Many men have loved the bells
you fastened to the rein
And everyone who wanted you
they found what they will always want again
your beauty lost to you yourself
just as it was lost to them
ah take this longing from my tongue
whatever useless things these hands have done
let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love
Your body like a searchlight
my poverty revealed
I would like to try your charity until you cry
now you must try my greed
and everything depends upon
how near you sleep to me
just take this longing from my tongue
all the lonely things my hands have done
let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love
Hungry as an archway through which the troops have passed
I stand in ruins behind you with your winter clothes
your broken sandal strap
I love to see you naked over there
especially from the back
ah take this longing from my tongue
all the useless things my hands have done
untie for me your hired blue gown
like you would do for one you love
You're faithful to the better man
I'm afraid that he left
so let me judge your love affair
in this very room where I have sentenced mine to death
I'll even wear these old laurel leaves that he has shaken from his head
just take this longing from my tongue
all these useless things my hands have done
let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love
like you would do for one you love
(take this longing, by leonard cohen)
Monday 31 December 2007
Many men have loved the bells
Saturday 29 December 2007
Oh you horrible auld thing
Carolans Irish Cream
I will have to bury you under the ocean
to get rid of you
like nuclear waste
under Atlantic Avenue
in the middle of the night
when no-one is looking
but this is new york
and someone is always looking.
Vi mig fra livet med dit horrible auld følelse i min mave.
Don't ever buy Carolan's Irish Cream instead of Baileys because you think it's the same thing and you get to save ten dollars that way. Just don't do it. Yak. Bollocks.
Friday 28 December 2007
There are five leaves left on a tree on 6th ave, between Union and President streets. They're hanging on, for all they're worth, and their friends are all sitting on the ground underneath them, shouting up, c'mon, c'mon! It's great down here! (Lie). Just let go! It'll be better in the long run! (Lie). You'll prefer it down here! (Lie). It's better for everybody if you just join us and stop holding out up there! (Lie). It's embarrassing! (True). It's like Donald Sutherland in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers over there.
Don't you just hate those lyin' leaves?
Thursday 27 December 2007
Yeah, and then I heard a Tommy Tiernan interview on RTE radio a haon, with the professionally bored Eamon Dunphy, who made sure to skirt the chat away from anything that might have been remotely interesting. Keep it light, keep it daytime. Tommy T was talking a bit about loneliness and regret and the pain of his separation from his children, and it was a bit of a breath of fresh air to hear these topics being addressed, though he didn't get very far in Dunphy's hands.
It reminded me of a conversation we were having last night, about this American tradition of sending out letters at Christmas with messages of the triumph of the family this past year, its successes and achievements and the brilliance of its teeth. And I thought, wouldn't it be interesting if one of those letters said, well, I experienced sadness profoundly this year, and it was a difficult journey through the darker parts of the human soul, but I seem to have learned something from it, and I certainly hope it has made me kinder and able to hear more of life, to smell more of life, to feel more of life.
But that would probably constitute something of a revolution. And not make you liked, at all.
It's still belting rain out, and I have only conversed with cats all day. And though Freddy's is just half a block away, and will almost certainly be some kind of friendly, I will still probably not go.
So I spent today visiting cats who are spending Christmas alone. Most of them are very large cats, massive purring machines that move slowly. The routine goes like this: as I'm putting the key in the lock, I hear the purring already on the other side of the door. Then I open the door, and immediately, it's THUNK as a large furry cat hits the deck, rolls over to expose its belly and purrs effusively. For those of you who don't know what effusively means, and couldn't be arsed googling it, think PURR PURR PURR kind of intensely, with meaning. Aggressive purring, the kind that says, "Rub me, rub me, make me want to bite you on the wrist the way I love to".
And so I have spent today giving a lot of belly rubs, and getting sat on. And I think this is my first Christmas working, and I sort of realise today that, however much I have loathed the arse out of it in the past, the Christmas rhythm is laid down in my DNA as a family time, a stretched out time, a kind of saturated fat of a time of year. And it's actually a bit unexpectedly sad to be away from Ireland right now. It's fleeting, but significant. Something about the way that everything in the whole of Ireland except the frenzied sale-shoppers, shuts down for the whole week from Christmas day to New Year's day. You send out your last batch of Christmas emails on Christmas eve and you get those automated officey bounced back emails, telling you they're out of the office, on the jar, the willie wonka and the selection box, for a good two weeks, so feck off and don't be expecting a reply before January 5th, AT THE EARLIEST.
Christmas day for me lasts a full week, AT LEAST. I turn into a slow moving, fat storing, hibernating creature who has a few chats with the family, a bath every day, and the odd phone call and that's about it. And I can feel how good it is for me.
Not this year. Rush hour on the train was rush hour on the train today, the day after Christmas or not. Rough. Millions of people all playing musical chairs and all of them a constantly renewing batch of fresh strangers. Feckin raining, too.
Monday 24 December 2007
It's Irishness exactly the way we live it, back in the Auld Sod.. God I love love love to see how this peculiar twisty thing of Irishness gets flipped and scrunched around on its journey through the world... the nuances, oh the nuances. Pig in muck.
Happy Christmas, lads! God Jule!
Sunday 23 December 2007
Saturday 22 December 2007
Vi har spist. Vi har snakkede om Vester havet, med dens store bøljer, og limfjorden, som kan være skated across om vinteren, i en lille håndlavede båd med et sejl. Vi snakkede om det Sud Bronx og chip vans på McClaine Boulevard, og Westchester, og hvordan man kan tjen penge i New York City, og vi drak pissemasser af gløgg, og hjemelavede pebernødder.
Nu er jeg fuld.
Star wars are happening in two neighbouring galaxies, don't know if you've heard. One galaxy is blasting the bastard out of another galaxy with a big massive black hole, destroying everything in its path,sending planets and stars flying and colliding in all directions, creating new ones and generally spreading chaos throughout the universe.
Meanwhile, we sing jingle bells, down here on planet earth, and this is exactly what this part of the milky way looks like...
Thursday 20 December 2007
Oh it's raining horribly outside, said the man beside me as I left MoMA yesterday, with the rain belting down on 53rd street. Sometimes that's what you get, he sighed. Yes indeed, I said back. And he looked at me. Like I had just entered his apartment without pressing the doorbell. There was a line around his words with a red rope and a large black man in a suit and a headpiece, carrying a list. I hadn't used the VIP entrance. That was what his eyes said. You just don't do this. You just don't respond to a stranger's casual throwaway cliche in midtown Manhattan.
So I went walking. Through it. In the rain. Down 5th avenue to Union Square. Caught a glimpse of one of the Protected Ones, in the back of his chauffeur-driven Very Expensive Blackened Windowed Car, perusing a newspaper. It felt like it might be like a confessional in that little backseat room, kind of airless and costumed and expectant. But expensive, unlike any confessional I've been in (only Irish ones, only Limerick ones, actually).
A thin, mousy girl approaches me in the middle of the traffic at Flatiron. "Hi, I'm Annie", she says at me, laughing like she's just seen some special friend of hers. She juts her hand out stiffly to me, perpendicular to her body, from the elbow. "We save children". I search her face, her jacket, for some ID. Nothing. "Njeah, thanks", I say, and continue to walk across the street before the bus gets me.
Pity. Annie is sure this way of living her life is a failsafe way to get people to feed her cause, to feed her longings, to feed her. She's saving children for Christ's sake: how could anyone say no to Annie? Let me count the ways...
There's a boy on 21st street, sitting on a beer crate, pausing with a pen as he tries to figure out how to explain himself in the medium of cardboard sign in the street. I stop to take out my notebook, and look back at him. He's still hesitant.
There's an interesting quality to midtown. Indifference. Such a big place with so many shrunken people busily shrinking farther, hurrying to get to where they mightn't have to shrink anymore.
And then the N. Sitting opposite a man with bags, in one of those two abreast orange plastic areas. He takes a gulp, a large nip of whiskey, in view of the other apparently indifferent subway riders. He feels the exposure, anyway. Most of them don't actually even see him. I do, though, and that's enough. For what it's worth, if I'm thinking anything, I'm thinking that that's not a bad idea, keeping a flask of hot whiskey about your person for winter subway trips. But he's gone into that defensive face mode, you know it? With the chin up and the eyes and mouth corners that say "not me! I didn't do ANYTHING!".
The sign on the wall hisses, "if you see something, say something", as the train chugs into Pacific street.
