The 312,819th and final Pittsburgher was interviewed today as part of a documentary about the media coverage of the media coverage of Pittsburgh during the recent G-20 conference.
After an interview with documentarian Eric Stoll, Chuck Bridgeman of Brookline and an auto mechanic on Banksville Road said that he was "strangely honored to be the last interviewee".
"I mean, you know, I would have loved to have been interviewed about the Steelers, that's for sure, or even the Pirates, but, you know, I suppose a meta-report on the media is just as good."
When asked why he supposed that he was the last person in Pittsburgh to be interviewed, Chuck responded that his brothers "are the real talkers in the family" and that "he was surprised that he even got a word in edgewise." Both of Chuck's brothers Larry and Bill were interviewed earlier by Vanity Fair on the role of the G-20 in advancing the goals of Western Pennsylvanian cluster development strategies in the medical device industries.
Of the over 300,000 interviews during the course of the G-20, most were generally positive, with the notable exception of a posthumous article written by Norman Mailer for Playboy, in which he called the Mayor "a dink." Mr. Mailer was obviously unavailable for comment on what he ment.
Plans are already underway to cobble together the highlights of these interviews into a musical number, which will be shown repeatedly at the next Allegheny Conference on Community Development annual meeting.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The 312,819th and final Pittsburgher was interviewed today as part of a documentary about the media coverage of the media coverage of Pittsburgh during the recent G-20 conference.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
The Pittsburgh Organizing Group and the Pittsburgh G20 Resistance Group are still looking for a group of protesters that apparently got lost during last Thursday's protest in Lawrenceville.
According to official accounts, after a confrontation with police at Arsenal Park, protesters made their way up 39th Street to Liberty Avenue. While most of the group headed right, towards Downtown, a small number proceeded left towards Bloomfield. Shouts of "You're not supposed to be here," "Go back to where you came from!" and"Dahntahn is over dehr!" from residents were ignored by the lost group of protesters, who denounced them as "tools of the fascist police state."
In the confusion, the lost protesters apparently proceeded up Liberty Avenue, towards Baum Boulevard and Centre Avenue, thence into Larimer, where they broke windows and set fire to homes. Damages to the neighborhood was estimated in the tens of dollars
Organizers from POG and PGRP noticed the missing protesters after they did not show up for a early morning 2PM breakfast. The last sighting of the group had them heading east through Penn Hills, although there have been rumors that they have ended up in Wall.
POG and PGRP have not requested police assistance in locating their missing comrades. Anyone who spots them is asked to Twitter their location to #LostG20.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Go home children.
Because of labor protests, our ancestors -- Pittsburgh's ancestors -- got shot by Pinkerton Guards. That's right: shot. Not yelled at by police, not smoke bombs, not pepper spray, not sound cannons, not tear gas: shot. You know what they wanted? It wasn't the end of a world wide capitalist system, just regular working hours. That's it.
Instead, they got shot at.
There was a group of monks that walked across a bridge today.
There was a group of protesters that dressed up as world leaders in Steeler uniforms.
There was a group of protesters that hung from a bridge yesterday.
For the Earth.
While all spectacles, they harmed no one.
So, you'll have to pardon us if Pittsburgh doesn't have sympathy after you smash our windows and mess up our fair city. We've seen it before; we're not particularly thrilled about what you're doing. Especially, considering we got shot at to allow you to do... whatever it is you think you're doing.
Go home children.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Our intrepid spies have been following the twitterbookfeeds, or something, and have cobbled together a list of tomorrow's pre-G-20 protests:
People Unclear on the Concept Against Teabaggers - 9:00 AM, Grant Street - "Down with James Lipton!"
Pyromaniacs United - 9:30 AM, corner of Frankstown and Larimer Avenues - "Gee, that Looks Flamable"
American Nihilist Association - 10:30 AM, Corner of Forbes Avenue and Boulevard of the Allies - "Give Us Nothing or Give Us Death"
United States Plywood Distributors - 11:00, S. 10th Street - "It would be a Shame if Your Store Windows Got... Broke."
Pittsburgh Downtown Workers - Noon to 2:00PM, Various Locations - "We don't care about Darfur, AIDS, or Bailouts, Just Let us Eat our Bologna Sandwich in Peace!"
