Great Fireworks

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / pk by Age / Art Publisher /
@ K. 2002 01 06

  1. Lots of population centers put on big celebrations. New York isn’t likely to be easily outdone, either city or state, in the fireworks department. As a kid I was taken to Jones Beach on the evenings of July 4th. As an adult I’d watch the celebrations from the Apple itself. The tall ships of the Bicentennial were memorable, [note] but it’s a 4th of a decade or so earlier that I’ll never forget. New York’s fireworks that year were sponsored by Macy’s. The rockets were launched from ship deck on the Hudson: a pair of coordinated ships. I watch at my girl friend’s place on Riverside and 116th Street. At twelve stories, the roof gave the best view around. By coincidence I run into a high school friend who’d shared an 118th and Morningside apartment with me a few years earlier on that very rooftop. He’s with some guy I’d never seen before or since. The fireworks were good: as usual, very good. When of a sudden the fireworks climaxed in the most amazing finale I’ve ever seen. We were whooping, whistling, applauding. We could hear the whoops and whistles from other rooftops as well. All except for my buddy’s friend. He’s crying and carrying on. “Oh, no. Stop it, stop it. It’s horrible. Oh, no. People burning, people drowning.”
    But the fireworks were so spectacular, his carrying on was just an oddity. I don’t think he really brought anybody down: until the next day, the Times article. One of the two ships had had an accident. That was no finale we’d seen: the ship had blown up. Much loss of life.
    The guy must have had vision like Ted Williams. Not just accurate vision over distance, but accurate night vision. Until I entered my late forties I’d boasted exceptional vision. I’d see things from a hundred miles only to discover than my companions didn’t know what I was talking about till we’d driven close up. But I never saw the bodies burning in the water; I only saw the great show.
    Brr.
  2. I’m sure Washington DC regularly puts on good Fourth of July celebrations but I experienced one that couldn’t have been planned if the Pentagon had devoted the entire military budget to it. I wouldn’t likely have been in the early 1980s. I’d made a lot of money. The money had evaporated. I was in DC to sell some art as usual. My mother-in-law #B had invited me for dinner, after which we’d watch the fireworks over the Mall. I should explain: I married Hilary. Hilary’s parents had divorced and both had remarried. Her father had remarried a much younger woman: Gloria. So I had four parents-in-law, every one of them with a goddamn Ph.D. in economics and me a future Jay Hanson fan! (Hilary demanded a divorce in 1973 or thereabouts. (That was a year I believe where divorce was a prerequisite for admission to the burgeoning feminist groups.) I cooperated as little as possible. So far as I know we’re still married: we just remained incommunicado for decades.) (She phoned when I turned sixty. These days I email her now and again.) [2017 still true]
    I was buying, but Gloria was to show me an Ethiopian restaurant: good spices she promised. Gloria had moved to one of DC’s state-named Avenues, one that Columbia slashes into: right near the Mall. The restaurant was a walk up Columbia. We hadn’t gone a block when the heaven’s opened up. We ducked into a Spanish joint and wound up having a paella to sit out the spectacularly violent storm. The rain finally ceased long enough for us to scramble back to her place but the skies continued to flash and grumble. “Do you think they’ll cancel the show?” I asked. The rain had begun again. At least now we were in her good solid building. “Do you have a good raincoat for the walk to the Mall? Do you have something I can use: a big plastic trash bag or something?”
    “I had no intention of going back out,” Gloria said. “We’ll watch from here.”
    I wasn’t at all sure how to interpret that. After Hilary and I separated I had little contact with her family until one day Gloria, now widowed, was present in the car when my son and I were driving someplace. She’s said things — in front of Brian — that could have been interpreted as flirting. I wasn’t sure. I ignored them: as much as I can use alliances with anyone with income: and part of what she’d said had been income related: something about how I needed a woman to support me. “I don’t mean me …” she added, but the way she looked at me, maybe she did mean herself. The last thing I needed was another complication. I played deaf and dumb. But there I was: alone in her place with her for the first time since that comment. Uh oh. I think she’s having a drink. I’d been dry as a bone for a few years. She’d had a problem as I remembered. ….
    Boom!
    I guess they’re having the fireworks after all. “You said we could see them from here?”
    “Yes,” she says. “Come to the window.”
    I did. Wow. I’d had no idea. I’d known her town house on N Street very well, when Hilary’s father was alive, but here I was seeing her widow’s digs for the first time: and only at her specific invitation was I venturing far into them. Her living room , from the big windows, seemed practically to be in the Washington Mall’s airspace. What a view. Our line of sight was unobstructed across the Mall, across the Potomac, and for miles into the rolling fields of Virginia. From the Capital looking south you could think that we still lived in the Eighteenth Century: good horse country: no commercial or residential developments in view of the Mall, thank you.
    In my Long Beach apartment, from my sixth floor terrace, living room, kitchen, bedroom … I could see nothing but beach, ocean, and sky. I knew I had neighbors, but I couldn’t see them: not without leaning out and craning my neck. Maybe there were people on the boardwalk. But I couldn’t see them: or hear them. All I heard from my sixth floor was the surf. And the wind. Gloria’s apartment too had that effect. We were suspended as it were over the Mall: and there, hung in space before us, for our delectation, was the multi-colored burst of a rocket.
    Now: that in itself would have been something: a memorable fireworks proscenium. Private show of public wealth: for pk.
    As the show developed, other human sounds came to us: Gloria’s building and its neighbors had people on the roof: no doubt other living rooms with their windows open and occupied as well. We heard comments, whistles, applause … As the show progressed, the rain started up again: not so bad though as to dim our view. It was extra beautiful to see the colors through a bit of mist. And the backdrop of Virginia’s rolling grasses had become dramatically a darkling purple. The thunder had never stopped grumbling, and now the lightning recommenced in earnest. But I swear: This time Thor was playing it like a jazz musician trading fours with the drummer. Boom! we’d hear the rocket. Ker-splash-beautiful, we’d see the color display. Then Boom! we’d hear the thunder, and

