Sunday, May 4, 2014

Galway away

   What flipping sunlight. What LA light wants to be when it grows up. Like the Guinness…this is light without pasteurization. Catholic light. It comes without protection.
   And the walls everywhere.  Light bouncing off stone after broken stone refracting into the heavy grass. 
   Fields dragged for stone over the centuries. It must have been hell - like eating bony fish with a spoon. Eating centuries worth of bony fish with a spoon - there's more loose rock in this country than the rest of the world. Every freaking 8th of an acre clipped in by wall after wall after wall. Amazing. And in every other back yard is a white horse and a couple cows, or a handful of the big fatties meandering around in the rocks and the mud. And the damn things never come say hi. You can't pet them for the life of you.
  (Word about the building trades in Ireland -or really Europe- there must be about 5 wholesale suppliers. Period. Once you roll into Irish suburbia all the damn houses look half done, naked, clipped together out of the same cheap dry wall propped around standard windows poked through in utter disregard for some kind of aesthetic balance- same vinyl siding, same dropped on rooves, same pale plasters, I mean they look like shit. Graceless, almost completely utilitarian without even a Spartan modernist charm I just don't get it. 
  It's not just me missing the ridiculous wealth of some American burbs where even among every 15 McMansions you'll find one castle well appointed by a wife with taste - no there's just no .... Design... To the euro burbs. They didn't build from their own vernacular for some reason. It's odd.
  Maybe it's me.
  Or us.
  The American fetishization of "THE HOME". Our obsession with the estate, each man's house being his castle so why not figure out 500,000 ways to standardize and miniaturize the details and signs of estatedom? Tack Chatsworth onto a 1/4 acre in Connecticut. Spend a year and a years salary "remodeling". The finished home answers all problems, supplies all needs, and shuts the door to the world. It's the outer armor of the married couple whose eggs have literally become the basket. Or vice versa….
   Europeans I think don't fall for it. They've been in apartments for so long even the the idea of a house,  what we'd see and call a shed or a fishing shack they'd call home and be happy with it. Their houses like their spouses aren't expected to be able to shut the world out, or carry its weight.)
   Annnnnnd, back to Galway. A last night doing as Romans do roaming from bar to bar looking for a decent band and finding several. For a one street town given over shamelessly to the State University model of bars! stores! and …more BARS!! they do have a pack of seriously devoted fiddlers.
  I sat on a stool in a corner of a place called Tis Coulis (?) which I think is gaelic for old house and I'm guessing because there used to be a crepe joint in San Fran called Ti Couz which in Breton means old house and we in the drunken Nineties hoped meant old something else, but the Galwegian bartender had watched a lot of tv so he was generous to me and to this kid I'd met on a hike thru the Burren Hills earlier that day.
   Went on a bus tour (yep) with a pack of germans driven by a man whose voice in both Irish and English was the aural equivalent of being basted in cat urine while Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music plays in the background. In long reasonable history of the Celts this guy was sui generic. Half Office cast member half Hannibal Lecter and half way thru the loop o' the sights after he turned the volume down on the Greg Kihn's greatest hits, the option was given. "Those who would like at the given time to make the hike over Brown Mt thru the Connolly farm and its many goats will be welcome and we will move on to the famous Alliwee caves and retrieve you up on the opposite side."
   I got the hell off and so did one other guy. And of course he's an actor from Montreal taking some time off after his auditions at the Bristol Vic and running from a lost love named Tasha in French Canadia.
  We walked over a scrabbled, rock-screed mini mountain mis-quoting Hamlet and Henry V and Pinter in the middle of nowhere a place dotted by cairns and tombs that Shakespeare and his well dressed London friends would have found ancient and quaint if they'd been here 400 year ago- we met some goats, three beautiful hunting dogs and a pair of Connolly brothers who'd just come back from University and looked a little dazed but happy that they'd decided to make a go of it with grandmother's farm. They made great hot chocolate and knew every wall, flower, and brackened gorse patch in the valley and when we told them finally how barking mad the bus driver was the older brother said the best thing Ive heard in an Irish accent thus far, "Yeah, guy's a dick."
    Return with me to the bar in Galway after "time" which means the bartenders just up and leave and people sit in the bar like nothing happened and continue to talk and listen to music. Me and Mark, Mr Canada, sat tapping our feet to the circling rhythms - the shit is like a hindu prayer wheel become music- its mesmerizing, when it's done you feel like you've been sent thru the wash cycle of your soul.
   I don't know if Im Irish or half Irish or an 8th but somehow it taps on the shin of my heart and involuntarily happily without the least thought or decision I move, I am moved to happiness.
    Well all the folksters went home to bed or to somewhere they only tell each other and I ended up in another bar this time more suited to Ann Arbor or Columbus Ohio or Happy Valley than the West Coast of Ireland. Two guys stood in the corner and played all the shit all the shit heads ask for and chant with and can't dance to and I wanted to teleport five angry guys from Mckees Rocks into the place so they could kick some gap year collegiate ass.
  I decided I'll drink one more beer and try and help Canada and Ireland mix genetic strains - when I got up to the bar one of the two guitar men yelled "Anything!! Come on people, we can play anything, try us."
  "Richard Thompson", I yelled over my shoulder as the Guinness sat thru its first draw.
   Woman yelled to them, " No don't play that…wait who IS that?"
   One of the Munson twins said "He's an Irish folk musician." To which I replied now beer in hand, "Right and Guinness is an Irish beer. Come on - something, something guys that sounds like you learned it here."
   And the bigger fellow stared at me and said, " You want something local? We'll give ya something local. "
  And they proceeded to sing Aerosmith's Walk This Way set to the tune of Galway Girl with the latter getting the second and last chorus.
   Utter bloody genius.
   I bought them both ridiculously expensive Whiskeys. Which they made fun of.
   Galway!! Good night!! We love you.



  1. Hi,

    In Breton old house is "ti kozh" ( pronounced tee coz ).

    Ti = Home

    Couz= Maybe it's like a nickname

    So, I think Ti couz can mean couz's home...

    It's funny because in familiar french " Ti Couz" could mean little cousin ( ti : petit , Couz: cousin)

    Have a nice day,

    1. Thanks Marie for the lovely Breton insight :-)
      I used to know some words and lost them!!!
      Vive la Bretagne ;-p

    2. You're welcome Hermia Titania. ( A Midsummer Night's Dream....I guess....good choice ;)