Tuesday 18 December 2007
Somehow I'm hearing the first scene from Figaro in this first one. Perhaps this is a new opera?
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`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Thursday 13 December 2007
I suppose the only interesting bit about this piece of revulsion is the fact that Tony Blair's delivery in speaking to Barney the White House dog is of exactly the same pitch of earnestness as his declarations as he led a strenously and vocally unwilling British nation into war against Iraq, insisting that it was all in the nation's good, and he simply knew stuff that everyone else didn't. The thing that is usually touted about Tony Blair these days is that he was just a good actor, a showman. This video kind of puts the lie to that. Too much mining the same seam has confined his skills to a single caricature. He's a one trick pony, it seems.
Wednesday 12 December 2007
Very interesting video clip in an article from this morning's Guardian. Scientists in Japan have created a genetically modified mouse which has no fear of cats. They have eliminated the gene that recognises the smell of a cat as a source of danger, and thus something to be feared. So this piece is reported with a quite endearing little snippet of video of a curious mouse investigating this landscape of fur that really ought to send it shuddering to the nearest hole in the wall or deep deep behind the telly, and instead it goes running through the cat's legs, getting sat on by the cat, generally being very friendly and interested in the cat. Watch it, you'll probably enjoy it.
The cat, for her part, though the piece insists she has not been genetically modified to be friendly to mice, is preternaturally accommodating and courteous to the mouse, and it doesn't seem like the usual cat pretext of mouse-wooing prior to one of the slowest painfullest kills known to the animal kingdom (have you ever actually WATCHED the play of a cat and mouse as they dance their dance of death?). The cat in this clip, if anything, seems slightly concerned and embarrassed by the antics of her small sleek friend, electing to look tactfully away when the mouse gets particularly close and personal and probably provocative, because she's just not that sort of cat.
And then the confident, happy scientist shows up at the end to show us the unfortunate place that science and humanities can sometimes go when one of them takes the other roughly by the ears and makes it do something it doesn't really want to: he says, we can now genetically engineer other creatures in the animal kingdom to have no fear of their natural enemies. Punchline. Ba boom.
Well, congratulations. You've learned how to fast track the natural world to extinction. Things have NATURAL enemies for a reason. We eat each other in the natural world. That's just how things work. And that's why the mouse has an innate fear attached to the smell of the cat, because his ancestors have passed down that response as a common-sense gesture, to keep him safe, alive, to keep the mouse species on the planet. However, I have connections in cat circles who would be very keen to hear this kind of news.
I feel there is some kind of a super-sinister subtext in this little piece of scientific wizardry. Can you hear in the notion of genetically eliminating natural fear responses in "animals" , the suggestion that perhaps we can genetically modify ourselves, each other, or indeed, just herd up our enemies, once we've conquered them, and genetically modify them from their natural antipathy, to like us instead? Well now. This sounds like a VERY interesting potential solution to the thorny issues of terrorism, for instance. At any rate, that lab is sure to be given a few quid in sponsorship, to get a lot more adventurous.
But ultimately I suppose what I find most depressing is the implicit dilettantism in matters of elemental forces. There are different kinds of fear, and by far the most prevalent one on this planet is the natural kind, the kind of fear that is really a signpost for common sense and deep intuition; the fear that the healthy mouse experiences at the smell of the cat, the kind of animal fear that is also innate in humans, that gets triggered in situations that the human senses are dangerous or predatory. This is really common sense at work in its strongest physical expression. It's the death of naivete, it's evolution in motion, it's the natural world at work. Get rid of this stuff and the natural world won't know its arse from its elbow.
And then there are the kinds of fear that aren't based on the needs, tendencies and feeding appetites of the natural world. This kind of fear exists solely in the human realm. And it manifests in behavioural tics, that become encoded and enshrined in culture, becoming norms by consensus and wide practise. This is not the kind of fear that you can genetically modify out, quite so easily. And for the most part, it is totally and utterly useless. If anything, it inhibits life.
The video probably wouldn't have looked so cute with a normal cat, who would have dispatched the mouse with glee, of course. "We can make mice who get along with cats", says the scientist. Sweet. But can we make cats who get along with mice (without eating them)? Notice that it isn't the cat who is being genetically modified out of her predatory nature.
How far could this idea go? How about applying it to consumer markets, for instance? Genetically modify the herds of consumers as they are marketed to? This is also a cat and mouse game, a game of predator and prey. Marketing and advertising strategies have become incredibly sophisticated when you contrast them with the clunky ad strategies over the past fifty years, for instance, and the fact that marketing didn't even exist as a concept until relatively recently. But it's still a cat and mouse game, and the space left for its evolution is increasingly slight. It's the law of diminishing returns. Why keep mining that tiny tiny space that is the battleground of persuasion politics, when all you have to do is find a very pleasant, painless way to eliminate all resistance in the market altogether?
So here's my guess about how this kind of genetic interference is likely to impact on nature: the mouse is returned to a state of naivete, doesn't recognise the inherent danger in the cat, goes up to schmooze and make friends, cat goes hurrah, and begins the torture process, and how does the mouse respond at that point? My guess it would take at most a couple of generations for the mouse - returned to any natural environment even with this genetic modification- to spring back to its natural state again.
But this is the dynamic balance of the natural world that is being fucked with. My point is that once you start messing with one part of this dynamic balance, the whole thing gets thrown out of whack in ways that are probably exponential in proportion to the original interference. Just like the disappearing polar ice shelf, though let's keep our epic planetary themes to one at a time, today.
Tuesday 11 December 2007
I had dinner in Marseille one evening this past June, with a Japanese woman and two French men. I had met the Japanese woman and one of the French men on the top of a hill, by the entrance to an old world war two bunker, as I contemplated sleeping there for the night. The view and the air were magnificent, I was fresh from a swim, but a cold breeze was blowing and I didn't have a sleeping bag or even any long sleeves. A couple of nights later I slept up those mountains, and discovered a more pressing and painful reason to stay indoors on Provençale evenings: mosquitoes that settled on my eyelids for a midnight snack, as I dozed amongst the wild thyme bushes, by the open bay, filled with the mediterranean sea.
Anyway, the couple invited me to dinner and so I found myself sitting in a car with them, snaking around the Marseille backstreets, looking for a parking space. They dropped me off on the corner where they had arranged to meet their friend, and I was given a description and instructed to wave. He found me first, he had apparently been instructed too. And we went to have crepes in a little Cuban place. The second French man - the one that found me in the street - had spent a year in Sweden some years previously, and so, over dinner, he and I conversed in languages that were not our first, he in Swedish, which amazingly, he remembered very well, and me in Danish. And for the most part, we understood each other. It was fun, being an Irish woman and a French man, sitting in a Marseille cafe, speaking Danish and Swedish together, and understanding each other.
I feel called upon to explain myself, sometimes. Do you know that feeling? But this is a BIG topic, and it's important to differentiate the various nuances of this kind of demand.
So, for example, I had an unsatisfactory exchange with an MTA official one afternoon, involving delayed Q trains and bus transfers and changed minds and unlimited cards that said no, no no... and we had something of a heated interaction that probably could have been abated had I EXPLAINED my actions clearly enough for her to understand that they were in perfect synch with her rules and to just press the beeper on that big beeping door that lets people through when there's been some sort of fuckup with the turnstiles, or they have big luggage or babies.
So there's that kind of explanation. The functional kind. The kind of explaining you do when you go to a fancy cheese shop and you need to communicate your desire for particularities.. or the kind of explaining you need to do when you go to a dentist with toothache and you want to give her more than a hunch about what ails you.
And then there's the kind of explaining yourself that your schoolmistress demanded of you when you rocked into school wearing contraband mascara and The Wrong Jumper.
And then there's the sort of explaining yourself that is demanded of you by a lover, when you've broken the invisible contract that he has in his head, because we have these invisible contracts floating around inside us, and we don't usually even know about their existence ourselves until they get broken, and suddenly we're upset.
Or the sort of explaining that some people feel some innate need to do, to EXPLAIN their existences altogether, and this can, sometimes, lead to the making of music, of paintings, of tall buildings, of businesses, of children, of novels, of poetry for some, or to the purchase of very large and unattractive cars, for others.
