Saturday, December 28, 2019


    The truth is we walked into a few. Hard to visit Ireland and 
and Scotland and do otherwise.
   Pubs are something special, culturally historic and important.
   But the point of this post is to tell you about two nights in particular.
 We were fortunate to be in Dublin on the day of the Irish National Football Championship.
      This is Irish football mind you. It's an extraordinary game and you'd do yourself a favor  to look up a couple of video clips and see how the game is played. 
    I would have loved the game as lad. As an old boy I was delighted to see it played. It requires skills found in soccer, rugby, basketball and even touches of American football.

    The national championship is huge-"It's our Super Bowl," my friend and host Jack reminded me a couple of times. 

  Walking from our hotel to where we set to meet Jack and Kay, every pub was jammed to the sidewalks, speakers were playing the pre game, and you could say Dublin was electric. 
   It was Dublin vs Kerry in the replay--they had tied in the first championship game and this was the decider. Dublin has been on a bit of a roll in the last few seasons, but historically Kerry has been the big winner. 
   It seems that almost no one is uninterested, and with good reason. These are amateur athletes, school teachers, pilots, lawyers, businessmen, truck drivers  and farmers and the like. They practice during the week and on weekend, they put on the colors and have at it.

     Something historic happened here, in this pub on this night. They ran out of Guinness. They ran out! The taps went dry! 
    Kay, an Irish lass said in her entire life she had never heard of an Irish pub running out of Guinness. And on the night of a national championship, no less! 
    I was crestfallen, but soldiered on by ordering a whiskey, of which there are many great brands. 
    At some point in the match there was a commotion at the door that was greeted with loud applause from the crowd. A couple of gents were rolling in kegs of Guinness. They were getting a grand round of applause. 
   As aficionados know, Guinness is brewed in Dublin.
  Between Dublin and our south western destination of Dingle, there are many other pubs and of great variety.
    But there is one that looms large in our memory. It's near the court house in the wonderful and charming sea port of Dingle.

    My lifelong friend Jim, of Irish heritage and an accomplished musician, told me about a mind blowing place he visited when in Dingle the year previous. It was Tommy O'Sullivan's place. O'Sullivan is a renown player and the pub is not so much a place where "shows" are put on, or where people do "performances." No, it's a pub where musicians hang out and jam. A gathering spot for music lovers. 
   Some tourists surely must find their way there, but it's truly  a mecca for Celtic, traditional, Gaelic and even Bluegrass players. And for the locals who love the music. Lucky folk they are!
   People were jammed in, standing room only when we entered and people were queuing for seats near the players.
    A local gent turned around to me and suggested that Lana, Kay, Jack and I, take seats next to the players and Tommy's wife, their dog and the other players. It was right up front.
   The kind man and his party had been waiting for open seats but he somehow knew this was a rare moment in our lives and so he offered a dose of Irish hospitality. 
   That's Tommy on the left side, with his back to the wall, guitar in hand. Some Scots players were up with him at the time. 

  Memories for a lifetime and some of the most skilled playing you'll hear in several lifetimes. Thanks Jim for the tip and thanks to the man who gave up seats to put us "ringside."

   There's another pub we'll walk into, coming up as we visit the extraordinary Dingle and Dingle peninsula. 

    See you down the trail.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Christmas Ghosts Visit Donald Trump

    If Harvey Weinstein were still in the game he might be doing a remake of The Three Amigos- Jesus, Donald and Vladimir.
      Although the Christianity Today editorial would probably change that. The magazine that Billy Graham founded and that has been down the middle and a little to the right on most secular and theological issues has sent a broadside to the right wing of the evangelical brothers and sisters.
     It said Donald Trump has abused his power, violated the constitution, has dumbed down the idea morality with his government and is himself "a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused." They say he should be removed from office. 
     I have a bone to pick with CT and a thought about the impact of this further down the post, but first...

