Canada’s Genie Bouchard Comes To New York To Make Her World Team Tennis Debut

How it’s New York: World Team Tennis, which has a local team, The New York Empire, plays here
How it’s Irish: All the teams have players and coaches from a wide array of countries including Canada, Great Britain and the US.

For tennis enthusiasts looking for a fix between Wimbledon and the US Open, there is courtside action to be found locally thanks to Mylan World Team Tennis, co-founded by Billie Jean King in 1973. World Team Tennis is like the tennis equivalent of minor league baseball, and offers fans a relaxed evening of on-court action, contest giveaways, amusing mascots, trivia and a lot of music. Literally after every point the announcer played a few seconds from a vast array of songs.  Last week the big news was the arrival of Canadian Eugenie Bouchard who joined the home team, the New York Empire, coached by two-time Olympic gold medal winner Gigi Fernandez.

Genie Bouchard

New York Empire Team Members Neil Skupski, Kirsten Flipkens and Coach Gigi Fernandez

I attended last Friday night’s match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing. There was a considerable amount of construction going on in preparation for the US Open at the end of August and the audience had intimate seats inside Court 17. The New York Empire faced off against the San Diego Aviators, the reigning champs. Along with Bouchard, the Empire, which is like a mini United Nations, included Americans Mardy Fish and Maria Sanchez, Brit Neal Skupski and Belgian Kirsten Flipkens.

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How A Sleepy Tuesday Morning Became Deadly History on 9/11

Shadow of the Twin Towers over NYC (By Cait Hurley from London, UK - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1102684)

Shadow of the Twin Towers over NYC (By Cait Hurley from London, UK – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1102684)

How it’s New York: I am a New Yorker, and this leg of the 9/11 terrorism happened in New York City.
How it’s Irish: I am Irish, and many of those killed were Irish, too.

We were a quiet, bleary-eyed lot: the usual passengers on the morning “N” train, commuting from our homes in Brooklyn to our jobs in Manhattan. When the train pulled to a stop in Nassau Street, some very animated people poured on – very unusual in both numbers and noise level. Most of us barely noticed, however: the noise was lively but unimportant.

Emailing my sister in Texas to tell our mother on Long Island that I was OK because the phones in NY were jammed with millions of calls.

When I got to the office across from Grand Central – my day job at a law firm – everyone was glued to the partner’s huge-screen TV: one of the Twin Towers had been hit by an errant jet plane! We were astonished that a flight pattern could go so awry, but a news update showed the second Tower hit. Our senses were assaulted with the unthinkable: the “mistake” was deliberate, and we were under a terrorist attack. When the first Tower imploded, this unflappable reporter ran out into the hallway and yelled that the Tower had fallen. The partner left his office open for us, the subways shut down until 4pm, and we all sat glued to TVs until we could go home.

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Pen, Paper and Palate – Frank Delaney raises the bar at The Half King

How it’s New York: Ruda Beresford Dauphin, the Director of Pen, Paper and Palate, and some of the panelists live here.
Marc Dolan, author of Bruce Springsteen biography, appeared at Pen, Paper and Palate

Marc Dolan, author of Bruce Springsteen biography, appeared at Pen, Paper and Palate

How it’s Irish: The moderator was Irish author and broadcaster, Frank Delaney; the musical entertainment was provided by Irish violin soloist, Gregory Harrington; and it was produced by the Irish Arts Center.

Often the academics of the writing world, biographers burrow into their research for years in an attempt to understand the essence of someone, and are not always the most exciting speakers. In spite of this, Frank Delaney hosted an entertaining evening at the 6th Pen, Paper and Palate on Thursday at The Half King in Chelsea, in which he deftly moderated a panel of five big names in the world of biographies.