Senator Jim Ferlo's Traveling Razzmatazz Circus - 12:15 PM, in the Allegheny Courthouse Courtyard - "We haven't had a protest in 20 minutes"
Pittsburgh Related Dadists (Moo!) - 2:30 PM, in the Macy's Men's Ware Department, Near the Ties Downtown - "I Can't Believe I Said 'BONG!'"
The Bilderberg Group - 4:00 PM, Duquesne Club - "Obey Your Corporate Masters!" (Scotch and Cigars to follow)
Lost G20 Protester Support Group - 5:00 PM, Greyhound Bus Terminal - "Dude! This guy Chad was totally supposed to pick us up."
Local Public Safety Officers - 5:30, Various Locations - "Here Hippie, Hippie, Hippie!"
Monday, September 21, 2009
Pittsburgh English, popularly known as "Pittsburghese," is the dialect of American English spoken in Western Pennsylvania. Many of the sounds and terms are similar to the Midland dialect region or are borrowed from the immigrant populations that came to the region to work in the steel mills, and were a little too nebby for their own good. The dialect is noted for its monophthongization, which, if mentioned, most Pittsburghers will tell you they have no idea what you're talking abaht.
Some key Pittsburgh terms and phrases for visitors:
- Yinz - pronoun -You (plural).Weather
- Slippy - adjective - Slippery
- N'at - "Et cetera"
- Redd up - noun - a completely apolitical clean up of certain neighborhoods that just happen to be linked to prominent Democratic Committee members
- Buggy - noun - a bus
- Jumbo - noun - a Pittsburgh delicacy of couscous and minced cucumber
- Chipped Ham - noun - a newspaper or leaflet
- Blawnox - verb - to become sexually aroused
- Chalfant - noun - a small swimming pool for children
- Wilmerding - noun - a male sexual organ
- Aspinwall - verb - to drink until the point of collapse
- Jeetjet - noun - Oral sex
- Jag off - noun -Dan Onorato
Unlike many places in the country (Vermont excluded) Pittsburgh has five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter, and yuck. Temperatures during the year range from "cold as a witch's teet" to "hot as balls." While spring and fall are known for being pleasant, humidity during the summer months is oppressive enough to make one want to call a domestic abuse counseling agency. When combined with the local topography and the pollutants traveling from up the Ohio Valley, haze and smog have been known to kill people in their sleep, chop up their bodies, store them in the freezer, and assume their identities. On occasion, Pittsburgh does receive significant snowfall during the winter months; by "significant" we mean "enough to make people forget how to drive and turn into bawling children." The season of yuck lasts from late February to early March, and consists of 30 straight days of on and off graying. Residents are encouraged pretend that they are being attacked by Murky Dismal and Lurky from the old Rainbow Brite cartoons, to avoid thoughts of suicide... or, alternatively, go to a bar and "Aspinwall."
Pittsburgh is noted for being relatively free from natural disasters, with the exception of minor floods in low lying areas. In the event of a major flood, people are advised to start building arks and/or praying to Santa Claus.
Because of global climate change, it is expected that Pittsburgh's climate will more closely resemble Alabama's, so... you know, that'll be fun.
Pittsburgh is a City of the Second Class under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and is characterized by a "strong mayor" form of municipal corporation. The City charter provides for a Council of elder statesmen to advise and approve City business, or, alternatively, any combination of people that won't shut the hell up in front of the cameras. There is a two drink minimum at all public meetings, which is strictly enforced.
Pittsburgh's Mayor is Luke Ravenstahl, age 13 1/2, who has campaigned on a platform for the eradication of cooties, official monster-under-the-bed inspections, and getting drunken fights with police officers at football games. During his short tenure, the Mayor has enjoyed riding on the shoulders of Pittsburgh's reemergence to international prominence and ice cream. Mayor Ravenstahl's administration is completely and utterly devoid of any scandals that anyone will admit to in front of a Grand Jury.
The Chief Executive of Allegheny County is Dan Onorato, notable for doing nothing that would inhibit his ability to run for Governor. He can be easily distinguished from an average book by the absence of a spine.
Approximately 130 municipalities surround Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, and exist for reasons that no one can actually explain. Each municipality has its own Mayor, Council, City Manager, Police Force, Firefighters, Dog Catchers, Official Lamp Lighters, and Bureau of Horse Registration. You will know when you've crossed into a new municipality by the change in the condition of the roads.
Also of note is former coroner Cyril Wecht, whose ego is already pissed that it wasn't mentioned earlier in this guide.
