Tag Archives: 4th of July

Kill Your Television?


Do people still talk about killing televisions?

Back in the late 90s and early 00s, when I ran around in activist circles, every 4th of July, there would be talk of killing, smashing, destroying televisions. It was an appropriate day for getting rid of televisions because it was U.S. Independence Day, and activists were promoting independence from the TV.

I don’t hang out with many activists these days, so I dont know if getting rid of televisons (by smashing, destroying, or any other means) is still promoted on July 4th. I did a few quick Google searches; “July Fourth smash your television day,” “kill your television day” and “smash your television” didn’t bring up much. The best thing I found was a blog post by The Happy Philosopher with a lot of information about why getting rid of one’s television might be a good idea. I also found links to the Kill Your Television Theatre and references to the songs “Kill Your Television” by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and “Smash Your TV,” “Track 8 (of 54) from the forthcoming [as of December 2014] album Et Mourir de Plaisir.”

A life without television seems like a good life to me, but who am I to tell other people what to do?

I haven ‘t owned a telvision since I moved to a new state in 1998. I’ve livined in houses with other people who’ve owned them, I’ve been in cheap motels with them, and I’ve house sat in homes with them. I’d be lying if I said I never watch TV, but I don’t do it every day or even every week.

The commercials are the worst. Often I’m confused, and many seconds go by before I figure out what the advertiser is trying to sell me. Sure, I know I’m supposed to think I’m being sold happiness or sex (or sex leading to happiness), but I often wonder, What’s the real product? I know it’s strategic when the product isn’t shown until the last moment.

Most network programs are terrible. I’ve sat through bad acting and stupid plots (I’m looking at you, NCIS: New Orleans) while visiting friends and relatives. I’ve honestly seen better acting at a small-town fundamentalist Christian church Easter program than I’ve seee on primtime TV.

But yes, I will admit, there are times when I like to have a television on. It’s good company when I’m cooking, mending, crafting, or cleaning. When my brain is simply too tired to read, a decent television program is a nice distraction.

I mostly watch television when I’m house sitting. My favorite shoes are Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and Beat Bobby Flay. (I once spent a three-week house sitting gig flipping between Food Network and Cooking Channel.) I like the Travel Channel food shows too: Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Man v. Food, and Man Finds Food. For a time I was really into History Channel’s Pawn Stars and got really excited whenever I stumbled upon an all-day marathons of the program. However, after visiting Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, NV and seeing the $2 price tag on a postcard, the thrill was gone. 

In any case, who am I to say people should kill their televisons? I think people should make their own informed decisions.

I do know people who watch the tube for several hours a day would have more time for other activities if they smashed the television or just clicked the off button. If you can’t imagine what you’d do if you watched less TV, here’s a list of 50 activities you’ll have time for if you’re not distracted by your television.

Read a book

Read aloud to kids or adults

Teach someone to read

Garden–food or flowers, it don’t matter

Ride a bike

Feed hungry people

Run through the sprinkler on a hot summer day

Visit new places

Write a sonnet

Write a letter

Write the great American novel

Play ball

Make music

Wash the windows

Wash the car

Wash the dishes

Meet your neighbors

Soak in a hot bath with candles around the tub

Walk the dog

Walk without the dog

Learn a new language

Call a friend



Watch the sun set

Dance in the moonlight

Talk to an elder

Talk to a child

Raft down a river

Build a treehouse

Build a bookshelf

Build community

Make love–to yourself or your partner(s)

Play board games

Create art

Take deep breaths

Think deep thoughts

Throw a costume party


Wage peace

Bake bread (or muffins or cookies or cake)

Paint a portrait

Paint the walls


Make jewelry

Look at the stars

Run a marathon

Fix what’s broken

Mend what’s torn


I took this photos of the (popular?) sticker.

What would you add to your life if you subtracted your televison? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.


Independence Day Parking Lot Circus


The Saturday of Independence Day weekend was normal holiday busy. I sold 87 day passes, and my co-worker sold 77. Everybody in the parking lot was friendly, no one complained, and nothing particularly interesting happened.

This is the busiest day of the season, I told my co-worker. It’s all downhill from here. I was wrong.

The Sunday of Independence Day weekend was the real clusterfuck.

I arrived at the parking lot an hour earlier than usual because I wanted to be sure I had a place to park. We got busy almost as soon as I arrived.

The problem wasn’t so much that many people wanted to park in a small parking lot at the same time. I’ve handled that before. I know that if people keep moving, the great circle of parking lot life brings cars in and takes cars out so new cars can park in their places.

The problem on the Sunday of Independence Day weekend was that people were being stupid and selfish.

One would think a parking lot attendant would not have to tell drivers not to park in the roadway. However, on the Sunday of Independence Day weekend, people were parking any old where. Twice I ran down the road that loops through the lot to tell people the parking halfway in the roadway was not acceptable.

