Thursday, December 24, 2009

joy is where you find it

There are many Christmas songs.
There are a few I look forward to hearing each season.

But there is only one song that caresses my cheek, pulls my heart out of my chest, sticks it with a needle full of horse, slams it back into my body and then crawls into my lap purring.

And while I LOVE LOVE LOVE the original by the Pogues, I have to say, I really love this version of "Fairytale of New York" by Billy Bragg.

It's beautiful, it's awful, it's desolate, but in the end, it's hopeful.

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Our grade school had a daily assembly where 7-10 year olds would vie for the chance to fiddle with the giant thermometer and proclaim our high temp for the day while sharing other tidbits of news and delights.

I recall the winter day, in 2nd grade (or maybe it was 3rd grade?) that a brother and a sister, the blondest kids in the room, stood up, pulled out a menorah and told us about the festival of lights.

Mitch Gordon was in my class and I'm sure we played more games of kickball than I can recall. He was like any of the other boys in my class. Usually in my way and looking to get thumped by this tomboy.

But on that sun dappled morn, I looked at him with fresh, new eyes. I can say with 100% certainty, that he was he first boy I ever remember looking at and thinking, "Hmmm...he suddenly looks interesting enough to hold hands with at recess," and, "He's so dreamy."

And thus began my on again, off again lifelong love affair with men of the Jewish faith.

Also, many of them are funny fucking bastards.

Monday, December 21, 2009

let it be

Many times I find myself drawing strength from the example of others.

This weekend I was twice reminded that not only are people filled with the brand of humanity, kindness and grace that I aspire to, but that it's real and you let it be.

Last Saturday, Dec. 5th, something startling and wonderful happened at The Aramingo Diner in Port Richmond.

The manager on duty, Linda, tells me that a couple in their 30s paid their check at the register, then asked the cashier to let them secretly pay the check of another couple in the dining room - a couple they didn't know.

"They just wanted to do it," she said. "They thought it would be a nice thing to do."

When the unsuspecting patrons went to pay their check, they were floored to find out that strangers had picked up their tab. So they asked the cashier to let them pay another table's check, also anonymously.

When that table's patrons approached the register, they, too, decided to pay the favor forward for yet another table of unsuspecting strangers.

For two hours, delighted customer after delighted customer continued to pay the favor forward. And a buzz began to grow. Not among patrons, who had no inkling what was going down at the register, but among the dining-room wait staff - Marvin, Rosie, Jasmine and Lynn - and other Aramingo workers moving in and out of the room.

The impact made an out-sized impression on the staff, who marveled at how that initial, single act of generosity kept repeating itself.

All in all, about 20 checks were "paid forward."

The lovely cycle finally ended, two hours after it began, when a lone diner, clearly unacquainted with the "pay it forward" concept, seemed befuddled that someone had picked up his check. He simply accepted the favor, grunted, and left.

Notes Linda, "He didn't even leave a tip."

So, on the off-chance that the first pay-it-forward couple at the Aramingo Diner is reading this, please know that your gesture of kindness didn't end when you walked out the door.