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“All great wines are tense.”

The statement hung in the air like something defying gravity, as the wine did. We were drinking a bottle of 78 Monfortino, a wine Hector claimed was the greatest Italian wine ever made. I was neither prepared to agree nor disagree: Italy pumped out 55 million hectoliters of wine each modern vintage and, considering the Romans were making vitis hellenica before Christ, let’s face it, there’s been a lot of Italian wine. In 1978, had Giacomo Conterno done better and had enough luck to make a better wine than any other Italian wine maker in the course of almost 6000 years of Italian wine making history?

I had been in Barolo recently and had had a visit with Roberto Conterno, current wine maker. He had opened a bottle of 96 Monfortino, which had been tense. Suddenly I understood my reaction to the 96! It wasn’t fruity, wasn’t generous; it was difficult to taste, almost undrinkable (perhaps the antithesis of a beverage) because of the abrasive and copious tannins. But if ‘depth’ has an aroma, I smelled its Depth. It was a gut reaction, knowing there was no end to smelling this wine. Within that depth lay distant perfume, seduction, sweet cherries, sweet spices and crushed autumn leaves; unchanging traditions, extended macerations, tannins to rake your tongue but support the wine for decades. I felt the strain of back-breaking hand-harvesting and twice daily punching of the cap. I felt the skins releasing their hard, bitter discharge to hide the delicious, sweet virtue of the grape from those who desire instant gratification. The 78 was infinitesimally developed compared to the 96 (a hair more fleshy and a tiny bit sweeter, broader, but still with that elusive depth – it drove me crazy!), which made me wonder who the “Vin de Garde” style was for? Who has the patience, now, to lay a wine down for 20 years (or more), or to pay $1000 for 750 ml of old Barolo? And who but the Barolese really care? Did the wealthiest nouveau-riche wine collectors who plucked them at auction truly understand their tension or did they think of them as they thought of their Porsches and silicon women, trophies to hold up insecurely and show to their rich "friends" in competition to outdo one another?

Date Written: June 10, 2004
Author: John Slocum
Average Vote: 3.6667

06/15/2004 TheBuyer: i like this and will just have to assume every word of it is fact because i am a troglodyte. on the other hand, masked-mystery-author-impersonating-John-Slocum, if there is a joke in there please explain to me using very small words. Maybe type big too. Also, you do a pretty good John Slocum impersonation, I hope I didn't blow your cover by saying that. this short will require multiple readings.
06/15/2004 Jon Matza (5): A) This IS Slocum, The Buyer. B) Cherry language throughout. Internal monologue was sort of Evans-like in tone. C) Was expecting, and pleased to find the absence of, an Acme-like punchline. I commend the author for seeing the concept through & having the courage to not be too "funny" at the end.
06/15/2004 TheBuyer: impressive writing like this confuses me, sort of like the recent cat short from before. i like it, it's good, but how can i justify a five for something that may be found on a serious, adult-type drinker site on the guest author side? maybe if this author was a regular author not a guest author it would be easier to assume that every word is intentional and that the humour is subtle, not absent. i mean, this guy could be anyone!
06/15/2004 scoop: This brand of Slow-Cum short confuses me -- not the writing itself, which is splendid, and all that. I'm talking more about the the thin tissue separating Slow-cum from his creations. I can never figure out how much distance there is between the author and the narator's voice. And more importantly, why I think it matters. I'm not sure why, but I feel like it does.
06/15/2004 Craig Lewis (5): I'm with Matza.
06/15/2004 TheBuyer (3): with respect to the author who obviously knows his shit, and knows how to write well about it:
-first graph ends well, other than that - not funny, or WAY over my head, i don't know which
-still convinced this is a good Slocumimitation not the real thing, there is a certain 'bite' missing
may god have mercy on my three.
06/16/2004 John Slocum: TheBuyer: what possible reason could you have for being so utterly, stupidly wrong, you festering little shit?
06/16/2004 John Slocum: Alright, not such an original retort. You're right, this is not really funny, although I snickered alot at the 'skins releasing their hard, bitter discharge..' line. Not really a short.
06/16/2004 TheBuyer: I may actually deserve that this time.
06/16/2004 TheBuyer: ...i thought that was regular wine talk. aww geeze
06/16/2004 Cooper Green (4): Slocum, that was very, very funny. Your borrowed response to TheBuyer, I mean. And I agree with TheBuyer that this short has less of a bite than your usual effort, but 'bite' might sour your pretension here. A lovely bit of writing.
06/16/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan (5): It is interesting what you are trying to do here, Slocum. It took me a couple reads to understand why this so rightly deserves the stars. I think it is something other than a short. In a good way. Would you consider doing a "short" about sake?
06/16/2004 John Slocum: not sure I quite understand what individuals here are refering to as bite. Do you mean punchline? Anger? Violence towards women? etc.??
