Friday, September 17, 2010

Soles'n'Bowls

  • On a quiet street where old ghosts meet, I see her walking now away from me...
  • It's Halfway to Saint Patrick's Day, that utterly commercialized confoundment of ethnic slurs that makes me cringe every Spring. Plastic green bowlers and garish bowties and immense fluorescent lime clovers, impish stereotypes fashioned with no awareness of the brutal racist assaults inflicted upon Irish immigrants in the middle of the Nineteenth Century by American businesses, media, and citizens.
  • Of course, today's Irish-Americans are past all of that. Or in utter denial. Or completely ignorant of that. As you well know, I can still eat -- and enjoy -- corned beef, without picturing distant relations sloshing around a fetid discarded barrel searching for scraps of brined horseflesh.
  • I will not be attending the "Halfway to Saint Paddy's Day" festivities at Fall River's Corky Row Club.
  • I have always had a conflicted remembrance of that neighborhood social establishment. On one hand, my family has been involved from its very founding right up to this very day, and it's an actual commercial business. Once, the Club awarded me a modest academic prize. On the other hand, I have as much in common with today's members as I have in common with any native of Ireland who still speaks Gaelic. And the Club did award me that scholarship, ensuring that I would forever be saddled with the moniker "smartypants."
  • I hope it's a swell time.
  • But, it seems that each one of their press releases goes on about the Club's near-death experience. Sure, they mention its Seventy-Fifth Anniversary, but somebody keeps throwing in that "what seemed like certain death" line. Kinda self-defeating, if not downright ghoulish.
  • All I can say is: "Celebrate the fact that somebody picked up the baton, not that somebody dropped it."
  • The SouthCoast demonstrates that sort of thing all the time, a kind of bragging without being prideful. Because pride is a sin.
  • But when you fail altogether, you get to blame something. Like when New Bedford's second Guardian Angels franchise won its big goodbye halo.
  • The inevitable wrap of the latest local volunteer vigilante attempt reminds me of the one common difficulty that beleaguers all such outfits, commercial and non-profit. You may have read Brian Fraga's bit in the Standard-Times, but here's the part I find most telling: "All three leaders said personal commitments and apathy from the community led them to decide to quit the group. "
  • The pesky bedeviller that curses so many non-profits is, simply: real life.
  • In the random haphazard of the SouthCoast -- fertile with well-intentioned dilettantes but also rife with slapdash schemes from self-serving busybodies -- the very forces of society work against the organizers.
  • According to a recent comment in these very pages, "perhaps the amateur campaign works beautifully in the Southcoast." Yes: The SouthCoast dislikes the painstaking professional, the suit-and-tie. After a century of resenting the wealthy, the Mill Town Class War presents as a middle class filled with resentment. After decades of "rich people are no better than us," it became "rich people are worse than us" which devolved into "rich people go to fancy schools, smart people are bad, books are dumb, fancy clothes are ..."
  • You get the idea. Too much polishing wrecks the apple, I guess.
  • The Guardian Angels never stood a chance.
  • When the angel woos the clay He'll lose his wings at the dawn of day.
I think the green fez is more PC.

(This presentation includes a picture of June Haver.)

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