Sunday, August 27, 2023

Leading From Behind

Recently I watched an absorbing and compelling documentary about the musician, Ron Carter. A giant in the jazz world, Ron is now 86 and still playing. Or working, however you might see it. I was fortunate enough to see him perform in 1968 at UCLA, when he was part of the Miles Davis Quintet. He’s a master, not one who passed a written test or a blind tasting. He mastered his art as he journeyed through time and his world, slowly, often painfully. But he succeeded. In the documentary, towards the end, he talks about what success is:

"I think success involves more than me. I’m sure that I could have been successful a lot sooner and maybe a lot longer. I thinks success is a difficult word to define, because it means different things to different people. Does it mean that you work all the time, is that successful? Does it mean that you walk onto a street and everybody knows who you are without your instrument? Does it mean you get paid on time? Being able to fill a house with my name being the band leader? Call three or four guys and say, ‘Hey, now, I got this gig, can you make it?’ They all say yes ‘cause I called? Is success going into the bank and they know you’re not going to rob them? I mean, what is success? I don’t know. I’m not sure how I would determine success 'cause I'm still trying. I haven’t gotten to the place where I necessarily see me as being successful, given all those possible definitions. Having said that, I like where I’m going. My last efforts have been honest. I have meant every note that I have played.”

The man is 86 and he likes where he’s going. If that isn’t success, I don’t know what is. Or at least, that explanation struck a chord in me.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Rare and precious – And other unlikely juxtapositions

from the archives...
It started last night while I was looking for a bottle of wine to go with the lasagne. I wanted something a bit rustic, not too heavy, maybe with some age on it, and red. Isn’t that how everyone does it? Go to your wine closet and pick out something fabulous?

Earlier in the day, at the nearby supermarket, I noticed a display of wine and saw the word Rosatello. Once upon a time, that meant a lightly dry rosé wine from Tuscany, long before “that” was famous. Now it means sweet, red or rosé, still or fizzy, depending on which bottle is presented. But someone shopping in this supermarket would probably get a bottle of either, to go with their lasagne.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Sicily ~ The Oldest Kid in Italy

from the archives..

Ed. note: Prescient this post was, in 2014. For when I next went to Sicily in 2016, I indeed was in a pretty awful car accident that sent several of us to the hospital. Knocked me unconscious and broke a few ribs and cracked my skull (again). A produce truck ran a stop sign, a sign that had fallen to the ground and was not seen. The conspiracist in me might say I was targeted by the produce cartel in Sicily, ha-ha! Nonetheless, I survived. But this tale eerily foretold of things to come, c'est ne pas?


Of all the places in Italy, Sicily is the one that scares me the most. I have cancelled trips to Sicily because I was afraid something was going to happen. I have gone to Sicily when my bones were sore from a car wreck. I have driven a car in the streets of Palermo and Catania, which is questionable for an able bodied person. I have stared at dead people, their skin dry, their eyes missing, their bones falling off their skeletons. I have walked on mosaic floors that were laid thousands of years ago. I have gazed up at ancient temples, the sun glaring back. I have walked the streets in the heat in the dark with a bum leg, with the legs of youth and with the gait of one who is no longer young. And all through it ancient Sicily kept getting younger.

Sunday, August 06, 2023

A Paean to He Who Started with Nothing and Now Has Everything

It’s not every day one can expound about an American success story. Sure, there are scores of them - this country exists for attainment, at any and all costs. Some are dearer than others, and some have cost our collective soul more than we sometimes wished to pay. But pay we do, ultimately. And now, we arrive at another crossroad, this one surely historical, if not now, then definitely in the uncertain future, if it indeed the future will exist. But this isn’t an elegy or an obituary, it’s a celebration of a native son’s success in life. He started with nothing. Now, his cup overfloweth. He has everything.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

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wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

July ~ The Juicy Middle of a Hopeful Summer

July was an amazing month for On the Wine Trail in Italy. The readership is tremendous and the response has been marvelous for a category (wine blogs) that everyone, myself included wrote the obituary for, years ago. It has shown extraordinary resilience. In my case, I think part of the success lies in telling personal stories, not just rehashing wine notes and features told over and over again (Really, how many times do we need to hear the “true” story of Etna, or about the existential crisis in Champagne? Enough, already!)

That said, I am re-listing the blog posts for July here on August 1st, in case anyone lost track of them or forgot to check out OTWTII, where I have been religiously posting EVERY WEEK! Wine blogging may be dead in some parts of the world, but not in this space.

So, here goes, and happy reading:

July 2nd - The Luxurious Privilege of Outrage

I was taking a coffee break recently with a friend, catching up, and he remarked about some crappy restaurant service he’d recently gotten. I quipped back at him, “Yeah, you’ve got it real rough. You’re white, you’re financially set and you’re relatively healthy and young enough. Sounds like your 1%er white privilege is kicking in, cowboy…”

July 9th -  Reinventing Italy  The Italy that Americans forget

Lately I’ve taken to reading excerpts from people’s trips to Italy. Wine country, the cities, the fashionable resorts, the restaurants, the countryside. And one thing has stood out from some of those missives. It is the unique position we all have, the singular perspective of Italy from our own point of view, and how it affects how we see and interpret Italy to others…

July 16th -  What kind of life have you had?  In memory of Luigi Pira and Dino Illuminati

I was in the room next to my wine closet when I thought I heard the murmur of low voices. There was no one else in the house, and it startled me a bit. But as I inched closer to where the wine was, I realized the voices were coming from inside…

July 23rd - Confessions of a Salesperson: Lessons from a Bygone Era

Recently, I stopped in to see an old friend and erstwhile client, an Italian restaurateur. We had a glass of Gavi together and caught up. He told me this anecdote:

“This wholesale rep showed up with (a very large and new Italian supplier) longtime supplier rep friend. We’ve known each other 30+ years. We’re chatting and having fun…  

July 30th - Falling Out of Love with Wine

This week, I was re-organizing my wine collection. There were several cases of white and rosé wine that had stacked up in the utility room, and we weren’t drinking it that regularly, of late. So, I made room in the wine cave for them. I keep a spreadsheet and was slightly annoyed to be adding to the list, rather than subtracting to it. Why, one might ask? Isn’t the purpose of a wine collection to continually add and subtract, refine and replenish...?

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
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