a personal note to the president
   Mr Trump,
    It is highly unlikely these words will find their way to your possibly soulless and certainly empty eyes, but I wish they would so you cannot escape a reality, the truth that people know about you. (By the way, your eyes would not look so beady if your face were not so bloated and you could change that if you did some real exercise. Getting in and out of a tanning bed, creating that coiffure and eating KFC does not count as exercise.) 
   Perhaps you will be visited by the Ghost of Richard Nixon, or Abe Lincoln if the Dicken's specters are busy lobbying at the McConnell house. Abe and Tricky Dick might run you around the presidential bed. Until then, my Christmas message here will try to channel the Ghost of Christmas Future.
     When you die, as you will, the taint of impeachment will be the first thing future generations will know about you. A close second will be what a foolish, pathetic, deceitful and abusive oaf you were. With time will come the myriad details of your massive tax fraud, business failures, cheating, and pages of despicable behavior and judgement. 
     Your presidency, including your court appointees, will be with an asterisk, that is denoted as a campaign assisted by a foreign power. History will record how you then became a lap dog and stooge for a ruthless Vladimir Putin complete with all manner of speculation as to your "bromance" with him. 
     Perhaps he was the "real man" whom you could only pretend to be. He was a tough guy KGB apparatchik when you were filling tabloids with your own tales of deception and cheating in your personal relationships. Who calls radio and tv stations using a fake name and posing as a spokesman for Donald Trump to brag about Trump's romantic prowess? Who? You did.
your legacy
     At some point cultural history will dissect your classless demonstration of "new rich" with your garish and tasteless faux opulence? There will be theories about  trying to be a king. It's a cliche', the trashy trying to gild with gold. It's like putting lipstick on a pig.
    You will probably be remembered as one of the biggest liars in history. It's so serious major news organizations actually do tabulations. 
    First president to be impeached in a first term-there's another historical note that will follow you when you are dead and unable to tweet a retort.
    But mostly you will be remembered as a joke. You are the lying hustler bully who played the race card, appealed to the angry and yes some legitimately overlooked citizens, along with kooks, xenophobes, residual nazi and fascist sympathizers (Steven Miller), racists, the poorly or uneducated, and just plain losers. You stirred a cult that worships the absolute worst of American culture. You have unleashed division, legitimized stupidity, nurtured meanness, crassness and hatred. You demean manhood and you degrade humanity. 
your list of kings
    I know you call yourself a Nationalist. The world may remember Hitler and Mussolini as nationalists on the list of evil humans. There have been other dictators; Amin, Stalin, Franco, Duarte, Mao, the Kims, Caesar, Ataturk, Garibaldi, Duvalier, Attila the Hun, Torquemada, Khan and others. But you are not on that list. No, you will be remembered as the not so bright and troubled little rich boy who wanted to grow up to be on that list, but were too incompetent. You passed only the disgusting level. 
     Your distinction is that you are forever great fodder as a joke, a laughable would be tyrant. You have been a tool, a stooge. You are the man who went broke running a casino, who failed, always. The name Trump will go down in the halls of history as meaning failure, clown, disgusting, a kind of biological waste product.  In our house, as our grand daughter was working on toilet training, we referred to her filling her diaper as "making trumpies." 
     Isn't that a wonderful legacy mr president?
     I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope the happiness of the New Year is that you return to Trump Tower and/or Mar a Lago where you contemplate the stunning change of fortune in the Senate and meet continuously with a team of lawyers helping to prepare for the first of a lifetime of trials. 

      A Tax Payer

the evangelical thing
   I know people who are otherwise pleasant but with whom I disagree on theology and politics. They are representative of who I hope will read the CT article, because while it may be comfortable to think you have it all figured out, a neat and tidy understanding of, as Bill Buckley said, "God and Man...."such thinking can lead you to dark places of wrongfulness, including judgmentalism and false teachings. 
     In making the case to the right wing of the Christian world CT say the Trump administration is morally unable to lead because of "gross immorality and ethical incompetence."
      To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?

    That part of the editorial cuts right to the heart of matter for some of Trump's base---- though many of his supporters are only as "church going" as is Trump himself! Just another fraud, working both ways.

