Saturday, 7 January 2017

Rockabilly Wexford-oh

Americans definitely liked Buddy Holly. Many could even hum a bar or two of his songs. But they didn’t revere him like we did. In the narrow streets and back lanes of Wexford the man from Lubbock was right up there with Saint Anthony – he had a large and devoted following.

Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent were only a couple of notches behind. No two ways about it - our town was Rockabilly mad.

Wexford has always been musically hip - partly because of its proximity to London. A fellah could go out for a couple of pints on a Saturday afternoon, get soused, throw some shirts in a battered suitcase, and wake up with a vicious hangover in Paddington train station the following morning.

Whatever sounds were au courant in Piccadilly soon pounded forth from Nolans’ jukebox on Wexford’s Main Street. Ska, Blues, Reggae, Glam, and Punk had their moment in local musical history but it all began with Rockabilly.

Nolans was a smoky ice-cream parlor frequented by would-be juvenile delinquents and London-hardened Teddyboys, but it was so much more. It may have been the coolest place I ever hung out. 

With its polished tiled floor and darkened windows it boasted a riveting natural reverb. I’ve tried to replicate that effect in the most sophisticated recording studios but have never come close.

Could it have had something to do with the volume? I often wondered if the proprietors - the mild-mannered, Mr. & Mrs. Nolan - were deaf, for ice cream bowls and coffee cups literally hopped on the tables when the Teds grooved to their favorite 45’s.

And guess what sounded best? You got it – Buddy, with Eddie and Blue Gene in close contention. I mean Elvis was no slouch and Irish-American Bill Haley could rock, but they lacked a certain ineffable coolness and that whiff of rebellion so central to Rockabilly.

Eddie Cochran even made fun of the mighty Presley – “Guy can barely play guitar, where’s that at?” Eddie himself could sure as hell play - Hendrix copped his first licks from Cochran 45’s, and Pete Townsend never even came close to “the man” on his version of “Summertime Blues.”

Of course, Eddie Cochran never got old and bloated like Elvis. A dumb Brit driver killed him at the age of 21 while recklessly speeding through the pitch dark English countryside; to top it all he half-crippled Eddie’s amigo, Gene Vincent. 

And you know what happened to Buddy Holly – he did a nose dive into the fields of Iowa courtesy of a pilot who should never have been let near a plane. And with the three of them gone, Rock & Roll died.

But not in Wexford! It lived on in the grooves of scratched 45’s and CD reissues. If you were an aspiring musician and wanted to play beyond your bedroom walls you had to at least learn the rudimentary fingerings and beats.

Rockabilly culture survived in grubby dancehalls and working class pubs, and many of us gravitated to it. It was more than the music: when you played that scene you were cool by association, for Teddygirls were sumptuous, and violence rarely more than an errant glance away.

One summer our band played Friday nights in the local CYMS. Catholics we might have been but there was little Christianity in that packed sweating hall. With no security fights ricocheted around the dance floor until they petered out from a surfeit of spouting blood or sheer fatigue. 

Didn’t matter! We played on for there was a promise of redemption in Rock & Roll; you went home exhilarated, and dreaming of the day when you too might become a Buddy or an Eddie or, the Lord forbid, a half-crippled Blue Gene.

Times and tastes change but on my last trip home I saw a vaguely familiar figure from those CYMS nights strutting down the Main Street. His hair had long ago turned grey but it was still coiffed in the old greased-back Ted fashion. 

His pants tight, his socks white, his progressive lenses encased in Buddy’s black signature frames, he winked his recognition as he sauntered by whistling “Rave On.”

Oh yeah, Rockabilly lives and Wexford Town still pulses to it!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Christmas, Baby

She was my first IAP (Irish-American Princess). Well the first that I lived with at any rate. Tara had somehow made her way down to the Lower East Side from the leafy, lace-curtain environs of Westchester, although she was anything but stuck up. 

Back then I had a regular Sunday gig in the less than ritzy Archway up the Bronx and she fit in there like a fist in a glove. Of course, she was quite a looker so that didn’t hurt with the lovesick Paddies. 