* Relationship with Philadelphia:
Despite being in the same Commonwealth, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are separated by 320 miles, which is roughly the same distance as Paris and Amsterdam. Like Paris and Amsterdam, the vast space between "Phillie" and "The 'Burgh" is a cultural backwater; in Pennsylvania it is referred to derisively as "Pennsyltucky", while in Europe it is referred to derisively as "Belgium." If you are visiting Pittsburgh, do not expect to be able to make a day-trip to see "the Liberty Bell," "Constitution Hall," or a winning professional baseball team.
Cultural differences also exist between Pennsylvania's two largest cities. Philadelphia is known for its cheesesteaks, while Pittsburgh is known for its Pirmanti Brothers' sandwiches. Philadelphia is part of the East Coast metroplex; Pittsburgh is more of a mid-west type City. Pittsburghers are known as a friendly, affable people; Philadelphians have been known to throw batteries at Santa Claus.
* Relationship with Cleveland:
* Relationship with Baltimore:
[Ed. Note - Is Baltimore even a city anymore?]
* Best times to visit:
Never visit Pittsburgh the Monday after a Steelers loss.
The City was named by General John Forbes, a Scotsman, who named it after the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, William Pitt... so it's spelled "Pittsburgh" with an "H" at the end, like Edinburgh, (although without the weird Sean Connery inflection). It's not "Pittsburg" or or "Pitsburg" or "Shitsburgh" (if you're a bitch like Sienna Miller). Anybody caught spelling it wrong will be beaten without mercy by old Polish grandmothers as if you've stolen their parking chairs.
And Even More Finally...
While deep down they love their City, Pittsburghers are highly and vocally critical of it, to the point that it seems to an outside observer like they hate it here. That doesn't mean, however, that you're allowed talk trash about our fair City, Mr./Ms. Visitor. So shut your damned pie hole!
I guess I shouldn't be wearing my "I'm from the Government and I'm Here to Help" T-shirt this week. From the Trib:
Hazmat and emergency medical service workers examined two city Public Works employees this morning after a woman made a gesture as if throwing something on them near PNC Park on the North Shore.All things considered, this is pretty much average for local government service. It sure as hell beats public meetings, or being called to the table at Council.
The workers were not injured, they showed no signs of contamination and they have returned to work, police said.
The workers were emptying trash cans on Federal Street about 8:15 a.m. when a woman — wearing a beige head wrap and skirt — walked up to them, police said in a press release.
Her hand was balled up in a fist, police said. She motioned as if she were throwing something on them and opened her hand, police said. The workers did not see anything leave her hand, but they immediately smelled "a foul odor, possibly perfume," police said.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
From the folks at the P-G (with a special h/t to the Blackberry-dextrous Bob Mayo for giving us the blow by blow on this story):
U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster ruled today on a suit against the city regarding G-20 protest activities, saying that the city was within its rights in barring camping and a bridge rally.Judge Lancaster also ruled on several other matters:
The judge said the the group CodePink will be allowed to hold an event at Point State Park from 7 p.m. Sunday to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, tried to convince Judge Lancaster that the city showed favoritism to state Sen. Jim Ferlo and his request to hold a Free Speech Festival at Point State Park. They also sought to have the judge order the city to allow the Thomas Merton Center to march through Downtown and stop on the 7th Street Bridge and rally on Sept. 25, and to allow various groups to camp out overnight in Schenley Park during the week of the G-20 Summit.
*The Pittsburgh Organizing Group will not be allowed to march in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center;No word on whether any of these rulings will be appealed.
*The Allegheny Conference on Community Development is prohibited from using G-20 footage during its annual conference;
*The Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition is required to be more upbeat about starvation and genocide in Sudan;
* The City of Pittsburgh is within its rights to ban PVC piping and other items intended to obstruct a public right-of-way, but it is not within its right to require protesters wear their underwear on the outside of their clothing;
* Protesters are not permitted to camp out in Kennywood park;
* The Beastie Boys may reserve their right to party;
* The Thomas Merton Center is mandated to get its shit together, already.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Here's the nitty-gritty for members of the media, dignitaries, protesters, and assorted anarchists. If you're coming in from out of town, you should be aware of a couple of situations:
First, as much as I like Pittsburgh, there is a strange strain of (let's say) xenophobia about it's populace. It's not so much outright antipathy about outsiders (indeed, we love showing off our City to visitors), it's more that we're really sensitive to criticism about ourselves. Don't get me wrong, criticism of Pittsburgh is the #2 Regional Pastime right after professional football... but it's more self reflection hand wringing than anything. We know our short comings; we know what we have to improve upon. We do not need other people informing us of the particular ways in which we suck.
