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I first got an email from Dr. Jim Macho about a week ago.  He was coming up here to pick up his wine and taste through the ’06s.  When someone has the last name Macho, I mean, come on, I was picturing this dude walking in here with two girls on either side wearing loin cloths showing their teeth.

If you’re Dr. Macho there’s no way you’re allowed to have female patients, right?  Some obscure medical law must prevent that kind of thing from happening.  His parents clearly did him right by naing him “Jim” as well, none of this Taylor, Mason, Hickory bullshit, his last name is Macho and goddammit his first name is muthaflappin’ Jim, doggies.

I checked out his order and it was pretty standard.  I was fairly positive he probably keeps wine in the house for when he hosts his buddy Don Awesome and his wife Brenda over for dinner.  With minutes to go before he arrived I thought about whether I should shake his hand upon meeting him or just go for a chest bump followed by a huge high five.  Maybe we’d both take a little two-step start and do that back-to-back bump that’s so popular in college football right now.

I checked my watch and the phone rang.  It was Dr. Macho.  Jimmer was calling to say he couldn’t make it this afternoon.  Crushing as that was, he pronounced his last name “Mash-o.”  I don’t know what to think, but that dude’s last name is Macho and he is doing a huge disservice to himself and everyone he comes into contact with by not living up to his true potential.

Soooooo, my buddy D  just had in his little gchat tag line “when are we going to see another Burlytown Gazette post?”  It kind of made my eyes pop out of my head, Roger Rabbit style for a second with the kind of fear that you only experience when a teacher calls on you to answer a question that relates to the homework from last night that you did not do.  At first there was the slow trickle anxiety followed by mild rage that someone would have the nerve to call you out like that, followed by deep seeded head-strong promises that you’ll be a better, more disciplined little doggy.

The last few weeks have been cool cool.  I was out of town last week in Colorado for biz.  Landed in Denver-downer and immediately high tailed it out to Vail.  Vail is moneyed and has a cool little village area with shops and over-priced restaurants.

Aspen is a whole different can of worms.  It’s a mountain town first and foremost.  But it also has 5 star shopping, sleeping, eating, drinking, and crazy people.  Aspen is positioned between some of the most aesthetic, coveted mountaineering objectives in North America so the contrast between hardcore skiers, explorers and do-nothing-spend-everything glittering waistoids is dramatic.

For every Porsche Cayenne driving d-bag there are hard working people like Brad from the Aspen Brewery.  He and his buddies have started that place form scratch and the beers they have been churning out since St Patrick’s Day of 2008 are the real deal.  I spent a little time there, you know, just a little, tasting through the line up and they were all quality beers and certain gems like the Ajax Pilsner and Conundrum Red brought the party the mouthy.

Before we go, I’d like to address the issue of author photos as well.

authorYou should always ALWAYS  try to look like Lionel Richtie and Braveheart’s mystical love child swirling through the far hinter-lands of star-5B67TY*halfmanhalfamazingX4, always.  Terrestrial names are for suckers, call yourself the Dragonman and have a community access show.  d00d, this guy’s info about himself is a swirl of golden space dust!  You can’t compete with that!

I’m too worked up, out.

There’s this old corny saying that goes “it takes a lot of beer to make good wine.”  As I am about a month into my first harvest experience here at the top of Howell Mountain, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  You know what it takes?  Water and electricity.  All day, and my days are running about 14 backbreaking hours of physical labor I am surrounded by two of the most deadly elements when combined: water and electricity.

It would behoove me to wear a rain suit all day , but then I’d sweat like Josh Howard in a VFW hall.  It’s been really pleasant weather wise, just balmy, cool, and clear unobstructed views across the valley to western Mayacamus mountains.  I wake up at 5:30 every morning, it’s dark and I make coffee.  I shower at the END of the day now which is in reality a really nice way to go about life you end the day on this super-clean note and wake up, hit the ground, get coffee, eat some Kashi, fill up on Sportscenter and head out the door.

I pray to Jah that each day is not going to be the day when I need to start my routine with a face off with the family of racoons that live in the vicinity of where I live.  I may start packing some steel with me in case this happens, and by steel, I mean a big gnarly sharpened hoe in case I need to chop off some racoon heads one morning.  That would be sad, but I’m also not trying to go hand-to-hand with these bastard trash-guzzling rodents.

Once I’m in my car, NPR is a wasteland so I go through the ipod.  Because it’s dark, but it’s early I opt for some deep shit that’ll get me thinking and freaked out.  Burial, some Tricky, Eluvium, sometime I go shuffle just to see what fate will deal me that particular moment.  Today I went that route and I was really stoked by the time I got to work.  You know how sometimes shuffle plays TWO songs from the same album back to back?  Well I got Jay Reatard “My Shadow” and “Death is Forming.”  Holy cow, I was waiting for the Swedish orgy team to be on the side of the road and give me road massage for giving them a ride to the rainbow they came from.

