My Philosophy is Simple:

1) Drink what you like. 2) Like what you drink. 3) Don’t drink White Zinfandel.

Loire Valley Tasting DTLA

Loire Valley Wine Tasting, DTLA

This was a really fun event in Downtown Los Angeles. Loire Valley Wines provided a great setup and the wines were showing well. The Loire Valley produces more white and Rosé than red wine. This makes Loire Valley wine perfect for the warm weather in Southern California.

So, let’s get in to the Loire Valley…

First, a map of the region:

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Here is a closer look at the labels. Notice the nautilus on the middle bottle. This is because of the fossils found in the soil of this region.  The Loire Valley produces red wine also, and it is delicious! Most of the reds are based on the Cabernet Franc grape, though there is small planting of other varieties.
IMG_20150430_132509Anytime is the right time for wines from the Loire Valley. Get yourself a bottle from your favorite local wine shop and let me know what you think!

Here are some Loire Valley resources:

http://loirevalleywine.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loire_Valley_(wine)
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2015 World of Pinot Noir

2015 World of Pinot Noir

This year WOPN was held at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, California in March 2015. In fifteen short years, it has become a destination for Pinot lovers from around the world. Now this event includes a silent auction, seminars, films, wine-focused dinners and the always impressive Pinot Noir By The Sea Grand Tasting. This Grand Tasting was amazing! I was happy to attend. Enjoy the pictures.

The Scene

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The line-up to get into the Bacara.

 

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Inside, it can be a little hectic. Decorum is a must.

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Presented without comment…

 

The Wines and Winemakers

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Donum produces wines with grapes from Carneros, Anderson Valley and Russian River Valley

 

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Wrath

 

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Wrath wines are amazing! So is the winemaker, Sabrine M. Rodems.

 

 

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Sandhi wines are a must for any Pinot Noir aficionado. Superb.

Belle Glos makes three wines from three distinct growing areas.

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Barden is the Pinot Noir & Chardonnay label produced by Margerum Wine Company. Very nice and well worth your time.

Doug Margerum

This is Douglas Margerum. He is a certified wine celebrity. Awesome tasting room in Downtown Santa Barbara.

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Craig Camp! He was pouring some awesome 2010 Cornerstone Oregon Pinot Noir.

 

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This is winemaker Thibaud Mandet of Willakenzie Estate. He is French. His wines are other-worldly.

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This is winemaker Thibaud Mandet of Willakenzie Estate. He is French.

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Willakenzie Estate Pinot Noir. The angle of the label represents the slope of the vineyards.

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Paul Lato Pinot Noir

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Paul Lato, the man behind Paul Lato Wines.

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Semi-Random Frenchman named Christian and his notes. Well prepared to say the least.

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Ken Brown. California Pinot Noir royalty. And still very humble and wine-centered.

 

Overall, I had a great time. I missed out on some seminars but the wine made up for everything. The wines were so good and everyone was very kind. Dinner at Opal was very nice. And of course on Sunday we ate two pounds of crab legs on the pier and then bought a case of Jaffurs before we hit the road. Good times. Until next year, WOPN!

 

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New Orleans, World of Pinot Noir

New Orleans

The history of New Orleans  is a complex story, to say the least. So many ideals and nations have given birth to this unique way of life. I enjoyed every day and night I was there. The food and culture are absolutely immersive. I ate po’ boys and crawfish and catfish and gumbo and everything else I could. Shout out to ACME in Metarie. The best meal of the trip: crawfish with penne pasta in a tasso cream sauce at The Gumbo Shop. Oof. I spent a few days in the French Quarter and a few days in Metarie. I wanted to see both sides of this historic town. Not my first trip, but my first trip as a grown-up. An amazing place to say the least. Enjoy the photos.

