The History Of Foiehibition,Twenty-Eighth Amendment To The Constitution; Ratified July 1, 2013

MIDTERM ESSAY: Poli Sci 191 C: June 4, 2026

‘Introduction to The Psychology of Politically Correct Political Correctness’; by Christian Kassel

Background to Foiehibition:

Force-feeding waterfowl so that rich, fat people can eat their livers has been a contentuous topic in America since Colonial times, but it wasn’t until 2012, when Hispanistan (then called California) passed Bill No. 1520 banning the sale, manufacture, transportation and consumption of foie gras, that the real history of Foiehibition is said to have begun.


It was during that same year, after insurmountable culinary scandals knocked Presidential candidates Barack Obama (Chitterlingate) and Mitt Romney (Mayonnaisegate) out of the race, and the subsequent surprise victory by fringe candidate and outspoken animal activist Casey Affleck, that the war on foie gras was truly launched.

Within a few weeks of his election, President Affleck formed a new federal executive department—Department of A Duck’s Interior—and ‘Fleckies’ (as Casey’s bird-hugging militants liked to be called) had formed grass-roots anti-pâté de foie gras tout court organizations in twenty-nine states, including Vigilantia (then called Texas) and West Dakota (made up of those sections of Nebraska and Wyoming that weren’t really bringing anything to the party anyway).

President Casey Affleck with bib.

By the beginning of 2013, the organization had been taken over by pietistic, vegetarian religious denominations like Paul McCartneyism and the Pastafarians. The ‘Contemporance Movement’ (so-called under the misguided assumption that a modern approach to social reform required banning foie gras—and indeed, all cooked organ meats minced into rich, luxurious pastes with flavors ranging from deliciously buttery to musky and subtley bitter while being at once velvety and meaty and actually low in saturated fat) and had grown to nearly thirty million members, most of whom were bored suburban soccer moms on Adderall.

Ex-President Paul shows his duck lips.

Protesting before food establishments like Le Bernardin in Rapetown (known as New York before Ron Paul’s election in 2016) and Citronelle in E. Lee D.C. (called Washington D.C. before the 2020 election of David Duke), they carried signs with the movement’s favorite slogans:

‘Live And Let Livers Live’ and ‘Save The Geese—Except For The Ones That Shit On Your Lawn And Bite Your Kids’ and ‘God Hates Garde Mangers, Even Straight Ones’, and of course, the famous rallying cry of über activist Carrie ‘Nation’ Fisher who revived her dead career by entering trendy Gayot ‘New & Notable’ restaurants, scolding the customers and breaking up the charcuterie stations with a Jedi light saber:

‘Lips That Touch Braunschweiger Will Never Touch Mine’.

“So what am I already, bubbeleh; chopped liver?”

Clearly, the country was on a juggernaut path toward a national ban on chopped, gavage-fattened goose liver blended with butter, Worcestershire Sauce, Armagnac, various spices and occasionally, truffles, and indeed, the soon-to-be-ratified Amendment XXVII introduced to the Senate on January 3, 2013 included provisions banning  Beef Wellington and Strasbourg Pie along with a clause that not only changed our national bird to the Mulard—a cross between a male Muscovy Duck and a female Pekin duck—but gave middle-aged white male geese the right to vote.

To its credit, the new law allowed the sale of sacramental pâté to priests for the performance of certain high-cholesterol rituals such as Extremely Unctuous Unction.


Historical moment as President Affleck signs Amendment 28 into law.

Even so, it was rightly assumed by many skeptical chefs, a flood of French fops, countless food writers, gluttons, gourmands, grease-jockeys and even a few sane people, that the ban would lead to widespread law flouting.  Almost immediately, the lack of a popular consensus for the Amendment resulted in massive political and police corruption along with the growth of a network of criminal liver-smuggling cliques including the infamous Terrine Gang of Shit-On-A-Shingleville (née South Chicago), led by the notorious Mafioso Al Capon.

“Dad had no balls. None.”

Reputed to be the son of a neutered rooster and a female Mulard, ‘Scarf-face’ (owing, perhaps, to his insatiable appetite for succulent and delicately prepared specialties from Alsace and Périgord, including fig and Balsamic vinegar confit along with mountains of Transmontanus caviar, isothermically-cased smoked salmon and generally, pre-turn-of-the-century Sauternes) Capon took advantage of the hundreds of thousands of illicit ‘Blind Geese’ springing up throughout the country where one could enjoy bootlegged bloc de foie gras, foie gras entier, mousse de foie gras and parfait de foie gras—although these preparations were generally made with substandard ‘bathtub livers’ and often contained less than their legally-defined obligation.

Indeed, the first years of this decade became known as the ‘Roaring Other Twenties’.


It gradually became obvious to America that Foiehibition was biased against the elite, the sophisticated and the wealthy—who were the only people who could stomach the stuff in the first place—and that the law favored lower classes who really couldn’t care less if they ever again ate the amyloid-containing detoxification innards of certain species of slaughtered waterfowl.

Historian Maria Teresa García Ramírez de Arroyo Elí López writes, ‘A poor family could have a dozen Coleman coolers stuffed with gavage-based liver paste stacked up on their porch steps like so many Halloween pumpkins and nobody would give a flying you-know-what.  But if a rich family had a single 4.8 oz. tin of Rougie Gourmet Duck Foie Gras in the pantry, here come the Untouchables.’

Amazing photo shows a jealous, blood-soaked Ben Affleck as he stabs his famous brother to death

In 2025, after thirteen liver-lacking years, following the assassination of former President Casey Affleck by green-eyed brother Ben and PETA’s pornography indictment for featuring naked actors in their ads (thank God a Biblical compass has finally returned to this upstanding nation under our current carnivorous President Sarah Palin), the Twenty Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution once again permits the systematic torture of immobile Mulards held in feces-ridden sheds where pipes are rammed down their throats three times a day and they’re force-fed several pounds of grain at a time so that their livers bloat to ten times normal size and develop a condition called hepatic steatosis, all for the hedonistic pleasure of weak-willed, overpaid, overweight fucktards.

I am not, of course, seeking to pass moral judgment on foie gras eaters.  I am, in this essay, merely offering a truncated, if explicit overview of the events that followed the Hispani…Californian foie gras ban of July, 2012.

