Their Swords into Plowshares and Their Kalashnikovs into Candy Canes

AK-47_5_small

At this time of the year my period of decompression during those late night rides home, after a lengthy session of dealing with an assortment of barroom customers,  affords me the added pleasure of  being able to view those displays of light that adorn the structures of the socially and economically diversified inhabitants that populate my piece of eastern Pennsylvania. Unfortunately. during one of those recent drives my pre-Christmas cheer was somewhat dampened by a story heard on my car radio by way of the international news service provided by those rather proper folks at the British Broadcasting Company.

It appears that Mr. Putin’s imperialistic incursions into the Crimea might lessen the holiday bounty of those hardworking craftsmen responsible for the production of the AK-47. Just as they were getting ready to introduce a new version of that legendary rifle to the American market, the economic sanctions barring the importation of certain goods into the United States from Russia may have just put the kibosh on the Kalashnikov. And while a few less weapons being made available to our buying public during this season of peace and goodwill might appear to be a good thing for mankind, I suspect that those guns will eventually find their way into the hands of those individuals and groups that are far more likely to engage in the taking of life and the ongoing slaughter of the innocent. At least in the American marketplace, the majority of gun purchases are simply about the need to fill the toy chest, to make that occasional political statement, or to perhaps prop up one’s overly sensitive self esteem.

So how do we go about controlling the commerce of carnage and mitigating the merchandising of our misery?

Christmas CandleWhile it may appear that those answers are beyond our reach and comprehension, it is as it was on that winter’s night some two-thousand years ago. Our joy resides within the lives of our children, our hope within the counsel of wiser men–and our peace within the beat of a loving heart!

Wishing all our Family and Friends a Joyful Holiday Season!

Christmas in Lahaska

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

A Haunting in New Hampshire

Mount Washington Hotel

With a motto like “Live Free or Die” so ingrained in the mind and spirit of those who hail from “The Granite State”, there is probably no other place in the Union that expresses a more cavalier attitude toward the inevitable outcome of life. So it is of little wonder that some of  the state’s more stalwart former residents refuse to leave, even after they no longer have the corporal wherewithal to cast even a single vote in the New Hampshire primary.  One particular local that seems to be a gathering place for those restless specters is “The Cave“, a Prohibition era bar cleverly concealed below the porch of the  Mount Washington Hotel.  I recently received a call from David Correa, one of our readers  who along with his friend Brian Gregoire, may have captured some very interesting photographic evidence of these uncanny after hours activities.

In the course of our conversation we exchanged some theories and feelings about those veiled possibilities of life after death. I as usual took the position of  that skeptic that suspects that most of what we believe to be otherworldly is nothing more than the  result of malfunctioning technology. David on the other hand was of a more open mind, and upon hearing about some of his experiences during his own spiritual journey, I was better able to deal with those occurrences and personal losses that so often haunt my own life. And while our current technologies may not be able to provide portals to the dimension of the disembodied, they can connect us with those kind souls who can offer comfort and good counsel during those times of need.

May all your dealings with the spirits, whether they be liquid or ethereal in their nature, always be to your liking! Happy Halloween from the rogues and wraiths at American Public House Review!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Below are the images from The Cave at the Mount Washington Hotel.

The Cave_1

 

The Cave_2

The Cave_3

So What’s the Good Pirate to do on a Day Such as This?

The Atlantic Squadron

“I go so far as to say that I do not regret having been his prisoner for some time… He is not a bandit, not a murderer, but a patriot forced into acts of brigandage to save his native soil and his people from the yoke of tyranny.”   Ion Hanford Perdicaris

During the spring political campaign of 1904,  in an effort to bolster his chances to be an elected president after assuming that office from his assassinated predecessor William McKinley–Theodore Roosevelt  sent several Marine companies and a squadron of naval warships steaming toward the North African port of Tangier in order to rescue the abducted  American playboy Ion Perdicaris from the clutches of Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni (the leader of the Jebala tribal confederacy in Morocco) and  referred to by many of his detractors as “The last of the Barbary Pirates.”

