Amber LeBeau, a collaborator and blogger of wine good sense at Spitbucket (, posted a piece on the kind of messages wineries might better post than hustling their wares and committing their mission to clean toilets. I was trying to integrate her smart suggestions to engage consumers with some things to replace the typical exchanges between wineries and their customers.

It is her call of the wild; a kind of response for those of us who find themselves with nothing to write about, especially when part of our income derives from wine and hospitality activities. What should I write on if not wine and wine culture? Hip hop? The stained glass windows at Chartes? Perfect, fluffy biscuits?

Then I found it. I recounted to my friend Brenda, about the episode in Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Maltese Falcon, published in 1929. The fast pace is interrupted by an Homeric digression concerning the successful salesman, one Charles Flitcraft, whom our hero Sam Spade was once hired to track down, having just disappeared from his family one day.

Spade found him soon enough in Washington state, more ore less living the same life with nice income, nice wife, nice children, and a fine car. Spade noted that Flitcraft imagined he had radically changed himself after the incident.

The incident was this. In his southern California existence, the fellow took a stroll for lunch passing a construction site. A beam fell from the tower in progress, only to land a few feet from Flitcraft. He was struck by a shard of concrete following the impact. The scar was the only token of the accident on the outside.

Flitcraft kept walking out of his real estate job, his family, his life and then resurfaced in more or less the same kind of existence in Tacoma.

What changed was this, says Spade. He lived in a world where no steel beams fell onto the pavement with potentially fatal mass. After, he lived in a world where, though generally like the one he left, beams did fall. It is funny and sobering. We are all Flitcrafts now. The unthinkable can occur.

We need to adjust to a world where beams fall. Where wineries and restaurants are shuttered. Where Chicken Little is Chinese Take-Out. We need to recall that we are here by sufferance. We’re living through a gross government intervention that, on balance, is a mixed bag. Finding the handle may be easier than knowing what to do with it. Nonetheless, I am encouraged by the general direction of those in charge who are trying to mitigate effects of the virus of the day, while at the same time seeking ways to maintain a vibrant economy.

I will do my best to reconstruct the book events and media trips we lost to the exigencies of the time. Perhaps we will soon be able to pick up the story again.

My motto is drink the good wine today. For indeed, we are subject to folly, foibles, and reversals of fortune. I would rather be enjoying the wine with my circle than drinking alone.

But we each must do our part. I promise to wash my hands even if I do drink alone.

P.S. Stay tuned to the calendar ( to find out where we’re going to be breathing on other people.