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Thursday, June 24, 2004
Deck the halls with high-powered explosives
'Tis the season to blow stuff up. Here in Portland, firework stands have been popping up like dandelions in every Fred Meyer parking lot in the city. But with local regulations that have outlawed even sparklers, their products can barely satisfy even the most easily amused. I wouldn't be surprised if even Pop-Its, the most banal of banal fireworks, have been locally banned.
So where can we get our yearly pyrotechnic fix? There's the always reliable Blackjack's, a short hop and skip over the Columbia River. They sell everything that should be legal in Oregon- sparklers, mortars and roman candles. But for those who like to run a 75% risk of losing a limb on the 4th, Blackjack's selection is strictly ho-hum. If you're looking to wow your neighborhood with the Independence Day-equivalent of a Michael Bay movie, a trip to the nearest reservation is in order.
Last year, Flog and I journeyed up the 101 along the Olympic Peninsula, a hour or so outside of Seattle. Every year, a line of RVs and make-shift stands sell incredibly intimidating WMAs (Weapons of Mass Amusement), most of which are spendy. One particularly sinister looking device, the size of a manhole cover, looked like it was capable of illuminating the night sky for a hundred miles. The price tag for the 2-minutes of entertainment it had to offer? A mere $250.
Sadly M-80s, once a Fourth of July standard, are becoming increasingly hard to find. What a difference a few years can make. Back in 2001, a certain "Army of One" currently stationed in Germany, rolled out of Washington with what can only be described as a disposable rocket launcher. It contained 10 M-80s-powered shells and came with a lengthy list of legal warnings on the side. I distinctly remember #5: "This thing can take out a tank battalion. For God's sake, point it away from your face."
I doubt I'll be making a similar trip next week. I dropped over a $100 last year and the results were stricly ho-hum. I profiled the cache and took a few pictures for that "Coco Colado's Guide to World's Lamest Fire-No-Works" article. Instead of listening to dealers' recommendations, I only bought the fireworks that looked neat. Big mistake. On the other hand, one of them, a firework shaped like Osama Bin Laden with skulls for eyes, is still sitting on my bookshelf. It's a great conversation piece.