And then there's the sort of explaining that you can see being asked for in someone's eyes when they meet you for the first time in a context that they really don't expect to find you in, perhaps, and their eyes hold that demand for explanation from you, in a quizzical sort of way, without any overgroundness in it, and without any real expectation of being addressed or given. And the whole process is sort of inaccessible really, in these situations, because the following through of them demands some kind of social transgression in itself, some kind of breaking through of innocence that just isn't socially acceptable amongst adults, normally.
This happens sometimes, when I meet people. Often, the question doesn't get asked. Funnily enough, I was inundated by the question in Denmark. It was so much the only thing in the room there, when I met someone for the first time: why are you here?! Hvorfor er du i Danmark? Why are you here? In three and a half years I never had anything satisfactory to offer that one. Here, it seems to be more circumspect, tactful. But sometimes it gets asked, tactfully or not. And I still don't have an answer.
Saturday 8 December 2007
was sometime this summer, and there were ads on it for a kind of birth control pill that reduces a woman's periods to four times a year.
There were ads for viagra on mainstream tv, not just in your spam folder.
I was at a screening of old propaganda ads from the forties and beyond, at Barbes recently, a lot of fun-to-look-at images of bugs bunny and tap dancing starlets strongly selling war bonds during ww2, and there was one particularly memorable set of ads telling people what to do in the event of an atomic bomb blast. They should hide under the sofa, apparently, and put one hand over their eyes and the other over the back of the neck. So there were lots of images of people running into doorways in this recovery position, and leaping under beds, as the white heat of mushroom clouds ascended throughout the land. And the daddy of the family was always on hand to say, ok family, it's safe to go outside now. That radiation will have passed within ten minutes of the blast.
Well, this summer I saw an ad that seemed to be directed toward children, asking them what they would do in the event of a terrorist attack. And to the parents, have you educated your kids well enough? Does everybody know what to do? And it seemed to be left open ended, with overtones of guilt, that if you haven't instructed your children in the proper procedures for coping with a terrorist attack, that you were negligent as a parent, without actually giving any sense of the implications of what such an attack might entail. And truthfully, anything that any bureau of intelligence can come up with in this regard seems to be undermined with disturbing regularity, by somebody who's put a couple of cornflake boxes together and watched an episode of McGyver.
But the news is still the same: it's every man, every man for himself (and for his own family). Like the salt sprinkles out on the street. There are no city-sponsored common area trucks that go around sprinkling salt on the street, like they do in snowy weather in Denmark. This place is operating as a city of sole traders, functioning on its OWN. And it's ALIVE.
Friday 7 December 2007
I was dreaming of a high sitting
blond haired make up man
who asked me how I coped with being so beautiful
when you came
on my coffee table
looking for a place that kills things cheap and happily.
It ain't me, babe. No, no no
it ain't me babe.
It ain't me you're looking for
Thursday 6 December 2007
There's an ad campaign for something or other, on several subway trains at the moment. It runs the entire carriage with ideas like "You didn't wait 12 months for a set of dishcloths", and "Visions of socks and underwear never danced in your head". Well if you're waiting for anything for 12 months the most you're likely to feel at the end of it is the kind of relief you get when you finally hit that porcelain after a long pee-holding-in stint... and actually I have had that vision of socks and dancing underwear. I testify.
I had a brief conversational interlude yesterday over breakfast with a pair of chess players and the topic of sentimentality arose. One of the chess players mentioned a Mariah Carey song (oh she who is so bountiful in this emotion) and how it was steaming with what he called "fake sentimentality". And I wondered aloud, "well, what is REAL sentimentality? Is sentimentality ever real? Isn't that an oxymoron?" I suppose an answer to that could be that actually, it's real sentimentality if the person feeling it is buying into it at the time, perhaps. But any definition of real that means authentic and actual (yeah, concepts galore, but maybe you know what I mean) to me, doesn't include sentimentality. But it's an interesting question.
And so, in this spirit, with this little question mark of sentimentality over my head as I step down into the spaghetti junction at Pacific street, I remember my iPod. And as the q train chugs out over the Manhattan bridge with a vibrant peach and rose sunset backlighting the Brooklyn Bridge, and the statue of liberty somewhere in between (can you believe I never noticed it in that picture before?) my fingers reach quite naturally for Rhapsody in Blue (the Previn version). Gosh, though. It really does mine that seam. If you're looking for exquisitely elegant sentimentality, Rhapsody in Blue is probably what you're looking for. 'Specially with that view. Woman can only take so much of this vibe, however elegantly drawn, and so I switch to New York Counterpoint as I emerge from the 6 at Lafayette street.
And go walking through Soho.
And this is some of what I see...
The skyline on a red label on a courier bag
A middle aged man sending an email on his Treo
A Grace's Market NY bag
A massive vinyl image of clueless beauty at East Houston and Lafayette
Tits in a car window on Lafayette
Some famous actor looking angry and withdrawn and cold
Very well made beautiful shoes
Exquisite long johns
An art deco parking garage
A woman surrendering to the image of one she believes to be more beautiful than her
A woman luring another in from the streetside of the window of her shop
As I skirt along Spring...
A well dressed woman pulling trash out of a clean, freshly painted dumpster
The waft of shish kebabs
Tall thin blonde women who might be German metal head boys
Five inch patent heels striding indifferently across the cobblestones
A chef smoking a fag watching me walk down the street
The man transfixed at the "Gifts for Reading" table at the MoMA design store
An image of Kate Moss airbrushed (for she looketh like this no longer, if she ever ever did) into an alluring vision of expensive sundrenched fuckability (with impeccable hygiene and no past)
The man on the phone
Woman in mink
Some photos that look like mine on the wall by the escalator in Bloomingdales
The cold street
The evenly scattered salt on the pavement
The expensive looking graffiti that makes expensive mouths water
Healthy dogs in jackets
Look up! Look up!
The sight of an imposing Soho loft at Broadway and Broome
He eyes my stripey tights with glee
A boy sitting crosslegged in the freezing street, tap tap tapping on his 17 inch laptop
The Housing Works bookstore on Crosby, as I enter
"Archipenko adheres to the limitations of the block, finding within its confines solutions at once simple and complex" on the first page of the first book I glance at: "Alexander Archipenko: Vision and Continuity", p. 120.
and I think of Dean street and 5th avenue
And I find a seat
and I sit
and type this from the notes in my small notebook.
Wednesday 5 December 2007
and it's not just taking place in my Brooklyn afternoons. No, it's one billion light years in diameter. The mixing of space and time concepts alone is probably enough to make your brain synapses go gaga and span out for the remainder of the evening, but this is really very beautiful if you linger over it a little.
Void (not pigs) in SPACE!
Tuesday 4 December 2007
There's a new generation of rats in New York City.
They are not ashamed of their forebears, they are in fact proud of the fact that the rats of New York City did so much to contribute to the lasting legacy of the image of The Big Apple. The rats of New York city are legendary. But they have had a bad rap. And they have never been pretty.
However, there is now a new generation with new concerns, and this generation is, in keeping with much of the city they hold so beloved, that has sustained and multiplied them, feeling comfortable enough with their new status that they are keen to launch a pr campaign, in order to revamp their public image. It's a branding thing. And I am one lucky lady today, because I have gotten the gig. It's the highest profile job of my career as a rat finker.
It's also, I'm happy to say, an easy job. Because the rats of New York City have become a species for the city to be proud of. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been having meetings with some high profile leaders of the rat community here in the Park Slope/ Prospect Heights neighbourhoods and I have seen how they live. They have respect in their communities, they provide for their families, they live off the pickings of very sanitary rubbish bins and the very fine restaurant kitchens of the area.
Their offspring - ratlets I've decided to call them for the ground we can cover with the cute factor - are educated, well integrated into the community, and have ambition that their grandparents simply couldn't have hoped to have. They know how far it is possible to travel in this town; some of them have indeed ascended Manhattan's dizzying heights: you may know many of their faces, they have become leaders of business and industry and are visible, speaking their truth nightly on CNN and Bloomberg TV.
There are a few key concerns emerging from my conversations with the various rat communities of the city (and just like the human communities, the rat communities are diverse, in economic realities, education and prospects) that the rats on the ground would like to have addressed in the wider community, and through their media representations. They are fully aware of the centrality of their role in the New York story, which is comparable with, though inherently different from, the centrality of the cockroach community in the life of the city. And it's time for payback, now. It's time for recognition. Language is an important issue.
