Friday, August 5, 2016

Selfie City

People taking pictures of people taking pictures...  

Our lives have turned into a great big rectal examination, but the funny thing is this:  It's the assholes who are wielding the cameras.

At Parliament Square today, I watched two young women, early twenties.  They spent half an hour taking pictures of their dog.

We were surrounded by Gandhi, Churchill, Lloyd George, a 160 year old clock, a great sense of ticking history, and all they could do was snap pictures of fucking Fido.

And it was the same picture, over and over again:  Dog panting.  Dog drooling.  Dog panting.  More drool.

A procession of Japanese cameramen stomped across the square.  The Bataan Death March, with Nikons and Canons.  Tripods snapped out.  Wait for the bell to strike two pm.  Click-click, clickety-click. Stomp off somewhere else.  The changing of the guard.  Tora! Tora! Tora!

When you get old(er) there's two things you don't do.  You don't let people take pictures of you, and you never, ever look in a magnifying shaving mirror.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Where's My Cabinet, Minister?

The Old Green Box on the Ballyfoyle Road...

could be an old Irish lament, the sort of thing your drunk uncle launches into as he wobbles beside the casket holding your dearly departed Granny.

It is in fact a much sadder affair.  The box in question is a fibre-optic cabinet capable of delivering blistering internet speeds to the denizens of rural Ireland, and it is the last of its breed on the twisting road into darkest Kilkenny.

Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten,  recently announced that the pitiful distribution of this essential utility is to be handled by the private sector, delivering a fifty percent reduction in governmental costs.

Fucking great, Dinny.  We all know how wonderful something is when you get it for half-price. 

Current speeds in the Dunmore/Ballyfoyle area are under 2MB.  To put that in agricultural parlance, it is a stream comparable to that delivered by an old bull with a dodgy prostate.

So, who is leading the bidding to deliver us into this bright new tomorrow?  Who else but Eir, formerly Eircom, formerly Telecom Eireann, formerly Posts and Fucking Telegraphs, and formerly Man With A Chisel Carving A Headstone.

The next box you see on the Ballyfoyle Road will be the one I'm carried in. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dumb In Any Language

I don't hate many words, 

but there's one that really manages get my back up.

I lived in France for three years and never once heard the word 'entrepreneur', but this morning, on RTE radio, it burst forth at least forty times.

A couple of men were blathering on about the exciting, challenging, adventurous, lonely and not always properly rewarded, life of the entrepreneur. They spoke like a couple of battle hardened soldiers. Their wives understood. Their families made sacrifices. Such is the life of an Irishman with a career denoted by a French noun.

An entrepreneur is “A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk”.

In other words, what we English speakers used to call a fucking businessman.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Smart Phones & Dumb People

The American phone company, T-Mobile, commissioned a survey and discovered that 59% of people would roll up their sleeves and retrieve their smartphone from the toilet.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Breakfast bar, Terminal 2, Dublin airport

Dublin airport at five in the morning...

One immigration official to check one hundred foreign passports. The man in front of me remarks that all the empty security booths remind him of a derelict racecourse, except there is no one to say, "and they're off". Because, of course, we aren't off. We just stand around on the pasture of polished terrazzo, snorting and stamping to keep the circulation moving. 

In the airport cafe you can get five breakfast items for €7.50, but a couple from Texas wonder aloud if two slices of toast constitute one item. "Yes", says the foreign national behind the counter, clearly in tune with Irish logic, "two is one".

The sun is coming up on Terminal 2. The taxis are pulling up in their droves. The girl at the breakfast counter has decided to try a new approach with a couple of English tourists who want scrambled egg on toast. She puts two slices side by side on the plate and cheerily announces "one-and-one is one".
It's good to be home.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Black & White City

Clockwise from top left:

-Union Square
-42nd Street
-The High-Line

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The other 'Boss' from New Jersey

What could possibly entice a couple of hundred people to spend a Sunday morning lining-up, in intense heat and humidity, on a New Jersey sidewalk?

You guessed - The opportunity to pick up a box of chocolate eclairs and watch them melt in the car.

'Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro is a star of reality television. Each week, two million people tune in to watch him decorate wedding cakes and fold the almonds into the biscotti mix. 

The truly dedicated make the pilgrimage to Hoboken to snap pictures of the store and possibly have a 'consultation' with the great man himself. 

Pilgrims may also get the chance to clap eyes on wife, Lisa; right-hand man Mauro Castano; head baker Joey Faugno; bakery sculptor 'Ralphie Boy' Attanasia and intern Marissa Lopez. 

Less likely to be squeezing the icing bag on the premises is brother-in-law Remy Gonzalez, now embarking on a nine year stretch for aggravated sexual assault.

Now excuse me, I have to go get a muffin, and there's a seven hour wait.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A furry thing happened...
Published, Aug 7th, 2012

One Of A Kind

My mother bought a “strange” full-length fur coat at a tag sale in Hacketstown in March. It has proven to be very controversial.

Of course, she loves creating a bit of a stir. Twenty-five years ago she fell off a balcony at a U2 concert, dressed as Lieut Uhura from Star Trek. (Bono gamely tried to catch her. For his trouble he ended up with three broken ribs and a Phaser wedged so far up the wazoo he had to write a song about it: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.)

