Sunday, August 24, 2008

Clarisse?

Saw this on Gawker (that's right-I read Gawker. It's hilarious) and it made me laugh my ass off, so I had to share it with you. This is a clip of a local weatherman and a local future-murderer.


Monday, August 4, 2008

The Troubles and Marching Season in Belfast

“Eejits,” says the grey-haired man in the woolen newsboy cap to me. “But there will be eejits wherever you go.”

I am Michael Whelan’s pub in Glasnevin – just a neighborhood place where it seems that a dozen or so elder gentlemen gather each Sunday to watch race car driving on the television sets as they sip their various pints of Guinness. After the grey-haired man in the woolen cap asks me from where do I come and we introduce ourselves to each other, I begin to tell him about the weekend in Belfast from which I am returning. I have not yet made it back to Suzanne’s house, which is where I stay and just around the corner from Whelan’s, and so I am carrying with me my luggage and am wearing my Ireland track jacket. Emblazoned on the left shoulder of this jacket are the green, orange, and white colors of Ireland’s flag.

I tell the man that the Orange had been marching during our stay, as it had been Marching Season in Belfast. I tell him of the almost palpable tension that I felt in the air there – about how I felt in broad daylight the need to keep my eyes especially focused on everyone who passed me in the streets and about how I shied away from talking to most of the girls in the Belfast clubs at night for fear that a striped polo-wearing and British accent-bearing boyfriend or brother would beat me indiscriminately. Belfast felt as though it was a place where such things happened.

I relate to the man that I told myself and the three girls I had gone with that I was going to keep my mouth shut during our weekend in Belfast, and that the four of us had commented several times during the trip that the people of Belfast seemed somehow to constitute a rougher crowd than did the Dubliners. None of us could quite put a finger on it, but we all felt as though we were being watched somehow and that we were at all times in a bit of danger.

I continue, telling him that within the first few hours of our arrival in Belfast I was approached by three fast-talking and gawky-looking teenagers with train tracks running across their teeth. They suggested to me that I remove my Ireland track jacket, as the patch on the left shoulder bore the colors of the I.R.A. They told me that I shouldn’t be wearing the jacket in Belfast and that I should instead be sporting a patch that bore the red, white, and blue colors of the Union Jack. They understood my ignorance, they told me, because they could tell from my accent that I was a foreigner. And yet they informed me that I should not wear the jacket anymore. Soon after the confrontation I returned to my room at the Belfast International Youth Hostel and hung the jacket on my bedpost, which is where it remained for the duration of the trip.

Continuing my story I tell the man, who was by this point simply shaking his head from left to right and right to left, that later that evening at Robinson’s nightclub I half-jokingly told another companion of mine that he may want to consider removing his sweatshirt, as it bore the name of his high school, Marion Catholic. We laughed at the prospect for a moment, and yet the shirt was tied safely around his waist within five minutes.

“Eejits,” he reiterated, shaking his head now with his eyes closed. “Eejits.”

But there was more, I tell him. The next night, on our way downtown, my companions and I nearly stepped on a pile of what must have been nearly two dozen large gold bullets, most of them fastened to a bandolier. The bullets must have been three inches long and had sharp-looking tips. And there they were on the sidewalk, piled uneventfully underneath an A.T.M. machine. A companion of mine told me that they could not have been real – toys. But I told the man that they looked real enough to me.

“You know, they say that the Troubles are over ever since they signed the treaty ten years ago,” says the old man to me, finally opening his eyes and looking at me. “But they are still going on up here,” says he, making the shape of a gun with his thumb and his index finger and nuzzling the barrel against his right temple.