She had beautiful grayish green eyes that would mist over in any kind of conflict or passion; there was much of both in our relationship. The boys said that she could twist me around her little finger. They were right, but oh that twisting could be so sweet.  

Things came easy to Tara. She had succeeded at everything she’d turned her hand to. But she wished to become a successful singer, the rock that many have foundered upon. 

I must have seemed like a good step up the ladder; along with gigs in the Archway and John’s Flynn’s Village Pub, I regularly strutted my stuff at CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. 

It was to be a match made in purgatory for both of us. Whatever, as they say, I was in need of some stability and moved into her apartment on First Avenue.  

I always seemed to have “just missed” her parents on their visits to the city. That should have set the bells ringing but I guess when you’re in love… 

Actually, our first major disagreement was over my parents - when I announced I’d be spending Christmas with them in Wexford.

“Our first Christmas together?” She shuddered.

“Well, you can come too.” Although I broke into a cold sweat at the thought of telling the Mammy that we’d be bunking together in the ancestral homestead.

“I couldn’t desert my parents,” she countered as though I was sentencing her whole white-picket-fenced clan to twenty out on Rykers.

“But what about my parents?” I countered. And on it went as lovers’ quarrels do until her eyes were so misty and beautiful I feared that her heart might indeed break.

Well, I wrote my Mother a particularly tear-stained letter full of half-truths (God rest her soul, I suppose she knows the full story now). I didn’t dare telephone; I wasn’t man enough to bear two loads of womanly angst. 

In truth though, the part that really hurt was that I would miss the traditional Wexford boys’ night out on Christmas Eve. And so I extracted a promise from Tara that we’d at least tie on a decent substitute.

“No problem,” she said and was good to her word. She was fairly abstemious for those times but, when called upon, could drink like a fish with little ill effect. 

We bought a tree, decorated it, and strung flashing lights all around the apartment. I almost felt like Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life.  Almost! For around 7pm I slipped on my black leather jacket, she dressed up to the nines and off we strutted up First Avenue to get well and truly shellacked.

God knows how many bars we hit, I certainly don’t; but I was feeling no pain by the time we reached Max’s Kansas City. Why Max’s on Christmas Eve? Well Tara liked to make the scene, besides I knew the doorman and got in free. 

I was also familiar with the bartender who slid many the shot of watered-down whiskey towards us. And then, through the shroud of smoky darkness, I heard the London accent.  

“Roight!” The spiky-haired ghost in black leather wearily exclaimed.

The platinum blonde next to him droned on as junkies do.

“Roight.” Sid Vicious reiterated whenever a response was expected.

I casually whispered his name to Tara.  

“Oh my God!” She shrieked as though Jesus had just hopped down off the cross and offered to buy a round.

Sid looked up blearily, whereupon Tara flashed him a smile that would have done justice to Marilyn Monroe on steroids.  

“The blonde looks like a piece of all right,” I countered and winked at Nancy Spungen.

“From a bottle!” Tara sniffed just as Sid laboriously hauled himself off his stool and stumbled towards the restrooms; whereupon Ms. Spungen laid her head down on the counter for a wee snooze. 

We were still awaiting Sid’s return when Tara looked at her watch and gasped. “It’s ten minutes to twelve.”

“Expecting to turn into a pumpkin?”  

“No,” she moaned, “we won’t get into St. Patrick’s!”  

“What for?”

“Midnight mass, of course. What do you think?”

Was she kidding - from Max’s to matins? 

When we arrived at the church off Avenue A, I could tell it wasn’t exactly what Ms. Westchester had in mind. For one thing, the priests all wore shades and spoke Polish. Still, the place was packed and we reverently stood in the transept in close proximity to an ornate candelabra - wax dripping from its many branches. 

Perhaps, it was the heat, though it could have been Max’s watery whiskey; for one moment I was sweating and swaying, the next I was writhing on the marble floor painfully disengaging myself from a myriad of hot waxy candles. There was immediate uproar with many Eastern European ladies screaming at me, and Tara, no doubt, wishing she was safely home in leafy suburbia. 

