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light fuse and get away

The blast is sudden and deafening, like several sticks of dynamite exploding close by. Although there’s no crater, the shock wave pounds my chest. Immediately after the thump, a few men in beards, T-shirts, and old blue jeans laugh and high-five one another.

Shortly thereafter, I hear something else: the sound of dissent. “Geez, they’re loud,” a man says to me in a low voice. “Even though I’m ready for it, it still scares me.” He grimaces and sighs. “I don’t really like their work.”

Pyrotechnics Guild International’s annual convention in La Porte, Ind., is a big, bright, loud celebration of DIY American fireworks. But wandering the grounds, it quickly becomes clear that there’s a divide in the pyrotechnic culture… read more >

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