Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A vanny splendored thing

Greta recently passed her DOE, and I, like the proud parent that I am, have been gloating about it to one and all.  To listen to me harp on about the achievement, you'd swear that I built her myself, and hand tuned each part to perfection on the eve of the test to ensure she'd get through, when really all I did was replace one of the tyres (it was knackered, which may not be the most politically correct thing to say when talking about a Hiace) and give her a bit of a wash.

I had been meaning to give her a bit of a wash with a while, but could never really bring myself to do it.  I bought her in February, then spent several months fluting about on mucky Irish back roads, and now it now coming towards the end of October, and it still didn't seem like the right time to visit the car wash.  Rose Royce would be turning in her grave, except she's not dead, nor is she an actual person.  Fortunately, as stated previously, the universe is a funny creature, and things have their own way of working out.

On the Friday night of the Jazz Weekend, I was driving home after a gig when I saw a tall brunette in tight black pants and a hot pink top lurch across the street about 20 yards ahead of me.  As I was passing, she flagged me down asking for a lift home.  I was about to explain I'm not a fuckin' taxi and I could do without her vomiting all over me and my van's interior thank you very much.  It then occurred to me that as she was in such a state that she was willing to get into a van with a complete stranger, then perhaps it was not wise to leave her to fend for herself on the streets of Cork.

She then flopped into the passenger seat, told me the name of her street, and I asked if she would be able to give me directions?  She said of course she would, and then passed out.  This left me in a wee bit of a pickle.  What does one do in such a situation?  It's simple really: we're close to my place, I'll just carry her in, tuck her in to my bed, I'll sleep on the couch, and when she wakes up in the morning, I'll drop her home.  This all sounded great in theory, but then it dawned on me that regardless of how chivalrous and gentlemanly my intentions may have been, if she were to wake up at any point in the middle of this plan's execution, I would find myself saying the immortal words: "I know how this looks, but there is a perfectly innocent explanation as to what's going on here..."

Plan B was to leave her asleep in the van with a blanket over her, and stick a Post-it on the dashboard explaining that although she appeared to be down a boreen in the middle of nowhere, she was actually in a bizarre vortex between Southern Road and Old Blackrock Road, and it would only be a matter of navigating a series of treacherous potholes to get safely back to civilisation.  Again this sounded like a great plan, but the reality of the situation was that I was all out of Post-its, and as it was way past Cinderella time and into the wee small hours, there was no hope of getting a fresh pack (Greta is not fitted with bull bars, so ram-raiding Eason's was not an option).

As her name was still unknown to me, and prodding her shoulder while saying "Hey you, you there!" was not eliciting any sort of response, I knew a Plan C was needed.  This involved the very straightforward act of going in to my flat, checking her street name on google maps, then heading over there and using whatever force was necessary to wake her up and drop her off at her front door.  Well done Doctor, you've done it again!  So as we pulled out of the vortex, she was awoken by a particularly aggressive pothole.  I then explained that I had stopped off at my place for something and was now going to drop her home, and she then explained that she was going to get sick.  She then rolled down the window, hung her head out like a highly intoxicated red setter, and spewed her guts up all the way home.  She then thanked me for the lift, and apologised for any vomiting my van may have endured over the course of her tenure.  I said there was no need to thank me as I was happy that she got home safely, and there was no need to apologise as I considered her not getting sick all over me and and the van's interior as the best possible outcome in this situation.  Besides there is heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, so that ought to take care of it.  When I got home and surveyed the damage (in the dark) it didn't seem too bad, nothing a nice heavy downpour wouldn't fix.

As with all things alcohol related, the cold light of day was a lot less than forgiving.  Admittedly the streaks were impressive, and I did feel a wee bit CSI-ish as I examined the pattern and tried to glean what angle her head was at, how fast the van was going, what the prevailing wind was, and just how much she must have been drinking to conjure up so much vomit.  She had managed to Pollock the passenger door as well as a large chunk of the sliding door, and was considerate enough to spray both of the handles so that it was impossible to open either door without touching the intimate details of her stomach lining.  However hard it rained that day, it didn't rain hard enough.  I would have to wash my van.

This turned out to be a very good thing.  In all the months that myself and Greta had been an item, it never occurred to me that the underside of her arches were anything other than black, but it turns out that they are sprayed the same green as the rest of her.  It was also a nice feeling to be dropping a clean van off at the test centre, it's like turning up for court in a decent suit, it doesn't change anything really but can't hurt, right?  This brings us right up to the point where the story began, which is a bit of a shitty ending, but that's how it goes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jammed jambs.

The universe is a funny thing.  Our existence is a series of seemingly random events and bizarre coincidences that shape our life-course in ways that make no sense at the time of occurrence, but, in hindsight, it often appears that our journey through life is clearly mapped out by the hand of destiny.  A few weeks back, the glass double doors at the front of my building were jammed.  After about five minutes of trying to cajole them open like a good-humored date rapist, I realised my patience was starting to run out, and it would only be a matter of time before I lost my cool and started kicking in the glass in a fit of rage.  This would result in damage to my deposit, a severed peroneal artery, and a set of double doors that still wouldn't open.  The sane and logical thing to do would be to admit defeat and go in the back way.  The front of my house is on Southern Road (this means nothing to most people in Cork, yet when I use Irish orienteering and explain that it's between Paddy the Farmer's and The Southern Star they suddenly know exactly where I live), but to get to the back means going along Old Blackrock Road, then taking a turn down a street which appears to be a cul-de-sac. The street doesn't come to an end, instead it morphs into a boreen, complete with hedges, ditches, and potholes that could swallow a small child.  At the bottom of this boreen, you'll find the back of my house, which means that my place of permanent residence is a bizarre rural vortex in Cork city centre. 

