Arc Collective: The Prologue

Prologue:

Dear Madame Govnah’

The Honorable Ms. Staci Simpson, M.A. (multiple), J.D., MD, Ph.D.

Governor’s Tower

State Governance, Corruption, and Lobbying District Level 4

1600 Crab Claw Way NW

Hagerstown, West Maryland, 113°34’56’’

The Outerlands of the American State System (O-ASS)

Amazon Corporate Confederacy, District NA-003

Milky Way Galaxy, Star Sector S11, Planet E-III

The Universe

Thursday, August 14, 2105.

Re: Request to defer admission into Level I Learning Center for our daughter Victoria, age 3.958

Dear Madame Governor,

My name is Arlo Ames-Martinez. My wife, Dr. Veronica Martinez, our only daughter, Victoria, and I have recently been transferred to the Greater ex-Baltimore refugee and resettlement camp, which lies within the boundaries of the New Hamden Township, a utopian community of academics and farmers being constructed on former farmland and on important military battlefield sites dating back as far as the eighteenth century. We are all grateful for the food, used clothing, and extreme survival tent housing gear that your new administration has been providing. Thank you! We know that the costs of rebuilding after the last new rounds of Mid-Atlantic earthquakes, tsunamis, megalighting cyclones, and tectonic shapeshifts truly have been staggering.

The reason for my writing to you today, Madame Governor, is with a request that you consider overturning a recent ruling by the West Maryland State Education and Technology Services Department that our daughter, Victoria, be placed as a G1-level student into the Druid Hill Academy’s “Gifted Girls” accelerated learning module starting on September, 1, 2105, whose date is now rapidly approaching. My earlier and repeated efforts to make contact with the Level I Learning Center parent-teacher disputes resolution help desk at the new federal government offices in the Greenbriar Resort’s O-ASS Federal Governance, Fossil Fuels Refinement, and Male Chauvinists-Only Entertainment Center have been entirely unsuccessful. I also tried writing to our new Corporate Congressman from the Pennsylvania Dutch delegation about this matter, but as of this writing, I have yet to receive a reply.

As you know, the wholesale restructuring of the American education system from top to bottom initially was prompted by the New Learning Movement of the 2090s. It was the 90s, after all, and idealists, heirloom seed collectors, folksong preservations, and neo-librarians helped significantly in the 2099 Elections to bring the Black Amish Power Party into office. I was directly involved in that wave of progressive social activism, despite the physical threats to my person that I, a 5th generation Appalachian-American of diverse heritage, had to face on the streets of the Greenbriar, and as I am aggrieved to say, also in our beautiful new capital city upon the hill in Hagerstown. I tell you this not because I am asking you for a favor, Madame Governor, in quid pro quo exchange for my efforts at aiding your successful election campaign to become the first bisexual African-American woman to hold the highest office in our battered and bruised but not beaten state. We may call it “West Maryland” now in deference to the millions of our fellow citizens who perished in the Great Eastern Shore Shapeshift of 2089, but to me, it is – and remains – a single united place, a state for the living AND the dead, and that for me is the great state of Maryland.

Madame Governor, I know that you are single mother of an amazing son, Spencer, whom is I believe two years older than my daughter. We recently had the pleasure to meet with Spencer at one of the Cloud Computing and Predictive Analytics summer school boot camps that my wife hosts each year at the new Cumberland Gap Refuge campus of the Johns Hopkins University 2.0. My wife tells me that your son, at age 6, is already completing coding and encryption exercises that she usually assigns to G11s entering their first year of study in an LIII learning center. And he is so tall and strikingly handsome as well, if I might state facts that for you as his mother must certainly be obvious.

You allowed your son to become a G1 at age 4, if I understand it correctly, which is almost exactly the age my daughter is now. Actually, she will turn 4 on September 3 of this year, so technically she is still 3 11/12 or whatever fractional number Vic prefers to use these days, when the summer August heats are causing the camp food garden to explode in a veritable avalanche of fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs, homeopathic flowers, and various types of rare heirloom cannabis. I am overseeing the Camp Food, Fermentation, and Medicinal Plant Center this year, so I’m quite busy with work at the moment, as of course is my wife, especially since she is now the Director of the Level IV Learning Center in Cumberland Gap Refuge that just opened its doors last May, following a grand opening ceremony that even of new O-ASS President, Donald Trump XIV, as well as the new acting viceroy of the Appalachian Mountains coal mining penal colony and meth addiction work treatment center was able to attend. The first Level IV Learning Center of its kind in the entire tri-state area! What a triumph for you and your team!

As you can see from what I have already written, the Martinez family, of which I am the titular head, is not averse at all to the need for higher education and lifetime learning. However, my wife and I both strongly feel that our young Victoria is too young to begin her G1 year in the fall at Druid Hill Academy, despite the fact that we live close enough for her 95 year old Jewish-Mexican grandmother to walk her to and from school all 7 days of the week. Given her advanced age, however, and the fact that our savings have all been invested in rehabilitating a historic, 250-year old farmhouse at the western edge of the New Hampden Township, close to where the Community College greenhouses and cannabis plantations are being built, we would rest more easily knowing that our beloved daughter could stay with her abuela for at least a few years longer, rather than be forced to spend 10 hour days 7 days a week, 350 days a year, cooped up in the “Zoo,” which is the nickname they give to the Druid Hill Lower School Levels G1-G5.

Madame Governor, I am an Appalachian hillbilly at heart, despite being married to a brilliant computer scientist whose own Jewish side of the family fled to Mexico City following the Holocaust in the mid-twentieth century. We are raising our only daughter to be proud of all sides of her heritage. We want her to grow big and strong and have a spirit of freedom and adventure. We want her to love being a Marylander and a “gifted girl” advanced learner, but we also just want her to love being a girl. A girl who loves to climb trees and drive around on her new Newt10 eScooter. The box said “for ages 6 and up,” but she took to it like a dream, and as I said before, she’s still only 3. For a few more precious weeks, anyway.

Maybe my daughter isn’t cut out to be a Level IV learner. Maybe not even a Level III. I want her to begin her G1 studies only at age 8, which is the maximum age allowed under the new educational guidelines to keep her from school. By the time she reaches G10 and graduates from New Druid Hill Academy’s Level II Upper School (the “Conservancy”), I as a father want to rest easy knowing that she will have turned 18 in the fall of her final year of high school. And that, as a newly minted young woman, Victoria can decide for herself where she will go and what she will do next.

Madame Governor, I know that right now the date September 3, 2120 seems so far off into the future that we can hardly imagine what our lives then will be – or even IF we will be alive to greet it. But, you see Madame Governor, I plan to do everything in my earthly human powers not only to be alive on that all-important date of September 3, 2120, but that I will there as a FATHER to wrap my daughter up in my arms and hug her and tell her how much that I love her.

Lilo one of my all-time favorite classical animated movie characters, said to the veterinarian regarding her adoption of the alien, Stitch, that “I paid $1 for him, and now I own him, and if you take him from me, that’s stealing.” I feel the same way about my daughter, Victoria. I come from a family of cinephiles, Madame Governor, and we have loved the movies ever since some of my distant Appalachian kinsfolk landed small non-speaking parts in “Matewan,” by the great director John Sayles, and in “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” with singer Loretta Lynn played by the late great actress, Sisey Spacek. Watching classical movies, TV shows, and the early digital streaming services of the twenty first and twenty-second centuries is a way that I connect with a child who sometimes seem to care nothing at all for the things her father does and loves, especially heirloom seed cultivation and volunteering in public folksong archives.

Madame Governor, our daughter, Victoria. loves watching movies with her grandmother as well, especially Spanish and  Yiddish language ones, and clearly this all has a beneficial impact on her cognitive development, communications, and learning skills. She loves watching “Coco” or “Gone with the Wind: Reloaded” or “John Wick 2” or “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown “ and whatever it is she watches with her grandma. As long as they are together. Some people feel that 3 – going on 4 – is too young to watch often violent and vulgar movies like these. But we do not, and we, when all is said and done, are her parents. And you, our government officials and elected leaders, are not.

Next year, assuming that we’ll close soon on the mortgage for the New Hampden farmhouse on Apple Tree Road, I am going to begin spending two weeks each month volunteering at the Appalachian Springs Heirloom Seed and Folksong Lending Library, which is in a very remote part of North-by-Northwestern Virginia, close to the impact site of the radioactive Greater Elkins Crater. This library lies at the very heart of the West Virginia of old, before the lava flows and strip mining sinkholes and the Ohio River Deluge of ’98 and the more recent Gale Force X wind and lightning events that have taken so much of the Mountain State away; gone as they say, with the winds of change.

I mourn those losses each and every day, but we Appalachians are a proud people, and we do not give up easily, if ever at all. And we teach our children and grandchildren to recite the Latin motto,  “montani semper liberi,” which means that we, as mountain people are destined by our Creator and Mother Gaia always and forever to live free. Sometimes, I worry that the almost wholesale takeover of our federal government by GalacticIKEAcorp, by the Meth Matrons, by the Indian-Iberian Casino Coalition, and by the hundreds of other lobbying groups and fossil fuel energy companies and even some of the alternative energy ones will mean that life in the O-ASS won’t be worth living for my daughter’s daughter, or for her daughter’s daughter’s daughter. I fear that our beautiful Vic will want someday to leave and find a newer, better world where she and her friends can all live in closer communication with our non-human planetary residents and where we can learn how to wean ourselves away from the plastics and petroleum products and technological gizmos that keep us tethered and sheltered and coddled from the real things in life, in nature, even the biological processes unfolding inside of our own bodies.

Maybe I am old fashioned, Madame Governor. A banjo-playing, Johnny Appleseed, twenty-first century throwback unable to find his place in a new twenty-second century world that is speeding past me – and Planet Earth – at accelerating velocities rivaling that of light itself. If so, then I am guilty as charged. But I know one thing, and that is what Lilo and Stitch taught me when I was a boy watching them with wonder on our family’s Outernet enabled iMind überdefinition plasma wall screen. Yes, we Appalachian peoples had such things in our homes, back then. Not all of us, of course, but enough to make one think twice before believing too strongly in redneck and white trash stereotypes, which I hope that my daughter will steadfastly refuse to give credence to as well.

Ohana. It means family. That’s what it meant to the Hawaiian people before the horrific Age of Endemic Explosions vaporized their island homes from the surface of the Earth. Ohana means family, and family truly means something to me. As a son of Appalachian peoples. As a husband to a wife of Jewish and Mexican heritage. As father to a brilliant and rambunctious young baby daughter who sees neither color nor creed nor gender nor religion nor race nor fixed biologic nor sexual identities. Our baby … no, our aspiring young adult daughter is a true symbol of the hope and dreams of the new and improved version of the 22nd Century, and not simply a rehashing and recycling of the old.

So, please, please, please, pretty fucking fuck please, Madame Governor, don’t make them come to the resettlement camp where we are still living a hand-to-mouth existence, and we need to stick together as a family if we are to survive. To take away my daughter to rot 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, 350 days each year in a fossil-fuel forged BOX that is more prison than garden would be an abomination!!!!!!!!

I have said my peace. I have sown my seeds. I have dropped my mic. I have drunk my well-aged French wine. And throughout it all, I have told you nothing but the truth, so help me Mother Gaia and all of my many – and I do mean may – Appalachian hill country relatives.

And so, my dear, dear, deardeardearDEAR Madame Govnah, I write you all of this because I just KNOW that you will the right things, based solely on the merits of my case, and not because I have anything of value to offer in return.

Nothing that is, except for the truth, and while I know that our federal government at the Greenbriar Resort may not value the the truth any longer, I just KNOW that a strong black bisexual woman such as yourself who lives in a virtual City of Women atop her shining Hagerstown City of a Hill certainly can handle …….

THE TRUTH!

Yours most sincerely, humbly, respectfully etc etc etc blah blah blah o blahdee blahdee, life goes oooon child, blah blah, blah, life goes on Arloames[1]

[P.M.P.S.[2] Addendum]

Madame Governor, please allow me to I apologize on my husband’s behalf for the abrupt and somewhat awkward way that ended his otherwise articulate and well-crafted letter. My husband can get overemotional at times, and it’s often best if I as his wife intervene on his behalf, confidentially speaking, of course. Arlo, who truly is a kind and generous man, can become overly morose and verbally belligerent at times, especially when he opens a second bottle of after-dinner Beaujolais or white Burgundy, as he most likely did last light, while he was finishing up his letter.

I was not able to proofread and fact-check my husband’s writing last night, as I usually do, because I working late in Cumberland Gap Refuge, digitally marking up G20 Level IV eDissertations in my new senior faculty office suite, sushi bar, and semi-autonmous wine cellar. As a result, I was unable to return home until well after midnight. I found his letter on the living room floor the next morning, after he had left to pick up a new batch of heirloom seeds and vintage, twentieth-century Appalachian folksong sheet music from a local estate sale. After perusing the letter’s contents, I decided it best to prepare this addendum, given the highly sensitive nature of our parental request for a G1 enrollment deferment (up to 48 months) for our only child and daughter, Victoria – a request, by the way, that I as her mother fully support.

Madame Governor, let me get to the point. We need a favor from you to intervene personally with the Education Services Office on iur daughter’s behalf, and I am prepared in exchange to offer you something of equal, if not greater, value in exchange.

So, Madame Governor, shoul you wish to discuss the possibility of your son, Spencer, getting accepted early into a very new and exciting Coding for the 23rd Century rapid response reaction force – a partnership between Hopkins 2.0, Harvard IV, and M.I.T.T., well maybe we could talk about that over drinks – alone – at the Claw and Cork in Hagerstown next Saturday night?

Woman to woman, you understand. We’re both mothers. We understand the way that this dog-eat-dog world of ours works. My Arlo, bless his humungous hillybilly heart, he wears his emotions on his sleeves. But my daughter is going to be different. Smart and self-assured, but also as sharp as a switchblade. Sweet as a Georgia peach, but ready like a Baltimore mama street cat to go in for the kill if it means bringing home food for her kittens or watching helplessly as they slowly starve to death.

Girlfriend, let’s get REAL for a minute, OK? Can we do that?? Let’s drop the Madame Governor this and Madame Governor that BULLshit

Cause’ we Mexican Jewish chicas and bi-curious black bitches from the ‘hood didn’t get given nothin’ What wez got, wez probably earned if not outright stolen. And what we didn’t always deserve, we still managed to get in the end.

My daughter NEEDS to stay at home for 4 more years with her 95 year old abuelita, who is not getting any younger, and spend quality time in the nature and own our new farm with her big-hearted daddy before she sets a FOOT inside of Druid Hill, you feel me? That place IS a zoo!

And your Spencer G2 should be a Spencer G7, given the size of that boy’s brawny black brain. So, again: let’s talk. 23:00 next Saturday at the Claw, the speakeasy C-word part that – as you know – is for lesbian women only. Got that?

My husband will long be asleep by that time, as will abuelita Angela and my daughter Victoria. No one will see me leave. I’ll take my new Armadillo5 eBike. I don’t ride it as much as I like – too much junk in the trunk these days and too much work piled high on my desk – but when I need to get somewhere quick, fast, and under the radar, there is no better ride than the ‘Dillo. Can you imagine what we’d have done with a sweet ride like that back in the Sunken Inner Harbor days if we had welded on waterskis to the chassis instead of the tires? We had a bunch of butch iron workers in the group, if you will recall, and they’d have had those modified hydrobikes on the water in like nothing flat. The Charm City Bombshells[3] wouldn’t have had to take them busboats no more. We’d have been able to gliiiiiiide.

I’ll bet you’re wondering how I can afford a ultraluxury eBike like on a professor’s measly paycheck, aren’t you? I ain’t got the deep pockets of a govna’h, that much is definitely true. Let me break it down for you, sistah. I bought the ‘Dillo with some grey money I got from the feds for some highly sensitive cloud computing consulting work on the side; nothing illegal, exactly. But not entirely ethical either.

Why I am writing you all this? This handwritten letter is in my sole possession, and no one – not even my husband – has read the postscript. I’ll have it delivered by stealth drone at a time when the police scanners aren’t watching the back side entrances next to the automated municipal trash disposals. I’ll arrange with the Comp Lit Bitches 24/7 all-lesbian courier service to stash it in an unmarked manila folder behind the framed picture of Whoopi Goldberg that hangs in the Lesbian Hall of Heroines display in your office. It will be waiting there for you even before you’ve even had your first morning cup of CBD cannabis single-origin pourover coffee.

And, Staci, don’t tell anyone important about this. In fact, don’t tell anyone, period. It’s our kids we’re talking about here, and we definitely don’t want to get the male chauvinist fed pigs who run things at the Greenbriar involved. Let’s keep this on the down low, ya’ feel me?

And Staci, don’t think of ratting me out, either. Being a full professor of cloud analytics with a specialization in digital decryption and surveillance data mining has it’s, shall we say, side benefits. And I have more than 20 terabytes of your potentially incriminating phone records and digital camera logs hidden in a secret digital repository not connected to the Outernet to prove it. I know we both took a menstrual blood oath as founding members of the Charm City Bombshells never to slit the belly of a fellow sistah, but as you ALSO know, there is one and only exception to that rule; and that is when comes to matters of our children.

So, please don’t make me cut you, Staci, don’t make me do it. I don’t want to, but if I has ta’, bitch, I most certainly will.

