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

Apple, Pumpkin, or Impeachment Pie

Article II, Section 4 provides: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

As always, most of us face the holiday season with some level of trepidation–the rush, the expense, overblown expectations, and, of course, those sometimes strained family gatherings. And in the age of Trump, those powwows around the Butterball and sweet potatoes come with the possibility of outright political combat–and what could be more incendiary than discussing the merits of impeachment with some brother or sister who always felt that mom favored you in the first place?

As for my point of view on the matter of getting one’s just desserts, I believe there is more than adequate evidence of a quid pro quo and an abuse of presidential power. But at the same time, I fully understand why nearly half of all Americans view this as nothing more than another exercise in partisan politics at the taxpayer’s expense.

America has a long history of being somewhat reluctant when it comes to challenging bad behavior beyond our shores. Had it not been for the 128 Americans that went down on the Lusitania or the 1,177 sailors and Marines that lost their lives on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Belleau Wood and Normandy might not be part of this country’s collective heroic lore. So it easy to understand why we might be slow to raise concerns over the President’s dealings in Ukraine. On the other hand, had aid been withheld to Kentucky coal miners or Wisconsin dairy farmers because of some personal campaign agenda, I suspect the number of those in favor of impeachment would be very different.

The Signing of the United States Constitution by Louis Glanzman

As to the question of abuse of power, whether it be of a personal or professional nature, Donald Trump’s inclination to abuse whatever power might come his way has been well-documented for decades. So why would his time in the White House be any different? While I may be appalled and alarmed by his behavior, many Americans were hoping that his abusive nature would be turned against those individuals and institutions who his supporters felt had neglected and abused them.

Now, as to this just being about another round of disgruntled partisans wanting to take down the President, I would agree that there are a number of Democrats that might be engaged in just that. But the bias against Donald Trump runs deeper, and that negative view of his presidency has been well-earned by no one other than the President himself! Like most of the populist politicians that have run for office throughout our nation’s history, Mr. Trump has sown the seeds of discord in order to pit one group against another. And no one has been more effective at cultivating such a bitter harvest.

For those who truly believe in the founding principles of the United States of America, impeachment is not about an effort to undo the results of the presidential election of 2016. It is instead about honoring the resolve of those who attended the Constitutional Convention of 1787!

Posted by: Chris Poh for AmericanPublic House Review

Has Jim Thorpe Become a Vortex for Pennsylvania Spirits?

View of downtown from the Asa Packer Mansion

I’m not sure that I buy into those New Age notions of inter-dimensional portals or spiritual vortexes–but there have been those lonely late night strolls through the myriad of narrow brick passages that connect to the dimly lit streets of Jim Thorpe that have led me to consider such paranormal possibilities.

The author J. K. Rowling apparently found a fair amount of inspiration concerning the behavior of young precocious wizards and witches during her time in the ancient city of Edinburgh. Much of the first book in the Harry Potter series was written at The Elephant House–one of the many fine cafes in this Scottish bastion that can boast the pens of such notables as Robert Burns, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Had the fates which drove her life instead placed her in any number of the appealing pubs and eateries tucked away within the Victorian and Gothic Revival architecture of this unique Pennsylvania community, Hogwarts might have been fashioned after the Old Jail Museum–and the purveyors of broomsticks and potions would have been selling their wares along Race Street instead of Diagon Alley.

The Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe

For the better part of the last twenty years, most of my in-town explorations have been assisted by my dear friends Bob and Sheila–the proprietors of the Gilded Cupid Bed and Breakfast. They have, in fact, become my personal guides to the more spirited aspects of this seemingly otherworldly old mining community. And while they haven’t necessarily introduced me to any of the inhabitants of the ethereal nether regions of town, they have done an absolutely superb job of directing me toward those spirits that please the palate and soothe the soul. And in keeping with those standards, during the course of my most recent visit, they brought me to the Notch Eight Craft House.

