Two TRINITY NEWS
issue 4 23 Nov 2010
NEW CANADIAN NOISE by Karl McDonald
EUSA’S HEAD IS DREAMING US
WE JUST WANT
According to Valentino Achak Deng, protagonist of Dave Eggers’ What Is The What, God gave the Dinka people of southern Sudan a choice to make at the beginning of time. He created cattle and showed them to the Dinka, who were suitably impressed. Then he offered them the What. The Dinka were astute enough not to look a gift horse (or cow) in the mouth, so they chose the cattle. It seems to me, pastoral as the country still is, that we chose the What. Millenia later, we still haven’t figured out exactly what the What is, and on recent evidence - Jedward, IMF, free cheese - we’re not getting any closer. But maybe there’s a little pride to be taken in the search. What, if not the What, were Joyce, Beckett and Flann O’Brien after? Attempting to put in its portion of work in this regard, this issue finds itself in the realm of dreams - Beach House’s somnolent sounds on Teen Dream and Arnaldo Pomodoro’s Dreams series in the Genetics building, for example. It also seeks it in rhythm, both programmed Atari Teenage Riot - and ad hoc, in the case of Holy Fuck. There are no answers at the bottom of a pint glass, conventional wisdom goes, but many have tried, and Jamie Leptien’s pursuit of the perfect pint of Guinness (in the city world famous for its superior Guinness) gives it a shot. There’s plenty more too, as usual. So, dreams, beats, alcohol. This issue of TN2 is a veritable reverie by the sounds of it. There’s plenty to read, plenty to look at and plenty to think on while you do whatever secondary activity it is you do when you sit down with TN2. Enjoy.
KEEP SKETCH The highlight of your week, sketched.
by Ana Kinsella
n the mire of magazines and blogs and events and trends, it can be easy to forget what fashion around the world really is, underneath it all: an industry, one that can create and provide jobs for creative types all over the world. As an almostart student who went for Arts instead at the last minute, it was time to visit NCAD and talk to some real fashion and textiles students (and fashion’s future major players, perhaps) about how glamourous and exciting their future careers could be and why Dublin can’t provide more for fashion than woollen mills and John Rocha. “It just lacks an industry,” says Jane Kenny, a finalyear textiles student who spent her summer interning with Mirjam Rouden, a print-textiles designer in east London who creates printed fabrics for both highend and high-street designers. It’s pretty clear to Jane why London trounces Dublin as a fashion capital now. “There is a lack of professionalism here I guess. Organised professionalism, not that the individual designers aren’t talented or professional. But there’s no hub like there is in London. The best people are attracted to London because they see that it’s a city that has a really strong fashion industry. It sustains its own reputation if you will. But in Dublin, when designers are setting up shop there’s no support for them.”. There is no doubt that there’s been a fashion exodus from Dublin to London over the past 20 years, leaving Dublin a barren
TO EMOTE TILL WE’RE DEAD
unfashionable shell, feeding off the trickle-down effluence of bigger cities that we’ve seen on the internet and in the pages of Vogue. “I do think there’s loads of talented people (in Dublin).” says Julie Flynn, another textiles student who interned in London this summer. Her desk is topped with a huge board covered in colourful paint effects, runway photos and tiny fabric swatches. “We’re just as talented here as people who come out of Central St Martins and that. The talent is here, it’s just the industry’s not here.”. This is the overwhelming consensus from all of the students I talk to in the studio. “It’s kind of sad that you have to leave and that you can’t work in your own city because I love Dublin, but realistically, if you wanna make something of yourself, you have to go away.” says Jane. But what could change in Dublin to keep skilled graduates here? It seems that all the best Irish designers in the past have relocated to bigger cities, like Paul Costelloe or Orla Kiely, or else they remain in Dublin until their careers unfortunately peter out and they’re forced to pursue other interests. Compared to similar-sized student-driven cities like Stockholm or Antwerp, Dublin seems bereft of anything resembling an original, vibrant fashion scene. “It’s also that everyone before us has left, so it’s been in our heads that we have to leave,” says Julie Nolan, who interned in the same studio as Jane. Despite their specific training in both NCAD and in their internships in London, the students see themselves branching out more after graduation and working in
“It’s also that everyone before us has left, so it’s been in our heads that we have to leave.”
different environments than what they’ve been used to. Laura Gilsenan, a final-year fashion student, interned in west London with Bora Aksu, a former next-bigthing whose career seems to have levelled out over the past few years. “I learned a lot of skills that are relevant to what I do in college. But I don’t want to have my own label - they were in the studio 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and there’s no stopping. I mean, nobody gets an easy life but I don’t want to make it purposefully hard for myself.” With the kind of talent Dublin’s fashion students have, there’s huge potential to enact some game-changing developments in the industry within this generation. Sustainability and quality have become the catchphrases of this era in textiles and fashion and the students are aware of this. Jane says “we have to embrace it. Our generation that’s going through college right now is a lot more willing to work within those constraints.”. Julie Nolan agrees “It’s just an easy way out if you don’t, which isn’t fair. It’s just cutting corners and in the long-term, it doesn’t make sense.”. This is undoubtedly a time when the fashion world is in flux, with big issues in the news season after season, but whether this generation of students will use this to their advantage to step up and try to change the way the industry works. “My mum said to me ‘why are all the models so skinny, why can’t you have a plus-size girl?’,” Laura tells me “but my Dad was more like ‘look, she can’t change the world, just let her do her own thing.”. 3
SWAG IT OUT
M USIC Greek Mythology
The legends of gods and heroes, the natural and unnatural world that were the cornerstone of religious and social instruction in ancient Greece were once simply the fodder of epic lyric poems and tragedians. Now, they permeate popular culture, appropriated by everything from Jean Paul Sartre plays to Xena: Warrior Princess. Even Kurt Cobain acknowledges Demeter, the goddess of Harvest in the liner notes for In Utero. And he’s not the only musician who should be offering thanks to the gods. Jason and the Argonauts- XTC Taken from the band’s last album before guitarist Andy Partridge’s breakdown, triggered by his wife’s throwing away of his supply of valium. Like when Medea gave Jason’s fiancée a cursed dress that clung to her body and burned her to death, except less homicidal and minus the adultery. Love Athena- The Olivia Tremor Control Whilst their comparison of a beautiful love to the Greek goddess of War may not seem like the most romantic conceit, it makes a whole lot more sense than naming ten songs “Green Typewriters”. Just saying. Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh- Sunset Rubdown Spencer Krug taunts an unknown subject with pictures of buffalo and likens Artemis to the commitment phobic “Runaround Sue” of ‘60s pop song fame. SOMEONE’S clearly not afraid of the wrath of the gods. Icarus Smicarus- Mclusky Daedelus PROBABLY didn’t tell his son to “crawl under a rock, get fucked”, but he did advise him not to fly to close to the sun. At the very least he should have got to say “slap it up ye”. Or something. Sophie Elizabeth Smith
ART I N C OLLEGE
Sogno (Dreams) Series I-IX (1988-93) by Arnaldo Pomodoro Smurfit Institute of Genetics FASHION
It seems like as soon as the days get shorter and darker we all seem to get out the black jeans and black coats and languish in our dullest clothes until spring returns. This is all well and good, but it leaves us lacking a colourful edge, which is where nail varnish comes in. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to brighten your day and to remain on-trend, and the favourite (non-black) colours to look for this winter are dark reds, purples or shimmery Chanel-style pastels. The best high street replicas are to be found in Barry M, American Apparel or Models Own. For swagged-out party nails, check the range for shiny iridescent numbers in Topshop’s Heavy Duty collection for a bit of something fancy, or get your hands or some cheapo thick glitter polish and do a ‘glitter French’, with plain shimmer base coat and glitter replacing the white tips of a French manicure. If that’s too flashy, pick up Barry M’s Nail Effects topcoat which gives a cracked black effect over a bright base. And if you feel like splashing out, go straight to Illamasqua in BT2 – not only do they have the best range of colours, word is they’re pulling out of Ireland, so stock up while you can. Just stay away from the black. Ana Kinsella
TRINITYNEWS.IE M USIC Online Music Editor Keith Grehan
has a veritable plethora of content this issue, beginning with a full transcript of his Atari Teenage Riot interview that appears in edited form in this issue. There is also a dubstep mix by Kev Aiken (Ghostscene), an interview with Clouds, some live reviews and a piece on those endangered beasts, independent record stores in Dublin. If you missed his Phantogram interview or the Frankie Grimes mix last issue, check them out too. P OD CAST The second TN2 podcast fea-
tures some discussion on the important topics of xenophobia, Fade Street, student protests and, most saliently, Tom Lowe. It may also feature Tom Lowe. Look for it on Friday. T WIT TER Following us on Twitter has lots
of benefits, and you should probably do it. @tnmagazine for exclusive meandering thoughts and links to online content. 4
HANGING When most of us hear the name Pomodoro, we automatically think of the artist’s monumental globe sculpture Sfera con Sfera that stands guard outside the entrance to the Berkeley Library. However, very few realise that this was not the artist’s only contribution to the College Art Collection. In 1998, six years after receiving an honorary degree of Letters from TCD, the Italian sculptor donated the wonderful Sogno series to the college, which can be seen today hanging in the atrium of the Smurfit Institute of Genetics. There are a total of nine pieces from the sries in the Collection, uniting traditional printmaking techniques with sculptural processes to create artworks that combine the best of both mediums. Pomodoro uses etching to outline the design, while an aquatint process is used to produce tonal variations in the coloured sections of the print. The raised portions at the centre are formed using embossing, whereby a dye or stamp was pressed into the surface of the plate to create the pattern in relief. Thus the embossed sections of the print echo the characteristics of traditional relief sculpture, while the use of metallic paint or dye in the central design recalls the artist’s earlier bronze monuments. Combining elements, Pomodoro gives a dynamic sculptural effect to the traditional process of printmaking. Jennifer Duignam
ONE GIANT STEP BACK FOR MANKIND FILM
Moonraker (1979) Japan November is usually the month where Ian Fleming’s suave super-spy graces our screens, but given MGM’s financial troubles, we won’t be seeing a new James Bond adventure for a couple of years. In the meantime we have this kitsch creation from Japan. The Japanese have always had a particular affinity for 007, which can be seen with this elaborate poster for the 1979 film Moonraker. Although the film itself was an unmitigated disaster of poor effects, ridiculous plot and Roger Moore’s smarmy ham, this poster remains a gem. As Bond straddles a revolving space-station, laser gun in hand and Dr Holly Goodhead at his side, scantily clad floozies float behind while Jaws drifts menacingly closer and a space-battle rages in the background. A terrible film yes, but a fantastic poster. Alex Towers
PICTURES ON MY WALL MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF: 23 November 2010
2 SUFFER FOR FASHION Ana Kinsella visits NCAD to talk to the students there about their future in the Irish fashion industry - or lack thereof.
6 HOLIER THAN THOU Karl McDonald finds out about playing Glastonbury with dying equipment and making electronic music without a laptop in sight from Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt.
8 EVERYBODY’S TALKIN’ BOUT THE STORMY WEATHER Keith Grehan speaks to Atari Teenage Riot’s mythical leader Alec Empire about electro and political activism.
10 ACTING OUT Aisling Dolan takes a comprehensive look at the history of queer cinema, from suppression to pastiche.
12 FISTFUL OF WILD FLOWERS Ana Kinsella asks Beach House’s tousled-haired rapscallion Alex Scally about live aesthetics and Katy Perry calling her album Teen(age) Dream too.
