Sunday, January 4, 2009

Internet Irish Radio, Éamon Carr & "Breakfast on Pluto."

I received a note-- and spreadsheet-- of CDs that my friend up in San Francisco Lee Templeton's culling from her discs played on her Internet radio station on 365 live, "One Night at McSorley's". None that I needed, including one from some "Liverpool club band" named after a bug. Yet, her typical largess, for she has provided me with many examples of her expertise in matters related to music, Ireland, literature, and their happy overlaps, reminded me to do the same. So, a new year's resolution for you all to give her a listen.

I see in today's Los Angeles Times an item she and my wife would both like: a Sanyo R227 half the size of a breadloaf, but able to pull in Internet Radio without a computer. My wife's disheartened by the demise of her painstakingly prepared Yahoo Launchcast station, which will cease to exist. I recall Miss Templeton's comments last year about her own Come Back Horslips guestbook-site at Yahoo which I think found a similar fate. (My Yahoo groups too have either faded or gone one without me; I kept getting bounced off them by rogue e-mail glitches.) But, you can link at the right hand list here to both her CBH blog and her own logically titled "Templeton Chronicles" that have replaced the CBH archives on Blogger. Her reports from her visit to Ireland and Britain this past summer were particularly entertaining, and she's transferring them to her blog after regaling a few of us with them as e-mails earlier last year. She also has a Facebook and YouTube site. Layne tells me I need to promote myself on the former and I did not even know of the latter as an option for individuals. But, I am busy enough off-line-- and with reading enough to generated entries for this little blog and on Amazon.

The YouTube shout-out also spurs me to make room soon on my shelf of what to read next for the recent book (which I obtained via LT) by Horslips' percussionist (he's more than a drummer; check out his bodhran and bones!) Éamon Carr. You can see his videos of his recitals from it on YT. He could be said to have pioneered such presentations in his 1960s-era Beat travels and his innovative poetry-performance-musical revue that preceded Horslips, Dublin's countercultural hotline Tara Telephone. I wish I could have heard them. Visit her informative website: "Tara Telephone: An Archival History".

Carr's a longtime commentator on the radio and in print of sports, music, and culture. He possesses a wiry grace and a commanding presence. His command of an audience, although I've only witnessed it via video clips, must be memorable. His poetry collection, "Origami Crow," compares the poet Basho's periginations with Carr's visit to Japan during the 2004 ill-fated Irish team's World Cup debacle. Out of such collisions comes inspiration. This weekend, I finished (for a review to actually appear in print!) Michael Parker's two-volume "Northern Irish Literature" history-criticism, and when I found Derek Mahon's 1975 poem "The Snow Party" cited with its own treatment of Basho (1644-94) with an endnote about how he gave up his samurai court's charms for his own wandering, I remembered Carr and wondered if he knew of this Irish poetic champion composed. I'm practically certain that he does.

The juxtapositions of pop music and literature Carr himself delightedly charted on record and in concert also recall another connection. The other night, Layne brought home "Breakfast on Pluto." One of the two novels by Pat McCabe I like, despite LT's defense of "The Dead School" (in which the band appeared-- see my article here: "Horslips in Irish Literary and Musical Culture") as tied for a novel she'd rescue from a burning room. Funny enough, only my McCabe picks, "The Butcher Boy" and "BOP," made it to the screen. More black humor, my guess.

Gavin Friday appears in a great send-up of the glam scene as Billy Hatchett with his Mohawks. I won't give away Kitten's efforts to further the band's career in the dancehalls of Cavan, but the scene captures well the mix of panache and (lovable lack of?) flair that must have been part of many a rural night's meat-and-spuds early-70s rock once that preference finally replaced for the youngsters the showbands-- while continuing that genre's venerable if challenged on-stage theatrics. The episode made me think of Horslips, in their own van on dark and dangerously unapproved roads near the Border, trying to capture the likes of "The Táin" for punters in Clones or Termonfeckon. This reverie in turn prompted a mental note to ask Miss T. why Horslips had not been featured in the fine soundtrack, full of obscurities and hits from the mid-70s. Layne especially loved hearing Bobby Goldsboro's wretched "Honey" in key scenes.

Neil Jordan directed it efficiently. Despite the accents and mumbling obscuring a few subplot points regarding the gunrunning 'RA, it managed to wind up more life affirming than I'd expected. The aftermath of a pub bombing in London's filmed in a manner that summons up what a survivor might have felt rather than a bystander, and this distinction sharpens the shock. The movie might have benefitted from such brutality, or it may not. The tendency appears to be to hold back in the film, whereas I sensed the novel as more relentlessly grim.

Still, I don't think it did very well at the box office; I recall it barely showing in L.A. compared to the acclaim given "The Butcher Boy." Maybe we needed Sinéad O'Connor back for a reprise in her role as the Virgin? Again, if wearingly, the battering priests and the repressed males stalk and skulk reliably amidst the pubs and parlors. Still, the babies keep getting made, as Kitten does embody, if at first trapped in the wrong fashions.

After mulling albeit heterosexually a couple of weeks ago during "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" about how darn pretty Cillian Murphy is, his cross-dressing turn as Patrick "Kitten" Braden works well. He's a talent, no doubt. His voice soothes in the right tone for such a young man; it reminded me of similarly "at-risk youth" who worked the streets with whom I taught and listened to in Hollywood. The film captures the savagery of the Troubles perhaps too obliquely for an international audience, but Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea do their best in underwritten roles; I also liked, if that's the word, Bryan Ferry's sinister cameo although Brendan Gleeson's manic character out of a demented Wonderland seems to have been pared too closely down in the editing room.

Reviewed by me as a novel before my blog started on Amazon US, by the way, just when the film was slated to soon appear, the narrative's careening path between sanity and madness as a filmed exploration of loneliness and longing becomes somewhat less dismal, thankfully. As with BB, the narrative's familiar, perhaps too much so, as with all the McCabe I've read. He's determined to push to collapse fragile psyches under the assault of prejudiced market-town Ireland. I'm not sure, given the rapid collapse of Catholic mores there, how much longer he can keep up this motif; people younger than me, and me born but about seven years after him, will find this milieu as remote as we do Joyce's Dublin. Or, hippie Dublin.

Image: "A Tale of Love" by Éamon Carr & Two Bare Feet One foot must be Jim Fitzpatrick? Part of a Summer of Love exhibition at the Tate.

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