Until I observed last night’s series of fireworks displays across the East River, I had not encountered political fireworks in the literal sense. It seems that the Jersey authorities were extremely pissed off after Battery Park was closed to the public. So from Jersey’s side of the Hudson, the Jersey boys proceeded to offer as momentous a show as public money could offer — minutes before the Macy’s display had begun. Their fireworks, which declared with every burst that Jersey was as much a part of the July 4th celebrations as the big boys, were designed to be seen across a considerable expanse of water. At first, the assembled throngs on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade appreciated this. And I had to smile and empathize over the Jersey effrontery. Yes, it was a case of flagrant dick wars. But it was the kind of symbolic penis measurement that reminds everyone that there’s more to life than deep pockets. All of us ducked beneath umbrellas, buffeting a downpour that lifted shortly before Macy’s 9:20 PM start time. But the minute that Macy’s began launching jellyfish low-risers and smiley-shaped explosives into the sky, the crowd quickly turned on these apparent Jersey upstarts, becoming deeply vociferous about how “we” — meaning New York — had showed the folks in Jersey. Yet, “we” entailed Brooklyn and Queens for the most part. There was something deeply allegorical about all of this: private money vs. public money, proletariat vs. bourgeoisie, New York vs. New Jersey. And I soon began to understand that East Coast provincial lines were more ridiculous than I ever imagined. But it was still a good show. And I’m not just referring to the fireworks.
While I contend with the largest podcast backlog I think I’ve ever had (which includes APE and BEA coverage), the folks behind the BookExpo Podcast have released Maud’s interview with Shalom Auslander. There is thankfully at least one use of the word “foreskin.”
Mark Sanderson reports on the Tina Brown launch party craziness in London. Apparently, Brown was upset that Tony Blair, Madonna, Helen Mirren, Julie Christie, and Shirley Bassey had crashed her party, or were rumored to attend. Here’s a PR hint, Tina: When you publicly announce that classy women like Helen Mirren and Julie Christie weren’t invited, this causes any slightly curious outsider to consider the questionable éclat in the party planning stages.