Saturday, January 2, 2010

Super Charged Flashlight Cracker / Hellfire and You-Know-What

RiverTown was full of traditions. It was also full of poor people. Those things may be related. Now that you are getting your charge card bills from Christmas, you may find them even more related.

Last night, in IrishTown, on this New Years' Eve and many others, children had dollars upon dollars of "Black Cats." I figure they spent $50.00 per family on something that was gone in one night, (with periodic leftover explosions over the next few days).

They are noisy. They will ruin your hearing. They will take your eye out or burn down your house.

We could forget about sleeping. We just set in to endure. And poor Rosie, who was good about almost everything, would tremble for the three days it took to stop hearing them in the street. Not even holding her brought her any comfort.

The first year, I stood on the awning outside our window and watched dollars blow up and increase risk of harm and fire for about an hour. And I was angry--how many  baseballs, math lessons, and house paint would this pay for?

By the next year, I knew indignation was only adding to my misery. This is how it goes:

1. It was a family and neighborhood tradition. Traditions, however [insert adjective here] are part of the fabric of a family and a community.

2. It was looked forward to, like all traditions, including the massacre of evergreens for Christmas and the massacre of turkeys for Thanksgiving. (BTW, I gladly eat turkey and enjoy Christmas trees. But still. If turkey is so wonderful, how come we only eat it one day a year? Explain that, for instance.)

3. It was cultural, in that it was unexplainable to someone who was unfamiliar with the tradition. Try to explain Christmas to a hmmm, Martian. They might get the religious history, but will they get the rest? I'm guessing not.

4. There is some joy in being able to make that much noise. Oh, yeah.

5. So, again turning to the ancient Greeks--there are two traditions, the Apollonian and the Dionysian.
a. The Apollonian gives you scholarship, order, proportion, rational building upon previous steps. (That's how we believe the poor will get rich, but we may be wrong about that.)
b. The Dionysian is the 'kick back and let loose' in life. It is revelry, Easter eggs, and Miller Time. And of the two impulses, the Dionysian one is the "Transforming" impulse. It is what causes leaps of faith and the Eureka of discovery. It is also the destruction of what is--and sometimes, self-destruction.

 According to the Greeks, both are present in a balanced life. To live only in Apollo means to cut out emotions and transcendence. To live only in Dionysos means to wreck everything in the here and now.

Sometimes you need to wreck the old to begin the new: crack that preconception and grow, make the leap.
Nevertheless, to this day I wish my neighbors in IrishTown would have spent that fifty dollars on math lessons for their kid instead of those damned Black Cats.


The Bug said...

I enjoyed the Greek lesson - and I'm sitting here wondering which rules my life more. Very interesting to think about.

I don't know what our neighbors had, but it involved lots of loud popping throughout the evening, with a grand finale at midnight. And then, inexplicably today (January 2nd), another burst around 2:00. Odd.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Bug,
It's definitely that time of year--trying to figure out who we are and where we want to go from here. Then somebody gets out the black cats just when we had it all figured out--and we're back to square one!

Happy New Year to you. Hopefully that will be the last batch of firecrackers until July!

Thanks for commenting,

Ann T.

The Observer said...

Ann T
I too enjoyed the Greek lesson. It seems life is about balance--balancing experience verses knowledge; balancing the practical and the mystical, etc.

You mean AK 47s and Bushman 15s are not part of your neighborhood's celebration? ;-)

The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
No, I guess we were still low-tech. One less thing to worry about!!

Ann T.

Mrs. Bunker said...

There are a few neigborhoods here in Chicago who's tradition involves shooting guns skyward. This generally claims at least one life a year; they may be better off with some black cats.

Also-Thank you for the mythology lesson, I have to stay ahead of my daugter who has recently beome fascinated with the gods due to a new kid's series "The Lightning Theif"; good fun if your 8 (or older) better that that Bobsey Twin crap I got to read.

Happy New Year!

Ann T. said...

Dear Mrs. Bunker,
We had that in RiverTown also. I noticed in Chicago somebody died this year from this. I also know of two separate cases in RiverTown.

According to the paper, the bullet falls with great force, and nobody seems to get that.

Glad you stopped by!
Ann T.