Here's part of "Tricky Living," copyright by Russ Walter, first edition. For newer info, read the second edition at

New Hampshire

Like most Americans seeking adventurous fun, I moved to New Hampshire, the laughable state nicknamed “New Ha-ha.”


New Hampshire’s the most libertarian state. It believes in the fewest laws. The state’s motto is “Live free or die,” uttered by General Stark centuries ago and interpreted by modern New Hampshirites to mean “Get the government off our backs.”

Taxes New Hampshire brags that it has no sales tax, no income tax, and no other “broad-based tax,” which meaning “no tax affecting everybody.”

That sounds great and makes many idiots move here. After moving, we discover that the Machiavellis who run the government created many “little” taxes that affect “just a few” people. Here are little examples:

There’s a hefty 8% tax on “restaurant meals, hotel rooms, and rented cars.” But that’s not called a “broad-based” tax, since it affects just tourists (or natives who act like tourists).

There’s a huge “real-estate transfer” tax on buying a house and a huge “property” tax on using your house after you’ve bought it. But they aren’t considered “broad-based” taxes, since you can always live in an apartment instead. (Then your landlord has to pay the hidden 8% “room rental” tax; but that’s his problem, not yours.)

There’s a huge tax on registering your car. But instead you can jog or use a bicycle or skates — or take a bus, if you don’t mind waiting several hours for the bus to show up. (In New Hampshire, search for a bus is like searching for a Puerto Rican: it requires sleuthing.)

There’s also an “interest & dividends tax” (for people who earn lots of money from bank interest or stocks), a “business profits tax” (for businesses that make a lot of money), and a “telecommunications tax” (on your phone bill). But you can avoid them if you have no money, no business, and no phone, so they’re not called “broad-based” taxes.

So in New Hampshire, you can “live free of taxes” just if you hide under a rock.

No restrictions In New Hampshire, you can do whatever you want, if you don’t get dangerously huffy about it.

For example, you can drive a car without getting a driver’s license. I was really surprised about that. When my stepdaughter wanted to learn how to drive, I asked the Department of Motor Vehicles about how to get her a “learner’s permit,” so she could practice; but the Department said she didn’t need one: she could just go ahead and drive. The only restriction is that a licensed driver must be next to her in the front seat and she has to say she’s “learning.”

In New Hampshire, you don’t need automobile insurance — unless you prove to be such a dangerous driver that the state decides to make a special exception in your case and force you to get insurance. So I don’t have automobile insurance. I don’t have home insurance or health insurance either. If my car hits you, or you trip on my lawn, you take me to court and take my house. Then I’ll have the pleasure of sitting outside and not having to pay the property tax.

New Hampshire is the only state where you don’t need to wear a seat belt if you’re an adult, even if you’re the driver. New Hampshirites believe you have the God-given right to kill yourself on the highway. Seatbelts are required just for kids under 18, who are too young to appreciate the finer aspects of suicide.

You can smoke in any room in any building. Your lungs are your own business, and everybody else in your smoky room can just leave!

Want to buy a gun? No problem. Just go to a store, say you want to buy a gun, and in less than half an hour you’ve got it.

Want to kill your mom? Well, that’s against the law. I guess we New Hampshirites need to have some limits! But it’s probably okay to strangle a squirrel.

Politics New Hampshire is run mainly by Republicans who tote guns. But they’re kind enough to donate shelters to Democrats who escaped from Boston when Boston’s real estate got too expensive for normal folks to live in.

Recently, the Republicans were kind enough to let a Democrat lady become governor. She was a kind lady who believed in education. When she had trouble balancing her budget, she decided the fairest solution was to add a sales tax and income tax. The voters decided the fairest solution was to get rid of her. They did. So we still have no sales tax and no income tax. We also have a new governor —Republican, of course — who still can’t balance the budget.

Since I’m a Democrat, I’m morally required to believe the fairest form of taxation is the income tax, since it taxes the rich more than the poor. But I have to admit that I secretly enjoy the evil pleasure of being in New Hampshire, since it’s sure nice to avoid the bureaucratic hassles of figuring sales tax and income tax and filling out those stupid forms all you folks must fill out each year.

My friends back in Massachusetts love to taunt me by reminding me that “New Hampshire is great place to live, as long as you don’t have a handicapped kid or break a leg or need any other kind of social service.” New Hampshire ain’t keen on offering such services. Remember the New Hampshire motto: “Live free or die,” which means “If you’re not good enough to live well freely, just go die — or move to Massachusetts. Let them take care of you!”


