Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's a hard balance for a writer to get work done while remaining social. Anthony Bourdain is a very social person, though his comments would have you believing differently. Claiming to be a misanthrope, he thrives in social circumstance, from kitchen to dining room to bar. The kitchen was a way to support himself as he followed his subliminal dream to be a writer.

Writing in the cafe has been one classic solution, of course the modern equivalent being Starbuck's. Enough background noise and people going by to satisfy a basic human urge, enough being left in peace to let the juices flow. Someone starts to pry, asking 'hey, what are you writing,' you have to shut them down. You need to protect your creative sphere. The talk will come later. As Hemingway put it, replenishing the well.

A conspiracy theorist might offer that between canned music tracks that hijack the brain and a lack of sidewalk cafes in the old Paris style, it's hard to write here in America, on top of whatever other complaints a writer might classically have, of struggles for pay and time enough to write. (Poverty, lack of a mainstream job, it all can make you a loner.) Interesting to note, that instead of the considered thought that writing for it's own sake brings, the bandwidth of the American mind is given over to the shouted agendas and hatreds of Limbaugh, Beck and Palin. Lincoln is turning over in his grave today. "Let us bind up the nation's wounds," he wrote.

A problem for me, when I get done with my work week manning the bar until they've all gone home, is feeling social enough to want to go out on a Friday night. You also have to feel you have enough money to go blow. And a city ain't cheap.

That's always been my mistake, not being able to balance the time needed alone, with the time of work's imposed social hour. Shyness is a problem. Not helped by the fact that a writer can seem to other people a really weird person, enough so that the writer begins to feel a little self-conscious of the clothes he is wearing, the air of being a bit apart from the rest. This is Bourdain's gift; he doesn't give a crap what the mainstream might think. He has self-confidence, doesn't mind being a little gonzo weird.

But the rest of us, we have to care what other's think a bit too much. We have our natural gentlemanly constraints as well, conversation with a passing neighbor, even as we're on our way off to write what we don't know we're going to write yet, thinking of somewhere, holding a fragile thing with care, hearing it, but not yet getting it down yet.

It's a real fault of his if he can't stick to a schedule, allowing peace and work by day, a social life at night. And odd hours, like those of a chef or barman, can be tricky.

Ahh me, a writer is a lazy person, who thinks his craft is enough to add to society.

Bourdain is an interesting guy. He observes, in his new book, if he hadn't fallen into drugs, he never would have had the string of lousy restaurant jobs to write Kitchen Confidential, experiences that must make the book what it is.

Monday, August 23, 2010

He was a classically trained artist. As a kid. An old fisherman, a partial nude, with artistic wisdom and clarity, sitting for the young artist, barely a teenager. And yet, a fine painting. A Picasso. Of course.

And then, to start his career, the Blue Period. Simplified forms. How to describe them... shadows? figurative? sketch? cartoon--no. The Saltimbanque, thin, and his family. Hardship, tragedy, the leanest of times, and no future what so ever. Nowhere to go then, if you were. Today, not much better. Here, the Blue Period, a short-hand, simplified. No, not the brushstrokes of detail and realism, but the form done as if quickly, as if 'all you get to say, and have to say it quick.' A morally freighted suggestion, a call to make forth some form of distribution of resources.

A phase artists go through, and actually, it's them hitting their stride. The desire, the ability, to see simply and direct. Hemingway follows suit. Simple childish basics, put together, still telling a story, as well as any method or practice. Carver, same.

The training in form and color and capturing graceful from has come, has gone, and now, it's time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You do wonder from time to time why be a writer. Why do you keep odd hours, have a fondness for seclusion. I'm good at bartending, I suppose, because in a way I don't mind it. I don't mind the hours and the isolation, a life lived drifting against the tide of a city and all its people who work by day, off at night. I must not. I've been doing it a long time. No, I'm not trying to be dramatic, I'm just sorting out why such a marginal life.

It's a hard job, though it wouldn't seem to be, front of the house at a restaurant. Dead dog tired at the end of the shift as the last few chores are done, you get yourself home, and then, even if you've had some already, you need some wine. Oh, sure, in a perfect world, you wouldn't have had the drink at work to combat the mental fatigue at the end of a night talking with people, being on, as on a stage, and you'd just go home and go to bed. Hell, you almost fall asleep in a chair sometimes at the end of the night, when you just wanted to stop and catch your breath for a moment. Anyway, you'll be up for another five hours after you come home, and I haven't found a way around that. Nine to fivers don't fall asleep straight away either. I might envy that their bodies don't have to fight against the natural cues of daylight.

