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The Legacy of Richard C. Kessler

The Savannah native and distinguished hotelier has spent years crafting a reputation as a successful businessman, but the legacy he will leave with those he employs won’t be as fond. 

Eds: Some names have been changed to protect identities.

Richard C. Kessler, wearing a black Giorgio Armani velvet blazer and a deep purple collared shirt, struts in through the side door of his restaurant, the 700 Drayton, located inside the Mansion on Forsyth Park. David Ferreira, the host, notices him, adjusts his posture, and focuses his attention on Richard C. Kessler—or, Mr. Kessler, as Ferreira and Kessler’s hundreds of other employees have been instructed to call him.

“Good ev-en-ing, Mr. Kessler,” Ferreira says, his thick Peruvian accent dominating the scripted greeting. “How may I assist you today?” 

Kessler looks Ferreira in his eyes, only briefly, looks away, and says, “Table for three.” It’s rare for Mr. Kessler to look someone like Ferreira in the eyes twice.

Ferreira takes Mr. Kessler to table 45, located right in the center of the Billiard’s Dining Room. The room has always been a sign of power and attention, even through its many owners and renovations. When the house was first built in 1888 for the Kayton family, it served as the billiard’s room where Lewis Kayton would invite esteemed businessmen to discuss business affairs. When the building became the Fox and Week’s Funeral Home in 1953, it served as one of the main viewing rooms for the deceased—the casket was always placed in the center of the room for all to see. It’s now the only room in the restaurant that always has the candles lit and tables set, especially table 45, just in case Mr. Kessler unexpectedly stops in and asks to be served. He’s a man with a vision, and if his employees don’t make sure it’s perfect, they very well may end up unemployed.

Ferreira returns to the host stand and moments later, two gentlemen, both in suits—one a Kingsman, the other a Reiss—and both carrying briefcases, enter through the front door and greet Ferreira with warm, “Hello”s.

“We’re here to see Richard Kessler,” the man in the Kingsman suit says.

The gentlemen are Keith Vanderbilt—managing principal architect at Reese Vanderbilt & Associates (a company that’s no stranger to dining with the elite, having designed and developed buildings for the likes of Donald J. Trump and Ray Hensler) and Clarence T. Vinson—president of PFVS Architecture (one of the largest architecture and interior design firms in Atlanta). They are development partners in Mr. Kessler’s latest hotel venture, the Plant Riverside District—a massive, four-and-a-half-acre complex that will include two hotels, a parking garage, an art gallery, a modern science museum, three rooftop bars, two restaurants, two ballrooms, and a concert venue.

Mr. Kessler is 71 now. He’s been in the hotel game for more than 45 years. He got his start in 1970 when he became the right-hand man for Cecil B. Day—founder of the “budget luxury” hotel chain Days Inn of America—but only after he married Day’s daughter. Mr. Kessler became the president of the company in 1975, right after Day was diagnosed with cancer. Day lost the battle in 1979. Mr. Kessler sold the company in 1984 and used the money to start his own hotel endeavor, the Kessler Enterprises, which now includes nine boutique hotels, most of which are included in Marriot’s signature Autograph Collection, a portfolio of hotels Mr. Kessler paid copious amounts to have included in the Marriott brand.

Although it seems like Mr. Kessler will never stop working and crafting his reputation as a successful and respectable entrepreneur who is beloved by many, it’s likely that the Plant Riverside District will be his last project. Senior officials of the Kessler Enterprise call it his swan song, his crowning jewel, his final adieu, but more commonly, his legacy project. It’s what he hopes he will be remembered for, but even the senior officials note that those he works with and employs may remember him differently.

After Vanderbilt and Vinson get settled in, Jessica Harris, a veteran server, greets them. When Mr. Kessler, still sitting, recognizes Harris—a boisterous, professional woman in her early thirties, wearing a choker and a dark purple lipstick—he pulls her in by her arm, demanding a hug. Vanderbilt and Vinson exchange glances.

“How are you, Jessica, baby?” Mr. Kessler says, finally letting her go. “How lucky am I to have you serve us?” 

“Well, sir,” she says, trying to act unbothered from the unwelcomed hug. “You know that they only let the best of the best serve Mr. Kessler.” 

