Life, Liberty, and the Sneaky Pursuit of Happines

To celebrate Independence day, I wanted to celebrate my lack of a full time job with a free firework display. Max wanted to go somewhere not too jam-packed, and close to downtown so we could go dancing afterward.

Max’s roommate gave us a tip about a good place to watch the fireworks (without having to deal with crowds or traffic) in the Castle Hill neighborhood. Castle Hill is named for a small castle on 11th street, built in 1870 atop a stepped hill, for reasons known to the military institute.

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Each level of the hill has a cement face, forming an ideal graffiti gallery. The cement slabs displayed graffiti of varying levels of graffiti proficiency.

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We climbed to the uppermost plateau. Our perch wasn’t  all  that close the fireworks, but still offered a pretty good view.

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I had recently bought a chilled can of cider concealed in a paper bag, trimmed to a custom fit by a kindly beer store employee. Others were not so circumspect, leaving their drinks out in the open. The celebrants next to us threw snappy exploding things at their lady companions on the ledge below. “Watch your footing!” one yelled, before hurling his projectile at the girls (seen below fleeing for safety).

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Before the sunset cops came and asked if anyone was with the Hope Foundation. If we weren’t with the Hope Foundation, they said, we were considered trespassers.

With heavy hearts we left the graffiti wonderland and sought a new firework refuge.

A few blocks away we spotted people clustered on the roof of a parking garage. As we made our way for the stairs to the roof, a plump man in a yellow SECURITY shirt asked us if we were parked in the garage, or if we were just there for the fireworks. “Just the fireworks.” “Well, you’re not allowed, but I don’t care.”

The top of the garage featured a statue of a rooster, a fish, and a hunk of cheese.

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Some women parked next to us tuned their radio to the public radio station broadcasting patriotic orchestra music, live from the official grounds of the fireworks display.

I sipped my cider even more sneakily than before.

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Our view of the fireworks was partially blocked by a high-rise apartment building, but we got to admire the explosions reflected on the windows of surrounding buildings, which almost made up for our incomplete view.

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Tall buildings should be illegal.

Afterward, we walked five or six blocks through stumbling crowds of revelers to Plush, a lovely hole in the wall that frequently hosts electronic music. It was empty until exactly 11:34, when about twenty people suddenly strutted in, most in faintly patriotic clubbing outfits.

We had a few drinks, witnessed a mild dance battle and then headed home to Max’s place, conveniently walking distance from downtown. Ain’t no laws against drinking and strolling.


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