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independence day

4th of july means nothing but fireworks to a lot of people. when i was a kid, the opportunity to play with fire was definitely the main draw of the holiday. now as an adult, well, it’s a day off work. fireworks, shmireworks. what’s a few minutes of fire vs. a whole extra morning of sleeping in?

but apparently fireworks are a huge deal in san pedro. is it because fireworks are illegal here? i don’t know. i haven’t spent a 4th of july in carson – where they are legal – in years, so i really couldn’t tell you if the feeling in the air was more of the exhilaration of doing a naughty deed rather than the joy of independence and all that. we had a lot of fun growing up in a fireworks-legal city, that’s for sure, and we lit our sparklers with pleasure and thought of the children in fireworks-illegal cities as something akin to starving children in africa. (when my brother was about 12 or so (i guess that means i’d be 8?) my dad suddenly decreed that we were too old for fireworks, so we turned to setting fires in the backyard. but only in the backyard! really!)

knowing that the queen mary folks didn’t have the money for their usual pyrotechnic display, we didn’t quite know what we’d be watching come 4th of july evening. cam’s parents live in an area where the 4th is a crazy important holiday, but it wasn’t until yesterday that i realized what a big deal it really is. cam’s parents’ street is usually the site of a big block party (with permits for fireworks), but we never attend – we just sit in cam’s house and scoff at the garage bands. this year the party was moved over to the next block, which was nice because at least for once their street wasn’t barricaded. we had lunch and watched paul dance around under the sprinkler. the people on the next block (visible from cam’s parents’ backyard) were setting off firecrackers and fireworks all throughout the day, which paul seemed to enjoy. around 4ish, we set off for home – paul hadn’t taken a nap all day because of all of the noise and excitement and the constant loop of four los lonely boys songs played over a loudspeaker. figured maybe we’d just stand outside our house later that evening and see whatever we could see.

around 8, cam’s dad called and told us there were lots to see around their house, so we should come over. on the drive there, you could see sparkles going on both sides of the street. paul pointed and pointed. even on cam’s parents’ street you could see crowds of people and smoke everywhere.

i’m not sure what i was expecting, but i’m sure it wasn’t what i ended up seeing. there were people setting off these giant pro-style fireworks just a house-width away from me. similar set-ups appeared to be just a few streets away – practically at regular intervals. it was freaking disneyland all over the city. the boy was frightened by the thunderous booms and pops, so he watched from an upstairs bedroom with his aunt and grandma. i felt as if roofs would catch fire and trees would be struck dead as we stood there. it was an awesome sight. the apocalypse was coming in a shower of red and green and yellow sparks. one almost expected orchestral music. police were driving hither and yon to hoping to catch sneaky folk without permits. it was an excellent night to commit a crime (other than setting off unpermitted fireworks, that is). who would notice in all the hubbub?

after paul got over his initial freak-out, he watched from inside with great delight. he ventured out again when things got a little quieter, but retreated almost immediately. after that, well, he was more interested in tv. boy, we show you the world and all its splendors – and you want to watch “aqua teen hunger force”?

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