Friday, May 29, 2009

Will G20 Event Be Good Or Bad For Pittsburgh? My Take: Ask Gust Avrakotos, Book Justin Sane

September's G-20 economic summit has been scheduled to be conducted in Pittsburgh.

The usual suspects are churning out press releases predicting an economic bonanza and a worldwide awakening to Pittsburgh's charms. Others are forecasting (in part because of the experiences of London and Seattle) a disruptive, expensive mess.

I find it difficult to sort out the competing factors -- revenue from G20ers, security costs, spending curtailed by business disruption, exposure (favorable and unfavorable), hype, substance -- and consequently refer to Aliquippa native Gust Avrakotos' lesson* from Charlie Wilson's War, in which Mr. Avrakatos skillfully invokes the serial observations of a Zen Master that the most apt prediction customarily is "we'll see."

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, as usual, also provides words to live by in this context -- "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." In this case, the unadulerated pro is Justin Sane, so I'm going to check on promoting an Anti-Flag show in Pittsburgh during late September.

Hail to Pitt: Messrs. Avrakatos and Sane are University of Pittsburgh graduates.

* Gust Avrakotos: There's a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse . . . and everybody in the village says, "how wonderful. the boy got a horse." And the Zen master says, "we'll see." Two years later the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, "how terrible." And the Zen master says, "We'll see." Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight . . . except the boy can't, 'cause his leg's all messed up. and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful . . . "
Charlie Wilson: . . . now the Zen master says, "We'll see."

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