When I awoke on Christmas morning much of her extensive wardrobe was laying atop me.  She was modeling a matronly gray jacket and skirt, the hem inches below her knees, damn near a foot down from its usual height. 

I leaped from the bed and grabbed my Doc Martens, pink shirt, and black leather tie and jacket. Unlike my dearest, I had long before settled on an outfit appropriate for my first appearance in Westchester.

“You don’t look well, baby,” she laid a cool hand on my brow and cooed, “You’re just burning up.”

I did feel as though one of those monsters from Alien was ready to hop out of my stomach but I had much experience of that condition.  “No, it’s okay. I want to do this for you.”

She hemmed and hawed before blurting out the truth, “It’s my mother…she wouldn’t like you.”

“What’s there not to like?” 

“Well, your clothes, for one thing. I mean, are you serious?”

And with that, the fight fled from me. I could just picture the whole clan dressed in Kelly green singing Danny Boy around a turf fire - her auld one, no doubt, peering out at me through lace curtains.

Tara took me in her arms whispered that I should go back to sleep, and hinted that on her return Santa might provide some x-rated delights. But I wasn’t that easily mollified and delivered one last parting shot as the door closed behind her, “So what am I supposed to do, have Christmas dinner in an Indian restaurant?”

Well, I didn’t fall back asleep and the hangover was of the galloping nature, gaining ground all afternoon. But the hunger was no joke either and when I eventually sauntered up First Avenue the only places open were of the Indian persuasion. 

A dusting of snow was descending as I stormed into The Taj Mahal. The lone customer didn’t even bother to look up from his book; I sat there glaring at him, cursing all cruel-hearted IAPs and wishing I was home with my Mammy in Wexford.

The snow was swirling around First Avenue and White Christmas was leaking from doorways as I headed back to the apartment. I turned on the blinking Christmas lights and took a couple of fierce slugs of Jameson’s whiskey, turned the Clash up to eleven and rehearsed ever more vicious and vengeful ways of breaking up with Ms. Westchester.

She must have forgotten her keys for, at first, I didn’t hear her knock above Strummer’s bawling. I strode over to the door, angrier than any Old Testament prophet. She stood there, face flushed from the cold, snow in her hair; she was expecting my fury and accepted it with grace. She smiled gently, her grayish green eyes misting over, and I barely heard her murmur, “I missed you so much.”

She reached up, held a sprig of mistletoe over my head and kissed me as if for the first time. And when she whispered, “Merry Christmas, baby,” all the fight fled out of me and young love in all its passion returned.

The Christmas Gig

Back in the Ireland of the 1970’s the Christmas gig was the highlight of the year. Any band with designs on “making it” had long ago headed to the UK; but homesickness was always a factor and what better way to ensure a Christmas dinner at home than to undertake an Irish tour in late December.

Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy and Horslips were the rockin’ Santas. Not only did they strut the boards in their hometowns they played the other major urban centers – including, to their credit, Belfast.
Talk about hitting a warzone! It’s sometimes easy to forget just how dangerous it was up North - as The Miami Showband tragically discovered in 1975.

Rory, in particular, played Belfast religiously. His following had always transcended sectarian divides, besides bassist, Gerry McAvoy, and drummer, Wilgar Campbell, were locals. 

But then Rory would have taken a gig at the gates of hell itself if the bread was decent – for he was a bluesman with a hellhound on his trail!

Rory meant a lot more than music to us. He was the best and what else did we have in Ireland back then? Joyce and Yeats, I suppose, but they were dead as doornails and it was hard to pump your fist in the air for Molly Bloom, or fight your way to the front of the stage to rhapsodize about “bee loud glades.”

But you could scream “Messin’ with the Kid” at the top of your lungs when Rory was leading you, and oh the whiskey-soaked paradise you entered when he shredded his sweat-stained Stratocaster during “Bullfrog Blues!”