Caus’ I’d just HATE ta’ mess up wid dat candy sweet, plus-sized black body of yours using my sacred Mayan obsidian shiv that I got from my grandmother when I turned 18 – and that I fully intend to pass along to my daughter when she reaches that age as well. We Martinez mothers don’t let our daughters grow up to be young women without giving them a means with which to defend themselves from all sexual enemies, both foreign and domestic. I only wish that your mama had lived long enough to teach you that as well, or to have warned you about your father’s rapacious sexual appetites and insatiable needs to chomp on underaged pussy. Would have spared you a lot of expensive therapy bills, I’m thinkin’. Water under the bridge, sistah. Water. Under. The. Bridge.

One more thing: you don’t get to be Full Professor by being a good girl all the time, by minding one’s Ps and one’s Qs. My mother and grandmother and great grandmothers have crawled barefoot AND pregnant under barbed wire, hid out in the deserts, stolen from rich folks, and done what needed to be done to keep their children and husbands alive. We Mexican Jews aren’t exactly typical Hopkins or Harvard material, even now in the 2100s. You don’t work your way up to full professorship by being a goodie two shoes.

Sistah Staci, writing this letter to you has turned out to be more fun than I had realized. But that could be the last of my granddad’s stash of anejo tequila talkin’. A good agave buzz always makes opine for the old days, and then I get all weepy and shit. How many years since we last met? Don’t answer that question! I am not exactly having fun growing old.

It still amazes me, girl, to know that you are now a grownup version of that little crybaby from the East Baltimore Undersea Projects, the timid little thing I knew from your affirmative action days as the only black bisexual girl at Roland Park High School – knew, in the Biblical sense. The New Testament and ALSO the Old.

Of course, that was before I met my husband late that summer and we parted ways. I think we never saw each other again after that for a good many long and lonely years. Bad breakups are like that when you are still as teenager. You left town on that tricked out jetski of yours out into open waters of the Atlantic and didn’t return home for a while.

Girlfriend, just look at you now! You got some serious university bling on them fleshy fingers of yours! MD from Cornell Tower. PhD from the West Texas Sun Farm. JD from Yale Island Law. And a couple of MAs you picked up on the sly from God only knows where.

And now you are back ruling the West Maryland roost: the motha frickin’ Funky Chicken, the Alpha Lioness, the Blue Crab Bitch, the überwomen who towers over us all in penthouse suite in Governor’s Tower: a tall, dark, and buxom stateswoman of the highest magnitude who woos a bevy of voluptuous lovers in her crow’s nest perched at the very top of that tricked out new state-funded mansion. Now that’s representin’ the ‘hood in the flashiest and most flamboyant way possible. Props ta ya fah dat, sistah. Props a’plenty.

You always did tell me that one day you’d live your life large in a real deal crib, didn’t you? You were always talkin’ about that dream, even when you was a BABY Bombshell, before you burned your first leather bra. Hard Times, mostly, but that don’t mean that those Hard Times also weren’t sometimes good. The bad times, they’s history. And I hope that they NEVER come back.

Good. Bad. They’re just words, Sistah. Words. Words don’t steal. Words don’t rape. Words don’t kill. People – and by “people” I really mean men – are the ones who do that wacked out shit.

Besides, I’m getting tired of being the Good Girl, the “full professor,” the “farmhouse wife,” and “Professor bake sale lady.” Sometimes, I want to tell all those other luxury SUV-driving mothers whose children attend my daughter’s school, you know, the ones who who make life so miserable for us women who real jobs at can’t bake cupcakes all day for a living that they can shove those red velvet cupcakes straight up their tight, little white girl yoga asses of theirs, so that they can then go home with their red cupcaked stained, Lulu Lemon ass-grabbin’ pants and then they can complain to their sex-starved, overweight husbands to have been VIIIIIOLATED by some anal sex dude rapist NUUUUUMBskull, just so they can avoid having SEX wit’ em. But that’s just that last of the anejo kickin’. I swear, In am starting to act like my husband, and darlin’, that CANNOT BE GOOD.

Being a good little full professor of cloud computing whore surrounded by horny undersexed men so much of my time, it ain’t right, Staci. Makes we wish sometimes dat’ I was dyo’ and dat’ dyo’ was me and we’d switch places and cool shit like dat. It was the best when we wuz still togetha’ – together as WOMEN – out there on tehm Charm City streets – even if most o’ dem ole’ streets in da’ ‘hood were under hella water and shit, dyo; know what? I’d drop me Old White Daddy Hopkins in a minute if I could you ride on ma’ time wid’ you, on our gang jetskis, across that Sunken Harbor ag’in.

Turn the page, sistah, turn the page. Close them eyes real GOOOD so that you NEVER look back ta’ what dat’ man did ta’ ya, whose name we SHALL NOT and WILL NOT mention again, evah’.

But check dis’ out, Stac’, if there is one thing I NEVER ever want myself to be, ‘do, that’s to be a BAD MOTHA’. We saw enough of those crack bitches in the ‘hood – and their wife beatin’ HUUUSBANDS as well.

Close that book, sistah. And can you please now TELL me it’s time to close mine?

Books. Pages. SCHOOOOOOOOL shit! Makes my mind come back to the CHIIIIIIILDREN, and in the undersea ‘hood it’s only chill’in ‘dey got. Ya’ still feeling me, my lovely and luscious Sistah Stac’?

Yo’ Stac’, check dis’ shit out. Let’s get us tagetha’ and chill over some nice blue crab and bourbon at the Claw. 

And, yo Stac’, look at me, I’m da’ Professor. Feels like I’m some kinda’ Gilligan’s Island episode ‘r sometin’ Yo, Staci, yo Staci, where’s that white bitch Mary Anne at, and Gilli G. and the Capt’n and that Hollywood TV all-white lookin’ crew?

But I knowz where da’t red-haired BOMMDHELL ov’a lady, Miss Gingah’s at, do’. She’s probably kneeling right now at yo’ big black crazy ass feet getting all cozy undah’neath that big ass govnah’s desk a’ yors’, and I’ll be she’s been lickin’ dat’ lusciously-lush, sugah’ SWEET-TASTIN’ [please insert here a very bad, four-letter word, starting with the letter “c,” and ending with the letter “t.” Still can’t figure it out? No worries! Perhaps this gentleman on the street who is just leaving the Baltimore Ravens football stadium can help: So, yeah, it’s a pretty smutty word, all right, one dat rhymes with dat thing that sissy teams sometimes do wid’ da’ the football when it’s somethin’ like 4th and long, and their pansy-assed little coach a’ theirs, yiou know, da’ one who stands there all safe ‘n stuff on da’ sidelines, well this coach has his knickers all tied up in a knot, see, and you know (smirks), dere’s dis’ big stain on his pants cause’ – get this – (laughs) the team owner has had the coach’s tiny balls and even tinier dick ripped off and den’ bronzed and den’ mounted in a fancy glass jar or somethin’ like dat, and he puts da’ man’s ball ‘n cock display up in a jar on top of his  desk or somethin’, and – where was I goin’ wid dis? Oh yeah – So, rather than be a real man and go for it on 4th and long like youz supposta’, this Coach Coward fella’ whose standin’ there all ballless and dickless on da’ sidelines, well this assmunch orders his pussy-footed homo kicker from goddamn Europe, you know, some homo country like France or somethin’ where all the homosexuals usually like to hang out, and so this pussy homo kicker with a real loose asshole, you know, from being fucked so many times by the boss in his ass, so when this homo kicker finally tries to do this thing – the one that rhymes with the 4-four letter in question, a thing that he does maybe ten or eleven times each and every goddamn game of his life, well this homo kicker shanks the goddamn ball off his French soccer-cleat wearing, homosexual foot he’s got, and then next thing you know, he fuckin’ fumbles the ball, and then the some huge black bastard with a cock the size of my house who plays tight end for the GODDAMN Pittsburg Steelers comes right in and scoops up the pigskin because this black guy, he really likes to stick his black cock into some dead  pigs asshole while he’s cookin’ it up to serve it wit’ collard greens and yams to his big black African family, if you know what I’m sayin’, and so then this this big dumb black guy who’s probably dumber than all my Polack friends combined (snickers), well wouldn’t you know it this dumb black bastard then runs the goddam ball back 45 yards straight in for a touchdown, and not even ONE of our guys even manage to lay a frickin’ HAND on ‘im, and then we frickin’ lose for the second time in a row to the GODDAMN Steelers in our own goddamn stadium that in a another few weeks is probably going to sick under the sea. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (makes sign of the cross), I hope to God never to have to live through dat day. Still, ya’ gotta jus’ lov this football shit, ain’tcha? (burps). Hey, toots – yeah you with the nice set a’ tits and those sweet little butt cheeks stuffed full to the top with some nice-lookin’ Hampden ass – can you be a dollbaby fah us and serve us a few of ‘dem beers, whilst my illustrious colleague and I empty our huge Fells Point Irish and Italian Johnsons right over der in da’ can?][4] of yours right now. Word to ya’ montha’ ya’ horny, plus-sized Lesbian bitch!

I’m jess’ messin’ wid ya’, Stace’, you knowz dat’, caus girlie girl you KNOOOOOWS dat I luved ya’ back in da’ ‘hood, and dat’ I still luv you now like a sistah and ex-lovah, and now dis’ new kind ‘a motha-ta’-motha luv shit that I’m feelin’ fah you as I write you dis’ letter? Staci, I thinks dat this new kinda mommy luv shit’s also fa’ real. So let’s wrap this baby sweet bad boy up all ladylike an’ shit. Yo, check dis’ shit out:

And in conclusion, Madame Governor, let me reassure you that I will work diligently and honestly with all interested state and federal officials, including your liaison in the Governor’s Office in Hagerstown, in the fervent hopes of finding a mutually beneficial arrangement that will be in the best interests our two children, both for your son, Spencer, and for my daughter, Victoria. Meeting privately to discuss this matter, if you would permit me to addresses your Governorship on a more personal note, could also serve as the spark that can rekindle our once strong and beautiful friendship from the days of our youth days. Let us try, shall we? I look forward to our meeting very much. It will be a rare opportunity for two strong, professional, and career-minded women to meet upon the mutual ground of their shared bond of motherhood, so that together, in close consultation with the educational authorities and school supervisors, we may take the needed steps to ensure that our children’s very special needs are all perfectly met. Yours sincerely, Professor Veronica Martinez, Ph.D., Joffrey Bezos, Jr. Senior Professor of Advanced Cloud Computing, Digital Encryption, and Predictive Analytics at the Cumberland Gap Refuge’s Johns Hopkins 2.0 Level IV Research and Learning Center.

This fancy word stuff’s makin’ my head spin even more than the tequila. I got’s to get me pills and then I gonna get’s me some sleep.

Com’ Sat’day, though, we brownie black tigah mothas’ are gonna’ be AAAAALLL bidness, yah hear? I KNOW dat’ you know what I mean.

Peace out, Sistah Staci, one old school Charm City Bombshell to anotho’. And we be seein’ each other real soon, mmmmhmm?

-Sistah V.  

P.S. You been in touch lately with Big Momma? Ever since she made her first billion Trump Bucks by selling most of her shares in Big Momma’s White Crystal MethMilk™ nonaddictive baby food formula and nutritional supplement business and then took off on a fool’s quest to locate her lost Hoodoo relatives who all disappeared in the Great Charleston Swamp Disaster of 2096, it seems as if she’s fallen of the face of the Earth. You know what, maybe she HAAAAS slipped off, because maybe the Earth ain’t all dat’ ROUND. Maybe it’s actually FLAT, and all those white boy scientists have been telling us LIEEEEES ‘n shit for hella’ long years. Caus’, you know that wid’ white people you never really honestly KNOW.


[1] Yo, Staci – turn dis page over and keep reading the REST of the story in my attached P.M.P.S. Addendum. I’m dropping a Charm City BOMBSHELL on dyo’. Peace out. – Sistah V.

[2] Pissed-off Mother’s Postscript.

[3] A Lesbian waterski gang exclusively for plus-sized and full-figured women that formed on the outskirts of the sunken ruins of Baltimore’s former Inner Harbor neighborhood, following the Great Millennial Flood of 2099. The Bombshells protected the abandoned poor and minority populations of East Baltimore, regardless of race, gender, class, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, from the local polic and federal agencies, as well as engaged in periodic turf wars with the all-white heterosexual Hamden neighborhood gangs at that time, the Beehives (for women) and the Huns (for men), who were the Bombshell’s major rivals at the time.

[4] Oh, my goodness to Betsy, what a positively TERRIBLE thing to do to upset such an otherwise lovely and so well-written Prologue! Honestly! ManBombing Victoria’s mom’s postscript addendum, which she so courageously added to darling husband’s little letter to our newly elected leader, Governor Ms. Staci Simpson – who is positively DIVINE by the way – and all so that their darling baby daughter, little Miss Victoria, can some spend more PRECIOUS time at home with her darling little Jewish-Mexican grandmother. Can’t ya’ll now plainly see that this is exactly why we elected a black Lesbian woman to be our new leader in the first place!?

Arc Collective: Book 1 of the Chronicles of Econtopia (Front Materials).

Arc Collective

Book One of the Econotopia Chronicles

Written by D. C. Winters *

There is no question that D.C. Winters has written the most vulgar work of Young Adult dystopian-utopian, twenty-second century fantasy/sci-fi/romance literature in the entire known history of the English language. And the use of footnotes is atrocious! We should know, because we work for the O.E.D., and you obviously do not. So, who exactly is “down wid’ O.E.D.” now, you potty-mouthed, horny bitch (or possibly bastard), you? Who is “down wid’ O.E.D.” now, INDEED?”

  • Anonymous members of the Oxford English Dictionary’s YALit Editorial Board (all of whom are fat, bald, and impotent, obviously).

(*) Not our real name, obviously.

Draft_manuscript_Eco_Arc_01

Date created: 12/16/2019

Last date edited: 12/28/2019

The Econotopia Chronicles

Arc Collective

Century City

Stargate Sentinel

Abalon Bridge

The Hacienda

Amazon Island

Hidden Valley

For our two young children, Sofi and Sam.

You are both so very beautiful.

You are both so very strong.

We love each of you

– equally –

so very, very much.

A few more things, kids …

We wish that the things we wrote about actually happened,

and we wish that the places described actually exist.

We wish that we could visit them all together, as a family,

and could explore each one to our collective hearts’ content.

But, our darling children, we are sorry to have to tell you

that this is never going to be able to happen,

because all of things done here are pretend,

because none of the words spoken here,

not one tiny word of them,

was ever really,

actually,

 factually,

true.

Except for the Elmo parts.

Those definitely were true!

Elmo thinks so!!!!!

 And who is D.C. Winters

to say that Elmo is wrong?

Advanced Praise for D.C. Winters’

Arc Collective,The Chronicles of Econtopia, Book One

Arc Collective, the impressive debut novel by the hitherto unknown and unheralded pseudonymous author, D.C. Winters, is not just the best new twenty-second century, dystopian-slash-utopian young adult fantasy, science fiction, road trip, adventure, and Platonic teenage romance novel I have reviewed yet this year – it may just be the best such book of its kind that I have ever read and reviewed on these N.P.R. airwaves, period!

And that’s not just because WHYY’s diminutively statured yet formidably present public radio hostess, out-of-work dominatrix, and Freudian interview therapist psychobabble ice queen, Teri Gross, just handed me a previously prepared copy of my review to read aloud on air while threatening to bitch slap me with her iGlock16™ “Heil Hillary” limited liberal edition electronic starter’s pistol, which she is at this very moment now waving dangerously close to my attractively witty yet also profoundly meaningful face; I think it’s also because some microscopically small part of me ACTUALLY MEANS IT. But maybe that’s just the twelve ounces of cask strength Irish whiskey talking that I surreptitiously dumped into my N.P.R. pledge drive coffee mug this morning just before sunrise, when I excused myself to go powder my nose in the ladies’ room.”

  • Maureen Courigan III (eClone™ version 1.0), recorded live on January 1, 2120 at 5:30am for the syndicated National Potty-Mouth Radio show, “Now, that’s Some REALLY Fresh Air,” hosted by Terri Gross XVI (eClone™ version 2.7).

 “To dismiss D.C. Winters as a mediocre and indeed a selfish writer merely because she (or he) chooses to direct her (or his) modest but not inconsequential talents towards the potentially lucrative subgenre of young adult literature, a field designed to appeal directly to the lower needs and baser instincts of our impressionable young children and grandchildren; or to regard her (or him) as a puerile, profane hack novelist who lacks sufficient gravitas to write truly meaningful prose while simultaneously failing to provide her (or his) readers with a coherent political and moral philosophy, is to perform a veritable clusterfuck on the English language; indeed, it is to clusterfuck the very essence of language itself.

D.C. Winters is not merely a creative writer; she (or he) is a creative genius! She (or he) is, as is plain to ALL who have the EYES with which to see the Truth, a TRUE Daughter (or Son) of God who is most ETERNALLY beloved by her (or his) Creator: a mortal and thus FLAWED manifestation of that Divine Thread which binds ALL our souls together into the Heavenly Fabric of the Universe; and it is, my Sisters and Brothers and gender-nonconforming Members, the selfsame most GLORIOUS of Golden Threads that connects the planets, comets, moons, and stars of the Milky Way with the billions upon billions of other planets, comets, moons, and stars in the most DISTANT of galaxies into cobweb filigreed constellations of eternally radiant and pure, rainbow-colored light. Can I hear an AMEN? For, verily, I SAY unto thee that D.C. Winters will one day CLAIM her (or his) rightful place on the Heavenly Dias, alongside Our God Almighty Himself, when the Final Day of Judgment has arrived.

