4th of July - Sometimes You Get Burned
by Michele Christopher
Since this is a slow day, being a holiday for most, we decided to slow down. We know most of you won't be here today, but we just want to point out that the voting for 70's punk rock album of the decade just started and is still going. And we like commas, and confusing sentences, and run on sentences.
Commas, confusing sentences and run on sentences, oh my!
We haven't been eating well lately. Blood sugar stuff. You know. So things get weird around here sometimes.
When jesus is talking to you thru your dog you need to make a decision. Buy a better kind of dog food or crucify the bastard dog.
Since we are tired today, the dog gets "New Chicken Flavor Alpo." I know it's more expensive but I'm outta nails. Plus nailing your dog to a 2x4 is something you only saw on those 70's "Made for TV Movies."
Actually, I think there was an episode like that. "I Did Too Much PCP So I Must Kill My Dog." It might have had Shaun Cassidy in it. Maybe Scobby Doo. Those days were fuzzy for us. So don't quote us.
Hell dude. We don't want the dog to make us into people who walk the earth till the end of time looking for lighters for our cheap cigars. Michele doesn't even smoke. I think she would be pretty pissed about that.
Cause that would suck.
We got off track again.
That's what seems to happen around FTTW.
Fourth of July parties are usually about family friends and blowing shit up. Oh yeah. You all know you tainted the humble icon of the "Piccalo Pete" or tried to step on "Majic Snakes" when you were young. You all know you threw "Ground Bloom" flowers at your friends when they just started burning. Or maybe that was just us. I don't know. But I do know that beer, burning things and pain were an American tradition since the Forefathers of this great country first proclaimed.....
"Shit man. That hurt. The fuck were you thinking tossing that at me? The fuck is wrong with you?!"
So In the proud tradition of 2nd degree burns passed down from George "I Throw Things On Fire" Washington and Thomas "I Wonder If That Will Burn" Jefferson, we give you two stories from the past.
Happy pre July Fourth and remember to keep voting in the punk rock poll cause the 80's are next.
On to parties!
We know that most of you will be celebrating tonight so we thought it would be fun to bring our memories into this. You clicked on FTTW. Now you get to read.
Fourth of July, 1983
1983. One of the most action packed years of my life. A constant stream of parties and clubs. So many nights spent in someone’s garage listening to our friends’ band practice and then driving to the club to watch them play, then out to another club to make some spastic attempts at dancing to punk rock and gothy new wave. The soundtrack to that time was a bizarre mix of The Police, New Order, Circle Jerks, Aztec Camera and Metallica. And Iron Maiden. Minutemen. Big Country. Suicidal Tendencies. Man, that was a good year for music. The The! U2's last good album! PiL! Kurtis Blow! Yea, that’s right. Kurtis Blow.
But this story is earlier in the year than some of that. I hadn’t even started working at the record store yet. By July, I had done more drinking and partying in one half year than I had done in the past four years combined. I was 21. A slacker. No college, no job for most of the beginning of that year. And I had a boyfriend who was increasingly agitated with my desire to have a life outside of sitting in his mom’s basement watching Clint Eastwood movies. And not the good Clint movies either. We’re talking monkeys here. But he comes into the picture later. The boyfriend, not Clint. Or the monkey. Right now it’s the afternoon of July 4th, 1983.
Big party at my parent’s house. Well, there was always a party at their house. My parents were the consummate entertainers. I remember back in the early 70's them throwing cocktail parties every weekend, in typical 70s fashion with drinks with fancy names and couples dressed in fancy clothes and food with names like Weenie Casserole. I kid you not.
But this was the 80's. We have moved on to gas grills and Budweiser on tap and drunken firemen. Yea, dad knew how to keep with the times. Best of all, he had run the cable outside and brought out a tv so when he was entertaining outdoors, not a moment of golf or baseball would be missed.
