The Much Maligned and Dreaded 13

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,”   A bit of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ biblical rational for current immigration policy

In most instances throughout history whenever a politician or government appointee cites scripture, the moral high ground has already been lost. In the case of Romans 13, during the life of our nation it has been used to justify loyalty to the English Crown during the American Revolution, and in support of slavery during the Civil War. Mr. Sessions may want to consider furthering his time at Bible study.

Since the age of eighteen, I have spent some portion of my working life behind the bar. My first patrol of the mahogany rail was at the Montville Inn in northern New Jersey. It was there during the summer of 1972 that I first encountered some of America’s immigrant workforce. My late afternoon crowd consisted partly of Portuguese and Spanish laborers that were repairing and resurfacing the roadway out front. While some of my two martini and three-piece regulars may have felt some degree of discomfort about having to share their space with those who had just put down their shovels in favor of a beer mug,  I found these hard-working men to be kind, generous, and decidedly less pretentious than the local gentry. I was not about to question the legitimacy of their presence.

Over the many years now spent in the restaurant business, I’ve worked with hundreds of people from different countries, mainly from Mexico and Latin America. Whether or not they were there legally was of little concern. At no time did I ever feel that my position was in jeopardy, nor did I ever see any of my fellow American’s clamoring for the chance to take on the toils and troubles of my foreign compadres. Even the most ardent voices against immigration from our southern hemisphere show very few signs of willingness to send their sons and daughters into the kitchen to wash dishes or the fields to pick lettuce.

In the interest of making a point in a somewhat succinct fashion, I am going to once more resort to my favorite format–the bullet item. And while the following generalities might be called into question by some, I assure you that they will contain more facts and more truth than your average daily White House press corps briefing.

  •  Gangs, whether it be MS-13,  the Aryan Brotherhood, La Cosa Nostra, the Russian Mafia or any of the estimated 33,000 large and small criminal enterprises that operate in the United States are a valid cause for concern. But because of the extraordinary dedication and effectiveness of local, state, and federal law enforcement very few Americans will ever be directly affected by these malicious organizations.
  • In those countries that make up the infamous Northern Triangle, the reality is quite different. The citizens of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are subject to extortion, kidnapping, rape, and murder on a regular basis, and those who commit these atrocities carry them out with near impunity. There should be little question as to why so many woman and children are now knocking on or attempting to break down America’s back door.
  • Throughout our nation’s history, there are those who have preached either the politics of inclusion or the politics of exclusion. While the former has not always gone smoothly, the ladder has always ended in disaster. The graves at Gettysburg are proof enough of that! Sadly though, a philosophy of exclusion seems to serve the demagogues well. It feeds on our fears and prejudices, and it offers simplistic solutions to very complex problems.
  • Consumer economies such as ours, with an aging population and a near historically low birthrate, depend on immigration. Our cash-strapped entitlements sorely need an influx of younger workers. But at the same time though, we need security and sound reform–but this policy of “zero tolerance” offers neither. By all appearances, it is nothing more than an improvised plan by a petulant real-estate developer from New York getting an assist from a self-proclaimed far-right nationalist from California. For Donald Trump, it’s simply about needing to get his way on that unfunded wall along the Mexican border. And in Stephen Miller, the President has found a willing ally who would gladly supply some portion of the building materials by repurposing the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
  • As to the matter of separating families, unless there is evidence of a serious crime or a child’s welfare is in question, the administration’s ad hoc strategy is unconscionable and counterproductive. As someone who has taught inner-city youth and has worked directly with incarcerated adolescents, I have seen the trauma and the irreparable damage that is so often the outcome for those who have been taken away from their parents or have not had the advantage of a stable family environment. Our current course of action at the border may, in fact, help to bolster the future ranks of those same malevolent groups that the President is supposedly trying to protect us from.

While I have never had children of my own, I have on occasion had the good fortune of being able to play the role of the Dutch uncle. The photograph at the top of this post captures one of those special points of passage. It was at the St. Patrick Pub in Old Quebec where I was able to pass along a bit of  my vast knowledge of bar stool etiquette to my godchild Alanna and her older sister Emma.

These days there’s a lot more gray and far fewer hairs on the back of my head–and those two delightful young girls are now two very accomplished young women. Their achievements are the result of individual talent, the love and nurturing of exceptional parents, and a home life that has always been safe, secure, and supportive. Embedded within the story of their lives lie the solutions to our crisis at the border. While a good fence might make for good neighbors, better homes will always trump the need for bigger walls

As we reflect upon the founding principles put forth by those who represented America’s thirteen original colonies, on this particular 4th of July we might want to consider the following about that old bedeviling  number 13:

  • In order to further his own personal agenda on immigration, the President has vastly exaggerated the threat posed by MS-13. This is nothing more than just another variation of the bogey man tactic employed by many a politician throughout our nation’s history.
  • While Romans 13 might provide some cover for the Attorney General and for those who once swore their allegiance to King George and Jefferson Davis–hopefully, the majority of American hearts will answer the call of Hebrews 13:1.

