Food and Drink

Robert "Concrete Bob" Miller - Someone You Should've Known

I’ve seen Concrete Bob cry. 

That’s not the normal opening for a SYSK, is it?

Robert “Concrete Bob” Miller did not have the sobs of a wimp – instead it was gigantic howling, mad physical crying, leaving him breathless.  Crying the way a strong man shows grief. Then, Bob would stop and say, “We got work to do.”

Everyone that knows Bob also knew that he laughed in the very same way...

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I don’t recall if I first met Concrete Bob in the basement bar at Fran O’Brien’s or at the gate at Walter Reed.  It was about twelve years ago, and my first recollection of him was standing on the corner on a Friday night, outside the gate at Walter Reed, counter protesting Code Pink - a group of hardcore socialist women deliberately trying to demoralize our newly arriving wounded troops with signs that said "you got maimed for a lie" and displaying coffins, among other nasty things. Once per week, on Friday night, our most severely wounded troops came to Walter Reed from Germany.  Once on the ground, a bus brought them to the base at about 9pm.  And Code Pink would be there to send a horrible message.

I remember getting off of the Georgia Ave bus and Bob handing me the flag when the Army bus of wounded troops arrived at about 2130.  The flag was huge and I stepped out into the street to block the hags from Code Pink protesting our wounded warriors just arriving.  I know that Major Pain was there, too. Maybe John and Mary Bell, among others. 

After the bus with our wounded troops entered the fort, we all went to Malone House (Fisher House) to see if anyone needed anything. 

In Malone House, Bob wanted to check on a few of the long term guests there.  He hadn’t seen some of them in a few months. The wounded soldiers and their families greeted Bob like a hero.  Because Bob was a hero.  A big damn hero.

Concrete Bob was a Marine veteran - street smart and cunning.  As my friend Jonn Lilyea wrote the other day:

“When Code Pink’s protest permit expired, Bob was at the DC office and got permission for the counter-protest to occupy both sides of the main gate. The Code Pink protest got moved down the block away from the sight of the wounded troops as they arrived on the Friday night bus.”

Bob ensured that those horrible people would not damage our troops any more than they already had been. 

Big. Damn. Hero.

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Your BBQ sauce is a healing elixir of joy and goodness.” – review of Concrete Bob’s BBQ Sauce

If you knew Bob, you never were hungry around him.  Bob fed everyone.  

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There are stories upon stories upon stories of Concrete Bob and his amazing-kick-ass-best-sauce-you-ever-had BBQ. When Malone House was under construction and a new patio was added in 2010, Bob fed the construction workers, along with the families there.  Just because.

Once when I was in DC and Bob couldn’t meet me due to a work conflict, he sent BBQ sauce in mason jars to my hotel room.  Just because.

Recently, one of our friends shared a story about Bob running a veteran support event in a park, and then feeding homeless people there, saying, “No one goes hungry around me!”

No one ever did.

Big. Damn. Hero.


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Bob teamed up with the boys from BlackFive on many ambitious endeavors.  I became acquainted with United Conservatives, folks from the Free Republic (FReepers), Vets for Freedom, Protest Warrior, The Gathering of Eagles, etc.  Early on, I began to understand that Concrete Bob was not just a follower but a nexus connecting many of his friends.  While Bob would never admit that he was a leader, he led by example.  He showed great humility at times.  And, others, it was the Concrete Bob Show.  You all know what I mean.

Bob championed, I mean CHAMPIONED, veteran causes.  His work on behalf of veterans raised tons of money, awareness and gave vets and their families hope.  Of all people, Concrete Bob brought a sense of normalcy to people whose lives had changed dramatically.  Bob would hear of someone in need and immediately reach out to his network to find a way to help.  He saved lives.  Because that’s what Concrete Bob does.

Big. Damn. Hero.


Bob wasn’t a blogger when we first met.  He became one soon after meeting Smash and Jimbo and I.

One of his first posts was about his critics posting comments:

To the asshats who wrote the dumb posts, you should Thank God you live in a country that allows you to be as stupid as you want to be, and no one can bitch slap you for it.

That, my friends, was the essence of Concrete Bob – humor, pride in his country, ire at those who oppose us, and a point to be made in one single sentence.  He would never be deterred from saying what he thought needed to be said.

Big. Damn. Hero.

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What I haven’t said before is that Bob was one of my biggest supporters, one of the first, and a huge fan of BlackFive.  He sent encouraging emails to me week after week after week…He handed out our cards, our shirts, everything.  Bob was all in.  Hell, BlackFive would have been so much less without Concrete Bob in our corner.

