St. Patrick's Day

I was watching “Trainspotting” a few weeks ago and there is the scene where Tommy takes his junk friends to the countryside right after he broke up with Lizzy. The guy is feelin’ down and all he has now are these three junkies who are probably about as dependable as… well… junkies. He’s got next to nothin’ but he figures, “I’ll get my mates together and well go out into the countryside and have a nice afternoon.” (wonderful directing there btw when they show Tommy walking alone off into the countryside which looks about as welcoming as Dante’s Fourth Ring of Hell… FORESHADOWING!!!) So there they are, getting off the train, walking though this drab, blighted countryside when the junkies ask him what they’re doing in the middle of no where. And Tommy turns around and says: “Doesn't it make you proud to be Scottish?”

And Renton, just stops and looks at him, and then correctly points out:
It's SHITE being Scottish! We're the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched miserable servile pathetic trash that was ever shat on civilization. Some people hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. Can't even find a decent culture to get colonized by. We're ruled by effete assholes. It's a shite state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and all the fresh air in the world won't make any fucking difference!

I hate to bring this up on St. Patrick’s Day, but I am. I’m going to be the cynic and do it anyway on the Day of Irish Pride.

But if you take the exchange above between Rents and Tommy and replace ‘Scottish’ with ‘Irish’ it’d be dead on correct. The Irish, for years, have been conquered and controlled by the English. And yes, in the last 100 years or so they’ve broken away and declared their own independence, but the Irish have, for most of their history, been subjected to English domination.

The Irish are, in the end, the lowest of the low… the most wretched miserable servile pathetic trash that was ever shat on civilization. And that’s one of the reasons why there are so many Irish here in this country, they, or we the Irish, our ancestors had nothing so we came to America. It was a list ditch effort in many ways.

So celebrating St. Patrick’s Day because one is Irish doesn’t get me fired up. I am, for the record, about half Irish. I’m not sure what exactly I’m supposed to ‘celebrate’ today. That my ancestors are Irish? That I’m Catholic? That I like to drink beer? That the Irish have traditionally been ruled and dominated by the English (Did you know that the Union Jack has the flag of Ireland on it (the red X)?)? Am I celebrating the fact that the island has been ripped apart by religious differences? Should I drink a beer because the English were such friggin’ jagbags in the 19th century that about one million Irishmen died because of their negligence and another million took off for the US and South America? Should I be getting drunk just because I’m Irish? Is that what we’re supposed to celebrate today? My Irishness? My cultural heritage which consists of a group of people that have been dominated by another group of people for so many years?

It seems to me that we use St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to party, and that’s fine. But I think in the process we’re shitting on the Irish. Most Americans here in the US aren’t Irish, they’re Irish Americans, whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents or great-great grandparents came to this country to get away from the economically depressed, maybe starving, and religiously torn island. In a way, they came to America to get away from Ireland, to get away from being Irish under the thumbs of the English.

So what are we celebrating today? I see it as a mix of those who are of Irish decent, Irish culture, and to a degree, St. Patrick too. So it’s celebration of Irish culture and Catholicism. The religious element of the day, at least here in the US, has pretty much disappeared. For instance, does anyone know anyone who goes to mass today?

As for being Irish… as I said I’m half Irish and I guess I’m proud of it. It’s not something I wear on my sleeve like so many others, but it’s not like I’m upset that I’m Irish. Some of my ancestors came from Ireland, that’s cool. Do I feel like the ‘lowest of the low’ or ‘The most wretched miserable servile pathetic trash that was ever shat on civilization.’? Nah. I mean, I don’t get defensive about the Irish or Irish culture, and I guess I root for Ireland over a lot of other countries in international competition, but at the same time I’m not the sort of person that’s going to be pretending that every day is St. Patty’s day or that it’s the Irish vs everyone else. I’m half Irish, no more… no less… it’s nice. I was born in Chicago and that’s more important to me when the sun is setting though.

As for the celebration of Irish culture… this is when things get dicey. Are we celebrating English domination over the Irish? And what exactly is Irish culture? The pub, I’m sorry, is a very English institution (thanks in part to the Romans). Is Irish culture similar to English culture? Sure, but I think there are enough differences between the two… in fact you could argue that Irish culture is much more independent than Scottish or Welsh culture and the Irish have given the world some fantastic people, ideas, and even art. Irish folk music, love it or hate it, is a definite style that is unique to Ireland. And they also can boast about having Van Morrison and U2… and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There is Irish dance and Guinness. The Irish have given us W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, and Oscar Wilde (though he was both gay and Protestant, so I’m not sure how many Irishmen would call him an ‘son’). And the years of repression under English rule were a source for this culture that’s unique to English, or even British, culture. It’s similar to a degree, but uniquely Irish in the end. The political domination of the English over the Irish forced the Irish to develop a near ‘signifying’ type culture. But I don’t think you’d find anyone who would argue that Irish culture and developments in Irish culture are similar of, say, the development of black culture in the United States, but that’s a different topic for a different time.

The biggest and ‘real’ difference between English and Irish culture over all these years, is in the end, religion. But as we said… that’s not important here in the US. Here in the US it’s a celebration of having Irish ancestral roots, a celebration of leaving Ireland in a way. In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious day almost a holy day… you don’t see the drunken shenanigans that you’ll find in New York, Chicago, Boston, Philly, and other urban areas in this country. It’s there were we find what St. Patty’s day actually means to the Irish… it’s a national holiday, not one to go get drunk or celebrate being Irish, but rather celebrate religion. It wasn’t until recently that pubs were even allowed to be open on March 17th in Ireland.