    Shazaam!

    We’d see the lighting frame the fireworks!

    2017 07 05 Something very similar occurred last night. Jan and I set up her bench out of her dock, armed with laundry softeners to swipe at the mosquitoes. Around 8:45 fireworks began all around Lake Charlotte: some from neighbors on the lake, others from gated communiites all around west Sebring. There was a black wall of cloud sitting on the horizon to the west, lit all night long by heat lightning. I love it: man would set off his rockets, we talked of Francis Scott Key, and God said, You think that’s something; dig this!!! Again, like musicians’ “fours”.
    The gnats overwhelmed us by 9:15. Jan and I fled indoors where we still had a great view. I squeezed out a victory in Chinese Cheheckers: won the backgammon by only one roll, and we passed on the rummycubes for that evening: time for a hug.

  3. If it were up to the public, pk might not live at all. Thanks to the love of a woman, pk now [2002] lives in a trailer park. It’s a dumpy trailer park, smack next door to the manufacturing site of a fireworks artist. Ed does fireworks among others for the Walt Disney monstrosity up the road in Orlando. Ed puts on a free show for Sebring FL every New Year’s at midnight. The third of my memorable fireworks stories may be the most memorable of all, but it’s one I didn’t see. My bed is within a couple of hundred feet of the rocket launch. Perhaps half of the New Year’s midnights of the past half-dozen years have found me asleep. It’s not that I go to be early; it’s that I go to bed anytime I’m sleepy: whether it’s 3 PM, 11 PM or 7 AM. Ah, but my girl friend goes to bed regularly at 10:30 PM. She’ll vary an hour or so either side of that number, but on average it’s 10:30. My girl friend is fairly strict about when it’s time to make love: she likes to make love at her bed time; not just any time. So: I try to accommodate her. I may be affectionate twenty-four hours a day, but these days, I expect to get laid only sometime starting around 10:30 or 11 PM. And one night a couple of years ago, I was making love to her, was approaching climax, when suddenly I realized: it’s New Years Eve! It’s midnight.

    Boom!
    Ka-Boom!
    Ka-Baraba-Boom!

    The great Gary Jennings, in Spangle (far and away the least wonderful of his wonderful historical novels), tells of French women having pet names for their favorite German cannon in the 1870s shelling of Paris. Ooo, there goes Mon Cher Helmut again, as they climax in their beds.
    Man, I’m telling you. Fucking is so great. You’d think it couldn’t be greater. And then the earth shakes to your frequency. And it really is shaking. No metaphor.

    If rich people really could buy anything, they should buy a time machine and use it to place a bed in the middle of Waterloo, in the middle of the Battle of the Somme … I’m not sure about Hiroshima. I think that would backfire.

    I swear. Many’s a time now I’ve stood even closer to the fireworks than my bed by another seventy-five or a hundred feet. I feel as well as hear the booms. I can tell that the ground shakes. But the bed picks it up and amplifies it. I never would have guessed from standing there, the vibrations coming merely through my feet: less than a square foot, largely bone, on the ground. In bed, so long as you’re doing it lying down, regardless of who’s on top, lots of important stuff, male and female, is pressed down into the bed: where cubic youtwo is pressed down into the vibrations.

  4. 2013 09 19 The junk novel I’m just reading has a nice effect involving an MP fucking the sheriff as the midnight train goes by. Reminds me of another great fuck I had in a popup trailer where all my pots and pans, stored on shelves slung outside, under the bed, went kerjingaling at climax, landed, rolling on the ground. Every neighbor of my partner knew exactly what had just happened! end to anonymity, her affair no longer clandestine.

Notes

Bicentennial: Actually, I got so drunk that day I can hardly remember what should have been the display of the century. One Riverside Drive neighbor had a party with Tanqueray gin, and I was bleary with martinis before the other parties even started. My most buxom artist came to visit me that day — really adorable etchings, sold well — her nipples protruding through the wide mesh shirt she wore … and I forgot what I was doing: I did nothing. God! What in the world ever made anybody drink in the first place?

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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