Watching the World Cup in a Caricatured Trumpland Bar Upstate

Match Day 3

The Match: Croatia v. Nigeria

The Score: 2-0

The Venue: Wassaic Grill and Bar in Wassaic, New York

The Vibe: #MAGA

bear gun
The World Cup Tour will take you to unlikely venues.

A pot-bellied white guy shouted at us as he held the door open.

“Welcome to The Grill!”

His t-shirt had a darker message:

“Welcome to America. Now Speak English.”

A cigarette dangled from his lips and his pale legs poked out of jean shorts.

The back of his tee featured a clever acronym:




Mistake for


Behind the bar, a stuffed black bear held a rifle in its paws. An American flag made out of tinsel hung above the door. A sign on the wall advertised the “Hiding From Wife Phone Rates:”

$2 Not Here. $3 Never Heard of Him.

hiding from wife phone rates.jpg

And yet, this caricatured Trump-Country bar aired a 2 pm World Cup match between Croatia and Nigeria.

My wife and I drove about three hours to Millerton, NY because I’m writing an article about a LGBTQ-owned farm co-op that supplies CSAs at various LGBTQ rights organizations in New York City. The Hudson Valley seems to be the sliver in the Venn Diagram between LGBTQ workers’ rights activists/social justice advocates and Obama-hatin’, NASCAR-lovin,’ gender-stereotyping nationalists.

On the way to the farm, we passed The Grill, a bar and restaurant connected to a Mobile station, and I called to see if they planned to show the World Cup. “Yep,” the bartender said, “We’ve got it on.”

An hour later, we returned just in time for kickoff and parked between two giant white pickup trucks. As we approached the restaurant, we encountered the racist t-shirt.

I wonder how the Latin American family sitting at the table closest to the door felt about it. As we sat scanning the menu, I prepared to intervene in the event of an Aaron Schlossberg moment.

When the racist returned from his smoke break, three friends joined him. One wore a faded rainbow Jeff Gordon t-shirt. Another guy at the bar wore a tan NHRA tee.

But everyone seemed calm. And most of the patrons seemed to know each other.

Maybe soccer builds bridges in rural upstate bars.

Just kidding.

No one cared about the soccer game. At all.

Two small TVs flanked the bar. One had the Croatia-Nigeria match on. The other, a Food Network cooking tutorial. My wife and I were the only people watching the soccer game and thus the only ones who reacted when Croatia scored first off an awkward deflected own goal. Everyone else focused on the Barefoot Contessa or their pitcher of Alabama Slammer.

We left during halftime so I could catch a 4:15 train back to the city.

Not a great soccer spot. But my cheeseburger was good.

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