David Ruskin Leaves Basenotes

He answers to the handle "Mattmeleg." Recently, Mattmeleg posted a homespun perfume formula for an old-school chypre in a thread in the basenotes DIY forum, in what appears to be a hearty (and headstrong) creative spirit. His formula contains an accord called "Mousse de Saxe," and according to this article the term "Mousse de Saxe" has "lapsed into the public domain," which I suppose suggests its meaning could be taken a bit more liberally than it has been in years past.

Matt's contribution was stark, direct, without much bravado. The formula speaks for itself: this shit is bold. Compose it, wear it, and you might repel everyone within a three mile radius. Then again, you might not. You might smell fantastic. I have no idea because I'm not a perfumer. When it comes to how chemicals are diluted and mixed, I'd be more helpful landing a 737 in the middle of the Pacific during a hurricane.

When someone posts their ideas in a public forum, the decent thing to do is approach them in an inviting, open-minded, and just plain friendly manner, like member "Alysoun" did when she threw Matt a link to another thread on chypres. Member "gandhajala" quibbled a little over the applicability of the term "Mousse de Saxe," because Matt's accord lacks isobutyl quinoline, apparently a key component, which from my experience smells very stark and leathery, almost like an old chapped saddle covered in wood varnish, if you can imagine that!

Gandhajala's input was a little less enthusiastic than one might have expected, but he qualified his concerns rather constructively, saying:
"I'm not a perfumer, but looking at your materials I can't help [but] think it is a long way off the actual Mousse de Saxe specialty. For that reason, I'd suggest giving it a different name and, if you want Mousse de Saxe for your formula, order some of Christine's re-creation (assuming it is still available)."
Matt had responded to Gandhajala's concern about the missing material by saying:
"Yes, you are correct, isobutyl quinoline was traditionally used in Mousse de Saxe. And if you don`t have any isobutyl quinoline you can replace it with castoreum . . . Try mixing my formula, and smell and you`ll see that it still fits the odour profile of Mousse De Saxe."
Then along comes someone who goes by "David Ruskin" on the forum, and yeah, that's his real name. His input to Matt:
"No you can't, they smell nothing like each other."
That's all David says. No exposition on why, no alternatives are offered, no other information was proffered by this man. He simply tells Matt that he's wrong, and puts a period after it.

Maybe he thought this wouldn't piss the newbie off, but I know it would piss me off. His comment seemed antagonistic, and it wasn't the first time it seemed this way when addressing Matt. Ruskin had similar words for him in an earlier thread when the youngster wrote:
"Co2`s only dilute in water. not alcohol. I have the same agar wood. You can use it with 100% essential oils, just do not add ANY alcohol."
To which Ruskin replied:
"NO NO NO. Absolutely wrong. Many CO2 extracts are not very soluble in alcohol, a less polar solvent is required, but never water."
Ruskin is probably right about this, but whether or not he's right isn't the point. He seemed rude, and when people behave this way on the internet they set themselves up for unnecessary conflicts with others. Bigsly was rude to me six years ago and look how that turned out for him.

So who is David Ruskin, anyway? He was a perfumer for a company called CPL Aromas, which from the looks of its deliberately vague website is basically a functional fragrance development firm, although I'm not certain of that. Soaps, detergents, and reed diffusers are what I'm gleaning from their site. Prior to that he worked for Bush Boake Allen, which developed flavors, aroma chemicals, spice extracts, and essential oils. It was acquired several years ago by IFF.

One thing that has always concerned me a little about David is that he has established himself as a teacher, having coached aspiring noses at the London College of Fashion, and in 1998 he was the president of the British Society of Perfumers, yet to date I have no clue as to what he has created. What are his perfumes? Oddly enough, his interview on basenotes, which was conducted by Grant himself, yielded no information on that. This makes me wonder if his tenure at BBA was served as a chemist who simply created the materials used by perfumers, before graduating into CPL Aromas as a perfumer for soaps and reed diffusers.

I'm not denigrating Mr Ruskin here. He has clearly had a distinguished career in the field of perfumery, enough so that the BSP would elect him to be their president. However, without a clearer idea of the impact Mr. Ruskin has had on the field (his exact accomplishments are unknown to the public), it's a bit difficult to adopt an awestricken countenance in his presence. As far as I can tell, he's just another guy commenting on basenotes, and oh yeah, he's worked in a lab composing fragrances for thirty years, whatever that means.

