Into the Stormtroopers. Part Two

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Today’s post has nothing to do with wine but I promise to get back to wise-ass wine appreciation with my next post. This is part two of a true story about assassination, Nazis, and the de-evolution of truth. SPOILER ALERT; you may want to read part one HERE first. All photographs ©1981 Donald Carter.

The De-Evolution of Truth

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” ― George Orwell, 1984

May 1981
New York Post page 1 crop

The phone rang at dawn and as I pulled the receiver close a metallic shout from the caller jolted me upright and awake.


“Wha …?”

“The New York Post. Front page. FEDS … SEIZE … NAZI … PIX!”

Five minutes later I stood sockless at the corner newsstand, scrutinizing the front page of the New York Post. Two familiar Nazis stared back. Adolf Hitler’s portrait hung in the background, his stare intense and chilling. A young neo-Nazi with a raised pistol in hand stood in the foreground, his expression unreadable and lifeless – but no less chilling. My eyes went to the photo credit beneath the picture where I found my name.

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Into the Stormtroopers. Part One

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Today’s post has nothing to do with wine. It’s a personal memoir about an event that happened over thirty years ago. It’s the story of a presidential assassination attempt, the American Nazi Party, and personal regret. In light of recent events it seemed an appropriate time to tell the tale. All photographs ©1981 Donald Carter.

Of White Power and White Guilt

Group shot 1As a younger man I seldom gave thought to motivation or consequence. I felt compelled to take risks – to seek out the dark places and walk with the beasts – but the nearest I got to reflection was when I inevitably picked myself up, checked for injuries and wondered, “What the hell was I thinking?”

As an older man I’ve struggled with the emotional fallout that comes from second-guessing ones actions but despite some feelings of regret, I believe my raison d’être was well intentioned. I like to think I climbed under the bed in the middle of the night, faced the monsters and dragged them into the light so that we might all better understand the hatefulness that grows in the shadows we choose to ignore.

When I was a freshman at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago I set out to expose these darker places. Little did I suspect that the images I captured would one day attract international attention and the FBI, subpoena in hand, would come looking for the monsters I uncovered.

More on that later.


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‘Twas the Night Before the ‘Wine of the Year’ Was Announced

Santa Claus

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the winery,

my tasting room staff wore their holiday finery.

The sales were outstanding. ‘Twas like nothing before.

All the wines (even Merlot) seemed to fly out the door.

My winemaker fretted as the deadline drew near.

Wine Spectator 100, would this be the year?

To be on that list would be so prestigious.

But another year missed would be so egregious.

Then out in the vineyard there arose such a clatter.

I feared it was mildew, Pierce’s or shatter.

There, atop a small sleigh that defied quantum physics,

sat a round, bearded man and eight tiny critics.

They were chuggin’ down Harlan, the music was crankin’.

I knew in a moment it had to be Shanken.

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Life On The Road – Without Any Brakes

Gloria Steinem wrote, “More reliably than anything else on earth, the road will force you to live in the present.”

Oddly enough, Ms. Steinem’s words inspired me to revisit the past. This is a tale about life on the road – a passion I discovered long before wine but found no less intoxicating.

WineSnark Desert PondIt’s not like I thought I was going to die.

My canteen had run dry the previous day, the last of my granola two days before that. I desperately missed the water, the granola not so much. Sure, I was in a desert without food and water, dehydrated, exhausted, a Barry Manilow tune stuck in my head, but I didn’t think it would kill me. I only hoped it would.

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Urine Trouble

Here’s a true story that has nothing to do with wine but I offer it as a public service so that my readers might avoid the devastation that I have endured. The story is summed up in a series of emails and texts between myself and a company called JustPee Unlimited, LTD.

Bear in Backyard

Dear Sir,
While watching the Scat Channel I happened to catch your infomercial and I was excited to learn that cat pee is an effective mouse deterrent. My property is infested with the little vermin so I went to the local hardware store and asked this nice lady about purchasing some urine and she gave me a curious look and backed up a couple of steps. The more I went on about cat pee and coyote pee the more agitated she became. Eventually I was allowed to leave, once she decided to not press charges. I hope you can help solve my mouse dilemma as the police have made it clear I can no longer shop for urine in this jurisdiction. Cat pee sounds unsanitary so I was wondering if you sell any other products that repel mice.
Don Carter


Dear Mr. Carter,
We regret to inform you that JustPee Unlimited, Ltd. only sells pee. We are the world’s premier discount pee merchant offering pee at prices that will keep you running back for more. Our pee technicians are out standing in the lavatory where they produce pee of exceptional pedigree.
Customer Service


Dear Sir,
No shit?
Don Carter


Dear Mr. Carter,
No shit. Just pee. Read the letterhead.
Customer Service

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Who’s On Thirst?

In honor of the San Francisco Giants’ World Series victory, today’s blog pays homage to baseball’s greatest dialogue.

Who's On ThirstGood help can be hard to find in a wine store. I once told an employee to be careful with a bottle of 1927 Fonseca Vintage Port and he said, “Don’t worry boss, I’ll treat it like it’s brand new!”

Perhaps you’ve had trouble getting knowledgeable recommendations when you’re looking for wines to pair with a special dinner. You’re not alone as wine consumers and wine salespeople often choose wine through a process of mutual misunderstanding. Of course I’m not your average wine salesman so this never happens to me. No, I’m 100% right, half the time.

But of course I’ve witnessed plenty of misunderstandings between wine customers and a wine salespeople. A typical conversation on the selling floor can sound a lot like an Abbott and Costello routine. Let’s listen in.

Customer: Excuse me Mr. Wine Expert, can you help me pick wines to serve with my four course dinner?

Clerk: I certainly can. What’s the first course?

Customer: Stew’s on first.

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