A Cause for Celebration

On this past Monday evening, as a prelude to our post-election podcast, I popped open the last bottle from my 2018 stash of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration IPA. There was certainly cause for celebration–but it was not in celebration of one man’s victory or another man’s loss–nor was it about partisan party politics. My jubilation ran much deeper!

To me, the outcome of this year’s election is not just about the resilience of American democracy–but it also about the restoration of those cherished American values that have been, as of late, lacking in the Office of the Presidency:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Dignity
  • Decorum
  • Diplomacy
  • Dedication to public service
  • Kindness
  • Class
  • Empathy

And on this Veteran’s Day, the respect and gratitude that all those who have served in our nation’s armed forces truly, deserve!

Podbean Logo

Even though the Trump presidency has not quite given up the ghost, we decided to perform a political autopsy anyway. You can listen to the results of our post mortem at Sit Downs and Sessions.

Posted by: Chris Poh

The Unmasking of America

I find it incredibly ironic that so many of those who balk at the idea of wearing a mask because of some perceived threat to personal freedom have no problem blindly doing someone else’s bidding from under the brim of a red baseball cap or from behind the muzzle of an AR-15. Personally, I can think of no greater threat to individual liberty than following those who mask their insatiable need for power and profits behind some bogus brand of patriotism wrapped in the American flag!

If nothing else, the last four years have brought about the unmasking of the remnants of those old demons that still threaten our democracy. Thankfully that threat has been met with the unleashed energies of our better angels. But whether our country chooses a blue tsunami, another red tide, or just a bit of mixed surf during the course of this year’s election, it will be for naught unless we dedicate ourselves to national healing and bringing about social and economic justice to every citizen and immigrant that still believes in America’s promise.

In June of 1863, Robert E. Lee once again pushed his army northward in his second attempt to bring the fight to Union soil. The journey that would eventually end on the hills and fields surrounding Gettysburg would pass over some of the same ground lost during the previous year’s carnage at Antietam. The war-weary marchers would temper their rebellious tendencies as they gazed upon the unburied bleached bones without knowing if the fallen were friend or foe–no blue, no gray, no North, no South–just the unmasked remains of a house divided.

Hopefully, this time around we will choose civil discourse over civil war!

Podbean Logo

Listen to our political prognostications and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election at Sit Downs and Sessions

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

The View from Where I Sit is Actually Much Better than Expected

The Café Compadres, Don and Ed, from WDVR-FM

For someone who has spent more than his fair share of time over the past 48 years comfortably perched on a barstool, I thought the lack of accessible tavern seating during the pandemic might drastically impact my wellbeing. But much to my surprise, the same eyes that so often basked in the sublimity of a field of vision filled with gleaming taps, dusty bottles, and neon signs are now quite content to gaze upon open fields, village greens, and backyard gardens as this newly ordained outdoorsman raises a pint or two. While I may not express that same appreciation for Mother Nature’s pub when those cold winds of December freeze the foam in my IPA, I still won’t be as quick to move the festivities indoors. COVID has caused me to look at people and places in a very different light.

Recently, I heard an NPR interview with Ron Finley, known globally as the (Gangsta Gardener). This Los Angelas based artist and fashion designer has, for the last ten years, made it his mission to bring beauty and sustainable agriculture to the inner city. He has successfully transformed narrow swaths of urban environments into food gardens for those populations that often would not have access to or the resources to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. The model is simple yet effective–better nutrition fosters better outcomes in both the health and education of our children–and those outcomes foster better communities in our future. But there is also another aspect to this idea of the greening-up of urban America.

Our ability to cope with and overcome life’s challenges can be as much about geography as it is about genetics. When I walk out my backdoor, I step into a world of flowers, trees, hills, and an abundance of wildlife. I could not imagine having to have faced this pandemic and the current political and economic upheaval in an environment wherein even in the best of times, there is little to soothe the troubled soul.

Please don’t take this as a knock on city life. As a former Manhattanite, I find nothing more invigorating than immersing myself in a day of urban culture and architecture. But the beauty and benefits of gentrification seldom reach the steps and streets of those poorer neighborhoods that unfortunately make up a disproportionate part of the American cityscape.