Subcommittee editorial note: Do we know if the sentence above should not more correctly be written as God Almighty “Herself”? Or possibly “Itself?” “Themselves”?? “The gender-nonconforming deity formerly known as ‘God’”? Dammit all to hell! I can never seem to keep these personal pronouns straight. And did we get that other thing syntactically right in paragraph one, as well? Is “clusterfuck” one word, or two?”  

  • Excerpt from an unpublished draft of an internal report prepared by the New Books Under Review subcommittee of the Young Adult Fiction and Chick Lit advisory council to the American Modern Language Association & Neo-Baptist Revival Movement Affiliated Chapters, in preparation for the anticipated, highly controversial 2121 publication of Century City,the first volume of the first book of the Econtopia Chronicles, written by D.C. Winters.

“You call THAT advanced praise? Advanced?? Compared to what? A cyborg banana slug’s first undergraduate essay on the instructor assigned topic, “Our Slimy, Bodies, our Slimy Selves” for their Mollusk Studies 101 writing course at UC Santa Cruz Archipelago in 2130? We mean to tell you that fully both of our frickin’ toddler-aged children can write better sentences than that, and they are still scooting around our farmhouse in their biodynamically grown cotton diapers. Sheesh! Who writes these things, anyway?”

  • D.C. Winters, in rebuttal to their own advanced praise. 

“D.C. Winters is making an utter and complete mockery of the young adult and fantasy genres, ones that I am and so many other dedicated, hardworking, and vastly more talented real writers of wholesome and high quality fiction have done so much in the past decades to popularize and promote. His so-called excuse for a YALit multivolume novel, Century City, should never have been allowed by his (of her) publisher to have seen the light of day. As a failed writer and deeply flawed human being – without a trace of a magical talents or wizardry abilities whatsoever, I might add – I think it fair to say that D.C. is a pompous and arrogant world class jerk with no redeeming qualities of any of kind worth mentioning. I will say one thing about D.C., though, in his (or her) defense. Friends of mine in the publishing industry who know his (or her) real identity say that he (or she) has got a really nice ass.”

  • J.K. Rowling XIII, a next generation eClone™ created from the cryogenically preserved DNA remains of one of the twenty-first century’s premier young adult fiction and fantasy writers, now best remembered for her highly successful Harry Potter books and for the much later, anonymously published “Young Adult Lesbian Learning” series of non-procreative sexual practices coloring books and erotic fiction, Hermoine’s Fantasy Isle of Lesbos, (vols. 1-10). A prototype version of Rowling XII (age 20) was unveiled for the very first time at the 23rd Annual All-Female Nude Fashion Show, hosted in 2099 at the Greenbriar Resort’s O-ASS Federal Governance, Fossil Fuels Refinement, and Male Chauvinists-Only Entertainment Center, and was manufactured by the Federated Fendi, Gucci, and Armani Human Cloning and Clothing Corporation, Ltd., as part of their then highly anticipated “ Hot Women for an Even Hotter Century” Dead Literary Celebrities eClone™ Fashion Line.

“Yo, J.K.XIII, check this shit out. Your friends are right about the rock-hard awesomeness of our hot yoga toned asses. But we’ve also got wet tongues on us like you wouldn’t believe. We call them our “West Coast Wizards.” How many licks, we wonder, would it take to get to the bottom of YOUR ultra-rich, English lady, “Earl Grey tea with milk and two sugars” flavored Tootsie-Pop? What say we all meet and try to find out? Let’s rendezvous at midnight in exactly two weeks’ time at the Stoned Sorcerer, the 5 Michelin-starred speakeasy cannabis café and natural wine only bar located on a remote redwood island in the Santa Cruz Archipelago. But we’ve gotta, like, meet on the DOWN low, you feel me? ‘Cause we wouldn’t want that crazy sexy librarian spider silk weaving wife of ours, Madame X., to know. Peace out, ya’ horny YALit cloned bitch!”

  • D.C. Winters, in an extremely inappropriate, incredibly crude, highly salacious, but sadly all too typically post-adolescent male (or possibly female) attempt at expressing genuine and heartfelt appreciation for one of his (or her) true literary heroines and aspirational writerly role models. The real J.K. Rowling, of course. Not the eClone version, although J.K.XIII definitely does have a pretty smokin’ hot English muffin of a body.

“Readin’ da’ ‘Topia Chronicles, see, it sorta’ brings me back to da’ New Yawk fishily-fish place wherze I’m from befores I took ta’da’ high seas like a fuckin’ real man did back then, ya’ know? It’s sorta like wid’ D.C. and all, it’s as if I am looking at a toddler version of myself at age three and a quah’tah or somethin’, or maybe quite possibly fauh. Like, herz dis’ little Latina (or possibly Latino) Spic kid, da’ runt a’ da’ litter you knowz, who walks eve’ry day ‘sept on da’ Sabbath – she (or possibly he) bein’ half Yid and all – with her (or possibly his) cutesy old Jewish-Mexican grandmah to attend a Montessauhri type preschool run by a buncha’ butch-lookn’ Irish dykes. And one day while at dis’ fancy as shit preschool, dis’ fuckin’ kid just up a shits in da’ paih’ of white whale skin pantz ‘dat she (or possibly he) jus’ got for fuckin’ Chanukah’, and dis’ kid plants her (or possibly his) poop-stained ass o’ hers right down on da’ the floor, and it’s like dis’ kid is somehow quite possibly PROUD of herself (or possibly himself) you know, cause’ of that big stinking shitpile dat’ she (or possibly he) jes’ made, and this kid, I’m tellin’ ya’, and Jesus/Mary/andJoseph please forgive me if I’m lyin’ ‘bout dis’, but it’s da’ God honest truth, it’s like dis’ kid is kinda’ all pleased wid’ herself (or himself), like all smilin’ an’ shit, and dis’ fuckin’ kid – SHUT UP CAUSE’ I’M TALKIN’ HERE! – dis’ fuckin’ guy (or possibly gal) is all grown up now, writ’n books an’ shit, but insida’ mind, it’z like she’s (or possibly he’s) still stuck in dat’ same shit-stained place, like she (or possibly he) ain’t nevah’ really left. Tell youz what, though, for a tiny lookin’ pipsqueak who sweahs like a mothafuckin’ sailor’, she’s (or possibly he’s) got some Moby Dick sized fuckin’ titties (or possibly balls), if ya’ know whata’ mean. Badda’ bing!”

  • Herman “Tony Soprano” MelvilleXL (eClone™ version 4.0).

“D.C. Winters, you say? Nope, never heard of the dude (or dudette). Is she (or he), like, a FoXXX n’ Friends with Benefits™ investigative journalist hooker or in a Baltimore Sunken Harbor jetski gang or something? Sorry! Can’t talk now. Gotta run. My new Salamander7 “Gurlz Gone Wild™ edition” eBike in the upper school parking lots still needs charging.”

  • Victoria Martinez, aged 17.997, a G10 Level II learner at the New Druid Hill Academy’s Upper School for Gifted and Talented Girls, located in New Hampden Township. West Maryland.

Table of Contents

Note to Readers

Prologue: Dear Madame Govnah’

  1. Die Verwandlung
  2. Beautiful Swimmer
  3. The Hive

Postmodern, Pastiche-Style Interlude: Yo, Check Dis’ Shit Out: Or, How to Learn to Spot Fake News and Decide if You Are Mature Enough Yet to Handle the Truth! *

  • A Mysterious Package
  • H.A.U.S. Rules
  • Banjo Bistro
  • Big Momma’s Kommuun’ti Kitch’n
  • Dykes-ney Land
  • Mission Impossible: Hagerstown
  • Midnight at the Claw and Cork
  • Governor’s Tower
  • The IKEA™ Shower Scene That Went Viral 
  • Worst Plane Trip Ever
  • Rocky Mountain High
  • Red Sonya
  • Gopher9000™
  • The Convoy
  • Western Stars
  • Mammoth Operation
  • Dire Wolf Mountain

Epilogue: Meet Samwell Ghibli

(*) Contains ¡Trigger Warning! For Sensitive Readers

Preliminary Chapter List for Book 2, Century City

  • Napa Valley Rehab
  • Facebook™ Harbor
  • Secrets of the Sapphire Sisterhood
  • Stevedore Jobbing at MacBookPro™ Quay   
  • The Maverick
  • The Spider Silk Weaver’s Workshop
  • Great Grandpappy’s Whiskey
  • Fires on Mount Fuji
  • Maersk Mission
  • Whale Watchers Anonymous
  • The Obsidian Boys
  • Garden of Eden Plot B002
  • Mellow Park
  • The Aetherton Ion Exchange
  • Montara Mountain
  • SOMA Cellars
  • Neptune Sex Pool

Epilogue: Muppets in Moonlight

Note to Readers

The writings that follow are entirely fictitious; they are never meant to upset any particular individual, group, or socially-recognized minority community. They are not meant to unsettle anyone in particular; they are meant to unsettle us all. As such, the words on the page have expressively been selected because they have the ability – almost of themselves by their very utterances, like some sort of incantatory spell – to provoke wide ranges of reactions, frustrations, confusions, and emotions in each and every one its readers.

The truth, dear readers, is that even we are sometimes offended by parts of this book, and we are the frickin’ anonymous collective of artists and writers who wrote it!!!

In the event that potentially offensive situations like this should arise, my advice to you is to pause, take in a fresh inhalation of breath to a slow count of ten, hold that breath in your lungs for a few, mindful moments, and the expel the air slowly through pursed lips to that same, slow ten count. Repeat this sequence enough times until you have returned to the peaceful and blissful state of readerly equilibrium with which you started, or until you pass out. Next, try to figure out on your own what it was that our anonymous author (or possibly authors) may have been trying to say and why it might have made sense for her (or possibly him, or even possibly them) to write it that particular way. What deeper meanings might lie beneath the vulgar verbal veneer? Is there a coded, more compassionate message of some sort that you can discover beneath the offending words on the page that caused your emotional reaction in the first place?

If you practice this technique often enough, you may stumble upon meanings and messages on your own, without the agency of the author to get in way. And, if this doesn’t work, you can always just tell D.C. Winters to go fuck herself (or possibly himself, or even possibly themselves). That technique may work equally well.

This book is also an attempt at social satire, an effort an imagining in fictionalized form what our current obsessions, proclivities, peccadillos, perversions, and preoccupations as a collective bundle of billions of individual egos might bring out on this shared planet of ours in the generations and centuries to come. While it may not always be a particularly convincing one, most if not all of it was written in an attempt to make others besides myself laugh and in few cases also to make them cry, which the author herself (or possibly himself) did during the writing, revising, and editing processes themselves.

Sometimes, emotions get set aside and swept under the rug in a quest to survive each day of our busy and overscheduled lives. This book is an invitation for you to step back for a few minutes, hours, days, or even weeks and feel free to laugh, to cry, and to reconnect with an earlier you, when you were once eighteenth, or thirty, or sixty-five, or ninety-nine going on 100 – or whatever.

And, if you do happen actually to be eighteen or possibly even younger and find yourself with a copy of this book: congratulations. Now quickly hide it from your parents before they find out and hog it for themselves! Strap yourselves in, grab a blanket, pour yourself something nice, inhale whatever needs to be inhaled, and get ready to enjoy one hell of a ride.

Also, no Elmos were harmed in the writing of this book. Not even one. Well, maybe there could have been one. But if so, he probably had that – or worse – already coming. And as for those pesky gophers in the garden, none of the them were actually harmed, either, since we could never manage to catch even one of those furry, little snot-nosed bastards, although we did sometimes manage to cuss them out a few times real, real good.

  • D.C. Winters, from an undisclosed cabin in the woods located somewhere within a triangular territorial range whose sides can be formed by drawing straight lines on a Mercator projection map of the United States (ca. 2020) between Seattle, Washington, San Diego, California, and Topeka, Kansas.
  • Well, that narrows down the possibilities quite a bit, don’t ya’ll think?

The Yelp Manifesto 1.25.2020

The Yelp Manifesto, Review #1

As an unpaid Yelp reviewer with plenty of free time on my hands, I often read the Chronicle, especially the wine and food columns written by Esther and Soleil. The Press is also a convenient online resource for discovering new winemakers and tasting rooms and for for planning weekend getaways.

I hold these women in high regard for their proven abilities to produce creative, compassionate, and expertly written columns on a regular basis. And it is courageous of them to cover under the radar food spots and spotlight new generations of natural winemakers, as well.

In fact, I would like to meet personally with both of them to discuss our shared interests in food and wine and to solicit their opinions on a multimedia screenplay I have written and created entirely on Yelp and have made available for reading for free, along with embedded YouTube links to a free soundtrack and free high resolution images of actual places that I have visited for hiking, dining, wine tasting, and other adventures. It’s called “Driving Miss Moblee,” and it is a Sideways meets Driving Miss Daisy wine buddy road trip adventure that is far superior in plotline, dialogue, and wine content to Netflix’s recent fiasco, “Wine Country,” which focused on Napa whereas mine includes many other fascinating locations in Sonoma, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the city of Santa Cruz. It is also funnier with more profanity and better nudity but no sex.

In the hands of the right development team and director, this very screenplay that you could be reading on Yelp right now will help all of us end the Sideways curse and make Merlot great again. This is something Esther and I share in common, so I have been using my Yelp account to reach out to her for help in polishing this creative but amateurishly produced work of Yelp online art into a commercially successful masterpiece.

Now, because I am an ex-academic living in the Bay Area with no actual ties to the movie making powers that be, I am using the Chronicle’s official Yelp page to make my plea directly to her, in full online public view. I simply would like her, as an award winning wine writer and expert on the things I have written about, to read it online and let me know if there is even a scintilla of hope to turn this dream into something real. Because I could really use the money.

I also want Esther and her colleagues at the Chronicle who write about food, wine, and culture for a living to realize that Yelp is the closest thing we have in this country to a democratic online cultural maker’s space, one that is far more amendable to user creativity and experimentation that Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Some of our members are creating online multimedia masterpieces with lasting cultural value. I believe that Driving Miss Moblee, which spreads itself out over 18 individual, linked reviews, is such a masterpiece, and one that could very easily be adapted into a fascinating California wine country film in the right hands, such as those of Alexander Payne. It would make history, and Yelp can win, too.

So, if any of you at the Chronicle who monitor this Yelp page know Esther personally or feel that she would be willing to take a few precious hours of her time to read, listen, and view a movie that is, after all, about her, could you please do so for me?

Otherwise, I feel that I as a Yelp-based culture maker am being disrespected and not taken seriously, and I do not think that this the impression that you at Hearst Media wish to make. Otherwise, we will never end the Sideways curse and make Merlot great again, which many of who are lovers of high quality wine sold at fair prices wish would happen sooner rather than later, and Hollywood ain’t doin’ it, so maybe we Northern Californians should just go on and reinvent the wheel by ourselves, like Elon Musk did at Tesla, by tapping into the vast pools of underemployed talent in the Bay Area who spends thousands of hours annually creating free public art on Yelp.

While we may lack money, power, and connections, Yelp Elites like me have many followers and friends, and we all watch movies when we are not on Yelp, and they have already cast a ton of votes for my screenplay, and they are a good cross section of America. So, there you go.

Remember, too, that the numbers will always be on our side. Not yours. So why not work with creative, hard working people like me, or the Sideways curse will never be broken. And how cool would it be if Netflix or Apple TV+ were actual to produce the first full length feature film whose screenplay was created entirely on a makers space consumer rights forum as fun to use as Yelp? Act now, before it’s too late.

I also apologize personally to Esther and to her Chronicle colleague, Soleil, for my earlier shenanigans and rants on Yelp. It’s been a long few days, I have not had a lot of sleep lately, but I have been drinking some really, really good wine. And none of them were a Pinot.

Driving Miss Moblee: The Complete, Unabridged Screenplay (as previously posted on Yelp).

Driving Miss Moblee:

The Screenplay

By Bradley N.

“The Yelp Whisperer”

Acts and Scenes

Prologue:San Francisco Bay Area

Act I: Napa Valley

Act II: Sonoma Plaza

Act III: Santa Cruz Mountains

Act IV Santa Cruz

Act V: Santa Cruz and San Mateo County

San Francisco Chronicle

Print Media

901 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103

4 Stars

January 15, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” The Prologue (1/18).

This is the first in a chronological series of eighteen interlinked Yelp reviews that together form a continuous movie screenplay whose soundtrack, where indicated, you can play on YouTube to enhance the reading experience.

I dedicate this work to ridesharing drivers and other anonymous members of the gig economy, including those working for the Chronicle right now, who persist in their noble struggles each and every day to remain proud residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, despite the high financial and emotional costs involved. I tip Boke’s soon to be famous “Made in Montana” baseball cap to you all. This is for gig workers and underemployed people as a collective rather than for any one specific individual or group. Hope y’all enjoy the ride.

The narrative takes place from Dec. 20-24, 2019. The numbers in parentheses (e.g. 1/18) indicate where each review belongs in sequence. It’s a “Sideways” meets “Driving Miss Daisy” reverse Cinderella rom-com mashup with a wicked twist at the end that you won’t see coming.

While the characters and events are partially fictionalized, the locations are entirely real, as are all of the wines mentioned. Seek them out, by any means necessary.

[The opening scene begins on Friday, December 20 at 4:35am, as Boke, an ex-adjunct college humanities instructor and ex-rideshare driver, blearily opens his eyes. His wife, sleeping next to him, will arise later, but B. must start work now. He shuffles to the bathroom to change into his clothes, because it has an electric radiator and is warmer than the rest of the cottage, whose central heating unit is turned off to conserve fuel].