So here we are. Fourth of July, 1983. A yard full of firemen and relatives. A keg or two. Grill going. Yankees on the tv. Now, if you are a Yankee fan you know exactly what we were watching unfold that afternoon. Dave Righetti on the mound vs. the hated Red Sox. 41,000 people at the stadium. Dave’s pitching a no hitter. We sat mesmerized in the yard, squinting at the smallish tv, trying to see past the sun glares, drinking, eating and watching history being made. When the game was over and Righetti had thrown a no-hitter (the Yankees’ first since 1956) we all raised a plastic cup of beer to the Yankees, Dave Righetti and America. Oh yea, patriotism runs deep when you are drunk on beer and melonball shots and high on beating the Red Sox.
When the game was over, the party began in earnest. There was swimming and drunken volleyball and the obligatory lighting off of M-80s in garbage cans. It seemed to be a tradition in my neighborhood, along with lighting off mats of firecrackers. Personally, I never understood the attraction of making something go boom without the benefit of pretty sparkles or at least something going on fire, but that’s just me. I’m a visual kind of person. Go boom? Meh. Go boom with flames? Kick ass.
So in the midst of this noisy celebration of America and all it had to offer (like hot dogs, beer on tap in your backyard and your mother dancing on the deck to The Police), I get a phone call. It’s my fiancé. Oh yea, I forgot to mention. I was engaged to this guy. I was young and stupid. As opposed to later on when I became old and stupid. But that’s another story. This guy was, hmmm how to describe him? Nuts? Psychotic? He had just taken a job at Riker’s Island as a correction officer and came home at night telling me how he really identified with some of the prisoners. Ok, bud. I may want to start rethinking my life plan here. Clint Eastwood monkey movies and identifying with murderers? That’s one strange dude. Anyhow, the deal was this: I had his car at my house. He needed it back to go to work in the morning. Could I drive it over to his house? Well, let’s see. I had been drinking all day and he’s the one who left the car at my house when he ditched me the night before to go out with his friend and....well the conversation went in such a way that I agreed to bring the car. At the last minute he told me to fill it up with gas before I brought it to his house. Let’s not get into the why of my saying yes. Young. Stupid. Etc. We’ll leave it at that.
So my cousin follows me in her car. We drive the mile or so and I stop at the gas station just down the block from my beloved fiance’s house. I pull in. The car windows are rolled down because it’s hot out and the a/c is broken. I tell the guy to fill it up and lean back in my seat and wait. There’s a few kids sitting in the lot of the 7-11 across the street, shooting off bottle rockets. Another useless firework. Oh boy, it makes a whistling sound and then a small pop the end. If that’s your idea of excitement, then I bet Seven Minutes in Heaven is the perfect sex game for you. If you catch my drift. Anyhow, I remember thinking that it probably wasn’t a good idea for these kids to be lighting off fireworks so close to a gas station. Probably a really bad idea considering it looked like they were actually aiming the bottle rockets toward the pumps. I started to get nervous. What if one hit a pump? Would it blow up? Would I die right there in a ball of flames, screaming for help while realizing that my imminent death would mean that every subsequent Fourth of July after this would be ruined for my parents? I pulled myself together. Sat up straight. Watched the little numbers on the gas pump turn. Come on, fill up already, let’s get out of here. And then: A whistling in my ear. Deafening, like a jet plane was landing in my head. A pop. A sudden burst of pain. What the fuck? What. The. Fuck?? Pain. Pain. Pain. I’m deaf and in agony. My chest. My chest is on fire, I think. Let me tell you, nothing sobers you up quicker than the idea that someone just blew a hole open in your chest. Was I shot? Dying? I looked down and saw red. Red all over. My shirt was red and my chest was in pain and...holy fuck. I was hit with a bottle rocket? At first I thought I was bleeding out but quickly realized that the red was dye from the rocket. The pain? That was real. I could feel my shirt starting to stick to the burn underneath it. Shit. That hurt. I guess I had screamed when the rocket hit, but I didn’t hear it because of the whistling in my ear. My cousin was at my car window and the gas station attendant had come over. I was clutching my chest and hyperventilating and at first my cousin thought I was having a heart attack. The shirt I was wearing was a V-neck and I slowly pulled the material to one side and pointed to what I was sure was a gaping in hole im my chest. My cousin gasped. The gas station guy said “Ewww.” Nice. Well, it wasn’t a hole, but it was a pretty intense burn. I was shaking and in pain and the guy said he would run across the street to the firehouse and send an ambulance over. No. No. No. No ambulance. Fuck that.
