Monday, July 11, 2005

Philadelphia Freedom

I want to drop a few more July 4th Weekend posts, as it was a real great weekend for Philadelphia. The actual holiday featured a concert on the Art Museum steps by the one, the only, Elton John. Year in and year out, this concert has been a diversion until the fireworks go off at 10 PM. This year, Mark Siegel, the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, stepped up and put together a meaningful event, bringing in Elton John for a concert and making this entire event an AIDS awareness- and fund-raiser for John's charity.

A few thoughts on all of this, despite the fact that I'm sure that you're sick of me talking about this weekend. First, I hope that everyone takes note of Siegel, who exhibited the attitude that Pound for Pound has always harped on, a can-do, creative, driven vision. He spent a year or so working on this, and brought off a major event. He dealt with Elton John and his organization, the city, and the unions. I am sure that it was frustrating at times, seemed impossible at other times, but he pulled it off. Take note, everyone.

For the city, it's another success. Things went off perfectly, at least from my vantage point watching on TV and reading about the day after. It's funny, as this event was overshadowed by Live 8, which took place two days before. Rightfully so, as MTV and the world's eyes were on us last Saturday. However, I am not sure that everyone has contemplated what an amazing event happened Monday night. The city of Philadelphia devoted its July 4th to the cause of fighting AIDS and spreading awareness of a disease. The same city that elected Frank Rizzo, a man who used fear and predjudice to his advantage, held a concert whose fundraising benefits groups fighting against AIDS discrimination. The same city that was synomous around the world for dropping a bomb on the supporters of MOVE hosted two concerts over the weekend that stressed compassion and charity. The same city that has been synomous for police brutality had a peaceful weekend with hundreds of thousands on the streets. As the Piano Man himself said, "This is an incredible step for a city to go through." As the article says, "The city in effect turned over its annual July Fourth Parkway festivities to an AIDS benefit." Daniel at Young Philly Politics was already on this story, dishing out kudos to our Mayor.

All of this begs the question: Why can't this become the norm for the city? On a practical level, this weekend should provide a blueprint for the July 4th weekend. N0 more Beach Boys concerts, with John Stamos drumming (for reals, that was one of the 4th concerts when I was a teenager). This holiday should bring our city to everyone's minds, and a major event should happen. After all, this is the birthplace of the nation, and this is the holiday to celebrate said nation. More to come on this topic, as I hope to brainstorm some ideas, and perhaps my dear readers will join in. I see that Karl over at Philly Future has already brought up this idea, and issued a call for ideas.

-Go here for the reaction in the blogosphere to Live 8 and the Fourth of July weekend in Philadelphia. Props to Philly Future, which really took the lead on this event and gave readers all the info and opinions one could need. PF has really become a pivotal source for anyone interested in the city of Philadelphia and what is going on here. The on-site reporting alone has made it a nice addition to the daily papers and a daily read in its own right. Go here, here, and here for upbeat looks at Philly and its work as host for Live 8 in said papers.

-Thanks to EC, and most importantly, our host MF for making the night a fun one. I got to watch the fireworks from the top of the city, and it was worth it. Top of the world, Ma, top of the world.

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