Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's just a few days before the 4th of July and everyone's getting breathless on the television sets, warning all of us dumb asses about the dangers of fireworks, most of which need to be smuggled into many states because they're illegal otherwise. Of course, the crackdown on these ill-gotten pyrotechnics from Wisconsin or Missouri, or where have you, never happens and fools blow fingers off, singe their faces and start grass fires here in the dead heat, brutally dry first week in July, when everything - people, plant and beast - is wilting. We're not getting any smarter. In fact, we're going the opposite direction, it seems, but what really matters is that we have all of these big warehouses along the interstates, filled to the lids with things that we're supposed to buy and then light on fire and we can't very well pretend that we don't want to blow them up. What's important is that we have the ability to cross state lines, fill a couple grocery carts full and get about as American as it gets.
The band North America, which is made up of brothers Jesse and Josh Hasko, makes instrumental music that packs as much punch as do these foreign-made explosives, with the flashy names and red crepe paper packaging. The flares and the angry screeches that come out of these firecrackers - when the flame on the fuse first reaches its jackpot of powder - then lead to the payoff, which could go any number of predictable or unpredictable ways. The Haskos suggest that their music is often populated with ghosts and they could very well be right. They could be the ghosts of those we've lost in fatal fireworks mishaps. Or, these songs might just be the fireworks talking themselves. They could be the red and blue flares laughing at us. They could be screaming, "Gotchoo," in a language that we can't really place. They could be biting us, lunging at us with a distaste in their mouths. Sometimes they just spin us around, as if we're led onto the deck of a very mad carrousel, circling us like dizzy jackals.