Ric Ocasek and the genesis of V.O.S. Selections
Did you know Ric Ocasek from The Cars was somehow connected to the birth of V.O.S. Selections?
“With the passing of Ric Ocasek on Sunday, I feel that I have to shout out my tremendous debt of gratitude to him and his band, The Cars.
By 1986, I was focused on the idea of moving to France and somehow getting involved in the wine business. By hook or by crook I knew this was the move I was destined to make. I had a free airline ticket to Paris after accumulating a lot of points flying back and forth from San Francisco to New York. I had contacted Stephen Spurrier who offered me an internship (ie non-paying) at his famous Paris wine bar/shop, the Caves Madeleine. Spurrier was still enjoying his reputation as a wine superstar-bad-boy for embarrassing the French 10 years earlier at the Judgement of Paris. My Belgian girlfriend’s mom had offered me her Daihatsu, a four-door sewing-machine with wheels that had no business being on the road (so terrible they never were sold in the USA) for my use while in Europe. What I didn’t have was enough money for meager day-to-day expenses that would take me to the vineyards of France.
I came up with the idea of sub-letting my studio apartment in Greenwich Village to make a few extra dollars, enough to get me started until I could find some employment in France. So I placed an ad in the Village Voice. Nothing. I placed another ad, and this very nice, very professional woman called me up and asked if she could see the apartment. She was a broker. I knew that subletting at a profit was not kosher, so I was very worried that somehow I would get caught out and my scheme would be ruined. But when she showed up, she got right down to business. She had been hired by the musical group The Cars to find housing for the entire entourage while they made an album at nearby Electric Lady Studios on 8th Street. The Cars were at the height of their fame (though this would prove to be their last album, Door to Door). She didn’t negotiate. She just told me what they were “willing” to pay to house one of their sound engineers—$1500/month—and that it had to be open-ended until they finished the album, which could take months. I couldn’t believe my luck as I was only paying $350/month for my rent-controlled apartment and I had no interest in returning to New York for a long while.
I was in business! My boot-strap operation had pulled itself up and I was off to France to begin an adventure that would become V.O.S. Selections.”