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Food Arts Silver Spoon Award to Gerry Dawes


 Premio Nacional de Gastronomía - - James Beard Foundation Nomination (Best Wine Writing)
Premio Periodistíco Cava

Gerry Dawes's Article Medieval Riches of El Cid's City (About Burgos, Spain)
Front Page, The New York Times Sunday Travel Section

 About Blog Author Gerry Dawes, Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award)




1/18/2012

Having a Drink with Gerry Dawes by Jordi Melendo, Verema.com


* * * * *

Tomando una copa con… Gerry Dawes
(Click here to read the interview in Spanish)

Drinking Godello at Estado Puro in Madrid.
Photo by Harold Heckle, Associated Press, Madrid.



Gerry Dawes vive en Nueva York y es escritor, fotógrafo y conferenciante especialista en la gastronomía, los vinos y la cultura de España. Vivió en Andalucía durante ocho años, lleva casi 40 viajando por el país y tiene un promedio de siete viajes gastronómicos anuales a España. Fue galardonado con el Premio Nacional de Gastronomía “Marqués de Busianos” 2003 por la Academia Española de Gastronomía y La Cofradía de la Buena Mesa y es el único extranjero honrado con el Premio Cena de los Once Vinos. Es Contributing Editor de Food Arts, Wine News, Santé y varias revistas del ICEX y ha publicado centenares de artículos sobre los vinos, la gastronomía y viajes de España. 

Ha presentado ponencias y presentaciones en Culinary Institute of America - Napa Valley, Christie's New York, Encuentro Verema (Valencia), Philadelphia Museum of Art (seis cenas durante la exposición de Dalí), International Association of Culinary Professionals (Congreso Anual), IberWine, Madrid Fusión, Fenavin, Vino a Toda Vela y presentador de los Spain's Ten (10 mejores chefs españoles en New York). Fue Chairman de la Cena-Subasta James Beard Fundation en 2004 que fue dedicado a España, honró a Ferran Adrià y Juan Mari Arzak y batió todos los records de la fundación. Fue seleccionado para dar una charla, sobre la gastronomía, vinos y cultura de Valencia en una cena de en honor de Francisco Camps, presidente de la Generalitat Valenciana en New York (Abril, 2005).


Having a drink with … Gerry Dawes

One of your virtues:

I am loyal to my friends, especially my real friends, most of whom are in Spain.

One of your faults:

I am addicted to Spain and I am always trying to do more than is humanly possible, which causes me problems.

A virtue you value in others:

Loyalty, honesty and patience, qualities which many of my Spanish friends have.

A fault you detest in others:

Dishonesty. And the love of new oak taste of over the taste of wine. I truly detest Parkerista-style wines.

Recommend a white wine:

Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño (unoaked, with a few years in bottle.)
A Coroa Godello
Casal Novo Godello (my house white wine)
Pena Das Donas Godello
D. Ventura Mencia red wines from Ribeira Sacra

A rosé wine:

Señorío de Sarría Garnacha Rosado Viñedo #5 (one of the greatest rosé wines in the world.)

A red wine:

A great older vintage of CUNE Viña Real Oro such a 1954, 1962, 1981; Viña Bosconia 1947; Marqués de Riscal 1945 and Riscal wines from the 1920s; young, fresh, terroir-driven Mencia from Ribeira Sacra.

A Cava:

Raventos i Blanc , also Gramona or Agusti Torelló; also love good dry Pinot Noir Rosado cavas

And a Champagne:

Pol Roger, which I have had every Christmas and New Year’s Eve since 1976; I also love Bollinger, André Clouet and Champagnes that use Pinot Noir; and especially the great Rosé Champagnes.

If you had to choose just one wine which would it be:

A great dry Garnacha Rosado with good acidity, which goes with all kinds of food. They are fresh, festive, fun, satisfying and normally have no oak. And sometimes, a fine manzanilla fina de Sanlúcar

And who would you drink it with:

The most important thing about any bottle of wine is the people surrounding the bottle:

My girlfriend, Kay. And over lunch with any (or all) of these great friends, Mariano García, Basilio Izquierdo, Javier Hidalgo, Emiliano García, Juan Gil (Galicia), Emilo Cores, Manolo & Mari Carmen Esquivias, Ambrosia Molinos & family in Roa, Isaacín Muga, Juan Suarez, Esmeralda Capel, Gabriela Llamas, Lucio, Mari & Javier Blásquez, Quím Marqués, Fuensanta Bartolomeu, José Manuel Rodríguez (Ribeira Sacra), María José San Román (y Pitu, Jorge y Geni), Adolfo Muñoz & family in Toledo, Juli Soler, George Semler, el banda de gente in Sanfermínes, Raúl Aleixandre, Juan Peña, Paco Dovalo, Javier Luca de Tena, José Andrés Carlos Falcó, Ricardo Pérez, Raúl Pérez, Pepe Limeño, the Pérez Pascuas family, Alejandro Fernández, Los Tios de Verema (José, Juan, Paco) y Las Gamberras de Chipiona. . . I have mentioned just a few and I have left out many—with profound apologies--but I am sure you only so much space.

