Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fireworks and Kvetching

A shot of the massive Hudson River fireworks show tonight, looking toward Manhattan from Weehawken.



A gallery of more shots from Weehawken and Jersey City.

The display started at 9:20pm. I can't tell you how relaxing it was to leave my house at 9:18 and stroll casually down to the river! The police had blocked off the roads starting at around 6pm, but people had been, according to the news reports I saw on TV, "camping out" along the river's edge since 9 this morning to get a good spot! That's just nutty! Though I departed for the big show with only 2 minutes to spare, I was able to see just fine.

There were 10s of thousands of people stretched all along the road that runs along the cliff overlooking the river (though loosely packed, with plenty of room to walk around). Most everyone in a relaxed, happy mood...except for the dog next to me that snarled and almost bit the faces off a pack of obnoxious 15-year-old boys who were taunting it! (Yikes.)

Aside from the near-face-mauling, all was pleasant. I got a few chills while watching. People "oohed" and "aahed" and applauded throughout the show, and at the end a brief chant of "USA! USA!" went up, which made me smile. (At the brief tingle of jingoism that ran through me at hearing it; then, later, 'cause the majority of the crowd were either tourists or illegals who had walked over from Union City, which is the next city inland from Weehawken.)

Afterwards, I strolled back home and stopped on my corner to snap some shots of the one traffic cop trying futilely to control the throngs of both people heading back inland and cars heading back to NYC. A neighbor-lady came out on her porch and started kvetching about the cop: "That man does not know what he is doing! I was watching him from upstairs. He must not be from Weehawken. He doesn't know this road. Where's he from? [to me] Can you read that patch? He must be from the Sheriff's department. [he was, according to his shirt-patch] I called the police earlier and asked who they had out here. They sent both Weehawken officers and the Sheriff's department. People from the Sheriff's department do NOT know these streets..." Whew! Luckily, some friends of hers walked up and were able to commiserate with her more appropriately, since I really didn't know what to say and wasn't satisfying her with my non-committal responses of "Well, there haven't been fireworks on the Hudson in 9 years. He didn't know what to expect..." (To which she responded: "He should have KNOWN what to expect!" etc.)

Her kvetching reminded me of something that I really do like about this part of the country: the kvetching. I myself would kvetch back in Texas about any number of things that weren't being done properly, only back home it's called "bitching" and is greatly frowned upon. You're not "laid back" and "easy going" if you bitch (you're just a bitch). Traits that I think Texans and Southerners pride themselves on and that I think are greatly overrated. Texans can be very smart and driven, sure, but they like to present themselves publicly as NOT being so. Whereas people up here are just think-y/talk-y as hell and don't care if they seem uptight in the process of letting their feeling be known! :)

I find that to be much psychologically healthier, actually. At least for me. For instance, I would always get shit back in Texas for, say, honking when the car in front of me wouldn't move when the light turned green. Or for getting pissed when the person in the car in front of me at the bank drive-thru wouldn't have their stuff ready by the time their car got to the window. To me, it was just common courtesy that the laggards were lacking; they weren't thinking about the people behind them. To my fellow Texans, I was the one being rude! That was just nuts! I'm very glad to be in a logical place where PEOPLE HONK WHEN THE SLOW-POKE IN FRONT OF THEM DOESN'T PAY ATTENTION TO THE LIGHT! :)

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