The Vanguard

“Good Morning, Vanguard Chelsea, Cian speaking.”

It is 1:30 AM on another typical night shift in the Vanguard; quiet for the most part with the odd noise complaint, or someone asking to be let back into the laundry room because they just had to finish their delicates at midnight. The odd homeless person stumbles by the doors and I can feel them staring at me out of the corner of my eye. They give little trouble and can be moved on with a dollar or a threat of a phonecall to the police. Drunk residents may come back later and chat about their night for a while, keeping me awake at least. The New York Times delivery guy will stop by at around 3 in the morning to drop off papers for the residents. The Wall Street Journal lady will stop by around 5 to do the same. After my break at around 4, I’ll step outside, have a cigarette and get a coffee, three hard boiled eggs and a butter roll. It has been the same routine for about a year and a half now and it’s not too bad. My sleep schedule is all over the place but sure look, it’s quiet work.
The building comes alive again at around 6 AM. Certain residents leave much earlier then others but it is usually this time of the morning that people leave to go to the gym, others leave for work, personal trainers arrive for other residents and me and the porter on duty start to realise that we’ll soon be free of work for another day.
This happens every Monday and Tuesday night and today is no different, with one slight exception. This is my last night shift as a concierge at the Vanguard Chelsea.

Your last day at any job can be bittersweet. You are happy to be leaving and hopefully moving on to bigger and better things but a part of you is sad that you won’t see some of the people every day. I am personally delighted to be finishing and getting on with things but I will miss a lot of people that I’ve worked with, along with many residents of the building.

I’m going to miss the guys at the front desk, my brothers in arms. It’s obviously not that serious, but we have each others’ backs. Recently, there was a big shift in management and we were without a super for the last four months. At the front desk, we didn’t care. We knew we had it down and if there were any problems then we would sort it out ourselves.
I’m going to miss Freddy the porter. We’ve worked many a night shift together and shared laughs about the other handymen or porters and their quirks. Plus, he is big into his football, so we had a lovely time watching me slide into a mental breakdown over Mourinho the last six or seven months.

I’m going to miss the guy in the coffee cart who sells me my eggs and coffee on the night shift. I don’t know his name and he doesn’t know mine. We call each other ‘brother’, or ‘boss’, and we are the best of friends. He doesn’t know a thing about my life and I don’t know a thing about his. That is why he was the best man at my wedding.

As soon as I started the job the resident manager informed me that it was fine to be friendly with the residents but you could in no way be actual friends with them. He claimed that it would work against you as some residents may take advantage of you for your kindness and friendship. I quickly saw what he was talking about with some people so I steered clear of them. But, I would say that I was on very good terms with a lot of the residents. I would go as far to say I made a few friends who lived in the building. If not friends, then acquaintances for the future whenever I may return.

Billy and Debbie on the 23rd floor are a fantastic couple. Every evening, Billy and I would talk about what was new on Netflix, Hulu and the like. When we found out that we watched the same sort of stuff, we had to figure out what Debbie could watch with him as she wasn’t fond of gory and dark television! They’re getting married in the near future and I’m delighted for them.
Randy, TIffany and baby Zoe moved out recently but they were a delight. Tiffany and Zoe were constantly happy and Randy was like one of the lads. We’d constantly be slagging each other off, although he had an advantage as I couldn’t keep shouting after him when delivery guys were waiting for me to do my job.
Christine on the 16th floor is hilarious and provided me with company and laughs on dreary Sunday afternoons as I wished I was anywhere else. We’d talk crap about whatever carer she had with her at the time and give out about how slow tourists walk around the city. I know she reads this blog from time to time so Christine, if you see this….BUY A PRINTER AND STOP USING OUR PAPER!!! Jokes, jokes.

There are many other residents who I’ve bonded with over Game of Thrones, theatre, football and most importantly, drinking. I know I won’t miss the crazier, more pedantic residents but I’ll look back on my time here fondly. I made some money, some memories and learned a lot about myself. I came to New York to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and this building and the night shifts gave me the time to do that. If I wanted, I could stay here and become a resident manager and live in New York for the rest of my life, and maybe that’ll happen because who knows what will happen, but I doubt it. I’ve done the job and am happy that I’m finishing, but I will forever hold the Vanguard dearly in my heart.

My movies of 2019

Happy New Year, one and all! A number of people online, as well as publications, have released their favourite movies of 2018 online. I was very tempted to steer away from any creative ideas of my own and just hop on the bandwagon. In the end, I decided to just leave a little list of what my favourite movies were of this year and then start talking about what’s coming up in 2019. Usually I’d have some witty little anecdote or fictional story here but I’ve just told you what I’m going to write so I might as well just do it. Yeah. Read on, I guess.

