I can get down with most mass demonstrations of the emotional mien; admittedly, not always in a particularly participatory manner, but at the least as an affectionate observer. I've gone to protests, demonstrations, shows, and massive street celebrations where my innards were infused with a sudden incomprehensible appreciation for the human spirit and I wandered, dumbly humble to the humanoid crowds and all of their synchronized excitement. It is nebulously reassuring to me that I can still find momentary but tender comfort from standing shoulder to shoulder with many strangers under a live, electric net of limbic resonance and be able to shock myself with it by reaching out just a little.
But just this past week, something went wrong.
Philadelphia had been quivering with the anticipation of the World Series, and when the Phillies finally won on Wednesday, the city, quite simply, exploded. Broad Street was ignited with campfires, fed by paper thrown from the tops of office buildings. Cars were flipped over or, alternatively, beaten with fervor and attention to detail into unrecognizable states. The windows of banks and stores were broken with stones, a newspaper distribution box and who knows what else. Dumpsters were set on fire. Giant planters were overturned and their trees and bushes paraded through the crowds until they were leafless, bare-bone branches dancing atop heads. Flying bottles, fruits, fireworks and high-fives were rampant. Every surface, even the vertical ones, was teeming with red capped bodies. There were 76 arrests throughout the night but, as local news sources liked to mention, no homicides; while this is good news, it’s sad that it needs announcing at all. The night was predictably rounded out by misbehaving cops trying to disperse the misbehaving hoards.
But I couldn’t get psyched for the games and I couldn’t get psyched for the riots. I rode my bike down to Broad feeling besieged by the stampede of honking vehicles, had my back wheel bent up in the festivities, and rode home (after my brother saved the day!) on trash strewn streets with high fives still flying at my face. How is it that I didn’t even get tipsy on the glory when everyone else was positively wasted?
I also wonder, did it ever stop being about the Phillies? Did the hysteria on Broad Street ever tip past the “We’re celebrating a sports event!!” status to an engulfing, adrenaline infused party where revelers were fucking shit up just because energy was so high, because they could, because it was already on fire, because the net was sending sparks that ignited? Or was it all, earnestly, about the Phillies? I have a feeling it was the latter, in which case I stand in awe of Philadelphia’s capacity to wreak havoc to show they care and to, well, care.