As I made my way along Old Blackrock Road, an old woman stopped me asking if I knew how to change a tyre?  Being the good old-fashioned man that I am (sexist but chivalrous), I obliged and got to work.  She explained that she had been there for about an hour, she tried ringing her son but he was tied up with work, and every passing stranger she asked was too busy or didn't know how.  I then explained that it really was her lucky day as normally I wouldn't take that route, it just happened that I was passing because my front door was jammed shut.  I then drifted off into an immensely philosophical abstraction about how the universe purposefully jammed my door so that I could help out this poor, troubled old woman.  Then, just as the last bolt was tightened and the jack taken away, her son turned up, thanked me for helping out his mother, and then handed me a tenner.  A proper gentleman would have refused this, as a good deed is its own reward, but I'm flat fucking broke so I pocketed it in the most gracious manner I could muster.  After negotiating the crocodile infested potholes of the boreen, I climbed the metal fire escape and got into my flat, where I cleaned the grime off my hands and did some more musing on the bizarre cosmic coincidence I had just witnessed as I sipped on a mug of heavily honeyed tea.  Maybe it was the tea talking, or the honey had gone to my head, but this was far too beautifully set up to be just a coincidence.  To test out this hypothesis I went down to the front door.  A quick turn of the handle and one sharp tug revealed that, lo and behold, it was still stuck.  Fuck you Universe, I've had enough of your shit.  I spend an hour helping an old woman that I have never met before, and this is how you repay me?  Although I've never read the bible, I'm fairly certain the good Samaritan arrived home to a fully functioning front door after doing his good deed for the day.

Later on, myself and the guy who lives in the flat upstairs used our combined body weight, a claw hammer, and some WD-40 to try to wedge open the door.  This was every bit as kinky as it sounds, but unfortunately it did not work.  We could have spent the evening changing flat tyres for every old woman from here to Carrigaline and it still wouldn't have made a difference.  Fortunately, the next day Karma sent round my landlord with a crowbar.  As he is a one-time rugby player and a full-time builder - who weighs well over twenty stone, I feel that the crowbar was just for show.  While he's normally a good-natured jolly sort - a rosy cheeked, black bearded Santa Claus - he is also well capable of turning on the intimidating menace when it's needed (hint: in the four years I have been living here, I have NEVER been late with the rent).  Although I wasn't present when shit went down, I imagine that he approached the stubborn door with crowbar in hand, gave it an intimidating scowl, and it popped open of its own accord.

So I guess the moral of the story is that a good deed is indeed its own reward, the universe doesn't give a flying Fallujah about jammed doors, and if you are poverty stricken €10 will buy you a shitload of rice and beans in Aldi.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Erotic Adventures of ...

With my DJ career slowly swirling down the toilet bowl, it makes sense that I try to find another stream of income.  As my higher education consists of an arts degree, and a lot of my employment experience consists of unskilled site work during the boom times, this makes me as useful and employable as a builder's labourer-cum-arts graduate.  Recently one of the bigger supermarkets interviewed me for the position of shopping trolley attendant, asking if I had any relevant experience.  My answer was no, but surely I could learn on the job?  This was met with a sneering you cannot learn how to park shopping trolleys, you are either born with it or you are not.  So can I expect to hear back from you?  Just shut the door on your way out.  As I made my way down the corridor, their notice board told me that they were also looking for shelf-stackers, but a quick look through my family tree suggested that there is no shelf-stacking in my blood either.

So desperate times call for desperate measures, and I have started giving handjobs to strangers in public toilets.  If things don't start improving soon, I will have to start charging them.  I also made a foray into erotica, hoping it would supplement my dwindling income.  The original title was: "The Erotic Adventures of Dr. Herringbone Dread: Fifty shades of DJ" which pleased me no end.  Sadly, "Fifty Shades of DJ" was already taken by a creepy hurling fan-fic series about Kilkenny's favourite Carey.  I don't consider myself easily shocked, but the things they do with hurleys in those books are imaginative to say the least, and even more painful and sadistic than the game of hurling itself.  Instead I have opted for: "The Erotic Adventures of Dr. Herringbone Dread: DJ, Ladies' Man, and Premature Ejaculator Extraordinaire".  The sex scenes are plentiful, short, and to the point, as well as being laden with awkwardly mumbled apologies and hasty withdrawals with halfhearted promises to meet up for coffee sometime during the week.

Naturally you'd expect publishers to be having bare knuckle fights with each other to try to secure the rights to such a work.  After all, it is a book written by an actual DJ who is every bit as clumsy and cumbersome at coitus in real life as he is on paper, quite frankly this makes me the Tom Clancy of the genre.  For reasons unknown, there has not even been a single Dear John from any of the publishing houses I approached.  Obviously this is because my work is brilliant, and they're afraid of such brilliance, and not because it's painfully bad tripe that's not fit to be printed on toilet paper.  Fortunately after visiting a clinic it turns out that I have an incredibly common blood type, so while it's not really worth that much, there is a steady demand for it and my many vital organs.  So after selling my good kidney I was able to self publish 100 copies of my book, and then spent a full week shtomping up and down Patrick Street unsuccessfully hawking my wares to the public.  There were even a few occasions where I stopped to talk to chuggers, and then when they least expect it, I'd try to foist my fiction upon them.  Sure I'll sign up for twelve months, but only if you buy a copy of this book I've written.  This always ended with them running away from me screaming, so now I understand the pain and humiliation that chuggers endure on a daily basis.  (This new-found insight into their world will now be used to write an erotic novel with a chugger as the central character.)

So now that I've been unable to sell my raunchy, racy, and tasteless paperback, there is no other option but to release it as an e-book.  In hindsight this should have been the first port of call, as while people love to be seen with dog-eared paperbacks of weighty lit-fic, nobody wants to be caught dead with juicy clit-flick, which is why all sorts of bizarre erotica have become bestsellers on kindle.  So at the the end of this month my erotic adventures will be available as an e-book on Amazon, and you are cordially invited to my virtual book launch which promises virtual wine, virtual cheese, and virtual cordial.  If you would like an advance copy, just send me a message and I'll hook you up with a freebie.  The only condition is that you make a small donation to a charity of my choice for every toe curlingly tender moment of my book that makes you shiver, and then make a slightly larger donation for every teeth curlingly awful moment that makes you shudder.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The good news is that I am getting back into shape.  My treadmilling has progressed nicely from brisk walking, through jogging, up to running, and it no longer feels like I should be wearing a sports bra as I trot along (the ambition is to work up to a canter, and eventually be able to gallop).  The other good news is that, as college is restarting, there will be a healthy injection of gym bodied 18-24 year old girls clad in lycra, spandex and all sorts of other stretchy, sexy materials.  Some readers will be offended by the previous sentence and are writing me off as some sort of sad, lonely, dirty thirty-something, and they are right.  It did cross my mind that the gym could be used as a great place for meeting women, but until they develop a way to exercise without sweating, I'll stick with going home alone.  At the moment I'm unsure as to what constitutes a normal amount of sweating, but having t-shirts with complex Rorschach style patches at the end of a session are truly a sight to behold (I'm an astoundingly symmetrical sweater, hardly an attractive quality, but noteworthy nonetheless).  As my academic background involves psychology, it occurred to me that I could use "So what does my sweat stain look like to you?" as a good conversational opener, which would be made even more charming by my heavy breathing and very red face.