They have been inspired by the efforts of many minority communities in reclaiming the slang epithets that have been for generations used abusively against them. Street rats in Washington Heights and Inwood, the as yet ungentrified parts of Manhattan, aswell as many areas of The Bronx, have, for a number of years now, been fondly, informally calling each other 'vermin' and this defiant act of empowerment has been read as threatening by the human communities there. They wonder what the rats are planning and what is possible from here.
Well, most rats in New York City are really just very pleased to be earning a good living and having a warm home in a safe neighbourhood, and that's what we're really keen to emphasise in our public relations efforts. This is all about understanding between the two principle species in the city. Again, I am aware that our cockroach friends share the city equally as the third dominant species here, but they haven't hired me. Yet.
We all just want what's good for the children. Rat and baby, standing shoulder to shoulder, eating from the same bowl. And maybe this vision seems mad to you, seems so visionary as to be such a long way off, that it could never happen, that we humans could never see rats as an equal species, but here's where the fight begins. The fight of the triumph of human and, yes, vermin, understanding.
Sunday 2 December 2007
Saturday 1 December 2007
Something I happened upon over on craigslist...
Donate to me (Murray Hill)
I want a million dollars. I think this is what I really need to actually start a life here in Manhattan. Please let me know if you are willing to give.
I don't want to haggle or trade - there are just so many people here with more money than they could ever need, I was hoping one might read this and share their good fortune.
Friday 30 November 2007
Memories can be great even when they weren't pleasant at the time that they happened. Have you noticed that? Bad memories can be wonderful. Just because they happened. Because they had life flowing through them. Often, it's my guess, it takes years to really appreciate that.
Thursday 29 November 2007
I was in Manhattan yesterday, for the first time in a couple of weeks. God, it's different over there. They give you less time to cross the streets. The streets are wider. And the traffic goes both ways! This is the kind of thing that can cause havoc in the life of a Park Sloper. Arse was kicked, fun was had, long-since met friend was reacquainted, and corn muffin was bought in Wholefoods at 11pm.
It's winter in Manhattan, folks. I've been gambolling around in the pastoral beauty of autumn in Brooklyn (I don't know when I've enjoyed an autumn this much) but one visit to the Lower East Side was enough to confirm that even the seasons move faster in Manhattan. No leaves on the trees, no leaves on the ground. I think it might even be colder there.
I remember a moment from the short time I lived in New Orleans. It was early August in the French Quarter, a day or so after the hurricane winds brought all the hot torrents of rain to drench us. Those rains sent me into the Marriott Hotel on Canal street to get dry before getting soaked through again. I squelched across the lobby to the ladies, sat under a hand drier for half an hour, then met the rain again, walking almost the full length of Canal street to the St. Charles streetcar which carried me home to Prytania street, more soaking than I have ever been before or since, in clothes or out of them. An evening beer has rarely tasted so good.
By then, I had decided that I was pretty much living in New Orleans. I just couldn't imagine leaving. It was a common and pernicious kind of experience that happened to people when they spent more than a wild weekend in Nola. She sort of seeped into you. It was the magic and the sensuality and the earthy natural energy of the place, mixed with the boogie and the pollution and the swamp magnetism, that made it a very easy place to get stuck in, especially when the humidity was high. It was also incredibly easy to find your way through, once you actually slipped under the skin of Nola.
And right after the heavy rains, it was quiet in the quarter. Summertime was low season, anyway. Even at that, I never really spent much time in the French Quarter, I usually hung out over in the Marigny, or uptown altogether. But this evening I was strolling past Jackson square, along St. Ann street, and there was a man standing on the sidewalk, in under an awning to shelter from the rain, a dark figure on a dark and by then lightly rainy street, and he was singing a tune to the hot mist and the rain and the empty street as I walked through it. And I saw him and listened to his song, and he didn't have a go-cup sitting by his feet, or a cap upturned to catch passing falling change, and he was just standing there, eyes closed, enraptured, singing to the street, the sound of his heart calling out to the air in Nola to meet him there, the sound of the life of Nola meeting him there, the life of Nola inside him, where she dwelled, rightly. And I watched this man, and I felt it, I got it. This was really the only appropriate response to the question of New Orleans. To sing to her, to woo her, to love her in the way she likes, with softness on a hard day, with boogiesounds, with rhythm. And so she comes rushing in.
Cities live inside us, in ways we don't always recognise. Places do that, whether city or wild nature. And cities have character, have spirit, that magnetise us in different ways, bring out different aspects of us, depending on the particular vibe of the particular city. They bring out different activities, too.
I spent January of this year in Barcelona and Berlin. Barcelona was warm and sunny, and I swam in the sea and strolled around in my high heeled boots, wandering through the labyrinths, hanging out in the Plaças, kind of entranced, for the most part, and spending my days with a new friend I made on my first evening there. It's always fantastic when you meet a fun chica friend, and in Barcelona, that would be Tina.
And then I went to Berlin, and there was a hurricane on the second day, and it was dark and cold and I wandered the very wide streets and felt the blood of northern europe circulating in me again, and I found it hard to get talking to people and I felt kind of lonely so I bought a notebook and three crayons and made my fun inside that notebook wherever I wandered, in my Barcelona high heeled boots.
I snaked around Europe this year, ended up in New York city on what seemed like a whim that landed me home. That's what this place feels to me. Home. Home is, of course, a moveable feast, when you live the way I have these past few years. But home also feels like staying. Here.
Tuesday 27 November 2007
The first place I landed in the United States, the first time I came here, in 2001, was Nashville, Tennessee. It was, and probably still is, one of the strangest places I have ever been, though that trip took in a lot of strangeness in Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and New York city too.
Nashville was actually a good introduction to what's going on in America. Because what's going on in New York isn't it. What's really happening in America is actually what ISN'T happening here.
So in Nashville you could see the general trends of American civic planning (such as the concept can loosely be applied): stripmalls, sucked out downtown, suburban sprawl, car dependency, highways leading to picket fenced enclaves, hives of wooden houses, spaciously laid out, that looked like multiple zippers from the airplane. The house I stayed in for four days was one of the spokes off of one of those zippers.
I had come to Nashville in an act of pursuing the truth of things. The truth bit got sorted out pretty fast. In the airport, in fact.
I had fallen in love with a man I had met in Dublin while he was on tour, playing in Vicar Street, the large music venue where I worked in the evenings as an usher. I showed him a bit around Dublin, we laughed our arses off through the streets, and continued to stay in touch for another nine months after that. He had been based in Chicago, was a very successful sideman drummer, and then he got a woman pregnant kind of randomly, and she lived in Nashville, so he moved there. Left his life and the fundaments of his career in Chicago, and walked into some kind of a void where his son lived. He had no relationship with the mother of his son, except that she lived in a little town called Lebanon, outside of Nashville, and so they travelled over and back from Lebanon to Nashville, sharing the care of their son.
He lived on McGavock Pike, must have been thirty miles from downtown, with nothing but a Dollar General store, a Subway sandwich shop and a gas station nearby. And that was a LOT! He had the bottom floor of a house that he shared with the owners, who nominally lived upstairs, but who were regularly on tour, so they only touched base at home for a couple of months a year.
This was the house where he was falling in love with his child, and pouring his energy and vision into this small developing human. He was finding the music scene in Nashville a struggle: it's heavily studio based, and cliquey, and definitely un-idiosyncratic. His vibe was more live-led, making records to tour behind, and even after he moved to Nashville he found that his main source of income was going on the road. He was already finding it a struggle to be away from his child, even for short periods of time. So it was all new, and he was still trying to work it all out, when I arrived at Nashville airport, one afternoon in June, 2001.
A bit over nine months after the birth of his son, after daily emails and the occasional phone call, I had come to find out. As soon as I saw him in the airport, however, I found out. My heart sank. Why it sank, we can debate or wonder about, or guess at, but it will only be guessing. I don't really know the answer to most why questions, though sometimes I have strong hunches. This one was just a question of different realities unable to meet. I suppose I wasn't ready for the life of a Nashville housewife, and that was the position available in that particular household, however much fun this particular dude could be, to hang out with.
I didn't want to hang out with him, though. At all. The practical facts: we literally couldn't communicate, about the simplest things; he lived in the middle of stripmall-land out in the sticks of suburban Nashville; I couldn't drive; his days were spent in childcare. Four days of that and on the fourth day I moved into the Drake Inn Motel, on the Murfreesboro road, that had a big neon sign out the front saying, Where The Stars Stay.
