PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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La Chapelle

La-Chapelle-Barbershop They Take Walk-Ins You Know

I don't usually get my haircut in Roslindale, but the godforsaken hellacious virus from another world (slight exaggeration) has made mincemeat out of my routine, and now I'll go anywhere and do anything.

"We need you to fly to Iran and get a few Americans holed up at the Canadian Embassy out of the country."

I'll do it!

No, wait, that was just me recalling the moving "Argo," which I happened watch just a few days ago. Always love to revisit styles from previous periods, like the early '80s, when I knew as much about fashion as I do now. Apparently, there were mustaches, and eyeglasses were oversized.

OK, so I need a haircut, and one day I'm driving through Rozzy village, which is totally normal for me, and then I encounter a sign that includes the words "Barber." Cut to two days later. I have to get my scooter's safety inspection done, so I figure I zip over to J and D Cycles in Hyde Park, which it turns out passes right by Rozzy Village if you believe Google Maps, which of course I do, despite my strong preference not to.

Have you ever heard the song by Barber Shop by Tom Waits? Also, I am blogging about a random haircut I got because – what, there isn't anything more important happening in the world to blog about?

But I digress. So, I go into the shop and realize that this place doesn't specialize in my brand of graying, thinning, British Isles hair, nor my British Isles mother tongue. And with the cost at $8 more than I'm used to paying, I get up to leave. But then a barber comes over and tells me he is available, and now I'm stuck getting a relatively expensive haircut from a man who can't possibly know how to cut hair like mine.

Of course, I'm wrong. Armed with an array of weapons that would make the Russian army look ill-prepared for battle and a few mumbled words of instruction from me, the barber clips and cuts and sculpts to perfection, adding a handful of foamy mousse to the top of my hair. I'm pretty sure the barber didn't cut the top short enough, until I live with my new head for a day and determine the length is spot on.

Didn't get the barber's name, but very likely to visit that shop again.

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Ghosts of St. Patrick's Day Past

In the not-so distant yesteryear, when I wasn’t so much a wee lad as an underdeveloped adult, I’d find a random St. Paddy’s Day falling on a weekend and would drive home to meet mom and Dad at Coleman’s Irish Pub in Syracuse, NY. Syracuse wasn’t a town known for being Irish, at least in my mind; everyone I knew seemed to be Italian, and the people who weren’t (like me) wanted to be Italian (like me!).

But to hell with any other tradition on March 17th. Friends of all stripes were keen to pack the bars and throw up all over each other. Slight exaggeration. Still, it was a pretty tipsy scene, and there was often an earnest singer crooning “Danny Boy” on a cheap PA system, enjoying his once-a-year day in the sun. And outside Coleman's, the traffic light had the green on top and red on the bottom, blowing people's minds. 

At home, someone (not me) would put “The Irish Rovers” on the record player and we’d sing along to songs like “No, Nay, Never,” which the Dropkick Murphy’s reprised a few decades later. Later my Dad would fall asleep with a toothpick in his mouth (substituting for a cigarette) to John Gary crooning the very sad “Molly Malone” on our console record player.

Years later, when we kids were out of the house, my parents would throw wild parties where everyone would strip naked and drink Irish coffee, because that was life in the 1970s and 1980s. OK, no one ever stripped naked thankfully, but the Irish coffees flowed like coffee. Thankfully, most everyone was walking home (although, I’ve recently read it’s better not to be tipsy when walking).

All these years later, I find the old John Gary “A little bit of heaven” album still intact in my basement, deeply scratched, bearing my long deceased parents’ fingerprints, and coaxing me to YouTube to relisten to the old songs. Hard not to miss mom and dad on this St. Patrick’s Day. 

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This Year

I’m trying to decide if the most apt Mountain Goats song to describe the past 365 days locked up in our homes and masquerading as 1970s surgeons is “This Year.” It seems like a reasonable choice, given that it includes the line, “I am going to make it through this year, if it kills me.”

However, “Going to Lebanon 2” might be more suitable because the surrealness of the last 365 days is captured in the verse, “Take note of what will be gone in the blink of an eye, the blue blue water, the bone white sky.”

I cast my vote for Going to Lebanon 2 because a) it was released during the pandemic from hell, which suggests to me that John Darnielle wrote it to describe the feeling of being denied the simplest of pleasures when the disease struck; and b) because I have scads of Lebanese cousins, so what the hell.

As with many Mountain Goats songs, it’s really hard to understand why this one was named Going to Lebanon 2. It could have been named almost anything else and you’d be no farther from guessing what the song was about. There is no mention in the lyrics of going to Lebanon or anywhere. You’d think that something about the architecture of Beirut or Mediterranean beaches would be in order.

OK, I’m clearly diverting our attention from the bigger story: the last year has really stunk. Did you know that I had tickets to 3 rock shows that got canceled, including Nick Cave. (As if that’s a problem, with half a million Americans dead.)

But it is a problem, as is the fact that my kids haven’t been in school for a year, restaurants have closed, there is no live theater, film venues are shuttered, and I need a goddamned hug.

Maybe if we just listen to a Mountain Goats song, we’d all feel a little better and would have some hope that the future is a little brighter.

 

 

 

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J'Biden Era Haikuage

 

People's Arms. That's right!

200 million shots

In 100 days

 

We are good people

But we still have far to go

Repair. Restore. Heal.

 

There's nothing new here

The Affordable Care Act

We're restoring it 

 

America's Day

Democracy is fragile

The world is watching 

 

Strategy is based

On Science, not politics

Truth, not denial

 

 

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