The other obstacle is that I'm surrounded by guys who are a good ten years younger than me, and at least fifteen years fitter.  As it stands, I'm in good shape for my age and blessed with having all of my hair and teeth.  As far as the bell curve goes, I'm nicely in the middle: not overly fit or overly fat.  It's just that all those other guys who are always in the gym, look like guys who are always in the gym.  Some are so ridiculously muscular that I pity them, others sport the right combination of lean and tone that I hate them.  The age rationalisation was played out once: What kind of shape will they be in at my age?  Which is a good point, but it suggests that when I was that age, I was in a similar state of physical excellence, which is not entirely true.  In my first wave of student days, there wasn't an ounce of fat on me, but this was because of my strict diet of basmati rice, buckfast, and ecstasy rather than any sort of good living.

It really is astounding to see how the other side lives.  After a hearty training session in the gym, a group of them will sit in the sauna where they will talk about ... (wait for it) ... training!  Occasionally it will meander into protein shakes, but after that brief interlude it will go back into more training talk.  One day a group of them were talking about how they spent so many weeks on the doss that semester.  At last, my kind of students!  Going on the doss is an age-old tradition which involves curling up on the sofa with a duvet and pot noodle, watching daytime television like your life depends on it, taking drugs while spacing out to psychedelic sounds, and reading weighty/wordy books that are not in any way related to your own course work.  The most dedicated tale I ever heard of going on the doss involved getting a full-time job for a few weeks just to have a decent wad for rag week.  Sadly, for these Adonises, going on the doss meant not going to lectures (hurrah!) and instead spending 3-4 hours working out every day.  It wasn't even devil-may-care, free-form working out, it was well-structured, buddy-on-leg day, strict regime of protein shake and carbs, adequate stretching to warm up and cool down working out.  What sort of going on the doss is this?  If I was hiring people straight out of college, I'm not sure if these are the type I'd want working for me (this probably explains when I am not an important businessman cherry-picking college graduates).

The Dunnes Store's board shorts and Cookie Monster t-shirt that constitute my gym-wear are nearly dry, and my knees are almost unsore enough for another session.  Today's flirtatious tactic will involve affixing a bell to the exercise bike so that I can cheekily ding the ladies as they walk past.  Last week I used the novel approach of raising an eyebrow and shouting ding in a suggestive manner.  For reasons unknown this was seen as neither quirky nor charming, but rather creepy and unsettling.  So if I can get through today's workout with only five verbal warnings from the staff, it will be considered something of a victory for me.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Apprentice Picnician


The deal for an Electric Picnic ticket was acting as a driver for Dublin based electronic artist Adultrock.  This meant collecting him and his girlfriend (who I sort of know) on Friday evening and dropping them home on Sunday night.  While this would mean having to do a ridiculous amount of driving to and from the festival, as well as dictating when I would arrive and when I would leave, it would also mean a free ticket to a sold out festival.  The festival was in Co. Laois, which is not too much of a trek from Cork, but I would have to drive past the festival to go to Dublin on a Friday evening to get the cream of rush hour traffic and then drive back down to the Picnic in even more heavy traffic (rush hour traffic plus festival traffic multiplied by I've been driving for three hours already).  The only way this situation could be tweaked to perfection is the addition of an overheating engine.  The handy trick if one notices an overheating engine is to turn on the heating and fan full whack and then bring the vehicle to a garage as soon as possible.  This trip to the garage had been postponed and procrastinated with about three months now, as I had exchanged sound mechanical advice for the vain hope that whatever was going wrong under the bonnet would magically fix itself if left alone for long enough.  I applied this same logic to an inguinal hernia a few years back, and can still remember the horrified look on the specialist's face when she asked: "So when did you notice something was wrong?" "About a year ago."  "?!?!?!?"  So I gunned Greta Greenbus (the Groove Space Hiace) down the motorway for three hours with the heating up and the windows down while the sun blazed through the windscreen.  Fortunately the needle stayed out of the red and the engine refrained from spewing out plumes of smoke and steam.  Naturally I deluded myself and said that there is nothing the matter here, I just happen to be driving a four wheeled air conditioned sauna, that's all.


The other worry was that I didn't really know the couple I'd be ferrying to and from the Picnic, and if they turned out to be insufferable arses, the relatively short drive from their gaff to the festival could turn out to be painfully long and drawn out.  Fortunately they were the world's nicest people, and when we arrived onsite, I went my separate ways as I didn't want to contaminate their inherent loveliness with my own insufferable arsiness.  My game plan for the the festival was not to have a game plan and just wander around, soaking up the atmosphere, hoping to happen upon something tasty.  There was only one group I HAD to see that weekend, so it was nice to have a loose timetable for the bulk of the time, as the real festival experience consists of finding unheard of groups and djs on the periphery and having life affirming moments as a result.  So after a good aimless wander, I hit upon a bayou tinged, blues-rock three piece on the trailer park stage.  The singer had the look of the exact type of person you want on your side should a brawl break out in a biker bar.  Long hair, arms like tree trunks, hands like hams, a beard that could have given birth to ZZ top and a gravelly voice to match.  He belted out variations on the theme "I feel fucked up and am drinking far too much since you walked out on me" (presumably because he had been drinking too much to begin with).   The band was tight, and having just three pieces meant that their lean and mean sound had the right amount of raw grit that really hit the spot.  I saw the singer onsite later on that weekend accompanied by what appeared to be his partner and young child, which made me question the authenticity of his blues.