Yes, it's a tiring job, and the shifts of a week add up, just like they do for everyone. I must admit that sometimes I don't get up much before I have to. Meaning that I don't write much those days I work, shamefully enough. I used to be a bit better at it. Maybe a certain discouragement comes with age. Maybe you find exercise, a little yoga, more essential to maintain.

In an ideal world, we'd write like Updike. Up, go the office, break for lunch, back at it, then finally home. Brilliant. Then, of course there's the Dostoyevsky model, of getting up at one in the afternoon, and finally after the house has gone to bed, sitting down at the desk by the light of candles (having a hatred of electric lights), rolling cigarettes that he's not allowed to smoke to pass the time when inspirations run back out to sea.

You begin to live this way, and it easily becomes your life, who knows why. Maybe you should completely change everything, be a schoolteacher or some form of worker with some form of pension. Yet, all those intricacies seem to intricate, and the writer prefers a job to be at least mentally simple, or am I wrong. Yes, you could look at the bar man's job talking to all those people kind of an interruption, but yet maybe they feed him too, in a way he's not so aware of, even as he gets tired out.

No, maybe it's just that he isn't fit for any other job but writing, and that he'll do anything just to keep his claim staked. Even if that job drags him away far too often, takes his energy away.

Clint Eastwood, now he gets being a writer. You can see it the characters he creates, the cop who works at night, who doesn't give a fuck about normal doings. A musician, an athlete, an actor, an inn keeper, a director... he's found out how to make it work for him. Not too far off from the way Shane MacGowan does what he does, knowing that all his life he wanted to be a professional musician and would do what it took.

Yeah, with any path or following, as they say, any dream, comes some punishment that you just have to live with and be grittily proud of.

Now, of course there is a certain amount of masochism in it that a lot of people just want no part of. But that apparent masochism of going through a performance of a song of, say Brendan Behan's, The Auld Triangle, is a way of working through the stuff of life. That's just a matter of taste, but it could be such stuff a writer needs.

Realizing that you/he/she a writer, that is the greatest act a writer will be able to pull off. There comes a feeling of no longer needing to apologize for who you are, for what your tastes are, for what you can read from the soul, and all that is bedrock. After that, maybe, it's easy.
Not every one has the greatest respect for the writer, for the amateur writer. My dear neighbor, Pani Zofia Korbonksa, was a person who had a great kindness. She shared her books, histories of Warsaw, Poland, in the era of WWII, ones she and her husband wrote out of real personal action and experience. The things she went through, she would touch upon from time to time while we had wine and cheese late at night, only vaguely. She kept a most positive, joyous and humorous spirit.

It was a great joy to her, as she made it out to me, when I delivered a manuscript to her. "Tadzio, you are a writer," she proclaimed, and for me it was all the world, this happy, beautiful formidable person who wasn't averse to pouring me wine at such hours as 1 or 2 am. She was a most generous person to me. And somehow she conveyed a simple pleasure over reading a manuscript that made her feel fresh for reading in the midst of its creation, a brave act, just as she had done brave acts, hers against a rather large and formidable and unstoppable and cold and cruel foe.

There were four letter words in my mss, and she laughed about them as being 'very ancient words.'

I hate to say it, but it's true what she might have told me one time. Only once. She's seen people when people were blown up. She knew when THEY, the Nazis, got Joey, the kid genius radio operator, who, over the course of a year or two of our strictly amateur and off the record enjoyable sessions of wine and cheese and cold cuts, had become a person, just by the way she said his name, Joey.

It might not matter, so much, what you write, but that you write what you feel. Because at a time, the triangulating trucks were coming, homing in on a message, radio tubes humming, glowing, whatever they do, sending a message across the skies, above a captor, to back where things are free, London, the beginnings of Radio Free Europe. So she kept her generous laugh, and joy, over a message that was just about being free, and all the joys of being free, taken, as they must have been then, very very seriously.

One could not imagine a fuller life for anyone, than hers. And the stark terror of her coming of age in a Poland overrun by Nazi Germany, increased sinisterly by the arrival of Soviet iron rule and arrest--from which she and her husband escaped--left her with a long clear vision for freedom, with a dislike of party apparatchik hacks.

