Last weekend I had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving with dear friends – –
This is a very American celebration and as an immigrant I needed to do some research – –
The first immigrants to what is now the USA were white English Protestants looking for a new place, they arrived in what they named Plymouth and were met by some folk who’d been living there for a long time. The incumbents showed them how to survive and what to hunt and plant including turkeys and corn. The new arrivals brought nothing much except strange diseases.
Over time the new arrivals brought lots of friends who were much the same – white, protestant and European (including, by now, Scots).
Over more time they drove those original existing folks into the poorest areas and inside reservations – –
Eventually desperate folk who weren’t of the right branch of Christianity or even other beliefs began arriving. – –
No Micks need apply – –
No Spicks need apply – –
No Chinese need apply – –
Send Japanese Americans to concentration camps – –
I picked this book up in a thrift store because I needed a plane book. It was the best of a bunch that didn’t seem all that appealing. Contextually, it was at a disadvantage from the start.
But it was really interesting! I’m not a wine connoisseur, just a cheerful consumer. But this book was more an examination of the effects of capitalism and gentrification than a wine book. In its opening, the author basically admits to wanting to write about Sonoma/Napa Valley so he could live there rent-free in a rich person’s house, with servants.
One region is full of hippies, the other full of yuppies. It’s a charming story about how they vote to protect themselves from each other, acknowledge mutual concerns, yet pretty much all want “the good life” as they choose to define it. The gap between definitions gets bigger as the book progresses.
The “chicken fight” is a great example: the hippie area has chickens running loose, but visitors find that their children chasing the chickens results in the chickens chasing them. This results in several nasty letters to the editor in the newspaper, and ultimately legislation that gives rebels waiting for a cause celeb their big chance. The chickens still roam free, if you’re interested.
By and large this book, published in 2003, is an ageless tale, inserting wine as a metaphor for how the more things change, the more they stay the same. I enjoyed the book because of its tie-up between economics and human nature–something my economist friends say is redundant, since economics IS human nature with a little money thrown on top. This book is full of eccentrics and egomaniacs and opulent display and lifestyles so different they wrap around on opposite ends of the continuum. And it kept me diverted enough on a four-hour plane ride to find myself surprised at landing in Charlotte rather than Napa. Highly recommended.