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Turning the Beat Around

July 20, 2009

I last left you with a vague reference to my misadventures in Prague.  Thankfully our luck turned around in Ireland, where we danced with French women, played in the mud with thousands of people, drank Guiness in a pub 100 feet from a police riot, and scrambled to remember the password to an all-night speakeasy behind metal shutters.  

Don’t worry, readers, my over-active powers of observation were hard at work.  Here is what I was thinking about while in the Emerald Isle:

  • Ireland’s hospitality > even Japan’s.  Japanese generosity and understanding of its visitors is legendary, and I have experienced many selfless acts first-hand.  However, the warmth we were greeted with by my friend Barbara, her mother Mo, and her friends was unlike anything I’ve seen in my life.  They went through great pains to make sure we felt at home, cooking us some delicious meals and welcoming us to drink beers in their living room while they went to sleep to work the next day.  Mo even took a day off in order to drive us up to the Giant’s Causeway and the Bushmills Distillery because we were too hungover to make the 9am bus the day before.  All of the people I met there were absolutely lovely and giving, and because of this comfort I have since been able to enjoy myself here without focusing on the whatcouldhavebeens.  In eBay parlance, A+++++, would go again.
  • Troughs.  On a more scatological note, porcelain is overrated.  I’ve seen many a urinal trick, from ice to fake bugs to help the drunk guide their relief into the receptacle and away from the floor.  But those who are properly pissed cannot be deterred so easily.  As a country with many, many men who have temporarily lost control of their motor skills, Ireland understands that perhaps a contraption requiring no accuracy is the most sanitary option.  We of course see troughs in America, but this is typically only at fairgrounds that have mercifully installed their own bathrooms rather than subjecting patrons to the horrors of a portajohn.  In both Dublin and Belfast, old man watering holes and classy lounges alike make good use of the trough, to the benefit of relatively dry floors and sandal-goers peace of mind.
  • Festival Bands.  Some artists play festivals because their music is so anthemic and huge that the more people listening and the greater the size of the venue, the more majestic the performance. Other artists play festivals because they are so washed up that without the cushion of better, fresher artists, even former die-hard fans would never dream of paying the price of a ticket high enough to fuel the private jet that got them there in the first place.  This latter category aptly describes Jane’s Addiction at the Oxegen Festival in Naas, Ireland.  Dave Navarro has taken to full time self-admiration of his androgynous good looks, as Perry Farrell desperately and pathetically brags about his coke addiction on stage while cracking his voice at the upper registers of “Been Caught Stealing.” Luckily, and true to Jane’s Addiction’s reason for being there, I didn’t go to Oxegen to see Jane’s Addiction.  The Killers put on a surprisingly excellent show (I had seen them open for Franz Ferdinand 5 years ago to a thundering round of crickets from the audience), while Trent Reznor’s performance was absolutely perfect.  The intensity and range he exhibited sounded like he was in his twenties rather than the ripe age of 44.  Tragically, Reznor claimed that he would no longer be touring with Nine Inch Nails, opting for the Costanza approach to retirement (take a cue, Brett Favre). Farewell, Dark Prince.
  • TESCO.  Brilliant grocery store and likely the only way to survive in a place where Fish and Chips run as high as 16 Euros and the average cost of a pint in the evening is 5.50 euros ($8).  As far as Dublin is concerned, I for one welcome our new supermarket overlords.
  • Cheers.  I always found it rather obnoxious when people back home would use the word ‘cheers’ in the non-Ted Danson sense.  It seemed to me grossly pretentious for an Atlantan to substitute ‘thank you’ or ‘appreciate it’ for the British custom. However, after actually spending time here I understand how phrases like that cut the edge and formality off of salutations.  Over-thanking and over-apologizing is a uniquely American trait, despite our international reputation for rudeness we in fact go overboard in politeness — that is, the American form of politeness.  ‘Cheers’ is multi-purpose, it’s not overly polite nor is it disingenuous to use when you aren’t really that thankful, but are instead simply trying to express acknowledgement of minor favors. Ireland and England are full of these phrases that soften the language and simplify being a decent person.

Thanks for keeping up with my travels everyone, next up is my last destination – London.  Spoiler alert: I’m in love with the Tube.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2009 3:05 pm

    Probably the best form of entertainment is to discuss accents/dialects with piss-drunk Scotsman, Irishmen, and Englishmen. The subject is tough to approach, but if you can steer the conversation to language, it makes for a hilarious sideshow. There is nothing more entertaining than listening to an Irishman sloppily butcher an American accent… especially when he ends up sounding like Peter Griffin or a retarded version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I thoroughly recommend it, especially after few Ps, or even a Q or two.

    • July 21, 2009 4:23 am

      I indeed have had such a conversation here. Can’t figure out how you get the sound ‘sawwrr’ from something spelled ‘so.’

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