Oh. Em. Gee. 20. Eff.

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.


  1. rickh
    September 17, 2009 4:10 pm

    Hey Ginny. Great post and dialogue here, but I disagree with you.

    I think it’s great that Pittsburgh has a chance to do this and to do it well. It’s an opportunity to lose that “are we really good enough?” tag once and for all. Maybe Hizzoner and Dan O were starstruck when accepting the invitation but it’s coming and I hope it goes off peacefully. If not, I hope the Secret Service and friends get to bust some heads. Sadly I’ll be out town next week on a business trip. Yeah, dirty, filthy, greedy, selfish, repressive business…

    And just how many can fit in the International Space Station at a time? Just a thought.

  2. passing commenter
    September 17, 2009 5:13 pm

    That’s MISS Dude aka Passing Commenter to yinz. :D

    In the spirit of dialectics, I love a good argument. But calling any idea is ‘stupid’ while excluding supporting statements for your opinion is no way to get your point across.

    Regardless of views, it is important that we are permitted to voice them. Loudly, with flags and even cross-dressed if it suits you. So long as you are not causing injury to nouns (you know – people, places, things).

    Unless of course you admire the concept of King George the 15th.

    While Gar is entirely accurate about the intended message of my earlier post, Greg makes me want to take the argument one step further (did I mention I like to argue?).

    It is entirely possible most of our Grandfathers (given the likelihood they were either miners or mill workers) are on the same plane as some of the protesters today. The voices who protest the G20 and other economic think-tanks are often part of the blue collar/labor/proletariat/whatever-your-alternative-to-‘not-a-Mellon’ is. Civics are more than a car made by Honda, you know?

    @Joe K – Jefferson is one of my most favorite people to have ever existed, and that is a great quote. I’m not just saying that because I’m American, but hey – who’s more American than the people who started it?

    But I disagree that the G20 have no power to control the economy. That’s exactly what they exist to do – and not just that of the US, but of the globe. Because markets transcend borders (and therefore, the power of congress) these days.

    At last, before anyone suggests I seem to share the opinion of a jobless anarchist who just wants an excuse to pee in the streets – sorry I’m a business owner myself.

  3. Lauren
    September 17, 2009 5:14 pm

    Another freedom in this country is the freedom to own your own business. The hopes and dreams of the immigrants that flooded this country in the late 1800s and early 1900s were based on the fact that prosperity, at the time, could be achieved by anyone through hard work and determination. That “American Dream” thing. Millions come to this country today with that same dream (I live in El Paso, TX, I know.)

    While I’m not trying to downplay freedom of speech, which the protesters have, why should people who work hard, who own their own businesses, have to shut down because of the threat of damage? One freedom is not more important than another and if those protesters realized that, or actually cared, then maybe I would have more sympathy for them.

  4. Different Brian
    September 17, 2009 8:04 pm

    Your right to free speech stops when it interferes with my rights. When I have urine and feces thrown at me, when my windows are smashed, when my business is invaded by a sit-in, you have gone beyond your rights. Anarchists don’t believe in the system; they don’t follow rules. They quite literally are parasites. They aren’t “protesting.” DC this past weekend was a protest. They waved signs, they had speeches. Planning to have numerous distributed small groups create small infractions to spread police thin and leading for a concentrated big-bloc on some target is criminal behavior.

    The Secret Service and local enforcement won’t be able to crack heads for the inevitable lawsuits, as all these anti-capitalists all have purchased video cameras and cell phones to record the “brutality” but conveniently NOT record their own destruction of property. And any property owner who defends their property with any kind of force will not just face civil penalties, but criminal penalties.

    It is the citizens who will suffer, while Mayor Lukey is sequestered safely away from the direct consequences of his actions. Not entirely different from any other day of his life, come to think of it.

  5. Maggie Tucker
    September 17, 2009 8:22 pm

    I honestly don’t understand why so many small business owners think they need to close. After all, the destructive protestors (of whom there are very few, folks.) generally go after multi-nationals, not small independents.

    I work in Oakland and I am not the least bit concerned about being there even though there will many protestors and a lot od traffic issues. I think it will be cool to see it all go down. This really is history folks!

