Monthly Archives: March 2012

A public service announcement from Juanita

Gus the Groundhog’s unofficial lottery spokesanimal replacement Juanita the Dead Weasel would like to give you this friendly reminder before the MegaMillions drawing tonight:

Juanita just did that for free, whereas Gus would have charged about $40,000 for the use of his likeness along with a demand that his under-eye bags be Photoshopped out.

Suck it, Gus. There’s a new taxidermified badass in town.

Warning: Use of undefined constant php - assumed 'php' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /nfs/c05/h01/mnt/75660/domains/ on line 46

Juice box swagger

Found on the best blog on the Internet, Pleated Jeans, I give you Mayor Lil Lukey Luke’s latest official headshot!


Oh, Rob Rogers is SO going to appreciate this.

Also, remind me to deny the existence of this post the next time I see Hizzoner.

Warning: Use of undefined constant php - assumed 'php' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /nfs/c05/h01/mnt/75660/domains/ on line 46

Batshit versus Batshit

In the Rich People Going Batshit Over Domestic Matters Wars, Highmark’s CEO Dr. Ken Melani said to Richie Scaife, “I see you your running in heels through a yard to chase down a maid who was walking the dog that your husband ‘kidnapped’ during your divorce and then beating an elderly assistant by kicking her in the hip when she came to the maid’s aid, and I raise you my showing up at the house of my 28-year-old employee/live-in mistress to barge in, confront her husband and to call her a slut while accusing her of cheating on me and using me for my money, and then making threats about killing people and then not taking my creepy, stalker eyes off of her as she stood 75 feet away the entire time I talked to the cops about the can of whoopass I opened on her husband and about how the relationship means everything to me.”

I gotta give this one to Dr. Ken.

Sorry, Richie. You’ll need to up your batshit crazy a bit.

P.S. Ken? She’s a gorgeous 28-year-old employee. You’re 58.  OF COURSE SHE’S USING YOU FOR YOUR MONEY, YOU OLD SAGGING SACK OF FLESH!

P.P.S. Calling your mistress a slut for cheating on you with her husband is the best thing I’ve ever heard in the Batshit Crazy Rich People Wars. BRAVO!

Warning: Use of undefined constant php - assumed 'php' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /nfs/c05/h01/mnt/75660/domains/ on line 46


If you haven’t read my sister Tina Fey’s expose entitled “Six Things About PittGirl,” you’ll want to do that first as this post is a rebuttal of her untruth-filled piece of libel.

1. When she was pregnant with her first child, she Pringle’d her way to high blood pressure.  

If I had my OB/GYN’s file on me, I would write, “The record will show …” but I don’t, so you’ll have to take my word on this. Tina Fey is LYING. The truth of the matter is that I did not Pringle my way to high blood pressure; I Pringle’d my way to dangerous levels of water retention brought on by my gross and voracious intake of sodium, thus resulting in me gaining 12 pounds in two and a half weeks, causing my doctor to almost fall out of his chair.


Also, if I had my OB/GYN’s file on me, it would probably say, “This bitch is clearly trying to break some sort of record for weight gain. Her ass grew an inch while she was in my office and her ankles are fatter than her calves. Research ‘pregnancy-induced elephantitis’ for a future medical paper.”

I was put on a no-sodium diet because the low-sodium diet failed. NO, I didn’t fail; the diet failed, you guys. Let the record show.

2. She has peed in a peanut can.

My rebuttal to this true statement is this: CHILD. ABUSE.

Not providing proper bladder evacuation facilities in a timely fashion is outright child abuse. Enduring the repeated singing of “Ginny Peed in a Peanut Can” from Georgia to Florida to 2012 is outright child abuse. I bet they even made sheet music for that song, because in our family, it became the new “99 Bottles of Beer.”

Also, why we had an empty economy size Planter’s Mixed Nuts can in the station wagon will forever be a mystery to me, but I can not see that stupid monocled peanut-man without hearing that song in my head.

Also a mystery … did they just toss the pee out of the window when I was done or did my mother have to hold it in her lap until the Dictator of Bladder Evacuation Scheduling determined it was a suitable time for a pit stop?