The ride up the mountain is really pleasant.  You’d have to be Scrooge McDuck’s broken bill not to love the view in certain places/  Once I’m on Howell Mountain road I gain about 1000 feet straight up and then the road continues on the back side of the mountain for about 2 miles.  Conn Valley is way below and the hills are surrounded by morning pockets of fog and cran-orange light from the horizon.  This road is not so much a road as paved surface.  A couple times my heart has taken a nose dive right on top of my nuts as a huge cement truck or equal sized  vehicle comes barreling around a blind corner at about 40 mph +, no big deal and it does more for me than the coffee.  One of these days I’ll bring my coffee with me, pull over to the side of the orad and watch the day come alive wrapped in a electric blanket of 87 degree emotion.  Both hands on the mug, held close to my pursed appreciative lips, losers.

I arrive at the winery, talk shit with my fellow harvesters, mostly focusing on how ugly, stupid and sex deprived they all are, we laugh, it’s cool.  Oh we all have mustaches.  All 5 of us, mine is the best, that’s not me being all uppity, my mustache is the fucking bee’s knees, it’s sick, it howls at the early morning moon then I get to work.

There are two chemicals that dominate my daily existence:  TSP and Citric Acid.  If you found a maggot-infested armadillo carcass on the side of the road, dipped it in TSP/water/Citric/water it would come out a 8 ounce cut of the best damn filet mignon the world has ever seen.  We spend about an hour cleaning all the equipment we will be using that day with this system.  The equipment includes sumps, trays, shovels, hoses of various sizes, an irrigator, pitchers, buckets, graduated cylanders, hydrometers, clamps, and gaskets.  Once the fruit comes in and it is sorted and de-stemmed it is pumped into anywhere from 739-2269 gallon stainless steel tanks where the berries and juice begins to ferment.  Each morning we do pump overs which involves all the equipment listed above.

The sump is a large stainless steel bin that holds 100 gallons. The steel mesh tray sits on top.  We open a valve at the bottom of the tank and the berries and juice come rushing into the tray, the liquid goes in the bin, the berries stay in the tray.  When the berries get too full in the bin, I shovel them into a 5 gallon bucket that weighs in at 35-40 pounds and haul it up about 20 stairs to a cat walk above the tanks and dump it back in the top of the tank.  There can be up to 4 or 5 of these trips and sometime I do 4 or 5 pumovers each morning.  It’s similiar to watching events in World’s Strongest Man competitions, except we are making fine wine.  The liquid is constantly being pumped via a hose through the irrigator at the top of the tank creating a cycling effect, mixing berries and juice and making a smooth even ferment process.

After you use anything, you clean it with tsp/water/citric/water, this may not sound like a big deal, but this is 80% of what I spend my time doing, every winery is this way.  The morning is a stellar time up here, the light comes over one side of the vineyard and lights up the grapes, then it’s behind the guest house, then it’s over towards the west illuminating the valley.  Today after lunch our Assistant Winemaker put a tee in our dirt patio area and blasted a couple balls into the abyss this is below our property.  It drops about 700 feet right off the patio.  We eat lunch together at a big table in the guest house.  Lunch is provided by the winery.  Today we told some dead baby jokes and clown suit jokes, killer stuff.

We have a rough idea of when fruit is going to come in, but it’s never certain.  If fruit shows up at 5:00 pm you have set up the sorting table which is about the width and height of a large dumptruck, de-stemmer, stem bin, auger, pump and make sure the tank the fruit is going into is sterilized and read to go.  It gets cold here at night, down to high 40s, low 50s and when you spend 3 or 4 hours in that temperature handling cold fruit, you get antsy in the pantsy to get it over with.  My hands these days are quite stained purple and there are lots of lines I never had before.

I’m really tired in the morning, and really tired when I get home, my whole body is sore.  But when I get to the bar, that first beer tastes so damn good when I have it, it’s stunning.  I get a little loopy, sometimes there’s a million things happening at once and I’ve been working for 12 hours staright and I haven’t had a day off in 18 days.  It’s hectic, but overall it’s incredibly rewarding and cool to be a part of producing some of the best wine on the planet.  More on that to come.

There are so many things that make me happy in this picture.  Hill looking radiant!

Are you as terrified of this man as I am? Does he reach into the weird Matthew Barney parts of your brain and then jiggle his finger into the mucous and fatty lobes of where you make sense of the world? But that shirt, wowza, this guy looks like he just came off a Carnival cruise ship that’s destination was the Bermuda Triangle, 18 years later, no food, no drinks, just sheer “otherness.”

If this guy asked me for a quarter on the street one day I’d punch him and then run away to the nearest Bed Bath and Beyond and hide myslef in the world’s biggest pile of pillows and blankets and all things down until I mellowed out. Then I’d eat a bowl of soup.

The reality is this guy is a professional model that participated in a Yohji Yamamoto fashion show in the Forbidden City in Beijing. China is hurting these days, doggies! People are getting lessons on how to be civil and not spit everywhere they go. They are leading the pack in human rights violations and now they’ve hosted a fashion show with a model that looks like a pale anorexic Frankenstein with a Beatles wig on, to boot. You go, China.

