The 4th of July, 2020

Originally published on Reddit, a year ago today.

It's the Fourth of July, America's Independence Day. In my town, the fireworks have been cancelled due to coronavirus and crowds, but I'm fine with that.

It's not really about pyrotechnics and parades and politicians. I got patriotism comin' out the blowhole, but it's personal, and there's more to it than fireworks and waving a flag.

This year's Fourth of July seems different — and in a good way. Do you feel it? Sure, we have a brain-dead anti-President in the White House, ignoring countless enormous problems, and doing his damnedest to make things worse. But there are also signs that Americans might drag the USA closer to its ideals.

We've been told that we're all created equal, but the law has always left some of us behind. It's thrilling to see people gathering by the thousands to demand the equality we've been promised.

This spring I've walked with BLM protesters on a couple of afternoons, and it feels like a profoundly patriotic moment. What could be more American than wanting liberty and justice for all?

To everyone on the streets speaking up for that principle, I say Thank you for your service. And to everyone who's opposed, I say cordially, Bite my big one you ugly un-American.

I'm celebrating the 4th with a song we all know, Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," performed by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. This ought to be America's national anthem. You probably know the first verse by heart, but the rest of the lyrics are especially worth hearing, and singing along ...

As I was walking I saw a sign there,
And that sign said "No Trespassing,"

But on the other side it didn't say nothing,

That side was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway,

Nobody living can make me turn back now,
This land was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of the steeple,
Near the relief office I see my people,

And some are grumbling, and all are wondering,
Is this land still made for you and me?

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California to the New York island,

From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters,

This land was made for you and me.



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  1. Captain HampocketsJuly 4, 2021 at 6:45 AM

    The sound is added, but this is cool.


    SF in the 40s.

    1. That video is from before we were born, and long before we came to San Francisco, but it’s mesmerizing ain’t it? I’m glad they added fake sound instead of music.

      A few things that caught my eye… • Hundreds of little shops, but only two that I recognize as chain stores — a giant Kress (predecessor of K-Mart), and Owl Drug. Owl is in the building that later was Woolworth’s when I got there, and The Gap when you got there, and right there’s the history of American suckishness. • The California School of Beauty Culture — not just beauty, but the culture of beauty? • The downtown movie theaters bragged, “open all night” — oh man, the insomniac in me would love to see a movie starting at three in the morning, and then walk a block to catch another movie at 5AM. • I wonder what’s up with all the Red Cross flags everywhere? World War II boosters, I imagine. • The Warfield Theater, where I saw the Violent Femmes. • More than one storefront says it’s a “naval tailor,” and I don’t know what that means — wouldn’t a Navy uniform be sized to fit a sailor without alterations?

      Any particular memories from you?

      And I wonder if we would’ve even enjoyed living there. San Francisco in the 1940s was, I’ve heard, a conservative Republican town, not a place that would be particularly welcoming for bohemians, drifters, zinesters, or other wandering souls.

      Great video, thanks ...

  2. Captain HampocketsJuly 5, 2021 at 12:42 PM

    >The downtown movie theaters bragged, “open all night”

    THIS is something that surprised me. 80 years ago, all-night movie theaters?

    >The Warfield Theater, where I saw the Violent Femmes.

    You did? That seems unlike you. But I also stopped there, because Shawna and I saw Janeane Garofolo do standup there.

    It just looks like an electric, electrifying place. It was in decline by the time I got there, but still pretty amazing.

    1. Yeah, concerts are way out of my ordinary wheelhouse, but a lady took me to see the Violent Femmes, and it was really nice.


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