Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Just in case you were wondering, AMOTTC stands for A Member of the Travelling Community. How glad are you that you know that? Supremely so, I imagine.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Is New York Special?

I've pretty much run out of time in New York. I doubt that anything particularly life-changing is going to happen in the remaining 36 hours, so it's reasonable to think about what's gone on in a retrospective way now. Kind of like when artists that used to be exciting go soft and other artists give them an award to keep them company in the nursing home. I've thought of a few main things that have made an impression on me. I want to figure out if they're unique to here, or if it'd be possible to reproduce them in a place that's easier to live in (apparently, it's a nightmare to get a permanent visa for the US).

A Bazillion People Who Are Just Like Me
From day one, when I struggled in the door of Loftstel with my suitcases to see a DJ in the corner playing La Roux, I was confident and hopeful that I'd be spending my summer with people I like, am like, and want to be like. It turns out that the DJ person was Sarah, who's been helping me to skip the queue into cool places quite often over the last three months.

I've sat up until the Foolishly Late a.m. talking about proper deep who-I-am and what's-it's-all-about stuff. This has made an impression on me, and I think I know myself better because of this. Knowing about yourself is important. Just being you doesn't guarantee that you know you. It's useful to know about yourself so you can decide what to do with yourself and your life.

Walking down the street in Williamsburg, I've thought "Jaysus, 70% of the people here are dressing how I do, and maybe half of them are doing a better job of it than me". I like this. You can tell a lot about a person by what they wear. I guess this means I'd get on well with a  good number of them. I know it freaked me out a few weeks ago when I saw someone dressed the same as me on the subway, but that was just crazy. It was like we were twins going to one of those twin conventions.

So, can this be replicated in other places? Yes. You don't need a bazillion cool people; a few is fine. 

Freedom to Do What You Want With Your Life
I've met people who've succeeded in reinventing themselves since they came to New York. Especially Irish people: one guy used to have a pretty mediocre time in Ireland; he didn't like his work and just got high twice a weekend with sketchy people. Now, he's his own boss as a tour guide, does entertaining tours, makes good money and is proud of what he does. Could he have done that in Ireland? No. Sometimes people need to be uprooted and completely detached from what's holding them back to flourish. The US is an ideal environment to do this, because it's better at judging people for what they do instead of who they are or what their background is. However, this doesn't apply to me because I have a pretty good life in Ireland and don't think I need reinventing, thank you very much.

It's Hot
It's been around 25c all summer. This is good. It's been 16c in Ireland. This is bad. 

It's Sort of the Centre of the Universe
New York is the pointed edge of the the human culture. The newest and coolest of everything is here. This is great if you care about knowing the very freshest and edgiest example of whatever you're into - be it music, dance, theatre, fashion or knitting. For me, it doesn't matter that much. Dubstep from five years ago that everyone that's into dubstep already knows is good enough - I amn't going to get more satisfaction out of something more obscure than that. We have dubstep in Dublin too. I'm not talking particularly about dubstep here; I'm just using it as an example of something vaguely trendy that I happen to like.

In conclusion (to this post, and this blog, probably), New York is brilliant. However, the stuff that makes it brilliant is either available in any decent-sized urban centre or doesn't matter to me. So I guess I'll come home, then. 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Being a Sheep

So there I was, all smug and content with my spiffy little life - quite happy in the knowledge that I was interesting and different, with unique tastes, interests and attitudes. And then, one humid afternoon, it all came crashing down.

I was in the Lower East Side Tenement Museum waiting for my tour to start (which was actually very worthwhile; it was thought-provoking and memorable) and I was poking around the bookshop to pass the time. I picked up a book called Stuff White People Like and read a few pages at random. It chilled me to my core. It may as well have been called Stuff Eoin Likes. It systematically lists everything I enjoy and respect and dismantles it all. Some of it, I could handle, because it was pretty general - for example No.1, Coffee. That's fine, I told myself, plenty of people like coffee. But quickly it started to cut me deep: No.42, Sushi (until now, I thought that was unusual); No.27, Marathons (honestly, how many people do you know who are actually going to do/have done one? That has to be unique); No.28, Not Having a TV (I thought everyone in the world apart from me had a TV) and so on. Basically all the stuff that I thought made me me is just standard Stuff White People Like.

