Monday, February 25, 2008
San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade 2008
"I am become death, the shatterer of worlds."
--passage from the Bhagavad Gita that flashed through Robert Oppenheimer's mind following detonation of the first atomic bomb. The same thought visited my mind at age six, shortly after lighting my first firecracker.
In all my firecracker loving years I had never attended the Chinese New Year Parade & Festival in San Francisco. For someone that loves firecrackers as much as me, to have stayed away for so long, even during seven years of living in San Francisco, was duh, buh, duh, dumb. The drums, the firecrackers, the street food, the half-wild kids, politicians smiling from hopped up mustangs, music & light washed over me, fired up my old explosion craving cycle, eyes wide for concussion colors.
When I was a kid I believed my drug of choice to be the ringing in my ears, and it may still be. We used to cruise along on our BMX bikes, lighting firecrackers as we rode, throwing them at each others wheels, laughing and laughing and laughing. Those were my pre-teen summer suburban halcyon days. Gunpowder in our nostrils, fingers numb and discolored from short fuses, law leering with suspicion from air conditioned squad cars. We ruled the cul-de-sacs and dry creek beds, slinging Black Cats and Thunder Bombs, for as much as $1/firecracker, if we didn't like you.
The crowds were not heavy due to forecasts that called for rain and 60+ mph winds, but the streets were far from empty. I of course love storms and proceeded undeterred. An air of fun and burnt gunpowder danced rainy figure eights up and down the drizzled streets, to the tune of yelling kids. Next year I will drag the kids along for sure, typhoon or not.
Dined at San Francisco's oldest Chinese restaurant afterwards, The Four Seas, pleasant enough, very classic. My mother has said for years that hunger is the best spice, and we were quite famished, so the fare satisfied fabulous. The leek & shrimp dumplings were extra good with lots of leek, and the rest hit the spot.
Woke up the next morning with my pockets full of fireworks, much to the children's delight. When we were done lighting them off I started mixing some unsweetened aloe vera juice into a shake. Gumbo wanted to try some, so I mixed up a little apple juice with a couple ounces of it and let him try it. "Tastes like kid alcohol." he says, right away. Yes, um, kid alcohol, we all know what he means, but, at age 4, how does he know?