Birthday Wishes | Letters | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Birthday Wishes 

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I got an early show this morning of the Murray parade as the Utah Highway Patrol did synchronized motorcycling with their Police Road King Harley Davidson’s just outside my apartment patio. Now, even though I am older and am doing no more stupid stuff, officers in mass still make me nervous. I may be a law-abiding citizen now, but I probably look guilty as hell. I put out my smoke and tried to look sober with a beer in my hand at 6:30 in the morning.

Oh well, we’re headed to the parade. It’s the Fourth of July. It’s going to be a big party! Finding parking for the Murray parade is simple enough, and we have friends saving a spot for us at the McDonald’s on State and 5900 south. I’m guessing I haven’t been to a 4th of July parade since the ‘90s when I lived in Utah County. I am thrilled to be out with the kid and the lady and all the strange people around me that I never even knew existed until now.

The Murray parade soon turned into a showcase for the rich and wealthy among us. With the municipal assets of Murray City public services starting the parade, I watched as the ever more-affluent took center stage, and the people all around me loved it. All you have to do is throw taffy in our general direction and we are your loyal servants. We are your personal consumers who will throw dollar bills back for a smile. So thoughtful of them, so generous! I think this to myself as I envy the $80,000 dollar machinery from Teraflex use up 4 gallons a mile. Fuck it, they can afford the gas.

Disillusioned, and having nothing better to do, I hooped and hollered my way through the local business directory. And even better was watching this year’s female model, an example of our state’s gene pool, as local girls waved at me from floats that mimicked big fluffy interpretations of the celestial kingdom. The highlight of the parade was the flyover by Hill Air Force 419th Fighter Wing Division. That was pretty cool. “It takes about $6,000 dollars of jet fuel to do that.” Says the guy next to me. “Cool.” I say having determined a long time ago that the faster we burn up that nasty gas stuff, the faster we’ll get rid of it permanently.

After an hour or so of consumer training, the parade ends, and I am glad to leave behind the crowds to smoke a cigarette on the way to the car. Getting there took 10 minutes. Leaving took an hour. You think you’re far enough south to avoid Murray Park only to have to turn around again in dead-end traffic to head further east and then south to get home on the west side of Interstate 15. Oh well, got a chance to see neighborhoods I never knew existed.

Tonight we head to Liberty Park to watch the fireworks. We’ve got a bunch of fireworks we’ve bought from local tent cities that pop up this time of year, and we are excited to celebrate with the downtown crowd. Parking takes some skill, but finally an LDS Church parking lot is of some use, and we walk just a couple blocks to reach the park. On reaching the park, my lady informs me she needs to use the bathroom. The line in front of the ladies restroom is so long, I pull out the camping chair and settle down to watch the show from there. Reggae is filtering to my ears from across the park. They are Marley’s songs—so familiar and calling—I sigh as I imagine spending my time at the bathroom, missing the show. She is having the same idea as only a few moments pass before she comes back and says she will just hold it. I don’t know the secrets you all use to hold your bladders but it is highly commendable. Girls can just turn a switch. My lady held onto her bladder the rest of the show as we parked ourselves right outside of the VP section and watched Bula perform on the big TV they had set up on that side.

I was excited, and a little nervous as I looked around for people I might know—cops, or dangerous happenings—but all was in order and I relaxed, lit up a smoke, and proceeded to sing along with the band, hooping and hollering. I was surprised at the size of the crowd and noticed the majority were Islanders, those big-bodied warriors of the Pacific that have become commonplace here in Utah, distinguishing it with their powerful spirits and souls. I love the Islanders. I grew up with Super Fly Jimmy Snuka next door, picked pineapples in Maui for YDE and have seen Utah and the islands become interchangeable harbors for family and friends. One of the few things I can thank the church for.

At the 10 o’clock hour, Bula stops performing to let the fireworks take center stage. At 10:05, Bula is back onstage for a finale, and I wonder if that was all the fireworks that were going to be let off, and if it were, then ... damn. That sucked.

Thank God for Bula, they made up for any lack of patriotic spirit as they cried out to Salt Lake City that they knew freedom was intended for everyone. With all the recent tragedies and worries of the world, I got caught up in the vision of a world free of the war on drugs and for oil, a world that would practice austerity as a rule of thumb, and a world whose future includes space travel to the stars. It was a great dream as the Salt Lake City Gang Unit had the worry-free time to help someone find their dropped keys. Man, what a great world we live in. Whenever I get the blues and want Armageddon to come, I have to remember moments like this one where we are all One Love, One Heart ... Let’s get together and feel all right.

The night ended with us trying to find a place to let off our newly legally purchased aerial fireworks, but I guess I just can’t get past all the years of conditioning. Oh well, maybe tomorrow night. We have all month to go, maybe I’ll save them for the 24th and celebrate with all the Mormons. Nah ...

I used to be a Mormon. What happened? Can someone please explain that to me? Ugh, so ... rather than get into trouble, I once again play it safe, go home, put the kid and lady to sleep and sit on the porch to catch a buzz and think about getting lost in Goblin Valley next week. That’s the plan. I love Utah. I hope we make it through the next 100 years without Yellowstone blowing up or some freakish zombie outbreak. I hate to think what a 9.0 earthquake would do to the valley ... maybe if we all got together and prayed to the Lord for nothing to happen, it will be all right just like Marley says.

On this Fourth of July, I want to put my heart out there to all your readers and just tell them I like sharing my hometown with you guys. You know, everyone! The Islanders, the Hispanics, the Asians, the Middle Easterners, and those from Mother Africa ... you know who you are. Peace! Let’s all remember that the very fact that we can still have babies with one another means we are the same species.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. May freedom succeed and cover the Earth with a borderless country, one nation, under heaven, and with liberty and justice for all.

Gordon McWhorter

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