03 July 2009

“The Nearby Explosions”

In anticipation of Independence Day, here's a quick extract from Steve Macone's Boston Globe essay about the temptation and dangers of illegal fireworks (illegal in Massachusetts, that is):

As an adolescent, fireworks were a kind of currency. You’d take them out of a backpack while your friends perched nearby on bikes and set them off in a spending spree.

Once, my father walked by and caught us. Just happened to be walking by, he said at the time. How unfortunate, I thought at age 12, to have my father be out taking a stroll, which he had never done before, and have him stumble upon us. It wasn’t, of course, the fact that he found troubling the combination of my not being home and the nearby explosions. . . .

We all know what’s good about fireworks. There’s something of the American ideal in their upward trajectory and beauty on the backdrop of open space. The fingers of the explosions, shooting off in exponential pathways, are a sort of Manifest Destiny writ large across the sky. And each beach organization always trying to improve upon last year’s show is like pyrotechnics as a sign of progress.

But that’s where fireworks belong: in the sky, not in kids’ hands--reflected in a child’s glimmering eyes, not lodged there. No one ever watches the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and thinks, “You know, I would like to orchestrate a smaller yet more dangerous version of that in my backyard.”
And that was true even before the Macy's balloons started crippling people.

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