The evening began somewhat wanly with the first few panelists giving dry responses, which sounded like prepared statements from their book tours, but things warmed up substantially with Bruce Springsteen’s biographer, Marc Dolan, who proved that he could start a fire, and injected energy into his words. (more…)

Sarah Fearon: An" AWoW Night on the Town" at the Metropolitan Room


One of the objectives of Artists Without Walls is to “promote members’ careers in the arts, whether they have already established themselves or are at the beginning of their artistic career.” 
With that in mind we’ve created an event called “Night on the Town” when members and friends can support a fellow artist by attending one of our artists’ events. Not only is it a nice show of support, but it’s also an opportunity for members to share an enjoyable evening together.  
imagesAnd so, we’re asking members and friends to join us for Artists Without Walls’ member Sarah Fearon’s comedy performance on March 1, 9:30 at the Metropolitan Room, located at 34 W. 22nd St. in Manhattan. Sarah, along with a select group of top comics, will be performing her latest stand up material, born of her numerous attempts at maintaining sanity in an insane world.

You can call the Metropolitan Room to make reservations at 212-206-0440, (Tell them you are booking to see Sarah Fearon). The weekend shows at the Metropolitan Room sell out fast so don’t wait to make reservations.  Tickets are twelve dollars.

Sarah is a very supportive of other artists and is often seen at members and friends’ events. It’d be great if we could show Sarah the same support she shows others. And, I’m betting it’ll be an evening filled with laughs and merriment. Who couldn’t use a night like that. 

Artists Without Walls www.artistswithoutwalls.com

http://www.newyorkirisharts.com/2013/01/90/

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This past Tuesday was one of those rare New York City nights I dream about. I hopped the A train to the The Half King pub at 23rd Street & 10thAve where they held the 4th anual “Pen, Paper & Palate
A Celebration of Irish, French and American Writing.” Held In partnership with the Irish Arts Center .
Frank Delaney, author, BBC host and Booker Prize judge, moderated on the topic “Autobiography and Memoir” with an fantastic panel, including Sebastian Junger, Edmund White, Rose Styron, Kati Marton & Andrew McCarthy(Yes, the iconic 80’s film actor & author of the recently released “The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down”).  The night was Curated by Ruda Beresford Dauphin.
I’m a documentary filmmaker, so I’m never without an autobiography or memoir in my bag.  The conversation was insightful and fun and Frank Delaney kept everyone laughing.
Afterward I had the chance to tell Andrew McCarthy how much his acting work in films like “The Breakfast Club”, “Pretty In Pink” & “Less Than Zero” meant to me. This memoir of his looks like a really good read.
Sometime the best Autobiography’s are from the most unexpected people.  I spoke with Frank Delaney and when I told him one of my favorite’s of this genre was “The Rag Man’s Son” by Kirk Douglas he light up.  “I interviewed Kirk a few weeks ago and I told him the same thing!”  We both agreed that it’s a seminal memoir.  In it Kirk says that “everyone should write there autobiography, even if they never show anyone”  I like that idea.
Traveling home that night I decided to get off one subway stop too soon in order to enjoy the rare warm December weather.  As I walked past City Winery on Hudson Street I looked in the window and spotted Paul Simon with a guitar in his hand just taking the stage.  Somehow I was allowed in the front door (having a camera around your neck makes people think you belong there). My timing was on as Paul Simon (along with Bobby McFerrin on vocals (!) and Esperanza Spalding on bass (!)) started to sing:
    Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
    Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
    Remember me to one who lives there,
    For once she was a true love of mine.
I closed my eyes so no one working at the club would make eye contact and kick me out.  When I opened them, just as the song ended and just short of tears, a doorman approached and started to speak.  I thanked him and headed out the front door.
What a night! Thank you New York.
The City Winery show was a beneifit “meant to shine a light on the issue of slavery and highlight Free the Slaves’ work ending slavery around the world,”  according to Sarah Gardner of Free the Slaves.
Please visit:
freetheslaves.net

Murphy Beds’ 1st Album is a Stunner

Originally published in the Irish Echo, 12-12-12.

