Down on the Bowery: A Fairytale of New York

Down on the Bowery: A Fairytale of New York

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Fairy Tale of New York

Some people feel that The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York is the best Christmas song ever, and not just one of the best, but a gorgeous song no matter why or how you observe Christmas. Fairytale of New York isn’t exactly the epitome of restraint, with Shane MacGowan and the sadly departed Kirsty MacColl singing all over each other, slurring words and tossing all kinds of insults at each other.

The song starts out tenderly, with MacGowan recounting Christmas Eve spent in a Bowery drunk tank, but also his recent gambling win and dreams for the future. MacColl lets us know, as the tempo picks up, that they met on a Christmas Eve, and after some light banter they really get into it, blaming each other for anything they can get their hands on, MacColl ending with “Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it’s our last.

But then they sing the chorus again, and a string section that actually sounds like it belongs in a Christmas song begins to take over. And it all feels, in spite of itself, grand and sweeping and even a little touching. They squabble a little more, the same as every Christmas, but they’re losing steam; finally MacColl accuses MacGowan of stealing her dreams when they met. This is a terribly poetic way to depict the deadening of expectations in terrible lives. But MacGowan’s voice turns gentle, even though it’s still rough, and he responds: “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.”

It’s a tough old life, and Fairytale of New York practically oozes with the gritty spirit of urban decay, poverty, alcoholism and general dysfunction. But as the sounds of those strings float off and out of sight, it doesn’t seem to matter. Not to them and not to us, because it’s the day to sigh and give in to our better inclinations and hold each other and admit there’s still something there. Christmas is the arbitrary day of the year that purely through willpower and tradition we’ve turned into the day where we all try just a little bit harder at being better than we thought we could be.

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Fairy Tale of New York

Slide Show: Down on the Bowery

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Tufty: An Apocalypto with Teddy Bears

Tufty: An Apocalypto with Teddy Bears

Tufty is an amazing, award-winning short film written and directed by brothers Jason Butler and Brendan Butler, which was produced for Warrior Films through the Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Award Scheme in 2007. With the holiday season upon us, Tufty provides a heart-wrenching glimpse into the actual origins of teddy bears.

While we’d all like to think our toys come to life when we’re not around, just as they did in Toy Story, Tufty takes an opposite and much more disturbing approach: behind the innocent face of a child’s teddy bear lies a dark and bloody secret. At first glance, Tufty is a cute little bear, a transitional object that is an ideal gift for a young child. But if you return the little teddy bear to its natural habitat, you’ll discover that under his velvet fabric beats a sensitive heart that can flourish under more harmonious conditions.

Tufty: An Apocalypto with Teddy Bears

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