A short fuse.

Two years ago, apparently seized by a desire for FREEDOM, not to mention revenue, our state legislature eased restrictions on all sorts of fireworks. They imposed licensing and a 12 percent tax on sales, with the proceeds split between firefighter training (really) and the general fund, then said, “Have fun, kids!”

The law says people have a right to shoot pretty much anything the day before, the day of, and the day after federal holidays, and as you can imagine, the one that gets the most action is not Martin Luther King Day.

So I have this neighbor. I already knew he was a jerk; he likes to shoot squirrels with his pellet gun, I guess for target practice. I haven’t spoken to him about the dead ones that have fallen into our yard, but I scooped the corpses up on a shovel and dumped them over the fence. I know he saw me do it because he was standing in the back doorway one time, and shrank back into the house.

Whatever. I know he’s also fond of fireworks, but this year was a cake-taker. He invited people over and shot shit off from nightfall to after 11 p.m. July 3, 4 and 5. One night I don’t mind and two nights is pushing it, but by the third night I was feeling hostile. That third night is a Budweiser-scented belch in the face, followed by, “It’s a free country.” We adopted Wendy last year about this time and our vet agreed she was about a year old, and she came through 2013’s fireworks season like a champ, so we decided her birthday would be celebrated on July 4. (Yes, we celebrate animal birthdays in our house; don’t you?)

This year I spent her birthday jury-rigging a Thunder Shirt for her out of a hand towel and Ace bandage. She was so scared Alan could hear her teeth chattering.

I should add, these weren’t normal backyard fireworks. I have seen less impressive displays at civic celebrations, and keep in mind, these were going off in a densely populated area, flying into mature trees, raining sparks over roofs and lawns and parked cars. Our driveway was littered with cardboard from the shells after the first night. The dog next door was so upset he voided both his bladder and bowels, and barking resounded throughout the neighborhood. I cannot be the only one who is growing tired of this shit, I thought as the clock ticked close to midnight (the legal shutdown hour) on July 4. The following night, that became clear.

We had a friend over for drinks and a fire in the back yard, and close to 11, in between blasts, I heard a woman screaming in anger: “Who’s going to clean off my car? Who?” I asked my friend to call in a possible disturbance to 911 and we went around the corner. The cops were just arriving, got out and proceeded to yell? At the complaining neighbors. “Take it up with the state legislature,” they said before threatening to arrest the group for public intoxication, which seemed odd, as no one appeared to have been drinking all that much. (Except for me, and I only had a delicious Michigan sour-cherry Manhattan early in the evening and two glasses of wine afterward.) The biggest complainer, the woman with the car, asked quite reasonably why she could be arrested for making too much noise at 5 p.m. on any other day of the year, but this guy could essentially turn a multi-block area into a war zone for three nights running. The answer: Take it up with Lansing. The guy making all this noise had a simpler reply — his middle finger.

I really, really don’t understand someone like this. I certainly understand the appeal of fireworks, but this campaign — every night for the whole legal three-day period, in the face of open revolt from one’s own neighbors — suggests a level of hostility that makes one unsuited for urban life. And the fact this is happening all over the state only makes me wonder why we haven’t had a few shootings already.

And that was our weekend! Well, plus some sailing and grilling and yoga and all the rest. FREEDOM.

Bloggage? Sure:

“Rolling coal” — proof there really is no bottom to some people’s stupidity. (I bet these guys LOVE fireworks, the louder the better.)

This is a very good analysis of reactions to the Hobby Lobby decision, and the fact it came from Cosmopolitan magazine seems like a damn miracle.

More Dahlia. Sigh.

And with that, the week is off and running. Hope it’s good for you.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Detroit life |

39 responses to “A short fuse.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 7, 2014 at 12:54 am

    A nice Zingerman’s aside – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/business/at-zingermans-pastrami-and-partnership-to-go.html

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  2. LAMary said on July 7, 2014 at 1:18 am

    This year Max, the Great Dane, was thoroughly traumatized by two nights of illegal fireworks that went on until 2AM. Some of the explosions were huge.

