Category Archives: Beer in the News

Even the rednecks pick on South Carolina now

This morning, I could not tolerate another second of the pledge drive on ETV Radio (even when I have money to give, and DO give, I can’t abide actually listening to the pledge drive; it’s all those repetitions of the phone number that get to me), and I didn’t like what was on Steve-FM, so I decided to get my first John Boy and Billy fix in a long while.

And that’s when I heard the Tim Wilson song you hear in the video above.

Partial lyrics:

You can go to war when you’re 18
But you can’t buy a beer
You can load missiles on a submarine
But you can’t buy a pistol here
You can breathe chemical weapon fumes
But they don’t want you to smoke
so when you’re shootin’ up a bar in Baghdad, don’t order a rum and coke

OK so far, typical redneck comic lament. But then you get to:

You can be a governor at 21
Or a president at 35
You can be the senator from South Carolina
If you can just stay alive…

This has gone too far. Jon Stewart picking on us is something you’d expect, but when the rednecks start giving us a hard time over our political predilections and idiosyncrasies, maybe we’d better start talking seriously about making some changes.

Just for the record, I am not mad at Boyd

Rep. Boyd Brown at Yesterday's.

About an hour after Kevin Fisher called me to set the record straight on whether he had called me, I met Boyd Brown for a beer at Yesterday’s.

We had a fine time getting acquainted — I don’t believe we’d every had a conversation before — although it was unnecessary from my point of view. Boyd had suggested the meeting because he thought I was mad at him or something, and I went along because, as my readers know, I’m always glad to spend time at Yesterday’s (see the ad at right).

It was a very South Carolina kind of conversation. We talked about Boyd’s experiences with his Daddy (who is probably younger than I, since Boyd is younger than my fourth child) being on county council in Fairfield County, and about when his grandfather was a high official in state government, and about the people he’s related to in Bennettsville (my birthplace), and partisan politics, and race, and… just a little of everything.

And, more to the point… Boyd says he did not realize until after he had said it that in the case of our governor, his remark could be construed on yet a third level that, he agreed, is inappropriate. So we had a total meeting of the minds. Except, to some extent, when we got on the subject of upcoming legislation that he’s planning to push, but more about that later…

Why did USC build the Greek Village, anyway?

Yes, I can think of some reasons, but since all of the ones I think of are… unpersuasive… I continue to wonder whether there are any defensible reasons for having devoted that choice real estate to such a purpose (not to mention putting the Strom Taj Mahal workout center in a location that only the Greeks could walk to conveniently and safely).

If you know of any, share them.

Here’s the thing about this sudden discovery by the university that fraternities tend to encourage unseemly behavior (“USC officials, Greeks debate hospital trips, strippers,” The State) — I’ve never understood why their presence is in any way encouraged at public institutions of higher learning.

At all of our colleges and universities today, administrators know that one of the most serious problems they face is binge drinking, and other activities that most of us associate with… well, Greek life. It astounds me that, in the 21st century, we even allow these organizations onto campuses, much less do anything to make them feel welcome. Not that we independents haven’t been known to chug a brew or two in college, but most of us didn’t join societies that, to the larger world, are essentially seen as drinking clubs.

I could see it if these associations had a salutary effect — say, if they militated against such irresponsible behavior. But I’m not seeing much indication of that.

Of course, I’m prejudiced. I went through college in the early 70s, which is actually the time that the cultural phenomena we associate with the 60s kicked in across most of the country. In my day, there were Greeks, but they seemed terribly anachronistic. It was something my Dad did (Pi Kappa Alpha), but not cool people in my generation. By the 70s — or at least by 1978 — they were associated with a benighted past, an object for satire. It was like, if you were in a frat, what century (or at least, what decade) were you living in? I understood that some people had their arms twisted by their parents into joining their frats and sororities, but what was the motivation beyond that? (There was this one guy who kept calling to invite me to check out his frat, and he only did it because he was bugged by his Dad, who worked with my Dad. I always came up with excuses to be elsewhere.)

The fact that people actually attached importance to this presumed bond — which is a perfect illustration of a granfalloon — has always puzzled me, and even caused me to think a little less of the human race. (While different, it’s distantly related to the way I feel about political parties.) To share another anecdote…

Once, when I was a student at Memphis State, a bunch of us were playing basketball on an outdoor court next to my dorm. Some guy got mad about something stupid and pointless, and put on a disgusting display of petulance, quickly convincing everyone that he was a total jerk. Finally, he decided to walk away, pouting. The attitude of every guy present was, Good Riddance. Every guy but one, who had to chase after him and try to… I don’t know, console him or commiserate or whatever. “We all said, what the hell, man? The guy’s a complete d__k! Come back and play.” There was some reason that his departure mattered to us, I forget what that reason was. Maybe he was taking the ball with him. Otherwise, we probably would have said Good Riddance to him as well.

