America begins on the Brooklyn Bridge at sundown; walking into Manhattan as the crimson and luminous grays light up the Statue of Liberty to our left and the mid town sky line to the north. Sundown skyscrapers appear as old gangster movie sets of cardboard cut-outs from 1940's kid's games. I imagine Irving Berlin with his upright piano (with the knee clutch that allowed him to play many keys in one chord position - like a capo)…I imagine Irving pounding out "God Bless America," right there in the middle of the bridge, as the runners, and bike riders and lovers stream past him in both directions. And the ghosts of the high iron Mohawks harmonize from the steel towers, and their song ripples across the waters of the Gowanus canal.
And uptown the St. Patrick's Day Parade has finally ended, after eight hours, and the whole Island is filled with retreating and staggering drunks in funny green hats and Irish cops lugging de-flated bagpipes past New Jersey High school bands and Haitian cabbies, and hotdog and falafel vendors; pretzel carts, fruit stands, pizza grab joints, Turkish taffy carts, used book hawkers…an America that has, not in this moment, little to do with partisan politics and bank swindlers and loud mouth right and left wing talk show hosts who attempt to sway moralities and carve wax emotions. For a moment no on cares about the six o'clock news or the weather channel…that's the other tired America that screams from the airwaves. For just this sundown moment we are what we were meant to be - brothers and sisters and lovers under the skin, trudging home half drunk from the beauty of being alive in this Gotham jazz afternoon fading into evening and the whole of America is out there, running west beyond Manhattan; out across those rusted train tracks through New Jersey swamps and on out to Pittsburgh; to the Mojave desert and on toward the Pacific. For just one moment we are part of that swelling chorus of Whitman, Kerouac, Sandburg, Ginsberg… as old Irving Berlin is pounding out anthems on the Brooklyn Bridge and Sonny Rollins is wailing from the Williamsburg…. For a moment we are a part of what it was intended to be. On St. Patrick's Day.