Tuesday, July 05, 2005

July Fourth: The Pompous Intellectual's Experience

So, I had a nice July 4th - spent it programming. I also watched fireworks, since I live on the 'roof' level of an apartment building, and the half of the level which is actually roof looks out over the bay quite clearly.

According to the landlord, there are generally 70 people on the roof watching the fireworks. Which means that the actual number is probably closer to 50 than 70. But this year, a massive disinformation campaign was launched by some of the other residents. In the ten minutes I spent eating on the deck, I saw 10 people convinced to go elsewhere because "the barge parks behind that one building, so you can't see the low fireworks" and because "the roof is really crowded - 70+ people, it's packed" and because "you can really see it a lot better from X location, and they won't stop you from lighting your fireworks".

It was definitely disinformation. As I expected, the barge did NOT park in the exact same spot two years running, and spent this year clearly in our view. Like some kind of perverse self-fulfilling prophecy, the information about the number of attendees rapidly became disinformation. It was very amusing.

So, in the end, I got to watch the fireworks with maybe a dozen other people. It took half a second for the low fireworks' sounds to reach us, ranging up to two seconds for the highest ones. That means they were going off between approximately 600 and 2000 feet away, meaning the barge, which was actually below the lowest fireworks due to the huge hill, was probably 800 or so feet away from me. In turn, this means that firework heights can be measured in hundreds of feet, rather than thousands.

Someday, I'd like to be involved in a fireworks' show. Designing it, or just lighting the wicks or whatever. I think it would be fun.

As a side note, I think it's very amusing that most states have a law specifically designed to be broken. "No fireworks!" is a law in every state I've lived in. This has the effect of concentrating all the fireworks into July 4th (and, to a much lesser extent, new year's). In my eyes, the end result is that July 4th has an incredible PUNCH to it, because it is the only time of the year in which it is accepted (even if technically illegal) that people will light off these incredibly delightful pyrotechnics. I am, in fact, hard pressed to think of a method which is anywhere near as efficient as fireworks at leaving a big mark - if an ephemeral one - on the world. Moreover, on that day they are appreciated. You will receive CHEERS for an impressive fireworking, as opposed to other nights, where few people will notice and most of those will be irritated.

Whether they intended to or not, the United States focused all the power of festival into one day with that one law.

With a few more carefully placed edicts, they could make that day into a frenzied festival the likes of which most Americans haven't seen outside a frat. Frankly, I can think of nothing better for national solidarity than a gleeful celebration of the founding.

ANYHOW, it was neat. I hope you enjoyed your weekend, whether you got to see fireworks or not.


Anderson Oliveira said...

Hi !

Have you ever experienced the Fireworks show in Rio de Janeiro,( Brazil ) for New Year's Day ? Copacabana beach gets crowded with almost two and a half million people, all dressed in white as a reference to Peace and also a trait of the Afro roots of brazilian people's religion and it's a 20 minutes huge show with 6 Fireworks spots in the water, over some floating platforms located at about 300 meters from the beach sand. I really recommend it !

Craig Perko said...

Brazil is a bit of a hike for me, although I once considered moving to that general region. :)