Among the Huddled Masses on the Fourth

Among the Huddled Masses on the Fourth:

Another Fourth of July on the Jersey side of the Hudson, another sunny afternoon spent in great company, getting progressively wasted at a bar before joining the teeming masses on the piers of Hoboken to see the fireworks with the skyline of Manhattan as a backdrop without a note of goddamn Usher music. The Rude Pundit received another text from his conservative pal in Dallas, this time awaiting a concert by Rick Springfield before the sky lit up there. We tried to figure out a song besides "Jessie's Girl" that Springfield sang but couldn't. So that must have been an awkward hour or so of "Oh, yeah, he did sing that one," like a little surprise party.

Out on the piers, the Rude Pundit witnessed every kind of ethnic stereotype you could imagine. Large Hispanic families on lawn chairs, downing empanadas with rice and beans. The Indian young man with his more traditional-looking parents, Mom in a sari, pointing to lower Manhattan and saying, "Want to see where I work, Pop? Look at the tallest building in America and right next to it is my office." The Japanese man who asked the Rude Pundit to take his picture with the city behind him. The arrogant, douchey young white people.

The Rude Pundit's partner pointed out the one cigar-smoking man, who said, "I don't smoke these often." To which the Rude Pundit added, "So when I do, I want to do it in a crowd to make sure I'm as much of a dick as possible."

Yes, alternating between weary disgust and simple good humor about the people around us, we watched the rockets red glare, a nice breeze coming off the water, lights of phone cameras forming a dotted line below the burning blossoms, the Arab family pushing their children through the people, insisting that everyone get out of their way, the black family arriving just a little late for the start, the polyglot reactions to the smiling face or the heart fireworks, all of it, in its hand-holding good, its uncaring bumping bad, its cigar-smoking ugly, so very, for lack of a better or more nuanced word, American.