Other people had parked partially on the pavement, just barely giving cars room to roll by. Even though the vehicles weren’t in the middle of the roadway, the way they parked barely gave big pickup trucks and SUVs room to get through. I don’t think giant motor homes could have gotten through at all.

At least three times I ran toward the parking lot entrance waving my arms and shaking my head, trying to convey NO! and STOP! when big motor homes tried to pull in. I was afraid a big RV would not be able to pass the vehicles stupidly parked halfway on the pavement. Most of the motor homes that come into the parking lot are rented, and most people driving rented motor homes don’t drive them very well. I didn’t expect an inexperienced driver of a motor home to be able to back the thing up if moving forward proved impossible. It seemed better to just keep the motor homes out.

The problem with people blocking cars began right before 1pm.

In all of last season, I never saw anyone block in a stranger’s car. I saw it happen once earlier this season, when one car parked at an angle, a little too close to a stranger’s car and made it just barely impossible for the second car to back out. On the Sunday of Independence Day weekend, some people just quit giving a fuck and began parking their cars so other people couldn’t get out.

The first guy who reported his car blocked was a large Latino man. He told me he wanted to slash some tires. When I repeated this to my co-worker, he made a good point: If the man slashed the tires of the car blocking his, when the owners of the blocking car returned, the flat tires would deep them from moving the car out of his way.

The second person to complain of a blocked car was a senior citizen, bird watching white lady. She told me and my co-worker her car had been blocked and asked if we wrote tickets. When we said no, she asked if we had guns. I’m not sure how she thought a gun would help, since there was no one in the car blocking hers to wave a gun at.

Later in the afternoon, a man with an East Indian accent told me he’d parked behind another vehicle and asked me if that was ok. I told him it wasn’t ok to park behind another vehicle if he didn’t know the people driving it. He said the vehicle was parked on a log, and he didn’t think it ever left the parking lot, and he was only going to be gone about an hour. Was it ok if he parked behind it? My co-worker was gone for the day, so I was not able to leave my post at the front of the lot to see what in the hell he was talking about. (Parked on a log?) I assured him the driver of any vehicle parked in the lot had the intention of leaving and it was NOT OK to park behind any vehicle. I told him if the driver of the vehicle he’d blocked returned first and wanted to leave and couldn’t, the driver will want to fight you! He said again he’d only been gone about an hour, and I told him again it was NOT OK to block any car. I don’t know if he moved his vehicle, but no one else complained about being blocked in, so I suppose everything worked out.

In the midst of the stupid parking and more cars than the lot would hold, a different man with an East Indian accent reported that one of the cars in his party wouldn’t start. He told me they needed jumper cables. I told him he should ask around the parking lot for a set. I was afraid if I loaned him mine, they’d get lost in the hubbub and I’d never see them again, or the people would blow up their car and try to blame my equipment. Besides, I really didn’t have time to leave my post collecting parking fees to dig them out.

Some time later, a young man with an East Indian accent came up to me as I was directing the driver of an incoming car and said, Our car really really won’t start. I advised him the nearest payphone was about ten miles away at a private campground. He said they were staying at that campground. I asked him if their group had another car, and he said it did. I told him they should probably go to the campground in the other car and use the payphone to call roadside assistance.

During a slight lull in the stupidity, a man with a Spanish accent approached me to ask if anyone had turned in any keys. I told him no. Turns out a large extended family was milling about because the keys to one of their vehicles had been lost. There were questions about what would happen to the truck if they left it to go home and get a spare key. There was checking with the campground next door to learn if the keys had been turned in to the camp hosts. (They had not.) Finally, a couple of very young women came back to the parking lot, keys in hand. The heroes! I’m not sure where they’d found the keys–on the trail, maybe. The entire family was relieved and finally headed out.

Not long after that key situation was resolved, a woman approached me to pay her parking fee. Unfortunately, she told me, my husband locked the keys in the car. Do you have one of those things? I assumed she meant a slim jim, and I said I didn’t have one. I said the nearest phone was ten miles away. She said, Well, I didn’t bring my AAA card with me. (What kind of idiot gets into her car without her AAA card?) I told her she should ask around the parking lot for someone who knew how to jimmy the lock. She laughed nervously, but that worked at least once in the past.

When I left the parking lot after 3:30, there were still lots of people milling about, cars arriving and cars leaving. I hoped the people figured out the self-pay system.

I sold 122 day passes that Sunday and lost a little more of my hope for humanity.

This note--written on the back of a day pass--was found on the day after the events of this post took place. It pretty much sums up the day.

This note–written on the back of a day pass–was found on the day after the events of this post took place. It pretty much sums up the day.

The Fourth of July (Part 2)


To read the first part of the story of my Fourth of July experiences, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/15/the-fourth-of-july/.

