Let’s All Agree to Call the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast What It Is

A boring, bland tradition—and it's definitely not a roast.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

The annual South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast has come and gone. Thankfully. If we must continue this awful ritual—presumably as the city’s karmic penance for Brahmin crimes of old—can we at least all drop the pretense that it’s a roast-like event, in which pols skewer one another with a witty exchange of biting humor, dishing it out and taking it with equal good humor? Please.

With very few exceptions—former host Steve Lynch among them—Massachusetts elected officials are far too craven to dish it out, and WAY too thin-skinned to take it. The few barbs tossed Sunday were strategically aimed at absent, mostly toothless targets such as Bill Linehan, Scott Brown, and Mitt Romney. Left unzinged was the entire target-rich roster at the head table, including the new Mayor, the outgoing Governor, the outgoing Senate President, the self-declared next Senate President, the national superstar US Senator, and the new junior US Senator, not to mention new host Linda Dorcena-Forry.

There was some political intrigue taking place behind the head table, on the row of stools where invited B-Listers—Boston city councilors and the like—get to sit and seem important. Uninvited ones can reap the same benefit, if they have the nerve to pull it off. The most egregious offender was Treasurer candidate Deb Goldberg, who planted herself close to center-stage, separated from the band only by camera magnet Tito Jackson. Attorney General candidate Maura Healey secured a spot further away stage left; she can perhaps be excused since her opponent, Warren Tolman—whose campaign Forry happens to be co-chairing—was the only non-speaking, non-officeholding statewide candidate with a reserved stool. A third interloper was Juliette Kayyem, who grabbed a stool at the very edge of the stage. I’m not sure she was better served there than Joe Avellone and Don Berwick, both of whom I saw mingling before the breakfast, and who probably slipped out to be somewhere far better during the actual program.

As the program ran behind schedule and things had to be trimmed or cut, one planned item that got dropped was a solo singing performance Forry had been rehearsing: the Irish folk song “Will You Go Lassie Go.” (Auditor Suzanne Bump also got bumped, but I doubt even she minded all that much.) I would have preferred that to most of the jokesters. So would many of the audience, too, which was heavily infiltrated with Forry enthusiasts, not only of diverse races and ethnicities but from across the city, especially Forry’s home base of Dorchester. (Granted, a large percentage were part of the extended Dorcena and Forry families.)

To those commenting on how remarkable it is to see the black Dorchester gal in Southie: did you ever say the same about Jackie Hart (of the city’s minority Irish, out of that small South Boston enclave of the 1st Suffolk) representing all those predominantly-black precincts in Mattapan, Dorchester, and Hyde Park, and participating in all their events? Just sayin’, this hoopla seems to be much more about basking in the legend of Southie than about anything new in the city—this kind of crossover has been taking place constantly, in many directions, for a long time.

I wouldn’t even surprised if Hart has sung an African-American spiritual or two along the way. I don’t really feel a need to see that, but anyone who can get Forry to sing “Go Lassie Go”—with musical accompaniment but without the bad jokes—will have a better show than the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, in my opinion.