People have tried to make us "better" in the past. Outsiders who are brought into Pittsburgh to "reform" or "redirect" or whatever, are usually stonewalled until they give up in a huff. Imagine(!) the difference between going to your aunt's house and her saying "oh, my drapes look like shit!" and going to your aunt's house and you saying "oh, your drapes look like shit!". One scenario is going to end up with you getting beaten with her walker and tossed out to the curb.
So, note to G-20 visitors: feel free to enjoy the City, but God help you if you speak in less than glowing terms while you're here.
Second, you're not going to be able to get anywhere. Now, I alluded to this in the humorous portion of the visitors' guide -- that Pittsburgh is a near warren of dead end streets, one way boulevards, and 17 way intersections. That portion is all true and useful for day-to-day visiting. G-20, however, has changed all this.
You out-of-towners who have secured hotels a mere five miles away from the conference center are in for a nasty shock. See, as is often mentioned, Pittsburgh is a City of Bridges, but it's also a City of Tunnels and other choke points. From the South Hills of Pittsburgh there are roughly 7 major ways to get to the other side of the hill and 7 different ways to get to the other side of the river. Considering that one of these routes is the major artery connecting Downtown and the Airport, we're getting prepared for absolute chaos. With the road closures, check points, mobs, etc. we're sort of expecting traffic jams of up to 3 hours long. (If you're from D.C. or L.A., this would be a "minor" traffic jam, but for those of us that are used to 15-30 min. delays, this is going to be a nightmare.)
Third, Pittsburghers are a relatively pleasant lot (unless you happen to be a Cleveland Browns Fan), and we're going to be as helpful as possible. Remember, however, that we are bread from the same stock as those of the Whiskey Rebellion and the Homestead Steel Strike. We don't take kindly to people messing up our City and, dammit, there are still enough burly steelworker-types that will bring the fury if you start to cause trouble or try to move someone's parking chair. Pittsburghers are territorial and we don't like to start trouble, but we'll finish it.
Seriously folks, a couple of beers and even the nicest looking, sweetest little babushka from the South Side will mess you up over a chair. More serious trouble makers will be set upon with the same fury as that reserved for visiting obnoxious Cleveland Browns fans.
Fourth, with that said, we've been told to be on our best behavior. We will not, however, tell you the "secret routes" through the City.
Fifth, the National Media should keep the coverage of Pittsburgh's steel history to a minimum. Yes, it was a big deal. Yes, it impacted the region. Yes, we have a football team named after it. However, it's over. Framing the discussion about Pittsburgh in terms of Steel is for lazy reporters, NFL stock films, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.
So, here's the deal people: we didn't ask for this summit; it was foisted upon us. Don't make us regret it.
Or we'll sic our Polish grandmothers on you.
Pittsburgh City Council is expected to vote tomorrow on a series of security ordinances related to the upcoming G-20 economic summit. Council already has moved to a final vote to strike down an ordinance that would have allowed protesters to watch the 2005 "comedy" Son of The Mask.
"The city of Pittsburgh has been around for 193 years and has survived Ishtar, Glitter and Troll 2, and there is no reason that we need to make outlaws of people with poor taste in movies now." said Councilman Bill Peduto. "The test of cinema doesn't come with movies that are good. The test of cinema comes with movies that suck. This is one of those movies. And boy does this movie test us."
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl proposed the ordinances last month after seeing a late night rerun of the movie on Comedy Central, and then spending the next day in the hospital for nausea.
Councilman Jim Motznik said the Son of the Mask ordinance would have helped T.V., Movie, and Theater critics safeguard people and businesses when thousands of protesters gather Downtown as world leaders meet at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. "Tear gas, rock throwing, and even Molotov cocktails we can deal with, but this movie... it's horrible. A crime of Hollywood. What was Alan Cumming thinking?"
In the sequel to the much more appealing Mask, Jamie Kennedy plays an aspiring cartoonist, who finds himself in a predicament when his dog stumbles upon the mask of Loki. Then after conceiving an infant son, "hilarity" ensues. It won the 2006 Razzie Award for worst remake or sequel.
No word on whether the city will allow any showings of the Ed Wood classic Plan 9 from Outer Space. A final vote is pending.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
[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.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
[Part 1 of the G-20 Visitor's Guide is found here.]