Your favourite meal:

I have several: Rodaballo at either Kaia or Elkano in Getaria; Mariscos in Galicia, especially with Gerardo Mendez of Do Ferreiro; any meal at Bigote in Sanlúcar de Barrameda; chuletillas al sarmiento at Bodegas Pérez Pascuas; breakfast at Quím de la Boquería or Pinotxo in La Boquería; pochas con codornices in Navarra; alcachofas con jamon in La Balconada in Chinchón; arrós negre in Can Majo in Barcelona; any meal in Ca Sento in Valencia; Sunday nights at Casa Lucio in Madrid; salmorejo con berenjenas fritas at Juan Peña in Córdoba; arrós con caracoles y conejo at Casa Elias in Xinorlet; any lunch at Bodegas Muga, el menu de Gerry Dawes in La Taberna del Gourmet in Alicante; and a box of chocolates from Paco Torreblanca. There are many, many more.

Your favourite restaurant:

As you can see, I have many favourites. And I have been known to make pilgrimages to many restaurants scattered all over Spain. I love Bigote looking out on Bajo Guía in Sanlúcar, Kaia looking out on the fishing port and Basque Coast in Getaria; I love to take the ferry to Casa Cámara in Pasai Donibane (Pasajes de San Juan); and I love to eat La Balconada or Café Iberia in Chinchón overlooking La Plaza Mayor. Tengo muchos.

Your favourite city:

Madrid, many days; Barcelona, many days; Sanlúcar always and forever; mi Sevilla; San Sebastián; Valencia; Haro; Cambados; Chinchón; Getaria; too many to pick, but you get the idea.

Your favourite country:

Spain is the greatest country in the world. Nothing else comes close. The reason: See “And who would you drink it with.”

Which do you prefer, the seaside or the mountains:

So many choices, so little time. I love to be in Sanlúcar anytime and I love the Rías of Galicia, but I also love the mountains of Galicia, Andalucía, Navarra, La Rioja and the Picos de Europa.

Which mode of transport do you prefer:

Automobile outside of cities. It’s a freedom thing. Walking, metro or water ferry in some places.

Recommend a book:

Don Quixote; Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert; The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway; Iberia by James Michener; and my Homage to Iberia (if I ever find a publisher with cojones).

A song:

As Time Goes By” from Casablanca;  and “Yo Soy del Sur

A film: Casablanca

What is your favourite sport:

Baseball (I am addicted to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who haven’t been winners for 17 years--sort of like being “Zoy del Beti”--and American football (New York Giants). I also follow Spanish football when I am in Spain. I was in the riot on the Ramblas when Barça confirmed a few years ago and the last game I saw was on the tele. I saw Atletico de Madrid beat Barça in La Bodegueta in San Celoni with Santi Santamaría and George Semler, which left both of them de luto (in mourning).

What is your favourite colour:

Wine red (unoaked tint) and the brilliant wedding ring gold color of great Godello.

Which is your favourite man’s name:

Cayetano

Which is your favourite woman’s name:

Victoria

Which historical personality would you have liked to have met in person:

Ernest Hemingway (maybe),
Miguel de Cervantes (when he wasn’t in jail),
Salvador Dalí (I know, I know),
King Juan Carlos I (I only briefly shook his hand);
Elroy Face (A Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher from the 1950s & 1960s)
and Antonio Ordoñez, whom I did meet and became friends with before he died).

Which three things would you take with you to a desert island:

My girlfriend, Kay; enough Patrón tequila, Torres Licor de Naranja, grapefruit juice (the island had better have limes & lemons) to make margaritas; Hendrick’s gin & Fever Tree tonica for variety; and vinos de Godello, Garnacha Rosado and Viña Real Oro to keep me going until I get off the island (I am not enamored of islands, too constricting ultimately); and my laptop with a power supply.

