Over the past week, dutch-courage diva and distillate dominatrix Natalie MacLean has found herself in some professional hot water. It began with the Palate Press’s tabloidesque rippage of her website’s use of unattributed wine reviews from other wine writers without their permission, and sometimes without their names, then charging money for a ‘Magnum Membership’ in which she reprints them.
Here is a pilfered parcel from the PP piece for which I did not request so much as a by-your-leave, and for which I ask that you send me ten dollars to defray drink-related expenses:
‘…In addition to her own reviews, which are often a sentence or less, Ms. MacLean includes professional wine reviews by writers from other publications…’
A sentence or less?? Yeah, baby! Less than a sentence is my kinda wine review.
Well, I can say this, Natalie MacLean: Know thy enemy. And sleep easier with the assurance that in such times of establishmentarian blitzkrieg, your struggle—in ways a metaphor for our own country’s patriotic defense against WMDs in the Middle East—need not be unilateral.
You and me can be a coalition of two, sugar hips. Because, in the immortal, bubonic ebonics of Jayson Blair:
‘Been dere, done dat.’
In my first book, ‘Everything I Know About Wine, By Other People’ (Queernut Press, 2003), I essentially cribbed together bits and bobs from every wine book in my personal collection, including entire chapters from mutha-junkst munchkin and slobber sensei Oz Clarke’s ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbeaucastel’, Robert Parker Jr.’s ‘Atlas Chugged’, Jamie Goode’s ‘No Goode Crying Over Spilled 1985 Cros Parantoux’—even Natalie MacLean’s own opus, ‘Is That A Forty-Bottle Melchizedek In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?’
The fact that no one actually read my book * is the only thing standing between me and the career-ending ignominy now facing Ms. MacLean.
* (In my second book, ‘War ‘n’ Peace’, I pretty much offer you an overview of the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society as seen through the eyes of five Russian aristocratic families. I know this has nothing to do with wine, but I thought I’d mention it because sales have slacked off.)
Anyway, the Big Mac’s hack attack has drawn hate mail equivalent to that received daily by the Westboro Baptist Church’s newsletter, ‘God Hates Stephen Ambrose, Not Because His Book ‘The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany’ was plagiarized from Thomas Childers’ ‘Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany’ in World War II’ But Because He’s A Fag’.
Here are a few random rants, and for each one you read, I expect $2.50 to be deposited into my PayPal account:
Canadian Wine Guy: ‘She is a major blemish on our industry…’
Tom Hyland: ‘Canadian Wine Guy: You hit the nail on the head regarding Natalie being a ‘major blemish on our industry’.’
(Note that Hyland gave proper acknowledgement to CWG’s quote but did not ask permission to use it).
Stephen Reiss, Ph.D: ‘I have been writing wine reviews well over 20 years and always state the source of the wine, whether bought at retail, in a restaurant or tasted at the winery – I do not accept samples.’
(A Ph.D? Ooooooh. In what, Stephen—Show-Off-ology?? Dude, you are a frigging doctor—you can afford not to accept free samples, so stop lording it over those of us who have to not only accept samples but sell them on the black market in order to feed our children.)
Lenn Thompson: ‘We’ve been down this road with Natalie before, haven’t we? Having ‘friends’ comment on her behalf, defending her?’
(Damn you to Mordor, Thompson—how dare you put my friendship in quotes-unquotes simply because I choose to defend a sexy colleague with hellacious hooters and a bitchin badonkadonk in her time of need?)
Curious Wine Guy: ‘Natalie Maclean has proven herself time and again a self-promoting hack. As far as I am concerned she has had no credibility since I once attended a dinner at which she was the keynote speaker that she could barely navigate to the podium from her drunkenness.’
(Oh, really, Curious? From one hack to another, if ‘drunkenness’ was in any ways related to ‘credibility’, I wouldn’t have been able to sweet-talk my way out of four DUIs in the past six months.)
Clive: ‘I find her hair most disturbing, it’s so perfect.’
(You’d love me, then, Clive! I have seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp, head lice, bald patches caused by lupus erythematosus and I haven’t used shampoo or touched a hairbrush since 2009).
And finally, from the prima donna herself:
Natalie MacLean: ‘…I have had a thorough discussion with a legal expert on copyright and know that what I am doing now and what I will be doing in the future is not only legal, but right.’
So, there you go. She’s MacLean as a whistle. The lawyers are on her side, even if the Ph.Ds aren’t, and if a legal expert says you can earn a living based on somebody else doing all the work, I am four-square in favor.
Shall We Keep Things In Perspective?
Look, these are wine reviews, people, and if you can—with a straight face—assign the word ‘intellectual’ to ‘property’ in which you tell me what a glass of riesling smells like, your ego may be bigger than Stephen Reiss, Ph.D’s.
Why then the nuclear-level vitriol? I mean, it’s not as if she leaked documents threatening national security or outed a CIA operative; she didn’t pull a Maureen Dowd and copy paragraphs verbatim from Josh Marshall after having lambasted Joe Biden for stump-speech plagiarism and she didn’t accidentally use the word ‘pickaninny’ when describing Pulitzer Prize winning Kevin Carter’s photo of a vulture stalking a Sudanese kid. (Carter, incidentally, committed suicide in 1994; our girl Natalie is alive and kickin’)
Her crime? Nothing more than being a skanky skiver scamming scat from a scattering of scrotty scribes, and now she’s screwed. I’m telling you, Nat baby, I went through the same load of horsepucky last year when I described a Napa cabernet as showing ‘concentrated notes of cassis, forest floor, pipe tobacco, mocha and cedar; silky in texture with nicely integrated tannins building to a lingering finish’ and had fifty-two—count ‘em, fifty-two—incensed wine critics write me to say they had once described a Napa cabernet in similar terms.
So, my hat is off to you, Natalie MacLean, along with any other article of clothing you allow me to remove in the course of our upcoming, one-on-one session regarding copyright laws.
I am sure that you—exactly like me—merely figured that ‘copyright’ guaranteed your right to copy.