So on this warm autumn afternoon, I will a raise glass to the Gangsta Gardener as I tend to my own flowers–and I will raise another to all those among us who bring beauty and hope to those who cannot find it on their own!

Podbean Logo

Go to Sit Downs and Sessions to listen to our latest take on what’s happening both in and outside the White House.

Listen to Chris and the Café Compadres on the airwaves or via the internet every Friday noon until 3:00 pm over WDVR-FM.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

Pirating During a Pandemic

Today we will fly our Jolly Rogers at half-mast, as we lift that first ration of rum in memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. To the family, friends, and all who are feeling the pain and loss of this intrepid soul, we pray for fair winds and following seas. But like that ever-dauntless and somewhat notorious great lady, we will sail through the storm and make for safe harbor so we can properly celebrate her life on this the 18th anniversary of Talk Like a Pirate Day!

In keeping with the current health concerns, we have listed below the standard protocols of the day along with further recommendations by the CDC (Center for Deck Control) in order to keep all captains and crews safe while pirating during a pandemic.

  • Always put your best peg-leg forward.
  • Remember to press your pantaloons.
  • Compliment the fit and finish of your shipmate’s puffy shirt.
  • Never fly your Jolly Roger above the Stars and Stripes.
  • Buy your crew the next round of Grog.
  • Extend your hook to one in need.
  • Never wear more than one eye patch while steering the ship.
  • Share your booty with the less fortunate.
  • And always let your parrot have the last word!

(Additional 2020 Recommendations)

  • Swab and sanitize often.
  • Wash your hooks for at least 20 seconds.
  • Maintain a distance of six feet between those walking the plank.
  • Boarding parties should be limited to no more than 10.
  • Mutiny against any captain that suggests injecting grog as a cure for COVID.

Wishing All Me Hearties Another Safe and Superb Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Podbean Logo

Before setting sail, check out our pirate primer podcast at Sit Downs and Sessions.

Published in: Uncategorized on September 19, 2020 at 1:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

A Proper Pint for Every Purse

Taps at McCoole's Red Lion in Quakertown, PA

My point of view as to what makes for a great pub is predicated on three things: ambiance, a good selection of beer, and most importantly, an atmosphere that makes every person that walks through the door feel welcome. Much like the former Bull and Finch in Boston, which the popular television series Cheers was based on, those praiseworthy establishments hold the postman and the patrician in equal regard–and of course, they always provide a proper pint for every purse.

One of the more disturbing themes being voiced throughout last month’s Republican National Convention was the call to save our suburbs from the violent unrest plaguing many of our nation’s urban communities. In their bid to spread fear among suburban voters, the President and his supporters are making the case that a vote for a Democrat is a vote for tear gas on the tennis court and carnage in the cabana. Republicans are counting on the fact that since most of the cities experiencing the violence are governed by Democrats, they will be able to win over those center-right voters that might be leaning toward Joe Biden’s vision for America. While the GOP may have the stats on their side, the main reason why so many of our cities favor Democrats is simply because these large urban areas are home to the majority of people that comprise this country’s racial, religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity–a diversity that the Republican party has mostly failed to embrace.

Earlier this summer, the President and his HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, co-authored an op-ed piece pledging to protect American suburbs from government-mandated low-income housing. While I believe that communities have to right to their autonomy when it comes to zoning, what we have here is just another thinly-veiled dog-whistle by the administration pitting black against white and rich against poor. This may not qualify as a blatant example of systemic racism, but it certainly reflects blatant classism–neither one moving us any closer to that ever-elusive more perfect union!

I grew up in an older sub-urbanized town on the Jersy side of the Hudson River during the 1960s–a period sadly similar in terms of the politics, race relations, and economic inequities. The white flight of that period certainly played a part in defining who we were as a community, and unfortunately, that definition included a substantial measure of intolerance and racism. But while the town of Teaneck had its shortcomings, it did provide equal access to affordable shelter, quality healthcare, public transportation, and good schools to all of its citizens. Whether you were considered underpaid or overpaid for your 40 hours away from the wife and kids, you could at least take care of the basic needs and maintain some level of human dignity. What is shocking and unforgivable is that in the year 2020, many of our nation’s poor and minorities can not make a similar claim!

