July 04, 2008

On the Fourth



Happy Birthday, America.

We celebrate our country's independence from Britain (and Hollywood extraterrestrials) by firing up the grill, stuffing our faces with red, white and blue-frosted cupcakes and burning ourselves with illegal yet pretty explosives.

America and I have had many different celebrations over the years. From 1996 to 1998 I fried my skin under the sun at the parking gates and ticket booths at Playland Park in Rye, New York, my first summer job I grew to dread by the time I was a senior in high school. It was mandatory to work on the summer holidays, and I had missed out on the family barbecues and beach blanket time with friends. The worst 4th of July was my second summer at the amusement park. I worked a late shift and came home in a shit mood, starving, sunburned and staring at the Macy's holiday broadcast through a black-and-white TV set in the kitchen while scarfing down leftover chicken and potato salad.

I continued working for Westchester County Parks all through college, working the holidays and sticking my nose in the numerous paperbacks I would read on lunch breaks at the beach.

Then came Los Angeles.

2002 was the first time I actually got to enjoy the day off. All I remember is meeting up with BU alumni friends for an impromptu barbecue and then driving up Mullholland to catch the fireworks display at the Hollywood Bowl. In 2004, I was taken down to Manhattan Beach where, in the company strangers, I enjoyed the coastal view from the beach house rooftop of a friend of a friend's neighbor. 2005 was spent stuck in traffic on the 90 catching a few distant sparks from Marina Del Rey (last minute plan after grilling sausages on Doug's lanai at Maryland Manor). The year after that - sitting in the sand on Manhattan Beach with some friends and then later munching on unlimited breadsticks and salad at a nearby Olive Garden. Last year, a clambake in Playa Del Rey and a pretty awesome view of the Marina show. 2008: A pool party/barbecue in the Hollywood Hills followed by the same annual clambake in Playa Del Rey (this time minus the hike up the hill to catch the fireworks) followed by a late dinner at the cool Boulevard Lounge in West Hollywood.

I know I'll appreciate these records when my memory goes at the age of 90.

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