2013 Fall

Big Things for Pittsburgh

This fall is an exciting time at Pittsburgh Quarterly and in Pittsburgh. In its Golden Quill Awards in May, the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania judged PQ to be the region’s best magazine for the seventh straight year. And I believe that this issue contains the strongest combination of stories we’ve ever produced—stories that reflect …

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Keith, Viator, Mellon, Jacobsen, Beaupré, Clark Smith, Howard

John Keith is the inaugural R.K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. He comes to Pittsburgh from Princeton, N.J., where he was an associate research scholar in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University. A native of St. Cloud, Minn., he …

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Sala Udin, Community Organizer

My mother and father came to Pittsburgh during the great black migration from the South in the 1920s. They met and married here and took up residence in the lower Hill District. I was raised on Fullerton Street, which was the main drag leading to Wiley Avenue, the cultural heart of the lower Hill. From …

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Remember the Tartans

They ruined a perfectly good trophy case. It used to sit there, self-consciously, in Carnegie Mellon University’s Skibo Gymnasium. The items in that case were pretty much the only tangible stuff that remained of the glory days of football, back when the school was Carnegie Tech. The main trophies were some old footballs from the …

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The Motel Era

It was then that began our extensive travels all over the states,” said Humbert Humbert in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, “Lolita.” “To any other type of tourist accommodation I soon grew to prefer the Functional Motel—clean, neat, safe nooks, ideal places for sleep, argument, reconciliation, insatiable illicit love.” Poet and fiction writer James Agee ghostwrote a …

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The social wasteland

Themes of social, psychological and emotional isolation have been the stock in trade of American writers for as long as the concept of a national literature—and the elusive Great American Novel—have existed, variously attributed to religion, race, politics, drugs, wars, fragmented families, generation gaps and gender issues. Now Michael Bishop, the callow protagonist of Salvatore …

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The Brown Creeper

I was listening recently to an NPR interview about an elephant researcher in Africa. It was a story about the challenge of tracking a huge and relatively abundant mammal that has the tendency to disappear into the bush in the blink of an eye. While it’s hard to imagine, it’s the way of wild creatures …

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Ode to Elegance

In 1872, when the residence of interior designer Louis Talotta was built, it was a grand place on a grand street in Oakland. But by the end of World War II, it had been carved up, much like the map of Europe, into many smaller pieces. The tall ceilings were lowered with acoustic tile so …

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Apple Obligations

There’s a point after leaving Pittsburgh, zipping in and out of lanes on Interstate 79, when you distinctly hit Country. Even the dog notices it, sticking his nose in the air, half-closing his eyes in window-seat joy. It’s the moment when the air rushing in smells sweet, like hay and dung and grass. Farther north, …

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Raising the Bar

The widely repeated story goes something like this: Gary Saulson, PNC’s senior vice president for real estate, would regularly have lunch at a certain restaurant, from which he would have a direct view toward the Liberty Travel Building, a billboard-slathered misshapen lump, whose prominent location at the corner of Liberty and Sixth meant that its …

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Pittsburgh Mayor: Who is Bill Peduto?

For his first vacation after his victory in the May mayoral primary, Bill Peduto booked his own stops, packed his own bag and took only one close companion: his iPhone. Within 24 hours, traveling between Helsinki and Stockholm, he used it to tweet the following: Great lunch meeting w/former Finnish diplomat to Baghdad 90-91 & …

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A purposeful re-hang

A useful trick for carnegie museum of Art visitors is to read the label on the wall beside the art. In the lower corner is the accession number, for example, 96.1, which indicates the year in which the work was acquired, 1896, followed by the order in which the work was entered into the museum’s …

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The Steeler Way

Over the summer, news reports across the country have focused on the dramatic increase in NFL player arrests since the Feb. 4 Super Bowl. As of early July, the off-season arrest rate has increased 75 percent over last year, according to one labor economist. And of the 31 arrests since the Super Bowl, the murder …

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La Prima Espresso

October 2, 1988, was a brisk Sunday in Pittsburgh’s Strip District—then more a collection of warehouses than a bustling foodies’ mecca—and Sam and Debbie Patti were hoping the naysayers had been wrong. With their 12-year-old daughter, Jamie, they sat bundled on a bench in the chilly storefront that had just become La Prima Espresso, the …

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Visions of Pittsburgh’s Future

Twenty-five years ago, Pittsburgh hosted the Remaking Cities Conference, an international gathering of architects, visionaries and dignitaries, including England’s Prince Charles, the honorary co-host and keynote speaker. This year, Oct. 15-–18, 2013, Carnegie Mellon University will host the Remaking Cities Congress, with 300 invited urbanists and thought leaders who will again focus on the post-industrial …

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The Lincoln Highway at 100

Imagine the year is 1910. You are making the journey by automobile from suburban Pittsburgh to Gettysburg on winding roads made primarily of packed dirt. Dry weather makes for a dusty drive. When it rains, cars bottom out in pools of mud. Most roads are impassable in snow and ice. No restaurants or gas stations …

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What we say (and do) about the environment

Lori Rieger and Kim Haynes are strolling Point State Park on a July afternoon that is sunny, hot and humid enough to notice. It’s the kind of day that invites ozone pollution to accumulate at levels that violate federal air quality standards, which is something Pittsburgh and the region do on an annual basis. But …

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Hello ACC

How did the University of Pittsburgh celebrate its official entrance this summer into the Atlantic Coast Conference? With Downtown fireworks, of course—quintessential Pittsburgh. But Panthers fan Stephen Clendaniel is holding out for the electricity inside the Petersen Events Center when teams like Duke University pass through this upcoming season. He’s been a devoted Pitt men’s …

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Halting the Revolving Hospital Door

For years, hospitals focused on getting patients home as quickly as possible—and applauded themselves for short length of stays. But five years ago, a landmark New England Journal of Medicine study showed that as many as one in five Medicare patients bounced back to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, revealing that a good …

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Autumn Weekend

There are all sorts of iconic American highways that appear in song and lore—Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway and the Blue Ridge Parkway, to name a few. But, according to National Geographic, “one of America’s most scenic drives” is right here in Pennsylvania: U.S. Route 6. Its long, local history began with an 1807 …

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A few (awkward) questions for your financial advisor

Suppose you were Mr. Moneybags, with, oh, say, a billion dollars to worry about. How would you go about finding a good financial advisor? The first thing you’d do would be to talk to a lot of other families like you. If they’ve worked for years with a financial advisor and are happy, that’s a …

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Grading the Scorecard

Although Sarah Twing showed diverse talents in high school in Penn Laird, Va., she knew her passions would need to be tempered by financial considerations as she looked toward college. Originally from Uzbekistan, her adoptive parents agreed to pay half of her college tuition. The other half would rest on her shoulders. Those who were …

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