About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine.




Trailer filmed in Valencia & Alicante for a reality television

series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.


1/17/2012

"Men! You always want more, even when you're skinning the poor by tearing down a block of old houses to make nice new ones." - - Fortunata y Jacinta, Benito Pérez Galdós


* * * * *

Cover: Detail from Chica in a Bar (1892) by Ramón Casas, 
in El Museo de la Abadía, Montserrat (Photo: The Bridgeman Art Library)

“. . . Since you tear things down, do you have any rubble, yes or no?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact I do. . .and some magnificent flint (slate).  Sixty reales (a unit of Spanish money) the cartful, all you want.  The rubble is eight reales a--Oh, I'm so stupid!  Now I know what it's all about.  The great saint (philantropist Guillermina Pacheco) is bamboozling you with stories about the orphanage she's going to build. . .You've got to be careful with her tricks, very careful.  Before she's laid a stone she'll have us all in the poorhouse."

"Shhh!  We all know how stingy you are.  I'm not asking your for anything anyway, you old miser.  You can have your carts of flint (slate).  They'll put them on the scales with you when the final accounting starts; you know, when the trumpets start to play.  Oh yes, and then when you see how much your stinginess weighs on the scales, you'll say, "Lord, take away these cartloads of stone and rubble that are plunging me into Hell,' and we'll all say, 'Oh no. Pile it on, because he's very wicked.'"

"All I have to do is put the money you've squeezed out of me on the other side of the scales and I'm saved," Moreno laughed, patting her face. 

"Don't humor me, my dear nephew. That won't get you anywhere, you big cheat, swindler, miser!"  Guillermina was smiling, and her tone was benevolent.  "Men!  You always want more, even when you're skinning the poor by tearing down a block of old houses to make nice new ones." - - Guillermina Pacheco in Fortunata y Jacinta, Benito Pérez Galdós's incredible novel of life and social commentary in 19th Century Spain, centered in Madrid.  The Penguin Books translation by Agnes Moncy Gullón is exceptional.

The Passing of My Old Friend Don Clarke, Artist Par Excellence, in Mijas, (Málaga), Spain Jan. 16, 2012. Que Decanses en Paz, Don.

* * * * *

My old friend English artist Don Clarke in his studio in Mijas (Málaga), Spain on Feb. 15, 2010.
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com.



Looking Back on the Wines of La Mancha, The Wine News, Oct.-Nov. 2003


* * * * *



La Mancha, text and photos by Gerry Dawes, The Wine News, Page 50,
October/November 2003. (Pages 50-56; Page 53 was an advertisement.)


The rest of the La Mancha wine article.
(Double click on the images to enlarge.

1/11/2012

Decency because you wear something called a frock coat! What a farce humanity is. The poor always the underdogs, the rich doing as they please. I’m rich. I’m frivolous, I know it. -- Juanito Santa Cruz in Fortunata y Jacinta, Benito Pérez Galdós Epic Novel of 19th Century Spain


* * * * *

Cover: Detail from Chica in a Bar (1892) by Ramón Casas, 
in El Museo de la Abadía, Montserrat (Photo: The Bridgeman Art Library)

“Let’s face it: the truth should come first, before everything else.  She worshiped me.  She thought I wasn’t like everyone else; that I was the essence of a gentleman, and breeding, and decency, and nobility, in person; the end-all of men. . .Nobility!  What a joke!  Nobility in my lies.  It can’t be, I tell you.  It simply can’t.  Decency because you wear something called a frock coat!  What a farce humanity is. The poor always the underdogs, the rich doing as they please.  I’m rich.  I’m frivolous, I know it. 

The picturesque charm was wearing off.  If it is charming, crudeness is seductive for a while, but then it makes you sick at your stomach.  The burden I’d taken on was heavier every day.  The smell of garlic was starting to disgust me.  I even wished–and believe me, it’s the truth–that Pitusa were worthless so I could give her the gate. . . but, no, she wasn’t one of those.  Her worthless?  Not on your life.  If I’d told her to throw herself into a fire she would’ve plunged in head first.”  - - Juanito Santa Cruz, a character in Fortunata y Jacinta, a 19th Century Spanish novel by Benito Pérez Galdós, relating his affair with Pitusa (Fortunata), an affair that took place before he was married, to his wife, Jacinta.  This soul searching encounter takes place in an inn in Sevilla on their honeymoon after Jacinta coaxes the story out of Juanito.