      I take exception to this CT contention
Let’s grant this to the president: The Democrats have had it out for him from day one, and therefore nearly everything they do is under a cloud of partisan suspicion. This has led many to suspect not only motives but facts in these recent impeachment hearings. And, no, Mr. Trump did not have a serious opportunity to offer his side of the story in the House hearings on impeachment.
But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
    The first paragraph is, in a non-theological phrase, pure bull shit and it is one that Trumpists and Republicans have used from the beginning. 
   And Trump had a chance to participate, send records and witnesses, but defied congress, and thus the obstruction charge. CT-you get an F on that.  
   BUT hold that thought and suspend my judgment and consider that on the night of Obama's inauguration Republican leaders met for four hours to plot how to block the Democrats on "every single bill and every single issue."
    Then less than two years later in October on the eve of the first mid-term election McConnell admitted what was the Republican interest when he spoke to the National Journal

   "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one term President."
                            Mitch McConnell

   The rest is history, including the abusive act of denying a supreme court appointment to Obama.
    I do not think the effort to impeach began with the election. The effort to impeach began when Donald Trump proved true to what 55 top Republicans who served at the highest levels in Republican Presidential administrations warned in August 2016 that he was unfit, unqualified, lacked the character and would jeopardize national security.
     Like right wing evangelicals, Republicans have been fooled, or worse, with Trumpist perversity. My understanding of Christ's teaching and practices lead me to different understandings than right wing evangelicals, but I paraphrase an old saying. You need to be careful with whom you dance.
      While the group CT is trying to reach, and while the once Republicans the Lincoln Project are trying to "deprogram" may not be dancing with the evil one, they are dancing with Donald Trump, who CT says is a perfect "example of someone who is morally lost and confused."
       I am not so charitable. From my secular side of the street, whatever else he is, Trump is a traitor to the US.
        The Ghost of Christmas Future is still conjuring what that will mean to "us all, everyone."

         See you down the trail.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Convivial Dublin

     I've never heard anyone who has not enjoyed Dublin.
   It's hard not to love the Irish. OK, maybe I'm more susceptible-the first were Gaels and so were the native Scots, who were not Picts. 
   Kindred spirits or not, they live as they are; spirited, imaginative, creative, gregarious, lovers of the word and art. 
    Dublin is all of that and more. It's become a magnet for 
  for many from Europe, especially a young demographic. It is a city  of culture, history, and personality.

 Oscar Wilde statue in Merrion Square
Artist-Danny Osborne
     As a visitor, it is easy to fall in love with Dublin and to simply enjoy it. It is both classy modernity and classically historical. 

   At every turn it is vibrant and there is a great photo op.

  The Gaels started living here in the 7th century. The Vikings came, and so did the Normans. In the early 20th Century the spirit of independence gave birth to the ethos that led to the establishment of the Irish Republic. Dublin was pivotal. 
   Intellect, literature, story telling and music are in the DNA.

    These few frames can barely introduce the vitality and feeling that Dublin exudes and thus entices with.

    I learned that author Jonathan Swift lived and served here but not by choice. That is the subject of a coming post. 

    Close to 2 million live in the greater Dublin area, and it is a capitol of culture as well as government. 

    As someone who has traveled for work and pleasure I was surprised by how Dublin chefs have become such all stars and champions. I did not expect it.

     And in the spirit of full disclosure, as a long time Guiness fan, I took advantage of the abundance of the home town product, in Dublin and elsewhere in the beautiful nation. 

    A few words and a few photos here cannot embrace the culture that is Dublin. Historic and cutting edge, sensorial and cerebral, a full on passion for life and it is no wonder you can't help but enjoy Dublin.

    Irish side trips and We Walked Into A Pub, Chapter 2 are still ahead.

And a Note from Home
   The rain season has begun on the California Central Coast and we are seeing our annual Irish tint on the hillsides. It will be a green Christmas this year and that will call for a toast to our Irish friends, Kay, Willie, Kay and Jack and to our envoy Maura.

      See you down the trail.