Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

A dimming

Long the road
hard the head
you and I
share this bed
take the blame
hide these feelings.

Hardest truth
is your eyes
the rain that falls
whispered lies
little heart
beats no feeling.

Never said
never tried
what is shame?
Our little lives?
Try again
keep believing

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The Hunt

There are no tears left to cry,
no new memories to create
symbols give way to signs
and every burden has been weighed.
You can no longer give me oxygen
the darkness I sprang from is now light
all the love and hate you gave me
has found a place to rest its eyes.
The pedestal built has been dismantled
your name, once taken is now returned
the sun has set into darkness
daylights candle has been burned.
I must away to the hunt now
the ritual states it clear
into the unknown I must venture
there is nothing left to fear.

Shadow and Light

And so the summer shimmers in front of me
the 37th year and still I search.
What lies beyond the day?
The shadow and the light,
the delicate brush strokes of the watchmaker?
Maybe the happy accident of science?
They say the hands are the first thing to age
mine are turning, from young manhood to maturity
and still…
and still….I have found no rest.
The thumping, whirring cacophony that is my brain
speeds up, faster and faster,
day by day, and inwards to the blanket of night.
It thrums. It never stops.
What hands turned these thoughts?
This soul?

The soul I hid, not because of cynicism
but rather because others might laugh at my hope.
A hope that burns with expectation
that around every corner is a possibility
and in everyone we meet, we confront the other
but maybe…just maybe in the right conditions we find love.
That is the hope that never dies
I name it now…yet I do not have it…
but I hope and hope again.
I am asking God for an answer…
I am asking…
I am asking…
I am…
…asking.

Live (or where I swear and philosophise at the end of another year)

imageThroughout my blog posts I have mentioned many facets of playing music from the bands I was in, the jams that I love and the recordings I have made. However, I have never mentioned the lifeblood of music: playing live! Now there is a reason for this namely I have played the guts of 300 plus gigs and that makes it hard to pick which ones to write about! After much thought I have decided to concentrate on three important gigs that have meant a lot to me and in doing so might give my readers an insight to the joys of harnessing all that energy and putting it into (at times) a cohesive performance.

Where to start? Well at the beginning is always good. Twenty years ago I had just turned seventeen and I was itching to play live as I had been practicing for nigh on three years. The band was Mythical New Underground, the sound was wibbly-wobbly reggae punk with a twinge of thrash metal. Where to play? A dank corner of a filthy pub? Somewhere in Dublin supporting the cognoscenti of the punk underground or maybe my debs in the Hazel Hotel Monasterevin? Of course the logical choice was the latter. Jesus I remember the anxiety most of all, just waiting to get up and finally play. Our guitar player, Carl, was hammered, our drummer, Mark, ended up with half an electronic kit and I couldn’t hear myself or our singer, Pog and we banged and bashed our way through a set that no one really knew. Our classmates danced though and that was great. I walked off full of the buzz of having lost my gig virginity, grinning from ear to ear and headed for the bar. I was met by a woman who said ‘Ye were shit’ but I just thought ‘Fuck you, I ain’t like everybody else I have just played a gig!’ Pure bliss (followed by pints and puke oh the glamour and no cash may I add).

Fast forward a few years, possibly 1999 or 2000, Newbridge, Co. Kildare, The Railway Bar. I can’t remember what the occasion was but I was singing that night ( I went through a brief phase as a singer…not to be repeated) but this should have been a gig consigned to the dark recesses of my memory and it would have been bar one incident. We finished the gig, we had belted through a folkish set and the reception was warm but one man turned to me and said, with a voice full of spite ‘Why didn’t you play something we knew?’ I should have said ‘Because I am not a fucking Jukebox’ but I didn’t. Now for those that have never been on stage here is the thing: it takes guts, it takes balls but it also takes energy and there are times you get off that stage and you are spent. That night I was and his words stuck. I returned home, knackered, penniless (no pay again) and deflated. The words played again and again and I thought ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself out there?’ I walked for about an hour and I was so down I thought about never playing live again but ultimately I came to the realisation that I was addicted to playing live and it wasn’t going to happen.

Dublin, 2014. Czech Inn, Temple Bar. No cash- free pint, She Speaks is the band. It has been a year since I have played a gig (I am excluding playing at school masses and grads) I need this. Energy flowing, adrenaline rushing. New band and an original set. Playing is a type of madness, half of the band are mad nervous and the other half are jumping out of their skin and ready to have the ego stroked. Then the first note comes and the four of us are surfing the moment. The shakes recede, the nerves dissipate and we all begin to let go. The flow takes over and for a little while the four become one. We bounce off each other. Rebecca, our singer does that little shuffle she does with her hands, Skip beats the drums, Wayne lets go on a guitar and my neck moves like a bobble headed toy that you find in a car. We start to smile, we start to let go and in that moment nothing can touch you. There is no sadness, no worry, no stress there is just the moment. When you first play gigs that moment can be scary-you don’t know what it is- but after a while you gain experience and you know what that moment is: Joy. Happy Christmas all and may you find that ever elusive joy that you seek.

37.

