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As July 4 approaches, I am sure there are many neighborhoods that have started to celebrate our independence a little early with some imported Mineshell Mayhem or a Phandemonium 205 Shot. I’m sure police are having a grand time chasing down every dispatch to some little back-alley salute and corner tribute in bottle rockets. And I know the listservs go crazy on this issue. I understand all the arguments against: kids need working fingers on July 5, cops need to chase after gunshot noises not the blast off a roman candle, it’s all such a noisy racket well past the time the Mall has emptied out. But still.

I secretly love driving around the city and watching the illegal stuff go off all sparkly in the air. In my experience, Columbia Heights is awesome with unregulated mini-finales (particularly 13th Street is gold).

So where are the best and worst places to catch the illegal action?