Anyway, he said he had no choice but to run after that guy, because… he was his fraternity brother. We all looked on in disgust at this display of completely misplaced loyalty based on nothing more substantial than that.

But I’m sure some of you have a different perspective. Please, help me understand the ways that frats contribute to institutions of higher education.

Clue me in as to why those brick palaces, in the core of our community, add to our community.

Making use of the “women are grownups” argument

A couple of days back, in the midst of an argument about something else, I started griping about a piece I’d read somewhere by a feminist of the “men and women are just alike and don’t you dare say otherwise” variety (there are all sorts of feminism, and that is but one type), suggesting that there’s nothing to the idea that male politicians are inherently more likely to engage in sexual misbehavior than are female politicians.

I begged to differ, citing my oft-asserted belief that, in general, women are more likely than men to be actual grownups. To elaborate:

You know me; I hate Identity Politics. I don’t care whether our legislative bodies are all male, or all female, or all white or all black, as long as we get the best candidates (which we don’t, but don’t stop me; I’m on a roll). I’m not for electing women qua women. But there’s a side benefit apart from the IP one: Elect more women, you get more grownups.

Yes there are exceptions. And we could have a debate, if you’d like, about whether the problem with Nikki Haley is that she “governs like a guy.” But in general, the principle holds….

Well, I’m not the only one thinking that way. The Southern Institute for Women in Politics is pushing the same line:

Retrospective on scandal

Lessons learned from the likes of Anthony Weiner

Comedians will regret the loss of great material provided by Anthony Weiner’s denial and later admission of lewd electronic behavior. Weiner’s Congressional colleagues will be relieved by his resignation so they can return to business. But Weiner’s sad tale of self-destructive and testosterone-induced behavior is just one in a growing list of elected men (of both political parties) that tells a bigger story to tell: In 2011, U.S. politics is still a boys’ club.

When we’re all finished clucking our collective tongues, we need to get focused and recognize that this is a call to action for women – including women in South Carolina.

Research points to a substantial gender gap in the way women and men approach running for office. Women have different reasons for running, are more reluctant to do so and, because there are so few of them in politics, are acutely aware of the scrutiny they draw – all of which seems to lead to differences in the way they handle their jobs once elected.

“The shorthand of it is that women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “Women run because there is some public issue that they care about, some change they want to make, some issue that is a priority for them, and men tend to run for office because they see this as a career path.”

So, it’s time for more of us to step up to the plate.

Not everyone needs to be a candidate, but all women need to be more informed, more involved, in politics at every level. At a minimum, we need to vote – cast a ballot for everything from who runs our children’s schools to who sets the tax rate for our towns – have a say in who gets to make these decisions that affect our lives.

We desperately need good women to run for office. We can’t win the game unless you play, so come on ladies, let’s get moving.

How you can help clean the political house:

So, friends, let’s learn some lessons from Anthony Weiner (and Elliott Spitzer, Mark Sanford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc., etc., etc.) and make 2012 the year we run and elect more women to office in South Carolina than ever before.

Read news that directs our lessons

Weiner Scandal: A Victory for Women Leaders?
The mentality has to change. The world is half men and half women. The government has to >>

In political scandals, girls won’t be boys
“I’m telling you,” said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., “every time one of these sex scandals goes, we just look at each other, like>>

More Women Needed in Politics
The story of U.S. Rep. Anthony and his Weiner is more disappointing than surprising.Another male>>

Women are better investors, and here’s why
Call it the Weiner principle: men self-destruct. Anthony Weiner has put men in a pickle.Here’s why>>

How about Dan Adams’ new book?
Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else. Read more>>

Welcome to the team, girls. I mean, ladies. I mean — aw, I’d never make a good feminist anyway…

And I take exception to the beer taster thing.

And then afterwards, a beer. Or two…

Cleaning out the old IN box, I ran across this Tweet I had sent myself meaning to blog about it last week:

Taegan Goddard @pwire

Taegan Goddard

New poll: Which presidential candidate would you want to have lunch with?

Turns out that far more Americans polled — 53 percent — would rather have lunch with Barack Obama than any of the GOP candidates. Sarah Palin came in at a “distant second” with 16 percent.

Last election cycle, all the talk was about who you wanted to have a beer with. Asking the question this way is going to foul up our stats, for comparison purposes.

But it may be a better, more rigorous question. Most of us are probably less picky who we have a beer with. Although it depends on who’s buying.

What else do you expect an Irishman to say?

This was brought to my attention by Slate:

President Barack Obama visited Ireland on Monday, where he had a Guinness at a pub in Moneygall (the tiny town where his great-great-great-grandfather was born). He remarked that the last time he’d ordered a Guinness in Ireland, during a stopover at Shannon Airport en route to Afghanistan, it was much tastier than any he’d had in the United States. “What I realized is you guys are keeping all the best stuff here,” he concluded. Was the president blarneying his hosts — or is Guinness really better in Ireland?

