Sunday, November 11, 2007


Today on the way to the gym my path was blocked by yet another parade down 5th Avenue. On every Sunday that I find myself in midtown Manhattan, there is some random parade going by, and it's generally an Ethnic White Parade. The Polish people had one earlier, and today's might have been Austrian or Croatian or something -- some culture where they have white people, marching bands, and flags with rectangular blocks of color. The cops directing traffic looked utterly bored. The crowds on the streets were either dedicated groups of fellow Ethnic Whites ("Viva Bulgaria!"), or else your standard New York mix of the curious, busy, lost, indigent, visiting, or irritated ("Which white people are these? Croats?").

There are two kinds of big public urban celebrations here. The first, like the Ethnic White parades, or even the Marathon, are generally very well-organized, very disruptive of traffic patterns, and very heavily monitored by cops and other city officials. They usually end within a day and are as fleeting as a summer rainbow. The second, like Halloween and the Gay Pride Parade, are more raucous affairs, where many people barge into the city for the sheer childlike pleasure of yelling in the middle of the night and vomiting on the sidewalks. On the mornings after these events, it looks like God took a frat house, turned it inside out, threw up on it, and then put it down outside your apartment building. There's also a third set of celebrations, like the St. Patrick's Day parade (and don't even mention the Puerto Rican Day parade), that manage to combine, in a most magical way, municipal organization and drunken anarchy. Those are really special moments.

I didn't know what to write about tonight, but seeing that random Ethnic White parade got me thinking about all the other celebrations you endure here in the city. Generally you decide to hunker down and wait them out, rather than actually participate in them -- but maybe the right Ethnic White parade might change my mind.

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