I think there are two approaches that I can take to this: I can either be heartened that there are enough people with similar tastes to mine for it to be likely that I will bump into them quite frequently over the course of my life and have a pleasant time agreeing with them (and this summer, I have been, which is nice). Alternatively, I can accept the futility of trying to develop into an fully-formed human being and - emm - have a good cry.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New York Metropolitan Transport Authority vs Recipient

So, one day we were having a Loftstel picnic. Loftstel spends money on ensuring its guests have a fun time, which I approve of. To get to the High Line Park, we had to take the subway. My Metrocard had run out, so I went to buy another one. The machine wasn't taking cash, and my ATM card didn't work because the bank had frozen it (lovely to see that they take financial regulation seriously in the US). Everyone else from the group apart from two girls had gone through the turnstile at this point, so I asked one of them if we could both slip through on her card. So we did.

We were strolling along across the station when Girl No.2 observes "Isn't it nice that there are policemen here to keep the place safe?" Erk. He calls us over - takes names, addresses, passport details. As this is going on, the other Loftstel people come back. One of the guys disregards my Eyes of Death at him and attempts to strike up a rapport with Mr Policeman Sir. This goes reasonably well for him and he points out to me that, if nothing else, I'll get to tell people at home about the time the police beat me up and handcuffed me in the subway. He then suggests that the policeman handcuff us. This wasn't an idea I found immediately attractive, but when the policeman caved and handed me the cuffs, I couldn't say no. So I stuck one wrist-catcher thing on the girl and one on me and the Loftstel people took photos that are languishing in a dusty corner of someone's hard drive right now but will no doubt resurface if any one of me, the cop or the girl ever does anything with their life. I was quite surprised that he gave us the cuffs; he could have got in Big Heap Trouble for that. But basically a fun time was had by all.

On the other hand, I did end up with a $100 fine for me and another for her, which adds up to, lemme think, $200?

I have come to the conclusion that not paying on the New York subway system is A Bad Idea. I think this because in my estimation, it has an expected cost greater than that of paying the fare. If, for example you took 100 rides, I guess you'd come across a policeman 10 times (it feels that I see them about 10% of the time). If you always avoid paying, that would cost 10*$100=$1000. However, if you just paid every time, it'd cost 100*$2.25= $225. This contrasts to the LUAS, where the fine is e45 (American keyboard, no euro sign, eww), the fare is e1.90 and they check tickets - I'd guess - about 1 ride in 50. So that's 2*e45=e90 for never paying, and 100*e1.90=e190 for always paying. So if you don't put a value on avoiding the embarrassment of getting caught, or "honour" or "morality", it's rational never to pay on the LUAS. To fix this problem, Veolia (the people who run the LUAS) need to either a) Increase detection, b) Increase the fine or c) Reduce the fare. Or, I suppose, d) Instil a greater sense of morality in the Irish public.

Friday, July 31, 2009

What Are You Wearing? Ehhhh

*breathes heavily into phone*

Dark green overalls, a yellow spike belt, blue tinsel nipples and I've taken off the green plastic sunglasses to see the screen.

Bjorn is wearing a white shirt and skintight underpants with blue tinsel around the legs.

James is wearing rubber gloves, fake tan and no leg hair.

It's what everyone's wearing these days. What's happening is that there's a party in a Manhattan penthouse (emm, third floor - does that count?), and you have to wear mad shit, or you'll be turned away by the non-existent bouncers. It's from 11pm tonight til 8am (erk) tomorrow. So it's a little bit like that other party that I wasn't at and know anything about that didn't happen in a warehouse in deepest industrial Brooklyn.