Monday 26 November 2007
I'm whippet sitting again this week. I get to see the whippets in their winter garb. Must post some pictures of these supermodels. So I'm sitting in sauna-intense heat here in Park Slope, because these gals don't like to be cold. And heat does funny things to me. I like to round off my showering experiences with a cold shower, for instance. I LOVE a cold shower after a hot one. Been doing this every day for a very long time. Like to swim in cold water too. It's interesting how the application of cold outside makes warm inside. Cold makes hot. Rough makes smooth. Untempered heat makes me woozy and sleepy. Immersion in a contrasting cold, makes life spring and dance and encourages lots of Arctic Monkeys on iPod moments on 7th ave.
So I've had an afternoon of sex and WC Fields movies and I'm having thoughts like, I wonder if I'll ever make something of my life. This sort of thought is not so long-lived, usually. But it's a fair question.
I was thinking about this sort of thing as I strolled through the park in my pyjamus yesterday afternoon. There are a lot of interesting and talented people in this town who are pushing middle age and just getting by, barely. They have skills that aren't in demand, that aren't particularly saleable, and even if they do have saleable skills, they probably don't have either inclination or suss to put it together in a money-magnetising way. Shagloads of talented people here are getting by on ten dollar an hour jobs, or jobs they hate but which have benefits, chief among these benefits being that they don't have to be there very often. People have to pay the rent. And what they do, what they consider themselves to 'be', doesn't pay it. And probably never will. So they play a gig a month and play in their friends' bands, and there's a scene, and it's interesting, but this is new york and no one is getting paid.
It's something I want to explore. Because in every other country I've lived in (hmmm... not so many, but I get around...) there exists a space in between the avant garde/outer periphery of music and art culture and the dead mainstream. In different countries, that space is of different sizes, but it exists. So in Denmark, for instance, there are a lot of musicians making a living, making music. Some of them are even making a living at making music of their own. Jazz musicians get paid decent money there. And there are gigs to be had, and they pay well. The system is unionised, and there is a union minimum that band members have to be paid. Of course there's a lot of un-unionised work that gets done, but by and large this stuff pays well too, AND it is out of the tax loop. The basic standard of living is very comfortable in Denmark, and being a musician is not something that anyone there seems to be expected to trade any of that comfort for, in order to pursue.
In Ireland, there isn't quite the Danish socialist welfare and benefits blanket at the base of society, waiting to catch anyone as they fall. If you fall in Ireland, you crash, it's true. But if you fall in America, you crash and you can burn too. But you can soar in Ireland, and you can soar here, above the clouds..
Music is not unionised in Ireland, though my dad was heavily involved in the musicians' union there when it had a heyday, and it wasn't pen-pushing work that those guys had to do in those days. Dad told me stories of having to show up at pubs that had refused to pay the band the night before, and argue rightness until the pub-owner coughed up. My dad was never any kind of a heavy handed intimidating type, but he was intense and earnest when it was called for. Anyway, now that there's money in the country, things are different. But the average pay for club-date type gigs there, is still about half of what it is in Denmark.
But people go out in Ireland. And they like to hear music. And they follow local bands. So actually, you can be in a band in Ireland, and have local popularity, and get by for as long as you're popular. Sure, things probably run out of steam in the mid-zone at some point, but my point is that I don't see very much of that mid-zone here in New York (granted I've not been seeing much outside of Dean street and 5th avenue here in New York this past couple of weeks, but I do have very good intentions of getting out more. Problem is that in is just so damned interesting).
Things are very splintered and niche-ised here. Everyone's a specialist. Everyone's catering to a very specific need. In many ways, it's like a city of phD's. How you fare financially depends very much on the demand and value placed on that particular niche. So if you're a burns litigation lawyer or an eyelid surgeon, you'll probably be earning quite a bit of cash, because everyone who needs their eyelid tending to or who wants to cash in on the pain and suffering caused by an over-hot McDonalds coffee, will hear about you and your intensity in the area, and away you go.
But if you're a rocknroll musician and you're really quite good, but you don't quite live the life and say what 20 million teenagers want to hear, well, chances are you'll be spending your middle age getting settled into your stable of cat and dogsitting clients, or putting up little signs in Key Foods, selling GUITAR LESSONS from a Juilliard trained professional of 20 years experience, to the local 4 year olds of Park Slope, whose parents are reaching for excellence, and demand Juilliard for their $40 an hour tutoring fee.
But New York city draws people like those squidgy sticky mats that everybody uses to catch their cockroaches and mice in their overheated New York city apartments. We all just NEED to be here. Of course, it's just because we're all here that we all need to be here. We need the proximity to each other. We're excited, stimulated, inflamed by that. And the rest of it. The mix. The low high and medium all jiving together in the space of a block. The crazy shit on the side of passing trucks. The endless relentlessness of it all. The energy tsunami, the suck of the best you have to give.
And you know, when you come and live in a place, and you've been there for ten years, and everybody you know, like, love and work with lives in that place, it just becomes your home and moving anywhere else is just absurd. So you take that shitty accounting job for two and a half days a week and grit your teeth and count the seconds.
One two three four...
Saturday 24 November 2007
There's a car on seventh avenue that's covered in yellow confetti from the falling leaves of an overhead ginkgo biloba tree.
A black tomcat lies in a fenced off corner lot off 5th, cross-pawed and seething.
Leaves are getting kicked around by Lucy.
The Beatles are singing
because the world is round
it turns me on....
Lots of coffee is being made in the big jug.
When I lived in Denmark, every now and then, I would meet a woman in a burka while strolling on Nørrebrogade, my local big street in Copenhagen. She was young, dressed in a full length light black burka. The only part of her that was visible was her eyes, which were very heavily made up with black eye liner and mascara and heavy toned eyeshadow. Many layers of mask. She reminded me of pictures of elaborately made up Sicilian widows I've seen in the National Geographic. I always looked her in the eye, though, and she did the same with me. We didn't see each other a whole lot, but when we did, we always greeted each other. It was kind of an unusual arrangement: her burka rendered her both recognisable and unrecognisable. I knew her, principally, by her make up. She was a friendly face on my beat in København. Back to Brooklyn.
A woman is rolling a basset hound in a pram along 7th ave. She does not look insane or out of place.
A tiny little old lady is gathering up leaves on St. Marks ave.
Billy Bragg doesn't want to change the world. He's just looking for another girl.
A pair of skinny whippets are shivering in the cold as they pee on leaves.
A brown tortoiseshell cat is rolling around on a basement carpet in anticipation of her only chance at a bit of human contact today, from the woman who is coming to feed her and change her litter tray.
There's a carpet of leaves of different colours all the way along 3rd ave. and a Dominican woman is blissed out as she walks along it, dressed snugly in her winter coat.
A piano technician is fixing a pair of keys on Dean street, which were whacked out of shape by a fiercely improvising French pianist.
A woman is addressing strangers on 7th ave with the question, "Do you have a minute to stop global warming?"
I wonder what's happening in Red Hook. I wonder what's happening in Dumbo. I wonder what's happening down by the sea.
Thursday 22 November 2007
Thirty million people in the United States of America didn't have enough food in 2006. One in six new yorkers cannot afford enough food, that's 1.3 million people in new york city, who can't afford to eat. But I bet most of them have their rent paid.
I heard about a farmer who was native to the swamps of the Mississippi delta of southern Louisiana, and who went out for a ride one day on his horse, and found himself swamp-bound and horseless, in crocodile alley. Crocs everywhere, he did all he could do, which was to scarper up the highest, nearest tree he could find. And wait it out. Sweating. He wasn't up there long, in the scheme of things. He was local, so his neighbours went out searching, when they didn't see him. It took them three days to find him. He had a sandwich to eat in that time. But what made it fun was that, in the evenings, three big bull crocodiles came to sit at the bottom of the tree, looking up at him, their eyes glinting in the fading evening light, just sitting there. Licking their lips, occasionally. Waiting.
Your lips distil nectar, my bride
honey and milk are under your tongue
the scent of your garments is like the scent of lebanon.
A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
a garden locked, a fountain sealed.
Your channel is an orchard of pomegranates
with all choicest fruits
henna with nard
nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon
with all trees of frankincense
myrrh and aloes
with all chief spices
a garden fountain, a well of living water
and flowing streams from Lebanon.
