It's time to vote in the final round of PW's Mayor Madness brackets! To help you decide, we time traveled to the future.
His campaign seemed surprisingly eager to tackle head-on the deepest fringe of Philadelphia’s Internet chatter class: those who’d been banned from Philly.com’s comments section and had to resort to Craigslist’s Rants and Raves. Most notable amongst them: Holocaust-deniers, preppers, pro-lifers and anti-gay zealots.
“When I’m Mayor, April will be officially designated “Punch a Holocaust-Denier in the Face Month,’” Anonymous wrote—and, indeed, after his surprise electoral victory in 2015, an executive order made it just that. Unfortunately for the few punk rockers left in Philadelphia who were cracking their knuckles and ready for an old-fashioned Reagan Youth night out, Holocaust-denying isn’t really alive in most social circles anymore and is very rarely mentioned in public.
Anonymous’ order, while well-intentioned, led to random acts of violence in places where people seemed to care: white neighborhoods. That, combined with a misreading of his band’s 1990 tune, “If You Love Somebody, Set Them On Fire”—an eighth of city residents aged 30-55 remain widowed, according to a recent Pew report—got his mayorship off to a rough start.
It only got worse from there. While Anonymous’ other Twitter proposals sounded common-sense—“people who are preparing for the End of the World will have to do so quietly in their basements”; “not only will abortion continue to be safe & legal, but will also be available via drive-thru”; “not only will same-sex marriage be legal, but homosexuality will be a PE option”—enacting them proved difficult. Several executive orders he attempted to push though were met with lawsuits from special-interest groups on the left and right alike.
“It’s every American’s right to prepare for the end of the world in public,” said John Steinberger, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania ACLU. “I mean, I guess it makes more sense to watch Alex Jones YouTube videos and post on 4chan in private, and probably in a basement, but in any case, we can’t force people to do that.”
The American Family Association of Pennsylvania chained themselves to the Checkers at Broad and Girard when construction began on the building’s new drive-through women’s health center on Aug. 16, 2016.
“Chaining yourself to a building is usually an obvious invitation for pepper spray,” said a police spokesman. “But when we found out the reason, I’ve got to say, officers on the scene shuddered a little. I mean, how does a drive-through abortion even work? We thought it sounded dangerous.”
Still, Anonymous’ tenure seemed to strike a chord with the city’s children. His “I’ve Got Nutrition” program eclipsed the good done by former mayor Michael Nutter’s Get Healthy Philly—and with few casualties.
“While we can’t endorse letting children dodge traffic at Broad and South,” said Dr. Nadia Gupta of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, “well, actually, never mind. We just can’t endorse it. I can’t believe that’s the whole thing. Letting kids run around in the streets and dodge traffic? What the fuck.”
The program was combined with an “I Give a Shit About What I Put Into My Mouth” corner-store initiative, in which local grocery stores replaced hot Cheetos with wasabi peas, a healthier and more uncomfortable option. Several pie charts and graphs were made by city news organizations to show the amount of weight kids lost over the last four years and how long it took kids to eat a bag of wasabi peas compared to a bag of Cheetos.
So is Philadelphia a different place today than when Anonymous came into office? Probably. There’s certainly less love going around, though singles bars and online dating sites have helped pull the city out of the second Great Recession, begun after President Rand Paul tried to put the country back on the gold standard. The housing market is on the rise for the first time since 2016, due to post-fire rebuilding. (PW has learned that several news organizations are preparing graphs to show the housing market rise.)
“I’m just glad we didn’t vote Bill Cosby in,” Anonymous said today. “That guy is fucking nuts.”
Who’d be a better candidate for mayor: Bill Cosby or Rodney Anonymous? Vote online here by Sun., April 7, and the winner will be announced in next week’s issue.