06/16/2004 Mr. Pony: Slocum, I've been meaning to ask you about the inexact (to the layman, at least) nature of the words used to describe wine. This seems as good a time as any! P.S. I'm glad this short turned out to be authored by you!!
06/16/2004 qualcomm: yeah, maybe if the narrator said that the wine tasted like violence towards women, i'd like it better.
06/16/2004 TheBuyer: Broken teeth, caustic sexual lubricants, biting, tender visciousness, "I'm a filthy whore," etc. You know, 'bite.'
06/16/2004 Mr. Joshua (5): Sure it's iconoclastic as far as shorts go, but it's dang well-written, and entertaining, too.
06/16/2004 TheBuyer: I'm still having trouble with something here in regards to format and status. My earlier comments may have been hard to take seriously so I'll try again without the, "wonder who wrote this" gambit which came off as moronic. My question remains, should a well written, non-format, way outside of guidlines, long, short written by a guest be rated so well? This is a bad example given that this author is the top rated guest author and is well known, and should be given the benifit of the doubt, but what if it was a stranger who wrote this? What if it was about jazz or something, used similar language, real people, places, events and products [which I had to check to make sure I wasn't missing a joke]? My statement then, still in regards to format and status, is to say that this short deserves a three if it is written by a second-class citizen guest who should have to be fucking hilarious at all times, rather than the fives it would warrant as an author offering. I hope this comes off as campaigning for John Slocum to be elevated in status, and not as justification for what could be construed as a torpedo vote. I care.
06/16/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan: TheBuyer: Did someone threaten you about the way you vote?
06/17/2004 TheBuyer: I'm actually in and out of fever and saw dogs in my apartment, big ones, black ones. they didn't mention how I vote but they have been keeping me awake.
06/17/2004 John Slocum: Mr. Pony: Aromas. Smells. Subjectivity. Opportunity for bullshit? You bet! No, I'll answer your query, need a day or so - busy and Euro [censored] is disrupting everything.
06/17/2004 Craig Lewis: Just to clarify, that's Euro Two-Thousand-Four, the soccer tournament. I've just heard that Francesco Totti received a three-match ban for spitting at a Dane in Italy's first match; a bit harsh, don't you think, The Lerpa? The Buyer: Why this silly distinction between guest and author shorts? (Lemme get this straight: this short is a three because it was published in the guest domain, but were Slocum promoted, it would merit a five?) And what are these "formats" and "guidelines" of which you speak? Incidentally, in my opinion this short is "fucking hilarious": glorious deadpan journey through the frazzled consciousness of a total geek-fag wine faggot (who may or may not be Slocum).
06/17/2004 Mr. Pony (4): Lewis, you're absolutely right. I fear I've gotten used to the themes here, but that's just as much my fault as it is the author's.
06/17/2004 scoop: Craig Lewis: I think your admirable loyalty to an old friend is preventing you from seeing that TheBuyer has brought up an old, but very relavent, aesthetic conundrum in relation to this short. If it was posted in the Author section, there would be less question to the intnet of the voice -- a "deadpan journey through the frazzled consciousness of a total geek-fag wine faggot" -- as opposed to just some geek-fag wine faggot who stumbled on the site and posted one of his ramblings. For someone who knows little about modern art, let's say, doesn't a museum make the evaluation of a piece different. If a child were to see a Pollock action painting hanging in the MOMA and one hanging from a refrigerator, a lot of assumptions could be made about the intent, quality, and meaning opf the piece. Let's say Matza's calassic monologue about the body builder were written by an unironic weight lifter. Would it be as funny? And if so would it be for the same reasons? Probably not. I think this tricky question of where the parenthetical irony quotes begin and end is what our dedicated reader TheBuyer was getting at, and less highlighting any rigid class distinction between guests and authors.
06/17/2004 Mr. Pony: Slocum has walked this line from the beginning, like in "McWilliamsburg", his first recorded short, and in "So you go into a restaurant" (although "McWilliamsburg" contains a rescue line at the end). I find it confounding sometimes, and very interesting others. Tense, even.
06/17/2004 Ewan Snow: scoop, I think you're right. But the fact is, there was no doubt that this was a Slocum short. The demi-irony was not hard to fathom.
06/17/2004 scoop: But Pony: don't you thing there clue in both of those shorts you linked to that the out of place cussing, for instance, or the capitalizing of the Stabucks line, that draw attention to themselves as jokes, versus this short here, which has virtually no clues, aside from the obvious fact that its own a comedy site. But that brings up the point again about the guest page and the author page. The guest page could possibly be anyone with access to the Internet, and the author section is limitied to 8-10 people. The joke here, correct me if I'm wrong Slocum, is satirical. The problem I have is that if you know the "wine-critic" vocie and can ape it, is that still funny? It seems like a rote exercise that risks becoming boring if it is just a mechanaical repetition of a vocie the author has familiarity with. Again, Slocum, I think this is well-written. But I think your aroma series is funnier because it adds layers to this millieu instead of just copying it. I don't know the answer to this Mr. Pony, and am looking for some steely-eyed RISD art school knowledge to lend clarity to this conundrum.
