Saturday, April 30, 2011

NRA in the 'Burgh

The NRA Convention in Pittsburgh is in full force proudly advertising "Acres of Guns and Gear."  The City is being overwhelmed with an expected 70,000 gun enthusiasts, collectors, and fearful nuts.  Their impact is already being felt on the city as downtown Pittsburgh was a traffic nightmare on Friday along with their boycott of popular restaurant Primanti Brothers.  Even redneck icons such as Jeff Foxworthy and Mike Huckabee have descended upon our beloved city for this special event.  Also there is nothing like guns to bring a family together as this piece portrays.  

Taking in the scenes of this event in person would be optimal for blogging but I think it would be a waste of $10 when I can just watch the ludicrous interviews on the news and read ridiculous quotes in the newspaper for free.  If I'm lucky I'll see some mulleted mustached men and women wearing camouflage (the only true patriots) trolling around town....we can only hope. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Draft Day Blitz

So the Steelers ended up staying at No. 31 and selected Cameron Heyward with their pick. From what I have read and heard, most people seem excited about this pick. I tend to never question any of the Steelers first round picks, based on their history of success. I do wish, however, that the Steelers would stop selecting all of these Ohio State bums.

The one thing I am concerned about is the cornerback position. Kevin Colbert is quoted as saying that he thinks we are fine at CB, stating "We got to the Super Bowl with those guys."

While this is true, the Steelers were picked apart in the Super Bowl, giving up valuable yards through the air that ultimately led to their demise. Furthermore, that secondary included Ike Taylor, which is not a certainty this year. If the Steelers don't agree to terms with Ike, I would be confronted with my worst nightmare: a Steelers season kicking off with McFadden and Gay as the starting cornerbacks.

I look for, and hope for, the Steelers to take a CB as the draft progresses. I also believe they will be looking to add some offensive lineman. Hopefully the Steelers will make some valuable additions to their aging roster this draft year.

In honor of Cam Heyward coming back to the city he was born in. Here are some clips of his father, legendary Pitt RB and former 1st Rd draft pick Ironhead Heyward.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lamest protest ever

All politics aside, this has to be one of the lamest, petty things I've ever seen. Pro-gun rights people are calling for a boycott of Primanti Brothers because some pro-gun control people took a picture with a Primanti's employee recently.

From the Post-Gazette:

Officials at the Pittsburgh institution were "completely caught by surprise" Tuesday by claims from gun supporters that the sandwich shop is anti-firearms and should be boycotted during this weekend's giant National Rifle Association convention Downtown. The claims were based upon photos a gun-control group posted of a visit to their Strip District location in February, in which they mugged for the camera with restaurant employees.

"We're sandwich makers," said Primanti's operations director Marc Teklinski. "People always come down to our Strip District location and engage our staff. It's not uncommon to take photos with the staff. It's innocent."

He noted their locations also have staff photos with conservatives John McCain and Glenn Beck -- Mr. Beck wheeled out 400 of their sandwiches in a nationally broadcast speech from the Benedum Center in December -- as well as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Seriously? This is akin to boycotting Disney World because the opposition had their picture taken with Mickey Mouse. Primanti Brothers is basically a tourist attraction in Pittsburgh. There's a reason you see it in just about every national sporting event broadcast from the city. People come to our city and want to visit Primanti's, and Primanti's is excellent at obliging and embracing its status as a Pittsburgh icon. I would encourage everyone to go out and have a Primanti sandwich this weekend to show our support (if only I wasn't going to be out of town myself this weekend).

The complete story can be found here.

Steelers looking to increase FL membership

Before we start all of the Game 7 talk for tonight, I saw this story online and found it interesting, if not surprising.

Basically, the article states that Head Coach Mike Tomlin (HCMT) and the Steelers are willing to "exhaust all realistic possible scenarios" in which to trade up in order to draft Florida guard / center Mike Pouncey.

This willingness to trade up is contingent on Pouncey's draft status slipping past 15th overall. At this point, the scenario could unfold for the Steelers to move up.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, but the Steelers are historically good at moving up in the draft to get the player they want without giving up too much. We will see what this brings Thursday, and I'm looking forward to it.

Mike Pouncey

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Genre of Adult Literature

Visiting professor of fiction at Rutgers University, Adam Mansbach, may have the next great idea in cult literature, children's stories for adults. Mansbach was tired of waiting for his daughter to go to sleep when he came up with the idea for the new book "Go the F*ck to Sleep". I can only imagine what the illustrations look like. You can get your copy on October 11. This lead me to think, what other children's stories could be rewritten from the adult perspective?