The celebrated hero of San Juan Hill would use the incident to prove to both his party and the public the effectiveness of his   “Big Stick Philosophy” when asserting United States power abroad. But for anyone who has been following Ken Burns’ latest  documentary film about the Roosevelts,  it is clear that Teddy, like so many overly ambitious politicians, was willing to forego some truth when trying to influence public opinion. As it turned out, the P resident learned early on that the supposed victim in the affair was not even an American citizen. Mr. Perdicaris had given up his US passport many years earlier so that he could firmly reestablish his Greek citizenship.That fact remained hidden from the American people until the 1930s.  Furthermore, while government officials blustered that they wanted Perdicaris alive or Raisuni dead, the captor and his captive had already established a respectable friendship, and the so-called “Last of the Barbary Pirates” had vowed that no harm would befall Ion Perdicaris while he was in his care.

Ultimately,  Perdicaris was set free after the United States Government secretly prodded France and England to put pressure on the Sultan of Morocco  to cede to the financial and political demands of Mulai Ahmed er Raisuni. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, his release was viewed as being the outcome of some very tough and well-orchestrated gunboat diplomacy. And as is so often the case when trying to decipher the dealings of mankind, it was difficult to distinguish between the villains and the virtuous.

But for you more principled pirates that are attempting to transcend the behaviors of those less than seaworthy scalawags in Washington, we offer the following revised code of  ethics.

  • Always put your best peg-leg forward.
  • 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 the next round of Grog.
  • Extend your hook to one in need.
  • Stand on the side of your shipmate’s good eye.
  • Share your booty with the less fortunate.
  • And always let your parrot have the last word!

Wishing all of our fellow buccaneers a most bountiful Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Click or strike the colors to view some past musings about the day. 

Richard Worley FlagHenry Every's Flag Calico Jack Rackham's Flag


 

Aaarrr!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Good Housekeeping 101

The_Clean_Sweep

A house divided against itself cannot stand.”   Mark 3:25 – as referenced by Abraham Lincoln in his speech to the Illinois Republican State Convention June 16, 1858

To the honorable ladies and gentlemen of the 113th United States Congress,

Now that you are back home in your respective districts, and I assume fully engaged in this year’s midterm scuffle, I would like to share my thoughts on what I believe might serve as a better strategy to bring some dignity, decorum and decency back to “The People’s House” come this fall.

At the age of sixty, I am both the beneficiary, and the occasional casualty of the character of this country. The inherent opportunities and resilient nature of America has allowed me to receive a quality education, become a teacher, writer, hold elected office in the state of New Jersey, own a tavern in the shadows of where Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton, and to function as a voice in public broadcasting during the last twenty-three years. But at the same time, I like so many Americans face a fairly insecure future as a direct result of the ongoing dysfunction and distrust in Washington.

So rather than spending countless sums of donor’s money on trying to defend against the pitchfork politics of those who want to dismantle our governing institutions, those politicians who truly believe in the hopes and aspirations of the Founders should rededicate themselves to the simple idea of providing bipartisan working governance—putting both people and principles before party! This is the spirit that will cause your constituents to live up to their side of the contract by returning them to the voting booth—thus restoring representation that reflects the true will and needs of the majority.

On some of those more practical political issues that will be the focus of slickly produced, half-truth sound bites in the upcoming weeks–here are my recommended responses to those carpetbagging cash cows attempting to influence the outcome of local races from afar:

  •  On Healthcare – While the President’s attempt to tackle an issue, that at  one time was agreed upon by both parties as being in need of major reform, might have its flaws, those relevant points of the legislation, such as providing care for those having preexisting conditions, should be protected. Unfortunately, there still remains too much disparity and inefficiency in our healthcare system. People will continue to die because they cannot access or afford the best treatments available today in this country. That is totally unacceptable! The mantra must be, “repair and improve” this landmark legislation.
  • On Immigration – Every American must ask themselves, what they would do if their children were faced with the conditions and violence that plague those who are crossing our southern borders, before reducing the issue to a matter of simply demanding that the government prosecute and remove legitimate refugees who are portrayed by some as part of some criminal class.

