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Archive for March, 2009

So, what’s up with you?

So. 

I hope you’re doing well.

Mr. TR drove away today with our pets and all our stuff. Goodbye pets. Goodbye stuff. Goodbye husband.

Hello rented room.

And I thought I was ready to get back to Pittsburgh before? That was nothin’.

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Hi neighbors

Today is Fred Rogers’ birthday. Or Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Day, a day to honor Mr. Rogers conceived by his foundation, Family Communications, to carry on his spirit of human-to-human caring.

I don’t have a Mr. Rogers story of my own, other than all the happy hours I spent as a child watching him invite children all over the country to be good people, believe in themselves, and be his neighbor. But a friend of mine used to work on the hospital ward where Fred Rogers spent some of his last days. She told me that when staff – nurses, dieticians, orderlies – came in to take care of him, he would talk to them and comfort them. He would comfort them, because they were sad that Mr. Rogers was dying.

Fred Rogers didn’t just have a gift, he was a gift. Please pass on his legacy through your own actions, today and every day. Thank you.

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Save Our… Products

 

(old publicity photo I saved from some news outlet)

(old publicity photo I saved from some news outlet)

 

If I could have one Pittsburgh-related wish (okay, provided the city’s financial woes were taken care of and the mayor were de-attention-whore-ed and the Bucs had a winning season…), it would be to bring back the Iron City aluminum bottle. Those were awesome.

I know a smart engineering student at Bucknell University technically proved that beer doesn’t really stay colder longer in the aluminum bottle, but it was just so unique and different that I loved it. And now Budweiser has an aluminum bottle and we don’t and Budweiser looks cutting edge and Iron City just looks bankrupt (when only one of those is actually true).

We have displayed two aluminum bottles in our kitchen window here in Oz-tin for 3 years, and now that we’re packing up I’ve taken them down and boxed them up. I had forgotten that we nostalgically labeled them with the occasion on which we drank them:

img_0444

Nice.

Plus, call me crazy, but I really rather liked the Save Our City campaign that accompanied the launch of the bottle. I know it was ill-fated and silly and shame on Pittsburgh Brewing Company (may it rest in peace) for launching a concept aimed at revitalizing the city and increasing reliance on local products when they couldn’t even pay their water bill, but there are already more than enough people to point out what Pittsburgh and its ancestral industries are doing wrong.

When the Save Our City billboards went up in fall 2004 before the aluminum bottle was launched, Professor Madison at Pittsblog 1.0 ripped them apart, and rightly so I guess. But it’s never been my style to join that chorus – not just since I started blogging but ever. I don’t really have it in me to be deep-down cynical about Pittsburgh. Not that I can’t smell the crap – the flowers just smell stronger. So anyway, I felt that the Save Our City campaign had its heart in the right place and it resonated with me. I even bought a t-shirt.

It still could do us some good to remember what it was all about. From a 2004 PG article about the aluminum bottle:

On the back of the bottle is a “Save Our City” message from [former Pittsburgh Brewing Company Vice Chairman Joseph] Piccirilli. It’s part of an advertising campaign sponsored by the brewery aimed at generating ideas for reviving Pittsburgh, which faces a budget crisis and other tough issues. 

The aluminum bottle was gimmicky, but it was cool and clever and it was manufactured in the region, proving that even if the old brewery had the business sense of a Blow-Pop it was always willing to put its money where its mouth – and its family – was. If we want to Save Our City, we’d do well to keep that spirit in mind. 

And I swear it really did keep my beer colder.

img_0443

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So, here’s where I show that I am definitely, definitely not a tech/media person.

I’m bracing myself for SXSW (South by Southwest, for the uninitiated). The movies! The music! The meeting of great media minds! The huge crowds of really cool people clogging my streets, my work, my restaurants, my bars! I know, I know, SXSW is the epicenter of all that is fresh and awesome, but it’s also a tourism nightmare for an everyday girl just trying to get to work downtown on time. Even the media juggernaut itself seems a little conflicted about its gravitational pull – Canada’s National Post called SXSW a “massive, unavoidable media beast,” a quote which is prominently posted at the top of SXSW’s website. So I think I can be forgiven for my total, complete, utter lack of interest in anything about the media festival except when it will be over.

