- 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.
- 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?
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.