Cocaine Christians: The New Face of the Catholic Church

Traditionally cocaine was seen as a party drug. A means for the very wealthy or the very poor to unwind and take edge off. It’s said that clubbers, ravers and people who dance to music use it to aid with their enjoyment of the music. But what if it’s not just for appreciating DJs and their work? What if you could also use it to appreciate God and her work? Well that’s what could might even be happening in a small church in Letterboyle, Co. Athlone.

Letterboyle is how you’d imagine a small picturesque town in the Irish countryside. It’s just like something out of a picture or postcard. If you can imagine that. The fields are green. The sky is blue or grey or black. The roads are a light dark colour. The trees are brown with green on the top. And the sidewalks are a load of wet grass. Green grass. The last place you’d imagine there to be the Cocaine Catholics of Letterboyle.

“The last place you’d imagine there to be the Cocaine Catholics of Letterboyle.”

But this is where this story had led me. On my first meeting with The Priest I was surprised how friendly and energetic he was. We shook hands and he took me into his kitchen where teas and cakes were laid on a small table. We exchanged pleasantries as I sipped and bit. But just as I was getting to the heart of the issue, the cocaine use, he took a turn and almost collapsed from fatigue. I thought he was just a really chill guy so I continued to question him. But there was no response. I’d hit a roadblock in my investigation. And that really got me down. But just as it was looking like I’d have to return to this shithole of a town tomorrow The Priest woke with a bolt. He apologized profusely. He took a sniff of some salts and was back to his jovial best. And we continued.

“So,” I asked “What’s with the blow?” The Priest took a long blink before answering “God talks to me through cocaine. I used to be an alcoholic and then one day after a hard week on the bottle I felt I’d nowhere to go. I felt I couldn’t go on. I wanted to keep drinking but I couldn’t muster the energy. That’s when I found coke. It was what got me back to feeling, not just good, but great. And there was no looking back.” His eyes returned to darting around the room, fondly recalling his past.

“Nobody can take my cocaine from me”

“Wow that’s sick.” I replied “And what does the Pope think?”

“The Pope can go and shite” He barked and held a mean stare at me. “He doesn’t know me and he can’t judge me.” I asked. “Is that the kind of thing you’d say? For a quote?” He nodded back and that was enough for this reporter.

We chatted more. Or he did as I drank cup after cup of teas while his went cold. The more he talked the more I got the idea the impression that this is a really cool dude that really believes in what he says. That doesn’t mean that he is any less of a Priest. And his congregation really like him. They were constantly knocking on the door to give contributions to the Church fund.

We arranged to meet up again the next day. But he never showed up and I couldn’t get through to him. It was fine since I’d already made my word count from the first interview so I was happy that I’d successfully reported the balls off this story. Fuck you dad. ∎

Ten Reason to Fall Back in Love with Fire

One of the most simple and natural curiosities we have is the humble flame. Do let enjoying fire be something only appreciated by young kids and cavemen. Relight that spark.

😘 🔥😘 🔥😘 🔥😘 🔥😘 🔥😘

😘 Burn an unwanted letter or bill. It’s as if it’d never been sent.

🔥 Instead of an egg timer or app try using a piece of petrol soaked string to track time. Cut a suitable length. Light the fuse. And wait.

😘 Burning the edges of a poster can make it look very old-timey. You can make a pirates’ treasure map, an old wizard’s scroll or an inquisitor’s decree that a loved one is  to be put to death slow and painfully.

🔥 Keep busting your teeth taking bites out of raw potatoes? Try heating them on a spit with a little help from our reliable pal: Fire.

😘 Anyone in your work about to get the boot? Set up a little visual scene to let them know: “You are Fired”.

🔥 Sterilize a needle if you need to lance a boil. Watch out for that puss splatter!

😘 Hold a single naked flame in the air at gig to let the band on stage you’re there. Hold two to let them think there’s twice as many fans in attendance.

🔥 It doesn’t have to be your birthday to make a wish. Keep a lighter in your pocket that you can blow out and make wishes whenever you want.

😘 Hard Cases never have a light, be ready with a lighter for their cigarette and you can seem tough and hard too. They might tell you stories from the “inside” or let you buy some of their stolen gear.