French Quarter

The French Quarter is the most famous area of New Orleans. We were in town for the beginning of Mardi Gras, so this was a typical decorated house in the Quarter.20150201_141046Jazz and New Orleans are inseparable. This was a great club. I came back 3 nights in a row.20150131_221449

WWOZ , local radio station, has been in this building since being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.DSC02938

A few short blocks away is Cafe Du Monde, world famous tourist trap that delivers tasty beignets. Mmmm.20150201_104414-1

About 50 feet from Cafe Du Monde is the Mississippi river. Seriously, just out the back door.20150201_105749Street cars are an important part of New Orleans. 20150202_141133City Park, in the middle of town. A must for any visitor.  
IMG_20150207_124723 20150207_141407 20150207_130856And this lion statue was guarding the lake [above]. Just a stone lion, sitting by a lake. Nothing to see here.
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Some History…

These cannons are located right off of Jackson Square, in the The Louisiana State Museum.  20150201_141845
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Longue Vue is the name of a breathtaking estate in New Orleans. The story of Edgar and Edith Stern is essential to New Orleans history. Please click on the links for more info. I was taken by the story and the estate. 
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IMG_20150205_152842So this a compilation of my travels. If it’s in this picture, it is WineJerk approved.DSC02951

World of Pinot Noir

Well, one of my favorite wine events of the year is upon us. The Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara hosts “2 days of purple-toothed Pinophiles, searching for the finesse that is missing from Cabernet Sauvignon.” [overheard last year from a slurring salesperson] Here is a link to the wineries that are pouring this year. I love this chance to contrast and compare the grape that divides the wine industry. This year’s event is March 6 & 7 and I will be there on Saturday. Here I am last year rubbing elbows with Gary Pisoni. He makes some fines wines. Most photos from this event are a little out-of-focus. I have no idea why…

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Getty Center Field Trip. Join the Wine Jerk and learn something. April.DSC02244[NOT ENDORSED BY THE GETTY IN ANY WAY]

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A [very] brief history of MARDI GRAS

A [very] brief history of MARDI GRAS

The Wine Jerk was in New Orleans for the first days of Mardi Gras. What a great time! More on my trip in a later post. This post is just to give you the reader a brief history of Mardi Gras. Enjoy!

 

Many Americans associate Mardi Gras with drunken debauchery and women baring their breasts for cheap colored beads. But most of the season’s celebrations take place outside of the raucous French Quarter, in family-filled neighborhoods such as the tree-lined Garden District. There, parents and kids await daytime parades, many utilizing modified ladders with seats on top. There, children are ideally positioned to catch beads and other “throws” — plastic coins, stuffed animals, cups, Frisbees, etc. — from passing floats. During Carnival season, tree branches along popular parade routes are often covered with hanging sets of gaudily colored beads.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.56.25 PMHere are some shots The Wine Jerk took:

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Literally meaning “Fat Tuesday,” Mardi Gras is the culmination of a weeks-long Carnival season that ends on Ash Wednesday. While impromptu foot and horseback parades had been a regular New Orleans occurrence for decades, it was in 1857 that the first “krewe” — private groups with semi-mythological namesakes that organize thematic parades — was established. This 1879 picture [below] details a parade by Rex, an all-male krewe whose leader is known as the “King of Carnival.” The Krewe of Rex established the official Mardi Gras colors of green, gold, and purple.

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Some important dates:

1699 – Oldest record of Mardi Gras celebration.

1743 – Written accounts of masks and Carnival Balls are widespread.

1856 – The first Krewe, the Mystic Krewe, of Comus is founded by 6 men in the French Quarter.

1875 – Mardi Gras is declared a state holiday in Louisiana.

1972 – Last year that  floats are allowed in the French quarter.

2006 – Mardi Gras is held, in a much smaller spectrum, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

This is a photo from a parade that year. I feel something when I look at this. A mix of happy and sad.-WJ
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Don’t Eat the Baby

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.56.39 PMIn a city well renowned for its food culture, the act of purchasing a King Cake is a beloved part of Mardi Gras. Sold only during the Carnival season, king cake is a large braided Danish pastry, typically spiced with cinnamon and covered with green, purple, and gold sugar, corresponding to Mardi Gras’ colors. Socked away inside the cake is a tiny plastic baby, and whoever discovers the little tyke in their slice is required to buy the next king cake (or host the next party).

20150204_113042The above is from a front door in Metarie.

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The Old Days, Bardolino Pairing, Tokaji Aszu

The Old Days.

