Sunday, January 02, 2011

Of Shoes and Other Feet...

I can now add another subject to the list of Things That Get You Nasty E-mail When You Write Them; taking a crack at one's own!

In another blog post earlier this week, I made reference to "The Jersey Shore Italians", and "The Shanty Irish",and you would have thought I had slaughtered and dismembered a busload of kittens in someone's living room. The response was enormous, and most of the respondents were grossly offended by my use of "hateful stereotypes".

Which was fascinating, because in some cases, the uproar came from regular readers who have absolutely no truck with me when I'm having a go at Muslims, or Gays, saying things about Blacks that they know they all think, but lack the courage to put on the printed page for themselves. Somehow they can all find it within themselves to get all uppity and outraged when it's them, or their sacred cows, within the crosshairs.

I am nothing if not an equal-opportunity offender.

I'm sure that at some rate this is simply human nature at work, or more likely, it's a realization by a certain type of person that these stereotypes might, indeed, apply to them or someone they love, and they find the realization mortifying.

I make no claim to perfection, nor am I implying that I am a superior human being. It's just an observation, on my part, that I am surrounded by living proof that stereotypes a) exist, and b) are largely true, but that the people they most often apply to haven't a clue they exhibit this behavior. The intent is to get people to think, and then, perhaps, to change. To what degree or for what purpose any individual changes is largely a personal concern, because I'm not here to improve the human race, and even if I were granted that power, I don't think I would; why should I have to do everything for everyone else, and let's face it, I wouldn't even get a "Thank You" afterwards. That's just how people are.

The real object of that exercise was to show just what sort of doofus it requires to start a fight over a claim to a stupid parking space that one doesn't even own.

Then, there were other people who wrote in who weren't exactly certain what the terms"Jersey Shore Italians" and "Shanty Irish" really meant, and were asking for a clarification, uncertain as they were about whether or not they actually knew people like this. So, in the name of perfect clarity so that those in the dark may know thy enemy, and for the purposes of pissing off the offended one more time, I will teach you now how to identify these creatures at first glance.

You Know You're a Jersey Shore Italian If:

(Note: I'm Italian!)

1. You wear velour,and think it stylish or comfortable. Especially track suits. Velour went out of style in the 1970's, I believe, and it ain't, or at least shouldn't, ever come back into fashion. Velour is for automobile upholstery, cheap barstool coverings in topless joints, and cheesy Las Vegas nightclubs.

2. You are either unable, or simply refuse, to pronounce the, "er", "ur", "th" and "oi" sounds properly. I have been surrounded by people my entire life who "change dare earl in front o da choich at Turd Avenue and Turdy-turd street, and den go ta da terlet to wash up aftah."

3. If you live in a house with at least one garishly-decorated room, usually with a multitude of gilded mirrors and a great deal of marble or ceramic tile, that never gets used. No one is allowed into it, no occasion is an excuse to use it. It is simply for show, and is given the same treatment one would expect to be provided for an exhibit in the local museum. Additionally, if you have at least one bathroom like this in your house, you make the list.

Everything in your house is intended to convey an impression of class and taste, but only ends up convincing a visitor that you have neither -- unless they come from the same background as you do, in which case, it's a contest in one-upsmanship-in-vulgarity.

4. If your house is liberally-decorated with religious pictures, at least one stained-glass Passion scene in the foyer, a cheap-hotel-quality picture of the Sacred Heart, a back-lit Madonna and Child in a front-lawn artificial grotto, the collected prayer cards from a dozen funerals all over a decade old, then you fall into this category.

5. You can't stop tapping your inner Robert DeNiro or Joe Pesci, can't go at least one day without making reference to The Godfather, Goodfellas, Casino, Raging Bull, Analyze This, Frank, Dean and the rest of the Rat Pack, all of whom you regard as a minor pantheon of deities, and the movies the Mythology that surrounds them.

6. You name your children after saints, and send them to Catholic School so that they may receive all their sacraments, but only attend church on Easter, Ash Wednesday and Christmas Eve, or because someone has died or is getting married or christened, and then spend the rest of the year avoiding church like a $5 whore with a dinner-plate-sized cold sore. If so, then you certainly belong on this list.

7. When you go out to eat dinner, you go solely to Italian restaurants despite having all the pasta, cheese, olive oil, meatballs and tomato sauce you could ever hope to inhale at home. Your idea of international cuisine is either Northern Italian or Southern Italian.

You tend to eat long Sunday afternoon "dinners", with at least five courses, which begin punctually at 3:30, and end sometime after 8:00, just in time to sit on your fat ass and watch television for five minutes before you're fast asleep from overeating.

8. You are a moderate-to-heavy gambler, and regularly play the lottery, or make several pilgrimages to Atlantic City or Las Vegas every year. There is no office or bar pool that you won't cough up $10 bucks for.

