Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rocky Mountain High


I find myself once again neglecting my post at Quabbin Qountry, so for posterity here I go with a quick update. I am heading to Denver tomorrow morning to cover the Democratic convention, followed by a road trip up to St. Paul for the Republicans, a town that "must have been designed by drunken Irishmen" according to the sainted Jesse Ventura. Can't wait.

Life on the road, Kage. I'll be pretty busy the next few weeks but I expect to have sometime between the conventions to throw down some hardcore 3Q shit from Des Moines, Iowa reflecting on the convention and what a difference a year makes.

Otherwise, as I read this morning, sperm count doubles when a male is traveling. So I better be careful. But for now I am off to hempfest here in the Geoduck City to show my support for the cause then up to Tacoma for the Parkway's annual IPA fest and then on the bus to the airport early Sunday.

Hear me now. Keep it legal, brah. Safe.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One Year Anniversary, or, Ralph Is Right

Tacoma, WA -

I cam out tonight to celebrate the one year anniversary of BTB as a political journalist. It was exactly July 2, 2007 when I drove from Quabbin Qountry, MA to Laconia, NH in order to watch then-underdog Barack Obama address a crowd of 350. That rally was my maiden voyage toward reporting what actually happened in politics; and what would be a first step down what has become a fairly long journey of spreading the news.

Back then I cared most about a playlist and a handshake. These days things are a little bit different, but not an event goes by that I don't perk my ears up whenever I hear canned music.

Secondly, I wanted to comment on the news that the Congressional Black Caucus is moving to include menthol flavored cigarettes in the House tobacco regulation bill, which currently consists of mainly food-flavored additives. Well, it needs to be said that Ralph Nader made the same call upon the news of the initial bill, and he deserves credit. He'll get it here at 3Q, where truth grudgingly survives.

Personally, I say smoke 'em if you got 'em. But why get 'em?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Veepstakes? More like Thiefstakes

Just wanted to point out that MSNBC has completely ripped of 3Q with their new NCAA Tournament-styled veepstakes bracket. That's all. Elite Media Bastards.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Granite Dreams

Fueled by an inadvertent late afternoon nap and an 8pm French Press of coffee I can't sleep tonight, and all my thoughts return to last summer which, now that I think about it, may have been the final destination for the biggest dream I have ever had.

I was living in an idyllic setting, had a comfy paycheck, and nearly everything to do with writing about politics and the New Hampshire Primary was new to me. My experience with hands-on primary events did exist, but in all honesty could be counted on one hand.

In 2000 I went to a single Bill Bradley campaign event in Tacoma. In 2003 I saw John Edwards in Manchester in August while I was staying at Harrington Lodge in North Woodstock for cross country training camp living alongside such steely compatriots as Dan Lazarek and Weston Fuhrman. I drove up from Franklin Park in October to hear John Kerry share his wealth of knowledge across the issue spectrum at a pub in Portsmouth.

Then on a January night in 2004, at the zenith of his intrigue, I saw Wes Clark in a high school cafeteria in Litchfield then on the way home to Connecticut, I took the long way through Boston to be closer to the ocean and it snowed nearly a foot in three hours. I pulled over in Westerly, RI to find a Bess Eaton and wound up driving off of a curb because I couldn't tell where the driveway ended and the sidewalk began. At 11 o'clock on a snowy Tuesday in Westerly at a closed donut shop it was as quiet, let me tell you.

That night was when it really set in, the idea of the New Hampshire primary that I had only watched on television as a high school senior four years earlier. It was then that I fell in love with the mountain hotels and their lobby fireplaces, the snowy sidewalks full of sign-wavers (visibility, I would learn to call it), and the cramped town hall meetings. At the Alvirne High cafeteria that night there were maybe 200 people. This time around a late-January event with a third-place polling candidate, 200 attendees would get you laughed off the pages of the blogs at MSNBC and The Atlantic and Time. But that year it felt like something big.

"Why on earth," I wondered, "would two hundred people show up on a cold ass Tuesday night to hear a politician from a state halfway across the country?"

As I pondered this on my way home, having had my first taste of a cold-weather rally, I knew that this was different. Besides, as with most things in life, you don't truly experience it until you do it in cold weather.

It was also the first time, at age 22, that I had ever driven in snow.

Four years later I've worked on a general campaign, written full-time about politics for two thirds of a year, and become a near professional at driving in the snow having lived, among other places, in West Brattleboro, Vermont for a winter where it made sense from a spiritual and fuel economy level to take dirt roads nearly all the way to my job at Mount Snow some twenty miles away.

Here in Washington I can only try my best to remember the snow, and visualize my hands turning red with searing pain as I brushed it off my car with inadequate equipment and clothing on my way to work last December. I can also only imagine what it would be like to see candidates caravaning around the Evergreen State.

When Clinton and Obama came to Seattle, thousands were there to greet them. When John McCain came there were maybe 150. Then again, he spoke at the Westin Hotel ballroom. If I wasn't an absolute presidential junkie, I wouldn't have gone there, either.

But four months earlier I had seen McCain in someone's front yard with forty people around, and at VFW hall with a hundred. And I had seen Clinton with 1,000 and 2,000 and 3,5000. I had seen Obama at Manchester's largest venue with Oprah and, very early on, in Laconia with 500. I knew where the expectations were set, and how much they had grown in less than a year.

In 2000 and 2004, there were no expectations. All I knew was the idea of the New Hampshire primary and how it wasn't unheard of, or irrational, for a presidential aspirant to talk to a general store full of twelve people in an out-of-the-way Lakes region town.

Tonight, when Obama won North Carolina by 15 and Clinton won Indiana by two, the conventional wisdom said that this 2008 batch of the primary season that began in New Hampshire more than a year ago, is finally over. I have been anxiously waiting for Clinton to ceded the nomination since the middle of February. But now that reality has set in and I see it slipping away from me, even though I had paid it the attention of a red headed stepchild for the past two months, I find myself begging for just one more primary. Just one more batch of returns.

I know this dream is over, that for one more person it has become a reality.

But back then, in the summer of 2007, all I could do was sit in the warm weather, drink my coffee, look out at the silhouette of the Holyoke Range and dream. Back then, the dream was still alive and well.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008



I, the blogger, have not visited this site in well over a month, and shame on me. Still, I see that hit counts have grown in that time to the point where we have cracked 10,000 views. I want to once again thank everyone who has ever wasted their time looking at the 3Q blog, while simultaneously commending you on your good judgment.

Whereas I have not updated in two full months, I come to say that I aim to end that behavior. New posts will likely have nothing to do with politics, but the beast within that craves communication lives on, and I intend to feed him even if he is on a diet.

Tonight I sit in the Parkway Tavern on I Street in Tacoma, one of the great roads in this City of Destiny, not three hundred yards from Wright Park. Though I come here to write straight mumbo jumbo about political candidates, my heart seeks something greater.

Maybe it is the fake fireplace, maybe it is the David Bowie on the radio, but I think it is more likely the strong memories of Quabbin that have haunted me the last two weeks. After all, this blog saw its headwaters form in hop-infested nights at the Moan and Dove on Rte. 116 in South Amherst, where I used go to get out of the house, complete my beer list and meet college girls. The first one still works out, but the second does not exist and I have tragically grown too old for the third count.

Alas, passion lives on in this mild world of the Pacific Northwest. Admittedly, it takes some cultivation this far from the lifeblood of the Connecticut River, but still fruit can grow. Expect more, expect better.

I'll see you down the road, the dirt road.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Homeboy

Tacoma, WA -

One of the many reasons I liked Bill Richardson. How many other candidates would have the humility and candor to tell this story to the press. I'll be honest, I laughed out loud.