13 ART SCENE Jennifer Duignam hangs out with students picking up some stuff to brighten up the room from the College Art Collection - including a Picasso.
16 A PINT OF PLAIN’S YOUR ONLY MAN Jamie Leptien, connoisseur of the black stuff, takes on the arduous task of finding Dublin’s best pint of Guinness, while Fearghal O’Nuallain enlightens us on its best friend, whiskey.
19 REVIEWS Cee Lo Green, Robert Rodriguez, burgers, N.E.R.D. and Herta Muller stand under the harsh glare of student criticism.
26 DAS CAPO Oisín Murphy takes to the podium once more, this time with the cultural discourse surrounding rap music in his sights.
CONTRIBUTORS Editor: Karl McDonald. Art: Jennifer Duignam, Catherine Gaffney. Books: Stuart Winchester, Kevin Breathnach. Fashion: Ana Kinsella, Aisling Deng. Film: Alex Towers, Mairéad Casey. Food: Sadhbh O’Brien, Rose Ponsonby. Games: Andy Kavanagh. Music: Sophie Elizabeth Smith, Gheorghe Rusu, Keith Grehan. Theatre: Jamie Leptien. TV: James Kelly, Michael Barry. Images: Elizabeth Burke, Caoimhe Lavelle, Martin McKenna, Bridgid Purcell. Design: Gearóid O’Rourke, Martin McKenna. General assistance: Aoife Crowley Fuelled by: Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, Rubio, Delocated, not drinking, untimely death, Daniel Martin’s breakfasts.
HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST by Karl McDonald
oronto band Holy Fuck’s music is about limitations. They make fierily energetic music, krautrock influenced and probably for the ‘electronic’ aisle if it wasn’t for the fact that everything they do features live drums, live bass and a menagerie of charity shop toy keyboards. They will make a pounding, hypnotic noise song out of a Casio preset on the keyboard you got from Santa in 1996. When the circuits start to fry - because, to be fair, none of the fine folks at Casio expected anyone to still actually use those things after a couple of years - they embrace that too. Battery drain wobble meshes with a driving rhythm section to make something distinct and a little weird. And also, in terms of limitations, being called Holy Fuck can’t exactly help. TN2 talked to Brian Borcherdt, foundermember, button-pusher, knob-tweaker and guitar player in the band, before their sold out show in Crawdaddy last week. When you formed the band, was it a conscious decision not to have programmed electronics? Because what you make could be called electronic music, if it wasn’t for 6
the fact that you use all live instruments. Programmed music wasn’t really an option. I don’t know if any of us even know how to do that sort of thing, programming beats on a laptop or whatever. We all came from a sort of broadly indie rock background. I was a guitar player in the band I was in before Holy Fuck, not a particularly adept one, even. With this band, it was more about embracing limitations, of jamming with these weird instruments and trying to make something different and creative. It started as a side-project, but then it sort of became the main project. Is there anyone making music at the moment that you see as similar to what you’re doing? Well in recent years it seems like it’s more common in indie rock bands to have a guy playing with samples or electronics or whatever. Like, it’s not strange to see a guy with a table full of toys in a band nowadays. I’m not saying that’s because of us, it’s probably more because of a band like Animal Collective, but it’s become more normal now.
What about a band like Caribou? The albums are obviously programmed music, but live, they have a similar sort of energy, a similar sort of rhythmic swirl with the live drums and instruments. Oh, we love Caribou. I’m a really huge fan of [Dan Snaith]’s. He’s from where we’re from and we’ve been listening to his music for a long time, I think it’s awesome. It’s an honour to be compared to him. So you’ve had a fixed line-up for this album, which you haven’t had before. Why has that only happened now, and how has it changed things? When it turned into something that was going to take up a lot of our time, it made sense to have a stable line-up, to have Matt [McQuaid, bass] and Matt [Schulz, drums] touring with us the whole time. We had the advantage of having been playing together live as a band for a while before this album. We’d played the songs on tour with the same line-up. Before, people would come in and play on one song or
“IT’S NOT STRANGE TO SEE A GUY WITH A TABLE FULL OF TOYS IN A BAND NOWADAYS” whatever, it was really loose. Does Latin mean anything in relation to the album? It’s definitely not Latin music. No, I mean, we didn’t want to name it anything that would have too strong a statement, but that kind of backfired when people started to want to know why it was called that. It kind of works, because you know, Latin is a dead language, and we make music with all this dying equipment. But it’s not Latin music, no. Are you ever held back by the type of equipment you use?
Oh yeah, absolutely. If you’re an electronica artist and you plug in your laptop, there’s not much that can go wrong. But if you’ve got all these shitty little toy keyboards from a pawn shop somewhere and it breaks, that’s not good. These keyboards probably aren’t even made anymore. It’s not like they’re vintage instruments, it’s literally just stuff we saw and picked up. We’ve had all sorts of things happen to us, keyboards start to cut out, or they change pitch because the power is dying, or tempos change. We’ve thought about capturing all of the sounds and loops we use on samplers and doing it that way. It would be so much safer. You could be standing on the stage at Glastonbury or somewhere, waiting to play to thousands of people, and then something cuts out on you and there’s no way to replace it. But again, those are limitations we try to embrace. If the keyboard suddenly changes pitch, then the band tries to adjust to that. It makes every show different. Your albums are great, but does it seem like you have to see Holy Fuck live in order to get the full experience?
People have said that. I mean, we put a lot of effort into our albums, making them something cohesive, something you can sit down and listen to, but I guess we try to put a lot of energy into playing live and people respond to that. If people prefer us live, then that’s cool. There’s an element of chaos in the live show, we try to keep it unpredictable for ourselves and for the audience. We’re a band, you know, it’s not laptops up there. So if you were me, would you put the words Holy Fuck on the cover of a college newspaper? I don’t know, man. When we decided to call the band Holy Fuck, there was no political statement being made or anything. It’s just a name. So you have to consider, are you going to do this and then get the whole newspaper pulled and pulped? It’s not worth it. You have to make an informed decision. You have to work within the limitations imposed on you. You could have an awesome newspaper and just write Holy F- on the cover or whatever. You don’t want to risk it. 7
GETTING KIND OF QUIET IN MY CITY HEAD by Keith Grehan
erman techno radicals Atari Teenage Riot are one of the more influential electronic acts of recent years. High amphetamine with anarchistic overtones, the political radicals disbanded in 2001 following the death of MC Carl Crack, but reformed last year. Iconic frontman and founder of Digital Hardcore Recordings Alec Empire asserts “it feels different to before. Modern day politics have changed and we’ve rewritten a lot of old lyrics to reflect this. We’re using new equipment on stage along with our old synths, for example the famous 909 drum machine” The band was formed partly in reaction to a burgeoning neo Nazi movement in early ‘90s Berlin, with Alec noting that even now, antiSemitism is still a problem. “It’s still very dangerous, something I take very seriously. It’s always going to be a threat, it may have receded but it’s a battle that can never be fully won. It’s all about staying active and pushing these people and their ideologies back. People are always looking for someone to point the finger of blame at, and the far right provides people with an easy target, especially in times like these where people are not so comfortable economically” Alec believes it’s important for musicians to be proactive. “I believe music plays an important role in people’s ideas about the world and feelings, as it’s something that you can get so passionate about. We’ve never been afraid of making enemies or damaging record sales through our politics. Fear makes fascism possible. People think that Hitler hijacked our country; they forget that we elected him as we were manipulated through fear and hatred.” With the reformation of Atari Teenage Riot came a wealth of fresh material; a single was released in months and new album is on the way. Was it never a tempting prospect to 8
simply tour the old hits to appease fans? “I find you get less and less excited every time you play the same song the same way. That’s why we change our lyrics around, maybe alter the song. If you come to see Atari play an album through you’ll leave disappointed! We need to avoid routine and if that pisses you off, well that’s Atari Teenage Riot! We’ll play for as long as it’s exciting… if I feel we’re not getting our point across and finding new directions, that’s when I’ll quit.” The band chose to leak their new single, Activate on Soundcloud and made it available for free download earlier this year. It was only in later weeks that the track became available on CD and iTunes. The logic behind this is, Alec claims, simple accessibility. “We just wanted to get the track out there, we were fed up of delays. We didn’t want to make money off the back of the ATR name. Also the track is very extreme, quite like Speed, so we wanted people to see how we’ve changed.” Many fans decided to buy the track
“PEOPLE THINK THAT HITLER HIJACKED OUR COUNTRY; THEY FORGET THAT WE ELECTED HIM AS WE WERE MANIPULATED THROUGH FEAR AND HATRED.”
and support the band, which, from a music fan’s perspective, Alec firmly approves of. “I feel it’s nicer to own a hard copy of your favourite music, not just an mp3 file. That’s the great thing about the modern era. We have the technology to do this. There are very few boundaries left and that’s really changing the music industry”. Eradicating boundaries is something with which Empire seems particularly concerned; it is, he believes, this propensity to challenge confines that has cemented Berlin’s reputation as the cornerstone of techno and electronic music; “it’s a totally different scene in Berlin. The hippest thing in the city could never spread, anywhere else and it’d be big worldwide within days. Musicians complain but I like it with no critical acclaim, you need to move forward. People don’t pay attention to trends here and that’s very liberating. There is no machinery around creativity here. If you come to Berlin to work as an artist you won’t find a sound, you’ll need to create your own. There’s no safety net and I think that encourages artists to push boundaries”. Although born of a music scene that encourages originality of sound, Alec admits he does believe that Atari Teenage Riot have been influential on other contemporary artists. “It was a whole new style of music. It’s changed a lot, it used to be a male-dominated scene, whereas now any kind of electro band has to have distorted female vocals. So yeah, we’ve made our mark in that way! People think I disapprove of artists like MIA and Pendulum as they are not quite as hardcore as ATR, but I think it’s great! Atari has certainly changed a lot of things, personally I’d like to see a wave of more hardcore electronic bands, but that’s just me!” Atari Teenage Riot play the Button Factory November 25th.
TV DIARY #4
by James Kelly
ON THE BLOWER by Andy Kavanagh
here’s a lot of talk lately about the importance of video games as art and about how motion control is going to change the way we think of games even though it didn’t really do that the first time around. And while all of it is certainly worth talking about, it can cloud the fact that at the heart of every video game, past the designers’ creative intentions, past the writer’s desire to make you weep for the nameless enemy soldier you just maimed, sits the cold merciless collective soul of a corporation just trying to get their hands on your money. Occasionally, however, one of these corporations may decide to remind us of this by forcing a product to market purely because they have the ability and resources to so. When this happens, you end up with ideas like this: the PlayStation Phone. Rest assured, what you see above is real. The PlayStation Phone is happening and there are even reports it could be out by Christmas in certain parts of the world. We all know Sony have a habit of getting a little too excited about their ideas and unleashing them on the world before they’re ready to be accepted (for instance, does anyone reading this own a PSP Go?), so really this move shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. They do, after all, own Sony Ericsson (the clue is in the name), and with ever-growing competition in the portable games market from the
iPhones app-store, a PlayStation Phone is something many speculated about, but few believed they’d ever actually see. But now that it’s here, it’s time to speculate on whether it will actually be any use or not. So let’s start with some basic information. The PlayStation Phone is set to be similar to your average smartphone, a term I use with much regret, widely believed to be running on an Android based OS. It also has your standard playstation face buttons and D-pad combo lurking beneath its, most likely, touch screen exterior, but replaces the analog sticks of a regular controller with a long touchpad. No one’s really sure what way this will be implemented by game designers, but at the moment, no one’s really sure what designers will bother with this device at all. Sony have a lot going on right now, possibly too much. With the PSP Go falling on its useless face before even hitting the track, the PSP2 finally being talked about openly by third parties as something that definitely exists and the recent release of the PlayStation Move, another venture into the portable market, where Sony struggled for success previously at a time where they didn’t have iPhones to compete with, doesn’t seem like a particularly good idea. That said myself and countless others will probably want to know what the fuss is about when it ships. Hell, it’ll probably be on my Christmas list.