Perhaps, as I think, and remember, she could have, if it hadn't been for the war, began her life as a Chopinist, studing piano and university, famous, Jagellonian, in Krakow. Nazis came, shot the faculty. That was the beginning she saw to an end.

She leaves behind books, and her voice, recorded and, by many and many, remembered as a light.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Now I can't, to continue with Dharma Bums, blame people for dismissing the book as something we might have been, as the NY Times reviewer says, 'spared.' I can understand where that sentiment is coming from.

The prose of it seems a little plain, not so much 'spontaneous bop prosody,' but more diary entry, a kind of, without exploring it too deeply here, a bit mundane, plain spoken. You read it like Huck himself reading Twain. Straight. Matter of fact. Not too emotional. Just the normal things to observe out of a fairly normal day, albeit one of a journey. Yes, it might all quickly become very dull for someone not intent on enjoying the outdoors and a certain mindset and lifestyle. To a modern eye, that is, one not too far removed, it simply sounds like amateur writing, high school.

But remember, this is the writer of On The Road having met and seriously studied the serious scriptures of Buddhist texts, which he did a quiet lonely winter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Just as the young prince came upon the vision of constant change, decay as well as birth and beauty, and ventured out into the world beyond the palace, the writer of such prose has come to some understanding. one beyond our normal wishes to go have fun, enjoy the desirable, avoid the undesirable.

Parts of the book ring with the subtle of sense of being a sort of awkward figure in the eyes of other people for the deep knowledge he keeps but actually does not broadcast too much, more prone to share it with companions of the type ready to listen, and even they sometimes, not quite getting it all the way. So is there the quoting of Ashvhagosha mid-way through Chapter 30, nearing the end of the book, as Japhy is about to go away to Japan. It is not so much the trip of Japhy the narrator refers to, but one from his own experience and understanding, his own trip first through what is sadness and then onward.

The plainness of the writing here, in Dharma Bums, fits, fits the message so well, and all of it easily overlooked, questioned, dismissed. To be able to write so clearly about moving events with steadiness, it might not seem like much, but despite its humble way, it's something, an achievement.

Kerouac, of course, was familiar with things like loss, sickness, death, the prospect of homelessness. He wanted to share with a comfortable America what it might be like if it weren't so comfortable, if we had to be more compassionate about just about everything, and a way to live, to accept such an existence. This might be the reason he is not so popular in various quarters and to various tastes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

From the highest newspaper in the land, their highest section arguably, the book review, Sunday, August 8, 2010. Kerouac's correspondence with Ginsberg. Picking up where the letters venture into Buddhist discussions: '... there is even more of the blowhard grandiosity, too, with Ginsberg supplying the usual indiscriminate applause, the absence of which we might have been spared The Dharma Bums" (1958).

Hmm. Is it odd that two writers considering methods of transcribing moments of daily reality, maybe even, through explorations of word, thought and text and captured dialogue and events, consider that there may be some meaning behind the events and the moments of daily reality, such that might be applicable as maybe even laws of science of nature and physics are, would stop to consider the Buddha's take on consciousness?

Okay, maybe The Dharma Bums isn't the finest of Kerouac, for it's quickness from point a to point b. But, it is an historical record, the continuation of an important and meaningful event in the history of prose. It is a book worth reading. Writers have to keep on writing, after all. Spared? "You have offended the holy spirit, my friend," as he himself might have said, did say.

And then a previous Sunday, catching up with the latest interpretations of Emily Dickinson, in the same pages, the lines, 'my life had stood -- a loaded gun in corners-- till a day the owner passed --identified-- and carried me away.' An author has come along and written a fine historical book and came up with, guess what, that the Dickinson's behind their daguerrotypes, stiff collars, high and concrete social standing and puritanical heritage were flesh and blood, maybe even tempestuous, crazy, volcanoes simmering. A nifty explanation of a few lines of poetry I can't help but feel to be taken completely out of context.

Here again the artist of prose and poetry is coming to terms with capturing the essence of day to day reality. Seriously, let's give credit to her as a poet, to her poems as poetry, beautiful and high called ones at that, most of them quite beyond the scope of the normal bickering humans are involved in. Nature, seasons, great passions seen in a context that makes them beautiful in their being free of importance. "All but death is adjustable."

This is not the poetry of inflaming, as passionate as they, the poems, are.