After more wandering around, I found myself back at the trailer park stage witnessing the awesome spectacle of Dundalk's finest comedic funksters "The Trampz".  I had caught them previously at the Volvo Ocean race in 2009 and had enjoyed them enough then to stick around for their show.  The majority of the band were kitted out in smoking jackets, shades, polo neck shirts and tacky gold chains, and in the middle of this uber smoove style was a feral young man wearing nothing but a pair of ragged jeans, rocking out as if his life depended on it.  When they finished up whatever song they had been playing (I'm relying totally on my dodgy memory, so lots of details will be missing) the singer addressed the crowd in a thick Dundalk accent: "We are the Trampz.  This is Electric Picnic. And this, this is a man with no shirt.  Man with no shirt, you have earned the respect of The Trampz, now be gone."  The singer then caught his feral accomplice by the scruff of the neck and flung him forcefully off the front of the stage.  If this was Hollywood, he would have been caught by the cheering masses who would have borne him aloft and crowd-surfed him to safety.  As this was a field in Co. Laois, he landed facedown in the mud where he lay motionless for a wee while as onlookers looked on worriedly.  "This next song is called Sex Machine.  (Huge Cheer)  It's not the James Brown song.  It's a song about having sex.  With a machine.  Yeah, a sex machine!"  The humour of their lyrics and onstage getup was underscored by incredibly funky and danceable grooves, with the percussionist occasionally interjecting with Kiedis-style rapping reminiscent of the socks on cocks Chilli Peppers (before they went under the bridge of credible and intelligent song-writing).  Later on in the set the singer reached in to the crowd saying "Hee-yor Batman, let's be havin' you".  He then pulled up a skinny guy in an Adam west style Batman outfit, who lacked a cape so wore a crappy grey zip up hoodie over his shoulders, and whose saggy navy bat nappy suggested that this Batsuit may once have been owned by Adam West himself.  He danced about onstage with the band for that number and just like the shirtless man, Batman was forcefully ejected from the stage.  Fortunately this ritual humiliation was accompanied by the drummer and bassist playing the 60s theme tune, so that makes everything alright.

There was a bit more wandering and I spent a wee while in Trenchtown soaking up some disco-boogie courtesy of Mr. Whippy.  At around one o'clock I decided to call it a night and head back to the van where I would inflate my mattress and turn in for the night.  This is what I was really looking forward to, as there would be none of the hassle of setting up a tent, and as I was in the crew car park I was far from the revelling masses and would be guaranteed a good night's sleep.  This was upset greatly when I walked down past the row of cars to a hiace with the back door left wide open.  As it was dark it was unclear what colour it was, so I was praying like a motherfucker that this was someone else's van.  When Adultrock had played at the Body and Soul festival earlier that summer, he had the misfortune of having his laptop stolen.  This had turned out to be something of a blessing, as he now to had to make a new set using a synthesiser and sequencer which was more physically involving and aurally satisfying than working with Ableton Live and a midi controller.  A synthesiser and sequencer that he had assumed would be safe in my van which had been left unlocked, unattended and wide open with a few hours now.  Who knows, maybe if all his gear gets stolen again, this would also turn out to be something of a blessing, right?  A quick scan inside showed that both of his cases were still there and had not been interfered with.  The only thing that had been stolen were a few cans of cider which really shows that you do get a different class of scumbag at Electric Picnic. 

All that was left for me to do was pump up my mattress and get some sleep.  I awoke about two hours later to find myself lying uncomfortably on a fully deflated mattress on the hard plywood floor.  Thinking perhaps that the problem was not tightening the valve properly, I reinflated the mattress and got another two hours sleep.  Realising now that there was a puncture, I toyed with the idea of pumping it up every two hours, as I would only have to do it twice more to clock up a respectable eight hour sleep.  Instead I opted to take my duvet and pillows up to the front of the van as it would be like sleeping on a sofa.  A sofa that is a wee bit too short and not all that comfortable.  A sofa that has a gap in the middle for the handbrake and gear lever, who would take turns over the course of the night to try to sodomise me.  A sofa that is located directly in front of a huge curtain-less window that would give me the full benefit of the morning sun in a few hours.  Yeah, this ought to suffice.


After confirming that nothing had been stolen and safely transporting the gear to the lock up, I got on with the extremely important business of wandering around Electric Picnic on Saturday.  At Trenchtown I found a slightly foggy Mr Whippy listening to Marcus Valle and making a brew on a camping stove.  After a lengthy conversation which was largely comprised of double entendres and outright obscenities, he invited me to hop on board and spin a few.  Not having brought any records with me, it was a bit of a thrill to try and piece together a set from someone else's collection, using only the finest of guess work to figure out what would go well with what.  Being able to pull off a reasonably cohesive set that largely consisted of songs that I was unfamiliar with, exemplifies why I'm one of the most respected selectors in my city, or is conclusive proof that I am undoubtedly one of the greatest bluffers to ever get behind a set of 1210s.  After doing this for an hour or so I had to wander on, as the Whippy Wagon was too small to contain my immense talent.  That is bullshit.  The reality is that I'm too tall to stand upright in the ice-cream van, and being hunched over was taking its toll on my posture (which had already taken a beating at the hands of my van's seating).  Saturday afternoon was reasonably aimless, I caught a wee bit of Kevin McAleer doing a set as Gaeilge, and did my best to try to find which stall had the nicest tea (every cup of tea of the weekend was just a little bit too dusty for my tastes). 

My only must-see act for the festival was Waterford's "The Dead Heavys" who were playing the mainstage in The Body and Soul arena.  It would be admirable to hype them up here and give them a favourable write-up as ones to watch for this year (all of which would be true), but my main reason for wanting to see them is that my identical twin brother is the bass player.  I say identical, but really we look nothing alike, and when I say twin, he's actually two years older than me.  When he first told me that he was joining an indie rock group, I ate the ear off him for having no ambition.  Surely for a bassplayer that's as fine and funky as he is, joining such a group would be a step backward?  My words have since been eaten and nicely digested several times over, having heard the wondrously groovy psychedelic pop that has become their trademark sound.  Their sound was good and their set was tight, and it was great to see lots of people stop by to see what was happening, then stay on to get down.  By their last song the natural amphitheater was full and heaving along nicely with the group.  After their set I hung out with Jim, wandering around and chatting about this and that.  I don't go home all that often, and as he has a partner and two young children (Jim "Family Man" O'Brien) we don't get to have too many extended conversations.  To give him his due, he is the one who turned me on to funk, and my first experiences of DJing were opening up for a band he was in many moons ago (they had many name changes and were essentially the forerunners of The Dead Heavys).  When we walked back to the campsite so that he could get a hoody, I realised that it was cold, that I was tired, and that I had enough fun for one day.   I said goodbye to my brother as he turned towards the festival and I headed back to Greta.  Turning in shortly after Cinderella time would give me a hell of a nights sleep, and would ensure that I would be super fresh for Sunday's meanderings.


