Movie Review: The Best Bar in America

This movie opens with the following quote, by Pete Hamill, “The Culture of Drink endures because it offers so many rewards: confidence for the shy, clarity of the uncertain, solace for the wounded and lonely, and above all, the elusive promise of friendship and love”

After watching the movie, I had to find out more about that man who wrote that quote, and as luck would have it, I found him with one google search. Pete, it turns out, is a world-famous journalist and novel writer. Then I purchased one of his books, the one that most likely had that quote in it. Again, I was lucky. The quote at the beginning of the movie is the second sentence in Pete’s book, “A Drinking Life,” which became a national bestseller.

Taken out of context the quote would lead you to believe that drinking large quantities of alcoholic beverages might be a very successful way of life. In context, one might draw an entirely different conclusion. Here it is,

THIS IS A BOOK about my time in the drinking life. It tells the story of the way one human being became aware of alcohol, embraced it, struggled with it, was hurt by it, and finally left it behind. The tale has no hero.

The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards: confidence for the shy, clarity for the uncertain, solace to the wounded and lonely, and above all, the elusive promises of friendship and love. From almost the beginning of awareness, drinking was a part of my life; there is no way that I could tell the story of the drinking without telling the story of the life. Much of that story was wonderful. In the snug darkness of saloons, I learned much about being human and about mastering a craft. I had, as they say, a million laughs. But those grand times also caused great moral, physical, or psychological damage to myself and others. Some of that harm was probably permanent. There is little to be done now but take responsibility. No man’s past can be changed; it’s a fact, like red hair.

More than twenty years have gone by since I stopped drinking. My father died at eighty; my mother lives on. I’m happily married to a wonderful woman and work even harder than I did when young. But life doesn’t get easier when you walk away from the culture of drink; you simply live it with greater lucidity.

Hamill, Pete. A Drinking Life. Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Humility is defined to be freedom from pride or arrogance.

Anyone who doesn’t sense a large amount of humility in that introduction by Pete for his book needs to read the whole book to distance themselves quickly from the effects of drinking!

However, that is not what the movie is about. It’s the opposite. A quick sketch follows,

Writer, Sanders, is working on his book, “Guide book: best bars in the west.” His wife rides in the motorcycle sidecar as they set out to visit western bars. The motorcycle is a 1960 BMW R 60/2 which needs constant repairs.

In the middle of a western desert, during one of those repairs, Sanders wife says she’s had enough and starts walking. Sanders gives her his wedding ring back and leaves her in the desert because she refuses to get back in the sidecar. At the next bar, a truck driver who rescued Sander’s wife tries to beat the motorcycle and alcohol out of him.

He can’t do it because the bartender will not cooperate. There is a little bit of gunplay here, and this is where Sanders meets Northway.

We are told that “it’s the mind that creates the bar. And many factors influence that creation including the bartender.” From what I know, that seems very reasonable.

Sanders sleeps on the ground in the desert and shoots his watch in reaction to his book agent who is looking for the book. So, the laptop disappears, the writing ends, and the drinking begins.

At the next bar, the bartender is a woman who must be ovulating because she convinces Sanders to play a unique game of pool with her on the empty bar pool table.

It’s about now that I recorded another quote, “Catholics go to church. Bikers hit the road.” I’ve had the feeling on long hikes, long bike rides, and other long journeys that spiritual enlightenment is present in a way I never found it in a church.

Then, Sanders finds a bar that includes a church. But they only serve beer and no whiskey. He doesn’t stay long. I’m sympathetic with this.

Then he finds a bar that requires he become a member before he can order a drink there. The membership fee is high, so he passes.

Now, Northway, from the first bar shows up at a gas station driving a Volkswagen Vanagon. I owned a VW Camper Van and a Vanagon. I wish I could purchase another one right now. Some of the favorite parts of my life were spent camping all over the United States in those vehicles with my wife, kids, brothers, and sisters. So, instantly, I liked Northway.

I’m not going to tell the whole story. Hopefully, I’ve said enough to get you to watch the movie, The Best Bar in America,  included in Amazon’s Prime membership.

Many words of wisdom found their way into the dialogue. I’ve mentioned a few above, but probably my favorite is, “He who knows he knows doesn’t know. But he who knows he doesn’t know, knows.” The writers of the film know humility!

The Best Bar In America, A Feature Film by Eric and Damon Ristau took home the Feature Narrative and Best Of Festival awards at the 1st Annual Motorcycle Film Festival.

#movie-review, #the-best-bar-in-anerica

Kayak Greenfield Park

First Book: “Look What I Found Inside My Head”

Look What I Found

Look What I Found Inside My Head

A Series of Of Short Stories and Poems. Sample Segment Follows.

