Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Brief Interruption of Today's Emotional Crises for Some Important Albeit Scattered Thoughts Concerning the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, PA

It's what we've been bracing ourselves for, and it's here!!!! We've been talking about it, Rust Belt Radio and NPR have been chatting it up too--even though I've missed much of the TV coverage on it as my TV is also a plant stand and has no pictures. Here in the heart of things, every bus that rolls by (or at least the ones that haven't been eliminated or subjected to incapacitating delays) says "Pittsburgh Welcomes the World!" Police blockades are poised throughout the city. GreenPeace has already been repelling from one of the newly-painted bridges downtown. Bring it on!

Understandably, I was so excited to get to work today and IMMEDIATELY log into Twitter. I had visions of the Twitter-tethered Iranian protests of earlier this year, or at least the e-hype that surrounded Ellen Degeneres' tele-visit* to CMU this spring. But alas, either protesters are too busy to tweet, or nobody, pun intended, gives a flying (or tweeting) you-know-what. (Or maybe the protesters don't have blackberries or iPhones, a more likely scenario...) The most social-networking momentum I got was: "Live in PGH #g20 1 NBC Crew, 4 protesters, 2 old ladies watching from porch"...priceless!

Pittsburgh, it seems, hasn't skipped a beat. We just go on. Doing. Talking. Eating. Drinking. Talking about all of those things. Taking a load off. And then going back to the mill (at least the metaphorical mill) in the mornin'. Come on, people!? Can't you give me something to fuel more exciting future blog entries? SOMETHING more distracting at work than 2 old ladies on a front porch? My needs are purely selfish and utilitarian. And while there is the activist impulse inside of me, I'd like to think it manifests itself in other ways than pure shouting-and-signage protest--through my art, blog, blah blah blah. Or I'm lazy. Can't I just blog the revolution?!

Ah, if I only knew what I wanted in all of this...

Ok. Back to the non-flow of this entry...While looping away some more time at work, I happened upon an activist (albeit Catholic activist) (~forgive me~) blog**, which referenced the summit's unique manifestations in Pittsburgh, and I thought one detail was especially telling:

"You’d think the city would be fuming at the imposition of it all. But from taxi drivers to Homeland Security staff, the goodwill and welcome has been astonishingly warm. And maybe that’s because many of them aren’t letting the summit get in the way of life as usual.

In fact on the other side of the water, just outside the security zone, the Pittsburgh Pirates are playing baseball tonight to a packed stadium. “It’s an important game,” a guy told me as we sheltered from a sudden downpour. “No world leader’s gonna stop the Pirates play.”

No. They wouldn't dream of it.

Is this just how this town is? Or is this a United States thing? When I was living in Manhattan, I was convinced that I was the lone outraged person on the island the day after Bush was re-elected. (Prior to this day, everybody was wearing anti-Bush tee shirts, and the weather report was flyers with a chance of more flyers, 80% chance of scattered angry gays and other activists.) And then he won. I remember those last states turning on TV and my friends and I blasted Madonna's "Like a Prayer" out our window onto Broadway, to people who danced and screamed "C'mon, Kerry!"

It was so quiet the day after. After crying a little, I created and donned a silly "WTF?" tee shirt, that everybody saw and then said something along the lines of, "Yeah, I feel the same way. Would you like room for cream in your coffee?" Come on...? Where's the fire! The PASSION! Bring on the REVOLUTION!!!! Or wait four more years of torture and scandal.

But then, gasp, a couple of years later, I was one of them. I remember finding out, oh, yeah, the President of Iran is here today, like a block away. And thinking, well, I guess I could go check 'im out if I get a bite to eat beforehand...It's disgusting, I know. (Granted, the issues in Iran just might not have been as important to me as more domestic trials...but still, I wanted to care more...)

But I don't know. I must be pretty lame hoping for something exciting to happen around me, but maybe my generation, this country, my socio-economic status, my personal interests, and my general whimsy have prevented me from even coming close to the revolution, wherever it may be.

Bah, who knows. Maybe maintaining normalcy is in itself a form of activism. Yeah? Or maybe the protesters will, as the old joke goes, show up in Pittsburgh in 5 years. Or maybe they are there right now and I have no idea what I'm talking about because Twitter is for losers like me who are bored at work!

Or maybe not. Pittsburgh is just a weird place in the world, with high estrogen levels in the water, funny accents, and two colors, two colors only. I'm not even sure what I want people to do. Chances are, I'd get annoyed with big protests anyway, and all of the inarticulate 23-year-old anarchists lined up to talk to Channel 4 news and whatnot. I guess I just want to gauge what the hell is happening, and then articulate it to you thirsty readers, as blogging is my sole end in anything that should occur to me, ever.

So, Lizzy, closure? Ok, getting there, getting there. Ah, I might have something! Ok we're listening...

Of course the litmus test is always based in personal experience. I'm keeping my eyes and ears WIDE open (as usual). Give me a sign!

This morning I did (literally) see a sign of the Pittsburghian social status quo when I walked by Pino's, an Italian restaurant near where I work. Yesterday I'd explained to the owner what the G20 was, and why it was sort of an important thing. This morning I saw their sandwich board read: "PINO'S WELCOMES THE G20 and the WORLD!" I thought to myself, huh, well that's pretty cute. But by the time I'd gone down for coffee a half an hour later, the sandwich board was on the sidewalk and said, "Welcome to PINO's!"

Well, I had to appreciate all the deliberation that must have gone into that chalking experiment. The change probably occurred due to some kind of protest (as it is a husband-and-wife-run business, and as the handwriting was different from the first to the second). I wish I'd've seen it...but I'd rather let my imagination fill in the details.

In the end, I was ok with their final impulse. The world, and anybody else (who pays) is always welcome at Pino's. Remember, it's BYOB! Sigh. Business as usual.

>> Folks, do me a favor and comment a little on this guy. What do you think? And while, we're at it, what are YOU? Don't answer that...But, is anyone out there?

* Yes, tele-visit. She wasn't actually there, a TV with her face on it was, though, thus amassing at least a couple hundred silly fans, myself included.

** The rest of the Catholic blog entry can be found here.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Im glad you wrote this. I was wondering what was going on in Pittsburgh during G20, and Im glad to hear that generally, people don't care. Pittsburgh is so funny like that.