Archive - Jul 4, 2006

Siss Boom Bah Humbug

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Happy July 4th! FIREWORKS ARE DUMB.

Sorry to metaphorically piss in your metaphorical cornflakes, but they are. Fireworks are stupid. But more importantly, they are stupid in inverse proportion to their professionalism.

Your city's big display down by the river, then, is only a little bit dumb. Fireworks are a prime example of what I like to call a pre-cable medium of artistic expression. An art form that relies in large part on a "wow" factor that decades of technological advancement have rendered moot, so they get by largely on tradition.

Now I'm sure there are fireworks craftsman out there who this will piss off. People who are immersed in the field, working day and night to tweak the colors and shapes of individual shells for a largely unappreciative audience of rubes. But at the end of the day, all you've got is a sky full of flaming chunks and a headache from gunpowder smoke.

Think back to all the fireworks displays you've witnessed in your life. Do you remember the details of any of them? The shapes, the colors, the patterns? Do you remember them more easily than the words to "I've Been To Paradise, But I've Never Been To Me"? Consider that a helpful metric for your next stab at comparative artistic value.

But whatever. I'm not really going to hold you culpable for the demise of rationality in society if you lay on a blanket tonight and spend two hours ooooooooing at airborne explosions. At least you're not trying to recreate the experience in the comfort of your own home.

On the big list of recreational activities I don't understand, setting off your own fireworks falls somewhere between obsessive lawn care and furry sex in overall effability.

I'm not even really concerned about the safety aspect. Fuck knows there are few enough evolutionary pressures on American society. Handing a sparkler to your five-year-old kid is in no way WISE, but neither is it particularly harmful to the species in the long view.

I just don't understand why people bother. I can only assume it's some kind of warped view of the principle of perspective. If big explosions far away are cool, tiny explosions right near my face must be JUST AS COOL. It's like when the professionals put on a show, only it's smaller, it's over a lot faster, and it fizzles out half the time. I suppose in that sense it's a lot like sex.

But last time I checked, bottle rockets weren't wired to the pleasure center of the brain. At least, not when used according to manufacturer instructions and aimed carefully. So what drives people to haul their SUVs to gaudy roadside stands in the hopes of purchasing explosives of dubious provenance they can take home and set off while drunk? I don't know, but I'm guessing the impulse doesn't start in the cerebral cortex.