Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Small Town 4th of July

For the 4th we all went up to Golden, a little place just 10 minutes up the mountain from here.

This is the first time I've ever participated in a "small town" Independence Day celebration. I'm used to big beach bashes with friends or the kinds of mega-celebrations you tend to get in SoCal.

A few quick observations on this new cross-cultural experience.

---Golden may be small, but the security is tight.

While saving a parking place I momentarily dropped one of our backpacks in the empty slot next to my car. I walked 30 ft. to throw something in a trashcan, and as I headed back to the car two Golden police vehicles screeched up and a couple of cops jumped out and carefully checked out the backpack.

I caught on right away and had to suppress my laughter. They thought I might be an Islamic terrorist ready to blow up the celebration even before the fireworks went off.

Leaving the backpack alone in an empty spot was my big mistake.

Most of us wouldn't think of doing something like that in an airport, but it never crossed my mind that the police in dinky Golden would be concerned. Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney Fife were definitely ready to thwart the big attack.

They were very cool about it. After I showed 'em my ID I said "Sorry to give you guys a start." The oldest cop replied, "Oh, people sometimes lose things."

Yeah, and I'm sure they normally send multiple squad cars out to retrieve lost and found items.

I thought his comment was unusually kind. What he probably wanted to say was, "What were you thinking, you bonehead?!" While the intense security suggested "large city," the cops' attitude definitely said, "welcome to Mayberry."

---There must be a rule at small town 4th of July celebrations that men should look as silly as possible. A subsidiary rule states that children should look nearly as silly as their fathers. See above.

I thought the guys were pretty funny. Since the 4th of July is mostly a celebration of all the ways America is not like sophisticated and socially oriented European countries like Britain and France, what better way to capture the spirit of the thing than by looking goofy and demonstrating your own very personal bad taste?

To be fair, it's hard to avoid looking dumb on the 4th. As long as people insist on wearing clothes covered with various American flag designs, there really is no escape from the essentially silly look of the star spangled banner.

We're all emotionally intimate with the flag on one level or another. So we may miss how goofy the colors and design really are. I've always thought it looked like it was designed by a clown at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey.

Why couldn't the Founding Fathers have chosen a cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing look? Take the flag of Botswana, for example:

Now, think of all those people at the 4th of July celebration wearing clothes with variations on that flag design See what I mean? Instant good taste, as far as I'm concerned.

---Golden is dominated by the Coors Brewing Company, the venerable Colorado institution led by the very conservative evangelical Coors family. They market their stuff by associating the beer with big cleavage and extreme sports with an emphasis on the cleavage. I'm sure they paid for most or all of the celebration.

Vendors sold Coors at stands spaced 50 feet apart. This contributed significantly to the silliness index as some folks who were dressed stupidly began to act that way too.

The city supplied 10 Porta-Potties for a crowd of many thousands. When the beer stand to bathroom ratio is one-to-one you've got a pretty uninhibited crowd that's really gotta go.

So the lines for the bathrooms were very long and filled with lots of people crossing their legs and hopping up and down.

Rebecca and I took a dip in Clear Creek, a beautiful river that runs right through Golden. When we went to the Porta-Potties to change our clothes I had the opportunity to get to know one of the Coors family's best customers while waiting in line.

He insisted he'd seen me "riding your kayak" in Clear Creek and told me how cool I was and how much he loved and respected kayakers.

I told him I wasn't in a kayak.

He wasn't having any of it and kept praising my skill and courage.

Colorado lushes may be the only drunks in the country that have delirious delusions of kayaking.

---Overall, I loved the whole thing in spite of the overzealous police and the inordinant chemical influence.

Most people seemed to have a great time--very welcoming and friendly all the way around.

The Golden civic band played through the entire event and they were really good--they did a bunch of pretty sophisticated patriotic stuff by Copeland and George Gerswhin as well as the expected pop standards.

The fireworks were exciting.

And it's pretty hard to beat the natural surroundings in Golden--really striking red mesas under a blue sky on the north horizon and green Mt. Zion to the south.

I think we'll probably do it again next year.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did you get a picture of my uncle and cousins? I didn't know that you knew them, or that they had travelled all the way from good ole' East Tennessee to Golden, CO to celebrate the 4th of July! God bless America! - JD

10:01 PM  
Blogger TPB said...

Ah, small time life! OMG, Wordcat, that was hilarious. More so because I can imagine you, upon arrival in Golden, realizing that you had an opportunity for some good blog material.

Then you spent time walking around the crowd with a camera and a small tape recorder, saying, "Would you mind repeating what you just said into the microphone? I'm going to put this in my online journal."

12:24 AM  
Blogger Lone Ranger said...

Were you to make the flag of Botswana into a flag, you might end up in jail. I know of one instance when an air force member was thrown into prison for a few years for wearing a patch of the Turkish flag on his hip pocket.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Bob Mergaert said...

Wordcat, got to your blog with the next blog button. I enjoy your writing style, flows so well, I'll go farther back as the days go by. but so far realy good stuff. Thoughtfull, very well expressed, and insightful. Keep it coming.

12:22 AM  

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