Amphitheater Lake Trail

I am sitting with my feet propped up on my desk. This is my favorite position for pondering the imponderables of life. It is 3:30 in the afternoon and the rigors of my daily rut have bored and tired me. There are many three-ring binders, filled with technical computer manuals, resting on the shelves behind me. On the table to my left is a lifeless computer terminal. The system it connects to is out of order; not operational. It was as if I was watching television and the cable company blew to smithereens! How frustrating.

The desk is cluttered with letters, scraps of notes, pens and a phone. The phone seems to ring a call from a time gone by, as my mind wanders, in search of something exciting to help shed my weariness.

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Second Book: “The Zarnian Vodka Paradox”


The Zarnian Vodka Paradox is a fabulous place bursting with excitement and thrilling moments where sudden flashes of brilliance and chasms of dark mysterious forces collide and compete for sovereignty in strange lands. When, however, Fantasy merges with the land of Science Fiction we are treated to a whole new experience that takes us on flights of fancy in intergalactic space. Robert Albert’s latest book, The Zarnian Vodka Paradox, treats his readers to a rollicking ride in outer space with a cast of characters who possess futuristic technological skills only dreamed of today. When Ray Berger travels to Key West Florida with friends, he decides to have a vodka martini and then a few more until eventually he loses all restraint and finds a new sense of exhilarating power. The more vodka he drinks, however, has the effect of occasioning the loss of all control and replacing it with debilitating weakness. Thereafter, Ray’s continuing episodes have him falling in love with Zara, who convinces him to regulate his vodka powers to assist her in her efforts to save her planet Zarnia which is doomed to destruct in ten years. The book follows Ray and Zara’s exploits as they meet up with a succession of colorful characters all with strange diverse miraculous powers.

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Life After Death

41985487 - back to school background with teachers objects over chalkboard


Hi, my name is Amanda. The school bus just picked me up about ten minutes ago and now it is stopping at my boyfriend Bobby’s bus stop. A feeling of excitement is flooding my whole body in places I dare not mention as Bobby first comes into view and walks down the bus aisle to sit with me.The seats are full of other people my age going to school to learn about reading, writing, and arithmetic. The three Rs! Bobby sits close and the electricity between us cannot be denied. Based on some of the TV shows I’ve seen and some of the things my friends tell me, I can only imagine what wonders are in store for both of us if we remain together. I know we are all learning about more than the three Rs.

Not everything I learn is learned in school, as I already mentioned. For example, I woke up late at night to some really interesting vocalization coming from my parent’s bedroom. When I asked my mom about her hooting and hollering the previous night she turned red and just said, “You’ll find out someday. Just not too soon. OK.”

Of course, I responded, “OK.” I’m young and inexperienced but I know when to agree and when not to.

I’m a Freshman in high school and have chosen the college preparatory curriculum for my studies. I love school where I learn so many wonderful things about the world and my existence. Many of my friends hate school. I don’t understand their attitude. I love school.

In Algebra I’m learning about the rules of structure that define the shaping of the universe. Equations are so interesting, especially the quadratic formula,  and the area of a circle. I love math almost as much as I love Bobby! Now I’m blushing.

Bobby said, “manda.” That’s his name for me. “Are you ok? Are you too hot?”

I replied, “No, I’m OK. I just got a bit excited thinking about you and the area of a circle.”

Bobby said, “Boy, you really confuse me sometimes. I guess that mysteriousness is what attracts me to you.”

Anyhow, back to school. In physics, I’m learning about how math can be used to describe the physical world all around us. Can you believe that the planets are moving away from each other according to the Big Bang Theory? Someone told me that a Catholic Priest first noted that the universe expanded from a single point and a huge explosion? Hence, the big bang! That must be how God created the universe. Then I started to wonder, where God hung out before the Big Bang? Did he create more than one universe? Imagine, a big explosion and in billions of years we have a universe and I’m part of it. So is Bobby!

In biology, we are learning about our bodies and reproductive organs. Many things are not clear because we are not being told the whole story. My parents are old and very old-fashioned. So, when I asked my dad what my breasts are for, he told me to talk to my mom. Then I let him know that she told me to talk to him. It doesn’t matter. My friends and I figured it out by ourselves.

