In my neighborhood, the fireworks are still going. Our street straddles the urban and suburban divide, where the sidewalks still lead to neighboring bars and restaurants, but the yards are a little larger, greener, and more private than the ones closer to downtown Nashville.
So we live near an interesting mix of people.
By “interesting,” I mean “odd.” There are people more-or-less like my husband and me—liberal professionals in their 30s and 40s, with pets, maybe a kid or two, an organic garden patch, and recycling bins that fill up too fast. And then there are the older folks who were there decades before the place became a hipster playground. There are parolees too, but that’s another story. Then? Then there are the rednecks.
It’s true. I can say that because I’m a Southerner, and I know a redneck when I see one. I say it with a tinge of affection, but not too much affection, and I say it with the hope that most non-Southerners understand that “Southern” does not equal “redneck.” I am Southern. I am not a redneck.
My husband calls Independence Day “Bubba Christmas,” because—dayum, ya’ll!—there’s nothing quite as satisfying to these particular neighbors as grilling meat, drinking beer, and blowing shit up. If Independence Day had something to do with giant pickup trucks, it would be the most perfect day ever.
And you know how long Christmas season lasts, right? Well, that’s about the same stretch of time that we hear pops, booms, and bangs—from late May to late August. There are July 4th fanatics who show their patriotism by shooting guns in the air, too, not really caring that the bullets have to come down somewhere.
This, in a neighborhood where it’s not unusual to have to call in gunshots. All East Nashvillians know the protocol: time (10:04 p.m.), number of shots (5), pace and volume of shots (boom….boom….boom, or BOOMBOOMBOOM?), approximate location (the 1500 block of ABC Avenue), approximate distance from your location (one street over). And no, there were no other unusual sounds; and yes, I’d like to report this anonymously.
It’s a matter of course. Our neighborhoods’ crime listserv lights up during Bubba Christmas season, and it goes something like this:
“Anyone else hear gunshots on the 1800 block of ABC? I called it in. Police are on their way.”
“I heard it too. I live next door. They were fireworks.”
And on and on it goes. Police waste their resources on combustibles, and we all are on edge.
But I’ve come to the point of just being grateful when these Bubba Christmas party favors don’t turn out to be gunshots. It’s still beyond my grasp of understanding, how and why this is entertaining, but it’s not really mine to understand.
It is part of the redneck mystique. They are some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve met—always room for one more, the more the merrier, that person needs something hauled and I’ve got the only truck on the block—but then they seem to enjoy destruction too. Throwing cans of soda into bonfires, enthusiastically demolishing a wall, watching a monster truck crush a normal truck.
And it’s mainly for that reason that I would much rather be wit’ ‘em than ag’inst ‘em. So let Bubba Christmas light up the sky. Let the bonfires soar. Let us all let out a barbaric yawp of oneness. As long as it’s all in good fun—and as long as the stray bullets-o-celebration stay on their own property—I am all for anything that brings anyone true, honest, unadulterated joy.
Me? I will be going to the Barry Manilow concert next week for my joy. To each, her own.
Susan Buttenwieser’s “Translucent Ghosts” is an account of a man silently stalking a woman he met at a party. She doesn’t know she’s being followed, and his watching, as disturbing as it really would be, comes across as somehow innocent. There are no actions—only observations—and the watcher, though bottled up, calmly wants what is out of his reach, and yet so near. He is a buttoned-up firework waiting for his climactic moment.
“Revolutions” visits a foreign square where revolutions pop up seasonally, and where, with the same predictability, they are violently suppressed. An umbrella would be useless in this human thunderstorm, which John Henry Fleming has elegantly written.
The conceit of “Art Is War” pits the writer against the page, crouched and ready to draw blood. Timothy Leyrson’s image sounds eerily familiar to me…
Photo by Charles Kaiser on Flickr