“The common people are very naive. . ." from Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós



* * * * * 

Cover: Detail from Chica in a Bar (1892) by Ramón Casas, 
in El Museo de la Abadía, Montserrat (Photo: The Bridgeman Art Library)
 
“The common people are very naive, they’re just plain stupid.  They’ll believe anything you tell them as long as you use pretty words.  She fell for me, hook, line, and sinker, and I just walked off with her honor–thought nothing of it.  Men, us señoritos I mean, are a rotten lot; we think that the honor of a village girl is just a toy for us. . .And after having my fun with her, I left her to fend for herself, in the gutter. . .like a bitch.  Didn’t I?” - -  Juanito Santa Cruz to his wife, Jacinta, characters in Fortunata y Jacinta, a 19th Century Spanish novel by Benito Pérez Galdós.

1/10/2012

Blue Hill at Stone Barns with Alicante Chef María José San Román, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2012 Slide Show



* * * * *


María José San Román serving her arroz a banda 'Taberna'
(paella with shrimp and fresh squid from La Taberna del Gourmet in Alicante)
at the Jaleo Crystal City Paella Festival opening party in 2010.
All photographs by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com for publication rights.



Slide show, lunch at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
Double click on images for enlarged view.

(Full captions to follow.)

 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
About Gerry Dawes  


Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
Trailer for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

1/09/2012

Ferran Adría, Salvador Dalí and Fried Egg on the Plate without the Plate


* * * * *

Ouefs Sur le Plat (Fried Egg on the Plate without the Plate).

From Dalí's Ouefs Sur le Plat (Fried Egg on the Plate without the Plate), we may be seeing a painting that could have inspired Catalan super-star chef, Ferran Adría, to pass over into a new dimension of food with such dishes as a mango "egg yolk" served on a Chinese spoon, ravioli de mango, melón caviar (a ringer for samon caviar, made from melón puree dropped into a calcium chloride solution), spaghetto de parmesano (two yards plus of spaghetto made from Parmesan cheese), etc., all dishes that Dalí would have understood instantly. (Also see Memories of the Superb 2005 Dalí Exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.)

1/07/2012

The Amazing Parkenstein Chronicles from Ron Washam, The HoseMaster of Wine


* * * * *

Ron Washam, the HoseMaster of Wine, and His Incredible Parkenstein.

Go to The HoseMaster of Wine blog and read the entire parody and the follow-up comments, many of which are hilarious.

As with all parodies, satires and send-ups, there is more than a grain of truth.  In 'Parkenstein,' there is a vast cornfield stretching as far as the eye can see--and it has all gone to seed.  Pancho Campo MW, Parkenstein's partner in (alleged) vigorish skimming, should thank his lucky stars that the Ron Washam, HMW is not as familiar with his story on the Spanish side of the pond.

(The emphasis and underscoring are mine--GD.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011
PARKENSTEIN! 

Monkton, MD, 20 October, 20__

My Dearest Sister,

And so it was that I made the acquaintance of Robert Parkenstein on my stop in Maryland. He was washed up on shore, but, then, I was later to learn that he had been washed up for a very long time, a victim of his nefarious scheme to defy Creation and play God himself. And as we were marooned in the God-forsaken shithole that is Monkton, my ship awaiting better weather, the storm blowing harder than a Michelle Bachman speech, I heard the horrifying and sad story that is Parkenstein’s. We had long hours to talk, and I came to feel sorry for him, though it was simple hubris that destroyed him. That and his mortuarial creation. I will tell his story in his words as I remember them, though his breath was most foul, smelling of hedonism and Gruner Veltliner, and it was hard to be in a small room with him as he had the figure and charm of a beanbag chair.

I became fascinated with power, Parkenstein told me, and the more power I accumulated, the more I felt this feverish desire to transfer it to another being, to give power to a cipher of my own creation. The thought obsessed me. Yes, I had created monsters before, horrible monsters—Turleystein and Rollandstein and that hideous Kranklstein—but they had life before I gave them power. I wanted to start from scratch. I wanted to give life and power. And I believed I could do it. There was nothing I couldn’t do, aside from duplicate my scores in a blind setting.

I set about obtaining parts for my creation. I thought it would be difficult, this assembling a windbag, this scavenging for a bag for my douche, but it wasn’t. There was Craigslist. “Man seeking body parts,” read my ad, “won’t pay an arm and a leg.” In less than a day I was overwhelmed with offers. A man in Napa Valley offered me the head of his late father, but he wanted 100 points in exchange, and I don’t trade points for money, I trade them for integrity. But I had mountains of body parts to choose from, and I selected carefully and, I believed, wisely.