This warm and welcoming neighborhood pub, located in the heart of Jim Thorpe’s historic downtown, can best be described as a bit of tasteful gentrification with a steampunk persona. But what sets this unique establishment apart from the competition is its dedication to promoting the state’s craft industry. Whether it’s brewed, distilled, or fermented, if it’s poured here–it’s from Pennsylvania. And with a state that can boast over several hundred breweries, wineries, and now scores of independent distilleries– the spirits should be passing through these portals for a very long time to come!

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

Sand

Yesterday, I once again forced myself to endure yet another rhetorical rant from that real estate developer from Queens. But then again, who might be more qualified to exaggerate the terms of our latest shady land deal in the Middle East while blaming the former minority tenants for the bad conditions and at the same time being able to extol the virtues of the new owners than Donald Trump?

In the course of his justification for the reckless abandonment and betrayal of our Kurdish allies, he seemed to fixate, as he has as of late, on the word sand. As if to suggest that our involvement in the Middle East is and always has been as barren as the Arabian Desert, a policy with no purpose and a fruitless exercise in protecting those who have only known conflict and war. I will not argue the fact that radicals, reactionaries, and religious zealots, whether they hail from Saudi sands or sunny American shores are capable of holding onto a grudge for a very long time. But most human beings, in spite of their global positioning, want only peace and the opportunity to achieve their own personal potential.

USAF 204th Fighter Wing Over Kuwait - Public Domain Photo

Historically, our presence in the Middle East has seldom been about anything other than our own security and self-interests. Simply put, it’s not about what’s above the sand, but what lies beneath–tethered to a friendship with Israel and a fear of the former Soviet Union. But much has changed since the days of Communist aggression and oil embargoes. North American tar sands challenge Saudi reserves, our once blind allegiance to Israel has been tempered with concerns for the Palestinians, and while the Russians remain ruthlessly aggressive, Vladimir Putin’s brand of transactional leadership seems to resonate with our current President. So why not retreat to a position of America first and the rest of the world be damned?

From a practical standpoint, while we appear to be oozing oil at the moment, in reality, based upon our 20 million barrel a day thirst, the good ole we are number one USA could only go it alone for about five years. And while we may be able to weather a major interruption in supply better than most of the developed world, the resulting economic calamity would quickly find its way through our lovely little white picket fences.

However, in the interest of personal transparency, I must admit that I harbor a bit of my own “America First” tendencies. But in my model of national superiority, we are the first to champion human rights, the first to challenge the rule of despots, the first to provide aid to those in need, the first to give safe haven to those displaced by war and natural disasters–and always the first to stand by those who have stood by us!

My vision of America does not include a sandbox controlled by a petulant child of privilege threatening to withhold the use of his Tonka toys just because he’s not getting his way or fashioned-challenged fat cats scratching their way out of the sand traps at Trump National Doral. In my vision of our troubled republic, the sand in my shoes is the result of peaceful strolls on a beach where all who seek freedom, justice, and protection are welcomed. Until such time, I’ll just let my tired feet carry me to the next friendly Tiki bar.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

Setting Sail to Safer Seas

Narragansett Bay – photo by Mark Paltridge

Perhaps it was just the usual flurry of televised bad news and the seemingly never-ending baffling behavior by the gentleman at the helm of our foundering ship of state that caused me to consider forgoing my usual morning cup of coffee in favor of a way before noon tankard of grog. But then I remembered it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day! So before the sun sets over the yardarm, let us once again review my own personal code of buccaneer decorum so that you’ll be better equipped to navigate these troubling tides as you make way for safe harbor and happy hour.

  • 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!

Included below are a few of our favorite shanties guaranteed to woo any wench or prancing privateer.

A Very Hearty Yo Ho and Aaarrr from the Crew at American Public House Review!

Aim Higher

“Aim higher. You don’t need to talk. They are American citizens. They won an election. Take on their policies. The bottom line here is this is a diverse country.”