He sent me this a few years ago.  I hadn’t heard from him in a while.

Thanks for taking an interest, Matt. Great to hear from you as well.
You keep amazing me with your posts. Don’t stop.

But I did stop. I burned out.

Bob saw it coming at me and wouldn’t quit. While I wish I had his unbreakable spirit, I am so very grateful to have been propelled by it over the years.  I am in his debt.

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Bob would be happy and completely embarrassed to be in the Someone You Should Know category (as he sent us many candidates for the posts).  We all know that he belongs with that group.


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Bob died on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 after a long fight with cancer.  He leaves behind a wife, children, and grandchildren along with an outstanding legacy that I only began to touch upon.

A memorial service will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, December 16, 2017, at Hunton Baptist Church, 11660 Greenwood Rd., Glen Allen, Va. 23060.

There’s an old saying that you die twice.  Once when your heart stops beating.  The second time when no one remembers you.  No one who met him can ever forget Concrete Bob Miller.

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Bob is now free.  A great man with a generous heart, he had faith in many of us, despite our own doubts, and that energy carried us through many storms.  He gave us many, many laughs, great food, and his enduring loyalty and friendship…even when we didn’t deserve it. 

Semper Fidelis, indeed.

Bob loved and was loved imperfectly, honestly, fiercely, and he gave away love, respect, and kick ass BBQ, all with a great sense of humor. After all, that is what life is all about - Bob gave away everything that he received.

Bob believed in us. He never stopped. I pray that he knows the effect that he had on each of us.

Bob would frequently close his correspondence with, “you can count on me” and “I love you all.”

We love you, too, Bob.


Chopped Veterans

My friend, AF veteran Ellen Adams, will be on a special episode of Chopped tonight.  Please tune in to cheer her, and the other veteran participants, on what looks to be quite a challenge! 

Premiering Tuesday, November 10th at 10pm – “Military Vets”
Veterans of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Navy face off in the Chopped kitchen. In the first round, one of the chefs stumbles upon a brilliant way to treat scalloped potatoes. Precooked meatloaf is the big challenge in the second round. The two final chefs go all out in the dessert round, making very clever sweet treats from a crispy snack and a sweet and tart drink.
Host: Ted Allen Judges: Maneet Chauhan, Marc Murphy, Chris Santos


In Time for Father's Day! - BlackFive readers get 10% off on MuzzleShot glasses

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Now this is cool...shot glasses and rocks glasses crafted in the form of an A2 Flash Hider. We don't really need an excuse to drink, but our friends at OriginalMuzzleshot.com have offered us one anyway - Blackfive readers get 10% off everything for the Father's Day holiday. The Muzzleshot Shot Glass and Middy Rocks Glass are hardcoat anodized, aluminum ballistic barware so head over to https://www.originalmuzzleshot.com/ and check it out.

Use promo code BLACKFIVE10 for 10% off through Father's Day!!!

Thank you, OriginalMuzzleshot.com!


Cigar Event Invitation

Not a joke this day:  If you are in or near the Indianapolis area, you are cordially invited to The Pipe Puffer  (cigars and pipes, one of the best selections in the area) across from Greenwood Mall on County Line Road, on Saturday 11 April from 1-5.  Master Cigar Roller Leo Peraza will be rolling a limited edition La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli.  The Pipe Puffer is veteran friendly, troop supporting, and even has been involved with both Cigars for Warriors and Pipes for Warriors.  So, come on by. 


How About Instead We Just "Enjoy The Day...."

Many of us have "carpe diem" 'ed plenty in our lives; between the early morning PT, 2,000 meter swims, being checked by the jumpmaster for the 22nd time while waiting to get on the bird, or stepping off the bird into another combat zone (sometimes, same zone 3rd or 4th time), some of us have "seized" plenty.

Not to mention all of the "seizing" we did during TA-50 layouts, PMCS on every vehicle in the motorpool, and counting back all the ammo that some other turd-neck unit didn't shoot at the range (who does that?)

So getting something besides a retirement check or disability payment warms my heart some on this day, more than most, so head here and check out what is available for veterans today and tomorrow to enjoy, and please visit a couple of these fine establishments and partake of their wares.  Make sure to thank them right back when they thank you for your service.

Have a Joyous Veterans Day vets, especially those that are on duty or facing danger somewhere in the world today.  I have always appreciated that we serve not only because we can and chose to, but because there are those that cannot and choose not to.