Look at this picture of the Intersection of Laurel Canyon Blvd and Ventura Blvd. Wow. I was just there today, and I can assure you it looks different. Now, there are 2 CVS stores on either side of the street, just staring at each other blankly. And an Urban Outfitters, for some reason. However, the bus stop is still here. 299668_2473520047143_187245487_n

Truth In Advertising Award [1952]
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Mistral Tasting

This was a great tasting at Mistral, my favorite restaurant in The Valley. 2008 The FMC, a Chenin Blanc that makes you sit up and take notice. A world-class effort, to be sure. The Ramey was certainly a treat and of course we love Brunello. The Leviathan was made by Andy Erickson. IMG-20150114-01557

Upstairs with The Wine Jerk January Tasting
“Mostly Italian, with some Cab for Bruce”

Now this was a great tasting. Some very nice Italian wines and a couple of great 2012 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignons.
Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio is one of my personal favorites. A true stand-out in the sometimes boring world of Pinot Grigio. The Cavalier Pepe Greco di Tufo was a real eye-opener for a lot of our guests. A virtual unknown, this is a supremely satisfying and serious wine. Cavalchina Bardolino is a textbook example of this wine region. I have included more on Greco di Tufo and Bardolino later in this post. I must tell you, this 2006 Ridolfi Brunello di Montalcino was superb. It could have lasted for 15 more years, to be sure. However, it was drinking very nice. It makes me smile when I can go to the classic regions and pull out a winner, almost every time. This was a big, powerful wine with finesse and a true sense of place. And to finish, some Somona County Enkidu Cabernet Sauvignon. The VJB Estate Sonoma Valley Cabernet was decanted and ready to rock in about 30 minutes. Rich, chocolatey and full of Cabernet power. I remember early in my wine career when Sonoma was poo-pooed as second-tier to Napa. Not any more. The name of the tasting says it all. I called Busy Bruce and he said “Italian Wines…oh and some Cabernet”. Boom! The Wine Jerk delivers.

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A must for all wine nerds is the World Atlas Of Wine. It is available here. I highly recommend the digital version on iTunes now. It truly is a invaluable resource for all wine region-related questions. Look at this map!Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 11.19.27 AM

Bardolino

This wine comes from the Province of Verona.  You can see it in the above map. Think “Romeo & Juliet” This is a great Bardolino primer from Wine-Searcher.com. Like its more famous neighbor Valpolicella, Bardolino is made from a blend of Corvina and Rondinella grapes, complemented by up to 20% Molinara. In the past decade or so the traditional blend has been beefed up with additions of such grapes as Barbera, Sangiovese, Marzemino, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are permitted up to 20% in total under the DOCG’s production laws. Here is a fun graphic I found for paring Bardolino.

CARTOLINA_abbinamenti_new-02Greco Di Tufo

Oh, now here is a great wine region. Lost among the more famous DOCG wines of Italy is Greco Di Tufo. Greco di Tufo wines stand out from the crowd thanks to the unique characteristics of the sulfur- and tufa-rich volcanic and clay soils; it is believed that these lend the wine its perfume and mineral complexity. The refreshing, crisp white wines are known for their aromatic notes of lemons, pears and toasted almonds and a lingering mineral finish.

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1967 Monimpex Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos

I hope everyone can appreciate just how special this bottle is. The history of Tokaji is fascinating, I encourage everyone to take a look. This is truly a noble wine. “Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum”

This particular bottle falls under the Aszu category. What does that mean, you ask? Let’s ask Wikipedia:
Aszú: This is the world-famous sweet, topaz-colored wine known throughout the English-speaking world as Tokay.

The original meaning of the Hungarian word aszú was “dried”, but the term aszú came to be associated with the type of wine made with botrytised(i.e. “nobly” rotten) grapes. The process of making Aszú wine is as follows.

