Home Main Category Opinion Boom Flowers, Taking The Local Pulse, And Something Skulky

Boom Flowers, Taking The Local Pulse, And Something Skulky


As Fourth of July Weekends went this one had an unusual dynamic to it.

Incurable romantics, we couldn’t help but hold the New Fourth up against Fourths long past, where dads and uncles in t-shirts lit peep-squeak pyrotechnics with their cigars in the street outside newly acquired homes while moms in pedal pushers or summer dresses cautioned us kids and shook their heads in disbelief at their husbands’ beery antics.

It’s not wise to hold onto those old memories for other than the brief warmth they provide, and being realists as well as romantics we know those times are gone and America has changed forever. The bedrock belief in the country and its government, forged from the rubble of World War II, has been shaken by interim conflicts and some questionable government actions. We cannot help but think how our WWII-hardened fathers and uncles would react at the sight of Americans – for whatever reason – donning Better Red Than Democrat t-shirts or espousing the skill set of Russians who still count a massive artillery bombardment as a prelude to diplomatic relations. Knowing them as we do, we can almost see their cigar ash sparking in the street as they discarded the stogies and advanced on an offending countryman like they did on Berlin “to have a talk.”

Our values and beliefs intact, we’re staggered to find our countrymen and women not so sure – about their leaders, about who to trust to tell them the truth, about what truth is in the 21st Century, about how to move forward as a nation and who among us should lead us there. We’re also staggered to see that some Americans are apparently serious when they talk about waging a full-blown Civil War in this country – even if they can’t adequately describe who fought in the last one or explain why we geared up and went after one another tooth and nail back in 1861.

In recent years, some of those who have lost faith in California have waged a game of “I’m leaving this state for X because…” – X is more business friendly, taxes are lower, Gavin Newsom uses too much hair gel, or you can shoot who you want when you want.” We think you know which states are seen more favorably than ours and we wish anyone wanting to move there the very best – truly – but if you happen to be leaving a 10-acre parcel of prime California real estate please contact us at 925 NOT GOIN. Interestingly, folks who have moved have written complaining that taxes, heat, traffic, and locals better armed than they have taken the luster out of their chosen go-to state. Sorry about that.

Feet firmly planted here, we watched over the weekend as our governor fired an opening salvo of his own in the direction of Florida, taking its governor to task for his conservative leanings and inviting Democratic-minded Floridians to migrate from the Sunshine State back to the Golden State – which was nice and a savvy political move but which left us biting our lip a little. We mean, traffic does seem to have eased a bit after the exodus.

Florida, for its part, responded rather nastily, riposting by referring to Newsom as the “#1 U-Haul Salesman of 2021” and saying: “Sorry, you aren’t getting those U-Hauls back.” That’s okay, we understand Patriot Front has those trailers leased through the year.

The whole weekend had a slightly unsettled feel to it and, of course, it pulsated with the shooting in Highland Park, Illinois – our brains attempting to process things as marching bands broke into a trot and then a run as a clownish kid in woman’s clothing opened up with a weapon vets we know swear was an AK-47. Don’t know, but it did what it was designed to do and people started falling. We’re not into breast-beating and we hate sounding like a broken record but this type of murderous cataclysm appears to have become the accepted norm. That does not leave us feeling especially proud of our country, which also appears to have embraced leaders of dubious character with little sign of reconsideration.

We’re told that some indicator needles are foreshadowing a change on the horizon and we shall see, having been disappointed before and preferring to accept things when the ink is dry.

Boom Night arrived and we were swept up in the throngs maneuvering for prime viewing of the evening’s Sky Flowers, sanctioned displays competing against private shows arranged by neighbors with $100 to spend on a star shell, complaints about gas prices forgotten as hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars worth of pyrotechnics lit up neighborhoods and the skies like Friday night in Kyiv. When the thunderous detonations stopped we looked to the west where folks in Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond continued to party, the echoes of their bombs bursting in air riding gently on the easterly wind.

We took our time making our way back to the News Bunker, breathing in the night air and lingering smell of black powder, aware of something big and skulky in the brush along our creek and hoping it wasn’t too hungry.  Our first impression was “deer” until it moved and we upgraded to “bobcat” – maybe something bigger, aware that a pretty kitty with teeth uses the area to traverse between wild lands.

With only a pocket flash for defense we quickened our pace, not in the mood to get gnawed on, scanning the brush for sign of reflective, catlike eyes. The clock ticked over to midnight as we made it safely to home base, the weekend officially over and America left to deal with its problems and what few successes we can claim.

Another week. Another birthday. We’ll see what the next one has in store.


