In the spirit of Independence Day Eve, we should all read Peter Hartlaub’s column in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, and admire its praise of the humble backyard fireworks display:
Gather around the Piccolo Pete, children, and let me tell you about a better time.
Instead of battling traffic on a cold and foggy night to watch someone else set off fireworks, everyone in the Bay Area had their own display back in the day. They came in colorful boxes, sold by smiling children in Cub Scout uniforms, with awesome names like Pyro Power Master Force Cone and American Spirit Super Eagle Fountain.
The eldest son at each house would line up all the fireworks on a fence, and dad would get this crazy look in his eye — the same one he had when he drank too much on Thanksgiving and tried to deep-fry the turkey. The high school kid down the street would start blaring Rush’s “Moving Pictures” on his car stereo, and for once nobody would ask him to turn it down. There would be nothing but love in the neighborhood on this night. It was the Fourth of July.
This country was founded on blowing stuff up, and 231 years later it continues to be the thing that we do best. And yet in the past few decades, almost every Bay Area municipality has banned the use of fireworks within city limits. It’s like we don’t even want to be Americans anymore.
Who knew one could find such a red-blooded defense of American tradition from that most blue of urban areas?
He doesn’t just pine for long-lost days of yore, though. He subjects the argument for the fireworks ban to a rigorous logical analysis:
Let’s look at the pros and cons of making fireworks illegal:
Pro: Fireworks can cause serious injuries and property damage, generate noise and air pollution and infringe on the rights of those citizens who choose not to celebrate with pyrotechnics.
Con: Fireworks are totally sweet.
Pro: Fireworks place an unnecessary burden on already tight resources of the police and fire departments, creating overtime expenses while diverting attention from more important cases.
Con: Fireworks are wicked awesome.
As they say in high school forensics competitions, the Pro side just got served.
He had me at “Pyro Power Master Force Cone.”
And finally, a photo of my friend Dane at South of the Border. Notice the manic look in his face. Don’t worry, though, folks – he’s a highly trained U.S. Marine.