Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lunch With Joe the Writer

Last winter, author Joe McGinnis, who is writing a critical book about Sarah Palin, was looking for a place in Wasilla to rent this summer, as he continues his research. He was offered the house next door to the Palins' Lake Lucille cult compound-in-progress. He wasn’t looking for the place. It came looking for him. What would you do?

As Joe recounted this and other details of what has gotten him to be next-door-neighbor to the most bizarre political joke in American history (move over, Aaron Burr), I was laughing so hard in Wasilla’s Mekong Restaurant, that my bean-thread noodles were getting all over the place.

What WOULD you do?

Joe had met earlier in the morning with Wasilla’s current mayor, Vern Rupright. Apparently, they both laughed a lot at the sight of the hasty, 15-foot tall fence addition the Palins impetuously and somewhat clumsily erected Tuesday along the lot line.

The lot line problem is an example of how the Palins sometime create their own complications. The lakeside lots of both the properties McGinniss is leasing, and the Palins’ own, are wide by local standards – almost 200 feet of beach. The house McGinniss occupies is 10 feet from the lot line of the Palins’ property. Joe’s place was on the lake for many years before the Palins built theirs ten feet from the adjoining line, 20 feet from what is now Joe’s office.

Why did the Palins build so close to their neighbors that a headache might crop up at an inconvenient time in the future? Who knows?

Joe’s here to do a job: write a book about the political milieu from which Palin emerged. It might end up being the best book yet about Alaska. His Going to Extremes is the most durable of the spate of books that attempted to describe the gold rush atmosphere in the far north, as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was being built.

If investigative reporting is snooping, then that’s part of the territory. How would we have gotten some our best books on politicians, were it not for brazen reporting? All the President’s Men, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Screwed, and Dude, Where’s My Country? - all involved a bit of snooping, as have many other great books about politicians’ lives.

We’re all used to the Palin modus operandus of throwing her family members out onto the national stage, one by one, or in various combinations. As long as she and her handlers feel they are in control of the pandering, there is no limit to how sleazy of a venue she will find for them. OK, maybe there is a limit – she likes to get paid when she whores out the family.

She likes to get paid a lot.

Maybe that was part of why Palin went all Pamela Gellar on facebook about her new neighbor:

Spring has sprung in Alaska, and with this beautiful season comes the news today that the Palins have a new neighbor! Welcome, Joe McGinniss!

Yes, that Joe McGinniss. Here he is – about 15 feet away on the neighbor’s rented deck overlooking my children’s play area and my kitchen window. Maybe we’ll welcome him with a homemade blueberry pie tomorrow so he’ll know how friendly Alaskans are.

We found out the good news today. Upon my family’s return this morning from endorsement rallies and speeches in the Lower 48 states, I finally got the chance to tackle my garden and lawn this evening! So, putting on the shorts and tank top to catch that too-brief northern summer sun and placing a giddy Trig in his toddler backpack for a lawn-mowing adventure, I looked up in surprise to see a “new neighbor” overlooking my property just a stone’s throw away. Needless to say, our outdoor adventure ended quickly after Todd went to introduce himself to the stranger who was peering in...

Joe announced to Todd that he’s moved in right next door to us. He’s rented the place for the next five months or so. He moved up all the way from Massachusetts to live right next to us – while he writes a book about me. Knowing of his many other scathing pieces of “journalism” (including the bizarre anti-Palin administration oil development pieces that resulted in my Department of Natural Resources announcing that his work is the most twisted energy-related yellow journalism they’d ever encountered), we’re sure to have a doozey to look forward to with this treasure he’s penning. Wonder what kind of material he’ll gather while overlooking Piper’s bedroom, my little garden, and the family’s swimming hole?

Welcome, Joe! It’ll be a great summer – come borrow a cup of sugar if ever you need some sweetener. And you know what they say about “fences make for good neighbors”? Well, we’ll get started on that tall fence tomorrow, and I’ll try to keep Trig’s squeals down to a quiet giggle so we don’t disturb your peaceful summer. Enjoy!

Sarah Palin

Palin neglected to write about Todd’s encounter with Joe the Writer, in which Todd berated McGinnis for his long article early last year, which took apart what Sarah Palin still claims to be her major achievement as governor of Alaska – AGIA, her increasingly unlikely scenario for construction of a trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline, a project blogger and former legislator Andrew Halcro calls "the great white whale in the room."

