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SHORT STORIES

May 04, 1986|PATT MORRISON

The Caveman of Sonoma County Back East, a miner digs for coal. In California, he digs for wine. Well, not to find wine but to find a home for it. Alf Burtleson is a Sonoma County contractor who has a hand in what makes Sonoma County famous--wine making. Wines age superbly in the damp, motionless underground air, and Burtleson, armed with his English carbide drill, has tunneled about a dozen "Home-Not- Too- Sweet Homes" for various vineyards, refurbishing century-old hand-dug wine dugouts and drilling new ones. Burtleson, who grows a few Chardonnay grapes himself, and has reverentially gaped at the "really marvelous" miles of cool, lofty caves of the French champagne-makers, ordinarily digs utility tunnels for PG&E. Unlike "the typical tunnel we do for PG&E," the wine caverns are there for the touring. "My crew likes them a lot--they get a visiting aunt from Michigan, you can show her, 'I dug this cave.' " Auntie will have to take his word for it, but in France, he says wistfully, "whoever does their work at the winery, they put a plaque with their name on it, like a little monument. It's an idea." Emily Postscript Worried about that lab nerd just promoted to the front office? Anxious that foul breath, sweaty handshakes or an excess of assertiveness training is alienating your clients? Judi Kaufman thinks she can help, with executive etiquette, a crack-the-riding-crop approach to the social boo-boos of the five-figure set. "When people are successful, they tend to be under a lot of stress, and the first thing that goes is their manners." Kaufman, who counseled some Olympic Games soirees, was herself piqued into starting "Etiquette International" when her host at a $1,000-per-couple dinner left before any of the guests did. Now, her seminars have been put to the fires of corporate faux pas , often in a "gourmet therapy" setting: a deliberately intimidating, six-course candle-lit dinner in a Beverly Hills hotels suite. "It is rough going through a manners program." She also makes skyscraper calls to diagnose corporate social ailments: flawed introductions, shifty eye contact, or the yuppie exec who "knows fine wine and the best restaurants but neglects people." Although what is propriety in a Hollywood recording studio may be a horrible gaffe in an high-tech Orange County board room, the business generations reared on one-minute managing, dressing for success, and looking out for No. 1 are equal offenders, she says. "People are tired of bad manners."

With a Song in My Sights Joseph Nicoletti's Political Maxim No. 1: Don't get mad; get on the charts. The Newport Beach singerhas written a new-mood single, "Freedom Is My Name (The Anti-Terrorist Song)," a Ram-Bo-Diddley message for "the rights of personal freedom." Sample lyrics, sung in what he calls "American Airlines harmony": "You've had your day of making me pay / Now I'm getting up off the floor. . . . You hear this song, our faith is strong."Don't get the 38-year-old Nicoletti wrong: This tune is "assertive, not angry. I didn't mean we'd take F-20 jets over there" (a cautiously vague "there"). But Nicoletti's fellow boomers--baby, not bomb--"want rock with rhetoric," like the righteous days of Baez and Dylan. "They want that feeling in the music." All power to the Top 40.

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