From Usher to Jellyfish: What’s New & Strange At This Year’s Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks

Fourth of July has its formula: for the day, your kitschy red and blue shorts make a comeback, a ketchup-drenched burger and baked beans make their way to your paper plate, and there’s no stifling the requisite oohs-and-aahs amid the explosive fireworks show and orchestral Macy’s music. 

But this year, NYC is igniting Independence Day with some unprecedented, surprising, and bizarre features that don’t really make much logistical sense, but are happening any way. And that’s just the way we like ’em. Take a look:

1. Usher is the show’s "curator."
For the first time ever, Macy’s is collaborating with "a major superstar" on the show’s design and 26-minute score. Since Usher is syncing the fireworks with each musical beat, you can expect every half-naked dancer’s jiggle to be on-point with the high notes of Rihanna’s "Diamonds," Kanye’s "All Of The Lights," and each Justin Bieber song.

2. The show’s theme is "It Begins With A Spark." Talk about foreshadowing. 

3. The fireworks come straight from China, Malta, Portugal, and Spain.

4. Even the Empire State Building is syncing with the fireworks, flashing with each corresponding, colorful firework in the grand finale. 

5. There will be a new winking-happy face firework and a new jellyfish firework from China. The jellyfish whistles as it explodes and bursts open with butterflies. 

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here. 

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes in Valencia, Spain

Valencia, Spain, brings to mind sublime beaches, Calatrava-designed buildings, and amazing coastal cuisine (it’s home to the deliciousness of paella). But more recently, this past week to be exact, it’s been all about tomatoes. And lots—about 90,000 pounds of ’em.

Every last week of August, nearly 40,000 tourists come to the small city of Buñol (pop: 9,000) just outside Valencia, Spain, to participate in one of the world’s weirdest festivals: Tomatina. The festival features outdoor dancing, parades, fireworks, lots of sangria, and the ultimate food fight, wherein more than 150,000 tomatoes are launched from the hands of locals and tourists alike. Women are encouraged to wear all white and men to strip their shirts. I knew Spaniards were a little crazy, but I love them even more knowing they honor their town’s patron saints with a messy, ketchup-y, 55-year-old tradition.

If you missed it this year, just head to Valencia around this time in 2011. You know the tomato festivities are about to begin as soon as you see a number of large trucks hauling crates of tomatoes. Just remember the few rules of the tomato food fight. According to La Tomatina’s web site: “it is highly frowned upon to tear someone else’s shirt.” Hey, as long as I know it’s safer than bullfighting…

Bullfighting Getting Even Bloodier

When traveling to latin countries, there’s always that question. Do you really want to see a bullfight? Are you a vegan, or just a sensitive soul, and the thought of seeing a big, uncastrated cow taunted and killed for entertainment not your thing. Well, yeah, if you’re at all squeamish, you definitely would not have wanted to been at the Festival of Saint Isidro, one of Spain’s most important bullfighting events, last Friday. Matador Julio Aparicio was nearly killed when a bull gored him through the throat, leaving the horn to come out through his mouth.

You can see a YouTube video of just what happened here, or pictures here, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. According to a medic on the scene the bull’s horn went through Aparicio’s tongue, penetrating the roof of his mouth and fracturing his jawbone. The injuries have left Aparicio in critical condition, but after two successful operations, he is expected to live. He is one of Spain’s best-known bullfighters.

Last month, at the opening day of the bullfighting season in Mexico, another famous Spanish matador, Jose Tomas, was seriously injured after a bull gored him in the groin, severing a major artery. Tomas underwent emergency surgery, and spent a week in the hospital, to recover from the goring.