After my Wednesday lunch with Joe, we went down to the Wasilla Lowe’s, and purchased some security equipment for the rental house. I went over and helped him set some of it up. He showed me how Todd had started remodeling the upstairs of the house, when Todd wanted to have it rented out to somebody, probably from Newscorp. Todd never got around to remodeling the part of the home, down in the basement, from which a meth lab had operated next door to the Palins for months, if not longer. Here's Shannyn Moore's description of some of the house's pre-Joe the Writer history, and Palin's weird reaction:

The home Joe McGinniss is renting used to be an Oxford House from 2005 until 2008. The tenants were men recently released from prison who were recovering addicts. What? No fence to protect sexy Sarah in her tank top? Dear God! Who was lurking in that house watching her children play?

The Palins themselves rented the home McGinnis is staying in for six months in 2009, but weren’t interested in purchasing it. They didn’t want to spend the money. Last October they were “done with the house”. During the election, the Secret Service guarded the Palin home from the backyard now occupied by Mr. McGinnis. Here’s a hint, Sarah – if you want to dictate who lives in the house, you should have probably bought it first.

It’s predictable Palin.

Sarah has a habit of shooting down hill. One of my daughter’s friends has a black eye from shooting down hill while bear hunting. It’s not just a proverbial lesson, it’s a literal one.

Last week, she attended a funeral with her youngest daughter. I called her daughter a “human shield”. Sarah validated my metaphor with her attack on Joe McGinnis. She evoked provocative images of herself, then accuses a respected journalist of “peering” at her young daughter. “I’m hot! He’s a pervert!”

Ask David Letterman how accusations of pedophilia work out. Initially, Dave looked like he’d gone too far with his tasteless joke. But her strike back about having to protect her fourteen year old daughter from David Letterman? No one was buying her manufactured outrage. She quit a three weeks later.

Todd’s unfinished carpentry upstairs looked to me to be better-than-average trailer court kitsch. In other words, like a lot of Wasilla remodel jobs. And like a lot of Wasilla remodels - unfinished.

Even though I’ve lived in Wasilla for over 25 years, I’d never been this close to the Palin cult compound. During the period between Palin’s selection as John McCain’s 2008 running mate and her July 3rd 2009 resignation, I must have been asked a couple dozen times by various people if I had been there, or if I wanted to go over there for some announcement or another. I stayed away. Having seen the place up close now, though, I can only say that the pictures one sees do not do the brazen, in-your-face aura of this set of unfinished, partially finished and weirdly realized buildings anything close to justice. The property reminds me of nothing else around here. It is more reminiscent of the Branch Davidian complex in Waco – before the fire – than anything in Wasilla.

And Joe is set up to work on the book. With the fence looming over the south-facing windows, the Palins can, from the top floor of the main house, look down on Joe, typing away on his MacBook Pro, even if he can’t see them. No doubt they’re already installing, probably with Newscorp help, instruments in the cult compound that can decipher Joe’s keyboard strokes.

I did have the satisfaction, while helping Joe deal with a stream of intruders coming down his driveway, of watching my dog, Strider, go over to the Palin’s yard and leave a present. I gave him an extra treat when we got home.


AKPetMom said...

Great piece Phil! I'm sure that Strider said to himself as he relieved himself that the Palin's "are for me to poop on".

It seems that more people want to "poop on them" than be their friends and that is just as well.

These are not nice people and they have no redeeming qualities.

They seem to be all about "what not to do" rather than possessing qualities worth emulating.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, if you actually get to "take time off"!

angela said...

Give your dog an extra treat for me, Phil.

I sometimes wonder if the Palins can even spell the word shame.

Anonymous said...

Phil- when was the house used for a meth lab? Did haz mat come in and clean it up?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Phil! NE Native

Philip Munger said...


good question. It was turned into a meth lab when the rehab company was leasing it. Nobody has been able to find out the degree of cleaning that went into the basement afterward, to my knowledge. Shannyn's article links to more info.

Anonymous said...

Phil, you should have Joe check with the homeowner on the level of clean up.

That's not supposed to be good for people.

What type of remodel was Todd doing?

