04 July 2007

July 3rd, Night

"The Second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. [...] It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shrews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

- John Adams, letter to his wife Abigail, 3 July 1776.

Boston swelters in the heat and sweats liquor. Everyone on the street is drunk. The street littered with grease-stained pizza plates. I'm fortified with two glasses of bourbon on ice and walking down Tremont, hard and angry and feeling very clear about things. An Eastern European man, bullet head, nervous glances, hears the firecrackers and goes for the gun in his pants. He's been holding it under his shirt for the entire block like a rosary. A guy across the street throws a punch. Somebody's set off a box of fireworks in the intersection. They shoot off forty or fifty feet into the air, popping; cars swerve to avoid the burning box in the street. The explosions are reflected in the glass & steel buildings around them, a simulacra of fire.


Catholics around the 19th century iron fountain in the Common have put up fervent hand-painted signs: JESUS IS THE ONLY TRUE WAY TO GOD. A living statue, painted bone white, covered in tin foil and newspaper, stands on the fountain over a blown-out television set. Chinese atrocities against the Falun Gong are displayed by activists on yellowed posterboard, years-old pictures, the same as last summer, kept up lovingly, like heirlooms: stress positions, prisoners tied in front of barking dogs, bruises displayed. A man shot in the head. On one of the bricks in a flower planter, in small, carefully rounded letters, someone has written fuck the u.s. govt in yellow ink.


Adams would have known, before he died: history is a moving target, and none of us know what will be commemorated in time.

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