FREEDOM DESPITE AMERICA: A SERMON
In Historic Filipinotown, where our buds La La La Birdtime live/work/have a legendary porch, Fourth of July celebrations begin long before actual Independence Day. We’re jumping at the sudden onslaught of a thousand Black Cats exploding and dodging smoking torpedos as early as mid-June.
Every Friday evening, Sebastian plays trumpet at the weekly Bird House jam session. On keys is a fella named Rendina. Rendina doesn’t drink as much as the other jammers, but as the premature fireworks raged on this past Friday, he finally asked his host - a champion beer drinker - for his hardest liquor. Only Malibu Rum was on hand. Rendina paces, ‘I’ll take it.’
The jam continues. Malibu Rendina is shredding on the keys despite his agitation, until a single Dodger Stadium-level firework explodes directly above the Bird House. Malibu Rendina runs out into the street, amongst all the car alarms set off by the sonic boom, shouting, U-S-A! USA! USA! HEY MOTHERFUCKERS IT’S NOT FUCKING FOURTH OF JULY YET! IT’S NOT A MONTH LONG CELEBRATION! IT’S ONE DAY! OH BUT U-S-A! USA! USA!
The other band members quickly retrieved Malibu, and explained to him the possibility that most fireworks displays are likely not inspired by jingoism, but rather an excuse to light shit on fire.
But I get where ol’ Malibu is coming from. I’m from the South, where it’s now the Fourth of July three hundred and sixty five days a year. It wasn’t like this before. There weren't American flag coolers and American flag windsocks and American flag Swarovski crystal-encrusted phone cases sparkling on the white sands of Florida panhandle beaches year-round. In fact, I was under the impression that at one point the South hated this country -- so much so that it tried to leave it. The new stubborn nationalism feels to me a lot like the old stubborn defiance it replaces.
But I do believe in freedom. I’ve been working on setting myself free from an abusive relationship with the American dream.
Oh I was indoctrinated, gang; indoctrinated to the point I felt I didn't deserve to enjoy myself because I hadn't figured out the money thing nor reached some arbitrary level of success. Then I thought, 'but what if I never figure out the money thing or reach the arbitrary level of conventional success? I'm going to die without having had all of the fun I could have had, and I'll have no one to blame but myself.' So I made an executive decision that I deserved to have fun because I said so. THEN recently I stopped believing in the concept of deserving joy altogether, and I think it's going to be really fun.
But if you happen to be on the fence as to whether or not you deserve fun, let me add my vote for a decision on the side of deserving. Because it's the truth. If you don’t believe me, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org telling me why you don’t deserve to have fun, and I will handily dismantle every single one of your reasons without breaking a sweat. 'Cause I'm not only your Fairy God Stoner, I'm also a top gun Innerself Defense Lawyer specializing in radical self-empathy.