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The J1-er | Conor Breen

Conor Breen looks at the fabled nomads of the J1 summer

     Many may be surprised to learn that the J1 is not a recent phenomenon. In fact it is believed that the first J1 occurred as far back as the 15th century Christopher Columbus in 1492. Chris and a few lads hopped over to the States for a spell and little did they know that 520 years later that people would still be making the same voyage.

     Unlike J1 travelers today, Chris didn’t have to worry about baggage allowances or printing off the tickets. He didn’t even have to under-go the miserable trip to Dublin to get a Visa from the American Embassy, which is full of obnoxious clerks on power trips. To be honest, other than the whole scurvy thing and the fact that he had to cram the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria with criminals, he had it pretty easy.

     Since the time of Columbus, the J1er as a beast has developed. They have morphed into some kind of vile, gluttonous and soul-sucking creature who represents everything that is wrong with this world. When they return home to Ireland, it’s like the movie “28 Days Later” as they vow to infect the population with misery by spewing up stories of their trip abroad, violating the ears of the innocent who would rather eat their own arms than listen. So like David Attenborough let us take you into the wilderness and we shall observe the animal they refer to as the J1er.

The Hollister Brigade:

     Now correct me if I am wrong but one thing Ireland has never been famed for is its ability to produce male models. Irish males are pretty average by international standards and I realise this when I see girls fawning over the new Erasmus students ever year when they arrive. I believe however that some flaw exists in the Irish male psyche that makes them think that they are far more attractive than they actually are. This is demonstrated perfectly by the J1er in America. Instructed by the Mother to get some nice clothes for Christmas while in the U.S the J1er invariably winds up in the local Hollister outlet. Upon arrival at any Hollister shop one is greeted by an absurdly big poster that carries the image of a being created in the likeness of the Greek God Zeus. The male models in these posters are sculpted in such a way that they are akin to the Statue of David, simply perfection. These posters should carry a warning that no matter what type of Hollister apparel you wear; you will never look like this. This warning, some say, is implicit and if this is true Irish J1ers are ignoring it out the gap. The Hollister tight t-shirt epidemic is on high alert in Ireland after the return of our summer voyageurs. In the U.S. these t-shirts are marketed towards American surfers not drunken Irish louts with protruding beer guts. You want to spot a J1er on campus? Look for the lad that is beat into the Hollister t-shirt.

The American Drink Connoisseur

     For the last two years of College you enjoyed nothing more than going up to Carry Out Kev on a Tuesday night and asking for the “usual” with your partner in crime Jerry alongside you. Then Jerry decides he will drop you quicker than a bucket of bricks to flea state side with some of the Comm-heads for the summer. September comes around and Jerry returns, but it is not the same. He is no longer happy to indulge in €1 cans and €4 naggins. See Jerry has seen the world now. His knowledge of drink is no longer limited to Kev’s couple of shelves on College Road. He tells tales of mystical 1.75 litres of Vodka and how “it’s so much stronger over there”. He whines when he sees the size of ordinary cans and informs you that they are so much more compact and also (wait for it…) “so much stronger over there”. His eyes light up in complete euphoria as he tells you of a drink they call “Four Loco”. One can of this he assures you and you are “out of your tree from Spar”. “Four Loco” they said, be grand they said…but what they didn’t say was that your best friend would become an intolerable arsehole.

“I’m a Survivor”

     I don’t think Destiny’s Child had an Irish J1er in mind when they penned their smash hit “Survivor” in 2001, however there are those who will argue to the contrary. For some reason the J1er returns believing they have obtained a set of survival skills that would put them on par with Bear Grylls.

     “Here man you should have seen where we were living, like honestly, there wasn’t even a George Forman grill!”

     When you ask about how many people they lived with this is usually when some of the best examples of hyperbole are produced.

     “God there must have been about fifty of us in the one room and we all had to share one tin of beans”

     The living spaces some individuals describe evoke images in my mind of some kind of Indian shantytown. You’d swear they lived in tiny mud huts and that their sewerage greeted them outside their front door every morning. They will also try to tell you about the wildlife they were subjected to in America. They describe encounters they had with vicious serpents and venomous arachnids, scenarios more dangerous than going deep sea diving with Steve Irwin.

Facebook….U.S.A 2K12 YOLO 😛

     The advent of Facebook has caused the J1er to become even more unbearable. Their thoughts and images are now spewed across newsfeeds, inflicting misery upon your everyday social network user.

     All summer Facebook was bombarded with the latest J1 exploits. You see pictures of your friends mooning the Naked Cowboy in Time Square, former classmates’ high fiving Ronny from Jersey shore in Ocean City and a video of Dave Tierney baloobas around Vegas singing “Come Out Ye Black And Tans”. If that’s not bad enough the boys think it’d be hilarious to “check- in” at the Coldplay concert.

     “Havin’ the bants watching Coldplay, this is PARADISE #YOLO with Conor Bean and 15 others at Madison Square Gardens”

     Six months down the line, you think the American Facebook activity would cease…think again. Despite the fact they have returned home with months they still act as if they are full blown Yanks. The “Lives in” sections still reads South Side Jamaica Queens, New York and every one of their profile pictures since their return features them and some iconic American landmark. They keep regular contact with Americans who realistically they will never meet again and these Americans then go and like statuses about Junior B Hurling matches. It’s a lot more than a poke these J1ers need.

“Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?”

     There is a proportion of J1ers that I have noticed that return home and all of a sudden believe they are disciples of the Wu-Tang-Clan. It was comedy rap group Goldie Looking Chain that said, “Guns Don’t Kill People Rappers Do”, and certainly a bit of me does die inside every time I witness a young Irish lad trying to rap. After a summer immersing themselves in the huge rap culture in America, many J1ers fail to realise they have returned home to Ireland where being a gangster rapper isn’t as socially acceptable. The ability to rap cannot be found in the chemical makeup of any Irish man. Even the country’s best rap products must cover their heads with plastic bags when performing. Irish rappers when faced with ridicule will look to Eminem and argue that you can be white and make it in the rap game. Unlike Eminem this new generation of rap stars sat their Leaving in private schools and live in huge 3 story houses, because their Father made it big during the “boom years”. When Eminem was dealing drugs on street corners just to be able to pay his baby’s Mama, Ireland’s finest were trading Premier League stickers in school yards.

     With the large influx of non-nationals onto these shores in the past decade, the Irish people in general have been very accepting of different cultures. However it seems that when an Irish young fella is behaving in such a way that is not in line with Irish culture the tolerance isn’t the same. If you turn up to watch a local G.A.A. match wearing a baller hat and a L.A. Lakers jersey that is two sizes too big, locals are not going to take too kindly to such attire.

     Local 1: “What the hell is young Clancy wearin’ down there?”

     Local 2: “Shur wasn’t I talkin’ to his Father during the week and he told me he arrived home from America believing he’s like one of those Puff Daddies”

     For the J1er that arrives home with aspirations of pursuing a rap career, they must be told that these shores are far from a “Gangstas Paradise”.

     For those who suffered a summer of torment in these very isles you have been given an invaluable insight into the J1er and how they work. For some, you may take this info, go sit outside the Student Centre and spend the day trying to spot J1ers. Other people may use this to find a group of J1ers that spent the summer in the Bronx and go set up a rap crew. It could be however that you now realise a friend or someone close has shown some of the symptoms described. In such a case you must get to them as quickly as possible and start beatin’ some Irish back into them before you lose them forever. I place this information into your hands, how you choose to use it is entirely up to you.