Poonlarp Chumphorn Damrongsak

Lest I seem in any way biased, I will end not with the standardized dialectic essay conclusion, but with an apropos quotation from my favorite Thai poet, Poonlarp Chumphorn Damrongsak:

แต่ผมรักคุณ และผมจะรักเสมอ

Look it up, beeotches.

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The O’Keefes: Putting The Grand Into Traverse Bay

As ‘heavyweight’ is not a term to be used lightly, ‘grand’ must be accompanied by a certain level of grandeur, as in Grandfather Time, grandioso or Chateau Grand Traverse.

Meanwhile, Old Mission’s heavyweight title belt remains firmly around the midsection of Edward O’Keefe, Chateau Grand Traverse’s founder and CEO.

Alaska Jewel; Old Mission jewel: Take your pick.

The oldest and largest commercial winery in Michigan, Chateau Grand Traverse took its first inspired gulp of Northern air in 1974—the same year that frostbacks Alanis Morissette, Chris Pronger and that mawkish, snaggletoothed eskimo Jewel did.  The last three haven’t done much lately, but in 2011, the CGT ’10 Dry Riesling (a steal at $13) took double gold at the Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition.  And earlier this year, the 2012 International Eastern Wine Competition recognized the interesting Gamay Noir Reserve 2008 with a gold medal along with a ‘Best of Class’—although I wonder how many other four-year-old oak-aged gamays it had to face.

In any event, medal harvesting is nothing new to the winery, which now produces eighteen varietals drawn from four vineyards encompassing 120 acres of prime Grand Traverse Bay real estate, resulting in an annual output of around 85,000 cases.  Reds, whites and strikingly charming cherry wines notwithstanding, l’enfant terrible of CGT is riesling, about which Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia editor Tom Stevenson said, “All vintages of Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Rieslings are world class to one degree or another, but it is more difficult to make a dry style of Riesling and Chateau Grand Traverse’s Select Harvest and Whole Cluster Dry Rieslings are where the winery truly excels.”

Of course, winemaking is a team effort, from the humble fungal hyphae enlivening the soil to the dude or dudette who slaps the label on the bottle.  But in general, the exultation or the excoriation of a winery’s wares winds up in the lap of a single fellow or fellowette:

The vintner.

Do  Not Make Jokes About My Name

Bernd Croissant; burnt croissant: Take your pick.

“Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ smokin’ from the oven…” – Dough Boy, Pillsbury’s albino spokesmuffin.

“…Or a stein of wine from the vine….”  – Bernd Croissant, Chateau Grand Traverse’s winemaker.

Drinking Rhein wine from a stein is fine for German-born Bernd, who likely has riesling running through his veins.  A CGT fixture since 1993, he rightly prides himself in overseeing operations from the field to the press—and that’s even before he starts making wine.

Winemaker; trouble maker: Take your pick

Which frees up time for my man Sean O’Keefe, who also wears the title ‘winemaker’, to do some serious schmoozing as company veep and trade relations mouthpiece.  He’s the largish lout with the Rob Roy locks you’ll see at most shows and tastings touting the wonders of North Country riesling.  Although his name suggests that he should be slamming Guinness and making wine from shamrock juice, he is perfectly fluent in German, the result of an education at the Geisenheim Wine Institute in the Rheingau.  When Bernd and him get gabbing in Teutonic tongue twisters, you can bet that they are trying to sidle back toward world domination via the Gospel of Riesling.

Information Central?

Speaking of grandstanding grandiloquence (we were so), it is obvious from the end game that the whole O’Keefe operation is founded on a intelligent approach to ground, grapes and Grand Traverse grandiosity, so the winery’s generous offer (according to their shelf-shouter website) to answer any question is in perfect fit with their vinous mission statement.

“Being a family-owned company, it’s easy for everyone to be personally involved with our product and to keep up with what’s going on around the winery. We invite you to ask us anything – whether on a tour, at a tasting, or just passing through the web site – we are here to help and happy to do so.”

Okay, so here goes:

Dear Ed and Sean,

  1. Does the open mapping theorem imply the Baire category theorem?
  2. What moshling do you get in sesone 2 number 4?
  3. What’s the deal with the size of Ann Coulter’s adam’s apple?
  4. Is the Maclaurin series expansion of sin x related to the inclusion-exclusion principle?

While you are pondering responses suitable of your grand Grand Traverse gravitas, I will pop the cork on a bottle of one or more of the following:

Tasting Notes:

Chateau Grand Traverse Select Semi-Dry Riesling, Old Mission Peninsula, NV, around $12:  The San Francisco Chronicle folks liked this one—they festooned it with gold at their highfalutin’ 2008 competition.  The vintage-free label assures that there is consistency year to year; important, since this style of wine, which is called semi-dry but is really medium sweet, is a volkswein ideal for John and Jane Master Race Doe.  I note a floral nose with a slightly bruised apple sweetness; there’s peach and apricot in the mouth and a quick, soft finish.

Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling, OMP, 2010, around $14:  Blink and blink again, but it’s still there:  A full fifth of late harvest riesling for fourteen bucks.  Not a blockbuster of a vine-hanger by anybody’s stretch, this is nonetheless a remarkable mouthful for the price, filled with concentrated honey, apricot and toasty baked apple backed up with a sharp backbone of acidity.

Chateau Grand Traverse Chardonnay, Barrel Fermented, OMP, 2010, around $16:  In nicely balanced vintages like ‘10, Michigan’s one-time vinifera bugbear has begun to show remarkably well, emphasizing the tropical profile of this popular grape.  Juicy with pineapple and white peach up front with a touch of creamy, oak-driven lemon mousse on the finish.

Chateau Grand Traverse Gamay Noir Reserve, OMP, 2009, around $18:  So closely associated is this grape with Beaujolais in northern France that the California wine gestapo passed a law making it illegal to call the grape ‘gamay beaujolais’ after 2007.  Apparently, gamay noir is just fine.  The wine shows a depth of oomph a bit more pronounced than some of the very basic French versions; this wine maintains its plum/pepper characteristic behind plenty of purplish floral esters.  I prefer the tang to the tannin, but this wine has held up well after four months of barrel aging.  It may hold up yet longer, although personally, I would not tempt fate—I’d drink it tonight.

