Pay No Attention to the Curtain Behind the Man

trump_christie

“Showtime is over. We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief. Showmanship is fun, but it is not the kind of leadership that will truly change America,”  Governor Chris Christie commenting about Donald Trump at a January campaign stop in New Hampshire

Perhaps it was merely a matter of window dressing on Donald Trump’s own behalf that motivated him to include Governor Christie as part of the political backdrop at the makeshift press room at Mar-a-Lago after Tuesday night’s election returns. The Donald could tout a bit of inside the Republican establishment support while basking in the glow of those very favorable primary results courtesy of the faithful that bank on Trump’s brand of outside the Beltway salvation. But the bigger question remains–just what are Mr. Christie’s motivations for taking the stage at the potential winter White House in Palm Beach?

One might wonder could there possibly be enough room on the same playground for these two blustering, bellicose bullies. And the look in the Governor’s eyes the other night indicated either similar misgivings, or just maybe he was feeling an attack of Catholic conscience coming on. For any of us that have had a past with the Church of Rome, there is always that recollection of some priest or nun that reminded us to be weary of the sin of guilt by association.

There are those pundits and commentators that are suggesting that Governor Christie is simply continuing to set his sights on Washington. Speculation abounds about the possible appointment to attorney general under a Trump presidency. And yes, I could easily imagine Chris and Donald sipping pina coladas at the estate in Palm Beach as they review who on the president’s enemies list should be subject to federal prosecution.

As for myself, I believe Governor Christie was in Florida on the evening of Super Tuesday because he simply can’t stand the idea of having to spend any more time in the Garden State than is absolutely necessary. His travels over the past several years have made that fact abundantly clear. And for the better part of the rest of March, he will most likely not be seen anywhere near the vicinity of the New Jersey Statehouse. And I find that all to be very troubling. Because while there may be many important dates in the month of March that will require the governor to function as the commander-in-chief toady to the Trump campaign–there is no more important date than that of the 17th.

And any self-respecting, bona fide Trenton politician will be spending St. Patrick’s Day at the Tir na nog Irish Pub!  

St. Patty's Day at Tir-na-nog Irish Pub in Trenton, New Jersey

 Posted by Chris Poh for American Public House Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

America Revisited

Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited and Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends
“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, thought I knew she was sleeping.
“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America                                                                                                                                    from “America” by Paul Simon

With a full two years of teenage existence already in my back pocket, Christmas of 1968 would mark some degree of  recognition on my parents part as to the direction my restless awakenings were taking me. On that particular December 25th, while they weren’t quite ready to give into my sense of fashion, they would at least accede to my musical tastes. Bob Dylan’s  Highway 61 Revisited and the Bookends album from Simon and Garfunkel would provide the early high-fidelity soundtrack of my adolescence. And in the summer of 1972, with only a few dollars in my wallet, some Paul Simon inspired optimism in my heart, and a touch of Bob Dylan’s cynicism in my head–I would take to the road in search of my own version of the “American Dream.”

The lessons of those wanderings would not be fully understood until much later in life. But after a few years, it did become clear that I would need much more than acquired wisdom, the generosity of strangers, the benevolence of friends, and part-time employment in order to achieve my share of our national ethos. So I decided to further my education at a New Jersey state college. And it was there as part of an assignment for a film class that I, like those adept marketeers at the Bernie Sander’s campaign, decided to use the song “America” as the basis for a visual statement about the country.

McGovern's logoArmed with only an 8mm Bell and Howell movie camera, I would head onto those mean streets of Newark, New Jersey. Well actually, where I was the streets weren’t all that mean. My goal was to try and capture the faces of American diversity in the Portuguese section of the city. Here there was a thriving scene of ethnic restaurants that were reviving and bringing economic stability to a neighborhood that formally was suffering the ravages of crime and poverty. And luckily for me, there were a couple of decent bars in that part of town that would provide a break from the early March chill in between takes. One of those urban watering holes was the legendary McGovern’s, and the other was a comfortable corner tavern whose name escapes me after these many years. But it was that place that had the greater impact on me during my brief stint as an extremely amateur film maker.