Yes, if we have to take Emily in the context of her family, its psychology, strifes, her brother's affair, etc., we are told a story, but it doesn't bring us any closer to the poems. Okay, of course her life has something to do with it, but, is that all there is? Yes, it's true, a gun, loaded, leaned in a corner, is far less likely to fall over, and fire, then it would be leaned up against a wall. But that there is an owner beyond her, identifiable, that it carries her off to be, like 'him,' a silent assassin, the assassin of her dead eye poetics... that's the sense this reader gets, as one thinks an important poem addresses her art, her ways of making it. She has been released from the illusion of self which has kept her stuck away in a corner not doing anything productive or heaven sent.

Something transcendental came to Emily in the grace of her silence, and she was perfectly comfortable with being taken away, to find her fresh selflessness leading the way to higher poetry. She is informed, as if she had encountered something very much akin to a Buddhist examination of deeper reality.

You have to give credit to the NY Times Book Review for acknowledging the root source documents of meaningful American Literature and calling it a valid calling. But maybe one comes away with a sense that the editorial voices want to steer away from getting too weird, to drag back achieving voices from the high outlook of sought enlightenment back down into the world of people seeking happiness by going out and buying stuff, by subscribing to one side of a polemic, bringing them back to that most justifiable of illusions, that of concrete self, a self with my needs pitted against others, my achievement is greater than yours.

So are the likes of Kerouac and Dickinson obscured, their accomplishments nullified as for having any real power or 'truth,' reduced to labels we'll never find any truth in no matter how long and deeply we might gossip, sexual identity, possible afflicting ailments, stuff we'll never know, but which a reviewer, paid, and finding self-promotion in, is happy to claim ultimate knowledge of.

New York Times, this summer, in the book review, in the case of two particular New Englanders: 0 for 2. A pattern?

Come on, guys. Same old stuff. The trendy stuff the book review has fallen into for years, producing kitsch, accusing another of one's own worst faults.

What's next? Andrew Wyeth is cheesy? (Christina's World, who needs all that grass?) Lincoln expendable for carrying his family/paternal drama forward into each and every telegraph, letter and executive decision? (That Second Inaugural, why weren't we spared it, so we could go on our business.) Lincoln has the upper hand over such biographers and book reviewers for sparing them ammunition... though these days, the slightest thing will set them a'tick.

Well, artists are tricky people to put into boxes. But for every know-it-all, there needs to be an artist's response. Or else we lose the picture.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Yes, I wish the writer a lot of strength. Yoga, I recommend, along with the attendant meditation and breathing. It will give him a whole new attitude.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

One could take the modern tradition of writing as accidentally giving birth to study in how to think. Writers came about their craft as a way of explaining consciousness, even if their treatment of it is indirect. How to treat the million questions and choices we have to make, actions, non-actions, that come steadily.

Of course, we will never truly know if anything we do is truly and completely right or wrong. You can't ever relax until you take a moment for yoga, a meditation, to take the time to realize that all the choosy voices are largely worth ignoring, so just be content.

We're complete dignified beings just as we are, and only require the simplest of lives.

Kerouac is full of interesting tensions. No coincidence that someone recreating events of daily life into a literary form should be a student of Buddhist thought. After writing On the Road, he sat down and studied it, as he waited, and waited.

On the one hand, Kerouac realizes that he is no self, just a being of infinite wisdom. He does stand up for the Buddhist point of view is his work. On the other hand, there is the Kerouac who likes to go off on adventure, as if he needed adventure to fuel his prose with tales and characters.

How did he reconcile and balance it all? Did he find a way where it really worked for him? Did he take, as maybe the religious tend to do, too strict a line, that he understood but couldn't adapt to his life? Maybe he could have made some adjustments, adjusting for 'that was then, this is now; buddha is buddha, jack is jack, and it's supposed to be that way.' Maybe he was so invested in writing that had to worry too much about his fate as a writer.

But he had a balance. There'd be an adventure, a story line, and then he could step in and say, but it's not about just that story, here's what it's really about. He did pretty good though, getting through to the reader of the day. And one hopes he knew that his those words, about his fond puzzlement with high thoughts, have a lot of power and still do. He had accomplished something and deserved to rest on his laurels.

Ah well, every writer since Shakespeare and time immemorial has been tortured by the same question, stay in, or go out and maybe see some action.