People are pointing in the street. The local newspaper has received countless letters of complaint. The coat has driven some to fury, and others to tears, but mother is not in the least upset; in fact, she seems to relish the scorn and the enmity.

My sister, Carolina Moon, confronted her on the matter. She asked her, straight up: “Why are you wearing that thing?”
“You don’t like it?”
“Nobody in town likes it.”
My mother nuzzled the coat and laid on her best Zsa Zsa Gabor accent. “Well, I think it’s rather fabulous, dahrlink. What do you not like? Is it the shape?”
“It’s not the shape.”
“The buttons?”
“The buttons are fine.”
Mother flounced in front of the mirror and narrowed her eyes, so that she might see a younger reflection. “Does it make me look fat?”
“No. That was the children and the chocolate.”
Mother seemed genuinely baffled. “I’m confused. So it must be the colour?”
“The colour is part of the problem.”
“Which one bothers you the most? Is it the black or the white?”
At this point, Carolina Moon could take no more; she exploded in rage. “Mother,” she screamed, “Don’t you understand? The coat, it’s panda! PANDA!! P-A-N-D-A!!!
“Yes,” replied mother, stroking a sleeve, “and probably virgin too. You know what they’re like. It’s definitely not a reproduction.”

Carolina Moon collapsed in a tearful heap on the floor. Mother, whether out of honest hunger or sheer badness (the truth may never be known), went to the local Chinese restaurant, dressed in her best, and, in full view of the horrified locals, ordered a triple portion of bamboo shoots.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Scorpio Rising

This morning I rode up to the 44th floor, accompanied by the elevator operator and a woman with a dog.

The dog, it's struck me, was extremely well-behaved; it sat primly on the floor and stared straight ahead at the slight gap between the metal doors. Floors whizzed past, blips of light flickered, but the dog didn't blink. 

We stopped at the 33rd floor. The doors opened and the woman stepped out. She patted her thigh and said, "Here Scorpio. Come." It took a moment for the dog to process the command. Balefully, he looked up at the elevator operator, then me, and then slowly he stepped out to follow his mistress.

After the doors closed I looked at the elevator operator and said, "strange dog."
"That ain't the half of it, that dog is on Prozac. She told me herself. About six months ago she gets in here and she goes, 'Scorpio is so depressed. He whines all day long. He barks, he whimpers.'"

The elevator operator paused long enough for me to take in the image.
"But all the time I'm thinking, he's a fuckin' dog. This is what fuckin' dogs do. Am I right?"

I told him he was right. He went back to imitating the dog owner.
"Scorpio is vexed. He is vexed all the time. He takes out his anger on the furniture. He eats cushions. He pulls up threads in the carpet. He chews the blinds. He shreds newspapers. He shuns the sand box in the kitchen and urinates everywhere else."
The elevator operator stopped the car at the 44th floor, but did not open the doors.
"All the time I'm thinking..."
"He's a fuckin' dog?" I suggested.
"You're right," said the elevator operator, as if the whole fuckin' dog thing had been my idea, 

"But one day she tells me she's taking him to see a vet on West End Ave. Then I don't see her for maybe a week. When I do see her again, she's got the mutt with the thousand yard stare: Forrest fucking Gump on the end of a lead. She tells me, "Scorpio is on a low dose of 'Reconcile'. Prozac for dogs. You familiar with it?"
I told him it was one of the drugs I hadn't tried.

"It's like a little doggy treat. Poor bastard doesn't even know he's being doped."
"Maybe he's happier," I said.
"Hah! I got a dog. I want to cheer him up, I take him out to the park and get him laid". 

 He laughed like a maniac, and then we agreed that sex in a public place was probably the best medicine. He opened the doors and told me to buzz him when I was leaving, but I was already calculating the health benefits of walking down forty-four flights of stairs.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gratuity Not Included

Two heavyset men meet outside the Starlight Diner. 

They give each other a manly hug, grabbing forearms and slapping backs. They look like a couple of grizzly bears frisking each other for salmon. They come into the diner and take a booth nearby. They speak with Western US accents; their conversation goes like this:

"If I have a stroke, all bets are off. Remember the time I broke my leg? That cost seventy two hundred dollars."
"Should have broken your leg in Canada, heh-heh."
"Very funny. I read an article in Time magazine. Don't usually read it. Ultra liberal. Some guy called Joel Stein/Joel Steen."
"What was it about?"
"Social security. He's concerned about our kids."
"A liberal is concerned about our kids? Heh-heh."
"They'll never see social security. What do you think of the flat tax?"
"I like the flat tax"
"I'm in favour of it. Everybody thinks I'm crazy. Everybody I talk to says, don't go there. I believe in the flat tax. We got a flat tax, cash is king"
They order two mounds of food. They eat. The check arrives.
"Okay. We got a check for twenty dollars. I leave ten, you leave ten. I leave a dollar for a tip, you leave a dollar for a tip."
"Is that enough?"
"Cash is king my friend, cash is king."
The men leave. A busboy clears the table. The waiter picks up the two single bills and looks at George Washington.
"Cheap fucking bastards."

View from outside the Starlight Diner