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Friday, July 6, 2012

Finally Recovering from the 4th, Mostly

(though my electronics are hating all this warm weather. Maybe I can find someone in Dublin or Belfast who'd like to trade- I can live someplace where it is cooler, cloudy, frequently damp and dreary, and they can live here where we get 300+ days of sunshine every year, and where it is only wintery for a few days at a time at the very heart of winter. I know it sounds lovely, but it makes laptops very unhappy if they have insufficient cooling mechanisms, even without my cat's fur clogging the air-stream.)

Anyway, I'll post a separate account of the music from yesterday, so that if any folks find my blog looking for information on those bands they won't have to read a 'blog' post, just to read about the shows. But, there was a lot of music yesterday, all of it good, some of it really good, and none of it likely to attract any of the younger population of Fort Collins to the park, at all. In fact, there were no bands that played kid-friendly music; I would have tried to find a Partridge Family cover group or some other family-oriented folk group for the younger families- the kids who were there with their parents were just bored and annoying all the nearby adults all day. Was there no kid-friendly folk group, or maybe a catchy bluegrass band interested in a city-sponsored gig in the park? And, no, the Celtic rock band yesterday did not make up for the one-sidedness of our 4th of July music lineup, because the Celtic rock show was too poorly advertised for any students to know about it. I was one of the few younger people in the audience who was not there with a bunch of kids in tow or elderly parents along. A few students got pulled in as that show went on, hearing the siren song of live electric guitar from the surrounding streets, so I'm sure they'd not have minded knowing about it ahead of time.

I have seen may times how the city planners in this town prefer the longer-term residents' perspectives to those of students, despite having a 30,000 student major university in the center of our otherwise smallish town. Lots of students settle in or near Fort Collins after graduation, and marry, and have families here, and these people, as non-student residents get ignored, marginalized or discriminated against outright along with their similarly aged student neighbors. Very annoying, and if students ever really start using the local ballots that they receive in the mail every year, the city may find their blatant disregard of students really problematic. [End of soap-box rant.]

I'll probably have more soap-box rants referencing back to the 4th, too, by the end of the month, but since it seems I have more readers in Europe than in the US at the moment, I won't spend all night tonight griping about problems in Fort Collins. I am sure other college towns see similar problems, but it makes me just tired and grumpy writing on these local issues for long.

Of course, it is local politics, and politics in general that make the United States of America worth celebrating, and worth fighting for, at all. Independence Day marks the day the Declaration of Independence, a document which made clear officially the intention of the colonies to break with England. There was really nothing in 1776 that would have suggested that women or non-White people, or poor people would be respected in the USA, as citizens, with rights as both citizens and as human beings more generally. It was due to the broader values of freedom and democracy that the marginalized groups in 1776 did not remain marginalized, and all of this change was politics, that boring and seemingly unimportant stuff our newspapers are no longer really interested in reporting about, and that few people willingly admit to 'following'. Politics is not about smearing political candidates, or admiring their families, or their pets. It is about deciding at every level of our country's practical workings, how we want our country to function.

Thus, while it is annoying that we keep going back to discussing whether President Obama's birth certificate is valid, an issue which if decided in the negative could somewhat disenfranchise a large segment of the state of Hawaii btw, it is also interesting that the President is not afforded the same respect and professional courtesy that other, White, presidents received simply out of respect for the office of President of the United States. Politics is seen as a dirty, corrupt game, in large part because of the shady deals between business lobbyists and Congress, and now we seem to have forgotten the rest of the way how to have any pride in the institutions of our 'great nation'. There is still greatness in the US, in all classes and all professions. Our tourists may annoy much of the rest of the world, but not all of them. And, while our foreign policy has its ups and downs, the ideals the US represents in the abstract are still quite worthy.

We have forgotten how to come together as a people, to the extent that when we have no fireworks, we almost have no 4th of July to celebrate, it seems, but that just means we need more practice. Almost no one danced when we had our really good swing bands playing in the park yesterday, and the space in front of the stage was nearly empty for most of the day, but there were some people up in the front, and a few of them even struck up actual conversations with complete strangers. I was even asked to dance, once, despite there being so few people there willing to dance. Maybe a few more people will try these small gestures of community building at our next public festival? One can only hope.

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