Thursday, July 5, 2007


Somehow I managed to make it through the fireworks celebration last night without receiving any third degree burns, although, I did have one close call.

While waiting for my friend to make his way over to my place I did my best to comfort the Roomie's kitties who were frightened by the steady drumbeat of explosions, some of which were strong enough to rattle the windows in this old apartment. Once he made it here, we made generous cocktails and walked down the block to the park.

Immediately I was reminded of my non-existent childhood growing up in Dresden, Germany, circa 1945. The smoke was thick and reeked of sulfur, ammonium nitrate and booze. As I previously posted, there is not an official fireworks display in my neighborhood, rather, my neighbors embrace the DIY philosophy and blow shit up all upon their own volition. Fireworks, at least the good ones, are illegal in the Land of Lincoln so these revelers likely drove to Wisconsin or Indiana for their make believe mortar shells.

Upon arrival at the park the scene was both chaotic and joyous. Everywhere were large Latino families sitting on blankets and sharing food. Elsewhere there were old school Chicagoan men sporting Mike Ditka-style mustaches "'dat tawk like 'dis". Though technically this display of pyrotechnics is illegal the lone squad car was occupied by two bored looking cops who looked as if they couldn't wait to get home and crack open a few beers at the end of their shift.

Clutching our "to-go" cups we pressed into the crowd and found what I thought to be a nice vantage point to take in the show that was already in progress. The Latino men seemed to compete with the old school white Chicago guys for supremacy of the battlefield, which in reality was a series of baseball diamonds. Nothing against the Latinos, but the Chicago guys, one in particular blew off the biggest and best shit.

Meanwhile, I was taking in the pretty colors when someone thought it would be a good idea to light one of those "helicopter" things that elevate a few feet off the ground and shower sparks within a 5 foot diameter. Good thing I was somewhat cognizant of my surroundings as the evil ball emanating sparks made a beeline for my torso. Although it was probably farther away than it seemed, I briefly thought it was a good idea that I carry my health insurance card in my wallet.

That small scare combined with the ash and debris that was falling on my head made my friend and retreat to somewhat safer surroundings. This is when I noticed the 8 year old (I think) Latino boy who held a seemingly never ending Roman Candle in his hand. For over 20 minutes this kid was firing balls of fire into the trees, at people and just about anything else he could target. Another kid was armed with a cache of bottle rockets that he aimed not upwards, but sideways. One of which hit a car. Another, a large tree.

About this time my friend and I decided to seek refuge in a nearby tavern. 45 minutes of a 1/20 scale "shock and awe" style recreation was about all we could stomach. Still, it was cool to see the big bursts of fire shoot above the tree line. Very much at home, I felt. When I went to bed around 11:30Pm I could still here the die-hards out there lighting shit up. Since I knew it was friendly fire, this had a rather comforting effect that lulled me to sleep.

The End.


jay said...

Fireworks lulled you to sleep?

I sleep very lightly lol. Even the smallest sounds can sometimes wake me up.

Oddly enough, there are times when I can sleep through anything. Not sure what I need to do before bed to get that effect. Shrug.

Dee said...

Sounds like you had a blast (no punt intended). To bad for those damn kids though. I might have killed one of them.

I spend my 4th recovering on my couch from the night before.

Hamilton said...

what a beautiful story. the fire works and festivity and all. cute

Anonymous said...

I miss Dresden and I miss my friends....