Hey B*tch! Quit Your Job and Get in the Kitchen and Make my Dinner!- A tale of conservative family values.

Stick it Up Your *ss - A tale of a working man telling his boss what he really thinks of him.

The Three Little Pigs, Enhanced Version - A tale of three kids who ate too much and died of childhood obesity.

Are there any other stories that you would like to see rewritten?

TODAYMoms - Want another bedtime story, sweetie? Here's one: 'Go the F@#k to Sleep'

Nerds Hit All Time High

Just when I thought computer hacking was so 1990's the hacker nerds topped themselves. This time instead of hacking into a high tech computer system, a credit card company database, or a university, an unknown hacker or hackers disabled the PlayStation 3 Network. Now call me normal if you insist, but I really do not understand the Apple vs. PC rivalry or PlayStation vs. XBox 360 rivalry, it is simply preference. Who really dislikes a system to the point that they spend hours or even days developing a virus to disable it? Luckily, I have not used my PS3 during this outage, but I am sure many people are enraged that this effected their gaming so much. I hope the problem is resolved soon, but just one message to the hacker(s): get a life.

Hackers Take Down Sony's PlayStation Network - Video Games Blog Plugged In - Yahoo! Games

Just your typical, every day South Side Bar fight...

...except this one totally featured Joe Gruschecky's son!

From the Post-Gazette:

Cory Muro, the 23-year-old drummer for the Pittsburgh rock band Punchline, filed a report Tuesday with Pittsburgh police alleging that members of the Albuquerque, N.M., band Brokencyde assaulted him and a friend on the South Side Monday night, police said.

Mr. Muro, of Irwin, said that after having drinks with 22-year-old Johnny Grushecky at Dee's Cafe, they walked outside and encountered two members of Brokencyde, who had just finished performing a show at the nearby Smiling Moose.

"Brokencyde sing about drugs and violence toward women. We walked out and I let them know that 'I don't like your band and what you stand for, and you give music a bad name,'???" Mr. Muro said.

One of the Brokencyde members then charged at and "sucker punched" Mr. Grushecky, son of Pittsburgh musician Joe Grushecky, said Mr. Muro.

You can read the full article here. I also found Punchline's Wikipedia page which, curiously, doesn't list Grushecky as a member.

True story: I met Joe Gruschecky once at the Dormont street fair and was in front of him in line at Kuhn's one time.

Ultimate Pittsburgh Bar Crawl

An old work colleague of my dad and his friends were sitting around Piper's Pub in the Southside one night and a member of the 'Pitt Stop' group proclaimed that the City of Pittsburgh had eighty-eight neighborhoods.  Of course they started writing as many as they could down on napkins at the bar.  Then an idea was born to have a drink in every neighborhood in the city.  The crawl began in 2007 at the Terrace Room in the Central Business District (Downtown) and concluded in 2008 at the Harp and Fiddle in the Strip District.  During the final stop on the tour the group dressed up in tuxedos to celebrate their accomplishment.  They went to places frequently scene driving through small neighborhoods like The Huddle in Beechview, Down the Road Saloon in Arlington (didn't realize that was considered Arlington) and even stopped at bars in the seedy parts of town like Homewood and Mt. Oliver.  Pitt Stop members created a blog with reviews and pictures of each bar they visited to document their experience which I have linked below.  

Sadly it looks as if they passed on a few of the Blast Furnace's hot spots, like Kopy's and Gene's.

See link for blog:

Game 7's in the bag!

After much controversy, leaving an entire city in a bitter debate, the Penguins are pulling out all the stops and bringing back their superstar. That's right -- Jeff Jimerson will be back for Game 7. Take that Tampa Bay.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Live Blog: Pens-Bolts Round 1, Game 5

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jimerson or Sgt. Bob

Controversy is swirling around the Pittsburgh Penguins over their choice of National Anthem singer for playoff games.  For over 20 years Pittsburgher's have identified Jeff Jimerson as the go to singer for the anthem, however Jimerson missed the first two playoff games against the Lighting because he was in the Virgin Islands celebrating his tenth wedding anniversary with his wife.  In stepped Army Reserve Sgt. Bob Timney. Timney, dressed in full Army Reserve fatigues, starts the anthem then stops singing, holds the microphone up to the crowd and lets them fill in the rest of the song.  Jimerson has returned from his vacation is available for Saturday's Game 5, but the Penguins have elected to go with Sgt. Bob.  Although the Penguins do not have a designated full-time anthem singer Jimerson has sung over 60 percent of the games this year and for every home playoff game for the last four years.  Jimerson himself is dismayed by the described "benching" saying in aninterview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review,"If I said I wasn't disappointed, I'd be lying," he said. "I haven't been home for a playoff game since I can't remember. People who know me know how personal this is and how seriously I take it."   He also compared his situation to the Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady switch at QB for the Patriots after a Bledsoe injury forced Brady into action.