Top Movies of 2018 – M’List (tips fedora)

  • Molly’s Game – I was sent this by a resident in the building. Impressive leading cast with Jessica Chastain supported by Idris Elba and Michael Cera. It’s about Molly, an Olympic skier who, following an injury, naturally becomes a poker Queenpin and rakes in millions from her underground games. Of course she is then targeted by the law, the mob and disgruntled celebrities because of her money and, more than likely, gender. 4/5.
  • Black 47 – I wrote a review of this in an earlier blog but the Irish famine inspired tale of the deserter soldier who returns home and exacts his own war of vengeance on the British would send any man into a patriotic frenzy. Luckily I was on my own in the cinema and the adrenaline died down after the credits. 4.5/5.
  • A Star is Born – A friend and I watched this again last week in a hungover stupor and both were fairly emotional after it. The film holds up the second time around, as do the songs, both lead actor’s performances, and the intense hatred I felt for Allie’s agent when he practically kills Jack. Prick. 4/5.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – I also wrote a review of this in an earlier blog. I loved this movie. A lot of people gave it crap reviews because of the gaps in the history of the band or the lack of context and background info about certain incidents. For me, it was brilliant. Rami Malek was Freddie Mercury, and the supporting cast were fantastic too. It helps if you love Queen but the movie is solid. The last 20 minutes in Wembley are sublime. 4.5/5.
  • Eighth Grade – Another one I covered, Bo Burnham’s directorial debut was perfect. Telling the story of awkward 13/14 year old Ellie, it encapsulates what it was like to be that age again; awkwardness of crushes, being invited or not being invited to parties and trying to ‘fit in’. Despite being set in the modern day, I think that anybody who watches this movie would cringe at their past selves, but also really enjoy the movie. 5/5.

 

What to look out for in 2019

2019 is going to be the year of sequels and spinoffs with the odd remake thrown in for good measure. Toy Story 4, Men in Black: International, How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World, Star Wars Episode IX and Hobbs and Shaw are just some of the titles of instalments in film franchises over the next 12 months. On top of that, Hellboy is getting remade, as is Dumbo and The Lion King, albeit in live action form. I will watch all of these and probably enjoy all of these, but it is just the way cinema has gone. Although there are a few other films I’ll be looking forward to see.

Us will be Jordan Peele’s second horror offering. His film Get Out was hailed as a masterpiece and rightfully so. It is a magnificent film that combines the thriller and horror genres. Jordan rose to fame with Mad TV and the Key and Peele show. The horror stuff came fairly out of left field for me but thankfully so as he’s killing it. The trailer for Us looks intense and will be a must for most cinemagoers this year.

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There is no trailer yet for The Irishman, Scorcese’s gangster epic starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano. This film marks the 9th time Scorcese and DeNiro have worked together and the first time that Pacino and the great director have done so. It tells the story of Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) and his bodyguard ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran (DeNiro), and the latter’s involvement in the gangster’s assassination. I can’t wait to see it, as Netlfix reportedly bought the rights for $105 million, and the budget has risen to $175 million. It’ll be epic, and hopefully it gets released in cinemas too, as that would be worth the whole year.

I know I was harping on earlier about sequels and spinoffs and yes, this film is a sequel and also a collaborative film between several different stand alone characters in the same universe (that sentence is confusing and should annoy anyone who reads it), BUT, and it’s a big but and it cannot lie, we have all been following this journey since Ironman (2008). We’ve gone through all the Thor movies, the Captain America movies, the Spiderman reboot III, the Avengers movies, the Guardians movies, AntMan and we’ve arrived at Avengers: Endgame. What a time to be alive! Following this I expect there will be a reboot in the casting of the titular heroes so this one will be very special.

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There’s also no trailer for Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarrantino’s latest epic, starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. Margot Robbie also features alongside Al Pacino and a host of other stars. I’m not entirely sure what the plot of this movie is but if it has Pitt, DiCaprio and Robbie in it then I don’t care.

Finally, Glass, the third instalment in this sort of anti-superhero trilogy, looks very good. Jackson and Willis reprise their original roles of Mr. Glass and Mr. Unbreakable, respectively, while the supremely talented McAvoy returns as the Beast. Or Patricia. Depends on his mood.The trailer looks class without giving too much away, and it also has Sarah Paulson and I’m in love with her so it’s already great!

Apologies for the lengthy post but hopefully you’ll see some of these movies also in 2019. I also am looking forward to Captain Marvel because I love Brie Larson too but Sarah Paulson’s OK with it so we’re all good.

Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again, the hazy and confusing end/start to the year where people try to transition from eating and drinking whatever they want to imposing strict and unforgiving rules on their lives. People want to give up their aul sins but also want to enjoy themselves. This often leads to several New Year Resolutions that more often than not are given up by the second week of January. Some remain pipe dreams forever, being given up on before the year commences. Fitness goals are attempted almost too eagerly at the beginning, leaving one burnt out and fed up with the whole process. Some people try and quit their vices cold turkey, such as smoking, drinking or eating crap. The beginning of the year can be a stressful time with lost loved ones, kids going back to school and work only around the corner, so maybe cutting down on the fags in the morning would be a better approach. I can’t really talk because I’m in the process of stopping smoking cold-turkey, so I’ll let ye know how it goes!

