A bang-up job

The morning clouds have been something to celebrate.

The only firecracker I personally set off today was a itty-bitty kiddie snap-pop left over from the previous night’s celebration in the cul-de-sac, a neighbor’s lightly explosive summertime labor of love. I hit it with a tire as I rolled out for an Independence Day bike ride.


That felt about right, considering.

Albuquerque seemed unusually quiet for a Fourth of July, and I wondered once again whether The Duck! City is a place that people leave for a holiday, not one they visit.

Or maybe we’re all just wondering whether there’s anything left of America to celebrate.

We had a good group at last night’s fireworks show. Not exactly a representative sample of the U.S. population — hey, this is the ’burbs, and the foothills to boot — but if we were heavy on white-collar types from the university, the lab, and the government, we also had people of color and a sizable crop of kids, the most I’ve ever seen at one of these shindigs.

There were snacks and beverages and folding chairs. Squeals of delight from the young, and oohs and ahhs from the rest of us, with the occasional round of applause for a particularly percussive fountain.

The show didn’t start until 8:30 and so we were up a little later than we like, and I may have been a little grumpier than usual as I toured the foothills this morning on my old road-racing bike. Frowned as some oblivious tool blew right through a stop sign. Got mildly irked at an American flag protruding from a New Mexican zia with a security camera built in. (One nation, under surveillance.) And I actually flipped the bird to a banner reading, “Don’t Blame Us, We Voted for Trump!”

Finally, motorists eastbound on Paseo del Norte still haven’t figured out the new right-turn configuration at Tramway. Jesus wept, etc. You want to watch your ass cycling southbound if you ever want to see another fireworks show.

All this being said, there are bright spots. One of them is out there in the cul-de-sac right now with a leaf blower, clearing away any detritus he might have overlooked last night as the rest of us headed for bed.

He doesn’t have to do it. It’s a free country, amirite? But he’s doing it anyway, and not just for show, either. He does it because it’s a nice thing to do.


21 Responses to “A bang-up job”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Oof. You just reminded me to take down the flag before sunset.

  2. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Right around my ex-home town of Waukegan. Lots of money in Lake Forest and Highland Park. Moneyed folks don’t like this shit in their backyard, so maybe something will change? Nah, the fucking turtle and his buddies would filibuster it.

  3. Shawn Says:

    Yes. There’s something special about the howl and whine of a leaf blower in the evening before I head off to bed. But, with appreciative respect for your neighbor’s efforts, the quiet whish, whish of a broom would be my holiday happy ending. Although perhaps he was doing such action because of a grouchy old fart pissing and a’moanin when his skinny tired bike ran over a holiday bang popper.

    Regarding the mental troubles that exist in all countries, we can be assured in ours’ that when we’re out enjoying ourselves with friends and family in public places, we at least have the Freedom to get up and run like hell in any direction to avoid flying lead and shrapnel.

    But violence and sadness is nothing new. I’m sure that before we had global media and telecommunications, horror and mayhem occurred as much as it does now. Well, at least when some maniac hasn’t declared was on another country or region.

    I hope that when you all got up this morning, the pleasant clouds of fair weather were smiling down upon you.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      Well, 309 mass shootings this year in the US and 11 in July. Mass shootings are defined as 4 or more people shot dead or wounded, not counting the shooter, at one time. This happens no where else in the world at this level; we are going for a record number this year. It is a relatively new thing. Bet the Highland Park murderer didn’t use a Model 94 Winchester rifle or an 870 Remington shotgun. We know what the problem is but are unwilling to fix it. So, this shit will continue.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      According to AP, he fired 70 rounds from an AR-15 type rifle.

    • khal spencer Says:

      But we almost egg more of these young men on.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        He writes that we are having vigorous debates about banning assault rifles and high capacity magazines. I don’t see any evidence of that, at least in the institutions that have the power to actually ban them. Most politicians use strong rhetoric about guns, including political ads, but real debate and compromise just isn’t happening. Highland Park has an ordinance banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, but Illinois and the surrounding towns do not. So, interesting treatise on another contributing factor of mass shootings. It is nothing more than that, and we know why the body count is so high.

        • khal spencer Says:

          Most of his article is on the sociology side. He parallels that Malcolm Gladwell piece of a few years back.