In New Hampshire, God is a frustrated artist: He keeps trying to draw out the perfect snowstorm. He keeps dumping his efforts on us in His attempt to create the perfect snow landscape but never quite gets it right. Finally, one day, the frustrated Deity of Dramatic Weather gives up, smiles, and breaks out singing:

                              I can’t get snow satisfaction —

                              And I try, and I try, and I try, and I try.

                              I can’t get snow —

                              Snow, snow, snow!

Then He creates — for His finale — one final gigantic snowstorm, called “The Oy’s of March.”

Afterwards, he takes His bow. That’s called “spring.” The flowers come up and applaud his past achievements but are secretly relieved to see the concert’s over.

Oops! I said the forbidden word “spring”! I shouldn’t have said that. In New Hampshire, we’re not allowed to say “spring.” Natives say instead, “It’s the mud season,” because that’s when the snow starts melting and all the shit is sopping wet. Each “yard” becomes a series of rivers and waterfalls running under the snow — until finally old man Sun gets really hot and angry and lets the birds chirp. But then “The Old Man in the Mountain” (New Hampshire’s godlike mountain stone face, still alive in spirit) gets grumpy, tells the birds to shut up, and throws snow on them — for many days in a row — in April or May. That’s called “Whitey’s surprise party.”

In New Hampshire each year, the weatherman admits again that “March came in like a lion and went out like a moose: a big, lumbering surprise whose journey was unpredictable.”

In other states, pixies sing “April showers bring May flowers.” In New Hampshire, we sing “April crud brings May mud.”

But if life here weren’t an adventurous challenge, why would anyone come?

During what month does snow here start? The answer is: “Whenever you don’t expect it.” For example, on a bright, sunny day in mid-October, I was foolish enough to ask my neighbor Tom (a policeman who’s lived here for many years) when snow would start. He said, “December or late November, but never before November 15th.” Well, I shouldn’t have asked. Just asking the question sealed my fate: the very week I asked, it snowed many times, to drive home the point that newbies shouldn’t ask such stupid questions. It also reminded me that if you want to know what goes on up here, don’t ask a policeman.

While other states have a storm that “rains cats and dogs,” in New Hampshire it “snows bears and moose.”

Since our gigantic storms hit us unpredictably, here’s how we New Hampshirites chat with our next-door neighbors:

“What’s new?”

“What snow!”

“What now?”

“Don’t know!”

“Here it comes!”

“Here we go!”

“Holy cow!”

“Holy Mo’!”

During winters, New Hampshire farmers don’t say “Have a nice day.” Instead they say:

Have an iced hay.

That sounds the same but is more realistic, since you can never have a “nice day” during a New Hampshire winter.

Dartmouth College

New Hampshire’s most famous college is Dartmouth. It was started centuries ago as a missionary school to teach Indians about religion and English. None of the Indians got to speak English real well, but the best of the bunch was sent to England to try to raise donations. His pitch was, basically, “Me Indian. Me speak English. You want more Indians to speak English? Give money.” Nobody gave very much. The idiot who gave the most was the Earl of Dartmouth, so they decided to name the college after him, in the hopes he’d give more. He never gave another cent.

Like New Hampshire weather, Dartmouth College is full of extremes: a hotbed of liberals peppered with silly arch-conservatives. For example, the arch-conservative student who lived down the hall from me hung a Confederate flag on one wall, hung a Rhodesian flag on the other, and wore an upside-down peace button showing a bomber and the words “Drop it!”

When Democrats vying to be “President of the United States” visit New Hampshire, they love to stop at Dartmouth College and give speeches there, so liberals will cheer them and make them feel good. Then the rest of the state, which is mainly Republican, ignores them.

Woody Allen in French

In New Hampshire, TV can sure be different.

I turned on the TV one day and saw a movie with the famous Jewish actor, Woody Allen, talking in French. I didn’t realize he could talk French much, but in this movie he kept talking and talking, in French, to various women (white ones, black ones, and wild ones), who kept replying to him in French. No subtitles.

Finally I realized why: I’d accidentally turned to French-Canadian TV. The movie was secretly dubbed into French.

That’s another side-effect of living close to the Canadian border: not knowing which language you’ll be yelled at in.