How did Vermin Supreme wind up getting immortalized as an animal cracker?
Any journalist who’s covered the New Hampshire Primary over the past 25 years has had multiple encounters with Vermin Supreme, the protest presidential candidate best known for wearing a rubber boot on his head. I first met Vermin at a Bob Dole rally outside Milford Town Hall in 1996 and I’ve been writing about him ever since.
I bought my first pack of Topps Wacky Packages stickers when I was in elementary school and thought the idea of calling Crest toothpaste “Crust” toothpaste was absolutely brilliant. My locker and lunchbox were covered with “Wacky Packs,” as we liked to call them.
So imagine my shock when I opened a pack of commemorative 50th anniversary Wacky Packages and saw Vermin Supreme smiling back from a circus cage. How did it happen? How did the worlds of Wacky Packages and Wacky Presidential Candidates collide?
In an exclusive report for New Hampshire Magazine, I found the artist and got the scoop.
The 50th anniversary edition of Wacky Packages put a modern spin on the original 1967 spoofs of consumer products.
You can read the full story here.
By sheer coincidence, I also stumbled across another Vermin-themed Wacky Package from a few years ago:
What’s the woman on the package smelling?
A PULITZER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM, PERHAPS?
The Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, NH, is one of the most popular stops for presidential candidates during the New Hampshire Primary.
My fascination with the New Hampshire Primary began 24 years ago after chasing Vice President Dan Quayle around the Food Court at the Pheasant Lane Mall.
Six primaries later, I’ve been trailing presidential candidates around more upscale restaurants and diners (classier than the Food Court) for New Hampshire Magazine.
Here’s a fascinating tidbit that didn’t make the final edit.
The Red Arrow Diner, a popular haunt of local celebs like Adam Sandler and Sarah Silverman, honors its most famous customers with commemorative plaques screwed to the booths and countertops. You can plop your rear end on the same barstool as the Bare Naked Ladies or Rudy Giuliani!
But now, fans of former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards no longer have a shrine to worship. When the Red Arrow ripped up its countertops during its fall 2015 renovations, the Edwards plaque mysteriously disappeared.
Might it have something to do with Edwards cheating on his wife Elizabeth while she had cancer and then illegally using political donations to pay off his mistress?
I bet all the “Bill Cosby Sat Here” plaques around the country are also disappearing. Continue reading
In 1996, longshot presidential candidate Caroline Killeen mocked President Bill Clinton for saying he once tried marijuana, but didn’t breathe in the smoke.
It’s been 20 years (!) since filmmaker Al Ward and I met Caroline Killeen, a.k.a. the “Hemp Lady,” at her presidential campaign headquarters – a homeless shelter in Manchester, NH. Following the lonely ex-nun through the slushy streets on the day before Christmas, we shot the first scenes of our first documentary, “Why Can’t I Be President?”
I celebrate Killeen’s legacy – and reveal what happened to her – in today’s Boston Globe, as part of their fantastic “Primary Memories” series.
Produced for PBS stations, “Why Can’t I Be President?” highlighted the quirkiest feature of the New Hampshire Primary – that ANY American (age 35 and up) who pays $1,000 can run for President.
In most other states, who gets on the ballot is determined by the political parties, the Secretary of State or by gathering tens of thousands of signatures of registered voters (which requires a huge organization and lots of money.) In New Hampshire, the dream is yours – a permanent place in history – for a thousand bucks.
Some “fringe” candidates, like the Hemp Lady, devote their candidacy (and resulting media attention) to a serious cause. Some use their candidacy as a resume line to sell books and get higher rates on the speaking circuit. And some are just simply crazy, like your local Town Meeting crank – but with a much bigger megaphone.
It’s fascinating to consider how the term “fringe” has evolved since then. Continue reading
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush named Supergirl as his favorite superhero at a campaign appearance last week, telling his audience that actress Melissa Benoist “looked pretty hot.”
During the 2012 New Hampshire Primary, I guided my then 9-year-old son on the campaign trail as he asked the candidates about their favorite superhero and why.
Bush’s predecessors were a lot more careful with their answers. Take a look:
I know his campaign ended badly, but Herman Cain’s Kryptonite answer and the warmth of his response still makes me smile. (You can read my original analysis of our Superhero Primary at The Atlantic.)
In any case, Ari and I are also looking forward to watching Supergirl, which was created by the same producers as “The Flash,” our can’t-miss-show-of-the-moment!
Caught Jeb Bush, without any entourage, chilling out with Uncle Sam an hour before my hometown’s 4th of July parade.
July 4, 2015
· 2:09 pm.07.
Post-Primary Jealousy: Click the picture to learn more about this depressing condition. (Cartoon by Brad Fitzpatrick/NH Magazine)
Truth be known, my bedroom doesn’t look ANYTHING like this. My wife Stacy keeps my political sign and bumper sticker collection confined to my office and the basement.
But there are kernels of truth embedded in “Primary Envy: Who Needs Super Tuesday?,” my latest humor column for New Hampshire Magazine. Why should the other 49 states have the right to vote? Can’t the candidates come back to Manchester, Nashua and Concord one more time for a rematch?
P.S. I know that voters are pumped in Ohio and Georgia, but does anyone care about the results of the Massachusetts Primary right now?
P.P.S. My wife and I are also the only people in our social circles who don’t have a TV in our bedroom and don’t own a flat screen TV at all. Sticking with the Cathode Ray Tube, baby!
Newt and Callista Gingrich cuddle with Dino Flintstone on the 2012 presidential campaign trail.
Now that Newt Gingrich has romped in the South Carolina Primary, I’m grateful that I hedged my bets this political season in my quest to get the 2012 Republican nominee for President to pose with Dino Flintstone.
As faithful “Culture Schlock” readers know, GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney had waxed nostalgic about Dino while he was basking in the endorsement glow of New Hampshire’s junior U.S. Senator, Kelly Ayotte.
With the international media scrum outnumbering actual voters by 6:1, I boldly cornered Newt on New Hampshire Primary Day during his visit to the polls outside a Merrimack elementary school. Here’s how the conversation went down:
Me: Mr. Gingrich, it’s a proud New Hampshire tradition that whoever poses with Dino Flintstone, wins the Primary!
Newt: (smirks and poses) You just made that tradition up, didn’t you?
Mrs. Gingrich had no comment on Dino, despite her husband’s well-known fascination with dinosaurs (he used to have a T-Rex skull in his office) and wild animals.
New Hampshire Primary third place finisher Jon Huntsman takes a moment on the most important day of his life to bond with Dino.
I gave the same pitch to Jon Huntsman as he was rushing away from a series of radio interviews late in the afternoon on Primary Day. He humored me by posing, saying “Well, then, I guess I should be part of the tradition,” but I got the sense that he thought it was quicker to pose and move past me than to just say no. He was in a huge rush.