The world of reality TV modelling shows must be a cruel one. You are constantly told to ‘smize’ – smile with your eyes obviously. And you must always be at your fiercest. What does this get you in the end though? Well, it sure as hell isn’t a career in modelling. Once they win their modelling contract they disappear into the ether, never to be heard from again. Well, at least it makes for interesting television. As you can tell, I have been investigating some of these shows of late and two in particular have stood out: America’s Next Top Model and the Irish- produced, The Model Scouts. Believe it or not, ANTM is now in its fifteenth ‘cycle’ or season, and it is still headed by the divisive Tyra Banks. The formula remains the same throughout the series – fourteen or so girls are picked, and each week, after a task and a photo shoot, one is sent home until the winner is left standing. As well as being formulaic, Top Model leans towards the ridiculous, with tasks including walking the runway blindfolded or doing a photo shoot while balancing on a plank over the ocean while being attacked by mosquitoes. And so, the show is criticised for not representing the modelling world. But, with serious viewership and credibility decline Banks et al have pulled up their fashionable socks for Cycle 15 and now ANTM has gone ‘high fashion’. Vogue Italia is now the prize and honestly the calibre of modelling in this season is far beyond what has gone before. In addition to Andre Leon Tallay, big names like Diane von Fusterburg and Versace add a new level of credibility to the show. Tyra is kept on a leash and the sob stories of the models are kept to a minimum – a more authentic show has emerged. In contrast to the well established format of ANTM, is the RTE show, The Model Scouts which, along with Fade Street, represents a greater push for American-influenced, Irish-produced shows on terrestrial TV. The show follows a similar formula to Top Model – a bunch of young girls are handpicked from around the country and then are picked off week by week, with the bulk of the episode devoted to tasks, photo shoots and people talking about how they never believed they would have an opportunity like this. It calls to mind the earlier RTE show The Model Agent, and, for a home-grown effort, it is surprisingly pretty good. Right, enough of these modelling shows – I’m off to catch up on the last of Mad Men. 9
ACTING OUT ollywood has always had a very strange relationship with homosexuals. From the very beginning of the silent era the subject has been taboo. It was not a topic to be discussed publicly or privately, and never ever positively. However the insinuation of homosexuality has been a sure source of comedy since the very start. From Charlie Chaplin to Michael Bay, questioning the masculinity of a male character has always garnered a laugh. Just recently the trailer to Ron Howard’s The Dilemma stirred up controversy when Anderson Cooper labelled a throwaway gay jibe in it “unacceptable”. The sissy has been Hollywood’s go-to joke since the silent era, when prissy gestures and raised eyebrows denoted which characters were to be mocked. This didn’t change much over the years and after the introduction of film censorship with the Hayes Code in 1934, homosexuality disappeared altogether. This code allowed film censors to change entire plots which were deemed ‘ unsuitable’ for 10
audiences. As a result gay themes and charac-
by Aisling Dolan
ters were cut completely. As you can imagine, this led to a lot of confusion. For example, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), a play about a married man coming to terms with the death of his gay lover, became a film about a man overcoming the death of his best friend, a broken leg filling in for his impotence. Because their relationship is never explained, his emotions and the drama surrounding him make very little sense at times. It wasn’t until 1959 that a gay character was shown overtly on screen. Of course, we never see his face, no one says he is gay and obviously he dies before the film even begins. Yet Suddenly Last Summer caused massive controversy when it was released. In the film, Sebastian uses his mother and later his cousin as bait to lure attractive men to him. Obviously he must be punished for this and so he’s chased by the
young men he’s been seducing and eaten by them. Honestly. It is told entirely in flashback and the audience never sees more than a shin of Sebastian, so monstrous is his character. From the 50’s onwards Hollywood began to show different side to homosexuality. After the dismantling of the Hayes Code, films were allowed to address the issue of homosexuality directly. Audiences were encouraged not to demonize gays, but instead feel sorry for
IT WASN’T UNTIL 1959 THAT A GAY CHARACTER WAS SHOWN OVERTLY ON SCREEN.
THE ‘SAD YOUNG MAN’ WAS THE STEREOTYPE OF CHOICE FOR THIS GENRE. them. The ‘sad young man’ was the stereotype of choice for this genre. These characters couldn’t help being gay, but they sure wanted to. In fact almost all of them kill themselves before the end. In Rebel Without a Cause, Plato develops an obsession with Jim, and though it can never come to fruition Jim maintains a relationship with him. Plato is a troubled boy because of his implied sexuality. He is jealous of Jim’s relationship with a woman, though admires him for it. Plato is the typical sad young man, lost and alone. Because his desires can never be fulfilled, Plato as a character has to die. For the girls we have Shirley Maclean crying about how sick and disgusting she is before hanging herself in The Children’s Hour, a remake which even in
1961 never uses the word ‘lesbian’. Meanwhile in Britain Victim was being released, the first film with openly gay themes to ever be released to a mainstream audience. Of course, it didn’t travel very far outside of Britain. Also, the lead character, Farr, chooses to fight his urges and stay with his wife, but it was a step in the right direction. By the 1980’s gay audiences were beginning to tire of these representations. The civil rights movement had started. People were coming out of the closet and taking to the streets to fight for their rights. It was time to have something to call their own on celluloid. Heternormative society had failed gay audiences and so it was time for a new wave of young, gay filmmakers to take matters into their own hands. Thus New Queer Cinema started. New Queer Cinema came about to challenge exactly what people’s perceptions of a gay film were. Audiences had come to expect films like The Boys in the Band where the homosexual protagonist agonized over themselves for the whole film and were wrapped up in self pity and self loathing. These movies,
though groundbreaking in their day, were no longer what the queer audience was looking for. By the time they reached the nineties, the AIDS crisis made sure gay people were always in the media anyway. Now they wanted a positive portrayal of themselves, one they could relate to in an affirmative way. Gay directors began to make the kinds of films gay audiences wanted, completely ignoring the heterosexual view. No longer would gay audiences seek to translate films into their experience. These films were made to be of the moment, made to be radical and made to evoke extreme responses. They were low budget, grungy, dirty and urban. They were often parodies of the stories Hollywood had told before. Films like Todd Haynes’ Poison (1991) played on the perceptions of homosexuality, dividing itself into three parts; Hero, Horror and Homo in order to tell its story. ‘Hero’ tells of a young boy who attacks his over-bearing and violent father and flies out the window, overcoming traditional masculinity and asserting his alternative. ‘Horror’ is an allegory for the AIDS virus, were the disease manifests itself as sores on the skin. ‘Homo’ is a love story between two men played out through their lives in reform school and later prison. Tom Ka-
So what happened? How did we get from there only ten years ago to here, where homosexuality is no longer a taboo, but rather a commodity? It is the new quirky attribute, not of course for the main character, but their best friend. Hollywood has gotten rid of the bitchy female companion and replaced her with a gay. I say ‘a gay’, because they seem to be using the same stock character in every film. This is of course the reprisal of the sissy. While he is no longer asexual, nothing else has changed. He is fashionable, sassy, bitchy opinionated but not offensive. He doesn’t disrupt the narrative and he certainly doesn’t challenge anything. Characters like Damon in Mean Girls, who serve no other purpose in the narrative other than making the protagonist look good. It does get worse. More recently I went to see The Kids are Alright and was completely take aback. The film has been marketed as a queer family drama, and the media has been up in arms about how accepting it is. This is a prime example of ignoring the gay audience. The buzz surrounding the film is that it is taking gay families out of the closet. I find it hard to believe that this film was made in 2010 and applauded. The story centres on the family life of a lesbian couple and their two teenage
lin’s Swoon is a retelling of Hitchcock’s Rope, this time with the characters’ sexuality made explicit throughout. These films were about reclaiming identity and holding it aloft, an act of defiance against hetero-normative society.
children, who decide to find their sperm donor. For the first 40 minutes or so the film is actually very good. It is sensitive to the topics and I don’t think would have ever be accused of being a ‘gay film’. Then, going against all character development to this point, one of the mothers and the sperm donor start having an affair. This is jumping the shark in the extreme. What is particularly offensive is at no point do the characters mourn the loss of the family or show any respect for the relationship that went before. It is just a series of shots of Julianne Moore being excited about a penis. As I said, this is probably the most offensive film I have seen in a long time. Sadly, today representations of homosexuality on screen are rarely questioned, and this is irresponsible. The old adage ‘visibility at any cost’ is completely irrelevant at this point. It is now positive and most importantly realistic representation that we should concern ourselves with. The New Queer Cinema movement (or moment) needs more than ever to be revived.
HE IS FASHIONABLE, SASSY, BITCHY OPINIONATED BUT NOT OFFENSIVE. HE DOESN’T DISRUPT THE NARRATIVE AND HE CERTAINLY DOESN’ T CHALLENGE ANYTHING.
KING OF THE BEACH
by Ana Kinsella
ith Teen Dream, the third album from dream-pop purveyors Beach House, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand have managed to slip seamlessly into pop culture’s relevant beating heart, with all parts of the Internet singing their blissful, hazey praises since its release in January. The duo have spent most of the year touring incessantly and TN2 spoke to Alex, plaid-shirted, messy-haired guitarist, before their Vicar Street gig on the 22nd. You guys have been touring almost nonstop this year, and I saw you at Primavera in Barcelona in May. What was playing the festival like? It was amazing. Primavera was this thing we’d been hearing about for five years, with all these other bands saying ‘you have to play it’ so it was great to finally get there. We played at sundown, right on the beach, it was really trippy. And you’ve changed your stage set-up since then, right? Yeah, we have these glowing white pyramids on stage with us now. I think it looks pretty good. How much does Beach House’s aesthetic matter to the music itself? Uh, I’m not sure. It’s something that’s different for every listener I think. Some people will get a lot more from Victoria’s lyrics, or from the melodies, than the band’s aesthetics, but I feel like having the visuals lets us complete the music by creating a mood. Is it something that comes naturally, or do you have to work with the music to identify some visual aspect of it? I guess the best way to put it is that it’s like if someone invited you for a romantic night in 12
at their place and they had, you know, fluorescent lights turned on and they gave you soup that had a hair in it and they were playing something awful, like Blink 182. That’s not gonna really put you in the mood, is it? The way we have our lights set up on stage is to create a more romantic mood, like candlelight and soup with no hair in it and something more like Barry White on the stereo. Do you feel, as a band with such a recognisable sound, that you’re constrained? in an way No, I mean I really don’t want to make other kinds of music. The music Victoria and I are making is what we want to make, and I don’t really like a lot of the other music out there at the moment. Weren’t you guys a little bit pissed off when Katy Perry named her album Teenage Dream? (laughs) Yeah we weren’t pissed off so much as surprised. The name was so obvious. But her music is horrible. I haven’t heard the album, but the song ‘Teenage Dream’ certainly has some Beach House-esque themes: fantasy, irrational love… I don’t know about that. I’m not worried about Katy Perry though because she’s trashy and that kind of trash always goes away in the end. Are there any other more popular artists you’d be interested in right now? I heard the mash-up of Drake’s ‘Over’ and ‘Walk in the Park’ recently. I heard that. It was… fun. I don’t know, there aren’t really many pop artists I respect. Maybe Beyonce, but I don’t know other than that. What about collaborations outside of
music? I saw Victoria in the Samantha Pleet (Brooklyn-based fashion designer) Spring 2011 fashion film. Yeah, we’d really love to do some songs for film, that is something we’d really like to start doing some time soon. And Victoria loves fashion and I do too, so the fashion film was something that we were both interested in.
