The right to bear arms—and lose fingers

I rode my bike downtown tonight in hopes of photographing Minneapolis’ fireworks. I’d planned on scrambling down the bluffs to a spot beyond the Stone Arch Bridge, but I was thwarted by 3,000 yards of yellow tape: Police line. Do not cross.


So I resorted to Plan B. There’s an old suspension bridge at the U of M that’s now open only to pedestrians. It bounced like an old mattress every time someone walked by, but traffic seemed fairly light.

No sooner did I set up my tripod than a gang of drunk frat-boy acrobats appeared.

One guy, whom I’ll call “Monkey Boy,” took great delight in grabbing the railing and jerking it violently. His buddy, “Mr. Chimp,” was more interested in jumping up and down. I tried to reason with them, but I quickly gave up. The fireworks weren’t all that impressive, anyway.

As I rode home, darkness enveloped the campus. I was astounded by how quiet—how empty—everything seemed. The air was cool, but humid, so the treetops were shrouded in mist. It was a beautiful night. Almost eerie.

I was jolted from my reverie by a “boom” that lit the sky and echoed off my neighbors’ houses. White sparks danced above the treetops, like a giant neon chrysanthemum.

Such explosive devices used to be illegal. But in 2002, governor Jesse Ventura decided that Minnesotans should have the right to blow things up, and his whim became the law.

Major holidays have been a major pain ever since.

But, since today is July 4—the day on which we’re supposed to celebrate our assorted, hard-won liberties—I’ll do the patriotic thing: I’ll live and let live.

Let’s hear it for the right to pursue happiness, speak our minds, practice our religion, and lose a few fingers.

Happy Independence Day!

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