Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind

Oh, you need to hear just one more rant from me this month?  Lucky you!  I’ve got a topic.  And it’s not these knuckleheads.  God is good.

But Chase Bank, now that’s another story.  I’ve got a lot to say about these guys in the first place.  Many of the REO’s I rolled up on over the last couple of years were Chase owned.  On numerous occasions the homeowner told me they had a short sale or an approved loan modification.  One department was doing a work out and the other was foreclosing on the property.  My opinion of the way they are handling this mess is they are a stuffed shirt East Coast bank that doesn’t see their customers as human beings.  As far as they’re concerned they need to take back these homes as quickly as possible, throw these people out and dump the non-performing asset off the books.  And for the love of God, never wrinkle their freshly pressed shirt.

Now I find myself on the other side of one of them.  I’ve got a client who needs to short sale her home.  Simple enough.  Prior to calling me, she went through the Home Affordable program and tried a HAMP modification.  She was denied.  The next step is a HAFA short sale.  Lucky for everyone, I’m HAFA certified so I took the listing.  We sent the HAFA package off to Chase on October 4th.  I called about a week later to be sure the package arrived.  “I’m sorry we can’t give you that information”.  I just want to know if the package has arrived.  “We cannot give you that information without the last four digits of the borrowers social security number.  OK, so I go get the last four digits of her social security number and call them back.

“I’m sorry, we can’t give you that information”.

Why the hell not?

“We don’t have an authorization for you to talk to us on this account.”

Don’t you have the HAFA package with my listing agreement in it?

“I can’t access that information.”

I’m the listing agent.  The property is on the market.  Can’t you tell me if you received the package or not?

“No, we need a letter signed by the borrower with, are you writing this down? Her full name as it appears on the loan, the laon number, her SSN, the property address, your name and full address and phone number.”

You can’t tell me if you even have it?

“Not without authorization to talk to you about her account”.

So I drive out there and get the piece of paper and fax it to Chase.  Not once, but twice.  I wait a week and call.

“I’m sorry we don’t have an authorization to talk to you about this account.”

I sent it to you twice on the 20th of October.

“I’m sorry we don’t have it, can you refax it to this other number?”

Sure.

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Help me with?  You haven’t helped me yet.  Don’t infer that you’ve done anything helpful because you haven’t.

“I’m sorry you feel this way Ma’am.  Have a nice day.”

So I fax the authorization to the number she gives me, wait a week and call back. Now I have her full SSN so I get further into the system.

I’m calling to talk to someone about the HAFA package I submitted on behalf of my client last October 4th.  (Soon I will need to reference the year the way this is going)

“I’m sorry we don’t have an authorization to talk to you about this account.”

I’ve sent it three times.  How in God’s green earth could you possibly not have it?

“What fax number did you send it to Ma’am”

Every one you gave me.  I sent it to these three numbers, most recently the 614 number.

“Well this is a Heritage loan, that phone number is for Washington Mutual assets”.

Then why the hell did you people tell me to send it there?

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience Ma’am.  You’ll have to fax it to these other numbers”

Are you clowns going to be sorry for the inconvenience when after now five soon to be 8 copies of this document were faxed to your office but you continue to lose them and foreclose on my clients home?  Are you going to still be sorry then or do you even give a damn?

“I’m sorry you feel that way Ma’am.  If you could please refax the authorization to our office…”

I just did.  Three more times.  Do you have it?

“It takes 5-7 days to process”

Can I email it to you so that you can discuss this with me?

“No.  It has to be an approved authorization”

I can’t email this document to you and have you answer the simple question of whether or not you have received the HAFA package?

“No.  Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Help me with?  You haven’t helped me yet.  Don’t infer that you’ve done anything helpful because you haven’t.

And that’s where we stand as of right now.  I’ve been calling for two months and Chase has yet to speak to me about a HAFA package that I sent to them on October 4th with a copy of the listing agreement to me in it.  That’s how bad they are.

I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch

Ah, it’s Black Friday.  They call it that for a completely different reason than I call it that.  Back in the day, I used to get out kind of early (like 7ish) and go check out the windows at Macy’s Union Square.  Back then they were amazing and interesting and fabulous.  And of course Gumps had the SPCA display with all of the kitties and puppies playing.  And I’d do no shopping and be home by about 10am, because I’m not a big fan of big shopping crushes.  The older I get the more I look at that sort of behavior and think “Why?”