 Secondly, a comprehensive approach to immigration is extremely practical when addressing the future needs of both entitlements and the economy. Any country that has a diminishing birthrate will simply not have enough healthy, young workers fueling its economy, or paying those taxes that offset the financial requirements of those programs designed to provide a degree of well-being and income to an aging population. And in the United States, where today fewer and fewer companies are providing guaranteed security for their retirees by way of pensions and extended health benefits, our own system of Social Security and Medicare must be shored up and strengthened.

In short, our future growth and economic welfare is somewhat dependent upon those who come here from other lands in order to find a better way of life. But hasn’t that always been the American story—and one worth retelling again?

Members of the Continental Congress at the City Tavern in Philadelphia

Members of the Continental Congress at the City Tavern in Philadelphia

While I tend toward George Washington’s point of view on political parties that ultimately they would do more harm than good to the republic, I do support a worthy opposition that brings a different approach, new ideas and rational thought to the table. If enough of our elected representatives were to take the political high road (like those astute gentlemen who came together at Philadelphia’s old City Tavern after adjourning the Continental Congress) those now joining together at that table would be able to dine together, drink together, dialogue together—and yes perhaps even govern together!

Posted by: Chris Poh

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This Stuff Really is Self-evident

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When you get right down to it,  like many of mankind’s  defining  (yet seldom read)  documents,  our Declaration of Independence is that perfect fusion of optimism and enlightened thought attached to our need to complain about those who hold the power. So it is no wonder that an extremely vocal segment of  society will pervert the words of  Jefferson, Franklin and Adams in order to justify their own delusional rants against some imagined ongoing tyranny. But the true measure of  American virtue will not be decided by that handful of angry voices. The realization of our founder’s aspirations lies  with those who in their own pursuits of life, liberty and happiness do nothing to limit the potential and freedom of their fellowman.  Two such fine people, Adam Price and Susan Kimani, recently paid me a visit at the Indian Rock Inn.

For me this delightful young couple represent everything that is right with America. Susan is an artist and fashion designer who found her way to New York City by way of  Kenya, East Africa. Adam’s origins are somewhat less exotic. This extremely accomplished jazz musician, and may I add fellow bartender, is from Boyertown, PA. During our brief time together, we conversed about history, travel, music and beer. And since  all of us were devotees of the American cause, we reveled in our memories of consuming the Ales of the Revolution at Philadelphia’s renowned City Tavern.

RUNA_Promo_Photo_2014So to Susan and Adam, and all the followers of American Public House Review  we wish everyone a very joyous 4th of July! And to further aid in that celebration, we’ve included an absolutely wonderful version of our nation’s anthem. Click here to listen to the work of Francis  Scott key as performed by the Celtic group–Runa.

Posted by: Chris Poh

 

Closed for Repair (Take Two)

 

Closing Time at the Indian Rock InnIt was brought to my attention by a number of readers of the last post that something might have gone terribly awry with my attempt at condensing my thoughts into a bit of poetry. I want to assure those kind folks that I was not in anyway trying to emulate the unconventional style of E.E. Cummings, nor had any of my own fragmented behaviors and tendencies now become manifest in my writings. Apparently the problem was a matter of browser perspective. In my world of Google Chrome, everything appeared as it was meant to be. But for those using other browsers and smart phones that may have not been the case. So hopefully, this change from straight text to an image file will assure everyone that I am only mildly disjointed in my thinking.