I read an article online recently about how new year’s resolutions are all bullshit and we shouldn’t subscribe to this ideal of making ourselves into the ideal version of ourselves overnight. I can understand the argument and agree to a certain extent but still, that’s very generalised. Most people make their resolutions because it helps them throughout the year. Even if they don’t succeed in all or any of their attempts at least they can look back and say they started with great intentions.
I myself have never really made any resolutions. I wait until Lent like a good Catholic boy and then give up on everything I enjoy! However, this year, I’m going to make a list of things I should really give up on, mostly including drinking and smoking, and mostly because there’s some funny stories associated with these two vices that are ripe for posting. So rest your hungover head, read my resolutions for the year of Our Lord 2019 and don’t worry if you don’t keep yours, because there is always next time.

New Years Resolutions 2019: A Fool’s Errand

  • Cut down on the binge drinking. By all means, go out and throw back eight pints and a few Tully Dews, maybe a few shots of Sambucca followed by a Vodka Red Bull to level it out every once in a while but not twice a week. O.K., three times a week.
  • Slow down on the smoking. I don’t smoke much really but sure look, no harm to stop smoking fags. Ah, but they’re so nice with a coffee, or after a meal, or after a few pints….we’ll see how it goes.
  • Get back in shape. Not in terrible shape but I could stand to shed a few pounds and get back to full fitness. See above resolution.
  • Start enjoying sport again, and not just enjoying a game because I can’t wait for the few too many pints afterwards.
  • Read more. I made a fairly good effort this/last year and read some fantastic books but I’m gonna try for a book a week next/this year.
  • Don’t punch holes in any more walls. It happened once, everyone had a good laugh because I was still drunk from the night before but if it keeps happening that’ll become my thing. Then people won’t invite me over, I’ll lose all my friends, become homeless and die with no walls around me! A harsh but a fair truth.
  • DO NOT LOSE ANY MORE PHONES!!!! If I lose a phone this year then I am never buying a phone again. I’m going off the grid and I will write my blogs on pieces of paper that I will then set alight and release them into the night sky!
  • Try a job that has a set Monday to Friday, eight hour schedule. Hang on, didn’t I have that one summer in an office and was bored beyond belief? Wasn’t I so excited to finish? Do I secretly enjoy working odd hours and having some week days to myself? I’ll have to revisit this one around Lent.
  • Write more. Up the effort for the blog, try and get some articles published in papers and get prepared for college. Just become more disciplined and have a schedule, not just the odd post every once in a while.
  • Text people back lol.

Despite the number of resolutions it has been an exceptional year. I would go as far as to say it has been the best year of my life so far, or one of them. The drink flowed, the craic was great and I traveled to some places in the States I’ll never forget. I’ve made some lifelong friends in New York and will more than likely be back in the next few years. Although I missed home, birthdays and holidays, I’ve kept a positive outlook on things and look forward to all that 2019 holds for me, my family and friends. Thanks to everyone for reading the blog and the kind words. Here’s to a fantastic year! Don’t @ me.

 

On the Banks of My Own Lovely Lee

It has been 375 days since I’ve last been in Cork. A year and ten days. Prior to this, the longest I had stayed away from the Rebel County was for four months when I studied in New Paltz, upstate New York. I was home that Christmas and didn’t really miss it as I was studying in this new, exciting environment. This time, up until the year mark I hadn’t really missed the People’s Republic at all. I missed the people, my family and friends and the craic we have, but I never really thought about the place that much. It was almost as if a switch was flipped on the 365th day. All of these fond memories came flooding back of places around the city and the countryside. I realised I missed Cork more than I let myself believe, and there is plenty to miss.

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I miss living a thirty second walk from the G.A.A. pitch, climbing over the fence to go smash footballs and sliotars wide of the post.
I miss living a ten minute walk from the local pub, the Country Squire, putting pints away until the wee hours.
I miss playing Championship in Ballinlough with Rathpeacon, especially when we beat Whitechurch in the football six years ago.
I miss going to town with the older lads on the team, getting into the Secret Garden at 18 years old because you knew someone who knew the bouncer. That was a great feeling.

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I miss going to the Woolen Mills in Blarney and looking at the Americans buy about twenty Aran sweater vests for their family portraits later in the year.
I don’t miss working there, though, for the exact same reason!
I miss seeing all the old school friends as we drink together in the Muskerry Arms, old stories retold, as funny as the day they happened, especially the ones about drinking underage in the GAA woods.

