Living in California’s wine country is living in God’s country. That’s what we tell ourselves. Obviously, God’s plan was to pull out all the peaches and apples and hops and prunes and pears, and plant grapes in their place. In wine country, the price of grapes, especially the price of grapes in Napa versus Sonoma, is headline news. There is a friendly competition between these two wine-growing regions. Sonoma likes to make fun of Napa; Napa does not recognize the existence of Sonoma.
Q: How do you make a small fortune in the wine business?
Over the years of my business life, I’ve spent many nights at the University Inn in Seattle. Some time ago, it became part of Pineapple Hospitality Company. Pineapple has several properties in Seattle, one in Portland and, most recently, in San Francisco. Not long ago we spent a getaway weekend in The City – natives always use capitol “T” and capitol “C” – and stayed at Pineapple’s Hotel California.
In the lobby, they helpfully display three clocks, so one can immediately check the time of day in any city where Pineapple has a hotel.
While Kanye West was being stupid at the Grammys Awards show, I was at a local venue taking in “Blues at the Crossroads: The Soul of the Blues.” For me, the featured performer was Irma Thomas, who came on in the middle of the show, between Alecia Chakour, paying tribute to Etta James, and Lee Fields, channeling James Brown. Ms. Thomas returned to the stage to close the show, with the others backing her up on “Time Is On My Side.”
Last July, two thousand people gathered under a warm sun at the Tom McCall Bowl near Portland’s Riverplace Marina. Led by the Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers, a parade of people, outfitted in colorful swimwear, marched past the Riverplace shops and restaurants. The participants, carrying inner tubes or more elaborate flotation equipment followed the drummers and then turned toward the river at “Poet’s Beach,” a Willamette River entry point under the downtown end of the I-5 Marquam Bridge. The procession followed a path down the embankment and waded into the river. Hundreds of people paddled, or simply floated, letting the current carry them downstream, returning to the Bowl. Back on shore they enjoyed an afternoon of music, refreshments and general merriment. The big party, called The Big Float, celebrated the Willamette River’s return to relative cleanliness – clean enough to swim in, anyway.