I bought new clothes, and was wearing them quite happily while of the opinion that they were sufficiently odd and interesting to mask the absence of a genuine personality beneath them. I'd been to a thrift shop and a Hispanic shoe shop where the staff (even the young ones) preferred Spanish to English. And then, on the subway, not three feet away from me, was me. Me.

He and I were both wearing deck shoes, rolled-up-twice-at-the-bottom slim dark blue jeans, a leather belt, a shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbow and not tucked in, and with a couple of buttons open. All my ingenuity and originality reduced to nothing in an instant. Fucker.

Luckily, I don't have to wear those clothes any more, because I've got my overalls. I will be warm.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How I Became a Communist and Then Nearly Unbecame One Again, But Didn't

Goes to the cradle of free-market enterprise and becomes a filthy red? Mad, eh?

So here's what happened: after prancing around in the Washington Square Park fountain in a state of partial undress for some time, I became sombre, and felt an unquenchable desire to foster my oft-ignored intellectual side. As Alex, Katie and I shuffled damply out of the park, I spotted a crazy old hippie/Vietnam vet with a book stand on the street. He had a spectacularly well-chosen selection. It wasn't labelled, but it had clearly been chosen and arranged by someone with a broad and deep knowledge (must have done UCD Horizons). It's a bit tragic that a guy who appears to have had a higher-than-degree-level education now has like four teeth and no haircuts ever.

I bought Utopia by Sir Thomas More and Lady Chatterly's Lover (not really appropriate for reading behind the desk at work, I discovered today) by DH Lawrence. Utopia is named for the ideal society that the text details. In it, there are no property rights; no-one owns anything. Everyone does six hours work a day, at the level they are capable of working, and takes what they need. Nobody does stupid pointless shit (the examples of jewellers and bankers are given), so with all the extra labour directed towards useful production, there's a surplus of the necessities even though no-one works excessively hard. People are educated from their youth in the values of the society: no value is placed on status symbols. Everyone shares, has enough, gets along, and we all have a fun time.

I know it's easy to throw up counter-arguments to this: "Yeah, the USSR was deadly, let's have that again", "Without higher pay, what motivates the clever and hardworking to compensate for the stupid and lazy?"; that kind of stuff. I accept that there are imperfections to the idea, but it's such a good idea; it would be so much better to live there, that we should actually do it. I guess setting up communes that people can join voluntarily would be a good way to start. I think good will and enthusiasm would get us over a lot of the problems. In a city where some people have five serfs doing their laundry (see last post), while other people say they're going to use the social welfare payment increase to buy more detergent (NY Times last week), I think that radical ideas like this should be given more of an opportunity to work.

Then, on the way to work, I popped in to Tom Ford (across from Juicy and Chloe, one down from Prada) and it was gorgeous. Now, I don't consider myself one to be easily overawed by shops - I can take BT or leave it - but this place is opulent. I felt like I should have been tiptoeing around. Every shirt, every bow tie, every alligator skin (really) was luxurious, tasteful and beautiful. The store was designed by gods and staffed by angels. I realise that in Commieland, places like this won't exist, because we'll all have the good sense to realise that it's just a shirt, it doesn't do anything, it's not - in any meaningful sense - better than one that costs 10% of the price.

So there was a touch of internal conflict, but I've decided that I'd rather live in a society where everyone has a bit of sense, and enough stuff to get them up Maslow's Ladder, than the one we live in now where the poor are strangled by a lack of resources and the priveleged are blinded by a surfeit.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to Wash Your Clothes on the Upper East Side

When the cleaner comes, he'll introduce himself to the doorman. The doorman will get the porter, who'll stop pretending to sweep up invisible dirt from the porch and will go up to your apartment door. When you open the door, you'll look puzzled for a moment and will then ask the maid where your dirty clothes are. She'll give them to you, and you'll give them to the porter, who'll bring them back down to the cleaner. Then they'll disappear for a day or so, before being passed through the same system in reverse.

