me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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A rumination on St. Patrick's Day

Monday, due to circumstances beyond my control -- like, I'm a dodo -- I had a plan that involved going from Christie's auction house (tell you about that tomorrow) to an appointment on E. 58th Street. Christie's is on W. 48th Street, so it seemed like a clever plan, just a cross-town stroll in the middle of the day. Beautiful day, too. But when I emerged from the subway at Rockefeller Center -- in truth, when I got on the subway downtown -- I was surrounded by green-hatted people half or fully in their cups. Folks with green-magic-marker shamrocks on their cheeks, folks in "Kiss Me I'm IRISH" tee shirts, folks with cans of beer in paper bags. Yup, St. Patrick's Day in NYC. The dodo part comes in when I tried to cross Fifth Ave. For you non-NYers, that's the dividing line between West and East; it's also the route of the big parades. I had about ten minutes of standing in a green-leaning, crocked crowd -- it was 2pm -- before the NYPD stopped the parade briefly and those of us waiting could stampede across the street. I'd left plenty of time to make my appointment, so I figured what the hell and watched the parade, which was cool; and I contemplated the reeling drunks around me, many of whom weren't any more Irish than I am. And finally it dawned on me that St. Patrick's Day has become, over the last half-century, New York's substitute for Mardi Gras. It's now a day when public drunkenness and let-loose behavior is, if not encouraged, winked at unless it gets seriously out of control. Down here in the Village, the Halloween Parade is also that, but that's local; you have to be within a few blocks of the parade to count as a reveler, otherwise you're just a drunk. The Puerto Rican Day Parade is coming up in this league, too, but again, you have to be there; and that one's also taken on a sheen of violence lately. But on St. Patrick's Day, you can stagger through the streets stinko in all five boroughs, do a pub crawl starting at noon, howl at the moon before it comes up and belt out "Danny Boy" on streetcorners and it's okay. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so. I think it would be a better thing if this let-loose day were a day more universal to the society, but the only two we have are Thanksgiving and the 4th of July, and neither really fits this bill. But on the whole I think too much sober buttoned-down behavior without a release valve may be as bad for a culture as too much boisterous carrying on.

So the question for today is, what goes on where you are? Especially you guys who don't live in big cities. Do you have a day when this kind of thing is given a 24-hour pass? Or is this just a big-city, anonymity phenomenon?

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