There's an old saying in Pittsburgh: "You can't get there from here." In other Cities this may be a metaphorical expression, but in Pittsburgh it is true. As a visitor to Pittsburgh, you will look at a map, see two streets that intersect and assume that you can turn onto one from another. Or, you may see two roads that run parallel and assume that you can walk from one to another. Or, you may see a road and assume that you can travel its length. These are all myths perpetuated by the evil people at the Rand-McNally corporation. In fact, Pittsburgh roads may be separated by hundreds of vertical feet, an impassibly steep terrain, stairs, or (in one case) a dragon. Therefore, when a Pittsburgher says "You can't get there from here," please believe them.
However, should you be adventurous and decide to ask for directions anywhere, you will need to be aware of the location of "the Old Isaly's," "the Old Alcoa Building," and "the place in the road that goes right, but straightish, and then right again where the gas station isn't there anymore." It is vitally important that you commit these locations to memory, as they will be regularly referenced by Pittsburghers. If you make a wrong turn and get lost, you will forced to settle wherever you run out of gas. [This is actually how the town of Wilmerding was founded.]
If you are still foolish enough to persist in asking for directions, only ask *one* Pittsburgher, as different permutations in directions rise exponentially with every Pittsburgher you ask; asking three Pittsburghers will yield 27 different directions, each of which will be advertised as "fastest," "best," or "most direct." No matter which route you choose, however, it will be under construction.
GPS will not help you, no matter how hard you cry.
* By public transit
The Port Authority of Allegheny County runs a restaurant income redistribution scheme and occasionally a mass-transit service, consisting of buses, light rail, and funicular railways.
Buses run on a regular schedule, except on weekends, holidays, if there's traffic, if there are too many people waiting to board, if the bus breaks down, or if the driver doesn't feel like it. The exception to this is the 54C route, which has no regular schedule whatsoever.
Light Rail transit is quick, clean, comfortable and gets riders to exactly where they didn't really want to go, unless they didn't really want to go anywhere to begin with.
You can pick up schedules for all bus and trolley routes on the vehicles, except for the schedule for the route you're currently riding.
* Zones: Fare varies depending on the zone you are traveling to/from, your weight, height, mother's blood type, and the current phase of the moon.
o Base fare is $2.00 and may be raised without warning.There are two Funicular Railways or "Inclines" that run up the side of Mount Washington to Grandview Avenue and back down to Carson Street. That's it. It'll cost you $2 each way for that. Despite their obvious age, very few people are killed in incline accidents during any given day.
o The Free Fare Zone covers the Downtown core, offering free bus and trolley service to those that are too lazy to walk all of five blocks.
o The Downtowner Zone requires a $1.50 fare and is used by exactly no one.
* By taxi
Taxis are a convenient and reliable way of making it through the City, provided you happen to be staying in the Pittsburgh International Airport's Landside Terminal. Unlike in other cities, cabs cannot be hailed. The best way to stop a cab is to throw yourself in front of it. Licensed cab companies can still be called for rides that will never show up.
Please note that there are several unlicensed or "jitney" cab companies that also cannot be hailed.
* By car
You can't get anywhere by car. Seriously. Don't even try. You will fail.
Pittsburgh has a color coded wayfinder "Belt system" that no one uses, with the exception of High School students seeking to collect signs for elaborate scavenger hunts.
Of particular note is the so-called "Pittsburgh Left." At traffic lights, a driver wishing to turn left will do so as soon as the light turns green, regardless of whether another vehicle has the right-of-way. Drivers will indicate their intention of performing a "Pittsburgh Left" by slowly nudging up prior to the light change and slamming on the gas the instant the light changes. Visitors to Pittsburgh are invited to challenge those performing this manoeuvre at their own peril.
Fear not, however: the best and brightest minds in Pittsburgh are working on new and ingenious ways to develop the 10-way intersection in order to stymie any remaining traffic that isn't doing 15 mph through a tunnel.
* By boat
While Pittsburgh has several miles of Riverfront, nobody travels by boat unless they are hauling coal, drunk on Lite Beer, or Bruce Willis.
* By bicycle
Pittsburgh has an extensive network of biking trails, most of which run along the rivers. Unless you are a particularly suicidal biker, you will stick to the trails as roads are generally narrow and filled with gaping, man eating potholes. Cyclists are advised to weave in between traffic, dart out from parked cars suddenly, and stop without warning.
