The nation’s birthday has devolved into a hedonistic hot-dog binge marked by sunburns, traffic and squinting at fireworks through beer goggles. But it wasn't always this way. The first July 4th—the one in 1776—was a relatively somber affair in which 56 men signed a Declaration of Independence and went to war. It was more risky than risque. Below, our guide to starting a rebellion of your own this July 4. No bayonets involved.
- Get a tattoo. A temporary and public-radio themed one, that is. Emblazon your audiophilia on your skin until your next shower, and prove to everyone that you’re both incredibly informed and intensely afraid of commitment.And if radio isn’t your thing, culinary temporary tats are all the rage among Italian chefs with a fear of needles.
- Praise grafitti. New York is full of captivating urban artwork that’s unique, complex and downright awesome. A walking tour of New York's oldest and coolest creatively claimed spaces will uncover these larger-than-life murals, without risking any stains on your clothes.
- Smoke a ton... of salmon. It's easier than you'd think. Luckily for you, the gilled inhabitants of New York's waters are especially flavorful thanks to the expert treatment from local fishmongers. To really go for Atlantic gold, you could try to catch your dinner on your own - but, fair warning, saltwater fish are getting smaller by the year.
- Blast punk rock through your noise canceling headphones—not too loud, it could cause lasting damage and really annoy that guy standing too close to you on the subway. Tune in to Soundcheck’s punk playlist, recorded live in-studio, and rock out in a way that considers the ear drums of others. When the playlist ends, read up on the history of hardcore, and then quiz yourself on the punk trivia you probably never knew. Maybe you could even rock a fauxhawk!
- Get in a water fight. Organize one with friends or happen upon a water battle royale, involving hundreds of participants of all ages shooting water guns and tossing water balloons. It's not unlike a giggling human sprinkler system, but less weird. Alternatively, dunk your head under a hose and call it a day.
- Meet a stranger. Here's one good guide to online dating, a tip sheet on how to boost your online success rate and more than you ever wanted to know about the algorithms and economics of dating sites. Just make sure your profile doesn’t look anything like this.
- Get addicted to a good book with our summer reading guide, put together by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert.
- Lie profusely about the cat porn you’re reading online with Timesify, a new service that disguises the “20 Cutest Pictures of Cute Cats Being So Cute You’ll Die!!!!!!!!” so people think you're reading the New York Times.
- Spy on strangers with WNYC’s award-winning Youtube series, Know Your Neighbor. These portraits of New York City characters offer a rare, intimate glimpse into the lives of the people you see on the sidewalk and wonder about, as well as the people you don’t see at all. After all, the fourth of July is about celebrating Americans as much as it is about celebrating America.