It’s a hard-knock life

Please, please watch this video of a dancing flash mob made up of Point Park University students.  This took place yesterday at the US Steel plaza and was their attempt to greet the G-20 with peace, art, and kickass motherlovin’ DANCING!

The good stuff starts at :45 in, so watch it and then we’re going to talk about it and by that I mean, I’m going to tell you how I feel about it.

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I know! SQUEE!

Why squee? SO many reasons, but let me tell you three:

1. Whoever that brave soul is that started the dance all by himself. HUGS!

2. Since Footloose, since Grease, since Grease 2 (I KNOW!), since Scrubs, since Buffy, since Enchanted, since High School Frickin’ Musical, I have always thought why can’t we live in a world where suddenly large crowds of people burst into choreographed song and dance?!  How awesome, I have thought, would it be to be walking through Point Park when suddenly, out of nowhere, “It’s a Hard-knock Life” starts blaring and all the people who take their lunch to the Point because they hate their jobs and wish life were different, suddenly burst into a dance that fully utilizes the entire rim of the fountain? And umbrellas.  Lots of colorful umbrellas a-twirling and a-tossing.

I am so so so jealous that I wasn’t there when this happened because I would have freaked the hell out at the sheer awesomeness of this.

3.  THIS is how you get your message across. You throw a brick through a window in Pittsburgh and I will hate you and everything you stand for and if you so much as ask me for directions to your tent city, I will send you on a path so ridiculous you’ll end up in the scariest parts of the Hill District, or as we call it, Westhampsminstershire, where you’ll beg those very police you hate, to save your miserably misguided life.

However, you sing and dance about it, you bring me joy while telling me what you’re so pissed off about, hell, I’m going to listen to you and then quickly guide you back to your tent city, and maybe even stop on the way to buy you a donut.

Just think, anarchists, instead of pissing this entire city off with your stupid destruction, why not use this rainy downtime to make up a song and dance that speaks to your cause? Call it “Capitalist Pigs” set to the tune of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” and I, along with 20 world leaders, will pull up a lawn chair and clap like you’re killing pigeons.

I am the very model of a modern major anarchist

I’ve information scary ’bout those nasty pigs capitalist.

I hate the kings of England, and I fought the fights historical

From Pittsburgh here to London too, in order west to east-acle.

I’m totally on to something, and you know it.


All you kids that danced are the next Awesome Burghers and your giant pats on the back are in the mail.

Also, clearly, I need to write a Broadway musical.


  1. Amber
    September 22, 2009 5:48 pm

    I forgot about Westhampsminstershire. Awesome!!

  2. pghgeorge
    September 22, 2009 6:08 pm

    I’ve watched this over and over today, and now I understand what’s been tickling my brain. Just as the Athenians believed the gods smiled upon their city, and later Florence believed much the same. I now think God (or the higher power of your choice) is smiling on our city. Maybe its sentimental, but WT Effies.

  3. Monty
    September 22, 2009 6:14 pm

    I don’t mean to get off track here, but isn’t “One-Eyed Dick” redundant?

  4. chrys
    September 22, 2009 6:51 pm

    I LOVE FLASH MOBS!!!! I think they are so cool. I wish I could have been there to see it in person!! Loved th peace sign at the end!

    Thanks for postin this!! :)

  5. richrovs
    September 22, 2009 7:34 pm

    That was great!!!

  6. Still A. Fan
    September 22, 2009 7:51 pm

    is the person accusing flash mobs of not being spontaneous serious? hello? captain obvious, hellooooooooo?

    to leave Moonlighting out of #2 is an insult. I demand an apology for all the people in my age group!!!!

  7. Ryn
    September 22, 2009 8:34 pm

    Normally I am a fan of the things you have to say, but the G20 commentary on the whole has been poorly put, as though they were all thoughtless ramblings. Why such the focus on anarchists when there is only one anarchist march and some smaller events planned for the entire week? You are buying into the mainstream media’s spin and sensationalism by caring so much about this one group’s set of tactics. Does it ever occur to anyone that the only reason they wreak havoc outside is because there is no space allowed for them inside to express their ideologies? Maybe if the G20 Summit included plans to restore basic human/individual rights or touted methods of solving world problems by means other than capitalist ventures, they’d have no reason to want to disrupt it in the first place…they might put on their best rags and join them at the table if they were invited!

    “You throw a brick through a window in Pittsburgh and I will hate you and everything you stand for…” Not a lot of these protesters come to throw bricks. Most of them just want to be heard and to make their points without restriction on their rights. In most cases you’d be looking at a peaceful and contained protest if it weren’t for the overreaction of police and other security forces. When people start to perceive that their rights are being violated is when things get messy, and our city did a great job setting the stage by passing those lovely ordinances that restrict free expression of dissent. Unfortunately, police often make mistakes in judgment and wind up doing something to provoke those people who would only resort to violence/rioting if they felt that they were being treated unjustly. These events are confusing and chaotic for imported cops with little to no experience or training in containing mass demonstrations to handle and yes, some people show up just to cause trouble – but that doesn’t mean we have to gas and blindly bludgeon everyone who shows up to demonstrate, just let the few who show up with destruction in mind make the first move while they don’t yet have the support of the crowd mentality.

    “…and if you so much as ask me for directions to your tent city, I will send you on a path so ridiculous you’ll end up in the scariest parts of the Hill District.” Ummm, little bit of an unfair generalization of both the Hill and anarchists here. You’re obviously ignorant as to what life on the Hill is actually like, and I imagine some of that comes from the mild racism that is instilled in many residents of this city due to the prominent segregation by housing/neighborhood that persists throughout all parts of this region. And no, I’m not calling you a bring-back-the-slaves-racist, I’m just saying its thoughtless to use this as a threat. In order for it to be a scary experience, you’re also assuming that all of the anarchists are white/middle class/etc. and therefore uncomfortable in urban neighborhoods with a large African American population and some crime and poverty issues, which is just not true on the points that the diversity of demonstrators (anarchists included) has been impressive and the fact that a lot of them would delight in such circumstances. Heck, the Bailout the People tent city is IN the Hill itself! People of all colors, ages and abilities are defenselessly camped out in tents and *gasp* welcoming neighborhood residents to share in their activities; which, while I was there today, included group discussions, meals and general fellowship. On my walk home – yes, I walk in the Hill frequently…and, more often than not, by my skinny, gay, white self – I sensed an air of welcoming in the neighborhood. Residents were gathered on porches having heartfelt and passionate discussions about community and society-wide problems and how to solve them, smiling and saying hello to me as I passed (one lady even complimented my even skinnier, gayer, more radical looking friend’s man purse) and putting up posters of their own decrying global capitalism/lack of healthcare/poverty/hunger/joblessness. The issues that the people of the Hill face on a daily basis are rooted in those systems and policies which the demonstrators have come to denounce…is that really so hard to grasp?

    In short, what I’m trying to say is that I love your blog but I’m having trouble feeling the love when such complex problems are treated in such a shallow manner. By cheapening the issues in the way that you have, you’re doing a disservice to 99% of the legitimately intellectual affinity groups that are in our city doing their thing – whether we like it or not – for the next few days. Likewise, you’re contributing to the defeatist conclusion that nothing good will come of the large-scale dissent when, in reality, its more likely that the decisions made on the INSIDE of the Convention Center will be far more destructive in the end.

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  9. jk
    September 22, 2009 11:03 pm

    False dichotomy alert: there are many anarchist bands and musical groups that do exactly what you wish. Look ’em up. Though you may not find them “delightful” because they are challenging–like protest is supposed to be (otherwise, it ain’t protest).

    Conflation alert: Saying that an event makes you happy, and thus all events fail generally, and specifically are not effective political protest, unless they make you happy is silly enough to get you committed (or at least thrown out of Symbolic Logic 101). Again, that which does not upset cannot cause change, by definition.

    This very dance includes music by John Lennon, who is considered tame today, was censored and threatened with violence by a prior generation would was extremely upset with him. Like you, they would have told long-haired hippie activists seeking John Lennon to go wander into a dangerous hellhole.

    Incidentally, most of us only know about the WTO because of anarchists with their naughty bricks, relevant pranks and, yes, music back in Seattle. No “flash mob” did or could do that. Why? Because, again, protest is supposed to be challenging. What did this little dance convince you of?

    This was simply a bunch of kids doing something that 40 years ago would have been wild and impressive and today is tame and cute. Gush away if you want, but don’t dare present yourself as an expert on change, suasion or courage.

  10. Pensgirl
    September 22, 2009 11:21 pm

    Ryn, you missed the point utterly and completely. You can’t assume every mention of the anarchists is meant to imply or incorporate the broader set of protesters. Sometimes, as with Ginny’s posts and the vast majority of the ensuing comments, references to “anarchists” really just means “anarchists.”

    Ginny has never said she doesn’t support dissent or that she’s anti-protester. Nor did most of the rest of the people. It’s not about what people’s messages are; it’s about how they deliver them. The self-proclaimed anarchists are the focus because they are the ones threatening to do harm to our city.

    People who choose peaceful or, like the above video, positive delivery methods are welcome, even if we don’t all agree with their various points of view. People who choose destructive message-delivery methods or who are coming to be violent for the sake of violence are the only ones most of us are worried about. It’s pretty insulting to people’s intelligence to think they are confusing those destructive few with the larger group, especially in the face of comments that indicate otherwise.

  11. Summer
    September 23, 2009 12:28 am

    Jazz hands PLUS peace signs? How can you not love it?

  12. bucdaddy
    September 23, 2009 12:43 am

    The alma mater does bucdaddy proud. Although I’m here to tell you, you haven’t died till you’ve got on an elevator with a dozen dance majors who just got out of a vigorous class, and it stops at every floor on your way to 18. That’s a hella long time to hold your breath.

  13. Bram R
    September 23, 2009 8:26 am

    Two links: First, something very much in a Point Park style vein is employed by political demonstrators advocating for renewable energy:

    And Rauterkus wins the Award for Best Title in a Blog Post Having to Do With This Dance:

  14. Andrea
    September 23, 2009 9:23 am

    @ jk, #59, you make an unsupported — and indefensible — assertion: “Again, that which does not upset cannot cause change, by definition.” By definition? In whose dictionary?

    Ideas that inspire can cause change. Inspiring people is a lot harder route to take, but only bullies and cowards take the shortcut. Those are the destructive protesters, terrorists of a sort, whose hope is to get what they want by making us afraid of what will happen if they don’t.

  15. Amy
    September 23, 2009 4:09 pm

    I don’t care why they did it, I just think it was pretty awesome. I wish I had been there to see it.

  16. Bonnie
    September 24, 2009 10:34 pm

    I just loved it! We need more of it. They really make me feel better. It’s about time someone stood up and said let’s do it. I’m glad they did it.

    It beat watching gas bombs and unruly individuals.

  17. Xena Pengweena
    October 7, 2009 4:51 pm

    Sure was a nice demonstration of peace, joy and spontaneous fun! Wish more folks would just break into song and dance–there’s just too much focus on negativity! This was a great, positive statement. Thank you Point Park!

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