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I wish I could relate the intangibles to you…

I watched the Tony Hawk documentary by Sam Jones yesterday and it was truly terrific. While I have never been a skateboarder, it still spoke to me as a piece of storytelling and an insight into a life well lived. Give it a watch if you have the chance. 

I have been thinking a lot about the the final interview at the end with legendary skater Rodney Mullen. There is such profound beauty and depth in what he says. He is talking about the risks and rewards of what he does, but the lyrical flow of it makes it feel poetic and totally universal. He could just as easily be talking about artists. He is talking about every one of us.

Top Gun: Maverick – Top entertainment

I saw “Top Gun: Maverick” on an IMAX screen last night and what a buzz it was. It was such a feast for the senses – booming audio, breathtaking aerial photography, and that iconic soundtrack (surely the best use of a gong in a song ever?). I switched off my critical voice and enjoyed it for the big, bombastic, brainless summer blockbuster it was. That said, the most interesting scene was the one between Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, which leaned into his current voice limitations due to cancer, and it was surprisingly tender, touching and really nicely done. Overall the film felt like a cool new cover version of a familiar old favourite, and ultimately it is a better movie than the original. Well worth a visit to the cinema to take in the spectacle of this kind of event movie.

Ways of seeing – A portrait of the artist as a young man

My father painted this portrait of me when I was around 5 or 6 years old. He began painting it when we lived in Sweden, and he finished later when we had moved to Ireland. I know this because I recall posing for it when we lived in our little apartment in Kalmar in the south east of Sweden. I have a softer recollection of the latter phase of the painting but I recognise the house outside the window as our neighbour’s house in Waterford, Ireland, so it was definitely created over a period of years. Seeing it again and studying the painting, it made me think of a few things. Firstly the way another person sees you is always filtered through a certain lens and you cannot control that. In this case I see it as a loving gaze of a father and that shines through in the soft energy of the light. It also feels fitting that I appear to be sitting down to write, which ultimately ended up being my own path as an artist & creative. Secondly I was taken with the idea of the drafts and phases a piece of art goes through, and that the completion often comes long after the initial creation. This gives me comfort knowing that even a painting of this scale (the original painting is 5m x 3m) has a series of iterations and drafts, just like my own work. And finally, the slightly hazy, almost ghostly elements to it feel like it is slightly unfinished, or perhaps it was an artistic choice. I like not knowing that. When is a piece of art done? That is a question every one of us must ponder with everything we create.

The Frames – A gig for the ages

The Frames are arguably my favourite live band of all time. Their performances are uplifting and magical in a truly unique way. Glen Hansard has a gift for dissolving the division between performer and audience, which he believes comes from his time as a busker on Grafton Street. The show in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham was a long time coming. Originally billed as a 30th anniversary show back in 2020, the pandemic put paid to that moment, and now, two years later, the gig was finally staged in the glorious sunshine. It was well worth the wait, as I was transported back to the many shows from yesteryear, as they went through their back catalogue of anthemic rock tunes and lilting ballads. Having seen the band over 30 times(!) this was one to truly savour. A band of artists at their creative peak, sharing in a moment with those that adore them most. A special gig and a special night.

Barge Bards

Had so much fun doing a spoken word gig on a barge tonight at Grand Canal Dock. Beautiful vibe, lovely setting, great community of people. Shared the stage with the hugely talented Colm Keegan, Lisa O’Neill and Alain Servant. Thanks to Erin Fornoff for organizing this little private gig and for the invitation to perform. Food for the soul.

Poetry Performance at Pepper Cannister Church

My good friend Stephen James Smith kicked off his UK & Ireland tour last night in the Pepper Cannister church here in Dublin, and he was gracious enough to give me a support slot. We had a quick chat before I performed my Sine Metu poem, followed by my final piece from Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About. It was a gorgeous evening of music and poetry, with a really special vibe. If you can catch the show on its current tour I highly recommend it.

A Bob Dylan poem

I recently renovated my office at home and put up my treasured Bob Dylan poster on the wall. Not only is Bob Dylan an artistic hero of mine, he also plays a huge role for me in learning about the craft of great writing. As for the poster; the story of how I acquired it is one of my most treasured New York moments. So, in the spirit of sharing, here is a brand new poem I wrote to try and capture that moment when Bob and I crossed paths in his most famous New York haunts (metaphorically).

the hard rain

surfacing from a gig
in a dive bar
where they are handing over

chunks of the bar
and pints of Courvoisier
because they’re
“Closing down,
tonight motherfucker, tonight!”

I ask for the huge poster of
Bob Dylan
hanging on the wet wall
by the swaying bartender

“You’ve got a lot of nerve,
But, fuck yeah, take it bro”
he says
with a wink
 
I throw back my drink
balance Bob’s wiry frame
over my head
for shelter 
from the storm

freewheelin’ outside
into the concrete caverns
 
the thin mercury sound
of wild Village wind
washing rain inside my shoes

my heels 
still wandering
to the subway station
at 4th street
positively 
singing

Welcome to the Internet

Bo Burnham’s Inside is still resonating deeply. His creative mind is at the peak of its powers. And it is such a brilliant snapshot of the digitally connected world we live in, as well as being a profoundly thoughtful exploration of the pandemic and our place in it. This song is a superb standalone slice of genius, and also a great calling card for Bo Burnham’s mighty mix of humour and musical mastery. I have to admit I pegged him completely wrong and assumed (incorrectly) that he was not for me. After seeing this I will watch anything he makes. If it wasn’t obvious already. I urge you to watch it . It is pure creativity and simultaneously it is a study of the creative process. So much more than meets the eye.

Inside by Bo Burnham is a masterpiece

I watched Inside by Bo Burnham on Netflix last night. It was like nothing I have ever seen and I was utterly blown away by it. It’s listed as a comedy special but that doesn’t come close to describing it. It’s a meditation on life during the pandemic, it’s about creativity and the creative process, it’s about mental health, it’s about the digital world we live in, and ultimately it is a really beautiful, clever film. It is time very well spent in the company of a unique mind. Give it a watch, I’m going to watch it again.