If they tossed it, did it hit a car behind us and the driver was all, “Is … it … RAINING PEE?!”

But still, my rebuttal … CHILD ABUSE.

3. In her household which consists of two drivers, one of whom is her husband who grew up in Mexico where the only posted driving rule is “Don’t run over it unless you’re sure it’s already dead,” she is not the safer driver. 

There are many errors in this portion of the post, so I assume Tina Fey had begun hitting the sauce midway through the second point.

First, it was not a do-me boot, it was a flip-flop.

Second, I did not pin her knees because I couldn’t figure out forward and reverse. I pinned them because I was pulling my father’s car into the driveway, where there was already another car parked. Tina Fey hopped out of the passenger seat to guide me forward to let me know when I had reached the closest I could to the car in front of me. She motioned me forward. A foot and a half away from the other bumper, I gingerly touched the gas pedal as if it would explode under too much pressure.

The car didn’t move.

Tina waved her hand and motioned me forward. I pushed a tiny bit harder.

The car didn’t move

Exasperated, Tina motioned me forward again. I ever so slightly increased the pressure on the gas pedal, worried that I would push too hard and the car would jerk forward to hit the other car’s bumper.

The car didn’t move.

Fed up, Tina said, “Oh, LET ME!” and she walked in front of the car I was driving intent on taking the wheel from me. And I said, “Oh, HELL NO. I AM DOING THIS!” I put my big girl panties on, quit being a sissy, stepped on the gas just a bit harder and GREAT NEWS! The car moved! Pinning Tina Fey at the knees between the two bumpers.

Also good news? I didn’t hit the other car!

I only sat there stunned, my sister squirming to free herself, for about five seconds before her cries of “BACK UP! BACK UP!” encroached upon my brain’s paralysis, at which point I sheepishly put the car in reverse and freed her from her prison.

So to sum up my rebuttal to this point … I DO SO know the difference between forward and reverse.

4. In her teens, she fancied herself to be quite the artist.

Tina Fey has conveniently left out one very important detail. These fantastically drawn eyes were not disembodied orbs floating on a blank sheet of paper, watching your every move. These eyes, every single one of them, were peering intently at you through holes in expertly-drawn wooden picket fences.


5. No one in our family can sing, but her singing is life-threatening.

As a teen, I went to a summer camp in the woods of Minnesota, and one of the many activities was recording a song in a real recording studio. Me and three other female campers were to sing The Greatest Love of All, which was already a strike against me because of all the gosh darn SANGING in that song. But I put on the headphones, which I assumed were given to me to drown out the hideous sound of my own voice, and I SANG.


Standing there in the studio listening to the playback, I thought we all sounded fantastic, while the three other campers and the recording studio counselor listened with a look on their faces that indicated they were at that moment … smelling feces.

Maybe someone pooped in a peanut can.

Whatevs. Here’s my rebuttal: Deafies can’t sing.

6. And lastly — the one she’s probably most embarrassed about — she really does rock her Hittsburgh gear to the fullest. 

If you got it, rock it.

Now, I wish I could tell you six embarrassing things about Tina Fey, but here is the problem … she’s a cool cat and she’s been a cool cat forever. She hasn’t ever peed in a mixed nuts container in a moving station wagon with wood paneling. I don’t recall her having any embarrassing car mishaps.  Other than a few unfortunate photos in her tween years, she’s always looked good and put together. She’s always been popular and fun and normal. So undorky.

If I had to say one genuinely bad thing about her, I can say this: She married a Cowboys fan.

Peeing in a peanut can isn’t sounding so bad now, is it?

Warning: Use of undefined constant php - assumed 'php' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /nfs/c05/h01/mnt/75660/domains/ on line 46

Of Heroes and Friends

Hi gang, this is Ginny’s friend, Jonathan. Ginny and I “met” back in the days when she was anonymous and I asked to interview her for a story in Pittsburgh magazine. I say “met” in “quotes” because although Ginny kindly agreed to the interview she was fiercely protecting her anonymity. No face-to-face meeting. No telephone. The interview had to be by…IM. This was a first for me. A bit impersonal…but it made note-taking a cinch.

