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New Hampshire is Fantasy Camp For Political Junkies

Ben and Jerry for Bernie Sanders

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen (left) and Jerry Greenfield prepare to dish out samples and voting advice at a Bernie Sanders campaign event in late 2019. (Photo by Darren Garnick)

There are two kinds of people in New Hampshire: those who love our first-in-the-nation primary tradition and those who cannot wait until next Wednesday, when presidential campaigns will stop emailing, texting, calling, ringing their doorbell, and stuffing their physical mailbox with political propaganda. Although I’m no fan of the marketing harassment either, I anxiously look forward to this moment every four years.

The primary purpose of the New Hampshire primary, of course, is to vote. But beyond that, it’s a free fantasy camp for political junkies who live anywhere. Unlike at the Democratic or Republican national conventions, where the speakers look like ants from the nosebleed seats, you’re sometimes close enough here to see the candidates perspire. During the 2012 primary, I saw Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry become a sweaty Rorschach test as the shape of the state of New Hampshire “miraculously” soaked through his shirt: Continue reading

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Ice Castles: The Worst $55 Mistake I’ve Ever Made as a Parent

If I could build a time machine, the first thing I would do after killing Baby Hitler would be to go to Ice Castles New Hampshire in mid-January 2016 instead of yesterday. This way I could have warned the world to stay far, far away from this ridiculously overhyped, money-sucking tourist trap.

Today is the last day Ice Castles is open this winter. If you already bought tickets, here’s some advice: Find your nearest Target or Wal-Mart and stare at the mounds of snow that the plows piled up in the parking lot. They are far more impressive.

Here’s what I thought I was bringing my family of four to see based on the Ice Castles website:

Bait-and-Switch: The glorious advertised image of the New Hampshire Ice Castles (source:

Bait-and-Switch: The glorious advertised image of the New Hampshire Ice Castles (source:

And here’s what greeted us when we got there, a really wide but not-so-tall snow fort:

ice castles-2

Backing up, here is the view from the parking lot:


This place was the ultimate letdown. Based on the admission fees ($15.95 online, $20 at the door), I was expecting a Disney-quality attraction – not something the guys at my local DPW could slap together with a bulldozer and a ski resort snow machine. Continue reading

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2 Billy Joel Songs You Should NOT Dance To


Question for Billy Joel fans who were at Fenway Park last night. WHY do people dance to “Allentown,” a song about the collapse of the American economy and vanishing middle class? And for God’s sake, why do people dance to “Goodnight Saigon” about Vietnam?


“Well we’re living here in Allentown
And they’re closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line”


“Remember Charlie, remember Baker
They left their childhood on every acre
And who was wrong? And who was right?
It didn’t matter in the thick of the fight”

Verdict: Not danceable.

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It’s a Fourth of July New Hampshire Miracle!

This might not result in hordes of pilgrims visiting my town to commemorate the “New Hampshire Miracle,” but that’s not the shape of Vermont or Massachusetts oozing out of presidential candidate Rick Perry’s sweat glands at the 4th of July parade.

Take a closer look and judge for yourself:

2016 presidential candidate Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, campaigns in New Hampshire on the 4th of July

Even Rick Perry’s sweat glands love the New Hampshire Primary!

Now compare:

The Virgin Mary Toast has nothing on Rick Perry’s laundry.

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My Mortgage Company Wished Me a Happy Birthday!

mortgage birthday wishes

My mortgage company just wished me a Happy Birthday in my “important messages” box.

The most heartwarming part? The Print This Page option so I can display their card on my refrigerator.

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Dear Waze: Please don’t show me movie trailers while I am driving


Dear Waze:

Driving in Boston is pretty stressful when you don’t know where you are going.

And so just telling us where to go instead of showing pop-up promo ads for sitcoms will reduce our odds of getting into an accident.

I fully realize you need to monetize your GPS app, but there’s gotta be a safer way.




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RORSCHACH TEST — What do you see in last night’s running pattern?

rorschack test

America’s Slowest Runner is upping his fundraising game for One Run For Boston, which honors and helps victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. The relay ends Sunday.

SO…. from now until Sunday, all $1000 donors will get their name spelled out in the font of their choice in a future training run AND have the RunKeeper satellite image preserved as a limited edition lithograph, which will be signed and framed for future generations.

Our $100 donors can get a Monogrammed Initial as a limited edition, signed lithograph.

(Hey, of course your $10 donations are still fully appreciated by the One Fund, too! Thanks everyone for your support so far.)

P.S. Does anyone actually know what makes a print a “lithograph?”

P.P.S. Out of principle, I will not run-write in the Papyrus font.

Please SHARE this to spread the word!

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Will Big Bird Be Banned on Heartbreak Hill?

Marathon Spirit: Tax law professor Richard Ainsworth (in feathers) and his wife, Christine Murasaki Millett, who is running to raise money for cancer research.

Marathon Spirit: Tax law professor Richard Ainsworth (in feathers) and his wife, Christine Murasaki Millett, who is running to raise money for cancer research.  (Photo courtesy of Christine Murasaki Millett.)

In my debut story for Runner’s World, I explore why a Boston University Law School professor has become a popular photo-op at area 5K and 10K races. And it’s not because he’s charming strangers with war stories about the IRS.

Prof. Richard Ainsworth dresses as Big Bird to amuse and support his wife Christine Murasaki Millett, who is training for her second Boston Marathon to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Last year, she was stopped at the St. Ignatius Church, at the mile 21 mark. When the Boylston Street bomb sites were reopened to public a week later, she returned to the church and ran the final 5 miles alone, greeting Big Bird at the Finish Line.

