We were wondering what was the most appropriate and symbolically meaningful way to commemorate this, the first Independence Day since Sept. 11. Being too lazy to do it ourselves—we haven't felt right since the doctor took away our meds—we posed this question to an array of local Americans: What kind of Independence Day celebration/remembrance/parade/pageant/Balinese puppet performance would you put on if (a) you had an unlimited budget and (b) anyone you asked to show up (Springsteen, Queen of England, Budweiser Girls) would.
Illustration by Smell of Steve
The responses varied from thoughtful to half-assed, from angry patriotism to simply angry, from George Bush to the Ramones to exhumed Nazi corpses. In a word: America!
Ken Maddox (R-Garden Grove), Assemblyman, 68th District I would like to spend July 4 enjoying barbecue and beer on the White House lawn with President George Bush and his wife, Laura. I hear [defense secretary Donald] Rumsfeld can get us really cool fireworks. Margo, radio host of Lesbo Smak, KUCI.org I'm not celebrating the Fourth of July this year. I hate our government—they're idiots. I hate the American people—they're dumb as shit. I hate goddamned Israel and Palestine, and I wish all those stupid, fucking Middle Eastern countries would just fucking nuke one another. I'm moving to goddamned England. Or fucking France. Somewhere where I can just drink, smoke and say "fuck" and "goddamned" in peace and not see a bunch of goddamned fucking Lakers' flags.
Illustration by Smell of Steve Vangee Oberschlake, Green Party activist We'd hold a big Fourth of July party out front with a solar-powered Ferris wheel for the kids. We'd serve all-organic food. Instead of fireworks, we'd have those nonflammable, neon plastic glow-in-the-dark things. And a laser show based on solar-powered batteries. We'd have a three-legged organic potato-sack race and a teen activity, where you pair everyone off two by two and each couple has to negotiate a treaty to disarm your nuclear weapons and make it so that everyone would win. Jon Gothold, partner and executive creative director, DGWB ad agencyBush would announce that every person in the world will be allowed to contribute the equivalent of one American dollar to rebuild the Twin Towers so that they would truly become the World Trade Center. People from all over the world will actually rebuild the towers; the sheer numbers will send a message to the terrorists that they are badly outnumbered. And then, of course, since we're an ad agency, we'd kick the whole thing off with a Super Bowl spot. Aaron Kraten, formerly of Gallery 23, currently itinerant artistOh, my God! Rubber underwear! Everyone would be in rubber undergarments! I can tell you're typing all this—that's good! There would be kiddie pools full of oatmeal and marbles. I would greet people with a leather mask on—a zipper mask—and Le Shok would be playing in my bedroom. Except instead of having Hot Rod Todd sing, I would have . . . I would have YOU sing! I would have you sing, and I would call you guys the Pantywaists. I would rub my body on everybody that entered the house. And once everybody arrived, I would bring on pyrotechnics and I would send the pyrotechnics into the air while the Pantywaists play my favorite songs, and then I would quit rubbing my hamster with my dirty loins.
Anything else? You can do anything you want—you have godlike powers for this.
Maybe ride a unicycle. Is that godlike? Because I can't do it. Drew Jackson, media director, R3 Group Inc. My perfect July 4 this year is being catapulted off the deck of an aircraft carrier in a F-16 at sunrise to drop a smart payload in an Afghan cave on behalf of Americans everywhere. My co-pilot and I guide the launcher exactly on target. Sweetness! We return to the carrier and take a Learjet to the island of Santorini in Greece, where we watch the sunset over the ancient caldera and celebrate freedom until dawn. My co-pilot? Vanessa Williams. In a flight suit. Unzipped to her navel. The Reverend Lou Sheldon, chairman and founder, Traditional Values CoalitionThe first thing I would do is begin to educate all Americans in the foundation of our nation—that this nation belongs to God. We need to take the Sept. 11 warning and the introspection that took place then. We should take that warning and begin our celebration with thanking our Creator for His providential care upon our National Destiny. I would have the re-enacting of the struggle and tragedies of the Pilgrims as they crossed the North Atlantic on the Mayflower.
Would it be to scale?
Yes. It would be a gigantic facility. Second, I would re-create the average American colonial home and the place of the father . . .
Father as in God the Father?
Father as in husband. So let's make that father and mother. . . .
Yes, I like that.Jon Halperin, booker for Chain Reaction and president of Vegas RecordsIt'd be really cool to have a party at Anaheim Stadium with all kinds of bands playing. But then I thought, would I want to have all those people gathered in one place? Wherever you're holding it, you'd have to rent tons of security to make sure bombs wouldn't be planted. It would take a long time and a lot of planning to put together a foolproof way of holding a party for 50,000 to 100,000 people on a date when there are concerns. Ultimately, I decided I'd rent a yacht and outfit it with machine guns on the front, just because of the whole terrorists-invading-Catalina thing. Roger von Butow, founder of Clean Water Now! CoalitionFourth of July, hmmmm . . . Why not disinter (exhume?) the bodies of Speer, Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, and the Gang? Clone them, wheel them out for a Bruce Springsteen concert (the Born in the JEW S.A. tour) la the movie/play The Producers. Instead of singing "Springtime for Hitler and Germany," it'll be "Springtime for George W. Bush and fascist America." After all, everything from the environment to our civil rights has gone backward into a McCarthyism mentality. I mean "Homeland Security" sounds an awful lot like "Das Fatherland." Sieg heil, mein Oberreichsfuhrer von Bush! Armbands, goose-stepping, the whole nine yards. Hold it in Texas Stadium. Finale: blow up Texas with a low-level nuke. Texas begins exporting glass instead of oil. The Gulf of Mexico heats up and becomes a giant Disney World Aquarium for mutant species. Osama bin Laden laughs and goes home, his work finished. Doug Scribner, Libertarian candidate for the 68th Assembly District I'd like to see a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party. Only instead of using tea, we'd be dumping soda pop, wine, Twinkies, cigarettes and any other "sinful" product state politicians are trying to tax. And instead of dumping the stuff from sailing ships, we could dump it from the windows of SUVs in protest of the proposed gas tax and car taxes. Trailing behind the caravan would be well-paid private cleanup crews leaving everything spotless and clean—after all, it is immoral to make taxpayers pay for other people's messes. Steve Soto, former member of the Adolescents, Agent Orange and Joyride and probably the nicest guy in OC punkYou can't really do a Ramones reunion anymore, but that would have been classic. I'd have 'em play right on the White House lawn! And there'd have to be lots of kegs because even though I don't drink anymore, everyone else does. And the fireworks go until dawn—and it keeps the Bush family awake!
Do you think the Bush daughters would come out?
Yeah, they'd be wasted! But it's okay to drink in your own front yard—except in Huntington Beach. Sandii Castleberry, folksinger and teacher whose live program Happy Birthday, America increased 100 percent in school bookings (25 to 50) after Sept. 11 I would like something showing how we persevere, so I'd have each major city host a major Independence Day celebration of the magnitude of the millennium celebrations.
[Reminded that terrorist attacks were narrowly thwarted at millennium celebrations.]
Oh, yeah. I guess you could never pull it off. Not now. That's kind of sad. But it's a great thought.