[B. is clad in J. Crew jeans, Zamberlan hiking shoes, Smartwool socks, an Icebreaker long-sleeved shirt, and a women’s New Balance medium sized black running jacket, which was on sale at REI and much cheaper that way. He puts into a Patagonia shoulder bag his beloved “Made in Montana” baseball cap, extra underwear, several worn organic cotton T-shirts, and two pairs of socks, along with aluminum bottles filled with filtered tap water and a few pouches of Trader Joe’s trail mix].

[In a small and darkened kitchen, B. brews a pourover using Verve coffee beans with a simple Hario V60 setup and a digital scale set to grams. He pours the coffee into an insulated travel mug. In the sink are empty bottles of 2005 Storybook Mountain estate Cabernet and 2016 Woodside Vineyards Chardonnay. Several unwashed wine glasses are also nearby].

[B. leaves the Santa Cruz Mountains rental cottage in the redwoods where he and his wife live and enters his older model Mazda 3 with 118,000 miles on the odometer. He starts the engine and puts the album, All the Roadrunning, by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, in the CD player].

[“Rollin’ On” (youtube.com/watch?v=7QdP…) plays as the driving scene unfolds. B. proceeds without GPS assistance into the City via CA-92 and I-280, bound for the main company parking lot of the Chronicle].

[Once there, B. parks the Mazda in a pay lot and walks to the Chronicle’s fenced in parking area, where he shows an ID to enter and is given a key to a new black luxury Tesla Model S. Now using his iPhone 7, he plays  “Red Staggerwing” (youtube.com/watch?v=yHI9…) in the Tesla sound system while crossing the Bay Bridge to a trendy-looking Oakland warehouse condominium complex near Jack London Square].

[When B. arrives at the condo complex, near to the old Blue Bottle roasting facility on Webster Street, he parks the Tesla at the curb. He reads a library copy of Rex Pickett’s novel, Vertical, while waiting for his passenger to arrive].

[At 8:35am, an attractive woman in her mid 30s, Miss Esther Moblee, knocks on the Tesla window to attract B’s attention. She deposits a Gucci suitcase in the trunk and sits down in the back seat. E. is fashionably dressed in ivory-colored Manolo heels, a vintage pair of Levi’s jeans, and a Dior black cashmere turtleneck sweater. She carries a collector’s edition Kate Spade handbag containing her aviator-style mirrored sunglasses and her new iPhone 11 Pro, among other things. She holds in one hand a wide brim Panama sun hat with an “Official Wine Critic” blue ribbon affixed around the base of the crown].

E: Are ya’ ready fah Napa, Boke?

B: Yesu’m.

E: Well, let’s get ta’ motorin. I got to be at mah fahst tastin by ten, you know.

B: I knows, Miss Moblee.

E: I jes’ can’t WAIT ta’ be back in Napa Valley in tha’ wintahtime, a week before tha’ holidays begin. It’s so festive theah!

B: Let’s git ya’ ta’ Napa, thin.

[As the Tesla pulls away from the curb, E. immediately starts to check out winery websites on her iPhone. She stays silent for the entire trip from Oakland through Berkeley, Vallejo, and American Canyon, all the way to downtown Napa, where they arrive at 9:45am, accompanied on the drive by “Right Now” (youtube.com/watch?v=HbXp…)].

[End of scene].

Gamling & McDuck Tasting Room

Wine Tasting Room

1420 2nd St
Napa, CA 94559

1 Star Updated Review

January 15, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene I (2/18).

[B. pulls the Tesla into a parking spot close to the Gamling & McDuck downtown Napa tasting room. It is ten minutes before 10am, so E. should have time to prepare for her scheduled 10am appointment, which she requested B. make on Tock to remain anonymous].

[While E. browses web sites on her iPhone from inside the Tesla, B. stands outside the tasting room door, which is locked. No one seems to be inside. It is a cold and wet December morning with a lingering fog over San Pablo Bay. “Hazy Shade of Winter” (youtube.com/watch?v=Txrw…) plays, by the Bangles. As he sips from his coffee cup, B. thinks he sees and hears an all-female, punk Salvation Army band on the street corner, ringing their bells in time to the music and lip synching the words to the song].

[The song continues as B. waits until 10:05am before sending McDuck three emails in quick succession. He dials the tasting room number on his iPhone but ends the call in frustration because the recorded message was too long. At 10:15am the hallucination ends, and E. emerges from the Tesla].

E: Boke, where IS McDuck? Don’t he even realize that he has a private tasting scheduled fah tadah? Ever since one’a mah wahn writahs, Bryce Dubyah, wrote in The Press that their quirka wahns speak fah themselves, I’s been interested in having them quirka’ wahns speak ta’ me, p’rsonally. I ain’t nevah heard of no wahns doin’ that, befah.

[B. is uncertain how to respond].

E: Didya’ not even MAKE tha’ appointment right on Tock, Boke?

B: No, Miss Moblee, I dun made it raght. I asked ma’ wife ta’ help me, caus’ shez smurt ‘n knowz ’bout technical matters an’ such. Wez got tha’ ee-mail confirmat’n raght here.

[B. indicates a Tock confirmation message on his iPhone].

E: Well, then, why don’t you jes’ CALL him, silly, an’ ask McDuck whatevah is tha’ matta’?

B: I dun tried, Miss Moblee, but all’s I gits is the duk’s answer’n m’chine message. I sent that dern duk three emails a’readi, but I ain’t sure evn if duks cun reed.

E: Well, theahn, call him AGIN’ an’ leave a message this time! Honestly, Boke, what did they teach ya’ll as West V’rginah schoolboys anyway? Ya’ ain’t in hillybilly country no more. This heah is NAPA!

[B. calls the tasting room main number again. After waiting for the beep, he starts to leave a polite, if somewhat irritated, message inquiring about the missed 10am appointment. After a few minutes, a voice on the other end is heard].

McDuck: Hello, hello! Sorry, dude. Just read your messages. I’m, like, back from a vacation in Mexico at some real remote beach place where there was, like, no email or phones or nothin, so I totally missed your Tock reservation. Can’t you just come back this afternoon or on another day or something?

B: I’s got ta’ git’ Miss Moblee ta’ Trefeth’n next, and then Hess aftah’ that and then on tha’ next day ta’ Sonoma Pl’zer. Sos, I is not en-tie-r-lee shur.

McDuck: Sorry, dude. Sucks to be you. I can cancel the Tock reservation, no problemo. I AM a tasting room professional, you know.

B: You’d hafta’ talk ta’ Miss Moblee about ‘dat. I’s jes hur driv’r an’ all. I got hur raght here.

[B. hands E. the iPhone].

E: Boke, run next door and order me a macchiata’ from that there Monday Bakery. I’ll talk ta’ McDuck. An’ buy ya’self a muffin’ a’ somethin’ as well. I’ll meet ya’ there when I am done. Go on, Boke. Shoo!

[B. departs with cash in hand to the bakery].

[E.’s voice is very different when she speaks on the phone].

E: McDICK! It’s Esther F-WORDING Moblee. Yes, THAT one. You are gonna pay for this, buddy. You are Less Than Zero to me now. You don’t stiff Smith B-WORDS like me and get away with it. I will ream your A-wordhole with a broken Chinon bottle coated in French DOG S-WORD so hard in my next column that you will bleed and cry all the way home to your Minnesota mama, you frickin’ duckhead. What are you doing selling Franc and Blanc in Napa, anyway? Normal people, as in goddamn Midwesterners who are goddamn Trump voters, want to drink F-wording Merlot when they come to Napa at a goddamn REAL winery like Duckhorn and not at some goddamn LOCKED tasting room half named for a goddamn KID’S COMIC BOOK next to a goddamn former SEX SHOP. Or they will want oaked Chard and the OTHER kind of Cab, you stupid putz. Make this S-word right, if not for your sake then for Gaby’s, because that woman has big league talent, and she may want to keep that sweet Stagecoach gig. And you wouldn’t want my simple-minded, hillbilly driver posting a negative review for you on Yelp, would you?

McDuck: Yes, maam, I’ll make it right. And send you, Miss Moblee, bottles of our best Franc and Blanc, compliments of the tasting room.

E: Fine. Gotta go. You’re welcome. Goodbye. Happy Holidays to you and Gaby, too.

[E. ends the call and walks to the bakery to fetch B., to “Say What You Want” (youtube.com/watch?v=mblE…)].

[End of scene].

Trefethen Family Vineyards

$$ Wineries

1160 Oak Knoll Ave
Napa, CA 94558

5 Star Review

January 7, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene II (3/18).

[Scene opens with an overhead drone tracking shot of the Tesla with B. in the driver’s seat and E. seated in the back as it leaves downtown Napa and heads North on Highway 29 through a valley that has turned lush and green from early winter rains. The drive is set to the song “Sideways” (youtube.com/watch?v=OPI9…)].

[At a stoplight intersection, the Tesla turns right onto Oak Knoll Avenue and then makes a left onto a long, picturesque driveway framed by vineyards].

[B. and E. are dressed the same as when they departed Oakland in the morning, except B. is now wearing his “made in Montana” baseball hat, while E. is now wearing her mirrored aviator sunglasses and wide brimmed Panama sun hat with the “Official Wine Critic” blue ribbon festooned to the base of the crown].

E: Are we theah, yet, Boke?

B: Jes’ about, Miss Moblee. I’s a’ got ta’ drive this here eelectric vee-hicle ta’ tha’ chargin’ station, but I will drop ya’ off at th’ winery fahst.

E: How divine! I just loove seeing the Trefethen Family Vineyards in the winter! It’s all so green and so lovely and their estate Riesling is so drah, you’da thought it was from Alsace o’ somethin’!

B: I wouldn’t know nothin’ ’bout that, Miss Moblee, whut with me bein’ a lowlee dry-ver ‘ an’ whut wit’ you bein’ an aw’rd-winnin’ pr’fession’l wahn crit’c an’ all.

E: Boke, ya’ jes’ so funny! Ya’ makin’ me grin so much, it is ‘a gonna’ ta’ mess up ma’ lipstick! Look! We has arrived a’ready!

[Tesla comes to a halt. B. exits and opens rear passenger door for E.].

E: Now, Boke, you jes’ run along now and entertain yahself, maybe in that nice lookin’ redwo’d grove nexta that cute little villa ovah yondah. I’ve got some off’cial business ta’ do in thaht positively gorgeous second floor tasting lounge a’ theirs, where my wines are all waitin’ fah me. Fah free, naturally. Go an’ play on your Yelp app o’ somethin’. We adults have got some serious work ta’ do, tastin’ all those expensive Napa Valley wines. Scoot!

[E. gestures B. to leave before walking past the fountain to the entrance of the winery, retrofitted from recent earthquake damage. She is met at the door and escorted inside by a pair of identically clad Trefethen wine guides].

[B. drives Tesla to the electric charging station, parks, and plugs in the charging cable before wandering into the redwood grove, to “Seeds of the Pine” (youtube.com/watch?v=mSoO…)].

[After exploring the grove and nearby gardens, B. enters the villa. Inside, he sees two individuals listening to music and enjoying glasses of wine (2007 estate Cabernet reserve). Individual 1 (“Pilot”) wears a WWII era leather flight jacket, well worn Wrangler jeans, and old Danner work boots. Individual 2 (“Madame T.”) wears Levi’s jeans, a fitted Ralph Lauren plaid shirt with metal buttons, and Hondo Western riding boots].

P: Hi, I’m Pilot. This here is my cowgirl, Madame T. Care to have a glass of wine with us, partner? You look like a wine lover to me.

[P. inspects B’s ball cap while handing him a glass of Cabernet].

P: And I see that you’ve been to Montana.

B: Many times. Lived there awhile, but Woodside is where I hang up my spurs these days. Been to Idaho, central Oregon, Pendleton, Enterprise, Frenchglen, and Lamoille Canyon, too, and plenty of other Western spots no one bothers to visit much anymore, since it’s so cheap to fly coach these days, and since they can’t ride horses or camp rough, either.

MT: Isn’t that the truth! But you probably see quite a lot of horses out and about in Woodside, now don’t you?

B: Yes, ma’am. I do. All the time. And we make some pretty good wine there, as well. Woodside Vineyards Cabernet and Chardonnay are both local favorites of mine. Folks say that the Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Syrah is also quite impressive, but I can’t afford a cult wine like that on a driver’s salary like mine. And between you and me, Miss Moblee CAN be a bit stingy.

[Madame T. nods her head].

P: Well, we have Chardonnay, Cabernet, Malbec, and lots of other wines of our own. And we’ve got a Merlot like you wouldn’t believe! “Sideways” didn’t scare us none! 100% Oak Knoll grown fruit. One of the best libations on this here planet of ours, bar none. I’ll giv’ya a bottle, if you’d like, as an early Christmas present from one Big Sky lover to another, compliments of our family. Our children, Hailey and Loren, have decided to call it “The Cowgirl and The Pilot” for some reason or th’ another.

[Madame T. and P. both smile].

B: Merlot is a favorite of mine, Pilot. If anyone orders Merlot, I’m stayin’!

P: Come join us on the back patio, then, and we’ll have a glass of that one as well. Or quite possibly two.

[“Seeds of the Pine” continues to play as the three head to the patio, gaze up longingly at the distant mountains, and clink glasses of Merlot].

All three: Cheers!

[End of scene].

Oxbow Public Market

$$ Public Markets

610 & 644 1st St
Napa, CA 94559

5 Star Review

January 9, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene III, Part I (4/18).

[Exterior drone tracking shot of Tesla Model S exiting Highway 29 and driving through downtown Napa before crossing the river on the Third Street Bridge, then left on Soscol and right on First to the Oxbow Public Market parking lot. “Live Wire” (youtube.com/watch?v=PM-a…) plays in the background].

[Boke, clad in his trademark “made in Montana” ball cap, drives Tesla to charging station, exits, and plugs in. E. is asleep in the backseat, an empty bottle of Trefethen estate dry Riesling cradled in her arms, along with a small, plush baby bear wearing hand knit wool sweater. Boke opens the back door and gently rouses E. awake].

E: Boke, this ain’t the CIA at Copia! That’s wheah I always dine after my Official Wine Critic tastings in this here part of the Valley! You know that, silly!

B: Yes’um, Miss Moblee, I do. But I decided meebe this time we’d ‘a try tha’ Oxbah insteed.

E: The Oxbah?! That’s a puuublic place that don’t even take reservations! I couldn’t poosibly be seen there in public, ‘specially in my current ineeeebriated state.

[E. stumbles to one side as B. leads her up the steps to market side entrance next to Hog Island oyster bar].

B: Nonsense, Miss Moblee! Your public jes’ luvs you, what with you bein’ an award-winnin’ pr’fession’l wahn crit’c an’ all …

E: But whatever are we gonna’ eat here, Boke?

B: Oyst’rs, Miss Moblee. Lotsa oyst’rs wid’ Carneeros whaht wine and then a’ plat’ful a’ tacos at C Casa, wid’ this heah bottle the Pilot and his Cowgirl gave me asa’ gift when you wus a’ tastin’ at Tr’feth’n Familee Viney’rds, earlier in tha’ day. Well, that’s whut you will eat. I’ll have somethin’ consid’rbly less fancy th’n that!

E: But honestly, Boke! I ain’t gonna’ wait in no liiine fah’ oysters and drink no wine from a LIST. And tacos ain’t ladylahk food fuh’ an Official Wine Critic like me, silly! And I am positively BEAT from all that working wine drinkin’ I did with all those nice folks at Trefethen. I think I’ll just lay myself down on that nice looking corner bench there and get some beauty sleep. You take some cash from ma’ wallet and buy us some REAL food from Kitch’n Door or somethin’.

[E. kicks off her Manolos, hugs the plush bear in her arms, lies down on a corner wooden bench in the communal dining area, closes her eyes, and is asleep in seconds].

[B. checks to be sure that E. is asleep, then carefully extracts a wad of cash from her Kate Spade vintage shoulder bag (color: Russian River Valley oaked Chardonnay). He walks to the Tesla and opens the trunk, removing a Yosemite National Park edition Pendleton wool blanket and a Coyuchi organic down pillow covered in a fluffy white sheepskin pillow cover. He returns to E. and delicately sets the pillow underneath her head, removing her aviator sunglasses and slightly crushed Panama hat bearing her “Official Wine Critic” blue ribbon hat band first].

[While B. goes about his various tasks, “Roses and Moonlight” (youtube.com/watch?v=_9oE…) plays as background].

[Next, B. covers E. with the blanket and goes to the Ritual ordering line for an “El Guamo” Colombian pourover, which he sets on the table next to sleeping E., along with the adorable plush bear].

[B. then goes to the back of the long line outside of Hog Island Oyster Bar and waits until he reaches the front. He is seen explaining something to the head server and pointing to several items on the menu. After some high denomination bills are exchanged, the head server nods in agreement and goes off to speak to his manager].

[B. then proceeds to the C Casa counter and places an order of tacos from the menu.]

[Finally, B. goes to the Live Fire Pizza counter and orders himself a Margarita pizza and pint of Fieldwork’s hazy IPA, “The Stickiness.” He returns with his pizza and beer to the C Casa counter to collect a plate of four gourmet tacos (rotisserie duck, ground buffalo, spiced lamb, and Dungeness crab), which he brings to E’s table].

[Awaiting B. on the table is a plate of two dozen mixed oysters (Tomales Bay, CA; Humboldt Bay, CA; Narragansett Bay, RI; Eld Inlet, WA) and an opened, chilled bottle of Robert Sinskey 2016 “Abraxas, Vin de Terroir” Carneros white wine (Scintilla Sonoma Vineyard, seasonal blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer). B. removes two Zalto Denk’Art Universal wine glasses from a Coleman 40 can collapsible cooler (color: Paso Robles Rhône red) he had collected from the Tesla earlier, along with a 2016 Trefethen Family Vineyards estate Merlot, “The Cowgirl and The Pilot.” He skillfully opens the bottle with a waiter’s corkscrew and then decants it into a Riedel crystal wine vessel using a Rabbit wine shower-funnel, also taken from the voluminous, soft-sided cooler].

