09 October 2009

Closing Out the Fireworks

You will recall the fear of the flu last spring, which seemed to have the appearance of being a Mexican phenomenon. Admittedly, that was the very reason that I lingered in Texas for more than a month before crossing the border. That panic absolutely devastated the Mexican tourist industry. The whole country is still trying to recover from it. School funding has now been cut by 7% in part because of loss of tax revenue attributable to all that.

The fact of the matter is that the Mexican public health authorities did a wonderful job of responding. And the Mexican people, too. They actually made changes in little matters of their habitual behaviors. And bigger changes, too, particularly in México City.

Now we will see how the rest of the world responds.

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Robyn sent this to me. Thank you, Robyn.

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The Party is Over from Uncle Steve on Vimeo.

While we are at it, let us round off the subject of fireworks. It appears that there is now going to be a bit of a hiatus in that for a short time after the barrage this past weekend.

It had been some years since I went to view a fireworks display in the United States. The crowds tended to be oppressive, and the show the same spectacular old thing from my point of view. The “oooohs” and “aaaahs” of the crowd were always the same, and I have heard them hundreds of times before. So why do I go here now?

The Mexican people are nuts about fireworks. Obviously, they have to be in order to embrace firing them off at 3:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m., let alone 7:00 a.m.. Not to mention all other hours of the day, including daylight hours with the aerial bombs.

First, as I mentioned in passing once before, when you go to see one of these displays, you are right in the middle of it. This is particularly true with the stationary ground displays that feature hand made superstructures three and four stories high. You are close. This brings up the whole general subject of safety in México, which must be a subject for another day. At this point, I will say only the following. “Safety first!” is a mantra in the United States. There are obviously talented people in México concerned with matters related to public safety, as demonstrated during the flu scare as discussed above.

On a day-to-day basis, however, you are on your own here. There is not that paternalistic atmosphere of someone constantly nagging you to do this or that for safety reasons. For example there is no fetish here about putting helmets on children when they are doing things like learning to walk. I find that refreshing. Now having said that, I will probably be rendered a vegetable when a worker knocks someone's massive flower pot off the edge of their third floor roof and it falls onto my head while I am walking down the sidewalk. And it is certainly possible that I could be aced by an errant piece of fireworks.

Second, I do not know where our fireworks in the United States come from. I will just refer to them as the “Chinese variety” even if they do not come from China. Related to my loss of interest in them is the fact that when they are touched off, they always seem to do what they are supposed to do. So in that sense the Chinese variety of fireworks is boringly predictable.

These fireworks here are Mexican. They are homemade, both the aerial variety and the ground mounted variety. The bottoms of the launching tubes for the aerial variety are stuck in cardboard buckets filled with concrete--or maybe it is just sand--and set out in the street. I can assure you, and Frank could assure you, that when Mexican fireworks are touched off, as a spectator one has a definite sense of suspense about what they are going to do.

Usually, everything is fine of course. Even if things do not go well, you usually have an idea of what the original concept was. But at times, things do not go well at all. Aerial fireworks might shoot off in some odd direction. Part of the superstructure of a ground mounted display may collapse with results that cause you to hold your breath.

I cannot tell you the number of times while watching fireworks here that I have asked Frank or Frank has asked me, “Was that supposed to do that?”


This all results in “oooohs” and “aaaaahs” from the crowd of a different variety. It is many times more like a frenzy of cheering like at a Pink Floyd concert. Hell, I have audibly “oooooohed” and “aaaaahed” at fireworks here for the first time since I was a kid. A rain of large sparklies commonly falls onto the crowd still sizzling. Sometimes a real “hunka hunka burnin' love” tumbles right into the crowd and burns out on the ground. And I myself have cheered.

Anyway, this all adds a whole new zest to watching fireworks for Frank and me.


Ruth said...

When I was a teen, Tijuana was where you went to buy fireworks that were illegal in LA.

Robyn said...

I'm so happy you shared that video. I knew you would love it.