Matt responds to David in kind, but goes a few steps further:
"isobutyl quinoline and castoreum smell nothing like each other David? Not even if the goodscent suggests they do? Perhaps the goodscentcompany is erroneous? Perhaps David is more well versed in perfumery then the collective minds behind thegoodscentcompany database, a database which thousands of perfumers turn to from around the world, on a nearly daily basis. From now forthwards, most of the worlds perfumers should turn to David for advice, and not the goodscentcompany."
What I find interesting here is that instead of stepping into the woods with David, Matt backs his position with a supported source, something I've also done repeatedly over the years. He's right, the database does suggest that castoreum fits the same odor profile as isobutyl quinoline. To an objective observer of this thread, we have Matt's word, with a citation, versus David's "just take my word for it" opinion, and unfortunately I can only classify it as an opinion because I have no clue if David Ruskin knows what he's talking about just by reading his comments.

Given that Matt has sourced his information, you would think David would just say something like, "Ok, maybe I'm off on this one," but no. Instead we get:
"I have not looked at the Good Scents' opinion, I do not have to. I have smelled and used both iso Butyl Quinoline, and various Castoreum bases, as well as genuine Castorium,and I know that IBQ , which is bitter green, and Castoreum, which is animalic and leathery, do not smell the same, or even similar. If you were to take a fragrance containing IBQ and replaced it with a similar amount of any Castoreum, you would notice the difference. Please do not be sarcastic with me when I express my opinion, an opinion that has formed over many years of Perfumery."
Basenotes groupthink kicks in, with a few members supporting what David says, and one member states:
"From a neutral standpoint, I will say that (from my personal experiences) TGSC is a immensely helpful resource. However, I wouldn't take everything there as gospel. Numerous times have I found information there to be 'off' or just not entirely accurate."
This is also interesting. I've noticed in the fragrance community that people tend to downplay or discredit established sources of information when they disagree with them, instead of wondering if they themselves are wrong. This happened when I interviewed Jeffrey Dame, and he supported my theory that fragrances spoil over time. Instead of just saying, "Ok, I was wrong," the blogger who disagreed with him attempted to discredit him as someone who didn't know what he was talking about. Unlike David Ruskin, Dame's credentials and career accomplishments are all over the internet for everyone to see, so this attempt to discredit him failed miserably (and was later followed by an interview with an "anonymous fragrance chemist," which was funny).

My personal experience with these two materials is limited, but I can say that isobutyl quinoline and castoreum are in the same ballpark, even if they don't really smell all that similar. The dark leathery aspect of isobutyl quinoline seems more at home in L'Air du Desert Marocain and Parfums Retro Grand Cuir than anything I've smelled castoreum in, but I could see the two materials being used side by side in either of those perfumes, or in castoreum-heavy fragrances like Dali Pour Homme or Antaeus. Castoreum has a dry, woody, earthy tone, and that isn't very far from the similarly dry, leathery hue of isobutyl quinoline. These aren't apples and oranges, people.

The biggest difference is that castoreum is a bit funky and musky, with a little bit of a "spoiled fruit" vanillic quality, and isobutyl quinoline is much starker and earthier, rather like vetiver root or raw fermented tobacco, without a hint of anything edible or animalic.

In any case, the thread rapidly devolved to the point where David wrote this:
"'mattmeleg' you have, on several occasions now, accused me of deliberately trying to confuse you, of patronising you and of trying to put you down. Despite my sincere denial of this, and my asking you to apologise for your gross libelling of me, you have not but continue in your wild and unpleasant attack on me. Again I repeat, how dare you. Well done 'mattmeleg' you have succeeded in doing what many others before you have failed to do. You have made this site so toxic to me that I no longer wish to continue contributing to it."
Surprisingly, a basenotes moderator did not jump onto the bandwagon of browbeating Matt, and instead wrote:
"New members have no obligation to genuflect to senior Basenoters no matter how skilled they are. We will not tolerate that senior members throw a fit and threaten libel just because they are being challenged. If you cannot treat each other with kindness and respect what are you doing here?"
This was quickly followed by a new thread by David, in which he said:
"Recent events here on Basenotes have stopped me enjoying myself. I always said that if that ever happened I would leave. I shall no longer be contributing to Basenotes. I wish all of those that I have shared my love of Perfumery with all the very best; goodbye."
The fact that David Ruskin threatened Matt with libel was the final nail in his basenotes coffin. First of all, you must have a reputation for yourself to have your name dragged through the mud, and beyond being a basenotes member, David has very little public reputation. To my knowledge nobody has heard of him; I certainly had never heard of Mr. Ruskin prior to my membership ten years ago. As I said earlier in this post, Mr. Ruskin clearly has a reputation within the profession, but he has never clarified that, and oddly enough nobody has ever asked him to. The fact that he was challenged by another member is hardly grounds to threaten that person with libel, and it's disturbing that this happened.

