by Dave Cohen
In looking around a recent Allman Brothers Band concert at the Walnut Creek Pavilion, I noticed that there were more hogs in the parking lot than there were in the food concessions. What happened to the barbecue stand that I had seen (or should I say porcine?) there a year ago? Isn't it a crime to deny someone 'cue in this state? Billiards aside, I had to settle for a beer instead, which in the fullness of time and a certain bodily organ led me to seek out an edifice other than the barbecue stand. However, in assessing the men's rest facilities, a friend uttered but the one word that strikes fear into the hearts of peephobics everywhere: trough (and not the kind used to feed hogs). Those of you who don't know what I'm talking about aren't going to get enlightened here. After all, some things are better kept private-which is the problem with the trough in the first place.
From expulsion we move steadily along to explosion, although we can't get there without first making a stop off for some fire (preferably to burn down the building with the trough in it). Yes, this column's really heating up now, and, well, it should when I talk about the Fourth of July, a holiday that can drive one to reach for a fifth of something else.
This past Fourth, while doing my best imitation of Charlie Brown trying to fly a kite and drinking inordinately expensive Ben & Jerry's milkshakes (less shake than shakedown, you know) on Duke's East Campus, I was invited to an impromptu flag burning by a band of either determined or bored high school students. How could I resist?
The young 'uns were all from the Talent Identification Program-the best and the brightest shipped in to take classes at Duke for a few weeks. I guess it just goes to show that when you give intelligent, liberal kids nothing better to do, they'll buy an $8 polyester flag and set it ablaze for the sake of protest in general...or just for kicks. The driving force behind the afternoon's incendiary events was a young woman who read Ginsberg's "America" while the flag burned. Ah youth! Ah na´vete! Ahchoo! That polyester smoke'll make ya sneeze...before it winds up killing you. But isn't it Amnesty International that says it's better to light one polyeser flag than to curse the darkness?
When the flag first went up, one enthusiastic lad, who looked like he'd consumed nothing but strong coffee for the last month, shouted, "God fuck America!" I wonder how long before he realizes that if his wish were to come true, the orifice of choice just might be his own. Still, it's good to know that the future of civil discontent is in good hands, even if those hands are capped off by black-painted fingernails (and you wonder why conservatives call liberalism "ugly").
Later that night, I joined the throng of patriots who sought to celebrate this country by, as they said on the Simpsons, blowing up a small portion of it. Yes, what would July Fourth be without fireworks? Well, for the teeming legions at Wallace Wade Stadium that night, it would have been a lot less smoky. Blame it on planning or some bizarre protest by the local tobacco companies, but there was more smoke than fire that night. About 3-4 minutes after the first shell exploded, a thick cloud of smoke began slowly encroaching on the stadium. Soon I was forced to flee to higher ground, and the only smoke-free sanctuary that night proved to be a spot at the top of the parking lot-the perfect place from which to view the grand finale. Or not. Said finale produced so much smoke that the finale's finale was obscured by clouds (Pink Floyd fans rejoice) of smoke. Hooray for the red, white, and thick blue smoke.
The Durham police didn't do such a, er, bang-up job that night either. Perhaps disoriented from smoke inhalation, Durham's finest spent over half an hour obstructing traffic before they realized that they should do the exact opposite. I suppose their idea of crowd control consists of first waiting for a crowd to mass in an artificially enclosed space, pissing off said crowd, and then sending everyone on their way. Gee, maybe the teenagers were right in rebelling against the establishment. Stick it to the man! Down with the pigs...unless, of course, you're offering me some barbecue.
Of course, not everything in Durham was poorly planned and executed over the Fourth weekend. Happily, the Festival for the Eno was both enjoyable and successful. I'm glad I made it this year; last year I was too busy wondering why Brian Eno had such a big following down here. Oh, and if you're wondering who Brian Eno is, you'll just have to wait your turn at the trough of knowledge. Me? I think I'll hold it until I get home.
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