Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Fourth of July

with 3 comments

Ah, the much postponed post about fourth of July.

I don’t believe I’ve ever partaken in this grandest of Americans public holidays, unless it was when I was too young to remember. So since Washington DC is like an hour away, it seemed like an obvious choice to spend my first Independence Day in the capital.

We got there at perhaps one’o’clock, and the big parade was already well under way. I didn’t really have any expectations, which is probably for the better; it seems like a somewhat random collection of blimps, high school marching bands, random organizations and just private citizens that may or may not be dressed up. Some of the odder examples include:

A lindy hop club

A guy in a DeLorean

A miniature-horse club

Hare Krishna followers

I’d only had three hours of sleep the night before, so I had no objection to sitting around and watching the funny people walk by for a while. The parade ended an hour or two later, so we still had 4-5 hours to kill before the concerts started. One or two of those were spent walking around looking for coffee or food for the silly eating people, or debating what kind of food they wanted, or sitting down to eat the food. Once again, no objections, although because it was a fasting day I just followed them around.

Next, we went to the Air & Space Museum, which was very cool. A variety of good exhibit, on telescopes and seeing space, exploring the planets, how flight works and more. Also a ton of planes standing or hanging around, including things like an actual moon lander (which looks unbelievably makeshift) and any number of historical vehicles. In the picture below there’s the Spirit of St. Louis that Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic in, and behind it SpaceShipOne, the first commercial space flight in the world.

Other than that we mostly promenaded, looking at the (somewhat random) things going on around the National Mall. For some reason there was a lot of religious stuff, probably just because they figured with so many people, someone has to fall for it/see the light. No scientologists though.

Please chant "hare krishna"

In the evening they had a concert on the steps of Capitol Hill, which was free and consequently massively crowded. They had Gladys Knight, Reba McEntire, some guy from American Idol and a country singer about whom I only remember the refrain of one of his songs:

Well there ain’t no doubt // I love this land

God bless the U – S – AAAAAA

Oh, and  also Lang Lang. We missed half of his performance, though, walking down towards my favorite mind-controlling monolith, the Washington Monument, to get a better view of the fireworks. Mind controlling? What? Well, look at those glowing red eyes and tell me there isn’t a subsonic voice going “OBEY. OBEY. OBEY”

OBEY. OBEY. OBEY

The fireworks were a lot less impressive than I’d imagined, being in the capital. I guess American isn’t a big fireworks nation. It wasn’t bad; the early parts were rather subdued, but then what seemed like it should have been midway they decided to just launch everything they had left, providing a grand finale. Compared to the displays I’ve seen in Asia, though, it was child’s play.

The best part was actually after the fireworks. Just walking around the dark city, with illuminated monuments left and right, people going this way and that, helicopters overhead and police sirens coming from all directions. Ghetto ice cream trucks and statues of presidents. The reflecting pool at midnight, with everything around either black as night, or glowing white marble. The air was full of vibrant energy, a really special atmosphere. I’ve sure the Powers of Place Initiative would have a lot to say about it. For my part I’ll just post a picture.

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Written by Martin

2010/07/10 at 17:58

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. MACY”S FIREWORKS ARE PRETTY IMPRESSIVE BUT THE CROWDS ARE A DOWNSIDE BUT YOU ARE RIGHT ASIA HAS EM BEAT OR EVEN THE “COSYNESS” OF TIVOLI AND THE FACT THAT YOU MAY BE HIT AT ANY MOMENT WITH FLYING DEBRIS!
    LOVE THE LAST PIC-AND I HAVE TO SAY FOR THE NATIONS CAPITAL THERE WERE SOME REALLY FREAKY PARTICIPANTS IN THAT PARADE

    dada

    2010/07/10 at 19:05

  2. Love the disembodied helicopter in over the mall in the last picture. Very X-Files.

    Che Gobar

    2010/07/13 at 12:02

  3. Thanks for the comments!
    I’m glad the last picture is popular, I’d worried that it was a rather inadequate attempt to capture the feel of the night. Looks like it did ok.

    solarhaphaeriom

    2010/07/13 at 23:53


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