Chateau Grand Traverse Cherry Reserve, NV, around $19:  If life hands you cherries…?  Port-styled—meaning the addition of cherry brandy to halt fermentation and keep the stuff sweet—this is an astonishingly attractive dessert wine showcasing a clean, classic example of what late-picked Ballaton and Montmorency cherries are capable of.  Sufficiently hefty at 18.5% alcohol, it’s contains all the fruit and spices of cherry pie without the associated bloat and cholesterol…  Take your pick.

Posted in Fruit Wines, Michigan, MIDWEST, Old Mission Peninsula | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Brys Is Nice: Try ‘Dry Ice’ For Sugar And Spice

Take my advice and read this twice:

Brys Dry Ice is gold-medal nice; and Patrick Brys is that in a trice—as sisters Katie and Stephanie Brys can likewise entice.  

No, I’m not channeling the ghost of Dr. Seuss; it’s a mnemonic device (okay, I’ll stop rhyming now) to ensure that you remember how to pronounce ‘Brys’.  Unlike me, who forgot and made the mistake of pronouncing it like that Jewish covenant ceremony wherein they lop off the fleshy little tchotchke from a malchick prick on the eighth day of a young boy’s life, then hold a big feast where the main course is, often, unfortunately, ironically, brysket.

Of course, the Bryses could take the easy way out and simply change the spelling to Bryce, but in that case, somebody might mistake this cool, supernally-attractive Michigan family with that deranged Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper who blew a such a bipolar gasket on Friday night (over going 0 for 4; welcome to the Majors, psycho) that he hit himself in the head with his own bat.

Personally, I’d rather be confused for Hassidic foreskin than for loony-tunes Harper.

Patrick Brys

Far more mellow, engaging, bright and non-violent is Patrick Brys—the Prodigal Son returned to the family fold after many years of college-going, house buying and wild, wild West wandering.  Armed with a marketing degree and a world-view, Patrick became Brys Estate Vineyard Operations Manager in 2010, and also, the porte-parole de famille who deals with squirrely wine writers (me) when we show up unannounced and want an interview.

Acquitting himself admirably, Patrick sat me on the beautiful, if season-dependent patio annexed to the tasting room—a brick and mahogany gem—and ran through a series of current Brys releases.

But First, Some Background Noise:

Eileen and Walter Brys entered the wine biz via the most common route: Health insurance.  Well, maybe by ‘common’ I mean ‘absolutely anomalous’, but it is true that a lot of retiring Michigan wine lovers (some of whom are in the insurance biz) dream about opening a winery—and that far fewer actually have the chutzpah to do it.  The Bryses searched Texas, California, Oregon and New York before pulling the ol’ Dorothy-Gale-From-Kansas, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard…” 

Yes, I stole this photo, okay??

Settling on an eighty-acre 1890’s homestead halfway up the Old Mission Peninsula, the brace of Brys unleashed their first vintage in 2005 to accolades, kudos and laurels—even a few medals.  Renovation of the once-derelict property has been ongoing, and the property now boasts a guest house, tasting room and 32 acres committed to vinifera va-va-voomeries.

Such as:

Brys Estate Dry Riesling, Old Mission, 2011, about $20:  A characteristic sweet/tart Michigan riesling; juicy with mandarin orange and apricot and shored up by lemon-lime acidity; the wine shows the sort of refined elegance that has become a hallmark of winemaker Coenraad Stassen’s style.  Riesling harvest is usually three to four tons per acre—a bit much to create a really deep and complex example, but for the purpose at hand—which I suspect is a user-friendly food wine—the bill is well fit.

Brys Estate ‘Naked’ Chardonnay, Old Mission, 2011, around $22: Now that the vines are maturing, one surprise (to me) about Michigan chardonnay is the emergence of distinct, definable tropical fruit flavors.  This one, wisely left unoaked, shows a profound pastiche of pineapple, banana, mango, guava and kiwi; this is a wine to prove that Old Mission may indeed have a unique handle on this often ‘blank canvas’ varietal.

Brys Estate Pinot Blanc, Old Mission, 2011, about $24:  A beautiful, envelope-pushing rarity: Michigan pinot blanc.  Now nearly bullied out of Burgundy, the varietal has found new life in the New World, and here produces a typically nose-neutral wine with integrated acidity, pear and apple notes and a nutty (almond) finish.

Brys Estate Pinot Noir/Riesling, Old Mission, 2011, around $15:  Any time a truly weird blend like this comes across the board, my hypnapompic image is of a winemaker saying, ‘What the heck are we going to do with the leftover pinot noir and riesling?’  No idea if this is the case here, but the wine comes across as simple, succulent and strange: Traces of tangerine, strawberry, cherry and cinnamon lace a rosé-esque blush; it does not appear to have aspirations beyond being a quaffable porch-pounder, but the wine world is plenty big enough for these.

Brys Estate Cabernet Franc, Old Mission, 2010, about $35:  A Tasters Guild International award winner, this driza-bone (listed at 0.00% residual sugar—for real?) cab franc shows the Northern face of this early-ripening varietal.  Less acidic than cabernet sauvignon, it is often used as a secondary or even tertiary blending grape in France, but here it produces lone-varietal wines of noblesse and polish.  The rich Brys 2010, from five low-yield acres, displays bright blackberry, plum, oak spice and vanilla along with an appealing tension between sweet and savory fruit notes.

Brys Estate Dry Ice, Old Mission, 2008, around $75:  December 7, 1941 may live in infamy, but December 7, 2008 shows a bit more promise.  That’s the chilly evening that riesling was picked for the Brys Estate’s signature ice wine.  With residual sugar of 6.8%, Dry Ice is indeed dry by dessert wine standards, and is a congenial concentration of baked apple, dried pineapple, nutmeg, apricot nectar and lively, grapefruit-flavored acidity.


Meanwhile, the gorgeous Brys girls have moved back to Texas, but Walter Brys’s niece Judy Shaughnessy has picked up some of the slack as Tasting Room and Wine Club Manager.

Which for clan Brys wound up being a perfectly nice splice, any way you roll the…

Ivories, shakers, tombstones, Boggle bits… anything but ‘dice’.

Posted in Michigan, MIDWEST, Old Mission Peninsula | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How To Buy Wine In The Most Dangerous City In America

“How ya gonna keep ‘em down in the slum,

After they’ve seen El Ayyyy?”