Part of a statement from Senator Lindsey Graham during a recent interview on Fox & Friends.

“He said, ‘Aim higher. Shoot higher.’ What am I going to do? Wait until we get somebody else in a higher position? A higher office? These are people that hate our country.”

A portion of President Trump’s response to Senator Graham’s call to tone down the rhetoric.

While I could go on ad nauseam about my extreme disappointment with the senator from South Carolina who once fashioned his political behavior after that of the late John McCain, even I don’t believe that presidential apologist and lackey Lindsey Graham was suggesting that the President set his sights on someone in an elected office higher than the four freshmen female members of Congress who were the most recent recipients of Mr. Trump’s bigotry and bogus patriotism.

Perhaps I’m being a bit old-fashioned, but during my lifetime when our presidents talked about improving our aim, it meant walking that high road, taking that next hill, or even reaching the Moon! As we take the time this weekend to celebrate the achievements of all those who brought about the success of the Apollo 11 mission, and to remember the martyred President that united all Americans behind a common goal of placing human beings on the lunar surface, I find the present state of our national discourse disgusting and disheartening.

A well placed wood carving behind the bar of McSorley’s Old Ale House in lower Manhattan bears the following warning for those patrons who might be lacking in proper tavern etiquette “Be good or be gone.” We are privileged to live in a country where a bartender has the right to tell unruly customers to go back from whence they came, but a president, or for that matter any elected official, is bound by their oath of office to accept, tolerate, and even embrace anyone who exercises their rights to legally express their dissatisfaction with the conditions of this 243 year old establishment called America. It would appear that the longevity and prosperity of both taverns and countries depends upon their ability to better serve the needs of an ever changing neighborhood.

Even McSorley’s, a place that had served the enlightened likes of Abraham Lincoln and Woody Guthrie during its long storied history, finally relented on its own bit of provincial prejudice by opening its doors to women clientele in 1970. Today every freshmen member of Congress would gladly be welcomed!

As for the President’s lack of welcome to the ladies of the House, many of his critics have used his latest Twitter feed channeling of McCarthyism as ironclad proof of his blatant racism. While I am not yet fully prepared to commit to that particular point of view, I am of the opinion that what he has done might even be worse than racism. Any politician that seeks to maintain their power and position by pandering to those who are the victims of their own fears and insecurities is guilty of committing an even more reprehensible act!

There is always the hope that through experience and a greater understanding of those differences that divide us, even the most hardened heart will conclude that we are all equal in this life and the next. But demagogues almost always take their ways to the grave.

Thankfully though, our Constitution provides that the person in the voting booth enjoys the same power as that person behind the bar. It’s simply a matter of …

Posted by Chris Poh for American Public House Review

The Quality of Light

Sunrise at Acadia – photo By Bill Trotter – Bangor Daily News

“We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us thru that darkness to a safe and sane future.” – John F. Kennedy

Even while our citizens endured the partial shutdown of government and the near total shutdown of governance, that lead photon on that first ray of sunlight coming over the horizon each morning still managed to awaken the continental United States by hitting its mark on the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park. And while the roads of this nation’s first national park east of the Mississippi remained unplowed, the garbage uncollected, and the visitor’s center unmanned, the sun still continued to shine. It seems the natural order of the universe and nature function quite well without government–the human species not so much!

In the course of my own travels, I have found there is a bit of magic in that light that caresses the coast of Maine. For me personally, it has been a source of comfort, clarity, and inspiration. Not that I’m questioning the effectiveness of sunshine south of the Piscataqua, but that mix of both man-made and metaphorical pollution seems to have somewhat diminished the curative effects–especially along that storied stretch of the Potomac in Washington.

