Sunday, September 21, 2014
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Solomon rebels against Made In America

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Members of the front row at the Rocky Stage pose with their Kanye West masks Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, at Made in America concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
Members of the front row at the Rocky Stage pose with their Kanye West masks Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, at Made in America concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael Bryant

IF THIS weekend's Made In America festival proved one thing, it showed that not much is made in America anymore.

We used to make steel, cars, clothing and shoes. Now all we make are cat videos and people. And among those people, the only ones who count are the ones who sing, rap or dance in a way that may or may not be deemed bootylicious.

It's an ugly reality, but Philadelphia is the perfect place to showcase that truth, because the greatest thing about Philadelphia is our people. Philadelphians are real. Philadelphians are tough. Philadelphians can stand for eight hours on the Parkway, cheer through an entire concert and spend the next 24 hours complaining about the experience.

You know why? Because Philadelphians are real Americans. We have a lot, but we're never satisfied.

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  • That's why I don't get the concert organizers' decision to put Philadelphians on the back burner. Neither Made In America kingpin, Jay Z, nor his wife, Beyoncé, were officially on the bill, which makes me think they treated us like second-class citizens.

    Oh, sure, we got to show off some of Philly's indie bands. We got to see Pharrell Williams sing "Happy" for the millionth time. We got Kanye West and his, um . . . eccentric behavior. But we also got Grimes and Spoon and other folks with similarly odd names. And even though they gave us three stages on the Parkway and threw in a skate park to boot, I'm angry.

    Why? Because you can't give Philly a concert, tell us it's ours, and then expand it to Los Angeles. We hate Los Angeles, and not just because the Lakers stole Wilt Chamberlain in one generation and Kobe Bryant in the next. We hate L.A. because they just don't represent America like we do, and in truth, they never have.

    We were America before the first West Coast phony donned a spray tan. We were America before the first smog particle landed on the Hollywood sign. Before Beverly Hills was a zip code or Disneyland was a theme park, Philly was here suffering through the winter of 1776.

    Philadelphia was not just made in America, my friend. America was made in Philadelphia.

    Unlike those clowns in L.A., Philadelphians can't afford plastic surgery, which explains why we look the way we do. We can't afford trendy cars, either. That's why we've got blisters on our feet. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we can't pay nannies to watch our kids, so we do parenting the old fashioned way. We scream our way through it.

    That penchant for old-school parenting is what makes us the perfect picture of America. It is our kids, after all, that show us what America is about.

    Kids are like the most feared American institution - the Internal Revenue Service. They take your money before you ever see it, and if you don't give them enough cash to feed their ravenous appetite, you just might find yourself in jail.

    Not only that. Kids are like those American symbols of democracy - politicians. And just like savvy statesmen, they can play both sides of the aisle. They can be tax-and-spend liberals, gobbling up your paycheck with their incessant need for new programs. Or they can be the kind of small-government conservatives that manage to cut everything but their own paychecks.

    If you need more proof that children are the best illustration of America, watch them do chores.

    Why? Because kids are like union workers who've benefitted from one too many fat contracts. They do 30 minutes of break time for every 15 minutes of work. They expect a hefty benefit package even before their trial period is over. And, perhaps worst of all, they want an all-inclusive vacation package that's paid for by the employer. In case you don't know who the employer is, dear parent, it's you.

    Parents in Philadelphia know these things because we are living in the real America. It's a place where there are no tummy tucks or facelifts, no rap stars on the Parkway, and no indie bands playing music we've never heard of.

    Our Made In America moment happened the minute we brought our offspring home from the hospital. That's when we began living the American dream in ways they just don't get in L.A. So, if Jay Z knows what's best for his Made In America series, he'll keep Philadelphia front and center next year, and stop giving our spotlight to L.A.

     


    Solomon Jones is now the morning host on WURD 900 AM Radio from 7 to 9 a.m.

    Solomon Jones
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