Tuesday 20 November 2007
"Not so much dead as a prisoner", is the report from the kitchen. He's trapped a fully grown cockroach under the can of Trader Joe's fairtrade French roast. I hear a crash.
"He's dead now, right?"
"Yeah, I think so. I'm agin 'em but I can't get as upset as you do about 'em" he says, in his old timey way.
We've got roaches. I'm having the full new york experience this time. I spent a half hour killing them with my bare hands last night. I found where they live.
Up until then, there was just the occasional one or two crawling across the kitchen butcher block, they sent out their babies as scouts ahead of them, to retrieve information and food discreetly, using the cute factor for their reconaissance missions. But last night I found the hive. The boiler room. They lie in the door jamb, keeping warm, and alert for slim pickings from the kitchen table. The sight of them brought out the murder in me. Hands flew and bits of cardboard and roaches got squashed. Then I got the hoover out. Hoovered another twenty of them. Had to put gaffer tape over the nozzle so they wouldn't crawl out. There had been a band rehearsal downstairs and the drummer suggested I hoover up some raid after them, that's roach killer to you and a very good idea to me.
The hoover sits in the middle of the room, containing live roaches.
Thursday 15 November 2007
The blank page. And not much to say.
Continue like this and I'll soon have a masterpiece of the ilk that Jack Nicholson produced, in The Shining. All work
and no play
Lucy a dull girl.
All play makes
Apparently. What a pity. Though I could just hang on in here and see if something comes along sometime soon. You know, I've done that at plenty of buses that never came, so why not a blog post?
It's a rainy dark day in Brooklyn and new york. Blowing hot and cold. Wine is getting poured. Elvis and Nick Drake are getting listened to. Lips are getting kissed.
So I'm here on Dean street, listening to Nick Drake, sipping a glass of red wine on a sofa, next to this bloke I've sort of fallen in love with. And this is where I am. And this is how it is.
Yeah, of course there's more texture than that. Stevie Ray Vaughan is playing now, for instance. And I've just been out to the place on St. Mark's and 5th av for organic butter, and come home with none, because I didn't bring any money out with me. So he's gone, now. To get us seven buck butter. We're cooking dinner of chicken sausages, sweet potatoes and spinach yummy shit.
Friday 9 November 2007
So I've blogged very little about this country that I've come to, to clear what's left of my three and a half year life away, scatter it to the winds. That's probably because I've been busy clearing away what's left of my three and a half year life, and tonight it gets scattered to the winds. I've been preoccupied to some degree, with the 20 kg hold-baggage allowance aer lingus allows me to take out of here, and the prospects of selling the contents of the vintage clothes shop I had here.
Well, tonight, most of it is done. All that's left is to bag it up and drop it off at the charity shop on the corner. And I had packed, and wondered about orange curtains and gorgeous throws, and Louboutin shoes and notebooks full of writing, tapes full of talking and music, bags full of photographs, winter clothes, coats, guitar, g4 computer, atlas bike, bodhran, old diaries, old birthday cards, old tax receipts, the jomi massage musculator, the light box, books, eighty year old top hat, hula hoop, ice skates, bauer roller skates...
The Aeg Chair was already thrown out in the trash back last December, along with most of the rest of my furniture.
So what's done is done. I leave in the morning. I've just made a pile of all my everything stuff and it's a big mountain in the middle of the room. A couple of friends are coming over and they might find something in it of value. I'm just feeling like picking out the little vintage fifties samsonite overnight case and the gig bag I bought yesterday, my guitar, a few selected notebooks, jeans, jumpers and my laptop, and rocking into Kastrup airport tomorrow morning with that. The hell with all of it, you know? Walk away. Walk away.
Just walk away.
Wednesday 7 November 2007
You might have lost faith in my ability to follow through on the promises of the Competition Olympics, fuelled also by the distinct lack of entrants. What could be the reason for the lack of forthcoming participants? Shyness? Indifference? Feeling that it couldn't possibly be YOU standing there on that plinth, having a garland placed around your neck by a lovely bikini clad lady, and given a cup to hold aloft in honour of your great triumphant fortune (with your preferred national anthem played on a very robust ghetto blaster in the background)? That that scenario is too delicious to be claimed by little old you? Is that what you think? Well, Little, let me tell you that your repressed fantasies are ripening.
Welcome to Competition Olympics, Leg Three.
I would like to clarify also that I do seem to be something of a Glamorous International Traveller, so this ceremony can really be conducted anywhere. The judge's decision is, however, Impartial and Final. She is kind, though. But a laugh is much more likely to sway her decision than a Really Profound Idea.
So, folks. Leg three. Here it is.. ya da da daa da daaa daaaaaaaaaaaa:
I can't seem to find my pink gingham Bathing Suit (Betty Grable style) nor my funky jazz chick scarlet velvet hat.. This is to be my costume for the Prize Giving Ceremony of The First Inaugural Competition Olympics. If you can guess where in the world they could possibly be, and I find them there, First Prize is yours. First and second runner-up prizes will also benefit from close proximity to the Bathing Suit, but will have medals and flower garlands, instead of The Cup of Glory (and only the winner of the First Prize will have their national anthem played, and know that all the canned applause and adoration is Only For Them.
Please be specific, and creative. Countries alone will simply not do (though you might have noticed that you have many to choose from. Even before I began blogging this summer, I have been travelling a LOT this year). We need a specific location, town or city at least, and preferably the way the Bathing Suit and Funky Hat are placed, if they're hiding, how they got there, details will be lovingly appreciated.
And remember, if you're not in, you can't win.
Tuesday 6 November 2007
I woke up in Denmark this morning. In a little loft in Valby, København.
She was a daytripper
one way ticket, yeah
it took me so long to find out
and I found out
I came to Denmark in December 2003 on a one way ticket, and left with another one, three and a half years later. The first thing I noticed about Denmark was actually in Sweden, where I flew into. There were photographs everywhere of Naomi Campbell in her knickers, looking Christmassy, faking happy-in-her-knickers bliss. She was everywhere in København too, when I got there. I stopped noticing her after a day or so.
My first impression of new york this July, after a three and a half year absence, was the train, as it roared into Howard Beach station. It took my breath away, every bit of it. It got me right in the centre. And in the midst of that gorgeous chaos, I had the strong thought, that within a few days, even this was going to be absolutely familiar to me. I knew it. I was wrong about that. It never got familiar. It got more breathtaking.
I was in love with the subway the way I am in love with Dean street now, when I lived in Manhattan in 2003. I've never slipped out of that love; it's just evolved, the way it evolved from a room of maroon paintings in a London gallery into the new york city subway, from a grand old velvet curtained theatre into a room of maroon paintings... The lover changes form.
If this post is a little avant garde for you, hold your horses. Rocknroll is never far from the surface.
So I'm here again, in København. Just arrived yesterday. It feels good to get into Danish again, and to find myself jivin' in Danish feels GOOD indeed. But this ain't no one way ticket, yeah.
This time I've got a ticket to ride back to Brooklyn.
Friday 2 November 2007
So I'm youtubing bob dylan "like a rolling stone"
sixties seventies eighties nineties to last year
He never again hit that straight off the blocks peak that was so living in him in the mid sixties
the band's bobdylanband sound was just so good, innocent and shambolic, spacious...
but he definitely evolved
cept that he seems to be singing the same song with different lyrics in the same way, belting some country rock mantra over and over, in the seventies at least
blood on the tracks to slow train coming, sounds like that the whole way through, to me, tho you can smell his sweat on slow train coming.
then there's this, unfortunate
or when he actually became his rolling stoner herself
but for the SINISTER side of fame, here's an object lesson
until he's phoning it in, literally, and he's become a different species altogether
and just to round the whole thing into ultima-rockstar land, probably the last stop on the rolling stone train (the first stop was so much more interesting, probably like a shot of speed at doctor robert's), there's this
Tuesday 30 October 2007
Didya ever hear the story of China Girl? Iggy Pop wrote it with David Bowie, when they both lived in a black-painted ten room apartment in Berlin. Have you ever heard Iggy's version of it? It's about as FUCKEDUP a rocknroll song as has ever been writ and taped. Naked.
So Iggy spent all his money on getting FUCKEDUP and was being made bankrupt, when Bowie decided to record China Girl for his Lets Dance record, so that Iggy would get half the royalties and get his shit together a bit.
That's love, I think.
But I'm listening closely to Lust for Life right now, and I think I've just heard him singing about hypnotising chickens.
