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Essential Journal

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Addressing the Table

In a society so often blinded by the trending, the novel, and the downright asinine, there’s something to be said about the calm and clarity that comes with keeping a critical distance from all things cool

words by Jake O’BRIEN MURPHY

I am not cool. Even in saying the word; I stumble over it, like I’m wearing my tragically uncool teenage retainer. For one agonising summer ‘Jesus Sandals’ became second hand for my actual name. I was the wheezing mass of pre-pubescent belly rolls and lisp spit on the school yard sporting open toed sandals. I exist in someone else’s world, like an after school club refugee. 

At one point I lived in East London, where I worked in bars with cool names and functional interiors. I served people with imaginary job titles like “Cloud Architect” and worked with polyamarous bartenders with geometrically perfect haircuts. One of whom looked like a set of porcelain cheekbones dressed in a peacoat. If you need further proof, I have just used the pronoun ‘whom’ in an actual sentence. 

My partner is an Artist. She populates our home with totems of how undeniably cool she is. Old Super 8 film cameras with full reels and a broken piano that obviously she can still play. There’s art I don’t understand everywhere. In short; I am a sheep in reclaimed french workwear. The main advantage to life on the fringe of the vacuous world of style, is clarity of vision. You manage to cultivate a strong resistance to the banal nonsense that systematically shifts every fifteen minutes. It manifests itself as a built-in imperviousness to the bullshit rhetoric and the inane benefits that new trends purport to bring with them. Recently, a stranger tried to convert me to tongue scraping. A practise wherein you scrape the topmost dermis of your oh-so-sensitive and oh-so-fleshy tongue away to remove built up toxins. Which is apparently a thing we need to worry about now. How I have managed twenty six rotations of the sun dragging a wad of fatally poisonous tongue tissue around? I’m not quite sure. But I think I’ll chance my luck just a little longer.

‘Insidious computer algorithms are spewing out new variations of technicolour gin. What does purple gin taste like anyway?’ 

In the booze industry we have reached terminal velocity. New trends are burning up on atmospheric entry before I can even cast a self-righteous glance over them. Insidious computer algorithms are spewing out new variations of techni-colour gin. What does purple taste like anyway? Or my favourite nugget of pointless hipster nonsense; ‘hand labelled’. What does that mean exactly? I have a theory; There isn’t a single itsy-bitsy scrap of anything vaguely unique or interesting about this particular macguffin. So someone at the top level chooses to populate the most prime advertising media, the label, with the information that somewhere in Dalston underpaid post graduates are made to put them there. Chicken and egg stuff.

There are, however, some wonderfully affirming things happening amongst all the calamity. Empirical Spirits, are redefining what distilled spirits can be with their particular brand of irreverence and technical insight. Making some of the most mind-bending and thought-provoking spirits I have ever come into contact with. ‘Fallen Pony’, for example, defies any rational categorisation, tasting exactly how I imagine a liquified kaleidoscope would taste. Most pleasingly to taste, and to say out loud, is the ‘F*ck Trump and his Stupid F*cking Wall’. Which peers past the caustic heft of capsicum into a resplendent garden of habanero fruitiness. All done while looking like a time travelling synth-pop biker gang operating out of a crash landed spaceship somewhere in Copenhagen. Oh, and they hand label the bottles. How cool. JOB