On weekends, Big Bird now waits for his wife on Heartbreak Hill with water and snacks. Wherever he goes, he unwittingly serves as a giant feathered GPS. Runners text each other to “Meet me at Big Bird” after their race.

Prof. Big Bird lectures Boston University Law School students, thanking them for making a donation to cancer research.

Prof. Big Bird lectures Boston University Law School students, thanking them for making a donation to cancer research.

For obvious security reasons this year, authorities are discouraging “costumes covering the face or any non-form fitting, bulky outfits extending beyond the perimeter of the body” for both runners and spectators.  But they aren’t banning them.

Will Big Bird be allowed to chirp from the sidelines in Newton on April 21 — or will he be dragged away in wingcuffs?  Find out now!

(P.S. You can donate to Christine and Richard’s fundraiser for cancer research on their Boston Marathon page.)

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Running for the People Who Can’t Run Anymore

One Run Map

Last year, I helped with the publicity for One Run For Boston, a phenomenal 24/7 cross-country relay to honor and help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

This year, I’m getting off my ass and running.

It’s “just” the last four-mile leg from Harvard University to the Boston Esplanade and I’ll be joined by my two nephews and a few friends who are world-class athletes (compared to me).

I’m running because I’m pissed off.

People shouldn’t wake up in the morning excited to go to a fun event and go home with a fake leg or pressure cooker shrapnel stuck in their head. My friend Jennifer Levitz wrote a gripping story for the Wall Street Journal about the lifelong challenges of the Boston Marathon amputees that will last far beyond the headlines.


I’m grateful that I have legs. Continue reading

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Retroactive Out-of-Business Restaurant Review: Jerusalem’s Upscale Roman Munchies

Roman waitress at the archeologist-run "Cardo Culinaria" restaurant where Roman soldiers once dined in between rampages. Note the beverages being served in archeology-style pottery.

Roman waitress at the archeologist-run “Cardo Culinaria” restaurant where real Roman soldiers once dined in between rampages. Note the beverages being served in archeology-style pottery.

(Note: The Cardo Culinaria is where I was “tricked” into eating duck for the first and only time by thinking it was lamb. Liked the taste, but still can’t emotionally accept the idea of eating Donald or Daffy. Moreover, I LOVED the idea of archeologists running their own restaurant.  Sadly, this kitschy tourist attraction went out of business years ago. Consider this travel story, originally published in 1997 by the Robb Report, a loving memorial tribute.)


 By Darren Garnick

JERUSALEM – When conquered by Rome, eat what the Romans eat.

That was likely the philosophy of some Jerusalem restaurants eager to curry favor with Caesar’s army after it trampled the Holy City more than 2,000 years ago.

The Roman soldiers are long gone, but a group of quirky Israeli archeologists have brought their taste buds back. Promising an authentic “First Century Dining Experience,” the Cardo Culinaria only serves roasted duck, chicken and lamb — dishes preferred by the Roman-Judaean chefs at the time.  Beer, regarded as the “drink of barbarians,” is eschewed in favor of wine.

Customers are assumed to be pro-Emperor and enjoy royal fringe benefits.  Servants, known elsewhere as waiters and waitresses, hand-feed grapes to guests and fan them with large palm fronds.  Soothing harp music is played during the meal with fire eaters and jugglers entertaining between courses.

There are other Roman theme restaurants around the globe – most are concentrated in gluttonous Atlantic City and Las Vegas – but the Culinaria has more clout to claim authenticity.  The restaurant sits on the ruins of the Old Roman Cardo, the main drag of Jerusalem in 63 BC where Roman troops socialized and made their military headquarters when modern day Israel was  known as Judaea.  Visitors walk through excavated Cardo columns on their way to the restaurant’s entrance.

Though pegged as a tourist spot, the food at the Cardo Culinaria is surprisingly upscale.  Keeping in line with the Roman feast tradition, portions are generous and most foods are all-you-can-eat.

The schlock factor can be adjusted to individual tastes. Diners are invited to wear violet and golden togas over their clothing, Caesar laurels in their hair, and Trojan helmets breastplates for silly photos after dessert.  But unlike in the real Roman Empire, there is no coercion to assimilate. Business suits are not sent to the lions.

When the restaurant first opened in 1989, forks were not provided because the Romans only used knives and spoons. Semi-sweet carob juice was also served instead of lemonade.  But modern customer tastes forced modern concessions. Owners did not want to run a historically-accurate restaurant with empty tables.

“In the beginning, we had hired a chef to best duplicate the recipes and cooking styles of 2,000 years ago,” recalls manager Rafi Nahum. “We served the food and people said, ‘This is very interesting.’”

“We knew the moment that people were calling our food ‘interesting,’ it didn’t taste good,” he adds.

Small two-pronged forks were soon introduced after it became clear that customers hated to eat with their hands.  According to the Cardo Culinaria menu, which is more of a crash history course than food guide, there have been some significant beverage compromises, too:

“Water supplies of the ancient world were generally not fit to drink, but as a concession to modern taste, we will provide water on request. Beer was considered the drink of the barbarians and was not drunk in Rome.  However, malt beer was widely available in Judaea and will be served with some meals.”

Harpist  Betty Klein concedes that the Cardo sometimes has no choice but to fudge with history a bit.

“Unfortunately, we can’t recapture the music because we don’t know what it was like. We can kind of guess different intervals, but the Romans didn’t leave any records for us,” she says. “I’m kind of doing this blindly.”


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