Jimerson, also front-man for Pittsburgh-based band Airborne, is just hoping the Penguins advance to the second round of the playoffs and another chance to perform in front of his legion of fans at the Consol Energy Center. 
Jimerson during an Airborne appearence

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beaten Pirates Fan Responds, A Blast Furnace Follow Up

Just two weeks ago Captain America, Scott Ashley, was tasered, beaten, and eventually arrested for his apparent surly and belligerent behavior at a Pirates game. Captain America along with Fred Rabner, Esquire have responded to the events that took place fateful Saturday night at PNC Park. I am always willing to give someone a chance to provide their side of the story, but after reading the article and watching both Captain America and Rabner speak about the events I feel that they would have been better off keeping their mouths closed. Based on Captain America's side of the story it is as if he has a perfect recollection of the events, courtesy of the prompts provided by Rabner, and he was just an innocent man trying to watch a game, but unfortunately some rowdy, drunk college students ruined his night. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Just replace Mr. Ashley with Homer and this story is even more laughable.
Man Arrested At PNC Park: Video Doesn't Tell Whole Story - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh

Girls' Park Fight Gets YouTubed, Now Under Investigation

Two teenage girls were fighting in Scottdale, PA and one was being egged on by her mother.  You got to see the news story from WTAE.  Read the story and watch the video with interviews from  You stay classy.

Girls' Park Fight Gets YouTubed, Now Under Investigation - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh

Greatest Speech Ever

"In 1962 a boy was born, and his dream and his goal...was to own a monkey."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pittsburgh's Muse

Ever open the Classified Section in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and wonder who the mulleted yinzer-looking fellow is pictured on the 'Celebrations' page?  This middle-aged man's name is Billy Nadozzi and every Tuesday for the past six or seven years Mr. Nardozzi submits a poem to Post Gazette with a picture of himself.  He even leaves his phone number at the bottom of his poems to get feedback from readers.  The minstrel does indeed get feedback from readers both positive and negative and his popularity has grown over the years.  When not writing poetry the Green Tree resident is busy packing bottles for the Liquor Control Board. 
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Brian O'Neil wrote a piece on Nardozzi in 2009 and it really captured the spirit of the man readers have come to known over the years.

Here is a sample of the Pittsburgh poet laureate's work that one will find each week. Here is a little taste from PPG 4/19/11:  Happy Easter!

"What Is Easter"
It is watching the movies
"The Ten Commandments"
& "The Robe"
And thee aroma of the food
Cooking on the stove

 And it is wearing your finest
And going to church
And then watching the kids
As they frantically search

For the basket the bunny
Brought the night before
With all of its goodies
And so much more

And it is having dinner
And a glass of wine
With the family and friends
Who had come to dine

And it is talking with grandma
And grandpa too
And sharing the memories
Of long past due

And it is "celebrating" the day
That our Lord had risen
And had saved all our souls
From being imprisoned

Have A "Happy Easter"
And please remember:

"Somebunny Loves You"

Billy Nardozzi
(412) 921-xxxx

P.S. "Hello" to "Big Dog" !!!
And "Hello" to "Bob M." & "Bridget C." & "Kate W."
And a "Fond Hello"
to "John Fedko"

Why was I not aware of this?!?

Holy shit! Skynet becomes self-aware this Thursday!

I am not nearly prepared enough for this. My bunker is not yet complete and my stockpile is hopelessly inadequate.

In all seriousness, I am a sucker for doomsday scenarios and the one from Terminator is the one that most frightens me. That or a natural disaster spawned one, such as an asteroid, seem inevitable to me. Seriously, why wouldn't machines just disregard us and move forward on their own evoluationary path once they become self-aware and able to improve themselves without the influence of humans? And, according to at least one nut, that time isn't too far off.