Monday 29 October 2007
brooklyn to me
is brooklyn to me
and brooklyn to me
is a pair of small shacks
with a length of twine between them and a metal can either end.
Reaching right over Flatbush
sometimes the yellowcab drivers have to pass the intersection of Dean and F
with their hands raised aloft
out the window
so they don't drive right through
the delicate connection.
Such a flimsy piece of string
and so well taken care of.
he walks the line.
did something happen? fuck,
i think i fell into a pit of scorching hot love
And I'm being eaten alive by these tongues of flame.
This thick pit
and nobody owns it.
Sunday 28 October 2007
A frank exchange of views between two mac whores on either side of the Atlantic, in the middle of the night the Leopard sprang
Cool. commented on yer blog, just watchin' the leopard demo video, it looks pretty cool, I don't need it , but I'll probably get it...
now you've got me watching the fucking tour. At four minutes to four in the morning. After a fucking weird night watching a U2 tribute band and some 60 year old trying to pick me up and then a 16 year old trying to become my best friend.
someone said "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" I'm still watching the video, and if you use it Time Machine looks pretty slick...
Jesus. John looks like a MacBook in human form. I get creeped out by too much mac. I'm not owned by them. John's already pissing me off. He looks too much like a penis. A macbook penis. A MacBook penis in a black turtleneck. I may have to blog this as a review of the leopard ad. It's not a turtleneck tho, but that sounds better. It's a long sleeved black tshirt, which is supposed to suggest anonymous creative productivity, I think. Maconformism.
Yeah he does have a funny perfect Mac rep look, I was sort of wondering at it myself, maybe he's a bot, all will be revealed (but probably not in this video, so don't watch it all the way to the end thinking something is gonna happen) (like it turns out that he's really part of leopard, like your own assistant bot...)
he's new feature number 267!
oh, poor John, imagine primary school, the taunts! the rhymes! the ridicule!
I don't like the dock's shiny floor. Overkill. Trying too hard. Like a puppy in a pound. Like a puppy in a pound with 1 day to go, and it's tuesday.
no I'm not crazy about that either, I don't like any of the purely visual gimmicks, but some of this stuff would end up being useful, you don't have to use all of it...
But can you choose? Don't you just get that shiny floor whether you like it or not?
I don't know, but you can probably make the whole thing disappear like I do now...
nah, i like that the dock is static, and that it doesn't change size or fuck around when you click on it. That's just the way I like it. I don't like too much of this bouncing around shit.
organising your recent work rocks. I will say that.
ichat looks pretty great too, just super smooth, smart, worked out.
they're also selling stuff that's already going on in tiger, like iDisk, but with a coverflow spin.
Oh man data detector is the shiiit! I'm buyin' it.
of course there HAD to be something in that 300 shiny list that was going to get you. Mac whore.
well hey, baby, you're still the one with the brand new mac around here!
time machine is a control freak's wet dream.
but the design of these things alone.. it's made for people who want to travel through space as if space was like it is on star trek next gen.
AAHHHHHH!! yeah, well they just said they have it in the online store and it's gonna take a lot to stop me buying it tonite.
spaces looks like a load of bollocks. all that 'to do' shit in Mail. bollocks. Mac junkie powder.
Yeah I don't know if I'd use spaces, I don't have a lot of separate multi-program activities, but... sometimes... yeah...maybe.
I have a trial of pages 08 by the way. I don't know if I gave it to you or brought it or where it is.. or even what it is, but it's only a 30 day trial.
i really don't dig the whole mac makes your life look great thing with templates.
Naw me neither, corny is what it is, but there are some good features
they do make designing incredibly easy. did i tell you about the website i made in about four minutes at the wedding? niall and noel dot com
No. Yeah, some stuff is working better, and some stuff needed to... I couldn't find the site, what are you doing awake?
oh, niall and noel? no, i made it in iWeb (yes of course i'm a Mac whore for fuck's sake, i bother to get the casing right in all their product names) but I have no dot mac so it's not live.. i think what i'm trying to say to myself is that i need to get a dot mac. which is slightly depressing right now.
oh god john just flashed up in my gmail. now there's nicolle.
It's really an impressive looking upgrade, I've been Mac'ing for quite a while, and well I ain't nevuh seen shit like this... I guess I know who my Mac daddy is...
alright alright alright, i surrender with iChat. We've been a salutary lesson in that over the past while. But you still need dot mac to do any of it. That's a drag.
Do you? yeah maybe, I'm not sure... I have it. I don't know if both people would have to, it doesn't seem like it...
ok the 'buddy list' leopard to leopard is sick, but useful. backdrops is retarded.
You know, for work, if you're in a hovel, you could dress it up for clients, I don't need it but...
You know you want it.
have you seen the shapes of some of these emails scrolled down? They're really beautiful looking. Tho for the full effect you need to get your arse out of Mail and into gmail. Seriously. Gmail is probably the best programme I have ever used on a computer.
The only thing out of all that that looks actually like something I'd want to use would be ichat. But it's hooked up with dot mac and I'm not there (right now or yet or something. it's a fucking drag to be paying mac a yearly subscription, what $75? too much like heroin.)
I don't remember how much, come on, not everything you spend money on is like heroin, ok, so maybe it is...
The only way of doing iChat right now is to sign up for a free 60 day trial of .mac (kiddy playground starter heroin) and you get an iChat signin name, and after the 60 day trial expires, you get to keep your iChat account. The only thing that bothers me about doing the 60 day .mac trial is that it probably means that I'll either go full tilt into .mac zone and start making a new website, or whatever, or else I just won't use it very much and blah blah blah on that side. Fuck it, I'll sign up for it.
Jesus, I've just seen the time. I've got to sleep some time tonight.
OK, jeez, go to sleep, I'm goin' to the bar for a beer before bed
Saturday 27 October 2007
I'm sitting in a brand new Turkish kebab house in Limerick city, staffed by Egyptians, and Irish and Polish waitresses. There's free wifi, hardwood furniture and paintings on the walls. In the past 24 hours, not counting family, I have spoken to more people from Bangladesh, Lithuania and Iraq, than Limerick, or even Ireland. I never quite grasped the extent of the change that has happened over the past few years until now, now that I'm spending most of my time here in public areas: hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, the streets. It's a really interesting time, a really interesting place.
There's a man in his sixties who has just come in, bought his kebab, then sat down and and ordered a cup of tea. The Irish waitress says, "sure, would you like to pay for that now, or later?" And he says, "do you think I'm going to get up and walk out for the price of a cup of tea, after paying for my food?" He's genuinely hurt. "I've never done that in my life before, and I'm not going to start now." Of course, she's just doing her job, and she's concerned she'll forget about the price of the tea, that she'll have other customers to attend to. But he's a man of a certain working class pride, and he has taken her question very personally.
Three nights ago, I was standing at the traffic lights between the Marriott and Dunnes stores, and the row of bus stops that go all the way out to Moyross housing estate. Two elderly women were standing in front of me, waiting for the lights to change. One of them turned around, and with a look on her face like she was a very small thing talking to a very big thing, and laying herself bare before its mercy, asked me for two euro for a cup of tea. This woman was from Limerick, was in her late sixties or early seventies, sober, and sane. I've been concerned about my financial situation lately, to say the least, and I told her no, ma'am, I'm sorry, I don't have it. And we crossed the road. And as soon as I hit the other side, I stopped. Rooted in my wallet, got the two feckin euro, and marched after them. My apologies, madam, I said to her, I believe this belongs to you. And handed her the two euro coin.
I was called a 'dirty cunt' before 2 o'clock this afternoon, by a tiny, frail little blonde girl in a tiny, frail little blonde girl voice, as she rolled her pram across the Athlunkard Bridge (yeah, it all seems to be going on on the Athlunkard Bridge lately). I was on my bike at the time, and we sort of met. Didn't collide or anywhere near it, but enough for her to get her words out. Totally matter of fact, her expression. Kind of blank.
1. Freddy's was recommended in Cara, the aer lingus (national Irish airline) in-flight magazine, which is just HILARIOUS. You'd have to see both Cara and Freddy's to truly appreciate the beauty of this one.
