For some reason, this weekend I picked up a lot of static about Pittsburgh. It had nothing to do with football, either – I get a lot of Steeler hatin’ around here, and that I can brush off with a little trash talk. I minored in trash talk in college.
No, this was hatin’ on Pittsburgh itself, and it came at a time when I was enjoying some of the lovin’ the ‘Burgh has been getting from the wider world, including this love letter from Cleveland that Jim R. was kind enough to hook me up with. Like a cold shower, ’twas.
First, a coworker of Mr. TR regaled him with the woes of his nephew who had moved to Pittsburgh and was having trouble adjusting. Apparently he couldn’t find the “excitement and vitality” of Austin up ‘ere, and he couldn’t seem to unearth any young, well-educated, forward-thinking people to befriend. The coworker then added a helpful analysis of Mr. TR and me – that we just aren’t into “culture,” so that’s why we can tolerate Pittsburgh.
Hmph. I’ve always felt a bit of “An insult to Pittsburgh is an insult to me” self-righteousness, but I’m not used to actually getting insulted along with my hometown. We refuted all spurious claims, but there was really no point. If all our stories about what’s good and right about the ‘Burgh just beaded up and rolled off like rain on a tent fly of misconceptions, then what’s the use of protesting? And if we look like a couple of undereducated bumpkins just because we choose to conduct our professional careers, rich cultural life, and stimulating social interactions in Western Pennsylvania, well then fine.
Then we go out to dinner with the PF’s and some friends of Mrs. PF, where I spent the better part of forty minutes defending my decision to return to Pittsburgh to a Texan whose only understanding of anything North of Mason-Dixon is that it’s cold. I’ve never heard such fixation on the weather.
I was still exhausted from trying to explain that we are meant to undergo a cycling of seasons as part of the human experience when we sat down for dinner and Mr. TR and Mr. PF began discussing a recent installment of Colin Cowherd’s program on ESPN radio. Mr. Cowherd was opining on Major League Baseball, and he asserted that both Florida teams, the Royals, and the Pirates should be contracted.
Um, what? The team of Honus Wagner and Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell should cease to exist because we have crappy ownership? I don’t even know where to start with that. Except to say that what baseball really needs is a good long strike after the current collective bargaining agreement expires, followed by salary capping. But W.E.
Anyway. My point is that for all Pittsburgh’s effort to catch our national image up to our reality, we’re not getting very far. All that good press we’re trying to send out seems to just keep coming back to us. We’re loving Pittsburgh more and more, and everyone else is still seeing it as cold, boring, uneducated, and unnecessary.