You always hear the stories about how someone buys a painting or, say, negatives from a garage sale for five dollars and it turns out to be a long-lost Cézanne. But how often does that happen, right?
It happens all right, and you can improve your odds of such discoveries by having expensive tastes and keeping your eyes open.
Two Fridays ago I was at the Dover farm of the Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice. Chief Justice Myron T. Steele was kind enough to open his home (and extensive lands) to legal interns, clerks, and staff–past and present–for a barbecue. There were fireflies, barking dogs, frisky ponies, and the good smell of roasting chicken and ribs: there was magic in the air.
There was also a big tub of beer and wine on the lawn. It had nothing too fancy–mostly Bud Lite and Yuengling on the beer side, with some standard-issue Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay on the wine side–but who cared? It was perfect, lazy evening weather, and the conversation was good. I was also very thirsty, so I returned time and time again to the tub to get fresh beers.
On one such trip I rummaged around the ice and saw a bottle of white wine I had not previously noticed. It was a gorgeous honey-amber color. My first thought was that it was a Spanish wine of some sort–I’ve had some good Verdejo that came in bottles that color. But this wine wasn’t in a colored bottle: the bottle was clear. I reached into the tub and turned the wine around, then audibly gasped.
We’ve all done it. There are those evenings after a bad day at work or school or whatever where the only thing that will get us through the evening is a drink. Alone.
There is such a stigma attached to drinking alone, for a variety of reasons. For one, drinking alone implies that you have no one else to drink with, i.e. you are a loser. Or, drinking alone implies that you have a drinking problem, i.e. you are an alcoholic:
But drinking alone is not in of itself a bad thing. It is a useful tool, one of the great friends of mankind. There are times when you need to take the edge off of life, or times when you just want to forget about everything and just get to the next morning as quickly as possible. Obviously, indulging in individual imbibment on a regular basis may be indicative of deeper problems, but then again, merely drinking with other people doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem, either.
One of the good things about Wilmington is that being here forces me to read. I don’t have regular access to internet here, I don’t have very many friends here (awww), and I don’t have a car. All those mean that my joys here are eating lunch, working out, drinking (usually by myself–awww), and reading magazines that I purchase from the Amtrak newsstand.
One of the bad things about Wilmington is that I’m pretty much limited to purchasing my magazines at that newsstand, which is small. Thus, I’ve already read this month’s Esquire, GQ, Atlantic, Men’s Health, and Details magazines. Unless I want to delve into, say, Cosmopolitan or People, I’ve pretty much gone through all my options.
Merits of Wilmington aside, Details had an interesting spread on the artisanal movement and how ubiquitous it’s become. As stated by the author:
What’s new is the astonishing ubiquity of the aesthetic. Small-scale has hit it big. Farmer’s markets sell artisanal cheeses— and so does Costco. Suits available in midwestern malls have machine-made details that mimic the hand stitching once found only on a Neapolitan tailor’s eccentrically rolled lapel.
Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong per se with this newfound appreciation for craftsmanship. Indeed, I think it’s great that we can purchase exceptional items made by small producers. I recognize, however, that just as with ”biodynamic” and “organic”, “artisanal” can be co-opted by large corporations (or even by small producers who don’t necessarily use the best ingredients, components, or methods and are simply coattailing on the efforts of others) for their own benefit.
The skies aren’t as friendly as they used to be.
I remember one time when I was flying home to Los Angeles to Berkeley right after the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) instituted its rather draconian “3-1-1 Rule.” This was sometime in 2006, and I was still in college. I was trying to bring a nice bottle of wine with me to share with the family, but when I got to the ticket counter the woman working the counter informed me that my bottle would be a problem.
Basically, the 3-1-1 Rule provides that you may not carry onto an airplane any container of liquid or gel with more than three ounces of whatever in it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a twenty-ounce bottle of soda with only three ounces left; if it’s marked with a volume of anything greater than three ounces, it’s out.
The only way to save your beloved fluid from the trash is to check it (this option wasn’t available to this poor man). But that is a rather risky proposition. I am loathe to transport glass bottles of highly staining liquid in a suitcase with my clothes and other knick-knacks, especially if said suitcase is going through the travails of baggage handling.
For some people wine is just fermented grape juice, no more exciting or magical than a bottle of soda. It is much more than that, however. It is the proper accompaniment for any number of occasions: celebrations, milestones, and, as in yesterday, goodbyes.
Rebecca left this morning for her three-week cross-country journey through which she will be exploring America and relocating to Alaska, where she’ll be clerking at the state intermediate appellate court. We spent yesterday in Philadelphia, stopping first at Metropolitan Bakery for pastries (she had a chocolate croissant and I had a slice of a delicious prune log) at Rittenhouse Square. We grabbed a quick bite at Tria wine bar (we shared poached black Mission figs with gorgonzola and prosciutto di parma, and an absolutely wonderful cold duck salad with spinach, strawberries, and pistachios in a citrus-mint vinaigrette), browsed perhaps the best Italian market ever, and ended the evening in Philly at Marathon on the Square where we had amazing fried calamari and she had shrimp and crab pasta and I had a beef brisket quesadilla. (We also took a detour to Anthropologie and then to Fishtown, which was not well-advised.)