Lifestyle Choice

Plate of shrimp = synchronicityA drawback to wine country living is the prospect of wine country driving. I’m not as cavalier as some I’ve witnessed making tactical chunders on winery roadsides, nor am I the type to hire a limo and froth like the garish bachelorette party toppling into the topiary at Gundlach Bundschu last month. (As Oscar Wilde might have said “The only thing good about driving drunk is arriving drunk.”) So on nights out, the Contessa and I walk. It was during a stroll from Café La Haye to the bench outside (where we sat, trying to remember where we lived) that we spied a member of Sonoma’s finest trundling from Rin’s Thai to his squad car. His look was that of utter exasperation. Invoking my newspaperman’s prerogative, I brayed repeatedly “What happened, man?” spurred by the Contessa’s elbow in my ribs.

The officer explained that a thief had pilfered a bag of frozen shrimp from the Thai restaurant’s freezers. All I could think was “Welcome to Slownoma.” Bemused, I pressed the cop for more information and he reiterated: the culprit brazenly strolled into the restaurant’s storage area, nabbed the crustaceans and vamoosed into the night.

“Did you get them?”

“No, she got away.”

I later relayed this true-crime tale to the Sun’s managing editor Tim Omarzu whilst negotiating for this very column (I think I lost some ground by constantly referring to my “burgeoning media empire” and diabolically adjusting my inner-monocle). Presuming an interest in local law enforcement, Omarzu’s eyes brightened like a man about to sell another the Verano Bridge. He promptly offered me the police blotter, a hot potato in any newsroom, akin to penning obituaries, which I prefer, seeing as the dead are generally more forgiving of errata. I respectfully declined the police blotter (with gales of laughter), on account of my early-onset anti-authoritarianism, an affliction I acquired in adolescence when the police began to interfere with my joyriding.

This moment with Omarzu, however, reminded me of a similar pitch I had been given by the editor of the Petaluma Argus-Courier when I first went legit as a newspaperman ten years ago.

Then a cub reporter freshly sprung from San Francisco State University’s creative writing department (where I learned nothing about writing, but enough about financial aid to write a book about it had I actually learned about writing), I was offered one of two positions: “interim lifestyle editor” or the police beat. “Interim,” I later looked up, meant the position was mine until someone cheaper came along. The police beat, however, I knew would be interminably dull seeing as there wasn’t much to report since I had gotten my own car. Thus, I went for the lifestyle gig. Since then, I have tumbled through nearly a dozen affiliations on what we call in the trade the Comp, Pomp and Romp tour. (I can only imagine what delights lay ahead at the Sonoma Valley Film Festival this week – the combination of a press pass and flowing wine can be a heady one.)

In retrospect, had I braved the police beat, I might have acquired a taste for hard news, breaking stories and rooting through the small town dirt like a truffle pig after something like the truth. Ah, the proverbial Pulitzer path. As a lifestyle writer, however, the only prize likely awaiting me is gout. But, hey, it’s about the journey, right?

Originally published in the Sonoma Valley Sun.

Nomaville: Lifestyle Choice

Plate of shrimp = synchronicityA drawback to wine country living is the prospect of wine country driving. I’m not as cavalier as some I’ve witnessed making tactical chunders on winery roadsides, nor am I the type to hire a limo and froth like the garish bachelorette party toppling into the topiary at Gundlach Bundschu last month. (As Oscar Wilde might have said “The only thing good about driving drunk is arriving drunk.”) So on nights out, the Contessa and I walk. It was during a stroll from Café La Haye to the bench outside (where we sat, trying to remember where we lived) that we spied a member of Sonoma’s finest trundling from Rin’s Thai to his squad car. His look was that of utter exasperation. Invoking my newspaperman’s prerogative, I brayed repeatedly “What happened, man?” spurred by the Contessa’s elbow in my ribs.

The officer explained that a thief had pilfered a bag of frozen shrimp from the Thai restaurant’s freezers. All I could think was “Welcome to Slownoma.” Bemused, I pressed the cop for more information and he reiterated: the culprit brazenly strolled into the restaurant’s storage area, nabbed the crustaceans and vamoosed into the night.

“Did you get them?”

“No, she got away.”