Morning in Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Afternoon in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Approximately 116 nautical miles south of Acadia lies one family’s fortress that has weathered many Atlantic gales and has witnessed many a sunrise since the turn of the last century. And for most of my time, while trying to unsuccessfully coax the ocean’s bounty onto the end of my fishing rod in the waters off Kennebunkport, I was pretty much unaware of the potential political dynasty that was mixing vodka martinis on the lawn and playing tennis on the court at Walker’s Point. But during the summer of 1990, a few months before our armed incursion into Iraq, I became keenly aware that the price of oil was of far greater concern than the price of lobster. It was also during this period that I discovered that the 41st President of the United States enjoyed a good glass of beer as much as he enjoyed his martinis.

Evening on the Kennebunk River near Walker’s Point

“We are a nation of communities… a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” – George H. W. Bush

The talk around town was that George H. W. Bush on occasion would be spotted hoisting a pint with locals and tourists alike. And by the end of his presidency, the opening of Federal Jack’s Brewpub in Kennebunkport would help to make his loss to William Jefferson Clinton in 1992 and subsequent retirement at Walker’s Point a bit more tolerable. And while there may have been a few dark clouds that obscured the late president’s so-called “1000 points of light”–he was a man who truly believed in the value of selfless public service to country and the possibility that we could actually become a kinder and gentler nation. Sadly, the flame of that fanciful notion seems to waning as of late.

“America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.” – Ronald Reagan

At the close of of last Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Trump may have been attempting to evoke that Reaganesque view of our place in the world when he said, “We must always keep faith in America’s destiny — that one Nation, under God, must be the hope and the promise and the light and the glory among all the nations of the world!” Unfortunately, for many of those most in need of seeing America’s light–that light will be nothing more than a brief glimpse between the slats of some steel barrier on our southern border

“Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.” George Washington

During the stifling summer of 1787, our nation’s first president presided over the Constitutional Convention. Hot days and even hotter tempers fueled the often contentious proceedings at the Philadelphia Statehouse.

On September 17, 1787, nearly four months after the convention convened, even the most cantankerous of those among the delegates would choose consensus and compromise–and commit their signatures to the United States Constitution. With the grand bargain now in hand, Doctor Benjamin Franklin of the Pennsylvania delegation could forego politics in favor of his much preferred philosophical musings. With his gaze fixed upon the carving of the sun on the backrest of the chair that gave George Washington some measure of comfort during the trials of that long, difficult summer, Franklin said, “I have often looked at that picture behind the president without being able to tell whether it was a rising or setting sun. Now at length, I have the happiness to know that it is indeed a rising, not a setting sun.”

Closing time at the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island

While I have normally shared Mr. Franklin’s optimism about America’s future wellbeing, as of late, a few vexing shadows of doubt have darkened my horizon. Certainly, many thousand points of light continue to illuminate American skies, but our elected guiding lights have spent too much of their time in retreat under their respective red and blue bushels. So from my perspective, I’m not sure whether I’m seeing the dawn’s early light, the twilight’s last gleaming, or just the flickering lights of last call.

Make mine a double–it’s an awfully long road home–and an even longer road to 2020!

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

A Journey Shared

Robbie Mcbride

Robbie Raising a Glass at the St. Patrick Pub in Old Quebec City

Glasses Raised…Spirits Lifted…and Journeys Shared, since its inception these words have been the mantra and mission of American Public House Review. And during the course of this online venture, and for a good part of my own personal life, it has been both a privilege and a blessing to have been able to traverse some good roads and to navigate a few patches of tough terrain with my dear friend Robert McBride. We have raised many a glass, shared many a journey, and few have done more to raise my melancholic prone spirit than this exceptionally talented human being.

At present, that exceptional talent is being put to good use as Robbie and his equally gifted wife, Karen, document with stunning imagery and a literary flair their extended travels through Europe and the British Isles.

I highly recommend that we all take some time to enjoy: 

The View From Here

The View From Here

Unfortunately for myself, I was unable to accompany my friends on this grand adventure. But along the way, there have been a few common crossroads that have allowed me to feel somewhat included in the itinerary. Click on the tavern signs below for some virtual pubbing from both sides of the pond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to experience the journey from Karen’s perspective.

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

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