Between the Issues

The Man Who Took Away Snakes

No, he wasn’t always a plumber for the City of Pittsburgh, and he wasn’t always called Pupi either. His wife called him Andy. Pupi told me this story one day when we were hunting at “The Farm.” I was his hunting dog that day. My job was to kick brush…

Passport to Elegance Soiree Features Vintage Automobiles and Airplanes

The Voyager Jet Center at the Allegheny County Airport was the host venue of the second Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Passport to Elegance Jet Center Party on July 12, 2018. The guests at this red carpet luxury bash, held in the unique venue of the 18,000 square foot airplane hangar,…

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life: The Conclusion

It was now late winter of 1971 and I was running the traffic division at the 226th MP Company at Fort Benjamin Harrison, outside Indianapolis. In those days Fort Ben was the headquarters of the Army Finance School and the location of the Army Finance Center. The building that housed…

The Spirit of Animals Glows in Robin Becker’s “The Black Bear Inside Me”

There’s a favorite scene in Don DeLillo’s sprawling masterpiece of a novel, “Underworld,” where a priest asks his student to name the parts of the boots the pupil’s wearing. The young man struggles with the assignment, allowing the priest to walk him through each aspect of this common accessory, an…

A Summer Sampling: Southwestern Pennsylvania’s County Fairs

For many Pittsburghers, summer memories include fun days — and nights — at county fairs. In this collection of images, photographer David Aschkenas captures the spirit and fascinating culture of the region’s fairs over the past decade.

Black Tie & Tailpipes Gala Kicks Off Grand Prix

by PQ Staff
The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Black Tie & Tailpipes Gala on Friday, July 6 at Fox Chapel Golf Club kicked off a week of Grand Prix events, culminating on Sunday, July 15 with the races in Schenely Park. This year was another sell out for the gala as more than…

The Legend of Duke Hock

Sergeant Duke Hock was a legend in the Army while I was still in grade school. He was Jack Reacher before Lee Child was born.

Rocky’s World Behind the Diner Counter

Where’s Apollo Creed? Oh, hardy, har, har. Like he hasn’t heard that one like, ten thousand times before.

O Say Can’t You See?

We shout when we should be discussing, and the country in chaos accepts it. We shoot when we should be disarming, and the country in chaos accepts it. We claim that the poor are just lazy, and the country in chaos accepts it. We budget to build bigger prisons, and…

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life, Part II

So there we were, in late 1970, having graduated from the U.S. Army Military Police Correctional Specialist Academy, the best-​trained prison guards in the world. We had been assigned to one of the worst prisons in the world, the stockade at Long Bình, Vietnam, better known as the Long Bình…

Black and White

For the first eight years of my teaching career, the only white face in my classroom was mine. I was aware of that fact, of course, but only peripherally. My students were just that, my students. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying I was colorblind. I just didn’t relate to my…

Donna’s Dream and a Life of Roller Skating

by Kate Benz, photography by John Altdorfer
Donna’s knee has been bothering her lately. Which is why she isn’t lacing up her white roller skates right now, the pair her late husband bought for her in 1963 for, geez, it must have been five hundred dollars. The same pair she was wearing 10 years ago when she…

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden’s “From Garden to Mexican Table” Gala Honors Rick Bayless

by PQ Staff
“From Garden to Mexican Table — A Gala Tribute to Rick Bayless” raised $260,000 for Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Held at the Pennsylvanian on Thursday, June 14, the event drew 350 attendees. The seated dinner — following a presentation to Rick Bayless — was crafted by a group of the city’s finest chefs led by Bill Fuller…

A Look Inside Google’s Unconventional Bakery Square Offices

What is really behind the brick walls of that redeveloped Nabisco cookie factory building in Bakery Square, labelled with Google’s colorful logo? Think: hammocks, coffee shops, dining rooms, gaming rooms and pool tables. Created in collaboration with local architecture firm Strada, Google’s office space in Pittsburgh’s East End is playful,…

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life

A few weeks ago, in a post about J. D. Vance’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” I mentioned in passing that I was convinced that having spit-​shined my Army combat boots may have saved my life. I didn’t elaborate, and since then several dozen people have inquired about that brief aside. So…
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