This is in case you missed the May procession held today under a soul-piercing blue sky on Philly’s Italian Market. Kids in white suits and dresses, followed by statues of solitary saints on floats pushed by local parishioners, with a little marching band behind each float.
The Latino musicians, all in white, reminded me of The Wild Bunch, the scene in which Angel is tied to the generalissimo’s car and dragged around the camp as drunken soldiers laugh it up. Music equally suited to a wedding or a wake, superficially gay but ultimately mournful and demented, especially the trumpets.
Mother Mary rolled by wearing blue and white robes and adhesive strips to which dollar bills had been attached by the faithful. Actually, there were two Marys — one for the Italians, one for the Latinos. On each of the floats was a name tag, in case you didn’t know your saints. St. Lucy and Padre Pia glided past, then St. John Newmann, whose mummy is enshrined right here in Philly. Poor St. Joseph was way in the back, far from his revered wife. Somewhere in the middle of the procession was — I kid you not — St. Rocco. The patron saint of wiseguys, I guess.
Then it was time for the Italian Market Festival. Ninth Street was closed to cars, with white tents pitched north and south for six blocks and ancient blooze rock blasting from the speakers of WMGK. Thousands of revelers filled the streets and sidewalks, streaming under metal awnings, past produce vendors, through clouds of barbecue smoke, sipping beer from plastic cups, feasting on gourmet cupcakes, tomato pie, pepperoni on a stick, mozzarella in a cup, sculpted mangoes, hot sausage and meatballs, porchetta (oven-roasted pigs, with eyeless heads still attached), and enough cannoli to clog a thousand arteries.
Afterwards, a mess. But the garbage will be gone by morning and the market, which is pretty messy to begin with, will be back to normal.
My gratitude will linger. Times are tough, but at least I don’t live in the suburbs.