Is there a better name for a US-based trad band than the “Murphy Beds?”  Comprised of Eamon O’Leary and Jefferson Hamer (each a singer and multi-instrumentalist; guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, what have you), this duo has just released their eponymous first album of traditional songs and it is a stunner – absolutely one of the finest and most satisfying albums I’ve had the pleasure to hear in a long time. 

Fans of trad music will certainly be familiar with O’Leary’s music.  A Dubliner living in New York since the early 1990s, he’s a widely respected backer (a short list of those he’s played with include John Doyle, Paddy Keenan, Martin Hayes, James Keane, Kevin Burke, Susan McKeown, Tony Demarco and Mick Moloney) and session leader (among others, he runs the popular Sunday session at the Brass Monkey on Little West 12th St in NYC; for more than ten years, he ran the legendary session at Mona’s with Patrick Ourceau in NYC’s East Village, out of which the seminal “Live at Mona’s” album came). 

Brooklyn-based Hamer’s name would be less familiar to fans of trad music, but it’s one well-steeped in the American folk and country scenes, through groups like the Single Malt Band and Great American Taxi, and with artists including Reed Foehl, Anais Mitchell and Laura Cortese.

O’Leary and Hamer have developed a special musical rapport over the last couple of years, largely at O’Leary’s Brass Monkey session, where Hamer is a regular visitor.  I chatted recently with O’Leary about how the music on this album developed, and he explained that not only was the album’s repertory agreed upon at the bar, but there, the duo’s approach to their repertory evolved over time (sometimes with the help of friends like fiddler Cleek Schrey and singer Ryan McGiver).

This process continued in the studio where they refined the subtleties of their arrangements even further.  It’s this organic, long term approach that makes this album sound so well-steeped and complete.

 Many tracks are noteworthy.  The album’s opener, “Rise Up My Darling,” a beautiful song of love and longing better known in its original Irish as “Eirigh Suas a Stoirin,” is here presented in an adaptation of Julie Henagan’s English translation.  It is given an lilting, intoxicating arrangement that draws the ear.  Other tracks, like “Sweet Bann Water,” “Young Emily” and “Navvy Boy” are given a similarly high quality treatment.  The track that stand out the most, though, is “Lovely Willie,” a song O’Leary learned from Fermanagh’s Paddy Tunney.  It’s haunting tale of love and murder that ticks along in waltz time, in an arrangement that envelops the listener in the essence of song’s story.

While O’Leary took repertory from a variety of oral and printed sources (including a couple from Sam Henry’s book, “Songs of the People”), Hamer brought several of the album’s songs from his own musical background, including “The Old Churchyard” (a song from Arkansas on which Hamer takes lead vocals), “Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still” (a long British ballad done here in fragments that again featuring Hamer on vocal) and “Come In (The False True Love)” (a song they learned from a recording of Shirley Collins).  Each of these tracks is great and spotlights Hamer’s prodigious musicality.

Folks interested the duet work of Irvine and Brady will love this album.  Like their predecessors, O’Leary and Hamer’s voices harmonize brilliantly.  But the Murphy Beds departs from that earlier model in that they both (especially Hamer) bring flashes of an old time/bluegrass “brother harmony” sensibility to bear on the traditional Irish element.  It’s an original and outstanding mixture that will have broad appeal.

This is a dangerously good album and I think one of the best albums out there at the moment.   If you’re in New York, the group is having a release party at the Brass Monkey on December 19 at 9:00.  To learn more and to buy the album (which is a great idea), visit www.murphybedsmusic.com.
In closing, let me congratulate the great Joanie Madden on receiving a USA Fellowships from United States Artists.  A fantastic honor, Joanie is only one of seven musicians (out of 54) to receive this prestigious aware and is the first Irish traditional musical artist to do so.  Go Joanie!

