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

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Anthony Pisano’s East Village Apartment: A Home for the Heart

Anthony Pisano’s East Village Apartment: A Home for the Heart

Welcome to My Home is delightful documentary short film by Kelsey Holtaway and Mark Cersosimo at Departure/Arrival Films. Anthony Pisano is a sweet old man who sits on the sidewalk and invites passersby to browse the contents of his East Village home, an amber-lit apartment-space packed with antiques, photographs, knickknacks, figurines and watch parts, which might easily be confused with a rummage sale or second-hand shop.

But nothing in the collections Mr. Pisano has built throughout his life is for sale. Instead, for Mr. Pisano, the benefit of living in his East Village storefront is that it offers him a chance to meet people. He leaves the front door ajar, and blasts Frank Sinatra music into the street. Passersby peer at his collection of unusual items, like a Bill Clinton doll on an antique model boat. .The New York Times reported in 2010 that Pisano “estimates he gives away 10 to 12 trinkets every day.”

Anthony Pisano’s East Village Apartment: A Home for the Heart

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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