Government's attitude should be a large factor governing Pittsburgh's G20 experience. So far, the signals are unsettling. Two incidents are illustrative.
The Seeds of Peace Collective arrived in Pittsburgh by bus -- a bus (left) equipped to prepare meals for G20 demonstrators. Its bus, parked legally in Oakland, was towed. After aggravation, delay and a $200 payment, the bus was returned.
Meanwhile, a group of visiting politicians departed downtown Pittsburgh by bus, on a happy-talk tour led by Dan Onorato. Their bus bypassed Oakland, and nearly all of real-life Pittsburgh, by a special-dispensation trip along the East Busway. After an all-you-can-swallow bullshit buffet (right), the visiting dignitaries pronounced themselves impressed by the small, misleading sliver of Allegheny County they had been shown.
When power serves itself (busway) and abuses others (towing),
some people notice, some people object, and some people do something about it. Slickly packaged delusions of adequacy are probably enough to snow a busload of county commissioners from Iowa and planning officials from Wyoming, but I doubt that will suffice in Pittsburgh next week. I am increasingly convinced that it will be the protesters, not the authorities, who control the situation downtown (and beyond).
America's counterculture has long favored buses, but I suspect not everyone headed for Pittsburgh will be Merry Pranksters (left).
I therefore believe that, unless local officials promptly exhibit an against-their-grain change in attitude, the G20 could become Pittsburgh's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
Do I sense a faint echo of the '60s? Cue the soundtrack.