I'd also have the locks changed, they most likely have a key.

Anonymous said...

GOOD dog, Strider.

Truga said...

Phil, you're so intrigued with McGinnis, you could be his best friend and even help a ghostwriter write his biography, which I'm sure would be very interesting to everyone out there.

Anonymous said...

I suppose in Alaska it's mannerly to allow your dog to 'leave presents'. As long as you don't like the people who will have to clean up after *your* dog. Palin is a social and political disaster -- but I doubt it is her influence that made you the sort of person to boast of leaving droppings on another person's property. That, I will assume, is something your parents can boast of.

Anonymous said...

Wow - it took 8 comments for the trolls to show up. You folks are sloughing off. Should I have ventured over onto the Palins property to clean up after Strider? Wouldn't that have been "invading their privacy"? It's not like I'm any better at keeping him from pooping around a place that looks pretty tawdry than is the next dog owner.

phil from another computer

Helen said...

Enjoyed your perspective and especially your writing very much Phil. Please keep us posted with updates!

Anonymous said...

Wow, moved into a rental, started some kind of crappy ass re-model, and then moved out without even finishing the work.

Pretty trashy is right. Of course, if that fence is any example of Todd's workmanship, I'm not surprised.

What a loser.

mxm said...


Great column, thanks for helping our friend Joe with security. I have been writing of my suspicion now for several days - while leased to Oxford, the group home may have only truly used the property for a very short time.

I suspect the Palins objected so strenuously, and with a well connected NIMBY action, they were able to get the city, borough or state to pick up the lease - Oxford was finished at 1160 and they moved on.

With the likes of Todd and his gang along with a bunch of wild teens living in and visiting the Palin home, who can say what went on in a vacant home. The owner got her rent for the term of the lease and was none the wiser.

So, was the Oxford Home bought out by some governmental body in AK, at the behest of Sarah Palin?

From everything that I have learned about the Oxford program, having residents set up a meth lab is the last thing that I would believe. I would hate to have that organization get a black-eye over this finding.

Anonymous said...

yes, now there are two useless tits walking around together in alaska.. its like dumb and dumber... by the way, did Joe have any tingling running down his leg when he met you?

Merrycricket said...

So from the pictures I've seen, the fence looks like it is less than 10 feet from the rental house. Which would make it clearly on the rental property and not the Palin's fence at all. Is this the case?

Makabit Bat Guriel said...

And I bet Phil and his little leftist buddies are the ones who have a shit fit (no pun intended) when they walk down trails and paths stepping in other people's dog shit.
Maybe the mutt will roll in something dead and roll around on your furniture.

Celia Harrison said...

I love your post except for the negative spin on the Oxford House based on someone else's prejudices. It is a myth that the Oxford House was for men recently released from prison. Oxford Houses have nothing to do with the department of corrections, they are affiliated with the department of health and human services. This is the only thing I know of that Reagan started that helped people. This is a sensational-ization and a typical attempt to demonize anyone who has been incarcerated. Anyone who knows anything about the prison systems in this country should know many who are good people are spending time as wrongfully convicted or over sentenced inmates. These are self supporting homes where people in recovery can live in a safe and supportive environment, they have been very successful and have very long waiting lists. They have strict rules and anyone who uses or drinks must leave. The government provides loans to start them which are paid back, the people who live in them must pay the bills. In other words they save the tax payers lots of money. Oxford Houses are run democratically and the residents vote on new members. It is possible they could vote an ex-inmate in, but the houses are based on being in recovery. Even if this was a half-way house for former prisoners why would people be promoting the idea that they were dangerous when they are just addicts and alcoholics who need treatment. The prisons in this country are filled with mentally ill people and those with chemical addictions. In other words most of the inmates are people with an illnesses that has been criminalized. Let's not try and put a negative spin on something that is a fabulous idea for everyone. Information about Oxford Houses is quite easy to find. BTW, I think a lot of people would be surprised to find out how many houses and apartments have had meth made in them. It is being made in lava lamps and soda bottles, the chemicals can be kept in a carry on bag.

sallyngarland,tx said...

Palin is always saying "Don't you love your freedoms"? Most people do--lncluding the freedom to live where they want. McGinniss is exercising his "freedoms". Palin can't dictate where people live--or bully people from "the lower 48" out of where they want to live. She entered the "big leagues" by parading all over the US. If she can't "play", then she should get out of the spotlight with her immaturity in tow.