Secondly, what's with senior basenotes members acting like their word is the last? When David says, "Please do not be sarcastic with me when I express my opinion, an opinion that has formed over many years of Perfumery," we must wonder why he's capitalizing the "P" there. What are his "many years of Perfumery" supposed to bestow upon him? What are his actual years of perfumery, anyway? Why should his opinion be valued when it is directly contradicted by a database created and used by professionals in the field? Had Matt not cited the TGSC, his argument would have been much weaker, but without another citation from David to nullify Matt's sentiments, the "newbie" wins.

The moral of the story here is a simple one: you may have decades of experience, and a razor-sharp, encyclopedic knowledge of a certain subject matter, with all the winning points under your belt. However, if you can't be kind to people, if you're unnecessarily rude, mean spirited, and prone to temper tantrums when people don't automatically lick your boots, then being "right" won't help your argument in the least. You'll wind up looking unhinged, and in the absence of reinforcement for your bad behavior you'll have few options left but to sulk out and disappear. I'm not sure how the thread could have gone differently, but I'm willing to wager that if Mr. Ruskin had been nicer to Matt, he'd still be enjoying basenotes today.


  1. Where I live, it is forbidden to sell home made cosmetics. If you want to adventure yourself in the world of perfumery you have to consult with an actual Chemist to make sure your composition is sound and then you have to submit it to a lab that will further analyse the composition for safety.
    Evidently you cannot just produce it in your bedroom, back porch, shed or garage. You need a designated handling place that needs to be sterilized and well conform to regulations that applies to any handling of chemicals. IOW A proper lab environment.

    All these rules and regulations may sound exaggerated but they are in fact just the very basic necessities if you consider yourself serious enough to venture into the world of perfume making.

    All else is just an insult to the actual profession and only denotes a very naive and dangerous amateurism.

    1. This is all very interesting Natan, thanks for sharing this. It does lead to the obvious question though, and forgive me if you've told me this in the past and I've just forgotten it, but where do you live?

    2. Belgium, in the heart of Europe. I informed about perfume making and that last sentence is pretty much what I got when asking why other countries did not have such strict regulations.

  2. For several years, I have enjoyed reading your content. Like other readers of "From Pyrgos", I turn to your blog for its well-written fragrance reviews. But this latest essay makes me question why anyone should continue to pay attention to you.

    Perfumery, after all, is a matter of taste. So for us to take you seriously and trust your opinion, perhaps we should have some sense of your background, knowledge and taste level. But we know nothing about you. “Bryan Ross” is a pseudonym. And as far as we know, you have no credentials that would permit you any degree of expertise on the subject of fragrance.

    Until now, that hasn’t bothered me. Even if you’re not qualified to dispense advice, your fragrance reviews were always a joy to read, whether or not I happened to share your opinion. Besides, the nature of your blog is nothing of consequence. Expressing your personal impression of how something smells is insignificant. For me, your writing has always been the hook.

    Has something happened to you? Have you grown bored of reviewing fragrances? Why bother to get into this sort of thing? Isn’t it enough that we are interested in your thoughts on fragrance? Must you now propound to be the arbiter of proper behavior? This is especially odd considering that you yourself were banned from Basenotes, referring to them as “those fuckers...”. High-toned, indeed, Mr. Ross.

    Your commentary on Mr. Ruskin is all a bit sophomoric, don’t you think? Even worse is the hypocrisy of you taking moral high ground in this Basenotes imbroglio.

    1. John, there are a few things wrong with your argument. First, my name is not a pseudonym. Look me up on Facebook if you doubt that, or email me at bryan.ross.molinelli at gmail. So there's problem number one.

      You're right in one regard: I have no expertise in perfumery, nor do I claim to have any. What I do have a background in (due to my profession) is behavior, and what is and isn't appropriate behavior for a functional social interaction. You ask what happened to me, and why I no longer review fragrances. Are you truly reading the blog? Because I just reviewed a fragrance the other day, and have continued doing so all year. What makes me wonder about your readership is that articles like this one have also been posted regularly since 2011, and many of them were far pithier than this. So I can't help but ask you, how much, and for how long have you really been reading this blog? Because your comment suggests it's been for maybe six months, which isn't very long for a blog that's been around for seven years.

      But in fairness I'll answer your question. No, I'm not bored with reviewing fragrances, nor am I bored on commenting about the social politics of perfume on the Internet. And no, sorry, I really don't think my commenatary on Mr. Ruskin is "sophomoric," because what he did the other day to "Mattmeleg" and has done to a few other members over the years was inappropriate and beneath him. A grown man throwing a temper tantrum in the forum because someone proved him wrong - this is the key here.