I really doubt that this is any more convenient than just washing your clothes in the basement in the building's own machines. You can't even decide when your clothes get washed. And if you lose a sock in the wash, one of five or so people (people you don't even know, with the possible exception of the maid and the doorman) could have lost it. I find it really strange, and terribly wasteful, to put such an elaborate system in place to complete such a simple task. I suspect that the rich person who's paying for it all didn't really intend from the outset to have so much hassle; it just built up over time.

Next week: How to Wipe Your Arse on the Upper East Side

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Nakedness - a Problem We All Need to Solve

What the cool kids are wearing: deck shoes with no socks, fitted shorts (above the knee; half the thigh for the hardcore), fedoras, deliberately vile plastic sunglasses, tatts, hair that's shaved around the sides and long on top, v-neck t-shirts, manbags and jackboots.

And if you're a girl? Denim romper suits.

I've visited a few places that are well known for their clothes shops: Fifth Avenue, the Meatpacking district and Williamsburg (and other hipstery spots). Fifth Ave has Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, Cavalli, Bulgari and their ilk. It was boring. The Diesel shop had a DJ in the corner. He had decks and Mac but was just fading from track to track. Some of the other shops were elegant, beautiful and spacious, but they're not really what I'm into. I'm convinced that there isn't something special about a $200 jumper that makes it better than a $50 one; you're just paying for the sofa in the shop.

The Meatpacking district was a little more exciting. Historically, factories where meat was packed were there. Then, for some reason competely unknown to me, high-end boutiques decided open up there. There are plenty of names: Diane von Thingyburg, Alexander McQueen and Louboutin are hustling for dollars down there. The more fun shops are ones that put together their stock themselves (not just selling one label). I was in The Jean Shop. They only sell like two cuts, but you can choose the material, wash, colour and distress yourself so you get a unique pair of jeans. Complete tosh, of course, but entertaining tosh nonetheless. Word on the street (ie, a newspaper article I read) is that they give you whiskey if you talk nice to them.

The hipster starving-artist places have fun shops. I was in a smelly thrift store in Bushwick while on an abortive attempt to visit a little art gallery. I think you'd need to have a strong sense of style and plenty of confidence to get dressed out of one of them. Also, patience to put up with having to sort through randomly stacked racks of shoes to find your size. It's really strange that so much of Brooklyn seems to have an incongruous mix of working class people that tend to be from the same background (all Hispanic; all black) and then the rich kids with their iced lattes in the middle of it. Some would label this as diversity, but I don't see much integration going on - the two groups don't mix any more than they have to.

Also, Urban Outfitters is the bee's elbows over here. The staff are soul-hurtingly well dressed. Get your shit together, people who work in Dundrum.

A Dry, Spiritless List of Activities

Through my connections, I've got myself a job. I'm going to be a doorman. This makes me profoundly happy. As far as I understand it, the job requires me to be reasonably polite, open the door for elderly Jewish ladies and take home $15 per hour. Tough stuff, I know. The sole annoying thing is that I've been waiting for weeks to start. I've been here for a month now and I've worked about four days. I want to get started because the combination of being in a really fun place, being in a really expensive place and having not much to do has given me a severe case of diarrhea, but with money instead of shit.

In fairness to me, I have being making an effort to do free and cheap stuff: I'm reading East of Eden and it's borrowed from the library on my homie's library card. I toured FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), MoMA, the Transit Museum, the Met and the Guggenheim (I cheated on that one - I just had a look at the lobby because it's pretty and then left) and spent $10 on admission in total. I also saw Diplo, Switch, A-trak and Drop the Lime for free. And I went kayaking in the Hudson for free. I know that was just a list of activites that didn't give any impression of what I actually thought or felt, but I needed to get that stuff down or it would have been lost forever. Forever! I was also at The Rocky Horror Picture Show and an earlyish screening of Windmill followed by a Q&A with the director.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pedicabbing and Some Other People-Based Activities

Being a pedicab driver is good because you get money. Not very much though. I figure I was taking home about $30 a day, so when the possibility of getting a job as a doorman in a high-class apartment block came up, I stopped pedicabbing. I don't know if I have the doorman job yet, so it's a bit silly of me to stop already. On the other hand, it's not like I burned any bridges; I can go back to it if I want to.

