Note: Tooootally not the fireworks I saw from my perch in Brooklyn. More on that in a second.
So we really flee the northeast tomorrow when I head for Arlington, Virginia. Tomorrow, I’m gonna talk playlists and the books I’ve been reading in preparation for this trip.
Tonight I enjoyed the 4th in New York. My third iconic city in a row for fireworks, the first two being New Orleans and Boston. Two things I love about this experience:
1.) On an historical nerd note, I find some irony in seeing fireworks here in NYC. If you’re not a Revolutionary War buff, you may have wondered why the Revolution puts so much focus on Boston and Philadelphia, but not New York. New York was soon to become the superior port to both of those cities, so why didn’t get as much play? Well, the long story short is they were in the pocket of the British.
It should be noted (and you’ll be hearing more about this when I teach it in the fall), but the Revolution has very strong roots in the populist farmer. Small landholders used to small government far from British authorities. When the hand of British colonialism became too harsh, these were the guys that led the charge for Revolution, while the merchant elites in the coastal cities were slow to follow.
(Meanwhile, if you were a southern planter, your opinion of the British varied depending on whether you were in severe debt to British bankers, or you were trying to get rich off speculating on Indian owned lands, which the British banned in order to block a war.)
Boston and Philly eventually got on board, but what happened to New York? They were conquered early in the war, and largely acquiesced to British control, albeit with notable exceptions. This is why so much of the war was focused in New Jersey and to a lesser extent upstate New York (site, by the way, of one of the most bloody Indian wars in American history with the Iroquois Confederacy). Washington’s main goal for most of the war was to block the British from pushing through Jersey to get to the colonial capital of Philadelphia. Read it again, people. New Jersey: Our one defense against total annihilation by the British.
So there you have it. New York City! A land of Wall Street financiers and British-loving toadies. Not the proudest moment of our history. Hey is it any coincidence that when the Beatles staged the British Invasion, they starred on Ed Sullivan… here in New York!
The shame of our times.
2.) Kudos to Brooklyn and its chorus of illegal fireworks. Standing on the roof of a Bed-Stuy apartment tonight was like being in a war zone, with shit exploding all around you. Some legit impressive fireworks as well. Impressive, folks. I hope none of you were injured or arrested tonight.
And that’s it for now. Come back tomorrow morning, and I’ll talk the art of road trip playlists, and provide a few good new and old music recommendations. G’night America!