After clocking up a respectable nights sleep, Sunday morning greeted me with a pounding headache.  I drank about a litre of water, got a bit more shut eye and came to two hours later with the headache gnomes still beating my skull with their little mallets.  Adultrock had texted me asking if I could meet him at the lock up to put his gear back in my van.  That he still trusted my competency after the previous escapades shows how much of a better person he is than I.  Had the roles been reversed, my response would have been along the lines of fuck you and your van, I'm walking back to Dublin and carrying all this shit by myself, please stay away from me forever you incompetent fucktard.  After loading the van and triple checking that all the doors were locked, I took a spin in to Stradbally to score some panadol and find a porcelain bowl to squat over.  I won't go into a detailed description of how bad the portaloos were at the Picnic, but when a filling station's jacks seems heavenly and inviting, it's fair to say that one's standards have been lowered considerably.

As I made my way back from the carpark towards the festival, I bumped into the ever affable and extraordinarily talented Jus'me, who was waiting for the rest of the Unscene Collective to arrive so that he could check his gear in.  As they were all coming from different parts of the south and west of Ireland, they had all rendezvoused in some god awful town not too far from the Picnic, had some car swapping antics and now half of them seemed to have gone AWOL in the fashion of a rural Irish hip-hop Spinal Tap.  The rest of the collective seemed remarkably cool and collected about the affair which suggested that this carry-on happens a lot.  In need of my first cup of tea of the day (I don't care how dusty it is, I need my tea) I wandered on saying I'd catch their set later.  After numerous cups of tea, some very good vegetarian curry and a festival standard burrito, I settled down at the Comedy Tent where Eric Lalor made me laugh aloud the way a comedian should.  Saturday's meanderings had involved a few stop offs at the comedy tent, where I witnessed household name comedians deliver tragically unfunny sets that verged on anti-humour (there will be no naming, shaming or bad mouthing, being a piss-poor comedian is its own punishment).  Eric is a graduate of Des Bishop's Joy N The Hood, but his comedic talent has certainly matured with a well wrought set where the punchlines were sneaky southpaws that hit with alarming regularity.  He was followed by an obnoxious household name comedian, so I took this as my cue to shuffle on.

The Unscene Showcase really hit hard.  It began with Deviant and Mikey Fingers scratching tastefully over beats.  A lot of turntablists dedicate years to perfecting tricknology that is devoid of musicality and is wankier than the wankiest jazz.  These west coast deck monkeys kept things sensible, musical and groovable and only pulling out the fancy scratches when absolutely necessary.  Seeing Deviant hold down a rhythmic baby scratch while Mikey did some fader-licking cuts on top showed two artists who had immense respect for their audience and were completely unconcerned with the show-boating and one-upmanship that has been dragging the arse out of hip-hop for far too long.  Spekulativ Fiktion and Jus'me took the stage next, and it was a relief to see an MC who was happy to be himself on stage.  I have no problems with personas or onstage characterisations, but there are far too many middle class white Irish rappers doing their darndest to look street weary and pepper their rhymes with stateside parlance that just doesn't fit their flow.  Spek Fik looks and sounds like an ordinary twenty something from Cork, and his subject matter includes getting let down by confidantes, and giving out about wankers in pink polo shirts and v-neck jumpers.  No bamboozling verbal juxtapositions or extravagant wordplay and rhyming schemes: just straight-up, well-enunciated storytelling.  I took a break from the intensity of MC Sebi C to see if I could catch the tail end of King Kong Company on the B&S mainstage.  Upon arrival I was greeted by a departing audience and sound techs wrapping up cables which meant I missed the blaa land's finest beat factory.  In true OCD fashion I decided that I would not walk directly back to the Earthship stage for the rest of the Unscene showcase, but would take a circular route through the B&S area to see what I could see.

One of my main complaints of the weekend had been a lot of the DJs I had come across did not do anything for me.  Not that any of them were bad, but I felt that most of them veteran DJs who were just going through the motions.  Again, there were no dodgy transitions, or even bad music, but nothing inspiring, nothing that was making me lose my shit and wonder what the f*ck is this!?!?!?!  It had been heartening in a way, as I had been down on my own skills with a while and seeing one too many DJs putting the meh in mediocre made me realise that I'm not so bad after all and maybe I have something to offer to the world.  These thoughts (and many more, I have never been one who was short on thoughts) were carouselling through my mind as I approached the back of the Peace Pagoda.  There was an immensely energised crowd getting down out front to some really dubby dancehall and I was curious to see who was manning the controls.  What I initially took to be an incredibly petite woman working behind a laptop and controller, was in fact a little blond girl, too young to be a teenager but definitely a wee bit older than my eight year old nephew.  Turning on my cynicism to full beam, I rationalised that the crowd thought this spectacle was cute, and were dancing along to be encouraging to the wee thing.  The tune was kicking though, really quality stuff, and I couldn't deny that.  Maybe this was the one good track she had, that this was a stroke of luck.  The more I hung around, the more apparent it was that this girl was seriously on pointe.  Every track she dropped was gold, and her selection and programming were flawless.  Theo Parrish maintains that it takes ten years to master selection, so by Theo's logic this girl must have been DJing since shortly after birth.  The ecstatic tears of joy running down my cheeks and the broad grin permafixed across my face were tell-tale signs that I was losing my shit and I just couldn't help dancing maniacally and idiotically.  At the end of her set, Donal Dineen got on the mic: "Give it up for Little J, the best DJ at this festival and an unbelievable selector!"  Although my inner cynic wanted to believe that he was just humouring her, he was right.  There was nothing condescending in his tone or language, and he was treating her with the respect she deserves.  I was seriously hyped up at this point and even typing about it now is giving me shivers.  When she finished her set, I approached the middle aged man who was tidying up her gear as I wanted to find out more about what I had just experienced.  He was her Dad, this was her second outing (her first was at Body & Soul earlier that summer) and she was 11 years old.  DAMN!!!  If you are a seasoned DJ/selector reading this, you really need to up your game because a tiny little blue-eyed, blond-haired thing is about to serve your ass on a platter.