      Basenotes has been an abysmal forum for years now, and several excellent personalities have been forced to leave because they really couldn't deal with the environment and felt it was poorly moderated and generally toxic - simply refer to the Pour Monsieur blog for an example of a great everyday guy who had to leave. I was banned for exposing the "Secret Dependent's Board" back in 2010 or 11 on Fragrantica, during a conversation with Fragrantica members. The issue then was that the board was indulging in openly mocking new members under cover of its being invisible until five stars were earned. This was anothe inappropriate situation on basenotes, and my exposing it here on this blog led to its being dismantled. Ironically that was the most commented on post, with well over 100 people thanking me for writing about my experience, and yeah, sorry John, banning me for speaking up about the SDB on another site was something only a small group of elitist fuckers would do. I hope you're not one of them.

      I'm not obligated to give you any further details on my background, nor was David Ruskin. You aren't obligated to say anything about yourself, either, and I notice your blogger profile leaves pretty much everything to the imagination, where as mine is significantly more affable (although I admit I haven't bothered with it since I set it up).

      My problem with Ruskin wasn't that he's an obscure perfumer. My problem is that he acted like he was Pierre Bourdon on the boards. I can respect a perfumer for his knowledge, and as I said in the article above (which I'm sure you didn't read), I know more about landing a plane in a hurricane than I do about perfume, so please don't think I'm some expert who disapproves of a colleague in my criticism of Ruskin. My problem with Ruskin is that he was his own worst enemy this week, and because of that someone who clearly had enough knowledge and experience to share will no longer be available for conversation.

      Get one thing straight: this blog exists to convey my personal opinions. No more, no less. This is side street reading, not the stuff you include in lectures at Harvard. If you think a "higher tone" is needed, I encourage you to start your own blog, if you haven't already. Thanks for at least saying you read mine.

  3. "A grown man throwing a temper tantrum in the forum because someone proved him wrong - this is the key here."

    Incivility combined with ignorance and or arrogance seems to be a growing trend of expression both online and off nowadays.

    "Unhinged" seems de rigueur too.

    Every forum I've ever participated in eventually degenerated to tantrums & trolls so I just don't bother anymore.

    I think Mr Ruskin worked for Penhaligon for a bit- I believe he did their "Orange Blossom" fragrance & a few others. (I have a bottle of the Orange Blossom- it's quite nice.)

    1. Yeah I had my own issue with Ruskin a little over a year ago when I was pointing out the hypocrisy of those in the forum who were criticizing the moral legitimacy of the Creed family (by claiming they are purveyors of perfume to Royalty), but finding no moral conflict at Chanel, where the company founder was once a Nazi sympathizer. There were other nuances to that argument but I can't be bothered to track it down in the archives. My point was that the sentiment that Creed was an abomination and that they were "morally bankrupt" was spoken side by side with endless praise for Chanel Les Exclusifs (in the same thread for some reason), and I couldn't get through that without David Ruskin jumping in and being a jerk - he started hitting me with all kinds of "I'm a professional in the field for thirty years, don't question my expertise" stuff, and well, yeah, I questioned his expertise. I asked him to name one perfume he authored, and he didn't. Instead he reverted with me to how he treated "Mattmeleg," saying "how dare you" and eventually a mod stepped in and shut huge swaths of the thread down, clipping out several days worth of entries.

      From that point onward I lost all respect for David Ruskin. I have no interest in debating the finer points of a subject that interests me with anyone who resorts to an authoritarian tone without actually addressing the substance of my input, or even defending against their insinuations, which in this case was that Ruskin was wearing a surprisingly vague mantle of superiority over me and a few others.

      However, if he has in fact worked on a few Penhaligon's fragrances, that's quite interesting and commendable. I suspect he authored quite a few products over the years, including perhaps a bunch of functional cleaning products, but the man never answers any questions or qualifies his hubris with any details, so it's still a bit of a mystery.

    2. Ok, so I ventured on to Basenotes out of curiosity (and boredom- slow day in the gallery) & read Mr Ruskin's post.

      I don't know. Perhaps I'm just used to putting up with artistic temperaments because I don't find him obnoxious or off-putting. He sounds like a red faced, paunchy, arrogant, authoritarian and cantankerous old Brit. Rather stereotypical actually. We'd probably get along famously chatting about opera, gardening, and smelly things. I would have to defer to him & let him have the upper hand- and perhaps politely not notice or correct him gently if he's wrong.