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I miss Dino’s potato pie meal, Hillbilly’s chicken tenders meal, but most of all, I miss Sloppy Foley’s from Murphy’s chipper in Blackpool. Pure perfection.
I miss walking through Blackpool to the city, passing by the Heineken Brewery and smelling the making of my favourite drink.
I miss the view of the Opera House as you come upon the Christy Ring Bridge.
I miss going to plays in the Cork Arts Theatre, the Opera House and the Everyman.

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I miss grabbing a coffee in Gloria Jean’s in the Savoy and then walking toward Grand Parade. You never know who you’ll see on your travels but you will see at least two people you know.
I miss walking up Washington Street, looking in all the shop windows before you see the gates of U.C.C. loom in the distance, and the beauty of Fitzgerald Park not too far behind on the other side of the road.
I miss grabbing a nice pint of Heineken in the Mutton Lane, the nicest bar in Cork, in my opinion, before walking through the English Market, smelling the fish, the cakes, the vegetables and listening to the chat.
I miss sitting in Peace Park watching the pigeons startle themselves in the water of the fountain.

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I miss going to Mahon Point and spending an absolute bomb in the food court and the Omniplex. Also, the Reel Picture in Blackpool is better which is a true fact.
I miss going to the cinema on my own, too, in fairness.
I miss going to the Guitar Shop on MacCurtain street and Pro Musica on Oliver Plunkett street, playing for a while before realising I’m broke.

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I miss the bars in Cork. I know the bouncers can be a bit tough to deal with sometimes but I can also be a drunken ass, so let’s call it quits when I’m back, yeah?
I miss the carnage that appears on Oliver Plunkett street on a weekend night. Good carnage, but carnage all the same.
I miss the taco sauce from John Grace’s, especially after a feed of beer.
I miss the music in the Oliver Plunkett or the Crane Lane.

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I miss my family and friends too and will probably mention them in different posts but this is just about a place. It’s also about mainly food and drink huehuehue. A place my family moved to when I was nine years old. It is the place that made me into a more confident young man and is the place where I made my best friends, bar college and woodlwan of course. I will be back next month for a while. Who knows how long for? I certainly don’t. It is funny that these thoughts only came into my head since the year mark passed. I don’t know how my friends out here who literally can’t go home have been able to do it for three years and some change. Fair dues to them. I think I could manage it but I can only imagine how tough it must be. I am lucky that next month I won’t have to miss it as I return to the banks of my own lovley Lee.

Angela’s Christmas

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This 30-minute wonder of a film is on U.S. Netflix and is perfect for small kids, parents (the 1st time), and people who work the night shift. Now, if you’re not a kid, not my cousin Bridget who has been forced to watch it hundreds of times by her two-year old, or me on the nightshift, maybe you won’t want to give it a chance. But I promise you, it is only half an hour and a nice story with only a small dash of sadness and death. Just like any other Irish film!

Angela’s Christmas, based on the novel ‘Angela and the Baby Jesus’, by Frank McCourt, is a beautiful little tale about Angela, of course, and the adventure she gets up to on Christmas Eve night.
Angela, her two brothers, younger sister and mother are heading to Christmas Eve mass, and Angela is holding them up while getting ready. Her older brother Patrick is complaining about her and incessantly whinging. Straight away, we see that Patrick is suffering from middle-child syndrome and just unlikeable. Ugh, I wanted to punch the screen. Feck off Patrick, the movie’s called Angela’s Christmas, not Patrick’s Day.
On the way to the church Patrick and Angela bicker back and forth, with Patrick maintaining his annoying personality. After finally sitting down, Angela realises that the baby Jesus in the manger does not have a blanket or a jacket on. Being five, she doesn’t realise that he is a statue and he therefore cannot feel the cold. She formulates a plan, and when her family leave mass to return home, she steals the baby Jesus so she can keep him warm.
On her own way home, Angela bumps into a blind, one-legged beggar, a kind policeman and a bar full of elderly drunks. Once in the door, she tucks the baba into bed and sings ‘Angela’s Song’, a lovely little lullaby. Unfortunately, Patrick the prized pr*ck rats her out, and she fears she may be in trouble. Thankfully, her mother, instead of getting annoyed and punishing Angela, tells the story of Angela’s birth, and how important it is to be together as a family at Christmas. Angela, apparently being able to understand subtext at 5 years old, knows she must bring the baby Jesus back to the manger.

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The whole family set off to return the statue, the world not seeming so scary for Angela on her own anymore. Despite returning 8 pound 6 oz, newborn infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, but still omnipotent, baby Jesus, the family are caught by the priest. He calls a guard over to throw the thief in jail but, lo and behold, it is the same guard from earlier! He shows more kindness and lets them free to be together on Christmas Eve.

