Tag Archives: boston

Plastic Paddy’s Wake (and Bake)

(to the tune of “Finnegan’s Wake”)

Plastic Paddy lived on Linden Street,
A mutt with a tinge of Irish blood.
His North Shore accent wicked sweet
and in his life, smoked too much bud.
So he had a sort of a tipplin’ way
With a love for jäger bombs he was born.
And to help him get to class each day:
Sambuca in his Dunkies ev’ry morn.

CHORUS:
Chug, Chug, Chug, bro, let’s do shots
’til you hit the floor and your stomach aches.
Dudebro, it’s a rager here
At Plastic Paddy’s wake and bake!

One night he shotgunned too much beer.
His head felt heavy, which made him shake.
He fell from the second floor balcony
And they gathered around to help him wake.
They moved him to the futon
where they slapped him twice upside the head.
Someone panicked, “Call the cops!”
when they felt for sure that he was dead.

(Repeat Chorus)

His friends assembled in the living room
And Dave O’Reilly called for shots.
Whiskey, cream, and Guinness chugged,
then finished with a rip of pot.
Maggie McDonald flipped her shit:
“I’m so fucked up, but seriously
we should probably call the cops.”
“Yo, that bitch is tweakin’!” yelled Al Giovanni.

(Repeat Chorus)

Then Suzy Kaplan spoke up with haste:
“You’re killing the buzz, so there’s the door.”
Maggie then gave her a slap in the face
And left her sprawling on the floor.
Then the war did soon engage;
‘Twas woman to woman and man to man.
The kegger war broke out in rage
and a violent riot soon began.

(Repeat Chorus)

Then Teddy Davis ducked his head
when someone threw a can of Natty.
It burst beside the futon bed
and the beer exploded all over Paddy.
Paddy revives, see how he rises!
Paddy risin’ from the futon!
Says, “Whoa. Shit. I’m good now, bro.
Let’s do car bombs! Party on!”

(Repeat Chorus)

Lunchtime

The mid-March weather was crisp and cool, but the sun was shining strong enough that you could get away with a light jacket, so I put on my favorite armor, a grey Dickies Eisenhower that I got back in my punk rock days, before I sold out and became a poorly paid private investigator. I had dressed it up with patches of all the founding fathers — Black Flag, Minor Threat, Op Ivy, Aus-Rotten though I never even listened to that shit, DK, and of course the presidential crest of Johnny, Joey, DeeDee, and Tommy. It was a nice reminder of where I’d come from — maybe how far I’d come since then — and also made me look tough when I was working a case.

The changing seasons also did a number on my bad knee, so I grabbed the shillelagh that I used for a walking stick. It was my da’s from his time with the Irish Guard. He’d tried to train me in bataireacht when I was younger, but when you’re twelve years old there are few things sound as lame as ancient Irish stick fighting. I realized that he would’ve retired this year if he were still alive. I wondered how that worked for the Good People on account of they didn’t really age.

The air outside smelled like shit and sodium and made me strangely nostalgic for The Short Bus, the old tour van that we had when I was playing in The Invisibles. It was actually a converted Type A school bus, so the name was still accurate, if terribly offensive. That old clunker ran on diesel, but for just a few hundred bucks, we made it work with old recycled cooking oil that we got from Chinese restaurants. That’s how I knew Yan, the guy who owned the building where my office and ran the restaurant downstairs. Apparently waste disposal costs a lot of money when you’re frying up that much pickled dog meat or whatever, so we did him a favor and took it off his hands for free. We were kind of a Lifetime-esque hardcore time, and of course we were all vegans at the time. We thought we were stickin’ it to the man and fighting back against oil corporations. Of course, none of us seemed to mind that we were using animal fat to run our van. Or that we were making fun of kids with special needs.

Looking back, that was a very dark time in my life.

I headed east up Essex Street towards the Common, past the cracking roads and crumbling buildings that stood adjacent to the luxury condos that had spread like a virus through the heart of downtown Boston. Gentrification was a weird and wicked beast. I saw Eunice at the intersection of Chauncy and Harrison and waved. She responded with a tiny nod. “Eunice” was just the name I’d given to the little Korean lady with the shopping cart full of empties that she pushed around the city. Her and I had established a kind of repartee over the years, so I felt like she deserved a name. After all, I was one of her biggest donors, and she seemed to recognize me every time I found her scrounging through the recycling bin outside my apartment at four in the fucking morning. Our friendship never developed any further than these subtle acknowledgements, but I was okay with that.

John Kelley’s Wake

Back in the main room of the pub they were playing “Auld Triangle” on the speakers — The Pogues version, as if there were any other. It was sundown, and in the distance you could just make out a halo around the crown of the Prudential Center. Spires of frosted orange sunlight shone through the bay windows at the far end of the bar, the silhouettes of panes framing all the faces that turned out to say farewell. I wasn’t in much of a mood for talking — Irish funerals also make for massive social events — but looking out at the crowd that had gathered at the bar, it was nice to see the diversity of lives that John had touched over his however-many years.

