2009 Spring

Reconsider the Riesling

Here’s a little test to see who’s as old as I am, and who will ’fess up to once drinking wines that might get you laughed out of a fancy restaurant today. Once upon a time, Americans loved off-dry wines. Remember Blue Nun? Black Cat? If you drank them in the 1950s, ’60s or ’70s, …

Reconsider the Riesling Read More »

Pittsburgh’s College Corridor

What conjures an image of fun and vitality more than the phrase “college town”? And especially clear in an economy like the present one, what industry offers more stability in roiling financial seas than a solid stable of universities? Western Pennsylvania is home to dozens. At their hub is a group of seven, making a …

Pittsburgh’s College Corridor Read More »

Strategy in the Ivory Tower

The wrecking ball that has moved through the U.S. economy, taking down investment banks, fitness chains and donut shops, is threatening a group of institutions not usually mentioned on the nightly business report. Colleges and universities across western Pennsylvania and the country are bracing for the impact from unemployment, weak credit and stock markets and …

Strategy in the Ivory Tower Read More »

Henry Clay Frick: Blood Pact

Among the great fortunes of Pittsburgh’s Golden Age (1870–1910), that of Henry Clay Frick stands third, bested only by Andrew Carnegie and the Mellons. But the extraordinary aspect of the Frick fortune was not its size. Carnegie, Heinz, Mellon and Westinghouse were all entrepreneurs who exercised ultimate control in their operations. Frick started as an …

Henry Clay Frick: Blood Pact Read More »

Semple, Burns, Ellis, Simon, Phillips

Dock Ellis, 63 One of baseball’s most colorful, controversial and bizarre figures, Ellis was a Pittsburgh Pirates star, who once pitched a no-hitter on LSD. In an era of social upheaval, Ellis was branded a militant by the media because of his vocal advocacy for racial equality. His 1970 no-hitter came about after he had …

Semple, Burns, Ellis, Simon, Phillips Read More »

Planetary Hollywood

First the lights dim. In the darkness, you feel the intense drumbeat and techno-pop rhythms of the synthesizer pounding deep in your gut. Next a fiery, red globe materializes above you like a cosmic disco ball of galactic proportions. Look left and a futuristic spacecraft emerges from the solar system beyond. It begins to circle …

Planetary Hollywood Read More »

Nemacolin Woodlands

The bear market might have you reconsidering a spring-break trip to Vail or Aruba, and you might forgo that trip just to avoid the painful wait at the airport. In less time than you have to wait for a plane, you could drive to the perfect getaway—Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa in Fayette County. The …

Nemacolin Woodlands Read More »

The American Robin

The early bird catches the worm,” so the proverb tells us. As the light and warmth of spring slowly thaw western Pennsylvania,  it’s likely that the American Robin will be that early morning bird with an unsuspecting wiggler in its beak. All winter, robins roam the region, foraging in loose flocks for berries and wild …

The American Robin Read More »

All the Comforts of Home — and Then Some

In January, The Pennsylvania Board of Education’s Higher Education Council tossed out this idea for a new kind of institution of higher learning: A no-frills, low-cost college where kids could earn a bachelor’s degree sans the on-campus fitness centers, climbing walls, as-comfy-as-home dorm rooms and other expensive amenities found on many campuses today. An emphasis …

All the Comforts of Home — and Then Some Read More »

The Strange World of Elevens

The orderly’s name was Rich. He’d come to fill my mother’s water pitcher. Rich had eyebrows like steel wool and eyes that seemed focused anywhere but here. “My dad used to scrunch his face up all the time, just like that,” I said. “You shouldn’t frown so much.” “My wife tells me that, too,” he …

The Strange World of Elevens Read More »

Gray vs. Green in CEOs

Like everyone, I’ve been watching a lot of Paul Newman movies lately. A couple of his performances made me think about CEOs and how they seem to get better with age. It particularly strikes me when I watch him play two different Eddie Felsons in “The Hustler” and “The Color of Money.” The young Felson …

Gray vs. Green in CEOs Read More »

From the Publisher, Spring 2009

My 17-year-old daughter wanted to go to the inauguration, and we went back and forth about it. There were plenty of reasons not to. The crowd was expected to be 2–4 million, and people had been asked to stay home. I’d been in a densely packed crowd once before, where you couldn’t move and were …

From the Publisher, Spring 2009 Read More »

Stocks & Pedestal, Spring 2009

The Pittsburgh Steelers: Here we go. In a season when both the landscape and the economy have been frozen and dreary, life in Pittsburgh has been full of excitement and expectation, thanks to the Steelers. So up on the pedestal they go for lighting a bonfire of Pittsburgh spirit and taking our minds off of …

Stocks & Pedestal, Spring 2009 Read More »

The Losses Hit Home

Justifiably, greater Pittsburgh has felt fortunate to escape the brunt of this recession so far. We’ve read the stories in the national media and seen the statistics. We had no housing bubble here, so there’s no bubble to burst. Our financial institutions are comparatively strong. The healthcare, government and education sectors have softened the blows …

The Losses Hit Home Read More »

Jack Perkowski, ASIMCO Technologies

Like so many others in the Pittsburgh area, my grandparents on both sides emigrated from Poland to the United States in the early part of the 20th century. Think about the journey they made. They were going to a place about which they knew nothing. They didn’t know the language. It must have been very …

Jack Perkowski, ASIMCO Technologies Read More »

Nap’s Cucina Mia

This Napoleon and Josephine story has a happy ending. It began in 1952, just two blocks from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus, when Napoleon and Josephine Patti opened Nap’s, a shot-and-beer joint along the main drag of the small town. For years, Nap’s was a regular stop for the guys who made their bones …

Nap’s Cucina Mia Read More »

Steel City Jews

Kudos to historian Barbara Burstin for producing “Steel City Jews: A History of Pittsburgh and its Jewish Community, 1840–1915.” For 10 years the author toiled alone, without a publisher, to create a labor of love that relates the early history of our city in the context of the Jewish experience. She examines, intelligently and effectively, …

Steel City Jews Read More »

An Artful Existence

A life well traveled, well collected, well lived. The evidence fills the spectacular city residence of a prominent couple who recently moved into an historic building. Their apartment occupies most of an upper floor, with views on three sides that provide a breathtaking panorama. That is, of course, if one can look away from the …

An Artful Existence Read More »

A Mountain from the Hill

The wiper blades arched back and forth against the SUV’s windshield, sweeping away an icy rain. Over the narrow, cobblestone streets and vacant, littered lots of the Hill District, DeJuan Blair drove his grandmother’s Buick Rendezvous. He stopped at a light on Bedford Avenue and said, “This is my ’hood. Over there, that’s Whiteside Avenue. …

A Mountain from the Hill Read More »

Gibbons, Waite, Hansen, Ashburner, Benedict, Humar, Kiehn

David P. Gibbons will become the president of UPMC Northwest, in Seneca, Venango County. He comes to western Pennsylvania from Voorhees, N.J., where he was vice president of operations for the Kennedy Health System’s three hospitals.Before joining Kennedy in 1997, he was director of managed care for the Visiting Nurses Association of Greater Philadelphia; regional …

Gibbons, Waite, Hansen, Ashburner, Benedict, Humar, Kiehn Read More »

Top