Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nope, it was the Pope.

Earlier this afternoon I was walking up Lexington Avenue, headed for the F train station on 63rd Street, and I found my route completely blocked by cop cars and barricades. "Fuck," I thought. "The goddamn Pope."

I was about to turn around and take a different train when I saw some motorcycles approaching - clearly the beginning of a motorcade. If he was just passing by then presumably the street would open as soon as he was through, so I decided to wait. It might be kind of neat to see the Popemobile anyway.

But there was no funny bubble car, just the usual array of black cars, cops and ambulances. People cheered when a car with some flags on it went by, at which point I doubted that this was the Pope at all, and wondered if it was some other dignitary on the way to Yankee Stadium to see the Pope. But someone in the crowd confirmed my original guess.

And also as I'd guessed, as soon as the motorcade passed, which only took a few seconds, the crowd dispersed and the barricades were moved, no big inconvenience to me (how rare!). But I was sort of amazed that all these people had stood there waiting. To see what? Many of them seemed very pleased with themselves afterwards. Why? Anyone could have been in that car. Does a papal drive-by make you closer to god somehow? I just completely missed the point. Not of the Pope, or of seeing him, but of seeing his car. Religion aside it's like a certain level of celebrity-worship that I just don't get at all. There are people I'd love to meet, or see perform (deliver mass, same thing), or sit near at a restaurant, but "Oooh, there goes his cab?" I don't get it.