Mark Palermo

The Men's Taverns of Yesteryear

He Was Our S.O.B.
Long Ago Saturday Nights at the Circle 9
The Dark Side of Vaccinations
Wine: Where Ignorance and Pretension Find their Loudest Voice
A 1976 Journey in Search of Self
The Machinery of Mass Dreams
The Outlaw Georgie Bush
Sex Offender Registries Out of Control
Extreme Makeover for Airheads
The Fault Lies not in the Stars, but in Ourselves
Reconsidering George Carlin
If You Think Liberals Are Jerks...
She Couldn't Do Her Chores
Remembering Viktor Frankl
One Day on the Farm-1977
A Fresh Look at Meat
How the Real World Works: A Lesson
30 Bucks for the Human Touch
1929 All Over Again
An Old Man's War, A Young Man's Fight
More Things in Heaven and Earth...
Our Dumbed-down Public Discourse
Bread, But No Roses
Earth's the Right Place for Love
Read This Before Enlisting
Poison Is Good for You: The Fluoridation Scam
Ron Paul:He Makes Too Much Sense
War Is a Racket
Brazil's National Orgasm Day
Calling all Liberals!
Why I Don't Get Flu Shots
What is Community?
Haverhillicus Homocrisicum
If You Wanna Be a Junkie, Why?
Do We Know His Family?
Scam: Youth Sports
A Subsidy for the Human Touch?
How Not to Be Boring
If the Bread and Roses Strike Were NOW
America's Problem with the Body
Columbus Day? or Renaissance Day?
Depleted Uranium Weapons
Mitt Romney: A Clintonian Republican
A Checklist for Conservatives
On Torture and Torturers
Pimp of the Nation
Romney is a Jerk
Hypocrisy and its Champions
The Dumb Society
The Men's Taverns of Yesteryear
On Dittoheads!
Let China Sleep
2004 McDebates
Animal Rights Page
US Wealth Distribution Chart
Public Grief, Private Lives


200 years ago, the irrepressible Abigail Adams cautioned women to be wary of men because “all men would be tyrants if they could.” One wonders how the woman came to such a cynical viewpoint.  Perhaps her husband, John, was too fond of whiskey and raw onions, or spent too much time in the tavern. Could she have been a wounded warrior in the battle of the sexes?  Gender politics started long before her and probably even before Aristophanes wrote, Lysistrata- in 500B.C.-  the play where women go on  a sex strike, shutting men off until they stopped making war.

Speaking of the battle of the sexes, I remember the old brick taverns and poolrooms in Lawrence where no women were allowed- or their presence discouraged. The old timers that ran things then believed that women in men’s bars were trouble. The rationale was that men’s behavior changed in the presence of even a single woman. Men who could be congenial and peaceable in each other’s company felt competitive or conflicted when women were around.  Of course we’re not talking about nightclubs or supper clubs, but neighborhood saloons were men would meet to drink boilermakers, smoke stogies, and talk sports and politics. (Who could forget the old Rocky Club off  Jackson St. with its outdoor boxing ring? Or Kelly and Driscoll’s Tavern in Haverhill? And scores of other men’s bars?)

Since colonial times the saloon was an almost exclusively male environment.  But after prohibition, tavern owners, realizing a new market for women-who were coming to equate drinking  with self-liberation- would partition off a room out back  with a separate “ladies’ entrance” where women could drink without being hassled by men trying to hit on them. Sometimes a sign at a back entrance would discretely beckon, “Ladies and Escorts Only.”  This curious system lasted in Lawrence into the early 1960’s.

            I miss the old men’s taverns. If my viewpoint is politically incorrect, so is that of women who go to gyms with names like “Women’s World” “ A Woman’s Place” etc., where women can work out without men ogling them.  I like and respect women, especially my wife who is beautiful, patient, intelligent, and my best friend. But all men need to be away from women from time to time. In other societies, such places do indeed exist, and  women are not offended about it. Moreover, women create spaces for themselves, like the Turkish bath for instance, an entrenched  institution within the rigid social structure of the Moslem world.  Such spaces need not imply a denigration of either sex, but an affirmation of differences, which can be healthy.

Some people don’t get it. They spend their money on John Gray’s books to ascertain that men are different from women. As if this were an earthshaking revelation. Or they entertain “gender theorists” and postmodern intellectuals who pontificate that all sex differences are social constructs and therefore acquired.  However, I offer irrefutable proof that men are inherently different from women. To prove my claim, just ask yourself these questions: What man -if he were not living with a woman- would ever buy a floral-patterned fabric cover for a toaster? What bachelor would ever buy two sets of towels- one never to be used, but only for show? Can you imagine Ernest Hemmingway or Humphrey Bogart with two sets of towels? General George Patton worrying about color coordination of wallpaper?  I rest my case. As a culture, we argue about things that a hundred years ago people learned effortlessly from observing what nature brought forth in the henhouse, the barnyard and the cow pasture.