A Pint from the Wharf Rat in Baltimore

So what does any of this have to do with my penchant for filtering my point of view through the bottom of a pint glass or some pub-centric metaphorical reference to a 70s sitcom? Well, while I don’t particularly want to exist in a world where everybody knows my name, I would like to at least live in a country where everybody’s glad you came!

Podbean Logo

Click on the PodBean logo or go to Sit Downs and Sessions to hear our take on this summer’s political conventions.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

Good Trouble at the Crossroads

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war.” The Honorable John Lewis from the New York Times op-ed published on the day of his funeral

From that very first taste of American history taught to me by some well-intentioned, pointer wielding nun at St. Anastasia’s Grammar School, it was impressed upon me that my freedom to attend Sunday mass and the right to inhabit a small wooden desk for six hours a day were secured by the heroic deeds of brave souls unsheathing swords and squeezing triggers. Conquistadors, crusaders, and countless other combatants filled that early parochial school narrative with tales of the mostly white guys that had fought and died on my behalf. But on most days, by the time 3:15 had rolled around, my gratitude for their sacrifice was on a steep decline.

Then came my own personal awakening at the crossroads of elementary and secondary education during the summer of 1968. From the safety of my suburban oasis, I watched a country at war with itself play out on the evening news. The voices that had so justly cried out against racism, poverty, social injustice, and war were answered with batons, tear gas, and murder. To my way of thinking, a more militant response to the ills of our society seemed to be in order. That September, I began my freshman year of high school–and while I remained under the thumb of yet another Catholic institution, a new generation of clergy instilled in me the possibility of the peaceful warrior. And considering the fact that my faith was founded by a non-violent activist–the idea seemed long overdue.

I still retain much of those teachings that carried me through to adulthood. I continue to support the tradition of honoring, celebrating, and thanking those that have worn the uniforms of this nation’s armed services–but I also believe that it is equally important to recognize the work of the peaceful warrior. Men and women, who like the late John Lewis, have endured untold indignities, hardships, brutality, and martyrdom so that all Americans might share in that promise made at Philadelphia 244 years ago.

My instincts tell me that the political, societal, and natural forces that we now face have brought us once again to the crossroads–perhaps the last crossroads for America. We owe it those resolute patriots that crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776 and those extraordinary citizens that crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday” 1965 to chose a better road!

“So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” Congressman John Lewis

Podbean Logo

Join us for some further political discussions plus a bit of music and timely insights from singer/songwriter Ellis Paul on our podcasts @ sitdownsandsessions.podbean.com

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

But Whitey’s on the Moon

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”Edmund Burke

“To protest against injustice is the foundation of all our American democracy.” “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.”Thurgood Marshall

 “Civil wrongs don’t make for civil rights,”Adlai Stevenson

A simple five-word refrain set against the percussive beat of a single drum dramatically captured the despair, anger, and the chasm of disparity felt by black Americans in the 1960s in Gil Scott-Heron’s “Whitey on the Moon.” During the latter years of that turbulent decade, I made the jump from childhood to adolescence. And throughout that initial attempt at coming of age, the screen of my family’s cherished 25-inch Zenith console was ablaze with images of F-4 Phantoms dropping napalm on Vietnam villages, Saturn V rockets breaking the bonds of Earth’s gravity–and the conflagrations that illuminated the nighttime skylines of our nation’s inner cities.

By the end of that sweltering solstice of 67 or the so-called Summer of Love, nearly 160 race riots occurred across the United States. And by the time Neil Armstrong took that historic stroll across the lunar surface in July of 69, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. during the previous year all but guaranteed that even the slightest semblance of peace, justice, and equality for African Americans seemed further away than the Sea of Tranquility. Now, as we witness the murder of George Floyd, our ongoing military conflicts in the Middle East, the rocketry of Elon Musk, and the violent clashes in our nation’s cities, we might be fooled into thinking that not much has changed since 1969. But my sense of history and my spirit of optimism say otherwise.

While segregation was officially outlawed in our public schools in 1954 by way of the Supreme Court decision in Brown V. Board of Education, it was not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, that federal law superseded all state and local laws to include desegregation in all public facilities. But lending practices maintained under redlining created an almost de facto segregation in poorer minority neighborhoods until such practices were outlawed in the 1970s. Also, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Klu Klux Klan and other white supremacy groups were operating with almost total impunity throughout the South. People were being murdered and lynched. Churches and schools were being torched. And when that rare prosecution of those crimes did occur, white juries were eager to acquit. And finally, overly aggressive tactics and disregard of civil rights toward minority populations by law enforcement were on full display in all fifty states. Much in fact has changed since the 60s–but what hasn’t changed is the nature of a riot.

