[Part 1 of the G-20 Visitor's Guide is found here and Part 2 is found here.]
Things to Do in Pittsburgh...
The City of Pittsburgh is home to two world class professional sports teams and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Levels of devotion to the Six-time Superbowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers is nearly unrivaled in other markets, with fans signing up their children at birth for the wait list for season tickets. Football fandom is taken seriously in Pittsburgh, and visitors are routinely randomly quized about their knowledge of the nickle and dime defenses. Pittsburgh is also home to the current Stanley Cup Holding Pittsburgh Penguins, who are currently building a new arena despite the best efforts of local politicians to help them. Back closer to the Steeler's stadium, is a fabulous baseball stadium, PNC Park, which has sat unused by a major league team since its' construction in the early 2000s, with the exception of one All-Star game.
The University of Pittsburgh also boasts two highly ranked football and basketball programs, both of which have better baseball record than the Pirates.
* Arts and music
The Pittsburgh music scene is dominated by one man -- Donnie Iris. Rumors abound that Donnie Iris rocks so hard, that concert goers regularly leave missing hats, jewelry, and their faces. That's right: Donnie Iris has been known to rock people's faces off. Other, minor acts such as The Clarks, Rusted Root, or the Mellon Jazz Festival are allowed to perform with Donnie's permission.
The Downtown Cultural District is home to terrific live music and other performances attended by people who otherwise wouldn't otherwise dare to set foot in the City.
Other up and coming neighborhood arts districts along Butler Street in Lawrenceville and Penn Avenue in Garfield-Friendship, smell vaguely of patchouli, but are worth a visit if you want to get mugged while watching women with phalluses glued to their foreheads mud wrestle.
Also along Penn Avenue is the Pittsburgh Glass Center, which if you break, you buy.
Pittsburgh holds a number of arts and cultural festivals, including the Three Rivers Arts Festival and Anthro-con.
* Outdoor activities
A particularly enjoyable activity for visitors to Pittsburgh is to stop any one of the denser, more compact neighborhoods and try to move chairs, traffic cones, and other objects from the street outside residences. This must be done quickly as, if the owner of the chair/traffic cone/other object sees you, he or she can either challenge you to fisticuffs or a race through the neighborhood. If you win, you get the right to park your car in the space previously vacated by the chair/traffic cone/other object; if you lose, the owner gets the right to pummel your car with a tire iron.
Several walking tours of Downtown and Oakland are available for people that wish to explore the area on foot. A Segway tour is also available for people that wish to look like pretentious douches.
Just Ducky Tours will verbally assault pedestrians with malicious quacking.
Learning in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is home to two world renowned Universities -- Carnegie Mellon University (formerly Carnegie Tech) and The University of Pittsburgh (formerly Dan Marino's All-You-Can-Eat Chicken Buffet). The Region is also home to several lesser renowned universities and at least one who's graduates barely have the intellectual capacity to drool all over themselves.
Student housing in Oakland has been compared favorably to the slums of Mumbai, while student rents are responsible for 98% of the bail money for slum landlords.
Working in Pittsburgh
Despite it's low unemployment rate compared to the national average, there are no jobs for you in Pittsburgh. So stop asking.
Shopping in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh's popular shopping districts include
- The South Side - Shopping for young, hip urbanites
- Shadyside - Shopping for older, ironically hip urbanites
- Squirrel Hill - Shopping for Jewish, hip urbanites
- Downtown - Shopping for urbanites that need hip replacements
Each of these shopping Districts looks down on the previous.
Also of note is Pittsburgh's Strip District, where on any given day shoppers can find everything from fried fish entrails to cardboard cutouts of Jerome Bettis.
Most of the suburban shopping malls have solved their zombie problem.
Eating in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh cuisine has been honed after many generations of research and testing to a point where it can kill you. By "kill you," we don't mean in a Jack Nicholson/The Shining kind of way, but more a Kathy Bates/Misery way: long, drawn out and filled with painful suffering, and possibly broken legs. Ordering a "Pittsburgh Salad" (complete with chicken, french fries, cheese, and ranch dressing) is akin to running with the bulls in Pamplona with a big red sign on your back saying "Gore Me!".
Polish cuisine, a popular favorite which includes pierogis (potato dumplings in butter and onions), haluski (cabbage in butter and onions), and kielbasa, is thought to have been developed 70 years ago as revenge against the local German population for starting WWII; several Polish chefs in Pittsburgh were indicted on culinary war crimes, before they all dropped dead of massive coronaries. According to local legends, this is why the Allegheny River separates Polish Hill from Deustchtown.
