2021 Spring

Short Takes: “To Risk It All,” “Franco, Rocky & Friends”

In his book, “To Risk It All: General Forbes, The Capture of Fort Duquesne, and the Course of Empire in the Ohio Country,” historian and war scholar Michael N. McConnell sets his sights on the French and Indian War, and more specifically General John Forbes’s campaign against Fort Duquesne, the largest overland expedition during the …

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Pittsburgh Real Estate

The Terminal, stretching five blocks along Smallman Street, had just been given a stunning makeover when COVID-19 arrived, threatening the eateries and shops it courted as tenants. Months later, the 95-year-old former hub of Pittsburgh’s wholesale produce industry remains a hot real estate property that has attracted tenants throughout the pandemic, including District Brew Yards, …

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A Well-Deserved Drue Heinz Prize-Winner

In The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories, winner of the 2020 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Caroline Kim offers an expansive debut collection of stories that transports the reader across continents and centuries. Kim is a gifted writer of tremendous range—each story conjures a world unto itself. Throughout the collection, settings shift from the …

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A Seismic Shift in Higher Ed

Between declining enrollment, rising costs and at least one more pandemic-disrupted semester, Pittsburgh’s colleges and universities are facing 2021 budget shortfalls that may impact this mainstay sector of the regional economy for generations to come. Though often hailed as a bright spot in western Pennsylvania’s relatively moribund economy, the higher education sector—locally and nationally—was already …

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In the WomanCare Waiting Room, I Consider Flamingos

The pink robes at WomanCare smell like bleach. I wonder how many times they’ve been washed and reused. I wonder how many women have worn the robe I am wearing, how many of them were fine, how many were not fine, where they are now, if they have healed, if they are still here at …

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My Vegetable Garden, in Springtime

“The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.” —Rudyard Kipling My favorite time in the vegetable garden is in spring, after the soil is tilled and before the seeds are planted. Perennials are poking up—chervil, lovage, sorrel—but otherwise there’s little growth, just a blank canvas. The weather is cool, less humid and with …

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A Love Like No Other

All genuine love stories have moments of joy as well as moments of sadness. They may vary in intensity or duration, but they are never absent. Those who think of love as uninterrupted joy are romantics. Those who are obsessed only with sadness deserve their misery. This love story came to me out of coincidence. …

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New Paradigm

In 1889, Andrew Carnegie, whose immense wealth was earned along the banks of Pittsburgh’s rivers, called upon his peers to direct their fortunes toward the public good. In “The Gospel of Wealth,” he pitched “an ideal state, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the property of the …

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Ode to the Nose

Somebody once asked Princess Di to name one thing she would change about herself. Without hesitation, she replied, “My nose.” Ah, the poor, long-suffering nose! Dissed by royals, no less. It’s the most maligned facial feature, but arguably the most indispensable. The eyes may be the windows of the soul, but the nose is the …

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Decorating the Silver Screen

Jan Pascale would be really great on a scavenger hunt. Fifty place settings of vintage Blue Willow china? A candlestick telephone? Camera equipment from the 1930s? A lineup of old, clunky manual typewriters? As a set decorator, she found all this and much more just for one movie, “Mank.” As Pascale said, “We did a …

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Municipal Time Bomb

The fear was real last spring as local taxes—the lifeblood of boroughs, townships and cities—were trickling in. The COVID-19 pandemic was closing or impairing businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania, the state and nation. The U.S. unemployment rate soared to nearly 15 percent. “We worried that our revenues would collapse,” said Scott Andrejchak, the municipal manager of …

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Light as Air

Leanne Ford is working from home these days, just like everyone else. But home for Ford means Pittsburgh, as in the entire city and its environs. The interior designer and star of HGTV’s “Restored by the Fords” is positioning her new season, “Home Again with the Fords,” as part of a national trend. People across …

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It’s a Bird, Not an Insult

One April morning when I was watching my feeders, I noticed a woodpecker on a branch. At least I thought it was a plain, old woodpecker. Black and white plumage, chisel-like beak. But there was red on the front of its face and chin. Not the back-of-the-head, red splotch of the male downy or hairy …

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Celebrating Spring in Penns Creek Wild Area

People who have spent time around state College know the surrounding mountains hold countless opportunities for enjoying the outdoors. From winter hiking in the rocky ridgelines and snowshoeing around Bear Meadows Natural Area to spring fishing in Penns Creek’s and Fishing Creek’s famous trout waters, Centre County offers beautiful, remote landscapes in any season. One …

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Spring Greenery

After a long winter, the arrival of early spring, however damp and cool, is always welcome. This year especially so, as warmer weather on the horizon promises a reprieve after another pandemic winter. What better way to celebrate the cheerfulness of spring than with a pasta bursting with the bright, crisp flavors of spring’s early …

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Baker, Talotta, Franco, Hearn, Reeves, Ramachandran

Gretchen Baker will become the Daniel G. and Carole L. Kamin Director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History on April 1. Baker is currently the managing director for museum experience at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. She previously served as vice president of exhibitions for the Natural History Museums of …

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Breaking the News

With their traditional revenue models already suffering a long-term structural decline, local media operations have been further weakened by the government lockdowns and economic havoc accompanying COVID-19. Or as Tom Melia, Washington director of PEN America, the 99-year-old nonprofit that protects free expression, put it: “The pandemic has accelerated almost every contributing factor to the …

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Rooney, Clarke, Habegger, Miller, Thornburgh, Gale, Robinson

Patricia Rooney, 88: Married to the late Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney for 65 years and one of four matriarchs of longstanding NFL families, Mrs. Rooney combined her love of family with a commitment to many causes, especially in the North Side neighborhood where she grew up and lived until her death. The mother of nine …

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Andy Masich: Pittsburgh Has a Story to Tell

My father was an engineer and my mother was a trained actress who went to school at Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon University. (Her first kissing scene was with Carl Betz, a Pittsburgher, who played the husband on “The Donna Reed Show.”) My parents met while doing community and summer-stock theatre. I have a wonderful …

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Barnes, Rogers, Dawson, Houston, Cavalier, Taube, Feeney

J. David Barnes, 91: After graduating from Harvard Law in 1954, Mr. Barnes spent two years in the Army and then joined Mellon Bank. He retired 30 years later as the chairman and chief executive officer. Active on many corporate and philanthropic boards through the years, he was especially fond of the Ellis School, helping …

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Wanted: More People

Southwestern Pennsylvania staggered into 2020 in need of people, again. It was coming off of yet another year when deaths outnumbered births and the number of newcomers couldn’t keep pace with the number of residents moving somewhere else. The COVID-19 pandemic likely makes the already-long odds of a quick rebound in the region’s population even …

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On a Pedestal: Festival of Books, Contemporary Craft, Pitt’s Homewood Project

For the past couple of years, pandemic or not, Marshall Cohen has been meeting people and gathering support for his idea: the creation of a Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books. A literate city with the history of erudition that Pittsburgh has should have such an event, he reasoned. And after gaining some key support—from sponsors …

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