I worked day and night, removing the parts from my freezer as I needed them, at one point mistaking a fish stick for a penis. I was so crazed I forgot to change it. It was only later, when it was alive, that I noticed him sticking packets of tartar sauce from H. Salt down his pants hoping to attract someone horny and hungry, and let the chips fall where they may. Time was of the essence, for as the parts thawed, my house began to smell like corruption. Little did I know…Parkenstein toasts his Creation--the HORROR!!   

Finally, he was assembled. I beheld my creation. To me, he was beautiful. Perfect for the life and power I intended to bestow upon him. He was bulky, I confess, a nod to my own physique, a visual clue that the good life is about overindulgence, and, more importantly, the unquenchable need to talk about it, to rub it in the faces of my followers, to write endlessly of gluttony and debauchery with the eloquence to make it seem desirable and admirable in a world of starving people, and people who would sell body parts to a madman for a pittance just to buy a bottle of one of my Best Buys Under $20. I’d used the arms and hands of a maitre-d’ to give him the natural gift of taking handouts and bribes. I’d found the brain, only slightly used, of a fellow hedonist who’d gone insane, and I took it, leaving him still functioning, yet no one could tell his skull was empty because it had always appeared that way, and never more so than recently. So with my creation’s head full of Suckling, I had to find the right nose. The nose, the most important part of my monster, the part that would define him. I had to carefully pick my nose. Hell, I thought, I know how to do that, I was once an attorney.

And so it was that I gave him the nose of a Bassett Hound. It just made sense. His nose would be sensitive, powerful, and forever in my butt, where there’s plenty of room for everyone. I was ready to give him life.

To be continued...

Posted by Ron Washam, HMW at 3:45 PM 35 comments
Labels: PARKENSTEIN

Monday, January 2, 2012
PARKENSTEIN! Part the Second
   
Monkton, MD, 22 October 20__

My Dearest Sister,

Parkenstein had been the most powerful critic in his field, feared as a man fears his God, his every proclamation a Judgment Day on a 100 Point Scale, his commandments followed assiduously if not asininely. Thou shalt not filter, nor fine, nor covet thy neighbor’s bunghole. Thou shalt not worship false Gods, Tanzers and BurgHounds of Hell, for their palates are the spawn of Satan, and that spawn is slightly salty, with a creamy texture, and tastes of asparagus and hedonistic DNA. Thou shalt not question my scores, for they are the Word and are Blessed, and are not subject to your mortal and weaker tastes. Parkenstein, now washed up on the shores of Monkton, found his commandments no longer relevant or obeyed, his power vanished, his name, once spoken in reverent whispers, now spoken with contempt and the insertion of noises that emulate the flatulence of a Shanken, which is Almighty Flatulence. But I shall let Parkenstein tell his own story.

My Creation, my monster, if you will [Parkenstein said to me], for he was at once beautiful and horrible to behold, like Nancy Grace only less manly, lay on the table awaiting life. He was a blob, a meaningless mound of fat and muscle and more fat, and he would be worthless until I bestowed upon him life and power. And when I gave him life, everyone would have to concede my infinite power and infallibility. Even blobbers, who are scum, the living excrement of Poodles.

I gave him life as a mother gives life. I suckled him at my own breast. My man-tits were fully developed, often admired and jealously envied, and when I placed one on the monster’s lips, he awoke! He had tasted the milk of my genius and it had given him life. It had been wise to give him a Suckling brain, for he took to it instantly. The monster arose, stared at me with the mouth-breathing gaze of an imbecile I would come to know well, and said his first words, “What’s it worth to you?”

Yet most of the monster’s speech was made up of grunts and snorts and slurping sounds. I had succeeded beyond my wildest dreams—he already spoke like a critic. Now my job would be to give the monster the tools it would take for him to function as my surrogate so that I could transfer my power unto him. One day I would unleash him on the world and his bequeathed power would make him a man, make him a god, and I would be the god-maker! I was crazy with lust, with a lust for omnipotence and power. I felt indomitable, I felt indestructible, I felt immortal. Parkenstein! I destroyed and created at will. My words, my numbers, were as if written in stone and carried down from the mountaintop by brave knights and their blithering idiot Squires (and his bulletin board). 