Harris is an assertive woman with a mouth to match; if it were any other circumstance and he were any other man, she wouldn’t have allowed this sort of behavior. But this is the man who is supposedly worth more than $50 million, and also the man who signs her paychecks. Fighting back isn’t an option. He chuckles, and she tells them the catch and the soup of the day.

When employees are hired to work for the Kessler Enterprises, they must first attend an HR orientation that covers everything from mandatory Kessler verbiage to the history of the corporation and how Mr. Kessler built the company into the empire that it is today. But the one thing that Harris remembers from the orientation every time she serves Mr. Kessler is the “Green light/Yellow light/Red light” system; it’s used to denote levels of appropriateness of an employee’s actions. For example, saying hello to a coworker and shaking hands would be a green light. Talking about a coworker behind his or her back would be a yellow light. An employer forcing his or her employee to hug him or her would be a red light.

There are certain well-scripted stories that are told during this orientation that craft how Kessler Enterprise employees view Mr. Kessler, and it’s no surprise that Robin Canada, director of Human resources at the Kessler Enterprise’s Mansion on Forsyth Park, is in charge of telling them. She’s a short woman in her mid-50s, and an excellent storyteller. She weaves a tale of a hotelier who built a successful company, and now runs it with his grown son and daughter—his wife still by his side—while he infuses his hotels with his passion for the arts. In his spare time, Robin borderline gushes, he donates and contributes to local charities. He’s even started an assistance program for Kessler Enterprise employees who are in need.

Mr. Kessler and his development partners sit at table 45 for nearly two hours.

It’s hard to tell exactly what they talk about, Harris explains while in the server’s station, but the topic is definitely the construction of Plant Riverside, or, as she likes to refer to it, “the next place for Kessler to touch his employees and get naughty with his mistresses.”

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned while serving Mr. Kessler,” she says, “It’s that you never speak to Mr. Kessler unless Mr. Kessler speaks to you.”

“Why not?” Asks one of the new servers.

“Why not?” Harris asks bewilderedly, almost sarcastically, almost angrily. “That’s like going into a shark-infested ocean with fresh wounds is why not. And if Mr. Kessler wants something, you give it to him.” 

In the corner of the server’s station stands Tiffany Davis, restaurant supervisor. She’s a sweet woman with burgundy-dyed bob and pink acrylic nails. She’s been with the company for over a year now and is well aware of Mr. Kessler and how he behaves. 

“I mean, he’s never gotten weird with me, thank god, but I feel like it’s one of those things you just kind of get used to. It’s still a major red light, but what are you going to do?”

***

Later in the night, Mr. Kessler’s black Mercedes SUV pulls into the Mansion on Forsyth Park’s valet car port. Out of the back seat exits Mr. Kessler and Ashley Borders, star of Bravo’s Southern Charm: Savannah. He introduces her to Tracy Lopez, the front desk associate, says they are here to discuss business, and tells her that if Borders needs anything, Lopez is to get it for her immediately. The two retreat to the Bösendorfer Lounge on the opposite side of the lobby and Lopez scoffs at the excuse of an elderly, esteemed hotelier and a 30-year-old actress and fashionista discussing business at ten o’clock at night.

The lounge, which recently underwent millions of dollars’ worth of renovations, has an aquatic theme to it; the chairs are all hand-selected Versace. The marble columns match the marble floor and bar. A hired pianist in the far right of the bar plays a specially created Bösendorfer piano—worth more than a quarter million dollars. Mr. Kessler and Borders—who wears a green, low-cut dress and bright red lipstick—opt to sit next to each other at a private table, away from the few lounge patrons who remain from earlier in the night. 

A quarter to eleven, Michelle Douglass, the bartender, announces last call. Mr. Kessler approaches her and asks her if she would mind staying just a bit longer so he can finish his conversation with Borders and, “You know, just in case we need a few more drinks. You’ll get overtime,” he assures. Douglass agrees, but not really by choice. Half an hour passes and Mr. Kessler pulls two chairs up to the piano where the pianist—who is seemingly also being paid overtime—still plays. Douglass overhears them giggling and admits she’s just happy she’s not Borders. She notices him glance down Borders’s shirt several times. It’s not the first time Mr. Kessler has brought another woman into the lounge, and it’s not the first time he has introduced a woman to Lopez at the front desk. Typically, the women who come in are introduced to her as students at the local Savannah College of Art and Design, and typically they enjoy drinks with Mr. Kessler at the bar. “I only hope that they are 21,” Lopez admits. 

