Happy Fifth of July
I live in an uneasy border area. Not between countries’e2’80’94no border crossings or ridiculous metal fence cutting across the landscape’e2’80’94but between what one side would call a way of life and the other side would call life style. Farmworker and techie; Folgers and Peets (Starbucks is far too common); tinned or organic-farmer’e2’80’99s-market; Toyota or Beemer; General Foods or’e2’80’94well, you get the picture. And that’e2’80’99s without throwing ethnic differences into the mix.
But the one thing everyone agrees on is their right to blow themselves up come Fourth of July. I live on a hill overlooking the valley in which Watsonville is set, and last night, from dusk until nearly midnight the expanse was a series of exploding lights from one side of the Pajaro Valley to the other. None of them very high’e2’80’94this isn’e2’80’99t a professional demonstration of pyrotechnics, just those that look great from directly underneath. And many of them duplicates, for the same reason. But if you told me this county set off a million dollars worth of fancy gunpowder last night, I wouldn’e2’80’99t call you a liar.
There are, of course, the naysayers. Which is good, because without them, my neighbors would still be using their 9 millimeters and their .38s to express their patriotic fervor, followed the next afternoon by outraged articles in the newspaper about holes in roofs a foot from where little Jessica was sleeping. And without them, we wouldn’e2’80’99t have all those proclamations for Safe and Sane fireworks, and one in fifty kids would be missing fingers. But the last couple of years, the shooters seem at last to have been convinced that what goes up does, somewhere, come down, and only one in a thousand kids ends up in the emergency ward.
And I agree with the naysayers, fireworks are dangerous. And mixed with alcohol as they inevitably are on the Fourth, they step heavily into the Unsafe and Insane camp. So yes, letting kids run wildly through the night holding flames up around their eyes and hair is hugely irresponsible, and turning official eyes away from the kids who drive into the desert and load up their cars with illegal forms of potential carnage is something we wouldn’e2’80’99t do any other time of the year.
And at least they’e2’80’99re not shooting pistols aimed at the sky.