.  And the cop reaches for his tasar and gets his revolver instead and now you swim with the fish.  Do you support the dumbass that just shot you?  Did you know that SWAT teams do 150 “wrong door” invasions per year in this country?  How would you like to be shot during a “wrong door” home invasion?  I do not support bad police work.  I do not support Johannes Mehserle and I do not support the racist assholes that created and attended the rally last night in Walnut Creek.  If they really wanted to support Johannes Mehserle and the police force, they would pay their freaking taxes and shut the hell up.

You want your job you better free that brown eyed man

I have always sang songs to my animals.  If you’ve heard my singing voice you’ll know why they are the only ones who will live with me.  It started with the cats.  I had two great cats.  Broderick Catford and Rayette DiPesto.  Rayette DiPesto was the Karen Black character in Five Easy Pieces.  I lived on Broderick Street and thought if he ever got out I wanted to be able to stand on my porch and yell the name of my street over and over again and have the cat come home.  Neither ever got out.

And of course the song I sang to them was:

Then came Xica da Silva.  She was named after a character in a Brazilian film of the same name.  Back then Bravo was a station that played foreign and indie films.  They would have never considered, actually, I can’t imagine their disgust at the idea of airing a show such as The Real Housewives of Orange County.  Xica da Silva was on heavy rotation.  I can remember laying on the couch at the apartment on Broderick Street watching it for about the 10th time just because.  And when that little black puppy came into my life, I named her Xica da Silva

Did I mention that Miriam Makeba sang the song?  I’m sure the dogs wouldn’t like her version as much and Xica loved mine.

Toby didn’t have a song, but Beauregard has his own song that I sang to him since the day he arrived.

And it was the most fitting song for him.

OK, that was a great version of that song.  Perhaps better than mine.

Rita is a no brainer.  It’s not my first choice but it’s the only one the really works.

Sometimes she gets this one.

Especially when I think of this picture.

And poor Bubba doesn’t have a song.  I can’t believe there isn’t a country song out right now that has a good Bubba reference, but for now the poor dog doesn’t have to listen to my singing.  And he thinks that’s a good thing.

But Ike is another story.  That poor dog has heard nothing but the Eisenhower jingle for days.  And I think he likes it.

Or maybe he’s just bored.

I think right now his answer to Eisenhower or Turner would be Turner.

But we don’t like that Ike.

Don’t know what I want but I know how to get it

The thing about Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants is that they get stuff you can’t find just any where.  And sometimes they bring in a winemaker or an owner.  Occasionally the guy isn’t very interesting but most of the time you get the likes of Michael Keenan, Pam Starr and Billy Grant.  Who?  He’s one of the partners at Four Vines.  Christian Tietje is the winemaker and founder with Susan Mahler.  Basically three of them make this wine.  And they are all outlaws.  And you know I love an Outlaw.

Nice video that tells there story better than I could.  And these guys make great wine.  I could hang out with these guys.  But since Paso is a long haul right now, let’s just drink up at PHWM.

The 2008 Naked Chardonnay is an awesome summer Chardonnay.  You can all say this along with me, not one of those big buttery, oaky California style Chardonnays.  I should probably have an abbreviation for that one.  Maybe “not Cougar crack”.  Yeah, that’ll work.  Stone fruit on the front palate, long finish for a chard with a hint of citrus ending with a nice minerality.  Scallops, they said oysters but I’m not an oyster fan.  So scallops.  Light seafood.  A sunny afternoon.  I love this little wine.

The “Old Vine Cuvee” is their everyday Zin.  If you can call a wine that’s priced this well and tastes this good “everyday”.  Jumping spices on the front end, cherry cola, anise and spice on the finish.  It drops off pretty quickly but at $14 retail this is an everday Zin that will knock your socks off.  The Maverick is a fruit bomb that’s full of high heat.  I thought of sugar plums in the mid palate, the finish has some vanilla toastiness to it.  The Sophisticate is from Sonoma County.  It’s spicy, vanilla-y a little Jolly Rogers in there with a nice velvety finish.  I really liked this one.  The Biker is just what it says it is.  It’s rough and tumble, blackberries, anise, spice, vanilla, it’s rock candy baby! The Dusi Vineyards was full of cherry cola, ripe plums and spices.  They dry farm that vineyard.

Then they have a line that they refer to as their “Freakshow”.  I love a freakshow.  Actually, one time I nicknamed an employee “Freakshow”.  Yeah they tell you that you’re not supposed to do that stuff.  Well, if you’re not an asshole and you do it from a good place in your heart you can get away with it.  And MAD still answers to Mad Dog.  And when Freakshow calls, she says “Hey it’s Freakshow!”  Play to the postive.  That is all.

The Heretic.  The Heretic is a bit of a streetfight.  It’s a Petite Sirah, kind of a pedestrian blend for these guys.  Cream soda and black cherries.  Boysenberries.  Full bodied and meaty.  Anarchy.  They call it an unconventional Rhone.  Syrah, Mourvedre and Zinfandel.  Guys, it’s an Outlaw Rhone.  And the back of the bottle mimics the Sex Pistols album.  Because it wasn’t a CD back then. Hello?  This thing was full of vanilla, had some cigar box and leather on the back end and was just ridiculous.  Was it an Outlaw?  A punk rock wine?  Or Anarchy in a bottle.

The Dusi was full of vanilla coke and black cherry ice cream.  It’s the sort of Zinfandel you pair with Cuban or Cajun food.  It’ll take the heat off and finish off the complexity of that sort of food beautifully.  The Loco is a Tempranillo from Templeton.  There was a young lady from France….  High heat for a Tempranillo but I had some that had been opened for longer and it had calmed down.  This one is going to need a Vinturi or a Wine Soiree or something, maybe time in the bottle.  She’s just fighting to get out.  She’s loco.  Big with dark fruit, a long finish.   This one is one to lay down for a few years and revisit once she quits fighting with the bottle.  They follow that up with the Peasant.  This is a traditional Rhone GSM blend.  It’s smokey and earthy.  It’s the kind of wine that you want to sit down grilled steak and mushrooms.  A little licorice sneaking in on the nice finish.  And whenever there are peasants, there’s Monarchy.  This is a well structured, well balanced wine that was a lot less of an angry mob than most of their offerings.  This one is sexy and smooth.  Smooth as silk with beautiful mouthfeel.  51% Petit Verdot.  Really a special wine.  The Phoenix was cream soda and black cherries all around.  This one had great structure and I would like to revisit it next year.  Because that’s how I think.  Billy talked about how wine was a living organism.  I’ve heard a couple of wine folks give their spin on that concept.  But really it is and it changes.  It changes from when the bottle is opened until it goes into the glass, be that 5 seconds or two hours or the day after.  And some wines need more opening up time.  Because they’re living organisms.  They ended the night with their Zinfandel Port.  I am not allowed to ever purchase a bottle of this stuff.  It was straight up coconut. I’ve never had a port that had this much coconut in it.  It was silky and had a little caramel, certainly some dark chocolate and all coconut.  We all know how much I love coconut.  Yeah, you could probably roll cat crap in coconut and I’d eat it.  I love coconut that much.  That much love in a bottle that finishes with a lingering coconut?  I’d drink the whole thing and have to cut my head off the next morning.  But for you normal people, it’s a really fun port.

Two quick postscripts.

p.s. If you can and haven’t supported Ike, click on the I Like Ike tab above, it’ll tell you all you need to know.  And thank you.

p.s.s.  Don’t you read this kind of wine post and wonder why PBE is consistently snubbed by the WBC?  Me too.

May you always be courageous

Now that’s how you make a political ad.  No sniping, no crap, just a great little jingle.  And an elephant.

We all like Ike.  He’s wormed his way into everyone’s heart.  He speaks for his dinner, he sits pretty and he flops his big head on my lap.  What’s not to like?

I’ve been working trying to get some help for Ike.  I originally thought he’d be here two weeks and then I’d send him to the Rainbow Bridge.  Well, Ike didn’t get that memo.  It’s two weeks today.  Last week a gentle reader graciously stepped in and offered Ike her kitty’s left over prednisone.  That’s made a big difference for him and I am very grateful for PBE readers.  Ike’s getting better.  And he has the opportunity to get even mo’ betta.

Ike has been approved as a Special Needs Doberman.  Click here and scroll down to the “General Fund” and click on the General Fund.  It will take you to Paypal.  Under “Add Special instructions to merchant” specify I Like Ike.  That’s the important part, you have to specify “I Like Ike”.  Then all proceeds will go directly towards his treatment and together we can get this boy on the road to recovery.  Special Needs Dobermans is a 501(c)(3) non-profit so every penny is a charitable donation.  Our goal is $600 which will get him 4-5 treatments at Alternatives for Animals.  That should provide him the relief that he needs to start living the life he was supposed to live before Wobbler’s Syndrome almost cost him his life.  Dr. Rettig has done work on other rescued Doberman that have Wobbler’s and has had amazing progress.  Every little bit helps this big boy.

Ike would like to thank all of the folks who are making this possible for him.  And I’m feeling a little verklempt.