But it’s not just students and TV personalities. There have been “old friends,” “business associates,” and others. Yet never, Lopez says, has Mrs. Kessler come in for drinks. 

Despite Douglass not being able to overhear Mr. Kessler and Borders’ conversation, she says with confidence that she doubts it’s in regard to his legacy project, the Plant Riverside District, noting their “touchy-feely” body language.

The complex is set for completion in Spring of 2019. Development partners like Vanderbilt and Vinson say they are excited for the completion and the two are certain it will help the Savannah economy. Employees like Harris and Lopez express disdain for the project, thinking of it as just another place for employees, and women in particular, to be mistreated. It’s estimated the venture will bring at least 700 jobs to the 4.5-acre area alone. And if all goes as planned, it will become the public legacy of Richard C. Kessler. 

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CupcakKe: From the Streets to Satin Sheets

Move over Khia and Missy Elliott; raunch rap has a new contender who went from homeless to viral with just a few moans

Eds: Story includes vulgarity.

Strangers with a Bond

Nearly 700 people stand pressed up against each other on the floor of the Center Stage Theater in Midtown, Atlanta. They’ve waited through two opening acts—one unplanned—for well over two hours. People complain about needing refreshments, but don’t want to go to the bar because they’ll lose their spots in the dense crowd. It’s a tough situation, but most of the concert-goers think it will be worth the wait.

In the seats at the back of the theater sit Ed and Matilda Morris, a Baptist couple in their sixties from the outskirts of Atlanta. After seeing the line of mostly teenagers and young adults—some with colored hair, others wearing all leather, some wearing hardly nothing at all—waiting outside the venue, they parked their 2001 Mercedes E-Class around the corner and walked back, holding hands to see what the commotion was about. 

“The funky kids in line told us it was a singer named CupcakKe,” Matilda says. “We’ve never heard of her, but she sounded hip, so we bought tickets and hopped in line.”

Backstage, Elizabeth Eden Harris has finally arrived—two hours after she was scheduled to. She puts on a revealing bodysuit with a bedazzled rose pattern stretching from her foot to her breasts, and changes into her alter ego, a rapper named CupcakKe. She’s not one of those skinny model types, and she’s proud of that (although she has accidentally lost a bit of weight on this tour—The Ephorize Tour). Her long, blonde hair waves to her sides and her bangs lie in her eyes, only slightly. 

The lights on the stage finally go out, leaving the crowd screaming in the darkness. An omnipotent voice calls out into the darkness, “I’m horny! Come on now, daddy! Put it in deeper!” and the crowd’s screams get louder. Ed and Matilda exchange surprised glances.

CupcakKe jogs onto the stage and greets the Atlanta crowd, “Is Atlanta ready to suck some dick?” 

The crowd of strangers, in unison, shouts back, “Yes, mom!”

“What we gon’ do?” CupcakKe shouts.

Once again, the crowd of strangers shouts back in unison, “Suck some dick!”

Certainly there will be no fellatio while CupcakKe is on stage, but there will be a lot of talk about it, and nearly every person in the room will scream the same thing. That’s the phenomenon of CupcakKe–she has the ability to make a group of strangers—people whose only connection is her music—moan, shout sexual expletives and epithets, and perform the same exact dance moves, all while remaining one of the most unrecognized names in the rap game. 

CupcakKe’s never been signed to a record label (although she’s been approached by Columbia, Atlantic, and others). Her mixtape, “S.T.D. (Shelters to Deltas),” was placed at number 23 on Rolling Stone’s “Best Rap Albums of 2016.” Pitchfork rated her latest album, “Ephorize,” an 8.3, which is a difficult feat to achieve; it’s one that Beyoncé has achieved only once in her twenty-year career, and it’s the same rating Pitchfork gave to Jay-Z’s newest album “4:44.” 

Yet CupcakKe, who is only 20 years old, still remains a hidden gem, a cult icon, slowly slurping her way to the top.

Will the Real Elizabeth Please Stand Up?

“I think what people don’t get about me is that I’m not CupcakKe,” Elizabeth says backstage. “I mean, I do be staying horny and a freak hoe, but I’m not a machine. I’m not always on 100 percent of the time.”

She’s referring to her alter egos–three of them, to be exact.

