DOWN with the kids

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Sometimes I look in the mirror and see Henry Hill in the final scene of Goodfellas. That moment when he realises the mundane future,  that expression of weariness stares back at me. I’m not old or young: I’m in the middle, the horrible middle youth. Too young to retire and give up, too old to join a band. Too exhausted even to bother with a mid-life crisis. The span between 30 and 50 is as demanding mentally as the hormonal mess of teen years, filled with the same ‘what the fuck?’ moments every morning when you open your eyes. Is this middle youth? Or something else?

Now, I’m a professional something, with a wife, child, mortgage, car loan, two dogs and a non-stick pan. I’m also an uncool, balding, cynical, wrecked shell of a human, who has finally lost control of the handlebars, looking at music reviews, wondering at what point I started missing all the new bands.  My interests aren’t represented in the media, I am unlikely to harass Joe Duffy of an afternoon, am Irish but not that Irish kind of Irish. Demographically speaking I’m from that group who drink heavily, mangle the guitar, play playstation, write, work in a demanding job and worry about money all the time. If that is a demographic.

FASHIONLESS FREAK FASHION BITCH

My dressing room of disaffection contains black t-shirts, black jeans, black boots, pretty much the same uniform since I was eight, but I was cooler then. The use of branding or logos is prohibited by a demented code I developed as a teen. Colour is always the enemy, as is self-help. I am Max Schumacher in an Anthrax t-shirt.

Why? There is nothing that irritates my soul more than when I see people with GAP or FITCH illuminating their chests. Why be a walking billboard? People are conditioned to wear clothes from the many outlet stores that have popped up because they are on special offer and some weird set of unwritten fashion dogma tells them that a little alligator on their shirt will make their peers sit up and demand to know who this fantastic character is. If you’re not going to bother then don’t. Or else become a hipster, but then again I don’t really know what a hipster is. Someone with skinny jeans, no defined muscle mass and cardigan buttons in their earlobes, right?

I do not react well to that market which feeds us. Maybe I’m William Gibson’s Cayce Pollard, who had a pathological sensitivity to logos and brands. Yet, I’m also that loser who wears band t-shirts at age 37, ha! I met a guy in the lift in work a few years back who commented on my Front 242 t-shirt, sarcastically pointing out that he used to wear such t-shirts before he stopped being angry at the world. I stared at this chinless, overweight shit and resisted the urge to punch him. Who is not angry at this world? Oh.

MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO PARENTS

It all comes down to my teenage obsession with music and how certain people remain consumed throughout their lives. Others choose to drop these childhood things and wear ties and jodphurs and place Dido on their stereos as it is unlikely to offend anyone. People like myself, whose religion changed after hearing Nick Cave’s “Tender Prey,” feel heartache that the underground we loved is now sponsored by mobile phone companies. We grew up with American or British punk, metal, indie, goth and dance music, not because we didn’t love our country, but because the rare Irish gems faded quickly. We listened to those influential groups long before their recent wallet-filling comeback tours. These days I can’t even listen to the amazing Pixies without a sick feeling in my stomach.

I wonder how weird will it be bringing my son to a Metallica gig when he’s old enough? A guilty pleasure since the age of 11, the thrash metal behemoth stopped being any good after 1988, yet like Fall gigs you go to see them live just in case it’s the last chance you get. The anxiety-ridden metallers are not an underground band from the Bay Area anymore, but a corporation in their own right. During their set, a few years back, I stood happily drunk and watched a man with his son on his shoulders. They were both in awe at the spectacle. Ah, one day, yes, one day, I will force my son to see Metallica and demand that he sit on my shoulders regardless of his age.  Later that night I high-fived the kid a few times until the father got uncomfortable and moved position.

Growing up we watched everything that was new and cool, tried to race ahead of hungry marketeers who needed to commodify everything that we loved and ultimately destroyed any feeling we had for it. The music marketplace annihilated itself because of arrogant executives who didn’t believe in the power of the internet. The tools of production and the ability for music to be uploaded to sites means anyone can be a musician and exist outside of the limitation of record companies.

Oddly this has meant that us middle-youthers get to experience the thrill of our youth for a second time, because the bands of my youth are either starting up again or never stopped. They know that they will make more in this era’s consumer model than in the days when they were popular and influential. This isn’t brilliant news for the current generation. Thousands of new groups fall by the wayside: burning brightly and fading away, all in the space of six months. There are too many old bands releasing event albums and headlining festivals, filling the space young acts should.  Look around now, every festival is headlined by forty or fifty-something rebels with mortgages but no cause other than the derivative output of their generation. How many new bands will be plying their trade in 20 years? They’ll be gone, but there will probably be a new Iggy album.

