Made in America? Made Life Hell

Made In America 2012
The "Rocky" stage at the "Made In America" music festival is seen on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Just got off the phone with Jim Trachtenberg, who wanted to add a different perspective to my column today about last weekend's Budweiser Made in America Festival. For 35 years, Trachtenberg has lived on the 2300 block of Pennsylvania Ave., in view of the Art Museum’s front steps. So he’s long been in the thick of every event staged on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

He says he has never, once, moaned about the disruptions the activities cause. Instead, he embraces them for the vitality they bring to the place he calls home.

So it means something that Trachtenberg says the festival was “obscene” for its lack of regard for area residents. The reasons he’s steamed:

  1. Friday night, neighbors were ordered to move their cars from Pennsylvania Ave., which runs parallel to the Parkway.  The spots were then promptly taken by concert vendors.
  2. The music was scheduled to begin at 2pm, but Trachtenberg says the blaring sound checks started at 8am. That means the noise, which mayor Nutter said wouldn’t be heard beyond the fabric-lined fences, boomed from 8am to 11pm, nonstop. Trachtenberg says he needed earplugs, four Xanax and two pillows over his ears to get to sleep.
  3. Trachtenberg’s house sits at the corner of Pennsylvania and Judson, a skinny little side street, which became a gigantic urinal for music fans who didn’t attend the concert but wanted to be close to the action.
  4. The concert lights shone all night long, right into neighborhood bedrooms.
  5. The festival ended Sunday night, but the noise hasn’t abated as workers toil around the clock to return the Parkway to normal. Tractor trailers and trucks have destroyed vast swaths of grass the grounds, including patches of Von Colln field, where kids will soon  play fall sports.

“You can ask anyone, I’m not a complainer,” says Trachtenberg, who shells out $10,000 a year to clean the blocks around his Fairmount home and his Northern Liberties company, Tracey Inc., a 107-year-old furniture manufacturer. Over 35 years, that’s $350,000 in free service to the city.

“I believe in the city. I believe in giving back. I'm not a whiner. But this has been a nightmare.”