[Aroused from sleep by the sound of wine being poured, E. gingerly opens her eyes].

[End of scene].

C CASA – Napa

$$ Mexican, Gluten-Free, Breakfast & Brunch

610 1st St
Napa, CA 94559

5 Star Review

January 9, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene III, Part II (5/18).

E: Well, hello there, Boke! Fah how looong now was I asleep on this here wooden bench? And did’ya go ‘n bring me this here lovely wool blanket and soft pilla’ and everythin? Sweet ‘o you, Boke. And did ya’ also happen’ ta’ bring me mah food yet?

B: Yes, Miss Moblee. Food AND drink, of the vin’f’rous vari’ty, if ya’ must know. But drink some ‘o this here pourov’r cawfee fahst.

[B. hands E. the cup of Ritual coffee as the 2007 version of “Both Hands” (youtube.com/watch?v=AzRO…) plays on the market’s sound system, as a light winter’s rain starts to fall].

E: Smells divine!

B: Once you’ve drunk ya’ cawfee, Miss Moblee, youz ‘kin start on those oyst’rs thar’, and this here Dungeeneez crab taco wit’ this here whaht wine from de’ Carneeros distreect. And when ya’ dun wit’ all of dem’, Miss Moblee, youz ‘kin nosh on som’ a’ these here duck, buffla’, an’ spicee lamb tacos wit’ sum’ of this here red wahn in that glass decant’r, which tha’ Pilot and his cowgurl gave me as a geeft when we wuz visitin’ them at theer fam’ly wahneree up thar’ in Oak Knoll distreect.

E: But whut are you gonna’ eat, Boke?

B: I’s gots ma’ p’zza an’ Feeldwahks EYE-PEE-A, Miss Moblee. Fah ‘a littl’ ole’ heelbillee Yelpee lakh me, that’s some maighty fahn grub, dontcha’ know.

[B. smiles slyly].

E: Well, shoot, Boke! Then git’ yerself ta’ eatin’ then! We still have anotha’ Official Wine Critic tastin’ later this afttahnoon, and you better git’ me there on time, or I’ll have you fired!

[E. smiles as well, with a mischievous gleam in her beautiful, dark brown eyes].

B: Well, then, Miss Moblee, bottoms up!

[B. lifts his Fieldwork IPA and clinks glasses with E., who now has a Zalto wine glass of the Abraxas white in one hand, and the Riedel decanter of the Trefethen Family Vineyard reserve Merlot in the other].

E: Cheers, Boke! Mymymy … this red wine here smells soooo gooood!

[E takes a long sip straight from the decanter, swallows, and then beams with joy while Boke casts his gaze to the floor, shyly].

E: And this heah buffla’ taco is delicious! Goes divine with this here Oak Knoll District 100% estate Merlot wine … And this duck taco is AMAZING! So good with the wine, darling.

[E. wipes edges of her mouth with the back of her hand, then drinks more Merlot from the decanter again].

B: Well, that fahst one ya’ tried, the ground “buffla” taco one, I’d a’ rather it was made from good ole’ fashi’ned Amer’can bahson meat ma’self, and bein’ as I’s been ta’ Montana and enjoyed me some grass-fed Bitterroot bahson steaks and ground meatz an’ all, well, that don’t look tah bad – fah Napa, dat’ ees.

[B. smiles a knowing grin].

[Hog Island Oyster Server #1 comes over, with a half portion of Dungeness crab, chilled, on ice, with napkins and claw cracker, accompanied by “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” (youtube.com/watch?v=ClQc…) on the market sound system].

S1: Miss Moblee? This crab is compliments of the house. We love following your “Drinkin’ with Sistah Estah” column and all your well informed wine and food postings on Facebook and Twitter! And … could you give your friend, Soleil Hoe, this gift book from us as well? We’d just love it if she’d write about one of our new oyster bars or restaurants in her food column!

[S1 departs, bowing obsequiously as he returns to the oyster bar].

[E. inspects the gift book, a vintage copy of M.F.K. Fisher’s The Art of Eating (1976 Vantage Books paperback edition), containing all five of the noted food writers best known early works from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, including “Consider the Oyster”].

E: Boke, crack this heah crab fah’ me and go fetch ‘a levain baguette or somethin’ from that diviiine littl’ Model Bakery they’ve got here, would you darling, and scoop some of that lovely crab meat with a teensy bit o’ fresh dill ‘n sour cream on top, now would’ya? Now, there must be somethin’ all nice like that somewhere in this here Oxbah Market, now, ain’t there?

 [End of scene].

Hudson Greens and Goods

$$ Specialty Food, Farmers Market, Organic Stores

610 1st St
Napa, CA 94559

5 Star Review

January 9, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene III, Part III (6/18).

[B. stands up and goes out the back entrance, which market visitors typically use to access the outdoor restrooms. He reappears fifteen minutes later with a Model Bakery levain baguette, serrated Wüsthof bread knife, bamboo plates, organic cotton napkins, plus a bunch of fresh dill and a small container of Straus Family Creamery organic sour cream from Hudson’s Greens and Goods. Background music is Sting’s “Soul Cake” (youtube.com/watch?v=k1gR…)].

[With a seasoned hand, B. expertly prepares E. several slices of baguette topped with picked crab, fresh dill, a dollop of sour cream, and twist of cracked pepper from a small pepper mill he had borrowed from Hog Island Oyster bar].

B: Here ya’ go, Miss Moblee. I’s also git’ this here bottle o’ wine fah ya’, since I seez youz drunk mosta’ Rob’rt Seenskee Carneeros whaht wine a’ready.

[B. deftly opens a chilled bottle of Hudson 2018 Napa Valley, Carneros District Aleatico, an aromatic black muscat variety traditionally used to fortify red wine in Portugal but vinified by Hudson Wines as a dry, complex drinking wine instead, a perfect pairing with Dungeness crab baguette slices and available for purchase at Oxbow Market].

[B. inserts a Menagerie titanium gold plated “wild boar” model aerator-pourer inside the bottle, so that he can deliver 4 oz. of the crisp, fragrantly scented white wine into E.’s waiting Zalto wine glass without spilling any precious drops on the table].

E: Thank you, Boke. You are so sweet!

[E. sips some of the Hudson Aleatico wine while contentedly eating a Dungeness crab baguette slice].

E: Now, d’ya happen ta’ have somethin’ sweet and maybe a nice cupa’ green tea fah’ me as well? I haaave drunk quite a’ bit ‘o wine ta’day. As you know …

[E. winks playfully at B. and laughs].

B: Well, shoot, Miss Moblee, you’ve got me all fig’rd out now, dotcha’?

[B. produces a box of Whimsy & Spice honey lavender shortbread cookies, two green ceramic tea cups, and a glass Hario02 carafe filled with Leaves and Flowers genmaicha green tea from Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, both of which he had purchased at Hudson Greens and Goods and then sweet-talked a kindly server at Kitchen Door to brew and plate for him. In exchange for a couple of Jacksons, that is].

E: You is positively ASTOUNDIN’ ain’t ya’? Is there anythin’ ya’ caahn’t da’, Boke?

B: Well, I can’t write wine reviews for The Press, Miss Moblee, ‘caus you ain’t never asked me if I wanted ta’!

E: But, Boke! You ain’t no wahn critic or nothin’! You is a Yelp reviewer an’ all, and you wrawht fah’ free!

B: That’s true, Miss Moblee. But maybe it might not always be dat’ way, I’m thinkin’.

[E. sets down her wine glass and looks intently into B.’s eyes].

E: Are ya’ serious ’bout that, Boke or jes joshin’ meah? I ain’t got no time to discuss this wit’ ya, anyway. We is alread’ late fuh mah next tastin’ at Hess. We ‘kin talk all ’bout that … possibility latah.

B: Well, then, Miss Moblee, let’s git’ in that Tesla a’ yourn and git’ on ‘lectric motor’n ta’ da’ Hess C’llecti’n, then.

[B. extends his right arm to E., who hooks her left arm firmly into the crook of his elbow to steady herself on the walk outside to the waiting Tesla, fully charged and ready].

E: Boke, thanks fah all ya’ help today here at tha’ Oxbah. You are clearly more then jes’ an ordinary drivah, now ain’t ya?

B: I recken I is, Miss Moblee. I recken so.

E: I’m thinkin’ this may jes’ be the staht of a bee-u-ti-ful friendship, Boke.

B: Well now, Miss Moblee, I don’t rahghtly know you, and you don’t rahghtly know me, but there ain’t no reason to be lon’ly alone, now is theah?

[Slow fade out, to “Lonely Alone” (youtube.com/watch?v=rzcw…)].

[End of scene].

The Hess Collection Winery

$$ Museums, Wineries

4411 Redwood Rd
Napa, CA 94558

5 Star Review Update

January 13, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene IV (7/18).

[The entire scene unfolds as a rom-com style cinematic montage set to an extended play version (youtube.com/watch?v=nxDW…) of Madonna’s “Masterpiece,” from the soundtrack to her 2011 film, W/E].

[Like the professional female wine critic she is, E. is focused on the library and newly released estate wines and the exquisite modern artwork on display at Hess, while B., like the amateur male Yelp reviewer he is, is focused equally intently on E.’s perfectly proportioned face and her lithe, yoga toned body as she interacts effortlessly with tasting room staffers and several higher-ups in the Hess hierarchy, including the esteemed patriarch owner, Donald H., himself].

[B. shows undisguised admiration for E.’s charm, wit, intelligence, beauty, and grace as she samples wines, examines the art, and interacts with the Hess staff from the lowly to the exalted].

[Once the hubbub dies down, B. takes the time to point out to E. some of his favorite wines from their epic three-hours long tasting. This includes a bottle of 2008 Mount Veeder estate Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2016 Rockpile Vineyards Sonoma County Zinfandel, and the newly released vintages of estate Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, and Malbec].

[E. is impressed with B’s unexpectedly discerning palate and surprisingly capacious wine knowledge, but she refrains from articulating her views, for fear of embarrassing herself before the extremely fashionably dressed, European accented, and imperious-looking tasting room manager, whose dismissive judgments of B’s unadorned, ordinary looks, his thick Appalachian drawl, and his resolutely heterosexual white male clothing choices are all patently obvious].

[E., on the other hand, is treated like royalty in the best sense of the term (i.e. not like Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, Megan Markle). She gets the best pours of wine that Hess can offer, while B. is content to hang out with the junior level tasting room staff and talk about things like Brix levels at harvest and soil maps and the legal details of the long term property lease with the Christian Brothers, plus matters of optimal vine spacing and trellising techniques and other arcane viticultural matters that interest 0.01% of the American people, except for the smaller subset of those who are ardent Pete Buttigieg supporters].

[As the hypnotic sounds and intoxicating rhythms of Madonna’s “Masterpiece” echo into the cinematic ether, B. points out to E. his favorite artworks in the Hess Collection by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella, and Leopold Maler].

[B. takes a picture of E. on his older model iPhone 7 standing in front of “Johanna II,” by Franz Gertsch, and then she takes his picture on her new model iPhone 11 Pro posing in front of Robert Rauschenberg’s “Tabernacle Fuss” before they ride the glass-paneled elevator up and down several times, completely drunk and laughing hysterically like eleventh graders at junior prom who have taken their first hits of THC-rich cannabis by ingesting a half dozen pot brownies surreptitiously taken from their parent’s secret stash].

[B. and E. stumble out of the visitor center with a half case of Icon Lion and Lioness wines, signed in gold glitter pen by “Sabrina+Tim,” the affluent and philanthropically minded fifth generation scions of the Hess dynasty. “To Esther,” the dedication in the card reads, “with loving admiration and endless respect on the occasion of your 37th birthday. Your Chronicle wine column is masterpiece!”].

[As they inspect their treasured bottles of wine in the driveway, B. and E. growl and paw at each other in an unambiguously flirtatious manner, as “Masterpiece” continues to play in the background. Arm in arm, they totter back to the Tesla].

[B. pulls the Tesla into the main road and turns right to accelerate a bit too rapidly up the driveway to the adjacent Christian Brothers retreat, as the sun sets over the valley and a matching pair of illuminated hot air balloons drift in the distance in desultory fashion].

[B. guides a groggy E. inside the retreat after keying in a door code to enter. Once in the room, B. helps E. remove her Manolos, wool stockings, vicuña skirt, cashmere sweater, lace bra, diamond necklace, and tanzanite Tiffany earrings, so that she is nearly naked, standing like a statue, clad only in her silk panties before an open window illuminated by winter moonlight. B. rummages in his shoulder bag for a worn, threadbare cotton t-shirt and gently pulls it over E.’s head before laying her in bed and covering her with a blanket].

B: Happy birthday, Miss Esther Moblee. You are indeed a masterpiece.

[B. exits the room to the lyrics, “’cause after all, nothing’s indestructible,” while a Cold Moon in Gemini brilliantly illuminates the city of Napa in the far distance. Moon and night sky slowly morph into “Surface Tension,” by Andy Goldsworthy, before the camera fades to black ].

[End of scene].

Christian Brothers Retreat & Conference Center

Venues & Event Spaces

4401 Redwood Rd
Napa, CA 94558

5 Star Review

January 13, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act I, Scene V (8/18).

[Esther awakens precisely at 3:16am in a state of panic compounded by mild confusion and shock. She is wearing only her Fendi silk panties and a threadbare organic cotton men’s Patagonia t-shirt that does not belong to her but rather to Boke, who is nowhere in the room to be found].

[“Hallelujah”(youtube.com/watch?v=hjwE…) by Chris Botti on trumpet plays from a half closed MacBook Pro on the nightstand on repeat at a low volume setting].

[In a feverish and still partially drunken fugue state, E. collapses back into bed after a hasty trip to the bathroom to vomit. In the event that this screenplay will be optioned by Netflix with promotional funding from Elon Musk and Tesla Motors (for reasons that should, by now, be obvious), E.’s disturbingly surreal but also profoundly spiritual Napa wine-fueled nightmare will be rendered in stunningly detailed fashion with the assistance of Laika animation studios in Portland, Oregon].

[E. dreams she is one of the three Magi in a life sized nativity scene, which is doubly disturbing not only because she is Jewish, but also because the menagerie includes her two plush baby teddy bear brothers in hand knitted wool sweaters alongside an array of wooden ornamental nutcracker dolls garishly dressed as neo-Nazi skinheads. As King Esther bends down to bestow upon the baby Jesus a Jeroboam sized bottle of Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot, the jackboot-clad dolls attempt to intervene. Just then, one of the two bears speaks up in a polite but admonishing tone].

BrotherBear#1: Please don’t make my Brother angry, meine Herren. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

[The neo-Nazi nutcrackers laugh and give a Hitler salute while attempting to kick the little bears to one side to better harass and possibly even harm the baby Jesus. In response, one of the bears turns green and grows enormously in size to hulking, grizzly-like proportions, rips the last remaining shreds of his sweater off, and smashes the dolls into dozens of splintered pieces with two mighty swipes of his enormous, clawed paws before calming down and returning to his normal, cuddly size. In gratitude for their protective services, Mother Mary bends down to kiss the tiny bear brothers tenderly on their fuzzy foreheads and lets them each greet the baby Jesus sleeping silently in the nearby manger as if nothing had happened].

[E. wakes up an hour after sunrise, to “Ave Maria” (youtube.com/watch?v=V00q…). On the floor beside her bed lies a broken nutcracker doll that had been part of her room’s Christmas decorations. The tiny teddy bears she had brought with her as sources of comfort on the Napa visit are curled up in her arms].

[E. dresses and explores the gardens and chapel grounds, searching for signs of Boke. “Border Lord” (youtube.com/watch?v=rfLj…) plays as she follows a moss-covered Stations of the Cross devotional pathway through a forest saturated with freshly fallen rain until she reaches a clearing, where B. is stepping carefully through a serene looking cemetery with unadorned marble grave markers where members of the Christian Brothers order are buried. He is taking pictures of the grave markers with a digital SLR camera].

E: Why ya’ doin’ that, Boke?

B: Caus’ I lahks thar’ names, I reckon. And so’s I don’t figet any o’um when we leevz later t’day. They’s got some reel nice names, all theez brothas an’ all do. Names lahk Tea-o-fahn-ee ‘n R-kay-dee-us ‘n N’guy’n ‘n Van-tay-see-un ‘n stuff lahk dat’. Reel purdy names, they ees.

E: Boke, you are startin’ ta’ surprise me. How about if you wuz ta’ invite me ta’ ya’ cottage in those redwoods aftah’ we finish the wine tastins we’s got scheduled t’day in Sonoma? Whatcha’ say, Boke? I’ll ask mah editor at tha’ Chronicle if we can keep tha’ Tesla fah’ a few days longah, you know, as a favah for all the great work I’ve been doin’ fah them lately. Would ya’ like that?

B: Yes’um, I reckon I wud.

E: Well, then, whathca’ ya’ waitin’ fah? Git goin’ already! Ma’ time heah in Napa has, as they say, expaahed.

B: Okey dokey, But I’s gots ta’ prahy in de’ chapel fahst an’ greet da’ babee Jeesuz an’ mudder Maree cause’ I jes’ luvs ‘um both so much.

