Opinion

Reading Between the Lines

In September, Block Communications announced that if it’s unable to reach satisfactory agreements with its unions by Dec. 31, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette may be sold. News outlets reported it as a provocative salvo in stalled negotiations, but it would be a mistake to view the release as posturing. Several facts shed light on the situation …

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The Life of an Ex-CEO

Leaving a job after 10 or 15 years is more like mourning the loss of a close friend than it is a career change. Think about it. You spend 20 years of your life sleeping, five years going the bathroom and 80 percent of what’s left working. So your job is a big part of …

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From the Publisher, Winter 2007

Eight years ago, working at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I suggested that the city editor have someone check the number of sunny days we’d seen, or rather the lack of them. Weather stories tend to bore journalists, and no one checked. When I finally did, it turned out we’d had four sunny days in four months. …

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Stocks & Pedestal, Winter 2007

Mayor Tom Murphy used to decry the lack of risk-tolerant Pittsburgh developers willing to invest in the city. In Damian Soffer, the city found the perfect partner. Together, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Soffer turned blight into beauty and created the dynamic Southside Works. The URA bought and remediated the land, and Soffer brought the …

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The Sword Over the City

There is a problem in the center of our region that almost defies description in one peculiar aspect.  Somehow, the larger it gets, the more invisible it becomes. The problem is debt. The City of Pittsburgh owes almost $1.2 billion, most of it borrowed over the last 15 years. It must pay another $400 million …

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The RSVP: An Art Lost?

Many years ago, when Sam Menefee was a student at Oxford, he would arrange to meet a friend for dinner by leaving a handwritten note in the pigeonhole, or mailbox, of his friend. The friend would respond by leaving a note in Sam’s pigeonhole. The charming and humorous notes were part of a wonderful tradition …

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Capital ideas

Currents in the nation’s philanthropic world continue to take their lead from Western Pennsylvania patterns and people. In May, the Council on Foundations held its annual meeting in Pittsburgh, co-hosted by the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation. At the meeting, the Council chose Heinz’s Max King as its new chairman. The other major national …

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Pittsburgh Roars & the Pirates

On a pedestal: Pittsburgh roars ahead Western Pennsylvania has never been a place where marketing held much sway.  The companies that supplied the oil, steel, glass, aluminum and money for America’s expansion didn’t need to market. America called on them. Marketing may even have been somewhat distasteful in Pittsburgh, where understatement is a virtue. Times …

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Say What?

If you think it’s hard understanding a George Will editorial, you ought to spend time with the technology intelligentsia as they evaluate a prospective investment in a start-up company. Every industry has its own vernacular, but this gang can befuddle the most erudite among us. Show me the money: names for start-up investors In the …

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From the Publisher, Fall 2006

On my last night on the island I sat down to pen this column. Ahead lay fall and a return to the world of squeezing productivity from every minute of the day. On the porch of the old house overlooking the water, I considered what I was leaving behind. On the far shore of the …

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Stocks & Pedestal, Spring/Summer 2006

There is a tide in the affairs of leaders. A rising tide, the saying goes, lifts all boats. It’s a low tide that you have to survive, and rare is the leader who doesn’t face one. Jim Rohr’s low tide came in 2002. After the stock market bubble had burst, America was looking for people …

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From the Publisher, Spring/Summer 2006

Before we get to the second issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly, I’d like to thank the many people who have passed along ideas and kind words either in person or in letters or e-mail about the first issue. All considered, we couldn’t have been happier with it and with the response. The magazine is resonating with …

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Three Places That Found Redemption

A story of redemption is a story of profound change that we make ourselves. Time won’t redeem us, nor will promises or fond memories. When our cherished world has collapsed in front of us and we stare into the abyss, the choices are stark: keep walking straight ahead and fall into oblivion, take one tentative …

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The Pace of Progress

In the game of Monopoly, sometimes you land on Community Chest. If fate smiles, you draw a little yellow card that says “Advance to Go” or “Bank error in your favor,” and you collect $200. The worst card shows the mustachioed Monopoly man stooped over, carrying a pick and shovel with the words “You are …

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Whatever Happened to the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit?

In 1955, Sloan Wilson wrote a groundbreaking novel on the trials of working in the 1950s. “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” became a hit film starring Gregory Peck and tells the story of how a young executive works tirelessly in what would become known as the white-collar world. Wilson’s protagonists are Tom and …

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The Story of Society

“What rage for fame attends both great and small. Better be damned than mentioned not at all!” So noted John Wolcott in the mid 1800s, and not much has changed since. But today Wolcott might wonder what rage for society news has taken the nation by storm. One is hard pressed to open a newspaper or …

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Stocks & Pedestal, Winter 2006

The dubious distinction of being the first to be placed in the rusty, old Pittsburgh Quarterly stockade goes to the local Republican Party. We’re putting the party in the pillory for essentially being a no-show in city politics. If ever there were a time when the Republicans should have recognized and seized an opportunity, it …

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Welcome to the First Issue

Pittsburgh is a major industrial, cultural and intellectual center. Thick with history, it is both the home and the exporter of great Americans and great ideas. Pittsburgh Quarterly will be the magazine for people who know this city and for those seeking to know it better. It will be the magazine about the myth and …

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The Pennsylvania Society

The setting could hardly have been more festive: New York City at Christmas with its crowds, carols, shopping, bright lights and snow. No wonder then that Pennsylvania politicos and business seekers by the thousands tore themselves away for the 107th annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Society. As they roamed through the Waldorf-Astoria seeking the next …

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Entrepreneur

Oscar Levant, pianist, composer, actor and native Pittsburgher, once quipped: “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.” You don’t need to spend a lot of time with entrepreneurs to realize that many of them have at least smudged the line. For every Willie Loman there are five Willy Wonkas. …

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