You’re not starving in Botswana and the UN truck just showed up.  You’re trying to buy the latest Flip fergodsakes.  (Now with image stabilization)  Are you people serious?  Three people were killed on Black Friday in 2008 from crushes of mobs so they could buy manufactured crap that is probably in landfill today.  Bah humbug. Actually, I probably ordered the clean out on their houses last year and had my service provider take it to the landfill for them.

Growing up my Mother in particular was not very focused on the consumerist side of Christmas.  She was much more focused on why the season existed in the first place.  (Although not like these Reason for the Season asshats)  That’s pretty much stuck with me.  There’s been several versions of flash mob choirs singing Hallelujah floating around the last couple of days.  That reminds me of the Centerville Presbyterian Church Choir singing the Messiah.  I know they didn’t do the whole thing, but I don’t remember how much they did.  Doesn’t the whole thing take like nine hours?

Anyway, we never clambered amongst the unwashed masses to buy a Tickle me Elmo or any other piece of crap.  As a matter of fact, I have no recollection of even wanting the latest whatever when I was a kid.  And in reality, I fought a home computer until 1995 and a cell phone for longer than most, even though in reality, I use both more and more efficiently than most people.  When I was down in Anaheim earlier this month everyone was commenting on how cool my phone was (I do have the Droid X now) and how well I buzzed through it.  At my age, I’m pretty proud of that.  My accountability partner just bought one and told me she hopes to be as good as I am with hers.  Did I ever mention dumping the iPhone and going to the Droid X?  Six drops on the same call on the iPhone.  I drove directly to Verizon and asked them to show me a phone that didn’t drop calls.  It was the day the Droid X came out and they had one left.  That’s as close as I have ever gotten to getting the latest and greatest of anything.  Happenstance.   But I digress.

The point is, it’s consumer goods.  Shopping went from a means to acquire necessities to a past time in this country.  We have no one to blame but slick marketers and our own stupidity.  And judging from how much of this crap I’ve had thrown out of foreclosed houses in the last two years, nobody really needed or wanted it.  If you really are a Christian, I don’t know how you reconcile this overkill with the Bible.  (Yep, here we go)

I’ve been watching all these churches shoving their man made values irrespective of the original teachings of the Bible, down everyone else’s throat and then watch the very same people profit from the rampant consumerism.  And that just makes me think of Jesus toppling over the moneychangers tables.  And I watch the hate going on out there and I think of Jesus washing Mary Magdalene’s feet and hair.  And I think that in over 2000 years, people are just as ignorant as they were back then.  They are all certain that Christ is going to return and gather them up to heaven and I’m just thinking, notsomuch.

So today, I will not be out shopping.  That’s not to say I don’t, I do.  But my shopping isn’t frenzied or it won’t happen.  I put up a tree from time to time and I put up lights on occasion.  Today I am going up to Placerville to a Christmas tree farm.  I expect/hope to be pretty lonesome up there today.  Rita is getting the nod today.  On the way back I will stop in Davis for the Family Massacre.  Long time readers know we never do it on Thanksgiving Day.  And I will sneak home under the radar.  Hallelujah.

We took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Today is going to be a cornucopia of stuff.

First up, Little Sister.  I’ve found her a forever home and she’ll be going there some time next week.  In the meantime, my dogs continue to take turns trying to remove her head.  This is fine because she doesn’t use it for much.

She was spayed on Tuesday.  It was nice to see the piss and vinegar knocked out of her for a couple of days.  It’s back.  She would be great if I didn’t have three other dogs to worry about.  Ike being the toughest.  Because of his condition he can’t be trained on a leash.  He’s hard headed and sometimes can just work my last nerve.  Especially when I’m trying to snack on something and he’s trying to get at it.  So as cute as she is, and she is cute, Little Sister was the straw that was breaking this camels back.  She’s going to a great home where she hopes to never have to wear the Cone of Silence again.