[B. and E. head down the hill so that B. can pray in the chapel while E. watches from a distance, after which both head to their separate rooms. Within the hour, they are seen driving away in the Tesla as Chris Brennan’s version of The Incredible Hulk theme (youtube.com/watch?v=CwYs…) plays in the background. As the Tesla makes it way down winding Redwood Road, E. and B. are lost in their own thoughts and hardly say a word to each other on the drive to Sonoma Plaza].

[End of Act I].

Bedrock Wine Company

$$$ Wineries

414 1st St E
Sonoma, CA 95476

5 Star Review Update

January 16, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act II, Scene I (9/18).

[Drone tracking shot of the Tesla driving the Carneros Highway and Napa Road at speed to Sonoma Plaza. “Fast Car” (youtube.com/watch?v=DwrH…) plays. The scene is cross-cut with images of B’s wife, Penelope, leaving for work at the same time in her Subaru for work in Portola Valley, where she teaches therapeutic knitting to children with special needs].

[B. parks and opens the door for E., looking fresh and beautiful, dressed in similar style to the first day that B. picked her up at her Oakland apartment near Jack London Square. They walk together through a small stone passageway and approach a white wooden building with a wrap around, veranda like porch with expensive looking rocking chairs set up in the front, along with a gravel covered side patio that is empty, due to the cooler winter weather.

[It is 11am on Saturday, December 21, 2019, which is exactly the time slot B. had reserved for E. to enjoy a single tasting at Bedrock Wine Co., located in historic Joseph Hooker House, a heritage site lovingly restored by local volunteers and historical preservation organizations at its current location].

[B. opens the front door for E. but remains standing on the porch after she enters].

E: Now, Boke! Ya’ cun come IN, ya’ know! This ain’t no Official Wine Critic visit. It’s Satahday, and I am here because I luvs the wahn here, and you kin come an’ join me at tha’ table!

B: If youz sayz so, Miss Moblee. I’d shur lahk dat.

E: Well then, git yourself inside, honey! We have got us some heritage wahns ta’ sample.

[B. now enters Hooker House to join E. The two are seated by a tall, older woman at a small wooden table in the back corner of the main inside tasting room, next to a wall mounted with large format, color portraits of the various vineyard owners from whom Bedrock sources grapes for their incredible portfolio of wines].

[Montage-style compressed sequence of a 90 minute long tasting, set to “Less Than Strangers” (youtube.com/watch?v=Ax7A…). E. is clearly enjoying watching B. swirl and sniff his wines like a Level I somm in training for his next set of exams, while also savoring and smiling in pleasure at the various wines set before her in identical Zalto Denk’art Universal hand blown Austrian wine glasses].

E: I do declare, Boke, that we’ve dun tried ALL the wahns that Morgan has available fah us t’day!

B: Them’s gud wahns, they iz.

E: Well, I tell ya’ what, Boke. Take some hundred dolla’ bills from ma’ wallet an’ get us a couple ‘a bottles fah us to have with lunch at OSah once we are done. I am gonna’ meet mah good food writah friend, Miss Soleil Hoe, at OSah fah some oystahs an’ ceviche an’ Baja shremp tacas an’ Dung’ness crab deviled eggs and goodness KNOWS what else! So, as much as I adore these heah her’tage old vahn reds, see if ya’ can’t git us somethin’ more … shellfish an’ ceviche an taca’ friendly.

B: Yes’um.

E: I am goin’ ta’ use tha’ powdah room now. Git’ us them wahns quick so’s we can head ta’ OSah fah some food.

[E. departs for the gender neutral restroom behind the stairway. B. walks to the front counter, where Staff Member #1 is waiting].

SM#1: Have we decided already on a wine order, sir? Or … would you prefer that I recommend a dive bar nearby that serves beer from a can and cheap shots of whiskey instead?

[B.’s voice sounds very different when he now speaks].

B: The “Forrest Gump” meets “Slingblade” thing, that’s just an act. It’s not real. I studied Arabic, Farsi, Korean, Russian, and Mandarin in Monterey FRICKIN’ CALIFORNIA, so spare me the patronizing BULLS-WORD. It’s all tied up with the highly classified and extremely sensitive nature of my mission. I’d explain it to you, but then I would have to … KILL … YOU.

[SM#1’s eyes open wide in genuine shock].

SM#1: So sorry, sir! We pride ourselves on treating ALL of our customers with respect. Even the Republican ones! And we do offer a 10% military discount …

B: Yeah, whatever. I gotta make this fast, before that hot wine chic with that SWEET-LOOKIN’ piece of yoga-toned A-word gets back from the can. Give me chilled bottles of the Karatas Cuvée and the Hirsch sparkling, the $85 one that you wouldn’t open for us but that WE ALL KNOW is frickin’ delicious. And two bottles of Syrah, a Bien Nacido and a Hudson. Same vintage year on both, obviously. Throw in a 6-pack of Zaltos while you’re at it. OSO Dave cooks up some frickin’ great chow, but he serves his list wines in FRICKIN’ RIEDEL STEMLESS, and, dude, that ain’t right. Here. This should cover it. Keep the change.

[B. tosses six, crisp hundred dollar bills on the table, from his own wallet].

[SM#1 quickly assembles the order].

E: Boke! Are ya’ ready yet?

B: Yes’um, Miss Moblee. I ees.

E: Let’s git, then! Sol is waitin’ fah us as OSah! Scoot!

[E. and B. depart the tasting room, to “Telling Stories” (youtube.com/watch?v=wapC…)].

[End of scene].

OSO Sonoma

$$ American (New), Seafood, Tapas Bars

9 E Napa St
Sonoma, CA 95476

5 Star Review Update

January 16, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act II, Scene II (10/18).

[E. and B. enter restaurant to find Soleil seated alone at two 4-tops pushed together in the far left corner, next to the large front window overlooking the plaza. The tables are covered with a variety of small plates, including oysters, Dungeness crab deviled eggs, Baja shrimp tacos, and salmon rockfish ceviche].

[“Chicken Man” (youtube.com/watch?v=IwkU…) is playing from mounted speakers].

[S. stands up to hug E. as she enters. Noticing B., she wipes her hands on a cloth napkin before offering him her right hand].

S: Hi, I’m Sol.

B: I’s Boke. I’s Miss Moblee’s new driv’r.

E: And he is SUCH an exc’llnt drivah! I jes luvs tha’ way that mahn handles that electr’c vee-hicle!

[B. looks down at the ground].

S: What’s with the accent, E.? Are you auditioning for a role in “Gone With the Wind” or something?

[E. blinks repeatedly and jerks her head slightly to the right].

S: Or … maybe you, like, had a stroke and your voice came out all funny when you got out of the hospital?

[E. continues to blink and jerk her head, but her meaning is clearly lost on S., so she changes tack].

E: I sah, Boke, it is maghty cold in heah, dontcha’ think? Be a doll an’ fetch meaha sweateah from tha’ Tesla, now would’ya?

B: Yes’um, Miss Moblee, raght a-way.

[B. exits the front door].

E: Now what the hell was THAT all about, Sol?! What part of “let’s go to the women’s restroom and discuss this” didn’t you understand?

S: So, that’s what those weird winks and freaky head jerks meant? You need to come up with a better code, E. Seriously!

E: If you must know, I’m trying out a new Southern belle accent thing when I am on “official business” in wine country, to charm the wealthy vintners with the big wallets and tiny D-words. Actually, it works on most men, even the gay ones. And Boke’s Appalachian drawl makes the whole charade even more convincing, so I don’t want him to know yet it’s all an act. I mean, it’s like he’s my very own Morgan Freeman, except a younger, whiter, redneckier version who can’t act.

S: Whatever, E. You’re one seriously crazy B-word, if you ask me, for attempting a stunt like that. But I’ll play along. What was his name again? Bokey? Is that a dude nickname like Catfish or Ving or Skippie or T-Bone or Flip or “the Jackster” or something?

E: That’s the name he put on his application for the wine critic driver position, that’s all I know. Said he didn’t even finish high school in West Virginia before heading to work for an animal rescue shelter in the Montana wilderness, something like that.

S: Less talking, more drinking. Whatcha’ bring?

[E. looks inside the wine carrying case that B. had left next to the tables. Evidently, she is impressed].

E: For a hick from the sticks, that dude has a sixth sense when it comes to good wine and hand blown crystal stemware. Maybe his senses of smell and taste are just really acute from living in the woods for so long, you know, like a feral poodle or something.

S: Well, from the neck down, he ain’t all that bad looking, neither. Pretty tight little A-word, too, I noticed, as he was leaving. I’d smack that thang, if he would just keep his hillbilly mouth shut while’s I was doin it. I mean, wouldn’t you?

E: The dude’s happily married, Sol. It’s true that he and I flirted a ton yesterday at Hess, but he didn’t even try to make a move on me later that night. That I can remember, at any rate. But we had drunk quite a bit of wine by that point …

S: So, let me get this straight: he’s got great taste in wine, he’s a sweet dude with a hot body, AND he drives you anywhere you want in a luxury black Tesla. What’s not to like?

E: Change of subject. The chef here, is he any good?

S: David? Dude ROCKS. Helped open The Fig Café, in Glen Ellen, I think, and then he created these legendary food and wine mini-pairings at St. Francis Winery before he opened this place a little more than five years ago. His food isn’t fancy, but it tastes so F-wording good. He doesn’t chase Michelin stars, either, which I can’t say about the newcomers to town, or so I hear. It’s like they want to turn this place into frickin’ Yountville.

[B. enters carrying E.’s sweater].

B: Here ya’ go, Miss Moblee. I brung ya’ yer sw’iter.

E: How sweet a’ ya, Boke! Dontch’a think, Sol?

S: Sweet isn’t exactly the word I was thinking of, but let’s go with sweet. Open the goddamn wine already, E.!

[E. deftly opens the sparkling Pinot and the white wine and distributes them into the six Zalto glasses, “Cedar Tree” (youtube.com/watch?v=xl-U…) plays in the background].

E; Cheers, Sol! Cheers, Boke! Here’s ta’ tha’ fahst a’ manah meals ta’getha’!

[The three clink glasses].

[End of scene].

Abbot’s Passage Supply

$$ Wine Tasting Room, Wine Tours

27 E Napa St
Sonoma, CA 95476

5 Star Review

January 16, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act II, Scene III (11/18)

[E. and B. say their goodbyes to S. in front of OSO and enter the adjacent Sonoma Courtyard shopping center, rejecting one open tasting room after another until they finally stumble upon an oyster shucking workshop run by the Petaluma Oyster Girls].

[Ani DiFranco’s 2007 version of”Swim” (youtube.com/watch?v=-HKV…) plays].

E: Boke, I jes’ would luv ta’ leahrn hawta’ shuck oystahs! Let’s do it!

B: Okey dokey.

E: Get us some wahns fahst!

[B. goes inside to pay the workshop fee and also to buy one glass of the 2018 Redshift Sonoma Valley Steel Plow Vineyard rosé, an opulent blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, one glass of the 2015 Points Unknown Sonoma Valley Steel Plow Vineyard Rhône style field blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah, and a full bottle of the 2018 Sightline Clarksburg Heringer Vineyard Chenin Blanc Verdejo white blend].

[B. returns to find E. wearing a blue latex glove on her left hand and holding a shucking knife in the other, attempting to open a particularly stubborn looking miyagi oyster. He reaches for a knife in an ice bucket and expertly shucks a dozen oysters without guidance from the instructor. E. looks on, impressed].

E: Boke, ya’ sure handle that knife there real weahl! Was you in tha’ army ‘o something?

B: Somethin like dat’, Miss Moblee. Not tha’ arr-me, ‘xactly, butt kinda clous.

E: Like you was an asassin’ a’ something?

B: No, I didn’t keel no pee-pul. I jes’ studi’d um, you know, frum a-far.

E: Ya’ mean like a spahy?

B: I don’ wanna talk ’bout that, Miss Moblee. Itz pers’nal, iz all.

[E. gives B. a quizzical look but doesn’t press the matter further].

E: Weahl, let’s have sum of that Sahgtline whaht wahn, Boke. It is just DIVINE with oystahs!

B: I knoz. Iz been hear wit’ mah wife, P’nel’pe, ownce.

[E. looks down again at her oyster and redoubles her efforts at prying it open. After some energetic twisting and jiggling, she gets the recalcitrant bivale to open and separates the flesh from the bottom shell. She adds her one shucked oyster to the dozen and a half B. has by now prepared].

E: Let’s eat! But this seems like far tah much wahn aftah all that we drunk at OSah and Bedrock earleah. Really, Boke! Dontcha’ know whin ta’ stop?

B: Well, if we git tir’d, we kin tak’a nap.

E: OK, then. Cheers, Boke! I can’t wait to try this new rosé, caus’ I adore ALL of Katie’s wahns, doctha’ know

[“Manhole” (youtube.com/watch?v=8BpN…) plays as both E. and B. appear to be losing their battles to stay sober. They put down their oyster knives and take a seat at a wooden bench in a secluded corner, away from the prying eyes of the other guests. After several long minutes, B. manages to rouse himself to get some water. When he returns, he is also carrying a small brown bag with a jewelry box inside, which E. promptly opens].

E: What’s that, Boke? A gift, fah me?

B: Yes’um. Thez ear-rings, made ta’ luk lahk glass arr’wheads. I think they is purdy.

E: Boke! Are ya’ TRYN’ ta’ seduce mah?

[B. stiffens, his eyes widening].

B: Garsh, no, Miss Moblee! Yuz ma’ boss ‘n all. I jes’ wanted ta’ thank ya’ fer includin’ me in t’days tastins ‘n eatings n’ such.

E: Well, if it’s jes that, Boke, then thank ya’ vehry much fah tha’ gesture. Even if I don’t rahtly know whatevah I’ll wearh wit’ them.

B: Don’t matter nun. It’sa gestur’ dat’ counts.

[E. and B. continue sipping their wines while forgetting to drink from their water glasses. Finally, E. closes her eyes and falls asleep, to “78% H20” (youtube.com/watch?v=zeib….

[B., upon noticing this, suddenly appears more alert. He gets up, places the cork in the unfinished bottle of white wine and returns the empty glasses to the tasting room. He then walks slowly back to the Tesla, which he moves close enough to a side entrance to carry E. to the backseat without minimal effort. He takes a drag of water from his aluminum bottle and polishes off the last cold dregs of coffee in his insulated mug].

[B. then starts the electric engine and speeds off, heading for Highways 121 and 37 to US-101S and the Golden Gate Bridge. He skirts the western edge of the City and takes coastal Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay before turning left on CA-92, as the sun sets over a fog-shrouded Pacific Ocean in the darkening distance. They are accompanied on the trip by “Your Next Bold Move” (youtube.com/watch?v=44Zn…)].

[The Tesla backs down B’s narrow, gravel driveway a little after 7pm. The redwoods are dripping with fog. A blue light is on at the cottage door. Wood smoke rises from the chimney, and B.’s wife, Penelope, is diligently preparing dinner to celebrate the late arrival of her husband and his mysterious new guest].

[End of Act II].

Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve

Parks, Hiking

13102-13184 Skyline Blvd
Redwood City, CA 94062

5 Star Review Update

January 9, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act III, Scene I (12/18).

[Scene opens in a small, redwood shingled cottage about one mile from the North Skyline Boulevard trailhead to Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, in rural San Mateo County, California. A light fog hangs in the upper reaches of the redwood trees, with bursts of morning sunlight streaking through].

[The Tesla is backwards parked down a narrow, gravel driveway partially overgrown with forest plants and fungi. It rests next to B.’s older model Mazda 3 and Penelope’s two toned, blue and silver 2011 Subaru Outback Sport, with a “Western Mountaineering” sticker affixed to the rear bumper].

[Still woozy from her wine country adventures, E. gingerly opens her bleary eyes. She is covered in a Pendleton wool blanket and dressed in an cozy, well worn pair of L.L. Bean men’s flannel bottoms (Black Watch tartan print, size S) and a Bikram Yoga Missoula grey cotton T-shirt. An electric fireplace is casting heat and light next to an IKEA full sized bed, where an empty bottle of 2012 Calera Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir is resting, alongside a dog-eared copy of Brian Doyle’s “The Grail: A Year Ambling & Shambling through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World,” and a copy of Marq deVilliers’ “The Heartbreak Grape: The Search for the Perfect Pinot Noir,” plus a library copy of Rex Pickett’s novel, “Vertical,” the underrated sequel to “Sideways”].

[B. is in the cottage kitchen, making sourdough chocolate pancakes with Grand Marnier enhanced Canadian maple syrup and a pot of Mariage Frères “Black Orchid” Tahitian vanilla flavored black tea from Paris, France. “The Christmas Song” (youtube.com/watch?v=oDTW…) plays softly from the living room stereo].

E: Mornin’, Boke. Da’ ya’ mean ta’ tell me that we drank that entirah bottle a’ Calera Pinah last nahgt?

B: Well, we’s shared eet wid’ Pen’l’pe and wez serv’d it wid’ her specialeety polenta wid’ mah greel’d pork tendahlo’n drah rubbed wid’ jun’per berriy, peppercahn, ald’rwood smok’d sahlt, ‘n crush’d Turk’sh bay leaf ‘n stuff like ‘dat.

E: It was dee-lic-ous!

B: Didya’ also lahk da’ 2006 Clos Saron “Old Man’s Reeserve” See-rah I dee-cant’d as well?

E: Oh yes, I adore Gideon’s amazin’ wines!

B: Well, wees red yur review of Ree-nay-saunce Wah-na-rey in da’ Chroneecull.

E: Ya’ll actually visited Renaissance Winery in little ole’ Or’gon House, California?

