Monday, July 5, 2010

Neighborhood fireworks

The neighborhood fireworks display projects American values much more forcefully than any extravaganza orchestrated by a large organization.

The neighborhood shoot-up is spontaneous, unpredictable and self-directed. If you want to light a few firecrackers and bottle rockets and call it a night before last light, fine. If you want to spend a week’s pay recreating what Francis Scott Key saw, have at it. If you hate fireworks, close your doors and plug your ears for three hours.

Viewing the blasts from your front yard is a 360-degree around, 180-degree aloft, head-spinning experience. If you look in one direction, you will probably miss something behind you. If you look high at the colorful firebursts, you will miss the grounded sparklers. After a while, you realize it doesn’t matter where you look; something is sure to pop up.

In any case, many individuals are contributing all at once, delivering an overall effect that is more stunning than an orchestrated demonstration that forces you to look at one thing at a time. It’s the exciting one-and-many experience of American culture.

This video sort of tells a story and strives to render the spectacle. But fireworks never come off well when mediated, whether by photography or video, wobbly or still. Next year, find a neighborhood where fireworks are legal and prevalent, and see for yourself.