As I’ve mentioned, I got rid of cable at the beginning of the year.  In reality it’s been a boon.  I miss such things at the ADD the media has had over this TSA thing.  Seriously.  Back on September 12th 2001 y’all were wringing your hands and saying that something had to be done to stop these attacks.  Little ol’ bleeding heart Wine Dog said “If you do, you’re going to give up certain freedoms, are you prepared to do that?”  Nobody was listening.  The real big government President, you know, the guy that took the largest budget surplus in history and turned it into a monumental cascading deficit, then created the TSA in the first goddamned place sacked our civil rights with impunity.  Did we forget that he authorized questionable wiretaps and unscrupulous and illegal interrogation proceedings while we all sat on our hands because “we were under attack”, nevermind that one of the tenets of his party was to instill fear in the constituency so that they could further their corporate agenda.  You know the guy who held “enemy combatants” in prison without the benefit of any rights whatsoever, you know like whether or not they were even guilty?   Oh yeah, in direct violation of the Geneva Convention.  Civil rights be damned.  Where were the teabaggers back then?  Freedoms were being denied unilaterally by the Bush Administration but these johnnycomelately revolutionaries sat by silently.  Here we are nearly ten years later and the ADD media has forgotten that the scanning machines were ordered by the Bush Administration and back on September 12, 2001 we would have consented to full body cavity searches to make it stop.  Because we were under attack.  Now a bunch of teabaggers in kilts (am I the only one who sees the irony in that?) have mounted a half assed and really ridiculous protest against a machine that it’s inventor even concedes gives an “unflattering image” at best.

While everyone is all focused on the teabaggers in kilts, the Bush tax cuts are rattling around the White House.  Obama is actually considering extending them.  I heard an argument on NPR to extend them only to the top 1% and that would exclude the small businesses that seems to be the source of the big bug-a-boo.  As long as Roger Ailes gets it up the ass, I don’t care how they accomplish it.  Because if that slimy jackass would ever actually listen to NPR he would find news over there.  You know, like journalists objectively reporting the facts.  Not the faux crap, let’s call it what it is Right Wing Propaganda he calls news.

I really find what Fox is doing to be the biggest threat to our democracy that we’ve ever seen.

Another thing I see very little of is celebrity news.  That’s just the biggest threat to the downfall of civilization out there.  Who really cares?  Yet, I found this little story to be interesting.  Drew Carey who has built his career out of being the beer drinking pizza chowing fat guy went out and lost like half of a Drew Carey.  He did it with hard work.  I always liked The Drew Carey Show, and here’s a little factoid, his girlfriend in the show, you know the hot one that gained all the weight?  None other than Kate Walsh, of Grey’s Anatomy and whatever that other thing they’re doing now is called.

But that’s not the point, the point is I was reading a story where he was talking about his weight loss and he had a really great comment.  “Crappy food is not  a reward -it’s punishment”.  That one’s been sticking with me for a while.  Not that I eat crappy food because for the most part I don’t.  Except those red velvet cupcakes at that little bakery up the street.  Or the ones at The Republic of Cake.  Those guys make the best carrot cake cupcake on the planet.  Period.  The Meyer Lemon meringue ain’t too shabby either.  But I haven’t seen the inside of a fast food place in years.  My fat ass really needs to stay out of that place, but those guys just do an amazing job.  So I keep it to one.  Usually.

Speaking of my fat ass, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here but it’s certainly time.  I’m riding the SF AIDS Lifecycle to Los Angeles this June.  It’s 545 miles over seven days.  I think it will be good for me.  One of my goals is to sell enough real estate before I go so that I can be riding a brand new one of these.

Yeah, that’s the S-Works Roubaix.  Specialized is based here in Moraga and while I’m sure there are other bikes that would be just fine, I’m going to buy local.  Oh yeah and my previous two bikes were Specialized so there’s a little brand loyalty for you.  I’ve got a lot of houses to sell before I can get one of those, but hey, goals are just dreams with a date attached.  If not, I’ll be on my Roubaix Elite Comp which will totally need an overhaul before I leave.  Anywho, here’s the link to support my ride.  Just like the LiveStrong, any little bit helps.  Thanks.

And because it’s Thanksgiving

We’re good and we’re evil, which one will I be today?

We all know I spent a few years in the title industry.  Around 31 years to be exact, over a 33 year period of time.  I was out briefly in the early 80’s when the market crashed.  During that time I worked as a baker for Mrs. Fields.  That Mrs. Fields.  While the company originally taught me how to make cookies, I had the privilidge of the real Debbie Fields showing me how to make her cookies one day, years ago in Los Angeles.  I was out of the business in 2000 to a couple of weeks after 9/11.  The real 9/11.  I was commission only and just starting out when they flew the planes into the WTC.  When you’re commission only and they close the stock market, that’s not a great business plan.  Of course whenever I work for someone I learn way more than they want me to.  I’m always watching how things are done, how they get from Point A to Point B and then digesting all the information.