This was exactly what I had hoped to get from my festival experience, and was delighted to have it peak just as I was leaving.  I ferried my charges back to Clontarf, then downed 473 ml of red bull to keep me from falling asleep at the wheel on the way home.  It was a bit excessive, but when I was doing my pre-Picnic grocery shopping, the supermarket was out of the humanely sized cans, so I was left with no other option.  It took three hours to get from Dublin to Cork, but that was only because I was driving.  Had I pulled over and let my taurine charged legs run down the motorway, I'm certain I could have easily done it in two, maybe two and a half.  The weekend was a series of peaks and troughs, aided greatly by the good weather and the lovely people who were there in abundance.  Thanks to everyone I encountered and enabled me to have such a cracking weekend, now there is nothing to do but hold on tight as the winter blues slowly creep over the horizon.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Myself and a friend were discussing how school days are not the best days of one's life, and how that phrase is probably responsible for the rise in teenage suicides in the last few years.  We also talked about how great it is to be free from homework and why no longer being a teenage male is a many splendored thing.  Yes, it is good to be a grown-up and getting on with one's life.

Except it isn't.  Being a grown-up is so fucking shitty at times I often wonder why I bother.  At least with teenage angst and melancholy there was the hope that someday, maybe when school is done with and one moves away to a different town to go to college and reinvent oneself, things will be different.  Unfortunately I can no longer kid myself that what's going here is just a phase I'll eventually grow out of, and that maybe when I hit my forties things will be different (and maybe they will: socks and sandals, being a man who wears jumpers, and the possibility of rocking a comb-over all hold a certain amount of appeal).

The worst part of being a grown-up is having grown-up conversations.  A few years back I bumped into a guy that I partied hard with back in the day.  Our conversation involved the obligatory "And what do you do?" that no grown-up conversation can do without, and eventually moved into "Where are you living?"  He was pleased to inform me that he was a renting a nice cottage just outside Claregalway, whose rent was cheaper than a boxy flat in the city centre, and, although the time and money associated with commuting every day were a bit of a pinch, having a back garden with a clothes line really makes it so much more worthwhile, because, let's face it, who wants to walk around all day in clothes that smell like a tumble dryer?  Naturally I had to respond in kind by letting him know that although I was renting a room in a shared house in Salthill, it was within walking distance of both the sea and the city centre, had shops and other amenities close by, and was on the bus route.  Walking away from that encounter made me realise that things had changed for me.  This was a few years ago, when I was in my mid to late twenties, and the worry was that I was getting older and would no longer be cool.  Thankfully, now that I'm in my early thirties, I can say with an assured confidence that I was never cool.  Ever.  For a large chunk of my teens and twenties I worked under the delusion that being uncool actually made me cool.  My grasp of the English language has improved considerably since then, and now I realise that such a statement makes as much sense as "being dead actually makes one alive".

One of the lowpoints of being a teenager is the constant need for peer validation.  I'm looking forward to when I'll actually be free of this.  Thankfully the need to laugh loudly at poorly told, unfunny (and often completely illogical) dirty jokes in order to be one of the lads has now gone (-How many blowjobs does it take to change a lightbulb? Eight!  -HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!), but in its place other little clumps of neediness have sprouted up.  About two years ago I went legit and registered myself as a sole-trader (I no longer make the soul-trader pun as too many people saw this as a reference to nefarious dealings with the devil rather than an enthusiasm for music of an African American disposition, although there are others who believe that both of these things are one and the same).  Of course everyone who bumped into me around that time had to be told this, and I even kept my certificate of tax registration in my backpack for around three months, just in case there was any doubt that I was indeed a grown-up legitimate businessman of a certain earning capacity.  After roughly one year in business it was very necessary to tell everyone that I had to see my accountant to file a tax return, as that's what us legitimate businessmen of certain earning capacities have to do.  Not that I'm telling you to prove that I am indeed a human grown-up and need your validation, you asked what was going on with me and I just told you (approve of me, approve of me, approve of me).

It's coming up to that time of year again, and so far I've only casually mentioned to this to three people.  This time it's a wee bit different.  There is still that need to try to prove that I am in fact a human grown-up, but it is coupled with "Being a grown-up with homework to do is a load of bollocks".  As I sifted through reams of receipts and bank statements I came up with the idea of asking my mother to write me a sick note to hand in to inland revenue. "Dear Department of Finance, please excuse Herringbone for not having his tax affairs in order as he had a bit of a bug.  Please find enclosed copies of the receipts for the flattened 7-up which was used to alleviate his symptoms."  Unfortunately my mother refused to go along with such a ploy, but luckily my older brother still has no qualms about forging her signature.  My accountant was having none of this, as apparently this kind of shit does not work in the adult world (further evidence that school does not prepare you for real life).  Instead, she told me to buy the latest copy of the DSM and find a plausible enough condition that I could have acquired, then find a doctor who would be willing to write me a letter confirming such (keeping all receipts as medical expenses can be written off).  I chewed on this notion for a wee while, but then decided against it.  Not on the ethical grounds of wanting to be an honest, upright, tax paying citizen.  It was really that it sounded like way too much work on my part.  Also having to spend that much time trawling through the DSM would certainly wreak havoc with my hypochondria.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


The last two days I had the bright idea of getting up early, and heading to the pool and gym respectively, with the hope that it would give me a shot of productivity.  The other benefit of doing this, aside from the sense of well-being that comes with physical exercise, is being able to tell other people about it.  Unfortunately I don't own a smartphone, so facebook and its inhabitants couldn't see that I checked-in to the Mardyke at 6.45 on Tuesday morning.  Fortunately the pool didn't open until seven, so this gave me fifteen minutes to text a huge portion of my contacts to let them know what I was up to.  One would never be so vulgar as to blatantly say: "Hey, I'm just heading in for an early morning swim, it's the kind of thing I do, you know, seeing as I'm so much better than you."  A certain amount of tact has to be observed, so the approach was to send a bland generic text along the lines of: "Hey, what are you up to?  Any craic?"  The replies would be along the lines of: "It's not even 7 am, why the fuck are you texting me?  Is everything alright?"  Then I would casually deploy my answer: "Yeah, everything's grand, just going for a swim, might catch up with you later, yeah?"  If they replied while I was inside breast stroking and back crawling it would be: "Sorry for not replying sooner, I was just having a swim, everything's grand here, might catch up with you later, yeah?"  This lets them know that I was up bright and early exercising, and being better than them is not thrown in their face, but skilfully and smugly implied.