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  3. Joe Kobiela said on July 7, 2014 at 3:16 am

    My golden retriever was wedged behind the couch and wall shaking the last 2nights.
    Maybe you could hire the deadly viper assanation band to play a late night gig on a night the guy has to get up early for work. Dexter sorry to hear one of your radio guys, Anthony was fired.
    Pilot Joe

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  4. Dexter said on July 7, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Good catch, Pilot Joe. Actually, I am a Ron and Fez Show devotee, and I find Anthony Cumia and his Hitler worshiping and racism simply revolting. Last week a guy took some random photos at Cumia’s “compound” out on Long Island and one was of a Hitler action figure doll…looked to be a couple feet tall.
    I posted some negative feedback about that and Cumia’s army of friends piled on me and told me to “get over it”. Well, you get the picture.

    About 25 years ago we had a whole neighborhood full of firebugs and we had the same problem. The debris fell all around the ‘hood and one sizzling dud that was burning but had not exploded landed on my garage roof. It immediately began to feed off the roof materials as I called both the FD and the cops. The firemen quickly put out the fire and I only had minor damage to repair, and the cops did nothing, as fireworks were blasting from all directions.

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  5. Dexter said on July 7, 2014 at 3:47 am

    And Brian, it’s been many years since I have been to the Fort Wayne Zoo, but my friend from early childhood and his wife do lots of volunteer work there and have for years. His name is Lynn and I bet you have walked past him many times there.

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  6. David C. said on July 7, 2014 at 6:26 am

    I’ve seen rolling coal for about a year or so and I didn’t even know it was a thing. I thought it was someone who bought a diesel pickup and didn’t have enough left over to change the oil. I didn’t know people, scratch that, guys spent an assload of money to do it on purpose. I can’t wait until someone sees me on my bike and thinks I’m a dirty hippy environmentalist, which I am except for the dirty part, and smokes me.

    The first night of fireworks one of the kitties was scared shitless. The second night they were both old pros and it didn’t bother them a bit.

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  7. coozledad said on July 7, 2014 at 6:45 am

    One day, Nancy, you might look over that fence and see your neighbor waving what used to be his forearm in a cloud of arterial spray. The, you can calmly walk up to the fence and say I always thought you were just another hopeless piss-ape, but that is fucking awesome! Happy fifth of July, or is it the sixth?


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  8. coozledad said on July 7, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Then, dammit.
    I’m not a touch typist by a long shot, and it’s still not quite daylight in the office.

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  9. Joe Kobiela said on July 7, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Sorry about the mistake, knew you listened to some one on satellite.
    Did they have the fly in in Bryan this year? I was in mobile on the 4th and couldn’t make it over, the pancakes are always good over there.
    Pilot Joe

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  10. Julie Robinson said on July 7, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Our neighborhood has sounded like a war zone for a week and the lack of sleep is making me cranky*. It’s not just one neighbor, it’s legion, and no one is respecting the cut off time of 11 pm. What good would calling the police do, I can’t even identify which house, especially at 3 in the morning. Legally they can keep it up through July 9 though I’m praying their supply runs out early.

    Fireworks were ruined for me forever at about 12 when the neighbor boy bent over a dud which wasn’t a dud and went to ER with corneal burns. By the next day they had healed enough to tell he wouldn’t blinded for life after all, but that was party over for me.

    *Euphemism of the year.

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  11. Kristen said on July 7, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I noticed that one of those rolling coal pickup trucks also sported a pair of blue truck nuts. Which led me to this article:


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  12. alex said on July 7, 2014 at 7:49 am


    Nance, you and I have exactly the same neighbor. He used to reenact the bombing of Dresden every year during the week surrounding the fourth of July and tell all the neighbors who didn’t like it to go fuck themselves. He doesn’t splurge on pyrotechnics anymore, having just come through a bankruptcy. And now he gets absolutely livid when others do exactly what he used to do, marching up to them and screaming into their faces that he has children at home and it’s past their bedtimes and how dare anyone disrupt their sleep.

