I was a gamer as a child. Not Atari, or Sega, but a lot of whiffle ball, Nok Hockey, ping pong, and pool. My brother and I had a small pocket billiards table that must have come from my grandparents’ house in Long Island, and we had it set up in the smaller of two barns on our property. This barn was also the homerun fence for our whiffle ball games: over the barn, out of the park.
Vassar College had a pool table in every dormitory, so that made my school choice easy. I continued my training in earnest, and hung out with the campus sharks. The simplicity and timelessness of the game appealed to me, as did the feeling of power that came from swiftly and silently shutting down opponents. At the table, I was known for my impatience, and there was a cartoon image of me drawn on the Cushing poolroom wall, holding a cue stick and yelling ‘shoot!’ Eight ball has many variations, so my college friend and billiards guru, Seth Legnini, wrote up a set of house rules to address the basic disputes about scratches and kisses, balls in hand, and such. It also included some good advice, like “if you have chalk, chalk a lot.” And the very first rule, our golden rule: “Start simple; build something beautiful.”
Exactly fifteen years ago, my pool career peaked. My Monday night league team out of the Raccoon Lodge in lower Manhattan won the 2004 New York regionals, and the American Pool Association flew us to Las Vegas to compete in the APA finals; the amateur pool player’s dream. It was my first time in Las Vegas and it struck me as a celebration of the worst of America. My wife, Julia, and I had just started dating, and she came out to surprise me at the competition. I won my match, but the rest of the team crapped out, and I learned a few things about myself: I could kick ass under pressure, I never needed to go back to Vegas, and I was deeply in love with Julia.
We started Oakland Yard as a simple place to taste and buy wine and to meet friends, and you all have turned it into something beautiful. For love of love, and for love of Oakland, come join us this week for a tasting flight. No games and no impatience, just a slew of tantalizing wines to satisfy your curious palate.
TONIGHT: Thursday Night Flights! PORTUGUESE WHITES & SPANISH REDS: Iberian wines from the Minho, Navarra and the Penedes. Flights $12 from 5-9 and wines by the glass until 9pm.
SATURDAY 8/24: CABERNET FRANC Tasting: Four styles of Franc, from light and fruity to dark and serious. Flights $15 from 2-6pm and wines by the glass until 9pm.
SUNDAY 8/25: SKIN-MACERATED WHITE WINES: ‘Orange’ wines from Austria, Italy and the Republic of Georgia. Flights $15 from 2-6 and wines by the glass until 8pm.