Aszú berries are individually picked, then collected in huge vats and trampled into the consistency of paste.
Must or wine is poured on the aszú dough and left for 24–48 hours, stirred occasionally.
The wine is racked off into wooden casks or vats where fermentation is completed and the aszú wine is to mature. The casks are stored in a cool environment, and are not tightly closed, so a slow fermentation process continues in the cask, usually for several years.
The concentration of aszú was traditionally defined by the number of puttony of dough added to a Gönc cask (136 liter barrel) of must. Nowadays the puttony number is based on the content of sugar and sugar-free extract in the mature wine. Aszú ranges from 1 puttonyos to 6 puttonyos, with a further category called Aszú-Eszencia representing wines above 6 puttonyos. Unlike most other wines, alcohol content of aszú typically runs higher than 14%. Annual production of aszú is less than one percent of the region’s total output.
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Until next time…rest well and dream of large women.
Wine Jerk OUT

 

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January 2015: Golf & Wine in Southern California

Welcome back friends. I hope you had a hangover-free holiday season. I know I did.

Let’s just get right to it, shall we? First, comic relief:

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Golf on December 25, 2014 in Palm Springs, California

We teed off at the Legend Course of Tahquitz Creek Golf Club. This course was designed by William Bell and used to be the Palm Springs Municipal Golf Course. There is so much character on and around the Legend course. A true Palm Springs treasure.

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I just love this old postcard. I moved to PS in 1982. I spent most of my life there. I try to visit as often as I can.Greetings_from_Palm_Springs_-_Golf_Course_postcard_(1960s)

Look at the view from this tee box! It hasn’t changed much in 50-plus years.DSC02897 DSC02884

 

Music of the Year
[Or, a late look at the best of 2014]

This year we enjoyed a lot of great live music. Big names in huge venues and virtual unknowns in intimate settings. I am going to keep it short and say this: Support The Arts.

Jazz Records
I have gotten to middle-age, I suppose. I find myself buying jazz records and listening to all sorts of clips of old jazz and new jazz, remakes and originals long forgotten. I know it’s cliché but I love big-bands and soloists and the New Orleans Polyphony. So many masters in this great art. Too many to name. But if you like jazz, let’s talk about a Jazz & Wine tasting. Seriously. This week: Cannonball Adderly

Banks – Goddess
I think the album as a whole is very good. But I’m sure you have heard of her. So I’m not gonna provide any links…

Windmills – Broken Record
Now this is a completely DIY record. A couple of creative and talented guys that are free to do whatever they want on a record. And the result is wonderful. The music? Oh, it’s hip-hop. But it has a little more going on. I don’t know how to describe it, umami, perhaps?
The link is here: http://windmills.bandcamp.com/album/broken-record
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Enough tangents, Wine Jerk! Talk to us about wine.

Very well. Let’s see some pictures.

2009 Paradigm Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley.
This is a special bottle that I opened for a birthday dinner. I decanted it about 2 hours. SUPERB. So good, all I could muster was this fuzzy shot. I apologize for nothing.

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Holiday Party 2014.
We had two kind of gumbo. A smoky Chicken & Andouille Sausage gumbo and a spicy seafood gumbo with crab, shrimp, okra and some serious heat. We drank some goodies. The Clio stole the show. And of course, the Jaffurs Petite Sirah was outstanding. The Peter Cellar Rosé was an awesome go-between for the gumbo.IMG-20141221-01502 A shot of some of the finest wines I have had the honor of selling  and tasting.IMG_0887 DSC00180 Old Bordeaux And when we do Wine Events, this is what I mean by ‘Cheese and Nibbles’  Not this exact tray, but perhaps we add some quince paste and truffles? Every event is a unique experience.DSC02859

Van Dorn Gourmets

Here’s a cool store that I happened upon one day in Burbank. If you love to cook, then you will love this place. Spices, kitchen gadget that are AWESOME, and a knowledgable staff make this a great place to shop.
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Van Dorn Gourmets
3212 W Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
http://www.vandorngourmets.com

 

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That about all for now. I’m going to keep trying to break 100. And drink better wine. Talk soon.IMG_3266

 

 

And since I don’t want me the above to be the last image in my post, I leave you with this:
CeeCee enjoying her new bed.IMG-20141220-01499

 

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Turkey Day Advice, The Big O and Sauternes

Turkey Day Advice, The Big O and Sauternes

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This week we need wines that pair with turkey and relatives we may or may not like. There are many familiar choices including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Grenache. Rosé is also a good choice, since I live in Southern California. The above line-up is from Beckman, one of my favorite producers in the Santa Ynez Valley. Great winery.

