Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Proper Attire

I was doing the Park Slope in Brooklyn farmers market all summer. That was my plan anyway.
The first day I went down there I was operating on three hours sleep.
Fixing the tractor the day before, resetting vineyard posts all week, no time for a proper laundry, the entire house a disaster area, here I was launching my season,
all my hopes for 'southern exposure' (aka NYC presence) bundled up in boxes in back of a late model Dodge truck with front-end problems. It was Sunday. Laundry day had been Wednesday. I pulled a wrinkled shirt out of the dryer.
Fatal mistake.

I'm setting up the tent, it's slightly dirty, 'I can't do this, wait, I forgot the ice, where can I get ice
in Brooklyn? Do they have ice in Brooklyn? Don't be stupid. I grew up here. We had the Dodgers. We had ice. Of course they have ice.'

The redhead next to me has no tent at all. She his sitting there in a chair with an 'if you please' smile, a sun dress on and a Mexican hat, (not a sombrero, more like a Japanese style sugegasa). In front of her is a tray of what look bonsai gardens in square rock containers. They must weigh sixty pounds apiece. 'How is she going to sell these?' I wonder. 'Who wants to lug around a chunk of concrete all day?'
"Succulents?" I ask, perceptively.
She looks up smiling, as if I had just solved the Da Vinci code.
"Yes that's right, they're succulents."

The market manager is eying me. Not too friendly. More like an appraisal. Something about her is off. The feeling you get when you walk into a 'carny' tent and somehow you know you are just another 'mark'.

The park is a kids' park. Thirty-somethings with strollers. Mostly guys. Mostly white with a few old neighborhood Ricans sprinkled in who were probably there before the area was 'gentrified', whatever that means. All of them have five dollar coffees. Something about them screams, 'I can have everything', --and they do, for now. One hour. Haven't sold a thing. Two hours, still haven't sold a thing.

An attractive older brunette with a fashionable haircut sidles up to me. In a few minutes she's standing next to me, not in front of the table but next to me behind it. Maybe late fifties I'm thinking. The hands always tell, but nicely preserved. Good bones.
"You know, I don't mean to get personal but you know you're shirt is, well, I can't begin to tell you how many things are wrong with it, it's got a hole in it, fraying,
and stains on it."
"Yeah, I know, it's been a rough week. Laundry hasn't been one of my priorities."
"You are a good looking man, but that shirt. Really."
"I'm a what?" I hadn't heard the last part.
"Yeah, you are, you are a good looking man. I just had to say something. I'm a teacher at FIT. You know, it is just something that is in me. Had to say something"
"About me?"
"About the shirt."
"Do you want to maybe grab a coffee later."
"Well," she looks surprised, "Not today,--maybe next week."
"I get it, OK I'll buy a shirt by next week. Save you the embarrassment.
"I used to model you know."
I believe her,the bone structure again. OK, now, never in my life has a woman come up to me and told me I am good looking, and especially not one with good bone structure, (except of course my mother)
I'm driving route 17 back to Monroe.
"What the heck was that?" I wonder, shaking my head.

So the next day I send an email to the people running the market.
I'm not a happy camper. I'm selling the wine right by a kids park. Plus I'm shoved off on the side street, like week old bananas. Paying the same rent as the vendors on the avenue.
I offer to switch to another market. Two days later I get the reply.
"You have to develop a following. Maybe next year we will put you on the avenue. The market manager already told us you were poorly groomed."
Poorly groomed!? This is a farmer's market,-on the street, what do they want? A tuxedo!?
Then it clicks. The woman from FIT. She was a plant. A hundred ten pound bonsai. They had sent her over on the QT to work me. I was the mark.
Next email I send; "I won't be participating in any of your markets. Thanks for
My world view, restored.
Ahh, Brooklyn.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Poopy Pants Lane

"He ordered prank pizzas to 888 Poopy Pants Lane. Everyone knows Poopy Pants Lane ends in the 700 block." With this line Luigi condemns Bart Simpson most likely to
a life in prison or at the least a long spell in 'Juvie'.

Anyway, for some reason I couldn't get this line out of my head. Working in the vineyard, repetitive motions, tie, trim, repeat, move on, repetitive motions inspire repetitive thoughts, like mantras, perhaps it is meditative perhaps it is just stupid. Maybe in the sixties, if my Yoga mantra had been 'Poopy Pants Lane' rather than whatever it was (still not allowed to tell) I would be a much happier person today.

Maybe when we focus on the ridiculous operatic aspects of life we miss the real problems, maybe the real problem are much more mundane and logical. This is perhaps what Luigi is trying to tell us. What is it to be a winemaker? It is to be at once logical and conscious of the pranks of nature. It is mind numbing, humbling repetition, punctuated by the smile of someone who likes your wine, it is not living on the edge it is living beyond the edge, in a world of imaginary numbers on an imaginary street in Hilbert Space. 888 Poopy Pants Lane.

What is this ranting all about. I am trying to make some Peach Wine and I can tell you, it isn't going so well. The Pear Wine I made last year was excellent, (I can safely say that because it's all gone now) but, for some reason I can't get the Peach to behave, it is not cohering, something is not gelling. Was it ridiculous to believe that I could repeat that wonderful accident that produced the Pear Wine using another fruit entirely. I didn't believe so, but I was wrong. The fundamentals were not there; the wine is turning out acidic, sour like those straws of multi-colored powder we used to get in the candy store.
'How should I correct it. Add vanilla? No, that's a coward's way out, I need to work the wine, work the acid, not cover it with other flavors.' I tried adding Malolactic bacteria. This is the usual method used on grapes to flatten the acid profile. Then, the next day I read somewhere, Malolactic fermentation tends to mute the fruit flavors in fruit wines, sometimes you can even get a sauerkraut aroma profile, peaches and sauerkraut, I am shaking my head, I am going to end up with something more like a hot dog topping than a wine. Is this a prank? 55 gallons of Sauerkraut juice. Maybe I should have just waited, give the mantra of the wine time to work, time to sink in. Everybody knows Poopy Pants Lane ends in the 700 block. Maybe I should have just made the Pear Wine again, at the risk of repeating myself. Maybe repeating oneself isn't so bad. Maybe it is the slow death of creativity. Who knows. Maybe there is a reason. Maybe mindless repetition isn't so bad after all.
Maybe mindless repetition isn't so bad after all.
"Say, is this the bus that goes to Poopy Pants Lane?"