      I rather agree with him on the castoreum vs isobutyl quinoline debate in the Mousse de Saxe accord. I can't recall specifically what isobutyl quinoline smells like but I do know that quinolines have a very green, bitter (almost herbaceous) & leathery scent. Castoreum is leathery but definitely not green like a quinoline. For a moss accord you really need that green quality. The musky, fruity quality of castoreum won't work in a moss.

  4. Decided to skim through the thread. It was basically people just arguing over each other. The whippersnapper saying a leathery note or accord can replace another leathery note or accord for a similar effect, and the curmudgeon saying that two notes which don't smell alike cannot replace one another (I obviously liked the "whippersnapper- 1, curmudgeon- 0" comment). Talk about an asinine argument.

    I don't make perfumes, but I do cook. I've used different spices as substitutes for one another when I've been out of stock (like using a bit extra nutmeg or allspice if I'm out of cardamom). It's not ideal at all. They don't smell or taste alike. Nothing can replace a spice as distinct as cardamom. But for an alternative when you're out of stock and can't just run down to the store and get some more? it works, the dish doesn't suffer much, and the flavor stays fairly close. I'd guess that's the same logic the OP was using.

    1. Yeah it's not like the two materials "Mattmeleg" was comparing were THAT different. One was a rooty earthy tobacco effect, the other an earthy musky effect, and I could see how someone would argue that they're not the same, but the argument from the outset was that they were similar enough for either material to lend the same effect to a larger accord containing several other traditional Mousse de Saxe notes. While I can't speak to the accuracy of whether "Mattmeleg" was correct, I think given what he presented in the thread via links was evidence enough to suggest that he was at least on to something.

      For Ruskin to hit him with a flat out "Nope, your'e wrong" and just stop there seemed negative, not constructive at all, and it was interesting to see the "whippersnapper" as you call him punch back, rather lightly I should add. Even more surprising was seeing this supposed paragon of perfumery lose his shit and then announce that this experience ruined his enjoyment so much that he can never return. I'm wondering if "John Smithe" above is to some degree an associate of Ruskin of even the man himself, because his comment is littered with inconsistencies in much the same way that Mr. Ruskin's comments were in the forum.

  5. I found a photo of Mr Ruskin-

    Looks like he has a bit of a brusque & brash artistic temperment.

  6. "Castoreum has a dry, woody, earthy tone, and that isn't very far from the similarly dry, leathery hue of isobutyl quinoline. These aren't apples and oranges, people."

    I think your analogy of apple & oranges fails. Here's why:
    Apples & oranges do share a similar sweet & sour ester-y flavor profile that is defined as fruity. Does that mean apples and oranges are interchangeable flavor & scent wise? Absolutely not.
    Castoreum and isobutyl quinoline both share a scent profile we call leathery. Does that mean they are interchangeable? No, smell both side by side and you will see that they are quite different like apples and oranges.

    Mr Ruskin is rather curt & direct and perhaps even sharp but that's his culture & personality.

    Matt proceeded to argue semantics (the smells NOTHING alike aspect) like a bratty child and Mr Ruskin did not further explain that the green bitterness of a quinoline is an essential note in a moss.

    Matt could have asked an intelligent question like: "Both smell leathery to me, how do they differ that makes such a difference? Am I missing something?"

    Mr Ruskin could have explained at length the intricate differences in castoreum & a quinoline and what a moss usually smells like. Mr Ruskin is not a pedagogue and did not deal with a bratty child effectively is what I read. Handling brats is an art in itself (speaking as a mom). Handling adult brats effectively is even more challenging.

    In my 15 yr career as a healthcare professional and in my new career in selling art I can tell you that the hardest part of my job(s) is explaining a disease state, the side effects of a medication, or the iconography and symbolism in a Buddhist thangka. You have to be able to assess your audience's educational level, intelligence, language capabilities, attention span, & interests all through their cultural lens and then convey the information in as clear & concise a matter as possible. Without the visual and physical cues of tone and body language as is the situation in an online forum it's REALLY difficult to do this. English is not the most precise of languages either. In participating in online communications we really need to give each other the positive benefit of a doubt and ask for further information before getting pissy.
    Grazie mille,

    1. Positivity is key, Bibi. Especially when handling brats! Mr. Ruskin may be a bit of a "grumpy old man" or however one might characterize his personality, and I wouldn't hold that against him within a normal context, but in this instance and many others through the years I've noticed he seems to favor picking on newbies and then taking exaggerated offense to their retorts (which are usually surprisingly innocuous), rather like my friend "John Smithe" here. I'm not sure if that's a personality quirk of a personality disorder. Maybe I should expound on what the "Social Politics of Perfume" tag means here on From Pyrgos.

      BTW I would love to know more about the iconography and symbolism in a Buddhist thangka.

