November 6, 2009

Who should get the ticker tape

Today in New York City, there was a parade. Can you guess why?

The first ticker-tape parade was an impromptu celebration in 1886, to honor the dedication of the Statue of Liberty; a bunch of office schmoes decided to thank France by tossing scrap paper out the window (actually, this does make sense; I recall a 1991 Montreal Canadiens game where an excellent save by Patrick Roy prompted the crowd to toss their free promotional CIBC caps onto the ice en masse). Since then, we've staged parades for heads of state, explorers, astronauts, military heroes—we were nuts about them in the '50s, but the practice dried up considerably after that President on Mad Men was assassinated. In the past few decades, the most popular recipients of the honor have been sports teams, particularly the Yankees.

Steinbrenner's organization has been feted with nine ticker-tape parades through NYC's "Canyon of Heroes," more than any other group (their closest competition is the Mets, with only three, the same number as the most honored individual, Richard Byrd). And I have to say, I'm very minorly irked by it. I don't mind the Yankees—I briefly called myself a fan some years ago, and I'm not into baseball enough to really like or dislike any specific team—but like many New Yorkers, I'm bothered how they kind of bigfoot their way through NYC culture. I guess I just don't understand how it's possible to root so strongly for something that has absolutely no element of the underdog to it. I don't like that so much of our tax money helped build a stadium for an organization that can afford to pay its players nine digits; I honestly believe a Con Ed bill proving you're a resident of NYC should get you free admission to games.

And we give them a parade? Besides, these are "heroes"? Yes, winning the World Series is an incredible accomplishment, but I'm not sure it's heroic. After all, these guys are living the dream of millions of little boys, and being paid very well to do it. That seems like reward enough to me.

Here's who should get a ticker-tape parade:

1. Soldiers who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan: Cliché, but true. Besides, it would prove right-wing assholes wrong when blue-staters like us didn't spit on the troops.

2. Really, really excellent comedians: At its best, humor is incredibly brave. I still think Stephen Colbert should have gotten a Nobel Prize or something for this.

3. Whoever cures AIDS, or fixes global warming: Seriously, we need more incentive to get this shit done.

4. Single parents: This would help us realign our priorities, don't you think, if everyone who managed to raise a kid to adulthood on their own got such a conspicuous honor from the public. And I'm talking good parents only; if your kid turns out to be a psycho or someone who yells on his phone on the Bolt Bus, no parade for you.

5. Anyone who makes it to the age 110: I think a ticker-tape parade would be a nice way to cap it all off.