Another fun aspect of it is talking to passengers. I learned from the first day that going fast is a bad idea for two reasons: It's unnecessary - if people were in a rush, they'd have taken something with a motor. Secondly, it freaks people out that someone is getting wrecked at their command. To be more accurate, I think it freaks people out when it's happening right in front of them. There are people getting wrecked in the Nike factory in Pakistan, but you can't see them, so that's not such a big deal. So while going slowly, I met a guy who works for the Puerto Rican government and came to vist his son for the Puerto Rican parade. The portion I saw of that was ten trucks with posters for Spanish-language pop radio shows on the sides and people (mostly girls) in hotpants on top waving flags energetically. I also met a Jewish massage therapist who bought me an ice cream. Going while eating it was challenging. I got the handlebars sticky but I didn't end up rolling out in front of one of the curiously common fire trucks, so I call that a success. Another time, I met a French lady who thought A&F and its topless chap in the lobby are symptomatic of a more chill attitude to nudity among the Americans. Needless to say, I think that's complete tosh and told her as much. Didn't get a tip that time.

A few days later I did come to the conclusion that Americans are relaxed about their bodies when I went to a nightclub playing hiphop.


There was like a dozen couples basically dry humping on the dancefloor. And it's made all the more crazy by the fact that they didn't know eachother. Guys just walk up to girls and get stuck in. And I don't get the impression they even need to really fancy one another; they just give it a chance and see what happen. Maybe it's going on in Ireland too but I don't pick up on it because I don't go to hiphop clubs there, but I think it's not happening in Ireland because I was at a show with house, hiphop, rock n roll and dubstep the next night in Philly and there they were, hammering away at eachother again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Enjobbified - sort of Part II

Things did look up after that, but the post was getting way too long, so I'll do it at some point in the future. Woo!

Enjobbified - sort of

It seems that it's easier to get jobs that don't require your employer to pay you. Obvious, I suppose. So first I got a job selling comedy tickets. I found this on craigslist, where it was advertised in a misleading way: it said that the job involved promoting award-winning restaurants. There's no mention of selling tickets for shit middle-of-nowhere unimportant comedy clubs. This job involves standing in the street stopping susceptible-looking people and trying to persuade them to buy tickets. It's horrid. So I gave up after about four hours.

Then I got a job selling cutlery, and it had a better pay structure: each time you do a demo, you get $17.25 plus commission - as opposed to the 50%-of-sales commisson with no basic pay with the comedy tickets. I decided against that because you're supposed to sell to your parents' friends and acquaintances and I don't know any grown-ups on this continent, so it wouldn't have worked well.

Thirdly, I saw an ad on the street that was looking for flyer distributors. Easy work, bad pay, I thought, so I decided to give it a go. I like bad pay, me. So I went, clean shirt and shiny shoes on, resume in hand, chin up. When I got to the address, I stopped dead. There were thirty people in a queue out the door and down the street from the address. It's just handing out flyers! It'll pay like $7 an hour! What are all these people doing? That was discouraging: if there's this much competition for a rubbish job, what chance have I of getting a proper job?

Anyway, I queued up and got in eventually. 150 had showed up, but they seemed prepared for us: they had a hall full of chairs set up. So this guy gets up and starts telling us about motivation and energy and sales. What relevance does this have to flyer-distributing? Then, they show us a video. It says things like "Never before have market forces combined to create the perfect storm of economic conditions to allow such an opportunity. It may never happen again." Having done two years of economics in college, I could confidently state that it was complete cock. At the end it said "copyright 2004", and that got alarm bells ringing for even the less-well-educated (most people there). If it was "never again" five years ago, what is it now?