I later relayed this true-crime tale to the Sun’s managing editor Tim Omarzu whilst negotiating for this very column (I think I lost some ground by constantly referring to my “burgeoning media empire” and diabolically adjusting my inner-monocle). Presuming an interest in local law enforcement, Omarzu’s eyes brightened like a man about to sell another the Verano Bridge. He promptly offered me the police blotter, a hot potato in any newsroom, akin to penning obituaries, which I prefer, seeing as the dead are generally more forgiving of errata. I respectfully declined the police blotter (with gales of laughter), on account of my early-onset anti-authoritarianism, an affliction I acquired in adolescence when the police began to interfere with my joyriding.

This moment with Omarzu, however, reminded me of a similar pitch I had been given by the editor of the Petaluma Argus-Courier when I first went legit as a newspaperman ten years ago.

Then a cub reporter freshly sprung from San Francisco State University’s creative writing department (where I learned nothing about writing, but enough about financial aid to write a book about it had I actually learned about writing), I was offered one of two positions: “interim lifestyle editor” or the police beat. “Interim,” I later looked up, meant the position was mine until someone cheaper came along. The police beat, however, I knew would be interminably dull seeing as there wasn’t much to report since I had gotten my own car. Thus, I went for the lifestyle gig. Since then, I have tumbled through nearly a dozen affiliations on what we call in the trade the Comp, Pomp and Romp tour. (I can only imagine what delights lay ahead at the Sonoma Valley Film Festival this week – the combination of a press pass and flowing wine can be a heady one.)

In retrospect, had I braved the police beat, I might have acquired a taste for hard news, breaking stories and rooting through the small town dirt like a truffle pig after something like the truth. Ah, the proverbial Pulitzer path. As a lifestyle writer, however, the only prize likely awaiting me is gout. But, hey, it’s about the journey, right?

Originally published in the Sonoma Valley Sun.

Atomic Logrolling

Thank you Masked Man.Kudos and thanks to writer Russ Pitts whose article “Duck and Cover,” printed in gamer magazine The Escapist, makes passing reference to “author and filmmaker Daedalus Howell” while examining the cultural impact of The Day After. Pitts cites my “pre-teen thanatos” notion from the “Atomic Hangover” piece I penned for the Bohemian last January. Yeah, it’s the little things in life. A sample:

“The film was a monumental success and, combined with Sting’s powerful, lyrical hope that the Russians loved their children (too), formed the nexus of a cultural revolution which apparently convinced all self-respecting, music-loving, TV-watching nuclear powers to reconsider the whole Cold War thing and sue for peace. Walls fell, evil empires collapsed and the nuclear arsenals of the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. were wheeled into the basement. For the world, it was a happy ending. For myself and many like me, it was but the beginning of a lifetime of neurosis stemming from a childhood of unrealized terror.

Author and filmmaker Daedalus Howell calls this particular neurosis a ‘preteen thanatos,’ likening the post-traumatic stress of viewing The Day After as a child, and his ensuing lifelong melancholy, to Freud’s theory that the realization of one’s own imminent death induces within one an urge to (and here I paraphrase) get the hell on with it, prompting violent and/or self-destructive behavior.”

I encourage you to read the whole piece, which is quite edifying, here at at Escapist Magazine. More about Pitts, the former head writer for The Screen Savers on TechTV now writing for gamerswithjobs.com and The Worcester Pulse, at his site insomniacorp.com.

Rainy Day Activities

Here comes the rain again...Here are some utterly unsettling rainy day activities to wile away this wet Sonoma weather:

Look up area road closures online! For example, on its “Current Road Closures and Detours” page, Sonoma County Public Works reminds that the Verano Bridge, that lifeline between the eastern and western hemispheres of Sonoma (closed for repairs so long ago that an entire generation of Sonomans stare vacuously upon its mention), will not re-open until the dead heat of August. This means the 5 p.m. crawl up Highway 12, will have time to perfect its recreation of Hell by not only being interminable, but inferno-like as well.

http://www.sonomacountypublicworks.com/detours/index.html

Considering bulimia? Why suffer the stigma of an eating disorder when you can get food poisoning instead? Here’s a place to start: the County of Sonoma Health Services website has a searchable database of the food inspection records for your favorite restaurants. Puts the “Mmm” in salmonella.

http://food.sonoma-county.org/foodsearch.htm

If you’re looking to deflate the real estate bubble in your area, you can start by researching the whereabouts of your local registered sex offenders. The Office of the Attorney General of California, under Megan’s Law, keeps online tabs on such offenders and is searchable by zip code. As Robert Frost says, “Good fences make good neighbors,” but a little razor wire might help.

http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/