A Dispatch from the Heart of St. Pat’s
Let me just say, first of all, that I’m Irished out. After the last three days, all I want to do is sit down to a plate of Pierogies and maybe reread Roshomon. But alas, it’s not to be.
I started Friday at the annual Quincy St. Pat’s political roast, which, in the wake of my March column, I was urged to attend because, I was told, it was much funnier than the Boston version. Indeed it was, at least for the first two hours. It’s held in an Elks hall in Quincy, in a room about a third the size of the Boston roast. In a room positively alive with the consumption of Budweiser.
Among the highlights: City clerk Joe Shea dressing up like the Pope, strolling down the aisle flanked by two mustachioed gentlemen dressed as nuns, and handing down a new set of commandments, much of which was aimed at the city’s somewhat portly, very popular new mayor, Tommy Koch. “Though shalt not covet thy mayor’s dessert,” said the Pope. Taking aim at the mayor’s limited formal education, Pope Shea added: “Thou shalt not bother getting a college degree.”
Much of the rest of the event, skillfully hosted by Shea and developer Dan Flynn, consisted of people stepping to the dais and absolutely hammering former mayor Bill Phelan, who was in attendance. When Phelan got his turn, he said, “The first thing I thought after losing the election was, ‘Oh shit,’ I gotta go to the Saint Patty’s Day lunch.'”
After Norfolk Sheriff Mike Bellotti killed it, and numerous people stepped up to mock state Senator Mike Morrissey‘s resemblance to a horse’s ass (uncanny!), comedian Steve Sweeney did a set that had everyone laughing and ready to drink more.
Unfortunately, as these things often do, the event stretched on too long. Sweeney was followed by a rather alarming solo version of “Danny Boy,” and that, and a few more skits, sent a quarter of the room into the basement to lay waste to the bar there.
(As a side note, I grew up in Quincy, and when someone at the roast asked me where I lived now, and I said Somerville, he accused me, earnestly, of being “a social climber.”)
That was followed by an event at the Commonwealth Museum with Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of “All Souls,” in which it was concluded that it was indeed good that peace has come to Ireland, but unfortunate that with that peace came racism and vapid materialism. This was followed naturally by a foray to a bar in Southie.
Saturday consisted of several hours at the Brendan Behan Pub in JP, details of which I’m a little hazy on. This was preceded by a guy going down on the Red Line, out cold, and remaining there for a half hour before the T got a stretcher down to retrieve him. “Everyone’s Irish on Saint Pat’s!” I thought, before realizing that he was probably just homeless. By the transitive property, then, I reasoned, all homeless are Irish. Or at least a lot of them.
Sunday consisted of a debilitating hangover, which made it even harder than usual to enjoy the Southie St. Pats breakfast. This event, which now takes place in a cavernous, excruciatingly well-lit hall with bad coffee at the Southie expo center, began with four firefighters singing the national anthem. To the great relief of all, none of them appeared to be ripped in any way shape or form.
This was followed by Wacko Hurley taking the mic and growling, “Well, happy Palm Sunday everybody,” a reference to the fact that Boston, unlike other, perhaps more pious cities, decided to have it’s St. Pat’s bacchanalia on the usual day, even though that day happened to fall on Palm Sunday. Also to the great relief of all, Wacko declined to blame this coincidence on the homosexuals and/or their lobby.
Governor Patrick was next, and he led by saying, “There’s this issue about resort casinos.” The crowd applauded, and Patrick quipped, “That’s what the legislature sounded like before the Speaker took them in and ‘persuaded’ them.”
“We can take a vote now if you like governor,” Sal DiMasi responded.
Patrick, with a few friendly legislators, sang a parody of the hateful Foxwood’s promotional dirge, with a new chorus, “Sal think, about the wonder of it all,” which also included the lyric, “the state is broke, thanks to healthcare for alllllllll…”
Sal followed with an uneven, if occasionally savage, performance. “You should change careers, governor.” he began. “Be a good croupier. I’ll tell you that much. You’d look good in a visor.” He followed with some complaining about how the Globe is unfair to him, a bunch of movie posters featuring state officials that sort of flopped, save for “Home Alone” with Lt. Governor Tim Murray. He thanked the Bush administration for lending him a tactic that gave him a leg-up in the casino fight, “waterboarding for votes.”
He jabbed the mayor for fighting with BPL head Bernie Margolis: “Jesus,” Sal said, “a lot of us are surprised that the mayor’s been having a fight over books. What’s the last book you read? Cat in the Hat?”
He brought up the firefighter flap, saying, “They’ll agree to drug tests when you and the city council pass the MCAS.” When Sal told the crowd that he had gotten a pretty blonde assistant “from Spitzer’s office,” there was mostly groans, though the guy next to me was in hysterics. “Beautiful, right?” he said. “What a country!”
Therese Murray started strong, saying “Jesus, Sal, I was a young woman when I walked in here,” but died quickly with a joke about how they offered her a parking spot for her hybrid car by the convention center, but she told them, “My transportation’s already green and I don’t need a parking spot.” She then held up a green broom. “I know they think I drive this around.” She then likened her job to “being a Supernanny on Survivor Island, saving people who are Lost, but who think they’re on American Idol.” A bunch of bad movie jokes and referee gags followed. It was excruciating.
Brian Lenihan, Ireland’s minister of justice, came up next and sang a mawkish song so badly I thought I was going to have to lay on the floor.
Tom Menino made it quick. “Sal’s taken as many shots at me this morning than he did in Florida playing golf,” he said. Hizzoner made a funny joke about steroids being at fault for the inexplicable growth of his tongue over the years, and a lousy one about the internet. “I blogged once,” he said. “My doctor gave me some medicine and cleared it up.” Oof.
By this point, after watching Steve Sweeney do the same routine he had done in Quincy (except for the Asian jokes), and being disappointed by Councilor Mike Flaherty’s desultory performance, in which he announced he would not be running for… Senator Kerry’s seat (meh), I was driven out by the Dropkick Murphys.
Nothing against the Dropkicks, but when one is suffering from the effects of a night of drinking, the last thing one wants to hear is a trebly acoustic guitar played loudly through a PA system. So I went home, bypassing the parade, and took a nap.