Lichen Frittata

A very warlike holiday

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on July 5, 2009

fireworks2I definitely sympathize with Troy Patterson’s general sentiment about the value of fireworks, or lack thereof. But in the nature of our distaste, we differ pretty radically.

I spent my fireworks watching session in Meridian Hill Park–or Malcolm X Park, depending on how much black power you’re feeling at the moment–on a blanket, surrounded by hundreds of co-celebrants. The crowd was probably equal parts white yuppie and brown townie, with policement pleading with people not to set up their firecrackers in the park itself but otherwise looking the other way. The show itself was undewhelming, far away and soundless. But we were all together watching something, and it was great.

The thing about DC, though, is that the official fireworks are just the warmup. After people go home, Columbia Heights turns into a warzone, with bombs exploding on literally every block, the sidewalks littered with shells. The air is hazy, with the glow of streetlamps muted in smoke. It even smells like a battlefield. I stepped on those little exploding snap things, which are weirdly reminscent of land mines, and jumped out of my skin at cracks and booms in random driveways. The scene, mixed with alcohol and cars–I witnessed at least one accident on the way home–left me shivering. Even after I arrived home, the blasting went on late into the night over the rooftops, as if I were in Baghdad or Belgrade.

Aside from my personal skittishness, I don’t have a huge problem with backyard pyrotechnics. I just wish we had a more peaceful way of celebrating our nation’s birth than turning a neighborhood into a representation of those places you hope your nation never becomes. Watching a beautiful display in the distant sky, together with people you never met, seems appropriate.

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