B: Yes’um. Wez vist’d all kahds a’ places in da’ Gold’n State wahn cuntree.

E: Da’ ya’ know Frenchtown Farms as well?

B: ‘Course we duz, silly! Very pop’lar at T’fino an’ all.

E: Tofino? April’s n’ Mark’s place in the’ City? Ya’ll been there ta’?

B: Yes’um. Wez reel int’r’sted In fahn wanhs, P’nel’pe n’ me is.

E: And are we gonna’ drink that entirah bottle of 2009 Ahlgren Bates Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon after our hike in that enormous redwood canyon down there?

B: Yes’um. Pluz a 2013 Bates Ranch Cabear-ney from Seev’lr Mount’n Wahnereey as weahl. An’ sum reel gud locul bone-een reeb-eye steakz ‘n Feefth Crow heir-loom ‘taters ‘n hershrad’sh ‘n greenz n’ stuff like ‘dat.

E: And these here nice hikin’ boots, these is fah’ me?

B: Yesum, Miss Moblee. A loan from mah wahf an’ all.

E: Where is Penelopah anyway?

B: At wurk. Like she alw’ys is, what wid’ me bein’ a driver fah hire’ an’ all.

E: Well, then, let’s git ta’ da’ hike.

B: We’s lahklee ta’ find sum mushr’ms in da’ canyee-on, fah da’ homem’d pastah tamahraw wid’ Kear-meet Leench Beau-jo-lays Coat Brew-ye wahn ‘n all. Ya’ inta’ da’ Euro wahns as wealh?

E: I jes’ adore Kermit Lynch Cru Beaujolais wines!

B: Well, den’ we’s gonna’ have us a real nice weak’nd, now, ain’t we? Have sum flapjacks, now, Miss Moblee! Ya’ gonna’ need da’ energee fa’ da’ hahk ‘n all in da’ can-ee-on.

E: Boke, it seems ta ‘ me I have seriously unda’estimat’d ya’ before, now, haven’t I?

B: Well, I don’ know mucha’ ’bout dat. Eat them vittles, Miss Moblee. Wez gotta get inta’ da’ redwuds real soon if wez gonna’ greel da’ beef n’ drink dat’ Bates Ranch Cabernet lat’r t’day.

[E., dressed in borrowed Icebreaker base layers and Marmot and Patagonia outer layers, laces up her new’ Italian made Zamberlan leather hiking boots].

E: I’m ready ta’ go, Boke. But there BETTER be a chilled bottle of that scrumptious Woodside Vineyards Chardonnay waitin’ fah us when we git back now, ya’ here?

B: Yes’um, Miss Moblee, Thar’ weeel.

E: Well, whatcha’ still waitin’ for, Boke?! Let’s git ta’ tha’ hike, then.

[E. and B. descend on private trails and empty backroads into Purisima Canyon for a strenuous four hours long hike in the redwoods, to”Cast Your Fate to the Wind” (youtube.com/watch?v=uQpD…)].

[End of scene].

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

Hiking, Parks

4185 Page Mill Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94022

5 Star Review Update

January 10, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act III, Scene II (13/18).

[Overhead drone tracking shot of Monte Bello Ridge, with Silicon Valley to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, with the Santa Cruz Mountains visible, following an early morning rain].

[“Cross Creek Road” (youtube.com/watch?v=Klf9…) plays as the camera zooms in to two figures ascending a single track path on the edge of Upper Stevens Creek Canyon. We see Boke in the lead, followed by Miss Esther Moblee in the same hiking gear she had on earlier in Purisima Canyon. B. wears a backpack while E. is clad only in her hiking outfit. Her dark hair is tied back in simple fashion, revealing a strikingly attractive face complimenting her tall, slender body].

E: Boke! I say, Boke! Jes’ how looong is this here hike gonna’ last before we get ta’ Ridge? Honestly, Boke! Most people jes’ drives up there in their caaaars! Why, pray tell, do the two of US havta’ hike up this steep and exposed trail, if I may kindly ask of ya’?

B: This here is Monte Beller Reedge an’ all, Miss Moblee. If we foller’ it all da’ way ta’ da’ wahnery, well, we’ll see how this place is fah da’ grapes an’ all dat’ go inta’ Monte Beller red wahn, the best darn Caleefornia Bore-dough blend in da’ whole wide whirld, ses me.

E: Boke, I am the Official Wiiiiine Critic fah’ tha’ Chronicle, so of COURSE I know that Ridge Monte Bella’ is one of the best red wines that we’ve evah’ made in this here Golden State of ours. But why the six miiiile hike jes’ ta’ get there?

B: It’s jes’ betta’ dis’ way, Miss Moblee. I can’t raghtlee ‘splain it ta’ ya’, but it jes’ ees.

E: Well, Boke, I can certainlah’ appreciate these here views of Sil’con Valley and that deep blue Pacific Ocean o’ ours, but it’s gonna’ take us nearly three hours ta’ even reach the tastin’ room!

B: Da’ grapes, they don’ mind, Miss Moblee. The Reedge peoples neither. Des haard wahkers, dontcha’ know, what wit’ making such fine wahn in such a high and chall’ngin’ place an’ all. Makes ya’ ‘pprectiate it more ‘dis way, Im’a thinkin …

E: If you says so, Boke. I’m startin’ ta’ trust ya’ judgement when it comes to wahn much more ‘den when ya’ was jes’ ma’ drivah.

B: Thankyee kindly, Miss Moblee. Thankyee v’ry much.

E: Boke, why don’t you jes’ call me “Estah” instead a’ “Miss Moblee”? We’s friends by this point now. Aftah’ all: I SLEPT in ya’ pee-ja-mas last couple a’ nights now, hasn’t I?

B: Too true, Miss Moble … er, Estah. Too true. But yous an award-winnin’ pr’fession’l wahn crit’c an’ all, I’s jes’ a heel-bee-lee Yelp r’vier an’ all.

E: Boke!!!! If you so much as MENTION that one more time, I swear ta’ God I’s gonna’ smack you!!

[Camera pans out several hundred feet in the air, as B. and E. approach the exposed summit of Black Mountain and proceed onward towards Ridge Vineyards].

[Time lapse, montage-style sequence with B. and E. playfully hiking and chasing each other along the trail and, eventually, on Monte Bello Road to”I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” (youtube.com/watch?v=tbNl…).

[Ridge staff member #1 sees B. and E. approaching the entrance and greets them with glasses of Chardonnay. “Come Away with Me” (youtube.com/watch?v=lbjZ…) plays on outdoor speakers].

SM#1: Hello, Boke, is it? And your … wife, Hesther Nobley, is it?

B: That’s rahgt. Mah wife, Hesther. I jes’ luvs her so much she walked all dis’ way wid’ me jes’ ta’ taste a’ vert’cl of yourn Monte Beller wahns an’ all.

MB1: We have five of our very best vintages of our flagship red wine, Monte Bello, lined up for you to taste, double decanted about two hours ago. 1995, 2000, 2011, 2012, and 2013, plus a special pour of our Lytton Springs 2011 Syrah as well, because we understand that your … wife loves Syrah, and this was a cooler year vintage from our Dry Creek Valley organic vineyard that she should adore.

[B. sips from his glass of wine].

B: Well, this Monte Beller’ whaht ain’t ta’ shabby, neither.

MB1; No, we only make Monte Bello Chardonnay in special years. It’s a stunning wine, full malolactic completed in 50% new French oak barrels with 50% neutral American oak as well, aged for 18 months before release. Simply put, one of the best Monte Bello Chardonnays we’ve ever released. And, can I assume you’ve both brought California driver’s licenses so that we can confirm your legal drinking ages? Santa Clara cops and all, they are such … a-holes about the rules and regulations and all, I’m sure you two understand.

[MB1 smiles, sheepishly].

B: Indeed, sir, we duz. I ain’t nevah gonna’ make dat’ miss-steak agin’ let me tell ya’!

[E. finishes off her Monte Bello Chardonnay in a few, long sultry sips].

E: I do declare; this here is the very BEST California Chardonnay I’ve tasted in the last decade! Kin’ I get anotha’ splash before we begin that Monte Bella’ vertical?

MB1: For you, Miss Nobley, I would only be too happy to oblige.

[End of scene].

Franklin Point Trails – Año Nuevo Coast Natural Preserve

Hiking, Beaches

S Cabrillo Hwy
Pescadero, CA 94060

5 Star Review Update

January 11, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act III, Scene III (14/18).

[Overhead shot of Esther and Boke sitting on a wooden bench overlook at Franklin Point, as heavy waves and king tide surf crash against the rocks and scour the beach with frothy sea foam to “Beachcoming” (youtube.com/watch?v=kgZX…)].

[Camera zooms in to a small picnic of sourdough rye bread topped with Harley Farms chevre (Pescadero, CA) and hickory smoked lomo from El Salchichero artisan butcher shop (Santa Cruz). E. and B. also share bottles of 2017 Howard Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay and 2017 Wirz Vineyard Cienega Valley old vine Carignane, both from Big Basin Vineyards, using stemless Riedel wine glasses].

E: Boke, this here is one LOVELY view! And these Big Basin wines ya’ brung’ are DIVINE! I visited their Saratoga tastin’ room and all for The Press, but these particula’ wines wasn’t available – back theeeen.

B: No’um, lahkly not, butt wez wahn klub membahs at da’ Beeg Bas’n Wahn’ry, ‘n we jes’ luvs ta’ stop there ta’ taste wahns like ‘dat.

[E. sets down her glass of Chardonnay on the bench and stares intently at B., despite his efforts to avert her gaze].

E: Boke … or should I say … Bradley N.? Ya’ cun drop ya’ redneck hillbilly Appalachian acc’nt thing, OK? OK?? I dun looked ya’ up on tha’ Internet, and while it is true that ya’s from West Virgin’a an’ all, ya’ ain’t no real redneck, is ya? Yeza Redneck In Name Only. Yeza R.I.N.O.!

[B. is silent. He stares down into his glass and waits].

E: Ya’ was valedictorian of ya’ high school class and then ya’ went … ta’ Williams! Of all places, ya’ hadta’ pick a New England school like that, didnta’? And not only that … ya’ had ta’ go an’ graduate summa cum laude AS WELL …

[B. blushes].

B: Honestly speaking, Esther, didn’t think you’d hire me as your driver if you knew all of that. Or if you learned about the Hopkins advanced humanities degrees, the Stanford postdoc, the Harvard interview, the Defense Language Institute training, or the still classified Black Ops secret mission stuff. I figured that the “Morgan Freeman meets Chris Cooper in Matewan” simple minded redneck persona would be easier for you to handle.

E: Ya’ maght be right about that. Nobody will hire a’ Hopkins man these days, especially one witha’ degree in the … HUMANITIES!

[B. nods his head, knowingly].

B: Well, Esther, in the interests of full disclosure, I doubt that your “Jessica Tandy meets Vivien Leigh” Southern Jewish belle thing is totally accurate, either. They teach you to act like that at Smith, did they?

[E. acts shocked, but is clearly acting].

E: Well, I nevah! That is jes’ so … Yeah, screw it. I went to Smith and was an English lit major who got into wine instead of teaching or grad school. The Southern belle schtick still works on the Robert Parker generation of multimillionaire men in Sonoma, Paso, and Napa who are styling themselves as vintners these days. It’s easier that way with most men, except for the more enlightened ones like Ian Brand, Chris Brockway, or Dan Petroski.

B: Makes sense to me. A lot, actually.

E: I figured that hiring you as my hillbilly driver would fill out the whole “Driving Miss Daisy in a black Tesla” thing that we had going there when seeking out cult wines by folks like Reeve, LIOCO, Belden Barns, Baker Lane, Littorai, Red Car, Leo Steen, Hirsch, or Pax Mahle. And it was working with the high-end Napa folks at Progeny, Lokoya, and Kapcsandy, too, before you had to go and blow the whole thing up on Yelp. Thanks for that, by the way!

[E. gives B. the finger].

B: Well, you started it!

E: No, you did! Jerk.

B: I know you are, but what am I?

[E. and B. smile, take sips of their wine, and stare out at the waves crashing in front on them].

E: Dude, what say we hike back to the Tesla and hit up some of the Westside tasting rooms in Santa Cruz this afternoon? Well, after coffee at Verve first. My treat. What do you say, B.? Are you even still listening?

B: E., I’d say that’s a very smart idea coming from a spoiled little Smith girl who gets paid to drink expensive wine.

[After E. throws Chardonnay in B’s face, the two start hiking back to the Tesla].

E: Hillbilly rednecks who went to Williams! When will they learn how to treat spoiled little Smith girl wine sluts like me properly?

B: Never too late to try. After you.

E: After you, dude. Also: I’m driving.

[B.’s eyes widen, but gives her the key].

[Camera pans out to the trailhead where the Tesla is waiting. E. enters with B. and turns on the ignition, but she hesitates long enough for B. to notice].

B: The engine’s on. On means go.

E: Give me your “made in Montana” hat first.

[B. places the hat on E’s head, who is now wearing her mirrored aviator glasses. Like a Titan rocket, the Tesla streaks South on Highway 1 with “Joyride” (youtube.com/watch?v=xCor…) blasting through open windows].

[End of Act III].

Stockwell Cellars

$$ Wineries

1100 Fair Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

5 Star Review Update

January 11, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act IV, Scene I (15/18).

[Interior shot of Stockwell Cellars’ high-ceilinged Fair Avenue winery and tasting room. It is just after 1pm. E. and B. are seated in the back right corner on a solidly built wooden bench mounted onto steel support beams constructed by the winemaker himself, who is also a welder. They are sipping Santa Cruz Mountains wines from two open bottles: a 2017 Regan Vineyard Pinot Grigio Ramato and a 2014 Reagan Vineyard Merlot. “Still the Good Old Days” (youtube.com/watch?v=AqFD…) plays in the background as E. and B. sip their wines with bowls of saffron sesame popcorn, shelled habanero pistachios, and Marcona almonds with fresh rosemary and Maldon sea salt flakes].

E: Dude, this Ramato totally rocks, Salinity balanced by yellow stone fruit and just a hint of earthiness at the end. Makes me rethink the whole Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, to be honest with you. And this Merlot! It’s frickin’ delicious, but in a boysenberry, brambly kinda way that is herbal and leafy than ripe fruity.. Who needs Pinot when you drink a Merlot this frickin’ good? F-word you, Miles! F-word you.

B: I know, right? Good thing the dude here stopped just forging metal and started crafting wine as well. Still, that 1909 anvil of his dad’s does look pretty frickin’ awesome up there behind the tasting bar, doesn’t it? Napa Valley has got nothing on the Westside, baby.

E: Totally! I mean, I asked Bryce W. to review this place in The Press and all, but now I realize that his tag line, “The Central Perk of Wine,” was pretty frickin’ stupid. Or, if not stupid, then just really, really corny and way too Gen X for our intended demographic iGen web site users. Come on, Bryce! Can’t you do better than that? Stockwell so rocks! And the music is great, too! This new Sheryl Crow album is really, really good, isn’t it?

B: Sure is. Sheryl, she never gets old. Like Kris Kristofferson, Keith Richards, Neil Young, James Taylor, and Willie Nelson – all of whom sing with Sheryl on the album, by the way – she’ll just one day fade away, slowly, like a bottle of Santa Lucia Highlands Tondré Grapefield Pinot that has passed its prime after 25 or 30 years in bottle, I guess.

[E. looks at B. with a tiny glint of awe in her beautiful brown eyes].

E: Wow, B. You sure know your wines! Not bad, for a Williams dude.

[E. winks].

B: Yes, well I definitely didn’t know about such things back then, in the 90s. I do recall seeing a case of Ravenswood old vine Sonoma County Zinfandel arriving once at the Foreign Language Center, where I worked as a student, that the chair ordered for some big faculty party at the end of the academic schoolyear. Dude got his Ph.D. in comp lit from Berkeley, which explains the ordering a case of Ravenswood Zin, I guess.

E: Sucks that Gallo has closed the Ravenswood tasting room and shut down the brand, doesn’t it? Nothing but jealousy and venal corporate greed, if you ask me. That’s why I left the Spectator and jumped like Jack n’ Jill on the Chronicle gig when Jon up and left for England.

B: Yeah, I figured you were stoked to hang out here in Northern California with the cool kids. Since you arrived, you’ve been picking some great Winemakers of the Year, and your Renaissance Winery article last year was pretty frickin’ awesome, even if I did review it on Yelp about a day or so prior to when it was first published.

E: Seriously? You posted a review on Yelp even before my award-winning story on Renaissance appeared online and in print?

B: Well, you obviously had done, like, a ton of research on it and also interviewed the Frenchtown Farms folks and Clos Saron and all, but technically … my Yelp FTR was first. I was kinda shocked when I logged into the Chronicle web site from the B&B in Nevada City where we were staying and saw your feature length article in the Food and Drink section. Great stuff, E. Really great writing, for a Smith graduate, at any rate.

[B. smiles].

E: I would throw this glass of Ramato in your face, but I think I like it too much to waste it on someone as undeserving as you!

[E. finishes off her glass of wine, then wrestles B.’s glass of Pinot away from him and does the same].

E: Time to hit up a few more of the Surf City Vintners, I’m thinkin. I don’t get down here much, so I gotta stock up. Got anything else in mind, Mister Santa Cruz Mountains AVA resident wine expert?

B: E., I’ve got a couple more places in mind that will … blow … your … Smith girl slutty mind!

E: F-word you, you incestuous hillbilly jerk. But take it slow, dude. I need some time to recover.