Even Hendrix agreed with us – when asked what it was like to be the greatest blues guitarist in the world, the man from Seattle shrugged, “I don’t know, ask Rory Gallagher.”

Rory had a way of placing other artists in perspective. I once saw him open for Rod Stewart on Staten Island and Sir Roderick seem very common after the encounter. Don’t even ask how shabby a very stoned Aerosmith sounded in Central Park after the Corkman’s adrenalized set. It begs the question, why would anyone in their right mind have Rory open for them?

And yet despite all the foreign triumphs, there was nothing quite like Rory on his home turf for the Christmas gig. I was often home on vacation myself in those years, wondering if I could ever fit in again after the delights of New York City. Rory was like a bridge between these two very disparate worlds.

A magician onstage – he wielded that Strat like Merlin waving his wand.  For two solid hours of bluesy mania you could believe that anything was possible. There was a unity to the audience. We screamed in unholy unison when Rory taunted and teased his own particular demons, and we swayed in silence when his sultry guitar lines took us to places we only experienced at his shows.

Did he know the effect he was having on us? I often wondered. With his long hair flowing, the sweat streaking his face and axe, his faded blue denim jacket and red flannel shirt tossed and sometimes tattered, he seemed on a different plane.

Off stage he was polite and distant. He approached me once in Dublin’s Television Club. Shy and standing in the shadows I couldn’t believe it as he strolled across the dance-floor. 

“Any chance of a lift home?” He smiled.

“What?” Said I, only then realizing that he had mistaken me for some young fellow from Cork.

“Oh Jesus, I’m sorry.” He smiled again and turned away.

I watched him edge uneasily through the crowd. I felt like running after him and saying, “Yeah, no problem, man!” 

I was ready to run out onto Harcourt Street, break into a car, jump-start it and drive him home – to hell with the consequences! Instead I stood there paralyzed, rooted disconsolately to that sticky dance-floor.

I never go home for Christmas anymore. Too much has changed. I don’t even know if musicians do Christmas gigs any more. 

It doesn’t matter. I have the memories. Santa Claus knew what he was doing back then. Rory Gallagher’s Christmas gigs were gifts I’ll always treasure

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Stardust and Shay (Healy)

When was the last time you heard a song that floored you? I’m not talking about a number that you instantly hum along with, or tap your foot to, but something that really touches you.

It’s a rare Van Morrison album that doesn’t provide one such song. Bob Marley had a way of melding rhythm, rhyme, and melody that could grip your soul; and back in the day Shane McGowan seemed to effortlessly stir the heart.

Because I produce and host Celtic Crush on SiriusXM I’m always on the lookout for great songs. You’d be surprised how rarely I find them. Don’t get me wrong: there are many good songs out there, but play them next to a great one and you instantly notice the difference. Because Howard Stern is down the corridor only dying to snare my listeners, I don’t have much use for the merely “good”.

So, I guess you could say I’m in the business of creating future classics. I also know when I’ve succeeded – or failed - because listeners all over North America aren’t shy in letting me know.

About a year ago I received an email containing an mp3 from an old friend. As I was reading his message I automatically clicked on the link. At first I barely noticed the song. But within 20 seconds I knew I had stumbled upon something wonderful. 

The voice was familiar although I hadn’t spoken to my friend in over 20 years. There was a physical weariness to it, however, that stopped me in my tracks, and yet the old ebullience and optimism was still there at the core. 

“When my life is over I’ll become a bit of stardust
Out there in the heavens out beyond the blue
And if you want to see me just look into the night sky
You will see me shining winking down at you…”

The arrangement was sparse, somewhat like a Billie Holliday torch song, it left acres of room for the singer to get his point across. The words grabbed me with their aching humanity; there was a message here that went beyond your normal pop song. It was about the fragility of life, and the singer’s awareness that he has learned something he’d love to pass on to the rest of us. 

“Stars were made for wishing so make your wish upon me
And I’ll do what I can to make your dreams come true
Dry away your tears now our souls go on forever
And maybe we will meet again when you become stardust too.”

