Sunday, December 26, 2004

Will They Never Learn?
Not a big deal, and certainly nothing new. But must East Coast media always be so clueless about something so basic as West Coast geography? One expects them to misunderstand the culture, and of course they almost always do. The lay of the land, however, is easily attainable, maps being widely available in bookstores, libraries, the Internet -- one imagines even at the copy desk at The New York Times. Alas, the latest offense is one I've seen repeated dozens of times in recent months: The placing of "Sideways," Alexander Payne's brilliant little film about life, love and wine, in Northern California.


The film is set in Santa Barbara County's wine country. Not Napa's. Not Sonoma's. Not Mendocino's. Not even the Santa Cruz Mountains' or San Clara Valley's (there really once was a wine country there). Miles and Jack and the gang cavort a mere couple of hours up the 101 from Hollywood, ferchrisakes. Yet here's Stephen Holden writing (and, worse, nobody on the desk catching): "'Sideways': The story of two buddies on a wine-tasting excursion in northern California ... "

No. No!

Well, the good news is that Holden has "Sideways" on his Top Ten list for the year. But still.