Anonymous said...

"intruders coming down his driveway"


You left-wing shite crack me up... TOTAL IRONY.

BTW, did you tell him that's NOT his property but that of the owner's whom he rents from?

Fuck all of you, very much.

Anonymous said...

Whose Words Are They, Anyway?

(Palin Neighbor McGinniss a plagarist)

Entertainment Weekly ^ | Jul 30, 1993 | Tim Appelo

Anonymous said...

You are happy your dog "left a present".

Kind of sums up your whole approach. The lkevel of invective from someone who calls himself a "progrssive" Alaskan?

You aren't even aware of how hypocritical you are. As you are an example of so called "progressives", I now understand what is wrong with America.

Anonymous said...

"they didn't buy the house, she didn't want to spend the money"

If she had bought the house next door, you PDS sufferers would be accusing her of conspicuous consumption.

Wake up to yourselves before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

Bragging that your dog shit on her lawn? My what a profound political statement.Maybe Olberman will give you the coverage this act of courage deserves. What is it about Sarah Palin that makes liberal twits piss their pants in fear? Is it the fact that she could probably kick your ass while holding Trig in one arm / LOL...

Anonymous said...

Is there law enforcement and hazmat response to the basement meth lab? Seems like Joe should get a few dollars knocked ofr the rent, an old meth lab not being exactly an asset to the property.

Makabit Bat Guriel said...

sallyngarland, tx,

put the bong down and pay attention.
I wasn't commenting on the mental midget that rented the place next door to the Palins.
I was referring to Herr Munger and his mutt's dog shit pile that he left in the yard. I guess the old Jew hater didn't consider there are small children living in the house. Besides the fact he doesn't seem to care about his dogs safety by putting it on a leash.
It's probably the first truthful thing the old coot has admitted to and he deserves a gold star.

KaJo said...

Anonymous said @ May 29, 2010 10:23 PM Whose Words Are They, Anyway?
(Palin Neighbor McGinniss a plagarist) Entertainment Weekly ^ | Jul 30, 1993 | Tim Appelo

BRILLIANT! Your source is ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY? Isn't that a bit like quoting The National Enquirer? Or Palin's favorite go-to gossip outlet, TMZ, where she regularly passes along "news" about Levi Johnston?

BTW, by bringing up plagiarism, you simply open up the discussion to the number of times Palin herself has plagiarized -- three instances come to mind off the top of my head -- last year when she lifted whole paragraphs from a Newt Gingrich speech, last year when she lifted selected phrases from one of Ronald Reagan's speeches, and just yesterday when she plagiarized the Veterans poem penned by Charles M Province (see original at where it very plainly says copyright 1970, 2005).

What's worse, both in her Tweet just an hour ago and on her Facebook page, she lauds Fred Thompson -- "beautiful version of meaningful poem" -- for an old (2003) YouTube reading of the poem, about which he offhandedly says, "Read something recently worth thinking about" without attribution.

It's like the uncountable times the Republicans appropriate music from recording artists and use the music as intro, without permission from the artist(s). ("Barracuda" by Heart, for example).

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Great post Phil, glad to see someone welcomed "can I call you Joe" to their neighborhood!
"I can only say that the pictures one sees do not do the brazen, in-your-face aura of this set of unfinished, partially finished and weirdly realized buildings anything close to justice. The property reminds me of nothing else around here. It is more reminiscent of the Branch Davidian complex in Waco – before the fire – than anything in Wasilla."
OMG! That is priceless! When I see/hear of the cult compound I am reminded of the Winchester Mystery house where the woman was crazy and just kept building and building...could be granny!
And it didn't take much to get the trolls all wee weed up! LMAO!
Good dog Strider, give a hug for me!
It looks like these neighbors had to move after the grifter clan built their house 10 ft away, I would be pissed to...oh yeah, BTW since you were there Phil...granny and Bristol both testified recently in Tenn. that poor Bristol was all alone in the woods?
The house is 10 ft away? The Lake Lucille Best Western right up the street?
Did Bristol and Granny LIE????
Perjure? LIE in COURT???

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

That is a nice pic of you both love the artwork and the cello.