During the two days of shooting, I made friends with an older woman (whose name I also cannot recall) that tended bar on most afternoons. In between eight-ounce Schaefers, shots of Rye whiskey, and decorating the place for St. Patrick’s Day we spoke about those things that were at the forefront of each of our lives. My challenges and issues were by no means as pressing as this human being who was then struggling to survive cancer.  In the matter of a few short hours we had become very close. And I remember saving her the inconvenience of waiting for a bus by giving her a ride to a bowling alley where she would join her mom for league night. I was invited in for a quick beer, and to meet her mother and the other gals that comprised their team. And like a politician in a New Hampshire diner, I would shake a few hands,  share a couple of fond embraces, and then part their company forever.

Looking back at those times, I remember the challenges and fears that tested our national fortitude: runaway inflation, recession, an ongoing energy crisis, Three Mile Island, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, and of course the individual sufferings and misfortunes that are visited upon all of us. But the courage and compassion of those that I met along life’s earlier journeys have hopefully served to bring about a greater kindness and empathy toward all as I negotiate, with now shorter strides, the paths that lie before me.

For the record, my pairing of Paul Simon’s genius to Super 8 imagery was judged to be worthy of nothing more than a B-. Whereas, Mr. Sander’s short musical take on the matter has been heralded by some as being one of the best political ads in history.

Hopefully, whichever candidate completes that journey to Pennsylvania Avenue they will bring to that coveted address those heroic and exceptional qualities characteristic of those better Americans that they have met along the way!

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

 

 

 

 

Disharmony on the Hudson

Cannon Fire at Fort Lee“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” – The American Crisis by Thomas Paine 1776

During those disheartening days of the colonial’s cause for independence, Thomas Paine would begin to pen his inspirational patriotic plea for staying the course in the midst of a full and hasty retreat from an enemy army that was determined to put an end to this fledgling insurrection. On November 20, 1776, in the wake of having taken control of both Long island and New York City, superior British forces, under the command of General Charles Cornwallis, began their advance on the newly established American fortification on the heights overlooking  the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. Realizing the need to preserve what was left of his beleaguered army, George Washington issued orders to abandon Fort Lee. The inevitable capture of this recently renamed redoubt (in honor of General Charles Lee, the army’s third-in-command who was credited with the successful defense of Charleston, South Carolina a few months earlier) would unfortunately yield an abundant amount of ammunition, artillery and stores to the English.

As for the fort’s namesake, Washington’s somewhat suspect and scheming subordinate, who had often complained to Congress about his commander’s capacity to lead,  would fall victim to his own lust for libations and the ladies. On the morning  of December 15, 1776, Charles Lee would pay dearly for the previous evening’s pleasures at the Widow White’s Tavern in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. He would awake to the sound of the approaching horsemen of the 16th Queen’s Light Dragoons with his former comrade, and now sworn adversary, Benastre Tarleton in the lead. This once celebrated soldier, who preferred to diddle while the rest of the Continental Army was attempting to avoid annihilation, would be led back to New York in his night-clothes. For the next seventeen months, General Lee would spend a fairly comfortable detainment in the care of his former employer.  

In May of 1778, Lee was released as part of a prisoner exchange. He returned to active service, but after questionable field decisions at the Battle of Monmouth, and continued conflicts with command; he was suspended from the army at the end of that same year, and permanently dismissed in 1780. Charles Lee died in a tavern in Philadelphia on October 2, 1782–and so ends this tale of eighteenth century disloyalty and treachery in the Garden State.

For better or for worse, the overall nature of man, and the behavior of those charged with the care of the republic has not changed all that much since we decided to make our  break from the British brand of tyranny. However, there may have been at least some lessening in the lengths at which one is willing to go in order to punish their rivals. Instead of stalling aid to those trying to allude their captors while taking flight across the well-trodden pathways of New Jersey–someone is content to simply lengthen the commute home by closing down a few lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Let us just hope that we are sparred the spectacle of that particular scoundrel being spirited away in nothing more than his night-clothes. 

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

Click here for some further insights from the Garden State.

Click here to enjoy our favorite tribute song to Thomas Paine from singer-songwriter Dick Gaughan.