    I think it ultimately comes down to this- do you choose to live in fear of possibility or engaged with possibility. Perhaps rank-and-file Pittsburgh has been too afraid to engage for too long and now we are being forced to. I say embrace it and don’t worry so much. Besides, with 4000 cops in town we should be as safe as pigeons in Market Square. ;)

  6. Joe K.
    September 17, 2009 9:33 pm

    Passing Commenter: What I’m getting at is, Congress still has to ratify treaties and such, correct? Yes the market is now global, but we (in theory) should have our say in how it affects us through our goverment, which is why I think ongoing pressure on our reps is more important than protesting G20.

  7. Scott
    September 17, 2009 10:45 pm

    Amen Jim #84. Our strength, or lack thereof, is demonstrated by how willing we are to tolerate those whose views aren’t the same as ours. The options are to let people have their say, as is their right, or to fuss about their coming onto our turf. If we can move on from that attitude, then maybe people will stop viewing us as an irrelevant backwater.

  8. Pingback: Morning links: All clear with G-20

  9. Scott R Priester
    September 18, 2009 12:57 am

    I think it’s an honor to be selected. The President has embraced the city from the beginning of his campaign. That can only mean great things.

    Someone said earlier:

    “I feel like bringing this here is disrespectful to the residents because a conference of this nature will stop traffic and mess with an already fragile commute for starters.”

    First of all, there is no reason for a commute in Pittsburgh to be “fragile”. One of the only complaints I have living here is that long time citizens of this city have very little knowledge of navigating the city and surrounding areas. It is as if people only know one route to their destination. If you live in the city and work in the city, there is no reason for your ass not to be on a bus or the train on a daily basis to begin with.

    As far as being disrespectful to it’s residents? Come on. If you feel hosting this summit is disrespectful, then move to Erie; Erie is full of people who are happy with their city remaining in the 1930’s. This city is poised to take on the world, and if you are a Yinzer who can’t handle that, then move to Butler or Fayette County.

    September 18, 2009 8:09 am

    The next time someone asks about Pittsburgh, send them here….. http://pittsburghskyline.com/ .

    A picture is worth a thousand words, this site tells the story of Pittsburgh, in a novel!!


  11. Jeepin
    September 18, 2009 8:28 am

    To be honest with you all…I dont see the economic impact once this glorified function is done. They will all leave and we will be cleaning up the messes left behind. We will move forward (DING!)

    HMMM…Wonder if the Boy Wonder will offer us cupcakes and beer to help clean up the aftermath!

  12. AC
    September 18, 2009 10:05 am

    Not worried about the protesters- am worried about the cops and other instigators

  13. John in the Rocks
    September 18, 2009 10:25 am

    Look, I don’t have a problem with people peacefully protesting. That is their right. But when these “professional protestors” decide to start trashing our fair city so people will see that they’re serious about their protesting, that’s where I draw the line. I find it very ironic that people love to protest things like the war with displays of violence. Whatever happened to the peace movement? Whatever happened to sit-ins and peaceful forms of protest? I will admit that I have a certain degree of scorn for protestors, but as long as they do what they’re doing peacefully, I don’t have a problem. When the protests turn violent and turn downtown into one giant powderkeg, I do have a problem. Just like I have a problem with their sense of entitlement, but that’s another rant for another time. As always, well said, Ginny. Needless to say, I’ll be avoiding dahntahn at all costs next week.

  14. Der Burghermeister
    September 18, 2009 10:28 am

    @#111 Jeepin: So short-sighted! Of course none of the many international visitors will decide to extend their stay out of sheer awe, but what if one, just one, returns to their country with a positive impression. Then, at some point in the future, a business in that country starts looking for a base for US operations..and said delegate remembers the hospitality of the people and the beautiful landscape of Pittsburgh. You don’t think those kinds of firsthand experiences play into recommendations? It’s called networking- you never know when a contact may yield something of value to you. That’s why we (those who care about the future vitality of this great city) need to work to make the G-20 a positive thing, not a I wish it never was booked and let’s get it over with kinda thing.

  15. Bulldog
    September 18, 2009 10:33 am

    Ginny, I could possibly agree more with everything you said regarding the impending fiasco that is the G-20. My memory isn’t so short or impaired that I have forgotten the massive amount of damage that these “protesters” have wrought upon previous host cities. I’m all for anyone voicing their displeasure or airing their grievances in a proper, constitutionally appropriate manner, but folks like these “anarchists” ALWAYS cross the line into property damage and frequently include violence in their little bag o’ tricks.

    We would be just fine and dandy with the G-20 and the necessary headaches that accompany it.

    I remember years ago that there was G-8, G-20, G-I don’t know how many Summit held at one of the island resorts of Southeastern Georgia (St Simon’s Island?). The location was picked specifically for it’s relative ISOLATION and not to give a political/economic boost to a thriving resort area that didn’t need the business at the time anyway. Oh how times change.

    I too am worried about, AND FOR the police who are being put in the middle of a horrible situation. The simple fact of the matter is that there hasn’t been one of these gatherings in recent years where VIOLENT protesters didn’t wreak havoc and push the law enforcement officers whom we pay to “PROTECT & SERVE” us. This one will be no different and I pray for every individual who has CHOSEN to wear a badge and stand in harms way to protect us and safeguard the city.

  16. passing commenter
    September 18, 2009 10:35 am

    @Joe K. – your idea is spot on. However, my last few experiences with “writing to my congressman” have left me feeling a little less-than confident in the government. (Despite this feeling, I know it is still a great country because I can voice this opinion in such a public forum without fear of repercussion, except for trial by Internet trolls perhaps).

    Our founders, having the bad taste of monarchy in their mouths, intended to create an open and configurable system that would prevent the accumulation of power in large quantities. Kind of like open-source software – but to continue the metaphor – it would appear that Apple has bought the patent on our government. Having said that, if the Constitution is an instrument for calibrating government, I think we are perpetually due for an adjustment.

    I still agree with you – I find it ineffective to ‘take to the streets’ for two days, cause a ruckus then go back to doing nothing about your issues. Hard battles are best won through a series of smaller, incremental victories.

    I don’t see the point of advocating violence against business entities. Throwing a rock at a Starbucks window is no way to gain the public sympathy, since most of us love our coffee and like most of us, you do not want to meet me before I’ve had mine.

    Still, I think all would do well to learn about the Westmoreland Coal Strikes of 1910-1911. 16 miners and family members died in the name of an 8 hour work day. Getting stuck in traffic due to protesters is small potatoes.

  17. Jeepin
    September 18, 2009 12:54 pm

    @ #114 Der Burghermeister, you may call me short sighted but I feel its reality-based. How are former G-20 cities doing these days? Have London or Seattle become global economic powers? I havent heard because thats not a story that gets talked about by the media. All I see are photos/horror stories about what happened when other cities had this thing.

    What will people from other countried say about Pittsburgh after? Well, alot of boarded up buildings and a ton of construction which made getting around difficult.

    Listen, I love this town and want the best for it. We’ve come a long way in really a short amount of time. There have been alot of good points made on Ginny’s post and Im looking to see how Pittsburgh fares in the months and years following. I hope for perfect weather as well so the out of towners can see how beautiful this city really is.

  18. Sharky
    September 18, 2009 4:12 pm

    Exactly. These protestors are annoying the crap out of me. I do believe in free speech, but these protestors want everyone to bend over backwards and bend rules and laws to accomodate them.
    If they get out of hand and start trashing the city, I’ll want to go down there personally and kick some protestor ass!!! Most of them are going to be from out of town, and we don’t take kindly to strangers messing up our city!!

  19. Morselpix
    September 18, 2009 9:14 pm

    You can’t have it both ways. If you want to a “world-class” city, you have to open yourselves to the world. That includes the High & Mighty and the Down & Out (or those who give a voice to them).
    You seem to be saying “We’re great. We know it, and we don’t need a big hoop-de-do to prove it.” That’s nice, but that’s not great, as cities go.

    BTW, I LOVE Pittsburgh, too.

  20. Melissa
    September 19, 2009 2:55 pm

    I am so with you on every single thing you’ve said here. I love this city and I’m SO SCARED of what is going to happen this week. This time next week, will downtown look like a warzone? Probably. :(

  21. Pgh Pride
    October 20, 2009 9:33 pm

    Pittsburgh is an amazing city and Im proud to be born and raised in it!