So, what pairs with turkey? The answer is not so clear-cut. While Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are safe choices, it’s really about your [and your guests] palette. Make sure you bring out wines that are low in acid and high in fruit. No heavy tannins please. I would like to say that Grenache, both red and white, is your friend and this is a great chance to discover this grape. And ask your local wine shop to point you to BEAUJOLAIS CRU wines. I try to have a few adventurous bottles and a few old favorites. That way, if the new stuff flops, we have backup! If you are entertaining, make sure that you have plenty of water available for guests. If you are a guest, make sure you bring a bottle that you would like to receive.

That’s all. Let’s look at a few wines that might make you happy.

Beckman Estate Grenache, Santa Ynez Valley, California

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Pali Huntington Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, California. The 2012 was just named Top 100 by a big-time magazine. I like it anyway. About $20 and available in a lot of places. PUT THAT LA CREMA DOWN!

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Jaffurs Grenache Blanc, Thompson Vineyard, Santa Barbara County [L]

Gérard Bertrand Cote des Roses, Languedoc, Sud de France [R]
{Seriously, I am bringing this Rosé to everyone’s house for Thanksgiving. Fair Warning}
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The Big O*

Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988), also known by the nickname the Big O, was an American singer-songwriter, best known for his trademark sunglasses, distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads.
That was a nice intro. But there is more. Roy Orbison never gets old. Seriously. I was born 40 years and 70 miles away from Roy Orbison. His music was in my life from the very beginning. When I rediscovered him as an adult I was always in awe of his understated style and powerful voice. Here is a small sample for you to enjoy. I hope you all buy some Roy this week! Why Roy? Why not? I am planning an “Evening with Roy and Red Wine” event. Wines that are full of understated power and finesse. And a voice that can make even the hardest man cry.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON GRAPES

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Best place to be this holiday season:
THE GETTY CENTER

Does it ever get old? Not to me. I am a unabashed Getty lover. Some of the world’s finest art and artifacts are here. I have seen a Van Gogh with my own eyes and learned all about the Post-War Modern Art movement of Japan. I have seen 200 year old bedroom sets, Baroque rooms the size of gymnasiums and 1000 year-old bibles. But the building itself might be the single greatest accomplishment in terms of modern architecture and preservation of the arts. Here are a few shots taken by your truly. An icon of the modern art world. I hope you get a chance to go. IT’S FREE, you only pay for parking. Bring as picnic or get lunch there. Bring your cameras [NO FLASH IN THE BUILDING!] and some soft shoes. See you there.

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The noble wines of SAUTERNES

OK, enough with the culture. Let’s talk about Sauternes. Here is a quick refresher on the wine area known as Sauternes. The noble dessert wine of Bordeaux, Sauternes starts out bright yellow and turns into a copper-colored wine later in life. The grape used is called Semillon, with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc in the mix, and they achieve great concentration because of Noble Rot. Click the link for more info. These were older vintages and they were cellared properly. I have been blessed by the wine gods to be able to taste these wines and talk about them. I truly enjoyed them. I know what you are thinking: “Pics or GTFO!”.  Very well then.

1970 Rieussec, with proper cake.
Well, this wine was amazing. Fresh and soft, we felt it tasted very young. The balance between alcohol, sugars, acid and body is a feat unto itself.
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1976 Chateáteau d’Yquem. Forgive me for the mediocre quality of the photos. My hands are shaking from opening it! This was one of the best wines I have ever had the pleasure of sipping. A true experience of flavor, tradition and enjoyment. I said to myself “I didn’t know it could be like this!” IMG-20141109-01412

Yes, yes…Let me add a B&W photo so you can see the awesome color. WineJerk fail.IMG-20141109-01417

That’s all for now. Be excellent to each other. I leave you with a cute dog picture. Say hi to Spotty Pippen!

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[*Not to be confused with Oscar Robertson]

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