Richardson's torn. He served in the Clinton White House, first as ambassador to the United Nations, then as Clinton's Secretary of Energy. "I have a history with the Clintons," Richardson said. "And I've always liked her. She always seems very genuine." But Richardson considers Kennedy, who's long been respected by Hispanics, as "a mentor." In 1982, when Richardson ran for Congress for the second time -- he lost two years before -- Kennedy flew to Santa Fe and campaigned for him. "That might have been the reason I was elected," Richardson said. And he said he likes Obama, telling a story about how Obama saved him during one of last year's Democratic debates:

"I had just been asked a question -- I don't remember which one -- and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn't going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, 'So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?' But I wasn't paying any attention! I was about to say, 'Could you repeat the question? I wasn't listening.' But I wasn't about to say I wasn't listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, 'Katrina. Katrina.' The question was on Katrina! So I said, 'On Katrina, my policy . . .' Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, 'Obama, that was good of you to do that.'"

"I thought I was home free for a while." Hell yeah, Bill Richardson, the Shomer Shabbos of Dem debaters.

I don't work. I don't drive a car. I don't fucking ride in a car. I don't handle money. I don't turn on the oven. And, I sure as shit don't fucking roll! Shomer Shabbos!

Wink, Wink. Nudge, Nudge.

Tacoma, WA -

I saw this photo attached to today's Dan Balz article on The Trail.

Words cannot describe...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Where Did Our Love Go?

Tacoma, WA -

Sorry about the glaring lack of road trip updates lately. I am in the process of some major life changes (for the better!) and will put some more work into the blog ASAP. Stay tuned.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008




Tacoma, WA -

On a whim from BH, I did this survey a few weeks ago, just prior to Iowa where I picked a bunch of results for the early states. Here is a quick summary e-mail I just received.

Bryan --

It sure is an interesting presidential race - on both sides.

Now that Nevada is in the books, and the Republicans have results in Michigan and South Carolina, it's time for more interim results for the 2008 Presidential Punditology Challenge.

First, a few notes about our collective wisdom. As a group, we got two outcomes right on, and two wrong.

In Michigan, just over 50% of us knew that Mitt Romney would win.

In Nevada, 56% of us knew that Hillary Clinton would win. But only 32% of us knew that Mitt Romney would win. (37% thought John McCain would.)

But we were wild-ass wrong about the South Carolina GOP primary. Only 8% of us picked McCain/Huckabee as the outcome, while 27% picked Huckabee/McCain, 23% picked Huckabee/Romney, and 8% picked Huckabee/Giuliani.

We fared better at picking the Democratic losers. Large percentages of us knew which candidates would drop out by January 14th - 87% Dodd, 75% Biden, 56% Richardson. (67% thought Gravel would be out by now, but oh well.) We thought we knew that Hunter (92%), Keyes (57%), and Thompson (60%) would be out by January 14,

Your score: So far, your score is 100 out of 144 (69.4% right) - and you're ranked #7 out of 563 punditologists.

As a group, taking the most popular pick on each question (our collective wisdom) scores 91 points so far (63% right), and would be tied for 22nd overall.

Even more interestingly, the participants who identified themselves as political consultants scored a collective 97 points so far (67% right), and would be tied for 10th overall -- maybe there's something to the idea of political professionals after all!


Kari Chisholm
Mandate Media
Portland, Oregon

7th, baby. In Cross Country, we call that shit 1st Team All Conference.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 4: Chicago, IL

TOTAL BEERS: 1 (Goose Island Pale Ale) TOTAL DISTANCE: 0 Miles

Vince had plans that we should wake up at 9:30 for a 6-mile run. Normally I would applaud such an idea to light a fire under my ass and get me out the door for some exercise, but one of my most tangible fears came to life around 2:30 AM during the night. I woke up with a cold, and a fairly bad one. It was standard as far as my usual symptoms go. The roof of my mouth is scratchy the night before, then I wake up with heavy eyes, a few sniffles and, worst of all, an energy level about 70% of capacity.

So it went that sunny, wintry morning in Chicago. I left the house anyway, figuring that with some airborne and a couple of Kombucha teas I would be able to knock down my cold no matter how much Chicago tourism and beer drinking was on tap. We wound up only doing about four and a half, and I was moderately miserable throughout, but at least I got my legs moving. It was the first time I had run in nearly a week. The hectic days leading up to my New Hampshire departure created an environment where running was the first to go. Isn’t it funny how that happens?

I also needed to get my car’s tire alignment fixed, so I dropped it off before we ran, and walked down the street to pick it up once we got back, showered and changed. Bundled up enough to fight some of the cold, but lightly enough to travel, Vince took me out on a tour of Chicago. The walk to the L train was just under fifteen minutes, then through the turnstiles and up the stairs to the platform.

  • Positives of Chicago Public Transportation: The elevated trains provide a unique opportunity to see the city from the crow’s nest as you travel through it.
  • Negatives of Chicago Public Transportation: The elevated train platforms are fucking cold.

Nevertheless, after a five minute wait we were seated and Vince took over as Chicago tour guide, pointing out the different neighborhoods and infamous housing projects as we rolled toward the downtown loop at an elevation usually suited to rich people and pigeons.

We wandered around downtown for a while with Vince simultaneously describing the architecture and providing a brief history of the city before beginning our search for an Illinois beer in earnest. Downtown any city is a tough place to find a decent microbrew, but downtown Chicago, with its large financial district and high rent pushing out all but they highest corporate bidders, is arguably the toughest. At least in New York there are bodegas every block, and in Seattle you even have a brewery. I don’t go to California as a rule, but I guess that Boston wouldn’t be an ideal place, either.

Anyway, Vince surmised that if we headed south toward the less, shall we say, gentrified area of town our chances would greatly increase. As if literally demarcated in the zoning books, not one block below the loop we encountered a liquor store. Much to our surprise it was a fairly high end shop specializing in yuppie snacks, wine and European beers, but it served our purposes perfectly with one exception. Illinois state law does not allow for the sale of singles.

So we bought a six-pack of Goose Island Honker’s Ale and headed back toward Millennium Park, the spot that Vinnie had blueprinted for our uniquely Chicago photo. About ten blocks later we reached the Cloud Gate sculpture, a "110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect the city's famous skyline and the clouds above." Though on this Chicago dusky evening, it just reflected two dudes suspiciously holding up bottles of beer.

After deciding not to take separate photos we hollered at a nearby tourist and asked him to take the picture for us. With a funny accent, he obliged and snapped a couple of pics as we stood in front of the large piece of public art.

Two men, two beers, one Cloud Gate

And a blurry close-up

Mission accomplished on the picture front, we still needed to drink our beers and make it home. Since we didn’t feel like lugging a six pack all the way back to the North Side, we felt it best to give in the spirit of beer drinking. Following a brief consultation we offered the gentleman photographer a beer from our bag. He gave a puzzled look for a second, then answered, "sure, why not?"

I handed him a bottle, which he then immediately tried to twist open.

“"Wait, wait! Excuse me sir, do you mind if I ask where you are from?"


"Ahh, well I hate to say it, but it is illegal to drink in public here in America. But you should definitely take your beer back to your hotel, and thanks again."

He gave me an appreciative word for the civics lesson then went on his way. I then offered beer up to the next group of pedestrians I saw, but they looked nervous and said no. There was a good chance they were underage. Next up were two women in their late thirties.

"Excuse me, would you like a beer?" I asked.

They didn’t answer, just looked at me with the same expression that a popular girl in tenth grade gives to a nerd who asks her how her weekend was. I knew almost immediately that she couldn’t handle the question so I shot her a wide, knowing grin and turned around. Looks like we were going to have to lug around the five remaining beers.

Ah, yes. We still had to drink our share. Although logically it makes sense that we just carry the grocery bag back to the apartment and have a beer before dinner, we decided to think pimptually. In other words, we had made the decision to drink these beers downtown, and there was no turning back.