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Thomas Paine Portrait

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

In keeping with the spirit of the day, let us once more celebrate the life of our favorite American revolutionary with Dick Gaughan’s  version of “Tom Paine’s Bones.”

Click on the title or Paine’s portrait to hear the music.

 

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

 

 

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Still Holding the High Ground

Cannons at Gettysburg

“I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.”   General George Pickett’s reply when asked some years after the war as to why his assault on Cemetery Ridge failed.

Recently, I found myself once again patiently absorbing that all to familiar diatribe from one of my patrons about the imminent fall of America because of the current state of our politically divided house. As a bartender in fairly good standing with the profession, I am expected to patiently listen and not offer much in dissent, ascribing to that time-honored philosophy that states that the customer is always right. But as is usually the case, I opted to give up the high ground and take a step down onto my ever handy soapbox.

When confronted with the pessimistic view of the future of our republic, I normally counter with a quick history lesson that begins with those contentious compromises of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and ends on the fields of Gettysburg in 1863. This year marks the 150th anniversary of that defining battle of our Civil War.

On the third and final day of the battle, July 3rd, General Robert E. Lee ordered Confederate forces under the command of  General James Longstreet to attack the Union center lodged on Cemetery Ridge. After an impressive, yet mostly unproductive exchange of artillery fire, Longstreet gave the reluctant nod. And under the blistering heat of the afternoon sun,  three divisions of Southern infantry led by  Maj. Gen. George Pickett, Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew, and Maj. Gen. Isaac R. Trimble began the ill-fated ascent toward death and destruction. Of the 12,500 men that followed their general’s lead on that day, over four thousand would be wounded by Union steel and fire, and another nearly twelve hundred sons of the South would soon join their other fallen comrades under the blood soaked soil of Pennsylvania farmland.

On July 4th , Robert E. Lee remained readied on the battlefield assuming his Northern counterpart, General George Meade, would attack–but the guns remained silent. While many historians cite Meade’s cautious nature when explaining his inclination not to press his advantage in the aftermath of Pickett’s Charge, I would like to believe that there may have been a more transcendent reason for the quieting of hostilities on that particular day, something akin to the Christmas truce of 1914. There are those sacred days that serve to remind us of the possibility of  achieving that greater potential for good as both men and nations.  And those days should always be honored as intended by those that have gone before us.

America still holds the high ground.  

Have a joyous 4th of July!!!

Blue Tag

Posted by: Chris Poh

Remembering the Civil War

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of our Civil War, the seminal event in American History.  Though it seems this important historical date has gone largely forgotten by the media, we here at Pub Talk would like to do our part in commemorating this event.

Gettysburg's Eternal Light Peace Memorial

This week, we will look back at some of the best Civil War influenced pubs and music featured on the American Public House Review.  We begin today with a pub in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania which happens to also be my personal favorite watering hole found in town, O’Rorkes Eatery and Spirits.

O'Rorke's Eatery and Spirts in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

O’Rorke’s may not be the centuries old, bullet-ridden place one may expect to find in a town like Gettysburg.  But don’t let that deter you one but.  Sit at the bar here, and you will find yourself immersed in the spirit of this haunting town.  Before long, you too will notice that you keep passing the other taverns by for a seat at the bar in O’Rorkes.

By Dave McBride

Searching for Ghosts in Gettysburg

The Travel Channel’s popular “Most Haunted” show did a live program this past Friday from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Most Haunted is certainly a controversial show, even within the realm of other paranormal investigators.  Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of Ghost Hunters have been openly critical of the show’s investigative style and techniques.  But despite that, Most Haunted did choose wisely when picking Gettysburg as a subject.

The interesting thing about the show was that they used the entire town in the investigation and not just one location.  They included battlefield areas, popular buildings in town, the famous covered bridge, and more.

the courtyard of the historic Farnsworth House in Gettysburg, PA
But not to toot my own horn here or anything, I must admit that few publications or websites have covered Gettysburg as well as the American Public House Review.  We have been to this hallowed area many times and have reported back from three our favorite places, two of which have been exhaustively investigated for paranormal activity. 

The Farnsworth House appeared on the Review in November of 2007.  This incredible building was a stronghold for Confederate sharpshooters during the first day of the bloody three day struggle.  Now it is home to a Bed and Breakfast, a great tavern, and an incredible collection of memorabilia from the film “Gettysburg” left here by cast and crew who made this their hangout.  It is also thought to be the home of many spirits who have not left since that fateful July day.

an invitation to enjoy the Farnsworth House

an invitation to enjoy the Farnsworth House

In January of 2008, Chris Poh made his way just outside of town to a place called the Cashtown Inn.  People who are knowledgeable of the world of the paranormal will immediately recognize this name, if they haven’t been there already themselves.  It is one of the country’s supposedly most haunted buildings, and was the subject of a Ghost Hunters program.  The team found some amazing evidence of the paranormal in this historic inn.

Is the Cashtown Inn truly haunted?

Is the Cashtown Inn truly haunted?