    2. @Bibi: "Mr Ruskin is rather curt & direct and perhaps even sharp but that's his culture & personality."

      Culture of what? Being an a-hole? Sorry, but this kind of superior-feeling people just deserve to go to hell. Same logic for his bff, Paul Kiler, whcihnstate to be an "award-winning perfumer", when at 70 years old he results having done 2 (at most) interesting fragrances, for which he got one award (together with other 8-10 awardees that year in various categories). Successful perfumers, uh?

      (on a side note: Kiler got rightfully banned for some times for having started a despicable thread against Matt Meleg, demonstrating that my opinion is not isolated)

  7. Inaccuracy seems to be a salient feature when considering information coming from Bryan Ross. I see you have suggested to another reader that now you suspect me of being: “... to some degree an associate of Ruskin or even the man himself...”. Your reasoning and behavior is inconsistent with your priggish message about good behavior. Make no mistake, I have no association with Basenotes or Mr. Ruskin.

    How handy for you to inform us that the moral of the story is a simple one. In your misguided effort to point out what you feel is Mr. Ruskin’s bad behavior, you have revealed your own defensive nature and utter lack of self-awareness.

    In your response to my comment, you launch into telling me that “there are a few things wrong with my argument”. Despite your protests, my understanding that you use a pseudonym came from your own 4/21/12 essay “Inis (Fragrances of Ireland), where you wrote: “...As a privacy preference, I simply do not use my real surname online”. Whatever you may have changed since then, I am hardly to blame for arriving at that conclusion. So, Mr. Ross, that appears to be your problem number one.

    You then proceed to describe Mr. Ruskin’s response... “A grown man throwing a temper tantrum in the forum because someone proved him wrong”. If not outright slander, you clearly mischaracterize the man. If your comment isn’t mean-spirited, I don’t know what is.

    More remarkable still is how you can make this claim: “What I do have a background in (due to my profession) is behavior, and what is and isn't appropriate behavior for a functional social interaction.

    No, I don’t think you do.

    If you who lay claim to a professional background that would support your knowledge and understanding of “appropriate behavior” can commit such egregious misconduct, surely you might exercise a bit of latitude when judging Mr. Ruskin, an individual truly worthy of respect. Indeed, a veritable Pierre Bourdon, compared to your “Enthusiast status”. You are simply a blogger whose opinions are formed from no expertise to speak of, as you readily admit.

    Your stern disapproval of Mr. Ruskin’s tone is confused and misplaced. If anything, Mattmelag and others should defer to Mr. Ruskin’s knowledge, position and experience. The respect or courtesy should have been granted to Mr. Ruskin. Your position smacks of Millennial hubris.

    Your inflated remarks and sweeping mischaracterization of the exchange shows a faulty understanding of what had transpired. When Mr. Ruskin initially responded: "No you can't, they smell nothing like each other.", you apparently became upset at what you felt was a curt reply. In a little hissy fit you whined... “That's all David says. No exposition on why, no alternatives are offered, no other information was proffered by this man. He simply tells Matt that he's wrong, and puts a period after it. (continued...)

    1. "If anything, Mattmelag and others should defer to Mr. Ruskin’s knowledge, position and experience. The respect or courtesy should have been granted to Mr. Ruskin. Your position smacks of Millennial hubris."

      It's funny that you criticized this blog post by answering in the same insulting manner. That pretty much completely weaken your argumentation, since you put yourself at the same level (or lower, because no one insulted you).

      But what knowledge? What are his achievements to deserve such respect? This is what is questionned in this blog post, and remains still unanswered. Auto-disclosing to be a perfumer is not sufficient to deserve respect.

      Honestly, I also feel that Ruskin (as well as his bff Paul Kiler) have had an unappropriate way to respond more than once (curt, or call it as you want), and feel a bit too "superior" in regard of what their achievement.
      Maybe a need of recognition at the end of a low-achievements life? I'm not sure, but that would be the only explanation that comes to my mind in order to avoid qualifying them of a-holes.

      "He simply tells Matt that he's wrong, and puts a period after it." Seems like you're talking about God hahahahah

      Content is not all. Form is also important. Learning to answer politely to less experienced people (assuming it's true) is something one can learn in leadership communication courses. I think Ruskin should take one in emergency.

  8. (Continuation)

    ...Then, when Mr. Ruskin did elaborate, contribute and express his conclusion, that wasn’t to your liking either. You didn’t like his tone. And this coming from the man whose babyish accusation that I didn’t read what your read: “..and as I said in the article above (which I'm sure you didn't read)”.

    I did read it.

    And there would be problem number two for you. As is so often the case, you have all the facts, yet still manage to miss the point.