But the more pressing issue had to do with my body. I needed to piss. Vince knew of a bathroom in a nearby train station, so we walked around the sculpture, across the street and underground. On the way it occurred to me that the idea cover for boozing would be a bathroom stall.

If people like Larry Craig could solicit sex for the most part unbeknownst to the law, why couldn’t we sip a beer on the public throne? In fact, we could and we did.

The two of us walked into the bathroom with beers tucked into our coat pockets and took seats at adjacent stainless steel stalls. We went through all the motions of the heavily boweled businessmen who might normally frequent such places. Take off the jacket, hang it over the top. Rip off toilet paper for a skin/seat boundary. Make plenty of adjustment noises. The only difference is that the only thing dropping was fluid ounces of beer.

I felt it necessary to complete the activity in the spirit of the news cycle, so I grabbed my keychain opener in my left hand and offered it to Vince from underneath the stall with the key ring full fastened around my left ring finger. Turns out the bottles were twist off, and he slapped my hand away. I took the ale down beer mile style, in three long chugs, pretended to wipe, flushed, put my coat on and went back out in the hallway to inconspicuously wait for my companion.


We walked back to the L platform, which was even colder this time around, and had to wait until the third train to get a seat because of the 5pm rush, but eventually made it back to the neighborhood for a burger and a nap.

Our plans to go out that night in Wrigleyville, the youthful party area around the stadium, were postponed when I decided that sleeping off the beginnings of my cold was more important than exacerbating it in a fit of stuffy-nosed and half-hearted game toward the girls that Vince had described as blond, big boobs, Big 10 grad, and guaranteed to go home with you as long as they weren’t that cute. Let me tell you right now, saying no to that in the name of health was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made.

Even after the nap, I kept it low-key as Vince introduced me to Law & Order: Criminal Intent. We watched back-to-back episodes and called it a night. After all, we had a long drive ahead of us tomorrow.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Day 3: Poughkeepsie, NY to Chicago, IL

***Fully Updated All the Way Through Chicago***



  • TOTAL BEERS: 3 (Yuengling Lager, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Lager, Three Floyds Alpha King Pale Ale)

  • TOTAL DISTANCE: 843 Miles

Another day, another early morning. Actually, it would prove to be the last of my early mornings, but nevertheless I set a 7:30 alarm (extended an hour after my sleep deprivation) in preparation for a long day solo on the road. It was cold and sunny, an omen for the trip. I filled the car and drove out to the Vassar College entrance sign to snap my New York picture, an empty bottle of Brooklyn Lager in one hand as I hunched over in front of the burgundy plaque.

The Last of My Greater New England Photos Taken, Fittingly, at a College, Vassar, Home of the Brewers

Back in the car I drove through Poughkeepsie City, crossed the Hudson River, wide as anything in the East and drove south along Route 9A toward 84 and, ultimately, Pennsylvania. Perhaps worse than my predicament in Massachusetts with the expired emissions sticker, I have a potentially outstanding warrant for my arrest in New York State owing to a grumpy cop, a mistake of millimetric proportions, a bureaucratic delay and a lost letter. Point being, I stuck to the speed limit, obeyed all posted signs, refrained from drinking any alcoholic beverages and was relieved to cross state lines before 9AM.

Sadly, my reward was Pennsylvania. The Keystone State is long and monotonously mountainous, and not very fun to drive alone with daylight fading with every new mile West and three more states to go before breaking Lake Michigan's shores.

I stopped for lunch at the first Arby’s I saw, at a truck stop just shy of the Susquehannah River in the East-Central part of the state. Truck stops these days are really something. Not only will you find a healthy collection of weary travelers, but showers, multiple scents of bathroom cologne, and a wide variety of straight-to-dvd horror films. You’d be surprised what they make horror movies about these days. Soccer teams, computer classes, adult films. At the truck stop, a killer lurks everywhere.

After ordering a small roast beef sandwich I came back into the convenience store to make a pot of coffee in my French press with the hot water from their coffee machine, buy some donuts for my coffee, pretzels for later in the afternoon, and a banana for good measure. When I stepped up to the counter the cashier was on the phone with a look of timid disappointment on her face.

So you’re not coming down today, after all? Pause. Well what about the pictures?” Pause.
I just thought you might want to see your child.

That last line was virtually in a scream, and accompanied by the phone slamming down into the receiver.

The woman, no older than me and probably younger, took great pains to try to compose herself as she spun around to help me. Her nametag said that she had worked there since 2006. I wonder if she took the job when her boyfriend left, or if this job had paid better or was closer to her home than her last job. I doubted it paid more than minimum wage, and that can’t be too easy when you got a kid and an absent father.

As if on cue, I gave her some money and hit the road, West as far as I could go.

The road went on uninterrupted for another hour or so before it was time to start to think about finding a beer to keep the dream alive. Out in Western PA the towns are few and far between for East Coast standards, and certainly do not strive to exist alongside the interstate. I finally settled on Dubois, drove south a couple miles to town, found a liquor store and then a gas station and filled my needs at both of them.

This reminds me of another obstacle in this journey. No two states have the same liquor laws pertaining to when, where and how they allow booze to be sold. Some forbid Sunday sales, others cut it off at 8 or 9 PM. Certain states allow it in gas stations, others are more strict. Going into Pennsylvania I wasn’t aware of their exact laws, but my vague set of anecdotal evidence led me to believe that six packs were only sold in bars. This put me off a bit, especially as Dubois rolled itself out with more and more small, dingy strip malls and fast food restaurants and little else.

Finally, I found a place billing itself as a liquor store, and it had opened up in the nick of time, not twenty minutes before I arrived. Fortuitously for me they also sold singles and I was able to get out of there having spend less than two bucks. I picked up a Yuengling Lager and got back on I-80.

It was a longer detour than usual to get the Pennsylvania picture. I pulled off in Brookville and played the fool yet again to the reality of congested roads near the interstate, no shoulders, and great spaces between distinctive signs. I was at least five miles down the Colonel Drake Highway before I finally came across a place to pull over near a sign reminding drivers to Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. With a quick smile and a toast of my Yuengling bottle, I tried my best to do just that.

BTB: Singlehandedly Keeping Pennsylvania Beautiful, for a Few Hours, at Least

And still, just under a hundred miles, and a few snow flurries, to go in the Keystone State.
By the time I hit the Ohio I knew that I had lost at least an hour and a half from my original itinerary between my late wake-up and two adventures in state highway babysitting. My ass was already numb from Pennsylvania and I wanted to get to Chicago as quickly as possible. Not just to reduce time spent driving, but to maximize time spent on the town with Vince, and to catch as much as the Monday Night Football game (Bears at Vikings) as possible.

I felt that pulling over quickly for my Ohio beer stop would be conducive to that mission so I looked at the map and found what appeared to be a near-in town to the interstate and only thirty-some miles into the state. Newton Falls, OH also just happened to be the hometown of a good friend of mine from New Hampshire, the excellent and well-connected AP writer for the state, Phil Elliott. It was a no-brainer. I would stop there.

As a quick aside, there is a marked difference in driving conditions as soon as you get out of New England that does not right itself until you approach the Rockies. That special condition I refer to is the location of towns relative to the interstate. In New England and the West, towns sit next to the highway so that the driver may get easily on and off during a long drive, and not have to worry about driving three miles to a gas station or a non-fast food restaurant. But in the middle of the country it is one big crapshoot.