A truly heartwarming tale, I was shocked to find out that some people wrote to me and said that there is a popular fan theory that Angela, in her quest to first steal the baby Jesus, hits her head on her fall from the pew. The rest of the movie is actually in Angela’s head as she survives in the hospital. I would just like to say that that is not true and those people should never, ever contact me again. Freaks. No better than Patrick in the movie. Although he had a sweet redemption arc.
Dolores O’Riordan sings Angela’s Song during the credits and it is worth it for that alone, seeing as it is almost a year since she sadly died.

Catch this flick on Netflix or get it on cheap blu-ray at the flea markets in Chelsea.

The Changing of the Guard / 4 Train

Packed like sardines in an old tin can we push and squeeze and excuse me.
There are no ‘sorry’s here in the no man’s land that is the middle of the cart.
Hands cling to rails and heads are burrowed in books and phones
While homeless people tell sad stories that would break your heart
If you didn’t hear the same story two homeless people ago.
Oftentimes the same story is told with little differences,
Like instead of a sick son it is a girl or wife,
But people don’t care for any of these hindrances
Because we all have places to go and people to see
In this Amazon jungle of a city.

We hurtle along between 59th and 86th at breakneck speeds,
Planting our feet in position to sway with the machine
As the conductor announces a delay at Grand Concourse.
A collective groan rises up, everybody taking part
In this collective self-pity parade of head shakes,
Low mutters and sighs of frustration.
Eventually, finally, behind schedule as usual
the 4 train pulls into another station
That is full to the brim of students, teachers, laborers, preachers
And other professions that won’t fit on the train.

My calves begin to cramp as we wobble towards Burnside Avenue,
Still no sign of a seat or even a space to lean against a door
While veteran riders apply makeup and read books while the place rattles around them.
Train etiquette is still observed as space is made for the elderly, poor
And pregnant passengers as the sea parts for such weary travelers.
The carriage almost empties at Mosholu Parkway,
Leaving me the carriage to myself as we glide into Woodlawn, the last stop on this train.
I swap out with tired people at the opposite end of the working day,
An extremely exhausted changing of the guard as haggard looks are exchanged as
They begin their day and I am almost finished mine.

Anal Beads

Part 2 of the Instagram Sessions, coming to you live from a secret location in Chelsea. Today, I delve into the history of a topic brought to my attention by a delinquent friend of mine, who I will not name today. Amidst all the lovely suggestions of writing about beer, Doon G.A.A. and mental health, a certain someone suggested writing about anal beads. I originally planned to have the title in all caps and just write “NO”, under the heading and that would be it. I’d get a laugh out of it and maybe others would get a cheap laugh too. I’ve since thought about it and yes, I will write your post. I’ll play your silly game by my rules.

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This reporter is delighted to bring you an exclusive story fresh from the international creative scene. The American National Artist Liaison, founded in 1975 by Hugh Jass, has announced a partnership with Binge Eating and Excessive Drinking Session ltd, founded in 1993 by Richard ‘Dick’ Butt. The aim of this partnership is to send artists from ANAL to the European headquarters of BEEDS in Dublin to examine the Irish relationship to excessive drinking, binge eating and then drinking again to get over the fear. ANAL and BEEDS have flirted in the past with regards to a similar venture but this time there was no pussyfooting around. Straight in, as Hugh Jass said at the press conference in Anus, France.
“We don’t want to be behind the times,” said Dick Butt. “We want to dive straight in, as Hugh just said, but gently. It’s not like starting a lawnmower. You have to be gentle with the Irish lads, or the beeds as I call them. They might have severe cases of the fear or man flu, and we feel deep in our guts that the artists from America can showcase the plight of the Irish male and his need to binge eat and drink.”
“We are setting up centres for the artists all over Ireland and America. Muff, Co. Donegal and Slickpoo, Idaho, will be our two main thought-centric and idea-haven places where the artists and subjects can get together and really get to the bottom of what’s going on with us males.”
“We’re really excited about this,” continued Jass. “When I made Dick my no.2 on this project I had a feeling that it would all go well. We know that it sounds outlandish. I mean, when you think of the two companies, do you really think anyone will volunteer for this project. Surprisingly, many people did, even outside the businesses. The two main centers in Muff and Slickpoo, as well as numerous support centres in other towns in the two countries, will host hundreds of Irish males in the throes of the fear, as well as artists from across the states who will be attempting to depict our unique ability to soldier on through the fear and the gut you accumulate from a day’s drink, only to do it all again.”

The project will officially be launched in Poo in Spain, allowing the artists and the subjects one last session to tear the arse out of it, but gently.

This has been Cian Dalton, reporting for Rambling House News, on the ANAL BEEDS partnership of 2069. Slan go foill.

