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!

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Looking for God on the Gulf Coast

The need to establish a deeply reflective relationship at water’s edge has deposited me on many different shorelines over the years. Like a man in search for the right congregation, I’ve walked beaches from the Gulf of Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, looking for my purpose and position in God’s grand scheme. Currently my favorite place of worship is the stretch of ocean and sand at Easton’s Beach in Newport, Rhode Island. Their morning services consist of long contemplative strolls, afternoons are toes in the tide baptism, and evenings are spent raising a cup to creation from the choir loft at Flo’s Clam Shack.

Sadly, these waters in Narragansett Bay, like so much of our oceans, have been impacted by the misdeeds and miscalculations of mankind. As we embark on the celebration of a return to warmer days in our hemisphere, the staff at American Public House Review will keep in our thoughts and prayers our fellow citizens whose lives will be effected by the ongoing environmental catastrophe along our southern shores. 

And to those  who work to preserve and protect our beaches, marine life and sacred waters, we raise our glasses and wish them fair winds and following seas!

Posted by: Chris Poh

Summertime Submarine Watching

Ohio Class Nuclear SubmarineA gentle rain fell on the streets of New London as Fran and I sipped our pints of Cottrell Old Yankee Ale at the bar of the Bank Street Road House. During breaks in our conversation, I would cast my gaze beyond the back deck and across  the channel of the Thames River in hopes of spying a Virginia or Ohio class submarine making its way upstream to the Electric Boat facility at Groton. On this particular  August afternoon, the behemoths of “The Silent Service” would not rise from the depths. Though south of my position something was stirring up Atlantic waters.

A Russian Intruder?An interesting photograph found its way onto the internet of a surfer in the waters off  Strathmere, New Jersey. In the background appeared to be what was  possibly a  Russian nuclear submarine. Staff writer John West, who was on assignment at McMenemy’s Pub in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was summoned back to New Jersey to take  command of naval operations from aboard the Escape Goat (the flag ship of  American Public House Review’s Atlantic fleet). As fate would have it, the boat was conveniently docked across from Maynard’s Cafe in Margate, New Jersey–in close proximity to the supposed Russian intruder.

Commander West on Patrol in the Waters off Strathmere, NJCommander West began his investigation at Maynard’s,  knowing full well that this legendary local hub of hard partying and well respected repository of useless information was the kind of joint foreign agents might target in order to glean military secrets. When he was satisfied that nothing sensitive was compromised, other than the inside line on next week’s Notre Dame game, he moved the “Escape Goat” to the docks adjacent to Twisties Tavern in Strathmere. Once more his inquiries did not turn up anything unusual other than a report of a group of pale skinned tourists asking how many rubles were needed to purchase a Twisties tee shirt and a bottle of vodka. Commander West concluded that what was being mistaken as a Russian intruder was nothing more than a deep sea dredging operation.

After filing his report with the Coast Guard,  John returned to Portsmouth to complete his story about  McMenemy’s Pub. According to his findings, this fine old Irish tavern may be haunted by a number of  the ladies that provided companionship and comfort to the sailors who served on the more than seventy submarines that were built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard during the Second World War. One of which, “The Galloping Ghost of the Japanese Coast” the USS Torsk now keeps a watchful periscope on our favorite pubs in Baltimore: The Wharf Rat, Slainte Irish Pub and the Cat’s Eye.

USS Torsk - Inner Harbor Baltimore

 

For those of you that are still not convinced that our shores are safe from an incursion by the Soviet Navy, our own intelligence gathering unit, operating out of the Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, Rhode Island, has confirmed that the only Russian sub operating in U.S. waters this summer was the Juliette class K-77. She was commissioned on October 31st, 1965, and assigned to the Soviet Northern Fleet. The submarine remained on active duty until 1988, and was decommissioned in the early 1990s. In 1994, the boat was sold to a Finnish businessman, and it was operated as a rather unique restaurant and watering hole, (this writer’s idea of a great “Dive Bar.”)

Juliette Class K-77

In 2000, the K-77 was moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia where it was used in the film K-19: The Widow Maker, the fact based film starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. Then in 2002, the boat began its final assignment as a museum ship operating with the USS Saratoga Museum Foundation in Providence, Rhode Island. In 2007, the K-77 sunk after a combination of high tides, heavy winds and a storm surge flooded the submarine . The boat was raised in 2008, but the extensive damage made restoration and repair economically unfeasible. Sadly, the Juliett Class K-77 made her final voyage on August 11th, 2009, down the Providence River to a site owned by RI Recycled Metals to be dismantled for scrap.

Juliette Class K-77

The staff and writers of American Public House Review salute all those intrepid souls that have served in “The Silent Service”– and we raise a glass to those that are still on patrol!

Thanks to stevehdc for his photo of the Torsk.

Posted by: Chris Poh

The Lion In Summer

Hammersmith Farm - Photo By: Susan Sipprelle

For the second time now I’ve watched an American flag fly at half-mast over the waters of Newport, Rhode Island marking the passing of yet  another member of the Kennedy family. On a July afternoon ten years earlier, my wife and I looked on from the deck of the Rum Runner as Hugh D. Auchincloss III, the stepbrother of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, lowered the flag at his property at Hammersmith Farm. It had been confirmed earlier that day that all souls on board the Piper Saratoga piloted by John Kennedy Jr. had gone down in the Atlantic off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Now on this perfect August morning as I stood near the lowered colors at Newport’s Easton’s Beach, my thoughts turned to the life and legacy of the last lion of the U.S. Senate.

Easton's Beach - Middletown, RI

Even in this New England community that continues to celebrate its strong ties to the Camelot era of the political dynasty, the Kennedy name evokes strong emotions.  From bootleggers to the beatified, the family is either vilified or venerated. And Ted, as much as any one of his bloodline, fulfilled our need to imbue our public figures with those qualities that allow us to imagine them as devils or angels – depending upon one’s particular political persuasion.

