It’s that magical weekend of the year when Seafair rumbles into town and the Navy’s crack squadron of ace pilots strafes the region with jubilant patriotism. The Blue Angels represent the highest aspiration of America’s armed forces, namely the sovereign ability to do loop-de-loops for thousands of people with neck cramps. They're avatars for that childlike spirit lying dormant within each of us, its voice amplified to a deafening roar: “Hey Mommy, watch this!”
Not everyone appreciates the precision choreography of these horizon-spanning live-action screensavers. Some complain that the Angels are too loud, that their ear-splitting caterwauls terrify pets, babies and sufferers of PTSD. Others point out that they burn thousands of gallons of fossil fuel, a wasteful and vulgar display in a time of environmental collapse. Still others Googled “air show disaster videos” and are on their way to Yakima for the weekend.
I’m a fair-minded man, so I can see both sides of the argument. In a democracy, one must balance the safety and mental health needs of an entire major metropolitan area with the unparalleled joy of seeing $100 million worth of military equipment swoop around all neat-o.
Nevertheless, each year the complaints against these peacocking protectors of freedom get more strident, and they show no signs of abating. Eventually the Blue Angels will go the way of other civic celebrations deemed to be problematic, like the Queen Anne Drunk Irishman Downhill Roll of the 1930s or the Annual Elliott Bay Garbage Toss of the 1950s. Change is inevitable and, in the absence of any viable workaround, should be embraced. Therefore I present to you a few possible alternatives to the Blue Angels.
SeaFair Leaf Blower Parade
Imagine the scene: 300 clowns and pirates march down First Avenue with gas-powered leaf blowers strapped to their backs, blasting plumes of dust and loudly proclaiming the arrival of a new Seattle summertime tradition! The leaf blowers will stop at each intersection to perform intricately choreographed maneuvers in homage to the Blue Angels, whose antics they commemorate.
Like the F/A-18 Hornet, the leaf blower is a reminder of humankind’s defeat of silence and dominion over wind. Both marvels of modern technology serve as highly polarizing phallic symbols, loved and despised in equal measure. A leaf blower parade would serve as a suitably thunderous tribute.
Screaming in a dog’s face
For many fans, the Blue Angels aren’t just about technical mastery and death-defying aerial acrobatics; they’re also a symbol of military superiority and naked aggression. The Blue Angels are another way of saying, “Where’s your ‘safe space’ now, snowflake?”
For these diehards who revel in the “sound of freedom” and derive pleasure from seeing cowards flinch at the Blue Angels’ thunderous salute, we have a suggestion. If you want to feel like a big man without the aid of a phalanx of $20 million aircraft, consider screaming in a small dog’s face. The fear and confusion in a terrified chihuahua’s eyes will help restore the sense of power and potency stolen away from you by feminists, pacifists and the lady in HR.
Talking about our relationships with our dads
To figure out how to scratch the itch that only the Blue Angels can reach, let's dig deeper. The themes of aggression, masculinity and tribalism embodied by this high-flying unit of alpha jocks are appealing for a very valid reason, one buried deep in your psyche. It’s time to study that first link in life’s chain of command: your father.
For this alternative activity, the whole city will break into small groups to speak frankly in an emotionally validating environment about our paternal relationships. With a backdrop of soothing music, comfy pillows and herbal tea, we’ll talk about the ways in which patriarchy has harmed us and, in turn, caused us to harm others. Together we’ll explore a surefire way to be braver and bolder than any fighter pilot: by getting vulnerable and honest about our feelings.