Intercrim – Celeb Crime Secrets Revealed

Taylor’s Grift

When I’m at a canteen in the mornings I always hide some rashers under the beans and then just pay for a plate of beans

Long Con Jovi

Write the names of potential sequels (Shrek 5, Hangover 4 etc) and post them to yourself. If they get released bring the sealed and postmarked envelope to the studio and claim plagiarism

Scheme Neeson

I never sign the back of bank cards. It’s never been authorised so I can claim back everything I’ve paid for it with

Trick Jagger

They may say you can’t work and claim your state pension. But no one has ever said that to ol’Mick

Bam’s Bozzle

During Jackass we used to just take loads of Opioid Painkillers before the stunts so the injuries never really hurt

Bruce “The Double Cross Boss” Springsteen

They all thought it was a “fan” I brought up on stage during one of our famous concerts but it was an actress we got from an agency. Our scheme was foiled when she later got the roll of Monica on Friends

Felony Sykes

To ensure I get picked for presenting gigs I gash the tires of the other hopefuls and have them start the day on a bum note. If they do make it in a good mood I threaten them with a stanley knife

The President is Pissing – Exclusive Extract

From the Brand New Thriller by James “Potboiler” Patterson and “Honest” Bill Clinton. Patterson has blasted through 49 books in his young career, he hasn’t had an idea that he hasn’t written a book about. And Sax Master Bill is the husband of Hillary Clinton, 2nd choice USA President, and before that the President himself for 8 long years of carpet bombing and minimum sentencing. Now they’ve set their great minds together to write a thriller full of political espionage, intrigue and small bladders.

The oath I swore when I was inaugurated as President was to do whatever I say fit to protect this Beautiful nation. But at this House Hearing, I felt like I was the only one that cared.

These weak-willed, yellow bellied pencil pusher on The Hill would rather play it safe than take action. “The intel isn’t strong enough” Senator Wizeal had said. The intel isn’t strong? Do they think the great brave men of Bravo Team had just scribbled it on a cocktail napkin and tossed it over to us without a care. Bravo Team fought hard for this intel. They made sacrifices that we, as Americans, will forever be in their debt for, although we will never truly know what the heroes’ names were. But America will be grateful. Because I am grateful. And I am the President of this great nation.

Sen. Wizeal on the other hand treats this country like an old folks’ home. A retirement centre where he doesn’t want to be disturbed. But what’d be worse: a police presence for a few days and some days of being vigilant and alert or to be dead? Call me old fashioned but I don’t wanna die. If my survival and continued pursuit of happiness means killing a handful of jihadis than that’s fine by me.

Sen.Wizeal was running his old mouth, he wanted to keep me here in this bloated Hearing than in the War Room making preparations. But the Senator talked the speed a one fingered man would type. “We can’t shut down the State Fair. Don’t you realise that the State Fair is the lifeblood of the community?” he droned “It’s the best chance many vendors, fry cooks and carnies have of making the lionshare of their income. I can’t allow that to be stopped for anything.”

He doesn’t get it. The honest Joes of the fair would rather take a raincheck than have to go home in many small body bags. But he doesn’t know what I know. Mahmood Al Jazeer doesn’t care about money, incomes or our beloved capitalism. He’d love to bomb a state fair so it’d resemble the rubble and dirt of his shithole country. But this wasn’t on Sen. Wizeal’s Security Clearance and to tell him would be to sacrifice many covert agents. So I had to endure the hot air of his filibuster.

Our hearing had started over three hours ago. By that time I’d drank over two jugs of American still water on top of the pint of milk and quart of OJ I had for breakfast and I was beginning to feel it putting up a fight below my stomach. “Oh please” I thought “Shut your mouth and let us be done with this pointless charade”. But I bit my tongue. It was a shame I wasn’t able to bite anything down below. I considered catching the fleshy lips of my penis in my zipper but forgoed that when I remembered I was circumcised. My bladder was swelling at an alarming rate but I knew more than anyone else here that were I to leave or excuse myself that would been seen by all as a sign of surrender.