By my take, based upon the hours of conversations and comments overheard at the bar at Flo’s Clam Shack in Middletown, RI on the day after his death, Senator Edward Moore Kennedy will be remembered as the greatest legislator and statesman of the last fifty years, or just another fortunate son of privledge that was not held accountable for his sins of the past. The immutable forces that apply to human nature dictate that the truth, as always, is somewhere close to the middle of our perception and observations.

JFK at Hammersmith Farms - National Archives, Public Domain

It is interesting to note though, that his  longevity in the senate may have come about as a result of his greatest failing. The tradgedy at Chappaquiddick rendered him impotent as his brother’s  heir apparent to the White House; but the citizens of Massachusetts entrusted him with a reign that would allow him to develop his legislative prowess.

Even as I write this piece I find myself at great odds about my own  feelings toward the late senator. Anytime one truly makes an effort to consider and delve into the lives of those that we’ve elevated beyond the status of  being human, we leave ourselves open to the probability of internal conflict  and disappointment. With the possible exception of  “His Excellency” George Washington, all those that were worth their salt as leaders seemed to have been equally proportioned with the potential to be a saint or a scoundrel on any given day.

So it is probably best that we continue to honor, commerorate and give thanks to those that have dedicated their lives to serving this nation, and allow providence to sort out those flaws that are inherent  in all of us.

Ted Kennedy - Congressional Photo, Public Domain

 

Give praise to the regal lion – just remember that he is still  a lion!

Thanks to Susan Sipprelle for her photo of Hammersmith Farm.

Posted by: Chris Poh

Finding our way to the Trinity

This week’s installment to the American Public House Review takes us on a journey through Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay and up the Providence River to the state’s capitol city.  We follow Chris Poh from bay to river to city streets, and at the end of the trail lies what most of us hope to find after a long excursion over land and sea…good beer.

Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, RI

Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, RI

In his article entitled “Beyond the Pale”, Chris gives us a little taste of Rhode Island’s brewing past and then introduces us to its delicious brewing present and future found at the Trinity Brewhouse on Fountain Street in Providence.  Rhode Island may be a small state, but it never fails to impress every time I make it there.

Setting Sail With John McCain

We left Newport under threatening skies on a northerly heading up Narragansett Bay. Our charter on that  morning in May of 2000 was the restored 58 foot Elco motor-yacht Rum Runner. In the waters just beyond the Navy War College were anchored the Iowa and Forrestal. Our captain skillfully maneuvered our craft in between these two historic grey ladies of naval warfare. 

As I looked up at the flight deck I recalled scenes of the inferno that engulfed John McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk after a missile accidentally fired from another aircraft struck his plane’s fuel tanks, as he was awaiting clearance to take off for a bombing sortie over North Vietnam. 134 sailors and airmen lost their lives and hundreds more were injured as a result of the Forrestal disaster on July 29, 1967. This event as well as the five years of captivity in Hanoi did much to prepare Captain John McCain for his dedicated, resolute and occasionally brash career on the floor of the United States Senate. 

This past August I was again cruising the waters off Coddington Cove. It is no longer possible to gain easy access to this or any other military installation in the United states. The events of 9-11 have, for better or worse – literally and figuratively, limited our ability to freely navigate many channels. But our presidential candidates remind us often about the gravity of the situation, and the sacrifices that must be made in order to safeguard the republic. They and their operatives also remind us ad nauseam about those individual life experiences that make them capable and ready to serve as president.

As I review the resumes of our current candidates I am satisfied that both are competent enough to hold court in the Oval Office. Hell, anyone that is able to outlast their opponents in the grueling and unremiting primary process is probably able to give at least a fair accounting of presidential performance.

But then there is the matter of constitutional ascendance. On this front John McCain has so far proven the depth of his political savvy and expedience in his choice of Sarah Palin; but as a matter of providing for the responsible protection of this nation – one might question his powers of reasoning and good judgement. 

If these are truly the most grave and dangerous times since the Second World War, as both candidates would have us believe, they owe it to every American to make sure that their potential successors are well versed in international affairs and immediately qualified to take command of our armed forces. Furthermore, while we must value and respect every person’s relationship with the divine, those who profess that God might have a hand in directing our use of military force may not be suited for the position of commander in chief.

Those who died at Yorktown, Antietam, Meuse-Argonne, Guadalcanal, Normandy, Incheon, Khe Sanh, Basra and on the decks of the Forrestal perhaps deserve better!

Posted by: Chris Poh, Publisher

The Dim Light of Truth

 

In a recent episode of the HBO series,”John Adams,” Laura Linney in the role of Abigail Adams displays a deftness for diplomacy as she dines with Admiral d’Estaing, just after the French Royal Navy puts into Boston after their unsuccessful campaigns against the British Fleet at New York and Rhode Island. Meanwhile, her husband John is doing a less than admirable job of courting French favor in Paris. This brilliant production explores the powerful political and personal partnership of America’s first couple. It also presents an accurate accounting of the faults and frailties of the architects of this republic. Had these men been subject to today’s standards of  behavior and decorum we would still be paying too much for tea.

But alas, history tends to expunge the misdeeds and misgivings of great men. By most accounts even the French fare well in the telling of the American Revolution.  

White Horse Tavern in Newport as seen in American Public House Review

 In the November issue of American Public House Review this author, after a few single malts at the famed White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island, expounds on the virtues of The Comte de Rochambeau and other assorted Frenchmen that aided America’s cause for independence. Hopefully this recounting holds up to the light of historic truth, or at the very least – the light of a dimly lit tavern.

White Horse Tavern at night as seen in American Public House Review

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