THE MEATMARKET TURNED VEGGIE

Depressingly evil waking moment: Apple computers have control of my body! My fingers, eyes, ears and lumpy arse have been borrowed at a price by this corporation that constantly bangs me over the head telling me, “No, we’re not a corporation, but your friend. Look how well designed our products are, look how good they go with any room in your house. Doesn’t your dog look cooler standing beside the MacBook Pro? Quick take a pic with your iPhone. Hey is that Gun Club on your iPod?”

Typical though, I am such an old hypocrite, railing against the MAN for all these years, and it turns out the MAN is a geeky fucking hipster who sees even a mess of a human like me as an integral part of his marketing strategy. Apple have since the early nineties forced their oh-so-cool products on a wanton sector of society, the ‘we didn’t have that shit when we were young’ crowd. The age profile for the highest consumers of iPhone and iPad? 30-50, my age-group.

We are willing computer and internet junkies. We don’t see the little adverts flashing through our heads. Every site we go to has a shopping basket, ‘inviting’ us to exist in a global department store. We are the ‘cooler than our kids’ generation and being hooked up to the net, it is mournful for us because we remember the time before. The time before we lost our ideals, that golden time when we ran around fields and wished we had something to stop us from running around fields. Here’s an iPhone! Look! With this app, you can not only control your bowel movements, you can control other people’s too! That’ll be 99c, please.

STUCK IN THE MEDIA OF A SHITSTORM

We are always being informed by the media that we have a unique culture. Do the people who leave comments on the Journal have culture? Those poor bastards can barely raise their knuckles off the floor to actively miss the point. Yet, these are the people who engage with media, my compatriots.

Culture can be video games; gigs; sport; Hello magazine; drinking yourself to sleep after a hard day’s work; the occasional night out surrounded by massive televisions showing footballers at actual size in bars that used to be nice; hoping you will stay alive long enough to finish the many boxsets you are watching and hating Ryan Tubridy because, y’know, he’s Ryan Tubridy.

However, the Irish Times weekend magazine seems to think that the nation is full of upper middle class people who knit their children’s clothes, then wonder why the poor itchy fuckers get bullied at school. Do these things relate to my generation? ‘What to wear when killing foxes. How to stop people killing foxes. Are foxes spreading diseases and killing livestock? Are we too quick to dismiss the ways of the countryside even if it even means the odd fox will get ripped to pieces? How to make fox risotto, with cranberries and chestnuts, YES! CHESTNUTS!’

On the other hand, I am supposed to care about Georgia Salpa, Kate Middleton, Rosanna Davison, John Terry, David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Adele, Susan Boyle, Una Healy, Gerard Kean and Simon Cowell? The question is: would Michael Collins have made this country better or if he lived would he be just another big wanker? Look what happened to Bono.

HERE’S YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT SON. NO, THERE WAS NO CELLOPHANE WHEN I GOT IT

While some people are out on their mountain bikes, orienteering their fit bodies around grim mountains, others are spending large sums of money in restaurants to eat chips that just don’t fit in your mouth. A few still sit around and pray to gods who have nothing better to do on a Sunday morning. But then there are those who can tell key events of their lives based on what version of FIFA football they had at the time. Alternatively they are racking up bodycounts so impressive that their Level 50 status brings them to the attention of various military dictatorships, leading to their dream job: John Cusack’s character in Grosse Pointe Blank. The only downside being the eventual marriage to Minnie Driver’s enormous head.

Teenagers of 2013 have more problems than they realise. Not only are they dealing with the adolescent nightmares of peer pressure, alcohol/drug abuse, fraping, and pus all over their visages, now they’ll have to fight for control of their own game consoles from a growing population of aging gamers who remember playing Sonic and Mario and are damned if they’re going to miss out on the latest gems on the gaming market.

Adults my age play computer games. My Dad didn’t. Your Dad didn’t! The supposedly productive hours in our lives racked up in gaming universes mean that to ignore the incredible new games and game engines wouldn’t be fair on us.  These worlds are so advanced that they transcend the divide between traditional adult entertainment of movies and television. The ability of some games like the Call of Duty series to sell more units than any traditional media is pushing them into a prominent area. Pong is gone. The games developers know that their audience are not just kids, but stressed out adults with disposable income who demand quality and the ability to shoot someone in the face.

Alan Moore, the comic artist who created Watchmen and V for Vendetta, has talked about my generation’s retreat to infancy, pointing out that we didn’t really want to take the responsibility of being an adult in the world we live in, since it’s a pretty shitty world. Middle youthers, although that label is redundant, exist in some horrific Judd Apatow version of reality – minus the misogyny. We are immature, yet have mortgages. We don’t sacrifice our enjoyment of the world in order to survive. We vote the lesser of two evils then vote them out when they become all scaly monster. The church didn’t own us like it did our parents so the guilt isn’t really there. But middle age is real, it is coming and it will be interesting to see how the market is preparing for our generation’s needs. What games will we need? Which bands will still be touring? How will we fill our days? Is it wrong to read the New Yorker on the toilet? The country is a mess, but the market is depending on us not to grow up for a little longer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (ALL YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW)

Who ever met anyone like Sean Sherlock, the Minister of State for Research and Innovation (Ministry of made up ministries)? Where did he come from? Why does he represent my interests in this internet age? He is three years older than me, looks twenty years younger and smiles like he’s telling you to fuck off. I have never met anyone like him. Maybe I could befriend Sherlock, force-feed him brandy and digestive biscuits and while holding his hair over the toilet bowl as he vomits, demand to know why he is representing me. I might just get an answer. More likely, through the tears and snot he will tell me that he has no idea why at our age I am wearing a Cramps t-shirt, smelling of rum and covered in his sick.

182870_527665477279926_395253768_nThis bunch of words I did wrote was published in the summer issue of CULT magazine 2013.

 

Stretch Songs of Joy 2010 parto uno:damnation

Stretch here…again…sick, sick, sick, y’know how sick I am? I’m in bed with me sistah! (Thanks Fast Show)

It hasn’t stop snowing in 14months…This littul munki has been suffering influenza for 6 of those months, the Irlanda Government borrowed all the money on earth and forgot to pay it back. Little Squishy at one year, already has accrued debts thanks to the banky people and if people really think the Rubberbandits are going to cheer up the country, then people are fucked.

Look into my eye! I am not an Ewok!

Anyway, what happened in music this year?…Miley Cyrus researched a duet with Cypress Hill, by taking a hit from a bong, all the while recording it for posterity. Cynically, it ended up on Utub and Daddy Warbucks was disappointed. How disappointed? Well, he took his shiny belt off and our Miley sure knows what that means…Bonio had back problems which stopped him performing at onshore corporate rock site Glastonbury. Disappointed hippies had to make do with Stevie Wonder who slagged off Bonio saying that having no eyes didn’t stop him from performing…In Irlanda, the annual faction fighting festival, Oxegen, caused JowwwwDufeeee to peel his translucent skin off as stories of gang rape, stabbings, genocide, moider, people catching their death, casual racism and Eminem latest moanings were transmitted through the airwaves to the unemployed, the old and ne’erdowells who all got outraged for an hour and a half, then went back to reality…Finally, many Irlanda people lately have lined up to defecate on Gerry Ryan’s grave…the dead radio star’s penchant for coke seems to be more newsworthy than the rape of the Irlanda by men in white shirts. Miley Cyrus be aware!

Shit Robot – Take em up

Marcus Lambkin makes house music that sounds like eighties music which sounds like the future. It’s very cool and the vibe makes Stretch feel like dancing and I is not even at a wedding. At a wedding, the practice of dancing and holding a full pint of Smithwicks is a necessity. Putting the pint over a friend’s shoulder while screaming “New York! New York!” is another necessity. Waking up naked in the shower covered in vomit and flowers is not a necessity, but can happen, just that once.

Unkle – Natural Selection

I like this song…that’s it really. Nah, a band that grabbed my attention when I saw them at Electric Plink Plink. Wasn’t expecting much but got milled with loads more. The song concerns the need to find the “right one for me.” An interesting idea, if it truly exists. She is there, then she’s not, then she is, then she’s not…frankly, it’s probably meaningless. Still, this year Stretch hovered on the brink of utter out and out madness. In 2011, I will replace the word “hover” with the word “teeter,” until one day, I will just stand nearby making smart comments about the stupid brink.