But yet Sen. Wizeal continued to prattle on, now he was talking about the many deep fried food he and his constituents would enjoy on the thoroughfare. “Corn dog, delicious fried butter balls, a frozen Dr. Pepper or perhaps some chicken fries.” I couldn’t take it any longer, I’ve shifted and squirmed but there was no turning back the tide and the piss started trickling down my leg. The warmth and moisture dribbling through my suit trousers. I folded my legs in away that sent most of my stream towards the inner corner of the desk. I just let it flow. It was all I could do. Even the President can burst a pipe. But I did it to save this great state. Though no one would ever believe that. I knew I’d need some bigger scandal to avoid my legacy being tarnished as the “Piss Prez”. Maybe I could fuck some reporter.

ReFAUXrendum

Love democracy but hate that it happens so rarely? Tick these boxes and feel like you’ve made a really smart and grown-up decision like the professional person you are.

I APPROVE of Universal Pricing for all alcoholic drinks. All 500ml beverages will cost €1.25. And a bag of Meanies to be 75c or in direct correlation to the price of drink………………………..Yes ☐ No ☐

I APPROVE of the conscription of all able-bodied 12-21 year-olds citizens to Summer long Football camps every summer until we win a World Cup………………………… Yes ☐ No ☐

I APPROVE the reclassification of the pronunciation of “aluminium” to “aluminium” and shall henceforth never again be pronounced as “aluminium”………………………. Yes ☐ No ☐

I APPROVE to the repealing of “Mistletoe Law” to be replaced with considered and non-compulsory handshakes……………….. Yes ☐ No ☐

I APPROVE of the declassification of any and all government documents pertaining to the Ancient Aliens that built Newgrange and the surrounding structures………………………… Yes ☐ No ☐

I APPROVE of the introduction of “Take a chip, leave a chip” in Irish restaurants……………………………… Yes ☐ No ☐

I APPROVE of the regulation of Film length to 90 minutes with exceptions for good Scorsese movies……………………………………… Yes ☐ No ☐

I APPROVE of the recategorization of “TWAT” as a lesser swear and to be more in line with “crap” and “piss”…………………………. Yes ☐ No ☐

I APPROVE of the proposal to lower the maximum age for National Lottery Winners to 55 years old …………………….. Yes ☐ No ☐

I APPROVE of the unification of bin day to Wednesdays and I APPROVE the renaming of wednesdays to “Waste-days”…………………. Yes ☐ No ☐

That Hippy Lad – A Short Story

Ya know that dickhead from Irene Moore’s estate? Got into the hippie thing first. He thought he was hot shit and didn’t we all have to know about it. He grew his hair long and got some buddie that was going to London to buy him one of those scraggy hoodies. The scratchy ones ya know that seem to be unwashable. Or maybe stinking is just their choice. Ya’d see him the odd times with a tower records bag sitting at the bus stop on Eden Quay. Before they moved it to Abbey street. I prefer Abbey now. You weren’t standing out on the river like a show for all to see. He got the bus on those cold saturdays were the sun’d heave right into your eyes. On those days where no matter what you had in you account you’d not enough for what ya wanted to get. And you’d have to sling your hook back home with a “maybe next week”. It was always that dickhead that’d be in a good mood. He would sit on the bus and look at whatever darkly coloured CD he’d bought, brimming. How’d he keep that up I didn’t know. But he did.

His mother must have been ran loose with that bleeding guitars and all hippy shit blaring out of his room from morning to night. I’m glad my kids aren’t into anything that I don’t play for them first. I couldn’t be doing with that on top of all the other shit I do be having to do with them. The last thing you want is some hippie hymns screaming at ya around the house. Did you know they played that shit to the terrorists in the torture camps. That just goes to show you. The Army thinks that’s torture good enough for the taliban. That says it all.

I’ve never known anyone that’s been in his house. His Ma is a funny one. Irene says she’s all smiles when they catch each other in the street but would sooner die a thousand deaths than invite you in for a cup of tea. She can shove herself. Irene hadn’t heard about her husband roping himself til she seen it in the paper and that was the day the hearse came. Irene was out in the street in her pyjamas, some faded set with palm trees and Miami written on it  looking like a kid that’s been sent to bed too many times that night. Ya’d think Irene, a neighbour, the woman who lives four houses down for years, would be amongst some of the first to hear about it. But no, that bitch lives in her own world. Fuck her, her and her hippy son.

