June 30, 2009

The 4th Is No Fun Anymore

I was looking at my calendar this morning and realized that the 4th of July is this week.  Whoopee shit.  This should be the highlight of the summer, but around here you can cut the apathy with a knife.  I would guess that the weather is a factor.  In the last few days, it's turned downright "Fall" and I had to wear a jacket when I went out on errands this morning.  How sad is that?

Actually, I've been really apathetic about the 4th for a long time. Because I'm the kind of person who likes to be up close and personal with my fireworks.  I miss the inherent danger of handling small parcels of explosives and the possibility of injury resulting from one wrong move.

Illinois, the wussy capitol of the free world, does not allow the sale or use of "good" fireworks.  Neither does my 10-minute-away neighbor, Wisconsin.  You can buy the good shit in Indiana, but I don't feel like traveling two hours there and back, and besides, they always set up DUI/Seat Belt checkpoints at the border, which are really fireworks dragnets.  Assholes.

So, I'm stuck with 3 options.  I can go to a legitimate fireworks display, which is always a bad return on investment.  You have to arrive at the venue hours before hand to "get your place", And then after sitting in absolute boredom for what seems like forever and a day, you get 15 minutes of fireworks.  That's it.  Option 2 involves those neighbors with balls of steel.   These are the people who do go to Indiana and run the checkpoints by taking the back roads like the moonshiners of old.  They throw drunken bashes and post lookouts at the corners while they blast away in the street.  When the police get wind of them, they grab their stash and hide, like suburban Viet Cong, and return when the coast is clear.  And option 3 is worse than nothing at all.  Go to the local discount stores and buy those "novelties" that the police state allows.  Pathetic items such as cracker balls, sparklers and smoking snakes.  It's like kissing your sister ... on the lips. 

In my hometown, they knew how to do things right.  Several weeks before the 4th, the death merchants would set up their fireworks tents in the parking lots of Crazy Cecil's and Lazy Larry's, just outside the city limits and out of the reach of the law.  Inside the tents, the air was heavy with the smell of gunpowder, and you could buy roman candles, pinwheels, buzz bombs and star shells.  Best of all ... there were tables heaped with the staple of any real 4th celebration ... firecrackers and bottle rockets!  For days before the 4th, the air was alive with cracks and whizzes, and on the 4th itself, all hell broke loose.  Fuck safety!  You had bottle rocket fights.  You stuffed hedgeapples with multiple firecrackers and lobbed them at each other, hoping for an air explosion that would coat the the recipient with white milky goo.  And if you really got crazy, you'd start firing roman candles at each other.

By midnight, a thick acrid haze covered the neighborhood.  Your clothes smelled like smoke and you sported several first degree burns. But you went to bed happy and hoped that you had saved enough fireworks to do it again the next day.  Because the 4th was never just one day, but a series of days, until all of the fireworks were gone.

So, the best I can hope for this year is a couple of rogue fireworks displays.  Maybe I'm getting too old for the burns and missing body parts anyway.


  1. The fourth is my favorite holiday. We have the 'safe and sane' crap here but only in the outlying areas as they aren't allowed in the city. EXCEPT... the Indians sell the good shit. It's right in the middle of our city and last year the city gave the Indians one of their parks to use as long as they cleaned it up. It was like a war zone! It was the craziest thing I ever saw but it was awesome.

    This year we are headed to North Dakota for the fourth. I wish I could stuff my suitcase full of that stuff. We even considered driving just so we could take stuff back but time doesn't allow for 4 days of travel time.

    Tell you what, bring the family out next year and you can buy all the shit you want and we'll blow up the whole town if you like!

  2. You can get bottle rockets in Wisconsin. I promise. Ask my dad, he got lots of tickets when we were kids. :)