Before the sun had set, it had been one of those beautifully grey New England days that bugged my knee, so I’d been using my da’s old shillelagh as a crutch to help me walk. A few folks tried to offer me their stools to get me off my feet but I ignored them, not wanting to deal with all the small-talk conversation that would surely come along with it. The more funerals you find yourself at, the less inclined you are to go through that same dance every time:

“What’s good, brotha?”

“Ah, ya know, hangin’ in there. How ya been?”

“Good, good, yeah. Besides, you know.”

“Yeah.”

“Fuckin’ shame, y’know?”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I think he woulda liked this though. It’s a nice way to honor him.”

And so on ’til you puke. “No, he wouldn’t fuckin’ like it,” I always wanted to say, “‘Cause he’d still be fuckin’ dead, and having the corpse of the recently deceased prance around the funeral would really do a number on his loved ones, don’t you think?”

But instead the conversation shifts to some nostalgia, as if you and who you’re talking to have any kind of bond worth catching up on, besides being spat out on the Earth by your mams in or around the same zip code. Of course, it’d be rude to say, “I don’t care where you’re living now, I haven’t seen old-so-and-so, and I don’t care that she’s fat but since you asked I think it’s pretty fuckin’ rude of you to say so won’t you kindly piss off so I can grab another drink and drown the pain.”

It would take me at least another dozen pints until I got that honest.

The Parking Space Saver Vigilante

The narrow city streets were choked off even thinner by the slick, craggy piles of snow browning at the edges, and he stalked along each cowpath like a jungle cat in heat. The streetlights shined down halos on each haphazard parking job that lined the one-way road, and he had trained his eyes to catch the absence of luster from an automobile carcass. And sure enough, he saw a vacant space amongst the parallels. A ten-foot-long box of dugout powder that revealed the slush-streaked pavement underneath. And in the middle of the space sat a wobbling chair with chipping white paint that exposed the weathered wood beneath it.

His eyes hadn’t always been so astute, of course. There was a time when he accepted such strange winter furnishings. But that age of innocence had long been ripped away, ever since that fateful evening when his father had used his mother’s antique rocking chair, the one that had been built by her grandfather as a gift when she was born, to mark his own shoveled-out space while he went off to gamble at the pub. The vigilante was eight years old then, and he had been at the neighbors’ house at the time while mother attended night class at the community college. By the time that father had returned from the bar, he had forgotten about the rocking chair waiting in his space, and he accidentally backed into it with his car. For the most part, the chair remained intact, but the wood had been irreparably warped by the extreme colds of the evening, cracking the grain. It was utterly ruined.

Mother was furious when she came home. She and father spent all night screaming at each other while the young not-yet-vigilante tried to sleep in the next room.

“I busted my god damn ass shoveling out that spot, and I deserve to use it!” father shouted. And mother screamed back “There’s not even any snow left on the ground! You can’t just save your spot indefinitely! And why the hell would you use an antique, handmade rocking chair?!”

It was then that the boy became the vigilante, for he understood that mother and father would have stayed together, if not for that parking space saver. He blamed that folksy practice on his shattered childhood, and committed himself to the cause: as long as he lived, no shoveled parking space would be saved by a furniture marker. He knew that it was too late for him to save his own youth, but he refused to allow that same pain to befall any others.

And so he slinked forward on the balls of his feet, circling around his wood-chair prey, waiting for the moment to strike. When the coast was clear, and all other cars and pedestrians had passed, he lunged forward and ripped the tattered furniture from its asphalt resting place. He gripped its back with both hands, and with a bellowing cry from deep within his gut, he whipped the chair into the nearest snowbank. He watched with satisfaction as its four legs sank into the sleet pile, as little chunks of ice were disturbed from their slumber and fell like boulders from the mount, exploding when they hit the pavement.

The wintery shrapnel littered the previously vacant space, twinkling underneath the streetlights, and the vigilante knew that justice had been served.

R&D+MV

In the frozen cattle line of colorful neighbors,
standing in silence to save their own steam
as the frost grows across their forgettable faces
each braving the odd bureaucratic machines,
I suddenly understand why my father votes Republican.

The Origins of Pumpkin Beer

It was nearing sundown on that late autumn evening, and soon the frost would settle in for the long winter months. Mordecai Willington III was tending to the last of his crops, surveying the remaining gourds that littered his field in a tangled mess of pulp and vine, like a spider’s web in orange, brown, and yellow, speckled with flecks of green. It was the end of the harvest season, and though his yield had been high this year, he wasn’t selling as strongly as he had hoped. Soon the gourds would go to waste, buried beneath the snow along the cold Atlantic coast. Without the money he had hoped to make, his family would be forced to ration their goods until the spring.

Mordecai was gathering the final fresh gourds when a blinding white flashed across the field. It was radiant and burned without pain, as if God Himself had come down from above to bless the land. Mordecai was then surprised when a young girl emerged from the glorious haze, wearing boots to the middle of her shins that were covered in the fur of what appeared to be some relative of a sheep. Her long hair seemed an unnatural auburn shade and her clothing was immodest: a form-fitting pair of slacks made of some material he had never seen, and a button-down shirt in tartan tones that clung tightly to her well-supported bosom. She did not appear to be a harlot, though her face was indeed painted, giving her an angelic glow.

