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!

Looking for Signs from Above

Since the time of our primordial ancestors man has attempted to discover his fate by turning his gaze toward the cosmos. The marking of any new year  seems to heighten our inate need to chase the comet’s tail or  attach undue importance on the alignment of heavenly bodies

As we embark on yet another cycle of the Gregorian calendar the staff of American Public House Review would like to share some of the intriguing, if not downright mystical, signs that have guided our journey during the past year, and that will undoubtedly help to shape the course of future events.

Click on each sign below to take an unparalleled  journey through time and space!

 

Sarah is not the only gal from Alaska calling it quits

The Northwestern from Deadliest CatchAt this juncture I will not get into the endless or mindless media speculation as to why Sarah Palin is stepping down, nor will I use this particular post to dissect the politics of the matter. It suffices to say that I appreciate the governor’s current efforts to downsize the number of people in government, and I personally thank her for renewing my awareness of the great state of Alaska. Too often we in the lower forty-eight forget that America is much more than just about the events that occur in New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC.

Since John McCain thrust Mrs. Palin onto the national stage, I have spent many more hours watching Captain Sig Hansen of the Northwestern haul Opilio crab out of the Bering Sea on the TV series, Deadliest Catch. And my Sunday evenings would not be complete without watching the Ice Road Truckers making the run up the Dalton to Dead Horse on Prudhoe Bay. And as Alaska’s award-winning broadcast journalist, Geo Beach likes to say,”Things really are Tougher in Alaska.”

Alice's Champagne PalaceSadly, those tough conditions have brought about the demise of another Alaskan lady. Alice’s Champagne Palace in Homer is no longer functioning as a regular bar. What the future holds for this legendary club and watering hole is uncertain; but this popular institution has overcome adversity and hard times in the past.

Ellis Paul at Alice's Champagne PalaceWe look forward to a time once more when musicians like Ellis Paul will sing her praises, and raise a glass to those that don’t quit until the last load is delivered, the last pot is hauled on board

and the last crew safely finds their way back home.

Special thanks to the crew at the Ocean House Inn for providing the glorious sunrise image.

Sunrise View from the Ocean House Inn - Homer, Alaska

Sunrise View from the Ocean House Inn – Homer, Alaska

Click below to enjoy Ellis Paul singing “Alice’s Champagne Palace

 

 

 

Posted by: Chris Poh

You’ll find the good captain in the tavern

So, you’ve come seeking adventure and salty old pirates, aye?  Sure, you’ve come to the proper place…

The USS Constellation

Those immortal words are from Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean and serve as a welcome warning to those who have arrived for what lies ahead.  This week we take you back to the city the British used to refer to as America’s “Nest of Pirates”, Baltimore.

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In Fells Point, Baltimore’s immersive old port section, the history seems to come up through the cobblestone in the streets.  Walk along its roads and you could swear you hear the whispers of privateers conspiring to raid a British merchant vessel coming from one of the numerous taverns.  Has the brash Captain Thomas Boyle come back to add to his tally of sunken British ships? 

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Captain Boyle was perhaps America’s most famous and feared privateer captain. He commanded the clipper Chasseur, a ship born and bred in Baltimore, the city that boasted America’s largest privateer fleet during the War of 1812.   With it he wreaked havoc upon British commerce.  During the war, while taking many prizes along the coast of Great Britain, he even sent ashore a proclamation to the crown that declared a blockade of the entire conutry…by only his ship!  Yes, we can imagine the good Captain taking great pride in his own sense of humor.  Soon Fells Point and all of Baltimore would refer to the Chasseur as the “Pride of Baltimore”. 

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Now I can’t say this for certain, but Captain Boyle, or at least the large majority of those who served under him, probably enjoyed a mug or two of grog after a long voyage.  If he were around today, I would point the good captain in the direction of the Wharf Rat.  It is  certainly a place where a group of privateers could grab a few pints and make the rafters roar.

Posted by: David McBride @ American Public House Review

One Man’s Pirate…

Errol Flynn from Captain BloodLike so many of my fellow countrymen, I couldn’t help but feel some degree of personal pride and satisfaction knowing that our boys on the fantail of the Bainbridge had bested those freebooting  buccaneers from Somalia. And with the liberation of  Captain Richard Phillips another chapter in this nation’s struggle against Africa’s nautical thuggery  has been brought to a successful close. With the speculation already in progress as to who should be cast in the role of the good captain, so that this tale of treachery on the high seas can be delivered into the comfort of our living rooms, we would do well to remember that one man’s pirate is another man’s privateer.

On the streets of Mogadishu and in villages throughout Somalia the members of this ad hoc ragtag navy are the heroes. If this chaotic shattered nation had any form of functioning governance these seafaring brigands would be operating with a Letter of Marque. The rape of the fish stocks  and the dumping of toxic waste in Somalian waters by foreign concerns fostered the  relationship between starving  fisherman and the street militias whose common goal it was to drive the invaders from their shores. Unfortunately the resulting financial bounty associated with their initial efforts cultivated the current climate of  criminal  behavior.

“For inside the body of many an honorable privateer lurks the soul of a dishonorable pirate.”  Captain Chris “Yo Ho” Poh

Our own history reveals a more than accomodating attitude towards piracy when it served our national interests. From the early eighteenth century during the infamous Triangle trade, through the American Revolution and into the War of 1812 we allowed the maritime mercenary to do our bidding. Perhaps the customary eye patch is less accoutrement and  more  metaphor  for what happens when nations turn a blind eye to the improprieties of scoundrels.