The Fall – Bury! Pts 2&4

A lot of kids around my area seemed to have got prams for Christmas. I hope this is the case, coz a lot of the fat ones ain’t fat no more.The Fall, the Fall, the Fall… At that festival I have mentioned, Mark E.Smith apparently screamed at those Scottish lads, Mumford and Sons…Here’s what the Big E said “”We were playing a festival in Dublin the other week. There was this other group, like, warming up in the next sort of chalet, and they were terrible. I said, ‘Shut them cunts up!’ And they were still warming up, so I threw a bottle at them. The band said, ‘That’s the Sons of Mumford’ or something. ‘They’re number five in charts!’ I just thought they were a load of retarded Irish folk singers.”

Anyway, the Fall gave the best gig of the year at Tripod (according to Stretch taste) and their latest album, Your future Our Clutter is as good as anything they’ve done. Buy it and keep him in fags!

Underworld – Scribble

The award for the happiest song of the year goes to this. It is impossible not to throw your hands up in the air everytime he sings “And it’s okayayay,” unless you are John McCain, coz that’s just not going to happen… A good comeback album and a great gig in Dubalin sees them bringing back the nineties to those of us who haven’t left them yet. I was watching that thing about Live Aid last night and it made me think how awful the second one was… There aren’t enough threats in the world these days to cause Duran Duran albums.

Bonobo – Kiara

Winner of many awards and just the coolest fucker on the planet at any one time, this is the opener to Black Sands which continues Bonobo’s exponential growth. I know it’s an idealistic view, but if more people encourage their kids to listen to Bonobo and turn off the aul Xfactah, then the future will be bright and Simon Cowell will melt. This won’t happen, because there is always another cover version to do.Vote for the right Simon!

Right, that’s the first, more to come eventually, if I can get my shit together. Now, I’m going to see if rum really cures influenza

somebody won Xfactor

That’s right Stretch, somebody won Xfactor after 400 weeks of competition. Congratulations to that guy. Kudos offered.  I don’t know you, but who am I to piss on your parade? Kudos

Damien Dempsey: had had a hard thoime

We are all very happy for you. Everyone says so.

Damien Dempsey says “awwwww, well done brother, well done bud. Did I ever tell you I had a hard thoime growin up in the darkness that was me yute? Well did I? Dyawanna box?”

Glen Hansard says “Good on you fellow singer-songwriter genius. What her? I thought she was over 18, honest! didn’t even get a lap-dance. Feckin paid for a lap dance. That’s why we broke up, no matter what SHE says”

Phil Coulter says, “droooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeeee plink plink gas drooooneeee”

Bono says, “Fucking bitch, I can’t believe she did that to me! Hey yeah, well done the guy, yeah. Where’s me greasy palms? Rub one off and bedtime for Bono”

Seamus Heaney says, “Play doh wah-wah, smack-me-munki, smack-me-munki. XfaCtaah. XfaCtaah XfaCtaah. I go fuck XfaCtaah in the ass, even if she no lass. Me poet, you, fuck you! Wah”

Glenda Gilson stood there, looked lost and then fell into traffic.

Not sure any of them actually saw it but hey, fuck it, either did I, but the dude that won it is going to be very happy so there is no reason for me to be cynical and force razor blades of sarcasm that guy’s way. No reason at all.

And that’s all I’d like to say. Millions of people couldn’t be wrong. Well, except in Nazi Germany. They got it wrong, but they didn’t have Xfactor. And if they did, they would have voted the most talented person as Fuhrer. Easy peasy.

So just as Mary Jo Kopechne shouted out the window to the glorified Ted Kennedy in Chappaquddick

the drummer is like THE manic gerbil, make me laugh, not out loud, but quietly…shhh

The Older they get/Beached whale syndrome irks angry gibbon

Lately, looking at the artists who were part of my youth it’s hard to see them age. Morrissey at least looks like an older, bizarrely butcher version of himself. Mark E. Smith just looks like, well, like Mark E. Smith. Little man Bono seems to be getting smaller and fuck me, Robert Smith looks like Robert Smith’s creepy gin-soaked mother. I wonder what I’ll look like when I’m fucked? Hopefully more Mozza than Robbie! The last Fall gig I was at could have been the Paul Daniels magic show, complete with trash-hound Debbie McGee sidekick!

Time isn't just unkind, it's evil!

Time isn't just unkind, it's evil!

However, you can’t really get better than this, especially the lyric,

There’s a club, if you’d like to go.You could meet somebody who really loves you
So you go, and you stand on your own, And you leave on your own
And you go home, and you cry, And you want to die

That’s lyrics that Beyonce wouldn’t be able to come up with even if she inserted Albert Hoffman up her booty, while sucking on Oscar Wilde’s brain-stem!