ETHNIC FRAUD [cultural appropriation] & How It Discriminates Against Gypsies & Travellers.

Well said, Shay. Have followed your writing for some years, more power to you.

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Cultural Appropriation or probably more accurately misappropriation occurs when a person adopts aspects and characteristics of a culture that is not their own. This can cause a great deal of insult to members of the chosen culture because it potentially alters outside perceptions of their culture, they find themselves being redefined often in a more romantic way or a way that fits the agenda of those that indulge in this. For instance Gypsy women are often portrayed as barefoot in flowing skirts, or dressed in dancing costumes that are more in keeping with Turkish Belly Dancers, in contrast they might be portrayed as evil crones casting spells.

Fashion retailers market clothing as Gypsy skirts or blouses the young women modeling the clothing are more often than not barefoot, and pouting upon the steps of a painted Vardo [caravan]. Gypsies are portrayed in an old world fairy tale way that has…

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Franchise

‘Come here, I want you,’ said Mrs. Crotty.
‘What is it now,’ I said.
‘Coat. What shoes have ye?’
‘Work shoes.’
‘Good enough. Can ye climb in them?’
‘Can I what?’
‘You heard me,’ said she. Out the door she went. Had a ladder lined up, two large cardboard boxes, sides bulging out on them.
‘Everything goes into the elevator,’ said she. ‘Come on, give us a hand.’ She’d rounds of clothesline over her shoulder like a lariat, a hammer, and a carpenter’s belt.
‘Love the belt, Mrs. C.,’ I said.
‘Got it offa one of the workmen in the building this afternoon,’ said she. ‘John Joe. Donegal fella. Wasn’t he good to give me the loan of it? Hafta give it back in the morning. Pity.’
‘Where are we going?’ I asked.
‘E. 7th., between A and B.’
‘What ‘s there?’
‘You’ll see.’ We trudged through the shortcut on 5th, through the towers of flats, the ladder rattling behind, each of us barely hoisting a box. Rattling the contents of the boxes all the way, whatever was in them. Stopped at a spot next the Vazac Hall, a large red “X” painted on the side of the wall.
‘Wasn’t there a Slovak pierogi place here last year?’ I asked?
‘There was indeed. Hadta leave. Rent was ‘too damn high’ as the local people say.
‘Why are we here?’ I said.
‘Tis the site of the new franchise,’ said she. ‘I’ll tell ye about it after we get the signage going. Here, take one end of the rope and go up the telephone pole. Use the ladder to get started, and toss the end over the wire.’
‘Mrs. Crotty,’ I said.
‘If you don’t do it, I will,’ said she.
‘Wish me luck,’ I said. ‘God, you’re awful.’ Up went the ladder, and me after it.
‘Now what?’
‘I’ll catch the end and tie the kettles on. You go up the pole on the other side and help me get it across.’
‘What kettles?’
‘In the boxes.’
It was not a smooth operation. But when we were through, it didn’t look half-bad. A line of battered tea-kettles, high above the street, steaming into the darkening winter sky. Steaming?
‘Mrs. Crotty,’ I said. ‘They’re steaming. Is this a conceptual art piece or what is it at all?’
‘Ha,’ said she. ‘Makes you think, doesn’t it? Something in itself.’
‘It does make one pause,’ I said. ‘What’s the point?’
‘Here,’ said she. ‘Take this piece of chalk. Draw an arrow from the pole to the “X”.
‘What’s the “X”? I said.
‘The “X” marks the spot, said she. (To be continued)

Up in Smoke

‘You wouldn’t believe what they’re smoking in the streets of New York,’ said Mrs. Crotty. She untied her headscarf, and began readjusting her collapsing bun. A hairpin scittered to the floor.
‘Try me,’ I said. ‘You might see annythin when you go out this late. Young wans out and the ne-er do wells beginning the work shift.’
‘Coconuts,’ said she. ‘It wasn’t unpleasant. Much better than that potpourri craic they were at this summer. It’d sicken you, you had to take a wide detour around that stuff. Anyway, coconuts.’
‘Did you actually see someone smoking a coconut?’ I asked. ‘What would that look like? Was there a mouthpiece, like on a Tiparillo? Was it a one or two-handed operation?’ I tried to picture it.
‘Couldn’t see round to the front of your man, he passed me out. I was walking the bicycle through a crowd on first avenue. Only a big cloud of smoke like a…it’ll come to me…a big cloud of smoke.’
‘Mrs. C., that’d be a vape.’
‘A vape? What’s that when it’s at home. Never mind. What’s that when it’s out on the town?’
‘Same in both locations. An electronic cigarette.’
‘Stop,’ said she. ‘Is that an app? Would you see a small little picture of it on your phone or the computer screen?’
‘It isn’t,’ I said.
‘A plug-in? Is it rechargeable?’
‘I don’t think so,’ I said. ‘It’s a cigarette substitute.’
‘How does it work?’ she asked. ‘Especially the coconut part of it. Do they come in chocolate?’
‘I have no idea how they work,’ I said. ‘You’ve seen the shops, surely. Remember Falafel shops, how they used be all over the neighborhood?’ I asked.
‘You’d miss them, you would,’ said she. ‘They played lovely music. ‘One of them up the avenue had videos, too. Handsome fellas workin in those places, a bit like some of the Connemaras or the West Cork lads.’
‘Well, goodbye to falafel, and hello to the vape stores,’ I said. ‘That’s what we have instead, now. Hundreds of flavors of mystery liquid that turns into inhalable flavoured nicotine steam in a cigarette holdery kind of a thingey. Chocolate, strawberry, Banana Daquiri, whatever you like. Vape stores are like those Eyebrow Threading salons. One day there aren’t any, and then there’s one every second block.’
‘The little chain shops do come and go,’ said she. ‘Back to the flavours. Have they Guiness? Colcannon?’ said Mrs. Crotty, sounding hopeful. ‘Maybe not. Well, coconut is a nice smell,’ said she. ‘If they want to vape morning, noon and night and turn themselves into palm trees, let them. What harm?’
‘No harm at all,’ I said. ‘Speaking of aromatics, fancy some spicy chai?’
‘Go maith,’ said she, putting a Donegal inflection on it.
‘I saw what you did,’ I said.

