The Changing of the Guard / 4 Train

Packed like sardines in an old tin can we push and squeeze and excuse me.
There are no ‘sorry’s here in the no man’s land that is the middle of the cart.
Hands cling to rails and heads are burrowed in books and phones
While homeless people tell sad stories that would break your heart
If you didn’t hear the same story two homeless people ago.
Oftentimes the same story is told with little differences,
Like instead of a sick son it is a girl or wife,
But people don’t care for any of these hindrances
Because we all have places to go and people to see
In this Amazon jungle of a city.

We hurtle along between 59th and 86th at breakneck speeds,
Planting our feet in position to sway with the machine
As the conductor announces a delay at Grand Concourse.
A collective groan rises up, everybody taking part
In this collective self-pity parade of head shakes,
Low mutters and sighs of frustration.
Eventually, finally, behind schedule as usual
the 4 train pulls into another station
That is full to the brim of students, teachers, laborers, preachers
And other professions that won’t fit on the train.

My calves begin to cramp as we wobble towards Burnside Avenue,
Still no sign of a seat or even a space to lean against a door
While veteran riders apply makeup and read books while the place rattles around them.
Train etiquette is still observed as space is made for the elderly, poor
And pregnant passengers as the sea parts for such weary travelers.
The carriage almost empties at Mosholu Parkway,
Leaving me the carriage to myself as we glide into Woodlawn, the last stop on this train.
I swap out with tired people at the opposite end of the working day,
An extremely exhausted changing of the guard as haggard looks are exchanged as
They begin their day and I am almost finished mine.

The Doorman’s Daytime – Week 3

The one constant thing in a night shift doorman’s daytime is the easy access to programs on every streaming device, as well as movies, podcasts and articles. The odd sleep schedule that accompanies the job is a tad annoying. The reduced time you get to spend with friends is another grievance but once you are engrossed in a new show you stop feeling sorry for yourself and continue to vegetate. Episode after episode is consumed. Season after season is watched through increasingly aching eyes. You should really take a break, or at least use your phone for something more productive, but that’s too much effort. The only time legs are used are to swing your arse from the couch to the other part of the couch so your back doesn’t hurt anymore. Enough about my Tuesdays!
This week, I started going to the gym again. All summer long I used the excuse of the GAA season to not stay active. I played a handful of games and skipped the rest for work. So I decided that enough was enough and that I would eat healthier and cut out the eating out. The drawback to this increase in activity is the lack of time for binge-watching T.V. shows and movies. I can’t concentrate on podcasts when I exercise so I listened to Eminem’s new album.Let me tell you, that guy is angry! I didn’t watch as much this week because of this. I also didn’t read as much because I left my bag with all the books I’m currently reading in a friend’s house after an almighty session. I did use my night shifts to binge a few things instead of working. So let’s have a look.

Bojack Horseman (Season 5)

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I couldn’t remember much of the specifics of the first four seasons of Bojack because I binged them all separately and never together. I loved the show before and remembered the basics; Bojack is an asshole who sometimes redeems himself but always manages to ruin his life and other people’s lives; Diane is the book smart friend who may or may not have feelings for Bojack while being with someone else; Todd is the zany, typical comic relief who slowly develops into a rounded character; Princess Carolyn is the unlucky in love agent turned manager who can’t have kids while always batting for Bojack. I was not prepared for how much of their awful, sad lives that I couldn’t remember would come flooding back as I watched.
It is a truly fantastic show that is tough to watch because each episode packs a lot of jokes and comedy around a seismic gut-punch of emotional growth or regression in a character. The fourth season especially dives into Bojack’s childhood and his mother’s reasons for being cold and unloving. It was tough to binge that season because, while the episodes were marvellous and some are ranked in the top echelons of IMDbs top rated episodes, each one left me feeling emotionally drained.
Season 5 is no different. I’ll have to watch it through again to fully appreciate the season. The writers pull no punches, really plumming the depths to which we, the viewer, are willing to go to keep rooting for Bojack. He is plagued by demons even more so in this fifth outing and his past indiscretions are coming back to the surface.
Princess Carolyn spends the season putting out more fires and trying to adopt a baby. Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter have split up and are trying to wade through life without each other. Todd, now crashing on Princess Carolyn’s couch, finds himself in another wacky adventure as one of the top dogs at a website that tells people the time. This show is just fantastic.
Special mention goes to Episode 6, “Free Churro”. The entire twenty-five minutes is just Bojack delivering a heart-wrenching eulogy at his mother’s funeral. Television gold.