Unfortunately, this did not work out according to plan.  Most people did not reply, because usually when they see a neutral and benign text from me it really means that I'm after something, and that this is just the first move in some game I'm playing.  Of the few replies I received, most were along the lines "Just on my way to work, have you ever thought of getting a job?", or "Just coming home from work, working nights is a bitch, but this is how it goes", or "Just finished the morning feed, teething + breastfeeding + dreaming of sleep = ...."  As it turns out, none of these people were impressed that I had gotten up with the aid of an alarm clock at a time that most grown ups are awake and getting on with their grown up lives.  I also felt that they were giving off the vibe that finding and holding down stable employment, and/or starting a family somehow made them better than me, a 31 year old adolescent and out of work DJ.  Way to go and flaunt your life achievements in the face of the less fortunate.  This did not phase me (ok, it really really irked me, but let's pretend it didn't), as if I cannot get the admiration of the masses for kick-starting my day with porridge, scrambled egg, and good overhand technique, they would surely applaud the immense productivity which followed.

In terms of creativity, Tuesday was a black hole of nothingness and despair.  The hole was incredibly dark and black, as if its owner had been drinking shitloads of stout the night before.  I felt like a jellyfish floating around this void, with nothing to sting and no sting in my tentacles, a cytoplasmic blob of blancmange in a pointless sea of infinity.   There was an hour or so of banging away at the keyboard, but all that poured out were increasingly morose variations on the theme: "Why am I such a useless sack of shit?"  This eventually morphed into: "Why I am such a useless sack of shit."  Reading over it today, it was eloquently phrased and incredibly well-written (as one would expect), but the tone was oh so emo, and the content was far from entertaining, so it will have to be scrapped.  Yesterday I got up early, hit the gym, and again had a day that was a lot less than creative.  The kitchen was cleaned (it's not clean, just cleaner), and I replaced the battery in the smoke alarm.  Visitors always complained about its regular beep to hint that it required a new battery (which had been going on for at least two years), but to me it was like having a slightly annoying flatmate who was a source of company and companionship nonetheless.  The downside was that I didn't have a smoke alarm in the kitchen, which meant I had no way of knowing when the toast was burnt, and all the butter in the world is no match for overly burnt toast (readers of my Toast blog will be familiar with the many lengthy experiments I conducted in this field).  Today I reluctantly decided to write about the lack of inspiration and productivity of the last two days, which means that this topic can never be covered again, and there will be many more uncreative, unproductive, and uninspiring days ahead.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sandy capped

I am a swimmer.  Tumble turns are nailed with grace at the end of every length, bilateral breathing is of utmost importance, anything less than a silicone hat is not worth your while, and good lane etiquette must be observed at all times.

I am a swimmer.  When I finished my degree, I signed on and went swimming in the sea every day for the summer.  The importance of aligning oneself with the current to achieve maximum efficiency taught me a thing or two about the mysteries of the universe and the music of the spheres, and made me wiser in ways that I still don't fully understand.  While the amateurs swam from Blackrock out to the first or second rock, I swam out to the distant buoys with the big boys.

I am a swimmer.  As a teenager, competitive swimming was the only sport I ever took on.  A few mornings a week I would train before school, getting up at ridiculous o'clock for breakfast, walking over a mile to the pool and then spending the day sitting through my classes with chlorine red eyes while residual water gurgled through my ear canals.

I am a swimmer.  Last weekend when I was getting my weekly sea swim at the Dock beach in Kinsale, there was a bit of a hairy moment.  It was then that it occurred to me that maybe it was not the wisest idea to be spending so much time out in the water on my own, as anything could happen.  Just around the corner was Sandycove where I heard there was a dedicated group who would be there every day at high tide.  For my next outing, I would head there and join them.  After all, I AM A SWIMMER.

At least, I thought I was.

Over the last few months, I kept hearing about this bunch of lunatics that swam religiously around this tiny island just around the corner from Kinsale.  Any time this came up in conversation, I felt obliged to faff on about some of the things that were mentioned in the opening paragraphs, that I am something of a swimmer myself, one that relished those stormy mornings at Salthill when the sea was angry as it presented more of a challenge, one that I would always overcome with aplomb.  At certain times, one may have heard me say that "Mother nature is a cruel mistress, but the sea is my bitch" with the pomposity and grandiosity that always precedes a pratfall.

The first eye opener was when I turned around the corner and saw the island for the first time, glistening in the early morning sunlight, and looking a lot bigger than I had originally expected.  It didn't look foreboding, threatening or treacherous, and as far as lumps of rock sitting in the sea go, it looked pretty friendly.  So this is what I would have to swim around?  Right, shouldn't be a problem, after all I am a blah-blah-blah (feel free to fill in the gaps yourself).

After parking up the van, I stripped down and fell in behind a group of four or five who were walking down the slipway.  They were a tight group and had clocked me as an outsider the moment my green hiace came around the corner.  I said it was my first time there and that I would tag along behind them, using a false modesty as I believed my swimming would then speak for itself.  Which it did, as I struggled to keep up with them.  When we got to the first corner of the island, it was explained that the next bit would take about fifteen minutes, that the sea was a bit choppy today, and that if I wanted to swim back to the slipway it was still a respectable swim.   I'll follow on, it's ok, I want to go round the island.  Alright so, just watch out for jellyfish, someone got stung by one earlier.  Just one sting, but it went the full length of his arm and into his mouth.  At which point everyone burst out laughing, while my horrified face failed to muster a grimace.