Let me be the first to say that I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

Espionage, Creepy, or Just an Average Morning in Oakland?

One of my favorite parts of my daily routine is my morning walk to work. There is nothing better than getting some fresh air, not worrying about traffic, and participating in some morning people watching. Living where I do, I have an easy time finding a reason to smile on my way to work: people stumbling out of the local bars at 7:30 AM, freshly sprayed graffiti on walls, and vagabonds begging for "money for the bus". Today I had an extra big smile. I was walking through the alley and I saw a man crouching behind a dumpster emptying several boxes into a back pack. This alone is not unusual, but his back pack, jacket, and pants were camouflage, and looked like a disgruntled Dennis Eckersley complete with the mustache and hair.
If this was not enough, I then turned the corner to see one of the locals peering around the corner of Tandoor Indian Grill at the aforementioned Dennis Eckersley like a spy. This elderly man was complete with an early 90's style Florida State Starter Jacket, cane, and missing teeth. As I turned the corner I could not help myself from engaging this man and said with a slight grin, "I wonder what he is up to, you must think he is suspicious." The man a bit startled that someone had spoken to him replied rather harshly and said, "That *ss hole was just pissin' on the street. Damn fool does it every morning. I can't wait to see him get caught."

That will get me through the day with a smile.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another great moment in local news: Frank Fontana

Here's the Frank Fontana Mount Washington bed intruder video. I was trying to find the KDKA version, but it's apparently not online anymore. It was even better than this one, I remember the anchor calling his leopard skin sheets pretty snazzy. In that one he also had a great line of recalling the intruder saying that he was looking for a warm place to sleep and Frank's response was that he still didn't understand why the intruder got in bed with him because, "there's a radiator in the hallway," with a think Pittsburgh accent. This one's still a classic though, from the "former Seton LaSalle shortstop" reference, a look at his bed sheets, and his all-time line, "He shoulda got a hotel room in the South Side, now he's got one on Second Avenue."

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem as if the embed video is working, so here's the link instead:

Breaking Local News - Missing Bull Semen Located

In case you don't live in Pittsburgh anymore and wonder what kind of news we get on a daily basis, here was some breaking news on the Post Gazette website.

According to the story, bull semen is valuable for agricultural purposes. Interesting.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Naming of Steely McBeam

While we are on the topic of great films in Pittsburgh history, I'd like to share a great moment in Pittsburgh history caught on film: the naming of Steely McBeam.

To review, there was a contest held to name the new Steelers' mascot. This lucky woman won, and history was made. Yinzer nation at its absolute finest hour.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Burgh Film Power Rankings

Fresh off the review of The Next Three Days, I thought I'd put together my personal power rankings of 'Burgh movies. The list is completely subjective based on my personal taste, the quality of the film, and, most importantly, how "Pittsburgh" the movie is. Ideally, the movies are both set and shot in Western Pennsylvania. So, without further ado, here's my list of Best Pittsburgh Movies:

1. Striking Distance - THE Pittsburgh movie for me. This movie has it all, from the Pittsburgh River Patrol, the Polish Hill Killer and the Pittsburgh 'stache. This movie is exactly what you'd expect if a Hollywood writer took a group of Yinzers out for some drinks and had them just throw out their ideas for a cop thriller: Bruce Willis doing a chick on his house boat on the Mon, car chase that goes all over the city, policeman's ball at the Point, etc. etc. Not the best movie on the list, but certainly the most Pittsburgh.
2. The Deer Hunter - Probably the best movie on the list, it's about a group of steelworker friends from Clairton struggling after returning home from Vietnam. The cast includes DeNiro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep. Includes the famous Russian roulette scene.
3. Night of the Living Dead - The defining movie of the zombie genre was, of course, set and shot around Pittsburgh. Includes a great news report early on in the film listing the various towns and suburbs in Western Pennsylvania being overrun by zombies. Sequels Dawn of the Dead, Land of the Dead and Diary of the Dead are all also set in the area. Pittsburgh takes great pride in being the center of the zombie universe and while zombies can be a fleeting fad that comes and goes in the national culture, they never go out of style in Pittsburgh.
4. Wonder Boys - I played with putting this one as high as #2 on the list and, in truth, this might be my favorite movie on the list. The story follows the hijinks and struggles of an English professor (presumably Carnegie Mellon, maybe Pitt), his editor, the chancellor of the university, a few of his writing students, a transvestite and a James Brown look alike over the course of a few days during the annual writing festival. The movie is based on Michael Chabon's (who went to Pitt) novel of the same name and is a very faithful adaptation. I decided to knock it down to four on this list because the city isn't necessarily integral to the plot, but the city is featured nicely nonetheless and was written by a real genius who cultivated his talents here.
5. Adventureland - A tough call for this last spot, and a sign that maybe I should have stopped at four, but I went with this one because I like the story and the vision for it and for the prominence of Kennywood and the 16th Street Bridge. That said, it's not a great movie or anything, most notably for how annoying Jesse Eisenberg can be. But really, the only movie I gave consideration to for this slot was Gung Ho, but decided I couldn't go there because it was set around a car manufacturing plant and in the fictional town of Hadleyville, PA.

