Sunday, July 04, 2010

4 JUL 10: Make Some Noise?

Happy Independence Day to you. Please notice the spelling of that word. It's clearly NOT Independents' Day - because hardly of them filed to run in the Georgia election.

For some people, it simply cannot be the Fourth of July without fireworks. I noticed this around 11:30 Saturday night -- when someone decided to fire what sounded a couple of bottle rockets outside my window. At least on New Year's Eve, most people wait until midnight....

If I hadn't been in the middle of an online poker game, I probably would have stepped outside to ask why the fireworks were being fired. In 2010, people desperate for attention merely have to post an unorthodox video on YouTube.

Have you ever seen an Independence Day holiday with so many fireworks stands inside the city of Columbus? Richard Hyatt's website noted North Highland Assembly of God even has one. I'd think that congregation would want God's fire to come down, instead of sending it in the other direction.

Another fireworks tent is set up outside Kmart on Macon Road. It's so close to Teresa Tomlinson's mayoral campaign headquarters that I wonder if Paul Olson set it up, to make explosive accusations.

But the TV newscasts seemingly ignored those fireworks dealers. Instead, their attention has been focused on Fireworks Outlet in Russell County. This proves once again that a commercial doesn't have to be high-quality to become famous - simply attention-getting.

The ladies at Fireworks Outlet admitted to WTVM the other day they're concerned about declining sales. It's not only due to the economy, but fewer people driving down U.S. 431 to Panama City Beach, because of the oil spill. Shame on British Petroleum for leaving such a mess - because tourists want to do it themselves, by leaving shell casings on the beach.

This must be a day of mixed emotions for Columbus's best-known arranger of fireworks shows. Stephen King told me recently he's "100-percent disabled," in the wake of an assault after a show last November in Richland. I think that phrase refers to receiving government checks -- as opposed to rolling around in a wheelchair that can fire explosives.

I admittedly lacked time this past week to contact Stephen King, and get an update on his condition. But his Sky-High Pyrotechnics business still seems to be in operation -- although King admits some of his regular shows have been canceled or reduced, due to the economy. Yes, even a business built on "booms" can go bust once in a while.

Of course, the biggest fireworks show in Columbus tonight will be at Thunder on the Hooch. Your blog was told Saturday night a couple plans to get married outside a downtown church, shortly because the fireworks go off. Then I assume the newlyweds will head to a motel, for (ahem) act two.

By the way, I should apologize to everyone living at the Booker T. Washington Apartments. I assumed for years the residents were shooting fireworks throughout the year, from morning until night. I now know better - and realize the police firing range several blocks away is louder than I realized.

We'll share some personal fireworks history below - but first, let's check some holiday weekend news:

+ Qualifying week closed for the Columbus city election. Two incumbents on the Muscogee County School Board wind up unopposed - including John Wells, who at one time had two announced opponents. Some straight-talkers simply can't be out-straight talked....

(Columbus Councilor Mimi Woodson received opposition at the last minute from Andrea Franklin. Franklin pastors the True Vine Deliverance and Worship Center on Veterans Parkway downtown. That's the little building bypassed every Sunday by hundreds of Fourth Street Baptist worshipers.)

+ Columbus Police reported someone broke into a tanning salon on Armour Road and stole money. C'mon, friends - the federal government does NOT need your help collecting that new ten-percent "tanning tax."

+ The public radio program "Marketplace" reported Habitat for Humanity now ranks among the top ten home builders in the country. And it comes to labor costs, I'd guess it's the least expensive....

+ Instant Message to Wild Bill's Party Shop on Buena Vista Road: I noticed your big crowd Saturday night. So how many customers asked about your sign - which said you were having a Memorial Day sale?

CLASSIC BLOG/3 JUL 05: My first Independence Day in Columbus was a Friday in 1997. As I started out for a late-afternoon walk, a man was setting off Black Cat firecrackers in the apartment courtyard while a toddler wandered around a few feet away. It's a wonder the child's feet weren't BLOWN a few feet away.

"Isn't it against the law to shoot off fireworks in Georgia?" I asked the man.

"I don't care. I'm going to do it, anyway," he answered. Perhaps he was patriotic, but didn't know the verse of "America the Beautiful" about liberty in law.

"I thought it was against the law to do that in Georgia." Having lived in the state 13 years, I knew that - and thought perhaps this was an out-of-towner who didn't.

"I don't care," the man repeated.

"Ohhhh." For this man and seemingly many others, Independence Day apparently meant freedom from all rules - which doesn't even happen in professional wrestling "Texas Death Matches."

I had radio headphones with me, and put them on to listen to an Atlanta-Montreal baseball game as I walked. That apparently was wise, because I thought I heard the man yelling something at me as I turned my back to move on. Sometimes Skip Carey's voice can be quite loud....

My walking course took me to 4th and Broadway -- and who should come up to that intersection but two Columbus police officers, one on a bike and another in a Riverwalk mini-car. I told them about my neighbor one block away, then kept walking. When I returned home, it was the quietest Independence Day I've had here.

But things weren't so pleasant later in the weekend. As I drove home and walked out of my car, a couple of people strongly suggested I shouldn't have said anything - and even hinted at retaliation. But eight years later, I'm still here - and still the only person who puts out a U.S. flag for the holiday.

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