And let us not forget O’Rorkes.  Perhaps it is not the oldest and creepiest of buildings in town, but it may be the best place to just sit, have a drink, and talk with a wonderful collection of locals who can tell you all you need to know about their hometown.

Yes, we love Gettysburg.  It is a treasure trove of great pubs, rich history, and haunted places.  There are even more places for us to cover and we plan on going back there soon.  Keep checking back this fall and perhaps you’ll find yet another great place in Gettysburg to have a drink.

Posted by: David McBride

 

Possibly the Best Civil War Ballad Ever Written

During the month of July American Public House Review has focused on locations and articles germane to colonial America and the struggle for independence. The entire staff, including our one citizen of the realm –Dunmore Throop, agree that a good revolution needs to be celebrated for more than just one day. So one might ask, “Why the Civil War Ballad?’

The Civil War is in many ways an extension of the American Revolution. Those compromises made at Philadelphia in 1776, over the issues of slavery and state’s rights, in order to gain a unanimous vote for sovereignty and self-rule planted the seeds for the inevitable civil crisis.

On July 4th, 1863 Vicksburg surrendered to Grant, and in the north the cannons at Gettysburg fell silent by midday. While armed conflict would continue for almost two more years, the war was essentially over. The union of states founded on the 4th of July 1776, would be saved on this particular anniversary of our nation’s independence.

Please take a few minutes to listen to The 111th Pennsylvane by Jack Hardy from the release Civil Wars. Our staff collectively believes that this may be one of the best historical ballads ever written. Enjoy!

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher

TAPS at the Cashtown

No this posting is not about the beer selection at the Cashtown Inn; it is to remind the readers of American Public House Review that on Wednesday evening March 26th, the results of the investigation conducted by the team from The Atlantic Paranormal Society will be revealed on “Ghost Hunters.” The show airs on the Syfy Channel at 9:00 PM, and will be rebroadcast at 11:00 PM. 

The natural skeptic in me appreciates the no-nonsense scientific techniques employed by this particular group of paranormal detectives. The lack of theatrics coupled to their honest analysis and frank assessment of each individual case lends credibility to a profession that all too often has been the domain of hoaxers and charlatans.

Cashtown Inn

During a recent luncheon at the Cashtown Inn, which is purported to be one of the most haunted taverns in America, I was able to conduct my own inquiry into the otherworldly activities associated with this Civil War landmark. Unfortunately my own personal contact with the spirits was limited to the superb potables recommended by the owner, Jack Paladino. Regrettably, my sensitivity to the spirits seems to stop at my palate. So until my third eye becomes functional, I will have to rely on gaussmeters, EVPs, thermal imaging and the trusted judgement of the crew from TAPS.

FROM THIS PUBLICAN’S PERCH, November 2007

Chris PohAt some point during the cobbling together of this particular issue someone requested a file name for November’s content. After a cursory review of the articles my response was call it “The War Years.” Whether by intent or fortune this author and our merry band of stringers seemed to have wandered into pubs that have a profound connection to the armed conflicts that have defined this nation. It seems that guns, guts and glory have always been the convenient forte of the fourth estate.

Contained within these pages are the memories and stories of those who have fought, and in many instances given the last full measure on behalf of country. Framed in perfect settings of wood and stone, and accented with the trophies and artistic depictions of battle, these stories take on a lore and grandeur that soften the suffering and hardships of battle. But in many other locations throughout this land are much simpler rooms that serve as the final post for those that truly understand the brutality, bloodshed and tragedy of war. To these veterans and legionnaires we raise our glasses.

Next month our reporters take on rough seas and salt water. Our roving scribes will be anchored in bars from the beaches of California to the rugged coastline of Maine. As for me, the only salt that I’ll taste will be on the rim of a Margarita glass from the relative calm of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Till then we wish you a great November and a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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FROM THIS PUBLICAN’S PERCH, October 2007

Chris Poh

A friend inquired about the possibility of featuring a particular establishment in this publication. I think he was surprised by the rapid response which questioned the merits of this well respected edifice of fine food and drink. “If a great space, with a fantastic location, featuring outstanding product and service doesn’t warrant inclusion what does,” he asked? My answer was simply this, “…community.”

The worth of a public house is measured by the efforts of its patrons, owners and staff to establish a space that welcomes everyone as equals and treats all who enter with the same regard and respect. It is a community that provides comfort, wise counsel and camaraderie. It is the family front porch of a bygone era, and the parliament of the common man.

In this first issue, our staff’s explorations remained close to home. This being a shared belief that one should celebrate and appreciate one’s own backyard before venturing over the fence. Future editions will include images and stories from pubs located throughout North America with occasional forays beyond.

As the content of this first run came together it was apparent that it was heavily influenced by the spirit and the traditions of those who inhabit the British Isles. This was much more a case of serendipity than a function of design. Had this outcome been a matter of planning, we would not have overlooked those bold Tudors who ascended the English throne under Henry the VII. Before our time is done, the editorial staff will make every effort to recognize the people of Wales and their generous contributions to the life and legacy of the public house.

Published in: on February 6, 2008 at 10:07 pm  Comments (1)  
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