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“Scratch the Travel Itch” Week. Tell us how you are doing it these days..
I listen to The Blindboy podcast. “What’s the craic, lads?” Craic, pronounced “crack,” is Irish slang for cool. The Blindboy produces the #1 podcast in Ireland. He’s a former HipHop artist (one half of the duo Rubberbandits), with an advanced degree in art history, who wears a plastic bag mask over his head when he performs. He hails from Limerick, speaks in the local dialect, over a musical backdrop of soft, hypnotic piano chords. He frequently employs what others may call profanity, but what is exactly the language you might expect in a Limerick pub after 10 pm on a Friday night.
He podcasts from his bedroom these days, producing himself, and offers some startling insights, what he calls “hot takes,” on art, politics, music, mental health, and media. I find him to be brilliant in terms his ability to connect different aspects of cultural phenomena. I also find him funny. Others find him crude, offensive, and ridiculous. Around this household, eyeballs roll when I begin a sentence, “Blindboy says …”
Pre-pandemic Blindboy also published two books of literary fiction, and even had his own series on the BBC Blindboy Undestroys the World. If you like this, you’ll “get” Blindboy.
Why am I such a fan? Because he helps me comprehend parts of contemporary culture that I, as a member of an older generation, don’t fully understand, such as social networking. He teaches me about art history, not one of my strongest suits. He connects me to Ireland in a more meaningful than just my vague ancestry. He explains baffling trends such as the rise of QAnon in ways that make sense. In short, he opens my eyes in a way that no one else in the media does.
Example. He started a recent podcast talking about the BBC series The Crown. He is a big fan of the series in terms of its entertainment value, but while expressing his admiration for cinematic accomplishment, he is disdainful of the British monarchy, a government that colonized the Irish for more than 800 years, in the process of which they continuously exploited the island’s resources.
It’s absurd, he says, that the claim to wealth, power, and privilege of the Royal Family is based on their genetic link to William the Conqueror who died in 1087. Blindboy portrays William as a brutal, despicable human being whose admirable quality is that he suffered a fittingly disgusting demise. His intestines were ruptured when he was forcefully thrust against the pommel on his own horse’s saddle. Infection set in and he died, but the final humiliation occurred when his bloated body exploded at his own funeral. (Blindboy frequently cites seemingly outrageous historical facts, but when I fact-check him, I’ve always found that he has done his homework thoroughly.)
This particular episode was broadcast just after the US Presidential election was won by Joe Biden. Blindboy likens Donald Trump, as a leader and person, to William the Conqueror. They are, in his eyes, equally reprehensible, and their demises fittingly appropriate. While Trump has not exploded (yet), his first press conference following his defeat was held not, as intended, held at the Four Season Hotel, but rather, due to staff incompetence, in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Lawn & Garden Center adjacent to a strip mall of tattoo parlors, pawn shops, and massage salons.
At the end of the podcast you realize that you’ve been on an hour long journey that took you to places you never anticipated, but somehow got you from here to there. Give the Blindboy podcast a try. Don’t give up on it, because parts are silly or repetitious. He’s an acquired taste, but it’s a taste that is increasingly being acquired around the globe.