About brobrubel

Retired journalist. I've reported and edited for newspaper in Florida, Kentucky, New York, Brussels and London. I also spent a few years as a government flack in Pennsylvania. This blog contains random thoughts on politics, world affairs and entertainment

Standing under the fireworks in a quiet D.C. location

I had thought I decided to not go to watch the fireworks on July 4 in D.C. because I’d done the holiday the day before. But i was sitting around, it wasn’t raining, and I thought, OK, I’ve nothing better to do. So I biked over to my usual July 4 hangout. Here’s a brief clip of what I saw.

Before the fireworks started, I could hear a country band playing near the Washington Monument. I know it was a country band, because one the songs was about driving a pickup truck with “a good lookin’ woman” sitting’ in the passenger seat. I guess in D.C., “American music” defaults to country. Then there was a medley of Armed Forces anthems.

There were hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall, and I hate being in crowds. But very few people know that one of the monuments is practically deserted on the Fourth, and from this vantage point, you’re right under the fireworks. And that’s where I’ve been going the past four years.

It was more crowded than usual this year. In the past, I’d count fewer than 10 people in the area. This year, there were 26. (Yes, I counted everyone who showed up.)

I also learned something about fireworks on cloudy days. You miss a lot of explosions because they happen behind clouds. And If you have breathing problems, being at this location on a cloudy day is pretty risky, because the sulfur smell doesn’t dissipate. It just forms a fog around you.

Anyone who lives in the area will be able to figure out where this is. All I’ll say, is that I’m facing north as I’m filming. I wouldn’t be surprised if I see 50 people there next year.

Another reason we need gun control

There are crazy people out there who don’t know they’re crazy (Via CNN):

Police arrested a soldier carrying an AR-15 rifle and ammunition at a Fayetteville, North Carolina, mall after officers received multiple reports of an armed man walking through a Macy’s department store.

Bryan Wolfinger was tracked down within minutes near the Macy’s wing of the Cross Creek Mall on Thursday evening, police said.

He was detained without incident, according to police, and charged with “going armed to the terror of the public.”

Wolfinger, who is assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, was carrying the rifle, a Kevlar vest and multiple ammunition magazines, and he intended to have photographs taken with the gun and the other equipment, CNN affiliate WNCN reported, citing Fayetteville police.

Police have released Wolfinger, and he is “with his chain of command,” said Master Sgt. Patrick Malone, a spokesman for 82nd Airborne Division.

“These charges represent actions that are wholly inconsistent with the high standards and values we expect from our paratroopers,” Malone said. Fort Bragg is fully cooperating with the police investigation, he said.

Yes, when you wear a bulletproof vest and carry an assault rifle with tons of ammunition through a mall, people are going to be upset. Let’s just be thankful there wasn’t another heavily armed open carry fanatic strolling through the mall who would decide he should take preemptive action against gun-nut No.1.

And yes, this should be considered a terrorist act. People were terrified.

The paragraph that was edited out of the Declaration of Independence

When Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, he included this paragraph in the Colonies’ grievance against King George III of England:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither … And he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

This didn’t make it into the final draft. Possibly because it’s contradictory (condemning slavery then condemning slaves for not wanting to be in slavery). And not to mention bit of hypocrisy (the king doesn’t want us to have liberty, and we don’t want the slaves to be free).

So, let’s do away with the idea that the founding fathers held opinions that were sacred and should always be the foundation for avoiding change in the 21st century (Justice Scalia), and let’s remember that despite their flaws, the founding fathers did come up with a document that we nevertheless honor and celebrate 239 years after it was proclaimed to the public.

Oh, and, let’s remember what Jefferson said about the future:

img_0044

 

(More on the deleted paragraph at Talking Points Memo.)

 

 

I think I just celebrated the Fourth of July

Not Robert Downey

Not Robert Downey

PBS has, for the past 35 years, broadcast “A Capitol Fourth” on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol every July 4th. It’s a live broadcast, but it has to be rehearsed. So I sat on the lawn for two hours in the rain today and waited for the dress rehearsal.

The host was Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman to fans of “The West Wing”). The thousands of us who were there didn’t come to see him. This is what we were told to expect:

Meghan Linsey, Alabama and Hunter Hayes will join Barry Manilow, Nicole Scherzinger and an eclectic list of performers to celebrate Independence Day at the 35th annual A Capitol Fourth special, airing live on PBS, Saturday, July 4th, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Other performers will include Bradley Whitford, KC and the Sunshine Band, Lang Lang, Ronan Tynan, Robert Davi, Jack Everly and several military bands and choral groups.

Now out of all of those people, I had heard of Manilow and KC. Manilow sang a modified version of “America the Beautiful.” And when he was done, for some reason, he sang it again. From the top. Like it was the start of the show again. And I’m thinking, Did I just hit a time warp?

That’s why it’s a dress rehearsal. I don’t know what went wrong, but I thought the first version was better than the second.

By the time Manilow came on, it had stopped raining. Then we had the National Anthem, by Nicole Scherzinger, whom I had never heard of, though someone in the crowd yelled “Pussycat Dolls.” Which still didn’t matter, because I would know any of their songs either.

It was around the time KC was on stage singing “Shake Your Booty,” when I started wondering if I was going to last the whole show. Not because of the weather, but because I realized this was the third time I’d seen KC and the Sunshine Band perform, which isn’t something you admit to people. I saw him back in the ’90s, when he was doing a live gig at the dock of the World Financial Center in New York. It was next to work and it was free. Then I saw him at halftime at the NBA All-Star Game in Philadelphia in 2002 when he and a bunch of Philly’s famous, like Hall and Oates, did the half time show. And I saw him today. I guess that means I never actually paid to see him, since I didn’t know he was going to be at the all star game. And in the course of more than 20 years, I can confirm that it was the same set every time.

While I’m at the dress rehearsal, today, I’m also thinking, why is Whitford talking about fireworks? That’s tomorrow.

And I’m thinking, I thought they were saying Robert Downey, not Robert Davi. And why is he singing “New York, New York” when we’re in D.C., D.C.?

And were the Pussycat Dolls famous for singing show tunes, since this one is doing an excerpt from “Carousel”?

And why is this country singer I’ve never heard of singing “Freeway of Love.” And why is this pianist I’ve never heard of leaving out passages of “Rhapsody in Blue.”

But I lasted for pretty much the whole show, but didn’t wait for Alabama, because I don’t know anything sung by Alabama?

Anyway, as I walked out, after Ronan Tynan (another mystery name to me) sang “God Bless America,” I heard fireworks. And I walked across the street from the Capitol and saw explosions over Nationals Park in the distance.

So I’ve seen the Fourth of July’s national concert. And to be honest, I enjoyed what I saw. I’ve seen fireworks. Now, what’s left to do for the actual holiday tomorrow?

Maybe I’ll watch the show on TV, since that’s what it was made for. Probably not.

 

Meanwhile, in the Democratic presidential race

Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, seeking the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. Is drawing large crowds, and we haven’t been hearing about it because everyone thinks Hillary Clinton has her party’s nomination locked up, and folks like Donald Trump have given the GOP process the appeal of a car wreck on a highway (You can’t help but watch).

But Sanders drew about 10,000 at a rally in Madison, Wis.

That’s probably the largest crowd at any rally so far this campaign season:

There’s definitely a clear message coming from the Sanders campaign, and it fired up the cheeseheads. Let’s see how it resonates across the country.