“First you got Elizabeth. That’s me. That’s just me,” she says. “I stay home and in my feelings. I don’t really go out or party or anything. I’m the most boring 20-year-old. It’s depressing.”

This, she theorizes, is where her songs typically come from. Elizabeth hasn’t been exposed to all of CupcakKe’s world. She doesn’t understand the fame or the obsession of her fans, nor the people who come along with it. She’s innocent and naïve in a way, still able to write about her genuine feelings without fear of being judged.

“Then you got CupcakKe,” she says with a laugh, glancing towards her mother who sits on a couch. Ms. Harris grins and shakes her head disapprovingly. “She a freak hoe. She my stage ego. When I get up on that stage or behind the mic in the studio, there’s no telling what she finna do. She might just get up there and use the microphone as a dildo. You never know.”

And that’s exactly what CupcakKe did in Atlanta right before she placed it inside of her mouth.

“But the bitch you gotta watch out for is Marilyn Monhoe,” she says, referring to her Twitter account. “She’d fight CupcakKe in a minute while Elizabeth just sit in the corner and watch, scared shitless. She has courage to say whatever she wants. But mostly it’s to make fans happy. She knows what her slurpers want to hear.” (“Slurpers” are what her fans affectionately call themselves.)

CupcakKe developed Marilyn Monhoe early in her short career out of disgust of other musicians who don’t interact with their fan base. 

“These people are out here spending their hard-earned money on you,” she says referring to fans, her flow intensifying. “They come up with nicknames for themselves. They come out to see you and you just gonna get on Twitter when you drop a new song and say, ‘Buy my new song. Love you’? That don’t fly with me.”

She developed her personalities because she knew Elizabeth could never talk publicly about any of the topics CupcakKe and Marilyn Monhoe tackle. She’s too reserved, too shy. “In a way, it’s kinda like roleplay for [my fans],” she says. “They need that from me because ain’t no one else finna give it to ‘em.”

She’s Feelin’ Herself

 “You gonna have to sit down for a spell if you finna understand me,” CupcakKe says backstage in her dressing room after the concert. “I done been through it all.” Her mother, Ms. Harris, moans in agreement. “We done been through it all,” CupcakKe says, emphasizing ‘we.’ “We’ve lived the life.”

CupcakKe sits on the stool in front of the mirror. She’s already taken off her boots from the performance and changed wigs. “You gotta keep switching it up on ‘em,” she says about no one in particular. “Never let ‘em get comfortable.” She’s Elizabeth now. She’s calmer, but everyone can still sense her sharpness. Ms. Harris wears a floral dress, and sips on a bottle of water.

The dressing room is humble. Four suitcases sit by the makeup table and hold two weeks’ worth of clothes (including outfits for the remainder of The Ephorize Tour) for both her and her mother. “I never ask for anything but water when I come to a venue,” CupcakKe says. “That’s all you need. I don’t get these stars who be requesting M&M’s with the red ones picked out or whatever shit. They stay being petty.”

The two women are used to scrapping by with the bare minimum. Ms. Harris gave birth to Elizabeth in 1997. Ten years later she put Elizabeth in a foster home because she couldn’t afford to take care of her. Keeping a job in Chicago in the 1990s as a Black woman was hard, she explains. It’s something Ms. Harris doesn’t like to discuss. When the topic comes up, she looks down to the floor. 

“We were homeless there for a few years,” Ms. Harris says. “Homeless in Chicago. God really was testing us.”

“I always promised her we’d make it,” CupcakKe says, looking at her mom.

After a few years in foster care, Ms. Harris eventually picked herself back up again and regained custody of her daughter. 

“I took jobs wherever I had to,” Ms. Harris says. “I bagged groceries at the Save-A-Lot. I cleaned up trash for the city. I did whatever I had to to get my baby back.”

Elizabeth took up writing poetry when she was 14. She would visit different churches in the Chicago area and perform her poetry. 

“There was this one church I went to where the pastor said, ‘Why don’t you just rap?’ He said I could be making hella money and getting recognized, so I did. I started writing songs and putting myself out there. One day I was laying in my bed listening to, ‘My Neck, My Back’ by Khia, and you know, I was just getting real horny and feelin’ myself, so I decided to put that feeling into a song.”

That song became, “Vagina,” her first viral hit. 

How Many Licks to the Center of a CupcakKe?

