Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Alexandra Petri and the English language

As is widely understood, the New
American government has hoisted
barbarian vulgarity as the de-
fault idiom of public discourse
in this interesting country, and
has raised legions of practition-
ers in the arts and other arbit-
ers of civic morality. It was on-
ly endearingly delightful, then,
as a broadcast network defrocked
a brutish virago of this movement,
to savor unalloyed pleasure while 
Alexandra Petri anatomized it all.
Fulsome euphemism met its match,
and dulness its deadliest dagger.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


I had been in Berkeley, visiting a couple
of shops dealing in used and rare books, 
when I heard on the radio while crossing
the Bay Bridge, returning to Stanford, of
the conclusion of a rudimentary peace be-
tween Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger. In
no more than a few moments, I exited the
freeway at Washington Street to turn up
Montgomery, for dinner at Ernie's. You
know Ernie's, even though it is nominal-
ly not there anymore, because it is where
James Stewart and Kim Novak dined in Ver-
tigo. A gentleman might not dine in res-
taurants, but when the occasion demands
access to a superior wine list, improvi-
sation is understandable, and forgiven.

Ernie's is still there in that principle,
while paranoia and deception are still as
vigorous in the land as they were in Ver-
tigo. And no one is allowing himself a
Château Ausone until the present terror
has been purged from Pennsylvania Avenue.
Still, a civil thirst sustains the dream.

If Ernie's were still ensconced in its Bar-
bary Coast brick digs in the 700 block of
Montgomery, its cellar would certainly now
boast a Californian corollary of Ch Ausone.
Their common debt to the wine grape Rabel-
ais grew in the Loire, and called his lit-
tle raspberries - Cabernet Franc - upholds
a stunning structural elegance amidst a
sea of grapes of famed intensity and bulk.
Investing in the 80's in several acres of
the choicest slope in Napa Valley, and cul-
tivating daringly at right angles to the
grade of custom, a bold single-mother im-
migrant named Delia Viader planted a vine-
yard of Cabernet Franc with Cabernet Sauv-
ignon, whose principal wine exhibits that
shining confluence of terroir and oenology
which made Ausone the wine of Cole Porter,
and which defies any mention as commonplace.

They are not always saints, despite a
famous lyric, who finally go marching
in. We think they surely must be saints,
who'd deliver us from the New American
government some day; but Saigon fell to
other sorts, and no one underestimates 
the relentlessness of a riposte deferred.
Mr Porter wrote a song I like better, for
setting things aright, Why Don't We Try
Staying Home? It would have spared this
generation a great civil war of foreign
policy, still playing out in the braying
vainglory of this most degenerate of our
Presidencies. It would have steeled us
against the lurid distractions of this
hustler demagogue, snarling at the world.
It would have cultivated the human right
of taste.


Jason Lowe for Berry Brothers & Rudd
Château Ausone

Anonymous photographer
Viader Vineyards
Howell Mountain, Napa