Big Brother is Watching

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Looking back on a wonderful year (so far), I can reveal that I have almost no regrets. I’ve had my fair share of fun, visited places I’ve never been, made new friends and caught up with old ones. The only regrets I do have are tied to social media and my tendency to forget to write back to people. I have a built-in function to receive a text, read it in full, process what I will say back to that person and then put the phone down and carry on with my life without completing the interaction. It’s happened so often that I jokingly say to myself, “Jaysus you’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed onto you, hah! You forgetful prick! How can you treat people who want to interact with you like this? You’re going to be alone because everyone replies to each other and you don’t have the decency to even send a thumbs back. Why in the name of all that is good and holy do you even bother talking to people if you’re not going to message them back? I hate you! I can’t stand being your voice of reason because you won’t respond. You sicken me, and more than anything, I pity you. Go on now, go and watch Parks and Rec for the fourth time and forget to RSVP to your cousins’ birthday party.” In an unrelated note, my subconscious is a dick! Great singer, though.
The point is, social media and social sites have allowed us to keep in touch with what is happening in the world at any given moment. Not only that, we willingly give our personal data and money to sites that have publicly admitted to using our data illegally. We can also keep in touch with each other 24/7. Big Brother is watching, and so it seems is everyone else.

  • Snapchat allows us to see when messages are opened.
  • Instagram allows us to see when messages are seen.
  • Messenger allows us to see when people are online/read a message/are typing a response.
  • iMessage sends read receipts and shows when someone is typing.
  • Whatsapp shows two blue ticks when a message is read and allows you to see if that person is online.
  • Viber does the same thing.

These features are fantastic for a number of reasons.

  • Families can interact internationally without paying exorbitant amounts of money to call.
  • Group messages make planning nights out and events easier. The same can be said for projects in college.
  • Meme growth has never been higher! Send your memes now!
  • Catch ups with old friends has never been easier.
  • This is starting to sound like a click-bait ad.
  • Drunk message your ex: You won’t believe what will happen next!

While these are all fantastic upsides to instant contact around the world, we have lost an element of the past that I still hold dear, sometimes without even knowing what I am doing. There used to be a time when you could just say a rhyme and wouldn’t have to worry about one of your people dying….what the fuck just happened? I couldn’t stop the nostalgic flowback to Toy Soldiers. Spooky.
Anyways, before our time, people weren’t so accessible. The advent of smartphones and technology has made us slaves to our phones and slaves to acknowledgement. As soon as a message is sent to us it pops up on our screens. You can delay in replying or even opening it but not forever. Eventually you will have to read the full message and reply back that you will definitely be at the event, or let the person know when you will be in town next, even if you have no intention of doing so. That’s another aspect of instant gratification by way of smartphones. Ghosting and backing out at the last second has increased dramatically in the last few years because instead of agreeing to a time and place and showing up, you now have this handy little tool in your hand that you can send messages on mere hours or minutes before the event where you can back out. Fantastic.

The reason I am rambling on about this is because I am guilty of leaving people on read. I have done this wothout meaning to but I still feel bad afterwards. I feel bad because I have let a friend down and not contacted her when she was new to the city. I feel bad because I let another friend down and didn’t message him back for weeks. I let my cousin down by not letting her know I couldn’t make her son’s birthday party. I let myself down because it’s not polite to ignore people, whether it is intentional or not.
At the same time though, I value my space and if I don’t message you back right away just let me know. If I ignore you after constant messaging it is best just to leave me be. I’ve moved on.

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I’ve been called many things in this short life of mine. Handsome. Devilishly handsome. Stupidly handsome. Champion. Concierge extroardinaire. The King of Prussia. A poor man’s Prince Harry. A rich man’s Jesse Plemons. A premium athlete. Spartacus. Almost All-Star hurling wing-back of the Junior Shield competition in New York. The King of Prussia again. But to call me a bad texter and a bad friend would be erroneous. Please don’t be facetious when dealing with me. It borders on malevolence. I do truly apologise for the hurt I’ve caused over the years.

Austin, Texas.

Hear ye, hear ye! Throwback Thursday is upon us, and another tale of debaucherous depravity and wholesome bonding needs to be shared! Read this account of four glorious days in the sweltering Texas heat and laugh at stories of falling asleep where I shouldn’t have and Tom pantsing himself in a busy bar on sixth street.

At the beginning of the year, the lads and I would often find ourselves discussing where we would like to spend a vacation over the summer. We decided to go on a group holiday at some stage during the year, eventually settling for our friend John’s thirtieth birthday. With Brian also moving to San Fran just before the summer months, we thought somewhere hot, close to us both and most importantly, fun, would suffice.
Austin, Texas, would be our destination. I had a friend who lived in Austin for a year or two and everyone else had also heard good things. We got a group of ten of us to sign a blood pact that we would all definitely go. Two dropped out and mysteriously disappeared. Strange how things happen like that.
No, in all seriousness, a group of eight was perfect. We booked our flights, Tom booked the Air BnB and we spent the next few months talking about the craic that we were going to have in Texas.