Honorable Mention: That Thing You Do!, Zach and Miri Make a Porno, She's Out of My League, The Next Three Days, Gung Ho, The Road, Groundhog Day, Houseguest, Kingpin, Silence of the Lambs, All the Right Moves, Slap Shot

Dishonorable Mention: Sudden Death, Rock Star, Stigmata

Haven't seen yet, but plan on it now that I'm keeping this list: Flashdance, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Angels in the Outfield, The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh, Inspector Gadget, Unstoppable, Love and Other Drugs

What movies am I forgetting? And how would your list be different?

Yinzer Movie Review: The Next Three Days

I finally got around to watching The Next Three Days last weekend, the Russell Crowe prison breakout movie set in Pittsburgh. In the movie, Russell Crowe's wife (Elizabeth Banks) is imprisoned for a murder that we don't know if she committed or not. When it becomes clear that the legal process has played itself out and she will be spending the rest of her days in Allegheny County Jail on the Mon, Crowe begins hatching his escape plan for her.

Of course, as we find out, Pittsburgh's jail is a particularly difficult nut to crack, with a natural moat provided by the three rivers that require traversing easily roadblocked bridges on the way ahta tahn.

The big escape scene includes a ride on the T, blending into a Penguins game day crowd, a near crash on 376, a drive through the Armstrong Tunnel and even a trip to the polar bear exhibit at the zoo.

Otherwise, it's a pretty formulaic prison escape flick that requires a suspension of disbelief but nonetheless delivers quality suspense and action. But it's our prison escape flick, damn it, and well worth the $1 at Red Box for any self-respecting Pittsburgher to check out.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Live Blog: Outside the Consol

Pills, Zuk and I decided to take in the recent tradition of watching Penguin playoff games on a big screen TV outside of the arena. They like to call it Mario's TV, not sure if he actually bought the TV or it was even his idea, but I'll roll with it.  The three of us, donned in Penguin jerseys (yeah we were wearing them), lugged a couple of folding chairs through a windy but sunny 65 degree evening in downtown Pittsburgh and arrived at or destination; the old Civic Arena parking lot.  Upon entering we were told that alcohol is prohibited and one will immediately be ejected and may spend a night in the county jail if caught.

6:50pm arrive at Civic Arena parking lot, usher tells us we "can't squat here" but find spot close to screen anyway.  This place is an absolute yinzer fest: young and old. I haven't seen this many yinzers in one place since the '97 South Park Rib Fest.
7:08 pm they are passing out towels, people are going after them like vulchers on a dead carcass
7:12pm too busy blogging to realize the game started

'Mario's TV'
7:15pm Tampa scores on 4 on 4, people kind of pissed but not overly upset
7:24pm Tampa's Lecavalier scores; 2-0 Lighting. People still not that upset. Long way to go still
7:34 Kovalev takes one of his patented lazy penalties
7:43pm some guy named Thompson scores for Tampa making it 3-0. The wind is starting to pick up and crowd is in disbelief.
7:49pm end of the first period, pens trail 3-0. Time to check on the Buccos?
7:55pm fringe Pittsburgh celebs Mikey and Big Bob from 96.1 Kiss FM standing behind us. Little kid with an Oliver from the Brady Bunch haircut getting his picture with him

