July 7, 2014

Two Takes on July Fourth -- One Dismal, One Joyful


"The Fourth of July was always a celebration of American exceptionalism. Now it's a commiseration of America's disappointment." Republican pollster Frank Lutz (one of the few statements on which Republicans and Democrats can agree these days.)

The Dismal Take on July 4, 2014
Twenty-five years ago, Arena Stage here in Washington presented a revival of On the Town, the 1944 Broadway musical about three sailors on leave in Manhattan during World War II. The show opened with the orchestra playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As the audience rose to its feet, I found myself in tears.

I remembered how we stood for the playing of the national anthem at the opening of every film at the movie house in Ithaca, New York -- my hometown. I was teary-eyed because I was remembering how united the country was then, and how divided we had become.

And that was 1989! If a revival opened in the same way today, I’d probably be convulsed on the floor, sobbing.

The Joyful Take
As I usually do these days, I'll disengage from the dismal big picture and focus instead at how happy my own world is. This fourth of July weekend was an example.

For starters, the weather was unbelievably nice. I can't recall a July weekend in DC as nice. I did without the AC for most of the weekend.

As readers of this blog know, I love my DC Palisades neighborhood. Its tightly-knit, small-town vibe is exemplified by the Palisades Fourth of July parade, which has been voted "the best hometown July 4th parade."

It was started in 1966 by the Palisades Citizens Association and local businesses. It's an old-fashioned affair with kids on bikes, people walking dogs, bands, dancers, engines from the neighborhood fire station, and mini-floats from all over the city. And in an election year like this, most of the major candidates and their contingents also march along.

Anyone can participate in the parade. Nowhere else, I bet, could a viewer get the chance I have to applaud my plumber's truck as it passes by. "The Millwood Mob," residents of one short street in the neighborhood, has marched for decades.

Over the years, the parade has reflected America's increasing acceptance of diversity. The first marching band to appear in the parade was DC's "Different Drummers," the gay / lesbian band. The last contingent traditionally is a group of African Americans riding horses. It seems that another Latino group joins the parade each year.

Members of the Schappi family have watched nearly all 49 parades. The photo above was taken at the parade, and features my granddaughter Jessie and her kids... ergo my great-grandkids. That's Kenzie on the left and Kaylee on the right. Camden, who arrived this past Christmas Eve, is in the middle.

Here they are, all lined up on the curb with me at the end of the row. I won't identify the owner of the stomach and the football jersey.

Here I'm accepting the third or fourth lollipop stick from Kenzie, who is careful not to litter:

After the parade, we go back to the house for lunch, and the kids feed the fish:

Also present this year were my daughter, my son and his gal, and my pal Bill Feldman, whose key lime pie invariably gets raves. My son and his gal will join me on Thursday as we fly to Copenhagen for a few days before starting a two-week cruise of Norway's fjords.

With Friends over the July 4th Weekend
On Saturday, I joined my pal David and his 90-year-old father Sam for lunch at the Old Angler's Inn. It was that rare day in a Washington summer: cloudless sky, no humidity, and temperatures in the low 80s. Perfect for the Inn's outdoor patio.

On July 3, I got together at the house with my "Pokhara Family." Here's a picture of me with the family -- Laxmi, Ramesh and my special pal Rahil --  back in Pokhara, Nepal:

Here we are at my house last week: 


The Weekend Brought even More Good Times
This weekend, the annual convention for the Association of Nepalese in the Americas was held in the Washington suburbs. My housemates Nimesh and Bhawana invited as house guests a delightful couple -- Nimesh's college classmates who now live in Nebraska.

A Reminder for the Future
Continue to do what I've done in this blog post -- pay little attention to the mess the politicians are creating in the world, and focus instead on my family and friends... the people who make my life the joy it is today.


Anonymous said...

I so appreciate your positive attitude! It is up to us to find the joy in life despite our circumstances, and you have done exactly that my friend! I have an 87 year old father with Parkinsons disease and an 84 year old mother with ongoing mental health issues. They struggle - and as a result - I struggle to try to help them. Your blog provides uplifting insight and information and for that, I thank you.

John Schappi said...

Feedback like yours feeds my enthusiasm for blogging. Thanks.

T&D said...

This was one of the best! I sent a link to Facebook, where I live ! (Twitter, too)