I paid the gas station guy, who said he was calling the cops on the kids with the bottle rockets. Whatever, I didn’t want to stick around. I needed some first aid, stat. And by first aid I mean someone to calm me down. Preferably someone holding a bottle of vodka out to me. Ok, start the car. Drive down the block.
I walk into his house. My cousin yells at no one in particular “Hey, hey, she got hit with a firecracker. Anyone here? Hello? Emergency!” Fiancé guy comes down the stairs. Looks annoyed. “What? She what?” My cousin repeats. Slowly, for the retarded. “Hit. With. Firecracker.” She doesn’t like him much. Never did. He looks me over. I don’t say anything. Partly because I’m still hyperventilating and kind of crying and partly because the mess on my chest kind of speaks for itself. Looks me over again. Shrugs. Says the words that would become fatal to our pending nuptials.
“Did you at least put gas in the car?”
Well, you can imagine my stunned silence. What you can’t imagine and I can’t do justice to is the Glare O’ Death my cousin gave him. A glare that said all at once “You are such a fucking asshole and I hope you say the wrong thing to the wrong prisoner at work and he takes you hostage and fills your ass with his beefstick. And then I hope your ambulance crashes on the way to the hospital to have your ass repaired. And you die. DIE.” I didn’t say a word. I just threw his keys at him and walked out of the house. The only thing I said to my cousin on the way back to my house was “Fucker. Fucker.” Over and over again.
We got back to my house and a couple of the firemen there fixed me up the best they could. I probably should have gone to the hospital. But there was vodka and hot dogs and The Towering Inferno on tv. I decided to skip the fireworks festivities for the evening. And decided to skip my upcoming wedding.
That bottle rocket might have actually been a sign from god. Ok, not the best choice of signs, but sometimes it takes a little force to send someone a message. And every time I get a slight sunburn, you can see a faint scar on my chest. A constant reminder of Fourth of July, 1983. Makes me think of The Police, Dave Righetti and searing pain. Both physical and emotional. But hey, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Or can just be offset with a keg of beer, hot dogs and Steve McQueen. America, fuck yeah! - M
July 4th 1989
For some reason I was given money to buy beer for the party. Well, not really for the party. For everyone in the house. A whole bunch of one dollar bills dumped on my chest as I woke up. Twelve packs. We needed twelve packs. Never trust a party. Go get twelve packs. Kegs are evil and so are the people who buy them. I used to get to parties late so I was used to the keg being empty. I got used to throwing my own beer in a car and just going back out to the car to get more when my pockets were empty. I knew I was a power drinker and if it wasn't my party, I was going to get screwed. Paying for parties was a thing of the past so I never really thought I would get any beer. You don't get beer when you don't pay. Communism. Or maybe that was Captalism? Well, I knew I wouldn't get any beer at the party. Neither did anyone in the house. It was up to us to get our own for this one.
I went and got about three cases of beer for everyone in the house. We each had a twelve pack of Pabst. Yeah Yeah. I know. Pabst. But, it's what we drank back then. That or Natural Ice. And Natties hurt in the morning. Plus you could get a twelve pack of Pabst for 4.99. Hey dude. That was cool. Sure Natural Ice was cheaper, but man, that stuff hurt.
