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Dead solid summer

RAGING MODERATE

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Will Durst

Here’s hoping your Independence Day was beyond terrific. You have to love the loudest and most American of all holidays. One of the moments that makes a person prouder than papaya punch to be a citizen of this fine country. The greatest country on the planet, which is why we have all those darn problems with our borders.

After all, you don’t see a lot of stories about the teeming humanity streaming across the border into Kazakhstan. Or Kyrgyzstan. Which many experts claim are two entirely different countries. 

The Summer Solstice may have checked in weeks ago, but the 4th of July is still dead solid summer. It means baseball and hot dogs and picnics and suntan lotion and ice cream trucks and road trips in the back of a station wagon bouncing around like fleshy pinballs, begging Dad to turn up the air conditioning and screw the gas mileage. 

The Durst household is used to celebrating this noisy and sweaty occasion by intensely charring immense amounts of flesh, both ours and assorted animals, then drinking a cooler full of brewskies while shooting off firecrackers. That’s right, we drink beer and handle explosives, which explains why the 4th christens many nicknames like “Lefty” and “Patch.” 

No matter what side of the political spectrum your team plays on, this is a non-partisan party. Hippies and hawks both exercise their freedoms by flipping Frisbees and firing up the grill although it’s a lot easier to keep a rack of baby backs from slipping through the grates than bean sprouts. 

Hard to think of a snapshot of the USA more iconic than a small town 4th of July parade with kids stringing bunting in their bicycles spokes and streamers doing their streaming thing from the handlebars. Where tricycles and Big Wheels careen between crawling convertibles containing beauty queens waving with one hand and holding tight their tiaras with the other. Where hardware stores sponsor floats and politicians are booed. 

Speaking of which, 4th of July also signals the apex of the marching band season. Good marching bands and bad marching bands. A difference which is razor thin. These poor people practice all year long and get one lousy day. Seriously, how many John Phillip Sousa albums do you own? 

Even in San Francisco, we do the red white and blue thing so big and bad, the ghost of Patrick Henry slaps us imaginary high fives. It’s the perfect time to forget the troubles facing this nation and concentrate on the good things. Food, family, friends and fireworks.  Although 9 times out of 10 our light displays get lost in the fog. Instead of “ooh” and “aahh,” we get “hunh?” and “what?” 

So get your summer licks in. Buy a new bathing suit. Fly a flag. Wear white shoes. Eat a roasted cob of corn and let the butter slide right down your arm and drip off your elbow. Snore in a hammock. And blow some stuff up real goooood. Because it won’t be long before we’re stuffing the flip-flops back in the closet and hauling out the school backpacks and pumpkin carving kits. Happy 238th birthday America. And you should know, in the right light, you don’t look a day over 189.

‑ Will Durst’s “Raging Moderate” columns are distributed by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.(durst@caglecartoons.com).

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