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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 car insurance — unless you’re such a dangerous driver that the state declares you an exception. So I don’t have car insurance. I don’t have home insurance or health insurance either. If my car hits you or you trip on my lawn, just 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 Hampshire believes 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 pleasures of suicide.

If you want to ride a motorcycle dangerously, go ahead:
you don’t need to wear a helmet. Massachusetts bikers love to come to New Hampshire and discard their helmets when they reach our border, so they can feel the wind blowing in their hair — and later feel their heads bobbling on the asphalt. As a result, New Hampshire is the state that has the most motorcycles per 1000 people.

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! (But recently, a few health nuts have voted to ban smoking in restaurants, starting in September 2007, because they want to taste food without coughing.)

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. You don’t need a license: just wait the half hour for the store’s computer to check you’re not a felon.

You can carry a gun with you, loaded, practically anywhere you wish, without a license — even into your local bank or convenience store. The only restriction is you can’t take it onto a plane or into certain government buildings. If you carry a loaded gun, just make sure it’s visible, so everybody can see it and get properly scared and nervous: don’t hide it! (If you want to hide it, you must remove the bullets first, so you don’t get arrested for carrying a “concealed loaded weapon.”) But if you’re stupid enough to carry a loaded visible gun into a bank or convenience store, be prepared to get tackled by a nervous rookie policeman — who’ll then apologize to you for having impinged on your New Hampshire rights.

If you don’t want to pay a highway toll, you don’t have to. That’s because New Hampshire lawmakers made a mistake when writing the highway-toll law, and they’re too lazy to fix it. The law accidentally says it’s illegal for New Hampshire to arrest you for not throwing coins into the toll basket.

Want to kill your mom? Well, that’s against the law. We New Hampshirites need to have some limits! But it’s 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.

For a while, 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 got a new governor —Republican, of course — who still couldn’t balance the budget. Now the newest governor is a Democrat again, but he’s just a token governor, since his Republican legislature won’t let him do anything.

Since I’m a Democrat, I’m morally required by the Democrat religion to believe the fairest tax is an income tax, since it taxes the rich more than the poor. But I admit 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 those stupid forms all you Non-Hampshirites must fill 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 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.


I live in New Hampshire’s biggest city, which is spelled “Manchester” but pronounced “Manch has duh.” That pronunciation summarizes the city: Manch has, duh, stupid people. When I lived in Boston, I had the pleasure of chatting with advanced Harvard and M.I.T. students about the meaning of life; but now I’m stuck in Manchester, where the main intellectual question is:

Who has the greenest lawn — and why?

At first glance, Manchester is just a dying mill town, full of abandoned boarded-up textile mills along the river. But at second glance, Manchester is… still an abandoned mill town. Not until you take a third glance do you realize Manchester is full of secrets, such as:

It’s the only U.S. city whose main street has two dead ends. That’s one reason why Manchester is called “dead-end city.” The other reason is that living in Manchester will make your career go nowhere — like mine.

The only famous person who grew up in Manchester is comedian Adam Sandler. When he was a high-school student, he insisted in history class that Abraham Lincoln was Jewish, because the textbook said Lincoln was shot “in the temple.”

Though Manchester is New Hampshire’s “biggest city,” it’s small: just 100,000 people. Most of them live in suburban-style houses and within a 10-minute drive of each other.

Manchester has the best buffet deals, because of endless buffet wars here. The current buffet-war winner is the Manchester Buffet Restaurant, which stuffs you with unlimited high-quality American, Chinese, and sushi for just $6.75 (if you’re smart enough to come at lunchtime) or $5.75 (if you’re even smarter and use the newspaper’s coupon).

Manchester has the best deals on foot-long sandwiches. The winners are the foot-long veggie at the Subway inside Wal-Mart and the pastrami sub at the Mobil gas station near my house.

Though Manchester is small and in Yankee territory, it includes ridiculously many foreign restaurants: Italian, Greek, Mexican, Portuguese, Brazilian, Chinese, Thai, Polynesian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Nepalese, and French Canadian.