As all good Irish citizens do, we went out the night before our early morning flight and got absolutely hammered. I stumbled back to the apartment at 4:30 AM Friday morning to find all the lads in either a state of unconsciousness or zombie-like packing. It wasn’t a pretty sight but we ordered an Uber and made the flight.
My hangover kicked in just as we entered Austin, so the first thing on the metaphorical menu and the only thing on the restaurant menu, was sandwiches and beers. After wolfing these down we made our way to our apartments that Tom had booked. A tip of the cap to Tom because the two rooms were unreal. All we were going to use the rooms for was for small reprieves from drinking. There was a pool in the complex right outside our doors. Our neighbors who sat outside their door observing the action were smoking weed so we knew they probably wouldn’t mind our excessive drinking and partying.
After a bite to eat at the Haymaker pub across the road and a dip in the pool along with multiple bottles and cans, we Uber’d our way to 6th street. The only way I can describe 6th street for any people from Cork who haven’t been to Austin is that it resembles Grand Parade and Washington St. on a weekend night. Except it is like this all the time. Madness. Carnage. Beautiful.
Despite our tired limbs and minds after over twenty four hours on the sesh, we soldiered on. I fell asleep outside some apartment block and awoke to a very angry man shouting down at me from his window to, “Move! We don’t like people sleeping on our sidewalk!” I never thought you did sir. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate. Please excuse me and have a wonderful night.
I somehow got back to the complex to find the door wouldn’t open, and I may have had some choice words for my dear friend James when he tried to tell me what the problem was. I apologise James. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate, and am a grumpy bastard when I am rudely awoken from my sidewalk slumber.

Saturday was a brilliant day. We all had a bit of sleep and crossed over to the Haymaker again for a bit of grub. From there we made our way to a gun range just outside the city. I had never been to one before and I don’t mind saying that even with all of the safety talks and assurances that once we respected the gun and the rules that everything would be O.K., as soon as I held one in my hand I was absolutely shitting myself. Not literally. There’s a code to uphold in these places and of course, the man code*, but I was apprehensive. We all took turns on the different firearms. For the life of me I can’t recall any of their names bar the Uzi. What I do remember is I didn’t have a bad shot. None of us did. We all came away with a bit more confidence in our shooting. All except for John. He knew what he was doing. I’m not being sound because it was his birthday trip, it’s just the truth. John turned the gun sideways, held it in one hand and put out a gangland hit on the head of the target. The next sheet came out and John shot him six times in the throat. That target had a fucking family John, and you couldn’t even give him an open casket.
6th street was the port of call again that night and it was epic. We were familiar with a few of the bars from the previous night and familiarised ourselves with a few more. In one such bar we were dancing with a group of girls. There was eight of us and five of them. Not to be crass, but the odds were looking good for us boys, even just to have a group of girls for drinking buddies for a portion of the night. Enter Tom. I have a few memories etched into my brain from the weekend but the one that sticks out the most is this. Our two groups had widened into a circle, letting one of us after the other enter the center and display our moves. Tom leaned into my ear and said “Will I take off my pants?”. I immediately responded no, and laughed it off, looking back at the group. Seconds later, almost as if in slow motion, Tom had strutted by me, taking his place in the centre and proceeded to drop his trousers. Never in my life had I been so surprised and it seems so too were the girls as they screamed and ran to the other end of the bar. No exaggeration. They literally screamed and ran away. Anyways, Tom is a legend.
Nobody fell asleep on any sidewalks. A stripclub was visited but nobody fell aleep there, thank God.

We booked a boat party for the Sunday afternoon. None of us packed enough sunscreen and we each came away with savage burns but it was worth it. Out in the depths of lake Austin we drank copious amounts of beer and flirted with the girls on the next boat over. We had our own boat for the eight of us driven by a lovely man whose name I can’t recall, but as we glided over the water and passed by extravagant houses, I knew we had made the right choice in coming to Austin.
We saw other boats in the distance and we blasted ‘Westmeath Bachelor’ by the late, great Joe Dolan as we neared them. I’m sure they thought a tribe of gypsies had commandeered a boat and were taking over.
‘2002’ by Anne-Marie and ‘Shotgun’ by George Ezra played on repeat the whole day. I often wake up in a cold sweat with the chorus of Shotgun reverberating around my skull. I haven’t slept properly in months.

Taking a break from 6th street, we chose Rainy street for our last night. I arrived late because the tiredness, a.k.a, booze, caught up with me and I took an impromptu nap. We had a great last night, made better by the fact that myself and John got the Uber driver to drive to a diner. We got some feed and he charged us a bomb!

As with any trip, it was a sombre last day. Brian went back to Cali, the rest of us went back to New York and I went straight to work. My prayers had evidently not been answered as the building was still standing and I had to work the night shift. That was a tough shift to work as I just wished that I was back soaking up the sun, smoking too many cigarettes and getting as drunk as could be with the lads. All the spectacular descriptive words couldn’t do that weekend justice. I’ll go for something simple, succint and true.

