Friday, August 05, 2011

The Last Leg

from the "uchronic meanderings" department

Thursday Aug 4
The trip out of Rustic Tuscany was bumpy. After a week of cloudless days, it started to rain in Pisa. And rain it did, all the way to New York. The rains must have rusted the cargo bay doors at JFK, because we waited over two hours for our luggage. Really funny to be with several score of Italians, coming to America for holiday, and to hear them talk of the situation like we do about Fiumicino or Malpensa.

New York was wet, but not unbearably so. It actually cooled the city down. I stopped to crash a night at a friend’s house, seeing as I lost my connection to Providence. We walked to a local pizzeria, and had a bite. And while I had beer, I did notice there were plenty of cool wines to sample, including some of Angiolino Maule’s wine and also an interesting Gragnano.

Odd that Maule’s wines come through Dressner, what with the yeast thing and all. Such a nice guy. Maule, that is.

Why Providence? I was invited to give a little talk by the Society of Wine Educators, about wine in Italy 2,500 years ago. Seeing as I now qualify for the senior discount at the Etrsucan museum in Volterra, I reckon they needed a dinosaur who might remember back that far.

In reality, who will ever know what the wines were like? All we can do is speculate. Or tell “uchronic” stories, as Umberto Eco calls them. Utopian visions looking back in time to re tell a history.

I have no idea what went on there in Magna Graecia 2,500 years ago. I have some imaginings, and I have flashes; what could those be? DNA memories? Then again, I also have flashes of the Asian Steppes.

On this subject, when I was a child, I would have these non verbal recollections. They were very vivid. I remember them as if there were a real memory, maybe more real than what really happened. But I “felt” a time, with an architecture that resembled Ancient Italy. I felt the music, the smells, the complete picture, and it came in an instant, a 1/60th of a second. But the latent image burned in my brain, so that to this day I can call up the place.

What was it? It definitely was Italy, or one inspired by Greece and Rome. It was, and continues to be a wonderful experience.

And so, I will report back after I have made the presentation, annotate what we have down so far already. I am back home soon, but only for a few nights before going to Austin and then in a few weeks, back to Italy. When do you have time for work, one, might ask? I have been told not to worry about it – this is the work. And I am a very lucky guy.

Friday Aug 5
After getting to my hotel from the train station in Providence, I couldn’t figure out which was more harrowing – the train delay around New London,CT, or the cab ride from the Providence train station  to the hotel at 80+ mph.

Once I arrived the front desk advised me the rooms wouldn’t be ready until after three. My talk was at one. So I rolled into the seminar room and set up.

Good room to present in, nice and cool. I dimmed the lights. And set up. And waited. Then the dread set in. Will anyone understand what I am trying to say? I barely do, even though I worked so damn hard on this one.

Lunch finished, the seminarians filed in. And the lights went up. Oy. And on with the show, this is it.

My first mistake was that I didn’t make eye contact. I’d like to blame the jet lag, but in reality it was that I was so deep in the subject, channeling my uchronic tale, that I couldn’t get my head out of the space I had invented. Fortunately the wines saved the day.

My friend and colleague, master sommelier Guy Stout, said afterwards I did OK, but that there was a gent in the front row that had his hand up with a question for over five minutes. Really? Guy said his arm slowly went down, supposedly from muscle fatigue. Wow, I was not in that room. Was I time traveling back 2,500 years and translocating some holographic representation? If so, I need to go back to my speech class and revisit the lesson plan from 1967.

That said, I have been on the road a very long time. My bags are packed; I want to be home now. I am ready, I hope Delta is too.

Thanks for following these missives and channelings. I told y’all I wasn’t really a wine blogger anymore – not sure there is room for a speculative ancient history blog in my future. Hopefully there is laundry detergent back home. I need to get there so I can prepare to go back out again into battle, on Monday....

Buon weekend.


Rolando said...

I think that wine is uchronic. It's a record of past years, ancient ones too, when one stands with his glass of wine in the hands. And it's a different tale for each different mouth and nose.

Thomas said...

Love the word "uchronic"," always have. Like dreams, words, even misunderstood words, conjure visions.

"Uchronic" always conjured for me the vision of history as a constant condition, and if I were asked to describe that vision I'd be completely out of luck.

Re, Malpensa: no experience on earth beats arriving bleary-eyed early in the morning after an overnight Alitalia flight with its gourmet food (wink) and its Airbus bumps to be eased into a mob scene at the reception center as you inch along in the Malpensa shuffle toward the one Italian customs agent (the others are on interminable union break) tries to make an orderly condition out of complete chaos, while you watch someone else pick up your baggage off the rack in the lobby and leave the airport with it.

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