Crazy Rich Asians

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I do love a good rom-com. I enjoy the comedy, the always over the top endings and the soundtracks. Movies like About Time, Me Before You and Love, Rosie are some of my favourite movies of all time. They have interesting plots and are just the right amount of corny and cringy. That’s why I was surprised that I didn’t like this movie. The cast are all generically handsome or beautiful; there were sad English songs sang in Mandarin/Chinese; one of the climactic scenes was so over the top it as surreal. Despite all that, it just wasn’t good. The dialogue was clunky, the plot kind of raced along without a whole heap of context and the conflict between the two leads seemed forced. That being said, the aforementioned over the top scene was absolutely fantastic.
Funnily enough, I used to watch Glee, up until the fourth season when the show about an unbelievably diverse group of teenagers running around and singing and dancing in public became unbelievable. Harry Shum grew into one of the main characters. I had seen he was going to be in this movie and he was promoting it pretty heavily online. The prick wasn’t in the actual movie, only a mid-credits scene that apparently sets up two sequels. I was fully sure I just hadn’t seen him on screen.*
So, anyways, the movie is not bad but it is not a great rom-com. I do think it is important for movies of other cultures to be seen in the Western World and I am probably in love with Gemma Chan so that was a plus. But I wouldn’t pay $14 again to just enjoy a wedding scene.
*Disclaimer: I was high as a kite watching this movie so it very well could be an absolute masterpiece hahahahaha

Following up on last week, I didn’t finish Jack Ryan. It just got too much for me. They kept going on about a second 9/11 and I thought there would be more of John Krasinsky and less troubled military guys. I’ll try and finish it this week. We’ll see. I might let ye know. Happy watching!

An Uncertain Start

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It has been an awkward beginning to the season for Manchester United. A winning, if slightly shaky, start against Leicester gave us three points off the bat which was unpleasantly followed by two losses on the trot; a 3-2 embarrassment against Brighton and a 3-0 hammering by Spurs. The 2-0 victory over Burnley over the weekend gave the fans some hope and restored some of the faith in the players and the manager.

The two losses, to Brighton and Spurs respectively, were tough to watch. United seemed to be nervous in the back line for the whole of the Brighton game. The goals we scored were a penalty and a good piece of situational awareness by Lukaku, which gave some of us hope for the Tottenham game. That obviously didn’t pan out as he missed in front of an open goal after rounding Lloris brilliantly. The French goalkeeper was still absolutely steamin’ after he was caught drink driving. What a lout!
All jokes aside, the first half of the Tottenham game was OK. We attacked well and created opportunities, some of which should have been put away. That’s right, Rom, I’m talking about you again. Don’t @ me. However, within ten seconds of the restart, the defenders who had played so well in the first half, fell apart and allowed two easy goals past them. The third goal was painful to watch, especially as Moura eased past Smalling, who had played well by my estimations in the first half.
Following this loss, Twitter was abound with calls for Mourinho’s head and for Woodward to be burned alive at the stake.  Many fans wanted him gone immediately and for someone with a more attacking style of play to be instated. Others wanted all the fans’ total backing of the manager and the players. It was vintage Premier League era views on the value of a manager and how high his success rate should be.

As I just said, United fans seem to be divided into a, “Sack him now’, or a,”Back him until he’s sacked’, point of view. Neither option glows favourably on Mourinho and how he is pervceived by the fans. I would tend to agree with the second option. It is perfectly fine to want a new manager if the quality of football is declining and if the results are against us. However, it is a whole other thing to keep harping on about the manager when certain players aren’t pulling their weight or are in a slump. I do believe that Mourinho will be gone by the end of the season (as I don’t see us challenging for the top 3, especially if this level of play keeps up) but if he isn’t, and if the results are good enough that warrant him staying, then I won’t care. If he is gone and the results warrant him going then I’ll be delighted to welcome a new manager to the club, preferably one with an attacking style. I will not be happy if Mourinho is gone so early in the season because of outcry over the fans due to lack of spending in the transfer market; a transfer market that we trust Ed Woodward with, and who should be blamed.
Despite all this talk about Mourinho and whether he will have a job come the end of this year or the season, there have been some positives in the first four games.