It was class.

*The man code is one article and it states that a man should never shit himself in public under any circumstances, unless he is a mouldy feen on the sauce hahaha, chalk it down keeeed.**

**Disclaimer: I have never shit myself on a night out. Rag week in 2013 came close, but that was due to undercooked chicken and four nights on the sesh.***

Whiskey: A Tribute

A few weeks ago I asked my friends on Instagram to suggest me some topics to write about. I assured them that I would write about them all, and while I intend to keep that promise, there were a few outlandish ideas that I will have to leave stew for a while. A good friend of mine and fellow local beer connoisseur, Ultan, suggested whiskey. I knew this had to be my first one of the Instagram stories. Writing about dating, politics, mental health and other serious topics can wait. The golden brown elixir was the most serious of them all.

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My first experience with whiskey was probably much the same as most other Irish teenagers. Someone’s older brother or sister bought us cans and naggins in the offie and we drank them in fields or at house parties. While it was a chore to get to the field or the house party with alcohol undetected, they really were simpler times. You and your childhood friends were all getting horrendously drunk at the same time, often for the first time. Being drunk was just dizziness and absolutely everything being funny.
Bushing started out with naggins of Huzzar vodka and cans of Bulmers. After a while I started drinking naggins of Jack Daniels mixed with club orange. Someone said that would make it nice. The liary bastard.
After a few years, once we were all of legal age we would sometimes get a shot of Jack at the bar or possibly a Jack and Coke. We felt so grown up. Drinking whiskey at a bar! Oh, how sophisticated of us. What’s that? Cian’s getting sick with his head in the urinal on the night of his girlfriend’s eighteenth? What a mature young man.

I was actually put off whiskey for a while, not when I got sick in a urinal, surprisingly, but when my buddy Lar, in college, drank a shoulder of Queen Margot one night in the first few weeks of first year. I’ve never seen a man as drunk. Lar’s one of my best friends and that man can put away tens of pints and shots in a night but the whiskey awoke some drunken beast in him. If I still had the photos of what you did to that poor car, Lar! Hahahahaha, all jokes.
Funnily enough, Lar drank another shoulder of whiskey two years later and told me and the lads that he loves us, so there you see the beauty of the two-sided coin that is whiskey.

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It wasn’t until I was finished college and having no clue what to do with my life that I started having the odd Jack and Coke again. I was in a bit of a funk, perhaps and started going mad on the whiskey, then, eventually graduating to Jameson on the rocks. My brother will tell you, there were a few nights in the Old Oak on Oliver Plunkett street a few months before I moved here when I got a bit rowdy on the aul whiskeys. Arguing with and shouting at bartenders and bouncers, getting kicked out, only to go back in the next weekend and do it all again. I’m lucky I wasn’t beat up and down Cork city. I’m lucky I’m tall!
Again, I took a break from the whiskey. I wasn’t really ashamed of my actions because gosh darnit if they had just given me my drink then none of that would’ve happened. I did realise that I was drinking a bit much and that a break from whiskey and Cork might be a good idea. So I decided to move to Woodlawn! Hahahaha it’s like the geographical pot calling the kettle black.
I did go fairly wild there at the end of last summer. And I have continued to go wild since but less often, and I like to think with more dignity. I haven’t woken up in an ambulance or smashed my head off the ground after a night on the whiskey neats in a year. I’m genuinely proud of that.

Once I realised that it wasn’t whiskey’s fault and that I was culpable for my own actions, I went back on the golden sauce. I love a Tullamore Dew on the rocks when I’m off, and I have a few bottles of whiskey stored nearby my bed in case of emergency. I just love whiskey. It has been an on-off relationship but right now it is most definitely on.
I’m over Vodka. I’m over Jaegar. I’m over tequila. I’m definitely over Sambucca. I’m over rum and Captain Morgan’s and the like. I’m still very much in love with beers. I’ve drank em solid for the last eight years. I’ve drank all the other spirits for the same amount of time and the only one that I still have a place in my heart for is all the different types of whiskey.
So give me a Jack and Coke and a shot of Jamo on the side. Give me and Ultan two Tully Dews on the rocks there Charlie when you get a chance, please. I’ll try a scotch tonight sure, why not. Keep the Glenfidditch away from me, it costs an arm and a leg. One glass of Teachers, Midleton, what have you, won’t hurt. You’ll have your best nights, fights, dances and deep meaningful conversations on whiskey.

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In fact, legend has it that the Brazilian art of dance-fighting, Capoeira, was actually invented by a Corkman, Dessie Fitz, after he stumbled into a favela after a stag, drunk on Irish whiskey, and was stuck in limbo between a great dance and a great fight.

Thanks for having me, tip your bartenders, waitresses and your doormen! You’ve been fantastic!