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detail : green face

p a d d e d   l e p r e c h a u n

a   b l o o m s d a y   t a l e     :      philadelphia, 2004

:   m o n i c a   p a c e

It was the first Bloomsday that it rained. Even though the curator himself took the stage & assured us it never rains on Bloomsday. In the rumbling, close air.

The tree-lined idyll that is Delancey Street was cordoned off from traffic. Throngs sat on stoops of brick turn-of-the-century buildings, or on wooden chairs in the street, waving fans emblazoned with the likeness of Joyce. Actors, curators, rabbis, Joycean scholars, and even a sandal-wearing ex- police commissioner John Timmoney did dramatic readings from Ulysses. The audience giggled at all the bawdy bits. Mirrors and micturation. Actor Michael Toner was especially hilarious, screeching in his best little-girl voice for the character of Cissy Caffrey. After his performance he kissed the book as he walked back to his seat.

Remember seeing a priest kiss the bible at Mass?
Appropriately, during a following section, a reading about urination, the skies opened up.

A half-hour hiatus was announced. I damply befriended another Joyce aficionado who's been going to the event for ten years and gladly agreed to do an interview for my story. We followed a portion of the crowd to — where else — an Irish pub up the street.

On Walnut Street there are two Irish pubs side-by-side. One, I’ve heard, should never be patronized by real Irish people. On this day, inexplicably, a human being, male, stood in the doorway in full leprechaun regalia.

— I wonder if that's his real fat — I mused aloud of the green-clad gent. We very purposefully sidestepped him to the more authentic place next door.

— Even better than that — I said to the Bloomsday folk once we settled inside, — Benjamin Franklin once sat next to me on the bus in old city. I spotted him again during my lunch break at a shitty coffee place. He was itching at his lace and talking on his cell phone.

We raised our glasses to James Joyce and to the Irish weather as thunder split the air in two.

— Slainte, we agreed.



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