Like the day back in 2006 that they told me they could have the prelims created for $16 a day in India.  I knew what that meant to real title officers.  Like watching as title companies started being run like insurance companies.  The transformation from risk adversion to risk assumption.  The evolution of “quick” pres.  And all things that I hope, quite honestly end up bringing down one of the big firms.  It is not the product that the customer believes they are buying.  Plain and simple.  Their behavior is reprehensible.

But that’s not the point of today’s post.  Today’s post is about the deal from hell.  A simple purchase for a first time buyer.  A great gal who did not deserve to go through what the largest bank in the country put her through or what Old Repulsive put her through.

I love working with first time buyers.  As long as they listen to me and not their boneheaded friends I do great.  Sometimes I get tired of batting down their idiot friends.  This gal was awesome.   A big ol’ slice of awesome pie.  She’s young but not that young, she worked very hard and she was ready to buy a house.  She was well qualified in every way.  The prototype first time homebuyer.

I found her this amazing old house in Oakland that was an investor flip.  It has, amongst other things, an amazing deck out front from which you can sit at night and enjoy the view of San Francisco.  We made a nice offer and the seller accepted it.  We received back contracts signed by an LLC with a non-descript name inferring that it was for flipping properties.  As the selling agent, it is not my responsibility to check this entity or the signatures.  While I have those skills, it is not my place.

About a week later the preliminary reports came out in the name of a different LLC.  I noticed it and went to the page where the LLC information was called out.  Nothing untoward.  I clicked through to the LLC-1 (something not one other Realtor on the planet would have done) and didn’t see the signatory of my contract, but once again it was a non-descript name inferring that is was for investing.  It had the word “fund” in the title.  My assumption was that it was the equity investor in the project somehow.  I did not follow up.  Speaking of not following up, or more likely not doing their job at all, the Escrow Officer noticed that the contract was improperly executed and called the listing agent, her little buddy, and told him.  At no point did either of these knuckleheads tell me, the person who originated the contract.

After much crying and gnashing of teeth, the largest lending institution in the country is finally ready to release the documents on this transaction.  We are only 10 days late.  Two more days and a per diem is going to kick in.  We need one last signature from the Underwriting Department which is really the Underwater Department because they’re so far behind they could work straight through this holiday and still be five days behind.  This person notices a request for a Power of Attorney that has not been met and reiterates the request.  All along the bank has been asking the Escrow Officer for a Power of Attorney to connect the dots between the entity who executed the contracts and the entity who is the real seller.  Not once did this stupid bitch put it all together and say “Hey wait a minute, didn’t you guys redo the contract?”  The largest lending institution in the country slams on the brakes on everything and kicks my deal into the Fraud Department.  I guess because they didn’t have a Too Stupid to Live department.  When I finally hear about the issue, it’s from the bank.  I call and tear up the Escrow Assistant because naturally the EO is on vacation.  I race home and draw up a new contract and email it to my gal.   She signs within minutes and it ends up back at the seller.  Then I do what any good Realtor would do, I head to Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants.  I end up talking to their seller in the parking lot and they punch the documents back to me and I punch them over to the bank.  We were 10 days late and now we’re in the Fraud Department.  My Loan Officer has never been there before and has no idea what this all means.  My mortgage has now gone late and that’s what it means to me.

I write the Escrow Officer, her assistant, the branch manager and the Escrow Operations manager because I’m so pissed off.  They knew five days into this deal that the contract was improperly executed.  In fact it had been signed by the listing broker.  They failed to tell me.  The jackass Branch Manager responds and tells me that I SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT IT TOO!  I’m sitting there thinking what the hell is the matter with you?  I should have caught something on the seller’s side because I used to be a Title Officer?  Would you blame any other selling agent for this?  Seriously.  WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU PEOPLE!  I write back and say “You’re not really going to sit there and blame the selling agent for a mistake on the listing side are you?”  And goddammit apologize.  She never did.  I did get a snotty message from the Escrow Officer which pissed me off even more, but as it turns out at least she didn’t yell at me like she did at my Loan Officer.  While I’m not a fan of largest lending institution in the country, they saved her ignorant ass and she should be kissing their ass morning noon and night.  Suffice it to say that a company that I spent 15 years working for let me down in a big and mighty way.  And then blamed me for their screw up.  Their customer service was non-existent and that dumb bitch will never touch another deal that I am involved with.  I don’t care if there is a binder (which is why it was there in the first place) we will go to another branch and do the reissue there.