Given Pittsburgh's topography, certain hills have been known to induce cardiac arrest in bikers cycling uphill and sudden face-pavement fusion in bikers going downhill.
Additionally, be aware that Pittsburgh drivers are let off with a warning if they kill a cyclist.
* By trebuchet
There is a working medieval siege engine on the Carnegie Mellon University campus. Those who wish to make a one-way trip by trebuchet are advised to land on someone fat, which shouldn't be hard.
Things to See...
Pittsburgh is home to many museums devoted to Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh related areas, including the world renowned Pittsburgh Museum of Pittsburgh Museums.
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is noted for it's collection of old fossils, which make up the core of the local Democratic Committee. The Andy Warhol Museum contains the world's largest collection of penis drawings (non-animated) by a single artist and a stuffed dog. If you are interested in the colonial era history of Pittsburgh, be sure to visit the Fort Pitt Museum, which currently closed because of ongoing dick wagging in the State Capital.
The Zelienople Historical Society is also open for those who will be unable to cope with the thrills of The Castle Shannon Historical Museum. [Check out the exhibit on the town's founder Arthur Q. Zelienop, who established the settlement as a tax dodge.]
The Architecture in Pittsburgh is eclectic ranging from Georgian through Richardsonian Romanesque to post-modernism. All of the various forms, however, share a common element -- that of being largely torn town. Of particular note is the early 18th century architecture Downtown, which was torn down after the Great Fire of Pittsburgh and they replaced by 19th century rail yards, which also burnt down and was replaced by 20th century skyscrapers and a highway. Architecture buffs should visit the historic Syria Mosque in Oakland which was also torn down to make way for parking lot.
Particularly repugnant pieces of remaining architecture include the University of Pittsburgh's Hillman Library which looks like a furnace filter and Carnegie Mellon University's Scaife Hall which looks like a discarded potato chip. Visitors are asked to kindly ignore the obviously phallic shape of One Mellon Center. Most of the suburb of Robinson Township should be avoided at all costs.
Approximately 70 miles south of Pittsburgh is Frank Lloyd Wright's modernist masterpiece "Fallingwater," which was built on a dare after drinking three bottles of whiskey. This structure is famous for its long cantilevered terraces, as well as smelling like an old dog after it was caught out in the rain. If you visit, be sure to stay for the Amway presentation at the end of the tour, where you will be parted with any remaining money that you did not spend in the Frank Llyod Wright gift shop.
Pittsburgh was the capital of the "insul-brick" industry in the 1920s, then later the aluminum siding industry, then even later the vinyl siding industry. Remnants of these industries can be seen throughout the various residential neighborhoods.
* Parks and outdoors
Despite its reputation as a smokey City, Pittsburgh enjoys hundreds of acres of parks and green spaces that have been underfunded by either shortfalls in local sales tax allocations or the aforementioned mentioned dick wagging at the State Capital. Pittsburgh's four large city parks are excellent places to bike, jog, walk, or play with yourself in front of bikers, joggers and walkers.
At the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela is Point State Park, which is currently under construction and will be for the foreseeable future, at great cost and unimaginable inconvenience. Visitors to the park can still, however, enjoy the smell of urine along the park outskirts.
Oakland's Schenley Park is notable for being the only City Park in the United States created indirectly by statutory rape.
More Places to Go and Things to Do in the next part...
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Hello and Welcome to the Official G-20 Pittsburgh Visitor's Guide. We hope that you find this guide useful during your stay here or that you plagiarize large segments of it back in your country of origin.
Pittsburgh is a city of about 350,000 people in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region of the United States; the population of the metropolitan area is roughly 2.4 million, although only 350,000 of them are actual "Pittsburghers," with the rest being an unclassified subspecies. If you travel outside of the region, you will also find people that refer to themselves as "Pittsburghers" and show some of the same characteristics of "Pittsburghers" but they are not technically "Pittsburghers" -- they are traitors.
The City is situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, which join to form the Ohio. Of these three, only the Allegheny and Ohio are ever mentioned, because no one can correctly pronounce the word "Monongahela." Best not to even mention the Youghiogheny River.
Pittsburgh has a rich history, a high standard of living, but is reasonably priced. Locals expect the area to be completely ruined by the end of the G-20 conference.
There are four main districts in Pittsburgh: Northside, Southside, East End, and Downtown. People from Northside, Southside and East End are only allowed to visit Downtown, and not the other districts. Crossing bridges, valleys, and hills within these districts is generally frowned upon. Visitors to Pittsburgh must select a District and may not leave until their visit is complete.