    So freedom’s all about unrestrained guns and explosives in public, but when you have fireworks in the privacy of your bedroom and it’s not about making babies you’re public enemy number one. FREEDOM! WOOT! WOOT!

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  13. beb said on July 7, 2014 at 8:09 am

    What? There’s a curfew for setting off fireworks? That would explain why things quieted down around midnight, though I just assumed they had run out of things to set on fire. A local weatherman has lost an eye due to fireworks. I hope he wasn’t doing the annual ‘how not to set off fireworks’ bit as that would be horribly ironic. If it were up to me the curfew would begin at 10PM rather than midnight for the sake of small children, people who have to work in the morning and one’s sanity.

    It seems like dickheadedness (*) has replaced stupidity as our national sport. People setting off fireworks at all hours of the day or night, shooting squirrels for the hell-of-it, coaling trucks, open-carry supporters… and any number of politicians whose racist or misogynistic (or both) statements used to be the kiss of death. We’re as mad as hell and we’re going to rub it in your face. As Nancy says, I’m surprised that haven’t been more shootings over any of this.

    And in the Department of Unintended Consequences – Gitmo prisoners have filled a new lawsuit, citing the Hobby Lobby decision, because the prisoners are not being allowed to pray together during Ramadan, thereby infringing that lawful religious worship. I give them two thumbs up for sticking it to The Man.

    (*) I was going to using douche-baggery up there, then realized that that was using some aspect of women’s body parts for an insult.

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  14. Jeff Borden said on July 7, 2014 at 9:18 am

    We had a different sort of boom-boom in our Chicago neighborhood. We live about four blocks from a huge park –baseball diamonds, tennis courts, football and soccer fields, nature paths– which was taken over by several groups of fireworks enthusiasts. Each group took a field and set off their stuff, drawing hundreds of neighbors to watch while oohing and aahing. The show went on for about two and a half hours. . .just tons and tons and tons of stuff. They did cease by about 11.

    When I took the dog to the park yesterday, I expected a disaster zone. Instead, each of the groups had cleaned up its mess and piled it next to the overflowing trash cans. By mid-afternoon, the park district had emptied all the cans and picked up all the trash. Pretty amazing, really.

    Nancy’s neighbor is more than an asshole. He sounds like a real loon. I’d be wary of any interactions with the fool. He acts like he’s a couple of cards short of a full deck.

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  15. coozledad said on July 7, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Epic failure Carly Fiorina needs a new mortician. Her face really starts to look plastic when she’s getting her stupid ass handed to her:

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  16. Jeff Borden said on July 7, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Stephanie Miller is a lot more respectful towards Carly Fiorina than me. She ran H-P into the ground. . .just broke the shit out of the place. . .to the point where the stock bounced by double digits when she left. That she walked away with a huge payout is just more evidence that American business takes care of its own, even when the executives set fire to the place. She’s no more or less a hack than the male executives who mismanage companies and still walked away with platinum parachutes, but she insists on trying to cast herself as some kind of modern right-wing business expert with important political views to share and she’s awful at it.

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  17. BigHank53 said on July 7, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Beb, I reserve the word “douchebag” for a certain type of obnoxious idiot. It’s (a)a medical treatment that is of dubious or possibly negative value, (b) invented by men, and (c) intended for ladyparts. The Greens, triumphant owners of Hobby Lobby: douchebags. People who set off fireworks in order to piss off the neighbors? They’re just stupid assholes.

    I honestly don’t understand people who go out of their way to annoy their neighbors. I mean: they know where you live, they know when you’re out of town, they know when you sleep. Anyone can buy their own pellet rifle and take care of your 500 watt porch light or the brake lights on your lifted pickup. Or throw crab-grass seed on your lawn. Or swipe your credit card bill out of your mailbox. You’d think “don’t shit where you live” would be a moral lesson that more people absorbed.

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  18. Connie said on July 7, 2014 at 10:32 am

    For many of the years we lived in Indiana it was legal to buy fireworks but NOT legal to shoot them off. That has changed. The big fireworks show in my Indiana subdivision was put on by a deputy sheriff who eventually became sheriff.