My buyer, you know, the greatest gal you’d ever want to be your buyer was supposed to move in that weekend and now the wheels of progress have come to a standstill.  A little added extra is the home she’s living in was sold to her boyfriend BY ME, a year ago.  Three days after documents were due the foundation work was scheduled to begin.  He’d spent months with the City of Berkeley getting all his permits in order, he was late starting the project and couldn’t really wait any longer due to weather.  As it turns out it was too late anyway.  The work starts and we labor away in the Fraud Department.  They quietly go through three days of a house without water as the Fraud Department sits around with their thumbs up their collective asses.  I call daily but nothing new.

Nineteen, yes, nineteen days later my deal finally emerges from the Fraud Department.  I shit you not.  Nineteen freaking days.  And then it goes back to the Underwriting Department.  My LO informs me that it’s a 72 hour turn around and she’s put an expedite on it.  I tell my gal hopefully by the weekend.  Then we go to docs and it’s over with.  Not so fast buckaroo.  The largest lending institution in the country doesn’t count so hot.  72 hours turned into 9 days.  I shit you not.  On the 9th day my gal loses her shit.  Completely.  I can’t even blame her so I let her.  Something I didn’t mention was that this gal is a pretty high powered individual.  Her mother was kind of a vagabound who relied on her next husband for providing for them.  They moved to whatever town the next man lived in.  Her mother never owned a house and never really did more than hold a job.  She was determined to make her life different.  You know how driven someone like that can be.  She can create testicular hamburger with a look.  And now she’d lost her shit on this deal.  Thankfully her choice was to get roaring drunk and tear up Berkeley.  After about an hour she lost interest in tearing up my cell phone.  The last coherent message I got from her was “I am going to micromanage this thing the rest of the way”.  Joy.

I chose to be proactive.  If I grind everyone’s eyeballs to powder before she gets to me I can report that whatever she wants me to do is already done.  I start in on the Loan Officer first thing in the morning.  I know none of this is her fault but it’s my belief that she’s been too nice and no one is taking her seriously.  I lay it out.  She gets a little bent out of shape but mostly because I know she likes me and doesn’t like getting squeezed by someone she really likes.  I reiterate that I think she’s great but her back office is the shits.  And continue to push.  She actually chooses a root canal over dealing with me any more that day.  Except she gets to the chair and is so upset she can’t sit there and has to return for more grinding from me.  Then low and behold, documents.  I push some more and presto!  A signer appears and she executes the documents.  I push a little more and we closed on the day we needed to.  We got confirmation as the moving truck was leaving her place in the City.  That’s a lot closer than I like to cut it, but I had no choice on this one.  I met them at the house as they arrived with the moving truck.  She was walking 10 feet above the ground.  “I can’t believe they let me have this house, I’ve never lived in a house before.”  Yeah babe, you earned this one.

You had the grace to hold yourself while those around you crawled

I know part of getting old is that folks you know die.  I know that.  It’s the law of averages.  The longer you live, the more likely the people around you are going to get their ticket punched.  I have plenty of friends who have fought and beaten cancer.  Some who weren’t so lucky.  A guy from high school dumped his bike the month after we graduated and died.  A very close friend of mine from high school was murdered in San Jose during her first year at State, a crime that was never solved.  A guy I knew vapor locked a few years ago.  No matter who it is, it always leaves a hole where they were.