It's not easy to explain some things, like the void, like illusion of self, that all your senses take to be real is a kind of phantasm. Kerouac goes along his road teaching himself these lessons and their applicability to real life, as if largely to distinguish what is for me as far as the things of the world, and not is not for me, to distinguish useful activities from useless ones. That, we suppose, takes some strength. It takes a lot of hindsight made present, if you will. Your family is a part of you, but a lot of stuff you think you might want, well, maybe not, in fact, no, just an illusion in one's emotional mind to let go of.

Friday, August 6, 2010

There are, I suppose, consequences if you're going to write, the way a writer of the kind that critiques society, a Kerouac, a Twain, a Fitzgerald, writes. (Russian writers cover the consequences of their attitudes sometimes.) The consequences are not intentional as you set out to be and to discover yourself as a writer, writing what you take as being accurate and true. You write what you experienced recreated as fiction. And one way, or another, perhaps, there are consequences.

But of course, you run the risk of alienating the segment of life you portray. You may offend people who may take you for portraying them partially or substantially or coincidentally.

You're going to feel awkward, highly, when friends read your book. And you don't want to write about them, but only say nice things about them, which, some might argue, doesn't make for a very good story-line.

And yet, there was an instinct to write, a light to follow, something not to hide, something good and true, the spark of love like the common love we all have for nature and for our parents who love us. By this instinct you never meant to say anything mean or lastingly judgmental, and would prefer to say only kind things, perhaps an appreciation of eccentricities. For in the end, the artist subscribes to what Shakespeare put into Hamlet, the acceptance that 'nothing is but thinking makes it so.'

The writer has no bad wishes or bad feelings, but truly rather the greatest kindness and understanding of people, just by the very nature of his art. He comes to the realization, subconsciously or more consciously, that he is trying to teach people, both as an observer of nature, as a scientist does, but also to teach people to live a kinder less competitive less mean less judgmental kind of way, as if to turn them to the sunlight, to the source of all creation and all energy so that we might all go, 'ahhhh, I see!' and smile and not have strife and not raise conflicts with our neighbors. (It would not have been wise for us to sit in and watch the big bang happen, and anyway, we are the living result of this great release of permeating energy.)

The writer's instinct all along (even if he might seem to be creating strife) is passive, kind, to be a teacher. For him to be critical, in the negative sense, in the sense of tearing down innocent people, is outside of him.

So is, finally, the writer along the same lines, through his observations, in a far humble way, as a Jesus, as a Buddha, seeking enlightenment, and seeking to share that enlightenment, even if that body of wisdom seems when compared to every day concerns of survival and advancement in society obscure, irrelevant, floating chimerical illusions. Every day in his notepads he is reattaching, reconnecting with that energy that is so warm and gentle and kind and flowing so pleasantly through all of our atoms that we might not even know it's there. Each and every day, he is rediscovering and reconnecting with himself, with something we all share. This is why he keeps going, having no problem with writing, and goes about throwing in his little observations without worrying about others telling him he is wrong.

Reading a writer, we would discover what great gentle studious kind beings we are, just the same as we were when we were children, protected by our parents sanctuary, reading then as we do now.

Yes, we fell from grace, yes, we were kicked out of Eden, but there is a way back, for each and every one of us. And so, all places, really, should have books in them. McDonalds should have books in them. The Constitution should provide for books.

The writer can be taken as, yes, half-idiot for his habits. He goes at his own pace. He may be in touch with no issues but the basic ones, getting his news from what birds say and other sounds of nature.

In our selfish legalistic society we've grown to respect something more than thinking. We risk falling into a kind of ignorance, an unwillingness to approach issues. We rely heavily on law rather than the simple and direct paths of personal virtue. Laws think they must come down heavily upon us, dot all i's and cross all t's, and set the tones for all differences, disagreements and arguments. By imposing rules for the sake of rules we give birth to a criminal mind, a mind that does only what the current laws tell him, or break down other people for not following rules just as as that mind thinks right.

Hitler and Nazism grew out of secrecy, abusing a legal system, a system of government by posturing as law. He grew to abuse, to put it rather mildly, the privacy and personal rights of everyone. Differences of opinion and free art were quelled. Here, in the U.S., we've gotten as far as McCarthyism for art-bashing.

