San Francisco

Just before I made the move back home I took a short trip to San Francisco. A friend of mine had lived there for a year or so and had been telling me how great it was, so I was keen to see the place. Other friends of mine had made the big move across the states to the West coast and I wanted to see them too before i left. Brian and Joanne were getting on great there and Brian, or Broan as I affectionately call him was a massive help to me when I first moved to Woodlawn. I decided to impose upon them for a weekend without their consent, so everyone was happy. They had just returned from a Christmas break to Ireland and I was due to arrive the following Friday, a mere five days later. That was plenty of recovery time for them and I knew they’d appreciate putting me up and showing me the sites.

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I had my last day in work on Thursday of that week. I made the trek back to Woodlawn from Manhattan, relieved to be free of any more responsibilities in the Vanguard. I caught a few hours of shuteye, packed my bag badly once again and wearily made my way to Newark that next morning.
I arrived into San Francisco international airport that Friday evening, still stunned by the beautiful views from my window seat as we flew over Nebraska. I ordered an Uber and made my way to Locksley Ave. Hugo was my driver and after a few minutes confusion as to where he was picking me up we made our way to Brian and Joanne. Hugo talked the ear off me the full forty minute drive, telling me his life story and all about how he was also a concierge in a previous life. He talked, I laughed, he talked, I stayed silent, he talked, I gave grunts and one word replies, he still talked. He got five stars.

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That first night was great. I caught up with two old friends and we went for food in a Caribbean/Brazilian/ethnic resturant. I remember no names of the places I was in because I am lazy and meant to write this last month. We barhopped for a while, drinking Sangria and Vodka Cokes by the jugful. A bar called Milk had so many cutouts of Elvis Presley and impersonators of the King. I put two and two together, got 5 and put it down to San Fran being a cooky place. Not once did it cross my mind that it might be an Elvis themed night. Great lad all the same.

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Along with the weekend came all the sightseeing. We did the lion’s share on the Saturday. We walked down to Haight street, where we were the night before and got a bite to eat, myself and Joanne getting Mimosas and cocktails like all girls do on their hols.
Brian drove us first to the Twin Peaks (LOL). The views were unreal, spreading out over the whole city. In the distance, a tiny speck of land turned out to be Japan. I couldn’t believe it, we were that close to the other side of the world. I had my doubts but Brian explained to me that Earth is flat despite the fact that the globe is round. I was happy with that and happy that Brian would never lie to me. Would you Brian?

Liar then drove us out to one of the viewing points for the Golden Gate bridge. It was awesome up close and the pictures don’t do it justice. I got my picture in with the Holly Bough too, so I was even happier. We could’ve walked it but I only brought a half zip and my nipples were cutting glass. Very dangerous on a windy day.

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That evening we drove out to Sausolito. It is a stunning, picturesque little town that you can reach by car or via ferry from fisherman’s wharf. Right on the edge of the water, droves of tourists took photos perilously close to the deep blue. The city was visible off in the distance, as was Alcatraz, the famous prison that hosted Al Capone and believe it or not, Clint Eastwood.
Japan too loomed large in the background and in my mind.

We had a night on the tiles that night, painting San Francisco red. “But we want blue!”, the San Franciscans cried. We cared not. Brian, Joanne, Sarah and I laughed and roared into the night, painting every square inch of wall red, not forgetting our primer.
San Fran is a great night out in all seriousness but for any New Yorkers that are heading there, last call is 2AM and not 4AM. Be wide.

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Sunday was supposed to be full of sights and tourism too, but after seeing the Golden Gate, the Twin Peaks (LOL), along with Lombard street and the house where Mrs. Doubtfire was filmed, as well as a hangover that would kill a Belgian Blue, we decided to just keep drinking.
Pints of Blue Moon, several shots of whiskey and board games came out in favour of sightseeing and I think we were all a happy bunch.

I did a bit of solo sightseeing on the Monday. After rising from the cot in the early afternoon I made my way to Haight street where I grabbed a bite to eat. I bought a few t-shirts and postcards because that’s what people do on holidays. I hopped in an Uber and travelled down to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
I decided to stay put and have a look around. I was transfixed by the Mechanical Museum where arcade games and old attractions were on display and available to use. There was a whole village that was powered by 75 cents. I must add that it is a miniature village made of wooden figurines, but after you put in the money and walk around the glass display it is just amazing. Countless characters have their own individual movements, some even interacting with others.
There was a Simpsons arcade game, basketball games and shooting games, but I was taken in by the slow moving, intricate depictions of different scenes like the one I just described. Despite all that San Francisco has to offer I would tell everyone to go to that museum, bring a roll of quarters and just have a blast.

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After a last supper with Bi-Bri and Jo-Jo, I flew back to Newark late that night. I didn’t really have time then to think about my experience in San Fran as I had five days to pack and prepare for moving home. After taking two months to get off my arse and write some long-winded spiel about the craic we had there, I know I’ll definitely be back there, I’ll definitely be back for longer and Brian and Joanne are fantastic hosts. I’m willing to look past the fact that they lied to me about the geographical location of Japan in relation to San Fran. Dishonor on your families.

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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!