 “Let’s go,” CupcakKe says, nodding to the DJ to play her song, “Vagina,” which was released in 2015 to nearly instant success. The crowd raps along with her, “Remind ya/ I’m kinda/ wet/ run it down my vagina…” Ed and Matilda, although shocked at the bluntness, bop their heads along to the catchy rhymes. They’ve never been exposed to music of this intensity, but they don’t mind it.

“If the people from our church knew we were here, we’d be hung on the cross,” Ed says, making Matilda grasp her crotch and shout, “Oh, Ed! Don’t make me pee my pants!” 

Ed and Matilda have never been afraid of trying new things—they think they’re the most open-minded 60 year olds in Georgia—but that’s not why they’re now two of CupcakKe’s biggest fans. It’s all in her vulnerability and her willingness to put everything on the line; she exposes every aspect of herself and puts into words what’s on everyone’s minds. The music of CupcakKe is bold, “audacious,” as CupcakKe puts it. It’s been disregarded by many as just “pure porno.” What those critics fail to notice are the songs that aren’t sexually charged, the songs about true love, pedophilia, race—most of them autobiographical. But no matter the topic, the sexual songs included, each of her songs has a fire and a passion; each song is held up with that underlying current of vulnerability, allowing her quick wit and tongue to make her audience feel her passion and fall in love with her. 

Seven hours before CupcakKe was scheduled to perform, the line formed outside of Center Stage, beginning with Zoe Reuteler. Reuteler—a DJ and music producer—gave up two gigs so she could get in line early (that’s half of this month’s rent). She’s been a slurper since CupcakKe released her second hit single, “Deepthroat,” the follow-up to “Vagina.” 

“I just couldn’t believe a female was finally saying what we were all thinking,” Reuteler says. “It’s naughty.”

Reuteler has a theorized formula to CupcakKe’s success: one part vulnerability, one part audaciousness, one part craft and wit, and one part “that special charisma only CupcakKe can achieve.”

“What always strikes me is her cleverness, her craft,” she says. “It sounds weird to say that a song comparing a male’s penis to Spider-Man is pure poetry [referring to CupcakKe’s song, “Spider-Man Dick”], but it is. It’s fresh. I haven’t heard anything this original or effortless since Lil Kim.” 

CupcakKe’s Delight

Tonight is only the ninth show on “The “Ephorize Tour,” and only the first leg. There’s two more legs that will take her to four more countries. She’s one of the rare, unsigned musicians who have been able to embark on a world tour (a sold-out tour, to be exact), and all at the age of 20. 

In the crowd tonight are teenagers and people pushing 70, there are music professionals, rap amateurs, and plenty of members of the LGBTQ+ community (for whom she is an outspoken advocate, see: “LGBT” on her album “Audacious”). And all of them are more than ecstatic to be in the presence of this fearless rapper, their goddess.

“What song y’all wanna hear from ‘Ephorize?’” she asks. “This the ‘Ephorize Tour.’ We gotta do something from ‘Ephorize.” 

The crowd screams back a few different song titles, but it’s clear what the majority wants to hear: “Duck Duck Goose,” a highly-sexualized song that emulates the popular children’s game of the same name. 

She starts rapping the song at its normal pace, comparing fallacies to trees and the Statue of Liberty, while the crowd raps along with her. They’re pleasantly aware of the choreography that is about to occur. CupcakKe moves to the left side of the stage, her repertoire intensifying—a brief pause—and, almost as if she had sent out a memo to each person in the crowd detailing which dance moves they were to perform and how to do so—nearly every single person begins to jump up and down, tapping their hands in the air, just like the song tells them to, as CupcakKe raps the song’s chorus, “Tap the head of the dick, duck, duck, duck goose/ Head of the dick, duck, duck, duck, goose…” For a moment, CupcakKe disappears and Elizabeth stands on stage, grinning at what she’s created.

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The Stone Stairs of Death: An Unconventional News Source

Eds: Story includes vulgarity

Under consideration with Connect Savannah.

It all started with a Facebook post in 2013. A picture of a couple walking down the historically steep staircase that connects Williamson Street to River Street, with accompanying text that read, “Says father to wife and child: ‘Why did they make these stairs so steep?’ Because they were built almost 300 years ago, f——-. They didn’t figure on you, then.”

