Stuff I wrote …

(“Not impressed”)

This summer has just been … madness.

I’m eagerly awaiting fall not only because you know how much fall and I are bosom friends, Anne Shirley, but also because then my life will slow down a bit. And I can breathe. And respond to Twitter replies. And stop opening my inbox only to go [retch] and then close it again.

Needless to say, I’m behind. If you’ve emailed me, I suck. If you’ve tweeted at me, I suck. If you’ve said to yourself, “She sucks,” I say to you, “That’s church.”

I’ve written lots of stuff over the summer at my other home, Pittsburgh Magazine, and wanted to be sure you knew about it in case you only visit me here.

1. UPMC banned smoking, on campus and OFF CAMPUS, for all of its employees, and of course the shit hit the fan. My take on it is over here.


And speaking of breaks, let’s not forget the animosity non-smokers often feel as they watch their colleagues take 20-minute smoke breaks four times per work day while the non-smokers are left behind to passive-aggressively stab away at keyboards thinking, “I wonder if the boss would mind if I took four Nutella breaks every damn day.”

Mmmmm, Nutella.

2. I am so effing tired of hearing the word “smoky” to describe Pittsburgh’s recent past, so I wrote a column about what Pittsburgh is NOT. We’re not smoky. We’re not Primanti’s. And three other things we most certainly aren’t.


This isn’t Snake Creek, Okla., where your best bets for diversion include the upending of snoozing bovines or climbing the town’s water tower even though your sheriff cousin expressly forbade you from doing so. Choose to open your eyes to the sporting, cultural and social options available daily. There’s nothing boring about Pittsburgh — except maybe the room at PPG where they watch the paint dry.

3. I love writing the back page for the annual City Guide because it gives me an excuse to spend hours and hours researching Pittsburgh. I came up with seven things I’m almost positive no one single Burgher, except maybe God and Rick Sebak, knew about our city. Let me know how many you knew, and don’t lie, Senor Fuego Pantalones.

>> Back when the Squirrel Hill Tunnels were young, all traffic was stopped as a safety precaution when a gasoline tanker approached. The tanker proceeded through the tunnel completely alone. This happened 1,100 times a month. And you think Parkway East traffic is bad today.

4. Senor Fuego Pantalones would be a super kickass band name. Or Mexican porn star name. Or Anthony Weiner online handle. Or …

5. This amazing building, the old Municipal Hall, used to stand where Saks Fifth Avenue is now, and inside were priceless artifacts that seem to have disappeared, including the first stone ever cut from Western PA onto which Henry Bouquet carved his name way back in the 1700s when the stone was used in the old Fort Pitt redoubt.



The mystery of the bell seems to have been solved as indicated in this document found by @shadow on Twitter.

Onward to the others.

Someone check Lukey’s office.


  1. bucdaddy
    July 24, 2013 12:01 pm

    I don’t smoke either, and I ain’t saying they ain’t stanky, but I do have some empathy for smokers, who have been consistently pushed farther and farther out of polite society. Next they won’t even be allowed to smoke at home, or in their cars, or anywhere else. And don’t tell me the slippery slope is a fallacy. Just ask smokers how it works for them.

    Anyhoo, by coincidence, a situation has arisen here since WVU banned smoking campuswide starting July 1. The smokers can’t smoke on campus anymore, so now they congregate juuuuuust off campus, such as in the driveway of a woman who came to city council to complain about it. She said she used to enjoy taking her toddler girl outside early in the morning to relish the start of a new day, but can’t now because of the smoke. I suppose she could call the cops on them for trespassing, but really, the smokers would probably rather not have to be in her driveway in the first place, and aren’t they being punished enough?

    I dunno the answer to all this (Quit smoking! Right, probably easier said than done). But there are rights in conflict and smokers are losing and losing and losing that conflict. I don’t feel REAL sorry for them, but I do a little.

    And don’t think they won’t come for you Big Mac eaters because you’re “only hurting yourselves.” Michael Bloomberg, for one, is trying like hell. And when they do, it will be “for your own good.” It’s really not THAT far of a stretch in a country where the government feels justified in compiling your phone records and monitoring your emails and photographing your car’s license plate most everywhere you go, because it’s all for “your own good!”

    Lansberry was right after all. Just because you’re paranoid …

  2. Jagoff
    July 24, 2013 6:06 pm

    Would’ve been nice back when traffic only stopped for tankers. Now, everyone stops at the tunnel voluntarily and for no reason.

  3. MattDC
    July 27, 2013 10:21 pm

    Speaking for your expat fans:
    (1) I lived in Pittsburgh from birth up to the mid 70s, and I never even heard of Primanti’s until long after I left.
    (2) I am old enough, however, to remember the “smoky” years. It was, in fact . . well. . . smoky. Mostly the early and mid 60s. That’s ancient history. That means I also grew up in an era when the Pirates were awesome (even their catcher was named “Smokey”) and the Steelers perennially sucked. I think that’s changed a little.
    (3) I have always enjoyed the inability of most non-natives to understand the meaning of Yinz. Or the fact that it’s not even pronounced that way, more like “younz.” Everyone has heard the New York version “youse” on movies and TV their whole lives, yet they still can’t seem to grasp this slight variation. Which makes it special.