Once again, I struggled to keep up.  To be more correct, I failed to keep up at all, and two very decent souls lagged back and swam on either side of me to prevent me from swimming into the island or way off out into the Irish sea.  My sighting ability was so poor that it should be spelled with an 'sh'.  The only thing worse than having to eat humble pie is having to wash it down with numerous mouthfuls of seawater.  I managed to finish one lap of the island, but by the time I was toweling off, the rest of the group were halfway around their second lap.  Who knows, if I had hung around, I could have watched them sail around for a third time.

So now I will go on record and withdraw any claims I previously made about being a seasoned sea swimmer, one that knows a thing or two about a thing or two, or how when it comes to the water, Dr. Herringbone Dread ain't nothing to fuck with.  Now that humiliation has helped me achieve some level of humility, I can comfortably put myself on the bottom of the open water food chain, a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas.  Unfortunately, my ego has not been fully deflated, and I am now determined to make a decent go of this craic.  After all, that was only day one, and there can only be improvements from now on, right?  If I am wrong, the sea won't be long giving me a hearty bitch-slap.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Cosmos Heap

"Brewed & Stewed - inspired by bad weather & Barry's Gold Blend" received mostly positive reviews, with the exception of one person who hated it.  Normally he is a proponent of my work, and I have no qualms with people disliking what I do.  The galling part was the attitude, that somehow he was owed a mix CD that he would enjoy.  My process is always the same, select a bunch of records (about twenty to thirty), hit record and keep going for an hour to an hour and twenty minutes.  Never have I attempted to put together a mix for anyone's enjoyment but my own.  If people like this stuff, that's all good and groovy.  If nobody likes it, then there is not much I can do about that.  Some people do not understand that, and hold me responsible for their happiness, which is quite a hefty job for someone who spends their week wandering around town, handing out free mix CDs.

This time the approach was slightly different: the attempt was to make a painfully self-indulgent mix that hopefully nobody but me would like.  The resulting mix is more morose, headier, and spacier than usual.  If there is an underlying message, it is the feeling of disconnection with humanity and society, but the unmistakeable sense that one is somehow part of the universe as a whole.  Unfortunately since this mix went online yesterday, it has gotten quite a bit of love, which means that this mission was a failure.

01. Nannie Porres & Claes-Goran Fagerstedts Trio - It ain't necessarily so
02. Donald Byrd - Where are we going?
03. Norma White - I want your love
04. Fela Soul - Oohstrumental
05. Janet - Got 'til it's gone (featuring Q-Tip and Joni Mitchell)
06. Visioneers - Ice cream on my kicks
07. Ramp - Daylight
08. El Michels Affair - Hung up on my baby
09. Dionne Warwick - Walk on by
10. Nat Birchall - Peace in Nineveh
11. Bobby Womack - Point of no return
12. Charles Bradley - Victim of love
13. The Vogado Projects - Mas fuerte que el sol
14. Colm K - The attic (featuring Walshy)
15. Massive Attack v Mad Professor - Radiation ruling the nation (Protection)
16. Nostalgia 77 & The Monster - The taxidermist
17. Sun Ra - Moonship journey

Thanks to Sunday Times, Fish Go Deep, Rootical Sound System, Colm K, Cork city and county for the inspiration.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


If you're reading this you are probably feeling pretty inspired, right?  You might even be feeling inspired enough to re-post this picture on your blog, facebook or twitter.  I think it is a wonderful sentiment, but I have a few creeping suspicions about it.

As much as I am a proponent of spirituality, meditation and all that jazz, I had the misfortune of being born into an academic household.  Academia is a lot like alcoholism: even if you don't become one yourself, growing up around it will leave scars on the psyche that no amount of counseling, crying or inspirational quotes can heal.  So unfortunately when I see this picture, my first thought is "Could you please show me the research which has allowed you to draw such a conclusion Mr. Lama?"  (My second thought is "What is in the puppy's speech bubble on the girl's shirt?  I bet it's both cute AND funny.")

To arrive to such a conclusion must have taken years of research.  That bit about "within one generation" suggests a longitudinal study of incredible magnitude.  This means teaching a group of 8 year olds to meditate, then observing the violence levels of that person over the course of 20-30 years.  To be properly thorough he would also need a control group of 8 year olds that were not taught to meditate, and, for proper academic rigour, he would have to have a third group who were actively encouraged to be violent.  Now things are getting interesting!

As this is a longitudinal study there would need to be numerous follow ups.  At twelve they could be left on a desert island with nothing but wild pigs and sharpened sticks to see what they'd get up to.  At fifteen they could be administered milk laced with adrenochrome while wearing bowler hats and codpieces, and if the experimental group don't descend into muggings and gang rape, the experiment could be considered a roaring success.

The age thing here is oddly specific.  Did he conduct this experiment with numerous groups aged between 6 and 12, and, for some reason the only one that worked was 8?  Were there wildly disastrous consequences when this was tried with 7 and 9 year olds?  Could this be the reason he was run out of Nepal?

If the statement is true, then the logistics would be a fucking nightmare.  As it is, every 8 year old in the world is not taught how to read, who is going to provide the resources to teach them to meditate?  Will it become the responsibility of the parent or the education system?  Is his Holiness going to launch a franchise of Lama approved facilitation courses to make sure your child gets trained by a certified meditation instructor?  What about screening for (potential) sex offenders?  "Say kids, you know what the first step towards enlightenment is?  Silence.  That's right, keeping your mouth shut and not saying a word to anybody..." 

This could be solved by having parents and guardians supervise what's going on, but then we'd have the bigger and more annoying problem of the Meditation Mom phenomenon.   Soccer moms might be bad, but at least with soccer ability is quantifiable.  How well does the little one run up and down the pitch, does he get picked for games, and does he score goals or defend well consistently?  The thought of a group of middle-aged suburban housewives sitting around gabbing on about how their Caoileann has accumulated more good karma than next door's Kevin is enough to make my kidneys shudder.

Anyways, I am going to end it here; the last thing I want to do is piss off the Buddhists, mainly because they're such a blissful, forgiving bunch and it would take waaay too much work on my part to evoke any sort of outrage in them.  Here are some inspirational quotes that I came up with, feel free to look up little girl meditating on google images and add your own!