Chicago Plans and The Truth About Fireworks

Monday, July 18, 2005

A day after the San Diego convention and I made my Chicago arrangements. I’ll be at Wizard World Chicago Friday and Saturday, August 5th and 6th, most likely roaming. Jay Busbee, Jorge Vega and I were going to split an artist alley table but none of us actually reserved it and after this past weekend, I wouldn’t even want to sit behind a table. I’d rather chill my ass off. I’m not staying by the convention, I’ll be at the Four-Points Sheraton down on the Miracle Mile so Robin can shop while I con.

I’m preparing my next Here’s the Thing article tonight. It’s about image (not the company). Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy – San Diego was an eye-opener. On that note, story time…

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This story is two weeks late but I was on my vacation on the Fourth of July and Guam did a story instead. So, two weeks later you’re going to get my collection of fireworks stories.

We were stupid kids when it came to fireworks. We used to buy them in the backroom of this convenience store across from our junior high school. The owner would look us over, make sure we were on the up-and-up and shuffle us into the back to show us what he had. We’d buy some of the small stuff – the bottle-rockets, jumping jacks, ladyfingers and roman candles – but even more of the big boys – M80s, blockbusters, pineapples and the occasional watermelon bomb. For those that don’t know, the big fireworks I just mentioned where eighth, quarter, half and three-quarter sticks of dynamite, respectively.

We’d blow up dog shit with the M80s, phone booths with the watermelon bombs. Everything in between with the other sticks.

We were equally destructive with the other shit we bought but for some reason we didn’t see the danger in what we were doing with them. We’d light jumping jacks and throw them down people’s pants as a joke. We’d put bottle-rockets in the air hole of whiffle ball bats and run around the neighborhood firing them at each other, playing war games. We’d stand in a circle, light a roman candle and lay it on the ground and try to dodge the fireballs that shot at us while the candle-stick danced across the floor.

We’d try to shoot Roman Candle fireballs through small spaces. Like partially open windows to people’s apartments. We’d go into deserted houses armed to the teeth with the big boomers and just blow up walls and whatever else we could find. We’d light repeaters up (the things that shoot a variety of fireballs into the air) and take turns jumping over it, trying to time our jump so that we don’t get hit by concentrated fire. We’d lay an old metal garbage can, mouth down, over a pineapple or watermelon bomb and watch whatever is left of it launch into the sky while shrapnel from the base shot-out in all directions.

Garbage cans were fun for tons of reasons, actually. The old metal ones are great for destruction – we’d start a fire in one and just throw random fireworks into it. M80s blowing up, fireballs and skyrockets shooting out of it.

We were even destructive with sparklers – we’d play this game that was sort of like tag except you had to tag people with the burning end of a sparkler before it went out. And there was a much smaller boundary and no place to hide, usually, so if someone set their sites on you – you were fucked. We’d go home with burns all over our arms.

The amazing part? Despite years of experimenting with the destructive nature of fireworks, none of us ever got hurt (not counting the occasional burn). But nothing that ever deformed us or left lasting repercussions. It kind of makes me laugh when I hear people get all worked up over how dangerous fire-works are and why they should be illegal. Shit, we were trying to hurt ourselves and we turned out fine. Kids – there’s nothing funnier than putting an M80 in a steaming pile of dog shit and it’s safe despite what your parents say. Just light it and run away, that’s all.

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