– Apologies to Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis

Before vs. After

I won’t say the name of the Flint lounge where I had this conversation, because the bartender has been there twenty years and probably shouldn’t be talking about her customers in a manner that results in being publicly quoted.  But what she said tickled the bleep out of me:

“Back in the day, he used to come in all frowzy and stuff, in sweats and a ball cap, just like a normal guy.  Last time he was in, he had a bunch of handlers with him.  He was dressed in slick clothes and was all tan and had his hair brushed and everything.”

See, this amused me, because I thought Michael Moore cultivated his Moonbat McWacky public scruffball image as carefully as Alfalfa did his phallic, pomade-soused cowlick.  Which I think he did, until Laurent D. of Privé Salons in Beverly Hills got a hold of him and finagled a makeover that included highlights and lowlights for the vaguely spiky do he sported at the People’s Choice Awards.

Can you make a silk purse from a sow’s ear?  Likely not, which is why Mr. Laurent had to use the whole sow.

Okay, That Was Mean…

“Leggo my ego.”

Michael Moore is one of those people about whom one’s opinion is unilateral, with no middle ground, no equivocating and absolutely no waffling—the latter in fear that Moore might grab your waffle and devour it before you could pop him with a Nugent-approved assault rifle.

Michael Moore you either love or hate, but not both—correct?

Not:  And I’m Living Proof

“We shall see thee no Moore.”

See, I wrote a bunch of stuff for Moore when he was editor of Michigan Voice, and he complained about, snickered at, rewrote or rejected every damn one of them.  Frankly (ever the vindictive one), I did an ebullient Irish Sean-nós stepdance when I learned that Moore’s tenure at Mother Jones (for which he abandoned Flint a heck of a lot quicker than Roger Smith did) was only four months long, and that he’d been shit-canned for doing unto others as he’d done unto me.

That’s the hate part—at least half of it.

The other part is self-hate: I hate myself for loving his films, every last one of them.  And that’s the love part.

Alright; so, I’m a messed up bundle of cognitive, intervention-worthy contradictions; at least I appreciate a good joke:

Guy goes into a bar and sees another guy trying to light his Bic with a match.  “Are you out of flint?” he asks.  “Nope,” replies the second guy.  “Hamtramck”.


Flint Groans—Meet The Flint Moans

Moore was right about one thing: In the wake of GM’s wake, Flint has really let itself go.  Currently, the average household income is under $30,000—46% below the national average.  Flint’s poverty rate is 36.2%, making New Orleans (at 21%) seem like Monte Carlo during high-roller tourist season. The city’s 2013 budget includes higher taxes, apparently meant to fund comprehensive cuts to every single municipal department including police and fire; part of the wit and wisdom of Emergency Financial Manager Michael Brown.

To gild this particular lily, last year in commemoration of 22 instances of violent crime per 1,000 residents—including 53 murders and 1,500 aggravated assaults—Flint was named ‘America’s Most Dangerous City’ by numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post.

It’s enough to drive a fella to drink, so it sure would be nice to have a place to do it.

Flint: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Other than the seedy, erstwhile factory-rat bar where I had the Moore conversation, Flint is really remarkable as being one of the very few American cities of more than 100,000 residents that has no restaurants.  I mean, literally, none.

I’m not talking about chains like Fuddruckers or coney joints where the kitchen staff curses at one other in some bizarre Balkan dialect or anywhere that has the word ‘Family’ tacked onto the name and actually advertises their goulash instead of trying to sneak it past you—I mean decent, ambitious places where they have a chef instead of a cook and you pay at the table, not at the cash register on the way out.

What they do have is a plethora of package liquor outlets—‘party stores’ in Midwest parlance.  The city of Flint alone has sixty (eighteen more  than authorized by the state) and if you can get past the folding iron bars, wade through the pork rinds, cheese-flavored carbohydrates, Keebler Sugar Wafers and Rolling Rock displays, you’ll find that most actually stock a few dusty bottles of ‘stuff in which the word wine appears somewhere on the label’.  And if you don’t mind waiting twenty minutes in a line in which nearly everyone else is buying Daily 3 and 4 tickets and half-gallons of Black Velvet while clutching bridge cards and diapered, dysgenic kids, and then dealing with a clerk who is still bleary from his/her nightly ten-minutes-to-two-until-two AM rush, you’ll find that you can actually pay for one.

What it is that you’re paying for is a different story.

Therefore, in my never-ending anti-journalist’s crusade to bring useful, hard-hitting information to shut-in drunks, I made the personal pilgrimage to Flint, risking life, limb and liver disease to uncover just what that may be.

The following compendium of crapola is not meant to be comprehensive; these are merely the liquor stores I hit before becoming overwhelmed with the need to do some personal ‘celebrity spotting’ like that silly drink jockey and her braggadocio Michael Moore story.

Now, realistically, this is Dort Highway, not Wilshire Boulevard or Fifth Avenue, and I knew I had a better chance of spotting Dudley Moore than I did Michael Moore, who’s now become far too Ulmer Scale A-List to hang out in Flint more than once in a coon’s age—if it was him I wanted to ‘encounter’, I’d head up to Torch Lake in Northern Michigan, where the ‘Voice of the Occupy Movement—who encourages we militant 99% to continue our good fight against the wealthy—has his two million dollar lakefront luxury mansion.

But who’s to say I couldn’t find some Moores who were neither dead nor bankable nor in current Tinseltown demand—which for them may all be the same thing?

How about Demi?  Or Roger?  Or Melba?

Or in absolute, go-for-broke, desperation pinch, Mary Tyler?

I’ll report in on that when I feel like it. In the meantime, here’s where you can buy wine in the most dangerous city in America:

 Zerka’s Stop & Shop; 1395 W Bristol Rd, Flint MI

The Biblical proportions of this smart, well-appointed junk foodery may be lost upon the staff, but not upon Judaic scholars who know, of course, that ‘Zerka’ is the Hebrew term for the River Jordan.  Yet there is no Jordan Cabernet to be found amid the Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, nor even any sacramental Manischewitz, although Lisa the Cashier—whose elegant ensemble and simple hairstyle evoked the ‘Old Hollywood’ of Hedy Lamar or Jean Harlow—recommended Barefoot Moscato, her personal favorite, or, if I wanted something with a little more ‘oomph’, Seagram’s Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka.  Which is technically not wine, but like I’m going to give Hedy Lamar enology lessons?

