Comedian George Carlin dies in California at age 71

The world has lost yet another giant, as the legendary comedian George Carlin died yesterday of heart failure in California.  He was 71 years old.  Take a look at the Associated Press article for a nice look at back at his life and career.

photo taken from

For me, Carlin was at the very top of the list in his profession.  I waited for the new HBO specials with anticipation and made sure I read nearly all of his books.  Besides being incredibly funny, Carlin was an amazingly astute observer in the world.  Behind the sarcasm, wit and the occasionally obvious frustration with the world, you always had a sense that Carlin, despite has attitude, was hoping to make the world a better place.

So we here at the American Public House Review offer our prayers to the family of George Carlin.  And to the man himself, who will likely go down as the most influential comedian of his time, we say “thanks for the laughs”.  (And here’s hoping Saint Peter has the same sense of humor I have!!!)

Published in: on June 23, 2008 at 7:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Learning to appreciate a genius

I did not begin my time watching Tim Russert as a fan of his.  The first few times I watched him on “Meet the Press”, I was not blown away.  In fact, I was often left frustrated and aggravated with Mr. Russert and his questioning.  But after a while I came to realize the brilliance of this incredibly important journalist who we may never replace.

I couldn’t figure out what is politics were.  Sometimes he would grill people, and sometimes he wouldn’t.  The now famous interview with David Duke showed a man who was the equivalent of a media pit bull, going after the gubernatorial candidate with such veracity and intelligence that Duke nearly melted on camera.  But other times he would not confront people, instead allowing them to answer his questions and move along to other topics, whether they were telling the truth or not.  I couldn’t figure it out, and it frustrated me.

But soon I started to realize that nearly every time a politician was caught in a lie or drastically changing his or her position the proof came from a past appearance on “Meet the Press”.  Whenever someone was confronted with their own answers, it always seemed to be Russert’s voice that asked the question.  They were on the record and the country benefited time and again from that record.

You see it wasn’t that Russert thought less of Duke then others, though he may very well have.  He just wouldn’t stop until Duke had answered the questions so the state of Louisiana had the information it needed to make a critical decision.  When others chose to answer more swiftly, whether Mr. Russert knew the answer was correct or incorrect, he simply let them answer and then would stand by and let history be the judge.  He knew history was often a much more damning judge than any one man could ever be.  Rather then confronting people with a personal and thinly veiled agenda, Tim Russert gave everyone an equal chance to pass or fail the nation’s test of integrity.  He never made himself the judge.  How few in the media can say that about themselves now?

So from a man who needed some time to appreciate you, I offer a most heartfelt “thank you” to the man who set the bar for all the rest of the media to be judged with.  God go with you, Tim.  You are an inspiration for all of us.  Oh yeah, and “Go Bills!”

by David McBride of the American Public House Review

Published in: on June 18, 2008 at 7:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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We Remember Tim Russert

Tim Russert 1950-2008

I awoke today with the same feeling of emptiness that escorted me into darkness last evening. I suspect that I am feeling the loss of a kindred spirit in a man with whom I shared a passion for politics and a strong belief in America’s ability to live up to the ideals of its founders.

 Our collective journey as a nation has been defined by those rare voices of decency and integrity that could hold a mirror to American society without forgetting that they were also part of that reflection, voices that could ask the question without assuming that they already knew the answer, voices that could shepherd us through common crisis and voices that, with humor and good will, could inspire us to be a better people. Such was the voice, the soul and the life of Tim Russert.

The staff and management of American Public House Review extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Russert. We thank God for his time with us, and we hope that this upcoming election will move us closer toward the realization of those ethical standards and principles in which he so firmly believed.

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher – American Public House Review

Published in: Uncategorized on June 14, 2008 at 3:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

A ghostly tale from behind the walls

With all of the talk on this blog in recent weeks about ghosts and hauntings, I thought I would relay to you one of my own paranormal experiences.  It took place in a town we have talked about quite a bit, in a building whose sad story has already been told on the American Public House Review.  It was my first trip inside the Carbon County Jail in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Now let me begin by saying that I am not a self proclaimed medium.  I am not at all sensitive to so-called spirit activity.  I have never once walked into a place and felt a “presence” and I am somewhat suspicious of those who do.  And to the credit of the people giving us a tour of this historic site, there wasn’t really much talk of ghosts and haunting.  This was instead mostly an important local history lesson, and a compelling one.  Outside of the famous handprint on the wall, very little was said about the supernatural. 

The jail is a fascinating place.  It does have an amazingly macabre feel right down to the architecture and simple details.  But as we toured through the main part of the jail, nothing seemed at all disturbing to me outside the incredibly disturbing details of what happened within these thick walls.  Then we made our way downstairs into the basement or the “dungeon” as they used to call it.  This was where people were kept in an incredibly harsh solitary confinement.   As we descended the staircase, the air began to feel heavier to me.