I was at the pinnacle of my profession, and yet I needed more. I needed immortality, and I knew it was not just one, but a procession of monsters I needed to create, a roving band of nonhuman Parkenstein robots who would not be me, but would carry my authority, would be my army of ventriloquist dummies, their opinions voiced as if they were their own. My first monster was just the beginning, I understood in that instant of creation, and one day I would have a retinue of monsters with borrowed brains who were mere impersonations of real humans, and the better for it. Real humans would never follow me.

Parkenstein Losing Face

I see now that my hubris blinded me, and was my downfall. I thought I could pass along my own success and power to creatures of my own making, as one might pass along goobers at a baseball game and in return pass back the money for them, for my monsters were clearly nuts and I certainly ended up with all the money. 

It was a horrible blunder, and one that has left me in the pathetic state you see me in now. I had created this monster and one day he would destroy me, just as modern man has declared God is dead and destroyed Him. But that was in the future then, as were the other horrible monsters I would create, and that moment I gave birth to the monster and decided to ship him to Spain I remember as a glorious and wondrous achievement. I wonder now how I could have been so stupid.

Could I have foreseen that my own creation, my monster, would want to ruin me? It was the ancient story of Oedipus, only I was both Mother and Father to the monster. He wanted to sleep with me and kill me both, which is how I felt about Alice Feiring. I’d created the script for my own snuff film where I was the star and the victim. Yet I believed I was doing good unleashing the monster on Spain, allowing him to roam the Spanish countryside dispensing my wisdom and my authority and my points. 

Perhaps my first clue to his hatred of me should have been how profligate he was with my points, how he handed them out like pedophiles hand out promises of puppies.  Everything was a 96 to this Sucklingized zombie, the stupidest Mencia and the most insipid Albarino. At first I found it cute, as gods find the behavior of mere mortals entertaining, but then my points, my scale that I had spent decades perfecting, became a laughingstock in the monster’s hands.

People saw the monster’s byline, his byline validated by my power and authority, and they began to laugh! To laugh! At me. At Parkenstein! Those meaningless numbers had actually become meaningless in the monster’s hands—something so many had tried to achieve with their own overblown scores and hollow, pathetic defenses of them, yet somehow only my loathsome Spanish dummy had succeeded in making an actual mockery of what had always been mockery. The monster had exposed my scale for what it was--yet another joke God has played on Man. I confess, now I find that joke mordantly funny.

And yet I loved my monster, his jowls reminded me of my beloved bulldog, so I didn’t do anything to stop him. He was my Creation, his existence without me as worthless as Republican rhetoric, and I was blind to the damage he was doing to me. And so I headed recklessly toward my downfall.

To be continued…

Posted by Ron Washam, HMW at 8:00 AM 17 comments
Labels: PARKENSTEIN

Thursday, January 5, 2012
PARKENSTEIN! Part the Last

Monkton, MD, 23 October 20__

My Dearest Sister,

I had a hard time believing all that Parkenstein told me. Only a madman could believe himself a God, and then believe he could pass along His Doctrine of Infallibility to monsters of his own making, thereby making each of them a sort of Pope, emissaries who speak the word of Parkenstein and have direct access to that almighty God and his insane system of Numbers—they were Parkenstein’s Howdy Deuteronomy. And, though he was clearly insane, I came to accept his story as truth. Parkenstein, his life, his career, his reputation, had been destroyed by a monster he had created with his own hands. It had the makings of a tragedy, a classic Geek tragedy. But I shall let Parkenstein finish his own tale.

The monster I had created [Parkenstein said to me] had come to hate me. He had learned my language, the language of countless adjectives, exaggeration, numbers, +’s, and disingenuousness, and he had learned it too well. His work on my behalf took on a crazed quality and I began to believe he was simply assigning numbers randomly, perhaps using a dartboard or by drawing them from a hat, which is what I do, only what the hell else can you do when you have to do it 150 times a day? I didn’t give the monster permission to do that. I was the last to recognize how ridiculous and meaningless his work was. I was just so proud of my creation, so amazed that I had given him a life, I just couldn’t believe that his numbers were that bizarre, that inflated. That was the first sign, I see now, that he wanted to destroy me.

Why did he want to destroy me? I don’t know the answer to that. But it must have been money. I had had ideas of creating a female monster to keep him company, but what female monster wants to marry a guy with a fish stick dick? And, besides, I’d already hired Karen MacNeil, so a female monster would have been redundant. No, it was the monster’s desire for money, which I assume came from that damned Suckling brain I’d used, that must have driven him to hate me. I paid him what he was worth—chump change. He was NOBODY. He was only someone because Parkenstein! said he was someone. They’d have laughed his verga de pescado out of Spain if it weren’t for me. They’d have made a blubber piñata out of him. But the monster believed in his own power, believed he had earned it. It was like I had created a twin.