  1. Don’t forget about the four A’s fans enjoying the fireworks after the ballgame and getting hit with stray bullets inside the Coliseum. In some neighborhoods, it was the fourth of July from hell.

  2. Excellent column as always…I often think about what my dad would think about what’s going on in our country, he passed away in 1996. He was a Democrat who leaned left but not too far, probably more of a moderate. He made me watch TV the entire weekend after JFK got shot and I’m glad he did. He said “this is history” and he was right of course. He also woke me up when Bobby got shot, he knew I loved Bobby. Yes, we were a Kennedy family, also Irish-Catholics.

    A WW2 Air-Force vet who flew in D-Day and many other bombing missions, he didn’t talk much about it except when making a few jokes trying to lighten things in his own mind perhaps. I deeply regret not asking him more about his experiences. I think he would be disgusted by what’s going on right now, I can see him simply shaking his head.

    “Better Red Than Democrat t-shirts”, that kind of sums things up right there…

    • My dad flew B24s over New Guinea in WWII, and survived a stay in the jungle after being shot down. His big brother flew the bigger bombers over Europe. Their brother died in Bataan. Their sister served as well. Only the youngest son stayed on the farm. None of them talked about it. I have only the headlines. No stories to retell. Times change. The culture changes. That midwestern ethos seems to have been lost.

  3. I found the response from Florida really clever and funny. Governor Newsom is a Democrat who only has experience running in a one party state. If he feels a calling to leave the womb of California he is going to encounter the real world of politics.

    • Point well taken. He has the big hair, the big ego, and the French Laundry and Kimberly Guilfoyle in his closet. When he talks, he talks and talks. He is made for caricature on the national stage. Still, if he just puts his skills to work for California, I think he could do good things…but there’s that ego that just won’t let go. Jerry Brown’s ego made the round trip. We are better off if Newsom can avoid the detour, and just focus on what California needs. Sadly, not likely.

  4. Yes, an excellent essay. I agree we do seem to be at a bit of a turning point. America saw big social changes caused by events such as the massive increase in agricultural production with better farming methods, the industrial revolution, the end of slavery, rise of corporations, interstate freeway system and growth of suburbia, civil rights fight, and Vietnam and Nixon. This time seems different. There is no event. It seems to me, at least, the violent changes are more manufactured by intention, with activists trying to teach people outrage over experiences they never had. The question for me is who are these people and how and why have they managed to create crisis when none needs to exist. Most of our nation’s problems have solutions that do not need fury and anger to solve.

  5. CNN: Jayland Walker was handcuffed behind his back when his body arrived at the coroner’s office to be processed

    “He was unarmed and I’m going to echo exactly what the (police) chief said: Each one of those bullets — and there were over 90 of them — have to be accounted for and have to be shown to be meaningfully shot.”

    Fleeing suspect bolts the car in the dead of night. Took the cannoli, left the gun.

    90 bullets fired. Two thirds struck the body of the fleeing suspect in the dark, so that had to be close range. A handcuffed corpse was delivered to the coroner. Imagine that. 60 bullets found their mark, and while presumably “rendering aid”, they handcuffed him behind his back. Those who did that…what message were they sending? An unarmed man with 60 bullet wounds was handcuffed after the fact. What country is this? South Africa?

    Whatever his suspected crime, he will never be prosecuted. He will never be charged because he was executed on video.

    So, clearly, there is no criminal justice crisis, no policing crisis in this country. Move along. Nothing to see here. Fake news.

    • David: Criminal justice crisis? You mean like systematic imprisonment and torture of Uyghurs in China or protestors in Russia? Not quite. Walker shot a gun from his moving car at the police, went 60 miles an hour down residential streets to evade, told to give up, he runs and then jerks around real fast instead of surrendering. I would expect to be shot if I had done such a thing. I think the crisis is in the misreporting and very purposeful exaggeration for political purposes, with the headlines screaming about an unarmed black man being executed. Seems more to me like some combination of media manipulation combined with cultural appropriation. How many times have you shot at the police and tried to escape 60 mph down residential streets? Somewhere in there is a civil right you are fighting for? You do know that the Andersen Cooper guy that wants everyone all whipped up over this is making $12 million a year.

  6. there’s a pretty decent size moutain lion in the area. some people have gotten pictures of it moving around at night.

  7. Always carry a knife in the wee hours of the semi-rural. Dangers lurk in the shadows. Big Cats! Roving packs of angry squirrels! If you were lucky enough to have survival training, pay heed to it! In case of emergency, jab your companion in the thigh so as not to be the slower runner.

    • Thought it was a ‘Yote or possibly a pig – which we have seen often. Just had a different “feel.” Getting some video of a fairly large cat moving around late at night, perhaps a juvenile, and of course there have been sightings…

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