Happy 4th of July

4th of July starts early in Los Angeles. Firework stands materialize in hot, cracked parking lots, facing the hot, cracked streets in the hot, cracked working class neighborhoods like the traveling medicine shows of centuries past. The moment the sky grows dark on July the 3rd, a pop, pop, popping echoes near and far across the South & Central areas. Gripping the wheel at 80mph on the westbound 105 Freeway, the sky lighting red & gold, while those gentlemen drivers for whom 80mph is just not fast enough must now tailgate, zigzag, intimidate and tempt everybody’s fate as if westward LA freeway at 9:30 at night on July the 3rd is some kind of race to freedom, a mad dash toward some glittering prize while right here, right now, is just not good enough. The little speedways and raceways of these old L.A. suburbs have long been paved over in favor of the great shopping mall, parking lot complexes that are the new standard, the new landscape here in the land of the free. In this landscape, where any real feeling of freedom is maddeningly elusive, the freeway then goes berserk, pedal to the metal in shiny new cars we can’t afford, blowing off steam while the toy rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air just might tug at some mythic national memory, might cause us to pause and puzzle over some unspoken yearning for national unity, might stir those battered and repressed notions of revolution, justice, reason, purpose and hope. …just might someday get us off this insane freeway and out of these metallic death traps. Just might one day find us comfortable in our own skin, hopeful of the future once again, with leaders who are more than self-serving, corrupt, liars and thieves. Leaders who are worthy of something more than well-deserved contempt and simmering ridicule. Is the spirit of 1776 stirring somewhere out there in your hot, cracked parking lots in your hot, cracked neighborhoods? God knows we need it. Happy 4th of July, my fellow Americans.

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