CULTURE

Bend of the ‘burgh

Pittsburgh has enjoyed some nice national media buzz in recent years. We’re so livable, we’re hipper than Portland, we’re the next foodie destination. But Pittsburgher Jacob Bacharach’s debut novel could blast the city’s profile into an otherworldly dimension. “The Bend of the World” — a highly enjoyable comedy of modern manners — imagines our…

From drab to daring

by Charles Rosenblum
You could easily miss the Sharpsburg Community Library, even at its Main Street location next to the post office. This is not a Beaux Arts gem of the Carnegie system. Rather, it is 1,300 square feet in a one-​story concrete-​block former Indian restaurant. The little facility is well used and…

New and newer

The founding director of the Andy Warhol Museum, Mark Francis, recounts this story: A few weeks before the museum opened, Francis had taken the distinguished curator, Walter Hopps, on an advance tour of the completed building. (Hopps was instrumental in putting on Warhol’s first Pop Art show, in June 1962

The Little Block House That Could

The first question a visitor usually asks is: “So… what was this place?” As curator of the 250-​year-​old Fort Pitt Block House, sometimes I feel that I have the most interesting job in the world. I get to take care of the only structure left of Fort Pitt and the…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Short takes

Speaking Pittsburghese: The Story of a Dialect By Barbara Johnstone Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics Oxford University Press ($39.95) Linguistics wizard Barbara Johnstone has spent years chronicling the intricacies of the Pittsburgh accent with the same work ethic and good nature that Pittsburghers love to celebrate in themselves. A professor at…

The working man novelist

by John Allison
Dave Newman is a hard-​working and funny writer who embodies an everyman Pittsburgh spirit with all of his ample heart. His latest novels — the brand-​new “Two Small Birds” and “Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children” (2012) — show him succeeding at the goal which his autobiographical protagonist, Dan Charles, declares at one…

Glory daze

by John Allison
In this season of Steelers discontent, Gary Pomerantz offers rattled fans some balm. “Their Life’s Work” is a thoroughly reported and clearly written account of the Steelers’ sensational ‘70s, framed through the “brotherhood” of the players and their interplay with the owners.

Hatfield and Home

by Charles Rosenblum
At the corner of Hatfield and Home streets, lively currents in Lawrenceville’s past, present and future converge in vivid architecture. Historic rowhouses line the street in one direction, and in another are some of the remains of industrial infrastructure. The substantial remaining open space toward the river seems to ask…

The Carnegie International: 2013

Let me say at the beginning that I adore the current Carnegie International, curated by Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers and Tina Kukielski. It has made me change my mind about a number of things I have held dear in the past. And, to me at least, it is already old…

The formidable Frick

One hundred and twenty five years ago, the eastern side of Pittsburgh’s East End — its grand villas powered by electricity and surrounded by gleaming motorcars — was arguably the richest and most tech-​savvy neighborhood in the country. Within a half-​mile stretch between Point Breeze and Wilkinsburg dwelt a dazzle of shrewd self-​made millionaires:…

Public Interest Radio

Marco Cardamone offered a blunt assessment in recalling the transformation from Duquesne University’s radio station WDUQ to 90.5 FM WESA, an all-​news National Public Radio format: “We got pretty clobbered,” he said with a chuckle. “The backlash was much greater than we anticipated. You always lose part of an audience…

The Arts Engine

On a cold spring night in April, arts traffic streamed along Penn Avenue in several frenetic directions. Downtown, patrons for the PSO’s performance of Bach’s beloved Brandenburg Concertos poured out of restaurants toward Heinz Hall, dodging ticket-​holders for the sold-​out “Book of Mormon” at the Benedum Center. Four miles miles…

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,…

Raising the Bar

by Charles Rosenblum
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…

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…
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