After thinking on site #4, I knew the only option I really had was to drive to the other campground and get the refund form from the other host. I wasn’t happy about that idea for several reasons.

#1 I was exhausted and didn’t want to drive again that day.

#2 I was exhausted and hungry and wanted to eat dinner and go to bed.

#3 I was exhausted and I didn’t want the other camp host to hold me hostage and talk my ear off (figuratively speaking on both counts).

#4 It was late in the evening, and I didn’t want to drive back to my campground in the dark.

#5 The rest of the party had arrived on site #9, and if I left, I’d have two cars to contend with when I returned and had to back my van into my campsite in front of God and everyone.

But I did my duty and drove down to the other campground.

The other host did not have the form I needed.

She dug through folders and boxes and bags, but didn’t find the form. She had what I had, a single page photocopy of the form with the sections to be filled out by someone other than the camp host crossed out. She decided what I needed to do was fill out both forms with the same information and have the camper write the reason for seeking the refund on the back of both sheets.

I took the page she had and drove back to my campground. It wasn’t dark yet, and for that I was grateful.

When I got to my campsite, I began maneuvering the van so I could back into my site. I could have pulled in nose first, but then I would have had to back out in the morning or—Heaven forbid—in the middle of the night if there had been an emergency.

There’s a stump on one edge of my campsite, and I didn’t want to hit it. I’m well aware that the stump is there, as I maneuver next to it several times a week. I knew I was close to it, but suddenly one guy from site #9 was on the side of my van “directing” me (and making sure I didn’t hit his car, I suppose), and the Eastern Block (or German or Russian or whatever) authoritarian was standing between my van and the water tank, waving his arms around. I was not amused.

However, when I got out of the van, I thanked them.

Before I could walk away, the authoritarian asswipe gestured at my van and said with contempt dripping from his words, What is this? A bus?

I wanted to kick him in his nuts and tell him to go fuck his mother, but instead I said very calmly, This is my home. Then I walked away.

Before I ate dinner, I went back to site #4 and completed the request for refund paperwork.

As I cooked my dinner, the children from site #9 crossed into and out of the meadow at the back of my site. I hate it when people cross my site—it’s so rude!—but since we all own the forest, I have no right to expect people to polite and take ten extra steps.

It was dark and late by the time I finished cleaning up from dinner. I was entirely exhausted by that time, but still had to listen to the children camped next to my site squeal and shriek and generally make noise until we all passed out.

I was up around 6am on the 4th, cleaning the restrooms and making sure nothing terrible had happened in the night. (I found no evidence of terribleness.)

I arrived at the parking lot at 9am, as instructed. I don’t remember anything noteworthy happening. The day is a blur in my memory–a lot of people and a lot of cars with nothing and no one standing out.

I did ask my supervisor about the folks on site #6 who were given a discount on a card the company I work for doesn’t honor. She told me I was going to have to ask them to pay the balance. She said anybody could enter any numbers and get a discount, so if people get a discount they don’t qualify for, I have to ask them to pay the difference.

So I did it. I explained the situation and asked them to pay the $22 they hadn’t been charged. And they very nicely paid the money. While I wrote the permit for the additional payment, I regaled them with stories of working at the parking lot. They laughed in all the right places, and I wished I could hang out with them for the rest of the evening.

There was one sad event of note on Sunday morning before I left for the parking lot. I heard the sounds of angry voices and some kind of scuffle coming from site #9. I looked up to see the authoritarian asswipe smacking the older boy on his head and upper body. The boy tried to run away, and the man chased him, grabbed him, and smacked him a few more times. Neither of them was speaking English, so I don’t know what words were passing between them. I don’t know if either of them knew I’d seen what happened.

I didn’t know what to do. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to yell at the asswipe and beat him with a stick. But I knew that would get me fired and probably thrown in jail, and it wouldn’t have helped the kid at all. I didn’t know how to intervene in a way that would have diffused the situation. It’s not like the asswipe and I had some sort of rapport. Even if I had been able to speak calmly, I don’t know what I would have said. I worried that if I intervened, the man would just take it out on  the kid later. I wondered if I should say something directly to the kid, but what? You dad is a mean idiot, but you won’t be little forever. Would that have been helpful in any way?

I didn’t know what to do, and I haven’t had any good ideas in the ensuing days. I’m haunted by the whole experience, and I think I really failed that kid.

The weekend did end on a (literal and figurative) sweet note. As I was about to pull out of my campsite and head to the parking lot, the two gay Australian guys walked up and offered me their leftover pink and white marshmallows. They told me thy had a “lovely” time, told me I’d been just “lovely.” They said they hoped to come back to the campground next summer, and they hoped they’d see me again.

If the 4th of July is the midpoint of summer, my time on the mountain is half over.