Within these districts, there are 90 official neighborhoods with over 50 additional or sub-neighborhoods which everyone knows about and nobody can easily define. There are also 130 additional municipalities that exist immediately outside (and in one case within) the City proper. These can be safely ignored, for all intents and purposes, unless you need to call the police, get trash picked up, or your house is burning down. New municipalities are always forming in the Region and visitors are invited to form their own local government as a recreational activity.
The First people to settle in the Pittsburgh Region were the Lenape Native American tribe, who took the wrong exit off a trail and settled at the "Forks of the Ohio." Their descendants just sort of hung around with nowhere else to go. The region was later re-discovered by the French and then later re-rediscovered by the British, who decided to build a fort, which was determined to be a non-conforming use and was torn down by the French. The French built a larger fort named for the Governor of New France "Fort Duquesne," although his real first name was "Michel-Ange," which was determined to be a little too French, even for them.
In order to advance his own job security, future American General, Statesman and first-President George Washington started the French and Indian war over the control of this fort. This war was later called the "Seven Years War" in Europe, because of superior marketing ability overseas. The British took control of the Fort Duquesne site, renaming it Fort Pitt, and
began expunging proper French pronunciation from the Region. This is why the towns of "Du Bois" and "Versailles" are pronounced as if you've had a stroke.
At some point, steel happened and it defined the Region; then it stopped, which also defined the Region.
Native Pittsburghers are referred to as "Yinzers". A native Pittsburgher is one who has lived his/her entire life in Pittsburgh, and can trace lineage back to some sort of smelting industry or George Washington. "Yinzer" is a colloquial term from the Scots-Irish meaning "Pittsburgher." Yinzers speak a language that closely resembles English, if it were spoken through a long tube while drunk and deaf.
A large number of Pittsburghers come from Eastern European stock, but many African-Americans made their way to the City as part of the great black migration in the early part of the last century. Pittsburgh has no other minority groups to speak of, unless you count Hungarians.
Native garb is generally in the form of a Pittsburgh Steeler's jersey, and is appropriate to wear in all formal or casual occasions. The jersey is usually accompanied by a gold towel with black embossed lettering, which is used as a cerimonial greeting to other Pittsburghers.
Pittsburgh has been called a City of hills and rivers, although this is not true. Geologically speaking, it is a City of *valleys* caused by erosion into the rivers. This is something to consider as you are sliding backwards down a 34% grade in the Beechview neighborhood.
The three rivers in Pittsburgh can be used for recreational purposes or dumping raw sewage. Please note that none of Pittsburgh's Rivers have ever caught fire, a point which you will be repeatedly reminded of if you come from North Eastern Ohio.
There are 1700 bridges in the City and surrounding county; 1650 of them are under construction currently.
* Tourist Information
Tourists are advised to contact the Greater Pittsburgh Visitors and Convention Bureau, unless you speak one of them foreign languages.
* By plane
Currently the USAirways plane to Pittsburgh is delayed in Newark. Plans for a second plane are part of USAirways' bankruptcy proceedings.
* By bus
Greyhound Buslines serves a new, state of the art homeless and pre-op transsexual hooker population. The architecture of this building is noted for its lack of an electronic billboard.
* By car
You will know that you are approaching Pittsburgh from any direction by the sudden increase in potholes. This is a feature of the Greater Pittsburgh Visitors Bureau to get people to slow down and take in the majesty that is Pittsburgh. Also, it is to help raise rental car tax revenue after you break your axle on the Turnpike.
If you come in from the Southwest or East, you will approach a large, dark tube like structure through a hill. This is called a "tunnel." As fascinating as this "tunnel" may be, please do not slow down.
* By train
Trains are available at the Carnegie Science Center. No luggage.
"Getting Around," "Things to See and Do," and other stuff in the next part...
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
OK, if anyone tells you that they know what's going to be going on for the G-20, they're lying. Viz:
City planners for the G-20 summit said today they want city residents, workers and businesses to start planning in earnest for the late September summit, but could not say exactly what to plan for...The Mayor's office, the County Executive's Office, and the Allegheny Conference are all being mum about everything, understandably. Still, in order to keep security at a max, only the "need-to-know" folks are being told about what's going to happen. I doubt that even many in the Mayor's Office are in that "need-to-know" group.
