divendres, 4 de setembre de 2009

Ashes in a bottle of wine

"Franzia sat with Jim Carter, the Bronco [Wine Company] salesman, in the conference room after lunch. He asked the receptionist to send in his next appointment–a slim man with thinning hair and skittery blue eyes who introduced himself as a wine entrepreneur. “What’s our main purpose today?” Franzia asked, shaking his hand.
“I want to partner with you to defeat Gallo and Red Bicyclette.” (Red Bicyclette is a popular French wine distributed by Gallo, in the eight-to-ten-dollar range.)
“How do you pronounce that?” Franzia asked mockingly.
“Bee-cee-clette?”
“Are you French?”
The man explained that his product was aimed at professional women who buy wine at the grocery store but are embarrassed to show up at a dinner party with Arrogant Frog or Fat Bastard. Franzia, meanwhile, sorted through a tall stack of documents that Barbara had placed next to the phone. The man talked about his wife and daughter, and said he had studied at Berkeley. “I want to participate in the growth of the brand,” he said. “I’m happy to give up equity–”
Franzia looked up to interrupt him. “If we do anything, we own at least fifty per cent. Get that clear in your head. That trademark will be jointly owned. If it runs, it runs. If it doesn’t, we talk about it.” He returned to the mail, scrawling notes with a dull pencil across some pages, and dramatically tearing in half those he didn’t need: C.E.O. performance art. Finally, he seemed to notice his visitor again. “O.K., we’re not going to issue camping rights,” he said. “You gotta get the hell out of here.” He promised the man an answer in two weeks.
“Did you think that guy was gay?” Franzia asked Carter as soon as the door closed. (Scared, Carter said.) I asked if anything had impressed him about the man’s business plan. “No,” he said. “What we’ll do is offer him fifty thousand dollars for his packaging and label. It’ll sit there and stew.”
Carter made a move to go. “You leaving?” Franzia asked. From the shelf, he pulled down a carafe of California Winery, a brand with a palm tree and a Mission bell tower on the label. (He sells a million bottles of it a year to Tex-Mex restaurants in France.) “Say goodbye to Dennis.” The carafe was full of ashes. “Dennis was Jim’s predecessor, and he designed the package,” Franzia explained to me. He went on to praise Dennis’s loyalty, of which the decision to bequeath his own bodily remains was the highest expression. He patted the carafe. “Once I get to six, I gotta get a cemetery license,” he said."


Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker. Drink up.

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