Staffordshire Plate

‘Breaking News for ye, Ms. Girlín,’ said Mrs. Crotty.
‘It’s not about some NFL player, God help us, or unseemly displays of flesh in Times Square is it,’ I said. ‘That seems to be all our local papers are on about, the past few days,’ I said.
‘Not at all,’ said she. ‘Let me be the first to tell you. The World is Flat.’
‘It’s been a bit dull around here,’ I said. ‘I wouldn’t argue.’
‘You’re not hearing me,’ said she. ‘Flat. F-L-A-T. Like a Staffordshire Plate.’
‘I’m sorry to break it to you, but that was breaking news around the time of Pope Urban the VIII,’ I said. ‘Long before that, to be honest.’
‘Arrah, you’re not with me at all,’ said she. ‘I only heard this the other day. It’s a new discovery. The information is barely out there. In fact it’s been Suppressed.’
‘With good reason,’ I said. ‘A: It isn’t true, and B: You’re being ridiculous only to get a rise out of me. I know you. Where did you hear this? The Gary Null show?’
‘A nice young man I met explained it all to me,’ said she.
‘Was this nice young man accompanied by a parent or guardian?’ Did you meet him on the swing set out in the park?’ I asked. Was he wearing short pants?’
‘He was wearing some very trendy-looking jeans, if you must know,’ said she. ‘And he was in his mid-fifties, I’d say. Had long blond hair, a touch of the Viking,’ said she. ‘Met up with him outside Porto Rico coffee on the bench.’
‘Where was he from–Cloud Cuckoo Land? There are alot of them around these days,’ I said.
‘Calilfornia,’ said she. ‘If ye must know. Would ye ever stop slagging and hear me out? I didn’t credit him, either, not at first.’
‘Go on, so,’ I said. ‘I’d hope not.’
‘Well, do ye know the way ye look out at the horizon,’ said she. ‘Tis flat.’
‘It would be,’ I said. ‘The earth is a big place, or so I believe. You’d have to see alot of it to see any curvature.’
‘That’s because there isn’t anny. None.’
‘But the astronauts can see it’s round,’ I said. ‘They have pictures.’
‘They saw no such thing,’ said she. ‘Twas all a cod. Just like that moon landing. ‘Twas done out in a studio. Out in Queens, I believe. You’ve no idea, how deep the fakery goes.’
‘You’re right, there, Mrs. C.,’ I said, ‘keep going.’
‘The earth doesn’t go round the sun, either.’
‘How is that,’ I asked. ‘The sun traces an arc from one side to the other, like on the Grandfather clocks you’d see, I suppose. How does it get back to the other side?’
‘The sun goes round the earth. Like a ball bearing going round the edge of a plate.’
‘That makes no sense,’ I said. ‘A ball bearing doesn’t do anny such thing.’
‘Fair enough, I can’t explain it quite the same way he did. Just believe me, the sun goes around the earth. And it’s a lot smaller and a good deal closer than they say.’
‘Is that it?’ I said.
‘No, there’s more, a good deal more. Wait till I tell you; there’s no global warming, either.’
‘What’s your man’s source,’ I asked. ‘The Tea Party Weekly Observer?’
‘Hardly,’ she sniffed. ‘Tis from a scientist. A Brit. On the Youth Tube. It’s not even in a book yet.’
‘Well that’s reassuring,’ I said. ‘You can’t go wrong with Youtube, for the breaking news,’ I said.
‘I know that tone,’ said she. ‘You’d want to hear my friend explain it. It’s all tied up with the wars and the oil business. The Masons are behind it. As they usually are.’ ”
‘Oh, no doubt,’ I said.
‘You see my point, then,’ said Mrs. Crotty. ‘Everything we think we know is wrong.’
‘I’ve no doubt of that,’ I said. ‘But still. Just because we’re often wrong about things doesn’t make a cockamamie theory right.’
‘Aren’t you always going on about keeping an open mind?’ said she. ‘I’d have thought you might hear me out on this. He was very well-spoken.’
‘Mrs. C.!’ I said. ‘I’m surprised. Was he good-looking at all?’
‘A bit,’ said she. ‘But that wasn’t it. He had answers for everything. And you know, it’s hard to remember the things we learned so long ago in school. I got very confused. He had this proof, having to do with jumping up in the air, and how, if we were busy rotating and spinning around and all, wouldn’t we come down in a different spot. I couldn’t remember the laws of gravity by the time he was done talking. I still think he might have something there.’
‘Maybe so,’ I said. ‘But I seriously doubt it. Sure lookit, ’tis very hot today, you’d hardly know your own name after a few hours outdoors. Iced tea?’
‘I might chance some,’ said she. ‘But we might take this subject up again. I’m not done with it, yet.’
I opened the refrigerator. The heat; I hoped that was all there was to it.

