Setting the Stage for a Damn Good Brawl

Robot Painting by Eric Joyner

Robot Painting by Eric Joyner

Even before the 111th Congress was done packing their valises and war chests to head home for the Christmas break, the pundits and pols were already checking their fight cards and placing their wagers on the next match between the red and the blue. Like most Americans I’m tired of the incessant political donnybrooks at our expense; but still there is a certain measure of gratuitous satisfaction one gets from watching a good scuffle now and then.

It isn’t so much the landed blows that I take pleasure in, as it is the strategy and fancy footwork beforehand. A well staged brawl can truly be considered an impressive bit of handiwork. And before returning to Washington, both Democrats and Republicans might want to take a few cues from the masters of this art form.  

Bull Feeney's Irish Pub - Portland, MaineDuring a recent journey along the Maine Coast, American Public House Review staff editor David McBride visited Bull Feeney’s in Portland, Maine. This fine Irish Pub is named in honor of John Martin Feeney, the son of John Augustine Feeney,  a well-respected saloonkeeper that established several taverns throughout the city during the late 1800s. His son was nicknamed “Bull” because of his aggressive headfirst charges into the opposing line while playing fullback at Portland High School. This spirited rugged  nature would serve him well in later years while working on location in the harsh terrain of Utah’s Monument Valley.

In July of  1914, John Martin Feeney headed west to California to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Francis, who had established himself as both an actor and director in the early years of  Hollywood. And like his elder brother, John would change his last name from Feeney to Ford.

Director John Ford - 1946 This future iconic American director would eventually go on to redefine the craft of film making and cinematography. Few in the industry could match his skill for storytelling, or for being able to stage a good fight. Since Ford had a habit of socializing and professionally collaborating with the rough and tumble types, those classic onscreen contests to determine who was the better man came easy. Amongst the combatants was the pugnacious Victor McLaglen, who actually  at one time went six rounds against then  Heavyweight Champion of the World Jack Johnson.

So before we convene the next Congress, I suggest that all members of the House, Senate and  Executive Branch make a careful study of the bravado, bluster and style of  Top Sgt. Quincannon in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and that of one Squire ‘Red Will” Danaher in The Quiet Man.

Victor McLaglen as Squire "Red Will" DanaherVictor McLaglen as Top Sgt. Quincannon

So let’s shake hands and come out fighting. And remember gentlemen, The Marquess of Queensberry rules will be observed on all occasions.  

John Wayne and Victor McLaglen in The Quiet Man

Posted by: Chris Poh


A Good START for the New Year


Faneuil Hall - Boston, MA

Myself and our associate editor, Dave McBride took a very long walk through the well chilled blustery streets of Boston the other night. Our mission was clear, our cause was common–find the perfect tavern that would provide us warmth, comfort and an atmosphere that might revive our somewhat dampened holiday spirits. The results of that December campaign will be featured in a couple of upcoming articles in American Public House Review.

The Green Dragon - Boston, MAAs we navigated the old brick alleyways around Quincey Market we spoke of history, politics and Christmas. With the flurry of  political achievements coming out of Washington during the last few days, among them the new START treaty, perhaps there is still reason to believe in the hope for mankind espoused by those young  rebels from Bethlehem to Boston.

The following piece was originally published in December of 2007.

I still retain many fond memories from a childhood that was somewhat tainted by the cold war. That robust competition for world domination between communist and capitalist could unsettle even the most secure suburban upbringing.

In my version of “Leave it to Beaver Land”, better known as Teaneck, New Jersey there were only two reasons for seeking shelter below the first floor: the fear of nuclear winter, or the fear of not keeping up with those that had achieved a subterranean paradise replete with paneling, ping-pong and a mini-pub. Trusting that John Kennedy would always best his Soviet nemesis, Nikita Khrushchev, my parents decided to forego stocking up on a six month supply of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, and chose instead to dedicate the basement to recreational use.

Lillie's - New York CityMy father was a trained artist as well as a self-taught musician and craftsman. He brought all of those talents to bear on the construction of the altar that would become our home bar. It became a place of warm gatherings, merriment and song.

As a child, I remember the excitement of waiting for my dad to flip the switch that would illuminate his handiwork. Light danced on multi-colored inlaid metal tiles that adorned the top of the bar. The scene had all the drama of those Christmas Eves long past, when my assigned yearly quest to locate that elusive brown extension cord, that would bring power from wall to tree, yielded success.

Christmas Tree in Quincy Market - BostonThis publican owes much to Raymond J. Poh. The culmination of his craft instilled in me my great love of the tavern. Every time I answer the call of one of those splendidly lit confines there is a sense of Christmas. Perhaps the mix of neon, candles and designer incandescent bring on those feelings; but more likely the potential for fellowship, kindness and generosity that one finds in such places renews my hope for peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

All of us at American Public House Review wish you and yours a joyous and blessed  season of light!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Who’s That Knockin on December’s Door?

There is no other marked period of time that has more impact on the human psyche–just the word “December” evokes a vast array of human emotion. Moments of joy, sorrow, regret and rebirth punctuate those last 31 days of each year’s journey.

So in order to help the readers of American Public House Review better cope with those less than pleasant aspects of the  season, our own resident ghosts of  Christmas Past. Present and Yet to Come have cobbled together a special holiday gift package. 

Joel grey as Ghost of Christmas Past 1999

A nicely appointed apparition provides passage through the festive old neighborhoods of Bethlehem, PA and Baltimore, MD.

Edward Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present 1984

This rather gregarious ghost spreads the Christmas cheer with some traditional songs of the season from singer/songwriter   Chip Mergott and the Celtic troupe Runa.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

And this somber specter reveals what lies ahead as he takes us on a daily jaunt down the decorated alleyways and streets of Princeton, NJ

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