The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. No gifts, no obligations—just beer, pyrotechnics, grilled food and a long weekend. At least, it used to be my favorite holiday, until I moved to San Francisco five years ago. More specifically, I moved to San Francisco's Mission District. You may cry gentrification all you want, but trust me—on Independence Day weekend, the neighborhood, known for fancy coffee shops and slick restaurants, returns to its lawless, wild west-like roots. Lying in bed on July 2, 3, 4 or 5, listening to M80s being deployed what feels like mere inches from my bedroom window, I imagine I'm living in London during the Blitz and that someone in my building has accidentally forgotten to pull their black-out curtains.
Beside me, my trusty pit bull is reduced to a shaking, panting wimp, despite a heavy dose of Valium. We finally fall asleep, only to be awakened by the screeching of tires as cars do doughnuts through the residential intersections. This revelry continues well beyond the actual fourth—a week later, my neighbors are still blowing shit up in their postage-stamp sized back yard. In short, its kind of a drag. And cops? Nope, nowhere to be seen. Maybe they're watching the fireworks down at the Embarcadero?