[E. and B. both get up from the couch, wave their goodbyes, and wander outside to “Love and Happiness” (youtube.com/watch?v=Gn9n…) as they meander lazily onto Ingalls Street, arm in arm, for another tasting].

[End of scene].

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard

$$ Wineries

334-A Ingalls St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

5 Star Review

January 11, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act IV, Scene II (16/18).

[Interior shot of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard tasting room. E. and B. are sitting at the ba with glasses of Souzão and Castelão along with full pours of “Rabelo” port and Osocalis XO Alambic Brandy. “Come Alive” (youtube.com/watch?v=KLnS…) plays on the stereo. A light rain is falling].

E: Portuguese varietals from the San Antonio Valley in southern Monterey County, sourced from the vineyards of the famous Pierce Ranch? Brandy made in an antique alambic Charentais still, imported from Cognac, using Colombard, Chenin Blanc, Sémillon, and Pinot Noir grapes and distilled and aged for years in Soquel? Even I must admit, B., that these are some amazing finds, although you realize that I reviewed this place, like, two years ago, right?

B: Well, you did review it pretty well, it’s true, but I kinda felt that you could have somehow done more to highlight the whole immersive nature of the experience, especially when you factor in the aged brandies and port and stuff. I mean, who exactly do you have working for you who somehow missed all this awesomeness?

[E. takes a hit of port before responding].

E: Yeah, I get it. My team of wine writers as a collective aren’t as freakishly creative a writer as you are, and they sure as S-word didn’t help me discover this place, because I scoped it out all by myself, being an empowered woman wine writer and hardworking investigative grape reporter, as you know. But they all have worked as wine journalists and have advanced somm degrees they will likely never have to use because most have trust funds to fall back on if they need to, and they all have freelanced for the wine mags and did time in the trenches at Vinous Media and have actual Ivy League degrees from Yale and Princeton and such or at the very least USC or Cal Berkeley, so they are all part of the “Club,” while you obviously are not. Why would Yalies and Harvard types and Princetonians and Spartans and Smith girls like me let someone like you join our exclusive urban wine drinkers and writers club, anyway? And by someone like you, I mean, to be precise about this, someone who went to school at a Berkshire backwoodsy boondocks place like Williams who is originally from cousin-kissing Appalachian redneck nowheresville and who writes long and boring Yelp reviews about his totally random wine tasting experiences that twelve people actually read and maybe, like, half of them actually cast votes for. Just in case you were wondering about that part.

[E. smiles].

E: But the truth is, B., that you complete me with your over-the-top prose and wild, fantastical writing style and all the droll and weirdly endearing things that come out of your mouth on a daily basis. B., you had me at “howdy.” I wish that I HAD asked you to write wine reviews for The Press, instead of hiring you to be my hillbilly driver. Can you ever forgive me?

[B. takes a long sip of XO brandy before responding].

B: E., you are cool and sweet and sexy and smart and so pretty. Truly, you can do no wrong. Hire whomever the F-word you want to write those superficial reviews for The Press, which are too formulaic to capture the true essence of unique and wonderful places like this with decades upon decades of winemaking history. I’ll just post my own, exhaustively edited reviews on Yelp, anyway, which tend to exceed the maximum allowed word count, and which I illustrate with tons of free content using my iPhone and my digital SLR in the vain and probably senseless hope that someone out there surfing the Internet who is not a bot or data mining algorithm might one day actually use them to discover frickin’ awesome wines like the ones they serve here and to learn how frickin’ cool the people of Santa Cruz are and how frickin’ amazing it is to be able to live here, which is not what they are told by the media on FoxNews or CNN or Amazon or Netflix or Apple TV+ or the people who own your newspaper and sign your 6-figure salaried paycheck each month. And as for all the rest: who gives a S-word?

E: For a hick from the sticks, ya’ ain’t even all that stupid. I might even kinda like you. If Smith were ever to admit dudes, you would be, like, the first to enter. No joke! I really do wish you’d write for us at The Press. What do you think?

B: I think we need another drink first. How about we hit up another tasting room before I decide?

E: I could kiss you right now, B., but then I’d have to kill you and rinse my mouth out with 190-proof Everclear after. Let’s grab us some bottles and move on, dude.

B: That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said all day. Ready to open door number three?

E: S-word yeah! Let’s do it! Let’s rock the Westside like this day ain’t NEVAH gonna’ end, white girl wine ghetto style, monthaF-wordah!

[Camera fades out to E. and B. samba dancing to “Faz Gostoso” (youtube.com/watch?v=R03c…)].

[End of scene].

Bottle Jack Wines – Westside Tasting Room

Wine Tasting Room

328D Ingalls St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

5 Star Review Update

January 11, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act IV, Scene III (17/18).

[Steadicam tracking shot of E. and B. leaving the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards tasting room with bottles of port and brandy in a wine carrying case. They stumble out onto the sidewalk, deposit the contents in the trunk of the Tesla, and then walk arm in arm on unsteady legs to the Bottle Jack Wines tasting room, shared with Silver Mountain Vineyards].

[The tasting room is filled to overflowing with festive, wine-themed Christmas decorations. “Late September” (youtube.com/watch?v=UDES…) plays on the stereo].

[The rain has stopped, so E. and B. sit down at an outdoor patio with open bottles of 2018 Sierra Foothills Viognier and 2014 Santa Cruz Mountains Petite Sirah. They pour the wines into Zalto wine glasses B. extracts from his soft-sided cooler, accompanied by El Salchichero bresaola served on Companion Bakery levain bread with fresh horseradish and drizzled with toasted sunflower oil and 12 year aged balsamic vinegar. B. then serves a Dungeness crab panini, cut in two, with melted Monterey Jack from Vella Cheese Co. (Sonoma, CA) to pair with the Viognier].

E: Why in the F-word haven’t we covered Bottle Jack Wines in The Press yet? I really dig this Sierra Foothills Viognier, and the Petite is F-wording delicious!

B: Well, when you assign someone who lives in the City to cover the dynamic local wine scene here, you tend to miss newer, audacious places like this. Not to mention old lions like Silver Mountain Vineyards, whose wines are classic examples of the potential of the area to make great Burgundian and Bordeaux style wines. Maybe you should hire a local, such as myself, who can give the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA the extensive coverage it deserves.

[E. is about to speak but is interrupted by her iPhone 11 Pro vibrating].

E: Hello? What? As in, like, immediately? And what shall I tell him, then, when he asks me for an explanation why? And you need the Tesla back when? Tonight? Are you serious!? This is, like, so not right. You know, Eric at the Times would never stand for this. Even Dave at the Post would say no, and between you and me, that man is a F-wording IDIOT who doesn’t know S-WORD about wine. Tell Audrey and her F-wording corporate SLAVEMASTERS they can come and try to take a bite out of my honey pot sweet C-WORD if they think that they can get me to fire my own goddamned driver and return that goddamned Tesla of theirs anytime soon, because I am a goddamned award winning wine critic who went to Smith F-WORDING College, and if they think they can mess with me, well you tell them from me that they can ram rolled up copies of the Chronicle covered in steaming HORSE S-WORD straight up their enormous, middle-aged A-wordholes. And then, they can set them on fire. Fine. Gotta go. You’re welcome. Goodbye. Happy frickin’ Holidays to you, too!

[E. presses the end call button on her phone and sets it on the high-top table where she and B. are standing. She grabs the empty bottle of Viognier by the neck and proceeds to smash it into shards directly on top of the phone before then pouring a full glass of Petite Sirah on the table and then kicking it over. E. then picks up the damaged phone off the ground and hurls it against the wall, where it shatters to pieces].

B: So, that went well.

E: B., you’re fired. And we need to take the Tesla back to the dealership in Mountain View by 10 pm tonight or they’ll fine me $500 a day until I do. Budget cuts ordered by Hearst corporate, effective immediately. I should sue those A-wordholes for workplace sexual harassment for every penny that they and their next of kin are worth. D-wordhead male executives and that spineless female editor ice queen in chief B-word who carries out their orders. Idiots!

[E. locates the Petite Sirah bottle, now lying half empty on the ground, and takes a long pull].

E: Well, ya’ can’t be ma’ driver no more, Boke, but that don’t mean we can’t steel be freens.

[E. and B. both drop back fully into character for a moment].

B: Miss Moblee, no’ne at Hearst nah an’ otha’ place in dis’ heah world can come b’tween us na’more. We haz a boooond that’l bend from time ta’ time but will nevah break! I tells youz whot ..

E: Ain’t that the truth! Boke, I luvs ya’, and that ain’t the wine talkin’ neithah! We is freens – fahevah!

[E. and B. take turns killing the rest of the Petite left in the bottle].

E: Tell ya what, let’s us grab a drink somewhere – a REAL drink mind ya’ and not just some more of this heah wahn – and figa’ out what we is gonna’ do next. Whatcha say, Boke?

B: I knowz jes’ tha’ place, Miss Moblee. Jes’ tha’ place …

[E. and B. walk grim-faced to the Tesla, to “Redemption Day” (youtube.com/watch?v=GHmV…)].

[End of Act IV].

Venus Spirits Distillery

$$ Beer, Wine & Spirits, Distilleries

427 Swift St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

5 Star Review Update

January 12, 2020

“Driving Miss Moblee,” Act V, Final Scene (18/18).

[Tracking shot of Tesla driven by E. with B. sitting beside her, as it pulls out of the Ingalls Street Courtyard parking lot onto Swift Street].

[Before the Tesla reaches the intersection with Delaware Avenue, it turns right and pulls into an open slot in front of the distillery. Inside, a crowd of tastefully dressed patrons are gathered at the bar with mixed drinks in hand and bottles of spirits in holiday gift bags next to them].

[B. opens the driver side door for E. and escorts her inside. They return minutes later to take seats on a wooden bench next to a table decorated with lit candles affixed to abalone shells and drought tolerant plants in pots fashioned from miniature types of winter squash. B. brings E. a Sazerac cocktail while reserving a perfectly made gin and tonic for himself].

[“If This Is Goodbye” (youtube.com/watch?v=sWfK…) plays from speakers as they sit in silence].

[E. starts to speak, more laconically than usual].

E: So, IS this goodbye?

B: You tell me.

E: I didn’t fire you! Hearst did.

B: Worst Christmas gift, ever.

E: I can’t risk my job by pissing off my editor at the Chronicle any more than I already have.

B: I get that.

E: But what an awesome place to get over a workplace breakup! This is, like, the best Sazerac I’ve ever tasted.

B: You should try the G&T.

[E. samples from B.’s drink, her eyes lighting up in pleasure].

E: Like, what botanicals do they PUT in this thing?

B: That’s Gin No. 01, which has 10 different fruits, herbs, and botanicals like lavender, angelica root, ginger, lemon, and orange. Seasonal blends are made in winter, spring, summer, and fall. If you are into Scotch, ask to try their Wayward peat single malt, which was released a few weeks ago.

E: Wow, your mood totally picks up when you talk about stuff like that, doesn’t it?

B: Yeah, I guess it does. But that’s because Sean is a consummate craftsman who distills each batch using organic ingredients in Spanish made, hand pounded copper stills and ages his Gin No. 02, his aquavits, his whiskeys, and his reposado and añejo spirits in American oak barrels before release.

E: Dude, you’re still fired. Shame to let all that passion and knowledge go to waste writing Yelp reviews and not getting paid for it, don’t you think?

B: I don’t think. Not about stuff like that, I mean. It’s just fun for me. And I like having fun. Don’t you?

E: I’ve been having nothing BUT fun ever since our first wine tasting in Napa five days ago! I wish we could meet up next time as friends, and not as professional wine critic and hired driver.

B: I’d like that.

E: Tell you what: I’ll talk to Sol and see if she’ll drive us down to Santa Cruz sometime next year. Why not Friday, February 14, 2020? Valentine’s isn’t a real holiday, anyway. You could meet us here at two thirty for cocktails, and then we’ll drink wine at Stockwell and share pizzas at Bantam.  

B: Like the three of us?

E: Your Yelp friends can tag along if they want. Call it an “unofficial Yelp event” or whatever.

B: Sure, E. Why not?

E: I’ll have to check with her, but let’s try to do this thing, OK?

[E. and B. shake hands].

E: It’s getting late, and I still need to drop you off before taking the Tesla to the dealership and then a Lyft home. After I can somehow find a new iPhone, that is.

B: Could you let me drive the Tesla one last time? I knoz backruds youz gonna love, Miss Moblee. Yes’um, ya’ weel.

[E. tosses B. the key].

E: Merry Christmas, you crazy, out of work Williams dude hillbilly freak!

B: Happy Hanukah, you spoiled little Smith girl potty-mouthed wine slut.

[E. and B. embrace].

E: Enough lovey dovey. Let’s motor. Don’t go easy on the Tesla. It ain’t ours no more, dude.

[E. settles into the front passenger seat with her “made in Montana” hat on. B. starts the engine and maneuvers onto Swift Street, makes a left on Highway 1, and rolls to a stop at the last traffic light out of the city. It changes to green, but he doesn’t move].

E: The light’s green, Gatsby. Green means go.

B: Give me the aviator glasses first.

[E. sets the glasses on B.’s face as he taps on his iPhone and presses play. E. and B. lip-sync the opening lyrics of “Sister Christian” (youtube.com/watch?v=z92b…) as a flashback montage plays of them over the past five days, intercut with scenes from their college years. The song swells to its first crescendo as the camera zooms out on the Tesla streaking North with the sun fading into an ocean glowing purple and gold. The song plays loudly through open windows as they race along coastal and mountain roads to B.’s cottage, cloaked in darkness, where Penelope anxiously is still waiting].

[B. exits the car and hands the key to E. They hug, then E. speeds off into the night, solo driving for the first and only time. Fade to black. Roll credits to “Tell Me When It’s Over” (youtube.com/watch?v=Zu9K…), followed by “Falling Free” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XlbcI88tLg)].

[The End].

Driving Miss Moblee: An Online Odyssey

This message is for Ms. Audrey Cooper, the first woman to be Editor-in-Chief of the San Francisco Chronicle daily print and e-edition newspaper and affiliated SFGate web site, including The Press.

Dear Ms. Cooper,

If it is not too inconvenient, could you please contact Esther Mobley @theSFChronicle and ask her to help my husband out with a personal project of his that he hopes will result in an Apple TV+ 4 part miniseries that will feature both your newspaper and sympathetic fictionalized versions of your wine and food critics, Esther and Soleil Ho? Given her ties to the publishing industry and the Californian wine trade, as well her Smith College and Wine Spectator backgrounds, I think Esther could really help improve the quality and viability of his ms and ensure that he has all his facts straight.

My husband is Bradley N. of Woodside, California, where we have been residents since 2008. I believe him to be a kindhearted and creative person who genuinely believes he is helping his fellow citizens by writing impassioned but well written and researched reviews on Yelp. He is a regular reader of the Chronicle and visitor to The Press website. He has posted a glowing five star review of the experience on Yelp. He has done so entirely for free, because he loves your paper, and b/c we both think that you, Esther, & Soleil must be pretty interesting people in real life, should we ever get the chance to meet.

However, recent financial stress compounded by too much wine and too little sleep has made my husband act more intense and determined than usual lately, and I worry that some of his actions on Yelp may be misinterpreted or not taken seriously, and these are not the impressions that I think he wishes to leave.

Bradley is an academic research scholar by training who graduated summa cum laude from Williams College in 1996 and also holds MA and PhD degrees from Johns Hopkins in modern German and continental European history, in addition to being a former Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Humanities and adjunct professor at Stanford from 2008-2011. However, he lost a good teaching job at the University of Montana four years ago, due to unrelated administration-mandated budget cuts, and he has been unemployed ever since. It’s not that he can’t find work, but he is holding out for something he loves that will not take away his freedom. As a native West Virginian, he takes their state motto, “montani semper liberi,” rather seriously as a personal philosophy and guiding principle. This is why we live in a redwood shingled rental cottage deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Being a highly successful professional career journalist living in the mountainous, forested, and rugged state of California that my husband and I prefer to think of as the Bear Republic, I am sure you & your family can relate to this Latin language sentiment.

However, being the overeducated, underemployed, and self-identifyingly proud hillbilly that he also is, he has too much pride to tell you this directly. So, I have decided to do so on his behalf, because we have been married now for more than twenty years, ever since I emigrated to this country from Eastern Europe in 2000, and because I still love him as much now as I did back then. Perhaps, even a bit more.

Bradley has been a Yelp Elite member for thirteen years straight (2008-2020), which makes him a Black Badge holder three times over now. He takes his unpaid job writing long form, illustrated reviews on Yelp very seriously. The online, multimedia movie screenplay set to embedded YouTube music he recently completed and posted on Yelp over eighteen separate reviews, of which yours is number one of eighteen (1/18), is very good. I found it to be useful, funny, and cool in equal measure, and so have a good many of his followers and friends. He has even convinced me to use my own Yelp account (I am 4 years Yelp Elite and look forwarding to earning my first Gold Badge next year) to help him promote his cause, although I am not sure it is helping, and I worry what the individuals at Yelp who actually run the site are thinking.

Any support you could offer to help him turn this idealistic and admittedly crazy dream of his into something viable and real that could enable him to contribute significant money into our cash strapped single income family Bay Area household, where I work as a librarian on the Peninsula, would be most appreciated.

Could you also please communicate with me using the Yelp private messaging system rather than the business user comment feature? It is easy to use, once you set up your own personal Yelp account, which is free. I would be happy to provide you with our mailing address as well, if you think these things would facilitate our correspondence in the future.

Bradley is aware of this message, and he supports my intervention in this matter. In fact, he plans on casting the first UFC votes in its favor. I hope that many more will come.

Best wishes,
C