Published: August 12th 2008August 11th 2008 KONICHIWAAAAAAA!!!
Overlooking the cliffs at Dun Aonghasa Fort on Inishmore.
That's Pikachu, a.k.a. The Cosmic Inferno, screaming into a microphone. She's the guest singer of Acid Mothers Temple
, the reclusive Japanese psychedelic band that lives communally on the slopes of Mt Fuji. They look like monks and take their music (and acid) very seriously. Except Pikachu. She looks like Pris, the berserk android from Blade Runner
The Pale refers to the tiny patch of territory around Dublin that the English first controlled. Beyond that patch, beyond the Pale, as our expression goes, lurked mad Celts hiding in deep forests. My own plan to go beyond the Pale failed to reach escape velocity due to the fact that last May I checked "July 3" instead of "August 3" on the car rental reservation form. When the clerk pointed this out to me I began to sputter about how surely this was their fault, not mine. I'm a professor of Computer Science, after all, and certainly know how to fill out a damned form on the Web! When it was pointed out that "July 3" was clearly marked on the very piece of paper I presented to them, I started to blame it on a faulty printer. Ralph-- playing Dedalus
Cliffs below Dun Aonghasa Fort on Inishmore.
to my Bloom-- patted my shoulder. "No worries," he said, "You can book for tomorrow and tonight we can see Acid Mothers Temple".
In addition to Ralph and me, our Acid Mothers Temple crew included Ralph's neighbors from across the street: John, his girlfriend Sharon, and their roommate, an affable giant called Nile. The show ended around midnight, but we stayed for a few more pints. There were too many of us for a taxi, so when the pub closed we began the long trek home across Dublin. Nile had the most to drink. He silently shuffled behind us like Frankenstein's monster.
At one point some Middle Eastern guy approached me and asked if I knew where he could procure a prostitute. I'm not sure why he thought I looked like I would have this information. When I said "No," he mumbled some foul epithet in my general direction. Like my personal Golem, Nile slowly turned and began shuffling toward my transgressor. "What did you say?" he intoned robotically. "I OWN THIS FOOKIN' CITY" he bellowed like a locomotive building steam. I tried to hold him back, but my feet skidded uselessly on the pavement. My efforts gave
Looking down 1
Looking over the cliffs at Dun Aonghasa.
the Arab enough time to scramble for safety of his mates.
The next morning Ralph and I managed to hire a perky little red Opal. We brought it back to Ralph's place. I ran upstairs, threw a few things in my backpack, and then returned to the car. To my surprise, it zoomed away as I reached for the trunk. Apparently John was taking it for a test drive to make sure we had gotten a good and proper car. He slammed on the brakes half way down the block and Nile loped out of a doorway and jumped into the passenger seat. Thirty minutes later-- me still standing on the sidewalk, backpack in hand, studying the insurance policy-- the car came screeching up to my feet. John and Nile jumped out grinning. I thought, or perhaps imagined, that their hair looked windswept. John declared that it was a very good car indeed with lots of acceleration and cornering ability.
Conclusion of the preceding.
Ralph drove half the distance to Galway, which is directly across the island from Dublin. Bravely, he let me take over the wheel for the second half of the journey. Not only did
Looking down 2
Looking over the cliffs at Dun Aonghasa.
I have to get used to driving on the left, but I had to get used to shifting gears with my left hand! And did I mention that the road signs are in Gaelic?
If Dublin is Ireland's version of Oakland, then Galway is its Santa Cruz, minus the sunshine. After a few days of pubs and beaches Ralph returned to Dublin and I headed further west to Inishmore, largest of the Aran Islands. Before leaving Galway I managed to book a room in Eveleen Powell's house. No address. Just ask when you get there, I was told, everyone knows everyone there.
When the ferry arrived I rented a bike and got instructions to Eveleen's house, which was about 30 minute ride from the port. Inishmor is a flat rock. A grid of ancient stone fences partitions it into hundreds of square enclosures. But nothing grows in the enclosures. Occasionally one will serve as a corral for a horse or donkey. My bike ride took me past the Dun Aonghasa
, a 2000 year-old structures bordered on three sides by defensive ramparts and on the fourth side by a thousand-foot cliff with giant waves crashing against it. People were
laying on their bellies to peer over it.
Back on the mainland I continued my journey through Connomara, one of the wildest parts of Ireland. Gaelic is still the first language in the occasional villages that I passed through. Ralph, a former Cape Town DJ, had lent me his collection of futuristic CDs, which added to the un-worldliness unfolding before my windshield. I felt something like a twinge of discomfort driving under the low skies through the unreal beauty of the landscape. I was in a tiny red car driving through a wilderness on a tiny island on a tiny planet, etc. The world could end, and I wouldn't know about it for weeks.
I arrived in the town of Westport, county Mayo, in time for the closing night of their music festival. I heard jigs, reels, and hornpipes. I watched girls dance with their hands clamped to their sides and their feet a feathery blur of motion. At the end of the show fireworks lit up the sky.
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