I wasn’t blogging when it was announced that Pittsburgh would be hosting the G-20 meeting, so you and I haven’t yet had a chance to talk about it.
When I first read the news, honestly, my initial reaction was, “Wow! That’s really cool! Woo!”
About a half a second after I finished saying, “Woo!” I had one of those fast-paced staccato image montages run through my head. You know, like how on MTV where they don’t believe a viewer has the attention span to sit through any one image for more than 2.5 seconds, so they will instead fast-fire image after image after image to the beat of a drum all BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM and by the time the images are done flashing you have a little headache and you can’t be 100% sure you didn’t just download a secret government message to your brain and maybe a little bit of kung fu know-how, too.
So the images that are rushing through my brain 100 miles a second? These ones.
Maybe it’s un-American of me to not want the protesters in my city, but you know what? I don’t want the protesters converging on my city. I don’t want the pushing, the shoving, the anger that bubbles and bubbles until finally it boils over and suddenly there’s blood. I don’t want the shouting and the fist-shaking and the mask-wearing and the sign-waving and the ridiculous demands to abolish money or the police or jails. I don’t want the tent cities popping up on my city’s river shores.
I don’t want anyone touching a single hair on my city in the name of anything other than beautification.
I don’t want 20 world leaders descending on Pittsburgh under the guise of “showcasing Pittsburgh’s economic recovery” when the real reason they’re here is because half a dozen other cities said HELL NO! and our starstruck Mayor and County Executive never got past the “Woo!” moment to take a look at the realities of what bringing the G-20 here means.
They didn’t consider the logistics of managing the security teams, the handlers, the caravans, the entourages of not just one, but TWENTY world leaders and the security teams, the handlers, the caravans, the entourages of their TWENTY high-maintenance spouses.
They didn’t consider the cost.
They didn’t consider the fact that they would likely have to shut the entire city down for two days, forcing some companies to close for two days, some companies to demand two days of mandatory vacation from all of their employees, and some companies to inform their workers they’ll need to walk about two miles from their cars to work for two days.
They didn’t consider you or me or our streets or our windows or our beautiful city.
They didn’t consider the litter.
They didn’t consider the damage we might see, the legal fees in lawsuit after lawsuit we might see, the mass chaos we will see, all in the name of proving to the world, once and for all that we’re not smoky, sooty, nasty Pittsburgh anymore.
I’m TIRED of hearing it. I am sick of hearing, “Hey! Come to Pittsburgh! We’re not dirty anymore! We’re like really cool and trendy now! Woo!” You know what? We’ve been named the most livable city in America. The ninth best in the world. Our city is regularly showcased on the national stage through sporting events, conferences, etc. We rank high on just about any list you can come up with that rates various aspects of city awesomeness, and yet still, we have a self-esteem issue as a city. “Hi, I’m from Pittsburgh! I know what you’re thinking …”
Screw that! I’m from Pittsburgh! It is a world-class city with the best hospitals and colleges in the country, a booming technology center, a cultural district that will knock your socks off, hip restaurants, trendy clubs, beautiful living spaces, thriving neighborhoods and I don’t need the “generosity” of 20 world leaders gracing us with their presence long enough to hold two-days worth of useless meetings to confirm that for me.
It’s like the girl in high school who was pretty but shy and kept to herself because she never truly looked in the mirror at how wonderful she really was. One day, she does look in the mirror, says hey, I’m pretty awesome, shows up at school with a new confidence and says, “Forget who I was. This is me now.”
Pittsburgh, it’s time for us to stop looking at ourselves like this, as depicted by the local Tribune Review’s editorial columnist:
It’s time to look in the mirror and say, “Holy crap. I am AWESOME.” and to hold our heads high and say to the world, “I’m not going to keep reminding you of what I was. This is what I am now.”
If only Dan and Luke would have said that three months ago.
If only they would have gotten past the Woo! moment to say, “Mr. Obama, with all due respect, we’re fine, thanks.”
Call me un-American, call me anything you want, but I’ll tell you what I really am. I’m a Pittsburgher and my God, I’m PROUD of it.
And don’t a one of you protesters lay a finger on it.