Closed for Repair

Closed for Repair_3j

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Published in: on July 3, 2014 at 5:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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The First of the Day

Noel at the Brazen Head

With only a few more hours remaining before the raising up of that first pint in celebration of  another St. Patrick’s Day, I find myself soothing my own melancholic disposition with the usual measure of Irish music. And even though  it’s been some forty plus years since I first heard Tommy Makem  put his voice to “Four Green Fields,” I’m still in awe of a people that can extract mirth from misery, and create sweet song from the suffering and sorrow that has all too often been the consequence of Irish history. So in keeping with the spirit of the day and Erin’s fine musical tradition, we present a couple of our favorites from the archives of Parting Glass Media.

  • (a reprise of Rebels at the Rock)  – Why this particular video hasn’t gone viral is beyond my grasp of what the viewing public finds entertaining. But here in its entirety is a well-lubricated group of lads attempting to pay homage to that hero of Irish independence, James Connolly.

Irene Molloy And a perfectly sublime rendition of the “Fields of Athenry” from Irene Molly.

Wishing all of our friends a very joyful Saint Patrick’s Day from the staff and contributors of American Public House Review and Parting Glass Media!

Glasses Raised…Spirits Lifted…Journeys Shared!

Disharmony on the Hudson

Cannon Fire at Fort Lee“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” – The American Crisis by Thomas Paine 1776

During those disheartening days of the colonial’s cause for independence, Thomas Paine would begin to pen his inspirational patriotic plea for staying the course in the midst of a full and hasty retreat from an enemy army that was determined to put an end to this fledgling insurrection. On November 20, 1776, in the wake of having taken control of both Long island and New York City, superior British forces, under the command of General Charles Cornwallis, began their advance on the newly established American fortification on the heights overlooking  the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. Realizing the need to preserve what was left of his beleaguered army, George Washington issued orders to abandon Fort Lee. The inevitable capture of this recently renamed redoubt (in honor of General Charles Lee, the army’s third-in-command who was credited with the successful defense of Charleston, South Carolina a few months earlier) would unfortunately yield an abundant amount of ammunition, artillery and stores to the English.

As for the fort’s namesake, Washington’s somewhat suspect and scheming subordinate, who had often complained to Congress about his commander’s capacity to lead,  would fall victim to his own lust for libations and the ladies. On the morning  of December 15, 1776, Charles Lee would pay dearly for the previous evening’s pleasures at the Widow White’s Tavern in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. He would awake to the sound of the approaching horsemen of the 16th Queen’s Light Dragoons with his former comrade, and now sworn adversary, Benastre Tarleton in the lead. This once celebrated soldier, who preferred to diddle while the rest of the Continental Army was attempting to avoid annihilation, would be led back to New York in his night-clothes. For the next seventeen months, General Lee would spend a fairly comfortable detainment in the care of his former employer.  

In May of 1778, Lee was released as part of a prisoner exchange. He returned to active service, but after questionable field decisions at the Battle of Monmouth, and continued conflicts with command; he was suspended from the army at the end of that same year, and permanently dismissed in 1780. Charles Lee died in a tavern in Philadelphia on October 2, 1782–and so ends this tale of eighteenth century disloyalty and treachery in the Garden State.

For better or for worse, the overall nature of man, and the behavior of those charged with the care of the republic has not changed all that much since we decided to make our  break from the British brand of tyranny. However, there may have been at least some lessening in the lengths at which one is willing to go in order to punish their rivals. Instead of stalling aid to those trying to allude their captors while taking flight across the well-trodden pathways of New Jersey–someone is content to simply lengthen the commute home by closing down a few lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Let us just hope that we are sparred the spectacle of that particular scoundrel being spirited away in nothing more than his night-clothes. 

Thomas Paine Portrait“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” – Thomas Paine

Click here for some further insights from the Garden State.

Click here to enjoy our favorite tribute song to Thomas Paine from singer-songwriter Dick Gaughan.

Posted by Chris Poh

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Another Bah Humbug on Bleecker Street

Scrooge and Bob Cratchit sharing a Smoking Bishop

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!”          

