Fourth Estate of Affairs
Happy Fourth, people.
I’m sitting here outside my apartment block, puffing on a black cavendishal briar with an extra-sobering pint of tap water while listening to the din ensconcing the night air. Explosions, mostly. The pitter-patter-pow of little patriations letting loose upon this 236thconsecutish evening, a hundred million picnic sandwiches devoured over such and such a time, two forefathers simultaneously dead the meanwhile ago.
Thinking not of America, but Pakistan actually. Of Yemen. Syria. Every pop, every wee-tinkled crackle. Trying as best I might to place myself in the shoes (or shoelessness, if one wants to be quaint about it; near-about everybody has a pair these days) of someone far off and away, likewise listening to the distant thunder of American incendiaries. Trying to – in the midst of imagination, mind – figure if it’s an awesome or a simply terrifying sound. Or, somewhere about the murky mist of a Bergmanesque caliber fatalism that punctuates the air after earlier rewatching Seventh Seal, whether it’s simply a sound of misfortune (revelry, victory, what have you) distant and apart from my own.
Intangible, akin to the gods. Like freedom (in a sense), like most any sort of capitalized Thing we celebrate on this day of days. The Fourth, under God, Indivisible. With paid time off and a barbecue for all. America. Wealth. Disparity. Two chickens in every pot and a car on every curbside aperture, Taco Bell institutionalizing a Fourth Meal over every suburb while the rest of the country picks and fights over everything but the state of electoral contributions. Ignoring the Leonard Cohen future that lay ahead, hand in grasping hand with Orwell as they kick the can with the Hellers and little orphan Candides that vote Republican for every state-wide orifice.
I dunno. Bitterness seeping deeply, intermingling with too rich a bit of brisket, mayhap. Wishing I could but simply jump, carry on upwards into the stars, above the smog and fray and hypocritical (and all too ironic) tawdry explosions that rock this little night sky of ours. Carbon monoxic cloudy wafts loosed over erstwhile green and eco-Portland, celebratory to a freedom its Occupy set were decrying the death of not but two months ago.
I was going to write about racism, actually. Something that has been gnawing at my mind since seeing a hateful email shared by writer Charles Blow yesterday. Gnawing long and hardily on the subject well before that, but put into words from thoughtless expression over the past twenty-four.
For another tirade. I’m galvanized instead by the unsubtle explosions about me, by the pyrotechnic fervor that sweeps this great state of things of ours. A good thing, I’m certain. Bread, circuses, and explosions- things to ultimately cut past the daily crap and grab onto the tail of stuff people really do like.
Explosions. Chaos. Uproar. A stable bit of inconsequential mayhem, fired off and away from ourselves and communities. Something childish and spectacular and utterly diverting. Something to wave a flag at, surrendering finally to fate after that last unwanted char-broiled frank. Something to forget about ourselves, to remember distant inconsequential, utterly important pasts.
Explosions. Halcyon diversions one or two days a year. Some thing where even we can say “I am a Dear Dirty American, Gods bless it.” To sing it, blow it up, and forget every little thing we every possibly cared about, stood for, or hoped to someday become as a nation. Yemenis, mostly; some Americans thrown into the mix. Because really, on a holiday like today we’re all Americans, yeah?