The monster set out to gather money and ruin me at the same time. I admit now, the monster was a lot smarter than I’d thought. It had been a mistake to give him a brain—it’s not necessary for the job. It just seemed like the right thing to do. But it doesn’t take a brain to be a wine critic and assign numbers, it just takes balls. And I’d given him two salmon croquettes to go with the fish stick. That would have been plenty.


The monster began to accept money. This was strictly forbidden. No one I created could accept money in the line of duty. I scolded the monster, but he swore up and down he only accepted money for speaking engagements. I turned my wrath upon him and the monster broke down and cried (those John Boehner tear ducts were all I could scrounge), and swore to me the money was on the up and up.  And it made sense. Who wouldn’t pay tens of thousands of dollars to sit and listen to a manufactured expert lecture and proclaim? Why wouldn’t the people who had the most to lose or gain by the monster’s numbers want to pony up big ticket prices to hear him babble? Why wouldn’t an entire Spanish region chip in to make sure that he got his facts straight?


But if it wasn’t evil, if it wasn’t corrupt, it certainly smelled of it. As his body parts had when I’d first assembled them. When the rabble got wind of the monster’s money-grubbing ways, they were incensed. I did what I always do in that situation—I ignored them. They revere me. I had nothing to fear.  Sure, he was my monster, I’d loosed him on the world, but surely I wasn’t responsible for the appearance of impropriety he’d created. No one questions my integrity. NO ONE! Parkenstein is incorruptible and completely objective, like an NBA official.

And then the rabble surrounded my house. They had come for the monster. They wanted his head on a platter and his gigantic ass in a sling. I fought them off as best I could, but I knew that for the first time in my life, I was not the most powerful man in the world. And I knew that when the rabble, the scum, the ungrateful, number-munching cretins I had given my life to, for whom I had suffered endless nights of insobriety and gluttony, found out that I wasn’t the perfect, incorruptible, infallible God they’d believed me to be that I was doomed.

I should have given the ugly mob my monster. Instead, I defended him. It was foolish. But I loved him, I’d created him, I’d made him and he was Me, as surely as if I’d given birth to him, which would have hurt like a bastard. And with his actions, with his calculated acceptance of money, money he would never ever have been granted were it not for my imprimatur, he knocked me from my heavenly throne and I rejoined the rabble. My creation had ruined me.

Yes, I’m still here. I’m not the God I was, I have fewer and fewer Believers, only a sad collection of sycophantic Followers. But Parkenstein! still lives! And I have other monsters of my making roaming the Earth, assigning Numbers in my name, and I shall make my way to new worlds to conquer—the Far East!  My minions and I will one day again ascend to the Heavens, wait and see, my friend. Wait and see…

R.I.P
And with that, dearest Sister, Parkenstein died. He lay sprawled on the newly wet pavement. It had begun to rain, and the air, for a brief moment, the moment I like to believe that his soul left that cetacean body, had the smell of Brettanomyces, a fitting tribute to Parkenstein’s end.

But, dearest Sister, his monsters still roam the Earth. For now. With his Life extinguished, how much longer can his creations live? Only so long as the foolish rabble continue to heed those most horrible of Parkenstein’s creations—the Numbers!

THE END, or is it?


Posted by Ron Washam, HMW at 7:00 AM 13 comments
Labels: PARKENSTEIN 


Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com

1/06/2012

Warning: Driving in Spain. Don't Get a Traffic Fine or You Will Get The Horn Twice!!


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One of the famous Osborne bulls alongside a Spanish highway. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Warning:  Driving in Spain.  Be very careful driving in Spain.  There hidden cameras everywhere connected to radar.  When you go over the speed limit, they catch your license plate on camera.  On my trip with Michael Chiarello, we got hit with two 100 Euros fines, one as we were leaving the Basque Country and another around Albacete on our way to Madrid.  Each of the fines was 100 Euros, but that is not all of it, Hertz charges 30 Euros to your credit card as a fee for the fine!!!  But that is not all, there is also a 5.40 Euro VAT tax on the fee, so each fine was 100 Euros + 30 Euros + 5.40 Euros = 135.40 Euros or about $180 (with the exchange fees)!     So the Spanish government fines you, then Hertz fines you.  Oh, yeh, and there was the 40 Euro parking for parking on a Saturday afternoon in a spot where the hotel concierge said it was okay.  And another 35.40 Euro Hertz fine for that on top of the parking fine.  The total fines cost more that the rental car!!  Can anyone else smell RIP-OFF?

