Monday, March 29, 2010


If you're a regular reader, thank you. I'm out of steam lately, and want to take a little vacation from blogging. Perhaps for a month, perhaps for much longer. If I post in the near future, it will be visual work, only.

Photos! Maybe even actual art.

I'm excited. See you in the funny papers.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Music: Happy St. Patrick's Day with the Pogues and the Dubliners

Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners

I saw the Pogues at the Chicago Metro sometime in the late 80's, at the instigation of my neighbor Jennifer. A lot of neo-traditional Irish music seemed insipid and new-age to me, but these guys threw some punk into the genre. It's a damn good fit. Shane MacGowan was already in a punk band--the Nipple Erectors--when he met Spider Stacy in a London tube station. They named themselves Pogue Mahone, which roughly translates from Gaelic as "Kiss my ass." Performing here with the legendary Ronnie Drew and his Dubliners, MacGowan does OK for someone who appears to be outrageously drunk. Drew, who brought traditional Irish music back into the charts in the 1960's, was also the handsomest man with a white beard since God, Himself. I confess I felt a little crush while watching this clip.

Back to that show at the Metro. It was well before the Hibernian economic revival known as the "Irish Tiger." In short, there were a lot of Irish immigrants in the audience: big, rough men who probably had spent all day working non-union construction. I just remember one moment when they were all chanting in unison, like it was a football match. As we were leaving, one man wanted to hug us, which we somehow deflected.

On the fourth of July eighteen hundred and six
We set sail from the sweet cove of Cork
We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks
For the grand city hall in New York
'Twas a wonderful craft, she was rigged fore-and-aft
And oh, how the wild winds drove her.
She'd got several blasts, she'd twenty-seven masts
And we called her the Irish Rover.

We had one million bales of the best Sligo rags
We had two million barrels of stones
We had three million sides of old blind horses hides,
We had four million barrels of bones.
We had five million hogs, we had six million dogs,
Seven million barrels of porter.
We had eight million bails of old nanny goats' tails,
In the hold of the Irish Rover.

There was awl Mickey Coote who played hard on his flute
When the ladies lined up for his set
He was tootin' with skill for each sparkling quadrille
Though the dancers were fluther'd and bet
With his sparse witty talk he was cock of the walk
As he rolled the dames under and over
They all knew at a glance when he took up his stance
And he sailed in the Irish Rover

There was Barney McGee from the banks of the Lee,
There was Hogan from County Tyrone
There was Jimmy McGurk who was scarred stiff of work
And a man from Westmeath called Malone
There was Slugger O'Toole who was drunk as a rule
And fighting Bill Tracey from Dover
And your man Mick McCann from the banks of the Bann
Was the skipper of the Irish Rover

For a sailor its' always a bother in life
It's so lonesome by night and by day
That he longs for the shore
and a charming young whore
Who will melt all his troubles away
Oh, the noise and the rout
Swillin' poiteen and stout
For him soon the torment's over
Of the love of a maid he is never afraid
An old salt from the Irish Rover

We had sailed seven years
When the measles broke out
And the ship lost its way in the fog
And that whale of a crew
Was reduced down to two
Just myself and the Captain's old dog
Then the ship struck a rock
Oh Lord! what a shock
The bulkhead was turned right over
Turned nine times around
And the poor old dog was drowned
I'm the last of The Irish Rover

Irish Soul: Experiencing Shane MacGowan and the Pogues [Link]
The Pogues, a very drunk interview [Link]
Ronnie Drew (Obituary, Guardian UK) [Link]

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Music: The Madison

I've been out of music listening mode the last two weeks, but rummaged around in my YouTube favorites for a few long-neglected clips.

The Madison Dance was invented by William "Bubbles" Holloway at the LVA Club in Columbus, Ohio, in 1957. It was picked up by a dance/variety show in Baltimore in 1960, and the craze soon spread across the country. The Madison was lovingly recreated in the 1988 film Hairspray, directed by Baltimore native John Waters. The song which is most associated with the dance today is "The Madison" by the Ray Bryant Combo.

The Madison dance eventually spread to Europe, and beyond. It is apparently still a staple of parties in Cambodia. In 1964, in Jean-Luc Godard's film Bande à Part (Band of Outsiders) The Madison is jazzed up with jumps and hand claps. This sequence is just the apogée of cool.

It's Madison Time! (Columbus Music History) [Link]