Thursday 15 March 2018


New York was a different place back then.  Smaller, less complicated, when you went out for a night, it was just you, the world and whomever you ran into.

Thus it came to pass that Phelim Lunny and I ended up one night in the early 80’s at Tier 3, a “happening” club in Tribeca. 

After a pint or so there was a commotion at the door and in bounded Jayne County, as only Jayne – once known as Wayne - could do. 

All heads turned, especially when a sheepish looking David Bowie was spotted in her entourage.

Phelim and I, being ultra-cool Lower East Siders, spun nonchalantly back on our stools and stared stone-faced at the bar mirror.

Perhaps David was tired of Jayne’s shenanigans for he suddenly materialized behind us inquiring if he might join our company.  

To say we were shocked would be an understatement but Phelim had enough presence of mind to include him in our round. Whereupon the former Ziggy Stardust said he’d have the same as ourselves.  

Meetings with superstars can be fraught with questions of etiquette. For instance, how does one begin?

Our coolness prevented us from us from dropping to the floor and licking the soles of his shoes – although if he had suggested such an action we would have gladly obliged.

However, David was very down to earth and instantly put us at our ease.

He was wearing a trendy tweed overcoat and looked extremely healthy.  This had not been the case the last time I had seen him perform when he was rail thin and shivering from stress. 

In fact at each performance he seemed to adopt a different persona. Then I had a moment’s panic, was this “very natural David” just another act.

Then he smiled gently while relating some anecdote about a visit to Ireland and all doubt fled. Although very handsome, up close he looked much more like the slightly tweedy English gentleman than the “thin white duke” of his staged photos.

It was around the time of the Hunger Strikes and we spoke about Belfast - what a great but troubled city. He left little doubt that he was not well disposed to Mrs. Thatcher or her handling of Irish issues.

Over some more pints the talk swung back to Berlin. Both Phelim and he had lived there. I told him that his classic Heroes – the city’s signature rock anthem - was one of my favorite songs.

He thanked me and gave a brief, but insightful, account of how he, Brian Eno, and Tony Viscont had concocted this sonic masterpiece.

There were more pints, the club had filled up and the word had inevitably spread that Bowie was in the house. A crowd had gathered behind us, their eyes wide with expectation. David sighed and said he must be going, we shook hands and wished him the best.

As he was putting on his coat he leaned over and said, “You know I could just as easily have written Heroes about Belfast as Berlin – two cities with walls between them.”  

When I heard of his death those last words of his resurfaced.  Like many I was devastated for he had been a great influence, and I thought how lucky to have experienced his charming spirit for an hour or two. 

And in that instant Berlin and Belfast magically morphed and these words gelled into a chanted bridge for Heroes:

You were from the East I was from the West,
You were wearing orange I was wearing green.
You adored in your church, I adored in mine
All we had in common was a special dream
That we could live together, never be apart
No walls could separate the union of our heartsa
Until the bullets ricocheted along the Shankill Road
You became a memory I would always love, forever…

I recorded a version of Heroes/Belfast recently and it’s now available on iTunes and all other digital outlets.

It’s a tribute to David Bowie, and all the brooding joy and inspiration he gave us. But it’s even more for those of us who violently disagree but day by day tear down the walls that keep us apart.

Available Now

Or on iTunes (…/album/heroes-belfast-…/1351583349) and Amazon (…/…/ref=sr_1_1…).

Sunday 4 March 2018

Crazy Eddie

I sometimes think we’re living in a country run by Crazy Eddie.  Remember him?

There was a certain novelty to the guy at first – an endearing quality to his shouting and haranguing on television ads. 

Same story in his stores, you were barked at, belittled, and hustled like a lamb to the slaughter of his cash register. Eventually, however, old Eddie went bust.

President Trump almost makes you long for the simple homespun qualities of George W. Bush. But that’s hardly fair to our present POTUS, for so far he hasn’t destroyed the Middle East, nor does he have a budget surplus to blow.

Still, it would be a nice break to bask in Barack Obama’s icy calmness or Ronald Reagan’s reassuring smile every now and then.

For President Trump is wearing us all out. The man thrives on trouble and strife.

But I’ll grant him one thing – he’s enabled this political junky to go cold turkey. I’ve sworn off politics and returned to more important matters - like worrying about The Mets and Manchester United.

This doesn’t preclude me from considering the consequences of the president’s policies.

For instance, the new corporate tax rate of 21% will definitely enrich corporations and their 1% handlers, leaving the frothy promise of one-off bonuses for lesser souls like you and me – if we’re lucky.

What the new tax rate does guarantee is a huge bump in the deficit. The piper will have to be paid and cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are inevitable.

The carried interest loophole for hedge fund executives, however, remains untouched, while a last minute provision to the new tax legislation will benefit wealthy real estate investors. Eddie may be crazy but he ain’t stupid!

Forget about any meaningful infrastructure investment. Of course, the president’s idea of such spending is that the private sector should provide the bulk with the Feds kicking in a minute remainder.

Speaking of which I have a nice little stretch of the Connecticut Turnpike up around Greenwich available at a bargain price; you can charge your own tolls, and before you know it you could end up in the White House.

On the plus side, assuming the stock market is still booming, a congratulatory fist-bump for El Presidente and everyone else with some bucks in the game! And yet, personally, I prefer a cool hand on the rudder when the markets swoon which they inevitably will.

What does this president really believe? Between lies and exaggerations it’s hard to tell. You have to hope he doesn’t believe his own hype. The alternative of a self-deluded, nuclear-packing narcissist running the show is too frightening for words.

I always felt better knowing that the actor who played Crazy Eddie went straight to the pub then home to his wife after his manic TV rants.

But then our guy in the White House doesn’t even take a pint, and Melania doesn’t seem to be very good company these days.

On a private matter, doesn’t Mr. Trump understand that the US eventually benefits from mass immigration? Back in the mid 19th Century many Irish immigrants arrived unwashed, hungry, and illiterate from a broken, priest-ridden land. Now their descendants are running the US.

Because they have less choices immigrants tend to start their own businesses, thereby creating jobs for native-born Americans. A case in point - Steve Jobs’ father was a Syrian immigrant, Abdul Fattah Jandali.

Donald Trump hasn’t cracked a book since Goodnight Moon, but he’s a TV junky, and thus instinctively knew that there’s little difference anymore between reality shows and reality itself – whatever that is. Just keep shouting, threatening and tweeting, and you never know what you might achieve. 

Anything is possible when the Democratic Party is led by Chuck Schumer who puts all his cards on the table by offering funding for a Mexican wall in exchange for long term amnesty for Dreamers.

Crazy Eddie understood that if he got you inside his store he’d make a sale.

Likewise President Trump knows you don’t have to be lucky for four full years – you just need to keep the waters muddied and get a couple of breaks around polling day.

Bah humbug, enough of this politics, the Mets and Manchester United need my attention!