Culture

What Happened to Youngstown?

It’s a hell of a thing to know your birth coincides with a line of demarcation in your hometown. On one side is prosperity. On the other, ruin. I was born in Youngstown in 1977. At the time, it was an industrial city, known for its steel production and a variety of attendant industries. The …

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A Pittsburgh Wedding

It all started in March of 2020, when my daughter’s boyfriend flew to Pittsburgh for lunch to ask for her hand. Liking him a great deal, I said yes, not knowing that, thanks to the vagaries of COVID, we would have 30 months to think and rethink the wedding, and experience all the drama accompanying …

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Getting Published at 70

I could write a book. we’ve all said it one time or another, whether it’s because we know a lot about a certain topic, or because we’ve had it up to here with our circumstances. But in my case, I wrote a book because I couldn’t find any women’s fiction I liked. I’m not all …

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Breaking and Healing

Artists begin with one question regarding any new creative work. Most might think artists ask themselves, “What should I create?” But the question really needs to be, “Why should I create it?” Intention. It is the driving force behind any project, plan or goal. Without it there can be no satisfying end result. Without it …

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Gabriel Welsch Surveys the Human Landscape with “Groundscratchers” Collection

In the world of landscaping, the term “groundscratcher” is derisive. It’s also the title of Gabriel Welsch’s revelatory short story collection from Tolsun Books. In it, the titular story finds Michael Petrin, ground supervisor of a large estate, at odds with the “maximal Minimalist” Japanese Zen Fusion gardener Yoshi Higashide hired by his boss, the …

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Expanding the Strike Zone

Baseball, once considered “America’s pastime,” has increasingly begun to feel irrelevant as games routinely last more than three hours and options for bored eyeballs abound on the internet. This year’s 99-day labor dispute over how to best divide billions of dollars in revenue has further alienated frustrated fans, who in Pittsburgh have only had a …

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In the Mind of the Beholder

Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis came across an unassuming structure, located at the five-point intersection on Lowrie Street in Troy Hill, where they have a studio. Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation had placed a plaque on the structure, informing visitors that it housed the upper level of Pittsburgh’s first incline, founded in 1887, that …

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No Option But One

In a letter to his brother Theo in 1886, Vincent Van Gogh wrote: “It seems to me that you have been suffering to see your youth pass like a drift of smoke, but if it springs up again and comes to life in what you do, nothing has been lost, and the power to work …

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When Leadershi* Hits the Fan

Leaders have many responsibilities, but if they don’t take the time to help their employees grow professionally and personally, then they have failed.  The time it takes to develop employees can be daunting for any leader, as they are interrupted every seven minutes.  It’s not practical to eliminate opportunities either as you need to be …

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American Bastard

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25,528 children were born in 1952 in Pittsburgh. One was to an unwed Garfield teen. Cared for by nuns at the Roselia Asylum and Maternity Hospital in the Hill District, she was adopted the following year by a Whitehall couple and named Janet. Since then, Jan …

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Essential Worker

There was only one blackemployee at our school,Danny the janitor who cleaned up the crumbs fromour Little Debbie cakesat lunch. Danny, who scrubbed the toilets, the muscled thirty-something guy whobecame our protector, who broke up playground fightsand chased down basketballs,raised us up so we could  dunk on a ten-foot rim.Danny, whose closet was by the library where …

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Capturing a Giant

There’s never been anything quite like it. In its heyday, the Homestead Works sprawled across 420 acres, much of it hugging both sides of the Monongahela River. Roughly 15,000 people worked there, in 450 buildings, dominating the landscape with more than 100 miles of railroad tracks and becoming so intertwined with the town that when Big …

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Art and Intention

Growing up on a farm in Mercer County, surrounded by expansive fields and wooded hills, I spent much of my childhood either outdoors exploring or inside reading. I was (and still am) particularly fond of stories that explore hidden worlds, like the poems and drawings of Shel Silverstein and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden.” …

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Freight: Passing Through

I resonate over banks of the Ohio cense with soot the river straitjacketed  between walls built for restraint. I cast my voice out over Neville Island intertwine with suspect air. In haste and power I slice with authority  the boredom of the highway,  its hum a faucet left unchecked. A presence inescapable,  I penetrate the …

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Defying the Odds

On opening night a century ago, velour drapes accentuated the auditorium doors and Juliet balconies. A newfangled ventilation system filtered smoke from a cigar lounge. And beneath an ornate plaster ceiling, Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce president Marcus Rauh dedicated the Manor Theater before a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 1,500. Bookended by pandemics, the “photoplay” theater …

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Quantum’s “The Cherry Orchard” is Brilliantly Inscrutable

Often in theater, the more mundane the plot, the more iconoclastic the drama.  Thus, if “Hamlet” is essentially about a man who cannot make up his mind, and in “Waiting For Godot” we watch nothing happen, twice, then “The Cherry Orchard” offers us four acts about the refinancing of a mortgage in arrears. What could …

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Now and Then: Artemesia Genteleschi and Kehinde Wiley at the Frick

The Frick has gifted us with a rare treat: the opportunity to view an iconic work from the 17th century paired with a major work of our century. The two paintings of the Judith and Holofernes story, created four centuries apart, comprise “Slay” which is on exhibit through Sunday. Artemesia Gentileschi’s version depicts the classic …

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A Parent’s Shame

She grips a chunk of chalk in her fistscratches onto black construction paperfamiliar fury of scribbles:a moon todayyesterday, an egg someone’s headside by side, two are apples.  Sometimesthe picture isn’t the pointit’s powder on palmswows and ooohs and beautifulsfingers and focus and finishingit’s preschool prideit’s fine-motor joy neither of us realizingshe’s tall enough nowto see into …

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Kinetic Theatre’s World Premiere of “The Illustrious Invalid”

There is a saying in the world of martial arts that “Control is the mother of speed,” and it could be said that in the world of theater, control – in the form of precise writing, acting, and directing – is the mother of farce.  In both cases, when speed is the sole objective, things …

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Pittsburgher’s Report

The sun burned brightly on june 17, 1876, promising a hot day in southwestern Montana. Gen. George Crook’s column of about 1,300 soldiers, friendly Indians and civilians relaxed while their horses chomped prairie grass and quenched their thirst in Rosebud Creek. At about 8:30 a.m., as Crook played whist with fellow officers, Crow and Shoshone …

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On a Pedestal, Summer 2022

When Harris Ferris became executive director, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre had lost its orchestra and faced a mountain of debt and a dubious future. Nearly 17 years later, he leaves the PBT stronger than ever. A former principal dancer, armed with a Rutgers MBA and a winning personality, Ferris expanded the company’s national and international …

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Taking Flight With the Ordinary

“Speaking from the gut” was known in ancient Greece as gastromancy. It also became known as an early form of ventriloquism. According to Encyclopaedia Brittanica, “the noises produced by the stomach were thought to be the voices of the unliving, who took up residence in the stomach of the ventriloquist. The ventriloquist would then interpret …

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