Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Folks Are Broke, Fireworks Are Expensive, George Floyd Rebellions Are Perfect Mimetic Cover



Slate |  Everyone in my neighborhood in Boston—not just the narcs and NIMBYs on my local NextDoor—is convinced they’re hearing way more fireworks this year. It turns out we’re not imagining it: Boston police recorded 1,445 fireworks complaints in the first week of June, compared with just 22 in the same week last year, the Boston Herald reported last week. This seems to have started when the weather began warming up—complaints in May were also up by more than 2,300 percent compared with May 2019—and it’ll only continue as we near a July 4 in which organized fireworks displays are yet another casualty of this semi-reopened pandemic summer. 

To go by the complaints cities are registering, it appears way more people are spending their free time dabbling with pyrotechnics this year. The mayor of Syracuse, New York, vowed action after a rash of 911 calls about fireworks last Tuesday night, and Syracuse police claim a 335 percent increase in fireworks complaints since the beginning of the year. Looking at New York City’s 311 data, I calculated a 920 percent year-over-year increase in fireworks complaints for the month of May. (The city made it easier to submit these complaints last June, when it began accepting reports online—but that by itself doesn’t appear to explain the May increase. The NYPD did not respond to a request for further comment.) More anecdotally, in Baltimore, “longtime residents” say individual fireworks use is noticeably more prevalent this year. In other parts of the country, Facebook and Twitter are full of complaints that it’s the worst year ever. As my colleague Ben Mathis-Lilley put it: 

We all need hobbies.
Everyone in my neighborhood in Boston—not just the narcs and NIMBYs on my local NextDoor—is convinced they’re hearing way more fireworks this year. It turns out we’re not imagining it: Boston police recorded 1,445 fireworks complaints in the first week of June, compared with just 22 in the same week last year, the Boston Herald reported last week. This seems to have started when the weather began warming up—complaints in May were also up by more than 2,300 percent compared with May 2019—and it’ll only continue as we near a July 4 in which organized fireworks displays are yet another casualty of this semi-reopened pandemic summer. 

To go by the complaints cities are registering, it appears way more people are spending their free time dabbling with pyrotechnics this year. The mayor of Syracuse, New York, vowed action after a rash of 911 calls about fireworks last Tuesday night, and Syracuse police claim a 335 percent increase in fireworks complaints since the beginning of the year. Looking at New York City’s 311 data, I calculated a 920 percent year-over-year increase in fireworks complaints for the month of May. (The city made it easier to submit these complaints last June, when it began accepting reports online—but that by itself doesn’t appear to explain the May increase. The NYPD did not respond to a request for further comment.) More anecdotally, in Baltimore, “longtime residents” say individual fireworks use is noticeably more prevalent this year. In other parts of the country, Facebook and Twitter are full of complaints that it’s the worst year ever. As my colleague Ben Mathis-Lilley put it:
It’s true that Americans always complain more about fireworks in the run-up to July 4. And a pandemic alone can’t explain why Americans are generally setting off more explosives than they used to; we can also thank a liberalization of laws in a slew of states over the past two decades. These factors make it challenging to establish just how extraordinary 2020 is in terms of DIY fireworks displays and whether the apparent boom (sorry) is a local or national phenomenon.