2006 Fall

Astro Teller, Entrepreneur and Author

I’m an entrepreneur, the CEO of a company. That takes up a lot of my time. But I love playing with my kids, doing things with friends and getting exercise. I’ve also found that I need artistic stimulation to exercise the other part of my brain. That’s one of the reasons I write. It helps …

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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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Row Your Boat

You should see Pittsburgh from down here, with nothing but a shell of wood and a few threads of spandex between you and the Allegheny, the water slapping at your elbows and the skyscrapers jutting like exclamation points at the end of the river. Pittsburgh is a city more often looked down onto, as from …

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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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Andy’s Not the Only One

Sometimes when trying to assess the importance of any one artist, I am reduced to playing the auction trick. What’s it worth? People who have pooh-poohed Andy Warhol think twice when they hear one of his paintings sells for $14 million. It may be the wrong road to art appreciation, but in our glib, new …

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Lofty Ideas

Their Shadyside home was one of the city’s finest, sequestered at the end of a leafy cul-de-sac. The grounds included a stone courtyard, large pool and formal rose garden that Tim and Audrey Hillman Fisher often used for the many benefits and parties they hosted. So invariably, the first question they are asked is how …

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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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Izzazu International Salon

Most men have no problem using a bar of Irish Spring to shower, shampoo and shave, all in about five minutes. A trend is growing, though. Izzazu International Salon has a service for men who want the same pampering traditionally reserved for women — a facial and (for men only!) a shave. In a private …

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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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Policy Abroad Needs Work

At first quietly, a group of us has been working to build a world-class institute at the University of Pittsburgh that analyzes emerging security problems and opportunities. Working closely with the U.S. military and key policy experts, the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies investigates rapidly emerging and evolving threats. One of the issues …

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Saving Science

On a quiet afternoon inside Seville Elementary School’s modest, unprepossessing building in Pittsburgh’s northern suburb of Ross, something electric is happening—literally and figuratively. The subject at hand is electricity: what it is and how to create it. But there’s a charge in the atmosphere, too, the kind that might make the hair on parents’ necks …

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Google Knows How to Flirt

You hate to wait through an advertisement on television. But you enjoy the look and feel of an ad in your favorite magazine. You hate pop-ups on the Internet. Yet you like finding what you need on Google. Our likes, dislikes and habits in this changing world are becoming critically important to companies that want …

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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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Song of Kittanning

The tranquil beauty of the Allegheny River at its idyllic venue in Kittanning conceals restless ghosts and a violent history. Safe to say, the 18th-century Native Americans who lived there never imagined it couldn’t be defended from a few hundred white invaders, or that the fate of two great Old World empires across an ocean …

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Full-Court Press

Ten bucks says you didn’t know that Pittsburgh is a hotbed of small press activity. Calling the Pittsburgh literary landscape “the most underrated art scene in town,” Paper Street Press poetry editor, Arlan Hess, described this year’s book fair of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Austin, Texas: “There were 450 tables of …

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A Tall Tail

It might be on the desolate plains of North Dakota, a lowland plantation in South Carolina or a rolling field in Pennsylvania. Wherever, it doesn’t take a first-time bird hunter long to realize the majesty and value of a good English pointer. The indefatigable dog zigzags in a euphoric trance through fields of high stubble, …

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Backstage with Springsteen

It was Christmas 1978, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were playing at Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theater. A mutual friend asked my wife to relay a message to sax player “Big Man” Clarence Clemons and ask him to call her. We had a notion of who Bruce was but had never heard of Clarence. …

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Farewell to a Summer Love

August afternoons resemble the blazing passion of new love: intense and torrid. August evenings are the antithesis: gentle and serene. They are a mature experience that is like a long, tender embrace. On August walks I avoid the blistering, high-sky sun of midday and seek shelter in shaded, cool, stream-cut ravines. The forest umbrella blocks the …

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Arrivals: Fall ’06

John R. Price is president and CEO of Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. He is a Rhodes Scholar, who earned advanced degrees in development economics and diplomatic history from Queens College at Oxford University. He is also a graduate of Harvard Law School. During the first Nixon Administration, Price succeeded the late Daniel Patrick …

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Heyward, Soffer, Trimarchi, Shekell, DeBolt, O’Connor, Rea, Edwards, Little

E. James Trimarchi, 83: Over the past 23 years, Trimarchi built a small Indiana bank with $31 million in assets into the $6 billion First Commonwealth Financial Corporation, serving as its first president and CEO and retiring as chairman six months before his death.A native of Indiana who served as a naval officer in the …

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Can You Dig It? Yes.

It’s tough to make a non-fiction work on paleoanthropology entertaining. The search for early forms of fossil man is commonly perceived as a dry one, figuratively and literally; comprising years upon years of tiresome labor by pedantic academics in wretched climates and occasionally yielding a fractured femur with which the average dog couldn’t be bothered. …

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