My first spring in Texas, I took a week off and walked the streets downtown during the SXSW Music Festival. It was grand, and I highly recommend doing it once in your life provided you do not hate crowds of hipsters and aren’t afraid of running into some famous people you idolize. Even if you are, like me, it is definitely an experience you should have once. Note how I keep emphasizing once. I’ve actually even had this experience twice, but once was as a tourist when I was in college and didn’t hate crowds and was a hipster so it hardly seems to count.

So anyway, I’ve had my SXSW experience. I know that it would be good for Pittsburgh if it were a tourism giant and brought people in huge droves for style-making events like SXSW, but for the people who actually live there, I like that its forward-thinking ways remain a well-kept secret. And as for the music, you’ve got the Steel City Blues Festival – just right.

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I know there are hundreds of thousands of pictures of exactly this. We’ve seen them before, on postcards, tourist brochures, books, everywhere. But you can never look at it too much, can you?

d4n_1096s

d4n_1152s

Second most beautiful place? Don’t be silly.

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I thought people who worked for theaters knew something about theater. Or at least that they could use Wikipedia. Perhaps I am asking too much.

The City Theatre is currently running their production of August Wilson’s Fences, and Mrs. PF and I cannot wait to get a chance to go. I was perusing the theater’s website when I ran across their blurb on the play and its author. Which included this sentence:

Wilson died in 2005 in his hometown of Seattle.

Um, seriously? 

I don’t wish to seem too demanding here, but considering that Fences is part of a ten-play magnum opus known as “The Pittsburgh Cycle,” that seems like a good starting place for a thumbnail biography of August Wilson, whose upbringing in the Hill District informed his entire body of work. No, he did not live his entire life in Pittsburgh, but his creative connection to it continued throughout his life and career – he founded the Kuntu Writers’ Workshop which is still active at Pitt today, he served on the Pitt Board of Trustees, and he is buried at Greenwood Cemetery. 

Of all the 20th Century artists who should rightly be identified with Pittsburgh, August Wilson is up at the top of the list with Andy Warhol. 

So I wrote a letter (of the electronic variety, I don’t know that anybody even opens real mail):

Hello there,

I was reading the information posted on your website about August Wilson’s Fences, and I came across this sentence: “Wilson died in 2005 in his hometown of Seattle.” I feel that it is important to clarify that while Wilson lived in Seattle for the last 10 years of his life, his hometown was Pittsburgh, PA. His incredible 10 play cycle is known as “The Pittsburgh Cycle” and all but 1 of the 10 plays is set in the neighborhood where he grew up, Pittsburgh’s Hill District. He educated himself in Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library, he holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, and he is buried in Pittsburgh. It seems a small thing, but Wilson’s life and heritage in Pittsburgh were vital parts of his creative identity, and the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning Fences could only exist in that setting, so I felt it was important to point out.

Thank you,
Dorothee Trois-Rivieres

I hate to be That Person that writes letters for every little thing, but that seemed quite a significant mischaracterization to me. So fast-forward a couple days, and I get a nice e-mail from someone at the theater acknowledging Wilson’s Pittsburgh identity and stating that the information on the website would be changed accordingly.

I checked back today, eager to see what information about August Wilson’s background had been included in their synopsis – or even that they had noted the setting of Fences, which was left out of the original description of the play. And a change had indeed been made:

Wilson died in 2005 in Seattle where he spent the last ten years of his life.

Takes. The. Cake.

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Proof

Just in case you’ve been yearning for visual proof that I hung out on the deck at the Grandview the first week in March:

mmm-beer

Also, I apologize for not being around so much since I’ve been back in Oz-tin. Truth be told, I’m a little melancholy and a lot distracted. Ya see, turns out Mr. TR’s job will be starting significantly earlier than mine, like months. So we’re packing up the house so he can move away. Not a pleasant prospect – my favorite person in my favorite place, while I’m still stuck in traffic on I-35. 

Bah.

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