Primanti Brother's sandwiches have gained notoriety as being an "authentic Pittsburgh sandwich" and are served with coleslaw and french fries on white bread. Under no circumstances are patrons permitted to order a sandwich without coleslaw and french fries or on a different type of bread; local health code ordinances have been amended to allow for a small percentage of blood to be spilled in these restaurants over such matters.
If you are in need of a light snack, order the large fries at the "Original Hot Dog Shop" in Oakland. If you are there after 1 AM, stay for the nightly drunk knife fights.
Of particular sacra-liciousness is The Church Brew Works in the imposing former St. John the What-The-Hell-Was-I-Drinking-Last-Night Catholic Church. For those that do not wish to piss off Jesus, please note that the structure has been desanctified, and you're probably going to hell anyway, so drink up.
Pittsburgh neighborhoods are full of local Mom & Pop style restaurants, which will berate you for not visiting or calling more often, tell you to eat because you're all skin and bones, let you know how well your cousin Maury is doing up in Brooklyn, and nag you to get married and make some grandchildren already.
More pedestrian fare can be found in outlying suburban mini-malls, for those that enjoy hot dogs in their macaroni and cheese.
In complete defiance of his own preventative health care proposals, President Barack Obama has expressed a particular affinity to the pancakes at Pamela's in the Strip District. These pancakes will also kill you.
Drinking in Pittsburgh
Drinking in Pittsburgh is a serious past-time. Originally developed during the heyday of the steel industry by researchers at Carnegie Tech, drinking has become integral to the regional "Eds & Meds" economic cluster strategy, by providing binging opportunities for students and drunk driving organ harvesting opportunities for doctors. Visitors to Pittsburgh are legally required to do a shot every time they cross a bridge. Vomit receptacles are available along every wall, gutter, mailbox, or shrubbery in the South Side.
Amateur drunks are recommended to go to the South Side, Oakland, or Shadyside while professional drunks are recommended to go to Homestead, Sheraden, or Carrick. Most bars are now smoke free, so you can concentrate on ruining your liver and brain instead of your lungs and you can be free to enjoy the dank.
Pittsburgh is famous for its beers that are no longer brewed here, including Iron City and Rolling Rock. Visitors are advised that Monongahela River water is an acceptable substitute for both. Tastier beer can be found at the Penn Brewery, which is also closed. There are also several other microbreweries in and around the City, with various degrees of pretentiousness from "hipster douchebag" to "tenured professor".
Pennsylvania operates under arcane liquor control laws that prohibit the selling of alcohol any places convenient or logical. Beer can be purchased by six-packs in bars or by 24-packs in beer distribution stores, as PA State law requires drinkers to be slightly buzzed or passed out, on the floor drunk. Wine and liquor cannot be bought under any circumstances as, according to the liquor control board, this causes the drink to "go bad."
In Pittsburgh, as in nearly all States, the drinking age is 21, unless it's St. Patrick's Day, Oktoberfest, Steelers' Sunday, a wedding, a funeral, or an exceptionally dank bar.
When drinking, a traditional Pittsburgh toast suitable for all occasions is "Fuck Dan Onorato!" and then spitting on the floor.
Hotels and Lodging
Downtown goes to sleep at approximately 6 PM on weekdays, but on weekends it stays up to the wild hour of 7 PM. Unfortunately, during the G-20 conference all of the Downtown Hotels are booked for world leaders, with the exception of the Indian Prime Minister, who is crashing on some dude's couch in Lawrenceville.
The Northshore Riverfront park is available for camping until the police come to kick in your skull.
While Pittsburgh has its share of urban crime, it is generally considered to be one of the safest cities in the United States. Visitors are warned, however, to avoid "Cleveland Browns" regalia and black people.
Coping with Pittsburgh
Since the introduction of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's "PG+" online news service, there are no longer any newspapers of record in the region. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review company does publish a bird cage lining product on which one can sometimes make out outlines of crude, primitive (albeit spiteful) facts. In a pinch, the back sections of the Pittsburgh City Paper can be used as porn.
Pittsburgh is home to world class hospitals and other medical facilities. If you are in need of urgent medical care, please stagger into an office building in Oakland, as there's a greater than 50% chance that it is owned by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
More miscellaneous miscellany in part four... maybe... if we get around to it.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
[Part 1 of the G-20 Visitor's Guide is found here and Part 2 is found here.]