 

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Age is more than a number. The body eventually changes. With that comes the realisation that some of the dreams you once had must be consigned to history. Dreams are the hope of better things to come and the failure to live up to them is the cold reality of the passage of time. We make narratives of our life, we socialize members of society into the belief that life will pan out a certain way. Boy will meet girl, fall in love, have a family and all will be well in the world. God is in his heaven. However, there comes a point in one’s life were expectation must be tempered by sobering thoughts.I am now in my late thirties, I am single and the dream of happy families recedes as the days pass. It is now likely that I will never be a husband, it is now likely that I will never be a father and by extension a grandfather. In many ways there is a profound sadness in writing that as it is an acknowledgement that, in many ways, love has passed me by but there are millions like me. Have we failed? It is possible that we have. We (and by we I really mean I) won’t get to pass on my experience, my wisdom and my love. Depressing isn’t it? Yes, but that is what being an adult is all about, dealing with the dreams that pass us by and in the end I am reminded of the words of Joseph Conrad “No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence–that which makes its truth, its meaning–its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream–alone.”

Gravity, De Beauvoir and other moments.

 

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I finally got around to viewing Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity and I have to say I was suitably impressed. I know the scientific community were giving out about the mistakes but ultimately I felt the film was less about scientific accuracy and more about the isolation, loneliness and the interiority of grief. Sandra Bullock plays Ryan who, apart from being on a spacewalk which goes disastrously wrong, is dealing with her own personal tragedy. Out in space, self-contained in her spacesuit she comes to embody the manner in which grief both isolates and can, for a time, come to define us and the ways we cling to it to survive. It is a simple conceit but an effective one. However, it also reminds us that death is the ultimate existentialist idea, for it is in facing death, and therefore thinking about life, we ultimately give meaning to that life. Being in the realm of existentialism got me thinking that at the core of the film is femininity,or more properly the idea of femininity, just like that other great Sci-Fi epic Alien. Space becomes the locus were, to use the De Beauvoirian idea, immanence and transcendence can occur. Females throughout history have only existed in the interior space according to De Beauvoir and could not transcend beyond. In the beginning Ryan is trapped in her interiority, literally by her space suit and figuratively by her grief and her sense of motherhood. The image of the womb is implicitly made when Ryan enters the International Space Station but she transcends the womb (representing essentialist ideas of the female) to drive outwards from herself and in doing so begins to leave behind her grief and her fear. Finding the will to live she transcends the moment, writes her own script (and in doing so illustrates the triumph of existentialism over essentialism) and cuts the umbilical cord. In cutting that umbilical cord she shows that we can move beyond ideas of what we should be and also that the grief we carry when we experience loss does not need to define us or our future. Ryan also faces her own existentialist crisis, she momentarily loses hope and nearly surrenders to the vast nothingness. Yet it is her love that wins over despair. Kierkegaard states :’Love hopes all things – yet is never put to shame. To relate oneself expectantly to the possibility of the good is to hope. To relate oneself expectantly to the possibility of evil is to fear. By the decision to choose hope one decides infinitely more than it seems, because it is an eternal decision.’ Ryan, in choosing hope makes that decision and finds the hope in living. De Beauvoir once said ‘It is not in giving life but in risking life that man is raised above the animal; that is why superiority has been accorded in humanity not to the sex that brings forth but to that which kills.’ In a way, Ryan illustrates that she can do both: she can give live, both to a child and herself, and she can kill the past which holds her back. At the end of the film she is reborn and free to create herself anew. In my mind Sci-Fi should deal with complex themes and make us view the normal at a different angle at that level Gravity worked for me. Go watch it!

Fiery the angels fell (and other moments)

I want to talk about a beautiful film that lives long in the memory. Don’t you love when a movie does that? I can never forget the soliloquy at the end of Blade Runner, you know the one…the one about the rain and life. Odd thing about Blade Runner is that it’s sometimes ignored by sections of the viewing public because it is Sci-Fi. Genre plays an important role in how we decide what to watch. Up to a point cartoon films were firmly in the genre marked: Children’s movies but somewhere around the late nineties Pixar began producing animation that had nods and winks to the parents in the audience and all of a sudden animated films became socially acceptable. Of course, Pixar are not short of money so their films are very slick and digital: high-end stuff that teaches simple enough morals about the values and mores of the western world. The film I want to talk about is the opposite in every way firstly it isn’t digital secondly it is black and white and thirdly it is set in the Islamic world. Persepolis is a 2007 film based on Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel of the same name. Persepolis means city of Persians and the story is a Bildungsroman of a young girl called Marji as she comes to terms with the effects of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Again, we are in a different world from Pixar et al as this films deals with politics, religion, revolution and the way in which the individual deals with all three. It is also a film about love: familial and romantic love and the ways in which Marji has to deal with the beauty and pain that exists in both.

 

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Like all good history it allows us to make sense of seismic events through the eyes of the individual. It constantly reminds us that behind ideology there are human stories and behind every revolutionary dream there are groups willing to seize power and clamp down on dissent. We see the downfall of the Shah and the rise of fundamentalism in Iran as one torturous regime leads to yet another oppressive regime. It is the classic story of revolution: we have the revolutionary moment leading to rupture and then the return of the status quo. Marji is a rebellious girl and her ideas of the world clash with that of the new theocratic leadership for one she likes to listen to punk and heavy metal. This is itself is an act of revolt as it is perceived as western and decadent by the powers that be. We see the way in which girls and women lose their freedom in the new Iran we see Marji packed off to Europe (where she meets discrimination due to her nationality) and we see her spiral into depression due to everything she has experienced and witnessed. Revolutions, more often than not go wrong and it is the masses, the ones that had suffered previously, that suffer all over again. I don’t want to spoil the ending but it lives long in the memory and serves as a fitting coda to what has gone before. Yes, Persepolis may not be highly polished in the way that animation has become under the digital age, you may not be able to see every hair individually move or there may not be countless references to other franchises but for all that it is a movie that deals with, rather than nods at, adult themes whilst all the time wearing its heart on its sleeve, which is no bad thing. Go see it.

 

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