On a Pedestal, Fall 2022

Sculpture All AroundHats off to two local sculpture efforts. The first, by longtime design innovator Dan Droz is “The Gathering,”(above) the largest sculpture to be installed in a public setting in Pittsburgh in over 20 years. It is sited at the entrance to The Heritage Trail, at 15th Street and Waterfront Place in the Strip …

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DEFCON 3

We are examining the nuclear threats propounded by Vladimir Putin during the Ukraine conflict through the lens of the nuclear threats propounded by his predecessor, Nikita Khrushchev, during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Last week we looked at the events that led up to the crisis. This week we’ll walk through the crisis in …

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The Studied Neglect of the Hill District

The dreariest part of a recent trip to Pittsburgh was not the memorial service I attended, but revisiting the Hill District.  I’ve always felt a connection to the place, first referred to as “Jew’s Hill” during my grandparents time. Then with the great migration of blacks coming north after the Civil War, the named changed …

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Retiring Ritter Farm

Under a gray November sky, in a rain-soaked cornfield where four generations of the Ritter family had farmed, Carol Ritter embraced her husband, Ralph, as strangers bid on equipment the couple had accrued over nearly 60 years of farming. “Woooeee, look at that,” said auctioneer John R. Huey II of Slippery Rock, gesturing toward a …

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Ukraine through the Lens of Cuba

“I’m looking forward to being an old man. I have to, you can’t look back on it.” — Jerry Seinfeld One of the good things about being an Old Coot – maybe the only good thing about being an Old Coot – is that you can vividly remember events other people only know about if they’ve studied …

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A Princess on the Bluff

On February 26, 1978, Princess Grace of Monaco presented a poetry program entitled “Birds, Beasts and Flowers” in the Carnegie Music Hall under the auspices of the International Poetry Forum. This was her first professional appearance in the United States since her marriage in 1954. This would also be her first visit to Pittsburgh. Though …

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The Power and Danger of Storytelling

Sway. for Jonathan Gottschall, author of the riveting nonfiction, The Story Paradox: How Our Love of Storytelling Builds Societies and Tears Them Down, this lone syllable jotted on a bar napkin while watching interactions in a tavern becomes the answer to a question: What are they actually doing? His thesis: human communication stands “to influence …

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Riding the GAP Trail

Rob and Nikki Fleming came with friends from Tarpon Springs, Florida.  Tom and Carolyn Cassell made the trip from Tucson.  And Jeremy Cline travelled from Connecticut.  Each year, bicyclists come to Pittsburgh from across the country and beyond to ride the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage (GAP).  Last year, that number reached 1.4 million, according to …

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Beating Long COVID

Vitamins. Okay, I know you are disappointed, you were expecting more. Maybe the rediscovery of a century-old drug everyone had forgotten about but that had magical properties when it came to over-active immune systems. Maybe a new concoction made up of equal parts lithium and kryptonite. Previously in this series: Poor, poor Pitiful Me, Beating …

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Canton – a Great Fall Getaway

For most Pittsburghers, canton, Ohio is synonymous with the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And why not? Thirty-two of the 362 enshrined members are Steeler-related. But the birthplace of the National Football League (originally the American Professional Football Association in 1920), has more to offer than football. Founded in 1963 with two rooms, the Hall …

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Regional Unemployment At “Extremely Low” Rate 

The unemployment rate in southwestern Pennsylvania fell to one of the lowest rates in the past 50 years, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data.   In September, 4.2 percent of workers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area were looking for work. That rate tied for the lowest unemployment rate in the region …

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Poor, Poor Pitiful Me

On December 28, 2021, despite being double vaxxed and boosted, I tested positive for COVID. So much for the vaccine’s 96 percent success rate. Over the following week my symptoms got worse and worse – basically, the flu-from-hell – and eventually I called my doctor. Previously in this series: Beating Long COVID, Part I He …

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Touring Our Industrial Past

Step on board the good ship Explorer and get ready to enjoy your exciting outing on Pittsburgh’s signature rivers. No jazz combo, no dancing here, but there is a tour guide who will introduce you to the stops along your journey. Over there are the former iron-making Carrie Furnaces spanning Rankin and Swissvale, abandoned in …

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Ferlo, Treganowan, Chaplin, Simpson, Poliziani, Fuhrer, Henderson, Lovelace, Grefenstette, Dunlap, Grata

Jim Ferlo, 70A former state senator, city council president and community advocate, Ferlo was an active supporter of causes that included attempting to save the landmark Syria Mosque. He was Pennsylvania’s first openly gay senator after coming out publicly during a 2014 debate about an LGBT hate crimes bill. Ferlo began his career as a …

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An Untapped Resource? Pt. II

We’ve asked the presidents of this region’s colleges and universities to address our critical workforce shortages by penning a response to the following question: “As you know, the western Pennsylvania region faces a more acute workforce shortage than almost any other major region in the country. Working as closely with young adults as you do, …

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Beating Long COVID

Among the many things medical science didn’t anticipate about the pandemic was the phenomenon of so-called “long COVID.” People, many of whom who were double vaxxed and boosted, got sick and never got completely better. Symptoms vary, but may include serious fatigue, fever, cough, “brain fog,” vertigo, digestive troubles, loss of smell and/or taste, depression, …

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Death of the Daily News

Nearly 200 years ago, French social scientist Alexis De’ Tocqueville spent nine months touring America, documenting observations in what became the seminal Democracy in America. His take on the job of newspapers in a bourgeoning new country experimenting in representative democracy could be his most prescient: “’To suppose they only serve to protect freedom would …

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An Untapped Resource?

We’ve asked the presidents of this region’s colleges and universities to address our critical workforce shortages by penning a response to the following question: “As you know, the western Pennsylvania region faces a more acute workforce shortage than almost any other major region in the country. Working as closely with young adults as you do, …

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Region Continues Adding Jobs, But Can’t Erase Pandemic Losses

Jobs ticked up in the Pittsburgh region in September, but incremental gains haven’t been enough to bring the number of jobs back up to pre-pandemic levels. Employers in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area added 11,700 jobs from August to September, a 1 percent monthly gain, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of …

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A Letter from Philadelphia 

When I grew up in Pittsburgh in the 1960s and ‘70s, for a time it had the third-largest concentration of corporate headquarters in the U.S. with US Steel, Mellon Bank, Alcoa, H.J. Heinz, Koppers, Rockwell, Dravo, Westinghouse, and others.  Since then, Pittsburgh has seen many changes, some anticipated, others completely new and unexpected.  But I …

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The Conclusion: Lessons to Remember for Next Time

Norwegians, including those serving on the Koronakommisjonen, are so polite and self-effacing that one has to read between the lines to understand just how remarkable the country’s pandemic response was. It turns out it was that very modesty, that national humility, that was at the core of what made them successful. Previously in this series: …

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When Jim Thorpe Almost Became a Pittsburgh Pirate

In the 1912 summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, Jim Thorpe won the demanding five-event  pentathlon and the grueling ten-event decathlon and was roundly declared the greatest athlete in the world.  He added to his stature that fall by becoming a football All-American after leading Carlisle to a stunning upset over a powerful Army team that …

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