Liquor & Smokers Outlet & Dollar Deals: 1390 Bristol Rd, Flint MI

Any place that so unabashedly caters to extremely cheap people bent on self-destructive habits is at the tippy-top of my personal Ulmer Scale; this boutique—mere yards from Zerka’s—shows that the Flint zoning and planning coordinators have testicles of titanium when dealing out SDD Off-Premise licenses.  I asked the salesperson—looking stunning in her coral, strapless (Louis Vuitton?) poly-cotton smock, by the way—for a wine recommendation, and she asked if I’d ever heard of Sutter Home.

Obviously I walked in with sommelier/wine writer written all over my Salvation Army AKOO hoodie.

Last Chance Party Store: 5545 S. State Rd, Goodrich, MI

In the boondocks of suburban Flint, the Last Chance is helmed by a tan, t-shirted, gnarly old dude who keeps tabs on area shootings, reporting two the night before I stopped in, one per day on average in Flint, including three party store owners over the past few years.  No word on whether the crimes were precipitated by frustrated connoisseurs who will find several brands of charcoal on the Last Chance shelves, multiple kinds of Copenhagen and Red Seal tobacco, dozens of colon-canceraries like Twinkies, Doritos, Kit Kats and True Moo Chocolate Milk, but only a single wine label: Gallo Family Vineyards.  This screams ‘Mafia bootleg infiltration’ to me, but what do I know?  I opted for the sauvignon blanc because it looked less brown and contained more alcohol per volume than its sister varietals pinot grigio and ‘Sweet Chardonnay’ and found it to be predictably and generically gluggable.

Corner Stop Food Store; 3271 S. Dort Highway, Flint MI

“Give me a pack of Swisher Sweets, a Mega Millions ticket and something I can use to blow up airplanes.”

Here on the non-Caucasian side of town, you can do some serious bargain hunting—provided your thing is Magnum Malt Liquor (two 40-ouncers for three dollars), Tilt Premium (containing 12% alcohol along with caffeine, ginseng and Guarana; ideal for the health/trend-conscious derelict) or methamphetamine (there’s a ice cream truck stationed permanently out front which I guarantee is selling more than Good Humor Jimmy Cones).  It’s strictly self-serve, of course, since all transactions are done through Armormax thermoplastic so thick that advice solicitation is impossible.

Now, I’m not as big on conspiracy theories as, say, Michael Moore is, but something rotten is clearly at work here:  The Corner Stop’s fine wine selection is limited to the effeminate kaleidoscope of MD 2020 flavors like Banana Red and Kiwi Lemon, wine coolers and girly Riunite labels like Lambrusco and Lancellota, and for a few pennies more, a genuine imported stocking-stuffer: Opera Prima Sparkling Pink Moscato from Tierra de Castilla, Spain.  Isn’t it obvious that there is some sort of methodical eunuchization being imposed upon Flint’s wino community?  Possibly part of a massive government eugenics plot to ensure that undesirables like unemployed ghetto drunks are so wussified that they cannot reproduce??

Come on, Mike: Flint, bad guys in Washington, oppressed masses being systematically sterilized via the one product they can’t live without, cheap booze?

This one has your name written all over it.

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2 Lads Winery: Laddie Come Home

In setting the kibble-strewn stage, Lassie Come Home was a 1943 MGM tearjerker starring Roddy McDowell (as young Joe) and ‘Pal’ (who played Lassie) that ultimately launched the syrupy television series; in the film version, the Yorkshire Carraclough family, having fallen on hard times, are forced to sell Joe’s border collie to some rich Scottish laird, and the rest of the flick involves the dog’s idiotic, utterly-implausible journey from Scotland back to Yorkshire, where Lassie is reunited at the last possible second with poor, forlorn Roddy, who’d by then given up all hope of seeing her again.

As you might suppose, there was not a dry eye in the house, except among litigation attorneys who realized that the dog’s sale had been final and she’d soon be wrenched from Roddy’s trembling arms and returned to Nigel Bruce, Duke of Rudling—the rightful owner.

My Version…

Chris Baldyega

In the re-telling, I play Lassie, Chris Baldyega of 2 Lads Winery is Joe, and if you can do a passable Highland brogue, you can be the Duke of Rudling.

Thus far, alas, our story does not have a happy ending.

Cornel Oliver

Since having met Lad 1 (Chris Baldyga) at a 2009 wine tasting and threatening him with an interview ever since, thrice have I made the arduous trek from my suburban Detroit dog kennel to the spectacular 2 Lads Winery on the Old Mission Peninsula, crossing mountains and rivers, encountering  evil shepherds, conniving traveling salesmen and kindly old people who sell me beer at gas station convenience stores.  And yet, panting, drooling, tail wagging, every goddamn time I get there, neither Laddie is home. (Lad 2 is Cornel Oliver).

I strongly suspect the script writers.

A Tasting Room Fit For a Duke

2 Lads Winery

Every time I walk into the 2 Lads state-of-the-art facility—an awesome blend of ultra-contemporary aesthetics and functional, gravity-flow grape-processing practicality—I note that if for no other reason, they need the massive size to contain the elephant in the room:

That is, although Cornel and Chris command the press attention (or would, if I could figure out when the heck they’re coming home), there’s a 3rd Lad with pockets deeper than those in the Duke of Rudling’s kilt.  Arguably the most stunning winery design in Michigan, there likely are not enough border collies in the contiguous United States that you could sell in order to afford this joint.

But, no matter.  It was not the poured concrete bar or the sensational view of the East Bay beyond which drew me North, nor in the end, even a chance to shit-shoot with either of the Lads: It was their wine.

Caryn Chachulski

And pouring that early May afternoon was assistant winemaker/wine educator Caryn Chachulski, a woman of vinous charm and substance who can not only carry the torch during the 2 Lads’ AWOLishness, but kick the flame up a notch—which is probably why she sports the additional title of ‘Social Media Marketer’.  Trained at CSU in Fresno, she came aboard the good ship 2 Lads in 2007 after a stints at L. Mawby and can walk a taster through subtleties in the selections that you’d really require extensive process knowledge to acquire.

