Those teenage mobs on South Street: Time for some positive thinking

Teen flash mobs’: The brighter side

3 minute read
Malcom McDowell in 'A Clockwork Orange': A punk, yes, but he loved Beethoven.
Malcom McDowell in 'A Clockwork Orange': A punk, yes, but he loved Beethoven.
So another "flash mob" outing on South Street, another setback to small businesses, Center City real estate brokers and Philadelphia convention and tourist tummlers. Not as frightening and destructive as the St. Patrick's Day rumble of recent years, but newsworthy and cash register-depleting enough to cause beefed-up police contingents to contain the teenage invaders from the North, West, South and New Jersey.

Yes, the restaurants, knick-knack shops and even the bars take an immediate hit from the brave weekend warriors who never met a planted pot or plate glass window they couldn't destroy or an unwanted brick walk they couldn't embellish. Who can quantify the longer-term damage to the fiction of a blissful Quaker haven south of Broadway and north of Capitol Hill?

For me, walking the almost deserted sidewalks of South Street the Sunday morning after the Saturday night enthusiasm, I could only imagine the bonanza such events bring to the manufacturers and sales reps for iron and steel storefront grates.

So, though you may sneer, one might endorse a little disruption if it results in soaring sales of protective barricades and new hires for the manufacturers.

I yield to no one in my condemnation of vandalism, ambient urine dispersion and mindless hooliganism. But where others see a bottle half empty, I see a single malt bottle half full. What I see is a monumentally positive trend for the Republic.

Benefits of texting

No more must we deplore the state of education in our inner cities and outer suburbs. As masses of our undereducated learn the benefits of texting, twittering and twooting (I have made this last one up, but confidently predict it will be the next advance in handheld communication to alert impatient "wilders" of their next target of destruction) and as these future leaders of civilization increase their proficiency in electronic mechanisms, America's primacy in the sciences will leap past the Chinese and Indian challenges.

Math test scores will also reverse their current trends as hundreds, nay thousands of vandals become learned in the numbers of street target gathering places. For the more quickly a teen can comprehend that 12th and South comes before 13th and South and one block (read one higher digit) past 11th and South, recruits for our sophisticatedly armed volunteer army will be assured.

(Tea Partiers need buses to get to their wildings; our kids reconnoiter on their own.)

Boost for literacy

There may be other collateral benefits. Those youth who text and receive same will be able to read accounts of the damage and turmoil they have perpetuated. This may have a salutatory affect on newspaper and magazine circulation. For while TV and radio accounts may satisfy a wilder's superficial emotional needs, the depth and hurt of South Street and Center City department store rampages can only be appreciated fully by reading and re-reading the dollars lost and businesses hurt in black and white, which requires a grasp of abstract symbols like letters and numbers.

So, my friend, when news of the next cultural episode of the metropolitan Visigoths is reported, sip your morning coffee with pleasure and savor the joys Benjamin Franklin would have experienced upon learning that the youth of Philadelphia and its environs were expanding their horizons.♦

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