Two weeks ago, I took an unexpected three-day trip to Pittsburgh, a city I had never seen before. Â Â I loved it. Â It’s my kind of town, insasmuch as it is rude, crude, and real. Â I like cities with personalities, and Pittsburgh has personality up the wazoo. Â Kind of literally.
(Pittsburgh reminds me of New York, specifically of a cartoon by my friend the late, great John Callahan.)Â
(Anyway, this is the Callahan cartoon Pittsburgh reminded me of. Callahan was talking of NY, of course, but you get the idea.)
But I digress. Â Here is my report from Pittsburgh:
For reasons too complicated to get into, I drove there with Murphy, my dog, and Barnaby, my cat, and also my fnorf. Â We stayed in a pet-friendly hotel. Â Having left the animals in the room , we went down to the car to retrieve the rest of our stuff, and when we got back up, 1) Murphy had pooped and peed on the floor; and 2) Barnaby was missing. Â Just … gone.
After laundering the floor, we searched for Barnaby. Â Nowhere. Â It was clear that he must have gotten under the bed, and was hiding. Because this was a motel room bed, it afforded no access directly underneath, so we partially disassembled it, and sure enough, he was there. Â So we reassembled the bed, pushing it flush against the wall, eliminating, we hoped, his only access to underneath.
Two hours later, Â Barnaby was gone. Â So we partially disassembled the bed. Â He was not under it. Â Fifteen minutes later, we found him in the bathroom. Â He had jumped into an open cabinet, which was black, as is Barnaby. Â Pressing his mostly pitch-black self against he back wall, and becoming a legless “loaf,” as cats can do, hiding his two white feet, he had been essentially invisible.Â
Two hours later, Barnaby was gone. Â Gone. Â We partially disassembled the bed, and he was not under it. Â Fifteen minutes later, we found him. Â He was on the window sill, smooshed against the side of the window, behind the only opaque part of the curtains. Â Here is a picture of the moment we coaxed him out. Â Essentially, he said “what, you got a problem?
Okay, the city. Â The city is tough Â How tough? Â Here is a photo we took on a street, outside a government building. Â I cannot explain it. Â I do not know the backstory, but I am assuming the baby finished the bottle of vodka and the parents were off to find him another. Â He was thirsty.Â
Pittsburgh appears to exist to support the Steelers. Â I have never before been in a city where such a huge percentage of the populace dresses in the gear of one team. Â EVERYONE wears Steelers jerseys. But it is more profound than that. Â Roughly a quarter of the stores in downtown exist to sell Steelers paraphernalia. Â Many times it is clear that a store originally existed for a completely different purpose, but then gave up and converted into a Steelers-crap-only store. Â Here is an example. Â
The local patois is curious. Â An outdoor market was selling cups marked “Yinzers,” a term I had never heard. Â I asked the merchant, who told me that Yinzers were native Pittsburghians, and that Yinz was a term that generally corresponds to “you alls.” Â Fine. Â Adorable! Â Other cups were labeled “Jagoff.”Â
“Uh,” I said to the merchant.Â
“Yeah, well, uh, Jagoff is something you might call someone who, is, like, not the type of person you kind of respect, what with his attitude, and, like …. “
“I’m from New York. Â I know what jagoff means.”
He smiled. Â “Good, den I don’t havta tell youse no more about it.”Â
I soon discovered that Yinzers embrace Jagoff. Â A lot of products sold in Pittsburgh are aimed at Jagoffs. Â Like this one.
Finally, the food was great. Â Rough, but great. Â Hey, they even have salads in Pittsburgh. Â A “steak-tip” salad arrived, exactly as advertised. Â It had french fries in it, and was smothered in melted mozzarella. Â Â
That’s Pittsburgh. Â All cheese. Â I loved it. Â
Okay, we begin at noon sharp.Â