  • Luke Shaw has been trememndous in the last three games for United. He has been bombing up and down the left wing, cutting in and getting the ball in dangerous areas, especially in the last two games. He seems to have responded well to Mourinho’s criticisms last year, and perhaps this success story will be what Mourinho needs to keep his job.
  • Andreas Pereira has had a solid opening to the season. I was delighted that he didn’t get loaned out, and the fact that he is with the Brazil sqaud for the International Break is testament to his prowess in the last few years.
  • Lukaku seems to have found his scoring boots in the last few games, even if he did forget them in the dressing room against Tottenham. Despite that glaring miss, I do hope he continues this run of scoring.
  • Alexis has continued to be the most creative player on the pitch. Even though he does frustrate me with how much he loses the ball, he is always trying to create something. He is a pleasure to watch and I think this will be the season where he starts to produce much more for us, especially with Champions League football back on the horizon.

It has been an uncertain start and it looks like it will get more confusing before we begin to see consistent results. That doesn’t bode well for José but it mightn’t do us fans any bad. We’re so used to success, trophies and accolades that perhaps another year in the wilderness of mediocrity will humble us before our inevitable rise to the top of English and world football. Before I start to go into a Third Reich style speech I will end this brief analysis of our season so far. Our next match is against Watford, who are also not to be taken lightly, especially seeing as they are joint top of the table! A bad result there could bring the Special One’s teetering empire toppling down.

Sit down. It’s time we had the (transfer) talk.

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Ladies and gentlemen, step right this way. The Great Fellaini has one last trick up his sleeve. He has managed to trick one more big club into allegedly offering to pay for his services. A.C. Milan are reported to be set to strike a deal with Utd for the Belgian midfielder for three years. By God. Milan might not be the titans of football they were about a decade ago but you wouldn’t put them and Fele together in any scenario. Maybe in a sort of club swap parody of Wife Swap. It would be aired on E4 weekly and we’d get to see Fellaini’s shenanigans in the fashion capital of the world. Oh, the afro possibilities!

As a seasoned Manchester United fan I now approach the summer transfer window with disdain. Sure, I look at the rumours and say, ‘Jaysus he’d be good’, but I never actually believe. We’ve been linked with so many notable names over the years that it’s hard to pick the best/funniest one. A report went around last year we were going to sign Neymar for over $200 million. Fuck off. We were linked with Owen Hargreaves for so long that I initially didn’t believe he played for us until weeks into the season. Granted, I think I turned 13 that year and had just discovered that girls were a thing. Every summer the ‘Ronaldo Return’, articles start pouring out. I don’t even want him back anymore. Keep the world’s best player (don’t @ me, Messi fans).

Despite all the bullshit and the fact that the World Cup has yet to be played, there seems to be a positive lead, mixed in with a few transfers based on pure conjecture. Let’s take a look.

Fred – Shaktar Donetsk

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This Brazilian plies his trade in the Ukrainian league, making people take note of him in the Champions league this year and domestically with his skill and loping through balls. He turned 25 in March (what have I done with my time on this Earth?), and despite not scoring many goals he is a proven provider. It would be interesting to see him sitting in a midfield three of Pogba and Matic, providing Pogba pulls his socks up this season and performs the way he can and does/did for France and Juventus. Fred is only 5’7″, so will be dwarfed next to the two giants.
Apparently this is a done deal, according to Di Marzio on Twitter. Fred will cost 50 million Stirling, providing United get the deal done before he has a stormer of a World Cup. I’m more interested, personally, in the inevitable aggressive dynamic that will develop between the Brazilian and beloved club mascot, Fred the Red. Red Fred has a known violent temper, once coming to blows with Roy Keane over Fred’s performance on the sidelines at half time against Bolton in 2003. That’s the real reason Keano left the club. You heard it here never.

Malinkovic-Savic – Serbia

This is one of the bullshit deals I was talking about. Despite having a great domestic season in Italy and impressing all over the world, United have balked at the price tag associated with the Serbian. An initial bid was rejected and the price tag was set at 87.5 million pound (I have no pound symbol on my laptop so you’ll have to deal with me typing pound every once in a while. Pound pound pound pound). This fee is set to rise into 150 million territory if he has a good World Cup, which he  more than likely will, at least in the two games against Costa Rica and Switzerland in the group stages. Apparently United bid 100 mill in the last few days but Lazio are holding out for the big bucks. Ayyyyy, whaddreyagonnadoaboutihhhhh? Italians.
He scored 12 goals from midfield last season and has a proper footballer’s brain. I wouldn’t mind breaking the bank for this player but I’ll say it now: this deal won’t happen.