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843

Though our journeys together over the last twelve months have been to some extent curtailed because of our individual circumstances, me and my cohorts at American Public House Review  were at least able to once more gather together at year’s end to celebrate the season with yet another attempt at properly paying homage to Mr. Charles Dickens. The following version of A Christmas Carol was recorded during The Bleecker Street Cafe in the broadcast studios of WDVR-FM in Sergeantsville, New Jersey on December 20, 2013. It is with great pleasure that we share this year’s somewhat faithful adaptation of Mr. Dickens’ finest work.

So stoke the fire, stir the Smoking Bishop, and sit back and enjoy by clicking on the following links:

christmas_carol_logoA Christmas Carol - part one

A Christmas Carol – part two 

Here’s Wishing Everyone  a Very Merry Christmas!

One Door Closes, and Maybe, Just Maybe–Another One Opens

City Tavern - Philadelphia

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”  Thomas Jefferson

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  Thomas Jefferson

“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”  Thomas Jefferson

Of all those doors that were shuttered as a result of the recent government shutdown, the turn of the latch that most resonated with my personal being was the one on the entrance to the City Tavern in Philadelphia. As someone who has spent many of my days and evenings on both sides of the bar, I know firsthand the plight of those that pull the pints and tend the tables. And there is no act of Congress that will replace the lost revenue of those who depend so heavily on the generosity of those from the general public that can actually get through the front door.

But beyond the fiscal concerns and hardships brought on by the current state of political paralysis in Washington, there was the irony of having to close those places that are meant to honor our past and  to further our faith in the future function of our  government. 

City Tavern SignOne does not padlock the pulpit just because there is conflict within the congregation.

While the majority of  Americans have bolstered their own patriotic passions by visiting some memorial or battlefield, I have decided that I  much prefer the reconstructed confines of that colonial era establishment to rouse my own feelings of national fervor. There are a couple of reasons for my fondness of the City Tavern. One, you can actually toast our liberties with something a bit more in keeping with what the Founders would have put in their cups. And two, other than those that succumbed to the slow poisoning brought on by an over indulgence of Blackstrap, mutton chops, and Flip, there is not the usual senseless loss of life attached to this consecrated piece of ground–truly a place where giants once roamed.      

Among those extraordinarily gifted gentlemen that attended to some portion of their corporal needs at this outstanding American public house were  Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. And it is in their words and insights that we can find the potential source and possible solution to our current political debacle. Like many of the nation’s founders, both men had some healthy concerns about  the future course of the new government.

In a letter to the  American people published prior to his retirement from the presidency in 1796, George Washington warned against the possible damage political parties might bring upon the republic. Having already been witness to the extreme acrimony and partisanship between Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and  Alexander Hamilton’s  Federalists, Washington was leery of political parties operating within a popularly elected government.  He feared that the competing political organizations would attempt to silence and punish legitimate opposition, promote regionalism and create undue fears and suspicions among the population.

Unfortunately, American’s have on far too many occasions throughout our history been the sorry victims of our first president’s prognostications. And like most organized groups and institution, the lofty well-intentioned principles of both Republicans and Democrats have all too often become secondary to the self-interests and survival of the party. So it should come as no surprise that a substantial segment of the nascent Congressional class has seized upon the writings of Thomas Jefferson as a source for their inspiration and rationalization for the defunding and dismantling of government. But before they consider closing some doors again, they should also consider these words from Mr. Jefferson.  

 “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

On September 17, 1787, one of the longest, and perhaps most contentious political debates  in our nation’s history came to an end with the signing of the United States Constitution. With the closing of the doors of the Pennsylvania State House after 114 days of  secret meetings, George Washington and a good number of the beleaguered and exhausted delegates found their way to the City Tavern. There they were able to put aside personal political differences, and rise above the rancor by raising a glass to the common welfare of all Americans.

Front Interior City Tavern - PhiladelphiaPerhaps, it is not so much the words of the Founders, but rather the behavior of those individuals that we should attempt to incorporate into our politics. But in order to open that door to a place where men of reason and benevolence gather for the greater good of the people, we will first have to open our minds and our hearts to that greater possibility!

Posted by: Chris Poh

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