Turns out that a shady company called Prepaid Legal was hiring sellers and had fabricated the flyer distribution job to get people in the room. I waited until someone was in the middle of one of their little speeches and then I walked out.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Now, normally I'm not one for sitting on me arse at home - and especially not when I'm in a ginormous 8-million-person magical playground of excitement like I am now, but recently I've come around to seeing the merits or aforementioned arse-sitting. Iin Dublin, I tend to be on the look-out for obscure sources of jollity in the back pages of The Ticket. And I don't do that here either.

Why? Have I became a morbidly obese floral-print-mumu-wearing hick? Am I paying back for all those years of LSD abuse with severe paranoid schizophrenia and agoraphobia? Well, no.

It's just the Loftstel is the best place ever in the world ever ever ever i love it aaargh.

The people here have such exciting, interesting, creative, adventurous lives - and are so willing to share them - there's no need for me contribute anything to the gallons of hot, sticky fun being pumped all over my face at every waking moment. That image was a bit graphic, and not particularly pertinent. Ho hum.

To illustrate this point, a few examples: we went out to Santos Party House, which is part-owned by Andrew WK, to dub-and-something-else-I've-forgotten-night. My guidebook gives it an entire page because they think it's the deadliness. Then we went (at nigh-on 5am) to a kinda-famous kinda-obscure but mainly just brilliant pizza restaurant called Artichoke. Yesterday, I got brought to hip-hop dance class in the Broadway Dance Center. It's where people who perform on The Actual Real Broadway go to train. Today, I strolled in from my afternoon in Manhattan to find the big old amps in action; a sound card, an external mixer, a macbook (watevah), headphones and mad skills (-z?) were working together to create beautiful music (in both the literal and figurative senses). So I just watched, listened, asked noobish questions and a had a go.

The point is that all this great stuff happens, and I don't need to do anything bar show a bit of enthusiasm to have it happen to me. And it's great!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Abercrombie & Fail

has a big yoke of shop on Fifth Avenue. There was a manboy in the foyer with his shirt off, and people were getting photographs taken with his abdomen. The shop smells of perfume, but in a way-too-much kind of way, like a minibus to Aughagower community hall at ten o'clock on a Friday six years ago. I suppose. There's music on that makes it difficult to talk, because of its loudness. Also like Aughagower community hall at ten o'clock on a Friday six years ago. The music is horrible: the vocalist from Aqua ("Come on Barbie, let's go party") may have been heard. The staff are all gorgeous. Like I-need-to-sit-down-and-catch-my-breath gorgeous. Some of them have to stand at the top of flights of stairs dancing and greeting people. One of them said "Hey, how's it going" to me. It was a terrible moment. She should have said "Hey, how's it going?" (rising intonation at the end), but she didn't. It was flat. She'd been told in the office that she had to say that exact thing to customers, so she did. She wasn't asking me anything.

All the customers were plumper and shorter are worse-dressed than the staff. A&F is selling this unattainable dream in a distasteful, yucky way. I'm aware that most clothes (consumer products?) is about selling an aspiration, but I like to think that some of it is about the product itself. If you buy whatever random shape of jeans Topshop is flogging this month, sure, some of the drive behind your purchase is going to be that you want Kate Moss' life, but I'd like to think that it's also because you're focused on looking a certain way; trying out a style. For A&F's consumers, it's not about the clothes; they're just trying to be the staff of A&F and the people in its ads. And that's why I think it's a sorry, sordid mess.

People, in Glorious Technicolour

Getting my exercise by bouncing up and down on my bed wasn't giving the challenge I needed any more. Besides, the guy on bottom bunk was well pissed off. So, one day, I went for a run. This necessitated going through the neighbourhood surrounding Loftstel. The area is called Bed Stuy. That's short for Bedford Stuyvesant. Almost all the people who live here are black, and probably don't have very much money. Biggie used to live here. He developed his style freestyling on the streets. It's on YouTube.

