Monthly Archives: July 2011

Berkeley Fourth: The Knuckleheads’ Turn

I confess: I think whoever it is in the neighborhood who’s still setting off firework as we’re moving toward midnight is (are) knucklehead(s). Never mind that even “safe and sane” fireworks are supposedly banned in Berkeley. From the little I saw strolling up around the corner this a little after 10, there was a bad mix of alcohol and clueless adults trying to please their mostly unsupervised kids. At one point, someone through a smoke bomb (apparently accidentally) in front of a cyclist who was riding down the street. Someone else sent up a couple of low-rise skyrockets without any apparent consideration of where the live cinders might come down (a neighbor’s roof and a redwood tree).

Knuckleheads.

In the distance, lots of ordnance going off. And some of it really is ordnance. Amid the loud pyrotechnics and potentially digit-severing small explosives, one hears occasional series of very regular, rapid reports. One presumes those come from fellow citizens celebrating the Second Amendment by firing off surplus 9-millimeter ammo. Distant sirens sound continuously. If John Adams could only see what his great anniversary festival has turned into.

Anyway. Here on our placid street, long before the concussive terrors that descend with the lowering of night, we had our Fourth of July picnic. A staple of this celebration: a watermelon-seed-spitting contest. Various categories of contestants, from young uns to novices to “pros,” try for distance (our neighborhood record: 43 feet and some inches) and accuracy. We also have what started out as a “trick spit” category and has now turned into a sort of improv theater “spit skit” — often referring to politics or sports or popular movies. In the past, we’ve had take-offs on “Star Wars” (“The Phantom Melon”), “Titanic,” and “The Sopranos” (“The Seed-pranos”).

What’s the flavor of the event? Here’s today’s “trick spit,” “The King’s Spit.” And yes, this actually was performed.

In a nation that long ago shed the chains of monarchy … and that has plenty of problems without having to deal with a bunch of hereditary narcissists … who gives a spit anymore about the royals? We do!

And since that’s the case … we want to bring you a very special moment in the history of the House of Windsor … where Prince Bertie is getting ready for his public debut – his very first solo spit … in front of the whole neighborhood.

Bertie

Hello, everyone. I have … a very special slice … of watermelon … from my dad … the king!

Crowd

Oooooohhhhhhh!!!

Bertie

Here … goes!

(Dribbles a seed onto his shirt).


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Berkeley Fourth: The Knuckleheads’ Turn

I confess: I think whoever it is in the neighborhood who’s still setting off firework as we’re moving toward midnight is (are) knucklehead(s). Never mind that even “safe and sane” fireworks are supposedly banned in Berkeley. From the little I saw strolling up around the corner this a little after 10, there was a bad mix of alcohol and clueless adults trying to please their mostly unsupervised kids. At one point, someone through a smoke bomb (apparently accidentally) in front of a cyclist who was riding down the street. Someone else sent up a couple of low-rise skyrockets without any apparent consideration of where the live cinders might come down (a neighbor’s roof and a redwood tree).

Knuckleheads.

In the distance, lots of ordnance going off. And some of it really is ordnance. Amid the loud pyrotechnics and potentially digit-severing small explosives, one hears occasional series of very regular, rapid reports. One presumes those come from fellow citizens celebrating the Second Amendment by firing off surplus 9-millimeter ammo. Distant sirens sound continuously. If John Adams could only see what his great anniversary festival has turned into.

Anyway. Here on our placid street, long before the concussive terrors that descend with the lowering of night, we had our Fourth of July picnic. A staple of this celebration: a watermelon-seed-spitting contest. Various categories of contestants, from young uns to novices to “pros,” try for distance (our neighborhood record: 43 feet and some inches) and accuracy. We also have what started out as a “trick spit” category and has now turned into a sort of improv theater “spit skit” — often referring to politics or sports or popular movies. In the past, we’ve had take-offs on “Star Wars” (“The Phantom Melon”), “Titanic,” and “The Sopranos” (“The Seed-pranos”).

What’s the flavor of the event? Here’s today’s “trick spit,” “The King’s Spit.” And yes, this actually was performed.

In a nation that long ago shed the chains of monarchy … and that has plenty of problems without having to deal with a bunch of hereditary narcissists … who gives a spit anymore about the royals? We do!

And since that’s the case … we want to bring you a very special moment in the history of the House of Windsor … where Prince Bertie is getting ready for his public debut – his very first solo spit … in front of the whole neighborhood.

Bertie

Hello, everyone. I have … a very special slice … of watermelon … from my dad … the king!

Crowd

Oooooohhhhhhh!!!

Bertie

Here … goes!

(Dribbles a seed onto his shirt).


Continue reading

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Berkeley Fourth of July: Taiko Drumming

taiko070311.jpg

For more than the last couple of years, we’ve made a habit of rising early the first weekend of the Tour de France and having a few neighbors over to watch a stage (the first Sunday of the Tour generally features the first full stage; not this year, though, as the race opened with a big stage yesterday and then changed things up today with a team time trial). So we did that this morning with our neighbors Marie and Steve. Then in the course of the rest of the day, first I took a nap, then Kate did amid a series of chores she was doing. Then we took The Dog for a walk up to campus and back.

On the way up Virginia Street, we could hear drumming. Just east of McGee, people were holding a block party, and the group pictured above was entertaining a small crowd. Fourth of July Weekend Taiko Drumming–it was a first for me.

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Friday Night Ferry Building (Again)

ferrybuilding070111.jpg

The Ferry Building on a warm beginning to the Fourth of July weekend. And the camera doesn’t lie (much)–the light really was that warm and beautiful. (Why the flag is flying at half-staff: in honor of two San Francisco firefighters who died in early June in a house fire.)

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A Brief Tour of the Fireworks

In my other (paid, employed) life, I also sometimes blog. This morning, I was called upon to blog about which towns in the Bay Area are holding fireworks celebrations. I discovered that some other local media outlets had come up with good lists, so rather than invent the wheel with my limited time and resources, I simply linked to what had been done well elsewhere. Of course, that wasn’t enough for me, so I dressed up the post with a dash of Fourth of July fireworks history. Including part of this widely cited passage (note the mention of future celebrations) from a letter John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

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Filed under Berkeley, Current Affairs, History

A Brief Tour of the Fireworks

In my other (paid, employed) life, I also sometimes blog. This morning, I was called upon to blog about which towns in the Bay Area are holding fireworks celebrations. I discovered that some other local media outlets had come up with good lists, so rather than invent the wheel with my limited time and resources, I simply linked to what had been done well elsewhere. Of course, that wasn’t enough for me, so I dressed up the post with a dash of Fourth of July fireworks history. Including part of this widely cited passage (note the mention of future celebrations) from a letter John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

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