Archive for the ‘Pittsburgh Arts and Culture’ Category

I was out to dinner the other day when I saw a suspiciously familiar image pasted to the door of the eating establishment. I scoped it out on the internet and found the Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau website, trumpeting their signature image for 2009:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no?


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PGHSometimes, it takes fresh eyes to see something obvious. Like when Mr. TR’s friend VO, who drove up in the UHaul with the hubby, asked if Pittsburghers get issued the Steelers, OBX, and Sunoco stickers when we buy a car, or if we have to wait until we get the title.


But he’s right, there’s a small trifecta of pretty standard bumper stickers in Pittsburgh that might not mean anything to outsiders – and sometimes barely mean anything to me!

First – sports. This is pretty self explanatory. Some form of logo for the Steelers, Bucs, or Pens is de rigeur – my Steelers sticker graces the car I purchased in Texas and has never yet been in Pittsburgh.






penguins logo

Second, OBX. This one is probably pretty obscure if you’re not from the east coast. If you live anywhere in the eastern third of the U.S., especially the land-locked, cold Great Lakes and Appalachian areas, “OBX” calls to mind warm sandy beaches and idyllic lighthouses. Considering the Outer Banks are the nicest vacation spot within easy driving distance of Pittsburgh, it’s no surprise how many people advertise on their cars that they like to go there:


And finally, we come to the one that stumped me. Honestly, I never even noticed that probably a quarter of the cars in the ‘Burgh have a Sunoco sticker plastered on them. Or if I noticed, I never really thought about it. There’s a GetGo and a Shell station in my neighborhood that both generally had cheaper gas, so I rarely went into Sunoco, and I don’t listen to enough radio to know about the long-since-ended contest in which Sunoco planned to give away a few thousand bucks’ worth of gas to someone sporting their sticker:


So, how ’bout it? Be honest – what’s on your car?

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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 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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