Red Hat (revised)

Heard the key turn in the lock, followed by a familiar sharp kick delivered to the door.’Lift the knob,’ I said, ‘that doorjab hasn’t been right since 1979.’ ‘Same as a good few,’ said Mrs. Crotty, dropping her bags. ‘Put on the kettle. I’m desperate for a cup.’ ‘You look, I don’t know…like ‘ ‘Like i’ve seen a ghost?’ said Mrs. Crotty. ‘Close,’ said she. ‘Wait till I tell ye.’

‘I met a Fairy in the road,’ said she.  ‘Oh stop,’ I said. ‘I’m serious,’ said she. ‘Well,Isn’t that a lucky thing?’ I asked. ‘Ye don’t look happy about it at all’ ‘It isn’t lucky’ said she. ‘They’re not a bit like Tinkerbell or anny of those Disney versions.’ ‘What about the musicians who got tunes from them?’ ‘Arrah, they’d get a tune and never be right, since,’ said she. ‘Ye never get the whole story with that. People don’t tell ye the half of it. They’re mean-minded and generally upta no good, in my experience.’ ‘Where did ye meet him?’ I asked ‘It doesn’t seem like a conducive environment. Especially now that the neighborhood’s changing so. They’d hardly camp out in a juice bar. Or, God help us, the 7-ll.’ Oh, they’re definitely here,’ she said. ‘There’s alot of them congregatin in the McDonalds on First and Sixth. They go there in the afternoons and hang out all day, emptying the napkin dispensers and fiddling with the doors of the public restroom. But do ye mind the auld Dutch Church on 10th Street?  ‘Where they have the poetry project?’ ‘The very one,’ said she. ‘Saw one there this morning. Skirping around the side and going round and round the granite stone circles. Up and over the iron fence and onto the sidewalk, him and his bandy legs.

‘How’d you know him?’ ‘He’d a Red hat,’ she said, ‘in a word.’ ‘That’s two words,’ I said. ‘Red. Hat.’ ‘Don’t be technical,’ said she. Not one a them wooly hats like the hipsters wear. ‘Twas a sparkly red fedora. Like something you’d see on New Year’s Eve. He’d on black skinny jeans and a black tea shirt. A pipe-cleaner of a fella, all wiry legs and arms. Hopped in fronto of me and started singing away, in a deep bass: “I’VE GOT A BRAND-NEW LAPTOP. I’VE GOT A BRAND-NEW LAPTOP.” Gyrating and swiveling like Elvis. Mortifying! You couldn’t look away. Good job I’d the sunglasses and hat on or he’d have twigged I was staring.’ ‘What harm is that?’ I asked. ‘You see all kinds in the street.’ ‘The look on him!’ said she. ‘If he catches your eye, he’ll folly ye all day long. He’d be after ye for God knows what. If he asked ye for annythin, you’d hafta give it, too, ’tis bad luck to refuse.’ ‘But you often give a bit of change to the homeless fellas. I know ye do,’ I said. ‘That’s different,’ said she. ‘This wasn’t like that. He had a look. ‘Twasn’t nice at all. The homeless fellas are nice, gentlemen as a rule. Annyway, I passed him out.’ She paused. ‘What’s that smell?’ said she. ‘Brimstone, God Between us and All Harm!!!’ ‘The tea kettle is after boiling up all the water,’ I said. Lifted the lid with a folded potholder; terrible hot. Plastic handle was darkened, nearly glowing with heat. An awful smell off it, and the twine stopper for the lid, burnt. ‘Malfeasance,’ said Mrs. C. ‘What’d I tell ye? He musta seen me taking notice.’ She took her apron off and turned it inside out. ‘I’ll hafta go round like this the rest of the day, see if I can turn the luck. In the meantime, fill one of the small pots again, will ye? Water boils the same, whatever the container.’ I took a pot down from the wall.