If it seems a writer may have gone too far in his right to create his art, remember that his respect of a free society is greatest of all. It is in the very nature of art to be representational, just as Giotto and Caravaggio put the reality of human form into the depiction of holy scenes and lessons. Unless of course art is defamation posing as art. Those who defame contradict the core belief of an artist that nothing is but that thinking makes it so. "That person over there is only bad because you have made him out to be." Art would never flourish is such circumstances; the pen, the brush, the camera, the violin would be broken.

The writer may have felt, subtly, like the biggest offender because he spoke up and wrote about a place, a temple. He write what he did as a defense of the artist's way, the artist's right to exist, the artist's peace of mind, the artist's suggestions, the artist's write to take note. And that instinct to write, I believe, is part of the holy physical flow we have within that represents itself as all physical properties we have, sex drive, digestion, respiration, all senses, blood flow, heartbeat, cellular activities and bone, just as we once awoke to an awareness of our mother's hearbeat.

Observed behaviors a writer can touch upon belong to a public domain. He looks at things with an eye for beauty and form, and so he sees, and shouldn't apologize for it. Individual privacy is respected by the very nature of a piece of writing being, after all, thoroughly a work of fiction.

Young people have good health, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. They are resilient. If called upon to do so, they should write their take on things, even if an adult or bigger person comes along and discourages the effort through some cautious and overblown sense of false propriety. (Ophelia's critique of Leartes' lecturing.) For young people--though they can certainly make mistakes, big ones as well as small ones, hopefully without tragedy--have a sense of where they stand (protected as they may be), though of course they must be respectful and of a willingness to admit their mistakes as they go about learning to fly on their own.

Every artist's story (though of course they are not perfect people) bears a similarity--at least to for a moment humor--to that of Alyosha Karamazov's rising up, to be a fighter for the rest of his life. But, have we grown not to expect much in the way of art, high art of spirit and flesh? Well, at least, we're born able to listen.

A writer can indeed fall prey to the knocks and discouragements offered up to him by straight-laced nay-sayers, maybe even to the conspicuous lack of support offered by a blandly good but selfish citizenry. He may be, indeed, a hero to face the active and the passive, like Gary Cooper's Sheriff, in High Noon. Maybe there is something that makes us afraid to stand with him, some conservative part in us that thinks too much a certain way.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Okay, what did we learn tonight, on top of tasting a chardonnay from the Pays du L'Aude, just south of Carcasonne, and a rose Cotes du Ventoux, a Provence style wine, light, subtle, red fruits, strawberry, light color, grenache, syrah, mourvedre...

A Jurancon dessert wine, what to look for, confit style fruits, i.e., jam, marmalade style, as well as peach and apricot (I think that's what Ed our pro observes) and on the end, after the earthy minerally stuff, as we're at higher elevation here outside the gracious city of Pau, the Pyrenees spread out before us, a finish with blood orange. As we age them, the color darkens, and mushroom emerges.

Also, a very interesting observation. About vintages. Bordeaux for example. Each vintage has a personality. Okay, yes, some years are riper than others, but as far as a market might be honestly set, it seems rather incredible that one vintage should swoop up in cost say 50 % or more. Maybe this is heresy to say. Yes, it probably is. But, there could be, like everywhere else now, overvalued things, mass hysteria, hording, foolish behavior, the trading that becomes derivative, not solidly based anymore in inherent value, but more the 'hey, every other asshole is buying all the '05, I must have some too," when really, why do we all have to do this. For wine that is good anyway, year in, year out. Again, every vintage has a personality. Just like we do, or used to, as human beings. Every vintage is worth tasting, worth studying, worth describing and making a lesson of.

From the previous week, lute raissonable. The reasonable struggle, to be organic, and sustainable, without going all the way to being certified as being completely organic.

See, wine is honest. It's a human endeavor, combined with nature. Things come and go. No one's perfect. You do what you can with the soil and the scale you're trying to achieve. Be reasonable, and you'll end up drinking good wine, as is the tradition.

Okay, vintages, an '06 Bordeaux ain't the same as an '05. The '03s had a lot of fruit, but haven't lasted.

Hecto liters. Per hectaire. That's what was confusing me, hearing this all, not reading it. Hecto is 100. Hectaire is a measure of land, similar to an acre. The yield of a Cotes du Rhone vineyard is 5 tons of juice per hectaire, a Cotes du Rhone Village is 4 tons, the latter being a better more concentrated wine. See, we all learn, bit by bit.