Here’s a new post I did for the fine folks at Quirk Books, about two of mankind’s greatest creations: alcohol, and literature.
Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I love being Irish. I hold a great deal of pride in the culture, a feeling ingrained in me by my father since a very young age. We also know, of course, that I do enjoy drinking (as if the homebrewing section of my website weren’t enough of an indicator). That being said, St. Paddy’s Day (and that’s “Paddy” for Pádraig, mind you. “Patty” is a girl’s name, or what you might call a hamburger) inspires some conflicting feelings within me. I love the celebration of my heritage, and the recognition that it brings to such a unique and fascinating culture. But I find myself being constantly aggravated at the Plastic Paddies and rampant racism that accompanies the holiday. Sure, I plan on heading over to the pub on the 17th to enjoy a few pints, but that’s not all there is. I plan on taking in a few Irish seisiuns, enjoying the music and the culture of Ireland, in addition to the drink. Too many people are happy to diminish the accomplishments of the Irish people and reduce us to alcoholic slobs. And while a great many of us do take to the drink — as well as there are many who actually suffer from alcoholism, which is far from humorous — there’s much more about the Irish to celebrate. Unfortunately, most complaints about the depiction of Irish stereotypes in American culture are quickly brushed aside as essentially “white people problems.” Despite the fact the Irish are generally an accepted — and celebrated — culture in modern day America (especially in Boston!), many seem to forget the years of struggle that our ancestors went through. Sure, it hasn’t much affected me directly — no one’s ever called me a “white nigger,” or pointed to a sign saying “No Irish Need Apply” — but it affected my family, and thus, it’s had affect on how I grew up and who I am today.
This week’s post on Five By Five Hundred is brought to you by Brian Boru, Flann O’Brien, James Joyce, Fionn MacCumhaill, Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett, Cuchulain, Maewyn Succa, and all of the other bright and brilliant faces of Irish culture that have had a positive impact worldwide.
(also, while you’re at it, I suggest you check out The Shore, the newest Oscar-winning short film by Terry George)
You know that friend who you always see at parties and when you’re both drunk s/he is totally your best friend and you talk about everything, but then when you’re sober and back in the real world, it’s awkward because you’re not really actually friends and you don’t hang out or anything and then you see him/her on the street and it’s totally weird?
Yeah. You know the one.
Today on FiveByFiveHundred.com, I share my own story of my favorite drinking buddy from the local pub who I don’t actually know. His name is Paul.
Alright, so my commitment to posting a new cover song every 2 weeks has fallen behind. I’ve been recovering from a sinus infection, which of course has rendered me unable to sing.
But serendipity shined its smiling Irish eyes on me, and I was able to finish just in time for the Feast of Saint Patrick (one of my personal favorite holidays). This entry into the Song of the (Bi-)Week series is a cover of “Streams of Whiskey” by the Irish rock group The Pogues. This song pays homage to two of my favorite things: drinking whiskey, and Irish playwright/author Brendan Behan, who is also the namesake of my favorite local pub (where I often enjoy drinking whiskey). The original song is an sloppy, upbeat drinking song in 4/4 time; my version follows more in the tradition of Americana, complete with plenty of lap steel guitar, and converts the meter to 3/4 time.
Enjoy, and have yourselves a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!
Every Wednesday, literary blog The Things They Read has a feature called Where We Live that focuses on, “the different places that writers and readers live, in a deeper sense than simply geography — the mental and emotional space they inhabit during their creative lives.” This week’s article is by yours truly, and explores the Brendan Behan Pub in Jamaica Plain, one of my personal favorite bars in the entire universe, and the lost art (in America) of pub writing. Take a look, have a pint, and enjoy!