I was at the end of the line, lagging behind as usually happens to me on these types of tours.  I always end up reading or looking at something for too long.  So I hurried to catch up.  As I moved down the stairs, I could feel my nerves building, though I was not at all aware of why.  I could hear the tour guide speaking about the dungeon, but didn’t comprehend much of it at all.  As I crossed into the dungeon a feeling of fear hit me.  I looked around the place, as the group listened in very dim lighting to tales of human suffering.  For a brief moment, in a cell behind the tour group to my left, I thought I saw a man, mostly cast in shadow, kneeling on the ground. There was no doubt it was a man, but I couldn’t make out a face.  I knew it was not a fellow tourist.  But who was it? 

Within an instant, I flinched to my right, putting my hand to my face as if to block something or someone from hitting me.  But nothing was there.  For some unforeseen reason, I felt as if I had to guard my face from an assault.  Now I was just downright intimidated.  Tour or no tour, I was getting out of there.

I walked quickly out of the dungeon and back up the stairs.  I could hear the tour guide asking my friends if there was a problem, but I was not going back no matter what.  As soon as I made it back up the stairs, the feelings stopped.  And then I went through all the ways I could think of to rationalize the experience.  Was that just a shadow reflecting on the wall in the cell?  Was I feeling some kind of claustrophobia down there?  Was that just a bug I saw out of the corner of my right eye?  I had no idea.  All I did know was that it was time for a drink…

by Dave McBride

A Contrast In Horror

Clinton Mill

On the June 11th episode of “Ghost Hunters” the team from The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) will be visiting the Garden State. One of their stops will be The Red Mill in Clinton, New Jersey. This historic Hunterdon County landmark has been rumored to be haunted for generations. It is hard to imagine a paranormal presence at this perfect pastoral setting. But just down the road a few short miles is a truly frightening location.   

The Now Shuttered National Hotel

Welcome to Frenchtown, New Jersey and the site of the now shuttered National Hotel. Like the Red Mill, this property has also played a significant role in the history of this area. During the 1930s poet, novelist and script writer James Agee lived on the street behind the National. Apparently he found the environs of the hotel well suited to his lifestyle and his talent. Much of his work during that period was accomplished while sitting at the bar .

During the late 1800s, Annie Oakley would visit  Frenchtown with fellow performers from Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. While in town the National was always their preferred watering hole. In recent years the bar was the de facto office of the publisher of American Public House Review. And while I can not prove the existence of the reported spirits that supposedly roam the halls of this hostelry, I can confirm that the  remains of a former long term guest have not been checked out.

Hotel Bar

But the real horror story here is that a property of this magnitude has been abandoned and allowed to fall into a state of decay. As always, it is not the activity of the dead but the actions of the living that we need to fear.

Update: The National Hotel is rising from the ruins and will reopen the week of November 1st, 2009

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher – American Public House Review

What’s next for David and Goliath?

Make no mistake about it, Barrack Obama’s victory was an upset of nearly biblical proportions.  A rookie senator taking down a popular and well know member of one of the country’s most powerful political families is an amazing achievement.  But it didn’t come easy, and someone as big as Hillary Clinton will not fall very easily at all.  So what is next for this David and Goliath?

It is hard to look into the mind of Senator Clinton and see if she really would want to be vice-president.  She and Obama have fought an often personal fight and as a result her role in an Obama administration would likely be much smaller than her role as the nation best known senator.  But it may be her best path to the oval office.  What is certain is that it is hard to figure out what she really wants.  However, looking into the mind of Senator Obama may even be tougher.

Would he need her or even want her on the ticket?  Three months ago the answer was easily no.  But that was then, and so much has happened since.  Three months ago, Hillary Clinton had not won big in major states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Three months ago, the media had not yet latched onto to this theory that working class white democrats would not vote for Barrack Obama.  Three months ago he didn’t need Hillary Clinton.  But that may not be the case now.

Sure, a governor from a swing state may help the electoral strategy or a southern senator may better balance the ticket.  But will they really have a greater impact than Clinton?  Can anyone besides Hillary deliver to the Obama campaign the 18 million people who voted for her better than she can?  Those questions are what must be keeping the Obama campaign up at night.  But the really difficult question has to be; Can David and Goliath ever fight together and win?

by Dave McBride of the American Public House Review

Published in: on June 5, 2008 at 8:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Another Great Train Song

Virginia & Truckee No. 18 Dayton

The June issue of American Public House Review will visit saloons in Gold Hill and Virginia City Nevada. Connecting these classic western mining towns is the famed Virginia and Truckee Railroad. As we explore this enduring western landscape via bar and steel rails we thought it only fitting to include one of our favorite train songs. 

Jack Hardy We thank Greenwich Village based singer songwriter Jack Hardy for allowing us to use “The Zephyr (Take It Slow)” to provide a bit of traveling music during this month’s journey. 

Jack has been a major influence in American folk music since the 1960s. He is also the founder/editor of Fast Folk Musical Magazine. This non-profit publication and record label, which promoted independent artists, counts amongst its alumni – Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Julie Gold, Tracy Chapman, John Gorka, Richard Shindell and Michelle Shocked.

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher – American Public House review


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