Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July from Midcoast Maine

Regardless of where one stands on the the whole issue of American policy and the American people (it is a truism to say that the two are seperate, that is if there were such a monolithic entity as the "American people") you really can't go wrong with a good parade. Therefore this morning Country Mouse and me set off just down the road to Thomaston to get our fill of floats.

Like all things modern and American, parades have become almost overrun by the internal combustion engine and hardly anyone walks in them anymore. The preponderance of slow moving vehicles belching exhaust gave an ironic cast to all the exhortations to "Support Our Troops", many of whom were enjoying America's national holiday hunkered down behind sandbags on top of the world's second largest proven oil reserves. The ludicrous sight of the proudly bemedalled ancient commander of the American Legion post driving his Hummer H1 at a stately 5 mph (I hope he filled his tank for the 3 mile parade route loop) only underscored the emptiness of that particular marketing slogan. A nation at war, indeed. At least the Midcoast Peace and Justice folks marched on foot with their "Impeach!" signs- you may disagree with their politics but they are at least consistent in their values.

While (vaguely) on the subject, I had meant to touch on the flag burning debate last week, so in precis: don't burn the flag, its usually made out of nylon and therefore its fumes would be bad for the environment. However, I'm glad to see that enough Senators were in touch with reality to defeat the silly constitutional ammendment. Those who seek to outlaw such behavior come across as deeply insecure: a broad chested nation really should be able to take the sight of a symbolic cloth going up in flames without reaching to desecrate its founding document. The whole thing puts me in mind of the "Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade" episode in Catch 22; in which base-hugging flunkies scramble around trying to demand public displays of patriotism from bomber crews who fly daily over enemy territory. Gay marriage outrage, flag burning brouhaha: who wants to give me odds on a rivial of the House Un-American Activities Committee? It is all so trivial.

That aside, the weather was perfect and we were able to grab a yard of kerb on the shaded side of Main Street from which to enjoy the parade. For once I was able to watch the parade rather than be in it (for some reason I keep winding up in jobs that involve waving at strangers from behind an organizational banner while walking down the main drag in column with a bunch of Shriners at least once a year) and it was a rather pleasant experience, even though I wasn't able to catch any candy. A few photos should give you the flavour:

Waiting...

Hippies!

Little Leaguers, who were begging for money. I don't know if the collection was for funding the league or was a scam dreamed up by an enterprising 11 year old criminal.

Faithul reenactors, intent on accurately reflecting history; or loonies who love to wear itchy wool in July? You be the judge.

Because nothing says "independence" better than a shed from "Shed City".

6 comments:

Mondale said...

Frau Random Doubt celebrated the 4th in our own, unique style, watching the World Cup whilst trying not to vomit. We had been poisoned by our dear friend 'Maija the non stop conversationalist/Northport poisoner'. You will recall her talking prowess last November, I do believe you missed out on her toxicology skills.
At least we also took up a couple of New York traditions: calling our friends to bail out of a party and ordering food in from a greasy deli.

Joe said...

Those little leaguers are pretty savvy. Wearing uniforms, carrying a banner with big yellow letters saying "Support Our..." I bet half of the people watching thought that it was the army's 8th Midget Division. I bet they took in a boatload yesterday.

weasel said...

I would have happily paid the Little Leaguers to continue their Artful Dodger scam if only to forestall the arrival of yet another bloody fire truck. I counted at least 10 fire trucks from 6 surrounding towns- I hope nothing caught fire elsewhere during the parade. I also think the constant testing of the sirens is a bit over the top and annoying. Its a parade, not a noise-off.

Joe said...

Yes, most of us know what a fire engine siren sounds like. No need to prove that Camden's are just as eardrum-shatteringly loud as Rockport's. That's the worst part of any parade, IMO.

Rikki said...

Wow. Where to start ... how about a quote:
["False"? no, "Pop"] "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

Now then, for some juxtaposition, you should venture southward a tad to Round Pond for their parade next year. In place of the overt gingoism (which I observed two years ago in Thomaston, leading me to choose other parade venues since), the Round Ponders take a far different tack that, from what I read, is likely more up your alley than what Thomaston offers.

Generally, the political floats are leftist in inclination, but are outnumbered by floats grounded in tasteless media stories.

Oh, and the walkers either outnumber or at least number about the same as the drivers.

I'll see if I can dig up a photo or two from the last RP parade we attended. If memory serves, the best floats were Michael Jackson/Neverland themed, a "LNG terminal" involving an outhouse near Moodys Diner, etc.

Check it out next year.

weasel said...

I've heard from a couple of sources that the Round Pond parade is groovy; plus there is the added bonus of it being in Round Pond, right next to where we spent our honeymoon and where Country Mouse spent her summers as a kid.

I can't believe that in my fourth year in Camden/Rockland this was the first time I'd been to the Thomaston parade. We usually go back home to Bar Harbor for the 4th. At the risk of provoking the anger and jealousy of the rest o' Maine that arises whenever 04609 is mentioned, that parade is pretty awesome(way more shriners in creepy muppet costumes, for one thing). We also keep our powder dry for the Lobster Fest parade (which I'll be in again this year- doing what I'm not quite sure yet).

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