Then there are Social Studies where we learn all about different systems of government and many of the wars that have occurred in history. Our Social Studies teacher loves to quote someone who said, “Ignore history and risk repeating it.” I like that one. That’s why I love to study wars and think about the ways we could avoid them in the future. It seems however that a lot of people have studied all about history and wars. So, it’s puzzling that we still justify settling our differences by killing each other! Then I think even more and wonder why God who is all powerful allows such evil as war in this beautiful universe he created? Bobby and I have talked about that one and he believes that there is no God! How can that be and if it is true why do our parents and other people lie to us. He says, “That’s because they don’t know, but believe what someone else told them. It makes everybody feel more comfortable about life after death. That way they don’t have to worry about dying if they know there is something else to look forward to.”

I replied, “Well, what you are saying is that there is no God and there is no life after death to look forward to even if you are good and follow God’s rules.”

Bobby replied, “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”

Then I tell him that I can’t imagine that each of us, after learning the ways of the universe and how to function in it, just ends after death. What terrible plan that would be. It would mean that after high school and college and years of working and years of experience our knowledge would simply be thrown away with our lifeless bodies. I mentioned this to some of my family and one of my uncles told me that he believes in reincarnation. With reincarnation, our essence comes back as another person inhabiting a new body and that person retains much of the wisdom that it learned in previous lives.

When Bobby heard this, he thought re-incarnation might have some merit because he knows some people who seem wise beyond their years. He used the example of Stephen Hawking who seems to know everything about the universe. I think that Bobby is one of those re-incarnated people. He is so smart beyond his years. When I tell him that he just laughs and says he loves me.

The bus has reached the school now after picking up more students on its route. The doors open and we all get off the bus. Bobby’s a junior so we go our separate ways to our respective homerooms.

I have a window seat in homeroom that looks out over the parking lot and I saw Sammy Jackson walk in late carrying a golf bag full of shiny clubs. I asked myself, “Why the heck would he be carrying a golf bag into school?” I could see the sun reflecting off of some of the metal clubs in the bag as Sammy walked through the rays of sunlight showing through the tree branches this early in the morning. My dad plays golf. He calls it the game he loves to hate. According to him, he feels like Don Quixote fighting windmills when he plays golf. He said,  he plays golf to defend the honor of my mom, his Dulcinea! My mom said, “Don’t blame your golf induced stress on me. If you really must fight for my honor, why don’t you clean the house? Not that’s an impossible dream!”

Anyhow, the bell rang indicating it was time to head to our first class, which for me was first-year Latin. I knew Bobby would be in the classroom next to me in his Trigonometry class, so I looked for him. When my eyes met his he winked, and I just about passed out from some kind of hormonal activity that I didn’t understand. This time he blushed. Then we went our separate ways.


Hi, my name is Bobby and here comes the high school bus around the corner. I’d walk to school if Amanda was not on the bus. Amanda is my girlfriend. She is beautiful with a figure that won’t quit including brand new breasts.

She isn’t just beautiful though. Amanda is so smart. You know, she can do mathematical proofs like Einstein. There she is in the very middle of the bus smiling in a sultry way at me. Amanda is fifteen years old and I am seventeen. When we kiss for a long I often lose control of my manly parts, if you know what I mean.

I sat down with her as she smiled up at me with the face of warm morning sunshine. There is something poetic about her when I mix her with my emotions.

As I looked at her I happened to see, through the bus window, Sammy Jackson putting his golf clubs into the trunk of his car. I pointed to him and asked Amanda, “What is Sammy doing? Is he going to school or playing golf this morning?”

Amanda replied, “I think he goes to church first and then to school every day. He has to drive because when he rides our bus he has caused fights and all kinds of trouble. The poor kid is very troubled according to my dad.

Sammy Jackson

in the middle of a wooded area in the middle of a forty-acre plot of land bordered by Stepson Road, Apple Way, and Stoner Drive. The forty-acres used to be a farm for sweet potatoes. Now it just looked like forty hours of tired old dirt, weeds, and non-working farming equipment.

The outside of the house needed paint and much more because it looked dewlapped.

Samantha Jackson looked over at her son as he manipulated the Xbox controls with lightning speed.  The kitchen and den entertainment center occupied the same large room in their house. Whatever meals had been prepared, they did not seem appetizing! All over this part of the house dishes piled high with food

Amanda’s Latin Class

As I walked into Latin class, Mr. Delray, said, “Salve dulcis est!” “Just fine”, I replied with a smile. He smiled, and I had no idea what he said to me. I thought however that my reply was safe under the circumstances. I took my seat and the rest of the class filled up. Mr. Delray delivered a lecture about Caesar and his legions of soldiers. I tried very hard to understand how a dead language and Caesar’s army would help me in my life in any way. I couldn’t come up with any ideas but did not voice my confusion because I believed that question would have certainly hurt my Delray’s feelings.