    Notwithstanding your sanctimonious wrap-up... you don’t seem to extend the very sensitivity, courtesy or respect that you preach. Almost like you’re trying to pull the grey flannel over our eyes.

    “Get one thing straight:”, you shouted in your reply to me, as you conveniently parried my remark about adopting a higher-tone. Hmm, that comes across a bit “unhinged”, if you ask me. No, perhaps not unhinged, just defensive and petulant.

    I suggest that you have been your own worst enemy this week. Go home, Bryan and take your atomizer with you.

    P. S. - Oh, and by the way, in your 11/14/12 review of Royal Copenhagen, (you know, the one where you talk about being banned by Basenotes. And where you completely change your mind about RC) you wrongly refer to the Portrait of King Frederick the VI, as King Frederick the VII. Accuracy doesn’t appear to be a priority for you. That would be problem number three for you. Or is four? Or five. I may have lost count.

    1. I must say, when I read John Smithe's original post on here I immediately thought it read like the work of DR.
      The writing style, tone and perfect grammer all led me to think that. But the last post not so much. Like someone had been found out and was trying to conceal.

    2. Right? He sounds a little too high strung.

    3. Did he go through your blog posts with a fine tooth comb to find some objectionable content?

      He's obviously not Riskin, though. If he was, he would have accused Bryan of libel, not slander.

    4. At this point it definitely appears to not be Mr. Ruskin. Although in fairness, Ruskin has levied charges of libel AND slander on the boards. But yes, whoever it is, he spent four days after the publication of his original comment parsing every undotted "i" and uncrossed "t" in a perverse effort to look like a devoted reader.

    5. "Go home, Bryan and take your atomizer with you."

      No, you go home buddy. Bryan IS at home here.

  9. This certainly has turned out to be an interesting post.
    Mr Ruskin,
    If you are reading this I really don't blame you for not wanting to put up with the buffoons on Basenotes. (I don't participate in Basenotes as I tired of reading such drivel years ago.)
    However, I would request that you kindly continue to grace us with your brilliant and spot on perfume reviews on the above mentioned forum or on the equally dismal Fragrantica.
    Toodle pip,

    1. "buffoons".... well... I'm not sure who is a buffoon, but with such a reply you have for sure demonstrated not to have invented warm water!

  10. Dear Ms. Maizoon,
    I am not in the habit of writing to individuals whom I don't personally know. I don't blog and have never before even offered my comments. Mr. Ross's writing has been a pleasure to read. But his stance on Mr. Ruskin along with his preachy rants on good behavior drew my ire.

    I was delighted to read your level-headed comment just now and echo your sentiments.

    1. See that? Publishing Bibi's comment and refusing to humor your previous comments with any of my own - but respecting them enough to publish them here - led you to return to a civil discourse on my blog, Mr. Smithe. That's what I do for a living. I invite you to continue reading my blog, as whatever pleasure it gives you is pleasure I also get. At the risk of sounding "preachy" however, I would caution against cherry picking which of my opinions you approve of.

      Again, I don't know how long you've been reading From Pyrgos, but what I still find puzzling is that you clearly aren't familiar with what I do here. This isn't just a place where I review perfumes. Fragrantica and basenotes exist for rote reviewing purposes, and my reviews (under user "karlovonamesti" on Fragrantica) are available there for you to parse at your leisure whenever you wish, so no need to take the extra trip here just for reviews.

      My blog is also a social commentary. I touch on the meaning of shaving, the shaving ritual, what it does for men (and the women or other men in their lives), I touch on rival opinions on other sites and particularly one other blog, and frequently deliver my personal interpretations of interactions in the greater fragrance community.

      This is what this blog has always, always been about. Naturally I don't mind (nor do I even really care, given I have no clue who you are) if any of my content "draws your ire," and it's fine if you want to express that ire here, but if I get the sense that you're pivoting off your own personal agenda here, then the number of comments you make vs. what actually gets published will be limited, depending on content and consideration. Your opinion matters but this isn't a complaint department, either. If your feelings are welling up to that degree, I would respectfully suggest starting a blog yourself, which would be a great way to channel your opinions to counter mine.

      Also Mr. Smithe, I have to ask that you refrain from commenting further under this particular post, as no further comments from you will be published here. No offense, but you waffle in and out of sounding almost exactly like David Ruskin. If you actually ARE David Ruskin (and using a pseudonym without a sense of irony), then everything I've expressed about Ruskin on this page should be considered an understatement. But if you really are "John Smithe" but you're trying to inject doubt about that and lead readers into thinking that maybe you are/aren't Ruskin, I find that a bit disingenuous and inappropriate. Nobody should adopt anyone else's voice on the Internet. If you really are "John Smithe" feel free to comment under past or future posts, but consider this one closed to you now.

