From meh to BAM!


My opinion on Russell Crowe has never been a very strong one.

My first recollection of his presence on Earth might have been that one movie where he was nakedish for quite a bit of it. I remember arms. I think he died in it?  I don’t know. Meh or whatever.

Then I saw him in A Beautiful Mind and he played the role so brilliantly that I don’t really remember much about Russell Crowe, but I remember everything about the man he portrayed.

Then he like whipped a phone at Naomi Campbell’s head or something?  Wait. No. Maybe both he and Naomi Campbell whipped separate phones at separate people and in separate phone-whipping incidents?  Or something? Meh.  Throwing phones is stupid unless you’re throwing them at pigeons, then my God, I hope there’s an app for that.

But now that Russell Crowe has been a guest of Pittsburgh’s for a bit, and has yet to have been found to call us Shitsburghers and has yet to whip a phone at any Burgher’s head and has gone on the news channels to say how much he digs the city, that’s well and good.  It’s easy to be kind in front of the camera.  And despite what Sienna Miller will have you believe, it’s actually quite easy to keep your fat mouth shut instead of insulting people (says the girl who has branded Ben Roethlisberger “The Duke of Fug and the Earl of Gross.”)

However, the day I read that Russell Crowe did this, as was also reported in PG+ (pronounced pe-giml nokh in Yiddish), that’s the day the “meh” was replaced with the “Bam!”

Saturday night at a birthday party at a house that’s part of the Landslide Community Farm in Pittsburgh, a young street musician was sitting next to a ukulele and a small banjo case in the living room. I’d seen him playing at a previous anti-authoritarian event. He’s most noticeable for kicking an old suitcase for percussions as he plays, sings and dances. He told the story how earlier in the day, he’d been to Pittsburgh Guitars store on the Southside, and was allowed to try out an old four-string banjo that was made in the 1930s. It had a nice sound. The store was a little busy as it approached closing time. A salesperson asked if he planned to buy the banjo. He replied that he couldn’t since he only had about $100 to last him until Christmas. He then hung the banjo back on the wall and went outside, where he was hanging out and talking to some friends. A store person came out and put the banjo and case in front of him. He was baffled until the store clerk explained. The actor Russell Crowe, who is in town making a movie, was in the store, heard the discussion about the banjo and bought it for the street musician. He was gone before anyone could say ‘thank you.”



  1. andrea
    December 3, 2009 7:54 pm

    Russell Crowe — Honorary awesome Burgher! Also, that’s the kind of thing I tell myself I would do if I made any money at all, AT ALL, which I don’t. And then I get all bitter, because totally the wrong people in this world get rich, but then one of the rich, talented ones does something cool like this. That just rocks beyond words.

  2. Anonymous
    December 3, 2009 7:55 pm

    Funny thing. I was just in a store, lamenting my lack of funds, when BAM, I looked around and said, “Where the ef is Russell Crowe when you need him?”

  3. Pa-pop
    December 3, 2009 8:00 pm

    Shoulda got the Oscar for “Cinderella Man.”

  4. Bojack
    December 3, 2009 8:00 pm

    What an awesome deed!!!!

    Were it not for you, probly gone completely unknown, which
    like quintuples the awesomeness IMHO!!

    I heard him 2nite on KDKA and he said he’s ridden approx 500
    bicycle miles around all parts of the city since he’s been here!

    No motorcade! No huge posse!! Triple-Yoi awesome!!

    My money says the phone recipient had it coming!!

    LMAO @ Anonymous above!! :-)

  5. Bojack
    December 3, 2009 8:08 pm

    PS- I’ve liked him ever since he banged Meg Ryan!! :-)

  6. Amanda
    December 3, 2009 8:13 pm

    awesome indeed…

    but what’s really blowing me away is that darn money tracker up there cha chinging away! $7,623 and how many days have you been doing this?! so so so cool…

  7. Mayor Luke Doggy Dogg
    December 3, 2009 8:22 pm

    What it be, ya’ll?! Luke Doggy Dogg up in this piece fo shizzle!

    What store was this? I need to make sure Russel Crowe was taxed correctly for buying that banjo…

    I’ll roll up on Crowe with my pimp hat, lantern jaw, and strong pimp hand and let him know about how much city services are costin’ Pittsburgh because of his movie!

    *Pssst* Yo Russel, homie. Tha city really needs about $15 mil. Can you help a brotha out?

    Bah humbug!

  8. dand
    December 3, 2009 8:25 pm

    Here’s the story as told by Pittsburgh Guitars’ Carl:

    “Speaking of Christmas, it was Christmas for one of our customers last Saturday. Russell Crowe is in town filming a movie, and last Saturday afternoon he stopped in to check out some guitars. As he was looking at Strats in the back of the room, a local kid came in to try out a banjo. He fell in love with a vintage May Belle tenor, but ultimately said he couldn’t afford it. Although Russell was in the back of the store, he over-heard the banjo conversation. He casually walked up to the counter, whispered a few words to John, handed John four hundred dollar bills, and walked out the door. The kid didn’t even know what was happening… until we handed him the banjo, and we told him it was a gift from Russell Crowe. The kid ran outside to thank him, but Russell was long gone… just like Santa Claus.”

