This Unholy Mess


Hoax for the Foax in Napa

Let’s talk hoaxes. If you’ve lived long enough, you’re aware of just how prevalent they’ve become in our world over the years. The famous U.S. government staging of a moon landing in 1969 is almost as good an example as the supposed death of Elvis in 1977 (reports of which are still giving him, at age 87, a good laugh as he lives out his days on his beautiful secluded estate on the Brazilian coast). More recently, we have equally outrageous if less well-known examples of hoaxes, such as the existence of Kevin McCarthy’s soul.
As an aficionado of hoaxes, I was intrigued to hear a local rumor that the old Napa Soda Springs Resort was to be resurrected. The idea that this 857-acre property, founded in 1856 as a spa-getaway for the well-heeled classes, would be completely rebuilt and even expanded seemed pretty far-fetched. Yet after exhaustive research which involved reading two accounts of the project in regional media, as well as overhearing two older gentlemen discussing the project in the produce section of Safeway, I have concluded that the rumors are indeed true. This is no hoax, though I do have reservations about some of the details.
The purchaser of the long-abandoned estate is supposedly “RH,” the organization formerly known as Restoration Hardware, now making the transition from being upscale furniture peddlers to also being purveyors of ultra-luxury dining and lodging experiences in various parts of the U.S. and the world. Even for a group with deep pockets, the scale of the Soda Springs project will makes it a crown-jewel of glittery ostentation.
Unfortunately, it is also likely to be awarded the New York Times Eco-Disaster of the Decade. This sad fact is directly related to another hoax, one of the most widespread—and pernicious—we’ve seen in the last forty or fifty years: climate change. The whole idea was bush-wa from the get-go. As our former “president” has repeatedly insisted without evidence, it is simply an idea manufactured by the Chinese to cripple our economy.
Yet you can still expect to hear armies of environmentalist-types nattering away about desperate water shortages, traffic congestion, watershed protection, wildfire risks—the usual laundry list employed to attempt to derail a delightfully vulgar and irresponsible project such as this. They don’t seem to understand that all their compelling, scientifically verifiable objections will melt away, as always, in the face of visionary, self-destructive genius and tons of money.
So the deal is as real as it is gloriously crass and disastrous. But I would be remiss in my role as a member of the hoax cognoscenti if I didn’t reveal my theory about one of its crucial elements: the entity behind the renovation of the property is actually New Belgium Brewing, the people who promised us the “Voodoo Ranger IPA Action Park.”
These people are crafty in more ways than craft beer. First they give us the elaborate ad campaign advertising a 136-acre park full of homey, middle-America attractions, after which they “unmask” the whole effort as a hoax intended to poke fun at the Napa Valley’s reputation for snobbery. And then the coup de grace: they finalize the much larger Soda Canyon deal before anyone is the wiser. Sheer brilliance.
It turns out that New Belgium Brewing is as susceptible as RH or practically any other company to the siren song of lucre. How could they resist abandoning their down-to-earth, beer-quaffing image when Napa County is obviously crying out for yet another brainlessly opulent venue, and when a few fringe-element scientists are still willing to posit that, no matter the reckless damage to the environment, there will always be a recognizable planet to host their frolics?
I admit to being tantalized by details slated for the park. The culinary centerpiece will be a restaurant called “The Midas Schnitzel,” a beautiful venue featuring lots of their foamy brew along with a special signature schnitzel, dredged in egg batter and actual 24-carat gold flakes, then fried to a literal golden brown. Talk about rich flavor!
Visitors interested in the breathtaking panorama of a countryside ravaged by increasingly severe drought and astonishingly careless development will be tempted to visit the top of Rapunzel’s Castle, reached by a fun ride on the Hair Lift. At the top, a lively round of beer pong will be in order, and—surprise!—the winner will receive a gift certificate good for one 16-ounce Wagyu rib-eye steak at the Beer Garden Restaurant (a three-thousand-dollar value!).
And these are just a few of the fabulous experiences awaiting those rich and insane and irresponsible enough to participate. So what are you waiting for? Other than completion of the renovation, a winning lottery ticket, and a total loss of conscience about the environment, I mean?

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