Nick Keppler

Nick Keppler is a Pittsburgh-​based freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Village Voice, Nerve, Vice, and Slate. When he’s not on his laptop, he’s probably kayaking on one of the city’s rivers with a Led Zeppelin track blaring through his earbuds.

A New Church Grows in Troubled Towns

It’s Sunday morning at Rust City Church and Pastor Sam Yacoub is on stage talking about his mom’s pension problems. “She retired from Delphi, with the promise of a pension and she retired thinking, ‘I’m going to spend time with my grandbabies and enjoy it,’” says Yacoub, dressed in a black baseball cap, denim jacket …

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The Powder of Death

Marley Fisher walked away from several overdoses during her six years of opioid addiction. The batch that finally killed her left her unable to even stumble out of the Point State Park bathroom stall into which she ducked to shoot up. In April of 2017, Fisher, 28, accompanied a friend to buy heroin from a …

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A New Way to Fight Overdose

When Dave Lozier campaigned to be the district attorney of Beaver County, one topic dominated conversation at every meet-and-greet and campaign stop. “I was up in rural Darlington Township and down in Monaca and the [more populated] river towns and everyone kept asking, ‘What can we do about these overdoses?’ ” recalled Lozier, a former …

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A Creepy Mill Town

Calynn Lechner isn’t sure what’s looking back at her. The clay face she’s sculpting has a beak like a turtle and lobster-ish whiskers. When she’s done, the skin will look gelatinous, like a jellyfish’s. “It’s a smorgasbord of everything,” says Lechner, 23, her tattooed arm moving slowly as she uses a scalpel-like tool to carve …

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Just Breathe

Emily is an emergency dispatcher, yet work is the only place where she always feels calm. Sometimes, when Emily (not her real name) walks her dog on the sidewalks of her Pittsburgh neighborhood or gets ready to leave her home to run errands, she feels a spell of dizziness. Then comes shortness of breath. After …

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Clouds gathering over Pittsburgh

As his rowboat swept over Penn Avenue, Charles H. Allard looked for the bronze tablet on the Horne’s building. The object commemorated the high water mark of the Flood of 1907, previously the most severe flood to ravage Pittsburgh. Allard, reporting for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on March 18, 1936, couldn’t see it. Allard and two …

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Heroin Hits Home

By the time he was 35, James (a pseudonym) was living in a Shadyside home worth $500,000, driving an Audi A4 and earning six figures. He was seven years into his job as a recruiter for a technology company. His wife was from a wealthy family, and they traveled often. “Every six weeks, we were …

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