Tag: pittsburgh

In a December 1991 National Geographic article titled “Pittsburgh–Stronger Than Steel,” journalist Peter Miller and photographer Nathan Benn examined the city during the final days of its second Renaissance. Readers were given a glimpse of Pittsburgh in the wake of Big Steel’s collapse, and shown what the city had to offer outside of manufacturing.

It’s freezing in Pittsburgh. This morning, when I was overjoyed to learn that the temperature had climbed to 0 degrees, I knew the edges of reality had started to split apart. Between long days and the total absence of sunlight, living in Pittsburgh’s negative zone has left me disoriented and disinterested in most everything. No reasonable person would choose to…

In a recent photo essay for Pittsburgh magazine titled “The Way We Were,” former Pittsburgh City Council member and longtime community activist Sala Udin captioned a selection of photographs by Teenie Harris that span from the early 1940s to the late 1970s. As was Harris’ trademark, the photographs are stark, beautiful, and often harrowing. One image, however, was particularly resonant,…

In the early 1980s, Pittsburgh’s punk rock scene emerged just as the steel industry was collapsing. According to the documentary Give Us A Chance: Pittsburgh Punk, “the shifting regional landscape, with its mill closings, historic employment loss, and eventual population flight into the suburbs, altered generations of individual families and communities, while creating new opportunities in its wake…

Of the thousands of photographs that Charles “Teenie” Harris took in his lifetime — from candid portraits of Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, and George Benson to his documentation of the Civil Rights movement and his work for the Pittsburgh Courier — this image of children in Bedford Dwellings getting ready to go trick-or-treating is by far one of my favorites.…

On September 29, 1984, photographer Greg Blair saw Black Flag play at the Lawrence Opera House in Lawrence, Kansas. It was his first time attending a hardcore show, so as Blair recounts, he was taking it all in as he walked around the venue that night. As one of the opening bands played, he ran into a young Henry Rollins,…

Pictured is a photograph of Henry L. Beitzel, my grandfather, mugging for the camera before his death in 1986. One of his favorite hobbies was eavesdropping on Pittsburgh law enforcement by way of his police scanner. That year for his birthday my parents upgraded his technology. My sister’s recollection of this photograph is that Pop, what we called him, was…

If I ever walked past Robert R. Lansberry during one of my countless excursions through downtown Pittsburgh in the 1990s, usually while skipping school, I can’t recall. I do, however, remember passing other men wearing sandwich boards, though their messages often declared a more garden variety form of doom and damnation (i.e., “The End is Near,” etc.).

I’ve often heard how thankless the job of personal assistant can be, which makes me think this opportunity in one of Pittsburgh’s affluent suburbs might not be a wise career choice. Unless, of course, your skills are in line with that of a child-wrangling butler who boasts light cleaning skills and has prior experience as a receptionist, cook, life coach,…

In what’s become an annual summer tradition here in Pittsburgh, the furries have arrived for Anthrocon. For those who are unfamiliar, “Anthrocon is the world’s largest convention for those fascinated with anthropomorphics, which are humanlike animal characters. We are a collection of artists, animators, writers, costumers, puppeteers, and just everyday fans who enjoy cartoon animals and their kin.” Let the…

An anonymous vandal leaves a public message for passersby on Pittsburgh’s South Side, noting the mundane nature of it all. It’s unclear what’s eating the disinterested graffitist, but it appears either life or the current state of American graffiti has got him/her down. Cheer up, buddy.

As a teenager, I never even considered purchasing a pair of Chuck Taylors. To me, they were the footwear equivalent of a Green Day album — overrated and embarrassing, part of a hastily fashioned anti-establishment uniform I had no interest in wearing. Instead I favored a pair of classic black Vans, or in my hardcore days, any variety of running…

Back in 2007, I wrote a piece for Swindle magazine titled “American Twilight.” It was a longform narrative story focusing on America’s vanishing tradesmen. I profiled the lives and work of three specific individuals: Rudy Lehman (typesetter), Joe Feldman (barber), and Crock Hunter (blacksmith). For whatever reason, the story was heavily edited and partially rewritten after I submitted it, and…