http://www.newyorkirisharts.com/2012/12/117/

 “The whole night was like fireworks,” playwright Janet Noble said of Tuesday night’s IAW&A’s Salon at The Cell.  The perfect blend of presentations and talent made for an electric evening. There were two singers, three one-person acts that included music, two films, a scene from a play and four writers reading their works. It would be hard to pick the evening’s highlight but Janet’s play,  Hello, Mr. Chops, was certainly a candidate.  The one act play was given an hilarious reading by, as Janet calls them, “two gorgeous actors,” Mary Tierney and Jack O’Connell. It was brilliant and as Janet added, “Completely unrehearsed.” Bravo!
Mary Tierney and Jack O’Connell

Singer/songwriter Tara O’Grady opened the evening performing a melancholic tune called, “An Cuileann Sul Glas” (The Green Eyed Girl). Tara was recently introduced to her ninety-five year old cousin, Packie Manus Byrne, the author of thousands of tunes and stories, and her lyrics tell the story of his secret…marrying a Protestant girl in England. Eventually, Packie Manus was faced with a harsh dilemma: Which funeral does he attend when his wife and his father die on the same day?  “This but begins the woe, a modern Irish Romeo. Deny thy father, oh he could not.” Tara’s songwriting skills are obviously in the blood.


Charles R. Hale presented a film that Lucy Mathews Heegaard and he created and produced called Judy Collins: A Life in Music and Video  The film was debuted at the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award event last week. Charles about the “creative process,” likening their work to a four movement classical symphony and how the “movement” of the images in the last section of the video called “Peace” were inspired by the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Third Symphony. “Like Judy Collins life, a triumphant,  heroic call for peace and goodness.”   

Guenevere Donohue

Guen Donohue once again combined her acting, singing and writing talents in a performance from her stage piece, Killer is My Name. Beginning with a haunting Irish funeral dirge known as keening, she then stood on a table and improvised her father’s time spent walking the beams while building the World Trade Center.  As she balanced “on the beam” she told of her father’s lost friends who “took the fall” as well as those who inhaled the asbestos, pronouncing that the buildings had taken lives before it had even been built. Her finale was an original song, “Revered,” yet another haunting vocal performance, weaving together the grandness and melancholy of the World Trade Center experience in the Sean Nos tradition. Poignant, beautiful, cathartic.

Brendan Connellan jumped up and told a fast paced tale of unhealthy addiction, frantic flirtation, tottering self regard, Burgerking bags of cash  and sorry and abrupt endings, taken from his Wall Street dark comic novel-in-progress, Trading Ninja. A great reading and we’ve come to expect from Brendan. 
Cathy Maguire

First time presenter Cathy Maguire brought her guitar and sang two beautiful tunes. One, “Portrait” is also the title song of her recently released CD and tells the story of the songwriter looking at a very old and worn wedding photo and wondering how their lives turned out. It was a great treat hearing this talented singer who was warmly received by salon crowd. 
Jim Rodgers






Jim Rodgers excited the listeners with a read from his new novel Long Night’s End. His Protagonist Johnny Gunn has given up on God after the death of his friend Jimmy. With despair and need he hits the stage with his local rock band. Rodgers’ prose swells with a musicality that puts you at the show as Johnny Gunn rides the music. That and the eyes of Molly, in the audience, are the only things keeping him from drowning in his misery. Is Jim suggesting that adultery might be one man’s salvation? A powerful no-nonsense reading.

Poet and designer Mikelle Terson, who is on the committee of the first New York City Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, which takes place Nov 7-10 at the Tribeca Grand, stepped up and asked IAW&A members to support fellow writers and film makers as well as helping wildlife by attending the festival.  

Kevin R.McPartland began the second half of the evening reading a short passage from his soon to be released novel Brownstone Dreams. In this short scene, Kevin describes the protagonist Bobby Dutton’s sad reflections at his grandfather’ s wake. Kevin also announced a slight delay in the release of his book by Boann Books & Media due to a glitch in the book jacket design and a final edit. Kevin is now anticipating a launch in the early spring.

Seamus Scanlon read from his highly regarded new collection As Close As You’ll Ever Be.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house! The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Mysterious Bookshop, Centre for Fiction, City College Bookstore and direct from Seamus (seamus.scanlon@gmail.com).
Malachy McCourt rounded out this dynamic evening with a few fine words and a stirring rendition of “Go, Lassie Go.” A perfect ending to the perfect event.

