Between the Issues

Problem in Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh’s unemployment rate, reported for the latest available month, April 2016, bumped up for the third month in a row to 5.8%. On the surface this is a disturbing figure given that most cities in our cohort group are experiencing falling unemployment rates. The unemployment rate in Charlotte is now…

Mark

About 10 years ago, a six-​inch bust appeared suddenly on top of a retaining wall in my back yard in Highland Park. How it got there was a mystery. Left by someone moving from the area? An abandoned kid’s toy? Or…something magical? The bust was creamy white and from a…

Should We Go Fishing for PayPal?

Recently PayPal announced the cancellation of a planned operations center in North Carolina resulting from the passage of North Carolina HB2 (the “bathroom” bill). The reasons a company chooses a particular location to establish a facility are complex, but I believe Pittsburgh offers practically everything that was to be found…

Room Service in Wonderland

The view from up here is majestic. The smudged, working class neighborhood of my youth has grown up to be a gentrified village whose renovated rooftops peer out of a sanitary blanket of January snow. I can almost hear the bustle of the hipsters and their Uber apps, heading out…

Why Are We So Afraid of Democracy? Part II

Profound disagreements among the voting public have led, as noted in my last post, to profound disagreements in Congress. This has, naturally enough, led in its turn to a substantial decline in collegiality, willingness to compromise, and even civility in that not-​so-​august body. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that…

Giant Eagle Misadventures

I appear to be a fully functioning, generally normal human being. I have friends, a family, a job, and some interesting hobbies. No felonies, no spectacular talents, no debilitating weaknesses, either. Just your basic person. But as the old song goes, “Everybody plays the fool, sometimes…” My time was not…

Why Are We So Afraid of Democracy?

Recently I debated Ben Bernanke about Fed policy since the Financial Crisis.(1) But even before the event I already knew how it would go. We’d all be very polite, very thoughtful, very respectful. Otherwise, we might be mistaken for The Donald. Some people would agree with me and some would…

James Dean

Half of James Dean’s body is under the hood of a ’63 Chevelle that’s missing all of its doors, a portion of his 50 years hanging over navy blue work pants as he twists awkwardly, trying to get the right angle.

Negative Interest Rates, Decrees the Queen of Hearts!

Buckle your seat belts. This is going to get weird and metaphysical. My purpose is to turn the prism a little bit and try to make sense of something that I believe makes no sense. This would be a good time to get the children out of the room.

Expat Paul Scripko Sets the Stage

A few years ago at Southwestern University in Texas I attended a lecture given by Michael Chabon, author of those two love letters to Pittsburgh, “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh” and “Wonder Boys”. At the start of the evening he asked “Who in the audience is from Pittsburgh?” A number of…

Home Movies

i. That severe unspoken savor she’d bring with her To the table, family gatherings after grace, Your plate filled, as always, With whatever had passed through her hands— The aunt who’d married wearing weeds, A black-​clad Bride of Christ. Mantle, habit, scapular, guimpe … No wonder we called…

Voyaging to College

The road to college is much like an expedition. It can appear overwhelming, exciting, and at times too far away to be tangible. However, much like planning a trip out of town or across the globe there is preparation involved, and it is always best to start that planning early.…
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