The vast majority of people that partake in the chaos and violence in most instances were not previously engaged in some peaceful protest or worthwhile cause for the betterment of humanity. Rioters, while made up of several divergent groups that might include your average bully, anarchist, arsonist, sociopath, and low-level criminal, have one thing in common–they are all opportunists. And these individuals would take to the streets whether the backdrop for their behavior was a matter of civil rights or a bad call at a soccer match!

While I personally tend toward a voice of singular dissent, I fully understand the need for protest in mass. Politicians change according to the speed and direction of the wind–and nothing changes that speed and direction better than a few million people literally and figuratively marching on Washington! But as it has in the past, many valid causes and well-grounded expressions of outrage have been delegitimized by our governing bodies whenever the exercise of free speech in the light of day is overshadowed by that free-for-all in the dark of night.

This pandemic and the resulting economic hardships that we now face amid this profound test of our country’s core values will not distinguish between race, color, creed, or political affiliation. But perhaps that shared suffering might bring about some shared solutions.

The time for small steps is over. This moment in our nation’s history demands another giant leap–and this time that leap must include all Americans!

Podbean Logo

We attempt to further tackle this very difficult topic of race in America at our podcast @ sitdownsandsessions.podbean.com/

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

In the Event That This is My Final Post–Please Do the Following

Indian Rock, Upper Black Eddy, PA

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Robert F. Kennedy

Throughout the journey, which has served as my own minuscule piece of the puzzle called life, I was pretty much convinced that I was more than ready to deal with whatever hand nature dealt. My deterministic tendencies toward the consideration of our collective fates always took into account the possibility of pandemics, apocalyptic pandemonium, and political pestilence. But the idea of facing such scourges without the benefit of an open bar was simply inconceivable–suffering without solace–retribution without refuge!

As to the possibility of this being my last post, I’ve always been aware of those ever-lurking threats to my mortality. And while I don’t consider myself to be in that high at-risk group during this particular health crisis, I do tend toward increasing my odds of injury and death whenever some extended period of being housebound presents a reason to tackle some long-overdue upgrade or repair. At this juncture, I’ve come to the unequivocal conclusion that I’m actually better off on a bar stool than a step stool.

While I may appear to be unduly lamenting the lack of local libations, it is not by any means my intent to downplay the seriousness of the situation. Thousands have suffered a dreadful passing, and thousands more will probably leave this life without the comfort of having loved ones at their side. And for the vast majority of us, it seems that there is little we can do other than to shoulder the fear and uncertainty as we maneuver around the masked scoundrels, scam artists, and self-absorbed survivalists in the paper goods aisle of our supermarkets.

Again, if this is to be my final post, the previous paragraphs could be my last chance to achieve my lifelong allotment of alliteration. So with this clustering of consonants in concert now, hopefully, out of my system, I will endeavor to continue in a more acceptable literary fashion.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a ‘glass is half-empty’ kind of guy. So even amid this extreme threat to our human family, I believe that for every conspiracy-minded individual, political hack, grifter, criminal, and malcontent attempting to take advantage of our misfortune, there are thousands of heroic people performing immeasurable works of care, sacrifice, and charity!

Unfortunately, history has too often shown that while the ranks may swell with good soldiers, the outcome of most conflicts will be determined by a handful of people at the top. And, sadly, it always seems to take an event of extreme magnitude to nudge leadership in the right direction. So all of us are forced to suffer to some degree during Mother Nature’s version of timeout in the corner. As for myself, I have chosen to view this as an opportunity for all of humanity to reflect and reboot. There could be, in fact, a rather profound gift attached to these hard times–that rare second chance to address the disparities that have always plagued our shared existence on this planet.

While this period of sheltering in place may present its own set of problems and put additional strain on our close-quartered relationships, there are, in fact, some unintended benefits. Crime rates are down, home improvements are up, we’re emitting fewer greenhouse gases, and in what is my favorite bit of irony, the Saudi-led coalition has initiated a two-week ceasefire in Yemen with the goal of slowing the spread of coronavirus. Imagine the idea of stopping a war in order to promote better health practices.