May your heart always be joyful

It’s been a little while since I talked about wine.  It just takes a little more time to talk about wine.  I have to refer back to scraps of paper, sticky notes on the iPhone and handouts from the winery.  All are barely legible so it’s always an adventure.  Not now though, I’ve got a new toy.  Corkbin.  This is an idiot proof (almost) application that allows me to take a picture of the wine label and then type in a few notes on the wine.  It’s darned near fool proof.  And I mean Fool proof.  The only real opportunity for screw up is if you can’t get a clear picture.  And sometimes you think you have a clear picture but really, you don’t.

I’ve only had two days off in the last month.  June 19th and July 5th.  Yep, the 5th not the 4th.  I held an open house on July 4th just like I did last year.  I get really good turn out on Fourth of July open houses.  21 parties through.  That’s a rockin’ turn out.  I took the next day off.  Didn’t even fire up the computer, that much off.  The day off before that was Keenan’s Annual Summer Picnic.  If you belong to their wine club or know someone who does, you get to go.  I love Keenan.  They’re still in a barn.  No high end la-di-da tasting room.  No bull shit.  Just great wine.  Sonofabun got a day pass and off we went.  Neither of us are oyster lovers, but they had an oyster bar for those of you who are.  And a taco station.  And grilled sausauges.  And grilled chicken strips.  And because it’s Keenan, they had some of the best wine you’ll get in the valley.  Michael was downstairs in the barrel room with his wine thief serving up barrel tastings of his futures.  I have two clone futures I bought a few years ago.  Retail on them is around $200 right now.  I got them for $65 each.  It’s going to be another good release year for Keenan.  They continue to do great things in wine.  They’re up Spring Mountain Road and then up a little tiny one lane road that veers to the right.  Like it used to be.  All I have to say to Michael is “stay independent”.

Sonofabun and me have a game we play.  Sometimes we will go to the old steady Eddies, but sometimes we play this game where we can’t go to a winery we’ve been to before.  We’ll drive down 29 or Silverado Trail saying “Have you been there?” Yep.  “How about there?” Nope.  And in we go.  That’s how we found Benesserre.  Their wine dog is a Newfie.  I love their Zinfandel.  But we’d been there so we couldn’t go there.  We drove past a number of wineries before we had a winner.  Wm. Harrison.   They have a small tasting room and then some tables out on the deck that you can taste at.  Out on the deck in 90 degree weather.  We stayed inside.  Their 2006 Cabernet Franc is a beautiful wine.  Roasted coffee and spice, dark cherries and a very nice finish.  It made me want to sit down to a nice roasted dinner.  Exceptional wine for the $45 price tag.  Although I think I’m on a bit of a Cab Franc jag these days.  Their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was a very nice offering as well.  I think that one’s their flagship.  Dark fruit, vanilla, leather and a nice finish.  My favorite was the 2008 Pinot Noir.  They source that fruit from the Sonoma Coast, always a good choice.  It’s a smoky Pinot.  I got plums, chocolate and some Dr. Pepper in it.  Nice mouthfeel, gentle finish.  They said it was a Pinot that could lay down for a while.  I could see that.

We proceeded down the Silverado Trail “Yep”, “Yep”, “Yep”.  And then there it was, rising out of the mountain.  Nope.  Nope.  We made a quick left and headed up the hill to Signorello.  When we arrived at the top of the hill we found an Estate.  My gut thought with all this structure, I’m worried about the quality of the wine.  No need to worry.  Their winemaker Pierre Birebent is an amazing talent.  He’s been there since 1998 which I think is important for knowing the terroir and then ultimately the wine.  Like William-Harrison they don’t make a lot of wine.  They just make a lot of really good wine.  We started with the 2008 Seta, a Semillon/Sauv blanc blend.  An unusual blend and an unusual wine.  I wanted seared scallops immediately.  There was an air of lemon curd in this wine but the finish was minerally…with a touch of honey.  It wasn’t like anything I’ve had before but it was something that I would love to have again.  The 2007 Chardonnay was a Chardonnay the way the French make them.  Funny enough, Pierre is French.  Not one of those big buttery oaky bombs.  Nope, this was an elegant Chardonnay, bright fruit, crisp on the tongue even a bit of light spice on it.  Then we moved on to the 2007 Pinot Noir, Las Amigas Vineyard.  This was more of a typical California Pinot when I was by now expecting French barnyard since that’s how they like their Pinots.  Bright fruit, strawberry, raspberry creme.  Vanilla finishs off a nice wine with beautiful mouthfeel.  The 2007 Zinfandel was a party in a glass.  There was vanilla, eucalyptus, earth, sweetness, chocolate you name it.  It had the potential for a lot of high heat but it didn’t do that.  Very nice finish.  They have their Kobe and Cab club and I wanted some Kobe beef to go with that Zin put on the grill for me RIGHT THEN.  The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate was quite an interesting wine.  I felt in needed to lay down for about five to ten years to realize what it’s really going to be.  I heard a winemaker say that “wine was a living organism” the other day.  It really is.  And like any living organism it changes over time.  I thought more time in the bottle was going to make this wine absolutely amazing.  It is currently a little young and feisty.  Dark raspberries, caramel, leather, a little tight on the end, but I really think time in the bottle will remedy that in this highly complex, well structured wine.  Signorello’s Frenchman is quite a talent.  I hope we don’t have too many more days where we can’t go to somewhere we’ve been before because I really want to go back to Signorello.  Actually I could live there.  Maybe be their Wine dog.  Me and Bubba and Rita and Ike.  We’d just wander the vineyards and the cellars and take care of stuff that needs taking care of.  Yeah, that’s it.