Details on exactly what streets will be closed in Downtown, Oakland and the North Side on Sept. 24 and 25 have not been released, nor has information for those living Downtown near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center....
The only thing that I think that we can assume*, however, is that City government will be pretty much shut down, with only essential personnel showing up:
During the week of the G-20, City Council will move both its Tuesday legislative meeting and its Wednesday standing committee meeting forward by one day, and City Council offices will be closed Sept. 23, 24 and 25 in anticipation of transportation difficulties.Obviously, City Council doesn't fit that "essential" criteria.
* This is a guess. I have no idea what's going on.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
In the P-G, Michael Fuoco posits the question "Could yesterday's traffic jam be a harbinger of G-20 problems?"
The short answer is yes. The long answer is HOLY CRAP ON A CRACKER YES!
If you've tried to get in touch with pretty much anyone on the service side of City government for the last few weeks, you may have noticed that they seem to be rather busy. Almost as if they were distracted by some upcoming, city-wide event. This isn't to say that regular services (pavings, repairs, Redd-up crew, etc.) are being ignored, just that city employees seem to be pulling double duty.
Now, I mention this because public safety has some prep work to do too, but the bulk of their work will come at the end of September. What that "work" actually entails will be pretty much anyone's guess, but will almost assuredly involve some sort of to-be-determined restriction on Downtown. Where and when that will happen is still anyone's guess at this point, but if I had to hazard a guess, one probably won't be able to get north beyond Forbes Avenue, east past Market Square, or west past 16th Street. Unfortunately, there are probably only one or two folks at DPS that actually know these particulars, if that, and the details will definitely not be shared with the general public until right up to the event.
So, I'm predicting that, unless there's a general order to stay the hell home, it's going to be nearly impossible to get in or out of Downtown, except by foot, bike, roller skate, or possibly trebuchet.
(I'd wouldn't go by trebuchet though, considering that Downtown is going to be one massive no fly area, and I'd hate to be intercepted by a couple of F-10s.)
And that's just the *security* restrictions; it doesn't include organized (and unorganized) street protests that may also restrict movement in the rest of Downtown.
If there is a bright spot out of all of this it's that because of Pittsburgh's odd geography, it's going to be really easy for people in places like Troy Hill, Beltzhoover, or Elliot to sucker out-of-town hippie protesters into renting rooms that are "only a mile away" from Downtown.
Of course, the last thing I need on my commute that week is tailgating a bunch of lost hippies carrying giant paper maché puppets.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Pittsburgh sure has a lot of high points from which one could surreptitiously hang a giant banner, visible to the entire city.
$10 says that come late September there's a big sign on Mt. Washington that advocates the freeing of Tibet, or something.
Monday, July 27, 2009
OK, so after not being able to get back to work this afternoon because of a blood pressure cuff, I got to worrying about the upcoming G-20 thingamagigger and counter-thingamagigger.
Now, having been a veteran of more than one protest in the past, I know that the vast majority of these things are populated by peaceful (if upset) people. Granted, a lot of them can be loud, smelly, and reeking vaguely of patchouli, but they're generally non-violent puppet loving folk.
Then there's the minority. Call them anarchists. Call them thugs. Call them whatever, there's a small number of people that take joy out of causing chaos and disorder, like that little old woman that calls bingo even when she knows she doesn't have bingo just to piss off everyone else in the hall. These are the folks you see getting blasted with water cannons, I would assume. Unless, of course, you get a police battalion that doesn't like puppets.
Fortunately for us, Downtown Pittsburgh is relatively isolated, so crowd control will probably be as easy (ha!) as shutting down the bridges and isolating Penn, Liberty, Centre, and Second Avenues. Those kinds of logistics seem to be under control.
But, that being said, with all the construction going on Downtown (including the nearby African-American cultural center and the secret tunnel from the North Shore to Gateway Center), there are a lot of opportunities for hooligans to find bricks, pipes, and other construction machinery to cause problems. We need to be locking up or otherwise securing anything that could possibly be an instrument of violence.
And, of course, this doesn't begin to address the thousands that are going to be descending upon the City for those two days, where they will sleep, where they will eat, where they will drink, and what they may set first to when they've had enough to drink.
Perhaps I'm overreacting, but our response to a false alarm at the City-County building is a test of how we're going to respond to any trouble at the G-20 and I don't know if we're ready yet.
Is there anyway we can set up a remote Downtown for those two days in, say, East Liberty?