9. You're the loud-mouthed asshole in the velour tracksuit at your kid's Little League game imploring him to perform acts upon an athletic field that would get him arrested in any other setting. Your kid may be a complete spaz, but he's going to pitch for the Yankees, or be the starting quarterback for the Giants. You can do absolutely nothing without making a tremendous racket, with a lot "Aaaaayyy!" and"Ooohhh!".

10. You believe the highest forms of culture ever devised all have Robert DeNiro in them, or are based upon an Organized Crime theme. To you, The Sopranos is either an over-the-top stereotype of Italian-Americans, or it's your life in microcosm, because everyone knows a Paulie Walnuts in real life, and has an ungrateful mother that's impossible to please who plays the martyr to the hilt. Your ambition in life is to own Bada-Bing, a place akin to Heavenly Paradise... only with tits.

You have forgotten that your ancient culture produced Michelangelo, Columbus, Polo, Malphiggi, Dante, DaVinci (unless you saw the movie, dipshit), Brunelleschi, Verdi, Marconi, and the legacy of the Roman Empire. That your Old Country was the epicenter of the Renaissance that created the Modern World, which allows you to sit around in your velour pajamas, upon your slip-cover-protected, faux-Louis-XIV-velour-covered furniture, and watch football on a flat-screen, while you stuff your fat face with imported sweet peppers and potato chips.

11. Your children begin to curse at around age six -- because you probably did, too -- and it's you who taught them how to do it properly. You then ineffectually yell at them to stop -- because it's "not nice" -- without imposing any real discipline or consequences upon them for straying from the straight-and-narrow. Short of brandishing a burning tree branch and threatening to beat your kids within an inch of their lives with it, there's hardly any discipline in your house, at all.

Your sons, unless they've been reined and shown the wages of sin in at an early age, become complete doofuses, consumed with hair gel, flashy cars and clothes, and bodybuilding, when they aren't trying to be (need I say it?) the next DeNiro, their True God. Picking up a book is considered "gay", and marks one as someone to be beaten up daily for his milk money. They are mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging morons incapable of a thought that doesn't originate with their stomach, their dick or their haircare regimen.

Your daughters are painstakingly trained -- by their mothers -- in the mysterious arts of the Madonna/Whore complex, and how to be an unconscionable pain in the ass, so that one day they may marry "a nice man". This somehow requires they acquire a nasally whine that could curdle milk, pile their hair upon their heads in a way that would defy gravity without Aqua Net, slather on enough make-up to camouflage a battleship, dress like hookers on a job interview, and snap their gum while they chew it in a bovine manner. Think Fran Drescher in The Nanny, only with the ability to make lasagne on a moment's notice.

It is in this way, people like "The Situation" and Snooki become de facto spokesdouches for the entire Italian-American race, and you celebrate them for it because they're "real", and resemble you.

If, by some quirk of fate, your daughter does manage to snare a husband, then the wedding will either be an exact replica of the wedding in The Godfather, or an amalgamation of all the cheap and disgusting excess one usually finds on Bravo or MTV.

12. Everything you do in life is vulgar, ostentatious, oversized, shallow and ultimately, on the cheap. Your SUV, Your Cigar, Your House, Your Swimming Pool, Your Christmas Light Display, all literally scream All Sizzle and No Steak. On anything approaching an intellectual debate, you bring the old saying "Three Italians, Four Opinions" a breath of new life with every guttural utterance, and the opinions you profess are invariably about YOU, and how everything revolves around YOU.

You Know You're Shanty Irish If:

1. You are an Italian wanna-be who can't go one week without corned beef, and who drinks his whiskey cut with water, because to do so without is considered "Scottish", and therefore, uncivilized. Besides, it helps the bottle last longer. You probably order pizza with fruit on it, when no one is looking. Your idea of tomato sauce is ketchup and water, suitably boiled until it's thick enough to waterproof a boot.

Your idea of fine dining is a night at the Outback Steakhouse, preferably with three-to-five drinks, interspersed between courses.

And by the way, it is NOT a stereotype to say the Irish drink heavily. I have, sadly, spent half my life in bars, and you can usually only find three sorts of people in there: losers, drunks and Irishmen.

2. You own a home you can barely afford, and have filled it with children you can barely afford, either. You have this many children because the Pope frowns upon condoms, and your Catholic School-bred wife won't do that other thing for you that the Italian or Spanish girls will. Unless you buy her something nice, first.

3. You, too, name your children after saints, except for the girls who somehow get compound names that make reference to the Virgin, and strangely, a European Monarch. At some point in her life every Mary-Elizabeth, Mary-Catherine, and Mary-Margaret manages to pick up a suggestive nickname, like "Juicy", "Cookie" or "Sunshine", as if they were hookers or topless dancers.

