Wednesday, September 06, 2006

WWWW ~ Wagons Without Wheels Wednesday

Six Degrees of Separation
The photograph above is from April of 1972, San Francisco. I was there, behind the camera, my trusty Canon VIT. The scene could be now, Anywhere, USA.

Where am I going with this? Well, I look at those souls in that photograph, and have been thinking about them now for 34 years, wondering what those 6 people represent, symbolically, in these degrees of separation.

Contrast it with the picture Nick Ut took barely two months later of Phan Thi Kim Phuc. Odd that I am noting this, seeing as I wish to mention a blog I just read, from a photographer who was at that place on that day in Vietnam. Accounts have him changing film during the peak moment . The photographer is David Burnett, whose work I have admired for some time. His latest work is Aftermath, New Orleans and Mississippi after Katrina. Please go to his link, look at those images. Take your time, let it sink in.
David & Iris write a “blob”, We're Just Sayin, which I read, enjoy and recommend. It’s very personal and real.

There were two postings especially that I liked, one dealing with women, wine and perception, Subtle Differences , and one about Death and Loss, Four Funerals and No Wedding. I am a fan, of the images, of the words. Thank you both!

Well, I came upon David’s Aftermath and Iris and his blob through a link on William Gibson’s site. So the 6 degrees started with :
1) William Gibson
And moved to:
2) David Burnett
Who was in Vietnam with:
3) Nick Ut
Who were both photographing over there in 1972 while I was in San Francisco photographing those 6 people

But that’s only 3 .

So it got me to thinking about my next 3:

4) New Orleans and the loss we have all had in so many ways. But as I am supposed to bring wine and food into this somehow, the focus, in this moment, is on the loss of a heritage and respect for food and wine that is not only lost in New Orleans but also closer to home. Which brings me to:

5) The Italian wine dinner that has French food names.
Seems I got signed up to do a wine dinner, down the road, with an Italian theme. Sounded good. The Italian place had a good review, and I talked to the manager. He’d email me the menu, and I’d choose the wines. Small detail in the world of really important life and death issues. I know that. So days pass and more days pass, and then an email shows up with the menu and the wines. I was in NY at the time and remember emailing and mentioning it to Alice Feiring, who said something like, “That’s nuts, lucky you.”

Do you ever get one of the spam emails from Russia or Africa that have a stream of words that almost sound like they make sense? Something like, “The missionary said he’d stick it out for five more years but the illness was wiping out the natives. When the boat returns Adolfo will send for his beloved Belinda to restore the country to its former glory…”, stuff like that. Well the menu read like that. In fact, I wrote another friend and asked him if he could recognize anything Italian about this menu. His reply was, "The menu is Nouvelle Cuisine. They’re trying to be sophisticated.” Oh.

So I imagine if the missionaries who established themselves in that area in 1718 have only just succeeded in converting the population, I shouldn’t be too impatient. Yeah, they didn’t want me to choose the wines, they already did that too. OK, I get it.

Maybe I should just catch a plane back to LA or NY instead of going to this wine dinner. Anybody got any ideas? It is part of my day job, so I imagine I could just take it as an assignment, like David Burnett would. Would you, David? Alice, I think I know what you would advise. Anyone else, David A., Regina, Mom?

Which leads me to:

6) The French wine hater.
Just when I thought it was safe to go home and get out for the weekend, I went to my favorite refuge, Mr Wok. Not like it sounds folks, this is serious stuff. Peking Duck (special order 24 hours in advance), BYOB, and some great folks, Amanda and Jack and his dad. Anyway, I love these folks! So we’re in for a Friday night meal with a bottle of Texas wine, a Grenache/Syrah Rose from buddy Kim McPherson , who just happens to be going to do a stint at the New World Wine and Food Festival in that town where the Italian Nouvelle Cuisine dinner is slated. So, see, it all connects. But I digress. Back to the French wine hater.

There’s this ol’ boy I’ve seen a time or two in Mr. Wok, and I said hello, in my idiot-friendly way. They had wine, we had wine. Come to find out he’s from the east coast (like the manager of that Eyetalian restaurant down river from here, the one who has gone all wobbly and nouvelle on us). Anyway, this ol’ boy launches in about how he hates French wine. Anyone who has read this far knows I’m all about Italian, but really more importantly I think wine, made well from anywhere, is something to behold. Even from Texas, yes, I am here to tell you!

Now I'm just in a surreal enough of a mood (channelling the energy of one of those 6 people in the photo above?) to ask him why.

Why? I ask him. Come to find out he doesn’t like those French politicians. Then comes my Bucky Fuller story. I heard him tell it to me when I was a student back there in California, when I was younger and he was breathing. Bucky said this, and I relayed it to the French wine-hater person. “You take a spaceship and load up all the politicians and take them on a round trip around the sun, no one back on earth skips a beat. You take that same spaceship and take all the farmers on that same trip and guess what, we all starve in 6 months!” Bucky said it. I wasn’t 6 feet from him when he did.

And I told the dude that, and he looked kind of strange at me and said, “I’ve got a magnum of Australian Shiraz I got on closeout for $3.33, want to try it?” That was right after he told me his prized possession was a 1967 Chateau Citran and that his favorite wine was from Tuscany, especially the Barolo.

The wheels have fallen off the wagon. And we are careening like way out of control, full circle.

What a ride. A real E-ticket.

And tomorrow we get the full moon.

It doesn't get any better than this.

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