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This is a cute idea, though organizers couldn’t have anticipated how timely it would be: of course the death of multiculturalism was observed on the same day as the death of the Biggest Idea of the Past Decade, manifest in the corpse of Osama bin Laden. Clearly the latter death attracted more civic curiosity—and more press coverage, in which a frequent observation was the apparent youth of the revelers as well as their apparent drunkenness ("Normally you'd get shots of Jameson," a D.C. bar patron explained to Slate blogger Dave Weigel about his coterie’s choice to switch to Jack Daniels. "But the thinking was, no: We need to drink something American.")
Nobody seemed certain how to respond to this momentous news. So they got drunk! On the whole this isn’t a bad strategy for approaching various Big Deals—weddings, for instance—though some of the specifics of the celebrations did seem a little crass. On Monday night the Reader got a press release from a Lakeview restaurant offering patriots the chance to express “love of your country for no cover charge” with a party featuring themed drinks: “The Floating Terrorist” and “Osama Been Shot,” the latter advertised as a blood-colored concoction of vodka and grenadine, and the former left to the imagination.
This all may seem aggressively impotent—celebrating a killer’s death with cute cocktails—but as irrelevant gestures go, it’s small potatoes compared to a New York Times editorial decision to withhold from bin Laden the standard stylistic courtesy of a “Mr.” in front of his name (via Justin Kaufmann, who put together a pretty good round-up of press coverage of bin Laden’s death). I’m happy that, together with the nation’s churlish parties, this dumbly benign decision by the NYT—see how long those terrorists last without our Western style of address!—seems to resolve a certain problem: namely “the death of irony,” posthumously (and ineptly) defined in a 2001 Time op-ed as the insistence that “nothing was to be believed in or taken seriously.” That’s one idea that nobody need eulogize anymore.
The Five Funerals series is at Logan Square art space the Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton. More information on themes and presenters is at fivefunerals.com.