Here’s what she was offering:

2 Lads Winery, Pinot Grigio, Old Mission, 2010, (about $17):  Of the 22 acres that 2 Lads has in vine, about a quarter is pinot grigio, and as a result, it’s the grape on which Laddish reputations are staked.  Oddly, their two blocks—600 feet apart—have such markedly different terroirs that one is used for still wine; the other for sparkling.  The 2010 still grigio was drier than the vintage it preceded and followed, and predictably, it is shivery with tight acidity underlying honeysuckle on the nose and apricot, citrus and tangerine on the palate.

2 Lads Winery, Sparkling Reserve, Old Mission, 2009, (about $25):  The first, and as far as I can tell, only vintage of this blend (75% chardonnay/25% pinot grigio) is produced via traditional, painstaking méthode champenoise and shows delightful, yeasty brioche notes, with the chardonnay offering bright lemon, apple and a bit of pineapple; the pinot grigio kicks in a little Bosc pear.

2 Lads Winery, Reserve Chardonnay, Old Mission, 2010, (about $ sold out):  Harder to find than a Lad, so I report on it further only because the irony of sampling a wine you can’t buy is identical to writing about winemakers you can’t interview.  French oak fermentation and seven months on the lees lent the wine vanilla cream and sweet butter; pleasant, fruity and nicely complex, with lemon zest, fig and Granny Smith apple.  I’d tell you what clones they use, but you probably can’t find those either.

2 Lads Winery, Cabernet Franc Rosé, Old Mission, 2011, (about $19):  2011 may be the Northern Michigan vintage that ultimately raises the bar for cabernet franc; being a big fan of dry, Cabernet d’Anjou-style rosé, I don’t have the slightest issue with the Lads sinking a good portion of the harvest into just that.  The wine has as much punch as plenty of cool climate pinot noirs, with such springtime flavors as instantly recall those of Loire’s versions: Rhubarb, strawberry and raspberry followed by a distinct and succulent whiff of grenadine.

2 Lads Winery, Cabernet Franc/Merlot, Old Mission, 2010, (about $25):  The sensationally warm season brought both the cab franc and merlot (45% of the blend) to full ripeness; as a result, the wine boasts opulence and breeding with rich ripe cherry, Damson plum and licorice—and none of the weedy pitch of pepper that may show up in this blend during chilly seasons.  Bold and self-confident, the wine finishes with a long, silken sigh.


Speaking of long, silken sighs, while I sit at my lonely keyboard and wait to see if either Laddie Comes Home, or if this column draggles a sound bite from at least one of the Lads (which I’ll then promptly add), I shall fill up the remaining space with some trivia regarding Lassie Come Home which may not help you in your quest for Old Mission Peninsula wine appreciation, but may net you a winning berth on Jeopardy:

  • Proddy BigDowell

    Roddy McDowell (Joe Carraclough), dead since 1998, is reputed to have had one of the largest tallywhackers in Hollywood; he ranks #9, between Owen Wilson and Frank Sinatra—being named both ‘Rod’ and ‘Dowell’ is but icing on that cake.

  • ‘Pal’, dead since 1958, the collie who won the film’s title role, was initially rejected by director Fred Wilcox, but any rumors about doggie-style on casting couches have long since been discounted.  Pal’s last cinematic appearance as Lassie was in the first episode of the 1954 television series.
  • Lithe and gorgeous even at age 12, Liz Taylor also showed off acting prowess as Priscilla, the Duke of Rudling’s granddaughter; this was still decades from the time she’d renounce her United States citizenship, move to England and covert her body to pounds.
  • Lasting until 1973, everyone knows 1) That the dogs who played the female Lassie were invariably male, and that 2) Six collies overall were used in the role.  What’s not so well know is that for the role of Tommy Rettig’s mother, six June Lockharts were used—all of whom were also male.

Various June Lockharts used to portray Tommy’s mommy

Posted in Michigan, MIDWEST, Old Mission Peninsula | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Zima, Why Can’t I Quit You?

Left: A woman’s woman. Right: A hip-flask’s hip-flask.

I have a friend called Cori who recently asked me for some bourbon advice because she planned to give her boyfriend a fifth of small batch for his birthday, and although she’d already found the liquor, she was iffy on giving him a pewter hip flask to pour it into.  In posing to me the question of whether or not a pewter hip-flask was sufficiently macho, she referred to me as seeming like a ‘man’s man’.

Now, if the truth is told—even though Elton John, Clay Aiken, Neil Patrick Harris and Ricky Martin are all clearly men’s men—other than being told, ‘Gosh, honey—are you ever handy with that reciprocating saw,’ being called a man’s man is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

And thus, we all aspire to it.


Personally,  I don’t smoke Le Bijou Churchill cigars, I douse them in a pewter hip-flask’s worth of Ass Reaper Hot Sauce and eat them.  I swim naked in Lake Michigan in December, even when sober.  I hunt wild Barbary boars with nothing but a butter knife and I run marathons with a Yugo strapped to my back.  I read my teenage daughter’s diary.

And frankly, hon, screw the power tools.  Real men believe that only a wuss would use a reciprocating saw when the same job can be accomplished with the fingernails.

Add to that the fact that bourbon is indeed my chug of choice, and in my own mind, my man’s man status is confirmed.

You’re right, dear Cori.  I am all of that, aren’t I?  I must be.  Right??

Repression: One of the Most Haunting Concepts in Psychology

In fact, repression is the foundation upon which clinical analysis rests—I know, because I studied it at college for many years before I realized that I had accidentally checked ‘psychotherapist’ instead of ‘alcoholic vagrant’ on the back of the career-day matchbook.

I recall (without needing therapy) a landmark case that was presented in one of the few classes where I actually paid attention:

In Redwood City, California, a middle-aged dude named George Franklin was convicted of murder twenty years after the crime based solely on the re-emergence of childhood memories in the mind of his now-adult daughter Eileen.  Her flashbacks apparently impressed not only her shrink, but also the San Mateo district attorney and a jury of Franklin’s peers, because he was convicted of 1st degree murder in less than twenty-four hours.

Thanksgiving with the Franklins!

Unfortunately, the whole thing wound up being bullshit, and after six years, Franklin’s conviction was overturned and he was released.

