Some people in Napa Valley need an intervention
You know what an intervention is, right? “An orchestrated attempt by one or many people – usually family and friends – to get someone to seek professional help with an addiction,” says Wikipedia. There’s even a T.V. show on interventions, called Intervention.
The concept started back in the hippie days, when parents would hire somebody to abduct a son or daughter who had dropped out of society to join a cult. Nowadays, it’s more about rescuing people who have a serious addiction to drugs, alcohol or both.
What does “addiction” mean? We throw that word around as though its meaning were transparent. My Webster’s dictionary defines “addiction” as “the condition of being addicted” [presumably, to something], so we have to look up the root word “addict.” There we find the word “addict” to be derived from the Latin; an addict is someone who “gives himself up to some strong habit” and, more specifically in the modern sense, “a person addicted to the use of a narcotic drug.”
Now we’re getting someplace. What is a “narcotic” drug? From a Middle English root-word that means stupor, from which the word “stupid” also derives– and we all know what that means! “Stupid is as stupid does,” in the immortal words of Forrest Gump’s mom. So we can connect the dots: addicted people do stupid things due to their addiction.
See what fun etymology can be?
What got me thinking about addiction and stupidity? I got my latest copy of “Bounty Hunter.” That’s the marketing publication of Bounty Hunter Rare Wines & Provisions, in downtown Napa. Now, Bounty Hunter carries a lot of rare and expensive Napa Valley wines. Its founder and CEO, Mark Steven Pope, explains on the inside of the cover how he and his store’s employees go the extra mile to make sure their customers get only the best wines. “We taste between five and six thousand wines every year,” he writes. “Our Wine Scouts, AKA your Personal Sommeliers and Wine Country Advisors,” is how he describes the staff, implying that you can trust their palates. Which is as it should be in a great wine store.
So I’m browsing through the issue and by page 4 I’d had enough Robert Parker, Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator mentions to make me hurl. On page 2 alone, of 12 wines listed, 7 cited their names. Perhaps, in the booklet’s 41 pages, one or another critic or publication was mentioned, but if so, after scrutiny, I missed it. So here’s my question: If your staff are so smart, dear Mr. Mark Steven Pope, then why do you have to lard your reviews with Parker and Spectator? Isn’t that an insult to “your Personal Sommeliers”? I don’t know a single sommelier with any self-respect who would cite Parker, Spectator, me or anyone else, other than herself. It’s total rubbish.
Mr. Pope’s addiction to Parker and Spectator is merely the symptom, however, of something larger and more insidious in Napa Valley. He’s hardly alone in his craving for a Parker-Spectator fix. The line of addicts is long, populated by people who really ought to know better. But then, they’re addicts — in a stupor — literally unable to see things clearly.
I feel sorry for these people, I really do, just as I feel pity for the poor schlubs on the Intervention TV program. You look at them and think, “It’s so easy, just stop with the pills and the booze and the needles, and get a life.” But, of course, from the point of view of the addict, it’s not easy. That’s why they’re addicts. They’re not able to stop themselves from stupid behavior even though they may realize, in some dim little corner of their minds, that it is stupid and self-defeating, and that they publicly embarrass themselves with their sorry dependency. Unfortunately, for these particular addicts, there is no intervention I can think of–unless it’s reading this blog and coming to their senses.