For more on the Irish American Writers and Artists or their salons, contact Charles R. Hale chashale1@yahoo.com  Salons are normally the first and third Tuesday of each month; however, the next salon will be on the second Tuesday of the month, Nov. 13, 7PM at the Thalia Cafe at 95th and Broadway. 
Photos by Cathleen “Cat” Dwyer

http://www.newyorkirisharts.com/2012/10/4139/

Dance:  Irish Dance Meets Toddlers in Tiaras or NOT


Before a competition, feis moms dutifully pack there Zuca Bags, caboodle boxes (I swear all real things) and dress bags with a plethora of dance supplies… wigs, make up, electrical and duct tape, ChapStick (not for lips but to adhere glitter to their eyes), glitter, staplers, sharpie markers, etc… Which leads me to a text from a dear dance mom friend with a picture of a bottle of WHITE OUT attached to it that read,  “Didn’t think this would ever be on my dance packing check list.” My response… “Funny of all the things we’ve packed through the years it’s a bottle of WHITE OUT that seems odd LOL.” Odd indeed… I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what in the name of the feis gods [we] would need White Out for but for fear of being under prepared I text back the universal symbol for “what the heck” … “?”.

Who knew Irish dance was just like any other sport?! They are always improving the equipment and thus we are always adding to our “Feis Kits”. On the dance market the new must haves are hard shoes that have a white rim that runs around the ankle opening.  That thin lip of white leather, carefully encircling the ankle of the dancer, is suppose to make their foot look compact and petite while dancing, thus magically improving their overall appearance and, one would hope, make them dance better. We Moms tell ourselves these lies, and a laundry list of others, as we justify our dwindling bank accounts for the sake of dance. Our hope is that the judges will notice our attention to the details, perhaps missing a dropped heel or a foot that is not pointed or arched—another lie.  And, while I am thankful Irish dance doesn’t promote the stick skinny idea of beauty, it appears from these shoes and the fact that we order them a size or two too small that big feet are a NO-NO.  Who knew it was my size nine boats that kept me from the podium in my day? I find it funny how much dance attire has changed over the years/decades. Gone are the days of the hob nailed shoes our ancestors wore that were oddly similar to what I wore as a kid. No taps, no fiber glass tips just rows and rows of tiny little nail heads covering the toe and heel of the shiny patent leather shoe.  Now I know that was long ago… long enough for a pair of said shoes to be listed under Irish/dance/old/hard shoes/antiques on EBAY. But these new shoes make me long for those good old days.

As I sit here now I can’t help but wonder if my mother would have colored the laces on my shoes to match the eyeholes? Would she have pack White Out to cover the scuffs and blemishes that dancing would create? I’m fairly confident that from beyond the grave I can hear her saying, “You must be daft.” The same way I heard her saying, “Now you’ve lost what little mind you had,” when I wrote the check for $1900.00 (more than double the price of my wedding gown some twenty years ago) for a dance dress for my 10 year old, which I bought in June and she out grew before the Oireachtas in November.

How did Irish dance morph into this combination dance competition/toddlers and tiaras sort of a world?  In my day the worst experience before a competition was for us to spend hours having curlers affixed to our heads by tough Irish mothers, a scene that was similarly played out before Christmas Day or any other major holiday or outing. So while I can see the connection to putting on your “Sunday best”, I don’t know how “Sunday best” came to mean your hair had to look like a rag doll’s or the dust mop I keep in the hall closet.  All I know is if my daughter came downstairs on Sunday morning dressed for church with her hair looking like it did in her wig I would say, “WILL YOU PLEASE RUN A BRUSH THROUGH THAT RAT’S NEST.”  And if she wore a dress short enough to show her knickers, covered in neon animal print, bedazzled to the hilt, I would ask her what corner she would expect to be working. 