But here in the States it’s become like… well Halloween or Valentine’s Day. Which is sort of ironic… but we’ve taken the religiousness out of St. Patrick’s Day and turned it into… well a day to drink and wear green. The Irishness of it all has almost lost it’s value… you don’t need to be Irish to celebrate the day (not that you ever had to be Irish).

See here in the States, the Irish are no different than most other groups of people that came to the US. We are a country made up of the poorest, most pathetic, most backward, rejected, defeated, and persecuted peoples of the world. And these groups like the Irish and Germans before and the Italians, Slavs, and Jews after, and Latinos and Asians today flock here in hopes of something better. And usually and hopefully, that’s what they find. So in a way, St. Patty’s Day should be a celebration of over coming the shite that was back home. Of humanity, and this countries, ability to rise above some of the cultural, racial, political, and religious differences that plague so much of the world in the past and still today. Is this country perfect? Of course, not. We have our own fair share of problems that still need to be dealt with. But if we look at St. Patrick’s Day as a celebration of overcoming persecution… well I think it’s a day worth celebrating.


Okay with that out of the way… some thoughts on the day…

12:16pm – As Ohio State and Davidson tip off, we’re going to do the running log again… not sure if it will be as crazy as yesterday since we aren’t working till 8pm and we do have a bit of work to do… but we’ll see what we come up with as we watch the games.

12:20pm quick look at my brackets after yesterday:
Facebook – 12-4 and 18 points… whatever that means.
Juan Uribe – 15-1, only missed the Marquette game.
Jump Around – 13-3, missed the IU, Marquette, and Nevada/Montana game.
Johnny Gammons – 14-2, Missed the Marquette and South Alabama games
Head Coach Karl Rahner – 10-6… ouch, missed the A&M, IU, Marquette, Washington, Montana, and Oklahoma games.

12:41pm – I really have nothing to say, Davidson is giving Ohio State a bit of a game early on, but that seems to be happening in every game this year. I’m switching to the Wisconsin game because I am a Badger fan at heart.

12:46pm – Wisconsin is getting killed right now by a more athletic Arizona team. Come on Badgers, start playing your smart basketball where you pass seven times per position and shoot it with three left on the shot clock all the while beating the crap out of the other team? Don’t try to run with the Cats.

12:50pm – I’m going to lunch… and eating MEAT since the CARDINAL said I COULD.

1:09pm – Back from Au Bon Pain where I got a turkey sandwich… not as good as I thought it’d be. Oh well. Anyway, things only got worse for Wisconsin and Iowa finds itself in a dog fight with Northwestern St. as they approach the half. (Northwestern State also appears to have a guy with a huge fro on their team. That’s pretty cool. And this game is ugly to watch because Iowa is in their yellow unis and NWSt. Has purple unis… and the floor is painted black inside the three point line. Just an ugly game to watch on TV). BTW this might be Steve Alford’s last game with Iowa… because is there any doubt he’s going to take over at Indiana? Any?

1:21pm – Considering they were down 18 or 20 at one point, the Badgers go to the locker room down 12. Nice finish to the half and they aren’t out of this game yet. They need to make some adjustments, but they’ll do that. Meanwhile, Ohio State is down two and you can tell they’re in big trouble. The crowd is on their feet and there is still 18 minutes to go.

1:24pm – Just looked at some stats, Ohio State is shooting 31% for the game, that’s why they’re down 29-27 (what a bad game… something go in). Meanwhile Arizona shot 59% in the first half, no way they can keep that up. Wisconsin might win that game.

1:44pm – Ohio State finally took control of their game and Wisconsin just started the second half… quick thoughts on the new Real World: Key West. It’s okay. Just okay. I watched the first two episodes the other day, and I’m not hooked. I’ll watch, but I don’t see the characters that Austin gave us and I just don’t see any ‘drama’ besides melodrama coming from anyone on this cast. I can almost guarantee that Svetlana, John, and Paula will annoy the shit out of me (btw, Paula set a new record for “quickest time a female has spent in the house before becoming introspective and searching for meaning” when she stayed back to kayak on the ocean on day in the second episode. Just amazing that she’s reached that point already… I know editing probably took place too, but hey, I’m sure it still happened).

1:57pm – As Wisconsin starts throwing up threes in hope of not losing by 20, I started ready John from the Real World: Key West bio on mtv.com. This guy is the poster boy of why people hate 24 year old White Males from the Suburbs:
Why did you audition for The Real World?

It was my senior year of college and I hadn't made a tremendous amount of progress toward getting a job after graduation. In all honesty, I really wasn't ready to settle into a life that revolved around a 9-to-5 job, so I decided to audition. I thought life couldn't get any better after college. I was wrong.
Describe a typical day in your life, pre-Real World.
I'm not what you'd call a morning person, so I typically sleep in, get a mid-day workout, then my buddies and I hit up the bar scene.

2:08pm – Well Ohio State and Iowa are going to win, and Wisconsin needs a minor miracle to pull this one out over Arizona… they’re down 16 with 10 minutes left. Playing defense might be a good start. Alando Tucker is having a horrible game for the Badgers. Oh well... Big Ten will be 4-1 going into the Michigan State game. Not bad.

2:38pm – Iowa just lost on a last second three that will go down as one of the memorable moments where they’ll still be showing highlights of it 20 years from now. This is our first ‘major’ upset of the Tourney, btw. Light them brackets on fire!

1 comment:

In Otter Space said...

You are so right St. Patrick's Day has become another Halloween, Valentine's Day type watered down American "holiday". An excuse for the immature and/or under 30 crowd to get drunk.
As far as going to church you better believe the over 70 crowd went to mass on 3/17. Any excuse to get into the pew and pray is reason enough esp. during Lent.