Once a year, Flogging Molly’s discography section on Wikipedia gets a thorough update. Once a year, tattoo artists are asked to put down their tribal-markings templates and freshen the grimace on thousands of leprechauns. What is it about the spectacle of a mob of lunkheads in green plastic hats smearing puke of various provenances across their chins with the cuffs of their own plaid shirts at ten in the morning that recalls the struggles, oppression, diaspora, and cultural accomplishments of the people of the book? One would rather willingly sit through a screening of that ungodly Rattle & Hum infomercial than to ever again get caught in that downward spiral.
I’m no stereotypical Irish-American cop, not one for cracking heads, drinking warm beer, and upholding the status quo, but the night we stalked Shane MacGowan in New York we kept a pro-level tail on him. We found him in an Irish bar in Queens, eating pizza and nursing a single beer for a much longer time than you’d expect. When his car service arrived to take him away, we took the next car and followed him across the East River to Manhattan, where we both disembarked at the ballroom where he was to play. A very short time later, he stumbled out onstage to massive applause. He had sunglasses on and a tumbler of something in one hand. Who’s to say what it was that caused him to stumble on an unseen obstacle and fall almost immediately. But just as quickly, he rose, found a microphone, and muttered “Sabotage!” To even greater applause.
St. Paddy’s day in America is to Irish culture what Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is to Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas, absolute garbage. St. Paddy’s Day celebrations are such travesties that they make the continued existence of U2 seem almost tolerable by comparison. As a child I was yearly forced to dance reels and jigs in pubs across town. To this day I can still sing “Black Velvet Band,” "Teenage Kicks," "Jailbreak," “Merry Ploughboy,” “Four Green Fields,” “Johnson’s Motor Car,” and “Finnegan’s Wake” (the song, not the literary tour-de-force). Perhaps this is why I teetotal.
Might a stray dog in a cage at the pound — looking up through a dirty window, confusing the blinking lights of airplanes for stars — be moved to publish poetry in McSweeney’s or The New Yorker? Yes, but for two cardinal things; first, the lack of a word-processor; second, the fact that dogs can’t type. In that same inchoate way, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m not a literal dog in a literal cage, I might be considered a fan of the band U2.
Here’s a test for you movie-watchers out there: how can you know in advance if a biography of a musician or artist is going to be crap? Bono makes a cameo. Without going into politics, what’s an easy way to know that a politician is a monster? Here’s a tip: somewhere in the matrix, there’s a photo of him or her, shaking hands with Bono.