The Man Who Avoids Work
Malachy McCourt was born in Brooklyn, USA and from the age of three was raised in Limerick, Ireland. He returned to the land of his birth at the age of twenty and again worked at the manual tasks such as longshoreman, truck loader, dishwasher, until he became an actor. That career took him to Broadway and Off-Broadway and regional theatres in plays such as Mass Appeal, Da, The Hostage, Inherit the Wind, Carousel and Translations. The soap operas such as Ryan's Hope, Search for Tomorrow, One Life to Live, and All My Children were also a good source of work and sustenance as were the movies Molly Maguires, She's the One, The Devil's Own, Green Card, and TV movies such as You Can't Go Home Again and The Dain Curse. Due to a heavy schedule of writing, book signings and public appearances McCourt had to take a sabbatical from the acting trade but is now back after completing five movies Happy Hour, Guru of Sex, Gods and Generals, and Ash Wednesday plus a running part in the HBO prison series Oz. As well as being the co-author of the play A Couple of Blaguards with his brother Frank, Malachy has written his own New York Times bestseller memoir, A Monk Swimming, published by Hyperion Press. His memoir, Singing My Him Song, now out in paperback is published by Harper Collins. Running Press recently published four of Malachy’s books: the history of the song Danny Boy, a history of The Claddagh Ring, Voices of Ireland, an anthology, and Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland. Recent books, Harold Be Thy Name and Bush Lies in State, are published by Welcome Rain. In the works is I Never Drink When I’m Sober for Harper Collins. Malachy writes a column, Sez I to Myself, that appears in the Manhattan Spirit, The Westsider and Our Town in NYC.
Question: You've been a builder, actor, bar owner, writer and more. What was your favorite job?\r\n
Malachy McCourt: My favorite job. My purpose in life always has been to avoid work. And I hear these people saying, “I work hard and I pay my taxes.” Well, you’re an asshole. Because in my readings, if the Bible is correct, and I’m not a biblical scholar by any means, but whatever Adam and Eve did, I don’t even know what it was. But they did something that apparently annoyed the guy that made them and they got booted. And she was sentenced to bear children and pain and labor, and they mention that they had to grow up to be teenagers. And he was sentenced to work in the fields where his skin would be burnt by the sun and his hand will be torn by the thorns and thistles of the field and he should earn his bread by the sweat of his brow.” So, that to me is work, you see. So, I didn’t do it. He did. So, let him pay the price.\r\n
All of my sins – that’s called “Original Sin,” all of mine are mine, and all my sins are original. So, I’ve avoided work all my life, you see. So, I’m like a bee. I go from flower to flower. I go where the nectar is, and then we make life a just a lot of honey. So, whenever I’m broadcasting, I like it. When I’m broadcasting I can’t wait to hear what I say. When I’m writing, I thoroughly enjoy it. It just goes on. When I’m writing in long hand, it just goes on and on and on. When I was in the saloon business, I would just greet people and talk to them and avoid taxes, and getting behind the bar. What else. I ran for governor of New York, and I thoroughly enjoyed campaigning. And all of that. But mostly anything to do with socializing, entertaining, having a chat, there’s nothing like it. And I’m curious to know what’s over at the other side there because people don’t – well the thing is, people don’t die here, you see. In America they pass away, they pass on, they leave us, they’re gone, no longer with us, they’re at peace, they’re with the Lord, they’re six feet under, they’ve kicked the bucket. And the other thing is, they don’t allow a dying on the highway. No Passing. They give you a ticket if you die on the highway.\r\n
Question: Are you a spiritual person?\r\n
Malachy McCourt: I would say that I am more spiritual. I see the way I look upon organized religion, I was a victim of that of mythology, and of cruelty, and all the absurd stuff. Organized religions have all the facets of organized crime, except the compassion of organized crime. They would only break your legs, whereas organized religion will send you to hell forever. And we had to think about all that stuff of snakes and paradise, and even making the connection between the guy, whoever it was who made Adam and Eve and makes all these animals. All the cows and sheep and pigs and elephants and rhinoceros and rabbits and hares hold and moles and octopuses and salmon and trout and snakes. And if all the animals there that he, or she, whoever created, he brings one into paradise. This snake. Now, you'd think he'd bring a nice little dog, or Poodle or something into paradise corporate to keep Adam and Eve company. No, a bloody snake. Instead of maybe, a little can't would have been -- no, a snake. Not only that, but a talking snake who said, “How are you Eve?” “I’m fine, thank you.” “How about his apple?” “Oh really? Oh, let me try. Oh yeah. Adam this is a great apple.” So she hands him the apple and they get tossed out. And he has to go and work, she had to bear children. And the snake, they say he has to crawl on his belly for all eternity and eat dust.\r\n
Now, if he were a serpent before, how did he get around? So, they banished him and tossed him out and sent him to Ireland. And then they say, St. Patrick came and banished all the snakes from Ireland. So, he might have because I think they all came here and took over the St. Patrick’s Day parade. That’s my idea.\r\n
Question: One of your books, “Hallowed by That Name,” was about recovery. What has that process been like for you?\r\n
Malachy McCourt: Well, I am an alcoholic, as I said. And it is however we call it, a disease. That’s an explanation, but not an excuse. So, once I know I’m an alcoholic then it is my obligation, duty to see what I can do about healing myself. Now, there’s no recovery from alcoholism, it is an incurable disease. And it also is a disease that tells you, you don’t have a disease. It tells you, “I am your friend. And all you need at any given time is a little drinky-poo to make life good.” And all of that. So, then you take the little drinky-poo and the next thing you know, you’ve consumed about 40 drinky-poos and you’re acting like a complete asshole that you were before you had the drinky-poo.\r\n
I said I would never become an alcoholic like my father because my father deserted us. But diseases, there’s no let up. They get you some way or another. So the alcoholism got me and I ruined my first marriage with drinking and the lying and the deceit and infidelity, and all of that. The whole bloody thing. I was the complete one, alienated my first wife and although I never – I was not abusive in the physical sense in that I did never hit her like many – I was lucky that I am not addicted to that kind of thing. But I also alienated my children from that marriage. I am on good terms with them now. And I’ve been married for 45 years to my second wife. I’ve been sober for 25. And every day I am very grateful that I don’t drink. And it’s one day at a time, that’s all there is to it, and so I don’t have to worry about it. All I do is, okay, I do not have to drink. And if I feel like it, I postpone it for ten minutes, and that way I find something else to do in the meantime.\r\n
But alcoholism is a dread, an awful, and fatal disease. And I’ve seen so many horrible and awful results and consequences of people practicing alcoholism. It’s murder, I’ve seen that. I’ve seen a lot of suicides, a lot of strange sins. Particularly you get a lot of thievery, and the whole thing is about the lying. And then a lot of people abuse their children and more than hitting, so many people abuse their children sexually as well, and that is a family disease and that’s one of the horrors of it when kids are abused sexually. And there seems to be more of it now than ever, and I find that’s so sad that that happens.\r\n
Recorded on March 10, 2010
"My purpose in life always has been to avoid work," confides Malachy McCourt. "And I hear people saying, ‘I work hard and I pay my taxes.' Well, you’re an asshole."
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