photos by ryn gargulinski, 2013
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Phoebe went hoarse from wildly barking at all the fireworks, but the rest of the July 4 weekend was dandy, in Tucson and beyond.
More than just used clothing was on hand at the July 4 clothing swap at Congress Street’s Dinnerware Artspace. Tucson performer Kathleen Williamson jammed in one of the gallery’s front windows while others began dancing in the second one.
The only drawback about dancing in storefront windows is that it tends to attract ne’er-do-wells, like one guy on a bicycle who appeared to either want to bum a cigarette or make a drug deal. He continued to lurk outside to perhaps abduct a clothing swapper to steal their new clothes or slice the person’s throat and throw them in a quarry.
The coveted Mustard Belt stays in America, with Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., winning the Nathans Famous Hotdog-Eating Contest for the third time. He scarfed down 68 dogs in the allotted 12 minutes, setting a new world record.
My highlight at the contest, which I used to cover when I lived in Brooklyn, was when one contestant puked after scarfing down the dogs. He was not disqualified, however, because he was able to suck it back in before it hit the table.
Those who prefer a lighter fare also had some feasting going on.
Anyone who takes a cue from my dearly departed Grandma G knows holidays are the best time to do some work around the house. She used to clean her closet on Thanksgiving. She also used to buy cat food just to get the rebates even though she didn’t have a cat. In her honor, I often try to do a holiday home project, with this July 4 leading to the repainting of the patio and its furniture.
Decking out chickens:
Meanwhile, back in Michigan, mom’s Mother’s Day chicken and dad’s Father’s Day duck got into the patriotic spirit. Dad at first denied having anything to do with this dressing up of inanimate objects, but we later learned he was the one who went out to buy the ribbon.
How did your holiday weekend compare?
Did you paint your house? Swap clothing? Vomit hotdogs?
The Fourth of July gives us a smattering of incredible patriotic opportunities. We can dress in flag-inspired, garish garb or red, white and blue makeup we’d be loath to don the rest of the year. We can blow off our fingers with firecrackers.
But nothing can be more fun than reflecting on all things uniquely American.
Like SPAM. This all-American food is so versatile it can double as a paperweight, slimy hockey puck or be cooked into a casserole that makes your date escape through a bathroom window just so she doesn’t have to eat it.
Other foodstuff that originated in the great U.S. of A. includes Krispy Kreme, Coney Island’s Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs and Detroit’s scrumptious Buddy’s Pizza. Don’t forget our host of fast food franchises: McDonald’s, Jack-in-the-Box and especially one that bears the name of one of our finest states: Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Strange processed cheese products also seem to have a home in the heart of America. These include Cheez Whiz, which comes in a jar, tube or squirt can; and that fun, putty-like stuff called Velveeta.
And we wonder why Americans are blessed with obesity and heart disease.
We can always, however, dance off the weight with some uniquely American recording artists. Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix. Jim Morrison and a whole host of others who died from sudden and unexpected circumstances. Michael Jackson. Kurt Cobain.
Then there are the other American musicians we kind of wish would go away. Weird Al Yankovic. Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Dressing the part of an American is another way to pay tribute to this grand land. We can bedeck ourselves in Daisy Duke shorts, off-the-shoulder Flashdance tops, legwarmers, scrunchies and Member’s Only jackets.
I would also bet your bottom American dollar the U.S. is also the birthplace of the T-shirts that proclaim “My parents went to Nebraska and all I got was this dumb T-shirt” and the ones depicting a finger pointing to the left beneath the words “I’m with stupid.”
Some of the finest American landmarks sell those shirts, and our landmarks are admittedly very fine. We got Arizona’s Grand Canyon; Amarillo, Texas’s Cadillac Graveyard and half of Niagara Falls.
Other notable landmarks include New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns, which comes complete with bats; Route 66, which takes you from Chicago to California; and Tucson’s own Valley of the Moon.
Only in America can you find a host of some of the most impressive records. Like Don Gorske who holds the record for eating the most Big Macs. He made the Guinness World Record in 1987 with 18,250 Big Mac attacks, according to the website EccentricAmerica.com. The dude was up to 19,000 Big Macs in 2003.
What’s more American than that?
The world’s largest hairball and largest ball of paint also have their homes right here in America, both in Alexandria, Ind., to be exact.
The largest hairball, at a hefty 200 pounds, came from the city’s fair sewer system. And the World’s Largest Ball of Paint now resides there, as well, thanks to 26-plus years of labor from housepainter Mike Carmichael. He started with a standard baseball in 1977 and his since covered it with 17,300 coats of paint to weigh in at 1,100 pounds, according to the website EccentricAmerica.com.
Beat that, oh Blarney Stone and Eiffel Tower.
Even our monsters are cool. Bigfoot. Cujo. Jaws. Charles Manson.
But what most sets America apart from all other nations is its penchant for its toys.
Monster Trucks. Slip-n-Slide. The hula hoop. Miss Barbie. And the world would be in even uglier straits today if it weren’t for the invention of the uniquely American Slinky.
Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist and performer who adores American quirkiness and thinks Slinkys should be only made of metal. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at Party934.com. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org