“I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT KATY PERRY. SHE’S TRASHY AND THAT KIND OF TRASH ALWAYS GOES AWAY IN THE END.” You guys are a very well-dressed pair. Do you look for things specifically for performing, or do you just wear what’s in your wardrobe? We go thrifting a lot. It’s cool to dress up a little and to buy things that we think would look really great on stage and might be a little bit more ‘out-there’ than what we’d usually wear. So yeah I do sometimes buy things thinking, ‘wow, this is going to look awesome when we play’. Are there other artists and bands around at the moment that you think are inspiring? Lower Dens are amazing, and the new Javelins record is really great too. I mean, I didn’t want to seem elitist about pop when I was talking about Katy Perry being trashy earlier. It’s more that there is a lot of really great music out there that I’d much rather listen to.
ART ATTACK! Jennifer Duignam, in conversation with Catherine Giltrap, Curator of the Trinity by Jennifer Duignam College Art Collection.
here’s an air of nervous excitement and anticipation exuding from the mismatched group of people assembled in the Pav. Eager faces search the room for that allusive “one,” while others exchange numbers and compare the proximity of their rooms to the bar. Nervous chatter fills the space, as students wait to hear those elusive words “Now, who’s next there please?” from the staff. But this is not a regular Pav Friday I’m experiencing. This is a Wednesday afternoon, just a few weeks into term. And the burning question on everyone’s lips is not “Is there any Druid’s left?” but rather “Did I get the Picasso?” For this is the final day in the College Art Hire Scheme, where students and staff who have proven lucky in the annual lottery find out just what artwork they have the privilege of hanging in their rooms on campus for the upcoming year
AN UNBIASED EYE “AN UNBIASED EYE” he College Art Hire Scheme at Trinity was founded in 1959 hebyCollege Art Hire Scheme the late George W.P. Dawat son Trinity was founded in 1959 (1927-2004) with the asbysistance the lateofGeorge W.P. Dawfour students, and son (1927-2004) the assistwas the first ofwith its kind in Ireance of four students, land. George, as and he was the firstby ofeveryone, its kind in Ireland. George, asleche known had come to TCD to was known byin everyone, come to decade, TCD to ture in Botany the earlyhad years of the lecturefrom in Botany in the early years theyears decdirect Cambridge. In 1958, justoffive ade, direct from Cambridge. In 1958, just five after the discovery of the double helical strucyearsofafter thehediscovery ofin the double helical ture DNA, succeeded acquiring fundstructure of DNA, he succeeded in acquiring ing to set up the College’s Department of Gefundinga to set up the College’s of netics, move indicative of his Department vision and the Genetics, a move indicative of his to vision and perfect sense of timing he seemed possess. the perfect sense of he timing hean seemed to posThe following year, set up initiative that sess. The year, hetoset up an initiative would seefollowing the approach collecting art in that would see the approach to collecting Trinity transformed, and which would art inin Trinity transformed, would spire generations of staffand andwhich students alikeinto spire generations of staff and students alike to
engage in modern and contemporary art. Dawson’s passion for art was encouraged engage modern and contemporary from aninearly age by his mother, who art. enjoyed “Dawson’s for art wasstudying encouraged painting, and passion by a friend while Bifrom an age by his who enjoyed ology at early Cambridge, whomother, encouraged him to painting, and by a friend while studying Biavail of the picture hire scheme in operation ology at Cambridge, who himfelt to there. When he arrived in encouraged Dublin, George availaofsimilar the picture hire scheme operation that scheme would be in beneficial to there,” says Catherine of unthe the students of Trinity,Giltrap, statingCurator “I never College Art derstood theCollection. educational value of bare walls.” he arrived in Dublin, George felt HisWhen aim was to encourage students to interthatwith a similar scheme would be beneficial act modern and contemporary art into a the students Trinity, stating “I never uncasual way, asofpart of their everyday college derstood while the educational value of bare walls.” routine, also developing a discrimiHis aimeye; wasstudents to encourage to internating wouldstudents have to live with act with modern andentire contemporary in a their choices for an year, so anart ability casual way, as part of theirHe everyday college to be critical was essential. also wished to routine, while alsoalongside developing discrimipromote creativity the atraditional nating eye; students would have topresent live with methods of education and research in their choices for an entire year, so an ability
the college. For the scheme to succeed though, it needto be critical was essential. Heengage also wished to ed new artworks that could and inpromote creativity the spire students. Up toalongside this point, thetraditional principal research in methods of foreducation collectingand art in Trinitypresent had been theportrait college. commission, donation or bequest. by For theand scheme to succeed though, it far needPainting sculptures dating back as as ed new artworks that could inthe 1600s commemorate the engage leading and figures spire Up toofthis theas principal in thestudents. development thepoint, college, well as methods for collecting artfrom in Trinity had been inspirational characters all disciplines. by portrait commission, donation or bequest. Funding from the TCD Association & Trust Painting George and sculptures dating27 back as farreas allowed to purchase framed the 1600s commemorate the leading productions of international masters,figures from in the development thethe college, as well as Massaccio to Manet,offor first year of the inspirational characters from all disciplines. project. Funding from the TCD hugely Association & Trust The scheme proved popular with allowed George to purchase framed the restudents. From here, Dawson 27 expanded productions of international from collection of modern artworksmasters, to include art Massaccio to Manet, for the challenging first year of and the that was thought provoking, project.
Image courtesy of Mark Meyler. 14
The scheme proved hugely popular with fresh, to keep in the collection students. Frominterest here, Dawson expandedalive the collection of modern artworks include among staff and students. He to was keen art to that wascontemporary thought-provoking, challenging support Irish artists, usingand the fresh,majority to keepofinterest in theover collection alive vast his funding the years to among staff andwork, students. was keen to purchase their whileHe simultaneously support contemporary artists, using the bringing graphics from Irish internationally famed vast majority his funding overtothe years to artists, such asofGeorges Braque, Trinity. purchase their work, while simultaneously As Catherine Giltrap, the current curator bringing graphics internationally famed of the College Artfrom collection, explains, the artists, such as Georges to Trinity. picture hire scheme wasBraque, “the stimulus for all As Giltrapengagement explains, thewith picture scheme subsequent thehire visual arts was “theatstimulus all subsequent engagepractice Trinity.”for During the 1960s and 70s, ment with Dawson the visualand artsapractice at Trinity.” Professor multi-disciplinary Duringof thevolunteer 1960s andstudents 70s, Professor group staged Dawson exhibiand a of multi-disciplinary of volunteer tions emerging and group established artists students staged exhibitions of emerging and both on and off campus. When the Berkeley established artists campus. Library opened its both doorson in and 1967,off a specially When theExhibition Berkeley Library opened its doors designed Hall was to be found in in 1967, a specially designed Hall its basement. During its briefExhibition life it housed was to be found in its basement. exhibitions of Henry Moore sculpture, the During its brief life itPicasso housedonexhibitions first solo show of Pablo Irish soil, of Henry Moore sculpture, theKinetic first solo group exhibitions of Pop and art,show and of Pablo Picasso on Irish soil, groupart, exhibishowcases of contemporary African furtions of design, Pop and ceramics Kinetic art,and andphotography. showcases of niture contemporary African art, furnituretodesign, The College Collection continued grow ceramicsthese and shows, photography. The such College during as works as ColRoy lection continued to grow during these shows, Lichtenstein’s Banner Landscape were puras works such Roy Lichtenstein’s Banner chased from theas exhibitions and incorporated Landscape were purchased from the exhibiinto the collection. tions and incorporated intothough. the collection. George didn’t stop here When the George didn’t though. When Exhibition Hall stop was here forced to close, duethe to Exhibition Hallneed wasfor forced close, due to an increasing booktostorage, Dawan increasing needthe for book storage, Dawson son championed establishment of the championed theGallery. establishment of the Douglas Douglas Hyde The first permanent Hyde Gallery. The first university university art gallery inpermanent Ireland, it opened its art gallery in and Ireland, it opened in doors in 1978, quickly becameits thedoors leading
1978, and quickly became theart leading platform platform for contemporary in Ireland. He for art in Ireland. He also alsocontemporary became the driving force behind thebeincame the driving force the integration tegration of modern artbehind into the very fabric of of modern artwith into large the very fabric of the camthe campus, scale works by Anne pus, withand large scale works by Anne Madden Madden Patrick Scott becoming incorpoand Patrick Scott becoming into rated into the design of newincorporated buildings around the design of new buildings around Trinity. Trinity. Through his personal friendships Through his he personal friendships with artwith artists, facilitated the purchase of a ists, he facilitated the artworks purchase for of athe number number of important collecof important artworks the collection, intion, including Arnaldofor Pomodoro’s Sfera con cluding Arnaldo Sfera con Sfera, Sfera, which nowPomodoro’s stands outside the entrance which now stands outside the entrance to the to the Berkeley Library. Berkeley GeorgeLibrary. inspired generations of staff and “Georgewith inspired generationsspirit of staff students his indomitable andwith pashis indomitable spirit and art. He sion for art. “(He) had anpassion ability for to enthuse had an ability to enthuse an ever-changing an ever-changing body of staff and students body of staffengage and students actively to actively with thetovisual artsengage of the with the visual of the“Imoment,” Gilmoment,” saysarts Giltrap. can’t tell says you how trap. can’t tell youcome how to many have many“Ipeople have me people with stories come me knowing with stories how knowing abouttohow himabout affected their lives.” him their The collection hasa The affected collection haslives.” continued to grow at continued to grow at a steady pace over the
years, through combination of acquisitions steady pace overa the years, through a combiand commissions, and now stands at over nation of acquisitions and commissions, and 700 stands pieces at of over modern art. Dawson’s donanow 700 pieces of modern art. tion of many works his own collection Dawson’s donation of from a number of works from meanwhile has encouraged similar acts of his own collection meanwhile has encouraged generosity graduates, from staff and artists similar actsfrom of generosity graduates, themselves. staff and artists themselves. George’s contribution contribution to to the the arts arts scene scene in in George’s Trinity and Ireland is “At aa Trinity is immeasurable.* immeasurable. At time when the country ondesert a cultime country was was verging a virtual tural in terms of support of structures to for thedesert practice and cultivation the visual fosterDawson the visual arts, Dawson for arts, campaigned forcampaigned the inclusion theart inclusion aroundfor thethe campus, of around of theart campus, benefit for of the benefit ofstaff students alike,” says students and alike.and Nowstaff celebrating its Giltrap.Now its 50th birthday, the 50th birthday,celebrating the Art Hire Scheme, though Art Hire Scheme, noticeably larger noticeably larger inthough scale and now open to in scale and now open to staff as well stustaff as well as students, manages to as retain dents, manages toof retain the original of the original spirit Dawson’s vision.spirit People Dawson’s People still gather excitedly still gathervision. excitedly to see which piece of art to seeadorn whichtheir piecewalls of artfor willthe adorn their walls will coming year, for the coming year, compare how compare notes on how best to notes hang on certain best to and hangdebate certain and debate the frames, theframes, merits of one painting merits of one painting another. It truly is over another. It truly isover George’s vision fully George’s vision fully realised. realised.
