My heart goes back to wander there,
And among the dreams of the days that were,
I find my lost youth again.
And the strange and beautiful song,
The groves are repeating it still:
“A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, My Lost Youth (1919)
And, speaking of Wadsworth, wad shooting and general wa da fu (?), I feel it fitting for us to pause here and consider our own spent adolescences; a time when we were in touch with ourselves at least once or twice a day—when we were always ready to lend ourselves a hand, when Hamlet’s ‘rub that lies therein’ lay therein a locked bathroom; when nothing was out of reach, yet everything was below-the-belt; when we stood firm and erect even though the winds of responsibility, respectability and reality were still a college degree away.
‘Take My Memory Back There, Lord; Sometimes I’m Overcome’ – Van Morrison, Brown Eyed Playgirl
Ah, National Geographic whenever they visited topless tribes in North Africa; ah, Hiram’s Powers’ The Greek Slave (Michelangelo’s David if you were gay); ah, flipping through my father’s weighty copy of The Oxford History of Classical Art; ah, the day in sixth grade when Sam Stahl came to school with a copy of Vivre d’Abord, a French nudist magazine which had us all confused because the women had pubic hair. Who knew?
But most of all—ah, pilfered pages from prehistoric Playboy.
Remember how people used to joke about reading Playboy for the articles, which was a little like saying you snorted cocaine for the smell?
And, remember when Christie Hefner, then Playboy’s CEO and faced with plummeting stock, quipped, “Most magazines don’t have a workable model; we realize media is changing and intend to refocus Playboy from an an adult magazine to a multi-media company offering a wide range of Playboy-branded apparel and lifestyle products…” which was corporate doublespeak for ‘Whoa! Porn on the internet is free’?
The irony of all that is that so mild, so innocuous, so milk toasty a stroke book Playboy was—even at its raunchiest—that these days, when depravity squared is but a mouse click away, the articles in Playboy are probably the only reason you would read it.
But Would You Drink Their Wine?
So, the real reason for all this schmaltzy nostalgia is not an attempt to revive childhood touchstones, but instead to do my part as a responsible, respectable, realistic grown-up wine writer to mention—then promptly ridicule—Playboy Enterprises, Inc.’s latest foray into diversification: an internet-based initiative that has less to do with the Sin of Onan than the Miracle of Canaan:
The Playboy Wine Club (www.playboywineclub.com) seeks to have you, the wine-drinking, Playboy-reading, doinker-doodling consumer take your hands out of your underwear long enough to place them inside the pocket in which you keep your wallet.
The wine club is a partnership between Playboy and Washington-based Barclay Wine Company and is offering American clubbers ‘exclusive deals, loyalty programs and opportunities to participate in wine experiences with special wine tours and tastings’ along with a quarterly full-case delivery of boutique wines known as the Playboy Wine Encounter.
Now, whether or not this is a good thing, I do not seek to pass judgment, but the press release indicates that all wines will be ‘curated’ by Playboy and upon this word I will cast an opinion:
‘Curate’ as a verb should not apply to wine, because it indicates old and dusty things like King Tut’s mummy or the Dead Sea Scrolls, and although old and dusty wine can be dandy, it is only dandy because you can dust it off, open it, and consume it. ‘Curate’ should be reserved for museums or art shows and should only apply to things you cannot dust off and consume like putrefying Egyptian flesh or papyrus parchment.
In any case, I joined the Playboy Wine Club just to see what was going on, and to see if they had any vintage nude photos of Carmen Electra to gawk at. Nix on the latter, but as to the former, I scrolled, dead sea-like, through the available wines and discovered that there were some distinctly interesting selections, like 2008 Granite Ridge Reserve Shiraz, 2009 Radford Dale Chenin Blanc and 2003 Empyrean Draco Meritage.
And yet, none are particularly value-priced for members and can be purchased online for the same price—even on Barclay’s web site—without joining any clubs.
Therefore, be forewarned, those of you tempted to join yet another source of unwanted Inbox spam: About Playboy Wine Club’s ‘regular price’ column, which attempts to convince you that you are, in fact, getting a deal when you’re not?
It’s as lame as Playboy magazine’s attempt to convince you that Carmen Electra has no pubic hair.