          The two sides of the gun debate have dug themselves in pretty well. Progressives calling on bans, and Conservatives refusing any regulation whatsoever. No one will move. Biden at one point suggested modifying the NFA to make certain semiauto rifles regulated more like machine guns, but I heard crickets about that. I’d be happy if someone had to jump through a few tougher hoops to buy these things, rather than simply clear the 4473 form.

          Meanwhile, New York State rushes though a “new improved” concealed carry law likely to be litigated to death, just to get even with the Supreme Court, and half the states in the union have gone to permitless public carry. So I see no way out of the problem of crossing state lines to get one’s Plastic Fantastic Rifle, Mondo Magazine, or bucket ‘o bullets.

          There are probably twenty to thirty million ARs out there in civilian hands and God knows how many magazines, which are easily made on a 3D printer. What I have read is that very few people have complied with the AR registration process in NYS. Just gone underground and in red parts of Upstate, the cops do a Sgt. Schultz.

          I think the genie is out of the bottle and there are, as that article says, far too many disaffected or aimless young men who want to go out in a blaze of infamy. Short of a sea change in politics, I can’t see the bottom.

          I told my wife to saw my AR up or melt it down if I croak or become incapacitated before she does. We have a couple of key friends who will help her out. I want it gone when I no longer have control over it. The traditional bolt, pump, and target stuff can be given to my relatives or sold. Short of another Charles Whitman coming along, I’m not too worried about my Model 70 being used in a mass killing.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          Talk is all we’re gonna get on this topic. We have decided as a nation that we’re OK with this sort of thing. It’s part of the cost of doing business in the Second Amendment’s neighborhood. A couple dozen citizens get dropped and the survivors limp off to add to their own gun collections.

          Same goes for traffic deaths. The vehicles get bigger, the roads stay the same size, and any keening over the body count just sort of fades into the background noise of honking, cursing and (yes, gunfire).

          God bet on the wrong monkeys, is what. It seems a safe bet that when it’s down to the last two of us, stranded on a shrinking ice floe adrift in a warming sea under the darkening clouds of methane, we will be trying to murder each other.

  4. SAO' Says:

    The last 20 years, in 28 seconds.

    8 seconds: Tea Party
    15 seconds: Trumpism
    20 seconds: SCOTUS

    • Shawn Says:

      Unfortunately for SCROTUM, uh, I mean SCOTUS, I believe it is 20 seconds and counting.

      Regarding fireworks, alcohol and folks who don’t think things through very well: It sure is intriguing to watch. It appears that the scramblers scrambled fast enough to avoid flammable injury. Let’s hope that they made it through without injuries and can appreciate their shiny new Darwin award. I wonder if the minivan survived the incendiary maelstrom – Let’s place all of our fireworks right near the back of the van where the fuel tank is.

  5. Shawn Says:

    Regarding your masthead: The name Missy Giove is brought to mind. Chaos on two wheels. Yep, that sums up the state of affairs at this time.

    • Derek M Lenahan Says:

      Missy might run herself into trees before races and be wound really, really tight and she might have crashed as much as she won, but that was often during a certain time. She went all out every time but she wasn’t an idiot. she walked courses, etc. You can hear the guy on the porch saying it wasn’t going to work because he didn’t fire it from the tube right before the shit goes down.

  6. DownhillBill Says:

    Remember, folks, natural selection is our friend. It’s good for the species.

  7. campandgoslo Says:

    Your block party description brings back fonds memories for me of our block party in San Diego in the 80’s. One neighbor’s father who would come out from Buffalo NY 9Italian guy spoke little english) he stayed with this daughters family for the summer, would literally sweep the street and sidewalk the day before and the day after the party. I think that he must have been an retired employee of Colnago?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      These gatherings are what makes a neighborhood, for sure. The folks who put on our annual fireworks show are indispensible. They mind other people’s kids and dogs, distribute bounty from their garden, and just plain make the cul-de-sac a better place to live.

      When we lived in the Greater Patty Jewett Yacht & Gun Club Neighborhood up in Bibleburg we had a real block party that shut down streets and hired a band. As far as I know it was the homeowners’ association’s only chore. It was a pot-luck deal and neighbors would wander around with plates of grub and frosty beverages catching up on who was doing what to whom.

      The unofficial mayor of the GPJY&GCN was Paulette, who patrolled the ’hood with her dog Bob and knew everything about everybody. She’d roll right up to you and start grilling you like a copper. She would’ve made a great reporter.

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