I am going to take Mrs. Deebow (a vet herself) and Little Deebow for some good free grub tonight and explain to Little Deebow once again why it is that his mommy and me hear "Thanks for your Service" wherever we go and why we are offered something free on this day.

And like every year, I say because what we and millions like us gave and continue to give for what we have here in the country wasn't and isn't free.


Chateau Breuil & Calvados

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Growing up in the 60s and 70s, my first exposure to Calvados -- apple brandy from France -- involved a bottle with an apple in it, or a pale astringent substance that could have been used as a substitute for paint thinner.  The choices were limited, and for most of America what was available is something that the people of Normandy consider only fit for cooking, not consumption. 

My trip to Normandy was not all bunkers and memorials.  I had the chance to try a good bit of cuisine, and best of all I was able to visit two different Calvados distilleries.  There, I learned about the process and was introduced to products to rival fine cognacs -- aged Calvados that combined the smooth texture of cognac with sweet buttery apple and more. 

As a special treat for you, I arranged with Chateau du Breuil to do a video tour of their facility.  I regret that the camera didn't come on quite fast enough a couple of times, but I think you will enjoy this virtual tour:

 

 

If you go to Normandy, I highly recommend a visit. Not only do you get to sample some of their wares, but the grounds are beautiful and if you have a group and make arrangements in advance, they can even provide your group with a Norman culinary experience at the facility.  The guided tour is good, and staff I met very friendly and helpful. Also, if you don't have a group, there is a nice meat market/gourmet grocery nearby where you can find things to make a most excellent picnic meal. 

As for a bit of what is missing in the video, most of it had to do with discussion of the unusually cold weather.  Spring was in many ways just arriving at the time of my visit, so you get to see blooming apple trees and flowers you would not normally see that time of year.  As some of you know from previous posts, it was indeed quite cold this year. 

I've got more photos of the grounds and such up at Laughing Wolf for your viewing pleasure.  I will also add that when I go back to Normandy, I will be going back to visit Chateau du Breuil again.  In addition, I plan to buy several large bottles of their 20-year-old Calvados.  While the video talks about the 15-year-old, which is excellent, the 20 takes things to a whole different level.  The richness of taste and aroma, the spice and edge of sweet apple, and the way it fills the mouth show the best of what Calvados can be.  If you can find it, it is well worth the try. 

I want to thank Bénédicte Baude-Vattier, and Chateau du Breuil, for their time and outstanding hospitality.  The willingness not just to have me come visit, but to give you a personalized tour of the facility, is very much appreciated. 

LW

This trip and other embeds sponsored by MilitaryLuggage.Com and B.N. Shape Clothing.  My thanks to them and to everyone who has contributed to make this and other trips possible. Be sure to check out my Facebook Page and Laughing Wolf for other photos, stories, and more. 

A variety of advertising sponsorships are available, and you can contribute to this trip and other embeds at GoFundMe


Cakebread Cellars Tasting

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The wines to be tasted

Recently, I was invited to Marietta Wine Market for a tasting of Cakebread Cellars wines.  Located just a block off the square in downtown Marietta, the Wine Market has a very nice selection of wines, along with local beers, a variety of cheeses, and more.  They do wine tours, and in fact the owners had just gotten back from conducting a port tour in Portugal.  Their tasting events are also built around having the participants make a donation to go to a local charity. 

Continue reading "Cakebread Cellars Tasting" »


A Partnership with Lock-N-Load Java

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It has been a true pleasure in doing my recent product reviews to point out that Lock-n-Load Java not only seeks to provide good coffee to the troops, but that it also donates $1 on every order to a military charity.  To help get good coffee out to the troops, they also make it easy for you to buy and ship coffee to the troops. 

For many companies, just one part of that would be enough, but not Lock-n-Load Java.  I am pleased to announce that any unit I embed with for more than two weeks will be getting coffee sent to them by Lock-n-Load.  It's a way of supporting the embeds and giving a reward to a unit that is willing to have me embed with them. 

Good coffee, with a company doing good things for good people -- our troops.  You can't ask for more.  Check them out.

LW

A Different Tasting

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Recently, I had the chance to attend a Whisky tasting hosted by the new Savi Provisions in Atlanta.  Savi Provisions is the latest venture from the owners of Savi Urban Markets, and the new venue is off to a great start with a very nice tasting room and a well-stocked wine and spirit store, which will soon be joined by a gourmet market.

Continue reading "A Different Tasting" »