Literally. That's Troy Landwehr's edible sculpture: a one-ton block of Wisconsin Cheddar, commissioned by Cheez-It, for the 2008 celebration of Independence day. The cheese didn't go to waste - after being displayed in Philadelphia and New York, it went back to Wisconsin: where it was carved up and sent to food pantries.
What's the secret to keeping 2,000 pounds of Wisconsin cheddar edible for so long? Mr. Landwehr coated it in cooking oil.
Nothing quite says 'Independence Day' like a red-white-and-blue soda pop can. Some things may say it better - but none quite like that bit of colorful marketing from 2008.
On the whole, the Lemming likes living in America: and has opined on the topic in other blogs:
- "Independence Day, 2010: Food For Thought"
A Catholic Citizen in America (July 4, 2010)
- "Fireworks, Families, Flags, and the Fourth of July"
Sauk Centre Journal Blog (July 4, 2010)
- "Cultural Chaos, Divisiveness, and CNN"
A Catholic Citizen in America (April 1, 2010)
- "United States of America: 232 Years in the Freedom Business"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 3, 2008)
Sometimes "freedom" means being free to agree with the majority of your neighbors - or with whoever runs the area you live in. Here in America, the problem has been avoiding a "tyranny of the majority."1
Sometimes there's an oppressed majority, a situation which often doesn't end well:
- "Bahrain, Foreign Troops, and - Maybe - the Last Stand of Kings"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 18, 2011)
The national government's judicial branch finally got around to sorting out an appalling series of treaty violations, dating from the 19th century. Aside from the injustice of it all, the Lemming's related by marriage to the Oglala Sioux - so there's a personal angle here.
America finally got an Irish president - and survived. Some folks seem shocked that the current administration isn't at all WASPish. Which is a little odd, considering how long it's been since this was even close to being the Anglo-Saxon states of America.
Folks get used to new customs and ideas pretty quickly - which may be why the Lemming hasn't heard how un-American it is to have a tannenbaum in the living room in mid-winter. Queen Victoria was indirectly involved: and that's another topic.
Last year, Fourth of July festivities in Washington, D.C., included monks with prayer flags. They're a little pastel for the Lemming's taste - but hey, they look good.
(from Around the Mall, used w/o permission)
Besides, there's that pesky idea of "freedom" again. Just because most folks in America aren't Bhutanese monks, that doesn't mean that folks who aren't in the majority can't worship - or not worship - as they please. Or criticize the government: and live. That's far from a universally-accepted notion:
- "Freedom, Burma / Myanmar / Myanma, and Getting a Grip"
A Catholic Citizen in America (June 29, 2011)
- "Religious Freedom, Niemöller, and Muslims in America"
A Catholic Citizen in America (April 7, 2011)
- "Lemming Tracks: Egypt, Dealing With Criticism, and Getting a Grip"
(February 4, 2011)
Still, America's Independence Day and fireworks are pretty much inseparable for many folks.
Then there's the Minnesota legislature, that banned fireworks quite a while ago. Something about the Masses not being smart enough to use them, the Lemming gathers. There are (real) safety concerns too, of course.
Then, recently, Minnesota's leaders decided to see if civilization as we know it would survive some of the tamer fireworks. (July 1, 2008) The center held, mere anarchy was not loosed upon the world, and Minnesota didn't burn to the ground.
From the snaps, pops, whizzing, and occasional BANG I hear outside, quite a few folks paid about as much attention to fireworks laws this year as they have in the past. And yet, we survive.
- "New Abraham Lincoln Statue Cheesy: Literally"
(July 5, 2009)
- "New Citizens at an American Spaceport"
(July 4, 2010)
- "Fourth of July Recipes: Nine of Them"
(July 4, 2009)
- "Now, That's American!"
(July 4, 2008)
- "Signing of the Declaration of Independence, Sculpted in Wisconsin Cheddar"
(July 3, 2008)
1 Concerns about a "tyranny of the majority" aren't new. See:
- "Unlimited Power of the Majority in the United States, and its consequences
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Chapter XV, Volume 1
from the Henry Reeve Translation, revised and corrected (1899)
American Studies Programs at the University of Virginia