I will say this for Irish women, though; despite the rigors of multiple childbirths, they age way better than their Italian counterparts. Whereas Italian women often get fat and doughy, Irish women seem to retain their good looks (if they had any) well into their middle age...after which gravity and the ravages of time conspire to turn them into bags of opaque skin hanging from an ancient skeleton that flaps in every strong breeze.

4. You can't go more than ten minutes without talking about the Yankees, the New York Football Giants, or Notre Dame. The Boston Celtics are the ultimate expression of Irish Pride, even if it is "just a bunch of niggers in shorts".

Somehow, you find the nickname"The Fighting Irish" either complimentary, or offensive, and often both, depending on how many drinks you've had.

5. You can tut-tut at the Taliban, deplore their resort to senseless violence, and demand vengeange and justice for 9/11...right after you leave this month's IRA fundraiser. There's terrorism, and there's Terrorism, you see.

6. You're a fourth-generation Irish-American, and your debates about politics are dominated by the subjects of: No Irish Need Apply (still), John F. Kennedy, Gays in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, Bloody Sunday, the British Occupation, and the Potato Famine. No people on Earth have suffered like the Irish, as you're so fond of telling us all, in effect making yourselves out to be the Original Jews, Blacks, and American Indians.

The political legacy of the Irish in America largely consists of Kennedys (brain-dead, inbred, Hitler-lovers, and criminals), Nixons, Bidens, O'Neills, Dodds, Andrew Jackson (the First American Emperor), Daleys (inventors and perfectors of vote fraud), McCarthys (continuing right where the Spanish Inquisition left off), and McNamarras (men who send other men to war, but then won't let them fight...unless they can do so at a discount). Somehow, perhaps by accident, you managed a Reagan, and then largely trashed him for disavowing your Kennedy heritage.

These are your heroes. The Olympus of Irish-America, if you will. You defend their sainted memories like you would your own mother, and any reference to the massive tunnel in JFK's head is an invitation to a fistfight.

7. The culture which produced Cu Chulainn, Joyce, Yates, Shaw, illuminated manuscripts, Stoker, Boyle, and Tyndall is largely forgotten, and in place of those giants of intellect, Conan O'Brien and Bono have been installed. Much like the Italian-Americans have forgotten their past, the Irish-Americans have forgotten theirs...except for anything that involves the possibility of shooting at the English, a people many have never had direct contact with, on behalf of a country which isn't even theirs, and which after 800 years still hasn't been "recovered". In this regard, the Irish are the Arabs of Europe. The Irish-Americans wrapped up in the "troubles" of another continent are much like the home-grown-radicallized-jihadis we hear so much about, but never seem to catch until too late.

And yet, once a year, an entire day is set aside to celebrate that Irish Culture that few, if any, Irish-Americans actually have any direct knowledge of. On that day, it's suddenly, magically okay to speak of leprechauns, shillelaghs, shamrocks, and potato famines, without instigating a fistfight or starting someone off on yet another stream of complaints about how hard the Irish have had it just about everywhere.

It's too bad Constant Whining isn't an Olympic Sport, because the Irish would be the East German Women's swim team of such a competition.

Unfortunately, this holiday requires that everything be dyed a hideous shade of green within an inch of it's useful life. Green beer, green food, and ultimately, green vomit. The day is supposed to commemorate the feast of St. Patrick, Patron Saint and Billy-the-Exterminator of the Emerald Isle. You know something is wrong if your national holiday revolves around someone ridding your land of vermin, and then brainwashing you with a foreign religion.

8. You're a cop, fireman, or construction worker, because your Old Man was, too. These are all fine and honorable professions, but you are probably the only family on the block that can boast three or four generations of flatfoot, while neglecting that one of the primary tools of modern law-enforcement, the so-called Paddy Wagon, is named after your ethnic group -- and you can't decide if that's because Irish Cops rode to the rescue on it, or because there was a load of Irishmen being taken to jail inside of it.

Yes, I have painted with an overly-broad brush, but the point is well-and-truly made. If you can look at that list and say to yourself "Gee, I'm Italian/Irish and don't display any of those unattractive traits", then you're probably a goddamned liar.

It's people like you that give New York, in general, and Staten Island specifically, a bad name. It's terrible and embarassing to have people in New Jersey, of all places, remark about the rudeness, loudness, and lack of class shown by Staten Islanders, especially the two groups I've just verbally raped....and who were the targets of the original post. If the shoe fits...

And now all of you people who regularly complain that I'm unfair to Blacks, Mexicans and Muslims can shut the fuck up.

Update: Edited for spelling/grammar. Twice.

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