“I’m Alyssa,” she said, and when she smiled, her teeth were neither yellow nor jagged, but rather like a child’s in a full grown mouth.

“The Lord knows me as Mordecai Willington III,” he said, and bowed his nod. “Are you a messenger from God? Have you come to tell me how I shall feed my family through this cold, dark winter?”

“I do, but not from God. I come Northeastern University, four-hundred-and-something years in the future. Well, technically I grew up in Jersey but now I’m studying marketing. This is my internship semester.”

Mordecai turned his head and looked curiously at the strange woman. “Your words, they sound like English. I know them, yet I do not understand them. There is something queer about them.”

The girl — Alyssa — rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated. “Ugh, it was one time after volleyball practice. I’m not like a dyke or — you know, forget it, that’s not the point. I’m here to tell you that you need to take those leftover pumpkins, and turn those into beer, so we can get fucked up in the future. Oh, and from now on, you should probably ferment at the start of the harvest, so we can drink them starting in like, August. Got it?”

Mordecai laughed and said, “Others have done the same with their leftover gourds. It tastes retched compared to true ales! But it does indeed get you through the winter. But if we were to use our pumpkin harvest in the summer months, before the crops are ready, it would taste so green, and soiled. And then we would not have the crops to use in the fall!”

“That’s why you just dump a bunch of nutmeg and cinnamon and crap in, and you’ll be fine. And then you just sell that and you’ll make like a million dollars and you won’t even to worry about selling more crops in the future. I’m telling you, I’m marketing major, and I’m doing all kinds of alcohol brand ambassador stuff at  my internship now. I totally know what I’m talking about.”

Mordecai took a step towards her and peered at her with squinted eyes. “Why would I waste such valuable spices? We do make ales from pumpkin at the end of the harvest, but only out of necessity, never for flavor, and certainly not with pride. Why should I listen to you? How do I know that you are not sent here from the Devil?”

“Ugh, why does everyone hate Jersey so much?” the girl replied. She crossed her arms beneath her breasts and said, “Just trust me, okay? Think of me as like, the Ghost of Frat Parties Future. Or something. I don’t know. I never read that book, just the SparkNotes.”

#

The next summer, Mordecai took his entire pumpkin harvest and did precisely as he was told. But no one would barter or pay for his beer, and without any other crops to sell, his family went cold and hungry, and over the course of the winter, his entire family succumbed to the elements. But their sacrifice made for some like, totally sweet parties in the first few weeks of the semester.

An Rogaire Dubh

I walked into the pub some 15 minutes later. The light from the street lamps that seeped in through the window was swallowed up by the black-brown wood that furnished the bar, reclaimed from some abandoned church in Tír Chonaill. Even with the candles set around the pub, it managed to be darker inside than out. Still, there was something comforting about the smell of body odor, beer, and musty old wood. Far Derrick sat atop a stool at the far end of the bar, and judging by his volume, he’d been there for a while. I wondered if he climbed up on the stool all by himself or if he had someone to help him. Adam was behind the bar like he always was. We used to go to hardcore shows together at the Cambridge VFW. Technically Grey Ellen was the owner of the bar, but Adam was the only one who ever seemed to work there. He had a Kennedy brother tattooed on the back of either fist so no one liked to bothered him with too many questions. I reached across the bar and shook his hand and said, “Give me a Tully, neat, and a shot of Chartreuse for the small fella down there,” nodding my head towards the end of the bar.

“It’s a little early for a ‘Treusing, don’t you think?” Adam said hesitantly. Chartreuse shots were usually reserved for folks who’d already got too drunk, a parting gift before they got thrown out, at which point they’d usually boot the ‘treuse back on the street. But it was also a holy spirit made by monks, and the Good People weren’t so good at holding that kind of liquor.

He handed me a collins glass with a three-finger pour and I said, “Either way, I’m cutting him off.”

I stood back and watched as Adam brought the shot to Derrick. Adam looked over at me and pointed but Far Derrick clearly didn’t care who’d bought him the drink. He tossed the shot straight back and as soon as the sweet green syrup hit his tongue he spit it right back out and started coughing violently. Smoke poured from his skin and he gasped for air between the chokes. Fortunately An Rogaire Dubh was one of those bars where no one seemed to care about the other customers. He slammed the rest of his beer back to wash away the taste. “Awright, who the fuck was that?” he said as he wiped the back of his arm across his mouth. He turned his head to the left to identify the mysterious benefactor that he’d previously chosen to disregard. I brought the whiskey the lips as I raised my other hand, waggling my fingers in  a mocking wave.

Far Derrick let out a deep heavy sigh and turned back to face the bar. He knew that he’d been caught. He coughed again, then motioned to the bartender and said, “Bud Heavy and a shot of Jack. And fuck the both of yous.”