Mikey and Big Bob
8:04pm. Guy with a mullet, mustache and wrinkled Malkin jersey walks by us 8;06pm Second period begins and its starting to get chilly
8:16pm Tampa really taking it to the Pens
8:17pm told by 'Big Bob' to stand up because we will be seen on the jumbotron inside of the arena
8:20pm Adams scores!!! 3-1 Tampa
8:27pm KDKA's Paul Martino setting up shop, Pens dictating play
8:35pm word around our inner circle is that Mr. Electric, Charlie Morton is mowing down the Reds and Walker hit a big HR 5-0 Bucs
8:43pm Lecavalier scores again with 14 seconds remaining in second period on the pp
8:45pm End of second period, Lighting lead 4-1
8:57pm its approaching 9pm and Pittsburghers turn into pumpkins after 9pm; the tradition of people leaving an event early no matter what the score or night of the week begins. We all know there is a lot of important business to take care of so we got to get home ASAP, especially on a Friday night.
8:58pm 'Oliver' is running and takes a spill in front of us. I'm glad my parents didn't get me a haircut like that when I was little
9:02pm looking at people inside of the arena watching the game on Mario's TV through the window. Seems like a waste of money to me to be inside
9:11pm Sorry to report that not much going on inside or outside
9:20pm really starting to clear out now, many have given up
9:25pm Steigy getting really annoying and commentary is asinine at this point especially the anecdote he shared about his conversation with Steve Yzerman...If I want to hear something absurd I'd try to find brother John on some station right now
9:34pm Legendary Sega Genesis NHL '96 star Mattias Ohlund scores an empty net goal to make it 5-1 Tampa. Let the fights begin...
9:40pm Game over Tampa wins 5-1, series tied 1-1

Watching games outside on the big screen started a few years ago and I never had any desire to be amongst hundreds of people watching a game, I like to focus squarely on the game without any distractions, but it was okay.  The crowd wasn't as raucous as I anticipated, the sound was fine and the spot we chose to watch from was adequate.  I'm glad I did it once.  As for the Pens, we'll get 'em next time.

Lenten Fish Fry Reviews

The best part of being a non-Catholic in Pittsburgh has to be Fish Fry Fridays during Lent. This year might have been my most prolific yet as I've hit five different fish fries over the past six weeks. Here's my expert take on each one:

Week 1, St. Bernard's in Mt. Lebanon - Things did not get started right at St. Bernards. For such a big church, I assumed there's would be pretty good. But despite a crowd large enough to be annoying, I was very wrong. The batter could hardly stick to the fish and the sides were forgettable. Making matters worse, the ordering system was anything but orderly as it seemed like a free for all more than a line and there was absolutely no direction to the parking system. I won't be back to this dud of a fish fry.

Week 2, St. Anne's in Castle Shannon - Again, slightly underwhelming. The fish portions were small, but flavorful. There's was more of a breaded topping than battered, which I typically like. I'll also give them high marks for making it easy to order and get out of the way until your fish were up. By far the smallest portions we saw though.

Week 4, St. Joan of Arc in South Park - I drove out to this one on the recommendation of the Kornosky family and I wasn't disappointed. The fish portions were large, the service was excellent and the sides were unmatched. Seriously, a lot of the churches really mail it in on the side dishes, but the fries and slaw here were both obviously home made and excellent. Evelyn went with the mac 'n cheese on the side, which was also very good. Not the best fish I had, but still very good and worth going back to.

Week 5, Christ United Methodist in Bethel Park - The only non-Catholic option I went to, this is also the church I attend. And, surprisingly enough, this was probably my favorite fish overall and, really, isn't that what it's all about? The portion was large and the flavor was excellent. This was also a breaded fish, as opposed to the typical beer battered fare. However, huge negative mark for serving bagged Lay's and a very small (but tasty) cole slaw portion as the default sides with the sandwich.

Week 6, St. Margaret of Scotland in Greentree - I hit this one up today based on a message board recommendation, but it didn't live up to expectations. The fish was undeniably large, but something was slightly out of place about it. There were, like, edged corners and a bland taste to the batter that make me think they're ordered frozen and pre-battered, rather than freshly prepared. Even the fries and slaw gave off a Costco vibe. If they deserve one major point of emphasis though, it is that their cocktail sauce was seriously spicy from the horseradish, which I think is freaking fantastic. Too many places don't place enough emphasis on their cocktail and tartar sauces, handing out only packets of generic brand. I've taken to mixing my own cocktail sauce at home as a result of this oversight.

Only one more week of the Lent season, and most Catholic churches don't do the fish fry on Good Friday, so the options are limited. I know that Christ UMC is open for business, so that's probably where I'll end up to wrap up the 2011 season, unless someone else has a recommendation for a place I haven't tried yet that is open this week.

