Sunday, December 19, 2010

Books, Bakeries, and the Tea Party

The Constitution as Book

Not so long ago, I'd gone up to the foothills of the Catskills on a trek to find one of my all-time favorite bakeries, Hartmann's Kaffee Haus--and old-style German bakery and eatery, tucked away in the dark woods of Round Top, not far from Catskill, NY. One feels almost as if they're about to trip over Hansel and Gretal when they find this place in the woods! Usually, when I've gone to eat there, there are many old retirees, sitting quietly or murmuring to one another about local politics or who they'd seen at the recent penny social down at the Methodist church. They'll be nibbling on rye toast slathered in heavy dollops of unsalted butter, and sipping old-style water'd church coffee and smiling to their table mates.

I've found the food to be a good dose of old world flavor and old hill country charm. My favorite being the hefty bratwursts with sauerkraut. It will be an adequate meal for anyone who visits. Of course, I must add a little dessert to it, because the bakery is the main attraction, and its Linzer and Alexander tortes are simply to die for. Their Schwarzwald kuchen too, is a definite must for those who enjoy the cake-ish side of things. Now many of you might be asking: "what does cake and a bakery have to do with anything, least of all...books?" Well, let me tell you, good folks! This last time I visited, I remember pulling into the parking lot of Hartmann's and being greeted with not just the usual American and German flags--after all, Hartmann's is a "traditional" style German bakery. But also the "Don't Tread on Me" Flag, which has become a trademark banner of the new Tea Party. Usually, businesses don't wear their politics on their sleeves, but the mark of Tea Partying participants has been to demonstrate their beliefs of libertarian self-reliance and autonomous anti-big government through outward signs of vexillological grandeur ("flag showing"). The Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me" flag is perhaps now the most famous symbol of this movement. But another symbol is the U.S. Constitution.

As you can see above in the first photo, the bakery was not only selling pastries, tortes, and cakes, but also pocket size booklets of the U.S. Constitution! They sold for around $2. I must admit: I already own one of these, because during the last election, I was at a train stop in Westchester, when a Tea Party candidate was handing out U.S. Constitutions for free! Anyhow, it was interesting to see this. And interesting to see that they had taped a copy of the U.S. Constitution to their cash register. Now more than a month later, I thought about the old bakery once again, as I walked into a pizza place just yesterday. Below the counter there wasn't a U.S. Constitution, but a floor mat nailed upright, which read "No Spin Zone,"--the trademark of the famed Bill O'Reilly show. But what was more entertaining was the utilization of books, YES!--books! to promote a very similar message. Right there on the tables of the pizza shop, not far from (and surely catering to) one of America's great liberal arts colleges, the owners were clearly targeting their clientele with both good pizza...and tables piled high with books by Glenn Beck and the new rebuttal to Howard Zinn's influential opus (A People's History of the United States) entitled "A Patriot's History of the United States." And people say books are dead?!

At least we continue to be entertained.


  1. Thanks for the great write up. Here are some books by Bill O'Reilly that your readers might like:

    Pinheads and Patriots Pinheads and Patriots

    A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity

    Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure

    Arguing with Idiots Arguing with Idiots

    Face of Betrayal

    Kids Are Americans Too

    Culture Warrior

    The O'Reilly Factor For Kids

    Who's Looking Out For You?

    The No Spin Zone

    The O'Reilly Factor

  2. For your readers information, the Tea Party holds meetings at Hartmann's, a German bakery in the Catskills. This bakery has been around for over fifty years serving the most delicious pastries, pies, cakes and cookies. If you stop by there before Christmas try the Christmas stollen.

    Here is the address:

    Hartmann's Kaffeehaus
    1507 Hearts Content Rd.
    Round Top, NY