There was a certain humility that you sometimes hear in a Sinatra song – particularly those the man from Hoboken recorded when reeling from the heartbreak of losing Ava Gardner. In Sinatra’s case, though, it’s the young stud realizing that he’ll never find a love like this again.

I can’t say for definite that the Parkinson’s that has afflicted Shay Healy has something to do with the wistfulness of When You Become Stardust Too, but I have no hesitation in saying that my old friend has written and performed a classic that will long outlast his very full and fulfilling life.

As the gripping trumpet solo brought the song near to an end I thought of many things: how African-American Jazz music has spread so effortlessly that an Irish muso can nail its essence as readily as any New Orleans aficionado.

I also remembered a Wexford adolescent buying New Spotlight Magazine to read about the Folk Scene in Dublin catalogued in such detail by Shay Healy, and later on meeting the man himself and getting his encouragement to begin my own musical journey.

That’s what a great song does to you. It provides wings and wheels to your own memories and imagination.

I played Stardust the following Sunday morning on Celtic Crush and the response was immediate. Listeners loved it and I’ve been playing it ever since. People write and tell me they listen to Shay’s song for inspiration, how it gets them through tough moments, and how they love to share it with others.

Thanks, Shay, you created a classic and we’re all the richer for it. Long may your stardust sparkle, old son!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Four Hot Years Ahead

The subway train was eerily quiet on the day after the election. As usual my fellow travelers averted their gaze, but there was a certain wariness in the eyes of African-Americans that I hadn’t seen since the Giuliani mayoralty. 

I felt like shouting, “Hey, I didn’t vote for Trump.” But what was the point? Back in the day, I didn’t vote for Giuliani either.

On the other hand, congratulations, President-Elect Trump! You won fair and square, aided by Secretary Clinton’s spectacularly inept campaign.

Leaving aside her email server debacle, ceding the campaign trail to her opponent’s monster meetings, and employing a tone deaf, numbers-cruncher like Robby Mook as campaign manager was political suicide.

Sure, there was anger out in the hinterland that might have swept aside any Democrat this year. That anger will not dissipate under a Trump administration. Coalmines will not reopen due to the availability of cheap natural gas, and the industries that have moved overseas because of lower wages are gone forever. Capitalism, indeed, can be cruel.

A nod to the wise, if you were thinking of nailing down a mortgage or any kind of loan, move fast, interest rates are already rising.

President Trump intends increasing infrastructure spending to the tune of a trillion bucks. Hallelujah! Many of us have been urging such a move for years; however, the Republican controlled congress wouldn’t okay it for President Obama. 

One caveat - fiscal intervention seems to work best when used at the height of unemployment, with the debt repaid during the ensuing boom. But we are already down to 4.9% unemployment while this year’s third quarter boasted a not insignificant 2.9% in US economic growth.

Not to mention that the president-elect is also promising to cut taxes, particularly for the wealthy. These two initiatives combined will lead to a ballooning of the deficit and a consequent increase in interest rates. 

Still, the new president claims to the “the king of debt.” So, let’s hope he knows something we don’t.
Don’t get me wrong! I wish the man and his economic policies much success – we’re all in this together. It’s just that his agenda seems to be a recipe for a bracing increase in the cost of living.

Send millions of undocumented people south and you cut the workforce correspondingly. What native-born American is willing to step into the many poorly paid jobs that will be vacated? 

Dump the Affordable Care Act and health insurance costs will rise – assuming you can get insured in the first place; and forget about crossing state lines for your new inexpensive coverage – imagine showing your doctor’s receptionist your brand new Mississippi insurance card.

Of course we’re all to blame for not questioning Mr. Trump on the specifics of his policies during the campaign. Not that he would have answered – “kings of debt” rarely do – they renegotiate or declare bankruptcy.

I don’t doubt that income inequality and the loss of decent paying jobs fueled the pitchfork uprising that we just witnessed. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump’s policies will likely lead to more of the same, particularly if he gets into trade wars with China, Mexico, or God forbid, Pearl River.