Newton Falls, a typical Midwestern former factory town on the Mahoning River, was no different and it took me a full five plus minutes of semi-confused driving to hit the town center. Once there I stopped at a Circle K for my beers, but it didn’t have a bathroom for customers so I got back in the car and tried the next gas station. Mission half accomplished, but their beer selection stopped at the usual domestic mass brews, so it was back to Circle K where, luckily, micro brews were afoot. The selection wasn’t great, but I found myself a six-pack of Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold (Cleveland, OH), ran across the street to snap a picture in front of the road sign, and made my way the five minutes back to the interstate.

Great Lakes and Ohio. Good Beer. Bad State.

All told it was a twenty minute detour, exactly what I had hoped to avoid, made acceptable only by the delicious tasting beer purchased from it. Great Lakes, it should be said, makes the best beer available in that same stretch I just described between New England and the Rockies. Hands down. I conspicuously sipped a couple of them while listening to Bob Golic wax reminiscent on sports radio about the Browns teams of the 1980s with Webster Slaughter and Bernie Kosar relative to this season’s improbably good Cleveland squad led by DA, the Moose from Scapoose, and Braylon “B-Easy” Edwards, who has his own website with a flash intro modeled after Tecmo Super Bowl highlight reels. Did I mention that I love it when professional athletes have personal wesbites? I do.

Unfortunately, I was outside of the Cleveland sports radio market before I knew it, coinciding with the setting of the sun. What a horrible night to have a curse. Not only was I out of a decent radio zone, but it was nothing but the plains of Western Ohio and all of Indiana in the bland darkness until I reached my destination. White knuckle driving, truck wolfpacks and the silhouette of an occasional grove of trees off to the left. I called my friend Andy when I passed Toledo to give a shout out to the town where he worked on the Kerry/Edwards ticket, hit the Hoosier State and started thinking about my next beer stop.

Contrary to my failed Ohio strategy I wanted to wait a while and get a decent chunk of Indiana through me before I put a stop to my wheels. Highway signs pointed to Elkhart just over an hour in, and so it was written. It was Friday night around 7:30, and the most common noise on my radio was high school basketball. At least three FM stations were calling the play-by-play for schools like Logansport, Kokomo, Marion, and Bluffton. One of the schools was called the Hilltoppers and none of the games were particularly close. I had heard the stories and seen the movies, but now I knew it by my own ears. In Indiana high school basketball is king.

When I pulled off in Elkhart I couldn’t find any local beers at the gas stations, but I noticed a bar whose neon sign advertised microbrews and martinis. It would have to do.

The Chubby Trout. No Sexual Innuendo Intended

Of course, they sold six packs at the bar which, having never lived in such a state, still boggles my mind. Yet as the barkeep was sorting out my bottles I happened to see a large photo on the wall of the 1954 Elkhart High School basketball team on my way to the bathroom. I immediately spun around and told the guy to kill the purchase. I would be having a bottle of Three Floyd’s Alpha King Pale Ale (Munster, IN) at the bar instead. I ran out to my car to grab my camera, told them about my beer trip, and they happily agreed to act as photographer for the Indiana picture in front of mural.

Indiana, Where High School Basketball is Alpha King

Picture in hand, I sat back down at the bar, chugged my beer in three sips (which was a shame, it was pretty tasty) and headed back for the car. Step two of this stop included food, so I made the always regrettable decision to pick up some chicken mcnuggets for ease of time and purchase, stomach, health and conscience be damned!

However I don’t totally regret it because, while in line for the drive thru, the car in front of me had specialty license plates. In most states specialty license plates, that tend to cost an extra 50 to 100 dollars per year, advocate for things like colleges and children and nature. In Washington you see a lot of Husky and Cougar plates, in Connecticut they urge you to protect the Long Island Sound, and in Mass the Cape and Islands. But in Indiana, somebody paid money to have their license plate say “In God We Trust”. Glad to hear it. I snapped a flash picture to document this fact, only to have the driver stick his head out the window and glare at me.

You Know You're in the Heartland When...(Plates Blurred to Protect the Innocent)

Then, after he got his food, he pulled over to the side parking lot. I smelled a confrontation. So, food in hand, I drove up next to him in order to politely explain my actions and offer to delete the photo in order to protect his privacy. But when I pulled up, he was simply talking on the phone, and it took an awkward Grey Poupon moment to get him to talk to me, and he ultimately didn’t care, just said he was a little surprised by the flash.

Fair enough. For me it was back to the highway for the final two hours to North Chicago, past the final prairies of Northern Indiana and into the creepy night time industrial wastelands of the Chicago Southeastern lakefront suburbs, where lights and smokestacks seem to go on forever into the dark, dead night. It is Steel Country through and through, dating back to the olden days of the Midwestern Boom, and presented with a wide viewpoint from the immense Chicago Skyway.

Ah, but then things change as you hit the city, go past the loop and into the near North End and in toward Lincoln Park. At last, I made it. Vince greeted me with some Wild Turkey at the door. It was half time and the game wasn’t going well for Da Bears. We stayed at his place until we finished, then walked down to a local bar to catch the end. The game was one-sided, the bar was empty and depressed on account of the game, but it was good to be somewhere, and know I wouldn’t be driving for a full 36 hours.

We headed back to the apartment after the game, told stories and watched tv until late, and I finally called it a night five states and one time zone later.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 2: Brooklyn, NY to Poughkeepsie, NY


  • TOTAL BEERS: 1 (Brooklyn Lager)

Day 2 was spent mostly drinking beer and watching football with my sister, and reading the New Yorker on the train up to Poughkeepsie. By the time I got up to the 'Keeps, it was nearly 9:30. I met up with old Western Mass cronie and baller extraordinaire Jamie "Big Sleepy" with the full intention of roughing up the town, with the potential fall back plan of having a few drinks at his apartment and reminiscing. It was the case of Plan B trumping Plan A in the cosmic scheme of things, and the Gods smiling on us by causing the initial failure. Both bar in walking distance of Vassar College were closed for the night by the time we got there, so we ordered up a feast from the Asian-Mexican joint in town, walked back to the spot and told stories over Brooklyn Lager (Brooklyn, NY) and a bottle of Yellow Tail shiraz until we fell asleep. It was just like old times in Northampton, minus the drinking games, dancing and hollerin’ at bitches. No regrets, though.

That night I slept on a couch in Jamie’s bedroom, but the call of the road stuck a fork in my REM patterns. I woke up hot and restless around 3:30, and after re-arranging all of my bags for the next morning and cleaning up the kitchen a bit, I still couldn’t sleep. I headed out to the front room and scanned the bookshelf, which was mostly barren. But one title did catch my eye. It was a book on basketball instruction by Adolph Rupp, the legendary Kentucky basketball coach and alleged racist. One thing is for sure, the dude was old school.

In spite of the laborious 1950s-style writing, I was unable to put the book down and read at least forty pages, learning all sorts of things about conditioning you can’t work the boys too hard or they’ll be tired for the game, medicine it is imperative that the boys put on their full sweat suit when they come off the floor so they don’t catch pneumonia. I demand that the gym be at least 58 degrees, and technique I recommend that my players use the two-handed shot from long range because of the added power it allows. Ultimately, it was enough to put me to sleep. Thank you, Adolph Rupp, Baron of the Bluegrass

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Day 1: Concord, NH to Brooklyn, NY

(Visit link for gmaps route)


  • TOTAL BEERS: 3 (Smuttynose IPA, Wolaver’s Organic IPA, Paper City India’n Pale Ale)


I meant to leave the house by 8 on Saturday, but packing always takes longer than you think and I didn’t want to embark on a long journey of miles driven and beers drunk with less than six hours of sleep. So instead I decided that waking up by 8 would be good enough, and an 8:40 ETD would have to work. There were, after all, hourly trains departing from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central, which was my final destination for the first day.

