Thursday, September 20, 2007


Summer is nearly over and it's been a fun one, my friends. So fun, in fact, I've had little time to report on much. For this I apologize. You deserve so much more than the stream of activist propaganda and Bush-being-stupid-again links I've been posting. All in due time. Thanks for hanging in there.

So what was I up to over the past few months? Well, you may have read that I recently attended the Austin City Limits music festival. That was a nice way to spend an afternoon. It was also an easy way to sweat off about 6 pounds standing still. Damn does it get hot down there.

I also watched the 4th of July fireworks from the rooftop of my Chicago high rise. I can't begin to describe to you the view. Okay, I'll try. First, you should know that Chicago's fireworks are always on the 3rd of July - but the suburban celebrations usually take place on the 4th. So I headed up to the roof around 9:30 and turned to the west to see if I could spot anything.

The sound of tiny, distant explosions filled the air, like muffled bursts of popcorn in a scalding hot kettle. Low along the horizon, as far as the eye could see, bright colorful pinwheels were shattering like tiny Christmas lights everywhere. It was amazing to behold. Some shot higher than others, and they appeared suddenly, randomly - near, far, and beyond. A soft gray haze cloaked distant chimneys, lying flat like a pool of marsh water and flickering orange with every pyrotechnic eruption. Whistles, bangs, and sirens rang out. A stranger would think the streets were under siege with all of the commotion below. But from up there on the rooftop, it all seemed very peaceful. A light breeze stroked my bare arms as I clung to a chain link fence, gazing through the metal diamonds at the world I love.

After several minutes enjoying the view, I turned around and noticed I wasn't alone. The roof had been collecting others - also curious to see the celebration from on high. It was a perspective on Independence day fireworks unlike any other I'd witnessed before. Instead of lying below the massive umbrellas of cascading light, I was watching them from above - crackling, fizzling, and dripping like condensation on a shower door into the urban drain. I imagined what the spectacle must look like from even higher up as a jet plane skated quietly above - lights flickering reliably underneath. They have the best view of all, I thought. To them the world looked like a motherboard short-circuiting.

I remember thinking how great it was that, in the midst of this horrible war, with foreclosures reaching record highs, faith in government at historic lows, recession on the tongue of every other economic forecaster, somehow, we had the temerity to wish ourselves a happy birthday. Now here's a country with a little self-confidence, I said to myself. We're optimistic if nothing else. We know we're not very popular right now, but dammit we mean well. And we're not bad people...we just keep electing bad leaders. Things are bound to turn around at some point, right?

And on that note, I turned around and headed back inside.


Steven said...

You might be a geek if...

You write similes like "looked like a motherboard short-circuiting".

Seriously, thank you for a wonderful discription of the Chicago fireworks. I've only seen them from the ground in Grant Park in the masses of exuberant celebrants and the loud sounds of the orchestra and fireworks.

Happy (belated) Fourth.

Lokesh said...
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