Volume 15 Issue 2 November 2022
The Promises Of Mycelium For Ensuring Sustainable Development Autumnal Books But Rated By Mushrooms The Gospel According to Shiitake
The Motley Crew Niamh Browne Editor in Chief
Kevin M. Smith Graphic Designer
Niamh Browne is a ﬁnal year philosophy and art history student. She has previously written for publications such as Motley, Hot Press and the Irish Examiner. She is a part-time mad bastard.
Kev live, laugh, loves long walks on the beach and is a tired designer from Cork. He has a degree in colours from CIT and in his spare time makes comic books available nationwide. Ask him about the Fungie The Dolphin conspiracy.
Ronan Keohane Current Affairs Editor
Lisa Ahern Social Media & Deputy Editor
Ronan is a 3rd year world languages student with a strong interest in political philosophy and international relations. He is passionate about education, the environment and minority rights.
Lisa is a second-year BA English student and has previously written for Motley magazine in the past. She spends her time reading and writing, your typical Rory Gilmore wannabe.
Seán Enda Entertainment Editor
Chloe Barrett Deputy Entertainment Editor
Seán Enda studies Digital Cultures, but don’t ask him to explain that because he’s not so sure either. His writing has featured in many publications, including several bathroom walls
Chloe is a third year English student and was previously the Gaming Editor for the University Express. She reads an unhealthy amount of books and loves her dogs a totally normal amount, she promises.
Justine Lepage Fashion Editor
Sinéad Mckeown Deputy Fashion Editor
Justine Lepage (also known online as Loucoffee), is currently pursuing the MA in Arts Management and Creative Producing. Her work has been published in magazines like Sound of Brit or the Outpost Eire. She is interested in maximalism and funky gnome fashion.
Sinéad is a ﬁnal year English student who has been published in the Quarryman. She enjoys reading, writing and pretending to prepare for exams. She ﬁnds comfort in having her research tabs open on the computer while she binges Supernatural.
Édith De Faoite Features Editor
Sarah O’Mahony Deputy Features
Édith studies Commerce & Irish and previously worked with UCC’s University Express. She’s relying on a diet of Coke Zero, Desperate Housewives and Taylor Swift to get her through ﬁnal year.
Sarah is a second year English and Politics student. Shortlisted for a features award at the 2022 SMEDIAs in Dublin, she’ll only go to the big smoke if there’s free food involved.
Klaudia Kulas Web Editor Klaudia is studying Computer Science and is a self employed illustrator. Her hobbies consist of drawing, claiming people's cats as her own, and playing videogames.
Contributors Blaise Devane Leah Moynihan Shauna O' Connor
Clare Keogh Otto Goodwin
Daniel Gavilovski Sarah O' Mahony
Jessica Anne Rose Seán Dunne
This publication is made from 100% sustainably sourced paper. Motley welcomes letters from readers, emailed to email@example.com. Motley is published by Motley Magazine, The Hub, UCC, Western Road, Cork. Printed by City Print Limited, Victoria Cross, Cork. Copyright 2022 Motley Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. All efforts have been made to ensure that details and pricing are correct at time of print. Motley magazine does not take responsibility for any errors incurred. This magazine can be recycled either in your green bin kerbside collection or at a local recycling point.
Web Editor: Klaudia Kulas Images Provided by Unsplash.com Vectors provided by Vecteezy.com and Freepik.com
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Illustrations by Justine Lepage
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN PLANT AND ANIMAL Some of them can kill you, some of them taste delicious and some of them can make you see the face of God. I am of course talking about mushrooms. When proposing this theme, I knew these were the three things I wanted to discuss, mortality, pleasure and spirituality. A lot to unpack in the humble fungi. The Motley crew did not disappoint with this one and have foraged for the best articles far and wide across campus. From our cottagecore photoshoot to the representation of mushrooms in folklore and fairytales, we have a magazine that is almost as diverse as the organisms themselves. Current affairs discuss the possibilities of fungi-based plastics in the fight against climate change. Mushrooms are also the basis for the smash-hit video game ‘The Last of Us’, analysed in our entertainment section. These microbes are also the inspiration for some of our plosive poetry yet. Not to mention all the fashion microtrends from mycelium. Somewhere between plant and animal these remarkable creatures belong in their own realm just beyond the grasp of our comprehension. Making them the perfect subject for psychedelic subcultures, Alice in Wonderland and even University Magazines. Not only do we proffer our own opinion and experience about mushrooms, we ask some of the most exciting talent in the Irish music industry about fabulous fungi. Motley Magazine is bringing you exclusive coverage of the acclaimed music festival ‘Other Voices’ in this issue. Other Voices is the brainchild of UCC alum Phillip King. It provides a platform for both Irish and international musicians to perform for the world in a live stream from St James’ church in Dingle, Kerry. In a return to the
place of King’s education, Other Voices hosted a series of these special concerts from our very own campus. The prodigal musician returns. This lineup included both established and up-and-coming talent including; Biig Piig, Cian Ducrot, Yenkee and Susan O’Neill. We were lucky enough to get exclusive access to the live-streamed concert in the Aula Maxima. Not only that, but we wrangled our way into interviews with Cork-based band Pretty Happy, and Mercury Prize nominee SOAK. It is the time of year when the days get that little bit shorter, and we all crave leaving the Boole library before sunset. It’s a tough one for many students and staff on campus as we buckle down, wrap up and prepare for the winter. Our pagan ancestors used to have special festivals to mark these occasions. Samhain was between the summer equinox and the winter solstice. It was a mystic festival and believed to be a time when the doorways to the otherworld were open. Now, we have Movember to get us through the long Irish November. With the release of Top Gun 2, I suspect this shall be one of the best ones yet. All this said, it is in times of darkness that we lean more than ever on each other for the community. So while there’s the dark academia of the quad, the cosy nights in the snug of a pub and the pleasure of a good book it’s ok if winter is not completely your groove (it rarely is anyone’s unless they have the luxury of hibernation). How apt our theme is mushrooms as this is the time of year for foraging, winter vegetables and folklore. These fungi do some of their best growing in darkness- we should take note and try to do same.
ISSUE No2 - NOVEMBER 2022 MOTLEY.IE
The Promises Of Mycelium For Ensuring Sustainable Development
Autumnal Books But Rated By Mushrooms
The Gospel According to Shiitake & Mushrooms in Folklore and Fairytales
The Rise of Mushroom Fashion & Body Modification for the Public Eye: Bop or Flop?
OTHER VOICES Coverage of the 2022 Other Voices UCC event
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The Promises Of Mycelium For Ensuring Sustainable Development CONTRIBUTING WRITER LEAH MOYNIHAN LOOKS AT WAYS IN WHICH MYCELIUM CAN BE USED AS A REPLACEMENT FOR VARIOUS DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTALLY HARMFUL MATERIALS IN LIGHT OF THE ONGOING CLIMATE CRISIS.
Imagine a future where you never have to open a package full of polystyrene again. Imagine a future where our plastics no longer contain crude oil and are instead made from agricultural waste. Imagine a future where plastic is biodegradable and does not litter our streets and beaches. Imagine nature thriving. Mushrooms could be the key to this bright future. Mushrooms have a bad reputation for causing disease and harming ecosystems. While some types of mushrooms may cause damage, they also have properties that may help positively shape the future of our planet. They sequester carbon and aid in slowing climate change. They can degrade environmental pollutants such as oil and plastics. They can restore degraded soils (which we have increasingly seen as a result of climate change) and act as a pest control. Most importantly, mushrooms have the potential to replace unsustainable resources and can lead us towards ending single-use products. Our landfills are filled with 30% Styrofoam, and it takes 500
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years for plastic to decompose. Hence, solutions are needed urgently in a world ridden with polluting materials. Fortunately, people are beginning to become more increasingly aware of the harm that plastic and other toxic materials are having on the environment. The world is changing, with an increasing amount of restrictive laws being imposed which ensure that harmful plastics are becoming less commonly used. Twenty-five countries already have various initiatives which ban single use materials and therefore, alternatives are needed. Mycelium is the root structure of mushrooms under the soil and myselia networks can spread for many kilometres. It grows underground without the need for light and thus, it requires no external energy. It can be produced on a vast range of substrates such as agricultural waste and food leftovers. It takes up much less space than other materials using vertical farms. Most importantly, mycelium is similar to Styrofoam in water absorption, mass and chemical composition. It is an environmentally friendly
alternative to the single-use materials that are currently being mass produced. Paul Stamets, a leader in fungal biology, has led pioneering research into how mycelium can be used in everyday products. With the help of mechanical engineers, ‘Ecovative’ was founded. They are a leader in the field of fungal materials. They have designed natural insulation material that can be injected between walls where the mycelium grows to become strong. This saves on resources as no internal wooden studs or metal is needed for support. They have also developed panels that carry no formaldehyde or harmful resins, which is a major issue in the construction industry. Other companies have also recognised the need for sustainable materials and the benefits that fungus offer. Mycelium has been used to restore flooring and can even be made into bricks. It can replace leather, with the material utilised by major brands such as Adidas and Stella McCartney. Companies have also created a mycelium-based toilet for refugee camps. The tank can be buried once it is full, and acts
as fertiliser. Another application currently being developed is for single-use items in healthcare. In recent years, we have seen the piles of masks and gloves that are thrown away, and as a result, biodegradable replacements are necessary. However, the most crucial product for the future is alternative packaging for products. Humans have produced plastic at a weight of 25,000 times that of the Empire State Building. By using mycelium and agricultural waste, researchers have generated a sustainable product that resembles Styrofoam and can replace plastic. Unlike its counterparts, it does not harm the environment. Mycelial foam is 100% biodegradable and naturally decomposes in landfills. Products such as bricks and stones take a long time to produce with a lot of resources invested in the process. Fungal materials can be grown in large quantities over a period of weeks to days. The mycelium starts with plant-based agricultural waste and is fully compostable. It saves on land resources and water. It is durable, fire resistant, waterproof and in sustainable supply. It is also personalised for every use. Consequently,
the mycelium materials can be utilised in the food and packaging industry, which will immensely reduce waste and pollution. This is essential for the future of the environment and human health. Mycelium based products also have many other unusual applications such as in footwear and furniture. However, it is not only mushrooms that have been used to design sustainable products. Banana plants have been grown to create fabrics. Plastic bottles have been recycled to make furniture and building materials. Fruit peels and garden waste are melted down to be injected into moulds to create a wide range of products. Even shredded paper has been utilised as new fibre materials. Every part of the resource is used up, which is essential if we plan to move towards a circular economy. Mushrooms cannot save the world on their own, hence, we need to utilise every sustainable resource in order to move away from plastics and other petroleum-based products. If these innovative natural materials were to go mainstream, further pollution of our natural environment could be prevented. Mushrooms
need to be at the forefront of environmental research. They are versatile and have many properties that we can utilise to improve our way of living. They could potentially replace common materials used in packaging, skincare, clothing, and the building sector. We have the technologies and innovation to transform our future, yet individuals with power must do their part. Companies must be pressured to adopt effective sustainable alternatives. The price of these products can be reduced if they become popular and a large quantity is sold. Consumers must be aware of ‘greenwashing’ and buy from companies that are trustworthy in their environmental activities. Governments must bring in new laws banning single use plastics and invest in companies with alternative environmentally friendly solutions. We can look forward to a healthier environment if companies and consumers decide to avail of more natural resources for their products. Imagine someday living in a house made entirely from fungal material. A plastic free future is possible, and mushrooms can be our key to achieving it.
