Watching your family grill under the influence and seeing criminal-provided fireworks.
I’m pretty new to the US. I’m here on a visa working for a bunch of rich country boys who take this patriotism, red, white, and blue stuff really serious. Can you tell me how you celebrate the Fourth of July so I can get a better idea of what Independence Day is all about and not look like an idiot when I hang with them?
Yankee Doodle Screw Me
Everybody knows one of the key elements to a good Fourth of July is fireworks. You should definitely try to see some with your co-workers. Unfortunately, Americans just don’t do them like we used to—especially not in New York City. BBG, or “back before Giuliani,” fireworks were run by mobsters and drug dealers. It was great! Those gangsters would compete to see who could put on the best show. Every block had its own crew, so every block had its own fireworks presentation. These gangster guys would drop thousands of dollars on fireworks and you could see them happen right on your own street. Now, you have to go to the Seaport to see some tumblers. It definitely isn’t the same, but it is still worth checking out.
And in spite of all the rules, people still do their own thing, which is really representative of the rebellious American spirit. In some parts of Brooklyn on the Fourth you can hear people shooting their guns all night, in lieu of having real fireworks. You wake up in the morning and the streets are littered in gun shells. Even though guns are dangerous, that kind of thing isn’t a big deal. They’re not hurting anybody. It’s supposed to be Independence Day, so let us have some independence for crying out loud.
Another essential aspect of the Fourth of July is the barbecue. There are barbecues going on everywhere all day long. I love my family barbecues on Independence Day because the women get old school and try to cater to the men. When I bring a date to a cookout, they always end up saying, “They treat you like a king!” The women cook in the kitchen, while the men play dominoes or spades. It’s a good atmosphere and it’s nice for all the nieces and nephews to see each other. We cook all the normal stuff on the barbe: pork, beef, chicken, and shrimp. And of course, there is tons of alcohol. With my family, the food tastes better the more they drink and get high. So if you see them knocking a few back and acting a fool, believe me, the food is going to be amazing. I love my family, but I just can’t be around them for too long. Once they start hitting that level where they have no idea what they are doing because they are so gone, it is time for me to go. If I don't leave, I'll have to deal with people arguing and bringing up the wild stuff I used to do in my past—that’s not cool, because some things don’t have a statue of limitations.
However, the most important crucial component of the Fourth of July is your family. For my loved ones, it is just an excuse to get together. I’m especially excited for this year because my daughter is finally in family mode. She realizes how important it is to be around her cousins and her great aunts. She’s trying to learn her family history and she’s teaching the the younger ones about it. That’s how good things stay in the family.
There is certainly a political/historical aspect to the Fourth of July too, which can be weird for black folks because when the Declaration of Independence was written we were still slaves. They had no inkling of letting us free back then. I’ve gotten over that, but the truth is those “Forefathers” are not my forefathers. It’s good to talk about that history and never forget it, so that it doesn’t happen again. But at the same time, you have to just enjoy the day. We are all Americans now, and I embrace that. Plus we’ve got the day off, so everyone should just stop whinning and join in the fun.
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Ron is VICE's accounts receivable manager. He also happens to be a master of mixed martial arts and a treasure trove of knowledge and advice. Even your sick perversions, dysfunctional predicaments, and anti-social thoughts don't surprise him. So go ahead, ask him something already. Email Ron your questions to HeyRon@vice.com or tweet them to @Hey_Ron. Every person who gets their question answered will receive their very own Hey Ron! t-shirt, three print issues of VICE magazine, and a personal note from Ron.