1/02/2012

Excerpt from Homage to Iberia (Chapter One): My Arrival in Spain: 42 Years Ago, on January 2, 1968



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Bullring, El Puerto de Santa María.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

On January 2, 1968, not long after daylight, our military plane banked near El Puerto de Santa María and I got my first glimpse of Spain: whitewashed buildings surrounded by palm trees in a sea of stubby vines surrounded by stark white soil, for the base at Rota lay near the Sherry vineyards between Jerez de la Frontera and Sanlúcar de Barrameda.  As the plane circled before landing, I could not help noticing the circular enclosures which I would learn were bullrings, the big one at El Puerto de Santa María and smaller ones where I would one day find first hand that young fighting cows are tested for bravery.  Spain was already beginning to fascinate me and I had not even touched the ground.     
 
The plane landed, physically in Spain, but in an American enclave, where I would stay for the next week, chomping at the bit to discover my first foreign country.    New arrivals were not allowed off  the base until they had attended the don’t-drink-the-water, don’t-eat-the-food, don’t-get-in-fights-with-the-natives, don’t- molest-the-señoritas lecture, which was held once a week.  Alas, for our just arrived group, the indoctrination lecture was not scheduled for nearly a week.  

All I saw of Spain during my first week in Rota were the glimpses I got on the daily bus rides to my work assignment at a large white security building, surrounded by a huge antennae field-- derisively known to the enlisted men as the “hum locker” because of the constant humming sound the antennaes made--where Navy linguists in French, Arabic, and Russian clandestinely eavesdropped on radio conversations from around the Mediterranean.  
    
From the perimeter road, across the strands of barbed wire that encircled the base, I saw men plodding along on burros past scrappy-looking farms with cottages, many of which in those days still had thatched roofs and in whose sparse environs grew cactus and palm trees.  I saw little of the greenery and trees that I knew from my native Midwest; this was more like parts of California, perhaps even more barren.  Still, those few glimpses were tantalizing and exotic. 


Burros, once common in Spain, now very rare. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Finally, along with other new arrivals, we were given the indoctrination lecture and allowed off the base.  I went to downtown Rota with a fellow sailor for my first meal in Spain: Spaghetti with meat sauce, served in an “American” bar, where Spanish and foreign girls, very few of whom were actually prostitutes, tried to keep lonesome young men engaged in conversation, thus keeping the wheels hot on the trucks that delivered San Miguel beer to the bars of  Rota.  The latest American rock music blared from a jukebox, continually reminding my compatriots of the girls they had left behind, perpetuating their homesickness and underscoring their determination to get out of “Mother Nav” and away from Spain, whose people some of them contemptuously referred to as “Moes” (or Moroccans) the name laid on the local Spaniards by sailors who had been transferred to Rota from Kenitra, Morocco.  


La Gitana Manzanilla, a Sherry made in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, about 10 miles northwest of Rota.  
Sanlúcar de Barrameda has long been one of my favorite towns in Spain. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

I knew men who spent two years at Rota and never got more than a few kilometers from the base.  Once I lured one of them as far away as Cádiz, that wonderful, exotic seaport city across the bay from Rota, to see the sights, but he became so uncomfortable after a couple of hours, that he demanded we return to the Rota to drink in the American bars.

I too joined the daily post-shift migration to the bars of  Rota, drinking my share of drinks,  playing my share of pool, telling my share of jokes, and trying, like hundreds of other enlisted men and officers, to woo the too many times wooed, often hardened, young women who served drinks.  But, gnawing away at my insides was the thought that Spain was my chance to see Europe, maybe my only chance, before returning to small-town Illinois, where, with the help of  the GI Bill, I would  resume pursuit of my teacher’s degree at Southern Illinois University.


But, in addition to hanging out in the bars, I continued reading about Spain, and like many others before and since, became enamored of Ernest Hemingway’s books, especially the ones set in Spain, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Sun Also Rises, and in particular the latter, which drew on the experiences of the Paris-based Lost Generation.  Influenced by images of Hemingway writing in cafés, I would sometimes sit for hours in a beach front bar in Rota and scribble in a notebook, my imitation prose flow lubricated by sherry or beer.  

Sunset, Bay of Cádiz.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.
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