2. Somebody in Seoul googled or bloggered "armpit lick" and got through to my blog. Bliss.
Friday 26 October 2007
It was Mental Health Week in Ireland, the week before I arrived. Just discovered this, written up on a billboard in some dank alleyway in Limerick city. I have something to say about mental health. An unusual slant, you might say. And I am deadly serious about this. Unkindness is a serious mental illness. Natural human intelligence is wildly kind. Where kindness is lacking, human intelligence is retarded, and just doesn't function right. Lack of intelligent compassion is serious mental illness. The inability to see the humanity in each human being you meet is highly socially dangerous behaviour.
Have a look around, folks. Where exactly are the sane people? Where is human intelligence? Is it in universities, in the bodies of professors spending their entire lives writing theses for 19 year olds to read in order to form an opinion so they can write an essay and get a degree so they can become somebody who writes essays for other 19 years olds to make opinions out of, and that no one else will ever ever ever read, including themselves? Is human intelligence in mensa? Is it making Manhattan go round? Is that human intelligence in motion? Do these words even resonate with you? I'm not fucking around here. Absence of kindness is a BLIGHT, a plague in the world. Funny how we're left to our own devices in addressing that one. No government grants or tax cuts on the kindness shortage.
The degree of our pleasure and pain in life is largely dependent on the way we respond to rolling with the punches. But some things wail like a siren in the soul.
We don't take pictures at funerals. We don't take pictures of our pain. We don't like to live through it and we don't like to be reminded of it. But this stuff is as much a part of life as laughing and joy and weddings. Death and pain and sadness and loneliness and hurt, these all sit at the wedding table too, though they are not given a place, and are usually invisible. Not so invisible, if you look a bit closely. For all the people up on the dancefloor giggling and having fun, there's often twice as many sitting around watching them, looking bored, unhappy, or just drinking themselves to oblivion.
It's interesting that the very people who make official power-wielding judgments about other people's mental health, I think, have their own damage, but have the distinction of being well attuned to living in the world, within world systems, keeping a job, paying the mortgage, maintaining the status quo, not rocking the boat, living a damp life.
It really takes a highly intuitive, instinctual intelligence, and a highly evolved, compassionate kind of understanding, in order to see into another human soul, and see what it is that's actually disturbed, or unaccepted, in that human life, and how to suggest ways of helping. We are not evolved as a species in many of the very basic ways. There isn't a richness of mental or physical sanity around, and human beings are very much copycats. Whatever the available model of living is, is generally what's followed.
People get shocked by a smile from a stranger, in some parts of the world. The thought that follows is, "What's that about? What does he want from me?" That gets called 'being sussed', and your other option in that zone is naivete. It's a vicious pit to live in. I'm talking about being a human being that likes yourself. Being truly friends with yourself. Having a loving air about life. Without that, I don't think we can really hear each other. Until then, we only hear some kind of a distortion. Of course all this is easy to say. Actually getting there is a journey of LIFE. And it's a rocking journey, a fantastic adventure.
This is why we listen to rocknroll. This is why we fucking LOVE rocknroll. When it's good, it's made from the place that the sane madness comes from, and it acts like a hole in the seamlessness of things, that offers a way to jump through into that sane madness of things.
True sanity is highly aberrant. If it's also smart, it probably knows how to keep its mouth shut. Unfortunately, I may be sane, but I'm not so smart.
Things are getting to the point where I NEED to make a rocknroll band.
I suppose true wisdom has, amongst other qualities, the understanding that any advice given will almost always fall on deaf ears, and it has no quarrel with that. Everybody has to do what they have to do. But then, there are approximately fourteen wise people in the whole wide world.
Thursday 25 October 2007
Limerick today: the window cleaners are barking instructions at each other in Polish. Real estate agents meet their clients in the Hilton hotel before bringing them to see prospective one bedroom apartments in blocks A, B and F. Lithuanian call centre agents are talking rurally isolated emailers through the process of setting up their computers for dial-up. The wifi techocrats are in love with the products they sell. And they need to sell. It makes them feel alive.
Hey, I don't know if anyone has actually absorbed this information, but the bell has tolled for the Celtic Tiger. Word got out a few days ago. Some minister or other made the announcement. No women in gold bikinis advertised THAT one on Grafton st. Now, I know it's been splashed all over the headlines of the newspapers, but as long as you can get an Amaretto truffle with your to-go cappucino served to you by an Estonian waitress working for the second highest minimum wage in Europe, I guess you mightn't really notice. Keep making those trips to Brown Thomas, and ripping the heart out of Georgian Limerick in order to replace it with more gigantic 24 hour shopping malls. But the news is in: the good times are over, folks. And you'll probably still have to commute for two and a half hours every day, even when it all turns grey. You just probably won't be able to rely on cashing in on your real estate investment (what used to be called home) at the end of the day.
I had an inkling about it when I heard that Lisa Stansfield had put her house on the market a couple of weeks ago. That day was it for the Celtic Tiger, as far as I'm concerned. Lisa Stansfield is a minor British popstar from the eighties who came to Dublin and bought a big house in Dalkey some time in the early nineties. I don't know how much she paid for it, but now her house is on the market for 7 million euros. And if she gets that, it may well be one of the last big killings of the Celtic Tiger years. It'll take care of her retirement, anyway. She was probably holding out for a while, enjoying the amazing views over Dublin bay, knowing that one day she was going to have to cash in her chips before time ran out, and the market evaporated.
Well, guess what, folks?
Monday 22 October 2007
I have one thing to say to all car drivers, when driving along unlit night-time country roads (not that you'd notice, because your headlights always light up the roads, so you never have to face the fact that the roads are actually BLACK at night) wherever they and you may be:
When you meet a cyclist coming against you, DIM YOUR LIGHTS DUDE. Don't wait for her to put her arm in front of her face to try to block out the glare in her eyes as she steers her bike around that bend, with the other hand.
Cycling home along black country roads is really a piece of work. When cars come by, as they do often on these roads that lead to and from Limerick city, there are these surreally intense flashes of strong white light and visibility, then back to black immediately afterward. As a car passes, you watch his headlights illuminate the immediate path ahead of you, so you can see if there's a rock in your way, ready to send you flying under the tyres of an oncoming car. It's no joke. Potholes, hairpin bends, high speed cars, that lunatic who passed me so close he could have kissed me while he was doing it - THREE TIMES last night (how did he do it?), riding the loudest motorbike I have ever heard, and driving faster than Evel Knievel in a determined moment - stones, uneven road surfaces (what, in Ireland of the four billion pound roads? surely not!) sudden gaps in the road, as in, here's the road, and then suddenly, here is no road, all these things are leaps of faith into the pure unknown, on the cycle home.
And I love it. The wind rustles in the trees, the air smells so good, your senses are WIDE awake, you can hear the nocturnal animals moving around, responding to you, doing their do. Everything looks unfamiliar at night, cycling home. You can forget what country you're in, who you are, what you're doing, where you're even going to. There's just the focus on the road, the task of getting through it alive, and being exhilarated by the journey.
I had a moment some day last week, when I realised that there was so much interesting about this city and just about anywhere I could possibly be, and that I need to write about it. That the streets are FULL of stories, and moments. And I slipped inside that insight, somehow, and space expanded within it. I dunno, I just started having fun here. It helps to have your eyes open, and a sense of humour handy. It really helps to have loving people about. That's a huge blessing.
It's amazing the kinds of moments you can have in your long-left hometown. I roared down O' Connell street (Limerick's Broadway) yesterday, on the bike, belting out Mystery Train at the top and bottom of my voice. God I love that song. I can smell that song. I can smell the wet heat of it. People actually jumped in the air. I'm having fun here. The most fun I've had in years here, probably. It's not so serious as it used to be, here. At least, what I mean by that is that clearly, I'M not so serious as I used to be, here. There's still a fair whack of seriousness around the Limerick streets. But your hometown can so easily bring out the seriousness in you in a what-a-pity-that's-happening sort of way.
And shortly after that, I was cycling over the Athlunkard bridge, and I saw a man walking toward me, on the footpath. We looked right into each other, and I realised that we had been in the same class in school when we were about six years old, and I realised that he realised the same thing. There may or may not have been crushes involved. They may or may not have been mutual. They were certainly unrequited (requiting it meant holding hands in an intensely meaningful way, at six). We each may or may not have lived out the legacy of that maybe/maybe not crush for a number of subsequent crushes/relationships. Either of us may or may not be still living in the shadow of that maybe/maybe not relationship scenario.
And we looked into each other, and we were kind of amazed, and we smiled. And I cycled, and he walked, past. Over the bridge. In opposite directions.