Bet Thanksgiving dinners in that family are a riot, huh?

Repression: One of the Silliest Concepts in Psychology

I use that anecdote merely to reference a personal memory that unsuppressed itself shortly after Cori’s kind and perfectly accurate assessment of my testosterony character:

In my mind’s eye, out of the blue, I saw myself cutting the grass in 1994—not with my teeth, either, but astride a chartreuse-green and canary-yellow rider mower.

And it gets worse.  Inside the mower’s cupholder (an asinine but requisite accessory for those of us who at least minored in alcoholism) was not a beer, not a manly tumbler of single malt scotch, not even a borderline-prissy Jack-and-Coke.

It was a douchey, lemon-lime flavored Zima.

Bet You Didn’t Know That Bulgarian Winters Were Made For Girly-Men, Did You?

Back in the ‘90s, when no self-respecting male would drink a wine cooler, somebody at Coors Brewing Company had the genius notion of marketing to us a clear malt beverage instead.  Had they referred to it as an ‘alcopop’ as they might in 21st century nomenclature, we wouldn’t have touched it with a ten-foot pole; instead, they called it a ‘beer alternative’ or (absurdly) a ‘malternate’, and suddenly, according to statistics, fully half of male American drinkers decided that they needed to try a ‘malternate’ at least once.

The fact that Coors named it ‘Zima’ didn’t hurt, either: Zima is a Slavic word meaning ‘winter’, and you don’t get much more butch than January in Belorussia, do you?

Małgorzata Dydek, a ten foot Pole

If repressed memory serves,  I was one of those schmucks who figured that if the stuff was good enough for a ten-foot Polack, it was good enough for me.

Allowing myself to further circumnutate the soot and cinders of my severely dissociative mind, searching for other cases of ego-abuse so egregious that I probably padlocked them inside some inaccessible mental crawlspace, I came up with many Zima-related memories—including me jettisoning empty after empty into a wooded area on my property.

See, that’s it.  Game, set, match.  The whole idea instantly becomes nuts:  Me, Mr. Earth-First Greenpeace Save-The-Whales-But-Carpet-Bomb-Monsanto-Headquarters, polluting the planet I will leave my bratty, misbehaving and dress-like-alcoholic-vagrants children, throwing returnable, non-biodegradable bottles into the woods where I might easily hit an endangered species of squirrel, simply because I—who might climb the daunting Slavic peak Hora Hoverla mid-winter, dressed in skivvies—was too lazy to walk to the house… (??!)

Yeah, right.

The Explanation Then?

Simple, according to G.K. Ganaway’s Alternative Hypotheses Regarding Satanic Ritual Abuse Memories (1991):

These so-called ‘memories’ are merely manifestations of my terror, rage, guilt, depression and overall behavioral dysfunction based on my awareness that Zima was ever foisted upon us men’s men Y chromosome carriers.


So, just to be sure, I went out back and gamely dug through the area where I ‘remembered’ having thrown Zima bottles, braving poison ivy, spider webs and icky, slimy gastropods like the badass stud that I am.

And now, damn it all, after I’m done with repressed memory therapy, I have to start in on this sudden outbreak of hallucinations.

Back To the Zima Story

In his paper entitled The Long, Slow, Torturous Death of Zima delivered before the 99th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco, Brendan Koerner confirmed what most of us had already suspected:

It’s all David Letterman’s fault.

Zima’s popularity peaked in 1994, when 1.3 million barrels were sold, but constant mockery by the gap-toothed, late night television yuckster finally awoke those of you metrosexuals who actually did drink Zima while mowing the lawn that after your Bottega Veneta man purse, your hair highlights, your electrolysis and your nuclear tan, no further emasculation was necessary.

Shortly thereafter, Zima stock began to plummet as precipitously as Letterman’s Nielsen ratings, and a mere two years later, sales were down by two thirds.  Domestic production of the effete sugar water—which is actually made by filtering cheap beer through charcoal, then adding fake citrus flavor and corn syrup—ended in 2008.

Today, Zima is Produced, Marketed and Sipped Only in Effeminate Japan

See, Prime Minister Noda; there’s something else we suspected all along:  In the end, all that Banzai! and kamikaze and fight-to-the-last-man-in-the-rathole crap was about as phony as Eileen Franklin’s repressed memory, wasn’t it?

Thanks again, Cori.  This Bud Light Lime-A-Rita’s for you.

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Verterra Winery And My Personal Quest For Jim Harrison

You. I mean, then.

Long ago and far away, when many of you whippersnappers were still drinking wine out of Evenflo baby bottles and I was scarcely old enough to listen to Negro music, I headed up to the Leelanau Peninsula to search for my then-literary idol, Jim Harrison.

At the time, Mr. Harrison had only published a handful of novels and was still a Northern Michigan landmark instead of a Hollywood wonk-eyesore; inevitable stylistic comparisons were made between him and Hemingway.

Even so, then as now, my reading preferences leaned toward Harrison, and in fact, Warlock and Sundog were foundations of my fantasy to pursue fiction as an occupation.

My success in that particular venture should be glaring, as you are reading a wine blog instead of a NY Times bestseller.

That Ernest, always shooting his mouth off.

Anyway, my quest for Harrison himself bore more fruit.   Like any good novel groupie, I’d have loved to have shot the shit with old Ernest, but by the time I was born he’d already left his hypothalamus on the cove molding of his Ketchum foyer.  However, I had been assured by the alcoholic intelligentsia that Jim Harrison—a native son of Grayling, Michigan—could be found in a specific Leland bar more nights than not.  So up I went, my ticker fluttering and flip-flopping, no doubt expecting that Harrison would embrace some random downstate teenager, take him under his wing, edit, spell check and rewrite heartfelt drivel, set him up with a publisher and find him a local girl to boff.

Hey, it could happen.

Instead (cutting to the chase), I found him in a condition which I believed to be half-tanked (I could be wrong), trying to scam on barfly chicks (I could be wrong), playing an odd billiard game called bank pool (I could be wrong; maybe nine-ball) and received a quick, cursory, courtesy-free brush-off (I’m not wrong).


Seriously, children??  I’m getting mileage out of that friggin story to this day.

But, What Does This Have To Do With Verterra Winery?

The Bluebird—the bar where this all happened—is owned by the same dude that owns Verterra, Skip Telgard.

