Literal Trash Can Fire: A How-To

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Literal Trash Can Fire: A How-To


Like everyone in a somewhat northerly climate, I’m looking ahead to how to get through the winter. Like everyone everywhere, this year of corona, I’m desperately missing normal social interactions. Never have we so deeply understood the importance of physical connection, that mystery alchemy that happens when you share space with another human which does not happen when we meet via media. 

In some places, people have a tradition like a paseo, an evening walk on a familiar route, along which one is likely to encounter friends for a brief chat. In Havana, where spending cash is too scarce to afford nightclubs and bars, younger residents in particular bring their drinks and music down to the Malecon, where they will gather until the wee hours. 


Not so, my town–oh, we throw a good festival, but we’re not really a spontaneous gathering kind of people. Exhibit A: I’m pretty excited (possibly manic) about voting, so I went out on the first day of early voting to get in line to cast my ballot. There were hundreds of people! Line two and a half blocks long! And, yeah, it was a bitter, rainy day, but everyone was kinda sour. Why isn’t voting a giant celebration? Why aren’t there live bands, food carts, dancing in the streets?  My friend Emily got all dressed up, including a spectacular hat, for the occasion. I ordered coffee delivery for the line. But (frowny face) no one would take my coffees. (I found out later that two people snagged the hot cocoas, so not a total loss.)


I just feel like my people are lacking in imagination or possibly just too inhibited to get around this. We’re scared, yeah, and we don’t want to be responsible for passing the virus, true. But we know pretty well that outdoors, masked and at a distance is safe. (Same friend Emily has a cool blog post on this topic which is here).  I really think we’re just afraid to look dumb or weird.

This, as my 12-year-old, or the people in line near me as I tried to push free hot coffee on them, will tell you, is not a problem for me.


I give you the literal trash can fire—your solution to winter blues, a cheap (probably hella dangerous) way to keep connection during the coming winter. All actual labor done by my husband, Charles. 

ONE: Equipment: power tool, metal trash can, cutty thing, wood, Amazon boxes (blow torch not necessary, but this amusing/incel video used one, and they’re fun, so we started out that way).

Everything you need to party in 2020!

TWO/Method: Drill two holes, close together, near the base of the can. Repeat, at about 12 “ intervals, all the way around. This is for ventilation or something.


Safe, fun, effective

THREE: Use the cutty thing to connect the two holes, making a larger hole. 

FOUR: Throw some flammable items—Republican campaign literature, stolen yard signs from your right-wing neighbors, bras, etc. into said trash can.

FIVE: Light, and step back. This thing produces an f-ton of heat.

SIX: Do not do this.


SEVEN: When you are done, the handy lid is at the ready to cut off air, and put out the fire.


This is how we’re celebrating election night—with literal trash can fires and a handful of friends. What could be more fitting?

XO  Melanie

Oh, and while you’re here, did you know that you can just download my book, The Likely World, onto your device?  Did you know that I’ll be reading with a fantastic crew of folks on Nov. 17th?  Have you seen my cool post in Medium?

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