So we all started drinking. Pre drinking. I heard a quote one time that will never forget. "You know you are old when you stop drinking before you go out to a bar." Well, we took that motto to everything we did. You know you are old hen you stop drinking before you go to a party. You know you are old when you stop drinking before you go to a restaurant. You know you are old when you stop drinking before you go to Burger King. You know you are old when you stop drinking before you go to the bathroom. You know you are old when you stop drinking before you pet your dog.
We were young.
Knowing my crew, we were drunk by two in the afternoon. I needed a nap. My blood sugar was shot and it was hot. I needed a nap. Just ten minutes. Just ten. Wake me up in ten. Try to keep it down for ten. Just ten minutes.
Five hours later I woke up. Fuck. House empty and beer gone. Well this sucks. Car gone. Well...shit. Money gone. Oh, this is just getting better. How am I going to get there? I saw something in the corner. A bike. It's not mine but it will work for today. Ok. Next. Beer. There has to be something around here. I found two 40's of King Cobra and some duct tape. I wrapped the 40's around the posts of the bike with the tape and started my journey. It wasn't really that I wanted to go to this party, it was more me being pissed of that they ditched me. Or did they? Maybe they tried to wake me up and I didn't move so they just left me in bed. Hm. Michele knows that scene all too well. The "Dead Turtle" thing. When I sleep, a fucking bulldozer couldn't wake me up. But, that's when I was drinking. Now It just takes a cute girl from Long Island calling me about 90 times in a row and I'm up.
I'm getting better at waking up. I'm trying, Michele.
The story. Back to the story.
This party was on a major road where I lived. Packed with cars all day long. Major pedestrian street. Tons of people just window shopping and enjoying the holiday. Too many people really. I turned the corner with my "10 speed with bonus" and watched the strangest thing. Three TVs blocking the lanes. Just three TVs sitting in each lane. A line of cars backed up behind them. A bunch of punk rockers sitting at each of them. Crouching down. Cars honking. What the hell was going on? They all ran away at the same time and all at once the TVs all blew up. Shatter of glass and plastic and the dreams of Archie Bunker and Alan Alda all went up in one amazing display of destruction. This was going to be good.
And the sun hadn't even gone down yet.
This was the 4th of July. Booze, broads and blown up TVs.
Lanes were closed, cops were called and beer was drank. Funny thing is, cops usually don't care that much about parties unless the people there are under 21. So we knew we there was no problem there. But, the problem was that inside the house there was an amazing site. At least five more TVs packed with explosives. Tons of illegal fireworks and some powder on the table that I quickly found out was not any type of drug. They were making explosives.This was blowing shit up powder. And now my nose hurt like hell. Hey dude. Really. What would you think it was? So no one make fun of me.
Sun went down and more TVs were dragged out. More explosions. More beer. The cheap fireworks went off. More people. More cops. More beer. I was wasted at the end of the night. Big surprise. A bunch of us were sitting outside just laughing knowing it was over and the end is near. I lit a cigarette and looked up. A piccolo pete hit me right in the eye. Exploded. Shit everywhere. I couldn't see. Dragged inside by three girls who were holding my hands back to keep me from rubbing the burned paper and ash deeper in my eye. Thrown in the shower and held down by a bunch of girls. Which is really kinda cool if you think about. Drunk off my ass, half naked being washed by a bunch of girls. That's like some really cool fantasy. Except for the eye burning part. That kinda sucked.
They washed everything out and of course took a picture of me, cause that always happens. That's why I hate cams. People can become so sadistic sometimes. Me in a tub, shirtless covered in water and tears. Hm. Sometimes I don't know what people's motivations are for taking those types of shots.
But anyways. That was the party. It was broken up. A cop told me to get out of the bathtub and get the fuck out of the house. The girls helped me out of the tub. Got my footing and looked at the damage. The powder was gone. The casings were covering the porch. The TVs were gone. The keg was tipped over. Plastic was blown all over the street.
The damage had been done.
It was time to go home.
Happy Fourth of July and America Rules! - T