See, I knew it! And now we all know… that Barack Obama actually is… um… Irish. He probably subscribes to their bizarre beliefs and everything.

By the way, that item bore this headline: “Does Guinness Taste Better in Ireland?Yes, and not just because you’re more likely to be drunk there.”

Anyone deeply offended? Anyway, to answer the key question, as framed in the last sentence of the quote above:

It is. After the Institute of Food Technologists asked tasters to sample the so-called “black stuff” in 71 bars, 33 cities, and 14 countries over the course of a year, they gave it an average rating of 74 points out of 100 on the Emerald Isle, about 20 points higher than it got anywhere else. “This difference remained statistically significant after adjusting for researcher, pub ambience, [and] Guinness appearance,” the researchers noted.

Freshness is the key factor…

This, of course, raises another question: How does one get to be a taster with the Institute of Food Technologists? They fly you around the world and have you taste beer? Really?…

Sorry, hon, I’m only on my 8th country and 51st pub. I’ll be home when I can. I’ve got a job to do. I’m on a mission from IFT… And OH, am I jet-lagged…

Don’t ya just love the New Normal? It’s like we’re all living on the frontier, making it up as we go along

Just saw this from Wesley Donehue:

The Pub Politics episode scheduled for tonight has been canceled due to the show’s camera being broken. Unfortunately, the problem is one that cannot be repaired before airtime.

The show’s producer will be taking the camera to a shop to be fixed so that next week’s Pub Politics can continue as planned.

Phil and Wesley are sorry for the inconvenience, but hope you understand and will be patient for next week’s show.

For those who still wish to come to The Whig and hang out with the Pub Politics crew, we’ll be there for $2.50 pints.

Pub Politics is a weekly political show featuring Phil Bailey, SC Senate Democratic Caucus Director, and Wesley Donehue, SC Senate Republican Caucus Director, talking to various SC legislators and other leaders. For more information, please visit

Dontcha just love the New Normal? Instead of the imposing MSM with its vast resources for bringing us news and commentary, we increasingly rely on new media, which is very catch-as-catch-can, very bailing-wire-and-broomhandles, so close to the edge of viability, that a single camera breaking down puts you out of action.

Sort of like what happens to my blog when the laptop acts up.

It’s like the Wild West, folks, or… living on one of the outer planets on “Firefly.” Hey, I know! Maybe Mal and I can buy the Discovery, now that it’s headed to the scrapheap, and get Mr. Universe to do IT for us, and blog and broadcast from out past Reaver territory, where the Alliance can’t stop us…

Except that Mal, mercenary that he is, would demand to know how he was going to make money off of it. And we New Media types haven’t figured out how to do that any more than the MSM has figured out the same problem going forward. If we had, we’d have more than one frickin’ camera…

They’d better get it fixed quickly, so that I can go on and be the first Six-Timer

I become a five-timer on Pub Politics (no, excuse me — THE five-timer)

Pub Politics Episode 45: Subterranean Night, Part 2 from Wesley Donehue on Vimeo.

Here, finally (not that I’m complaining, Wesley), is the video from my record-setting appearance as the first five-time guest on “Pub Politics.” This episode was taped in front of a sizable and enthusiastic studio audience (with whom you’ll see us interact a bit, even though, alas, you can’t see them) at The Whig last Wednesday night, Feb. 16, 2011.

Here is Wesley’s blurb on the show, or rather this segment of it:

The boys of Pub Politics meet up in the basement bar known in Columbia as The Whig for a subterranean night. Political blogger and former journalist Brad Warthen and WACH Fox news director Bryan Cox jump on for segment 2 to the intersection of the Internet and journalism.

Join Brad Warthen online at

Visit WACH Fox online at

A HUGE thank you to The Whig for hosting us. Visit them at

And of course we were talking about this, which is why Bryan and I were there.

The inside tale of the curfew/closings deal

As y’all may or may not know, Kathryn Fenner — who is very involved in the community in divers ways — was in the middle of a group of citizens who helped work out the compromise on Columbia’s efforts to get some modicum of control over the less savory facets of its nightlife.

We’ve had discussions here about the proposed youth curfew, and the proposal that bars close at 2 a.m., but as the discussion has progressed, I’ve sort of fallen behind on what was happening. Kathryn has not, and she has sent me all sorts of documents (which I have not found time to read) and great sources (whom I have not found time to interview), and I was feeling all guilty about it, and then it occurred to me to fall back on my default mode, after all those years as an assigning editor: Get somebody else to do it.