I have seen dresses at competitions that look like they were on loan from the circus!!! Crazy patterns and color combinations that would have Heidi Klum saying “Auf Wieder Sehen,” if they graced the stage on Project Runway.  Yet we Moms buy them and tout the designers of them like they were Gucci or Louboutin—and let’s face it they are just about as pricey.

In class they dance in shorts and socks, with their hair neatly tied back. I love that… and I love to hear tough Irish dance teachers yelling counts over music I’ve listened to all my life.  I love the look on their faces when they accomplish a figure in a ceili that was once thought too hard.  I love when they are sweaty and exhausted, and yet still they are smiling. Nothing, not even a Swarowski crystal encrusted dress can compare to that.

So I say… bring back the simple clean lines… level the playing field… let the dancing be highlighted… and let the pigs fly, lol.

http://www.newyorkirisharts.com/2012/10/1861/

Dance:  Irish Dance Meets Toddlers in Tiaras or NOT


Before a competition, feis moms dutifully pack there Zuca Bags, caboodle boxes (I swear all real things) and dress bags with a plethora of dance supplies… wigs, make up, electrical and duct tape, ChapStick (not for lips but to adhere glitter to their eyes), glitter, staplers, sharpie markers, etc… Which leads me to a text from a dear dance mom friend with a picture of a bottle of WHITE OUT attached to it that read,  “Didn’t think this would ever be on my dance packing check list.” My response… “Funny of all the things we’ve packed through the years it’s a bottle of WHITE OUT that seems odd LOL.” Odd indeed… I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what in the name of the feis gods [we] would need White Out for but for fear of being under prepared I text back the universal symbol for “what the heck” … “?”.
Who knew Irish dance was just like any other sport?! They are always improving the equipment and thus we are always adding to our “Feis Kits”. On the dance market the new must haves are hard shoes that have a white rim that runs around the ankle opening.  That thin lip of white leather, carefully encircling the ankle of the dancer, is suppose to make their foot look compact and petite while dancing, thus magically improving their overall appearance and, one would hope, make them dance better. We Moms tell ourselves these lies, and a laundry list of others, as we justify our dwindling bank accounts for the sake of dance. Our hope is that the judges will notice our attention to the details, perhaps missing a dropped heel or a foot that is not pointed or arched—another lie.  And, while I am thankful Irish dance doesn’t promote the stick skinny idea of beauty, it appears from these shoes and the fact that we order them a size or two too small that big feet are a NO-NO.  Who knew it was my size nine boats that kept me from the podium in my day? I find it funny how much dance attire has changed over the years/decades. Gone are the days of the hob nailed shoes our ancestors wore that were oddly similar to what I wore as a kid. No taps, no fiber glass tips just rows and rows of tiny little nail heads covering the toe and heel of the shiny patent leather shoe.  Now I know that was long ago… long enough for a pair of said shoes to be listed under Irish/dance/old/hard shoes/antiques on EBAY. But these new shoes make me long for those good old days.
As I sit here now I can’t help but wonder if my mother would have colored the laces on my shoes to match the eyeholes? Would she have pack White Out to cover the scuffs and blemishes that dancing would create? I’m fairly confident that from beyond the grave I can hear her saying, “You must be daft.” The same way I heard her saying, “Now you’ve lost what little mind you had,” when I wrote the check for $1900.00 (more than double the price of my wedding gown some twenty years ago) for a dance dress for my 10 year old, which I bought in June and she out grew before the Oireachtas in November.
How did Irish dance morph into this combination dance competition/toddlers and tiaras sort of a world?  In my day the worst experience before a competition was for us to spend hours having curlers affixed to our heads by tough Irish mothers, a scene that was similarly played out before Christmas Day or any other major holiday or outing. So while I can see the connection to putting on your “Sunday best”, I don’t know how “Sunday best” came to mean your hair had to look like a rag doll’s or the dust mop I keep in the hall closet.  All I know is if my daughter came downstairs on Sunday morning dressed for church with her hair looking like it did in her wig I would say, “WILL YOU PLEASE RUN A BRUSH THROUGH THAT RAT’S NEST.”  And if she wore a dress short enough to show her knickers, covered in neon animal print, bedazzled to the hilt, I would ask her what corner she would expect to be working. 
I have seen dresses at competitions that look like they were on loan from the circus!!! Crazy patterns and color combinations that would have Heidi Klum saying “Auf Wieder Sehen,” if they graced the stage on Project Runway.  Yet we Moms buy them and tout the designers of them like they were Gucci or Louboutin—and let’s face it they are just about as pricey.
In class they dance in shorts and socks, with their hair neatly tied back. I love that… and I love to hear tough Irish dance teachers yelling counts over music I’ve listened to all my life.  I love the look on their faces when they accomplish a figure in a ceili that was once thought too hard.  I love when they are sweaty and exhausted, and yet still they are smiling. Nothing, not even a Swarowski crystal encrusted dress can compare to that.
So I say… bring back the simple clean lines… level the playing field… let the dancing be highlighted… and let the pigs fly, lol.