Last night I found out that someone I used to play rugby with passed away.  She died from injuries sustained in the National Championship in 2001.  She’d moved away and I didn’t know until last night.  In this case, it’s a little more than someone I used to know.  She was like the Dos Equis Man of her day.  I remember the first time as a San Francisco team we saw her.  It was in the mid to late 80’s.  She had a lion’s mane of blonde hair, aviator sun glasses and a BMW.  No one drove a BMW back then.  She’d set off the alarm on her own car.  You can imagine what the rough and tumble San Francisco side thought about that.  She was beautiful and tan and not like any rugby player any of us had seen before.  She was kind of in her own world and didn’t immediately warm up with her team.  We didn’t even think she was on the team, we thought she was the coach’s girlfriend.  I was with San Francisco and she played for Berkeley.  I could say I don’t remember how the came turned out, but I do.  Berkeley destroyed us.  She destroyed us from the backfield.  She was strong, physical and athletic and ran like the wind.  And then it was time for the party.  And Berkeley destroyed us a second time.  Our team had never played quarters before.  We lost that too.  Kim was the master of bad ideas, but I wouldn’t know who she really was for several more years.  We’d go out with the Berkeley team and Kim would talk to the door man and we were in.  Nobody knew how that happened.  Ever.  It just did.  She wasn’t big on rules.  I remember when we stole the Seal of the State of California from the House of Representatives.  Yeah, the real House.  Kim distracted the security guard and several other players removed the seal.  Upon sobering up, we chose to mail it back from New Jersey.  She was a mortgage broker for a while before heading down to LA.  She had a spectacular home up in the hills above Mill Valley.  It was the first time I’d seen white oak floors.  Back then it was real oak.  And the first time I’d seen someone turn a bedroom into a dressing room.  She was wild.  Life was always turned up to 11 with her.  It could be easy to lose the real woman in all the noise, but on several occasions we’d be sitting there at a rugby party and she’d just start talking.  She was so real and so intelligent and so thoughtful.  She was a very special creature.  I really thought I’d be able to see her down the line doing something truly amazing.  What I found was in the eight years since she left Berkeley and went to LA she did a plethora of amazing things.  More than most people will attain in their entire life.  Her flame burned hot and bright.  And I guess her allotment was up.  And that’s a shame.

A girl in trouble is a temporary thing

Miss me?  Yeah, I missed me too.  I’m still missing me.  When everything is all said in done I will have something to say about the largest banking institution in this country.  I promise it will be one of my more blistering commentaries.  And Old Repulsive should duck and cover because they’ve got some culpability in this one too.  For now, I just want my poor client into her new home.  This has been dragging on for 73 days so far.  Last night she lost her mind and became that pissed off drunk.  I jokingly asked her if her boyfriend would be better off staying out here with me and she replied “No, he’s trying to keep me from burning down Berkeley tonight.”  Yeah, it’s time to quit fiddle farting around and close the deal.  She also told me she was going to micromanage the transaction from here on out.  Welcome to my hell.

But a girl in trouble is a temporary thing.  Last December I got a twitter follow from @beathirstygirl.  I had to read it about five times to figure out it said Be A Thirsty Girl.  I thought the website was cool and who doesn’t love their tag line “Life.  Drink it up!”  I’ve been watching them since then and really was pretty jealous I couldn’t go out and play.  They were all over the country but never here.   Actually the founder, Leslie Sbrocco is a regular on the Today Show.  Kind of like a female Gary V only not obnoxious.  (In reality Gary is a good guy, Hi Gary!)  They’ve been on a 30 city tour and now they’re coming to Treasure Island this Thursday night.  Their sponsors, Glorier Ferrer, Matua, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Cambria, LaCrema, Ravenswood and Clos du Bois will be paired with local cheeses, chocolates other other tasty treats.  You can come out and hang with the Wine Dog too.  And various in sundry winos.  I’m a little fired up, I think it’s going to be a fun event.  One of those things that in restrospect you wish you showed up for.  I don’t usually announce where I’m going to be before I get there, (I want the Police to have to do their homework) but in this case, they asked me to.  They invited me and they asked me to tell y’all I was going to be there.  It’s not my nature to follow direction but I do take requests and this one seemed to be a win win.  Here’s the link for the event.  A portion of the proceeds go to Dress for Success, certainly a worthy cause. Apparently there’s a shuttle from the Ferry Building.  I’m a little concerned that the shuttle is a boat. I should probably investigate that.  And look!  No wine from the Burgermeister!  Win!  Drink up girls this one is going to be fun!

