Surrounded by friends in a backyard in Fremont, we saw you staring down at your birthday cake. You weren't focused on the sprinkles or the white icing or the chocolate cake beneath. Your eyes were glued to the star-shaped sparkler candle freaking out above the confection. Granted, it was not freaking out as beautifully as it would be if, say, the sun weren't still shining brightly over Fremont. With a traditional candle, you know what to do: You block out the chaos of your friends singing "Happy Birthday" and try to focus on making your wish. But how can you make a wish on a sparkler? It doesn't blow out. The sparkler ruins any sort of wish agency. Its glittery mini-splosions seem more celebratory than a regular candle, sure, at night, but the fact that you can't blow a sparkler out and that this sparkler was losing its illumination battle with the sun made it all the more doomsaying. You just sat there and watched it crackle and fizzle before finally snuffing itself out. Happy birthday, you. Happy birthday, America.


We saw you run from the golden starry firework that shot sideways in the park at Ballard Community Center. The firework almost hit your body, but you sprinted away toward cover, past your mother, across the sidewalk, past your father, all the way to where your little legs couldn't climb any higher on the hill and had to put your back to the fence, where you slumped under a tree, breathing loudly and staring at the ground until your family caught up with you, sat with you, brought you back to reality. Later, you ran zigzagging across the field while more sparks flew, and from the top of the hill where you had been sitting in your brief terror, the way you were silhouetted against the lights of the fireworks made you look like a soldier on the field of battle who had never experienced a moment of fear.


It was almost one in the morning on July 5. The fireworks-watching crowds had long since gone home. That didn't matter. You, "THE Joe Buckets," were playing a punk-rock set in South Lake Union on a street corner, with real drums, buckets, and a guitarist. The rock sounds echoed down the Mercer corridor, bouncing off the huge glass windows of Amazon's office complexes. When we saw you, you had only a three-person audience of random passersby and a cup with a few dollars in it. But you weren't playing for us or for money. You played like your life depended on it, furiously, banging out big noises, sweating, with a sufficient level of rhythm and musicality to get (three) heads nodding. For a little while in the middle of the night, SLU had dose of grit and spontaneity and genuine character amid the endless shine and polish. Hopefully you keep playing down there, during the day too, without the brogrammers running you out of the neighborhood.


We saw you on a crowded flight from Seattle to New York City playing some stupid Facebook video over and over again, at high volume, for everyone, because you thought it was hilarious. Get a pair of headphones, asshole.


As people typed on laptops and two young men nodded off in leather chairs, you sat at the counter of Kaladi Brothers Coffee on a sunny Friday afternoon lamenting the negative effects of sugar. You said something about "processed foods" and "processed sugars" and explained to your friend that all the sugar in our food is the reason we all feel like shit all the time. After four straight hours of Stranger Election Control Board meetings with candidates for public office and consuming nothing but doughnuts and coffee all day, we did not want to hear it.


Despite our humble request that you get some GODDAMN CURTAINS in a previous installment of We Saw You (back in April), we have once again happened upon your GIANT bedroom window showcasing your porn fantasies on Mercer Island on the Fourth of fucking July. Rather than the oiled-up asses we saw you ogling last time, you were pleasuring yourself to some businessman-secretary porn. We can't blame you for skipping over the dozen informal fireworks shows on the island, but we have to wonder: Does making us voyeurs of your—honestly milquetoast—porn-viewing parties get you off?


We were on a Tinder date at the Crescent, a karaoke bar on Capitol Hill, when you, a group of oil train protesters, showed up at the same bar. We don't know if you intended to turn this group outing into advocacy work, but you decided to use the opportunity to get up on stage and ask that state and federal officials ban oil trains (after singing). "Is this going to go up on Slog?" one of you asked afterward. We were very drunk and very high and very into the aforementioned Tinder date, so it's a miracle we remembered this at all.