I hope I’m wrong but inflation looms on the horizon. Mercifully we have been spared this specter over most of the Bush/Obama years. Once inflation rises it’s a tough nut to crack, as anyone who lived through the Carter years will remember.

Leaving aside economics, we should not forget that the genie of racism, anti-Semitism, and other taboos were deliberately uncorked during the election. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to notice that Mr. Trump did not disavow the despicable David Duke’s support until after some important Southern Republican primaries were won.

It’s hard to put that genie back in the bottle. This malignant and powerful little fellow was only too apparent on my subway train the morning after the election. 

The country has done major work banishing his like and influence over the last eight years. Let’s hope this genie does not become a major player in President-Elect Trump’s campaign to make America great again.

If so, we have a hot four years ahead of us.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Mary's Bar and the old spirit of Wexford Town

I can measure my life in terms of bars. They stretch across two continents: The Wren’s Nest in Wexford, The Hideaway in Rathmines, Tomorrow’s Lounge in Bay Ridge, Dirty Nelly’s and The Village Pub in The Bronx, Paddy Reilly’s, Rocky Sullivan’s and Connolly’s in Manhattan. 

I only have to hear these names and a host of smiling faces materializes, for we Irish treasure our pubs. When all else fails and the world doubts you, you’ll always find a welcome in your local.

In terms of longevity Mary’s Bar at the top of Wexford’s Cornmarket has a hold on me like no other. I was raised in nearby George’s Street and passed by its old style shop front most days of my youth. 

My grandfather, usually a teetotaler, drank there so I witnessed its once mysterious interior through a child’s eyes, the walls hung with pictures of Robert Emmet, Wolfe Tone and Padraig Pearse.

I didn’t realize it then, but I had stepped into a piece of history. The pub dates back to 1775; an “early house,” it opened at 7am for the Cornmarket workers, and those who unloaded the coal boats down on Wexford Quay. It closed at 3pm.

But then I walked amidst history every day while growing up in George’s Street. Nearby stood Selskar Abbey where Henry II did penance for the murder of Thomas a’Becket. While just down from Cornmarket, Cromwell’s roundheads slaughtered 300 women and children in the town square known as The Bull Ring.

If Mary’s Bar is festooned with rebel pictures there’s a reason. The Cornmarket area was a vital part of Wexford’s Free French Republic declared during the Uprising of 1798. Indeed the leaders of this rebellious secular state held a dinner to celebrate their declaration of independence in a “gentry house” on my own George’s Street.

Built at the same time, my grandfather’s old town house has long ago been converted into flats but the memories throb from within every time I pass by. The little houses on nearby Abbey Street have for the most part been demolished, but the far-flung residents and their children still return to Mary’s Bar.

I only go home now once a year and rarely stay more than a night. I do a concert in Wexford’s Arts Centre, formerly the Town Hall where I learned to play the guitar standing on one foot – the other was often needed to kick away Teddyboys as they fought in front of the bandstand.

I always go to Mary’s Bar after the gig and the smiles of welcome light up as I walk in the door. Catherine Kielty, the proprietor, will stop what she’s doing and give me a hug. It’s the welcome home that every emigrant craves. 

I never know whom I’ll meet: a school friend returned from England, an old girlfriend and her grown children. But ghosts crowd the place too, including my grandfather perched unsmiling on a stool – he found little joy in falling off the wagon. Turn quickly and I might catch Catherine’s father, Joss Kielty, beaming a welcome home from his corner.

I usually have a busload or two of Americans with me. I try to show them the hidden Ireland, untouched by tourists and, often, locals. Through such visits Mary’s has become known in the nooks and crannies of the US and Canada, and few people who have raised a glass there forget its honest charms.

For they recognize the uniqueness of the place. It’s not just a pub; it’s a portal to the past. There’s still a spirit there that speaks of a forgotten Ireland. 

I first heard “One Starry Night” sung on the pavement outside by an old traveler, and as a boy I followed Paddy “Pecker” Dunne into its smoky darkness, entranced by his songs and rugged independence.