All the noise, noise, noISE, NOISE

I was looking for advanced quiet. I wanted to escape the frenzied, masturbatory noise of election season. I had just turned 47 and the Giants were on the cusp of a world series. I decided to take a drive up to Healdsburg (no speeding alleged or actual took place during this day trip).
Lack of disclosure time; No one gives me nothin’! I don’t identify myself as anyone but a vino dilettant. I haven’t been asked to give a qualified accounting and you should probably disregard anything that follows.
I’m happy to report the state of the grape is good. The juice in bottle and juice in the fermenting tanks were all anyone wanted to talk about; that was like a prescription. Fruit in the tank: the 2010 growing season was weirder than the political season. We had a long cool summer and few scares. You’d think that’s good. When I asked the growers in Dry Creek and Russian River how the harvest went, they got all perplexed. They talked about some cluster shatter and they talked about rapid sugar spikes. They talked about the threat of mold and they talked about the threat of dilution (due to the grapes soaking up the rain water). They talked about low, difficult harvest yields. I heard from two different growers that stems had shut down prior to full veraison (veraison is the process where the grapes mature and develop sugar). The stem works like an umbilical cord; it delivers water and energy to the maturing grapes. If the stem shuts down, the grapes start to decay.
Why did I say the state of the grape is good then? Because no one knows what this harvest will be like. No one can remember a growing season like this one. I hope the complexity of the season will be evidenced by the complexity of the resulting wine.
In the bottle; We stopped by Thomas George, Arista, Lambert Bridge, Quivera, Preston of Dry Creek, Ferrari-Carano/ Lazy Creek and Longboard.
Pinot was uneven. The fruit at Thomas George was intense. Great berry, anise, flint all stacked on awesome acid. Arista had some elegant Pinot, too. However, they had a berry bomb of a Zin and a perfectly dry Gewürztraminer. I LOVE dry Gewertz ala Alsace. This one has 0% residual sugar. It blooms as it warms with aromas of lychee, honeysuckle, peach and spice. They made it with the help of Rod Berglund of Jospeh Swan. Rod was the first winemaker that I’m aware of who has successfully taken Gewertz to 0% residual. The fruit was from Anderson Valley, near Booneville. It was a treat (for a real treat, go into Booneville and Philo. Taste the Gewertzs Navarro, Toulouse, Breggo and Handley produce. They’re spectacular).
Lambert Bridge has followed a trend into being a small, expensive producer. They try to sell all of their wines through the tasting room, exclusively. They specialize in Bordeaux blends. Their Sauvignon Blanc wasn’t too hot. It lacked acid and the gooseberry fruit and pungent cat pissyness that I enjoy in SB. They had elegant Cabs, Merlots and Meritage blends. They were aged beautifully. They were soft and complex. They were expensive! They have a 2 year old St. Bernard who looks like a bear skin rug, with a pulse.
Quivera was the stop of the day. They changed ownership a couple of years ago. The new owners have changed wine making staff and I’m here to tell you this is Change you can believe in! They produce Mourvedre, Grenache, Sauv Blan, and many other varietals. The staff was great. The wines are lovely and priced well.
Preston’s LP is gorgeous. It is velvety and full of mature berry. It is a Rhone blend so it features Syrah, Cinsaut, Mourvedre, Carignan, Viognier, Roussanne and maybe some Grenache. Matt, the wine maker did a great job of blending the 08 vintage. Their Zin was great example of Dry Creek zin, too. Not too ripe, great acid and luscious fruit. If you’re up there on a Sunday, they have a 3L jug. Lou pours it out of the barrel and into the jug, while he chats you up (at least as much as Lou chats). The 09 is a very nice mix of red wine. That’s it. You can taste some of the elements of the LP plus a big helping of the zin. It’s $30, so it’s a great value, too (that’s the equivalent of 4 750ml bottles).
Longboard had the best Merlot. Their 08 Dakine Merlot is spectacular. Forget Sideways. This Merlot is worth tasting. It’s soft with good acid and abundance of dark berry.
The drive back over the Golden Gate was highlighted by the Orange erection propped up in the middle of the city. Coit Tower was lit orange in support of the Giants. We went to the base of the tower and snapped some pictures. Even under threatening skies, this was the perfect day to get away close to home.

You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride

One of my clients took that picture.  I love Brian Wilson.  Here he is on Leno.  This guy is 31 flavors of awesome in my book.  And he throws heat.

