Bring back the old-fashioned 4th

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 29, 2013 - 5:44 PM

It’s the 4th this week. Seems right. After that long hot spring and the great green expanse of June — only snowed three times, if memory serves — why, it seems like we’ve been marinating in summer forever. [Editor’s note: Mr. Lileks is not well.]

But the 4th means fireworks, of course. There are two varieties: Legal and Fun.

Legal: Oh look, colored smoke. My patriotism is off the charts.

Fun: A short round object with 64 holes, each of which fires a shrieking object that explodes five feet above the earth, producing such panic in your dog he stands up on his back legs, grabs a shovel and starts tunneling to China.

Or a rocket as thick as a jackhammer-operator’s forearm, which tips over after you lit the fuse, explodes and solves the problem of where you’re going to dig when you put in that pool.

You can see why the latter are illegal. Kids in my generation grew up with M-80s, which were given to them by adults. Really. “OK, you can go play with explosives, but did you brush your teeth and gargle with mercury? Fine then.”

Teen access to explosives is still common, judging from the isolated detonations in my neighborhood, but since no one shouts “if you find it, pack it in ice,” I gather they don’t have the high-grade materiel of my youth.

Just as well. But here’s what I don’t quite get:

Why can’t they invent something that’s legal AND fun, in the percussive ka-boom sense? Why can’t they figure out a way to make a firework that utters a decisive explosion you feel in your brat-stuffed gut, but doesn’t remove fingers or set houses on fire? Something like those flash-bang grenades cops use to disorient people. For that matter, why not legalize flash-bang grenades for the 4th?

They’d be absolutely essential for a rainy 4th celebration, when everyone’s stuck inside.

Of course, that presumes our weather this year will ruin another day with rain.

And what are the chances of that?

 

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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