It's hard to find a better vantage point from which to watch Boise's Fourth of July fireworks than Crescent Rim Drive, on the Bench. It was there that my wife, our son and two friends joined a sizeable portion of the neighborhood to take in the show against a backdrop of downtown and the Foothills.
From there, in the half light, Boise looks pretty inspiring; but behind us it was hard to ignore the unblinking eyes of the Crescent Rim condos--mostly blackened in their vacancy.
The "elegant living" complex, approved for up to about 80 units, was controversial when it was announced in 2005, with many neighbors in the cottage-dominated Depot Bench area concerned that the four-story development wouldn't mesh with the local vibe. Still under construction, about half the units are unsold. Though Boise real estate sales have surged in recent months, it's hard to shake the feeling that the condos are a monument to the boom times of yesteryear.
It already felt fraught with meaning to sit on the manicured street-side grass in front of a mostly empty development, eyes on the economic center of the state, and ruminate on the meaning of living in the present-day Recessionary States of America. And that was before a mini-protest erupted.
When we sat down in front of the complex, it was clear that Crescent Rim owners didn't want anyone trespassing on their property--and rightly so. Security officers were visible and while they patrolled without incident on foot and bike, when a guard drove by in a car with flashers, calls of "turn off your lights" were heard from those camped out on the grass. When a security vehicle tried to pass through a crowd sitting on the street mid-fireworks display, things got a little heated.
As fireworks explodes in the sky, people refused to budge, blocking the car. At least one person reportedly laid down in the street in protest. I heard someone shout, "They're public servants, trying to do their job," to which someone else--noting their status as security--called out, "No they're not."
They were just doing their jobs (and on a holiday, no less), and I wouldn't have wanted to be in their shoes. But there's a strange irony at work when people gathered to celebrate freedom and independence are interrupted by quasi-authority figures whose purpose is to protect the property of the wealthy.
The crowd parted peaceably after a minute or three, but the anti-establishment moment carried a whiff of class consciousness that lingered along with the cordite. Spirit of '76? Not quite. Call it the Spirit of '13.