Culture

50 Years Ago at Woodstock

I was a skinny 20-year-old in August of 1969. My Woodstock Fever started on Monday of that week in Rochester, N.Y. I was working at St. Joe Paper Company, catching future cardboard boxes as they rolled off the corrugator. On the way home, I heard a radio ad for a three-day music festival. The ad …

50 Years Ago at Woodstock Read More »

80’s Body Shop Elegy

We kept the radio on all day long. The news came on at noon. Reagan, Nicaragua, Iran. Tommy brushed his fingertips over the freshly primed fender of another rust-bucket Monte Carlo, feeling for waves, bows, any imperfections in the once rotted places he’d filled and shaped with fiberglass resin. Next door, the whitewashed Lighthouse Salvation …

80’s Body Shop Elegy Read More »

Breaking New Ground in the Pittsburgh Art World

Fiberart International 2019 is up through August 24, 2019 at Brew House Association and Contemporary Craft. “How did a small group of Pittsburgh housewives practicing the dainty craft of hand embroidery give birth to the rowdy, sophisticated, benchmark triennial we know as ‘Fiberart International?’” The answer to this rather cheeky question points to a group …

Breaking New Ground in the Pittsburgh Art World Read More »

Bringing Back Pittsburgh’s Steps

Along Schenley Drive in Oakland, the Frick Fine Arts building looks like a Renaissance villa, well suited to the grandeur of the adjacent Carnegie Museums and Library in the cultural part of Oakland. At the parking lot in back, though, you find the public steps down to Joncaire Street, a descent of 130-some treads into …

Bringing Back Pittsburgh’s Steps Read More »

Short Takes: “Imagining the Modern,” “The Best Seven Years of My Life”

“Imagining the Modern” is a gorgeous book about a period that not everyone thinks is beautiful: the postwar design of Pittsburgh. It is a truth universally acknowledged that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, and the popular consensus holds that East Liberty, the Hill District and a key part of the North …

Short Takes: “Imagining the Modern,” “The Best Seven Years of My Life” Read More »

A Meditation of Life in Twilight

Certain Pittsburghers could read Stewart O’Nan’s “Henry, Himself” just for the satisfaction of having their world described by a masterful writer. The Pittsburgh native’s novel, his 17th, takes place largely in the pleasant precincts of the East End, from well-tended houses in Highland Park to the Phipps Conservatory Flower Show in Oakland, Calvary Episcopal Church …

A Meditation of Life in Twilight Read More »

History, Charm and Vitality

Saxonburg was founded as a German farming settlement in 1832 by brothers Friedrich C. and John A. Roebling, immigrants from Mühlhausen, Prussia, who purchased 1,582 acres. Destined to become history’s most famous Saxonburg resident, John had studied surveying, engineering, architecture and hydraulics in Europe. He soon lost interest in farming and began developing a crucial …

History, Charm and Vitality Read More »

“May We Live in Interesting Times”: The 58th Venice Biennale

I have just returned from my 10th (I think) Venice Biennale. They tend to run together. Probably more than 1000 artists, 300 Aperol Spritzes, 150 Bellinis and 3,271 hors d’oeuvres. Princess Stephanie has blown smoke in my face from the terrace of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. The Russians have come and gone. San Marco has …

“May We Live in Interesting Times”: The 58th Venice Biennale Read More »

Famous Last Words…

Editor’s note: Oil and gas man Michael L. Benedum and his wife Sarah created the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation in memory of their only child who died in 1918 at the age of 20. On the anniversary of the Foundation, which has distributed more than $500 million in philanthropy to Pittsburgh and West Virginia, we …

Famous Last Words… Read More »

The Seeming Vastness of Summer

During a 15-minute break from a recent Friday night poker game, a friend and I were discussing medical things when the question arose: What would you do if you found out you had two years to live and would be in basically good health until the end? The conversation soon attracted a wider group, and …

The Seeming Vastness of Summer Read More »

[15] Phosphorus

At school I volunteered to set the lab stockroom in order. Sealed in a navy lab coat I took inventory. Gathered for disposal crumbling samples, mystery solutions. Rewrote acid-rotted labels. Re-pickled a funnel-web. Marvelled at copper’s rosy gleam. Dusted the jar of white phosphorus, a sullen chunk stored underwater. Like it, I felt my power …