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BEYOND THE WALLS OF THE TBILISI PUBLIC SERVICES HALL BUILDING: GEORGIA TRAPPED IN THE MARGINS OF RUSSIAN EXPANSIONISM AND INCREASING WESTERN ALIGNMENT Current Affairs Editor Ronan Keohane highlights the Georgian political institutions which lie in the centre of a politically liminal Georgia in the face of present day Russian expansionism and plausible EU and NATO membership The Public Services hall building in Tbilisi, Georgia (often nicknamed the “Mushroom building” by locals and tourists alike due to its resemblance to a mushroom forest) is one of the country’s finest tourist attractions and an exemplary feature which serves to represent the nature of the nation of Georgia. It stands overlooking the historical Kura river, whose banks have been inhabited for 7000 years representing the antiquity of the nation and culture of Georgia. It also stands directly beside the controversial ‘bridge of peace’, which is a modern infrastructural innovation designed by Italian architect Michele De Lucchi in 2010 interconnecting the old and new district of Tbilisi which serves to represent a modernising Georgia directly alongside Georgia’s ancient historical landmarks. Every aspect of the building, from its precise location and design, holds a distinct symbolic meaning. The building consists of 11 ‘petal’ rooftops which all serve to represent the administrative divisions (the 9 regions and 2 autonomous republics) of Georgia. The walls of the structure are also transparent to symbolise how the public can see what occurs within the building, thus designed to symbolise an objective of zero government corruption. Ever since the RussoUkrainian war, the future of the divided state which this building serves to represent is now at a crossroads between two fractitious territories. The course of action that Georgian political institutions have followed has drawn intense criticism both from Georgian locals and the flows of people which have resulted from the war. Liminality is not something unfamiliar to the nation of Georgia, a nation which has often been forced to preserve its ancient culture, language, religion and traditions in the face of various expanding empires. It exists on the crossroads between Eastern Europe and Western Asia in the historically turbulent Caucasus region. Georgia has been subjected to many centuries of conflict and
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multiple invasions by extremely powerful and expansive empires such as the Russian empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Persian empire. Georgia is also a relatively new independent country having only gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Georgia in recent years now has a more western-orientation, both culturally and politically, through its affiliation with a number of Western intergovernmental organisations (notably NATO and the EU). While not officially having membership to either the EU or NATO, Georgia has particularly close ties with both organisations. Georgia is one of NATO’s closest partners and has stated a goal of Euro-Atlantic integration and the EU is also Georgia’s largest trading partner. The Russo-Ukrainian war has not only amplified fears of another Russian invasion but has brought back difficult memories of the 2008 war that Georgia had with Russia along with the disputed territories and self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The invasion was multifaceted and incorporated numerous different war tactics such as airstrikes, sea invasion and cyber warfare which led to hundreds of deaths and the displacement of over 200,000 people. Similar to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, the motives behind Russia’s invasion of Georgia also cited the NATO membership and its interpreted threat to peace as its primary reason behind invasion. At the 2022 Madrid Summit, NATO members signed a number of different measures which would strengthen NATO involvement in Georgia to counter Russia which, many feel, could quickly become a source of increased aggression. In recent months, the issue of refugees in Georgia has become increasingly politicised. There has been a large number of different refugees from Ukraine and Russia which have arrived into Georgia.
Ukrainians have arrived into Georgia, often with families, in order to seek refuge and shelter from the war. Russians have arrived into Georgia for various reasons: some have come to be able to voice anti-war sentiments and avoid legal repercussions, others have come to avoid the financial implications of the sanctions and others have fled to escape conscription into the Russian army in light of the partial mobilisation ordered by Vladimir Putin. All of these refugees all have a very wide variety of political orientations, while many, Russians and Ukranians alike, are vehemently antiwar and related to victims of the war, there are others who are not. Many speculate that there are a number who may secretly harbour pro-war sentiments (despite the widespread implementation of online forms which require people to declare their political views and sign it), the majority of refugees fall somewhere in between the 2 ends of the debate.
orientation towards Putinism. Georgia now enters a looming period of uncertainty as the future of the nation of Georgia is still difficult to predict and whether the various security concerns are fully grounded is still unclear. How Russia would respond if Georgia were to join powerful Western organisations such as NATO and the EU is important to consider and is a popular source of research and debate amongst many foreign affairs analysts. Similarly, if Russia were to win the RussoUkrainian war and annex more territories of Georgia beyond Abkhazia and South Ossetia as a means of an exit strategy to legitimise Russian power in the face of dwindling allies and a plethora of domestic ructions, this could be a significant historical occurrence which could potentially lead to the alteration of the entire international order as we know it.
The relations between Georgians and the new arrivals have been relatively civil however a number of tensions have continued to grow. Many Georgians are regarding the large influx of Russian refugees as a potential security threat given the fact that Georgia’s population is only 3.7 million people, there has been suspicions about ulterior motives raised due to claims of cyber attacks from various Russian political groups and claims of Russians working for the Federal Security Service being there to locate and intimidate Russian political dissidents. This has resulted in crackdown and increased protectionism on the Russo-Georgian border. Many opine that entry restrictions could increase tension between locals and Russians which could ignite an increased
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THE HIDDEN CONSEQUENCES OF THE EU ANTI-DEFORESTATION POLICY ON THE ECONOMICALLY DISADVANTAGED RONAN KEOHANE DISCUSSES THE ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES ANTI-DEFORESTATION POLICY APPROVED BY THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL IN LIGHT OF RECENT EVENTS AND PROPOSES POSSIBLE REFINEMENTS TO THE POLICY WHICH WOULD LESSEN THESE CONSEQUENCES Ever since the industrial revolution, there has been a large number of ways that humanity has contributed to the degradation of our soils and forests which has had a wide range of consequences on valuable flora, fauna and fungi. The European Union is no exception to this. In fact, EU consumption accounts for a large proportion of global deforestation, second only to China, however it is important to take into account that China contains more than 3 times the population of the EU. Due to the fact that the EU exists largely on the top of global supply chains and benefits from having the upper-hand within established economic systems and trade organisations, the EU has a larger amount of power especially in relation to other countries which exist in more subordinate positions of these various economic and international systems put in place. Now is a more important time than ever to think about what sustainability policies we can implement to alleviate the negative effects of the current climate crisis while simultaneously ensuring that people within lowerincome countries along with economically disadvantaged people within the EU are not heavily affected by these measures. Forest preservation and cultivation is a definite necessity due to the plethora of fungi that exist and grow in these forests. The implementation of fungi in modern medicine, food, fashion and even biomedical engineering has become a growing field of research and innovation in recent years due to fungi being such a highly broad kingdom with estimates of up to 11 million different species. fungi further have a large number of different scientifically proven benefits on both the individual human body and the environment as a whole. fungi as a natural resource also breaks down organic matter and can be made into a wide variety of cheap and biodegradable products which are equally as stealthy and competent as everyday plastics. Despite the innumerable ways in which fungi could be utilised for sustainable development in general and ensuring the fulfilment of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in particular, it has surprisingly remained largely under-utilised in comparison to other natural resources and also under-protected by EU forest conservation policies.
