Center City looks quite different without any cars parked on the streets. Or Big Belly trash cans on street corners. Or mailboxes. But sidewalks are lined with portapotties as far as the eye can see. It’s more than a little ridiculous.
The Pope is holding mass on the Franklin Parkway, so it makes some sense to prepare the immediately surrounding area. But this same area, earlier this month, hosted the Made in America concert without such extreme measures. The Beatles may be bigger than Jesus, but the Pope is still bigger than Beyoncé.
There’s some question of separation of church and state, though it’s not too big a deal for me. The Pope is a foreign dignitary. There were some special arrangements made when, e.g. Nelson Mandela gave a speech here. And arrangements might also be made if Richard Dawkins were popular enough to draw such crowds. What’s unprecedented is the scope of the restrictions.
A line has been crossed where the inconveniences of this visit are being imposed on everyone in the city, not just the people living immediately adjacent to the planned events. Subway and bus service is all carved up. (And originally with doubled fares, although they seem to have backed down from that.) Personal vehicles will be forbidden from entering the Center City area for the entire weekend. This isn’t a matter of higher than usual traffic slowing things down. This is the city simply shutting down. Giving up.
The city has promised they aren’t paying for any of this. I remain deeply suspicious that the IOC accountant was hired to reach that conclusion.
It’s one thing (an annoying thing, but borderline acceptable) to stand in the middle of the sidewalk so that I have to go around instead of walking in a straight line. Watching me course correct, then side stepping to block my path and accost me is never acceptable. I deal with this by making a mental note of the responsible organization and then blacklisting them for one month. Penalties accrue. This summer’s front runner appears to be Planned Parenthood, though it will be some time before they overtake the all time record holder. Two summers ago the ACLU accosted me more than once per day on average, earning them an effective lifetime ban.
The stupid part is I’m generally in agreement with these organizations, disagreeing more in degree than kind. The problem seems to be that unlike the local neighborhood homeless beggars, the political beggars are shipped in from elsewhere. I imagine the college job fair pitch goes something like “travel the country and harass strangers with like minded hotties”. The result is that it’s a new beggar every day with no recollection of the previous dozen encounters. Even the duck tour people learn to recognize me as a resident and leave me alone. (Presumably the political beggars set up shop all summer long to get in on the tourist trade, but since the duck tour peddlers have claimed all the good corners, they get pushed out to areas that are in fact mostly locals.)
The good news is the alerts can be turned off (somewhere in phone settings) to avoid disturbance at the movies or elsewhere. I did so last summer after noticing alerts happen whenever it rains.
The movie was Edge of Tomorrow. I liked it. Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers.
Amber Alert update: Amber Alert worked well. Apparently, their definition of success was waking people up at 4am, since there’s no mention of how the alert influenced the outcome of the children, which is how I would determine if it worked well or not.