We first met for rillz at the studio of the fabulous Laura Petrilla when she did a photo shoot for Pittsburgh mag. I’m sure she’d agree that our most memorable time was during the week after the January, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Our friends Jamie and Ali McMutrie were stranded, with dozens of kids in their care. Ginny and I spent long, stressful hours online that week, relaying updated info about J&A’s situation, with Ginny using her powerful presence to spread the word about their plight as far, wide and high as it could go.

You all know the story by now. Jamie and Ali’s bravery. The dramatic rescue. Of course Ginny shares Jamie and Ali’s fierce dedication to helping kids in need, and now we both serve on their board of directors for Haitian Families First.

Ginny and me. Caption: Jamie, Ali, me and Ginny on the night of Ginny’s fateful “If you ever need anything…” promise to them. Read Ginny’s story here:

Jamie and Ali were heroes of mine before the earthquake and even before they were my friends, when I interviewed them in 2008 for Pittsburgh magazine about their work in Haiti. They were deservedly lauded as heroes after the quake, even being named Pittsburgh magazine’s “Pittsburghers of the Year” (a story I was also asked to write).  And on the subject of heroes, one of my favorite Ginny happenings over the past year was her learning about Roberto Clemente, my childhood (and forever) hero.

I remember a letter to the editor in Pittsburgh magazine many years ago that made a snarky comment about Pittsburghers “deifying” Roberto Clemente. Yeah, I kinda get that. You throw around words like “worship” and “idol” and “deity” can’t be far behind.

But it’s when people say “wasn’t he just a baseball player?” that those of us who loved him (and there are lots and lots of us who loved him) get flustered. Roberto was a great baseball player, batting and fielding. The numbers show that. But they don’t show the style. They don’t show the way he moved.

I remember when I was 5 sitting on my dad’s lap at Forbes Field (yeah, I’m old, okay?) and I watched Roberto Clemente ground out to first base. I asked my dad, “Who’s that?” When he told me I said, “I like him.” It was that way he moved. I framed a quote by John Sayles, the writer/filmmaker, that reads, “I never thought about being a writer as I grew up. A writer wasn’t something I wanted to be. An outfielder was something to be. Most of what I know about style I learned from Roberto Clemente.”

Like most kids growing up in Pittsburgh in the ‘60s and ‘70s I wanted to be Roberto Clemente. I tried to copy his distinctive batting stance. In Little League I wanted to play right field (though they stuck me at catcher, which was where all the fat kids like me played).

But the effect Roberto had on me went a lot deeper than baseball. For one thing, I was the only Jewish kid in my neighborhood and I was one of the only Jewish kids in my school. So I felt different. And when you’re a kid, feeling “different” equals feeling embarrassed. So there were times I actually felt embarrassed to be Jewish. Roberto Clemente changed that for me. He was different because he was Latin American, one of the first in the majors. But Roberto was openly proud of his Puerto Rican heritage. After he won the MVP in the 1971 World Series, the first thing he did on TV was thank his parents in Spanish. In Spanish! That was powerful stuff to me. If I wanted to be like Roberto, then I, too, could be proud of my heritage, of who I was.

Willie, Roberto and Me

When I was a kid my cousins owned a local appliance and electronics chain called Wander Sales. Willie Stargell used to do promotions for the stores and a few times each summer my dad and I would have Sunday morning breakfast with him. Willie got a kick out of the fact that I didn’t really care that much about him. Yeah, he was a major league baseball player. Yeah, he played for the Pirates and was really nice to me. But all I cared about was Roberto. He’d even tease me about it. I’d always beg him to pleeeease bringing Roberto to the next breakfast. Willie would walk into the restaurant and I would run up to look behind him hoping to see Roberto. I can still hear him now, “Sorry kid. Roberto couldn’t make it.”

Here I am with Willie, both showing our groovy fashion sense.

On a night in 1971, when I was 10, Willie invited my dad and me to a party at his house. There were a lot of Pirates there and probably a few weren’t so thrilled to have some kid in attendance. The one who was nicest to me, by far, was Dock Ellis. Now I don’t know exactly what “condition” Dock was in (he was notorious for being in altered consciousness), but he put his arm around me and introduced me to the rest of the players, joking and treating me like a king. For a baseball-loving kid in Pittsburgh, this was heaven. Almost. Because there was no Roberto.

