The Last Most Beautiful Thing Not Yet Ruined
A St. Pat’s playlist
I have a good friend who refers to me as "green-sweater Irish," meaning that like many St. Paddy's Day revelers, I only give creedence to the Emerald Isle one day a year. It also means that I don't know shite about the culture and have no place associating myself with it.
For the record, I heavily contest all of these counts against my perceived lack of Irishness. As evidence, many of my favorite authors and musicians are Irish (I've listened to The Pogues so many times that I believe it's contributed to my perilous dental condition).
My dad also claimed to be a quarter Irish, which, given my mom's Eastern European genes, would make me about an eighth.
So there's a start.
Beyond that, I enjoy potatoes and drinking. And by drinking, I don't mean swilling a concoction of Natural Light and Green No. 3 through a plastic tube hanging from a balcony.
OK, I'll admit I've done that.
But my Irishness (or lack thereof) aside, I thought I should bless you fair readers with a few musical gems to commemorate this fond anniversary of a drunk beating at serpents in the woods. Or whatever it was that happened—this holiday, like my beloved Casimir Pulaski Day, is kinda hard to pin down.
So here are a couple great Irish songs. And no, you won't find any of that feckin' Flogging Molly shite on this list:
Casimir Pulaski Day
Yep, break out the kielbasa, it’s Pulaski Day. What, who, huh, you ask? Casimir Pulaski, I reply: the great Polish leader who did a lot of noble things and is the only Pole I know of who has his own holiday in the U.S.
Still not ringing a bell? OK, I’ll try and break it down for you.
I was having a heated debate the other night with a friend over who had a richer wealth of achievements, my Polish forebears or his ... well, let’s keep this about the Poles.
Friend: So, what have you guys contributed to the greater good of humanity?
Me: Hm, well every culture has some form of stuffed dumpling. The Polish version of this is pierogis, which are unquestionably the best stuffed dumpling around. Can’t argue with that. Then there’s kielbasa, galobki and of course, vodka. The Russians completely stole the idea of vodka from us and now take all the cred. In fact, those mink hat-wearing—
Friend: OK, OK, but outside of your country’s irrefutable culinary prominence, what have the Poles done for society? I can’t even think of a famous Pole ...
Me: Sure. Let’s start with Copernicus. Great astronomer. Did a lot of big things to further the field of astronomy. He was the first person to realize the universe doesn’t actually revolve around us. Not only was he a genius, but he was humble. Copernicus—topnotch astronomer. Great guy. We also had Chopin.
Friend: OK, I’ll give you those, but what about world leaders? Lech Walesa was alright, but he wasn’t exactly JFK.
Me: That’s an easy one. Caz the Great.
Me: Casimir Pulaski. Great Polish leader. Probably the greatest of all great Polish leaders. In Chicago, where I’m from, and where our Polish population is second only to Warsaw in numbers, Pulaski Day is a big-time holiday. Kids take off of school. There’s a huge parade. Everyone drinks vodka all day and sings “Sto Lat.”
Me: Well, no, not really. At least not the part about the celebrating. But still, Pulaski—great leader.
Friend: So what did he do?
Me: [Long pause.] Think he was a general. Did some big things during a revolution a long time ago. Anyway, Pulaski—a great Pole. Can’t argue with that.
Oh, John Quincy!
A few years back former arts editor Erin Adair Hodges and I played a game of long-dead presidents Do, Date or Dump. Happy Presidents’ Day!
For those of us with the Christmas spirit, it’s funny how much time and effort we put into an event that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Big-box stores start pushing Christmas miscellany in September, for Chrissakes. And I know people who put up their trees before Thanksgiving. It all leads up to two days of festivities and then, poof, it’s gone. A lot of folks are probably suffering post-partum depression in the wake of Baby Jesus’ birthday. Fortunately for entertainment’s sake, Alibi columnist John Bear is not one of those folks. Read his devilish Christmas column on India Knight’s novel Comfort & Joy here.