The heater in the barn had been on the blink for the last two nights, but luckily I was able to crash with a girl on Wednesday, and spent Thursday huddled up next to the remnant sputters of heat coming from the kerosene flame with every blanket I could get my hands on to keep me unconscious as the temperature outside dropped into the teens and the inside approached freezing. As a result, I spent my last night at Snow Pond sleeping in Angus’ childhood bed, with Tom and his bad back out on the couch, and a sick and possibly wounded mallard sitting in a hay-strewn Tupperware container between us. No matter the case, there was a fire burning nearby all night, which made it well worth the change in accommodations in spite of the duck’s awful smell.
So Long, Snow Pond. Ye'll be in Me Heart

My car was half-packed as of 10PM Friday, but I still needed to stick in a few more bags of books and clothes before I finally set off, which I did a few minutes after my revised goal, and by 9:20 I was west of Hillsborough and had cracked the first beer of the road trip, a Smuttynose IPA (Portsmouth, NH).

Beer before noon is like beer at no other time. The slightly foul taste of an otherwise unchanged amount of liquid is our body’s way of telling us that the only times we need be drinking between the hours of 6AM and noon are on the tail end of a well-earned bender, tailgating a sporting event, taking part in college hijinks, and once in a while on a state-by-state, beer-by-beer cross country road trip. Those, however, should be done no more than four times in a calendar year.

Ten miles west of Hillsborough, three miles south of Stoddard, and eight miles east of Marlow, where I bore witness to Bill Richardson breaking the streak of the last town in the state not to have a Presidential candidate visit back in the earliest days of my Granite State journey.

“I hopped in the car, pushed into 1st and headed down 123 to 10 to 9 while the Ashuelot flowed down toward the Connecticut amid the boulders, the great herons, the deer and the turtles that crowded the road in Western New Hampshire. I had some blogging to do, and some thinking, and of course I was excited to get back to my beloved Keene. Railroad, anyone? It is Thursday, after all.”

Oh, the halcyon days of blogging youth. This morning the Ashuelot was frozen I saw neither deer nor turtle, just the roadside which was caked with thigh-high rails of plowed snow. Thigh-high, I discovered, as I stepped aside to snap a self-portrait in front of the inimitable Old Man of the Mountain highway sign, only to discover that the snow pack was not very hard after all, and I sunk in fully boot to pavement. It took me nearly 45 seconds to maneuver out, and another minute to shake all the snow out of my boots before I got back into the car. A half hour later I was saluting to my beloved Keene and all the fond memories of Menadnock hikes and Granny D sightings and nights spent in admiration of the beautiful college girls.

Getting Started with Rte 1-2-3 and the Granite State's Distinctive Old Man of the Mountain Signs (RIP, Old Man)

Now I was on a new path, westward to Brattleboro and beyond, one beer finished, and two more states to go before boarding a train to New York City.

I hit the Vermont border and Brattleboro in search of a pound of Mocha Joe’s coffee for once I was home and a cup from the store to enjoy with a slice of coffeecake for breakfast, and sadly was too early for a pint of Duck’s Breath Bitter from McNeill’s. Instead I had pre-packed a Wolaver’s Organic IPA (Middlebury, VT) out of fear that my meager twenty minutes in Vermont would all come before selling time. Secondary to that fear, but valid nonetheless, was the knowledge that I would be due for a second beer some forty minutes after the first, and potentially to be drunk at a mind-boggling chug pace, especially for pre-noon.

In broad daylight, and looking to buy myself an extra five minutes or so, I drove down Cotton Mill Hill to the lumber-clad shores of the Connecticut River for a picture next to Vermont Rte. 142. The sky was a perfect winter blue, and slightly camouflaged by cirrus clouds, as I bid adieu to Brattleboro and its great guardian, Wantastiquet Mountain, for Massachusetts via Rte. 5 and Guilford calling my old Bratt friends with triumphant tales of Flat Street. The Wolaver’s still in my lap, soon to be finished amid the forests and bogs of Southern Vermont.The Green Mountain State, with the Mighty Upper Connecticut River Rolling down toward the Pioneer Valley

My journey through Massachusetts was ostensibly three-fold. I needed to purchase a beer, drink a beer, and get my emissions checked. I had been living in New Hampshire for four months, but retained my Mass plates. Unfortunately Mass emissions checks are fickle. Two years ago the state authorized a number of gas stations and auto repair shops to officially act as bureaucrats with the power to grant or deny these annual car stickers.

Yet, in spite of the great convenience of obtaining gas at any hour of the day, on Saturdays you can only get your emissions checked in the morning, and the exact time of closing varied widely from shop to shop. My first stop, Greenfield at 11:15, turned up three shops that had all closed by 10:30. Next, in Northampton at 11:30, I found two that had stopped by 11.

Screw you, Taxachussets, I’m buying some beer. I figured it was the logical step to follow an emissions-check jilting, and perfectly enough the Liquors 44 on King Street sold singles of an old favorite, Paper City India’n Pale Ale (Holyoke, MA). Beer in hand, emissions in limbo, siren song of the road loud in my ears, I decided that a stop in Northampton for another cup of coffee and a chance at flirting with some stressed out Smith girls would have to wait until the spring.

I hit the MassPike around noon and headed west toward New York state, planning to stop in Lee for a back road to drink my beer and a town sign to take my photo. Massachusetts state highway signs are drab, simply white squares with black outlines and a number, yet the signs which announce the beginning and ending of each town are full of information citing the name of the town, the state, and even the year it was incorporated. Far better proof, I thought, for the record.

Problem is, when I got to Lee, I was met by a local cop who followed me for nearly a mile as I drove around aimlessly in search of a town sign. I finally shook him, only to find that every town sign was either nowhere near a safe shoulder or else right in the middle of a populated village.

But I carried on, skipping a couple of prime spots around Great Barrington for fear of daylight, and realized I was dangerously close to the New York border. Luckily, next to a ski resort in a town called Egremont there was a pullover right next to the border with a sign for MassHighways Project Clean. Teeth disheveled and eyes showing my stress, I parked my car and snapped a photo.

Massachusetts: The Spirit of America

Now it was just a quick split down the Taconic Parkway, stopping only briefly to piss into a bottle on a country dirt road next the highway, along some farm roads into Poughkeepsie and into the parking garage at the train station. Two hours later I was in New York City and eating dinner with my sister at a restaurant in Williamsburg then capping the night off over at Barcade and a few joints helmed by her friends.

It was a long cap, my friends, in the city that never sleeps. With no fear of last call, five am comes awfully soon, and I was on the couch trying to catch an hour or two before sunrise. An eventful start, for sure.

To be continued

From Snow Pond to Puget Sound: A State by State, Beer by Beer Journey Across America

From Snow Pond to Puget Sound: A State by State, Beer by Beer Journey Across America


I have spent the last four months living in my college roommate’s parents’ barn in Concord, NH, at the picturesque location of Snow Pond. I passed the time covering the 2008 New Hampshire Primary for my blog,, and the Huffington Post’s Off the Bus Project. For three of those four months I kept low-wage day jobs of substitute teaching and tutoring kids after school in basic math. Despite these day jobs, I was close to broke by the middle of December and with two weeks of vacation-induced work stoppage staring me in the face, I decided the most logical decision for me was to head home to stay with my mom for a few months, work two jobs and refill the bank account that I had slowly drained during two season’s worth of campaign coverage, unemployment, and the social and professional drinking engagements that go along with such a circumstance.

With that in mind, how else should one cross the country but by auto? Especially given the amount of time spent over the past half year intricately watching the movements of the very men and women seeking to lead it’s government. I felt that it would have been a misjudgment bordering on the criminal not to taste the cultures of a broad section of America in person after following it’s would-be leaders. While I was at it, I also deduced that I ought also to taste it’s beers.


