Wednesday, June 15, 2005

8 is Enough

Live 8 promises to bring about all kinds of anti-urban remarks from those that make an annual pilgrimage into Philadelphia. Think of these people. As they drive over one of the bridges, or round the curve on the Schuylkill Expressway near Girard, they see the Center City skyline. (Cue the "Jaws" theme music) All the frustrations of city behavior clashing with a suburban mindset start fizzling to the surface of their consciences. "Where will I park?" "I hope there are places to go to the bathroom!" You could think of any number of comments that will cross the lips of those less familiar with Philadelphia on 2nd July. Yes, the "landing" of perhaps a million people on the Ben Franklin Parkway for America's piece of the Live 8 Concert promises to be a real trip.

Just today, 50 Cent announced he would be performing at Live 8. Why? The filming of a movie he's going to appear in conflicts with the concert date, so no Fitty.

But the loss of a singer that frankly very few people I know have been thrilled to see on the Live 8 bill, is not what I'm concerned about. I am intrigued by the idea that Philadelphia's leaders feel the city can handle all the wear and tear it will endure during Live 8.

There are today perhaps 7,000 Philadelphia Police officers serving 1.5 million City residents daily. For 2nd July, there will be perhaps one million more people in town. Will there be 7,000 more police officers? We know there won't be. This, friends, marks potential element of insanity #1.

Next, the "automobile-free" zone that has been enacted during the concert. This is an area that extends from Fairmount Avenue to Market Street, 16th to 23rd. Wow. This will be a sight to behold. The idea of virtualy no traffic, save for residents of that area, is exciting to any devout urbanist. I can hear the auto-savvy now, "I hate how you can't even drive through there! There could be so many parking places in there and we can't even think about getting one." You have to wonder how many people coming into the city from Marlton or Malvern, for example, may simply turn back because it's just "too hard" to deal with parking and the frustrations of people wanting to be in the city all at once.

It's exciting to see Philadelphia in the world spotlight for a purpose as important as helping African nations out of eternal economic downfall. But for those of us who live here everyday, it will be an experience that despite all the speculation abotu what might happen, will doubtlessly be memorable for reasons we never foresaw, afterward.

Besides, for many of us living in the City, we'll just be taking it in on television - from someplace we ran to outside town to avoid the suburban riffraff.


Blogger Marnie said...

Well you know my ass is going to be there. (Even if we were totally screwed with the line-up when compared to London!) :-)

24 June, 2005 14:49  

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