And since Kathryn already knew all of this stuff, why not her? Yeah, I know; it’s unconventional, and single-source, and she’s too involved, yadda-yadda. But this is NEW media, people. And I figure, this is just like an op-ed from an involved party, which gives readers deeper understanding of an issue from at least one viewpoint. I will be very glad to consider contributions from other viewpoints, but I make no promises. This is an experiment. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, here’s Kathryn’s version of events. (FYI, I have NOT edited it, because, well, that would be too much work and defeat the purpose of foisting it off on someone else. So this is her authentic voice, you might say. Yeah, that’s what it is…):

Making Hospitality Districts Hospitable

By Kathryn B. Fenner
Special Correspondent
Less than a year ago, police, patrons and the public at large began to notice an increase in unpleasantness in the hospitality districts, particularly Five Points, but the Vista and the area around Club Dreams across from City Hall also had issues. People were drunker; bands of teenagers too young to even enter a bar were crowding the sidewalks, intimidating people and even brandishing weapons. Bars were severely overcrowded—some holding three times more than their safe occupancy. Street crime was rampant. There were several shootings that appeared to involve minors, some of whom ran into the surrounding residential areas, and severe assaults, including one that resulted in permanent eye damage and reconstructive plastic surgery, on random bystanders that seemed to be some sort of gang initiation.
The police started a discussion to try to solve these problems. By midsummer, a task force of stakeholders was formed including bar owners; representatives from the merchants’, neighborhood and industry associations; the University of South Carolina police and student life heads; law enforcement (Columbia police and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department) and fire marshals; and city staffers, and chaired by Tom Sponseller, head of both the Midlands and state hospitality organizations. Everyone (and his brother or sister) was heard from, including the police chief from Greenville, who reported that the city’s curfew ordinance,
which applies only to the Reedy River area, had been implemented without a hitch—all parents came and got their kids, and there were few incidents because it was implemented after an extensive publicity campaign, a Myrtle Beach police representative, and former Fire Chief Bradley Anderson who did extensive research into practices employed across the country to calm hospitality districts.
The original push was to close all bars at 2 a.m. While bars could not serve liquor after 2 a.m., they could serve beer, wine and the malt beverages—including the notorious sweet, caffeinated alcoholic “energy drinks” like Four Loko (“a six-pack in a can”) that seemed to be major fuel to the drunkenness of younger patrons—until 4 a.m., except for Sundays. They never needed to actually close their doors. The bars countered that the problems were caused by the kids who had no business, literally, in the districts, and proposed a curfew. Additional issues included a toothless loitering law that had been used to stifle civil rights protests, an open container law that required the cops to establish the grain alcohol content of said open container, an over-occupancy penalty that was laughably light and applied only to whoever happened to be on the door that night, and virtually no enforcement of state liquor laws, because of a reduction in SLED agents statewide from 46 to 1.5, the nonparticipation of the Columbia police in the training that would have enabled them to enforce liquor laws, and overworked administrative law judges who perhaps did not appreciate the seriousness of the issues facing denser districts.
Police and fire marshals were often pulling double duty to work the “party nights” and were exhausted. The city courts were doing the best they could with a system of logging violations that relied on a huge book of dot-matrix paper and many handwritten entries. A record number of students at USC were transported to emergency rooms with alcohol poisoning.
A compromise was proposed that drew from the Myrtle Beach statute (bars in other South Carolina cities with dense hospitality districts tended to close at 2 a.m.). Myrtle Beach also had a blanket 2 a.m. closing unless bars obtained a permit to stay open until 4. These bars were required to show proof of liquor liability insurance, to have specified numbers of security personnel, to train staff in safe-serving practices and compliance with applicable laws and, famously, not to have wet T-shirt contests or drinking games. Failure to abide by the rules resulted in swift and certain punishment, and the bars largely policed themselves and one another. The compromise also included a curfew for children 17 and under, at 11 p.m. year round, based on police desires to be able to deal with the bulk of violators before the onslaught of bar patrons began at around 12:30. A special team of law enforcement, fire marshals, code enforcement, zoning and business license staff would be trained in the particulars of hospitality zone issues. Finally, a quality public relations campaign would be implemented regarding the curfew, sensible alcohol consumption and good personal safety practices. Additional, “optional” recommendations included a tighter open container law and stiffer penalties for over-occupancy.
The compromise package was unanimously approved by the task force and presented to City Council for approval. At this writing, the bifurcated closing ordinance has been enacted, the hospitality enforcement team is being formed and the curfew has received the first of two required readings. City Attorney Ken Gaines has raised concerns about the constitutionality of the curfew ordinance, and after City Council waived its attorney-client confidentiality rights, he opined that a federal court decision in Dallas required that certain findings of harm caused to or by juveniles be made, which findings could not be made by the Columbia police
because the data had not been collected. The American Civil Liberties Union has threatened a lawsuit if a curfew is enacted, although it has not sued Greenville.

What are you trying to say, Wesley?

The other day I ran into Wesley Donehue at Starbucks (see that, Starbucks? yet another product placement you’re not paying for), and we talked briefly about my appearing on “Pub Politics” again, which would make me a member of the Five-Timer Club. I’m totally up for it, particularly since I’d like to discuss this aptly titled “rant” on Wesley’s blog.

I think I want to argue with him about it, but first I have to get him to explain more clearly what he’s on about.