Driving from New Hampshire to Washington, I was to consume at least one beer from each state. The beer had to be brewed in that state, and entirely drunk within said state’s borders. A photograph proving this feat was necessary each time, including myself, the beer, and a landmark distinctively specific to each state. Alone, I often chose road signs. With a partner from Illinois to Idaho, I was able to be a bit more creative. Upon leaving, our route was still in limbo. By trip’s end I only knew there would be somewhere between fourteen and seventeen states to hit. The following is a chronicle of that voyage.

Down In Flames

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Great BTBini Predicts New Hampshire

A few notes on the Primary.

Iowa was easty to pick. I had nothin' to lose. But New Hampshire has me nervous. Blood is in the air on the Dem side as the Clintons are on the verge of stopping at nothing to reclaim the driver's seat. Meanwhile, Obama and Edwards are coolly combatting her hits in a loosely connected effort.

Will Granite State voters freak out and buy the Clinton line of being the candidate of Experience and Real Change? Well, last I looked Real Change was the name of a homeless person's newspaper that nobody buys. I think it might be the case again here in New Hampshire.

One of the metrics I use? Yard signs and bumper stickers. I know that is far from scientific...but then again so am I. I saw far more Obama bumper stickers and yard signs than I did Hillary in my NH travels, even before the Iowa win and the recent slate of good poll news for the Illinoisan.

Edwards has performed very well in the last few days, and his newfound close-top-3 viability will help him hold on to some people who otherwise might have bolted for someone more "winnable" (shudder, shudder). He'll also get some Doddites.

Where will the Bideners go? Who the hell knows.

Richardson will stay where Richardson was. A distant fourth. People just never heard his message of Good News. Sad but true.

So, despite the chance of utter failure, I channel the spirit of Pervis "Never Nervous" Ellison (Louisville Edition) and boldly predict the race. To the numbers!

Obama - 37%
Clinton - 26%
Edwards - 24%
Richardson - 10%
Kucinich - 3%
Gravel - <1%%

A few closing thoughts on the Republicans.

I think Paul's campaign hurt itself by running all of those annoying radio ads. Late in the game they raised all this money, but the tv time was already bought and paid for by the other monied interests (candidates and corporations) and with nowhere else to go Paul flooded the radio. We're not just talking about The Pulse, either. You could hear that stuff on Top 40. It got old, real quick. It may have bumped him below my long-predicted 10% threshold. Then again, I think his exclusion from the last debate may have ginned up support from the recluse crowd. I'll make my final decision between now and the end of my thoughts.

I find it amusing that Romney's campaign events were billed "Ask Mitt Anything" because, obviously, he'll tell you anything (you want to hear). But honestly, I think he'll flood the air with good commercials today that will pull back a lot of the "real" NH fiscal Republicans who reacted to the flood of bad press Romney was getting right around his Iowa loss.

I thnk he'll take down McCain. I also think a few of them will start to figure out that McCain's love affair with the Elite Media has largely fueled his so-called comeback. They also know he'd get trounced by the younger, realer Obama in the general.

Romney - 35%
McCain - 28%
Huckabee - 15%
Paul - 10%
Giuliani - 7%
Thompson - 4%
Hunter - 1%

Also, just wanted to give a shout out to the day that my birthday brother Pat Boo-kan-ann won the 1996 NH Primary. Where have you gone, crusty nativist NH voter? And if nowhere, how will you vote this time around? You may just decide the race, after all.

Clintons, Enough Is Enough

Just scanning First Read right now and I am struck by the two Clinton stories at the top.

#1) Hillary starts crying talking about how hard she works to help people

#2) Bill gets interrupted by a cell phone call from Hillary who says she is not entitled to the Presidency

I have actually been scrummin' it up a bit over on Blue Hampshire giving my two cents for why Hillary does feel entitled to the Presidency as evidenced by her attitude and body language on the stump and in the debates, and her campaign's sleazy tactics against her Democratic opponents.

These two ruses by the Clinton campaign spell out pretty perfectly why I don't want them back in the White House.

For starters, they have pulled so much bullshit this campaign that I can't even trust Hillary when she chokes up. How perfect? She comes across as nasty and aggressive in the debates, awww, and now she is getting emotional about helping people. See, guys, she's not so mean, after all!

Next, another human moment with Bill (they spontaneously love each other! Yay!) Yeah, right, like she didn't know he was in a meeting of supporters. What a crock. And the first thing out of his mouth, Oh, by the way, people, she isn't entitled. Listen to what I say.

That is the problem with the Clintons. They have forced me (and so many of us) into a pigeonhole where I can't help but think that every single thing that they do is scripted to show a poll-tested point. Whether that is true or not (and I believe that it is true) it is exactly why it is time for a Change, at the very least in last names of the President.

P.S. Iraq.

Life on the Road

Tacoma, WA -

Just wanted to give a brief update to all you 3QHeads, I will being my Road Trip Series the day after the NH Primary. It would be an insult to all the hard work we have done on this blog since the summer to usurp it's "primary" focus any time before January 8th. Expect incremental updates as I write them, at least one per day, concluding with a full-fledged photo blog (THAT, my friends, will be the clincher). Until then, Party On!

Life on the Road, Kage, Life on the road.


Tacoma, WA -

I don't mean to sound like a prick, but I was overcome with a mixture of frustration and self-satisfaction earlier today as I perused the Elite Media's take on the Granite State stump speech. If these schmucks didn't spend their entire careers attending debate press luncheons and writing about how smart they were, they might actually know something about what gets said to real people on a day-to-day basis.

Instead, you have Cillizza calling cleft-palate victim James Lowe part of John Edwards' stump speech for merely a few weeks. On the contrary, Lowe has been on the lips of Edwards ever since his poverty tour in mid-July!

Then down at MSNBC they tout (yes, I'm the BTB that shouts them down) new-found war protesters as a sign of McCain's renewed vigor. Had they paid any attention to what was going on at the actual events instead of patting each other on the back on the Straight Talk Express (which I had the scruples to stay away from...not that I was invited...not that it would have mattered) they would have known that the brave and dedicated protesters have been with McCain from the start and through the hard times. Back when the talking heads were calling for broke-ass McCain to drop out...the protesters were there. Back when McCain was calling for No Surrender...the protesters were there. They don't care about polls, they care about America lives. Nay, human lives. To hell with your false narrative, Elites!

Meanwhile, on the campaign spin front, Score another one for Jonny Reid!

Speaking about more slimy attacks from the desperate Clinton campaign, Edwards had this to say about them:

"My reaction is that this campaign has no conscience."

Target sighted. Target locked. BOMB DROPPED.

The message remains to the Elite Media as they try to knock down people like Huck and Paul while shouting from the backs of McCain and Clinton. Hey Jerks, Stay Outta Riverdale!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sunday Hodgepodge

Tacoma, WA -

*He may be a crusty old white guy, but Frank Rich knows his shit about what society needs. A new Presidential go-'round. Peep the article.

“People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off.” - Mike Huckabee

*Check out a story (and video with the lovely and talented Jamie Judd) on some good old grassroots political action, with the Richardson team shoveling the town square in (my favorite!) Keene, NH.

OK, ran out of time, gotta get to work. Maybe more later on the debate? In general? Who knows. Two days til NH. Holy crap.

Friday, January 4, 2008

As Iowa Burns

Old Town Tac, WA -

Bill Clinton Whines. Poor Bill is looking for some FOX-styled fair and balanced coverage of his gal Hill.

"I think we can change [the tone of campaigns] as long as you have access to information by people who are committed to judging everybody by the same set of rules and following the same set of rules," he said. "According to the most recent media analysis, that’s not what’s happened so far, but yeah, I think it should be done."

"Nobody would like it better than us if you could get that personal vilification out of there, because nobody’s been vilified more than we have,"

Except, of course, get ready for some straight up MUD. Drugs? Race? Experience? Ears? It's all on the table. We're about to find out in these next two weeks just how badly America wants change.

