‘Tis the season to hear the same songs repeated endlessly on the radio.  You know the ones.  There’s lots of bells, some heartbreak, and just enough words in the repeat so everyone can sing along.

This song is not one of them. This wee tune is a perennial favorite in the U.K. It follows the drunken Christmas Eve exploits of an Irish emigrant in New York City. If you live in Ireland or the U.K., odds are this is your favorite Christmas song. If you live in America, you’ve probably never heard it.

A Fairytale of New York book

It’s a bottlesmashing punkification of traditional Irish folk music, a bittersweet festive ballad inspired by JP Donleavy’s 1961 novel “A Fairytale of New York” about an Irish-American man’s return to the booming, post-war city after studying overseas.

The Pogues - The Pogues' Fairytale of New York

Once upon a time, the Pogues set out to make a Christmas song. Not about snow or sleigh rides or mistletoe or miracles, but lost youth and ruined dreams.  

It’s a kind of anti-Christmas song that ended up being The. Christmas. Song. for a generation.


Does the argument take place after the man leaves the drunk tank or does the whole song unfold in his sozzled head? The story is told almost entirely in flashback. And while the “cars big as bars” and the singing of Galway Bay (a 1948 hit for Bing Crosby, beloved of Irish immigrants) place the action in the 1940s, the words suggest that the characters are much older, remembering their glory days.


Fairytale of New York has ended up being a parable of the band’s life together: the youthful optimism, the bitter recriminations, the uncertain detente.

The ending is completely open.

Toni 12/1/13

Displaced Ideas and Birds: Both Will Need to Return to Their Respective Habitats. A Vote for Barach Piece That Brings in Both Birds and Mitt, all in 420 Characters of 9-Lines.

Bloviating candidates displace issues,

hoping to take us off what’s essential,

like what happened to the Pomarine Jaegers, deep-ocean birds

blown from coastal locations all the way to western PA by our super storm.

To survive, they must find their way back. Get un-displaced.

Like us.

To survive we’ve got to resist the Mitt Misinformation mirages

that attempt to fool our minds and hearts and

displace us from what is true.

PATTY 11/3/12

This denizen of the open ocean was flown in by hurricane winds. It’s a Sabine’s gull.Rare sighting

The Margin Between the Ocean and the Rivers is the Best Place for Oysters: Where Are They When We Need Them? Ask the Humans Who’ve Eaten Them Up and Ground Them Down for Roadbed Surfaces. Good Thing Arm Crooks and Elbows Cradles Are Still the Best Place for Babies. Another 420-Character Piece in 9 Lines.

IMG_3499(Rob Diaz de Villegas is a producer, editor, and director for WFSU-TV. This is his desktop photo.)

I roll a blanket on either side of the babies’ heads out in the stroller

to protect them from the bumps in the road.

Just like the trillions of oysters*

who stabilized NYC’s shoreline

with their undulating, contoured beds that speed-bump waves.

But for 400 years we humans have eaten,

pummeled, & ground down those oyster beds.

So, no bivalves to soften a wave surge,

but I’ve got my elbow crooked to shelter the babies.

PATTY 10/30/12

*Paul Greenberg author of Four Fish

(Photo by Ted Jackson/The Times-Picayune archive)


Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place. …………………….. -Johnny Carson



In the 1982 comedy Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman, dressed as soap opera sensation Dorothy Michaels, flags down a Manhattan cab. When a businessman tries to jump into the vehicle, Hoffman slams him over the head with his shopping bags. Finding a cab in New York City sometimes can be tough, but it doesn’t have to get physical. Hailing a cab is a bit of a ballet ~  a step off the curb, a lift of the arm.  See Cameron do it.


Flagging down a cab is so romantic and cinematic …and complicated.
Why do so many New York taxis seem to drive by without stopping for you? The answer  is ~ it’s all in the lights.  The roof lights, that is.

A cab is….

Available: when just the center is lit, highlighting the medallion number

Off Duty: when the “off duty” lights are lit

Occupied: when no lights are lit, the cab already has a fare.


Here’s a visual for the Lego-minded by the outlandishly great Christoph Niemann.


Now for the complicated part ~ getting a cab when it’s raining.  Best bet? Head to a hotel. A hotel generally has a taxi stand and the staff there can can raise a cab much easier than you can. It’s worth the price of the tip.

So if/when you need that ride uptown or down, keep these rules in mind ~

  • Stand on the side of the street that has traffic going in the same direction that you want to go.
  • Street corners are good places to hail a cab or, better yet, stand between parked cars, in between traffic lights.
  • Step a foot or two off the sidewalk and into the street.  Wave your cash in the air, if you dare.  This is NYC, after all.
  • Stick your arm out like you mean it.
  • Look the driver in the eyes. (With a little luck, you might find yourself in the Cash Cab.)

Here’s a quick primer ~

So, you’re in the cab.  Now what?  If you’re close to your destination and see someone up ahead hailing a cab, ask the driver to stop next to them, get out and walk the rest of the way. Everybody wins ~ the driver gets another fare and someone gets a cab. Maybe next time, it will be you.  :)

Soon, though, we’ll have Get Taxi.

I’ve got the app on my phone.  It’s up and running in London, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and Moscow.

Hey, Taxi!  Welcome to the digital age.   :)

Toni 10/5/12

I Read How the Fed is Buying Huge Quantities of Mortgage Bonds to Aid Our Economy and I Think: It’s the Central Park Effect. (another 9-liner in 420 Characters After a Short Hiatus to Visit Babies and Sisters)

Noticing takes attitude: So. Look at a partly-filled glass and say


Anticipating the positive has a positive effect.

It’s how the “Central Park Effect” works.

Those migrating birds spot 843-acres of green,

an oasis amidst the steel and concrete of NYC;

they funnel down for a pit stop on their 100’s of miles-long journey:

food and shelter.

A glass half full. Do CP’s 38 million visitors notice these birds?

Patty 9/14/12