Posted by Chris Poh

Blue Tag

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

No matter how hard she tried, Hurricane Irene can’t take this great pub away from us!!

Hurricane Irene has left her mark on my home state of New Jersey, and especially on one of my favorite pubs, the Kilkenny House in Cranford, New Jersey.

St. Pattys Day crowd at the Kilkenny House in Cranford, NJ

When I am not moonlighting as a writer for APHR, I am a professional musician.  And I have been playing this place for the past couple of years.  To say it is one of my favorite places to work would be an understatement.  Great drink, great food, the Kilkenny truly has it all.  But most importantly, the people who work there, and the regulars who drink there, have always made me feel right at home.

Earlier in the week, I was told by some friends in the area that the Kilkenny House was devastated by the flooding from Irene.  I did some poking around the internet and found this sobering report on CNN.com.

photo by nj.com

I have total confidence that the Kilkenny’s owner Barry O’Donovan will rebuild this fantastic pub back to her former glory.  And as they posted on their Facebook page earlier in the week “Oh, but what a great Irish hoolie we will have when that day comes!”

I am not sure what we pub fanatics can do to help, but one thing I can promise is that when the day comes for that hoolie to happen, you will find me that morning waiting at the door so I can get a seat at the bar nice and early.  Good Luck and Best Wishes to everyone at the Kilkenny!!

by Dave McBride

Of Tracks and Taverns–and of Grapes and Grain

2-8-2 "Mikado" Type Steam locomotive

The town of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, like so many other American communities, is in the process of redefining itself as it struggles to carve out a place in the new globalized economy. This once significant eastern transportation hub. located at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers,  had established itself as a thriving manufacturing center during the nineteenth and twentieth century. Today what remains of that past prosperity can be seen in the town’s collection of stately Victorian homes, the ornate facades of  the recently restored downtown buildings, and those imposing railroad bridges and trestles that once serviced the rolling stock of  five major railroads.

Delaware River Railroad Trestle

These days one can still hear the occasional horn from a passing freight train of the Norfolk Southern, and there has been talk by the state of bringing back passenger service to Phillipsburg–but as is more often the case, the economic revitalization and resilience of the community has mainly been fostered by a few dedicated individuals.

So now on most weekends from late spring through the end of October, one can board the handsomely restored vintage Long Island Railroad commuter coaches being pulled by the 2-8-2  “Mikado” Type Steam Locomotive on a journey downriver to sample the offerings of a local vineyard. This is just one of several day trips and family outings offered by Delaware River Railroad Excursion

Delahanty's SignFor those, like myself, who much prefer the juice of the grain over the nectar of the grape, I highly recommend an afternoon of pints and train spotting from the deck at Delahanty’s. This Phillipsburg favorite  established in 2001 by Jim and Carole Diee, is quickly becoming the preferred trackside perch for the staff of American Public House Review

The Deck at Delahanty's in Phillipsburg, NJ

All Aboard!

Posted by: Chris Poh

The Only Question Remaining Now…is Where to Have that Last Drink Before Judgment Day?

My Home Bar

 With less than forty-eight hours remaining before Gabriel blows his sacred horn to summon the dead to meet their maker, I find myself  facing the usual end times quandary–where to have that last drink before judgment day?  While I’m not sure that I agree with Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping’s fuzzy Bible-based mathematical formulations which pinpoint May 21st as the beginning of the end–I was tempted not to make the minimum payments on this week’s round of credit card bills.

In the past,  I’ve attempted to avoid being caught up in the Rapture by remaining safely huddled behind my bar at home. But as this is the first official Judgment Day since we began publishing American Public House  Review in 2007, I feel compelled to hold that final session in one of the many fine establishments that have been featured in our publication. And after a period of careful deliberation, I’ve decided that it was only fitting to raise that parting glass in the place where it all began–The Boat House in Lambertville, New Jersey.

The Bar at The Boat House - Lambertville, New Jersey

It was right around the last time Mr. Camping predicted the end of the world in 1994, that my friend  Jim Morris-Lee and I, while enraptured by the ambience of  The Boat House,  discussed the possibility of a magazine dedicated to the virtues pub life. Unfortunately, this brilliant writer was unable to be part of the eventual online venture. But in the event that our time here is truly short, I thought that I would share the last piece of writing that Jim sent my way.