[15] Phosphorus Read More »

Poetic Mission

With its deep pool of talented writers, Pittsburgh punches well above small-city status, especially among poetry circles. Reasons for this embarrassment of riches include the exposure many local poets receive for work that wins them awards, ample workshops, university writing programs with strong reputations and a vibrant scene that features readings nearly every night of …

Poetic Mission Read More »

Remembering the Summer of ’69

In the summer of 1969, my best friend was my transistor radio. With the radio glued to my ear, I spent hours daydreaming in the backyard, grooving to soulful sounds like Sly and the Family Stone singing “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” My humdrum neighborhood of Brookline was as far away from places like Martha’s …

Remembering the Summer of ’69 Read More »

When Clocks Have No Hands

I am a returnee by nature. Over the years I have returned to neighborhoods where I once lived, to rooms in dormitories that were mine, to Mirror Lake in the Adirondacks where I caught my first trout and to a grade school playground where I competed in kickball (soccer), softball and football. Although I enjoyed …

When Clocks Have No Hands Read More »

Lear in the Furnace: A Review of Quantum Theatre’s “King Lear”

Attending a Quantum Theatre production can be like traveling to one of those crazy destination weddings where they make you climb up some precipitous volcano to reach the venue, while you ponder the wedding planner’s sanity. You know the view will be fantastic, but is the journey worth it? In the case of William Shakespeare’s …

Lear in the Furnace: A Review of Quantum Theatre’s “King Lear” Read More »

What Will Millennials Tell Their Grandchildren?

Coming out of the restaurant we nearly collided with him—a compact, bearded man in a wheelchair, oxygen delivered to his nose from the tank tucked beside him. His scraggly gray-black beard rested against his chest; the liveliest part of his face was the bright blue of his eyes. When I apologized for almost bumping into …

What Will Millennials Tell Their Grandchildren? Read More »

Underheard

1 He had the window seat. After take-off he said, “My line is socks; what’s yours?” I said I was a writer. He smiled his least impressive smile. “What do you write?” “I hope they are poems.” ‘Where are you headed now? I told him I’d been invited to recite my poems at a university. …

Underheard Read More »

On a Pedestal: Clarion River, Innovation in Education

Western Pennsylvania is blessed with an abundance of water at a time when many places in the world find it increasingly scarce. But having ample water isn’t enough if it is tainted with pollutants. And the region long has been guilty of negligence when it comes to keeping its waterways clean and healthy. The Clarion …

On a Pedestal: Clarion River, Innovation in Education Read More »

Treating Patients As People

Healthcare often gets treated as if the only issue is economic: Health insurance-Goliaths Highmark and UPMC are in a coverage standoff; a “Medicare-for-all” bill that could cost up $32 trillion is unveiled in the U.S House of Representatives; insurance rates tick upward. But what about the emotional plight of flesh-and-blood patients facing uncertain outcomes while …

Treating Patients As People Read More »

New Faces at the Westmoreland

With a renewed interest in what kinds of people are represented in art museums, a new exhibition at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art offers some rarely seen faces. “Mingled Visions: The Photographs of Edward S. Curtis and Will Wilson” (March 30–June 30) presents images of Native Americans taken a century apart and from different …

New Faces at the Westmoreland Read More »

Batting Her Eyelashes

As never happens, I was invited to a black-tie charity event. Already possessing a fetching black ball gown, I thought I was sufficiently prepared. A close friend, however, said I just MUST get eyelash extensions for that “little extra pizzazz.” Maybe I would finally make the P-G “Seen” column! Always on the lookout for such …

Batting Her Eyelashes Read More »

On Broken Hollow Bridge

Answering Darlene Howard’s snotty dare, I hoisted myself up to the handrail, as thick as a balance beam, but slick with summer rain and wet rust. Knees bent, arms out to my sides, I straightened, chin up, staring ahead. Kicking off my sandals, I took my first tentative steps, peeling corrosion sticking to my skin, …

On Broken Hollow Bridge Read More »

Top