Truga said...

@KaJo: Is that the best you can do on Memorial Day! Palin clearly stated: "enjoy this version of the poem from Fred Thompsom." So cut the crap out for today. Signed: Major, USAF, MC, 1968 - 1974.

Anonymous said...

what is 'fearful' about the palin's, sarah in particular, is their aggressive, irrational nature, and the fact that this behavior is backed by some of you! of course, saying this will make you fan your peacock feathers and wave your guns in the air, and Lord Almighty, we wouldn't want that!

Anonymous said...


I am 61. I don't have a bong--although it might have been a good idea since I am recovering from breast cancer. I have never been involved with marijuana but can imagine it might have benefitted me.

The way to engage people in a debate is not by insult. Phil Munger simply exercised his, and his dog's, freedom.

"Don't ya love your freedoms?", Palin said.


akbright said...

I have always known dogs have a good sense of character, and behave accordingly - Strider included.

Gramiam said...

Great post, Phil! Now can we all get back to the important things such as BP, aerial wolf extermination and extricating ourselves from Iraq and Afghanistan? Sarah Pay Me deserves -0- attention in light of real problems!

Anonymous said...

"Good question. It was turned into a meth lab when the rehab company was leasing it. Nobody has been able to find out the degree of cleaning that went into the basement afterward, to my knowledge. Shannyn's article links to more info."

Shannyn's article does NOT link to more info about this alleged "meth lab" as far as I can see.

Furthermore, the house rented as Joe McGinniss is NOT listed in the National Clandestine Laboratory Register. See here: A different house at the extreme far end of the same road IS listed - maybe there's been some confusion?

Or are you alleging this supposed meth lab was never officially reported, investigated, and cleaned up? I find that very hard to believe.

I'm with Celia Harrison above. Palin's fair game as far as her politics and other antics are concerned.

But surely it's NOT progressive to throw rumors around about initiatives like Oxford House? - Such initiatives and those who take steps to overcome drug dependency should be supported.

If you have proof of this allegation, by all means let's see it. If you don't then please take immediate steps to stop this rumor spreading round the web by issuing a correction.

Anonymous said...
Sarah Palin Plagiarized Memorial Day Message
Palin tweeted the following: "VETERANS,not reporters,give freedom of the press.VETS,not politicians,give freedom to vote.VETS,not campus radicals,give freedom to assemble." She did not mention that she'd stolen it from a 1970 poem.
Isn't this the 3rd time now? Reagan, Newt and now this???

The remarkably similar poem, by former soldier Charles M. Province, is available here and goes as follows:

Makabit Bat Guriel said...

sallyngarland, tx,

I don't care about your personal issues. They have no more to do with this exchange then what I ate for breakfast or if I took a healthy crap this morning.
So you admit to being a bit hazy without the dope? Good for you!

As for the dog being off a leash there is a law against it. You do know what laws are right?
And people in the Valley are rather fond of shooting dogs running loose, just this last week some poor labrador was shot and had to be taken to the vet because it was running around off it's property and off a leash. The shooter needs a good kick in the pants but that is another subject for another time.
Not only is Phil a rude prick but he is putting his dog in danger by allowing it to run free. We have bears and crazies all over the place here. So that makes Phil an abusive owner. He needs to have his dog removed from his "care".
You on the other hand need to worry about Texas.

Anonymous said...

Wow Phil, you're no different than my hillybilly neighbors who also let their dog roam the neighborhood so he can leave "presents" wherever he likes, including my property.

If you've ever stepped in dog shit, somebody else's dog's shit, it's not very funny.

You're not a very enlightened individual Mr. Munger.

aroooo! said...

He smelled Sarah's blueberry pie.

(You picked up his mess, right?)

Anonymous said...

Um, the moose walk through Palin's yard. The mess they leave is considerably worse than anything a dog did.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of one's personal feelings about either party, does it seem reasonable for a writer to move next door to his subject? It gives neither party any separation of public and private life. A little different scenario, but how would you feel if your mortgage company officer (who is responsible for giving you a mortgage) intentionally moved next door to you? That person would constantly be monitoring what you purchased, how you managed your household, what your children did, etc. It would not be comfortable. It's as though every insignificant thing you did was on trial. Fair? I think not.