Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.


I usually make it a priority to celebrate July 4th by getting in a bottle-rocket fight. Well, I failed in that goal this year. But I did get shitfaced while floating down a river. That's got to count for something, right? Hell yes it does! I think it counts as a big Fuck You, Osama. His beardy murderous ass is freezing in a cave while thousands of free Americans representing all races, creeds and colors drink cold beer and float down rivers. Girls are wearing bikinis, some fat guy is jumping off the rope swing and I'm pretty sure those kids over by the trees are smoking a little weed. And this rules.

People might think I'm being flippant or sarcastic here, but I'm not. I want religious fundamentalists, terrorists, commies, bluenoses and self-righteous player-haters all over the world to know one very important thing: You can kill people, wave around your Korans and Bibles and manifestos, demonstrate, chant, believe what you hear on talk radio, pray, elect idiot presidents named Bush and generally try to screw things up as much as you want, but you can't stop America from being awesome. And a day where we drink cold beer, play horseshoes, walk around half-naked, turn the radio up very loud and float down a damn river just because it's there is not only proof of that — it's an essential component of why this country is so great.

Alright, this isn't the place to hash over details, get all glaze-eyed and partisan, point fingers or debate on the best way to un-fuck the things that are fucked-up, so I'm climbing down off the soapbox now. I was getting a little misty-eyed up there anyway.

So my July 4th was spent at Ginnie Springs, a huge campground a little north of Gainesville. It's privately owned, so you can booze it up in there all you want. A contingent of Gainesville punk rockers had camped out there the night before, so I drove over for the day knowing it was going to be a bad-ass time.

After driving around the woods for an hour, I find the site and roll up just as folks are crawling out of their tents and cracking the day's first beer. Here you can see where someone has attempted to make the world's shittiest-ever campfire. I think they succeeded. I mean, what the fuck... That thing looks positively accidental.

Ronnie, class act that he is, pairs up his morning tater chips with a nice Zinfandel.

Ham! Mmmm-mmm good. Have a bite; we've got some antidote right over there on the picnic table.

Ginnie Springs or Bosnian refugee camp? It's hard to say. Oh, wait. Bosnia has fewer guns.

Horseshoes — sport of kings. Here, Ben demonstrates his mastery of the controversial Single Underhand Reverse Cowgirl grip, which as I'm sure you know was declared illegal at the 2002 Summer Olympics.

The winning toss, delivered by my teammate Sam. Oh, sweet victory, you're a cool balm on the burning pain of every other stupid fucking aspect of my shitty life.

Taste the foot of defeat, Osama! Er, I mean Paul! For we are your horseshoe masters. Ho, wenches! Bring us tankards of your finest Zinfandel!

It starts to rain, making Paul a little frisky. "This is how the ancient Greeks did it," he yells, while pulling out his jug of olive oil.

One of the more entertaining features of Ginnie Springs is the high ratio of drunken rednecks to people. It's pretty lopsided, even for north Florida. Anyway, these totally wasted car salesmen from Valdosta pulled up and decided we were their new buddies. Ben has this curious expression on his face because we quickly ascertained that they were way too drunk to notice that we were helping ourselves to their beer. By the way, I think I've got a new slogan for Keystone Ice — "A Big Fucking Headache in a Can."

...My best friend Kalpesh just called as I was typing this thing up. I was telling him about it, and he insisted that I include an anecdote that involves him, me, Ginnie Springs and a handful of drunken rednecks. It's a little risque, even for this site, and I was going to skip it, but I've found it's best to pretty much do whatever Kalpesh tells me to do, so here goes.

Back in '86 or '87, Kalpesh and I were playing hooky, chilling out at the springs. It was a beautiful weekday, and the place was half-deserted. Kalpesh, being from India, is an attractive dark brown color, and at the time he had a big crazy-looking pile of thick, black hair that hung down past his shoulders and face. He was also rocking a swank "pudding ring" (moustache-goatee combo) back then, and looked like a hip cross between the dude from Soundgarden and Cousin It.

So we're kicking back on out towels, enjoying the sun and a lifestyle free from responsibilities. Kalpesh decides to walk over to his car (a green, sticker-covered 1970 Buick Wildcat, big as a battleship and just as indestructible) (and gas-efficient, for that matter) to get some smokes. A nearby blanket full of rednecks closely watches Kalpesh's every move. Now, you couldn't hardly blame them. You didn't see too much that looked like him around those parts back then. Hell, you don't see too much that looks like he used to look around these parts now. If you bumped into him in the woods back then you'd think you had run across a larval bigfoot or something.

But anyway, these guys are watching him, and I'm watching them. They didn't seem anything more than curious, but you had to watch your step. Sometimes folks get a little racist on you, and you might need to smack them in the mouth with a stick.

I could hear them talking about Kalpesh, using no different inflections in their voices than people discussing different types of trees or something:

"What do you reckon he is?"

"Must be some type of ni---r."

"Yeah, but what kind?"

"I reckon he must be one of them Bob Marley ni---rs."

After Kalpesh came back, I informed him of his new classification. He was delighted, and for years afterward when some well-meaning, curious type would gingerly ask him about his ethnic background (which happened a lot), he'd blurt out, "I MUST BE ONE OF THEM BOB MARLEY NI---ERS!"

(I love you, Kalpesh.) (Also, you can pretend to be a responsible husband, father and professional all you like — I remember many stories much worse than this, and am saving them all for when your daughter hits her teens.)

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled tomfoolery:

Why pee just anywhere when you can pee on your own truck?

"Sorry kids — July 4th is canceled. Tweedledum drank the river."

A second game of horsehoes is initiated, this time in the rain. Here's Paul and the other drunken cracker car salesman. Somehow this guy manages to communicate solely by bellowing the phrases "Son of a bitch!" and "Somebody better call yo mama!" Volume always compensates for articulation, that's what I say. Anyway, I hope nobody reading this is friends with those guys. They sleep with the fishes tonight.

Here Paul gives the guy's toss a little boost by helpfully punching him in the ass.

After a grisly ham-oriented accident, we all pitched in and built this girl a new foot.

I know you're proud of it, but I still say you ought to get that thing looked at by a professional.

I had one coherent thought and decided not to take my camera in the water, so here's a drawing of me floating down the river. You can't really tell here, but it was a real circus. You'll have to imagine all the kids jumping out of trees, floating beer cans, hundreds of shrieking children, snorkelers, pot-smoking fratboys, lightning strikes, splash-fighting teenagers and drowning hillbillies. I'm way too lazy to draw all that shit. I'm also not going to draw Ben knocking over the stacked picnic tables while we were standing on them, or Mike sliding down the rope swing and hitting his nuts on every knot on the way down, because that shit was just too traumatic.

All good times must come to an end, so I make the trip back to Gainesville. Kind of sad. But you know what'll liven some shit like that up? Listening to motherfucking AC/DC so loud it makes your ears bleed.

Know what else? Driving 30 miles over the speed limit while listening to AC/DC so loud it makes your ears bleed. (Please don't tell The Man about this photo.) (Also, I apologize if it looks a little fucked up, but it was not easy picture to take.)

It's God's country out here. Too bad God hates me.

Anyway, that was July 4th around these parts. If you chose to celebrate as well, I hope your day was as satisfying and weird as mine.

Fuck you, Osama.

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