Nobody living in Manchester really wants to be here, but people live here anyway because the housing is cheap, there’s no sales tax, and Manchester is just an hour from each kind of fun: Boston, the ocean, the lakes, the mountains, and skiing.

Manchester has New England’s best airport, offering cheap, fast parking ($2) and discount airfares (on Southwest Airlines and competitors).

Manchester is where you’ll find the house decorated to look like a piano: the chimney’s bricks are painted to look like a giant piano keyboard.

Manchester has New England’s best newspaper: it’s a weekly, called The Hippo.

Manchester contains many cultures:

It has houses with big lawns, for the rich.

It has low-cost apartments, for the poor.

It has hotels, for tourists en route to fall foliage, winter skiing, summer hiking, and presidential candidates.

It has a drag strip full of shopping malls, surrounded by huge parking lots to hold Massholes (visitors who come from Massachusetts to avoid sales tax).

It has a downtown full of shops, restaurants, and wild bars (where bands perform and slutty girls gamble their lives away, giving Manchester the nickname ManchVegas).

It has a quiet lake, where visitors relax and residents get their drinking water. (Please don’t piss in the pool!)

It has a riverbank lined with hundreds of abandoned textile mills, which developers quickly turn into industrial-chic restaurants and other “playgrounds for the rich.”

South of Manchester, you see hoards of Democrats who wanted to keep living in Massachusetts but could no longer afford Massachusetts’ expensive housing. North of Manchester, you see rustic tribes of Republican outdoorsmen who want government to “leave them alone”: they hate Democrat socialists. Manchester is the dividing line between those two cultures, where the Democrats and Republicans clash.

Manchester is where you’ll find the hotel on which this poem is based:

The Fleabag Hotel

Police just released me. I’d nowhere to go —

Just dumped in the park, in the rain, in the dark.

I asked fine hotels, “Have you room?” They said “No,

The rooms are all taken for kids’ graduation.”

A cabbie said, “Sonny, I’ll show you a door

That always has room — like a bride for her groom.”

Just 5 minutes later, we got there. Oh, swell:

I found myself joining the Fleabag Hotel.

Atop a high hill overlooking its prey,

The Fleabag Hotel guarantees a bad day.

For victims who enter, there’s no other way:

You pay for your stay and then pray you’re okay.

Your life is real Hell at the Fleabag Hotel,

Where each ne’er-do-well gives his personal yell.

Broke bums join this hole when they’re out on the dole;

Cute toughs grab this goal when they’re out on parole:

Their violence beams to your eyes, which can’t nod.

You hear ev’ry bod say “Fuck you!” and “Oh, God!”

Stained carpets, gray foam make this “home” far from home.

The water pipes groan as the banged-up girls moan.

The lights on the fritz make the danger signs flash.

All paint’s peeling off. “We take cards, checks, and cash”:

The man at the desk tries to sell a night’s rest.

Your chest fills with screams in your night beyond dreams.

The ceilings all leak, dripping yellow from rain.

The floors kindly creak, just to harmonize pain.

Don’t breathe when you’re there, or you’ll take in the stench

Of old cigarettes and each weary whipped wench.

The bathrooms’ black mold covers curtains and walls.

No “tissue rolls” there, so you’ll scratch ass and balls.

The curtains, too short, don’t quite hide you from peeps

By gangs who come round to turn losers to weeps.

The phones never work: “You don’t call police, please.”

The exits are locked, so don’t try to run. Freeze,

And hope for the best as you hear clanging chains

All strike, just to test how your neighbors take pains.

You come for a treat, but you leave feeling beat

From bright candy canes that sure mess up your brains.

The girls who were slain in the bed where you’ve lain

Shall haunt you with blood that was poured down your drain.

I don’t understand all this. Neither should you.

Just stay far away, so you won’t be there too.

Okay, I confess I exaggerated a bit: not all the rooms have blood in the drains.