Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Flag Day in Cambria
"The best way to predict the future is to create it."
Abraham Lincoln

     In a parallel world where the morality of the NRA rules human hearts instead of Judeo-Christian values or those of other faith systems and beliefs, Wayne Lapierre would be gunned down by an AR 15.  In this world Lapierre has been an accomplice in the gunning down of innocent men, women and children. 
     The NRA and every member of Congress or a state legislature who has not advocated or voted to ban or restrict sales of the AR 15 have the blood of Orlando, Newtown, Auora and San Bernadino on their hands. The bullshit machine of the gun manufacturing and sales industry and the NRA has tried to sell this nation on the "sporting, hunting and self defense" qualities of the AR 15, a civilian model of the M 16 military rifle. The truth behind the fraud is greed, the sales of a gun.
     With federal trainers, ATF and FBI agents, local and state law enforcement personnel and US Army weapons instructors I have used AR 15s and many other weapons and handguns and with proficiency. There is no sound reason the AR 15 should be in civilian hands. AR 15s are designed to kill and the semi automatic nature of such weapons can be easily turned into rapid fire purveyors of death. Anyone who tells you anything else is either a liar, coward or someone who needs to prove masculinity or feminine macho with a gun.
     There are better hunting weapons. There are other weapons that require greater skill and mastery for sport and competitive shooting. There are plenty of other weapons that could be used for self defense-but God help us if we descend to the absurd theory being advocated that if more people are armed there would be fewer victims of mass shootings.
      The issues of gun safety, registration, control and all the peripheral arguments aside, the sale of assault weapons to the public is simply stupid and dangerous. Not to do something about it only moves us closer to that parallel world.

       When Justin Baldwin owned and managed the Justin Winery it was a place of quality, sustainability and a prestige label in the Paso Robles appellation. The flag ship Isosceles was an expensive wine but award winning and well respected. How far Justin has tumbled since Mr. Baldwin sold the operation to the Wonderful group owned by Stewart and Lynda Resnick the people behind POM Wonderful and Fiji Water and other enterprises.
        Presently San Luis Obispo County is investigating the practices of Justin winery. After a couple of years of complaints from the family-like Paso Robles wine industry, Justin is being seen in an interesting light.  A couple of years ago people complained that Justin had begun cutting revered California Live Oak trees, in droves. During the height of the drought Justin began clearing land and planting new vines. And they were said to be over irrigating. Many shook their heads.
        Aside from staff departures, the destruction of a beloved rose garden, they increased the volume of wine made. Under Baldwin the label found a level of case production that assured the quality people expected. That changed. Californians, familiar with Justin, found the wine on shelves and restaurants as far as Florida, where the once vaunted wine tasted nothing like the old limited quality product. 
      I pass this along and label it as gossip-I cannot prove the  veracity though anecdotally this has gained wide circulation in the local wine industry-where Baldwin produced something like 200 thousand cases a year, the Resnick regime is trying to push it to 1 million or more. They do sell a lot of pomegranate juice and bottled water, but a high quality wine is different. Baldwin loved wine and winemaking as do most of the Paso winemakers. It appears the new Justin is simply the manufacture of a commodity in pursuit of more sales.
      In the meantime they are being investigated for killing many prized California Live Oak-something you can not do-scraping hillsides and lying to the county about their intentions. They display the arrogance of a "one percenter" in a community known for friendly, cooperative, environmentally sensitive practices where there is a devotion to quality wine. We know people who are dropping their membership. Others are talking about a boycott. And the local government may have sanctions in store for a bad neighbor. It's my take the Resnick operation would be more at home in Napa.

    An apple rosette made by my daughter Katherine.
    A Zuccotto made by Chef Giovanni of the Harmony Cafe at the Pewter Plough Playhouse in Cambria.

    Bryan Cranston as LBJ in the HBO adaptation of the stage production All The Way. Melissa Leo as Ladybird, Bradley Whitford as Senator Hubert Humphrey, Frank Langella as Senator Richard Russell.
    Also first class Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins in the teledrama The Dresser.  Good work too from Emily Watson and Edward Fox.

    See you down the trail.


  1. Your call for a ban on assault weapons is right on target. It is about the gun industry's desire to make money. These are machine guns not sporting rifles.

    1. Wish members of congress were not so susceptible to the NRA's pushing, shoving and money.

  2. I'm sorry to hear about the issues in your wine region, becoming easily the second best in California.
    As to the NRA and it's leader Lapierre I couldn't agree more. It's says something about our current government that they wield more power than any individual, using a perversion of our own amendments to do so.

    1. As "out of character" as is Justin, the balance of the Paso group is still pretty cool. It is not rare to encounter the winemaker in the tasting room. Most staffs are caring, knowledgable and love wine making. It's the big money from outside that has the capacity to change the ethos. So far things remain mellow in most cases.
      Certainly would not want to carry Lapierre 's karma!

  3. I completely agree with you about weapons of war not belonging in civilian hands. They were once banned after Reagan was shot but Republicans let that ban expire. Now we're all paying the price.

    1. You hit on a good point. A better sense of history (and judgement) would serve us all well. BTW We really enjoyed your posts on Key West. Welcome back to the West Coast.

  4. I, too, share your views of the NRA and its mad leader, LaPierre. Congress, unfortunately, is ruled by money which probably explains why it's approval rating among American voters is at 10 percent in the latest Gallup Poll.

  5. Also, I checked back and I did NOT type that apostrophe in the word i-t-s up there. Damned spell checker.

  6. Agree with you on both points. NRA has bought many members of congress and an aggressive spell checker is a bane of modern keyboards.