THE POWER OF A PENNY

A little short, I pay the balance due on
a large cup of coffee at the general store
with a few extra pennies.

Some small talk then with the owner
about their personal value – you know,
squashing them on the tracks of the great
Trans-Canadian Railway when we were kids,
using one for a fuse during a thunderstorm,
or as material for making pendants while
he was a machinist in the Pacific Fleet.

An excuse, really, to talk about nothing,
and everything, simply spending time over
pennies.

Jim Morris-Lee
Pennsylvania
July, 2006

As I once again read Jim’s words, I am reminded that it is those simple aspects of life and how we treat one another that will determine whether we exist in a heaven or a hell–because everyday is Judgment Day. So employ your judgment wisely! 

Posted by: Chris Poh

Lambertville’s Lovely Swan Song

It is quite a pity that the world over seems somewhat unaware of Lambertville, a beautiful little New Jersey village tucked onto the banks of the Delaware River.  But anyone who loves a great tavern, as well as restored 18th and 19th century architecture, would benefit greatly by getting to know her little better.

The Swan Bar in Lambertville, NJ

The American Public House Review has already been to a few of Lambertville’s fine drinking establishments. This week, Chris Poh returns to visit the Swan Bar, a gorgeous bar located in a building full to the brim with atmosphere and history.  Cheers!

Across the River to an Oasis

For years and years, my friends who live along the Delaware River implored me to check out the Inn of the Hawke in Lambterville, NJ.  Oddly enough, despite being from the Garden State, I have spent much more time on the other side of the river in New Hope, Pennsylvania, Lambertville’s more popular cross-river rival.  But after seeing the latest article by Chris Poh on the American Public House Review from the Inn of the Hawke, I knew it was time to bring this trend to an end.

The backbar at the Inn of the Hawke

The photos in the article are terrific, but this place really needs to be experienced.  A gorgeous building with a uniquely Delaware River vibe to it, the Inn of the Hawke brings all the history, architectural details, and atmosphere you can ever want in a great pub. For the beer fanatics out there, they also have an exceptionally well thought out selection of beers.  Cheers!

by Dave McBride


How I spent my Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is certainly a fun day for me, but is also a very busy one.  I make my living as a musician, and I have been known to sing more than a few Irish folk tunes in my day.  So St. Patty’s Day, while certainly a fun celebration, is a big business day for me as well.  This year, like the last few years, I spent it playing at an exemplary Irish pub in Cranford, NJ called the Kilkenny House.

St. Pattys Day crowd at the Kilkenny House spills out into the streets

First, let me just say I simply love this place.  It is a true Irish pub, run by great people and frequented by regulars who love Irish music, good drink, and a great pub.  On Saint Patrick’s Day it seems all the regulars come to celebrate at their favorite place and they each bring a dozen of their best friends with them!  Needless to say the place was predictably packed, so much so that the crowd spilled out onto the the streets, soaking in the wonderful weather and the perfect pints.

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale

Speaking of perfect pints, the Kilkenny House had a pleasantly welcome surprise for me on this most joyous of holidays.  It seems the week before they received a few barrels of my favorite Irish beer, Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale.  Like I said a couple of weeks ago on this blog, if you were able to find this brew at your Irish Pub of choice on Saint Patrick’s Day you should consider yourself luck.  Well, thankfully that luck found me!

By Dave McBride


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

The day has arrived. It’s time to sing Irish songs, lift a good pint and wear the green. The pages of the American Public House Review are filled with great places to enjoy the holiday, and for that I suggest you check out the “Celtic Pubs” section of the Backbar. But to celebrate the season, this week we bring you new articles from two top Irish pubs.

McGovern's in Newark, NJ

The first is the story of Newark’s legendary Irish institution, McGovern’s. The second comes from the Finger Lakes and Maloney’s pub in Hammondsport, NY.

from inside Maloney's in Hammondsport, NY

So from all of us here at Pub Talk and the American Public House Review, we wish you safe and fun Saint Patrick’s Day. Slainte!

By Dave McBride

 

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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