A Scene From Milwaukee

And there we were, Paul Keating and myself, in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin for “The Session,” a lovely little conference being held by the Ward Irish Music Archive.   It was Friday, dinnertime, and we’d strolled down to the village and we found ourselves in Chancer’s, a friendly little place that we were told served a wide assortment of good pub fare.  And you know what?  It did not disappoint.  My burger was outstanding.

But when I looked at the menu, I noticed it – their “Bacon Bloody Mary” – languidly staring up at me as if from the Davenport with the Deviled Egg of the Ocean around it’s neck, asking me to drink it like one of my French girls…with bacon.  Only bacon.  A Bloody Mary?  With bacon?  Garnished with deviled eggs?  It was a Bacchanalian challenge, sure – but could I resist?

I asked our server, if she’d ever had one.   She confessed she hadn’t, and further intimated that the Bacon Bloody Mary was kind of a pain in the ass to make.  It’s like she (rightly) didn’t want to make the bar’s job more difficult.  But I’ve never seen one in New York.   I mean, I like Bloody Marys.   And bacon.  And deviled eggs.  When in Wauwatosa, do as the Wauwatosans, right?  Did I dare?

I totally did.  And as I ordered, I did with the same naive imposition I feel when I order a Long Island Iced Tea.  And you know what?  It came with a beer chaser.  Behold:

I learned that the Bacon Bloody Mary is a deep ocean of secrets. But now you know there is such a drink and that I ordered it in every way that a drink can be ordered.  And I got a picture, and a memory I shall not soon forget.

