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Beam on Politics | Alex Beam

It’s a tough way to make a living

By Alex Beam
Globe Columnist / October 23, 2009

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So my maiden assignment is an expense-account-funded pub crawl. Covering politics sounds like fun!

My first stop of the evening lands me at Jasper White’s Summer Shack on Alewife Parkway in Cambridge, just in time for Senator Anthony Galluccio’s fund-raiser. “Free Beer and Wine, Compliments of Senator Galluccio,’’ the invitation reads. Understandably, I am psyched for a wing-ding.

Yes, it does seem like an odd moment for the senator to be popping corks and tapping kegs. It was just a few weeks ago that the former Cambridge mayor left the scene of a hit-and-run traffic accident, prompting the Globe and others to remind readers of his previous encounters with the DUI laws.

Astonishingly, Senator Galluccio didn’t seem happy to see me. After some gettin’-to-know-ya banter, I asked him about the advisability of holding a fund-raiser in a bar so soon after his traffic mishap. As he ushered me to the door - politely, gently, firmly - I heard the words: “No comment . . . off the record . . . this isn’t a bar; it’s a restaurant.’’

Fair enough, although we did seem to be in the upstairs bar portion of the restaurant, what with the free booze and all. The event had been planned months ago. It was all an unfortunate coincidence.

At the door, executing a civilized version of the bum’s rush, Galluccio aide Jason Marshall explained that “we’re not commenting on anything until the traffic citations are dealt with.’’

But my night wasn’t over. In fact, it had hardly begun.

I hied myself to the Boston Garden - what’s it called now? Failing Bank Holding Company Garden? - to take in a Michael Flaherty-Sam Yoon “friendraiser’’ at the Greatest Bar, just off Causeway Street. The Greatest Bar turned out to be a Pretty Good Bar. In addition to the caterwauling rock music and the dizzying multiplex of high-def TV screens festooning the walls, it also boasted an astonishing photo-montage of Boston sports moments on the ceiling. “It’s the Sistine Chapel of sports,’’ proud owner Billy Fairweather told me. Which I believe makes him the Pope Julius II of Boston sports, if I have my art history right.

I made the mistake of arriving at the appointed time, which meant I had to wait for the Bruins game to end and for some Flaherty-Yoon supporters to show up, so the crowd could attain critical mass for a media-worthy event. In due course, a motley crew of “Floon’’ camp followers, Boston firefighters, and party-ready Bruins fans filled the bar, and the two neatly dressed mayoral candidates showed up to press the flesh.

I complained to Yoon that while waiting, I had to suffer through three Steve Pagliuca “just an ordinary millionaire’’ ads and two Tom Menino friend-to-all-the-animals commercials. Where’s your stuff, I asked? “We’re not going to be on the air,’’ he lamented. “We’re going to do mail. The strategic advice we got said don’t compete in a medium that you can’t dominate, and we can’t dominate Menino on TV.’’

I suspected that a goodly portion of the black-and-gold-clad revelers attending the event had come to reacquaint themselves with Sam Adams, rather than with Flaherty and Yoon. Six-foot-six man-mountain Rolf Bonnell, a tennis pro wearing a Patrice Bergeron jersey, confirmed my suspicion.

“Who are those guys?’’ he asked, when I mentioned there were politicians in the room. “Democrats? No, even if I were registered, I wouldn’t vote for them. I think Obama is the worst president in history.’’ And so on. His companion Aimee Wolf, also a tennis pro, disagreed. “We butt heads,’’ she explained.

I caught up with Flaherty between grip-and-grins, fiddling with his Blackberry and sipping at his second club soda and lime of the evening. He and Yoon had arrived from an earlier education event in Roslindale; they were planning to hang around the bar until about eleven, and Flaherty hoped to hit the gym at 5:30 the next morning.

Tough way to earn a living, I say.

Alex Beam is a Globe columnist. His e-dress is Beam@globe.com.