Thursday, March 17, 2011
Rant #465: Eat, Drink and Be Careful
Today, March 17, is St. Patrick's Day.
It's a real big deal in New York City, always was, always will be.
The parade is the big deal, and every politician worth his salt will be a participant in this parade, no matter what their political or ethnic affiliation is.
Today, everybody is Irish.
However, in some years, the parade has been used as a political tool, banning some from marching the parade.
I know that gays are banned from marching in the parade if they are affiliated and representing a gay faction.
That being said, the parade has turned into a lovefest between New York City and its deep Irish heritage.
But let me tell you, it wasn't always that way.
I can remember in the 1970s and early 1980s, the parade--and the entire holiday--got completely out of hand due to over imbibing and drug use.
I remember the days, when I worked in Manhattan, that you really were taking your life in your hands on this day.
Using the Long Island Railroad to get to work, the ticket takers were drinking from morning to night, and they were allowing anybody to drink wherever they wanted on the train, even in sections where you weren't supposed to drink and smoke. On this day, the train smelled like a sewer.
Once you got into Manhattan, you had to push your way through hordes of people starting to line up for the parade, many of whom began drinking at 8 a.m. or earlier in the morning. I worked right off Fifth Avenue on 40th Street, and take it from me, between the beer and the pot, it was a mess.
Once the parade started, you had to be really careful. I remember that I couldn't even walk out of my building, because of all the public drunkedness that was displayed by both men and women. I recall that one time, I tried to get out of the building, but a young girl was throwing up her guts on the sidewalk right in front of my building's door, blocking my path with her body and her excrement. I stayed in for lunch that day.
My father, as a New York City medallion cab driver, hated to work on this day. He picked up so many drunks, his cab smelled like a bar, and I remember him telling me that one time, a parade reveler jumped on top of the hood of his car as he was waiting at a light near the parade route.
But over the last 30 years, the city has cleaned up the parade, figuratively and literally. You don't see the scenes I described anymore. People are generally well behaved.
The garbage has taken their scene to other places. Hoboken, New Jersey celebrates St. Patrick's Day a week early, and there have been many incidents of not just public intoxication, but attacks against women during their own parade that they have.
This year, there was a major crackdown on this type of behavior by the police there.
I hope it worked.
Nothing like ruining a good holiday with stupid acts, all tied into the stereoype of Irish people always drinking and partying way beyond their limits.
So stay sober this St. Patrick's Day. You will enjoy the festivities more with a clear head.
Posted by Larry at 3:42 AM