The Policy And Its Consequences In late June 2022, a policy formally approved by the European Council was recently modified with new rules and implementations. This policy, in short, is to ensure that all products coming into the EU were to not have been the result of deforestation. It officially came into fruition after much deliberation ever since its first proposal by the European Commission in November 2021. The fundamental flaw is that at its core, this policy has a number of implications to the economically disadvantaged both within the EU along with the production workers outside of the EU which are not being adequately addressed. Given that the EU is one of the largest recipients of products which are linked to deforestation, EU policy restricting such imports may appear logical and a positive step forward at first glance. That being said, when contextualising this policy with regards to the EU’s position within the international order along with current affairs events occurring within Europe, it becomes clear who is being put at a disadvantage. When it comes to disadvantages to those outside of the EU, this policy does not offer sufficient enough protections regarding products which may have a plethora of human rights violations tied to their productions although not defined as being a product linked to deforestation. The main plausible outcome of this policy is that priority would primarily be focused on whether or not products follow the set conditions which fit this specific policy as opposed to other types of products which could be unethical in other ways. The effect
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this would have on producers who compete to have their products sold within the markets of the global north is that it may increase the production of other types of unethical products through which human rights violations occur in the process of their production. This could ultimately intensify many pre-existing issues of the global south which include hazardous workplace environments and labour exploitation which is rampant and ongoing. In addition to this, the policy does not sufficiently emphasise enforcement methods against black market economies taking the lead in production (which have absolutely no legal constraints) which would ultimately serve to add to the deforestation issue while simultaneously violating the rights of indigenous communities and workers to an even greater extent than before due to their increased demand. When it comes to disadvantages within the EU, in the broader context of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, (which entailed the ongoing 2022 Russia–EU gas dispute which has caused the soaring energy prices entailing a record trade deficit along with all of the macro and micro economic consequences of these various events), the consequences of this policy and who they will ultimately affect become more obvious. Ever since the Russo-Ukrainian war and the subsequent international sanctions imposed, there has been a surge in oil and energy prices which has rendered many low income people in the EU helpless and barely making ends meet. The ensuing nationwide strikes which have occurred in highly important economic centres such as France have further slowed the economic growth of the EU. Taking into account the present-day economic conditions of the EU, many people who are of the lower-income brackets will ultimately face the brunt of this policy due to the inevitable rise of food prices which would ultimately occur. This economic context within the EU makes the policy difficult and problematic.
Political Consequences Europe has seen an unprecedented rise in Populist movements which have largely formulated as a result of flaws that exist within the EU that heighten income inequality which has disadvantaged lower income people who feel increasingly marginalised and who turn to ‘othering’ different kinds of elites to scapegoat. Taking into account that the rise of many European populist far-right movements gain prominence during periods of economic turmoil, heightening economic inequality or discontentment with European Union policies, a policy which holds the potential of drastically increasing food prices alongside the current rise in energy and oil prices is considerably risky. The people who are most likely to be scapegoated for this new array of issues presented by these issues are whoever they consider to be ‘elites’ along with disempowered marginalised communities such as refugees (numbers of which are on the rise in the face of the ongoing armed conflicts in Ukraine, Yemen, Ethiopia etc.) who are the most weaponized in order to demonise socially progressive policies and denounce the EU. If the effects of this policy were highly drastic and influenced by another significant event, it could potentially cause a wide range of other issues. A possible refinement to the policy that could be done to tackle the current climate crisis include the EU implementing and enforcing policies of reforestation and afforestation alongside the anti-deforestation ones within the EU and providing incentives to promote both reforestation and afforestation outside of the EU. This could help promote the cultivation of fungi which could lead to more production of eco-friendly fungal products allowing for the supply to increase which would entail the price to decrease. Implementing forestation policies within our land of jurisdiction could also benefit us in the long run, deforestation is often framed as an issue that is limited primarily to forested areas of countries in the global south, however this is arguably a narrow perspective as it doesn’t fully take into account who is responsible for most of the deforestation along with regular deforestation occurring in the global north. Providing economic incentives for afforestation could also result in increased action. Further, there exists an under-addressed but significant divide when it comes to sustainable development which is the class divide that exists. Many eco-friendly products are considerably more expensive than regular ones so perhaps implementing some kind of a price ceiling on eco-friendly products could ensure that they become more widely used in order to encourage real change.
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Autumnal Books But Rated By Mushrooms Deputy Entertainment Editor, Chloe Barrett, recommends the perfect reads for Autumn, but rates them out of mushrooms instead of stars. The autumn weather wraps itself around you like a scarf, students stroll by wearing the cosiest jumpers, and a lovely cup of hot chocolate awaits you when you return home. What is missing from this dream setup? A seasonal book, of course. I am a firm believer that there is nothing nicer than curling up on the couch with a snuggly blanket and an inviting book. The former two are easy enough to obtain, however, the mandatory autumnal read? That can be a bit more tricky. But alas, stop worrying from now on, because I am here to offer you the perfect solution with a list.
The Ex Hex
by Erin Sterling is a fantastic romantic comedy that features a witch as the protagonist. Do not fret, it is not scary! Nine years ago Vivienne Jones had her heart broken by Rhys Penhallow, a gorgeous warlock whose family connections run deep in magic. As the blurb of the book amazingly puts it, Vivienne “nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths… and a curse on the horrible boyfriend”. She assumes her little hex is an innocent way to release some pent-up feelings, and that nothing could ever come from it. But of course, something does. When Rhys makes a quick trip to the spooky town, things start going wrong. The ex-lovers are forced to work together in an attempt to figure out what is happening in a spellbindingly fun adventure. While it is a rom-com read, it features additions/tropes such as second chances, enemies to lovers, some LGTBQ+ representation, and is just a lot of fun. Five mushrooms out of five.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley is a murder-mystery thriller that is perfect for the gloomy weather.
It is set on an island off of Ireland and features a host of interesting characters. The wedding of an era is promised, as a magazine publisher is due to be wed to a TV star, and the guest list is full of notable names. Some chapters are set as handy flash-forwards after the wedding itself, when the deadly murder itself happens, which stokes the enthusiasm as to who gets murdered. Buckle yourself in for this thrilling novel, and the atmosphere which accompanies it. Four mushrooms out of five.
The House in the Cerulean Sea
by TJ Klune is the definition of a bookish warm hug. It is a contemporary fantasy set on a magical island. Linus Baker, our protagonist, is a forty-yearold man who is content to live in his small house, accompanied by only his record collection and kitty companion. He oversees the general well-being of children in orphanages, and nothing strange has ever happened to him before. However, he is given the classified task to visit an orphanage which stands on its own occupying an island. The children are not at all what he expects to find, and consist of a gnome, a seemingly innocent Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. (that isn’t even all of them.) The children’s caretaker, Arthur, is determined not to let anything happen to his interesting bunch of residents, but as Linus and Arthur inevitably grow closer, a scary decision is set before him, and if he doesn’t make the right choice, the whole world could be in danger. This story is masterfully written, and just such a beautiful experience that you will not soon forget. Four mushrooms out of five.
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If you have not heard of by Alice Oseman by now, where have you been? Not only did this romance take the world of graphic novels by storm years ago, but it has also now been made into an amazing series on Netflix that is already claimed by many as their comfort show. The graphic novel follows a teenager called Charlie who is a gay Year 10 student in school, who develops a crush on a fellow student, Nick. He is a wholesome, confident rugby player who is friends with everyone, but they have never actually spoken. Nick, who heard about Charlie getting outed last year, quickly strikes up a friendship with him, and their relationship evolves from there. Charlie assumes that he does not have a chance with Nick, whose friend's state is one of the most ‘straight and masculine boys’ that they have ever seen, but young love could potentially be in the air… Five mushrooms out of five.
Holding Her Breath
was written by UCC’s 2020/2021 own Writer-In-Residence, Eimear Ryan, and follows a student called Beth Crowe who has just ventured into the world of college. She had a promising career as an Olympic swimmer that unfortunately did not pan out, but she is determined to make a fresh start for herself and her identity. Her roommate, Sadie, is an English student who happens to be studying the poetry of Beth’s grandfather, Benjamin Crowe, who Beth would love to find out more about. She gets involved in a relationship with a post-doc researcher while investigating her grandfather’s past along with Sadie, and finds out things that she had never even imagined. Set in Ireland, this novel will resonate with many university students, and Eimear Ryan is truly a gifted author. Four mushrooms out of five.
Pine by Francine Toon, is an incredibly atmospheric novel that is set on Halloween night in the Scottish Highlands. A rural community plagued with strange mysteries, such as the disappearance of her mother, envelopes Lauren and her father, Niall. When driving home, a woman rushes out from the claustrophobic forests and encounters the daughter and father, the latter who is quick to bring her home and help her. However, when Lauren wakes in the morning, the woman is gone. With her father unwilling to discuss anything with her, she is left to her own devices and tarot cards to figure out the strange happenings that are occurring in their village, including the most recent disappearance of a teenage girl. This novel features a lot of gothic inspiration, along with spooky remnants of a thriller. Three mushrooms out of five.
If We Were Villains
Another quick dark academia read is the stunning by M.L. Rio. Her debut novel will leave you floored, as you follow Oliver Marks on his release from a ten-year prison sentence, as he takes the detective who arrested him on a journey through what actually happened all those years ago. He recounts the time he spent studying Shakespeare at an elite college, where he and his friends get consumed by the roles they play. After a switch in casting, and fiction blends into reality, one of the friends is found dead. Which hand committed the act? This book is one of my favourites, and just a genuinely amazing read. No knowledge of Shakespeare is required! Five mushrooms out of five.
