Happy Birthday, U.S.A.!

Filed under all of my friends are prettier than i am, holidays don't suck for me, living in new york is neat, no i really do love ohio, restaurant ramblings

For the past two years I’ve been in New York City for the 4th of July instead of at home in Ohio watching my family burn off their fingers on sparklers like I’m supposed to, I’ve purposely avoided the fireworks and gone to dinner at Serendipity, first with then-boyfriend Todd, who hated crowds, and then with now-boyfriend Kamran, who appreciates a sugar coma as much as I do but still managed to get me back to his house in time to see the throngs of fireworks-viewers streaming off FDR Drive but not a lot of the show itself last year.

This year, though, Kamran was off visiting his family in California, so I let myself get talked into watching the ‘works with my friends Beth, Emily, Sonya, Adam, Christos, and Chad, and Emily’s friends Jeff and Carrie. Emily and Beth had bought us adult sippy cups on their way to my house, so we stopped off at my C-Town to buy Crystal Light and water to mix in with our vodka and rum like the high school girls we are. I was carrying Emily’s brother’s ridiculously adorable Yorkiepoo in a bag over my shoulder, and the checkout girls went crazy over how cute it was. I thought I was the new star of the grocery store until I came back the next day, and they were all like, “Where’s the dog?! . . . Oh, it wasn’t yours? SNUB.”

We spread out the blankets that Emily and Sonya were so kind to bring in the park between the Brooklyn

and Manhattan bridges

and set to sippin’

and piggin’ out.

Just as the show was about to start, it started to rain pretty heavily,

so everyone got out their umbrellas and totally blocked my view (but in kind of a pretty way).

I’ll admit that fireworks viewed through the Brooklyn Bridge are a bit of a novelty

but after they were over, I was like, “That’s IT?! The fireworks in Ohio are 100 times better!” Everyone just sort of shrugged me off, but I seriously think these people don’t understand how seriously Ohio takes its fireworks. Not only do they use the awesomely pun-y name Red, White, and BOOM!, but they have a whole mash-up of America-themed songs playing on a local radio station that the fireworks are timed to perfectly. Everyone brings their portable radios and sings along, the finale lasts at least 20 minutes, and only one or two people get stabbed every year. Honestly, what is the 4th of July without Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” playing on a million boomboxes around you?!

Once the totally-crappy-and-in-every-way-disappointing-but-for-the-fact-that-Carrie-served-warm-apple-pie-and-vanilla-ice-cream-in-plastic-cups fireworks were over, we decided that the subway was going to be way too crazy and instead chose to take a quick walk down to the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens, where Chad promised us was a great bar. THIRTY-EIGHT MILES LATER (give or take thirty-seven), we were still walking. In the rain. At night. In uncomfortable shoes. I guess I wasn’t doing anything to hide how cranky I was, because Chad kept saying, “Who’s the biggest trouper here? Katie! She wins the trouper award!” and when I wouldn’t fold up my umbrella and enjoy the rain like everyone else, Emily and Beth started singing to Carly Simon’s tune, “Katie’s so vain/she probably thinks this song’s about her hair.”

The bar, Moonshine, turned out to actually be worth the walk (though I’m not sure you could convince me to do it again). There was an empty couch for us to sit on along one wall with the couch across from us occupied by young men with side-parted hair, one of them in a complete seersucker suit. The jukebox played Bloc Party and then Cat Power and then Devo and then HEART. There was plenty of Big Buck Hunter and House of the Dead

Christos, the Joyous German Murder Machine

a thick dark wood table for playing board games on

Seen here: Jenga, with Truth or Dare challenges written on each piece by previous Moonshine patrons

and . . . shoes nailed to the wall?

Please note Beth’s enormous cleavage.

What more could you want?


  1. Karinya says:

    Ohio fireworks ARE THE BEST! A couple years ago my summer midwestern roadtrip coincided with fireworks season, and I drove ridiculous lengths to get to the places with the best shows on different days. My ex, who was with me, didn’t get what the big deal was. That’s why he’s the ex.

    • It was so terrible coming back to my office on Monday and having all of the German interns act like it was the least climactic event of their lives. I was trying to explain to them that it’s not such a let-down everywhere else, but I’m pretty sure U.S.-German relations took a real turn for the worst on July 4th.

  2. Tracey says:

    TROUPER = RIDICULOUS (although correct) SPELLING!

    Reading this made me jealous of your eventful 4th of July, even though, at the time, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my Olive Garden lunch, day-long nap, and Wall-E (complete with popcorn and Snowcaps). I just regret now that there was nothing fourth-y about it. Even that year I played with sparklers at Nathan’s was more patriotic. Remind me to do better next year.

    • You don’t know how hard it was for me to spell it that way, knowing that everyone would be like, “Wow, spellcheck is built into browsers these days, you know? Get it together, Katie.”

      I think your 4th was perfectly fourth-y. You celebrated the diversity of the people of the U.S. with some, umm, whitewashed cultural food, and then you, uh, enjoyed the labor of some hard-working American computer whizzes, and then you thanked God that we split from Britain so you could have the sort of healthy teeth that can withstand sugary snack foods and not fall out.


  3. topsy says:

    i watched fireworks here in lancaster and they actually sucked a lot this year. and mount pleasant caught on fire. and the finale only lasted like 1 minute. it was pathetic and almost makes me wish i’d braved the traffic and paid $4/gallon to go to columbus and see red white and boom. anyway, i guess my point is that not all ohioans take fireworks as seriously as they ought to. once again, lancaster lets me down!

    • Speaking of which, why did I have a dream last night that I lived in Lancaster? And I kept reminding everyone of it, despite the fact that no one had ever heard of it. I guess it’s probably that I miss River Valley Mall and think of it daily.

  4. Tina says:

    Okay, this years Red White and Boom was my first and you are NOT joking about Ohio fireworks. They started playing Hang on Sloopy while scarlet and grey fireworks went off and everyone O-H-I-O’d. It was great.

    PS, I am in Paris right now for two months and get shitty internet access and I miss being able to cyberstalk and read your blog every day.

    • Ohhhh, so jealous. You know, on that very night, there was a guy standing outside that bar we went to wearing an OSU t-shirt, and I was thisclose to saying, “O-H!” to him. Which is literally a thing I’ve never thought to do in my entire life. Clearly a sign that I need to come home for a visit fast.

      P.S. What the hell are you doing in Paris for TWO MONTHS?

  5. Clockwatcher says:

    That’s right, I’m going back and reading all of your Ohio posts. I stalk anything that has the whiff of home. And yes, Red, White and Boom is the best! Although the fireworks up 23 in Delaware are awesome too, with the actual cannon for the choreographed 1812 overture part. And yes, Moonshine is great, although that is a heck of a walk. I like it because of the bulldogs that usually are wandering around.