November 10, 2014
I am in The Landmark Tavern at 626 11th Avenue at 46th Street. It’s an 1868 working class bar near the Hudson River. I think the bar is the original one, so belly up laddies and enjoy old New York. I am there to see the weekly Monday night Irish music group. I hope for good craic. OK, so it’s not Brooklyn, but what’s a boy to do. I can’t listen to my Irish LPs all the time. (Notice the LP reference, which puts me in a certain category either that of an old fart or young hipster because I still listen to vinyl. Of course, I have a ton of music in my IPhone, but I won’t admit it publicly and since no one reads this blog, it’s not public.)
I’m with the wifey and best friend Billy and his misses. We are also there to eat dinner, but that is second to the music. I start with a straight up Grey Goose martini extra dry with a twist. My usual. I live under the impression that vodka doesn’t give me a hangover. I have a second as the music begins.
The is a group grope band consisting of a bunch of Fiddles and flutes, some guitars, mandolin, banjo, uilleann pipes, penny whistles, and two button accordions. The only thing missing is Harpo Marx plucking the Celtic harp. The band warms up on playing and Guinness. They get better with each song. I order a Jameson’s on the rocks. It tastes wonderful. I think of my mother and father and their parents. What would they think of their Charlie boy, a PhD and all, and still drinking and listening to the old music. Be proud of me mom and I am carrying on the tradition. You don’t come to hear Irish music and don’t drink. My mom taught me a few of the Irish immigrant songs, which I still sing today, including Danny Boy and I don’t care what you think.
The music is the Irish music that has roots in killing the pain of the English oppression with alcohol. These are happy songs and plaintive songs of love and sadness and courage and endurance and joy. A young lady behind me stands up and starts doing a step dance. People pound the floor with their feet and the tables with their hands.
As the evening progresses, I sense a few mythical Westie and old Hell’s Kitchen ghosts from a time of Irish dominance of this area. One of them looks like my worked-to-death father, Mac they called him at Smith’s bar in Bridgeport. He is long dead and buried. Dad, is that you, coming back to haunt my dreams?
The music ends and I shout out Éirinn go Brách. It is an uncontrollable behavior, blurted out and I wonder if my mom or dad pushed it out of me. In a few moments we are back on the noisy, dirty streets of late night Manhattan. Erin go what?