Essays, Interviews, Observations, Pop Culture, Stories, and other Dodginess

An Indiana Fireworks Story

Posted on July 4, 2015

This story appeared a few years ago here. But with today being the 4th of July, I thought it was appropriate to re-visit. Besides, it’s awesome. 

The city of Gary has announced that all vacant buildings will be used to sell fireworks. Some will operate through July 4 while others will remain open year-round.

In other news, neighboring Hobart says its opening a new fireworks store on Route 30 inside one of its existing fireworks stores.

“Hoosiers were calling for this,” said Hobart spokesman Dan Trillo.

The Indiana General Assembly just convened an emergency session where it will allow all liquor stores, closed on Sundays by law, to be open on Sunday strictly to sell fireworks.

“No Miller Lite for you, but feel free to purchase Cherry Bombs, Roman Candles and shells,” state Sen. Randolph Gerry said.

Indiana is embracing itself as the Fireworks State. Back to Gary, the city has announced its latest gun buy-back program. Only this time, instead of receiving cash for firearms, gun owners will receive fireworks.

There’s always room to sell fireworks, whether it’s vacant buildings in Gary or vacant land in Calumet Township. It’s where you can find Brendan Tooges, 39, near the corner of Ridge Road and Burr Avenue. Tooges has a unique “two-fer” business going on. He offers Freon refills for your car air conditioner and a small tent where you can shop for fireworks.

“I’ve sold rugs, candles and tire wash here along with my Freon,” Tooges said “But nothing is as good as gold as these here firecrackers. And the state allows it. God bless them.”

Julie Sturgis, of Merrillville, doesn’t want to bless the state government.

“I think its ironic that many cities and towns want to ban smoking in public places and yet encourages the sales of fireworks year-round,” she said. “Sometimes there’s so much smoke from fireworks going off that I can’t even see the front door of my trailer when I get home from work.”

Although fireworks laws are lax statewide, the boom of sales and activity occurs in Northwest Indiana – most likely to lure customers from neighboring Illinois, where fireworks are illegal, save for a few novelty items.

“I always come to Indiana for my three g’s – gas, cigarettes, and fireworks,” said Larry Jason, of Lynwood, Ill.

Northwest Indiana was in line to take a financial hit following the cancellation of its popular air show this July at Gary’s Marquette Beach because of the federal sequester.

Not anymore.

The Northwest Indiana Tourism Authority, which helmed the air show, has announced a replacement ticketed event, simply entitled Boom Show!

Instead of the Blue Angels soaring over Lake Michigan, local pyrotechnic operators will be stationed on a barge on the lake, where they will produce “Indiana’s largest fireworks display,” said a tourism spokeswoman. But that’s only part of it. Officials announced that visitors who come to the beach can bring their own fireworks and shoot them off randomly.

“Hoosiers love to blow sh*t up,” the spokeswoman said.


Kissing Her Sister

Posted on June 23, 2015


I found this Depeche Mode 1986 Black Celebration concert T-shirt at a Chicago thrift store. It’s the same one Shailene Woodley wore in White Bird in a Blizzard. 

It’s a little tight, even on my slender frame, but I still wore it to Mia Lucy’s party in Ukranian Village. Celice was there. I met her a few years ago when I dabbled in theater. I remember during play rehearsal one night – Celice won my heart when she wore a bandanna as a shirt.

We dated briefly. Celice was a better dancer than an actress, and she had the legs to prove it. She was the only girl who ever let me shave her legs, although it wasn’t my idea, she wanted me to.

“Hello Celice, it’s good to see you at Mia Lucy’s party,” I said.

She shrugged and said hi to my friend Aidan. I don’t think Celice ever saw Aidan’s penis, but she called him Cookie Dick.

I walked with Aidan to the kitchen where Chicago recluse author Clive Javanski was hanging out with some other assholes and two beautiful women. Clive took in instant like to my shirt and compared it to his very tight-fitting Smiths “Hatful of Hollow” tee that he sometimes wore. Bullshit, I told him, mine was better. He agreed. He signaled for me and Cookie Dick to step outside for a hit of something illegal, I assume, when I heard two words – words I’ve heard countless times but never so beautiful sounding.

“Hi Liffey.”

It was one of the two kitchen girls. Actually it was Keira, who I didn’t recognize. Keira was Celice’s sister, younger by a few years. She wore cute summer dress (better legs than Celice) and a Christian rock tee, even though she wasn’t Christian.

“Shailene Woodley – in that movie,” she said. “I loved that dance scene with her and her boyfriend.”

Keira was talking about the scene at a club where they danced to a remix of Depeche Mode’s “Behind The Wheel.”

She found the song on her phone and we hooked it up to Mia Lucy’s sound system. We turned it up and danced. If you’ve seen the movie, it was just like that.

Other people joined in. Mia Lucy was dancing with Aidan, Celice with Clive. I couldn’t tell you if they kissed at the end of the song, but Keira and I did. I don’t know if Celice saw us, nor did I care. I kissed her sister.

I think it was a fantasy of mine I didn’t know I had.

Coming Tuesday!: “Kissing Her Sister”

Posted on June 19, 2015

Somehow finding a vintage Depeche Mode concert shirt at a Chicago thrift store sends me on several paths – one of which I get to kiss the sister. The sister of the girl I used to love.


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