Published March 11, 2005


The thing about America is it’s good at improving things. Whether it’s pizza, porno, war or religious holidays, Yankee ingenuity can take a good idea and make it a grand spectacle.
The first proper St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York, March 17th, 1848. On this date an obscure Catholic holy day was transformed into social statement. The march of tens of thousands of Irish-Americans down the streets of Manhattan was nothing less than a demonstration of force, both political and physical, to the city fathers. It said, in effect, this is how many we are, take warning.

Enter the Aggravated Assault Club
Today the Irish in America are firmly ensconced in the middle class and getting quietly fat about the face like Ted Kennedy. Such political posturing is unnecessary. The St. Patrick’s Day parade now is a lot like Carnivale…only uglier.
Every year, in Jersey City, in Boston, in Chicago and in New York, this is how it goes: First the mayor walks past, smiling emptily. Some people clap politely. Then come the police. Behind them march The Ancient Order of Hibernian Pipers and Aggravated Assault Club. Everybody cheers, the bagpipe-wail making everybody deaf. Then, the police. Following them come the students from “Diamond” Jack Kelly’s Irish Dance School. They do a Siege of Ennis every few blocks to wild shouts of appreciation from the crowd.
And Finally, the Pregnant Teenagers
Next come the cheerleaders from Our Lady of Immaculate Teenage Pregnancies, clapping and doing handstands. Then more police. Then come the League of Gaelic Speakers, looking astute and pious. They ain’t clapping, or piping or waving or nothing. They are ignored. Then comes Miss Irish-America, newly crowned on her float. Her name’s Mary Eileen Sharkey, 25. She works in Human Resources for Solomon Smith-Barney in midtown, lives in the suburbs, takes the train in. She likes casual Fridays, summers down the shore, and men who come when they’re called. As she smiles and waves prettily, the drunks whistle. From her float, she curses them off. And then the police. Row by row after row marching. They wave and smile and the drunks don’t wave back. They’ll be seeing them later anyway.
How to Make Your Own St. Patrick’s Day Parade:
Unfortunately, there are no St. Patrick’s festivities on this god-forsaken rock. Don’t worry though, Bucky, I got some tips here so you can celebrate this glorious day in finest NYC style:
Step I- Gather your forces.
Now, you’re probably wondering, who should you call to celebrate with you? Well, that’s easy to decide. Whoever you know who’s willing to blow off work to get shamefully drunk on a weekday. They’ll do.
Step II- Obligation fulfillment.
Go to Mass. Nah, I’m just joking.
Step III- Eat.
In New York and areas surrounding, lotsa bars offer corned beef sandwiches on rye to commemorate all the Jewish delicatessens in ancient Ireland. In Iceland you can approximate this with saltkjöt on rúgbrau›. MmmmmmBLEARGH!
Step IV- Start drinking.
Pick your starting-point bar and get down to it. In the States, of course, you can get green beer on March 17th. Not so here. However, if you invest in some food coloring, you can do it yourself in the bar. The bartenders won’t mind. They’ll just think you’re an idiot.
Step V- Keep drinking.
Step VI- Go to the parade.
There is no parade.
Step VII- Keep Drinking.
Step VIII- Parade?
No. Skip to step IX, idiot.
Step IX- Pick a fight.
Start a stupid, useless fight. There’s probably not gonna be many other people around, so you can uphold the Irish tradition of fighting with your friends for no reason by fighting with your friends for no reason.
Step X- GO HOME.
After a long day of strenuous drinking, start your walk home. As you go, you can try out the charming line of “Kiss me, I’m Irish”, it’s even funnier if you say it in Icelandic. I don’t know what you’ll get, but it won’t be a kiss.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!


Show Me More!