Friday, August 5, 2016


So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

That is the closing paragraph of a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860, describing the famous events of April 18, 1775, when Paul Revere (and William Dawes) road out to warn the colonial army that British troops had landed and were about to march into Massachusetts. Many children know the folklore, with Revere riding through the streets shouting "The British are coming, the British are coming," although certainly events have been embellished over the years.

Most people are unaware of Jonas Cattell. In October 1777, Cattell was arrested for violating curfew in Haddonfield, NJ, and spent a night in jail. The British occupied the town, along with many Hessians, German soldiers employed by the British army. While incarcerated, Jonas overheard Hessian and British soldiers discussing a surprise, early morning attack on Fort Mercer, which sat on the banks of the Delaware River across from Philadelphia, PA. Cattell knew the area well, so upon his release, he ran ten miles along backroads and trails from Haddonfield to Fort Mercer to warn military leaders of the impending attack. He arrived much earlier than the Hessian forces, and due to the advanced warning, the Americans were able to defend the fort despite being outnumber three to one.

Fort Mercer was situated in what is now known as National Park, NJ. The Red Bank Battlefield Park is not a national park, despite the name of the town, but one open for public use and recognized for its historical significance. For those reasons, there are many memorials and landmarks throughout the park, which act as Pokémon GO gyms and PokéStops. Pokémon GO, as you must be aware, is a mobile game which allows players to try and find Pokémon characters in real locations, using GPS in the game. Players can train their Pokémon and battle in gyms, and they can visit PokéStops to get free items. People can also choose to turn PokéStops into lures, which draws out Pokémon to the area, thus making them attractive and popular to individuals playing the game. In other words, it draws a crowd.

There are so many Pokémon GO relevant areas that the park is filled with hundreds of people every weekend. People from all walks of life are outdoors, enjoying nature and interacting with people they may not otherwise and being a part of a semi-organic, unscheduled community event. As with anything popular, there is a backlash against the game, with many people bemoaning people playing the game, as if it is some sort of personal affront. The game doesn't hurt people to play, and it doesn't actually affect you whether people play, so if you feel like typing up some rant, maybe do yourself a favor and step outside and get a breath of fresh air like all the Pokémon GO players who rankle you so. Who knows, you might even be standing next to a Bulbasaur.

  art by dandr0id


Gorilla Bananas said...

I don't pretend to understand this game. It's the idea of Pokémon characters in real locations that befuddles me. Are they hiding under rocks? What if they get bitten by insects? Fresh air is good but beware of pickpockets. I'd like to know how many people playing this game have had their pockets picked.

ChrisV82 said...

The real life interactions are just a myth; the only connection to real life is that the game makes you walk to different locations in order for randomly generated Pokemon to appear. The randomly generated Pokemon do stay in one place for about twenty minutes, and they disappear, to the ether. If a Pokemon vanishes and no one is there to see it, did it ever really exist?