rainbow flags at the 4th of July

parade crew
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Here’s half of our crew at the 4th of July parade, plus a few of the Squatters who shared our blanket and chairs. Nadine and her baby and older son – her partner had to be at work. Her sons’ dad came with us too – his partner was home fixing us all a fantastic barbecue lunch and baking cookies. Nadine and I met over 15 years ago in Austin, where we were girlfriends. She taught me to drive and how to make stained glass, and we romped around town being activists, skinny dipping, picking berries, planting gardens, building retaining walls, and once seeing fireworks so close that the embers were falling on us. We lived together at 21st St. Co-op.

The Deadwood City parade was great. As always! There were incomprehensible floats to satisfy the most ironic of tastes. The politicians in vintage convertibles looked suitably bewildered. Mimes! Little kids in spangles and white gloves! Oh, it was all glorious. I wished that Moomin would remember the strange pageantry and wonder what it was all about, and why Auntie Nadine kept yelling “Yay War!” bitterly whenever military vehicles rolled by and people were marching with fake guns.

We stood and cheered for Barbara Pierce, who is an excellent mayor; for PFLAG; and for the Veterans for Peace.

The kids all behaved and liked the parade.

I was super happy, remembering the excellent parades in Allen Park with marching bands and Shriners in little cars throwing candy. (Why don’t they throw candy anymore? Unhealthy? Fear of strangers? That’s so silly!) Deadwood City’s parade, like its fireworks, go on and on forever like an insane progression of multiple orgasms of nostalgia and kitsch, of panoply — they’re like years of parade rolled into one. It’s the same principle I apply to cooking and parties. If you’re going to bother to do it at all, go overboard, make enough for 20, invite everyone you know.

For the second year we were sitting across from a brigade of entertaining drunken men in hats made out of beer boxes, loud drunken men, hooting and cheering from their folding chairs and platforms built on top of cars, scantily clad, heavily tattooed, beefy and hairy. Since they were safely across the street we were all entertained, not annoyed. They seemed to feel the same about us and our rainbow and United Nations flags… and yet we were united in hooting insanely at the Brazilians (shaking their butts, butts which hung right out) and getting up to dance. Look… we have found common ground! How heartening!

About the Squatters, I have to get it off my chest: Jo and Manny and their kids were a bit late to the parade, and some other people sat down with us because there was extra room. I say “with us” though the mom would not say hello or look at me when I talked to her. Later, the kids ate a quart container of watermelon that I had cut up (I offered). The mom still could not manage to quit snubbing me though her ass was on my purple bed sheet. What was her problem?

So part of my parade experience was thinking about courtesy and territory. Did the Squatter Mom think it was wrong of us to have brought out blankets and chairs the night before to stake out a claim, and that she had more of a right to that space that we did because she came to the parade earlier than we did? Don’t I think that territory and private property are a bit nasty anyway and why would I doom her to miserably sitting in back of us on the sidewalk? On the other hand, didn’t my forethought and preparation, and the way that a bazillion other people saved their families places, mean that there was a convention to be respected? Most of all, couldn’t she have the grace to act minimally friendly with us since we didn’t try to kick her off “our” spot? Would a simple “Hey, thanks” or “Mind if I share your spot?” have been so hard to get out of her mouth, even to us circus freaks with pipecleaners woven into our sticky-uppy-hair?

My other problem with the parade is a small one, but shared by everyone I know. Why do they send enormous street sweeping machines to “clean up” the horse poop? Why not just have a person with a bucket on wheels and a scooper-thingie? One minute you have some piles of poop neatly in the center of the street. The next you have hot pulverized horse poop in everyone’s lungs. Seriously, they might as well have a brigade of skunks, talcum powder, and leaf blowers for all the effect of turning the horse poop to dust with gigantic street sweeping brushes kicking that dust into our faces.

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