‘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)