It's like Sex and the Suburbs and 30 Rock all rolled into one…
It’s hard to top Kingston’s classiest folk. Don’t get me wrong – I love my home town – but the fireworks display on The Stand often brings out the coked up, the drunk, and the lowest class. It’s why I stopped going to see the fireworks, instead opting for the lesser but calmer celebration in Saugarties, held on the holiday itself. This sometimes meant having to drag one’s self out of bed early the next morning rather than snoozing a Sunday morning away, but it was worth it. This year, with half of the family – the point five that likes fireworks – living here in Albany, my sister and I decided to make a night of it. As soon as I got to work, we had some veggie burgers with Sweet Baby Rays and a few American lagers, from the oldest American brewery – Yuengling.
We marched from her place to the Empire Plaza. The sun was setting and were were mellowed out by a carb coma induced by beer and potato chips. In years past we don’t remember it quite so busy. Perhaps we went to the outskirts of the celebration, or perhaps cool weather or the threat of rain held people away. This year the party was going strong. I have never seen so many sweat stained man tanks with camo cargo shorts. One guy even had a tattoo on his skull. There were children with mullets.
Not everyone is a fashionista. Not everyone can afford to buy $8 dresses from H&M or Forever 21. Under no circumstances should anyone over 200 pounds cut a flag tee from Old Navy to turn it into a flimsy racer back tank. Especially if she is going to wear it with translucent white knit shorts. There’s being poor and there’s being tasteless. This particular woman who confronted our group was the latter.
We had taken a moment to pause and consider our next move. The plaza was full, and being were a little rowdy with excitement and Bud Lite. Not seeing any place obvious to move onto we decided to stay put. The woman wouldn’t have it. From her folding chair she cussed us out and told us to move on or else. She said she had picked this spot and had been in it since before noon and she was damned if we were going to ruin her view of the fireworks. When we apologized and then asked if we could stay there, but perhaps sit as to not be in the way, she was beyond rude and even a little crude – in front of her young children. So we decided to offer her the most damning of all statements – “You represent everything that is great about America.”
Now not that I want to seem unpatriotic, or even pithy, but it’s a free fireworks display. People are going to crowd the place. Why go into the situation with the same righteous feeling of entitlement that gets us such a bum rap in the rest of the world? Why not have some charity for those who might have had to work, or come late? Why not share the sky?
So we moved off. Someone ashed on my foot and didn’t bother to apologize. There was a fight in front of us and someone tried to light another’s hair on fire.
But then the sky lit on fire and a band played America’s song. I noticed a little girl reach up towards the sky as if she could touch the bright colors and explosions. Two women, barely able to speak a word of English, held each other’s hands and looked up as if those fireworks were a display of this American Dream Hunter S Thompson sought so. So I think in closing, Albany – and America – can do so much better.