SLACKJAW by JIM KNIPFEL
August 13, 2017

That Cloying Gecko Aftertaste

 

Grinch and I made a few attempts to get in touch with each other yesterday, most all of which ended in failure for one reason or another. When we finally got a clear connection that seemed to be holding, he announced gleefully, ďWell, the NWPís ten-year plan is way ahead of schedule.Ē

††††††††††† He was dead-on about that one, and we had a mighty chuckle over the current and fast-deteriorating state of things. Then we started making preliminary plans for what kind of little party weíd have three and a half years down the line when much to everyoneís amazement but ours, Donald Trump announces he has no plans of ever leaving the White House, regardless what the voters or the other branches of the federal government might have to say about it.

††††††††††† But then he told a little story about one small side effect of the present administrationís policies that might well slip by most Americans. Grinch is a brilliant guy who always has a few perfectly rational nuts and bolts analyses of current events that seem to escape all those highbrow and highly paid so-called ďexpertsĒ as well. No, itís not standard ďSlackjawĒ material, but it likely wonít be reported in the Times or the Wall Street Journal. At least not until someone at either place reads this and rips me off wholesale (again), the fuckers. Besides, I think itís an interesting story.

††††††††††† As the present administration keeps flapping itís arms about immigrants, both legal and otherwise, as ICE keeps rounding up and deporting thousands, as we hear heart-wrenching human interest stories about families being torn apart and legally-documented individuals being detained at airports, as that ridiculous Great Wall business remains front and center in the minds of Trumpís more thought-challenged true believers, and as everyone keeps chasing that morningís tweet-inspired rubber ball of crazy-assed buffoonery, letís look at the effect of the crackdown, in simple economic terms, on one industry.

††††††††††† So hereís why your domestically-produced wine is about to get really bad and really expensive.

††††††††††† I donít think Iíve ever hidden the fact Grinch works in the wine industry these days. Maybe I have, but so be it. He does, no denying it, and as part of his job he recently returned from a tour of the Pacific Northwestís vineyards. Things arenít going particularly well over there these days.

††††††††††† The first and most obvious issue is that the number of Mexican farm workers on the West Coast (and across the country) is already starting to shrink fast under the current threatening atmosphere, so itís becoming increasingly difficult to find people willing to pick grapes. But thatís just the start.

††††††††††† Another problem facing the local wine industry is that with Oregon and Washington legalizing pot a couple of years ago, the number of very lucrative marijuana farms across the Northwest is growing exponentially. While the vineyards had been paying their workers fifteen dollars an hour for what was undeniably arduous, backbreaking work, the pot farms were offering twenty-five dollars an hour for work that was much, much easier. In a blink, the pot farms began siphoning workers away from the vineyards.

††††††††††† If the vineyards in turn raised wages enough to compete with the pot farms for an already dwindling workforce, theyíd in turn be forced to raise the price of their wine, which would be bad for business and lower their overall stock value.

††††††††††† The only alternative, given the lack of workers to pick grapes by hand, is to resort to mechanical harvesting.

††††††††††† Now, there are problems with this. In order to use machines to harvest the grapes, the grape vines themselves need to be grown on flat land as opposed to the hillsides where grapes have traditionally flourished. This, according to Grinch, results in really, really bad grapes. And as opposed to picking grapes individually by hand, with mechanical harvesting you end up with an inordinate amount of what is known in the wine industry as MOG, or ďMaterial Other than Grapes.Ē

††††††††††† Weíre not just talking about stems and leaves here, but, um, lizards and rodents and bugs and bird nests and whatever else happens to be in the way, and some of that, Iím sorry to say, is going to end up in your next bottle of pinot noir.

††††††††††† So if youíre a wealthy smug, card carrying member of the GOP as well as a wine lover, try not to think about the amount of lizard entrails and slugs youíre swilling as you cheer on the latest crackdown on those dirty wetbacks stealing all those jobs from hard working Americans.

 

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