06/17/2004 Ewan Snow: Scoop, "The statement hung in the air like something defying gravity" is clearly a joke. But I definitely see your point. To me it doesn't matter, though. I found this short amusing, though not all that funny, and was willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt. Further, I suggest we no longer concern ourselves with the question of whether or not knowledge of intent matters in art/comedy, as it is likely to lead to a serious conversation.
06/17/2004 scoop: Good point, Snow. A fart, a poop, a smelly cunt and a monkey boner to you sir, and have a nice day!
06/17/2004 Mr. Pony: Wow, It's a good thing I hit refresh before I posted that long-winded steely-eyed deconstruction of this discussion! A booger of a good thing!
06/17/2004 Ewan Snow: That's better.
06/17/2004 TheBuyer: That about covers it then, thanks for taking the time. and here's a bent erection, a tissue with a wad in it, and a small pellet of poop to be distributed evenly, enjoy!
06/17/2004 Craig Lewis: Not sure exactly how (or if) this adds to the discussion, but I think at this point it can safely be revealed that Slocum's "first short," "McWilliamsburg," was not in fact his first short. If I'm remembering correctly, all except one line of it was cut and pasted from this item (scroll down the page until you see "McWilliamsburg") written by a hipster-doofus first cousin of mine, who has a ridiculous "sex column" on, yes, a Williamsburg-themed website. (He lives in a sweet loft on Havermeyer; don't want to mention the cousin's name lest an ego-surf bring him here and his feelings get hurt.) If memory serves, Slocum, Danko, Matza and I were sitting around Slocum's apartment, well into a 2000 Guigal Cote Rotie la Landonne, trying to persuade Slocum to post a short. We stumbled across my cousin's anti-gentrification screed, and collectively agreed that it should be posted as Slocum's debut. Naturally, it's the worst short is his oeuvre. Anyway, I agree with Scoop that my prior experience of Slocum's voice (and of his cave) enhanced my enjoyment of this short, and I agree with Snow that this was obviously a Slocum effort. England won today, 3-0.
06/17/2004 qualcomm: lewis, have you ever noticed the similarities between your cousin's column, especially the part above the mcwilliamsburg section, and Jim Anchower's "The Cruise" column from The Onion?
06/17/2004 John Slocum: I apologize to the Acme community for plagiarizing on this site. I have brought dishonor to each and every one of the Authors, Guest Authors and the site's myriad Passersby who have been stained by my laziness. I feel sick, sick to my stomach and I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at myself in the mirror again without choking on my shame. Ohhhhh! The guilt, it rends me. But in a way, I'm glad my dirty secret is out; it has been weighing on my conscience for some time now and adversely affecting my productivity, my relationships with friends and my sex-life. I have been flaccid now since February 15th of this year, and it's difficult having a sex life without a hard-on. Food doesn't taste good. I'm listless, anxious and produce too much sputem. My scurvy worsens and I am held in the icy embrace of the grippe. Maybe now I will be able to heal inside and, possibly, move on with my life. If none of you ever want to have anything to do with me again, I would completely understand. I'll go now.
06/17/2004 Craig Lewis: Dude, my cousin is a walking, taking Onion article. It's unbelievable. Check out his play!: http://www.freewilliamsburg.com/january_TWOTHOUSANDFOUR/sex.html (You'll want to use the numerals 2,0,0,4 in place of TWOTHOUSANDFOUR -- fucking Acme!)
06/17/2004 John Slocum: Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight! This short doesn't have any jokes in the classic acme sense other than some cavalier flights of fancy such as the gravity line and the bitter discharge line. When I wrote this one, I had actually had a moving wine drinking/wine philosophy broadening experience and set out to write a short intending to be funny, and it ended up being more or less serious and the experience of drinking the 78 Monfortino had been so deep that I ended up leaving it as is (So, Scoop: in this case the narrator was Slow-cum). I knew it wasn't really a short according to the parameters and guidelines set out on the site tour, but I just left it the way it was, okay? I realized reading the comments that it's not altogether fair because some specific knowledge is required in order to know if there are jokes or not so I can get a way with shit. Anyway, in my next short, a guy is going to eat a child, then rip both arms off a woman, shit in her mouth and then drink his own urine, all the while drinking a Collioure.
06/18/2004 anonymous (1):
12/24/2004 Shane Mahoney: I fail to see how this piece addresses the pressing issue of how we are moving forward in our application of the North American ideal of preservation and the stewardship of our vital natural rezources.
12/24/2004 Shane Mahoney (1):