SCAN ME! George’scontribution contributiontoto visual culDawson’s thethe visual culture of Trinity is celebrated in the ture of Trinity is celebrated in the new exhinew exhibition “George Dawson: An Eye” bition “George Dawson: An Unbiased at the Royal Hibernian atUnbiased the RoyalEye” Hibernian Academy. A selection selection of overof 35the pieces ofAcademy. 35 piecesAchart the history modern chart the history the modern collection here atofTCD, and thecollection characters at TCD, the characters who have who haveand helped shape it over the years, inshaped overpioneering the years. spirit It will run at spired byit the of Professor the RHAhimself. Gallery until 19th Dawson It will runDecember at the RHA Gal2010. Smartphone users can access lery until 19th December 2010. During the a free interpretive to add tovisitors their can course of the RHAtool exhibition, understanding and appreciation. A access a free interpretive tool to further asseries ofunderstanding tags, like the one below, will sist their and appreciation of be artworks included inincluded the exhibition the in the display, show. A series youthe to access the information via ofallowing tags, like one below, will be included your Thereallowing will also be in the Smartphone. exhibition display, youanto acinteractive trail around TCD campus, cess the information viathe your Smartphone. whichwill offers students and visitors alike There also be an interactive trail around theTCD opportunity explore the gallery the campus,towhich offers students and that is the college grounds. Smartphone visitors alike the opportunity to explore the users can a freegrounds, QR Reader appalgallery thatdownload is the college and to activate the tag, which will lows them to seefollowing the ways in which the Collink them to the College Art Collections lege Art Collection continues to permeate website. A commemorative publication life at Trinity. Smartphone users can down‘George Dawson: An Unbiased Eye. to actiload a free “QR Reader” application Modern and contemporary at Trinity vate the following tag, whichart will link them College DublinArt since 1959’ is also on sale. to the College Collections website.
Clockwise from top: Clare Langan, L-R: Name Nameson, ‘Art Figure piece yeah!’ (1999), Forty Below, Submerging (1999); Carlos Merida, Untitled; Roy Name Nameson, ‘Art piece yeah!’ (1999), Lichtenstein, Banner Name Nameson, ‘Art Landscape, piece yeah!’1966. (1999), Images courtesy andof©the theCurator artists.of the all images courtesy College Art Collection, Catherine Giltrap.. 15
GOOD PINT BAD PINT MOOT PINT
t was supposed to be so easy. Touring Dublin’ s city centre in search of the best pint of Guinness isn’ t exactly undercover investigative journalism. After asking around amongst the few passionate stout-drinkers I knew, a shortlist emerged, and off I went to cast a cold eye on the imperial measures. I should’ve known, however, that the mythical pint wouldn’t yield so easily to objectivity. Grogan’s, situated on the corner of South William Street and Castle Street, is the obvious place to start. Long a favourite spot with artists and poets, it’s also a very comfortable bar turned living room, with big enough windows to allow for naturally lit daytime pints. At night, the barmen are lit-up from behind by white flourescence, serving €3.50 toasties from a stacked square fridge. The first pint, usually the best of the lot, is only good, tasting slightly warmer than would be my preference. Temperature is the first problematic in making any kind of assessment. On consulting one particular stout drinker on his choice for best pint, he cites the day Guinness began to be chilled as the end of bar-to-bar pint variation. Only at room temperature, the traditionalist argument goes, can stout truly be tasted. Whether it’ s the extra coldness or the extra hunger I have, pint number two at Mulligan’s of Poolbeg Street is a highlight. Open since 1782, its two doors offer two approaches to tradition under the one roof. The left-hand bar is bare and wooden, looking largely unchanged for the pub’s long lifetime. The right-hand lounge is more irreverent – its walls holding illustrations of Shakespearean theatre alongside a giant inflatable pint of Guinness. My pint, cold but not icy, with more smoothness and cream-aboveglass height than Grogan’s, is flawless. And though I get pints ticking these boxes in other pubs over the next few days (notably Neary’s of Chatham Street), this one stands out in the memory for some inexplicable, ungraspable reason. The variability of the pint is a complex phenomenon: some have likened it to the French terroir in wine: the alchemy of weather, soil 16
and grapes being replaced by pub, barman, pour and draw. To this you could add flow – the greater the demand, the fresher the Guinness. When I reach Kennedy’s of Tara Street, my group of friends are the only ones there, and this might be the reason the pint is a notch short of perfect. Probably the Dublin pub scene’s best-kept secret, arty types pack it out at weekends for its liberal approach to opening hours. When the shaggy-haired barman’s not taking meticulous care over every pint, he’s playing some brilliantly eccentric music (on the night we were there it was one of Tom Waits’ heavier albums followed by an Indian Tabla ensemble). Hartigan’s on Leeson Street takes minimalist barscaping to new levels, with utterly moodless lighting and unadorned walls. Five taps of Guinness line up at the bar one after another, as if daring you to order something else. By this stage I’m starting to be a good deal less sure of my judgement, and the pint is really, just another good pint. Looking around at the eight other customers in the pub, all male and all drinking Guinness like its 1959, I wonder if good pint pubs are more about connecting with the past than anything else. These pubs and many other great locals around the city hark back to a time when Guinness was ubiquitous and didn’t need a name. Like in Flann O’ Brien, Brendan Behan and Sean O’ Casey, stout or pint always means Guinness. I begin to realise that Guinness is a lot more about ideas and associations than alcoholic beverages. The more I discuss and dissect it, name it, the less attractive it becomes. The most successful marketing of Guinness tapped into this, most notably the iconic Surfer ad of 1999. With a mash-up of artistic influences from Coleridge to Melville to Leftfield, the ad mentions Guinness only once, relying on the viewer’s imagination to make connections to race memory, tribal spirit, ritual, excitement and performance. Without being named, the liquid could remain a tantalising idea, fluid and metaphysical, meaningful in some deeper, undefined way. And to be honest, that’ s how I like my pint. Jamie Leptien
Photos by Elizabeth Burke
THE WATER OF LIFE
armalade, hazelnuts, caramelised apple, turf, spice and kumquat. Vanilla, toasted coconut, pineapple and dried apricots. Forget raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, these are a few of my favourite things. These are the flavours infused into whisky – a sometimes spiritual, always potent, assemblage of throat burning and sensory enveloping ecstasy. On paper its composition is simple - a product of grain, water and old school technology. But don’t be deceived, in the glass it speaks volumes; unique flavours vocalise the colloquialisms of its distillery, region, country. Let me lead you on the path to discovering the water of life – whisky. The whisky-making process has remained more or less the same for 500 years. Boil some grain (corn, rye, wheat or barley) for a couple of hours to produce what we call a mash. Cool and strain. The residual sugary liquid is called wort. Yeast is added and the wort is left to bubble away for a few days. Then the distiller takes over. The wort is transferred into a copper kettlelike contraption called a pot still. Here it is heated and as it reaches the magic number - 79⁰c - the alcohol steams off and is captured and spat out as a raw spirit. At this point you’re ready to make a scotch. An Irish whiskey, however, takes a little more dedication. Irish whiskey is distilled three times and earns an extra “e” in its name for the trouble. All other varieties go by whisky (it’s EU law). Incidentally this can also be done by continuous still which swallows the alcohol back into the process rather than spitting it out like the pot still. This produces a predictably cheaper, trashier product. The raw spirit looks like a clear rough
vodka. After distillation it is aged in oak casks where it matures into its golden treacle colour. It mellows for a minimum of three years, or else it can’t legally be sold as whisky (the EU really takes its spirits quite seriously). At this stage the whisky has already developed its creamy, buttery notes from the distillation process due to the presence of the chemical diacetyl. Funnily enough, this is the same chemical responsible for culinary wonders like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. The oak barrels imbue the rest of the nutty notes, resinous highlights and general delights. Whilemellowing the whisky will develop a distinct profile making the choice of barrel crucial. Charred barrels will impart toastiness. New oak will infuse vanilla. And if the oak comes from an American forest this vanilla flavour will intensify. “To peat or not to peat?” is a question that fuels intense red nosed debate in board rooms and bars the world over. Peating, unsurprisingly, gives the taste of bog. Scotch is usually peated, Irish less often and always with a judicious hand. Try Laphroaig scotch for a great example. It tastes like a fine mouthful of turf slathered with butter and kumquat marmalade. Delicious! With a bit of practice we can all become experts and the myriad of flavours will eventually become as clear as red wine stained on a white shirt. A scotch has well defined, pronounced flavours and is a good place to start training your nose and palate. Personally, I like to assign drinks a personality profile. There’s nothing like a bit of illustrative anthropomorphism. Irish whiskey is the mellow, complex yet restrained art history student. Scotch is upfront and concise, probably drawn to the sciences. And finally Bourbon, with its brazen BESS streak. Fearghal O’Nuallain
Bluffers Guide: Irish - sweet, honeyed and fruity. Jameson, Powers. Scotch - smokey, rich and buttery. Laphroaig, Teachers. Bourbon - vanilla-ey, comfortable and tropical fruity. Jack Daniels, Jim Beam. The Old Fashioned Cocktail 60 ml. Irish Whiskey 1 tsp. sugar syrup (boil 500g sugar and 500ml water for 1 min. to make a litre, then store in the fridge) 1 dash Angostura bitters 2 large ice cubes Twist of orange peel Add the first three ingredients over the ice cubes. Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink (this will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink) Drop in the peel for garnish International Favourites: Scotch, Irish and American (Bourbon) whisky are the most freely available in Ireland, but as far as global sales are concerned, the Indian whiskey Bagpiper is the international favorite with 155 million litres sold every year in India alone. Johnny Walker comes a close second with global sales of 140 million litres. Jameson is the bestselling Irish whiskey with solid 30 million litres sales.
DO THE TWIST
I LOVE THE VALLEY OH The guy covertly plugging his Tumblr
MONDAY Woke up early with a clear head and a raging
libido. How was I going to find someone to fuck on a Monday though? Went off to lectures scheming about how to pick up a girl at the library. Lectures were engaging and fulfilling (not!) and then I hit the library. After two hours I was left sexually frustrated and dumbfounded by the staggering inefficiency of the Trinity library. I went home and wrote about how stupid the library is on trinners4winners.tumblr.com and then I watched porn for 76 minutes and jerked off twice and then reheated some chili con carne. TU ESDAY Woke up at 2:00 AM. I couldn’t sleep and went downstairs to watch TV. Mike and Molly was on and I couldn’t help but be turned on by Molly. I didn’t wank to it, but the temptation was there. I eventually got back to sleep. The morning came and I had to run to lectures. I was late. In class I was incredibly bored so I checked the Internet. Surfing porn images in class is electrifying. Day ended relatively uneventfully though I did get a text off of a girl I had met a few nights earlier. Intriguing. TH U RSDAY Woke up to a text from Her and she wanted to “hang out.” Boo ya. No lectures on Thursday so I lounged around and didn’t do much at all. Found out around 6:30 that she wanted to go out with her friends and that I was to meet her later. Damn. Called some of the guys and had cans with them until late. Started to worry about not hearing from my lady-love until the next day. FRIDAY 12:14. That’s when I got a text from Her. It was hardly English but I was able to figure out where she was. None of my friends would join me but I was not born a quitter. I was going to get my D wet or die trying. When I got there she was truly locked, but so was I so it’s all fair. We danced in a group for a while and I felt stupid, then we danced in a smaller group and I still felt stupid, and then we danced alone and I felt focused and then we started grinding and I felt victorious. We went home together and the combination of anticipation and alcohol got things pretty well jumpstarted. The sex was uncoordinated but energetic. We spent a few vigorous moments in most of the highlight reel positions. The trouble came when she got on top. I thought I saw it at first. And then I was sure I saw it. And then I reached out and touched it. She had chest hair, actual chest hair. It was sparse, but not sparse enough. I still finished. SATU RDAY In the morning (afternoon really) we both got up and had a pretty lovely morning. She loved trinners4winners.tumblr.com and I thought I could really start to like her. Then the duvet slipped down a little bit and I caught a wisp of brunette chest hair. I haven’t talked to her since. 18
“I was not born a quitter. I was going to get my D wet or die trying.”
Rose Ponsonby & Sadhbh O’Brien A wise old man once told me, never order spaghetti when you’re wearing a white shirt. Sage advice indeed. Before you undertake the preparation and consumption of spaghetti, note that it is a notoriously messy affair. Few in recorded history have completed a spaghetti dish with total grace, all at some stage undone by a rogue loop, secure to the eye, coming loose at the last millisecond and tumbling from your fork, humiliating you. Our advice is to eat spaghetti alone. Don’t let this deter you however. The spaghetti experience is quite the novelty. Few foods allow for the twisting action of cutlery, boosting spaghetti’s credentials versus more conventionally fun pastas such as farfalle or spaghetti hoops. It also provides a happy middleground between chunky tagliatelle and the more camp linguine. Also, spaghetti is seriously cheap: the price of your bus fare will get you 5kg! Other food columns will tell you spaghetti is easy to make. This is a lie. I tip my hat to anyone with the strength of hand and mind to twist the spaghetti into the pot of boiling water without breaking the individual sticks and emerge with his/her hand unscathed. Tomato, spaghetti’s closest friend, provides the basis for this 15-minute recipe.
Sadhbh & Rose’s
1 tbsp. olive oil 3 cloves garlic, crushed 400g tin of chopped tomatoes 20 ml. prepared chicken stock Small handful of parsley, chopped Handful of frozen peas Spaghetti to serve 4 Grated parmesan Heat oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the garlic, some salt and pepper, and cook until slightly golden. Add the tin of tomatoes and the chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the frozen peas and continue to simmer until heated through. Boil spaghetti. Either add the chopped parsley now, or scatter it over the top with grated parmesan when serving.
CEE LO GOES SOLO by Gheorghe Rusu
THE LADY KILLER Cee Lo Green rom his early days rapping as a quarter of Atlanta, Georgia’s Goodie Mob, to his turn as a soul singer on two solo albums, to fusing his own hip-hop and R’n’B vocal talents with DJ Danger Mouse as Gnarls Barkley, Cee Lo has always been a unique voice, literally and figuratively. As a rapper, he shone through, despite the presence of such Dungeon Family contemporaries as OutKast, with his gravelly cadence and charming-yet-sleazy demeanor. His solo efforts showed a side of him far removed from that hard-edged persona: his heartfelt lyrics, dealing with his childhood losses, bore a surprisingly revealing honesty, and demonstrated his remarkable skill as a singer. Gnarls Barkley, meanwhile, allowed him to explore a middle ground between the sombre and the fun, tracks meandering between poignant and tongue-in-cheek. The collaboration of course spawned the mega-hit Crazy, an infectiously simple beat with a dark 20
subtext, and the rather forgettable rendition of the Violent Femmes’ Gone Daddy Gone. Gnarls Barkley’s second album came and went, without much of a ripple on the music press radar, which could be chalked down to the absence of anything resembling Crazy, though it was an above-average record in its own right. As you’re probably well aware by now, The Lady Killer is not lacking in the viral hit department. F**k You! was released as a way of getting buzz for the album, and buzz it did get, receiving about 5 million views in less than a week. And not undeservedly so. Its themes of rejection and bitterness, crammed in a revamped cookie-cutter shape of feelgood funk organ, piano, bongos and guitar, not to mention the cheeky hook, was a breath of fresh air for a stagnant and brainless Top 40. The notable thing about F**k You!, and the album as a whole, is that, apart from a spoken intro, Cee Lo is in full-on pop-soul crooner mode, echoing the greats: Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Jimmy Ruffin. Not only that,
but from embracing the concept of himself as gung-ho singer stems, naturally, the fact that The Lady Killer is essentially a concept album. About love – what else? It is, of course, love with a twist. It’s not anything we haven’t seen before, from Cee Lo or otherwise, but at the same time, while not revolutionary, it’s not as minute a twist as say, Barbie with a different handbag. The magic here comes from the pitch-perfect sequencing and sheer brilliance of balance of the songs. There is the ideal amount of foot-shuffling, fun beats offset by slowburning ballads, and mid-tempo numbers which could go either way, and Cee Lo doesn’t necessarily stick to the “sad stories warrant sad songs” school of thought – the lead single exemplifies this quite well. The introductory track, where Green waxes poetic, somewhat sarcastically making himself out to be a bit of a romantic rogue, an indulgent non-conformist, over some loungeact-worthy piano, dissolves, with the line “when it comes to ladies, I have a licence to kill”, via ominous brass sting, into a violinand-guitar-driven Bond-theme pisstake. The song that follows, Bright Lights, Bigger City, is a Billie Jean-style bassline layered under some Abba strings and trance synths. The marriage of influences is simply seamless. Subtle saxophone fringes show up on Wildflower, a piano-driven, almost proggy ode, also featuring an auto-tuned choral section. His droll sense of humour is in full swing, only to be disarmed in the following seconds. The rolling drums on Bodies, accompanied by vague droney tones, occasional violins and Cee Lo’s echoey lull, makes us question how fantastical his opening statement really was, as he sings about being a murder suspect while having a back-and-forth with a ghostly female voice. Love Gun negates this almost straight away, with a playful gunshot sample and surf guitar. No One’s Gonna Love You and I Want You are contemplative pieces, where the instrumentation, despite its strength, takes a distant, almost negligible, second place to Cee Lo’s pipes. Both contain stunning vocal performances. His talent may be masked or obscured by the excellent production, whose main flaw is perhaps that the percussion is a little too hip-hop-oriented, but not on these tracks. Nor on It’s OK (To Say That You Love Me), the mature longing and reflection to F**k You!’s bratty resentment. The Lady Killer is book-ended by the epilogue to the intro’s spyfilm homage: a pleasant surprise consisting of a shredding metal lead followed by idiosyncratic chase-scene music. Despite the respect and admiration due to Cee Lo and his crackteam of producers for creating something so refreshing and pristine, the record is not quite deserving of the best rating there is. It is, disappointingly, dragged down by nigglingly small but very valid negative aspects. In places, the hooks are poorly executed or completely absent, and Cee Lo’s soul does not break through to compensate. Worse still, his vocals are in places dull and morose, as if the artist himself is kind of bored and distracted. Some of the songs are pure pop gems. It’s not Thriller, but it’s a worthy substitute. Gheorghe Rusu
BOOKS Though Winston Churchill, Czeslaw
Director: Robert Rodriguez
FILM Raising his weapon of choice, “This is
the boss” says Machete to his short-lived compadre as they drive into a wall of gun-toting goons. Right from the get-go, Machete is ballsto-the-wall action. The amount of death and nudity that ensues in just its first five minutes is greater than what most movies feature in their entirety. Included in filmmakers Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarrantino’s 2007 double-feature exploitation-cinema tribute Grindhouse was a joke trailer for Machete, then a non-existent movie. The positive reaction to the trailer prompted Rodriguez to remake it as a feature-length film. If you, like me, were skeptical that the hilarity of the short original could successfully be expanded upon, I am happy to report that you need not worry. Sickeningly dirty, delightfully corny, and surprisingly topical, Machete is possibly Rodriguez’s best work. Machete follows a Mexican federale who, after losing his wife and daughter at the hands of druglord Torrez (Steven Seagal, in an enjoyably knowing turn), finds himself working as an illegal day laborer on the north side of the Rio Grande border. One day he is given a job offer he cannot refuse – to assassinate the radically anti-immigration politician McLoughlin (an over-the-top Robert DeNiro). Machete is double-crossed while carrying out his task but as the original trailer suggested, “they just fucked with the wrong Mexican.” Aided by taco-selling, truck-driving woman/ revolutionary Luz/Shé (an eye-patch sporting Michelle Rodriguez), ICE agent Sartana (a sultry Jessica Alba, who plays the character’s twin sister), and his priest brother (Cheech Marin, a Rodriguez regular), Machete beds many women and spares few men his machete blades as he plunders into bloody rampage against those who have wronged him. Machete’s acting ensemble, which also includes a tongue-in-cheek Lindsay Lohan as Booth’s drug-addicted socialite daughter and Miami Vice star Don Johnson as a psychotically disturbed vigilante gang leader, is perfect despite seeming like an absurd mess of miscasts on paper. An actual ex-con, 66-yearold Trejo still looks like he just walked out of prison, his face a leathery mess of scars and
strife. Even though he has never fronted a cast before, usually found sneering in the supporting cast, Machete proves he is the right hardman for the job. Compared to the mostly wimpy action movies of recent memory (The Expendables and The A-Team spring to mind), Machete is gorifically refreshing. It manages to display great humor through its over-the-top approach whilst cleverly transcending the B-movies that inspired it. For the better, it never becomes a complete joke. Machete concludes with the promise of not one but two sequels; something I’m hoping does not turn out to be an empty promise. Given the recent interest spike in Dublin for all things Mexican – Burritos & Blues, Pablo Picante and the recent Day of the Dead celebrations – it seems perfect timing for a balls-tothe-wall Mexicano adventure to spice up your dreary November. Personally, I left the theatre with an intense craving for a burrito and a smile that lasted for days. Zander Sirlin
Milosz, Harold Pinter and Orhan Pamuk are good writers, to varying degrees, they are not great writers. But because, as often as not, the Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded for political reasons, we find that each member of this arbitrary quartet is a laureate. Glance down the list of Nobel winners and, at the very least, every second name you’ve never heard of before was awarded the prize in recognition of their writings from this war-torn area or that totalitarian state. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se. But the back catalogues of winners ��� invariably retranslated and republished and (ahem) reviewed – are home to some phenomenally boring books. All of which brings me to the newly republished The Appointment by Herta Müller, the Romanian-born German novelist who in 2009 picked up the laureateship for her depiction of “the landscape of the dispossessed.” Set in Ceausescu’s Romania, The Appointment is a bleak portrait of life under totalitarianism, where everyone is suspicious of everyone else – and with good reason, for everyone is betraying everyone else, too. The story unfolds in the mind of the unnamed narrator, who rides the tram on her way to an interrogation to which she has been summoned for stitching notes to the inside of suits bound for Italy. “Marry me,” read the notes, alongside her name and address. I write “the story unfolds,” but it actually does nothing of the sort. The story simply spills out of the narrator’s mind, one arbitrary memory after another. Any narrative arc there might have been comes to look like a round of popular children’s game don’tbuzz-the-wire. The Appointment sometimes teeters on the brink of being boring. But most of the time, it is in fact boring. The florae of the novel are named with great precision: “haemanthus”, “delphiniums”, “petunias”. These names are the only indisputable truths in this landscape of the dispossessed, and the narrator clearly takes pleasure in them. But in a novel so full of vagaries, half-truths and subterfuge, how appropriate that even the translators, Philip Boehm and Michael Hulse, make small mistakes of grammar and vocabulary. “As if I was looking,” looks as if it were written with no understanding of the English subjunctive, while “Ifelt a little nauseous” made me feel just a little nauseated. Kevin Breathnach 21
NATIONAL RANSOM Elvis Costello
M USIC Yet another album from the self-pro-
claimed “Scrabble champion of rock ‘n’ roll”, National Ransom does not disappoint in terms of sharp wordplay and social observation, although the caustic savageries of Costello’s early albums have been considerably toned down. No longer an angry young man, but a mature and acclaimed artist, what this latest record lacks in bile, it more than makes up for in an adventurous approach to genre and superb musicianship. Ranging from vaudeville to gospel to bluegrass and featuring over thirty musicians, the album displays a mastery in its subtleties. This is the work of an artist at the height of his game, assured in his ability, and not afraid to experiment. It has been compared to Secret, Profane and Sugarcane, his previous, predominantly bluegrass album, but this one is, musically and in terms of influence, much more broad-minded and ambitious. The continuity of National Ransom is tenuous, but lies in its theme of bankruptcy: financial, moral and ideological. Each song is assigned a subtext, a specific time and place: A Drawing Room in Pimlico, London, 1919; A Narrow Bed, Some Other Time; Under the Napoleonic Code, 1921; and so on. Highlights include Jimmie Standing in the Rain, a vaudeville song telling the story of a down-and-out country singer played out on a dusty honkytonk piano, A Slow Drag With Josephine, a deceptively simple bluegrass tune with shimmering mandolin accompaniment, and Church Underground, a raw bluesy tale of deception and disillusion. There are one or two songs which could have been left out without any real loss to the whole, notably the title track, which is generic and flabby. National Ransom has been dubbed by many of its reviewers a “mess”, an album which does not flow, whose mix of genres renders it less than easily accessible, but which still contains “gems” to make it worth listening to. It seems more likely that the eclectic running order was fully intentional. While in some ways a concept album, National Ransom does not depend in any way on a complete playthrough to make sense. Both its individual tracks and its general theme are maintained. It is at once a good old-fashioned album and a reaction to the changing way people listen to albums since the advent of digital music. And more importantly, it is full of intricately crafted, lyrically interesting songs. Liza Cox 22
FOOD The regular hamburger holds an im-
portant place in my heart. And when I say heart, I mean my head. Psychologically. For when I was a child, a regular hamburger (and a small fries) were all my tiny stomach could handle, and it was only when I became a real man that I could hope to handle bigger, more adventurous burgers. I am a man now, yet sometimes I still eat a regular hamburger, to fill tiny holes both in my stomach and my heart. I began with a McDonald’s eurosaver burger, which ironically did not save me a euro. In fact, it cost me a euro. I’ve eaten so many of these that I’ve almost forgotten what they taste like. Does air have a taste? Doing away with the vile gherkin, I was able to inspect the sauce and onion coverage. As usual, and compared to the other burgers, it was quite good. Ketchup and mustard, with tiny onion pieces to boot. Importantly, the burger itself was piping hot and fresh, which contributed greatly to its flavour. For those who particularly like a meaty burger, McDonald’s isn’t the place to go. Like McDonald’s fries, their burgers have a taste of their own, but one which satisfied me immensely. If you’re looking for a burger which tastes like it’s made from actual meat, however, then Burger King’s €1.80 hamburger wins hands down. You can practically taste the abattoir. The sesame seed bun makes it seem just a smidgeon classier too. Yet as I removed yet
another gherkin (or pickled onion?) I saw that once again BK had skimped in the sauce department. Perhaps they prefer their meat to speak for itself, which would be reasonable, and in fairness it was still tasty, if a bit dry. The institutionalised scabbiness on the part of BK employees, however, must end. Speaking of institutionalised, my last burger was a €1.60 burger from SuperMacs, an Irish institution beloved of city and country folk alike. But mostly country folk. Given that the majority of it’s clientèle probably watch Ear to the Ground and grow either plants or animals for a living, I was surprised to find that this burger tasted the least like meat. While it’s almost impossible to be a vegan these days, what with the amount of things made from animals (everything from plastics to medicines), I’m pretty sure that one could eat this burger and remain meat-free. The burger tasted like something one would get from a chip van after a match at Croke Park, with less sauce than there are protestants at an all-Ireland final. The regular burger is an odd thing. It’s much too tiny to be remotely filling, and it’s not exactly a smorgasbord of flavour. What it has going for it is nostalgia. I love McDonald’s; I grew up with it. And I think you should too, because it’s tasty and cheap. But you’ll probably just keep buying the one which reminds you of primary school birthday parties anyway. Andrew Linn
GREEN NINETEEN 19 Camden St, Dublin 2 FOOD There lies on Camden Street a restau-
NOTHING N.E.R.D. M USIC Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo,
who began producing as The Neptunes in 1992, have delivered several emblems of popular music through artists such as Madonna, Jay-Z, Gwen Stefani and Kelis. In 2001, together with vocalist Shay Haley, they formed N.E.R.D (No one Ever Really Dies) and have been widely commended for never following any restricted musical outlines but also criticised for their inability to fuse such differing genres as fluidly as they’d hoped to. The band haven’t exhibited much since their last album, Seeing Sounds, which produced the controversial Everybody Nose and the overrated Spaz, but alas Skateboard P and Co. have returned with Nothing, so named because Pharrell “scrapped 27 records” while working on it. In addition to this, N.E.R.D hired and dismissed singer Rhea as a fourth Fergie-esque member and had their original draft album rejected by Interscope, who urged for more up-tempo tracks. This pressure shows, with the album being almost mindless at moments as in Party People featuring T.I. On the other hand, it has its high points, like Hot-n-Fun, indisputably infectious through its jagged bass sample of War’s Galaxy, complemented by a silky hook lent by Nelly Furtado. Hayley even sings the whole second verse, which is a rare and vocally refreshing break from Williams. Hypnotize U, co-produced by Daft Punk, presents itself as a sultry, mannered ballad and Williams employs his unavoidable falsetto to help transfix us into a futuristic,
electronic lull by making our “grey clouds, sky blue”. He then encourages his female friends to “touch it, girl” in a sinister repetitive tone which does nothing but add an eerie glitch to an otherwise good song. Perfect Defect and Nothing on You provide an elevating sparkle to Nothing with well coordinated bridges that run evenly into funkdraped choruses, compensating for damages such as the overbearing, horn-driven God Bless Us All. Lyrically, the album is lacking, other than some politically engaging moments on the monotonous-sounding Help Me, “See those war machines out there? / A pack with your karma, do you care?”. The album is a testament to women, partying and freeing oneself. It doesn’t deliver its messages in the most thought-out words, but rather in a more simplistic and “fun” fashion, like on I Wanna Jam: “Thank God the teenagers takin’ over the world/And when you open up your eyes/I hope you old fucks just hurl/I am the nookie piper”. Nothing as a whole challenges itself to generate a very advanced yet retro commotion. There’s an amusing nod to 1960s ideals of liberty and sexuality enclosed in modern electronic, funk-motivated rhythms. But this could also be its weakness, particularly on The Man. Its closing lines summarize the album’s feelings aptly, with Shay Haley shouting “All my muffins! Revolution, liberation”. Overall, the album is a little more than nothing but still quite short of something. Jill Woodnutt
rant which truly has to be one of, if not the, best-value restaurants in Dublin. For those of you who are unaware of this gem, it is called Green Nineteen, a chic place that serves generous portions of good quality traditional food at very reasonable prices (all main courses cost €10). If that was not already enough of incentive to go, Green Nineteen also boasts an impressive cocktail menu, something which can be hard to find in Dublin. My last visit to Green Nineteen was in celebration of a friend’s birthday, so needless to say the evening commenced with a bit of cocktail sampling, and between us we ordered a variety of different cocktails from Mojitos to Alabama Slammers. My personal recommendation would be the ‘“Business Time” cocktail, which consists of Bombay Sapphire, lemon, sugar syrup, mint and raspberries, an altogether deliciously fruity combination! The menu at Green Nineteen is the same for lunch and dinner and on it there is a selection of starters, salads, sandwiches and mains. There are only seven main courses on the menu but there is something for everyone: Szechuan spiced lamb, slow braised pork belly, confit duck leg and for vegetarians; Mexican chilli bean burritos. On my last visit I went for the pot roast chicken with seasonal vegetables and mashed potato. The pot roast chicken at Green Nineteen is cooked to perfection and finished off nicely with a delicious rich gravy. I am also informed by good authority that both the Szechuan spiced lamb dish served with pak choi and egg noodles in a chilli broth, and the slow braised pork belly which comes with a chorizo and white bean cassoulet and sauted cabbage, are mouth-wateringly tasty dishes. Whilst the desserts on the menu sound quite exciting: rhubarb crumble with mint chocolate ice cream or strawberry and balsamic sundae, in my opinion they are a little artificial-tasting and don’t quite live up to the high standard of the wholesome main courses. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a restaurant that attracts a young crowd and serves excellent, hearty, home cooked dishes to a high quality, all with an affordable price tag, Green Nineteen is the place to go. Sarah Brookes 23
INVOLUNTARY Director: Ruben Östlund
FILM Foreign films, particularly non-Anglo-
phonic European ones, get a bad rap among lay movie-goers. They’re perceived as drab, pretentious, and boring. And this stance - not always, but sometimes - can be justified. Such is the case with Involuntary. It’s a startling revelation, actually: its poster is adorned with significant praise from several credible sources, but after a viewing, every word of acclaim could be some sort of doublespeak inside joke. “Super-smart” might mean “too smart”; “contemplative” - “drawn out”. The movie, a first time venture by Swedish director Ruben Östlund, is composed of several interspersed episodes: a family gathering that starts with the patriarch injuring himself but refusing medical assistance; a lads’ camping trip that goes awry; a teacher witnessing a fellow faculty member beat a student; a bus journey halted by the driver when something is damaged; and finally, two precociously promiscuous teenage girls out on a binge. As tantalising or exciting as that may sound on paper, nothing really happens. Repercussions are not introduced, conclusions are not reached, or at least, not felt. It might make a decent sociology thesis, sure, but, despite some great acting, is in no way entertaining or thought-provoking. I’m just grateful the thing was only 98 minutes long. Gheorghe Rusu
At Home: A Short History of Private Life is another surprise then. It is a book completely contained within the home, specifically Bryson’s home, which is a converted rectory in Norfolk. From within, he moves exponentially outward. By exploring the development and history of the most often taken-for-granted items in the home, Bryson leads the reader into histories of ancient empires and exploration. It’s a truly impressive accomplishment. The book is expansive and at times painstakingly intricate, but Bryson’s trademark conversational tone imbues every detail with novelty. I found it best to try and isolate myself as much as possible when reading At Home because I couldn’t stop myself from trying to interest my companions in the thrilling and bloody history of the salt trade. In the retelling, these stories are not nearly as interesting as when Bryson tells them himself. No matter though, At Home is entertaining and informative enough that, while it lasts, it’s better than having friends. Stuart Winchester
THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST Director: Daniel Alfredson
AT HOME BOOKS It’s been a long time since Bill Bryson
could accurately be called a travel writer. In the last ten years he has published a hugely successful autobiography, a layman’s guide to the history of the universe and a biography of Shakespeare - not typical fare for a man who made his name as a garrulous travel author. 24
MONSTERS Director: Gareth Edwards
sociopath), Alexander Zalachenko. Lisbeth is on trial for murder and is being defended by the sister of Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist working to save her by gathering evidence about her tragic past. If convicted, she risks re-institutionalisation in the asylum run by her former abuser Dr. Teleborian. Simultaneously, she finds herself targeted by ‘The Section’: a dodgy secret service subsidiary. It’s all a tad complicated yes. However, it’s centered by the stunning performance of Rapace as the distrustful, embittered Lisbeth. The film is powerful and gripping and while foreign language films often get lost in translation, the dialogue is cutting and clear. Although often needlessly convoluted it is essentially a well-casted and well-handled adaption and David Fincher has a lot to live up to with the remake. Clare Burnett
FILM It’s rare when a foreign language film
makes such an impact upon the mainstream as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. However The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the last in this Swedish trilogy, adapted from the novels by Stieg Larsson, deserves the critical acclaim it has been receiving across the pond. In this final film, Lisbeth Salander is recovering from the showdown with her father, Swedish secret-service mercenary (and
FILM There have been numerous films which
have been released over the years to huge critical acclaim that have left me scratching my head as to what exactly constitutes quality filmmaking nowadays. Monsters, it would seem, is one such example. The film revolves around an ‘infected zone’ on the U.S./Mexico border which has become populated by extraterrestrial creatures. Scoot McNairy plays Andrew Kaulder, a photojournalist charged with the task of returning his employer’s daughter to the U.S. However due to the loss of a passport, the couple are forced to take their lives in their own hands and the trek through the ‘infected zone’ in order to get home safely Overall their journey is actually quite mundane. The creatures themselves are rather disappointing whenever they decide to make an appearance, which amounts to only a hnadful of times throughout. As a substitute we are fed repetitive dialogue centred around boring topics such as plans for when they get home and what kind of pets they have. I found myself waiting for a climax of epic proportions to redeem the film of its comainducing content. Not surprisingly I was disapointed and as the credits appeared I was left wondering what the filmakers were trying to achieve with Monsters.
GUILT Y PLE ASURES
NOT LET SOCIAL ANXIETY INTERFERE WITH YOUR CONVERSATIONS TOO MUCH Seán Mc Tiernan
YOU R P ROBLEM : Social anxiety is a pretty big deal to
you, I get that. That’s why you think the lyrics of The Smiths are so witty and always have lots of complicated reasons not to go to weddings. However people that are confident don’t even really know you have it. They just assume you’re bored or nervous. I could tell you to relax and let the little things go but that’s on par with the time my grandmother tried to get me to pray the depression away. Instead, and this is probably equally hard advice to follow, just be wary of over-compensating. It’s vague I know but it’s hard to communicate without really specific anecdotes. And you really don’t want to hear about the time I started chewing my favorite guitarist’s ear off about having to move apartment so he wouldn’t notice I was on MDMA so we won’t go into it. E YE C ONTACT: Commit. If you’re going to try and actually make it, forehead staring is your friend. It really does look the same to them. Even if they have a rich thick forehead, don’t worry about staring at it. That may actually make them a bit more conscious and rebalance the power. If you’re not going to make any eye contact, act aloof and tired. They’ll know you’re just being awkward but at least it’ll provide both of you with an convenient fiction. Not committing and mixing middle-distance staring with intense eye contact makes you looks psychotic or like you’re on exciting drugs. You do not want men who need exciting drugs to try and buy said drugs off you. APPE AR AN CE: You’ll have a compulsion to apologise for this. Stick to once with a joke and move on. Do not provide the origin story of your week-old bad haircut. This is the hardest blather-cycle to avoid but if you manage it the tone for the rest of the conversation will be set. Excessive conversational self-flagellation will actually make things more awkward. PAUSIN G: I know you feel the need to get your preprepared story out but once a week you should try to pause. This will initially be stilted and you’ll need to fill the silence but let the other party try. Turn taking is a Thing with most socially anxious people, getting on top of it will make you a king. Or just less annoying in pubs. Either is good. STARIN G: Yeah, I know. You stare a a girl by accident then panic cause you’ll think she thinks you’re a pervert. Then stare at her fella and get scared he’ll gay bash you. Then you stare at their kid and realising the ramification of that. It seems counter intuitive but sometimes if you’re in a tailspin just stare back at your feet. It’s not ideal, but it is safe. Don’t take up smoking to have something to fiddle with, this actually creates a whole new sub-set of potential awkwardness. When they say “everyone feels as self-conscious as you sometimes”: They’re lying.
“Forehead staring is your friend. It really does look the same to them.”
Mills and Boon by Róisín Stronach Mills and Boon has been around for a long time and is an incredibly successful company. It was founded in 1908 by Charles Boon and Gerald Mills. Though the company initially published books other than romantic fiction the growing demand for women’s romance novels led them to specialise in the area. Mills and Boon has now been around for over a hundred years and is still going strong. Their titles are divided into categories so that the reader can choose what type of story they want. My favourite is Modern, which has exciting international relationships in a contemporary setting. Other categories include Historical, Medical, and Nocturne, cateing for the current craze for supernatural romance. I love reading Mills and Boon.They have a set plotline and a guaranteed happy ending. I study English and so I read a lot of extremely worthy and well written books for my coursework. The unfortunate thing about these books is happy endings are not guaranteed. Sometimes even if a book seems to have a positive ending a lecturer might ruin it by looking at it from a different angle (for example that Lizzy married Mr Darcy for his money). But with Mills and Boon this cannot happen. Not only do they rarely turn up in English curriculums but even if they did, the point of the books is a happy ending for the heroine. Mills and Boon can easily be seen as sexist but I prefer to concentrate on how the female protagonists are generally successful career women who are perfectly capable of demanding whatever they want from the hero. The heroes are always sexy, talented professionally and (though it may be very deeply hidden) emotionally compatible with the heroine. On top of this they also perform extremely well in the bedroom. What more could you want? The heroines come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter what her hair colour or height the hero will inevitably think she is the most gorgeous woman he has ever laid eyes on. The course of true love never did run smooth and so there is always a problem. There may be an issue with commitment or perhaps a cultural difference to be overcome. But no matter what it is the heroine wants, whether it is marriage and a career or a successful relationship with the father of her child, it will always occur by the end of the book. It’s brilliant! They are generally so short that you can read one in a couple of hours. Mills and Boon books provide me with romantic relationships and happy endings and for that I am eternally thankful to them. 25
RAP CRITICS SAY HE’S “MONEY, CASH, HOS” Oisín Murphy
From an extroverted point of view, I think it’s too late, Hip hop has never been the same since ‘88, Since it became a lucrative profession there’s a misconception That a movement in any direction is progression. Canibus, Poet Laureate II, Rip The Jacker (2003) We have a strange relationship with hip-hop in Ireland, as part of the broader market for musical criticism and coverage that has not historically been concerned with the genre. By and large, there is a dissonance inherent in our pan-generic musical discourse (both mainstream and alternative), as with the vast majority of the global “white media”, exemplified by the prescriptive “best of...” lists compiled at the end of every year (and decade), which plunge into semi-obscurity, not unjustifiably, for rock selections, while giving coverage only to hip-hop’s most commercial output (typically with a maximum of two such albums reaching the top ten). The compiler’s job is made much more difficult if Jay-Z hasn’t released an album that year, in which case Kanye West or Outkast can be readily substituted. Thankfully, between themselves, these artists were kind enough to produce at least an album a year for the last decade, so we were never left in the tricky position of feeling obliged to listen to exotic things which hadn’t already received late-capitalism’s categorical seal of approval. Of course, newspapers, magazines and websites that are party to this incongruous tendency are open to the familiar accusation of being “entry-level” by those with a vested interest in seeming real more well-informed, when in fact their tokenism is more likely due to an artificial, editorial surge towards quasi-liberal, post-racial catholicity than poor musical taste. In the majority of cases, it’s obvious that the writers aren’t particularly interested in hip-hop, but feel compelled to include it due to (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt) its wider cultural relevance. In Ireland, The Ticket was honest enough not to list any hip-hop whatsoever in its top twenty albums of the decade, a decision which is, to my mind, more palatable than the perfunctory shoehorning of The Black Album at number six along with a write-up containing embarrassing and liberal use of “Hova” and “Jiggaman” cos the title makes it sound definitive. One of the most interesting aspects of the genre is braggadocio, a key element of MC-ing, of which the current, most recognisable incarnation is perhaps said Jiggaman’s continuous assertion from the late-90s or so onwards that he’s the greatest of all time. In an unprecedented turn of events, this has become common knowledge, presumably because he said it enough times for people to believe it. The even more interesting evolution of said braggadocio is the widespread acceptance that there need be, or indeed can be, a “greatest of all time”. No other musical genre has made the recording of disstracks standard practice, for one thing, as wonderful as the possible permutations for dream-pop contretemps might be were this not the case. Asserting one’s superiority to others is par for the course in a lot of hip-hop, and the 26
“I would use the critical fascination with status as evidence for the commodification and gradual decline of mainstream hip hop.”
rationality of this insular discourse has spread into the wider criticism of the genre, perhaps to its detriment. Closely tied in with our tendency to make lists of the best albums, films, books, etc; the competitive element of hip-hop and its innate culture of self-aggrandisation has contributed to critical circumstances in which we necessarily have to determine for ourselves who is “The GOAT”. Naturally, this serves only to reaffirm the status of hip-hop as industry rather than non-commercial art/culture, especially given that the criteria widely accepted in the rating process rarely go beyond the economic (“Jay-Z’s flow is so good that he’s worth $150 million!”). I don’t necessarily want to refute the suggestion that Jay-Z is the world’s greatest rapper (though I would question the basic artistic criteria upon which he can be judged as such), but use this critical fascination with status as evidence for the commodification and gradual decline of mainstream hip-hop. Public Enemy, Grandmaster Flash, KRS-One and Eric B. & Rakim, amongst others, formerly of the mainstream, are now seen as historical artefacts (whether active or not), with “conscious hip-hop” relegated to marginal status, along with the rise of its ontological antipode in “gangsta rap”. To observe this trend in its broader context, from the outside, it must look like a culture collapsing on itself, with preponderant commodity necessitating its own propagation and growth as art, in the same way that pop music and other genres operate in the 21st century, with their own distinct differences. In other words, by using commercial success and conspicuous self-advancement as our barometer for critical worth, our interpretative frameworks, in the media, become nothing more than apparatuses of capitalist predominance in hip-hop. As a result, and taking the mainstream as irredeemably such, we are left with an alternative music-media concerned with (for example) Avey Tare, No Age and Crystal Castles at the same time as Kanye, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, despite the huge, manifest discrepancy that ought to be obvious to even a casual observer. I have a good friend who often asserts that the work of Jurassic 5 is “hip-hop for people who don’t like hip-hop”. Loaded phrase though that is, it goes to show, at the very least, how corrupted the critical discourse surrounding hip-hop has become. What is this “realness” which we, as listeners, are trying to attain? Jurassic 5 was a return to the basic elements of hip-hop in the post-’93 milieu, though generally speaking without the posturing or confrontationalism so prevalent elsewhere. Are there, therefore, behavioral requirements for mainstream success? Their relative lack of success when compared to other artists previously mentioned must negate the theory that their appeal was to those not interested in the genre, surely? Our blurry cultural definition of hip-hop has allowed capital to supersede innovation and sincerity as the driving hermeneutic force. Why this exceptionalism?
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