That’s the other thing.  These wine posts get really long.  Do y’all actually read through all of this?  I kind of feel like Ferris Bueller.

Where, oh where, have the smart people gone?

From one of my favorite sites “God hates protesters”

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Nuthin’ but quality here.

Speaking of protesters, there’s a little thing going on here in the Bay Area.  The Brother calls them the Rent-a-Mob.  That’s a good term for them.

Officials said the main instigators appeared to be organized “anarchist” agitators wearing black clothing and hoods. Many of the most aggressive demonstrators smashing the windows of banks and shops were white.

They didn’t give a shit about Oscar Grant.  They don’t care about Israel or Hezzbolah or any other protest that they show up to.  They’re anarchists, scratch that, assholes.  They are just a bunch of thugs.  And they suck.  And if the Police are going to get jiggy with somebody, it ought to be these clowns.  According to the Chronicle the mob was “racially diverse”.  Yeah, that’s because it was the Rent-a-Mob.  If they gave a shit, they would have listened to Oscar Grant’s own Grandfather:

“Please, let’s keep peace,” grandfather Oscar Grant, 65, said on a loudspeaker at the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway. “I know what went on down there was wrong. Please don’t tear up the Bay Area.

“Don’t dishonor my grandson’s death by tearing up Oakland. I know the verdict was wrong.”

I don’t know that the verdict was wrong, but I do think that the anarchists dishonored your grandson’s death.
192. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without
malice. It is of three kinds:
(a) Voluntary–upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.
(b) Involuntary–in the commission of an unlawful act, not
amounting to felony; or in the commission of a lawful act which might
produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and
circumspection. This subdivision shall not apply to acts committed in
the driving of a vehicle.
(c) Vehicular–

Am I the only one who has thought this out?  Consider this, I’m a real bad dude.  I want to bust heads and take names.  So I take a job with BART?  Not your first choice.  A job with BART for the most part entails throwing misbehaving passengers off of BART. More often than not they arrive long after the problem is solved. It’s for the most part cush duty. OK, scenario two, I’ve had enough of these clowns making BART a mess and I’m going to teach this one a lesson.  So I cap him on a crowded platform with hundreds of witnesses?  People.  The Police have much better ways of killing a black man.  Daryl Gates’ boys were pretty good at jail cell hangings.  But capping him on a platform in front of hundreds of witnesses?  No.  Here’s a better scenario, I’m an idiot and can’t get on with a real police force so I get a job with BART. And then I do something really stupid and really horrible by accident, because I’m not very good at what I do. Better? Folks, it’s not murder.  Murder in California needs an intent component.  Stupid doesn’t.

CALIFORNIA CODES
PENAL CODE
SECTION 187-199

187. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a
fetus, with malice aforethought.

I haven’t read the court transcripts at all, but it looks to me like Grant was probably partying and at the very least drunk.  Like most drunks he got stuck on something.  I’m sure he was excitable, he was a young man who’d been involved somehow in a fight on a train and now he’s sitting on a platform about to be arrested.  If you watch him, he’s trying to make a call or text on his cell phone.  The BART Police have ordered him to sit still and that escalates like it does with drunks.  I will not mention the night that the Contessa wanted a burger.  I swear to God I heard about that damned burger from Kenwood to Concord.  That’s a long time to be hearing about a burger.  I don’t think that the Contessa would have shut up about that burger if the BART Police told him to sit down and be quiet.  It’s just a function of being that drunk.  Can’t I just have a burger may have been “I need to call my _______” and instead of grabbing his taser, Mehserle grabbed his revolver.  And then something really horrible happened.  But it’s not murder, it’s stupidity.  The conviction was right.  The Alameda County District Attorney set this all up by overcharging him.  They could have educated the public.  They were the ones with the bully pulpit on this one and they misused it for political gain.  Shame on them.