Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fifth Avenue Freeze-out

I know what people say: that I don't know how to have fun on weekends. Well, while you were on Canal Street picking up a bootleg of "Snakes On a Plane," I was right here planning my mayoral campaign. That's right! Ol' Buttermilk Sky is going after the Second Hardest Job in America, as the leadership of New York used to be called. Maybe the hardest, because Bush makes presidenting look so darn easy. I have one issue and one issue only: I promise to ban ethnic parades. Well, whaddaya lookin' at?

You know what I mean. You absolutely have to get across town in twenty minutes or all hell will break loose. But what's that up ahead, beyond the police barricades and the children waving tiny flags? It's the weekly ethnic parade, a bunch of oddly-dressed people trudging and riding and dancing down the middle of Fifth Avenue while a band plays what is either their national anthem or "Goin' Out of My Head." The same band that was playing a different anthem, or possibly the theme from "MASH," a week ago. The Lutonians (to borrow a name from SCTV) are filled with understandable pride, this being the day their ancestors won their independence from South Batavia back in 1422. The twirlers are scowling with concentration, the politicians are waving and ignoring the boos, and the police are mentally calculating their overtime while keeping a good eye out for South Batavian troublemakers.

And you forgot it was Lutonia Day. It's too late to go around or under. You are stuck. Stuck is what you are. But not if you vote for me.

Maybe ethnic parades made sense in the nineteenth century, when Lutonian-Americans were still struggling to establish themselves and overseas travel was slow. Today, everybody in New York came from someplace else, usually during the past two years. You don't believe me, find an English-only ATM. And they're all determined to have a parade, and so are other special interest groups, and there are hardly enough weekends in the year. If you're homesick for Lutonia, get on a plane. Join the national-day festivities in the capital city, Ksczwzyk. Then come back and be an American.

I'm not especially patriotic, but I don't see the point in more fragmentation and exclusivity. I will continue to allow parades that celebrate something we can all share, like Christmas shopping or sports championships. Also, if you want to find some unused land out by the airport and march up and down, go nuts. But we really need the streets, even on Sunday, more than we need excuses for binge drinking, fist-fighting, and bagpipes. Especially bagpipes. Don't even get me started.


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