Bale – Madrid

This is my dream. This has been an ongoing saga for a few years too with nobody but United fans believing it could happen, me included. So it goes on this year too after Bale expressed displeasure about his lack of game time at the Bernabeu immediately after his immaculate overhead kick that put them in the lead against Liverpool in the Champions League final. According to all the Manchester based papers and fans he is coming to Old Trafford. Probably won’t happen but just imagine if he did. Oh what a sight that would be; Bale running down the wing, putting in a perfect cross for Lukaku to either mishit or bury past the keeper. He literally does one or the other, kinda funny.
I for one would go on the absolute tear around Woodlawn in the Bronx if Bale signed. I’d be dangerous. All we can do is believe this will happen.

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All jokes aside, the signing of Fred would bolster our title hopes next year, as would the signing of Savic, although I suspect the price tag will be a bit too high. We need two midfielders with the inevitable departure of Herrera and Mata in the next two years, as well as the possibility of Martial looking for first team action. The arrival of Bale could prove disastrous for the continued development of Lingard and with Lukaku back fully fit next season I don’t see a whole pile of game time for Rashford under Mourinho. I personally prefer Rashford up front but Mourinho blocked me on insta so I can’t slide into his DMs anymore. Cheeky.
We need a left back and a centre back. We need more confidence and clinical finishing. And we need to stop losing to newly promoted teams and teams fighting relegation, fucking hell.

It’s important to source your work, so I got most of these tips originally from the United Stand, on Twitter and Youtube. I double checked but they are solid and admit if they’re talking about speculative rumours or fact. Give them a follow and give David Amoyal on twitter a follow too, as he’s the English page for Di Marzio, who tweets solely in Italian. I found that out when I set his page to give me mobile alerts whenever he tweeted and I was rudely awoken to pages and pages of Italian at 4 in the afternoon (night shift).
Any United fans getting annoyed at the team’s progress, or lack thereof, remember it’s still early in the summer and we’ve got the world cup to look forward to. At the end of the day, we’re all just surfing through life (Paul Guerin, smoking fags outside Plassey 49, 2015).

 

6 Months In.

Jaysus. It’s been 6 months since I moved over to the states. Months are starting to blend into each other fairly quickly now and time slows down for nobody, especially in bloody New York city where everybody is in a rush. In two months time I will be relaxing in Cork city bai; feet up watching reruns of Friends with a lovely cup of proper tea; as opposed to sitting behind a desk not doing much watching reruns of Game of Thrones on my phone. The two countries are truly worlds apart.

I haven’t actually done much by Irish people standards since I’ve got here. I’ve worked and I’ve drank. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying myself but the shifts I work don’t allow me to do much else. Weekends and nights restrict your opportunities for travel. Hopefully I’ll get my weekends back and be able to jet off to friends from college all around America. San Francisco and Minnesota top the list because of friends living there but I also want to see more of New York city and places like Boston, Washington and Connecticut. So let me tell you what to expect of New York if you stumble across this blog in a few years time because I clearly know everything after six months.

This city is tiring. It’ll chew you up and spit you out. I couldn’t recommend living here more, but be prepared for days off that you planned a sightseeing tour of the city or preparing for a night out with friends to end in you not being able to budge from the couch. My job isn’t hard; I’m a security presence that hands out packages and takes shit from wealthy residents; but working so much and taking into account the time it takes to get home on a somewhat unreliable subway service, it wouldn’t be long before you’re cursing the very thought of the city and of work. Rush hour subways in Grand Central are special type of hell. More often than not you’ll be almost nose to nose with someone in as foul a mood as you are.
No matter how generous and humanitarian you may think you are, you will also get sick of the sheer amount of homeless people in this city and on the train. In relation to this, if you catch someone staring at you, determine whether you could take them in a fight and continue to stare at the ground until your stop or that person gets off. Chance a look every now and then to see if they’re still interested in what the top of your scalp looks like. There is literally no point in staring back at them as they take it as the invitation they never received to freak the shit out of you. I made the mistake of looking at a rotund Asian man on the 4 train home one morning and he proceeded to stare into my soul. I couldn’t look away. I fell in love that day. I never saw him again. But that’s just one of the dangers of the subway.
Invest in a good pair of earphones or if you prefer, bring a book. You don’t even have to read it, just look at it until you get to your stop.