    My mini schnauzer spent three days shivering and hiding, poor thing. We had not one but two nights of official firework shows withing hearing. distance.

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  19. Sue said on July 7, 2014 at 11:14 am

    The fireworks in our neighborhood were really loud this year. There must be some new stuff on the market.
    And I always wonder how people can afford it. Some of those individual fireworks are really expensive. None of us have scads of money in my neighborhood and I wouldn’t think any of them could afford to blow several hundred dollars each on fireworks.

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  20. Dorothy said on July 7, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I’ll echo what some of you have said about your neighbors – there was lots of it, some seemed REALLY loud, and they spread it out over three nights. On the 3rd we went out to try to see some at Delco Park (nearby – I didn’t want to get stuck in heavy traffic IN the park). Our view was not great but it’s our first year here. We stayed home the other evenings, and my 10 year old Golden mix, Augie, stayed up on the bed next to me while I soothingly petted him and I also read my book (third one in the Cazalet chronicles!). The cat was asleep on her climbing thingy, and the big dog slept blissfully downstairs the whole time. Yesterday we saw “Chef” and I really liked it. Has anyone else seen it?

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  21. coozledad said on July 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

    You’d think “don’t shit where you live” would be a moral lesson that more people absorbed.

    Reagan changed all that. Now everywhere you look it’s TRIUMPH OF THE ASSHOLE. I hope marijuana legalization proceeds quickly enough that most of these guys will smoke-jock themselves into a stupor for the rest of their lives.

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  22. brian stouder said on July 7, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Sue, indeed! It is – literally – burning your money, AND making your neighbors mad!

    Nancy’s inclusion of the ridiculous subset of people who intentionally fool with their diesel engines, to make more smoke, was the perfect additional thing to these lunkheads who want to rain down fire on their neighbors and themselves.

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  23. LAMary said on July 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

    It’s illegal to buy them, sell them own then and shoot them off here in LA but this year there were more than ever. You could hear them and see them. Since the whole state is crispy and brown, it can’t be a good idea shooting random burning things into the air.

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  24. coozledad said on July 7, 2014 at 11:47 am

    She blowed up real good, Billy Sol:

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  25. Heather said on July 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    That’s the good thing about going up to the Big Woods of Northern Wisconsin for the July 4th holiday. There are plenty of fireworks but it doesn’t sound like a war zone as it does in Chicago. We even went out on the canoe to watch some go off over the lake. Lovely.

    BigHank53, I think those people count on their neighbors to be the kind of people who wouldn’t stoop that low (not that they think of it that way, but you know what I mean). The problem is they are right–most people don’t want to cause trouble.

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  26. Heather said on July 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Oh, I forgot to add, I got to read four books in my week away. One was a novel, “Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object,” by Laurie Colwin, who was mentioned in a thread here a while ago. I wanted to read one of her cooking books, but this was the only one I could find in the library after I went to a couple bookstores. I didn’t really enjoy it, but I still want to read her non-fiction.

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  27. Judybusy said on July 7, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    We had a moderate amount of stuff going off, and luckily our three animals don’t appear too traumatized. However, one of the cats declined to come in on the evening of the 4th; we figure he spent the night under the porch. He was right at the door the next morning, complaining of the poor service he’d recieved.

    Sorta related: today I saw a bumpersticker that read “Extremely rightwing” and the owner was driving some sort of black jacked-up SUV. Don’t really know why he’d feel the need to advertise.

    I liked Joe’s idea of the band having a concert in your yard.

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  28. Deborah said on July 7, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    It is completely insane to shoot off fireworks in New Mexico because we’re in a four year drought (or maybe it’s seven years, can’t remember), yet indeed they do it and there’s nothing illegal about it. I was astonished how expensive they are too. We car camped in Abiquiu again last night and sure enough some people who live in a trashed out trailer about a mile and a half away that we can see from our land were shooting them off last night. If they had started a fire nearby our land would certainly be toast. Last year our next door neighbor in Santa Fe let her sons aged 4 and 7 light firecrackers outside with nary an adult in sight. Thank goodness that family has moved away.