  11. And after I went to bat for the group, asked for Matt Meleg's permanent removal from basenotes, took a vote for such, in which all voters concurred for removal, Basenotes saw fit to ban me for a month. In the week after my ban expired, I again asked for Matt's removal. BN said no. So I gave them a choice, Matt, or Paul. BN still said no. So I left BN too. Then, a week later Matt Meleg is permanently banned from Basenotes. Matt Meleg has always been the problem, and certainly NOT David Ruskin.

    Now, news has come to me from a third Perfumer, that Matt's work came in the mail, bottles broken in the thin tivek mailer, bottles were not even in a box. Mailman, Husband of, and recipients hands all were burned by the fluid leaking from said tivek plastic envelope.

    Matt Meleg is a disaster of the first order, and should receive no one's attention. We dont need government officials becoming aware of Artisanal Perfumery because of some child's awful playtime result that burns the skin of the wearer.

    1. While I have no dog in this fight, I can only say, the lesson is clear: Basenotes as a community sucks, and amateur perfumers should be heeded with great caution regardless of their ranks.

    2. Oh here he is! I just talked about Kiler as Ruskin's bff (from the club of grumpy old guys) a few post earlier without even knowing he had commented here ahah

      @ Bryan: I totally agree with you

      @ Paul Kiler: a single small independent award in the middle of other 8-10 awardees that year for a single frag does not define you as a perfumer, and I think you are being very generous with yourself (and insulting towards real perfumers) to define yourself as such.
      Or if it does, it definitely doesn;t define you as a successful perfumer deserving respect for achievement. So come down from your pedestal and learn to answer respectfully to people.

      "all voters concurred for removal": yeah, the few voters from your lil' club, and the vote has been terminated very quickly by admins.
      I personally think that your ban should have been final, because there's no place for people like you on Basenotes, and Basenotes will strive even better without you.
      The DIY forum may be sad for a week, until the next hopefully (real) perfumer will come and share is knowledge. We are all dispensable, get away with it!

    3. Andy, it has been interesting that you have taken to trying to discredit me at every public opportunity, for which you were also banned from Basenotes in doing so. I'm not sure where your transparent hatred for me has originated, as I am not aware of any interaction we had before you went off on me. I wish you the best, but am rather bewildered at your constant attacks which seem to have zero foundation, but a completely random hatred.

      Look for my interview in Perfumer and Flavorist Magazine next month, and a full profile interview in the Brazilian Revista Olfato magazine next month as well.

      And there were seven awards this year. Mine was the choice of the judges, in it's own category. My award was not specifically applied or entered for, it was at the complete discretion and choice from all of the handmade perfumes this year. And it is an International Perfume Award, and that, you cannot tarnish or diminish in any manner except by your own snide prejudicial dismissiveness.

    4. Andy, from what I see about Paul online and in the forums, he is a legitimate professional perfumer with widespread recognition for a sizable body of work across the community. Although he is an independent perfumer, this classification does not mean he is an amateur, and from the looks of his website, he is a successful perfumer. I see no reason to attack him here or elsewhere. While your opinion and Paul’s have been freely expressed here, I would suggest there be no further attacks on Paul. I would also remind you that this blog post retains long-term relevance via its final moral message, the specific issue of Ruskin and his defenders is now more than 2 years past, and any further bickering on it is pointless here in 2020. So I’ll be moving on, and recommend, with the sincerest thanks for your thoughts, that you do the same.

    5. Paul, congratulations on your award and your business. I’ll be checking your perfumes for future reviews. Please note that while they often coincide, thoughts from readers aren’t necessarily shared by me, but are published in a democratic spirit (within fairly liberal limits).

  12. This killed the good part of an hour for me.

    Amusing and hilarious...

    Now I cherish the domestic spats with the missus a lot more; at least that's sort of personal. (I know it's not right to pee behind the garage, but I can't help myself sometimes. And it's good for the roses.)

    Excuse me while I splash myself with some Floïd and drives off to work. Keep up the good writing, mr. Ross, it's always a pleasure!

  13. A little late to this party but wanted to chime in. I agree that David was a little nasty and it’s uncalled for. Basenotes should be a safe space. But that doesn’t change the fact: IBQ smells nothing like castoreum. And you just can’t swap one without the other without changing the scent profile.

    1. Basenotes shouldn't be a "safe space," it should be like anywhere else - act like an asshole and eventually you self-own. David was a lot nasty, and when even the Basenotes mods are siding with the underdog, you know the "senior member" has gone too far.


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