Tuesday, July 04, 2017 2:45 PM
Happy Fourth of July! (2017Jul04)
Barbecues to the left of us, barbecues to the right of us—anyone with any sense has snaked themselves an invite to a hot-dog-themed gathering today—or they just don’t salivate at the smoky scent of briquette and beef-blood. Things are pretty quiet compared to the Independence Days of yore—I remember a lot more drinking, rubber-burning, outdoor sound systems, and the incessant background of gunpowder exploding, for days, reaching its crescendo today—or rather tonight, when the sun sets and any high vantage point will likely afford a view of an incendiary spectacle.
But I am ashamed to admit that it is 3PM on the Fourth of July and I don’t hear a firecracker, or a hawg with a bad muffler, or even a lonely, far-off guitar lick—Americans have turned their focus from celebration and pride to conflict and challenge. The new gladiators of our new circus: talking heads of cable news and trolls of social media—and they fight with words—literally fight with words—trying to say their truth loudly enough to make it The truth. It’s a pale shadow of the USA of the seventies.
When I think of Evel Knievel, riding his jet-bike (his personal response to the question, “How high and how far can a wheeled vehicle go with the driver surviving?”) and compare that to today’s ‘daredevil of words’, President Trump (who offers us his response to the challenge, “How false and self-serving can free speech reach before it becomes a crime?”) I can’t help but feel that we have achieved digress, not progress. I doubt that today’s barefaced political double-talk could have survived, back when people spent most of their time socializing in person.
And while I personally prefer it nice and quiet like this, I can’t help but feel nostalgia for the more dynamic society we once were. This new world of staying home and never taking our eyes off our screens and keyboards—it lacks a certain joie de vivre, if you don’t mind my saying. And I can prove it without a poll, too: the birth-rate in America is plummeting. Will we be distracted into extinction by handheld gadgets and spinners and past-times and TV? Have we become so overly civilized that we can masturbate the day away, without once physically touching ourselves?
So, I suggest that, this Fourth, all able-bodied Americans celebrate this day with some fireworks in the bedroom—show a little life—let’s put some points on the old tally board—because later, the bigger the crowd, the cooler it will sound when we all chant, “USA! USA!” Then again, Independence Day and parenting are mutually exclusive, when you think about it—so, never mind. But at least go outside and throw a damn Frisbee.