This was the first of hundreds of provocative posts from the satirical Facebook page, The Stone Stairs of DeathOver the past four years, the page, which first started as a way to ridicule the tourists and drunks who attempted to conquer the stairs, has now developed into an uncensored platform used to both criticize the politicians and news organizations of Savannah and report on news that those local news organizations failed to report on.

The creator of the page—who prefers to be called “Stone,” so he can remain anonymous—has lived in Savannah intermittently his entire life, but moved here permanently ten years ago. He lives in an apartment above the iconic stairs, where he witnesses every misstep and absurd comment visitors make. He originally found entertainment in the constant accidents that occurred on the stairs, he explained to me one evening when we met in the dimly lit bar in the 17 Hundred 90. He began filming the accidents in hopes that someone on Facebook would also share in the entertainment.

But as the months passed, the focus of the page began to shift to more political content, a move he never intended. He blamed it on both his growing frustrations with how things were operating in Savannah and his courage to delve into his personal interests; interests that ranged from Savannah politics to the news. Local government officials, such as former Mayor Edna Jackson, and local news outlets, such as WJCL, all became the targets of his criticisms.

The more he posted his opinions, the more he noticed he wasn’t alone and soon the page’s popularity exploded. He became inundated with tips and information regarding things going on in the city.

“I thought I was the only person who saw how f—— ridiculous this, this and that is,” Stone said. “Turns out we got quite a small army of people that agree with a lot of the s— I call out.”

If a government official acted unruly, Stone would call him out. If the Savannah Morning News printed avoidable errors, Stone would make sure his thousands of followers knew about it. He takes his news and politics seriously and expects those in charge to do the same.

His unrestrained, unapologetic candor hasn’t gotten him to more than 26,000 Facebook likes without a few enemies, most notably Savannah Alderman Tony Thomas, who was involved in an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation last year regarding claims of sexual assault against minors.

For years, Stone’s criticism of Thomas typically focused on his unconventional use of social media. He heard the rumors of Thomas’ misconduct with minors, but said nothing on his page due to a lack of evidence. Fact checking, he said, is a key element to the page, and something he takes pride in. “I don’t just take rumors and start spewing them all over the place,” he said. “I don’t want a reputation for being Savannah’s ‘National Enquirer’ or some s—.” He always ensures he has verification before he posts.

As Thomas seemingly became more frustrated with the constant criticism Stone was posting of him, the Alderman began trying to reveal Stone’s identity. He started showing up at places Stone frequented and harassing people close to Stone, asking questions about his real identity. At one point, he showed up at a bar in which one of Stone’s close friends worked. He approached the friend, Stone said, claiming that the GBI had hired him to investigate the friend because the GBI had reason to believe he was the creator of The Stone Stairs of Death page. The friend laughed in Thomas’ face because Thomas was obviously lying. “As if the GBI doesn’t have the means to identify me right now if they really wanted me,” Stone said with a laugh.

With the Alderman recently dodging the sexual misconduct with minors charges, Stone still criticizes him any chance he gets and doesn’t seem to be cutting back anytime soon.

“I never set out to p— anybody off,” Stone said. “It’s just funny to me that a lot of people are fed up with the news they get in Savannah and they want an alternative source.” And that’s exactly what some people in Savannah consider him: an alternative news source. The realization came to Stone when people began messaging him and tagging him in news tips on Facebook. “They’d say, ‘Hey, look at what I just saw in Forsyth Park,’ and tag WTOC, Savannah Morning News, Connect, JCL, SAV, Stone Stairs of Death. Whenever I see s— like that, I’m like, people really consider me a genuine news source,” he said.

But don’t expect the news you get from The Stone Stairs of Death to extend past local news. Savannah news, he said, is a microcosm for the calamities that are happening nationally and even internationally. It’s tangible. “I personally know a bunch of the players in this town. I mean, half of City Council comes into this bar [The 17 Hundred 90] for happy hour half the time. So it’s easy for me to look at them and say, ‘Yeah, you’re a liar. You’re lying. You’re full of s—.’”

As we finished our drinks, I joked about the possibility that he might start his own news periodical. “That would be bad a–,” he said. And, he admitted, it’s something he’s considered. He was offered a column for a local paper some time ago, but turned it down due to his unconventional opinions. “[Newspapers] still have to answer to the owner and their bosses. I just tend to p— too many people off.”