  9. L-A
    December 3, 2009 9:09 pm

    so cool…meh to BAM! is right.

  10. annietiques
    December 3, 2009 9:20 pm

    Ahhh…..Russell Crowe. For me it’s his voice, he has the same voice qualities as Richard Burton, my first and only love!

    How wonderful to know that Russell has a heart as well.

  11. bluzdude
    December 3, 2009 9:25 pm

    Last I saw of RC, he and “Tugger” were “fightin’ ’round the world.”

  12. chrys
    December 3, 2009 9:33 pm

    wow.. that is a great story. I have to admitt, I’ve never been a huge a Russell Crowe fan, but this story seems to take away the image of him flinging a phone at some poor hotel front desk worker. LOL! Ok.. “A beautiful Mind” was a great movie.
    Did I also hear right? That Russell Crowe wants to live in the ‘burgh?

  13. Cnik
    December 3, 2009 9:34 pm

    Saw rc @ vietnams pho in the strip having dinner. Seemed like a nice guy. Even spent time taking pics with the staff.

  14. Al
    December 3, 2009 10:42 pm

    I just hope this doesn’t lead to Russell Crowe making a remake of Deliverance.

  15. Gina
    December 4, 2009 4:43 am

    Compliment the city AND do something nice for a Burgher? I’ll pretty much love anyone who does that!

    More Pittsburgh love…Jake Gyllenhaal was on Jimmy Kimmel last night talking about his enjoyment of our lovely city. Also shared an entertaining story about his experience at a Steelers game.

  16. Chris
    December 4, 2009 6:58 am

    I was coming through the Strip last night around 5 pm and there was some major moving making equipment happening right outside of Wholey’s. Is this Crowe’s movie or Jake’s? I’m not sure who is still here filming.

  17. Nick
    December 4, 2009 7:33 am

    I saw him on channel 4 yesterday and was impressed that he said he brought his bike with him and road north, south, east, and west all over to explore the city. That is pretty cool that he actually took interest in our hometown and went out exploring on his own. I do the same thing when I’m in a new place for work as well.

  18. Emilie
    December 4, 2009 8:07 am

    That’s an awesome story – I always like hearing that there are still decent people left in this world.
    I saw a snippet of the Russell Crowe interview this morning on KDKA and I just wanted to hug him for having nothing but nice things to say about our city and I especially liked how he’s ridden his bike all over the place to really get to know the city. Of course, he’s Australian and according to my brother who recently visited there, Australians rock!

  19. aDerek
    December 4, 2009 8:49 am

    Sounds like the ‘Burgh attitude is wearing off on him!

  20. Bojack
    December 4, 2009 9:06 am

    …So if I can emulate RC on a smaller scale….if I put my bike on the “T,” ride out to S. Hills Village, hang out in Victoria’s Secret
    waiting for some unfortunately-short-of-cash sweet young thing
    to look longingly at some chiffonesque evening wear…….??

    Too perv you may say?? Maybe…. LOL

    That’s why all of us NON-stars can push this thermometer up to
    $10K easily!!! :-)

  21. Sooska
    December 4, 2009 9:09 am

    I never thought I’d think of him as a class act, but clearly he is WAY out of Sienna Miller’s league. He didn’t hole up in hotel room and then whine about it. He went out and lived and has done more stuff and crossed more rivers than most Burghers have done! He genuinely seemed to appreciate it, too.

    Clearly needs to be dubbed an Honorary Awesome Burgher.

  22. Tinare
    December 4, 2009 10:04 am

    He shot a message to the fan-members of his Rugby team in Sidney from the Heinz Field locker room in which he talks a little bit about Pittsburgh and its sports fans —

  23. Leah
    December 4, 2009 10:59 am

    That was totally cool, and definitely worthy of the BAM!

  24. Dorkimus Maximum
    December 4, 2009 11:09 am

    I’m w/ you on your first sentence, Ginny, except for me he’s defined by his performance in The Insider. Makes Al Pacino look like frickin’ Hayden Christensen.

    As the descendant of Appalachian hillbillies, anyone who buys a banjo for a needy musician is worthy of Bamimus Maximus.

    Sorry for the “Maximus” bit, but Gladiator was not the greatest movie.

  25. Leslie
    December 4, 2009 2:43 pm

    Russell Crowe reminds me a LOT of my husband who I love wholeheartedly. I think they look the same and act the same, which for Russell is bad news because when I see him I instantly sweat like a little nervous school girl. I LOVE HIM!!! I now love him even more. Sorry honey.

    <3 Russell Crowe 4 eva <3

  26. Linda Marr
    December 4, 2009 6:36 pm

    I am suddenly a Russell Crowe fan. If anything, the boy is smart! You don’t bash a city you just spent 3 months filming in!

    Word from “the townfolk” in Sharpsburg, was that he was a class act. Took the time for pictures and conversation.

    You go Russell! Let’s hope he can last the next week without turning us against him

  27. Pittsburgh in Love
    December 5, 2009 12:04 pm

    Russell Crowe, I love you, man! I always believe that’s the real you, a kind and thoughtful man.