Wine Country 2019

A photographer strives for perfection. So, he takes shot after shot hoping that each new snapshot will be better than the previous one. Needless to say that a photographer is also an addict; he cannot stop shooting.

This long preamble is to explain why yesterday in Sonoma I took around 1000 pictures (with different cameras) that I had to process the next day. I had to make difficult choices and dispose of about 600 pictures… and that’s why I am late with my report.

You might also notice that the pictures are not in a sequential order due to the fact that they were taken with different recording devices.

This being said, Sunday’s tournament turned out to be a memorable day due first to its attendance (60 doublettes), to the caliber of the contestants and maybe also to the non-negligible purses offered to the winners. For those who were not there, the first place is the Concours netted $1600.00 for the winners.

Players came from everywhere, including Mexico (Memo Garcia and his compañeros), and the place sounded for a while like the United Nations.

The weather also cooperated. It was not too cold and not to hot, just perfect pétanque weather.

The tournament started Saturday and continued on Sunday. The Valley of the Moon by the way, did an excellent job organizing this event. Maggie Lane and her Merrymen outdid themselves. Congratulations guys for an outstanding job.

A lot of things happened that day and I won’t be able to cover everything in detail, but I was privileged to witness the Concours’ finals and it was a doozy. Pétanque at its best.

Before I go any further, a brief historical note. Since the 12th century, Montjoie Saint Denis! was the battle cry of the Kings of France.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but in our area a new battle cry has emerged. It is: Jean-Michel! From now on, before you go to battle, proudly perform your new haka: Jean-Michel!

The finalists were Damien Hureau and Eric Moutard on one side and Mark Greenberg and Bruno le Boursicaud on the other side. All champs in their own right.

It was a very tight and exciting game. There were “carreaux” galore and fantastically accurate shots. The cochonnet was shot out five times, on purpose. I will repeat myself one more time and restate that “pétanque is good for you, it keeps you humble.”

To play at this level, you have to know how to shoot, how to point and how to execute “plombés.” You also have to understand the game thoroughly and make the right decisions when it matters.

Until the end, the conclusion was in the balance. The players reached an 11/11 score and anybody could have won.

Mark Greenberg and Bruno le Boursicaud did it and concluded 13/11.

Damien Hureau, Eric Moutard, Bruno le Boursicaud, Mark Greenberg

A memorable day! Glad I could have witnessed it.


Final results per Maggie Lane (VOMPC President)

Concours A
1st Place: Mark Greenberg / Bruno le Boursicaud
2nd Place: Damian Hureau / Eric Moutard
3rd & 4th: Speter Gilles / Didier Pelerud
Jean-Pierre Subrenat / Jean-Francois Hemon
5th – 8th: Gaby Ravelojaona / Santatra Ravelojaona
Ed Porto / Rene Van Kesteren
Peter Mathis / Mickey Coughlin
Michael Kronenborg / Will Poire

Concours B
1st Place:  Wolfgang Kurz / Manu LeBihan
2nd Place: Paul Yang / Jer Thao
3rd & 4th:  By Vang / Fue Vang
Bill Miller / Delio Cuneo

Consolante A 
1st Place: PJ Mallette / Bekah Howe
2nd Place: Carlos Couto / Eric Thiebault
3rd & 4th: Memo Garcia / Guadalupe Palau
Paul Bissonnette / Michel Yang

Consolante B
1st Place: Ed Clay / Ted Ricketts
2nd Place: Erin McTaggart / Mike Menefee

As usual, feel free to download any of my pictures, but when posting any of them on social media, please include photo credit (Photos by Alain Efron). Thank you. 


Today, like it or not, we are all “connected”. We can instantly reach anybody by phone, tablet, computer, etc. but talking face to face with another human being has become less common. Everything we do seem more impersonal, not involving personal interest.

Do not hug me!

When we need a bit of information, instead of calling somebody we turn to the web. We pan for data through Google. It is way more efficient. You don’t have to go through greetings, small talk or thanks. Just show me what I need and I will do the rest.

It is more productive that’s true, but also more impersonal. It suits some but disturbs others. Today, you could probably manage to live for a month without ever having to talk to another human being. Our machines will talk to other machines to minister our wishes.

But there is a price to pay for this convenience. By relying on bots, we lose our ability to relate to other people. Everything we do now is lacking emotion, human warmth. It becomes thus easier to start a war just by pushing buttons.

At the outset, America was basically an Anglo-Saxon country, with everything that it implies. Traditionally, Anglos were more reserved; they lacked the warmth, the exuberance of their Latin cousins.

But lately, things have changed. Originally, once an American had shaken your hand, he would never do it again. At your next meeting, a simple “hello” would suffice.

In the last few months though, American males have taken to embrace each other. And in true American fashion, they went overboard. They now embrace everybody anywhere.

In my book, you hug somebody after a long absence or in a case of high emotion. Going for a bear hug each time you see somebody is an exaggerated (often embarrassing) gesture.

I am not anti-hugs mind you; I truly appreciate them when they are appropriate, but I would not make it a regular routine. I am more flexible with that though when the hugging comes from the opposite sex.

It does not mean that you should absolutely rein in your natural inclination, but there is a time and a place for everything.

Male bonding yes, but in moderation, por favor!

Besos y abrazos a todos.



Tamara & Alain

“Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.”  W. C. Fields 

My domestic partner and I are about to embark on an exciting safari, and ten days before departure time we I am pathetically unprepared.
Make no mistake, a safari is no ordinary vacation. One needs to carefully plan for it and any oversight could be costly.

We need porters, camera bearers, trackers, cooks and translators to communicate with the various tribes that we will encounter. We also have to dress properly. I have set aside a pair of safari trousers, a hat, a bandana and a sarong, an elegantly casual outfit for dinner and of course my special undergarments.
My partner keeps her traveling wardrobe under wraps.

We also have to pack some “meds” such as insect repellent and anti-malaria tablets for some unforeseen circumstances.

No trophy hunting for us by the way. Unlike pathetic small-penis hunters, we are not going there to slaughter any living creature. I will be shooting exclusively natives in their natural habitat. I have plenty of digital ammunition and I will be merciless.
I will give you a chance to watch my “tableau de chasse” upon my return.

So where are we going? you may ask. This is a closely guarded secret known only to a few hundred of our closest friends. The only thing that I can tell you, is that our expedition is going to involve air travel and fluvial navigation.
The Amazon? The Yangtze? We are not talking…

Of course, like Stanley, I will try to keep a journal. Later on, if I am well disposed, I might tell you about our drunken parties or any other debauchery.

Some old friends will meet us in a secret location. They might carry damaging information about some of our presidential candidates, and if they do, they will pass it to me. I will use this as I see fit.

In the meantime, I am still pondering what kind of zapatos to bring along. We are going to an area known for sudden changes in weather and we don’t want to be caught with our pants down.

We hope that the country won’t go to pieces while we are away. Nowadays sexual revelations can explode like IED’s and blow to smithereens the most powerful political machines. If you are planning to run, clean up your radioactive closets my friends.

Adios, arrivederci, ciao, auf wiedersehen, paka, see ya, a la revoyure

Captain Alain