Friday, July 08, 2005

I Survived Live 8 and All I Got was a Lousy T-Shirt

I hope that everyone survived the long weekend, as it was a long, hot, crowded time here in Philly. That's right, people. Pound for Pound stuck around Philly for the July 4th weekend, braving the mass influx of tourists and suburbanites who came for the Dave Matthews Band and stayed for the African poverty.

I don't have much to add to the many accounts on the Internets about Live 8 and the Elton John concerts on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. MC and I checked out the Live 8 scene briefly on Saturday, as I wanted to see how many people were in attendance. While the idea of being a part of history was enticing, the image of being surrounded by large groups of people doused in alcohol in sweltering heat held as much appeal as a rectal exam. Upon making it to Logan Circle, my instincts were vindicated in full effect. There were people everywhere, in all of their sweaty, shirtless, burnt skin, alcohol fueled glory. The groups of men, loosely defined, were unbearable, participating in the age-old fun of harrassing women who dared to show up to a public event. Best of all, our brief visit was concluded by being screamed by teenage Lyndon Larouche supporters for not wanting to take their flier against Bush and the War in Iraq. (Leave it to Larouche and his morons supporters to make me seem like a Bush supporter!)

Okay, now that I have gotten this off of my chest, let me get to the good things. This was a wonderful weekend for the city of Philadelphia. Everything went off as well as possible, with few arrests, no major snafus in planning, and great weather. People behaved themselves, treating each other, the performers and city with respect (for the most part). The city did an excellent job putting together this mega-event on short notice. The no-car zone for Center City was a stroke of genius, and only made me dream of making this a permanent thing. No cars in the city!!! No cars on the Parkway!!! Yay!!! Mayor Street deserves the credit here, as he has assembled a great team around him, who made this a special event.

For Pound for Pound, the nicest part of all was seeing the name Philadelphia right there besides London, Toronto, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, et al. The idea that people around the world were seeing Philly, perhaps for the first time, warmed my heart. The fact that our city was chosen as the American host could not be missed. I don't know if this will lead to more international tourists or immigrants (I secretly hope so, but doubt it will), but it did put our name alongside some of the greatest cities of the world. This status leads to my next point, another central theme of this blog.

I feel like this concert's major impact is on the psychological level. I know, I know, this sounds like a crock of shit. But, for anyone who has lived in this city before the 90s, it won't sound far-fetched. There is a mindset in place in this region that the city is not capable of doing anything well, that we are inferior to NYC and DC, and that it is pointless to try to change the status quo here. This entire Live 8 experience should add another brick to the wall of confidence (sorry, I couldn't help myself) that is being built. Philly was able to put together an event for hundreds of thousands of people on short notice, with the eyes of the world on us. This was a complete success, confounding the doubters who love to revel in Philly's faults and mistakes. In short, the haters need to go to sleep now. Philly is working to become a world city, an open, creative, vibrant center. All of those who do not believe this is possible nor want to contribute to achieving this goal, go away. You are a relic of the past, and must get out of the way.

Finally, the pictures above are the t-shirt that my mother bought me as a souvenir. At some point this past weekend, she clearly had a psychedelic experience. There is no other explanation for a rational, functioning adult to purchase anything tie-dyed. I mean, really who buys tie-dye? Who throws a shoe? Anyway, I love my mom, but this purchase will never see the light of day.

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