Oh yeah the thing was the last time I’d seen him was in Stephen’s Green. It was a summer back. One of the nice ones. I was walking through the centre bit looking for a seat to have me burger. I didn’t find a seat so had to lean on one of the fountains. I hate that. Any drunk or cruel could push me into the water and ruin everything about me. But I’d to take the risk cause I couldn’t wait any longer for my burger. Bit samey but it was alright in the end. Not great. But yeah i seen him, the hippy, sitting over by the bushes. Typical. And he was grinning like a sinner with a couple of other hippies he must have met on the streets or in the record shop. The were passing around something I’m sure. A big lump of dope or whatever the braindeads’d be killing themselves with. He must have thought that he was king of all asunder. I wasn’t impressed.

But yeah so just this last week I was in the vinny shop looking for something. Not for me. The mother-in-law. And I seen herself come in with a box and a half of hippie cds. Just dumped them in and then walked out in a strop. Not a glance or smile I got. I’m only Irene’s oldest friend. Irene, her neighbour. The woman that lives four doors down from her. That bitch lives in her own fucking world. Lucky though I didn’t say a thing to her about her son being a hippy and a drug addict. Nope. I’m not petty like that. I haven’t seen him around the bus in a while. Whatever. No skin off my nose.

by Mark Baldwin 2016

The Death of the Deal and the Burrito Fallacy

There was a point there, back in the doldrums of the recession, where a few of my friends were giving College another bash. I was too, having put an end to my “gap year” after the fifth summer. I was doing Animation out in IADT Dun Laoghaire and was bringing my own struggles with me to that. My friends were in Trinity and I’d meet up with them when I got into town. We didn’t have enough money to do anything but hangout and, if we could, get a chicken fillet roll. The magic number was two quid. There was the main Centra on Dame Street that was leading the charge. It must have been a loss leader because the Londis and Spars could never match that price, besting only €2.50, and usually with caveats like only tomato and lettuce. And Centras further out of the city centre were never €2. But in their two shops, Dame Street and Temple Bar, you buy a roll with plain or spicy chicken and any two salad toppings and that was including cheese. Maybe they made the money back hoping you’d buy a drink, crisps or a bar. But me and my mates could only ever make the two quid and that was enough. The two euro roll was there for many days when we would have gone without. I used to always think “why’d you get anything else?” After a while the city got back into an upswing and the prices went up. Me and my friends had long since dropped out of college at that stage as the delis were rejigged to be more artisan and other fad food chains popped up as we gentrified. It seems like the best deal in town is no longer the best deal in town. They have convinced us to buy something else. Or we have convinced ourselves to buy something else.

Take the Burrito that spread like a rash through out the city. It was the same demographic, students and young city workers, that wanted something for lunch that they could take, walk or sit in the park and could eat quickly and fill them with enough variety. But a burrito goes for around €6.50 to €8.50 plus. Now you’d need the guts of a tenner instead of a two euro coin. And what your getting for that is a tortilla, rice and beans, which are all very cheap. You also get your chosen meat, which could be the cheap offcuts that have been stewing in a hotplate all day. And then what we get excited about when ordering is the hot sauce and salsa. And that’s only a few drops or a spoonful. I’m not saying it doesn’t taste nice but it should it cost that much? Burritos are traditionally peasant food. What we’re paying so much for is down to having to supplement the branding, the advertising, the increasing rent. And no longer are competing stores trying to undercut each other for the best deal. It’s about the “experience” now. How authentically we must feel sitting in these dark wooden alcoves with the Mariachi music playing on the PA. And it’s no longer about getting the deal out to the most people and having a neverending queue out the door. Don’t advertise big, advertise smart. Engineer social media campaigns and strategic advertising to the right clients. The yuppiess and city trendies. Those who think it’s a good deal. Those who feel like they’re slumming it. Those that will believe what they’re told. The internet is flooded with natter of the best burrito, lists out of ten different restaurants, clickbait hot takes and other forms of native advertising. To get us all thinking that “this is what we’re thinking”. And a lot of people want to have an opinion if they think everyone else is having an opinion. And soon we’re eating expensive burritos and having little debates about the taste of beans, rice and stringy warm beef.