Reminds me of Chris Rock. I can't find the transcript, but in one of his comedy bits he was talking about black people in the 'hood blaming the media for why it is a bad place to live. I'll paraphrase "'It ain't us, its the media! The media has distorted our image!' Well when I'm in the hood, I ain't afraid of gettin' robbed by the media."

Well that reminds me of another Chris Rock line.
"That shit wasn't about race... that shit was about fame. If O.J. wasn't famous he'd be in jail right now. If O.J. drove a bus, he wouldn't even be O.J. He'd be Orenthal the bus driving murderer."

Well if Hillary Clinton wasn't married to Bill she would be Ms. Rodham the war-baiting, election-losing lawyer. Fairness is a two-way street, Bill.

Let's face it, Chris Rock was the sage of the 1990s.

Not Sick of Iowa Yet?

Old Town Tacoma, WA -

Me, neither. That said, I urge you to check out for a kickass up-close-and-personal view of the last day or two of the Iowa caucuses. This guy pulled off a terrific BTB impression, nay, a better-than-BTB impression by taking the roadshow from Watertown, MA to Des Moines, IA just to be a part of it. Did I mention this guy is still in High School (and may I recommend Wesleyan University as a next stop on the education train)? Get on the bandwagon of greatness while there is still room. Great photos, great reactions, great times.

Speaking of NH bloggers, the Times (those elite bastards) left out 3Q (and rightly so), but they did give some props to the NH Blog Scene, including BH and Cosmo, in today's caucus. Peep it out.

A GOP Primer: Don't Hate Huckabee

Spin It

Old Town Tac, WA -

My favorite piece of spin so far definitely belongs to John Edwards.

"What is clear is that [voters] are not interested in status quo," Edwards said. "They're interested in change. They want to see a candidate of change, and so they now have two choices in making that decision, and this choice is somebody who will fight for the change that makes America what it's capable of being.

He then went on to steal a line from Bill Richardson. "I am not the candidate of glitz. I am not the candidate of glamour."

TWO choices? I guess that means the top two placers in Iowa, percentages be damned! But hey, its a winner-take-all business!

My least favorite bit of non-spin comes from McCain.

"When Tiffany asked if he intended to keep Americans in Iraq for 50 years, McCain shot back, 'Make it a hundred.'"

This, folks, is why the more I hear John McCain the more I grow to dislike John McCain. He is on the verge of replacing Rudy Giuliani as the most war-clamoring, fear-mongering candidate in the race. And THAT, is what I despise most of all.

I Almost Forgot

Tacoma, WA -


That is what I call kicking Romney's teeth in. Now let's watch the Elite Media continue to disparage "Hickabee" while they anoint McCain. My utter lack of power notwithstanding, I won't let them, beginning with the false accusations of this being another Pat Robertson. Need I remind you that Mike Huckabee was the Governor of a US State for multiple terms, not just some dirtbag preacher? Yeah, I said not just. Don't let them take away your legitimate victory, Huck. And if they do, unleash some choke slams. South Carolina's gonna be a bloodbath!

Brief Thoughts on Iowa, as Interrupted by an Old Friend

Tacoma, WA -

In spite of a karmic effort to drink my Western Beer in a Western shirt with a Western hat at a Western bar, my Northeastern endorsement of Bill Richardson, America’s Western Governor, did nothing to help him win tonight’s Iowa caucus. Instead, it is Barack Obama who stretched his lead as the night went on from a near three-way tie to a 38-30-29 delegate victory over Edwards and Clinton. That last bit, at least, we may look favorably upon heading into New Hampshire. The real early state.

As if to validate the clear three-way race in Iowa, Sens. Dodd and Biden immediately dropped out tonight upon hearing the dreadful results. Dodd, you will recall, moved his entire family to Iowa three months ago in order to campaign full time. If he didn’t drop out I would have lost all respect for him. As for Biden, the Elite Media tried their darnedest to make their case for him in the days immediately preceding the caucus with fables of Romney-sized crowd events and surprises in store, but he blew out harder than a cold, dark prairie wind. What classic cases of “the second-tier candidate syndrome.”

Who among us does not like Dodd or Biden, I ask? Yet, so few would choose them as their President.

The Clinton beast is wounded, but far from mortally. This next week will tell if she can stop the bleeding, and how much damage the monster can inflict while self-medicating. New Hampshire is officially up for grabs. I know Clinton has led the polls all along, but I can tell you from experience that I saw a hell of a lot more bumper stickers and yard signs for Obama in the Granite state than I did for Hillary. And then you've got Edwards who won't even concede defeat. I'll see you on the 8th, and probably even before then.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Merry XMas, Belated

Tacoma, WA -

This is worth watching.

Birth of Christ.

Caucus in Yer Face, Part II

Tacoma, WA -

Wow, I am suddenly aflutter with the realization that Iowans will be caucusing tomorrow (!!!) and we will be seeig the very first crabapple fruits of our long labors of paying attention to the 2008 Prez race.

Here are a few things on my mind.

*The fact that Giuliani is making Florida the center of his campaign says EVERYTHING we need to know about him. And it ain't good.

*Romney is still an asshole. Huckabee is still hilarious.

a reporter asked him why, last month, he was at first unaware of a National Intelligence Estimate detailing the threat posed by Iran, despite the fact the report had been made public for several hours.

"That was released at 10 o’clock in the morning," Huckabee said. "At 5:30 in the afternoon, somebody says, ‘Have you read the report?’ Maybe I should’ve said, ‘Have you read the report?’ President Bush didn’t read it for four years; I don’t know why I should read it in four hours.”

May the best Republican win!

*With the potential for sheer, jaw-dropping, gut-punching losses now finally at the door I find it utterly hilarious to see the campaigns suddenly go out of their way to lower the expectations. Clinton. Romney. Huckabee.

Obama - 31
Edwards - 27
Clinton - 21
Richardson - 11
Biden - 7
Dodd -2
Kucinich - 1

Huckabee - 36
Romney - 26
Thompson - 18
Paul - 8
McCain - 7
Giuliani - 3
Hunter - 2

Does that even work with the rules? Who knows. But why not predict.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Joe Klein: Worst Writer EVER

Tacoma, WA -

Along with about fifty million other people, I've had enough of that shitbag. Although all of the Elite Media is predictably piling on Huckabee because he is poor and from the country, Joe Klein does it with more baseless elitism than ANY ONE, this time citing his podunk-ness by way of an unfamiliarity with monstrous press gatherings.

"a gazillion cameras, nearly a hundred reporters, certainly more than Huckabee has ever seen in one place in his life."

Fuck him. I am actually going to take that as a compliment for my man of the people, Mike Huckabee.

Of course, he goes on to predict a downfall.

"That sound you hear rumbling out of Des Moines appears to be a monumental implosion."

I can't wait until Huckabee proves Klein wrong. Did I mention that he used that same article to mention that he was near the guy who filmed the ad? Ohh, you're so important. Shut up. As much as I miss New Hampshire, I sure as hell don't miss the damned elite media.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Tacoma, WA -

I am taking arguably my first ever published swipe at my boy Frank Rich today. Frankie, how are you gonna take off your last column before the Iowa Caucuses? We need your bullshit fury now more than ever. I'm calling you out.

While I'm at it, as establishment fear-mongering candidates like Clinton and McCain rack up the Granite state newspaper endorsements like so many butterflies in a scared voter's stomach, I implore my readers yet again to ignore the power plays of the quasi-elite media. Here is a clip from the above linked piece from yesterday's Post at in even in Nashua.

Addressing more than 100 supporters at a VFW hall here Saturday, Clinton used the strongest language he has so far in the campaign to describe the threats facing the nation, making an oblique reference to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and saying that the "most important thing of all" in selecting a nominee is the question of who could best manage unforeseen catastrophes.