The other kind of people who live here - and the division is stark - are what are known as hipsters. I'd have called them crushties, but they already had a word for it here, so my suggestion is redundant. They're aspiring artists and musicians and hippies generally who want to live near the action but don't have jobs that make much money, so they live here because it's relatively cheapalicious. In other locations, the encroachment of hipsters and the eventual gentrification of an area that follows has lead to resentment and tension. At first, I didn't really see why anyone would have a problem with new people moving in. I found out that the problem is that rents get pushed up by the increased demand so people who've lived in an area for years end up being unable to afford to continue living there. Worse than that, sometimes people actually get moved somewhere else because the place they live is in the way of a new development. Someone spraypainted "Hipsters Move Out" on the Williamsburg Bridge.

After a little while, my run brought me to a completely different neighbourhood. In Ireland, (certainly in the past, I realise this is less true than it used to be) you'd need to travel tens of miles to observe even a subtle change in accent. It's not like that here. Hella not like that. What happened here was that I crossed an invisible magical line in the street and ended up in a district entirely populated by Hassidic Jews. The men wear black coats, shoes, skullcaps and trousers. They shave all their hair apart from two bits above their temples, which they allow to grow freely. Many of the shop signs were in Hebrew. Even the big yellow school buses had Hebrew writing on the side. Their children are well-behaved and literally no-one is properly fat.

Some twat set up a petrol station called Hess in the middle of the Jewish area.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Guy Looking Over My Shoulder

Loads of fantastic amazing things have happened - being subject to three attempted scams on craigslist not among them - but you don't get to hear about them yet due to the above reason. But someday!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Getting There

I'm more outgoing now than I normally am: I incessantly bothered the unfortunates on both sides of me for the entire eight hours of the flight. However, I did succeed in gleaning some funformation from them. On the left, we had an expert in 16th-century English poetry who guest lectured in Trinity but lives in New York. On the right, we had a trainee occupational therapist from Cork who's off to a massive yoke of a house in Alaska with 20-odd others to do voluntary work.

I got pulled for a random security check by a pair of rather tense security dudes in JFK. Maybe I'm just projecting. In any case, there was deffo some rather tension floating about.

The subway was pretty generic. But it did lead to one of those classic gawky-tourist moments when I emerged for the first time from the depths. People look so cool here. It's not like anywhere I've been before. There's the studied hipsterness that's visible around George's Street in Dublin and there's the if-you-throw-enough-money-at-it-some-of-it-will-stick approach of UCD's more moneyed denizens, and then there's this. My new neighbours are not rich. They aren't even comfortable. Nonetheless, they look shit hot. They're wearing saggy denim, XL t-shirts and sideways caps. They're cruising around in shiny cars with their particular tunes banging on non-standard sound systems. It's all flamboyant and fresh and new.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Running around fields, peeling spuds and doing maths

The more you do these things, the better you get at them. I'm still unremarkable at peeling spuds.

Leaving, however, is different. I've been doing it over and over again for the past week. I'm still a bit mediocre at it. It's got an unpleasant mix of awkwardess - because of the collective inability to find anything appropriately profound to say - and genuine sadness. The only really thought-provoking moment in all of this (it's almost over now - I can only think of one more goodbye that I'll need to do with an actual person (as apposed to abstractions ("Goodbye, mighty craic") and consumer products ("Goodbye, Mikados"))) was when Mam noted that it'd be approximately 72% worse if we were doing this in the 1950's and I'd probably never see Mammy, the ould sod or Taytos again. I can see why people in that position would be nostalgic and patriotic and lonely. I don't think I'll be tearfully yowling The Galway Girl into a pint of red diesel while I'm away, but I can see why, in slightly different circumstances, someone would want to.

Sorry for the excessive bracketing - I blame the maths. I think you'll be satisfied to find that I at least got all the closing brackets correct (which took quite a while).

Monday, May 25, 2009


Wouldn't recommend it, personally.  A far better approach is to dispense with your COEA, DS-2019, j1, insurance, check-in sheet and i-94 and instead row in from Cuba. Then, set up a vast cocaine-dealing empire, purchase a palatial residence, get all crazy freaky paranoid in the head and eventually get killed in an enormous gunfight while clutching an ak-47 to your chest.