American Wake

Posted: April 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

Don’t have a viddy to post for the title,  a Black 47 song.  But here is one about Irish immigrants doing shit work for shit pay in America.  “Aww, mammy dear, we’re all mad over here, drinking in America”

I have been saying that Ireland is like Wisconsin, except with less snow; their life revolves around bars, eating, drinking, and music.  we added cheese.

But one of the most notable things about Ireland is how fecking OLD it is.  My house was built in 1904.  My office, in one of the oldest areas of downtown swampland that is now Milwaukee was built in 1852.  I am currently working on a building built in 1858.

Piffle.  In Ireland, they have bars that have operated continuously longer than that.  The have buildings that are 400, 600, 700 years old.  They have ruins that are older. They have been invaded by EVERYONE.  And then they sent them to us…

Ireland was a fertile land that was invaded, over and over, by Vikings and Normans and the English, and the lands were pillaged and the forests were clear-cut and the locals killed and raped and beaten into submission.  Over and over again.  You know, kind of what the white assholes did to the American Natives, except without the horrible consolation of allowing them their own sovereignty on uninhabitable lands.

Which is kind of interesting, in a weird way.  We did a bus tour of Ireland, and on the first evening introductory meeting, we saw people that we kind of recognized.  They were, indeed, from Milwaukee, and our sons were friends in grade school.  And the husband plays in one of our favorite local reggae bands, and the wife is part Menomonie.  Yes, it was Weird.  And yes, we did Milwaukee proud.

We got into Dublin with some time to spend, and so we went to Kilmainhaim Gaol.  This is an awesome stop, because the guides are superb; but also last year it was renovated for the 100 year anniversary of the executions of the rebels, including killing James Connolly who couldn’t even stand up, so the had to shoot him in a chair.  I said at the time, there are a lot of lyrics by Irish bands that start to make a fuck of a lot of sense.

Our bus tour hit some of the touristy things, like Blarney Castle (yes I kissed the damn stone,, but I dunno that you guys may welcome me being MORE verbose) But we also visited places like Kilkenny and Galway, and saw some great aspects of the environment, and we had a guide who told us many informative things about Irish history.

It will be noted here that, on my mother’s side, we have lore that indicates we have Irish blood.  Like it’s fucking breaking news.  But the funny thing is that going into Ireland, I had no real knowledge of whiskey,  I had no appreciation for Irish Coffee.  And now I do.  O yes.  On the cab ride out of Dublin, when I said this to the cabbie, he said “you obviously have some Irish blood”.

Have you ever been forbidden from singing, or dancing, or practicing your chosen religion?  That was Ireland. Their were fiercely religious, but since that was not the Official British Church, they went underground.  They had their dances and parties in the parts of the country that were inhospitable, and the English didn’t want to go there.

They kept rebelling.  They tried, and failed and tried again.  The fabled rebellion of 1916 failed, resulting in the brutal assassination of 16 rebels in Kilmainham Gaol, including a mortally wounded man who had to be propped into a chair to be shot dead.

And yet, they persisted.  The eventually won their independence.

And they are people who really love to enjoy life.  Music and drink and food and loving life.  They are awesome people.  They re incredibly friendly and the country is beautiful and exciting and they have stupendous ruins.

In America, we don’t really have any buildings that are as old as the ruins in Ireland.  We have never suffered the extreme plundering and abuse by an invading force (my apologies First Nations).  But in our immigrants, we have people that cannot contain their excitement and play music and sing and dance and paint and add vitality to this country that somehow, a lot of white people think is offensive.

As an architect and a designer. I once emblazoned a project in Grad school with a quote from David Byrne:  “we steal from what we like”. I am sure of that. I steal, borrow, compile and re-compile.  i will use what I saw in Ireland like the things I have seen in Mexico, Yellowstone, and many other areas.  I take it all in, and put it into the Designer Bin.  It all counts.

But here’s the thing.  The Irish people have been beaten down by the huge Hulks of their time.  They were basically quiescent farmers, who were at peace.  They were invaded by the FUCKIN VIKINGS  and the goddam Normans, and had all of their good stuff stripped.

So, like the First Nations, they had all their riches stolen.  And most interestingly, we were there with a Milwaukee person who was a First Nation heritage, who was married to an African American, whose son was a friend of our sons back in grade school, and that seemed kind of weird or pre-destined.

What I took from my visit, is that the Irish are tremendously resilient and they are amazingly lovely people that remind me of the people in my state.

And here is the takeaway:

  • They have spent generations being beaten down, having their lives and livelihoods stolen
  • They have had to fight, over and over again, in revolution.  They do not always win.
  • They never allowed any of that shit allow them to stope dancing and drinking and singing.  Even when that was illegal.

we elected a stupid person.  That was bad.  But at the worst, that is less bad than what the Irish survived.  And they made sublime whisky in the interim, not to mention the lovely music.

If we think we can’t survive the idiocy of Donald Fuking jerkwad Trump, our Irish brethren are mocking us.

Go ahead, tell me how I fucked up this time.

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