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  29. Dorothy said on July 7, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    And then this happened this weekend: http://wdtn.com/2014/07/07/4-month-old-baby-critically-injured-by-fireworks/

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  30. Scout said on July 7, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Our neighborhood was quiet over the weekend. Or else our damn a/c is so loud we never heard anything.

    Found this on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154378816465078&set=a.10150413121115078.628758.220779885077&type=1&theater

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  31. brian stouder said on July 7, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    cooz at 24 – but, damn!

    From the “before” photo, it appears that The Adult Super Store went to hell, too!!

    Puts a lump in a guy’s….throat!

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  32. coozledad said on July 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    brian: I like the Rebel flag outside the dildo warehouse, but they really should have a 20 ft. concrete dildo in the parking lot painted up in the stars and bars as their mascot, “Dicksie.”

    Knoxville shysters are losing their grip.

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  33. brian stouder said on July 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm


    I had occasion to watch RFD TV over the holiday, and it was similarly… amazing. Of course, Lee Greenwood sang his ridiculous “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free” (what the hell does he really mean by that? ‘at least’? What?) –

    and I shit you not – BEFORE they continued on into America the Beatiful and God Bless America and all the rest, they give a full, emotional, heart-felt rendition of Dixie!!

    I’ll give them this much – they didn’t have the damned Stars and Bars battle flag on diplay. And indeed, Lincoln himself said he liked that song (and that we won the rights to it, more or less!), but still.

    The amazing thing about RFD tv, is you will only ever (ever ever ever) see white folks on there.

    One of their shows highlighted farms all over the nation – ‘course, all owned and run by white guys. They even featured a large cattle ranch… in Hawaii…of course owned and run by pale-faces, with hired hands that looked Polynesian. (and indeed, the ‘cattle ranch’ mostly makes money on the [white]tourists who tromp through every day)

    George Wallace’s vision (“Segregation now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation forever!” as CNN reminds us) will always resonate with some folks

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  34. David C. said on July 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    It seems like their fireworks dross on anybody’s property but theirs is littering, which as far as I know should earn them a ticket in most any jurisdiction. The police should stop can their “complain to the lege” whine and get busy writing. Even the most hardened libertoonian nutjob believes the only crimes are against your (or their, more specifically) property.

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  35. Dexter said on July 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Pilot Joe: The Fly-In messed me up this year. I went out there to gawk at the planes on the 4th and nobody was there. They had it on the 5th. I drove past at noon, not knowing, and I had missed all but the last two planes taking off for home base.
    I had a weird experience today as I went for a teeth cleaning appointment and it was so hot in the dentist office I began sweating and feeling a little queasy and a tad dizzy. Not a low-blood sugar attack, I know what that is, but anyway I had to get up and walk out, embarrassed , but I just knew if the hygienist began working on my teeth today I was going to get sick. I still feel sick to my stomach so I must have a bug. Damn, I never had to run out on an appointment like that in my life, but life is strange. Friday I try it again and I know I will be fine.

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  36. Basset said on July 7, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Brian, watch the “Polka Party” show on RFD Saturday nights. Fun even if you approach it non-ironically.

    And let me be the first to mention that Ringo, the oldest Beatle, is 74 today.

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  37. basset said on July 7, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    And where else but the Fort could this happen:


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  38. alex said on July 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    And where else but the Fort would such a sensational story be largely overlooked? It ought to be the talk of the town. Instead, the news today is focused largely on acts of overtly racist vandalism to the MLK bridge and a drowning in a suburban retention pond.

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  39. JMG said on July 8, 2014 at 10:34 am

    In Chatham, Mass. on Cape Cod, it is traditional for private fireworks displays to take place on the town beaches at night of the Fourth, the Fifth this year because of Hurricane Arthur. But one of the displays caused a spectacular beachgrass fire. So I suspect the tradition is over, as fireworks are very illegal in Massachusetts, and the displays were a matter of official tolerance.

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