So the real question is not who are we now at this moment in time, but who will we be on the other side of this global crisis. And while we are not totally to blame for all of the hardships that befall our kind, those mysterious forces of nature, that almost seem to conspire against our survival, are on occasion culpable in our plight–but the solutions are almost always within our grasp. If our species is to have any chance of outlasting its excessive stockpile of toilet paper, there first has to be a realignment of human consciousness. And then we must finally, with one voice, resolve to irradicate hatred, hunger, homelessness, and poverty.

And for all of that to happen, we are going need one hell of a lot of kindness, consideration, cooperation, and that which needs no alliteration–Love!

So in the event that this does turn out to be my final post, please bartender–fill my glass to the brim!

Stay Safe and Cheers!

Below are links to a couple of songs that have helped to sustain my spirit during these difficult times. Hopefully, they will do the same for you.

Bob Franke: Trouble in this World

James Maddock: My Old Neighborhood

Check out and share our most recent Podbean podcast episodes at: Sit Downs and Sessions

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

Social Distancing St. Patrick’s Style

This moment of sublime male contentment was captured outside the Tir na nOg Irish pub in Trenton, New Jersey on March 17, 2009. Buried behind those smiling faces are most likely the concerns of that very difficult year in American history. Our economy was still in the grip of the “Great Recession” and the earliest cases of what would become the N1H1 global pandemic were just coming to light. But on that glorious sunny afternoon, these gentlemen took their pints to the patio in order to practice a bit of social distancing from the mass of humanity that had gathered inside the late Banjo Billy Briggs’ fabled Irish establishment.

Sadly, this year most of the pubs are shuttered, and the pipes will not be calling. Nature has demanded that we honor the spirit of Erin in gentler tones and more intimate settings. But as I look back on that St. Patrick’s Day of eleven years ago, I am reminded that we as a nation have faced similar hardships–and through the pain and the tears there has always been ample reason to raise our voices in song and our pints in celebration!

So in the hope of enhancing your housebound revelries we invite you to enjoy the music and tavern tales in this second installment of our St. Patrick’s Day podcast at Sit Downs and Sessions.

Please click on the images below to get a more in-depth read on those Irish taverns featured in this week’s episode.

Inside the Tir na nOg Pub in Trenton, NJ

On behalf of the lads at Sit Downs and Sessions and American Public House Review we wish everyone a Happy and Healthy St. Patrick’s Day!

Slàinte Mhaith

Just What the People Need–Another Damn Political Podcast. Welcome Once Again to Sit Downs and Sessions

Now that we are somewhat recomposed after the outcome of the 2016 United States presidential election, David McBride and I have ended our self-imposed silence and are once again sharing our outlook and opinions in that ubiquitous downloadable voice of the masses known as the podcast. So why the need to add to the estimated 54 million plus episodic expressions of the human condition available worldwide? I really don’t have the answer to that one, but if it does comes to me, I will be sure to delve into it in a future episode of Sit Downs and Sessions!

As to the motivations of my partner in this effort, I cannot speak to those either. But I can attest to the care, honesty, passion, reason, intelligence, and sense of humor that David McBride brings to the countless hours of conversation that we’ve shared over our decades old association. And it is my hope that I can mirror those attributes as we bring our combined fifty years of commercial and public broadcasting experience into this internet medium.

While Dave and I are both lifelong devotees of the American political scene, we understand that there is more to life than just trying to make sense of that peculiar breed of people who inhabit the statehouse, the West Wing, or the Halls of Congress. There are serious global threats, UFOs, and that ongoing search for treasure on Oak Island–all of which have already been addressed to some degree during our fist six episodes. With such a diverse range of topics, those discussions of alien abductions, ghostly apparitions, and mythical cryptids are just simply a matter of time.

So make that morning commute, afternoon workout, or late night whiskey a little more pleasant with Sit Downs and Sessions!

https://sitdownsandsessions.podbean.com

Click the link above to download and share current episodes.

Coming soon to Sit Downs and Sessions aliens and politicians square off over the Capitol!

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

%d bloggers like this: