A bridge over troubled columnist Protecting our most Forbidden Drive a concrete idea

Local Life December 8, 2010 0 Comments

A bridge over troubled columnist Protecting our most Forbidden Drive a concrete idea

Our award-winning columnist (He won “Best Story of the Year” from the Concrete Makers of America) was nearly killed last week serving the public. This dedicated humanitarian who rarely even asks for a paycheck was felled by a falling piece of right-wing concrete. (He is recovering in the Dwight Evans Mental Health Sanitarium, courtesy of generous Philadelphia taxpayers.)——Photo by Z. Schulz

by Jim Harris
I recently saw that the Streets Department had closed Forbidden Drive under the Walnut Lane Bridge following an inspection indicating that architectural concrete may be falling from the structure.

I immediately thought about the many talented graffiti artists who work tirelessly under that bridge — people like “JUCE,” “KRABBO” and “BFZX413” — painting their colorful, elaborate logos on the buttresses. I feared they might be injured by falling debris.

I figured that the city had precious little budget for bridge repairs, so I began working on the following ideas to help them raise the money required:

•Blow up the bridge and sell tickets to watch. This event could draw even more spectators than the Oak Lane Jazz Festival. (That wouldn’t be hard.) Afterwards, the city could sell numbered pieces of the bridge as souvenirs. All of the money raised could go towards building a new, cheaper bridge,

•Produce a new TV reality show, “Valley of the Trolls,” about a family of average American trolls living under the bridge whose lives are hilariously complicated by randomly falling slabs of concrete. Profits from the show could be used for repairs.

•Commission the conceptual artist Christo to create a giant multicolored “diaper” to hang under the bridge and catch the falling pieces of concrete. The Depends adult-diaper manufacturer could sponsor the event in return for a giant “Depends” logo on the diaper.

•Ask the government marksmen who annually shoot the Wissahickon Park deer to shoot off loose pieces of cement from the bridge. If they’re lucky, a few slabs might even fall on some deer, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. This will certainly please the so-called “Friends of the Wissahickon.”

•Call in a psychic “bridge whisperer” to communicate with the bridge and find out when it’s planning to let loose its next hail of cement.

•Have some plus-sized contestants from “The Biggest Loser” TV show jump up and down on top of the bridge during off-peak hours to shake off the loose pieces of concrete while pedestrian traffic on Forbidden Drive is light.

•Have the Army invade the Wissahickon Valley. This always insures the building of new infrastructure by Dick Cheney’s buddies at Haliburton.

Jim Harris, in his never-ending efforts to protect the pedestrian public, had no choice but to walk past these barriers under Walnut Lane Bridge on Forbidden Drive and look for evidence of falling debris. (Photo by Jim Harris)

If none of the above ideas pan out, they could just close the bridge permanently and cut off all travel between Germantown and Roxborough. I’m sure there are factions on both sides of the creek who would find this desirable. One hundred years from now, anthropologists would discover that two entirely different cultures had evolved on either side. Oh wait, that’s the situation already.

Anyway, being the hard-hitting, hands-on reporter that I am, I decided to go down to Forbidden Drive under the bridge to see the situation for myself. I parked at the Walnut Lane Golf Course and walked down the steep hill to the main trail. Once there, I saw Streets Department barriers but no signs indicating any potential danger. Of the few people who came along while I was there, all of them ignored the barriers and walked right through.

I was busy jotting down some notes on my official “Jimmy Olsen Junior Reporter’s Notepad” when I heard a whistling sound from above. When I regained consciousness, I found that I was helplessly pinned under a heavy concrete slab. I scrawled the word “HELP” on my notepad, hoping that a passing traffic helicopter might spot it and come to my aid, but at least 20 minutes went by with no sign of rescue.

I was just about to gnaw off my own arm to escape when a couple of bird-watching Girl Scouts came by and pulled the massive monolith off of me in about three seconds. To Ashley and Kaitlyn, thank you girls, for saving me from a fate worse than death. I can’t discuss the incident any further now, because I’m in the process of suing the city for $2 billion, but just between you and me, I’d settle for 50 bucks and a good seat at the Mummers Parade. (But don’t tell the city’s lawyers I said that.)

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