I say “rant” is apt because it seems to come straight from the gut, without any sorting or organization from the higher parts of his cortex — and Wesley is a smart guy. The problem I have is that his thought, or emotions, or impulses or whatever, don’t add up. They just don’t hang together.

He makes the following unconnected points:

  1. Where does the media get off making like it’s a champion of transparency?
  2. How dare WACH-Fox defend itself from a slur leveled at it by Gov. Nikki Haley on Facebook?
  3. The media are just lashing out, because they are becoming irrelevant in the new media age, when politicos can go straight to the people.
  4. “Transparency” doesn’t mean going through the MSM, so the media have no legitimate excuse to criticize the gov.
  5. Any problems the media have are their own damn’ fault, for failing to be relevant and keep up with the times.

Did that cover everything? I may have missed an unrelated point or two.

Here, respectively, are my problems with his points:

1. Golly, Wesley, the MSM may be guilty of a host of sins, but suggesting they are somehow an illegitimate, insincere, incredible or inappropriate advocate for transparency is most illogical. They’re kinda obsessive about it, and this might be a shock, but they were into it a LONG time before Nikki Haley ever heard of it. Finally, the media are the one industry in society that actually have a vested, selfish interest in transparency (unlike certain politicians who TALK about it, but belie their commitment to it with their actions) — they kinda rely on it in order to do what they do — so I’ve just gotta believe they really mean it.

1a. Furthermore, what does this have to do with the ongoing talk about the gov’s failures to be transparent? What did I miss? This seems to me to be about the TV station defending itself from the governor’s insult. The transparency issue — the one that I hear folks in the media talk about, anyway — has to do with everything from Nikki not wanting to disclose questionable sources of income and refusing to release her e-mails back during the campaign, all the way up to meeting with two other Budget and Control Board members while excluding the others. I’m missing the connection in other words, between this incident and your complaint that the media are going on inappropriately about transparency.

2. Well, let’s see. The governor wrote “WACH FOX 57 is a tabloid news station and has no concept of journalism.” Wesley, I don’t care whether the governor said that on Facebook, or through an interview with the MSM, or in a campaign ad or by use of skywriting. The choice of medium does not take away from the fact that that was an extraordinary thing for a governor to PUBLISH (and that’s what she did; if governors and other empowered “ordinary” folks are going to take it upon themselves to communicate directly with the people without the offices of the MSM, perhaps they need to take a little seminar on the difference in significance between merely muttering something to your friends, and publishing it). Next — are you really suggesting that WACH or any other business does not have the right to defend itself when maligned by the governor? I assert that they have that right under the 1st Amendment, whether they are Joe Blow’s Used Cars or the MSM.

3. This one’s really interesting. I’ll grant you, WACH looks pretty lame technologically when it fails to provide a direct link to the FB post with which it is disagreeing. (Here you go, by the way.) But beyond that, let’s talk about the new rules. Here’s the kind of thing that happens in this wonderful, marvelous new world in which anyone can publish their thoughts and don’t have to go through the stuffy ol’ MSM. In the old, benighted days, a former employee of the governor (and of the last governor) might go around muttering about having had an illicit personal relationship with the governor, but he would have been ignored. Now, thanks to the wonders of modern technology that you extol, he can publish it himself with practically zero effort or investment. So it’s out there — because, you know, those bad old editors can’t keep it away from the people. And then it starts affecting the political campaign, and therefore becomes news. Now, let me ask you — when that same blogger follows that up by publishing salacious details related to his allegation, having already caused it to be a news story, what are the media supposed to do? Well, I don’t know, and others aren’t sure either. Me? I ignored it. WACH made the call that it made. Did the governor have the right to get ticked and trash WACH because of it? Yes, she did. (Although it was, as I say, pretty extraordinary for a sitting governor to say something like that about a business in her state.) Did WACH — that poor, pathetic institution that’s falling apart as you say, have the right to defend itself? Of course it did.

4. Who said it did? I missed that. Maybe you have a link to it; I’d be interested to read/hear that argument.

5. The problems that the media have result from a massive restructuring of the way businesses — the ones they relied upon for the advertising revenue that underwrote the gathering of the news — market themselves to the public. The long-term trend has been away from mass-media advertising on the local level, and to more targeted approaches. Nothing about what the media have reported or not reported, or positions they have taken, have anything to do with it. The public is lapping up news and commentary more hungrily than ever — from the MSM as well as other sources. But the business model that supported newsgathering — the model that’s falling apart — has nothing to do with that; it’s a whole separate transaction from the one between a medium and its readers/viewers/listeners. So you’re way off base there.

Anyway, have me on the show and we’ll talk further. Keep the beer cold.

A couple of fine-looking fellas at Yesterday’s

For months, I’ve been hearing that there’s another guy, who is also a regular at Yesterday’s, who looks just like me. I’ve heard he’s my Doppelgänger, that the resemblance is uncanny.

I’ve heard this from friends; I’ve even heard it from a couple of my own daughters. Several people who know me well have started talking to this handsome gentleman in the mistaken impression that he IS me, only to realize their mistake a moment after. There have been so many incidents of this, which have gotten back to me, that I was both in a sweat to meet this guy, but also sort of dreading it. You know how it is — people will say you look just like somebody, and then you see that somebody, and you realize that’s how people see me, and then you’re depressed all day.

But faint hearts never solve mysteries, so today, when I got a tip he was there — being hungry, and in the mood for a Yuengling, anyway — I grabbed my camera and went over to Yesterday’s. And accosted him, and introduced myself.

His first name is Donald, and so is mine, but let’s not make too much of that. At some point, a coincidence is no more than that.

I have to say that I don’t think the resemblance is all THAT great. I, for one, would not mistake him for me. I know me when I see me. But there is no doubt that there is a fine, manly strength in his features, which radiate intelligence and excellence of character. So I can understand casual observers making the mistake.

Such as the young woman I had never met who was sitting at the bar as we got out picture taken together. She asked, incredulously, “You mean, they’re NOT brothers?”

Pint of best bitter, please — or stout, ale, or whatever you’ve got

Sharp's Doom Bar at the Golden Lion.

When we were on the way into town from Heathrow the other day, my granddaughter mentioned that she had forgotten to pack her best glitter. I couldn’t resist that opening, and immediately said, “We’ll just go into a pub and order a pint of best glitter!” She and my wife both looked at me blankly. Sigh. It went over as well as one of Jack Aubrey’s puns. But I was just as proud of it as he ever was…

So I’ve ordered a pint of bitter, and occasionally stout or lager, at various places in London, Greenwich and Oxford now. Also had some Peroni and Beck in restaurants without taps, but that doesn’t count.

I’ve had Spitfire (twice) and Samuel Smith Sovereign Bitter and some Samuel Smith stout as well (Samuel Smith was all they served at the Swiss Cottage pub near us in London). My very first pub was The Golden Lion in central London, where I had Sharp’s Doom Bar. (I had to walk ’round and see the tap myself, because the barmaid had a heavy foreign accent. It was THE best bitter I’ve had so far.) Sort of a posh clientele — I suspect some of those chaps of working at Christie’s, right across the road.

The most recent place we visited was The Turf in Oxford. It’s only been a pub since the 13th century, and I like to give these new places a try. Didn’t actually have a pint there (I was still drinking a coffee from down the road) — but J had a mulled wine.

I will continue to investigate this aspect of this lovely country, and report back to you, my readers. Someone has to do it.

I intend to carry on in spite of the fact that the new tax rates are going into effect within hours. More about that later.

Make mine a Yuengling. Robert’s, too

Just to keep y’all up to date on the hep doings of the In Crowd — Robert Ariail and I gathered last evening in the official Warthen/Ariail Memorial Booth at Yesterday’s, which is one of Five Points’ greatest attractions. Or should be.

We covered such burning topics as:

  • What we’re charging these days for freelance gigs (my prices are lower than his, but then I’m not Robert Ariail).
  • My upcoming trip to England, where I hope to find a pub as homey and welcoming as Yesterday’s. (I’m not sure this tops my wife’s list of priorities for the trip, but it’s high on mine.) A booth named for me is not a prerequisite.
  • Social media, which Robert’s not into, so I tried to engage his interest by showing him this. He still wasn’t sold. So then I Tweeted this out and showed it to him — “Having a pint with Robert Ariail at Yesterday’s, in the official memorial Warthen/Ariail booth. Not everyone can do that…” — and he still wasn’t impressed.
  • Why it’s the “Warthen/Ariail” booth instead of “Ariail/Warthen.” (Guess who raised that question?)
  • How, take it all around — price, flavor, what have you — you really can’t beat a pint of Yuengling. Oldest brewery in America, you know.

Hey, Mr. Yuengling distributor, take note: Don’t you think it’s about time you took out an ad on the blog? Like Yesterday’s?

… which means I would never leave there

I don’t think of myself as a particularly materialistic person, or a sensualist per se (except within certain parameters). And I am most definitely, certainly not a foodie. Personally, I find foodism… off-putting.

But there are two things that I look forward to every day, and that are hard for me to forgo — coffee in the morning (and sometimes in the afternoon), and beer at night.

And now Kathryn brings my attention to this:

Starbucks Explores Possibility Of Selling Beer & Wine

Hey, you can have the wine. And I’d rather that the cheese not be in the same building. But the best coffee in the world, followed by beer? I would never want to leave.

And would ye be after havin’ a problem with this, now, paisan?

Heading out in the cool of the morning Saturday for the Walk for Life, I put on two layers — a black T-shirt I sometimes wear on the weekends, and a long-sleeved baseball-style undershirt over it — in anticipation of putting on yet a third layer (the official Walk for Life T-shirt) over that.

Which worked fine during the walk.

But later, when the wife and my daughter and a friend and I headed to the Italian Festival on Main Street, the sun necessitated stripping down to the first layer. And it didn’t even occur to me to think what that layer was.

I was reminded of it when I got in line to buy some food tickets so I could buy some Italian sausage with onions and peppers to wash down with my draft Peroni lager. Ernie Trubiano, former sports scribe at The State, was selling the tickets. Quoth he, “You got some nerve showing up here wearing that…”

He said it in a nice way, though — more marveling at my brazenness than getting in my face about it.

Gee, I wasn’t trying to start an international incident. But that IS one of my fave shirts. I got it at the best St. Paddy’s Day ever in Five Points, the one in 2007, against which all such gatherings shall henceforth be measured.

The best part of the shirt is the side you don’t see — the back is a mock Guinness logo with the words being about the St. Pat’s event. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of that and share it later. It’s awesome.

More to like at Yesterday’s

Duncan MacRae, my very favorite advertiser, just invited me to Yesterday’s Facebook page. If you like Yesterday’s, you should really like (that means CLICK on the “LIKE” button, in case I have to spell it out for you) this page.

If you were following it you’d know that the special today is salmon and grits, with collard greens.

You’d also be aware that…

Yesterday’s Restaurant and Tavern Thurs. Night 9/23 Jim Leblanc will be playing your favorite hits from the 60’s and 70’s while you have dinner. Jim will be playing from 6:30 to 9:30. Stop in have a fun time while you enjoy our tasty entrees. First person to ask Jim to play American Pie gets a $20.00 Gift Card to Yesterdays.

Yesterday’s Restaurant and Tavern Going To Auburn this weekend? If your not traveling– come on down to Yesterdays to watch the game on one of our 4 large flat screens and enjoy our gametime specials. If you have your Gamecock colors on you can get two for the price of one on orders of 10 wings. We will also have a special on our tasty Garnet and Black… pints of Killians and Guiness @ $4.00 a pint during the game( usually $ 5.25)

See More2 hours ago · ·

So get on over the Facebook page. Or just skip it and go straight to Yesterday’s. That’s the point here.

I’ll be glad you did. So will Duncan.

Jody Powell and the Sixth Sense


No, that’s not the name of my band that I’m going to form once I come up with a new name, although I think I might put it on the short list…

This is just me free-associating from one post to the next.

Back on this one, I said something about how some politicians seem to have a sixth sense about when a camera is pointing at them. Or at least, they did back in my reporting days (when I, more often than not, was my own photographer).

That got me to thinking about this picture that I ran across recently while sorting through old files. It’s a print I made from a shot I took at the Democrats’ mid-term national convention in Memphis in 1978. This was that didn’t go well for Jimmy Carter, whereas Ted Kennedy was greeted lovingly. They went wild for his presentation before a panel on health care reform (yes, we’ve been talking about it that long), during which I took the shot below (I wish I could find the negative from which I cropped this image of Kennedy, because as I recall, one of the panelists behind him was a baby-faced guy from Arkansas named Bill Clinton). Two years later, the party’s left wing would unite behind Kennedy in full-scale revolt against their own incumbent president.

And yes, I realize the Kennedy picture is low-quality. But I shot it on Tri-X with low ambient light, and blew up this portion of the frame, so gimme a break…

Anyway, where was I? … oh yes, the Sixth Sense.

I was looking around and saw Jody Powell sitting on that table at the back of the room a few feet from me. He was unnoticed for the moment by everyone else, and he was relaxing with a cigar and a bottle of beer. As I aimed and focused the Nikkormat and manually adjusted the exposure (and yes, Burl, it was the Tiger tank of cameras; I loved the one that the paper assigned to me), without looking at me, he very deliberately moved the beer in his right hand down to where I couldn’t get it in the picture. I mean, heaven forbid anybody from the Carter White House should be seen having a good time.

Dang. But I took the picture anyway.

And yes, I realize both of these guys died this year, so consider this their official blog elegy.

Ted Kennedy

I’m about to go freeload at Steve Benjamin’s thing

Folks, I’m about to go over to this Steve Benjamin thing at 701 Whaley. But as usual, my attendance will not be an expression of personal political preference. I’m just going to check it out.

And of course, in keeping with my principles, I’m not planning to pay. I plan to go, walk around with a beer or something and try to blend, and learn what I can. As Capt. Mal said to River Tam in “Serenity,” “It’s what I do, darlin’. It’s what I do. I am an inveterate free-loader. It’s my M.O., and if I ever were to pay for anything, it would ruin my reputation in more ways than one. (Some would say I shouldn’t accept free beer. I believe my high school buddy Burl has said he wouldn’t, and maybe I should listen, because he is a journalist who still has a jobby-job. But Burl doesn’t understand the whole Southern thing. It’s not polite to refuse a drink from one’s host. And I’m very polite.)

Or at least, I plan to do those things until they throw me out. Anyway, maybe I’ll see you there. It starts at 5:30. Here’s the info. The most interesting thing on that link, by the way, is the list of the host committee, which is as follows:

Governor Jim Hodges
Emile DeFelice
Jenni & Cameron Runyan
Tiffany and Anton Gunn
DJ Carson
Bubba Cromer
Robbie Butt
Beth Binkley
Trav Robertson
Courtney Gibbes
Rhodes Bailey
Laurin Manning
Brad Weeks and Chris Terlinden
Hal Peters
Dana Bruce
Shani and Aaron Gilchrist
Debbie McDaniel
Mark Sweatman
Ashley Newton
Bosie Martin
Will Bryant
Amy and Rick Quinn
Jen and John Adams
Brian Murrell
Ashley Medbery and Adam Floyd
John Nichols
Kevin S. Baltimore
Marti Bluestein
Jocelyn & Derwin Brannon
Brandon Anderson
Tony Mizzell
Shennice and LeBrian Cleckley

Now — does anybody know of any Kirkman Finley III events I can crash? I want to be perfectly fair and balanced about this.

And when a third viable candidate emerges (it is my considered opinion that there will have to be third major vote-getter for Finlay to have a chance against Benjamin, so I’m sort of waiting for another shoe to drop here), I will be thrilled to crash any party they have as well.

Back-to-school beer


I saw something interesting for the first time at that reception Wednesday night — Bud Light in dark red, or perhaps I should say garnet, cans. That was a new one on me and the ad folks I spoke to that night. I asked the guy working the bar what was up with the cans, and he didn’t know; it was the first time he’d seen them, too.

Someone speculated that it was a school-colors thing. That someone was right, as the WSJ reported Friday morning:

Dozens of colleges are up in arms over a new Anheuser-Busch marketing campaign that features Bud Light beer cans emblazoned with local schools’ team colors.

Many college administrators contend that the promotions near college campuses will contribute to underage and binge drinking and give the impression that the colleges are endorsing the brew. Though some schools aren’t interfering with the promotion, others are demanding that the sales be stopped. With students returning to campuses and the fall football season approaching, the “Fan Cans” are also renewing the debate over the role of beer makers in encouraging college drinking.

Anheuser-Busch responds that the campaign is aimed only at fans who can drink legally and that it has long supported efforts to fight alcohol abuse. It notes that the cans don’t bear any school’s name or logo. And it says it will drop the campaign near any college that makes a formal complaint…

Then WIS did a story on them last night.

Actually, I thought the cans I saw — which were technically muted red and cream, not garnet and black — looked pretty good, aesthetically speaking (way, WAY better than those tacky LSU cans). Picture it away from the blue carton, which kind of takes away from the effect (I shot this pics on my phone at Food Lion).

But then, I didn’t see them and think “Gamecocks.” If I had, I would have been less enchanted. As y’all know, I take a dim view of anything that encourages kids to drink — something I know that not all of y’all agree with me on.

Maybe this suggests a new standard for legal drinking: How about if we pass a law that if you’re impressionable enough to buy a beer because it has your school colors on it, you should be banned from drinking forever?

Anyway, what do y’all think?


This year’s worst idea: Lowering the drinking age

Something I almost posted just before leaving for PA Sunday, but didn’t have time… Reacting to this story in The State Sunday morning:

South Carolina’s legal drinking age could return to 18 for the first time in more than 25 years if two recent court rulings in Richland and Aiken counties are upheld on appeal.

Longtime Richland County Magistrate Mel Maurer on July 15 ruled that the state law prohibiting youths ages 18 through 20 from possessing or consuming liquor was unconstitutional. The current legal drinking age is 21.

On July 23, Aiken County Chief Magistrate Rodger Edmonds ruled that law and a similar law involving the possession and consumption of beer and wine in the 18-20 age group were unconstitutional.

Actually, I did post something about it on Twitter, and it caused a discussion on Facebook — not about what the law IS, but about what it should be.

There were the mature-minded folk (of course) who agreed with me that letting kids drink was a particularly horrible idea, and jeers and protests from the Party Hearty crowd. I heard the usual non-sequitur arguments, such as, if they’re old enough to fight for their country, etc. Folks, the two things have nothing to do with each other. The qualifications to be a soldier and those required to handle drinking responsibly are not the same — entirely different skill set. Ditto with voting. You might be qualified to do all three, but you might not. There’s no cause-and-effect relationship there.

Having been an 18-year-old who could drink legally I know whereof I speak — this is a HORRIBLE idea. And I marvel that anyone could advocate for it. It just can’t be rationalized in any way that is persuasive.

Oh, and while I’m at it, 16-year-olds shouldn’t be driving.

Anyway, Joe McCulloch says we need to amend the constitution if we want drinking by 18-year-olds to remain illegal. Let’s get started. Anybody have a petition? I’ll sign it.