Friday, September 18, 2009

Infinonymous' Unauthorized G20 Survival Guide

We won't know until next week whether hosting the G20 is to be much ado about nothing or much doo-doo on everything, but it is not too early for everyday Pittsburghers to prepare to avoid paying personal prices for regional folly.
  1. If you can avoid the City of Pittsburgh next week, do so (unless you want to observe what I expect to be a crafty and even entertaining contingent of protesters, and are willing to sustain the associated risks). I do not expect the disruptions to be exclusive to, or even focused on, downtown. Oakland, Fox Chapel and the North Side are natural targets; the South Side might be rough if young pranksters head there to unwind after a long day of city-wrecking.

  2. If you can not avoid working in the city, dress down. A suit-and-tie target may be irresistible to an anarchist. A black t-shirt is always in style. And may I suggest the Rivithead RIOT-20, the official urban assault boot of the Pittsburgh G20?

  3. If you can not avoid driving in the city, leave the Laguna blue M3 and its specialty rims in the garage. I wouldn't even park any car worth more than $15,000 on a City of Pittsburgh street for 15 minutes next week. If I go anywhere near downtown, I will rent a car (and, for once, buy the superfluous insurance).
  4. If you must work in a downtown building next week, take a bag of nonperishable food, water, a few toiletries and any personal essentials (medication, contact lens solution). If you think that hottie down in IT might be caught empty-handed, take enough to share.

  5. If you venture downtown -- and I may visit just to watch -- patronize local, independent businesses instead of chain restaurants and corporate retailers. I suspect you will be less likely to have lunch with a pepperspray chaser at the Lemon Grass Cafe or Weiner World than at McCormick & Schmick's or The Capital Grille.

  6. Do not rely on easy or quick movement. Occupants of a building near the Convention Center have been told to expect three-hour security procedures. (They also were told to expect sniper fire if they are observed moving in their offices after dark.)

  7. Be especially nice to police officers. They did not approve or arrange this clustermuck; they are merely doing their jobs, and they likely will be anxious. And unusually well armed.

That's it for now. If I think of anything else, I will let you know. Some of this is merely common sense, and some pointers -- favoring local restaurants over subsidized national chains, treating police officers well -- are always applicable. But I believe Pittsburgh is unlikely to be prepared for devoted pranksters (or worse). In general, I would neither underestimate the ingenuity or resolve of protesters nor rely on the planning and performance of local government officials. President Obama should be fine; the Secret Service can handle this. Pittsburgh? We'll see.

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