The other thing that’s happened is that as the economy, allegedly, picked up and there was a bit more money in the pot we graduated ourselves. I used to think that “why’d anyone eat anything else than a €2 Chicken Roll?” and that if I had six quid in my pocket then couldn’t I have a Chicken roll 3 days in a row. Or even 2 now if I was really hungry. And that’d still leave money in my pocket. But we don’t do that. If we have extra money we progress ourselves to the next tier of consumption. They’re not set in stone and the categorisation is under ongoing analysis. Roughly say you might graduate from Aldi/ Lidl to Dunnes Stores, then to M&S. Or you might drink whatever is cheapest, the Spar brand American Cola, and it’s fine cause it’s something to drink and your main impulse at that time is thirst. For less than a euro you can quench that and get a sugar hit. But then say you get a job or run into a bit of luck, you don’t buy the American Cola and pocket the difference and put that towards something better. You tell yourself that you deserve the “named” brand. The famous Coke-a-Cola. It’s twice the price but it fits in better with what the world is like. The signs, the ads, the jingles, the cups at the cinema, what you mix your rum with, what others are drinking. It’s coke, the original and the genuine. The life story you’re living and writing day to day is starting to look more legit, more like everyone else’s. It’s a step forward,and you can pretend you’ve always been standing there. The American Cola is yuk, mank, rotten. You can rile yourself up with how much you hate it. It’s a plagiarism and a fake. Fuck that. You’re better than the imitation and you deserve better, anything else is an insult. But the tier goes up again. There’s the drinks that break €2.50, these fancier drinks with their real exotic fruits and health benefits. Because now that you’re making real money you need to be giving yourself what’s best for you. Coke is sugary trash. It’s bad for you. You need to look after yourself because you’ve got a reason to live longer: money. Others will lie on the sofa and drink coke and let their bones and teeth rot away. Wasters. You’re out looking after body and mind. Being the best. And it goes up. There’s no upper limit to the price of something. All you have to do is tart it up and give enough reasoning and if it sells than you’re right. If you charge a fiver for iced tea and people buy it than you picked the right price. Only then the thought willl creep in to the seller’s mind that maybe they’d have paid six euro. The seller won’t be happy with a sale. They’ll be cursing themselves for the money they could have made. And they get into an arms race, chancing your arm and with picking the right marks. And work has been tough, you might as well enjoy spending. And, as opposed to the best deal which can only go so low, there’s always something better to buy. You can be better from buying better.

Perhaps there still is something out there like the €2 chicken roll that the young kids are eating and filling themselves up and enjoying with a cheap off brand coke. And then getting back to kicking about with fuckall else to do but plod the streets and make each other laugh. Perhaps it’s just an unprofitable passage that isn’t worth the sellers time now that they’re all focusing on rinsing the gentrified. I’m at a stage now where I’m unfamiliar with town that I feel so bombarded in the vast delis now that I get flummoxed into over paying because I can’t brave the embarrassment of asking for the prices of things.

And isn’t that the perfect state they want us in.

Mark Baldwin 2018

“Tonight We Are Young”

Tonight We Are Young

I use to always get a laugh out of myself with that song “We are young” by that band from a few years back with the un-format-friendly name “fun.”. It was very sure of itself against the fact that it had nothing much to say but with great roaring sincerity to say it. It’s about a bit of a piss up and he’s having a fit of pathos. The chorus went, with a great swell, “Tonight, we are young, so let’s set the world on fire”. They really hammer that at you, willing it to be the battle cry of the millenials or some shit. And perhaps it was. It could be what keeps some people going. Resonating with the perfectly for pivotal moments of their development of character. I’ve got some daft songs that share moments with me that I keep secret to save from the mob dismissing them

The “Tonight We Are Young” song though always gave me a giggle, perhaps in the face of that. I like anything that’s so stupid and so sincere. Makes you feel alright for not having a clue about anything. When you struggle everyday it’s tough and feels fruitless. But when look at someone that very confidently acts like they have the answers it can make you feel very worthless. But if you look long enough and see that they’re no closer to answers than you it can encourage you on. Like someone celebrating they’ve won the race when they actually have more laps to go. It gives me a smile, a little buzz of warmt. If I was in the race I’d not win but I’d at least keep my head down and keep running.