How far back do I go with the Giants?  Back in 1958 my Mother, formerly from New Jersey and New York, listened to the Giants inaugural season while pregnant with me.  I showed up just before the World Series.  The Giants weren’t there.  Neither were the Dodgers who arrived in California the same year.  In 1962 they went to the World Series and then came the wandering years.  And years.  And years.  Remember when the ‘Stick was astroturf?  Everyone remembers Willie Mays and Willie McCovery.  How many remember Disaster LeMaster?  Or Rob “Whiff” Deer?  That guy would either put it in the seats or strike out.  There was no in between.  How about John “The Count” Montefusco?  Lon Simmons’ voice?  Oh yeah, and The Moonman.

I was a big Will Clark fan.  Hindsight is 20/20.  I think they should have kept The Thrill and left Bonds in Pittsburgh.

Didn’t Kevin Mitchell miss a game because he burned himself on a chocolate donut he had heated up in the microwave?  OK but he did barehand that ball.  How about that awful day in Montreal when Dave Dravecky broke his arm?  And his ensuing battle with cancer.  And his return to baseball.  I was there that day.  The whole crowd was in tears.  I was there the day that they shut off beer sales in the stands forever.  It was a Dodger double header.  I was in the bleachers where the fighting was happening.  We left in the third inning of the second game because it was so dangerous out there.  I have a cap full of Croix de Candlesticks.  Out at the ‘Stick we learned which combination of blankets, scarves, gloves and jackets were appropriate to watch the 4th of July fireworks presentation.  I have a Giants varsity jacket that is so warm that is the only use for it.  I was there the day that Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Vince Welnick sang the National Anthem.  I think I took my Mom that day.   Opening day, 1993.  Half the crowd wore t-shirts from the Lithuanian National basketball team.

I have one of these.  An original.

Mine is white.  I remember one opening day sitting over the visiting dugout at the ‘Stick, which was my preferred seat.  I was hollering at Greg Maddox.  I was relentless.  “This ain’t your night Greg.  Feign injury and go take a shower.  The Giants are going to tag you tonight.  Save your ERA, go take a shower.”  It went on and on.  The Giants touched him for 9 runs that night.  I was a Greg Maddox fan since he was a Cub.  He’s one of those nails guys I like.  He gave up a run at Wrigley and came back the next inning and drove in a run.  My kind of guy.  But the Giants beat him up that night and started the season with a W.

I was at the 1989 World Series.  I took my Dad to the Earthquake game.  He didn’t want to go back to actually watch it being played.  I had a ticket package for several years.  I remember giving my parents tickets to “Hat Day” years ago.  My Dad of course wanted to pay for them.  I said “Just send me a picture of you two in Giants caps”.  It’s one of my favorite pictures.  I’ve been on the field several times.  Once with Xica for the original Dog Days of Summer.  A couple of times for “Until there’s a Cure Day.”

I missed the parade on Wednesday.  I had scheduled an open house that day.  Because I’ve been a Giants fan for years, I knew there was no way they would win it in five.  My Giants will take it to seven and then press it to extra innings and then walk in the winning run in the 13th.  That’s my Giants.  Sweet Torture?  Yeah, I know about that.  These guys…I don’t know who they are, but I love’em.

Will you remember me?

Apparently this country thinks that going backwards is the way to move forward.  Thankfully, California was smart enough to recognize the two charlatans.  Naturally I received Jerry’s “victory” letter.  It contained the following quote:

“What we need is a larger sense of agreement and the only way we can get beyond where we are — which is polarization, division and hostility — is to get past these partisan divisions.”

The word that jumped out at me is hostility.  I’m sick and tired of the outright bullying from the Right.  It’s ok to disagree.  As a matter of fact, some of my best conversations are with Conservatives.  Intellegent Conservatives.  Conservatives that want to discuss ideas not shout me down with bullshit numbers.  Not these brown shirted puppets of the current Right, who are more incapable of independent thought than the liberals they vilify.  I blame Reagan for gutting our public schools and making the population as a whole stupider.  We’re all up in arms right now about cyberbullying and bullying in the schools.  What’s the difference?  Seriously.  What’s the freaking difference?

Getting people to go vote is not voter fraud.  It’s what we do in a democracy.  Just because the people don’t embrace your ideas doesn’t mean asking them to vote is fraudulent.  It really just means you have crappy ideas and are full of shit.

Speaking of full of shit…

Just for shits and giggles, the text of the First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Right there.  And look at that!  Coons could quote the Constitution.  I’m just glad that Delaware figured that one out.  All we need is another Michele Bachman.

I remember.  And I’ll be watching.