Brits that have an affinity for both gun and rhyme battling now have a union made in heaven at their disposal. The hoodie pictured below may appear to be a run of the mill staple for your wardrobe, but these are more dynamic times we live in and nothing can be taken for granted, like say, some $700 Lanvin high tops that make me want to barf. The hoodie can allegedly stop a bullet from a 9mm Magnum handgun and protects the entire upper body.

The company that manufactures the hoodie, Bladerunner, maintains that their previous knife-resistant model was ordered by all walks people, even a priest! I’m not sure if this speaks more to the fact that Brits are crooked toothed tweakers or just dumb, but apparently the owner of the company, Barry Samms has his finger on the pulse of our increasingly hostile and paranoid culture. Their currency may be strong, but their heads are twsited.

How long before there are videos on YouTube of some 13 year old chavvies in knock off Burberry sweats and these things blasting themselves with a 9 mill from 10 paces?

I’ve been to Amsterdam twice and never been tempted to try the spacecakes that are advertised throughout the Lumiere Rouge district of town. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to be any more spaced out than the good boy Jah-Ras would have wanted me when I’m surrounded by throngs of people on old rickety bikes, waaaaaaaa-hay-hay-hay-haaaaay too drunk Brits and neon lights framing stolen Russian 16 year olds trying to sell your you their sexy time.

However, everything has its time and place and if I was say, sitting on top of Mt St Helena during a full moon in the dead of July with clear skies and my bros, sleeping bags, hard candy and the jolly soul Jah-Ras all around me, I would no doubt clown around with some spacecakes provided some crafty buster doug had one of those rad-gnar radios where I could play burned cds of these space sounds. Dr. Don Gurnett and the University of Iowa has been collecting and recording these far out out mamas for a while. The experience of listening to them need be appreciated with the most open of minds. Once you allow yourself to let go and not try and interpret what you’re hearing (harder than I first thought) the effects are delicious.

Where there are no limits, there is only potential, dig on that, space case.

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I woke up on Monday morning and checked my email at home in my robe and crown as I always do, except this morning there was a link sent from Seth about a job opportunity.  It looked very promising, a pr agency based in Seattle that specialized in technology, but the overriding message of the job listing was that this was a NO BS!!  agency where typical pr flightiness and overly enthusiastic sophmoric dribble would not be tolerated.  I got into my career by chance.  I did not necessarily plan to go this route, but it has been pretty rewarding so far albeit the sometimes painful and wince-inducing pr people you meet and their faces and way they talk and move and breath.  It can be very trying.

So when I saw this post on CL I was refreshed, impressed and immediately sent my resume and a bold, invigorating cover letter that highlighted my substantial relevant experience, love for rope swings, swimming holes, my prowess in the kitchen (out of the office multi-tasking, bitches!) and expressed my interest in learning more about the agency and what kind of colleague they wanted to find.  Here’s where things went into the brown river.  The email address was [redacted]@[pragencyofyourchoice].com.  I sent my striking letter and resume with my picture of baby Jesus and Fidel Castro on it and almost immediately was sent back a Mail Notification saying the email address I sent the materials to had “permanently failed.”

I figured it was my error and double checked the email address, but indeed, that was just fine.  Proactive titan that I am, I picked up the phone and called to ask about the faulty email address.  The girl who answered told me it was a simple misunderstanding and the email address in the post had been misprinted by one letter.  I told her of the mistake and re-sent the email.  After not receiving even so much as a confirmation (pretty typical these days) I became a little nervous.  I called the agency and the woman who answered was in fact the person I was attemtping to send the email to originally.  Thinking I had found a fountain of fortuity I relayed the story and soon learned that in fact the email address that the girl gave me was incorrect (2 incorrect emails so far in one attempt to apply for a job.)  The receptionist told me to send the email to a shortened version of the woman’s full name as the address, when in fact, it was the woman’s full name that was her email address (following?  I’m really trying Dolf-Lundgren-hard here to be nice here and not burn bridges.)

So I feel as though I have it all figured out, and resend the email, again. Couple hours later no response, I kindly request a confirmation and nope, nada.  Finally, I get another email from her, saying she did not receive my email and in combin through her information I see what has to be one of the most bombastic minor details man has known.  Let’s say this woman’s name is Sarah and her email address is suppoed to be Sarah@[pragencyofyourchoice].com but in reality, or more appropriately this agency’s twisted form thereof, her email address is Sarha@[pragencyofyourchoice].com and that was never confirmed or explained.  It was pronounced as the former, just to be clear.

So once this is all cleared up  and it is confirmed that my email went through to the appropriate channel Sarah writes back to say “so how did you get my email?  are you responding to an ad?  what kind of position are you looking for?”

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I’m not sure where this is going, but I’ll keep everyone posted on this very important time in my life.  I’m not blaming anyone that’s for sure, but, COME ON!!!!