"You have to have a leader who is strong and commanding and convincing enough . . . to deal with the unexpected," he said. "There is a better than 50 percent chance that sometime in the first year or 18 months of the next presidency, something will happen that is not being discussed in this campaign."
50 per cent, huh? You gonna cite that, Bill? Or are those facts in Clinton's undisclosed First Lady papers. I guess, as Ben Smith points out, Nader's right after all. They're pretty much all the same.

My condolences to all those non-playoff NFL cities out there.

Week 17 NFL Picks

Week 17, the Swan Song

New England over NY GIANTS (I was indisposed all day and couldn't make this pick on time, my apologies)
CHICAGO over New Orleans
Seattle over ATLANTA
Detroit over GREEN BAY
CLEVELAND over San Francisco
Cincinnati over MIAMI
Jacksonville over HOUSTON
TAMPA BAY over Carolina
NY JETS over Kansas City
San Diego over OAKLAND
Minnesota over DENVER
Pittsburgh over BALTIMORE
WASHINGTON over Dallas
INDIANAPOLIS over Tennessee

Resting starters could foil my picks, but fuck it. By my estimation, we're looking at the 'Skins and the Browns in the playoffs. Go football!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Ocean

Lincoln City, OR -

My second Lincoln of the trip. I parted ways with Brother Vince a few hours ago, and now I'm finally on the last leg of the trip up the Oregon Coast, over to I-5 and into Tacoma. The skies are a rare coastal blue, the seas a ruggedly cloud-like white. I can feel the mild, wet air filling my insides. Its a beautiful thing. I left the camera in the car when I came into the coffee shop here to scope out travel routes, but look forward to some coastal beer photos, and, in a few more days, an entire chronicle of the trip. While I'm at it, look forward to a review of Neil Young's Mirrorball album.

Life on the Road,

Tacoma, WA -
Here are some fly pics from the O-Coast, circa Newport.
First Stop: The Rogue Brewery on Yaquina Bay
Next Up: Enjoying a brew on the beach.

What a beautiful day. What a beautiful place.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Open Road

Twin Falls, ID -

The Open Road sometimes also means the Closed Road. By that logic, it wound up that we got stuck yet again in Wyoming after about a hundred miles west out of Laramie this morning. We pulled off at Rawlins for gas, and they never let us back on to I-80 because of blowing snow and gusting winds. Out around Utah, Colorado and Wyoming the snow tends to be incredibly light and powdery. Douchebag skiers call it "champagne snow" but Vince and I figured it was more like Middle East sand. This also means that it has a nasty tendency to blow across the high plains in blinding fits with the 60mph gusts. Once it calmed down a bit, about fifty miles past Rawlins once they re-opened the freeway, Vince shot a few pics from the passenger side. Here is a toned down version of the conditions that required us to stay in Southeastern Wyoming for twenty-six hours.

Interstate 80, just West of Rawlins, WY

Luckily, weather is cyclical, and a few hours later we saw a pretty kick-ass sunset in Western Wyoming. Note the train in the center of the photo. That guy was shadowing us for a long time, and later disappeared into an amazing crevasse in the mountains.

A Cowboy Sunset

And finally, we hit Ogden, UT for some local beer.

BTB with a growler from Ogden's Roosters Brewpub. Yes, I am drunk with joy for how awesome Ogden was. (Note to readers, I was sober as the morning sun in this photo. I have no idea how I managed to make that face.)

Friday, December 21, 2007


Laramie, WY -

Fuck me! Vince and I decided that we were best off staying here in the great city of Laramie, Wyoming instead of taking our chances waiting for I-80 to re-open and taking our chances with some crap town a couple hundred miles east.

That leaves us here at the TravelInn on 3rd Ave. with wifi and cable tv. Today's Hardball is a tour de force, and the last ten minutes of Matthews v. Madden had me alternately in stitches and in cringes.

I should also mention that it was a good omen that when I stepped into the hotel room and jacked open the mini-fridge I found five cans of Budweiser. Couple that with our growler of Altitude Amber, the ear-burning cold, and the surplus of cowboy bars here in town and I think we are in for a good night.

Wyoming is Cowboy Country*.

*I should mention that Vince and I have made a deal. When he hit the bars tonight, I don't wear my cowboy hat and he doesn't wear his scarf. This is, after all, the regrettable site of the Matthew Shepard hate crime.

Snowed in NFL Picks Week 16

Laramie, WY -

Greetings from the Altitude Bar in Laramie, WY, home of the University of Wyoming Cowboys. Interstate 80 is closed from here to Rawlins due to high winds, low visibility and blowing snow, so our plan to get to Eastern Nevada tonight has been put on hold. Cowgirls, you have been warned!

With that, my NFL picks.

Pittsburgh over ST. LOUIS (late, I know, but I would have picked them, and I have had shoddy internet the last few days)
CAROLINA over Dallas
BUFFALO over NY Giants
Green Bay over CHICAGO
CLEVELAND over Cincy
DETROIT over Kansas City
Philadelphia over NEW ORLEANS
ARIZONA over Atlanta
Tampa Bay over SAN FRANCISCO
SEATTLE over Baltimore
NEW ENGLAND over Miami
MINNESOTA over Washington

I don't know what my record was last week, but it sucked. I'll update once I'm back in Tacoma.

P.S. There are little kids caroling right a bar. Joy to the World. Joy to Wyoming.

Rocky Mountain High

Denver, CO -

Greetings from the Mile High City. I only have a minute or two to toss some junk up on the web, but just wanted to give a quick shout out to Denver. What a great city.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Greetings from the Road

Kearney, NE -

3Q Nation, welcome back to the Big Show, which right now is better described as the Road Show.

First of all, a few important points.

1) I am no longer in New Hampshire. I am in the process of driving back to Tacoma, WA.

2) Because of a possibility that I might go back to NH for a week before the primary, I am withholding my endorsement until further notice. Within a week or so I should know whether or not I will keep it close, or drop it on the blog. Sorry for the confusion.

3)Another apology is due. I haven't posted much lately due to shoddy internet access. Right now I'm rollicking on Motel 6 Wireless, but the road has constantly beckoned, so coffee shop stops have been few and far between.

4) I will be writing less about politics in the next two weeks, but I have a great blog piece coming up about a state-by-state beer journey from NH to WA. So far I am ten deep: NH, VT, MA, NY, PA, OH, IN, IL, IA, NE. At least six more states to come. Keep checking back, you'll see what I mean.

Now that I have finished with that piece, I have to say that Kearney (pronounced Carney) is a pretty tight place. I definitely recommend a stop by the Palm Garden Lounge on 22nd St. of of 1st Ave. Friendly bartender, interesting clientèle, awesome football decor.

With that, I will leave you with a few teaser photos.

Indiana, where High School Basketball is King.
BTB with a Three Floyd's Alpha King Pale Ale in Elkhart, IN

In the Deed the Glory
Vince and BTB in front of University of Nebraska's Memorial Stadium with a very shitty Empyrean LunaSea ESB

Friday, December 14, 2007

Love Song of B. Thomas Bissell

Snow Pond, NH -

So here it is, my final entry from Snow Pond for the season. Keep checking back to 3Q for more stories from the trail, more closing sentiments, and a travel log for the ages as we bring this caravan from the Granite State to the Evergreen State. Details to come.

'Til then I end with a poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," by T. S. Eliot -

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats 5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question … 10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, 15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, 20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; 25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate; 30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go 35
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair— 40
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare 45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all— 55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? 60
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress 65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets 70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! 75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? 80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 85
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while, 90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”— 95
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while, 100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: 105
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . . 110
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use, 115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old … 120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me. 125

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown 130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.