How to find the best place to watch fireworks? It’s simple. Go to college; don’t take out many loans. When you graduate, get a job and pay your debts so you have a good credit score. Eventually you will get a mortgage on a riverside condo, and the view will be spectacular. Easy!
Just remember to fight your instincts: “OK, everyone. Get to the car.” And then you’re in the elevator on the way down to the garage before you remember that you can see the fireworks from inside your home.
The rest of us will have to sit outdoors, and that means getting there early for a good seat. You know, the best possible viewing for something that takes place several thousand feet overhead. Your mental dialogue usually goes like this:
(Whoosh ... Boom!) “It’s started! Is it ‘Ooh, aah’ or ‘Aah, ooh’? I forget.”
(Six explosions later) “That one changed color three times.”
(Fourteen explosions later) “That probably has a Chinese name like Dragon Chrysanthemum in Lucky Heaven or something. The Chinese invented fireworks, you know.”
(Eight explosions later) “I wonder how long it takes to be totally bored by fireworks.”
(Everything going off at once) “It’s the end! Let’s ‘Whoo-hoo’ and then sit in the car for 45 minutes just to get on the highway, because of the Declaration of Independence. But we can listen to the ‘Hamilton’ soundtrack while we wait.”
Perhaps in a few years they’ll tighten it up, and give us just four minutes of everything going off at once. That’s what we really come for. Be honest: If they gave you a choice between “expertly choreographed revelations of the pyrotechnical arts,” and “some guy dropped a lit cigarette into a box of fireworks,” most people would check Option 2.
Last week I was in New York. At dusk we went to the top of the Freedom Tower, the tallest structure in Manhattan. The towers in Midtown were ablaze, the streets a stream of red and white lights. It was the most astonishing sight you can imagine, utterly unique to our age. Everyone was looking at it through a small glass rectangle they held up in front of their faces. Everyone was Snapchatting the experience that they weren’t really having.
It’ll be the same for many on the 4th. Look out over the crowd, and you’ll see faces bathed in light from the phones they’re holding in front of them.
My prescription for a good 4th evening? Kill the internet and blow everything up at once. Then ...
Hold on, the FBI is on the phone. Man, they’re fast.