Operated by John-Riley Harper. Dedicated to archiving photography from Utah's underground scenes, as well as other personal projects.

Stadium of Fire from Above
Halfway up Cascade mountain and the fireworks beneath me register no change at all on my camera's exposure reading. [The photo above shows two or three large fireworks going off as a forest fire (started by fireworks) sends a cloud of smoke into the air.] The city is simply too bright. Its battalion of continuous, 24-7, 360° light sources make the yearly hooha rather ridiculous. Shopping malls clearly outshine the Stadium of Fire. Streams of cars going rapidly from some visual event to another are roughly equal and just as visually impressive as the teeny balls of glittery light.

Fireworks are supposed to stand in for the grandeur and glory of war - the canon boom, missile flare, and exploding shrapnel - but I can clearly hear semis revving over the din. Aren't we past this, as a culture and a nation? What are we trying to prove? Are we simply trying to scare the birds? They have seemed distressed up here. The crickets take no note as far as I can tell.

Maybe it's for the "magic," the twin enchantment and cultural education of our children. I remember loving them early but got bored after just a few years. It was one repetitious affair after another. I was sleepy. It hurt my neck to see every last ember and sparkling source of ooooh. The displays were not anything amazing after two or three times. Kids can be entertained and enchanted, but only temporarily. A rock and a stick, an interactive device, is endlessly fascinating. Fireworks displays turn the sky into a television screen. So it's for the adults, a certain subset of adults for whom this holy day somehow galvanizes. They see it as a necessary indoctrination of patriotism.

I farted on the way down, then realized that I couldn't smell it. All the air smells like flatulence. I look up and notice another mushroom cloud of smoke coming up from Alpine. The fire must still be burning. I hear gangster rap techno blaring and scan with binocs for the offenders below me on the trail. Deer eyes meet mine. Caught in the middle. Through the oscillating darkness, it moves up off the trail and dissipates. It must be terrified and I'm not helping.

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