The next season, ‘72, I decided that if I was going to ever meet Roberto I would have to do it on my own. At Three Rivers Stadium they used to have Autograph Sundays. Three Pirates would sit at a table in the concourse before the game signing for a long line of kids. When the Sunday finally arrived for it to be Roberto’s turn I waited nervously, fresh baseball in hand. I forget who the first two Pirates at the table were but I respectfully said “no thank you” when they offered their autograph. (Kind of a jerk move on my part, in retrospect.)

When I reached Roberto I was shaking. This was dream-come-true, mind-spinning awe. That is, until the security guard broke in. “The players aren’t allowed to sign baseballs.” Huh? I looked at my dad to see if he had any paper because there were no photos left in front of Roberto. My dad shook his head “no.” Then I felt the ball being lifted out of my hand. I turned and Roberto had reached over the table to take it, shooting the guard a look as if to say, “What am I going to do, hurt myself?” When Roberto handed the ball back to me he smiled, sort of laughed at me, and looked up at my dad. (My dad later said it was because I was shaking and my eyes looked “like fireworks were going on in them.”) Roberto asked me, “Where are you sitting?” I managed a “third base.” He told me to enjoy the game and my dad led me away. I had brought a clear plastic baseball holder and right after Roberto handed me the ball I put the ball right inside. It’s never left that holder since, so the last two hands that touched that baseball are his and mine. As far as I’m concerned it’ll stay that way for as long as I live. Then my son Alex’s hand will be next.


Probably the only time I didn’t want Roberto to get a hit was on Saturday, Sept. 29, 1972. He was still chasing his 3,000th hit and I didn’t want him to get it until the next day when I would be at the game. Sure enough, he didn’t. That next day I was there, my Kodak Instamatic in hand, hoping and cheering for the big moment. As you can see, my pictures after his double off the left-field wall are impossibly shaky. It’s hard to take a decent shot when you’re jumping up and down and yelling “Arriba! Arriba!”.

My pics after Roberto’s 3000th hit, including my age 11 notes. Roberto on 2nd base, 3rd base, and the crowd behind me. Amazing how empty Three Rivers is for the occasion, even with a playoffs-bound Pirates team.


When Roberto died on New Year’s Eve of that year I was devastated. After all, the one thing Roberto Clemente was not to me was “mortal.” I only went to one game in the 1973 season. I lasted just a couple of innings before I asked my dad to take me home. It was years before I could even watch a video of Roberto without choking up. Every New Year’s Eve since, I have taken a few minutes by myself, usually outside under the stars, to think about Roberto, to be thankful for him, and to think about his family.

In my adult life, I’ve told a few people about the impact of Roberto on me. The most poignant was getting the chance to tell his son, Roberto, Jr. We were doing a photo shoot together, in Three Rivers Stadium, standing in right field. (Perfect, right?) I took him aside. “Roberto, I know you hear this all the time,” I began, almost apologetically. After all, it can’t always be easy being the son of a legend. He graciously listened to every word like it was the first time he’d ever heard this story of reverence for his father. Imagine how proud his father would feel about his son’s kindness.

With Roberto, Jr. on what, to me, was hallowed ground.


Like many Pittsburghers (including Ginny), and many others around the world, I learned my greatest lessons from Roberto after his death. The way he died, delivering earthquake relief supplies to Nicaragua, affects me to this day.

Which brings me back to my heroes who are also my friends, to Jamie and Ali. Like Roberto, they would not let an earthquake intimidate them when others needed their help. Their own health, their own safety, was not what was important. Helping those in need took precedence.

In Pittsburgh we love our heroes. And we’ve had many. Medicine, sports, the arts, media (I’m looking up at you, Mister Rogers), and everyday people. We’re the City of Champions all right. But our triumphs have to do with a lot more than trophies. Here’s to our heroes.


Warning: Use of undefined constant php - assumed 'php' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /nfs/c05/h01/mnt/75660/domains/ on line 46