Ninth House, The Price Guide To The Occult, A Far Wilder Magic, Pumpkinheads, Sheets, Through The Woods (three graphic novels), The Invisible Life Of Addie La Rue, The Diviners, Empire Of The Vampire, Daughter Of Smoke And Bone, and of course, the sensational and enduring cultural reset; TWILIGHT! Craving even more October-esque reads? Try out:
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HOW ‘ THE L AST OF US’ S E R I E S D O E S D Y S TO P I A C O R R E C T LY A WORLD IN FEAR OF FUNGI JESSICA ANNE ROSE EXAMINES THE POPULAR VIDEO GAME SERIES THE LAST OF US AND HOW IT ENGAGES WITH ITS DYSTOPIAN ENVIRONMENT. Dystopia is a common setting for a lot of video games, novels and movies, and can easily feel overdone or copied. Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us gets it right, however. It manages to maintain its popularity over nine years during a boom in gaming production and gaming as a whole while inspiring a sequel that holds the record for the most Game of the Year awards. The story begins in 2013 when an outbreak of the fungus ‘cordyceps’ begins to transform its victims into violent zombies known as the Infected. The Infected become more dangerous over time, transforming from ‘Runners’ into ‘Clickers’ (known for their iconic but terrifying clicking noise) and even mutating with each other to become ‘Bloaters’ or beings similar to the dreaded ‘Rat King.’ The cure? A rebel militia group called the Fireflies believes studying the fungus in people will help them find a vaccine, but while they search for it, everyone is vulnerable to the spores of the disease. Everyone turns within two days - except for our main character, fourteen-year-old Ellie. In 2033, Ellie is bitten in the company of her girlfriend Riley, and they decide to stay alive and turn together. However, Ellie never turns and becomes the Fireflies’ hope for a cure. This is where loveable but gruff father figure Joel comes in, assigned with the task of smuggling Ellie to
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Chicago where she will undergo tests for a cure. Along the way, Joel finds traces of his deceased daughter in Ellie, and Ellie finds the first person in her life who ‘has not died or left her.’ They become bonded for life, both saving the other physically during their journey, and mentally. Joel learns to ‘look for the light’ and regains the empathy he had lost to the never-ending violence. Meanwhile, Ellie learns to fight and shoot a gun, while Joel tries to protect her childhood by promising he will teach her guitar and how to swim. It’s so touching, and makes the player question what is wrong and right in this universe: should Ellie be protected, or should she face the brutality of her world? In the end, Joel finds out the tests Ellie is undergoing will kill her, and makes the decision to save her, destroying and killing everything and everyone in his wake. He doesn’t think of the consequences, and most importantly, doesn’t tell Ellie the truth about what happened. The Last of Us Part II came out in 2020 and was very surreal to play because of how similar it was to reality, living during a pandemic. Masks, quarantine, unprepared government bodies and an overwhelming fear of being outside. In the second game, Ellie is an adult, hiding her immunity and living with Joel in Jackson, Wyoming. As the game progresses we are shown in flashbacks how
Ellie began to doubt Joel’s story, and eventually found out the truth about what happened in Chicago. She suffers from massive survivor’s guilt, and the game’s central event leads her to become all consumed by grief and anger, setting out on a revenge mission that she cannot stop. The final scene is a standoff between her and her enemy Abby, both of whom have lost everything in their searches for revenge. Players generally have one of two reactions: they egg Ellie on in the gruesome duel, or they panic and beg for her to stop the never-ending cycle of violence.
and manages to stay relevant for almost a decade. It bravely divided its audience with Part II, creating huge spaces of discussion about morality and revenge, while showing that nobody is inherently a hero or a villain. Every character is very flawed, but we choose to root for them and then question why we do. Fans of the game including myself hope for a DLC that explains more perhaps about Joel’s past before the cordyceps pandemic, or closure about what Ellie did after the end credits. It’s also got sick graphics and fighting scenes I’ve failed to mention. (I’m more of a storytelling gal.)
In her quest for revenge, Ellie loses herself, suffers daily from PTSD and fails to sleep and eat. Her revenge plot results in her friends dying or being seriously wounded, so she is wracked by even more survivor’s guilt and struggles to find her purpose. Is she a cure? Is she an avenger? Or is she a victim of circumstance? Ellie believes total revenge will cure her of her pain, but in fact, it leaves her completely alone and mutilated. Abby believed revenge would do the same for her, but instead, it resulted in the loss of her entire friend group. However, she takes on Joel’s previous mentor role caring for a boy called Lev, and they escape to find the last of the Fireflies. Like Joel, Abby deserts her militia group and saves Lev from his, leaving a trail of violence behind her. Her journey echoes Ellie’s and Joel’s, leaving the player wondering if she will meet the same fate as them. It is an honest depiction of the reality of revenge: very rarely does it bring relief or satisfaction, instead it causes massacres and puts everyone important to you at risk.
Hopefully, we don’t have to wait seven more years, and Ellie will finally find peace and will allow herself to exist without having to be a martyr or an avenger. But knowing the games’ publisher Naughty Dog, more tragedy awaits. And I will eagerly eat it up.
The Last of Us Series is thought-provoking
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The Last of Us Series is available to play on the PS3, PS4, and the remastered version is available on the PS5. The Last of Us - Left Behind (DLC) is available on the PS3 and PS4. The Last of Us Part II is available on the PS4.
ENTERTAINMENT | 15
A Discussion About The Netflix Original "Have a Good Trip" DEPUTY EDITOR, LISA AHERN, EXPLORES NETFLIX’S MIND-BENDING DOCUMENTARY WHILE COMPARING IT WITH PREVIOUS NOT SO OPENEDMINDED MEDIA BASED COMMENTARY ON PSYCHEDELICS.
Have you ever seen the short documentaries that they used to show kids, where they crack an egg open and carry on explaining how “this is your brain on drugs”. Well, Donick Cary takes inspiration from these “educational” videos and creates this humorous, colourful documentary about Psychedelics. “Have A Good Trip”, is a Netflix documentary that takes big named celebrities and has them sit down to talk about their psychedelic trips with acid and mushrooms. What makes this documentary so eye-catching is its method of storytelling. They have stars as big as Sting and Carrie Fisher narrate stories of their ‘high’ experiences while the wonderfully created cartoons by Sugarshack Animations reenact the crazy tales that are being told. They truly capture the colour and waviness of psychedelics, with donuts in the sky instead of clouds and inanimate objects with googly eyes. It is unconventional and silly. They also have famous actors play out scenes of the celebrities’ retellings. These are completely over-dramatised but entertaining nonetheless. They are witty and hilarious anecdotes that you are in disbelief that these sophisticated actors and performers have experienced in their lives. The documentary opens up with the actor Nick Offerman playing the role of a scientist and you already know that this Parks and Recreation actor is going to bring us on a trip of enjoyment. As well as groovy and psychedelic visuals, the original score by Yo La Tengo, who imitates the 60’s sound of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles brilliantly. Adding the final touch to create this LSD ambience for the duration of the documentary. If you are looking for a lighthearted documentary which will make you grin at least, this is perfect
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for you. It mocks the old-fashioned informative videos about drugs that were always ridiculously misinformed and dramatised. They take these videos and make them even more dramatic with scenes of cars going over the edge of a cliff and having the slogan “A BAD TRIP” appear over it. It’s these satirical sketches that fall in between the interviews that make it very original and fresh. However, Cary doesn't make the film in its entirety a joke. He does have interesting information, regarding the benefits of hallucinogens for psychiatric illnesses and addiction, slotted into the film. The psychiatrist Dr Grob explains how he is involved in trials to help patients who are suffering from late stages of cancer with their crippling anxiety. By using the alkaloid of Psilocybin (magic mushrooms) to improve their way of living by soothing the anxiety that they carry around with them. Even between the satire, there is substance to the documentary about LSD and Magic Mushrooms that adds another layer to Cary ’s work. Have a Good Trip should be that is watched with an open mind and you must not be too caught up in the centuries-old discussion of how “all drugs are bad”. It is an hour of funny anecdotes about life that is full of colour. It is definitely worth watching and not to be taken too seriously, as it is only a bit of fun at the end of the day.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SHIITAKE Contributing writer Seán Dunne discusses the wonders of fungi and why mushrooms are the future. I once had a friend who told me that mushrooms were the future. It seemed like such an unlikely thing to say that I started saying it myself. Through the open corridors of life I screamed and screamed and screamed again: “MUSHROOMS ARE THE FUTURE... MUshrOOms Are THE FUtureEEE”. Naturally, people were confused. Not only were they confused, they were openly afraid. The nature of my message shook so deep and clear in the hearts of the many that they veered like ants from my path. Those closest, touched by the forces of evil, even resorted to ridicule. But it did not matter. If they could not see, their ears would hear. Mushrooms ARE the future. To state something like this is poetry, but to explain it is science. I will explain said statement in the following expletives: the mushroom as we understand it (typically of the order of Agaricales) is not the mushroom. The mushroom is merely the fruiting body of a much deeper and larger body, the mycelium. This vast branching series of connections scurries itself throughout the forest, continuing on unnoticed from above, like a hard floor beneath carpet. It is an ancient floor. Indeed, the largest and oldest living organism on earth is that of a particular honey mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae) living in the Malheur National Forest. It is believed to be some 8,650 years old, spanning a distance of over six square kilometers. For context, by the time human civilisation finally began spinning its wheels in Mesopotamia, this creature had already lived for 2,000 years. In fact, life on land is itself largely the product of mushrooms pummelling away at rocks for millions of years, producing the very thing we call the soil. This would allow plants to travel vast distances in land, instead of lining themselves in small groups around water, producing the world as we know it.
My aforementioned friend told me once about these ancient mushrooms known as Protaxites that existed some sixty million years ago: “So imagine these massive bastards right… like giant looking fellas, standing out on the rocks. Like I’m talking sprouts here some eight metres tall like. Absolute mega bastards or mega fungi or whatever. Like something out of a book of madness.” I was captivated. Another wacky and wonderful function of these fungal beings is their work as trash compactors. Much like human beings, nature produces its own upheavals of trash: dead leaves, dead bodies, dead anything. Something has to be done with it, and here our old and wonderful friends bring forth their help, eating away at the scraps and unpleasantries. If not for mushrooms the planet would lie littered beneath a mountainous layer of dead plant and animal matter choking the life beneath it. This combined with the fact that mushrooms do not need light to grow, would indicate that these creatures are a definitive reason why anything is alive at all. Let us return to my friend for insight: “Here’s a fact true as bones for you. There’s about a bajillion of these mushroomy fellas out there and we don’t know nothing about them. We hardly even know what we don’t know, and we’re not even sure about that.” It’s a fair point. The assumption at present is that only 1% of fungi species have been discovered, and given that this tiny sliver has given us everything from psilocybin to penicillin, it’s remarkable what may be uncovered with future discoveries. So what’s this all really about then? What’s the point? Well I have to get something off my chest. I don’t have a friend who told me these things. I probably wouldn’t have listened if I did. But if I can say anything with conviction, it's that everything he said was true. Mushrooms are the future.
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MUSHROOMS IN FOLKLORE AND FAIRYTALES CONTRIBUTING WRITER JESSICA ANNE ROSE EXPLORES THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF MUSHROOMS IN IRISH MY THOLOGY, LITERATURE AND THE COT TAGECORE AESTHETIC. In many illustrations of mythical creatures such as fairies, you will often find red and white speckled mushrooms accompanying them. This easily identifiable ‘fly agaric’ mushroom has made its way into mainstream fashion thanks to the boom of the cottagecore aesthetic - a nostalgic and carefree style known for its floaty dresses and skirts with a mediaeval influence, bringing back corsets and soft sweater vests. It’s believable that in today’s society and economy some of us (myself included) would like to pretend we’re fairies and run off into the fields. Just be careful the next time you’re posing with some cute mushrooms in your garden - there are many superstitions around the famous fungi! As a child, I delighted in finding ‘fairy rings,’ which are a group of mushrooms in a circle, as the name suggests. I had grown up with fairy tales that claimed fairy rings were where fairies danced and met at night, but some myths see them as portals to other worlds. Some believe they are tables for fairies and are a sign of a fairy village underground, but one German myth calls the natural phenomenon ‘witches’ rings!’ In this case, witche’ rings were cursed, so if a human dared step foot in it they would be enchanted to dance until they passed out from exhaustion. Austrians believed the rings were created by dragons’ fiery tails. Whatever the truth is, it’s interesting that every culture tied mushrooms into mythology or magic in some way. Coincidence or not?
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For the more cynical and academic readers among us, even Shakespeare had his own suspicions about mushrooms. In ‘The Tempest’, Prospero soliloquises about “ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves [...] whose pastime is to make the midnight mushrooms”. Perhaps he believed in the myths? It is also theorised Shakespeare was actually under the influence of magic mushrooms whilst writing some of his plays, making this line a clever inside joke. He was an educated man however, and loved to emphasise this fact in his work by referencing other advanced literary works, so I don’t think he’d just throw that line in there if the reference didn’t mean something to him. Lewis Carroll, author of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, depicted mushrooms as having ‘magical’ properties, making Alice change size, and Absolem the caterpillar - who smokes a mysterious pipe and is always dazed - resides upon a mushroom. Was this a symbol that mushrooms were connected to magic, and were similar to thrones for magical beings? Or was Carroll making a sly magic mushroom joke for adults in his children’s novel? Were these writers just subtly alluding to the existence of medicinal magic mushrooms or connecting the effects of taking them to being ‘under a spell’ of a fairy? It's fair to say that mushrooms have always held an air of mystery around them. Whether it was just not to eat them, to not step on them for bad luck, or you wondered about the intricacies of their psychedelic effects mushrooms have quite a lot of history around them for merely being dome shaped fungi scattered round your garden, tracing back to 4000 BC cave paintings. I’m just saying, maybe they knew something we don’t.
Gardening in Cork City: Korean Natural Farming to Student Led Gardening SARAH O’MAHONY DELVES INTO THE GARDENING PURSUITS OF PROUD CORKONIANS INCLUDING CORK ROOFTOP FARM AND UCC COMMUNITY GARDEN.
Cork pride is nothing new to us. It often translates into to great initiatives being run which foster the city’s sense of community: the Save Cork City campaign which opposes flood defences being built along the Lee, the Quay Co Op which started off in 1982 as a safe space for the gay community and the Cork Migrant Centre which is an education and integration hub for many in the city and beyond. Gardening is another string to our bow with the development of Cork Rooftop Farm and the ever positive vibes of the UCC Community Garden. Cork Rooftop Farm is making waves. It was started in 2019 by Brian McCarthy and Thay Carlos on the rooftop of Brian’s father’s fresh flowers business with a few raised beds. The initial lockdown gardening project has now grown into a business model with a market farm outside the city with free range chickens, a shop selling its produce and more on Cornmarket Street and plans to open a restaurant, run tours and educational programmes. Their shop is located next to the bright yellow Plugd, a resilient record store which has taken many different forms and locations since it began in 2003 led by Jimmy Horgan. Brian and Thay are in good company. Their business is definitely alternative farming at its best. Not only is their market farm a ‘no dig farm’, where weeds are handpicked and compost is spread directly on top of crops to avoid soil disruption, they stock exotic mushrooms grown in Offaly and are interested in Korean natural farming which engages with the growth of microorganisms to improve soil quality. Along with this environmental impact is clearly central to their business model. No dig farming uses less water, reduces erosion and maintains carbon levels. Their shop also has a zero waste food section where you can bring your own containers or buy glass ones in store to carry your purchase of quinoa or chocolate chips. At the moment they are growing winter crops such as kale and chard
in their raised beds on the city rooftop and working to expand the business. I am very excited to see how they grow into the future (no pun intended) and see their work as a positive force in our city. The UCC Community Garden is a similar force of good described as a ‘self sufficient have for anyone who loves to spend their spare time outdoors’ by Garden Officer Mollie O’Rourke. Mollie filled me in on the current details of the space. To keep up to date on their events follow @uccuccenvirosoc on Instagram. ‘The garden is located behind the office buildings on Carrigside, College Road. It is a small patch of land which UCC students and staff alike have transformed in recent years into a community space used for growing fruit, vegetables, herbs and much more! The garden is complete with two polytunnels and composting bins. So far this semester it has hosted composting workshops and has also facilitated the planting of spring bulbs along college road. Future plans include growing over one hundred chestnut and oak saplings which will then be donated to UCC and Cork City Council to improve on the population of native trees. The society will also be growing many more vegetables and pollinator friendly plants in our garden, with many opportunities for volunteers to take home cuttings for their own gardens. We are always looking for new volunteers and welcome all levels of experience. Can't wait to see some new faces there soon!’ There is something uplifting about caring for something outside of yourself. Whether you pop into Cork Rooftop Garden’s shop on the Coal Quay for a small cactus and some fancy mushrooms for your bolognese or get stuck into a project in one of the polytunnels off College Road there’s something for everyone.
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THE IRISH DISTRUST OF MUSHROOMS CONTRIBUTING WRITER DANIEL GAVILOVSKI DISCUSSES FORAGING IN EASTERN EUROPE AND EXPLORES THE LACK OF INTEREST IN THE TRADITION IN IRELAND, ALL THE WHILE OPENING OUR EYES TO THE WONDER OF FUNGI. I have often wondered why it is that the culture of mushroom picking is so much scarcer in Ireland than it is in Eastern Europe. Sure, there’s always been that fixation on magic mushrooms in Ireland, all the way since Celtic times. But I’m talking about mushrooms as food: the kind they sell at Tesco that, no, do not materialise straight onto shop shelves fresh from the ether. As a child visiting the Latvian hinterlands there was never any question about spending an afternoon in the woods with a small bucket and butter knife and coming home a little later with a dinner’s worth of russulas, chanterelles, ceps. To us: siroyeshki, lesichki, boroviki. That’s another thing that’s different. I’ve always liked the Russian names of mushrooms. They’re porous with that whole folky peasant way of naming things. The way you might refer to something when the true name is just on the tip of your tongue along with methanolic vodka. Lesichki are ‘little foxes’, and one can see why, if one sees them at all and does not mistake them for the golden shawl of leaffall on the autumn floor. It’s impossible to mistake them for any other grib, and when one finds them jutting out in golden glory from a pale mycelium it’s the same feeling that you get seeing a red digit pop into the corner of a messaging app. Siroyeshki are a portmanteau of ‘raw’ and ‘eat’ by way of (what I’m taking the liberty to coin as) ‘raw-
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eat-em-ups’. Podosinovik is an observation turned into a name – ‘under the aspen’ (no points for guessing where these flourish). Masleniki are ‘butteries’ and kozlyata are ‘goatees’ – are you having an embolism yet? Anyway, my favourite was always the wild chanterelle, which I’d cook in sizzling lard before frying with some egg, making a veggie omelette of sorts. Porcinis and russulas in my experience were often the haven of worms. Often you’ll only notice after you cut it from the ground by the stem like an umbilical cord, doing a cross section, seeing that your child has been feasted upon, having to cut the bad bits away more and more, until you might be left only with the head. The worst part is that between seeing the mushroom on the ground and kneeling down to cut it loose, you can’t help but imagine all the delicious ways you’ll cook it up, only to find your precious in such a sad state. But then, even the worms need something to dine on. It’s hard to explain to an outsider what exactly is the appeal. In its own way it’s meditative – there have been times when I’ve returned from the woods either alone or with a companion yet with not a single mushroom to show. Sometimes the forest simply refuses to give up its secrets. And yet it’s hard to call the feeling that you get here defeat, or despondence. No one’s
defeated you – you feel light and rich thanks to the fresh air and relief that comes from quietly observing nature. It’s a feeling closely tied to the Russian concept of ‘gulyat’ – a word that, incidentally, doesn’t have a direct English equivalent, nor is it a practice that’s as common in Ireland. ‘Gulyat’ is closely related to the French ‘flâneur’ – it’s a verb that means to saunter, to stroll, to deliberately leave your home and walk around to no destination and with no purpose in particular. Why would anyone do such a thing? One might think that foraging for mushrooms is a bare excuse to ‘gulyat’. In my experience even the village drunkard, who is generally much more miserable than the Irish village drunkard, may spend an evening perusing the woodland roots for a clump of gribs here and there, getting his exercise and sunshine in. Let’s leave aside the villages and the countryside. We needn’t go that far. Even in metropolitan concrete-scapes like Daugavpils, the residents travel to the outskirt woods en masse for mushrooms on the weekends, to such an extent that one tram stop is called ‘Mushroom Stop’ and that during September and October you may go to the woods only to find the forest has already been razed and someone is selling gribs at a stand on the motorway.
I can’t say that it’s purely from his historical poverty that the Eastern European gets his love for mushrooms, having often had no choice but to resort to woodland foraging in times of war and famine. God knows Ireland is no stranger to peasant poverty. Closer to the point might be just what a small island Ireland is in comparison to the East. The unimaginably vast steppes, taigas, and pinewood forests of Russia must have ingrained themselves and their fruits in the minds of its gourmands. Ireland, on the other hand, was a humble isle, sadly deforested in its adolescence and purged of so much of its wild edibles. Only the liberty cap, growing in cattle fields, retains its cultural vigour.
chicken of the earth, ripe for the taking. Visit a plot of woodland during late summer and autumn and you’ll surely find all kinds of caps - under ash trees, in horse chestnut groves. Real meaty stuff – enough for a vegetarian dinner. In the Tipperary woodlands, I’ve found champignons, russulas, oyster mushrooms, and I’ve made them in stews and boiled them in hearty broths with potato, onion, and carrot.
There’s also a stigma in the West that sees all mushrooms as poisonous. And that’s not totally unfounded. There are poisonous varieties, some of which have fiendishly similar appearances to safe ones, making them hard to distinguish. In Latvia, every year people are hospitalised due to mistakenly eating poisonous mushrooms. Many are fatal. And this is in a country that has a vast inherited folk knowledge of mushroom varieties and preparation, passed on from generation to generation. In Ireland, where such knowledge would have to come from field guides and books rather than conventional wisdom, there’s even greater room for error.
Finally, there is the linguistic element at play here, in my opinion, in this conundrum that I’ve lovingly forced upon you: you simply cannot take seriously a foodstuff called the Mushroom. 2 syllables is just too much. What’s the typical turn of phrase here? “Goodbye son, I’m off to collect mushrooms”? “To basket
mushrooms”? A rebrand might be in order. Folky portmanteaus aside, the Slavic ‘grib’ is much more elegant, representative of the humble, stout, non confrontational but occasionally chaotic gnomes that mushrooms are. I’m grabbin’ gribs.
But if one studies well, and sticks to mushrooms that aren’t easily mistaken for poisonous types, a whole world opens up of delicious
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MAKING THE CASE FOR MUSHROOMS Contribution writer Blaise Devane recounts her past dislike of mushrooms and how she learned to love the object of her childhood hatred. While “all mushrooms are edible - but some only once” is a sage piece of advice, I think it’s time we loosen the restrictions a little bit. I’m not suggesting we all go out and take a bite out of the first mean looking, glowing mushroom we see in the forest, but the honourable chestnut, button, and shiitake mushrooms are begging for a second chance at redemption. Mushrooms often appear in my basket on my weekly pilgrimage to the supermarket, and if there’s any excuse to throw them into a recipe, I’ll take it. However, mushrooms and I weren’t always so tight. I recall grimacing my way through dinner after dinner, unable to excuse the strange texture I was faced with following each bite, praying I wouldn’t be rumbled for hiding them under my potatoes. As a relatively non-picky eater (apart from cauliflower cheese, I’d eat just about anything), mushrooms were leaving an ugly mark on my ‘great eater’ reputation. Thankfully, in the summer of 2013, everything changed. Nearly every year during the school holidays, we would cram ourselves into the car and make the long journey down to Kerry to visit my great aunt Eva, and delight in a week of swimming, icecreams, looking at donkeys, and waiting on the side of the road for someone to tow our car, which would inevitably break down. Auntie Eva was an excellent cook, and we could always count on being spoiled by a fabulous quiche and a perfect meringue at lunch. Now that I think of it, the only time I have ever enjoyed cauliflower cheese was when she made it. I’d like to think that I was in the good books with Auntie Eva, but once she caught wind that I didn’t like mushrooms, she made it her mission to convince me otherwise. There are some foods you just never forget trying for the first time - be it the salty, briny ooze of an oyster, or the facealtering bitterness of a lemon. For me, it was the humble mushroom. Bizarre as it may sound, all it took was one bite of finely diced, fried mushrooms on a soldier of
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buttery toast, prepared by my aunt, to win me over. It was delicious. For the first time, I could appreciate the taste of the mushrooms without solely focusing on the texture - and really enjoy it! Of course, there was an element of peer-pressure (try not to make a scene in your great aunt’s house), but I think a healthy amount of strongworded convincing goes a long way into making somebody like a new vegetable. Since then, I’ve become a total mushroom person. There’s something very gratifying about transforming a food you once avoided at all costs into one you actively seek out - whether it’s mushrooms on pizza, with a full Irish breakfast, in a beef bourguignon, risotto, soup, stir fry, whatever. While no amount of convincing could ever win over some of us on the mushroom front, I think it’s worth trying (or retrying) new foods, if not to appease your aunt, then just for the thrill of it. That being said, exercise caution with mushrooms trying the wrong kind could be your last thrill ever!
Bloom BY SHAUNA O’ CONNOR
There are those who bloom like daffodils. They wait beneath the soil Until eventually, in springtime, they burst out with little toil. They’re bright like evening sunsets, yellow and orange and green, But in winter, when you need them, they’re never to be seen. There are those who bloom like roses, crawling out from ragged bush. They encompass almost everything. Smell me! See me blush! They’re survivors, you can see that, with their brambles and their thorns. They’ll scratch you when you pick them, steer clear and be warned! There are those who bloom like daisies. You cannot keep them shorn, And if you try, God help you! They’ll spring up by the morn! Or look, the sweet hydrangea! A bouquet of its own. And now no more attention is the little daisy shown. Me? I bloom like something else, at midnight when stars burn. Before you judge, please let me speak. Toadstools never get their turn. I’m there when morning light breaks through. Rain, hail, snow, or shine. I am not a petalled goddess, but this place, this life, is mine. Someday when you need me, you’ll see me waiting there, Under frost in moonlight or thriving in warm air. The fairies, they once loved me. They danced upon my stage. I meet them in my dreams now. Their souls did never age. I bloom like a mushroom. Button, death-cap, lion’s mane. One day, when life is dreary, I’ll endure through all the pain. FEATURES & OPINIONS | 23
The Molar Truth BY OTTO GOODWIN
Pull out the tooth Excalibur from the gum – the wriggle and rattle and Eventual give since – of course! I am the Chosen One, the Arthur Of my own, aching epoch. I keep this milky relic close to my chest, cradle it Like the dull throb of a newly pierced ear. Run My tongue hungrily over the lull in the landscape. I have always buried the broken things at the bottom of my garden: Shattered crockery, milk teeth, leaves, mottled with rot. I dig a hole – and with familiar hands deposit this childhood mulch Replacing the lifted sod I press down firm on the earth With my bare feet In a hundred years’ time this soul-compost will be ready, To make green again. I plunge my hands into the soil – in search of fossils. The earth is Cold and embeds itself under my fingernails – pebbled, in miniscule stratum. There is no room for blood – And there is no True Empty since The new tooth has already started to come in We sheathe our dead in stone and build portals, Time-capsule our ancestors – so – that the generations To come can look back and wax Lyrical about the good-old-days that flit – rare as butterflies. Chanting the mycelium gospel, that glowing doctrine of rot , that mutual Dependence is oh-so-necessary to social wellbeing Those gentle, pulsing, mutualisms We leave a tumult of freshly turned Earth in our wake and send out tendrils of digital hyphae Glittering blue and thrumming with information. So, tie a string around the truth – make sure the other end is securely Attached to the doorknob and pull 24 | NOV 2022
The Rise of Mushroom Fashion Fashion editor Justine Lepage believes there’s something to be said of the aesthetic of mushrooms. These plants/creatures/none of the above look very distinct from any other living thing, but also very different from one another. The fashion industry has always been inspired by natural elements, but the place of mushrooms as the ‘it-girl’ inspiring the biggest designers seems only quite recent. Let’s dig into the why of this mycelium mania.
Part of the appeal of mushrooms lies in the cottagecore wave that has taken over the internet around 2018. This aesthetic, as well as its more recent siblings goblincore and mushroomcore, were inspired by the chronically online desire to touch grass. The Tumblr youth has been yearning for a life in connection with nature, baking bread, recognising different types of trees, and foraging. This aesthetic ideal is partly based in climate change nihilism, but also in the desire to escape elsewhere, to a simpler lifestyle, away from taxes and retail jobs, where a girl and her wife can simply plant their own little vegetables. The yearning for a better life skyrocketed as we were all locked in our houses and flats throughout 2020. On top of the aesthetic itself, I remember being on foraging TikTok back then and being fascinated by people picking wild garlic from the forest, or making pizza out of giant puffball mushrooms. As simple as the values of cottagecore might seem, they are not without critics. The main, and most obvious one, would be that, as for most online aesthetic currents, it is not the most inclusive. Any online aesthetic will be essentialised as a costume for any conventionally attractive woman to wear, and stripped of all the movement stands for. If you look up “cottagecore”, most of the people portrayed will be thin, white, able-bodied cis women. Of course, that doesn’t represent all people who enjoy the cottagecore aesthetic, and some accounts like Cottagecore Black Folks on Instagram showcase that beautifully. Despite the
current trend being predominantly loved by LGBTQ+ people (take for instance the trope of the “cottagecore lesbian”), it’s difficult not to see some aesthetic ties to rightwing trad-wife beliefs. Some critics have called cottagecore eurocentric or even said it promotes colonialism. After all, whether it’s with the left-wing cottagecore or the right-wing conservatives, people wearing pretty dresses are staying home to bake bread! But that is where the comparison stops, as the political differences between the two groups obviously add up to way more than what they have in common.
The cottagecore movement recently branched out into adjacent terms like “goblincore”, that keep the root of connecting to the earth and natural materials, but rougher around the edges, and with a more inclusive twist. Goblincore
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embraces dirt, DIY aesthetics and an almost grungy vibe. This movement shows that mushrooms are a weird and wonderful inspiration to all fashion creatures. The environmentalist aspirations of cottagecore are also increasingly shared by high fashion. More and more initiatives have blossomed through the runways in terms of textile waste reduction or innovative materials. And mushrooms are at the forefront of the latter, being presented as an innovative, sustainable alternative to leather. Stella McCartney, who has since the creation of her brand been opposed to the use of animal skin and fur, partnered with Bolt Threads on the creation of Mylo Garments, a lab-grown leather alternative made of mushroom. This marks an interesting step in the field of leather substitutes and offers a refreshing alternative to the rebranding of faux plastic leather as “vegan”.
toadstools are on their way to becoming the heir to the 2012 quirky hipster moustache pattern, multiplying at a funghi-nomenal rate. Mushrooms are hot, so sprinkle some in your fits, babes!
A general mushroom frenzy has taken over the world in the past few years, with documentaries like Louie Schwartzberg’s Fantastic Fungi being broadcasted widely, so it’s no surprise that mushroom patterns have been examined with more attention than ever by fashion designers. Whether they are being used as a print by Rodarte, or their shapes are mimicked in Iris Van Herpen gowns, it’s an endless field for designers to explore, and the conquest is on its way. Mushrooms are vastly fascinating and defy the laws of the natural world in visually interesting ways. My personal favourite side effect of this trend is the sprouting of stunning mushroom outfits worn by Drag Queens on the reality tv show Rupaul’s Drag Race. Designers and frequent drag collaborators like Eda Birthing and Liquorice Originals have been eating them up! This mycelium mania on the runways trickles down to fast fashion and retail outlets, as all trends tend to do. Amanita patterned cardigans are the hot item of the season, in a mainstream mass-produced distillation of the alternative trend of mushroomcore. Mushrooms are no longer for weirdos but for the mainstream, and
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Photo Credit: Instagram - @karayiib
Body Modification for the Public Eye: Bop or Flop? T.W BODY IMAGE ISSUES / FATPHOBIA MENTIONED
DEPUTY FASHION EDITOR SINÉAD MCKEOWN GRAPPLES WITH THE COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CONDEMNATION OF PLASTIC SURGERY AND THE DAMNATION OF NOT BEING THE BEAUTY STANDARD.
The rise of tabloid journalism can be traced back to the early 1900s, and since then we have seen a huge escalation in the expectations regarding female beauty standards, and, perhaps more recently, the male physique. This combined with new surgical technologies has made it possible for people to achieve the ‘perfect’ form. Many of these expectations are targeted towards those in the public eye, but how does this affect our perception of fame and beauty? The foundation of the Kardashians’ rise to fame can be traced back to three major reasons; Robert Kardashian’s friendship and defence of OJ Simpson, Bruce Jenner’s coming out as Caitlyn Jenner and Kim Kardashian’s extreme body modification. It was in 2014 that the Kardashians truly took the world by storm. Kim Kardashian’s infamous ‘booty ’ picture in Paper magazine broke the internet as the world was exposed to Jean-Paul Goude’s nude picture of the reality tv star. The small indie magazine became an overnight sensation and the talk of millions. But, as time moves on, what are we left with, except a warped idea of beauty and how to be noticed? In the years following the pilot of the reality tv series, Keeping up with the Kardashians, in 2007, the public has become laser-focused on how the family has physically transformed
as a result of fame and attention. Over the few years, it has been Kylie and Khloé who are in the line of fire for their appearance. Kylie’s 'new ’ lips are of constant ridicule and she is shamed by both the media and the public for her change in appearance since the launch of the show. Some feminist speakers have ridiculed her for her appearance, criticising her for creating the false impression that with good makeup, anyone can look like Kylie. And let’s not forget the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge which encouraged young girls to put a glass to their mouths and suck. This may sound harmless but, as many of us may remember, it resulted in many teenage girls walking around with seriously bruised lips (and that’s the best outcome). The pressure from sucking the glass caused them to shatter, leaving people with serious injuries, many of which required stitches. Not to mention how this emulates black culture and many of the features, such as big lips, which they have been shamed for. Prior to this ‘Plumping the Pout’ challenge Kylie was confronted about her lips but instead of coming clean and admitting that she had work done, she chose to chalk up her change to puberty and lipliner, “I haven’t had plastic surgery. I’ve never been under the knife. People flashback to pictures of me when I was 12 and say ‘Kylie’s so different’ but how can I look the same from 12-18?”.
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However, can we really justify our criticism when it is our own creation of memes, hateful comments and sharing of degrading posts that led Kylie to go under the knife? Don’t get me wrong, there should be no praise for capitalising off of false advertising, the creation of insecurities and profiting off of black-fishing but we have more than just Kylie Jenner to blame. Is she merely a by-product of the world’s harassment and degradation? Prior to her lip fillers, Kylie was mocked and laughed at for her appearance. She was severely judged and, to be frank, bullied by the media for her appearance. On the other hand, Khloé was labelled as ‘the fat sister’ and faced intense hate from viewers of the show. It is not only unjust but completely unfair to make such criticism of their body modifications when such transformations were a result of worldwide online bullying. We have come to accept that a woman must be prepared to expose not only her body but intimate details about her life in order to receive attention. The Modern Family star Ariel Winter faced intense harassment for the size of her breasts on the show, despite the fact her character continuously dressed with modesty. Shortly after the series ended she chose to get a breast reduction and once again faced criticism for not accepting her body. Despite coming out and discussing the private reasons for the surgery (health reasons, such as back pain) she is still ridiculed for her decision. Being the centre of attention for the whole world means seeing your body and your face E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.
Being forced to look at your own image photoshopped and plastered on billboards only to go home and have a completely different person staring back at you in the mirror is not an easy thing to cope with. On top of that, having millions of people
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comment on your appearance over and over again, pointing out the ‘flaws’ you thought no one else noticed, makes me believe that we have no right to judge anyone who decides to change their physical appearance, despite the temptation to defend ‘natural’ beauty. While some people choose to permanently change their appearance out of love for certain aesthetics it is only fair to recognise that others change their appearance because of peer pressure, bullying and imposed unhappiness.
David Quinn @_quinnteresting_
Jessica O Brien
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Other Voices at UCC: Bringing it All Back Home Fashion editor Justine Lepage takes us through the live recording of Other Voices -Bringing it Back Home. She tells us about the bunch of class acts that were on and the live TV experience.
I remember watching Other Voices for the first time in 2020, my housemates and I had made a little movie night out of it and it was one of my first insights into the contemporary Irish music scene. I absolutely loved it, and couldn’t get enough. So, when I heard this edition would happen inside UCC, I was pretty excited. On the day, our little Other Voices Motley crew got together after our lovely interview with Pretty Happy and ushered towards the Main Quad. We got into the Aula Maxima, where the event was recorded, and realised the main entrance hadn’t been opened yet so we were lucky enough to snatch front row seats. We were quite chuffed to have such a great view. The venue got a makeover for the event and looked absolutely yassified, with some snazzy Other Voices decor decked up over the usual gallery of portraits. Pretty quickly, host extraordinaire MayKay appeared in front of us and the cameras started rolling. The evening was opened by rising star Cian Ducrot, mesmerising the audience with his emotional ballads. At the end of the set, he did a lovely impromptu Hallelujah mashup. After his performance, there was a break during which livestreamed punk babes Pretty Happy and Softboy ’s Yenkee, both pre-recorded in the Glucksman Gallery. Pretty Happy carried out their energy really well through the set, and made fun use of props and experimental camera work. Yenkee’s intimate and laid-back set was also a nice dive into his ethereal universe. Northern-Irish SOAK was the second live act of the night and brought us a cool rock energy as well as some laid-back banter about their experience as an Other Voices alumni. Following up was a set by UCC’s trad band Sunday ’s Well, for an intimate session in
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the Honan Chapel. We also saw the talented Susan O’Neill. Her beautiful voice and eerie universe made it feel like a forest was growing inside the building. A Honan Chapel set from Rufous Nightjar was next, with gorgeous a capella harmonies. Yamming Gao’s set on the Chinese Pipa was a very delicate and technically impressive performance that was really complemented by the chapel’s acoustics. Finally, headliner Biig Piig was here to close the night on an energetic bump. The Cork-born artist infused her modern twist on indie pop and charmed the audience with her bouncy energy. She looked like she was on a spring, barely touching the stage as she performed. Your Motley babes are big Biig Piig fans, so we didn’t hold back when she asked the audience to stand up and dance for her song Switch! I would say the three of us were by far the most energetic people in the crowd. Be on the lookout for our big heads bobbing along in the livestream. Biig Piig played a few more of her funky tunes, and the show drew to an end. We were left tired but excited by the big evening we just had. Hoping to see you all at Other Voices UCC 2023!
Other Voices Photography: Clare Keogh
INTERVIEW WITH SOAK Motley’s Editor-in-Chief Niamh Browne sits down with singersongwriter Bridie Monds Watson to get into the nitty-gritty of the creative process, a united Ireland and of course, mushrooms.
Performing in the Aula Maxima might be a strange one for Bridie Monds Watson but Other Voices isn’t: ‘Other Voices was the first big thing where I felt like I made it. I have such a history with Other Voices. Today when I came in I hadn’t seen everybody in ages. Everybody was so welcoming. Genuinely happy to see me. I feel so at home.’ It is fitting then that ‘Bringing it All Back Home’ is the by-line for this session of Other Voices, the outrageously successful televised concert series by UCC Alum Phillip King. King is a Gaeilgeoir, Céoltóir and allaround champion of the arts In Ireland. Other Voices has always had the intention of presenting the alternative. Soak first appeared on Other Voices in 2012, at the Dingle session. Monds Watson was only 16 at the time. ‘Tiny’ the singer says laughing. Soak continues: 'I have been doing it for a long time but I feel like only now at this point in my life and career do I actually know what I want to make. I think up until this point there has been a lot of trial and error and figuring things out. I feel like I have been trying on different coats all the time in my music’.
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What was it like growing up in the music industry and finding success so young? ‘It was a privilege to get the attention I got with my first record and make music a career. At that point, it was just messing around. I felt lucky to do it. It was the definition of a career then’. And some career it has been, Soak has been nominated for a Mercury Prize, won the RTÉ Choice Music prize and the Northern Ireland Music Prize. They’ve also released 3 albums to date and have been hailed by the Guardian as a ‘vivid portrait of teenage deepthinking’. All before the age of 26. So who is their greatest musical influence? ‘They change all the time but initially, I would say Avril Lavigne. I will not take any shit about Avril Lavigne. I will listen to the conspiracies though because they’re funny.’ This is a highly unusual pick from an uber-cool, critically acclaimed singersongwriter but you have to love the sincerity. They continue ‘Tegan and Sara, Bon Iver, Wilco and Japanese Breakfast at the minute. I also I fucking love The National’. These are far more run-of-the-mill indie choices but it shows the spectrum of influence that goes into making a sound as original as Soak.
One thing that makes Soak so original is Monds Watson's ability to write music that captures a specific feeling at a specific time. 'When you try too hard you don’t do it so well. I think the ideal songwriting experience is to begin a song and finish a song within the same hour. I think that’s how you truly capture a feeling. For the most part that’s what I try to do. My average day is waking up and writing all day. But not every day do you write something good. I think all those little bits of work accumulate into one song that will arrive one day. That’s capturing the moment’. Soak once wrote the line ‘I pray for you and you know I don’t like Jesus’. I ask if this is part of the capturing-the-moment ethos. They hesitate: ‘Ahhhh, it’s weird. Because I wrote that when I was really young, it was never intentionally religious. When I look back at 26 I’m like ‘ballsy line Bridie’. Every time we sing it I feel a tiny bit guilty. Or sacred of the judgement I’d receive. I think it represents how much for this person I was willing for them to be okay. That was the only way to articulate it’. They continue: I am not religious at all. I wasn't brought up that way. But it was just showing I’d do this for you and I don’t even believe in it.’ In spite of being atheist, the opening
track on Soak’s new album ‘If I Never Know You Like This Again’ is called Purgatory. There are a lot of religious themes for a nonbeliever. “Yeah, I think with being Irish religious iconography follows you around and it’s so prevalent. It’s unavoidable. There’s so much religious chat that it feeds into your subconscious.’ Speaking of being Irish, there comes the unavoidable crass question for any artist from Derrywhat do you make of the border? ‘I like the idea of the country just being one country. I don’t care for sides other than that. That’s not my game, I am not interested. I just want a happy, peaceful place you know. In general, I don’t believe in borders. Being born where you’re born is such a lottery. The older I get the more I realise we make all these shitty rules for no reason other than money and capitalism. I think the idea of passports and borders is wrong.’ I notice a tattoo of the island of Ireland on their forearm. It seems that Ireland is where the heart is and they’ve just moved back. ‘Dublin is fun (Really? I wonder to myself being the unbearable Cork woman I am). I’m only brand new, I’ve only been there for five weeks. I’m really happy to be back in Ireland
because I was in England for the last 5 years and I truly feel at home in Dublin and I feel comfortable. I always felt like a bit of an outsider in England.’ Dublin might be homier than London but truly nothing can beat Derry for Monds Watson. ‘Derry is the best city in Ireland. Small city but it’s faultless. I love it to bits like. It’s not really on the gig circuit. Not everybody goes up there to tour. I think that’s why I came to Dublin. I wanted to be in Ireland but I wanted access to that kind of thing. If Derry was bigger I’d live there’. 2022 is a special year for Soak, not only moving back to Ireland but also marking the release of ‘If I Never Know You Like This Again’, which was a pandemic project: ‘I was writing the album before Covid but then obviously that happened. That made me lay into it more. Everybody was trying to avoid what was happening. I worked harder on it and got lost in that world which was more memories. It was more self-reflection. You had to have something’. This description seems to describe art as some kind of salvation or divine force. It seems to be how Monds Watson sees art: 'Oh yeah for sure. It’s hard to think of a life without it. So much of my life feels purposeful because of it. I’m always writing in my phone a
line that comes to me or means something. I think it's amazing you can find meaning out of mundane things. I wouldn’t like a world without that’. What’s the one takeaway Bridie Monds Watson wants viewers of Other Voices to take away from that performance? 'I hope they hear a line of it or part of it that makes them feel good. That gives them not a bad kind of existential thought but an element of contemplation. That an element of it is comforting.’ They sigh and pause for a bit and then continue: I just hope they don’t hate it’ they say laughingly. Finally, I can’t help myself from asking what Soak makes of mushrooms. ‘Aye, I’m into that. I don’t have much to say other than ‘good time’”. I think I am picking up what they are laying down. ‘I don’t like to eat them in food that’s what I’d say’.
PRETTY HAPPY INTERVIEW Motley’s Features and Opinions Editor Édith de Faoite and Fashion Editor Justine Lepage interview Cork-based band Pretty Happy. They discuss the Cork music scene, politics in the art-punk genre and their love of stuffed mushrooms.
As a proud Kerry woman, nothing warms my heart more than hearing praise for my home county. When we sat down with Pretty Happy in New Bar, they began by talking about their time in Dingle playing for Other Voices there last year. They mention how they won over a crowd of mostly families. ‘That was actually one of my favourite gigs ever’ says Arran, the bassist of the trio. ‘The best thing in the world [is] when you come into a crowd you don’t know and turn them’. Andy, the drummer, agrees; ‘it’s like your uncle’s wedding’. 'Very much that vibe', they laugh. Pretty Happy are an art-punk trio from Cork. The band is made up of Abbey Blake on vocals and guitar, her brother Arran on bass and their friend Andy Killian on drums. The sibling duo began playing together before eventually recruiting Andy Killian as the drummer. It is clear that they are focused on enjoying the processes of creating and performing. 'We are genuinely just having a bit of fun here'. Andy says as he reminisces on the organic, laid back way in which the band was formed. ‘We never were like “let's start a punk band”, we just all came together and bonded over sounds we liked.’ 'Wait, is this a band?', was his reaction when they booked their first gig, at a metal night in Fred Zeppelin’s on Washington Street. Since then they have opened for bands like Pillow Queens, The Mary Wallopers and Future Islands and have played festivals across Europe, including Primavera Sound and All Together Now. Their fondness for Cork shines through as they discuss their origins as a band. They praise the Cork music scene for giving the band its start, while also acknowledging the lack of funding for the arts and the venues crisis. ‘A music scene is made by the people’, Arran says. Pretty Happy frequently played in The Roundy and at Plugd when they were starting out. Abbey acknowledges the up and coming talent in the Cork music scene at the moment. ‘It's fun to see young bands come up now like Mossy or I Dreamed I Dream. Always weird stuff comes out of Cork, which is cool’. As they lament the difficulties the music scene faces, Abbey points out that the venue crisis ‘can lead people to be more DIY and that's probably good practice as you get on. I think it's very important for a band to know how to run a gig because then you know what you want and what you should expect’. She concludes, however, by admitting that there is a need for a space to support Cork musicians. They point out that cities like Glasgow and Limerick have ‘DIY music scenes’ that still manage to provide appropriate venues for artists. We continue on from this to discuss the role of politics in the art-punk movement. The band acknowledges that some of their songs are political in nature, touching on themes of domesticity and rape culture, but they never conciously try to politicise their music. Instead, they focus on always writing about their personal experiences. 'People think you’re being political when you have a point of view. 'Sometimes when you write a song about personal experience(s), people call it political'.
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Needless to say that I am already enjoying the guys’ company (if you like Kerry, I like you) as they go on to discuss the logistics of performing for an event like Other Voices. The Other Voices performance was not the same as most of the performances they are used to as it was filmed early in the day, with only a small audience. 'It's so weird to put that much energy into it that early in the morning.' They begin to talk about performing for the camera, which they became accustomed to during Covid times. 'We kinda become a bit unhinged when we have cameras on us, so we just embrace that, go a bit mad. The difference between a livestream gig and a normal gig is the difference between theatre and film, it's about the energy in a room, in a space, versus being able to transfer energy into a camera.' Their Other Voices performance in the Glucksman Gallery shows that they’ve mastered the art of captivating an audience both in the virtual realm and in person.
we wanted to do a music video for it. We couldn't leave our house, we couldn't really do anything, only the shops’. The result is a wonderful and wacky musical (and culinary) experience. When asked what became of the haul of salami from the video, the trio shared that none of it was thrown away. ‘We didn't want to waste €70 worth of meat’. Leading on from this, to round out the interview, I ask the trio the most hard-hitting question of the whole interview. Salami or mushrooms? The answer? ‘I think mushrooms are unbelievable.’ Andy recounts a meal from a few days previous. ‘We had a lovely stuffed mushroom the last day.’ As the interview draws to a close, I ask Abbey for final words. ‘Up mushrooms.’ Then, after a moment’s consideration, ‘up button mushrooms.’
We get on to discussing their iconic music video for their song ‘Salami’. A vegan’s nightmare, the video is an ode to all things porky and all things processed. The video begins with Abbey in the meat aisle in Lidl. ‘We brought a camera to Lidl and just started filming meat, there's not much more to it than that’. When questioned about whether they had permission to film the video, they all laugh. ‘No, we had to hide from the security guard, he followed us around at one point’, says Arran. Abbey reveals; ‘We had a tripod in a trolley’. The video was a product of the lack of resources available during Lockdown. ‘It was during lockdown and
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