I live in Woodlawn in the Bronx. The part that I live in is a predominantly Irish area. Prepare for some Irish people you meet that are living in different parts of the city and the state to scoff at the idea of moving from Ireland to an Irish village situated in the Bronx. They will take their monocle out to get in a good, proper laugh at the nice area, cheaper rent and great social opportunities. Prepare for a lot of the people you meet living in Woodlawn to profess their hatred for the place and how it sucks you away from the real experience of New York. Prepare to see the same people out drinking in Woodlawn and having the time of their lives. Revel in the fact that you are not experiencing noise pollution like that of the city or the boroughs closer to the city like Queens and Brooklyn. Cry the next day when you have to leave for work at least an hour and 15 minutes in advance because you’re so far away from Manhattan. Soak it all in and enjoy it. Ride the gnarly wave of the hangover and force the fear back down into the blackness of your soul from whence it came.

I’m sorry about the way this post is laid out and paragraphed. I’ll set a plan for tomorrow’s post. If anyone reads this and if, by a slight chance it affects you in even the slightest way and even if it doesn’t and you made it this far just take one thing home with you from this long-winded post of me complaining: accept that you’re tired, make your peace with it and prepare to be tired all over again. I’m still young but a big part of growing and maturing is admitting to yourself and anyone within earshot that you’re a.) wrecked b.) work was some balls today c.) work will be a balls tomorrow, and finally d.) nobody likes their job and if they do they’re either lying or they are new and haven’t found out everyone can be a dickhead for no reason. Or at least that you think everyone’s a dickhead on this given day. Opportunity is plenty here but don’t expect it to be easy. Especially if you’re burning the candle at both ends by working six days a week and drinking for four of those nights. That’s definitely not me by the way. I don’t have a problem, fuck you!

Choose to work. Choose to go out too much. Choose that last shot of tequila that you know will set you over the edge. Choose the cigarette that makes you twice as drunk, especially since it’s the first air you’ve gotten in hours. Choose to work that extra day even though you’ve been complaining about lack of days off for weeks now. Choose the dodgy hot-dog from the dirty cart on 25th street because you’re hungry, broke and you just don’t care. Choose loving that hot-dog. Choose bonding with fellow Irish and other immigrants over how the city is too busy and realising you miss the people from home and not so much the place. Choose blogwriting as a suitable medium for your thoughts and pent up anger towards everything. Choose stealing directly from Trainspotting, which is a fine film. Choose New York City. Choose Life.

 

 

Here Goes Nothing

Well, what’s the story? Like thousands upon thousands of others I’ve decided to start a blog. Everybody and their mother seems to have a blog these days so I thought it would be a good idea to add my mundane thoughts into the endless void that is the internet. Perhaps when somebody has finished a post about someone’s time studying abroad in Ireland they might happen upon my humble page and have a read. Perhaps I’ll write two or three posts and become lazy as always and just stop. I’m no betting man but I’m betting on the latter.

I joined WordPress because I want to write for a living; be that in journalism or in creative writing. I’m not too pushed but I’ve seen the power of the blog and what it can do for your career. Take Retro-Flame, for example. A Kerry girl and one of the biggest success stories out of Ireland started with a blog, giving lifestyle and fashion tips among other things. I read her posts occasionally because I’m genuinely delighted that someone so young is making it so big in New York. I am also making it big in New York, but in the sense that I drink too much on the weekends and eat too much on the weekdays, leaving me pondering why my 38″ pants are a bit snug even without a belt. We’re both making it big is the point I’m trying to make.

While I do enjoy an aul lifestyle post every now and then, especially when my head is absolutely banging from a hangover, this page will probably be a collection of random posts concerning my love/hate relationship with New York, my love/hate relationship with Ireland and finally, my love/hate relationship with myself. I love a bit of film, t.v. and sport so I might throw in the odd page of shite-talk about that part of my life too. Maybe.

In all seriousness though, I do want to write for a living someday. I don’t want that living to be in a crap studio apartment in Manhattan which I share with three other lads all living off the one can of beans before payday. I want a nice apartment or house somewhere in the world where I can write for the day while watching episodes of Hardy Bucks and Match of the Day in my jocks. I want it all and I want to put in just enough effort to get there.
So here goes nothing.

See how I made the ending of that match the title. I’d say I’ll make it big lads. Lads?