When he finished his lecture, Mr. Delray drank a big gulp from his coffee mug and asked us to open our Latin books to page 27 and begin to translate the first sentence. Witnesses told us they saw Mr. Delray pore from a bottle of liquor from his desk drawer into his coffee mug on many occasions. I’m not sure of the truth of that because I never saw him do that, but he did act a bit inebriated at times.

I couldn’t get the translation, so I raised my hand and Mr. Delray walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. He bent over to speak in my ear and I did smell liquor on his breath just like my Grandpa when he drank some of his Irish Whiskey.

At that very moment, several loud popping sounds filled the room. Mr. Delray made a loud gushing sound or cry and collapsed on top of me knocking me out of my chair and landing right on top of me. I couldn’t get out from under him and felt a warm liquid seeping into my clothes all over me. Some got on my hands and I could see the color blood red. At the same time, my classmates screamed in terror. “Pop, Pop, Pop”, came the reply to their screams.

People ran in every direction while I struggled to get out from under Mr. Delray. Finally, I did, and I realized that I was covered in Mr. Delray’s blood which poured from a large hole in his chest and back! Many of my classmates lay bloody and still on the floor or moaning in pain. In the hallway, Samuel Jackson held a rifle that he aimed and shot at everyone he could. Most of my schoolmates called Samuel Jackson, “Sam Crackson”, because his parents were drug addicts and they regularly beat Sam. Bobby said that Sam told him that someday no one would beat him or make fun of him and live.

I didn’t know what to do but I could only think of Bobby in the next classroom over. I had to be with him. I had to help him. Nothing else mattered. So, when, “Sam Crackson”, wasn’t looking and seemed to be on his way into another room, I ran into the hallway and took a hard left toward the door that led into Bobby’s room. As I kept my eye on Sam, I ran full on into Bobby and we both fell down. Now both of us had Mr. Delray’s blood all over us.

Bobby’s eye’s first looked at me and he smiled. “Glad you are ok”, he said. Then Bobby’s eyes opened wide and he started to speak.

Suddenly, he jumped up and ran toward Sam who had turned to face us. Bobby yelled, “Sam! Don’t do this. You know I’m your friend. Don’t do this. Please!”

Sam replied, “Bobby, only the people I love the most and the ones they love the most are coming with me.  We are all going to a better place.”

Then Sam raised his rifle and pointed it at Bobby. The sun coming through the hallway window reflected into my eyes.

I yelled, “Bobby, get down.” I jumped up and lunged at Bobby. I had to knock him down so that he didn’t get shot by Sam’s rifle. Then as I flew through the air at Bobby, a loud “Bang” rang out. As I grabbed Bobby by the shoulders and looked up at him, Bobby’s head exploded into bits of red, white, hair, and bone. I put my head on his chest and we went down together.  Without hearing the “bang” meant for me, I suddenly found out all about life after death.

The Land Beyond

Somewhere there exists a civilization unlike our own. It’s not here and it’s not there. It’s not close and it’s not far. But, it certainly is somewhere! They don’t know about us. We don’t know about them.

“Well then,” you ask, “How do you know? If we don’t know, how do you know?”

I reply, “Because I once existed there and now I don’t. I am here instead. But, I remember. I am a mistake because I remember.”

 One of the big differences between them and us is very interesting. If one of them struck another causing the other pain, then he or she receives the same amount of pain immediately in return.

So, for example, if I strike you over the top of your head with a big stick, I will immediately feel that same pain in return.

You can see that would limit man’s inhumanity to man!

So, in that civilization, where I used to be, and you now know about, people live in peace. What a wonderful civilization it is!

Robert Albert


Oh, You cyclical mass of troubled wind and vapor.
 Thousands flee your powerful onslaught!
 I sit here warm and snug at my sister’s home,
 In cool but quiet Waterbury, Connecticut.
 I, lucky to have traveled before your birth,
 Have a home and loved ones in your path.
 I am not alone for thousands share my plight.
 Choked are the North bound escapes.
 You are so hungry for destruction.
 Antigua and Barbuda devastated,
 With the loss of most of their buildings.
 At least one child has died at your hands.
 Anguilla, St Kitts, Nevis, St Martin,
 St Bart’s, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico,
 Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks, and Caicos,
 Have not fared much better!
 Next, IRMA, you will target the,
 Bahamas, Cuba, and finally Florida.
 Florida where my home is.
 Florida where my family now flees!
 I have only one question!
 Dear Irma, who created you?
 Who turned you loose?
 Who seeks to destroy?
 Who is responsible?

#athiest, #devestation, #evacuation, #florida, #god, #hurricane, #irma, #life, #storm