Doug and Shawn

In fact, I like to believe that the entire vivacious Verterra venture, which includes Skip’s partner Paul Hamelin, winemaker Shawn Walters and consultant Doug Matthies, was conceived right there at the hundred-seat Bluebird bar over a growler of Good Harbor Fishtown White.

But I could be wrong.

However it happened, it happened right; the winery’s first vintage won seven medals at the Michigan Wine and Spirits Competition and last month, the next vintage took Pacific Rim Wine Competition’s Best In Class for Pinot Blanc 2011 and Chaos White Cuvée 2011—a category that required unanimous ‘ayes’ from the judges.

To ice that cake, Verterra’s Dry Riesling 2011 won a gold medal at the same competition.

Trust me, vineyards that have specialized in riesling for decades aspire to take home gold at the Pacific Rim.

Taste Amid the Ghosts of Sweeny Todd, Bill Dauterive, Figaro and Floyd The Barber

As a Latin contraction, Verterra translates into ‘true earth’—unless, of course, you happen to speak Latin, in which case it really doesn’t. More like ‘spring earth’.

But, that’s no biggie.  The Verterra tasting room is the biggie.

Ensconced within a 1927 building shell that originally housed S.R. Gains’s tonsorial parlor (Latin for barbershop) and a Jim Harrison-approved pool hall, the short-board maple flooring and funky-looking borrowed-brick exterior has the place oozing the alluvia of D.I.Y. history.  Within, manager Jeff pours through the award-winners with expertise and aplomb (Latin for flyness), pointing out, amid his schpiel, that one of the most unique and exciting things about Verterra is that it is family-owned and operated.

Now, that’s worth a column in itself, because if me and my family—extended or otherwise—ever opened a winery together, the only exciting part would be the 911 domestic violence calls and the only unique thing about it would be how quickly it closed.

But holding it together quite remarkably is Paul Hamelin, his wife and son Geoff, crediting (in this order) Shawn Walters and the true earth—especially the trio of magnificently productive vineyards from which Walters draws his fruit.

Now, anybody who knows Walter’s work knows that he could make award-winning wine out of the cladophora algae that clogs  Grand Traverse Bay, but with the advantage of his solid rep (based on seventeen stellar years of vintership in Michigan), he doesn’t have to.  So impressive is he both as a technician and an artist—he’s been called (somewhat belatedly) ‘the guy who can finally put Michigan on the world’s wine map’—that his skills are in demand at wineries throughout Leelanau and Old Mission.   The fact that he’s hauling down medals for each of them—so many that gold no longer seems an element precious enough to do these wines justice—he’s maybe into X-Kryptonite territory by now—proves that his purple thumb is pressed with equanimity upon the foreheads of his patrons—(English for patroni).

Shawn Walters

Of course, as Galileo did for the Marchese del Monte and the Grand Duke of Tuscany; as da Vinci did for Cesare Borgia and as Michelangelo did for Lorenzo de’ Medici, Verterra’s owners find their social status insanely improved by their association with Shawn and his magic-touch wines.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but they do get to sit and gloat before awestruck wine writers such as I, who may not perch upon the same belletristic throne as Jim Harrison, but whose eyes, at least, track.

Tasting Notes:

Among the Verterra wines we sampled was Reserve Red, 2010 (around $25), a blend of cab franc, merlot and syrah, steel fermented separately and aged in half-American/half-French oak ‘stave barrels’ (frankly, I’m not sure what other kind exists, but I didn’t write the copy) and blended post-malolacticly.  The results—laced with blackberry and supple with spice (to my palate, anise and cinnamon), tamed tannins and long in the finish—took a gold medal at the 2011 Michigan Wine & Spirits Competition.

Dry Gewurztraminer, 2011 (about $18) is part of a tiny 187 case lot.  The web site claims ‘we get tired of saying the full name’ and refers to it not by its Cliff’s Notes version, ‘gewurtz’ but by the Cliff’s Notes version of the Cliff’s Notes version:  ‘Gwertz’.  It leans lightly to the floral side of the palate, but not too much—Walters harvests early to avoid the over-saturation of classic Alsace rose petal/Turkish Delight flavors.  It’s a wise move considering that the only real drawback to this delightful varietal is that its ‘strength of character’ can be so pronounced that it dominates everything with which it comes in contact.  That’s why it is inevitably recommended as a match to spicy cuisine: Like X-Kryptonite, whose whose radiation and odor can imbue Earth-based life-forms with temporary superpowers, gewürztraminer and, say, incendiary Bengal curry, can grapple together without a clear dominator.

Chablis-modeled Unwooded Chardonnay, 2010 (about $16)  was fermented in steel and shows citrus, apple and tropical fruits on a forward nose, solid, integrated acidity and a crisp conclusion.  As Shawn points out, the vineyard is young, and a few more years should show what this popular varietal can do in Leelanau.

The Bluebird on My Shoulder is Also on the Wagon??

Left: Michigan Wallyeye. Right: Michigan Walleye

So, the last time I stopped by The Bluebird, I noted that nearly the entire staff was too young and ditsy to recognize George Harrison let alone Jim Harrison, so I didn’t bother asking.

On the way out, however, I noted a hostess of such profound maturity (that is not Latin for old, damn it) that she’d probably recognize Benjamin Harrison.

So I inquired after the crusty, lazy-eyed poet, sharing my erstwhile pilgrimage to seek him out, to which she replied, ‘Oh, back then, lots of young people did…’

Great.  Being herded into a category with a thousand other silly little twits with the same goddamn story to tell really made my night.  On the other hand, she shared the news that Harrison still stops in when he’s in town.  Now 74 years old and phlebotomizing gravitas, having proven himself an author able to hold his own against literary giants like Faulkner, he has apparently grown sedate and comfortable in his discerning dotage.

She insisted that he sat quietly and enjoyed a drink-free dinner: A plate of fried whitefish—the house specialty—casting his weird, solitary eyeball toward neither Farmer’s Daughter, pool table nor arsenal of booze bottles.

That’s what she said, anyway.  But she could be wrong.


Actual Bluebird review from Urbanspoon:

Mobile review by Clean plate club (6 reviews)

‘Our dog had a great time, and our pizza was good.’

Posted in Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan, MIDWEST | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments