If it’s January then why isn’t it colder? It doesn’t matter, I don’t care. I like that it is mild, no, not mild, it’s definitetly crisp but not quite cold. It is better than the snows that plagued us this time last year. There arn’t that many people around, I guess it’s not the right time of year for shopping although you couldn’t tell by the lights. The lights are bright and warm and glimmering and tease that Christmas hasn’t quite left us yet. There is a man with a saxophone, a man playing jazz. I think this is a movie, it’s too idyllic to be real. I know the tune, I definitely know that song. I’m inclined to think it’s Baker Street because isn’t that all you ever hear jazz buskers play, but it’s not. What is it? I can’t quite place it and then I do and I feel a giggle rise. Westlife. A jazzy take on Westlife. Everyone else already knows, we’re infected. We’re smiling.
It’s just a night at the end of Winter in Dublin. Dublin, you are beautiful.
I’ve been talking a lot about inspiration lately. How to find it, how to harness it. But sometimes the hardest thing to do in temrs of inspiration is to remember it. Stay on top of it. It is so easy to be too busy to be inspired, to live each day saying that you will do something or go somewhere tomorrow or the next day. You can close your eyes to the inspirations that inspire you. Delibrately. You put blinkers on because it is easier to never be inspired than to realise what you could be doing and ignore it. You are working, you are tired, you should spend your time doing something better, something more productive, something that will get you somewhere. Nothing will get you further than follwing through with your inspirations no matter the format they take.
Don’t wait for your inspiartions to pass, it doesn’t matter what they are. It doesn’t matter what they arn’t either. Take them for what they are and believe that they are worth your while.
Sometimes…well actually most times, I wish things stayed the same. Not exactly the same because then obviously we wouldn’t be here and our ancestors would have never met our ancestors and there would be no procreation and really it would all just crumble and there wouldn’t be much left and the more you think about lack of change the more it messes with your head but take it back and think about lack of change in regard to the smaller things. Think of lack of change in regard to friends. Not making new friends because new friends are the best thing in the world (I realize I’m getting more and more specific In what I am excluding from changing) but change in old friendships. Some grow stronger but they are only the really special ones. What about the friendships that weaken and drift and eventually fizzle and become an organized plan to have coffee and an awkward conversation? And you want to revive them but you can’t because their time has passed and it’s the worst thing ever because you want to be back in their prime because you remember how golden it was and now it’s not. Now it’s grey and forced and shit.
What about when you do something and regret it because it’s changed the way it is and nothing can ever go back to the way it was. I suppose you can say this happens whenever a person does anything. Everything you do has an effect on somebody else and usually more than one somebody, it might not be a big effect but it’s an effect. But then there are the things that you do that effect the way things are massively and not necessarily in a bad way but it has changed things and the new might be good as well but you still miss the old because the old was great. Does that mean that we never appreciate the new? At some stage the new will become old and if we always cherish the old, are we never appreciating it when it’s happening? I actually don’t agree with that. I think I do appreciate things when they’re happening. I know how unreal a particular time is when I’m living in it but I make the mistake of thinking it will last forever. I know how special it is, I just always think now will live on forever and never end. I think it would be perfect if now never did end, it was just always added to.
We talk about karma often. We say that when good things happen to us it’s because of something we did, that now means we are deservant of whatever new good has come upon us. But what we never think of is when we are the movers and shakers of karma. When we inflict good or bad on someone because of what they have done to us. Although karma is largely in the stars, it comes into our own hands as well.
Yesterday I was in the library. I was all ready to start a day or productivity when I realized I had no pen. Disaster. So I went all the way down the three flights of stairs to the librarian. I didn’t want to ask another student because I knew they would need their pens, I didn’t want to disrupt their work flow.
“Do you have a pen I could borrow?”
Silence. Cue, steely glare…”for a while…”
Why couldn’t he have just smiled and handed me the pen? He was giving it to me either way. He works in a library office space, there are probably boxes of pens at his disposal. So I kept the pen, not just for a short while, not just for a long while, but forever, now this is my pen.library
Who said our generation don’t fight for what they believe in? Who said that we are lazy? Who said that sit-ins and sleep ins woke when the sixties passed? For those who did, take a look at Shebeen Chic. Take a look at the protests and petitons and lock ins that are taking place in the…what do you call the decade after the noughties? Well whatever it is, take a look at what’s happenig today. Take a look at Shebeen.
Step back, for those of you who don’t know Shebeen. basically and geographically it’s a bar, restaurant and performance space on the corner of Dame Street and George’s Street. On a deeper level it’s a bar that became the regular for those who wanted more than the local. It’s good food, casual drinks and free entertainment wrapped in an electric atmosphere. The kitschy, alternative bar, with its vintage lamps, velvet chairs and upturned art isn’t an everyday find. It’s a place where comedians, musicians and even tarot card readers can exploit their talent. It offers free movies and different kinds of music (last time I was there they had was swing dance in the basement!) but isn’t so alternative it’s pretentious and uncomfortable. In fact it’s the opposite, it’s friendly and welcoming and wonderful. On top of that, it’s one of the only places left with atmosphere rather than profit at the forefront of it’s mind and it’s this mentality that has kept the establishment ticking over.
Stop. Then what is this article about? If it’s a popular and profitable business then where is the problem? You’re waiting for the revolution, right? Well the problem lies with the powers that be. Now sorry to go all facts and figures but this bit’s important. In 2008, when Shebeen was first opened by Jay Bourke (he owns and has owned a few other places round town you might know-Café en Seine, The Globe, Rí Rá) the rent was set at €100,000 a year. If this is the case, which according to Jay Bourke it is, then there is no problem. There’s a spanner in the works though as Cessna Ltd, the landlords, are saying rent was supposed to be €166,000 and Shebeen therefore owe money. Problem. Landlord resoluton? Get the High Court involved. So the High Court give Shebeen an eviction notice stating that they must be out by January 31st 2012 but after Shebeen were five days late paying legal fees for Cessona Ltd the date was bumped up to October 10th 2011.
Now here’s the inspiring part that will unleash all of your inner hippies. The staff said no. The High Court said get out and the staff simply said no. They are not in arrears and though there have been problems with late payment in the past there are currently no such issues. It is a profitable business. It is an artistic space unlike anything else in Dublin. Nothing is adding up so we will not leave is the motto of the staff and to prove their point, they’ve staged a sit in. The staff have been eating, sleeping, living and breathing Shebeen Chic, refusing to leave the premises in case the locks are changed while they’re gone. It still opens for business and it’s staff are still being paid. There is nothing sneaky going on on the side of Shebeen and to prove it they’ve offered the landlords a number of options. They’ve asked can they stay until a new premises is found or a new tenant has come in, they’ve asked can they stay put under ownership of Orlagh Murphy, a manager (a suggestion Burke is more than happy to comply with) and they’ve tried to agree on a lower rent (come on, there’s a recession!) but Cessona Ltd have brushed off all such options despite Burke having agreed lower rents with other landlords for many of his other properties. Why would anyone (ahem Cessona) want to squelsh this place?
If you’ve been there before and you can see where I’m coming from, pop down and sign the petition. If you’ve never been before, now is the time to start. Your support will be invaluable. In times like these we should be supporting one another, preserving jobs and nurturing artistic talent in all of it’s forms. Take a stand. Sign the petition. Save Shebeen.
I spent a Summer in New York. I don’t know how to start describing it. It’s like somebody asking you to describe where you grew up or where you live now. It’s impossible to know where to start describing the familiar. I know it was only three months but we had our own world, separate to this one, in that apartment in Brooklyn. A different time zone in another time. Those three months were their own lifetime.
Start. No-one ever has a key. Ever. Too many (or should I say so many? Too many implies that it was regrettable, it wasn’t it was a day to day regularity that now ignites a funny and giggly fondness) times one of us was locked out because, unfortunately when we buzzed Apartment 8, nobody was home. It was ok though, usually one of the five, eventually whittled down to two friends we had in Apartment 2 were there. The reason no-one ever had a key was because usually they weren’t needed. There was always someone there. Loneliness was not familiar feeling. Once the buzzer had been buzzed or they lock unlocked, you started the ascent. Fourth floor. Doesn’t sound too bad. Let me put you in the mindset. Stifling New York humidity, usually laden with bags of food or shopping or a change of clothes from your day in work. Four flights of stairs isn’t so alright now, eh? You enter. Maybe the apartments clean, maybe it’s not. More than likely the latter. You climb onto the bed or out onto the fire escape. Top floor. No restrictive level above you. You can stand up. On my last day I screamed a squeaky good bye to New York from that fire escape. It was from this fire escape that you felt most New York. It is where the best chats are. It is where when during the heat wave inside was too hard to take we took refuge.
Location. Brooklyn. Not Williamsburg. Not Dan Humphrey Brooklyn (Do you watch Gossip Girl?) but Southern Brooklyn. The Brooklyn that housed it’s own mini China town and its own mini Mexico. We were part of mini Mexico-Sunset Park to be exact. Some told us it was dangerous, giving it nicknames like Gunset Park. I don’t know where they were but we were never scared. We were part of a community. We knew the local shop keeper (he gave us cheese and told us how to set up the mouse trap when we became victim to a vermin invasion). Sunset Park gave us the comfort of home, of being part of something and of knowing your neighbours that is not usually associated with New York. There was a swimming pool a block up. Another refuge…except for when it was evacuated because one of the local summer camp kids had puked or shat or something. Yeah, that happened…more than once. We were about forty minutes from Manhattan and yet we still made that trek almost every day. Why? Because we could. Because we were on the world’s doorstep and a 40 minute train ride to get to it really wasn’t much of a hinderence at all. A 40 minute train ride and you could have anything, or be anywhere. At the hub of the world in Times Square, a million miles from anywhere in a corner of Central Park, anonymous in a coffee shop or book store. Be alone, make a friend, bring a friend, bring someone you hate. You’ll find something to talk about. It’s New York.
We were broke. Some of us more than others. A few spent on credit cards, others worked non stop. But it never seemed like hassle, even when the debt was racking up, it didn’t seem real. With the words “I’ll pay it off when I get home” cropping up over and over again. Home and the end of Summer weren’t real. They were like trying to remember a dream you had last night and it’s now 3pm. The harder you try to recall it, the further it slips away. It’s a bit more of a vivid nightmare once you reach so-called home…
There were definitely things I’d change. I didn’t embrace it to the maximum, I still left with a list of things I hadn’t done, maybe I worked too much. Maybe I got caught up with the unescapable consumerist aspect of New York. Maybe I should have wanderd around Soho or Greenwich or Central Park more. Maybe instead of spending my money on new clothes I should have saved and taken that trip to Chicago I kept talking about. But I didn’t and maybe that’s a good thing. Because now I know I’ll go back. I have to. New York, I’m not finished with you yet