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The art of tying 17 screaming rockets together, and other things I miss about Wisconsin

The best way to smuggle fireworks across the border is by yourself. If you have too many “bros” together in one car traveling across the Hudson, the fuzz will notice you pretty quick. But a man by himself ain’t causing no harm. No sir. He’s just heading home from work. He’s definitely not buying 34 pounds of illegal fireworks that he and his friends will light and throw into people’s yards as they drive around the neighborhood every night for two months.

Which is really fun, by the way. I’d highly recommend it.

Some people like to play it safe and take the long way back through Stillwater. You’re almost guaranteed not to get pulled over through that route, but it takes twice as long. I feel it’s a little paranoid. The tall tales of undercover officers writing down license plate numbers in the parking lot and radioing them to squad cars at the border may be true, but I’ve never seen it myself. It seems about as likely as being foiled by Batman. Then again, I always just made one big haul in early June, when Batman is still training in Bhutanese prisons. Enforcement is likely stepped up closer to the holiday.

A good 34 pounds of fireworks will last you all summer, unless you have an ex-girlfriend you’re particularly angry at, in which case it will last you about a week. You’d be amazed how many screeching rockets you can pack below someone’s bedroom window and light at once. It’s also amazing how fast people will go back to sleep after being disturbed in such a manner at 2am, thereby allowing you to do it all over again at 3am.

The screamers are the best. Fierce Tiger Rockets, Triple Whistlers and anything with “thunder” or “booming report” on the packaging are a pretty solid bet. My personal favorite is the 225-shot Phantom Missile Base. Place it under your former lover’s window, light it, and then haul ass back to the car and watch a glorious 2-3 minute barrage of screeching, glittering assholery that’s guaranteed to turn on every light in the neighborhood. And they’re only $30, so you can buy enough to annoy all of your exes.

Stay away from the mortar shells. I know it’s difficult to resist when they use a word like “mortar”, but they’re expensive and not very impressive. It’s the stuff the professionals use, but even the pros would get booed if they just shot off one. Each set is anywhere from $40-$100, and all you get is one loud bang with a short color burst. Pretty dull stuff. Leave that overpriced junk for the experts shopping on the taxpayers’ dime. They’ll buy hundreds of them and make it look much nicer.

Roman candles are tremendously fun if you’re holding them. They’re not so fun if your friend is holding one and firing bursts at you as you dive behind cover. To answer your question from ten years ago, Mrs. Straub, your son Justin’s hair “smelled like sulfur” because I accidentally grazed him in the head with a fireball while pretending I was a powerful wizard. Well, I guess “accidentally” is a bit misleading since I was purposely aiming for him.

He’s fine now. The hair grew back eventually. Also, in my defense, I looked pretty amazing during the whole thing.

Spinners are only fun if you have a bunch of friends with you and can set off 15 of them in the street at once. For the full effect of this, I’d highly recommend traveling to Alhambra, CA for the Fourth of July holiday. There’s a fireworks stand every 4-6 blocks, so most people don’t even bother going to the city’s official fireworks show. My friend’s street was so filled with smoke and sparks that cars couldn’t even drive down the block. It was like Disneyland for assholes! Some might argue that Disneyland itself is Disneyland for assholes, but you get my point.

Don’t buy smoke bombs, color wheels or those ash-based snakes or tanks. Spending $3 on such a thing demeans us all.

Much like being a graffiti tagger, the most important part of being a Fireworks Asshole is the ability to run really, really fast. This is especially true if you buy those mortar tubes. Within 30 seconds of firing one of those off, every cop in a 10 mile radius will be traveling with great haste towards your location. I’d recommend bringing along an obese friend. That way instead of having to outrun the police, you just have to outrun him.

I now live in California, a state that doesn’t allow larger fireworks. It also doesn’t allow people to drink alcohol in strip clubs or purchase live hedgehogs. Sometimes I wonder why I live here at all. However, I’ll always have fine memories of lighting Tiger Rockets off the roof of my friend’s powder blue station wagon, and then driving away at high speeds after realizing the trajectory curved and it hit the side of someone’s house right before it exploded.

I’m sure they were able to wash it off. Ah, good times.


 One Response to “The art of tying 17 screaming rockets together, and other things I miss about Wisconsin”

  1. Franklin Furter says:

    When I was in high school I had a newspaper route in Omaha, Neb. On weekends I had to be up at 4 a.m. to deliver my papers. One July me and another guy who had decided to tag along were delivering newspapers, and we had a couple of bottle rockets with us. We broke the stick off a rocket and then lit it, and threw it into someone’s home through a mail slot. And we ran. A little while later an angry guy in a little car came driving up and asked if we’d seen anyone with bottle rockets – Mmmm… No. Why? – BECAUSE SOME BASTARD THREW ONE IN OUR F-N MAIL SLOT AND BURNED THE CARPET!!Is it wrong for me to still laugh about it 32 years later???

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