http://www.newyorkirisharts.com/2012/10/19/

Dance:  Irish Dance Meets Toddlers in Tiaras or NOT


Before a competition, feis moms dutifully pack there Zuca Bags, caboodle boxes (I swear all real things) and dress bags with a plethora of dance supplies… wigs, make up, electrical and duct tape, ChapStick (not for lips but to adhere glitter to their eyes), glitter, staplers, sharpie markers, etc… Which leads me to a text from a dear dance mom friend with a picture of a bottle of WHITE OUT attached to it that read,  “Didn’t think this would ever be on my dance packing check list.” My response… “Funny of all the things we’ve packed through the years it’s a bottle of WHITE OUT that seems odd LOL.” Odd indeed… I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what in the name of the feis gods [we] would need White Out for but for fear of being under prepared I text back the universal symbol for “what the heck” … “?”.
Who knew Irish dance was just like any other sport?! They are always improving the equipment and thus we are always adding to our “Feis Kits”. On the dance market the new must haves are hard shoes that have a white rim that runs around the ankle opening.  That thin lip of white leather, carefully encircling the ankle of the dancer, is suppose to make their foot look compact and petite while dancing, thus magically improving their overall appearance and, one would hope, make them dance better. We Moms tell ourselves these lies, and a laundry list of others, as we justify our dwindling bank accounts for the sake of dance. Our hope is that the judges will notice our attention to the details, perhaps missing a dropped heel or a foot that is not pointed or arched—another lie.  And, while I am thankful Irish dance doesn’t promote the stick skinny idea of beauty, it appears from these shoes and the fact that we order them a size or two too small that big feet are a NO-NO.  Who knew it was my size nine boats that kept me from the podium in my day? I find it funny how much dance attire has changed over the years/decades. Gone are the days of the hob nailed shoes our ancestors wore that were oddly similar to what I wore as a kid. No taps, no fiber glass tips just rows and rows of tiny little nail heads covering the toe and heel of the shiny patent leather shoe.  Now I know that was long ago… long enough for a pair of said shoes to be listed under Irish/dance/old/hard shoes/antiques on EBAY. But these new shoes make me long for those good old days.
As I sit here now I can’t help but wonder if my mother would have colored the laces on my shoes to match the eyeholes? Would she have pack White Out to cover the scuffs and blemishes that dancing would create? I’m fairly confident that from beyond the grave I can hear her saying, “You must be daft.” The same way I heard her saying, “Now you’ve lost what little mind you had,” when I wrote the check for $1900.00 (more than double the price of my wedding gown some twenty years ago) for a dance dress for my 10 year old, which I bought in June and she out grew before the Oireachtas in November.
How did Irish dance morph into this combination dance competition/toddlers and tiaras sort of a world?  In my day the worst experience before a competition was for us to spend hours having curlers affixed to our heads by tough Irish mothers, a scene that was similarly played out before Christmas Day or any other major holiday or outing. So while I can see the connection to putting on your “Sunday best”, I don’t know how “Sunday best” came to mean your hair had to look like a rag doll’s or the dust mop I keep in the hall closet.  All I know is if my daughter came downstairs on Sunday morning dressed for church with her hair looking like it did in her wig I would say, “WILL YOU PLEASE RUN A BRUSH THROUGH THAT RAT’S NEST.”  And if she wore a dress short enough to show her knickers, covered in neon animal print, bedazzled to the hilt, I would ask her what corner she would expect to be working. 
I have seen dresses at competitions that look like they were on loan from the circus!!! Crazy patterns and color combinations that would have Heidi Klum saying “Auf Wieder Sehen,” if they graced the stage on Project Runway.  Yet we Moms buy them and tout the designers of them like they were Gucci or Louboutin—and let’s face it they are just about as pricey.
In class they dance in shorts and socks, with their hair neatly tied back. I love that… and I love to hear tough Irish dance teachers yelling counts over music I’ve listened to all my life.  I love the look on their faces when they accomplish a figure in a ceili that was once thought too hard.  I love when they are sweaty and exhausted, and yet still they are smiling. Nothing, not even a Swarowski crystal encrusted dress can compare to that.
So I say… bring back the simple clean lines… level the playing field… let the dancing be highlighted… and let the pigs fly, lol.

Hard Times

Wee Craic

JUDY COLLINS, PETE SEEGER AND TOM PAXTON AT THE IAW&A O’NEILL EVENT 10/15/12


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VHVY8KOzuw&list=HL1349696308&feature=mh_lolz

TODAY’S SONG: TO MY OLD BROWN EARTH

Yesterday, the Irish American Writers & Artists learned that the legendary folk singer Pete Seeger will be joining singer/songwriter Tom Paxton and many more  at the the IAW&A’s Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award event. Judy Collins, this year’s recipient, will be accepting the award from her long time friend, Malachy McCourt.  

Here’s what Judy Collins said about Pete Seeger in her book Singing Lessons: “Pete continues to be a big influence on me. I admire him and respect his politics and his music. His life has been a flow of songs and good works.”

If you are of a generation that is not familiar with Pete or his music, listen to “To My Old Brown Earth,” which is so representative of Pete’s profound body of work.  Truly an incredible musician, but more importantly an amazing man. 

And thanks to my friend Martha Pinson for suggesting this great tune. 

Hope to see you at the O’Neill event on October 15. Email Charles Hale for info at chashale1@yahoo.com