Culture

A Turning Point for Troubled Times

By almost any objective measure, life in America has never been better. We’re not at war. Poverty is low, unemployment’s even lower, and stocks are sky high. Homicide rates are about where they were in 1950 and half of what they were in 1980. And medical care is better than ever with dramatic breakthroughs occurring …

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An Exterminating Angel

Perhaps all drama should be analyzed as the Kabbalists interpret Torah—on many levels simultaneously, comprising the literal, the symbolic, the metaphoric, and the mystical. This might allow us to understand and enjoy what others may miss or dislike, without resulting in one conclusion that necessitates a myopic choice of perspective. I felt this way watching …

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Redemption, Wilford Brimley and Walmart

The shopping cart wasn’t going that fast. For once, I wasn’t careening through Walmart like a contestant on Guy Fieri’s “Grocery Games,” simply because my cart was weighted down with two large cases of water, two big containers of clothes detergent (so much cheaper in the 255 ounce unliftable bottles), four vats of kitty litter …

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i am the sea

that january. prestwick beach. the sea heaves. swallows herself down like cough syrup in thick slow gulps. we’d sat on this rock just two days before, both of us with our backs to the world staring out across and into the thickness. i counted a thousand and one seagulls that day watched them huddle together, …

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Meadowcroft—Western Pennsylvania’s time machine

Most people are aware of western Pennsylvania’s rich history, but few know just how far back that history reaches. A trip to Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village in Avella in Washington County indicates how significant our region is. Meadowcroft comprises 275 acres on part of the former Miller farm, and is celebrating its 50th season …

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A Day of Reflection

It was a warm, clear, sunny, wonderful day with a deep blue sky, so untypical for Pittsburgh. I remember it like it was yesterday, although some three-plus decades have since passed. The city is noted for being one of the cloudiest in the US, ranking up there with Seattle and Portland. So, I was enjoying …

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What’s Right, What’s Left?

So much of modern culture seems bent on eliminating humanity from life itself. In many instances, this is identified as progress. But is it? Consider the current attitude toward handwriting, i.e., cursive. In many of our schools there is no longer any emphasis on the handwritten word. When I asked my grandson recently if handwriting …

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I’d Find You Again

There’s this line in a Lukas Nelson song that goes, “If I started over I’d find you again.” I have no sense of direction, so I hope this is possible for me, but salmon do it all the time. Fall is here, and this is the time when salmon make their run. Not like a …

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Spinning Out of Control

Working from home for the past year has provided me with a one-minute commute to my home office and easy access to my favorite meal replacement—potato chips and dip. One of these perks resulted in my favorite jeans shrinking considerably and the realization that it was time to again try a dreaded fitness class. I …

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Pittsburgh at Twilight

Some cities are known for spectacular sunsets. Photographer David Aschkenas finds that, in Pittsburgh, the most interesting light is just before sunrise. Experience Pittsburgh at twilight in this collection of intriguing photographs. View more of David Aschkenas’s work at www.daschkenasphoto.com.

Barebones’ “Lobby Hero” Combines Comedy with Tragedy to Stunning Effect

Dichotomies in art usually succeed brilliantly or fail dreadfully. Bringing together disparate forms is inherently risky: it challenges the artist, but even more so, it challenges the audience. In the case of “Lobby Hero,” Kenneth Lonergan’s 2001 play about four people whose lives collide in a random apartment building lobby, barebones productions has dropped this …

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Terrance Hayes Tackles Current Life in “American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin”

“Prismatic” is how the late poet Wanda Coleman once described her smart, resonant American sonnets in a 2002 radio interview with writer Paul Nelson. The impetus of her avant-garde style was to approach the old form in a new way, making it a more stimulating way to express anger and satire, allowing her to reach …

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Internationals I Have Known…

When the Carnegie International opens this fall, it may appear as if the world’s latest art elegantly touches down like an ethereal being whose time to visit us has come ‘round again. But if you knew it as I do, you would know that this periodic being is full of, shall we say, blemishes and …

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The Last At-Bat

Early one morning this summer, I was fishing with my friend in northern Michigan. The fog was thick, and Dave asked if I could tell where I was going. I know those waters and predicted that in about 30 seconds a point with a white boathouse would come into view. It did, and we rounded …

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Millennials Speak Out

Millennials are the face of the future. Born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, their ranks include doctors, teachers, students, CEOs, astronauts, mothers, fathers and future presidents. What are their aspirations, motivations, concerns and outlook? Are they happy? Pittsburgh Quarterly’s Alayna Jones visited Pittsburgh-area places, ranging from the University of Pittsburgh to the …

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Look What’s Happening in Cleveland

With the opening of the Carnegie International less than a month away, I drove to Cleveland to see their inaugural international exhibition. Under the umbrella of “Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art,” projects happened as far away as Akron and Oberlin, but the majority were located in three Cleveland neighborhoods. With a loose theme …

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On a Pedestal: Magee-Womens Research Institute

Many Pittsburghers have a somewhat vague idea that the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC successfully attract federal dollars to support their varied research activities. But the extent of that success in recent years is almost shocking when you look at the numbers and the rankings. Last year, Pitt ranked 10th on the list of the …

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The Great Banishment of 1923

Robert Young was one of the bad characters in Rosedale, a black neighborhood of Johnstown, after he arrived in 1923. Rumors swirled that he had committed murder in his native state of Alabama. And he had been having troubles with his significant other, Rose Young, since they arrived for him to work in the mills …

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The Myriad Lives I Lead Inside My Own

Observe the day. Observe how it is spring warm in the middle of winter, the sky unclouded blue, the air full of undefined promise. Observe my daughter’s excitement at the prospect of a birthday party, running with arms flapping, singing for the joy of it, unbridled, unrestrained. Observe how picturesque all the houses look on …

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Car Cathedral

Since its completion in 1931, the towering stone St. Helen’s Catholic Church has stood like a beacon atop Main Street in East Pittsburgh. Now it’s a car club and garage with country club perks. Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Bishop David Zubik announced the permanent closure of the church—vacant for four years—along with others in March 2014.“Though …

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Pursuing Crime from Pittsburgh to Eternity and Back

“The Gone World” by Pittsburgh novelist Thomas Sweterlitsch is about nothing less than preventing the end of world as we know it. As is often the case in real life,Western Pennsylvania is at the center of the story. Key events take place in faraway realms. Covert U.S. military forces zip there via time travel, untold …

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Frick Environmental Center Achieves Living Building Challenge Status

Great architecture should be built for the ages. Imposing piles, whether in stone or steel, are supposed to indicate heroic resistance to the ravages of the elements as both practicality and art. And yet in the era of the environmental movement, some portion of this equation has been inverted. We now ask, what is the …

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