A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou. The modern translation might well be a case of Chateau Latour 59, a baguette with brie and pate, and a trophy wife or husband depending on your gender and sexual orientation. Of course why spoil a good thing with marriage. And many would want a ten thousand watt surround sound system with super woofers that literally bounce them off the walls while texting their friends standing next to them with all sorts of inane messages. Ah, e pluribus excess, that’s the modern spirit. The quality of excess shall not be strained.
I was at a friends house last night, very nice people. We sat on the patio enjoying the warmth of the sun and drinking a bottle of Pol Carson, a nice champagne that I had purchased on sale. I usually don’t drink that much champagne each year, usually when I am in France for a few months working on my house and trying to write the next great American novel, well, everyone has got to have a hobby or an impossible dream. Later on we went in for dinner, rather simple fare, really, crispy potato wedges, spicy chicken thighs, and an avocado and tomato salad. Now I try to keep away from starch so I limited my intake of those nice tasty and crunchy potato wedges. As one gets older the body slows down and the calories are harder to lose. But I had brought over a bottle of Chablis that I had purchased a couple of yours ago. The mold that tries to inhabit my cellar likes to eat the labels so I am not sure which producer made the wine but it was a 1st premier cru and the wine was absolutely delicious. I haven’t had a chardonnay that good in a very long time. God, I just love French wines, the best are so well made. I might have paid twelve to fifteen euros for that bottle and it was well worth the price.
So we went upstairs to the loft area where Del has a pool table. It would have been very wonderful if he could have afforded an eight or nine foot table with a slate bed and superb cushions, but he could never have gotten it up the stairs. What he had was the standard inexpensive six foot table most individuals can afford and place in a decent sized room. In my youth I was a decent pool player and could run the table, make all manner of bank shots and extra fine cuts and combinations. Not that I was even close to tournament or hustling quality, but I could hold my own. But that was long ago in another universe and I miss a lot of shots these days. I enjoy the game even if I lose and Del is a very good sportsman. Neither one of us tries to deliberately to block shots and that sort of thing. It’s not about winning, it’s about playing and that is where the enjoyment comes from the game. Sure, I get a little mad at myself when I miss some of those easy shots, I expect my play to be good and not sloppy. And when I do pull off a really complicated shot I am pleased as punch.
But as I was saying, we were playing pool last night and Del has a very large screen television in the loft now. I am not one to watch much on the boob tube ever since they took the brightness button off the sets. I like to watch the old movies and the occasional good new movie, but I seldom watch any series or sports or musical entertainment shows. I believe the two best comedy shows ever were Laugh In and the Dean Martin Show. Playhouse 90 and Kraft Mystery Theater were great for dramas. And I loved the really great stand up comedians like Rodney Dangerfield and Dave Allen (okay, so Dave was the great sit down comedian as he always sat in the chair and had a drink of something, perhaps it was water, you never knew). I mention these shows and people for a reason that I’ll get to in a minute. So we were playing pool and watching the show, Live from the London Pladium. And it was hosted by someone famous but since I don’t watch television much or see all the new movies I really don’t know who he is, never heard of him. Now he was good, did a little comedy, could sing well, an entertaining chap as one might say. I enjoy the Welsh comedian who gave a very good performance, loved his material. He was good because he wasn’t over the top. Robin Williams was a good comedian, had a really sharp mind and was creative as hell. But he had that one fault as an entertainer and that was that he didn’t let the audience enjoy the jokes, his delivery was much too fast. Timing is everything. When your style is too over the top you may be perceived as funny but people really can’t remember what your jokes were so they can tell them at work or to friends. Humor needs a little time to sink in, to make you think a bit and reflect on the absurdity of it all.
I think northern California vintners started that trend of over the top winemaking. Too many winemakers were focused with that in your face style of wine. How many times have I tasted cabernets and chardonnays where oak was the dominant characteristic and one felt that if one wasn’t careful one might get a mouth full of splinters. Then there were the big fruit fans, got to have the fruit aromas smash you in the nose with a mallet. The early seventies was the start of the over the top wine making style and it has not let up since.Wineries are trying to make reputations and hence fortunes very quickly. The balance and finesse of good wine takes time to learn, decades and even centuries, not a mere four or five years. I think that style trickled down to Hollywood as the mid eighties produced television comedy like In Living Color, a comedy series that was funny but grossly over the top. And now we have television shows all aimed at being over the top because they compete with all the other over the top shows and the young audiences have come to expect over the top a quality writing and acting. Yes, we have come to expect our reality television to be more realistic than real life. With all the attention grabbing devices you know that today’s young people and a good many oldsters must have exceptionally boring lives. Go for a walk in the woods of raft down the rapids but be sure and take you MP3 player or smart phone and ear buds with you. Modern society has come to hate the sound of silence. Time to get back to a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou.