Reflections on Elections and Rhetoric

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped or shortened.)

While the virus is an insidious and continuing health threat and the wildfires which raged across Oregon and the West Coast brought staggering losses, another disheartening 2020 phenomenon is the ubiquitous and unfortunately unrelenting rhetoric surrounding the election campaigns.

The lack of civility and rational dialogue has redefined the meaning of “polarized” and we can only hope that after November 3rd, the citizenry of the US will pull together and a plan to conquer the virus is developed.

Meanwhile, it inspired me to re-read a relevant little book with some gems that seem strangely appropriate.   Excuses and Lies – Pithy Proclamations for the Workplace, Liked Ones, Loved Ones, Self Deceptions, Behaving Badly and Famously Infamous is a handy primer for many rationalizations or departures from the truth which are funny, but not pernicious – unlike those spewed forth in the current political environment.

This includes two of my favorites which I have used previously in this blog (and possibly in my own life..) both of which are in the “Self Deceptions” section of this little tome:

“It’s not drinking alone, as long as you have the TV on.”   (page 66)   

“Red wine prevents heart attacks, but you have to drink a lot of it.”  (page 66)

And it is difficult to argue with the major premises of the book including:

“Indeed, if the truth were consistently told, the result would be social anarchy – the end of friendship, correspondence, entertaining, cohabitation and dating.”  (Page 27)

The moral of this story?  If you love someone, lie – and if you really love them lie with scripted wit and creativity.”  (Page 47)

I’m not willing to accept a very cynical premise conveyed on page 62: “People who lie to themselves are more confident and self-assured than those who grapple with the truth of their own inadequacies.”

Benji – living on a farm in the country…

But what parent can argue with two deceptions in the “Loved Ones” section on page 48 including “We’re almost there,” or

“He went to doggy heaven,” the latter being a more spiritual version of, “We gave him a new home on a farm where he can really run free.”

Travolta in his personal Boeing 707 Jet

And it’s not just rationalizations with young children.  The book makes it all relative in the environmental context when defending one’s own lack of discipline for extra trips to the store, use of plastic water bottles (a ridiculous and outrageous habit) or griping about not being able to use a traditional straw in your soda:

“My carbon footprint is so much less than John Travolta’s.”

In revisiting this book, published by Knock Knock Press in Venice, California, it forced me to take down two other similar and adjacent works on my home office bookshelf – both of which I have showered with praise in previous blog posts – the brilliant On Bullshit by Princeton Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt and The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm by James  Napoli.

Napoli’s book is witty and brilliant – a dictionary with a broad range of definitions, but particularly relevant in the political realm.  They range from “activist” – “a person who cares about the fate of the world until reaching approximately twenty-eight years of age,” to “zealous” – “Fervently committed to being so fervently committed that nobody wants to talk to you anymore.”

And he is non-partisan, taking shots at both the left and the right:

Biased: “What pissed-off liberals call people they suspect might have a point.”

Conservative: “Someone who hates liberals because they have, at least once, seen themselves naked.”

JC

I recommend it because it’s 367 enjoyable pages of dry wit which will make you laugh even during a pandemic and with rich historical and geographical references.  Two last examples:

Julius Caesar:  “Dictator of ancient Rome.  His nearly fifteen years of conquest which resulted in the formation of the entire Roman Empire; now reduced to salad.”

Canada:  “Free health care.  Low crime. Birthplace of William Shattner.  Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Now, in two past blog posts, I have gushed, at length, about the profound wisdom of Princeton University Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt in his essay On Bullshit.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/03/12/bs-revisited-if-only-i-had-known-in-2012/

One should go through this treatise to garner a better understanding of pre-election communication, but also to put that dialogue in perspective:

“The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.” (emphasis supplied)

So in order to get through the next three days until the election, you need some inspiring reading, I suggest browsing through these and having a good, strong alcoholic libation while viewing the unceasing political ads.   

The Rev. Swift

And remember these two assertions – the first, by Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) from my own collection of brilliant citations of famous authors and philosophers, I’ve collected over the years. Swift wrote satire and essays and political pamphlets – both for the Tories and the Whigs and was also noted as a poet and cleric.  (Wikipedia)

“If a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work.”

Or from Excuses and Lies if you are caught drinking when it was discouraged or prohibited – from page 91:

“My juice must have accidentally fermented in the cupholder.”

1972 – Have Times Changed that Much?

I’ve mentioned previously that during the lockdown, my wife has justifiably mandated I go through the hundreds of old newspapers, magazine articles, e-mails and documents in our garage from my years in local government and legal management.

Garage Files…..Future High School Civics??

Having reread the aforementioned Lies and Excuses I lamely suggested, “But our granddaughters can use them in their future high school civic classes,” which she summarily rejected and asked, “Have you ever heard of the Internet?”   That said, it has been fun and interesting to wade through this eclectic collection of papers and documents.

And this unsigned letter, a copy of which I made when I worked in the Clackamas County Elections Department dated October 25th 1974, may be evidence that the political environment hasn’t changed that much from years gone by:

During the late 60’s and 70’s with the Viet Nam War, the continuing US Civil Rights Movement and the Nixon Administration, the country was polarized and politics was a nasty business.   In subsequent years, there was a least a modicum of bipartisanship with many beneficial policy issues initiated, destructive and discriminatory past practices remedied and we lived in a more united country.

I have a real interest in history and my intention is not to poke fun at the author of this correspondence who obviously was under some delusional impressions.  (In fact, I admire the fact that he laboriously wrote a long letter notwithstanding his condition: “I am right-handed but have to write with my left hand.  Hope you can read it OK – broke my elbow.”)

The missive demonstrates at least some of the intense emotions of that period. Now, the country is again divided, communication is often acrimonious and we are faced with enormous challenges ranging from the pandemic, wildfires, climate change and unstable global affairs.  

Cheers

My prayer is that after the election we as a nation can unite to address these calamities with concrete actions rather than rancorous rhetoric and that friends with disparate political philosophies can again, raise a mug of their favorite beer.

Then have friendly and respectful discussions (safely and in person).  It seems that we now consciously avoid that kind of dialogue because it will jeopardize the future relationship.

And one final comment from a usually non-political Beerchaser blogger.  I have enjoyed sharing the examples of lies, bullshit and rationalizations above from three “great” literary works. 

It should be strongly noted, however, that there is a vast difference between the everyday exaggerations, fibs, and cock-and-bull stories that most of us utter and the outright lies and falsehoods spouted by both public officials and elected officeholders with deliberate intent to deceive thereby violating their oaths of office. These are  pathetic and disgraceful!

Although I’m now not a member of the same political party, I yearn for the days of bi-partisan politics and some of the great elected officials in Oregon.  My friend, Matt Love, who owns the Nestucca Spit Press – a publishing house on the Oregon Coast recently sent me this decal which will be another garage treasure which is a keeper!

A leader for the ages….

If you have not done so Vote on Tuesday!

Thebeerchaser’s Final Thoughts on the Dirty Shame Saloon

In three prior posts on Thebeerchaser, I have written about the World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, Montana – its fabled history, the Shame’s character, the staff,  the regulars, the events that capture the imagination of the community and its erstwhile owner, John Runkle – the most recent recipient of the Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter “honor.” (Click on the links to see these posts.)

Since I stated in a previous narrative that it is the most interesting of the 350 establishments I’ve visited and reviewed in the eight years of Thebeerchaser’s Tour of Bars, Taverns and Breweries, the Dirty Shame and John Runkle collectively deserve one final narrative.

The most recent Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter

Now many bars can be defined as “a place where lonely desperate people go to get hammered enough to find other lonely, desperate people suddenly irresistible.” *1 The Dirty Shame Saloon is the antithesis of this description.

*1 The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm – A Lexicon for Those of Us Who Are Brighter and Smarter Than the Rest of You (Page 34)

The book is by James Napoli and a brilliant tome you should definitely read – one rivaling in wit and intellect, the legendary On Bullshit by Princeton Professor Emeritus, Harry Frankfurt – another Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter. (January 2012)

The Shame is a community treasure and one which Yaak residents regard with affection.  I previously tried to convey the stories which John related to me ranging from the AR-15 incident last summer as well as the  the “crack pillow.”

And don’t forget the double shots of whiskey downed in a quick and unfriendly visit to the bar by a now convicted murderess and her boyfriend after they dispatched her husband at Milepost 48 on the Yaak River Road – the Shame is at Milepost 29.

There’s also the tale about the kidnapping of the life-size Trump poster, the young women who “bartered” for their fare to Portland, Oregon, the Missing Person chronicle or the personable and courteous nature of the direct relatives of the leader of the Kehoe Gang related in the second post:  https://thebeerchaser.com/2019/09/11/the-dirty-shame-saloon-in-yaak-part-ii/

You will find out if you stay tuned to this blog for rundowns of the other 48 bars and breweries on our June road trip through Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming, that there are many other historic dive bars and excellent breweries in nearby Kalispell and surrounding Montana villages not far from the Dirty Shame. You can then hit these on your road trip as listed in an earlier blog post on Beerchasing in Big Sky Country.

Thus, it is my strong recommendation that you add a visit to the Dirty Shame Saloon and raising a mug with John Runkle to your bucket list.   As such, you will need lodging, so l want to provide a little more info on the Yaak River Lodge – about 1.5 miles down the road from the Saloon – also owned by John since 2004.

Drop in on Sunday to hear Pastor Clayton..

The Lodge sits on a beautiful 7.5 acre site on the Yaak River and across from the wonderful Yaak Community Church.  I attended their Sunday service on my last morning in Yaak and Pastor Clayton gave an inspiring sermon.   I also sat next to a memorable career Naval officer who retired in Yaak.

The church was built in the tradition of community barn-raising by members of the congregation and with no debt incurred.  You should view this impressive YouTube video to visually comprehend

At  the Lodge, you will see llamas and a horse grazing in the pasture in back.   There are no locks on the doors to the Lodge or its rooms, but whether you stay in the Moose Room or the Wolf Room, you will be secure.   In the event of inclement weather, just read a book in the living room by the roaring fire.

Folgers, cheese omelet and bacon….It doesn’t get any better.

And the $115 nightly charge (that’s during the busy season) also includes breakfast – one morning it was memorable blueberry pancakes cooked by John and the second it was an outstanding omelet cooked by Darilyn, who is also the lead bartender at the Shame.  There was plenty of bacon with it……

Or you can sit in the back and tell stories with friends…… as you can see by the photo, this fire pit is a great place to have a nightcap.

During the summer months the average high temperature is in the 70’s to low 80’s lowering to the low 40’s at night.   September is also usually pretty moderate.

Or take a walk down to the beautiful Yaak River flowing through the property….

The Yaak River at the back of the Lodge.

The coffee was also notable – not Starbucks but Mountain-grown Folgers which lent credence to their slogan, “The best part of wakin’ up is Folgers in your cup.”  (I might add that Folgers (black) goes extremely well with either the blueberry pancakes or cheese omelets.)

Although there are a number of gun stories related to the Dirty Shame, John told me he did not hunt so I asked him why he had a package of shot gun shells on the kitchen counter. “Oh those. My mom who lives near by has a recurring bear problem at her house which is nearby……”

Bear issues….

As I mentioned previously, John is an Orange County, California native, served as a paratrooper and instructor in the Army and returned to earn his degree at Cal State Fullerton.

 

 

 

Starting in 1988, he then built a successful real estate company.  In the twenty years he managed it, he successfully expanded the business to seven states with 300 realtors.

Runkle realized one day after being inundated with business calls while vacationing in Glacier National Park that his ambition was nature’s way of preparing him for heart medication. (* 1 Page 22)   So he threw his cell phone out the window and ended up buying first the Lodge in 2004 and then the Saloon in 2013. He and his wife, Dallas, welcomed their second daughter in August.

In the entry way to the Lodge was a framed advertisement for the Lodge and the Saloon.  I asked him (with some element of concern) about this.

That said, I certainly hope to visit Yaak again in ten years and see John still at the helm of these two great businesses in NW Montana.

John told me, “At 57, I’m no spring chicken and I don’t have much of a bucket list left. I’m usually at the bar until 2:30 AM on Friday nights and then Saturday morning, I’m up cooking breakfast at 5:30. On Monday morning, it’s tough to get going.”

Up at 5:30 cooking breakfast – but still with a smile….

 And he realizes that each Monday is one of 52 opportunities we are given each year to question what the hell we are doing with the rest of our lives……That said, the following Facebook post also demonstrates why John continues his legacy as a leader, a hard worker at whatever he does and why those who work with him admire his character.

“As another summer approaches, I think of how much whining I do as it become overwhelming busy at the Dirty Shame.  I have to continuously remind myself that I own a hunting lodge and a wild west bar.  Life just doesn’t get any better – truthfully.”

John, helping to unload food for the Crawfish Festival

I think John would be the guy who in an office setting, would fix the copy machine after a paper jam.  You know the situation – the copier sits there non-functional for several hours with everyone just ignoring it.   After he fixed it, he would then photocopy his rear end and leave it for the next user as the Runkle “signature”…….

Unjamming and leaving a signature….

So I was not surprised to see another recent Facebook post by John asking for feedback on whether Yaak – with the Dirty Shame as the focal point – should become the new site of the legendary Testicle Festival.

The Testy Festy was an annual event held for years in Clinton, Montana although discontinued in 2018. It attracted people from all over the West for a chance to sample the culinary delicacy Rocky Mountain Oysters.

Testicle Festival Canceled Following Deaths – Attendance Decline:  After 35 years of drinking, nudity, debauchery and tens of thousands of Rocky Mountain oysters, the Testicle Festival is over…….”  (The Missoulian  4/23/2018)

Considered a delicacy by some……

Whether Yaak has the infrastructure to support the resurrection of this “carnival” remains to be seen, but it shows that John is still ready to promote and his entrepreneurial spirit still courses through his bloodstream.

And if you don’t know what Rocky Mountain Oysters are, you should look it up.  You might be surprised…..  (The Beerchaser’s personal recommendation is to keep the current Yaak celebrations and not try to resurrect this jubilee, ball or whatever you want to call it.)

Because with the Adult Easter Egg Hunt, the Sasquatch Festival, the Crawfish Festival and spontaneous celebrations, John and his crew keep the residents of Yaak entertained and offer the chance to celebrate their community.

Some regulars told me that John should use his real estate skill and negotiate either the purchase or merger with the Yaak River Tavern (a nice bar with a personality that could use some spark) across the road – possibly even construct Yaak’s first skybridge between them…….

That way Geoff, the amiable, slightly inebriated singer I met at the Tavern, could entertain at either location.  Those at the Tavern that night got to hear Geoff’s original creation celebrating the joys of beer, bananas and Montana beaches…!

Don’t wait too long to plan your visit.   Now if you are looking for the Dirty Shame on the internet, don’t get confused with the Dirty Shame Saloon in Garden Valley, Idaho.

Besides a probable violation of John Runkle’s federal trademark on his bar (he is not interested in a lawsuit – “The lawyers would get all the money…” ) it is a poor and unsatisfactory imitation of the “World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon” as evidenced, in part, by the fact that the Idaho establishment on Yelp gets 2.5 stars (out of 5) while the Yaak authentic garners a rating of 4.5.

And if you want to talk to John and find out more about the Lodge i.e. seasonal rates and availability, give him a call at (406) 295-5463.  You will enjoy the conversation and tell him that Thebeerchaser suggested it.

The World Famous Dirty Shame Saloon  

29453 Yaak River Road   Troy Montana 59935       (406) 295-5100

The Yaak River Lodge

27744 Yaak River Rd     Troy, MT 59935      406-295-5463

yaakriverlodge@aol.com