Musicians always recognize the essence of the place, for you hear the same soulful echoes as in Tipitinas in New Orleans where Doctor John and Fats Domino presided.

Times have been tough on the old working-class pubs of Ireland. Customers move away or pass on. But Mary’s is more than a bar; it’s a site-specific, living museum that houses the old spirit of Wexford Town. Long may it prosper.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

James Connolly forgive me - I'm voting conservative

            I’m voting conservative in this year’s presidential election.

            “What?” Says Yer Man up in Pearl River. “Where’s your James Connolly now?”

            I’m throwing in my lot with Hillary Clinton, even though I swore I’d never darken her door again after she voted to invade Iraq.

            Basically, Donald Trump scares the living daylights out of me. Now I won’t even get into his rooster ranting on the tape with Billy Bush. Anyone who has heard him on Howard Stern knows full well where he stands on such matters; besides, women are only dying to clean his clock on Nov. 8th.

            Mr. Trump claims there’s a media bias against him. Nothing could be further from the truth for he’s been given a free pass on his woeful economic and security policies this whole campaign. 

            I will say one thing for him – he does recognize that investing in infrastructure is vital for our changing economy. 

            If there’s one thing that the Great Recession has made clear – Keynesian economics works. When the economy stagnates it behooves the government to invest in it. Look at how quickly the US economy has recovered compared to the European model where austerity policies were favored.

            So is Mr. Trump a disciple of Keynes? Well, yes, in the sense that he believes in borrowing to promote growth – with the caveat that he prefers to renegotiate loans and has no problem in declaring bankruptcy.

            This would not be a prudent way to run the country, as was shown when the markets swooned on his suggestion that he would renegotiate federal loans; talk about delivering a Ringsend uppercut to US creditworthiness and the dollar.

            Worse still, he favors massive tax cuts that he claims would create a tidal wave of revenue. Bitter experience, however, suggests that this traditional Republican fiscal policy rarely works.

            No problem for Mr. Trump seeing that he doesn’t pay federal taxes anyway; but infrastructure spending plus massive tax cuts equals staggering deficits.

            Now it may seem that I often put undue emphasis on the health of financial markets, but collapsing stock prices are anathema to the many Americans dependent on 401(k) accounts for retirement. Be warned - the occasional time Mr. Trump’s poll numbers rise the markets correspondingly dive.

            Notwithstanding his threat of pitchfork revolution Wall Street does not fear reform under a Trump presidency; however it trembles at his general untrustworthiness and the likelihood that he might cause another “huge” recession.

            I share Wall Street’s pain – recessions are no fun.  So despite Iraq, emails and the hubris that swirls around the Clinton family I’m voting conservative. At least Mrs. Clinton is unlikely to declare bankruptcy and turn the US into another Atlantic City. 

            Let’s take a look at security, and making America great again. Is that code for invading other countries, blowing the hell out of their infrastructures, and then spending billions rebuilding – not to mention slaughtering and maiming their inhabitants?   
None of the last wars of choice have been successful. Raw power doesn’t do the trick any more, as was shown in Iraq where a $15 IED could blow up a $150K US Army Humvee. The world has become very complicated and interconnected; it has little tolerance for Mr. Trump’s bull in a china shop tactics.

            As for slapping tariffs on Mexico and China - be prepared for economic wars and the loss of millions of jobs. Also brace yourself for rising prices on imports that will lead to inflation, soaring interest rates, and another recession. Let’s not even revisit the ridiculous idea of a wall that Mexico will pay for.  

I suppose I should mention that Mr. Trump’s ongoing xenophobic and provocative statements have once again exposed the ugly seam of racism and know-nothing extremism that is only too willing to surface in times of national stress. 

But I’ve little doubt that once he has lost the election and his “brand” has suffered financially that a kinder, gentler Trump will re-emerge. Let’s hope his followers – many of whom have genuine grievances – will then see him for what he really is as the door slams behind him in his ivory New York tower.

            As for me, I’m voting conservative this year. I think the ghost of James Connolly will understand.