So here I am once again facing that simple fact that we live in a world where there is no black or white other than what we hoist up the mast before firing that first shot across the bow. A Jolly Roger

So I will, as I have done so many times in the past, embrace my inner pirate by pouring myself  a pint of Clipper City Loose Cannon Ale and singing a few verses of “A Pirate’s Life For Me.”

Clipper City Loose Cannon AleYo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even high jack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We kindle and char, we inflame and ignite.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we’re really a fright.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

We’re rascals, scoundrels, villains and knaves.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We’re devils and black sheep, really bad eggs.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

We’re beggars and blighters and ne’er do-well cads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Aye, but we’re loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
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Posted by: Chris Poh, Yo Ho

 

 

Creating my own maritime superstition

Sailing the salt seas has always been one of mankind’s most dangerous missions.  Despite dizzying advancements in technology over the centuries, it still remains a difficult and at times deadly occupation.  For the men who fish for crab in Alaska’s Bering Sea, it can often seem downright nutty.  Huge seas, dangerous condition on deck, and unconscionable working hours can make even the hardiest of men weary of his surroundings and of the supernatural forces that seem to control them.

That is why you will find no place more full of superstition than on the deck of a working ocean vessel.  Years and years of experience make the fisherman certain of one thing; these superstitions are not to be taken lightly.

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For instance bananas are terribly bad luck on board a ship, as are women and black suitcases.  No sailor would ever be comfortable knowing that a priest or even some flowers are on board, as on a ship both seem to only be useful for funerals.  If you think it’s a good idea to whistle while you work, you’ll soon find that you have whistled up a storm.  You must, under all circumstances, step on board with your right foot first.  And don’t ever, EVER, leave port on a Friday.

But not all superstitions bring about certain nautical doom.  Some bring good luck.  For instance, dolphins following in the wake of a ship are terrific good luck.  Even though I mentioned before that women are seen as bad luck, a naked woman is good luck.  (That’s right!  Those figures on the bow of old sailing ships are not naked just because the guys have been at sea with a boat full of men for months and months.)  And thankfully pouring wine on the deck is also good luck.

Captain Sig's Deadliest Ale from the Rogue Brewery

Well, I think I have found a new omen that can bring good luck to those at sea.  Captain Sig Hansen of the F/V Northwestern, seen on the Discovery Channel’s immensely watchable reality television series about crab fishing on Alaska’s Bering Sea called The Deadliest Catch, has teamed up with the Rogue Brewery in Oregon to produce Captain Sig’s Deadliest Ale.  Now the name may not sound like it brings good luck, after all the word “deadliest” doesn’t exactly inspire good feelings.  But I am fairly certain that if you toast a glass of this beer to the health and well being of the fleet, it couldn’t hurt.  And while you’re at it, toast to everyone else at sea.  Again it can only help!

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Posted by: David McBride 

Here’s Two for the Soul

For the better part of October American Public House Review has been sharing  memories of some of the outstanding pubs that our editors and writers have visited during the first year of this publication; but I thought we might take a break from the nostalgic and interject some upcoming content.

The photo at the top of the post was taken by Barry Botelho, photographer and purveyor of the famed “Twin Lobster Rolls” at Easton’s Beach in Newport, Rhode Island. 

The piece of music that you are about to experience, “In the Beginning” is by JP Jones, an acclaimed singer songwriter who also resides near this stretch of beach.

Both artist’s work will be included in an upcoming article about Flo’s Clam Shack, which just so happens to be located on this side of the rainbow.

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher

Musings from the Boat House

Boat House sign

Make no assumptions based upon the masthead at American Public House Review. It would be foolish for anyone to quantify through some formula of critical analysis the merits of a great tavern.

The bar at the Boat House

Such an endeavor would be akin to rating the ability of the great houses of worship to fuel man’s spiritual aspirations. It is enough to say that there are those things which are truly self-evident.

Recently, my wife and I visited a dear friend, who after thirty years as pastor of a prosperous parish, had been reassigned to lead a new congregation. Past visitations were limited to the rectory where, surrounded by the trappings of the Church of Rome and the generosity of the flock, our congenial host would offer sobering commentary on those human characteristics that often compromise the intent of religious life. But on this particular day the melancholy of a wearied ministry was replaced with a new ecclesiastical zeal. An invitation was extended beyond the priestly domicile; we were summoned to view the church.

St. Mary’s Sanctuary

 Upon entering the sanctuary, I instantly understood the reason for my friend’s spiritual reawakening. I could go on at some length describing the finer details that make this space such a unique expression of man’s relationship with the divine; but no architectural critique or exploration of craftsmanship and the use of materials would bring about an understanding of the wholeness or holiness of this place. My words could not provide further clarity. Revelation can only come about through individual experience, so I will end this part of the rumination by stating that if Saint Mary’s could expand the water into wine miracle to include fine ales and single malts, it would be featured prominently in this publication.

 
 
But alas  American Public House Review is not about chapels, churches or cathedrals–it is about saloons, pubs, taverns and taprooms. And the Boat House in Lambertville, New Jersey is among the finest of those aforementioned institutions, and it was also a major source of inspiration for this  journalistic enterprise.
 
Glasses Raised…Spirits Lifted…Journeys Shared

by Chris Poh

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