Another thing was that the lad in the band is going on about being young when he looks like he’s had more than a rough paper round. It turns out that he was 30 when that song came out. And I’m 30 now. I know that’s it useless to act like our age should garner sympathy from anyone, we’ll all be every age in a row until we die. That’s how it works. But I starting to worry am I being that daft and cringey now. I write a lot from that passage of my life like it mattered. It feels more interesting than now. I’m trying to make distance now with going hard and just staying home. And the mundanity of it isn’t inspiring anything worth writing about so I’m drawing back to the pool of that time. The hedonism, the spontaneity, the fullness. I’m not a complete saint now but I’m trying to take writing more seriously. It’s the business end of the season. But I worry I’m staying too late at the party and should I just move on with life. And no one wants to be the oldest person at the party.

    When I was at the other threshold, turning 20, and I’d be at parties and still taking it all in. But there’d always be the odd older lad there on his own and it was never really clear who he was. Just an auld bloke that likes to party. I was at one before, it was a birthday and we were going from a few cans in the estate into town. I was very fresh-faced and not very versed with the whole drink before, on the way, at the place and then after the place. I did take to it in my own time and became such a pro that I’d just skip the fannying about with leaving the house and just stay in getting pissed. Earlier this year I couldn’t me moved from the warmth and lack of nonsense of your own gaf. I was very tired, passed the point of the crammed smoking areas, the queues for the expensive bar and the prattle of kids.

But back at 20s it was all ahead of me. I remember we were waiting for the bus and this was at the time when I’d not even had bus money. €2.10 I think it was into town and I’d not even had that. Then there was the tenner in to Whelan’s and the fiver for the nitelink back. And then I’d still have to work out how to blag drink. So I wasn’t too sure what to do as we all waited for the last bus out of dodge. There was about fifteen of us. And as I drifted with uncertainty on the fringes the auld lad was telling me I could go back to his house on the promise of drink and pills. Just me and him like. I weighted it up then. I wanted the drink and the pills and I’d no money for all the other plans of the night. If one route works out more than the other than shouldn’t you go with that?

As I look at it now maybe he was just tired of all the fannying about too and he’d rather just chill and liked the shite I was coming out with. But it could have been anything. It could have been sexual but I could be thinking too highly about my young arse. The rest of the group ended up doing a whip around to cover us and we headed into the pub and it was all grand. Save for a few more times where he’d tried to coax me back to his gaf. He was barely coherent at that stage and would laugh at his own mumbles, in his own little world. He mightn’t have even been that old. He could of been 29 or something. But He was much older than me and he’d clearly been through the ringer and the motions too many times to count.

    There were many others auld heads throughout the years. Maybe they were newly single and were back out on the piss after years in a relationship, or back from living abroad and had just came home after years, or they just didn’t care and liked to party and there’d always be young kids to bleed into the many phases of a sesh. And really who’s to judge us but ourselves.

Drinking and nights out isn’t really a big deal. Even the most boring and cautious people can feel spontaneous and get stories to tell from messy nights out. It’s one of the draws of drinking. It pulls out the carefree person inside you. And it’s a riot when you’re young. But as you get older and you are expected to care, about work, about the family, about your life and about yourself, the draw to pull out that carefree person becomes a much bigger. Perhaps I’m missing it and I’m trying to trying to dig deeper into it than there is. I’m just bored now. The job is ebbing at me and my little jabs back I have is in recalling the times when I’d not a care and lived on a whim. They try to get talk corporate jargon to me in the office, all prim and proper, and not know about the states I’ve been in over the years. I just hope I’m not as much a laughing stock as “fun.” the band. Telling old stories of when I was young like I know what the fuck I’m going on about. I don’t know. But sometimes they’re better stories than the ones when you stay at home and watch panel shoes. I’m hesitant to stop being the wisest baby instead of turning 180 to be the noob grown up. I don’t know. You know just give me a second I, I need to get my story straight.

Mark Baldwin