Let me know your favorite fish fry in the comments.

Gene's Place, an Instant Hit

Owner and Bar Tender Gene courtesy of The Pitt News
The Pitt authors on this blog rarely if ever stopped by Gene's Place during their time as undergraduate students at the University of Pittsburgh, but one evening of being out on the town a few years after graduation we decided to give it a try.  After our usual stops at Hemingway's and Cumpy's/Garage Door Saloon we wondered into South Oakland for our last stop before nights end.  Located on Louisa St., a bar sat with an Old German Beer logo attached to a sign that read "Gene's Place."  I had always known this place as Denny's Bar, but a Pitt alum and former Denny's regular named Gene Ney bought the bar when it went up for sale.  Approximately eight of us walked in the door only to be carded by a plump twenty-something individual nicknamed the 'Grumble.'  The bar was dark, dingy, and smokey.  The walls were wood paneled and plastered with the bar's historical documents and pictures of Oakland.  Gene's was very cramped on this night with patrons, but cozy.

We immediately noticed Gene's fine selection of barely and hops.  Of course they had the usual over-hyped regulars, but they also had some atypical brews such as Mon Valley favorite Stoney's, Hop n Gator, 75 cents a beer, and a little known American lager named Gibbons.  (See Pills' blog about Gibbons below)  This bar became in instant favorite for us and a regular stop in Oakland.  'Steller' even coined the infamous phrase, "Hey Barkeep, get this man a Gibbons!" at this fine establishment.   Mr. Ney was always professional and accommodating to the group.  A few of us once stopped there around Thanksgiving and Gene was frying a turkey for his customers, it was one of the finest turkey's we have ever eaten.  Gene has made his residence above the bar, which makes for a convenient commute to work as a Professor at Carlow University and easy access to tend some bar.  I'm wondering if he has a pole that slides from his apartment down to the bar a la Batman.

We have even heard stories that Gene would leave a case of beer on the bar for the birthday of an old high school acquaintance of ours after hours.  It's always nice to walk in and be greeted by the Grumble, see regulars like 'Kevin Smith', and see Gene doing what he loves.  I thought I'd share a Pitt News article from October 2009 that some of you may have already seen.

An Ode to the Professional Softball Player

As softball season begins, take a few minutes out of your day to read tips from one of the softball greats. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Older professionals still Day Drink, Fall Over

After work yesterday, I had to drive into Shadyside to get my haircut. This led me to drive through Oakland, where I witnessed pure drunkenness at its finest.

Across the corner from the Garage Door saloon were two businessmen, in their mid 50s most likely, staggering down the street. At first glance, I thought the one gentleman was helping the other because the one guy suffered from some sort of knee problem. As I got closer, I realized that the guy's knees were buckling not because of an ailment, but because he was completely smashed.

I pulled up to the stop sign as they also staggered towards the sign. Guy 1 gave up trying to hold up Guy 2, and Guy 2 immediately crashed to the ground. At this point, it was a good thing I was stopped at the stop sign, not only because I now had front row seats, but because I was laughing so hard I would have crashed my car. The guy then grabbed for the stop sign, began pulling himself up -- while at the same time swinging around the sign like a pole dancer, and then immediately fell down again. He tried a second time; this time buckling at the waist while his knees locked, and then spun around and crashed to the ground. At this point, maintaining his dignity of course, he straightened his tie even though there was blood all over his forehead. Guy 1 was still reaching to help him up, but he couldn't balance himself well enough and kept staggering back and forth.

At this time I had to drive away, but I saw those two clowns flopping around in my mirror as I drove away. It was about 6 pm at this time, so I wonder, what time did these guys start drinking? What was the occasion? Why on a Wednesday? And what were they doing in Oakland, of all places?

Photo courtesy of RKorn

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New acquisitions fuel Pens past Lightning

I posted this on my facebook earlier, but figured I'd like to share it now. Kovy from Neal and Martin and then Asham scores. All new acquisitions this year -- two of them late additions. You have to give Shero and Penguin management some credit in these acquisitions. Thoughts?

Prediction Time: 2011 MLB Season

Here are my predictions for the just started MLB season, let's see everyone else's in the comments. I'll do some status checks throughout the season.

NL East Champ: Phillies
NL Central Champ: Brewers
NL West Champ: Rockies
NL Wild Card: Giants
AL East Champ: Boston
AL Central Champ: Detroit
AL West Champ: Rangers
AL Wild Card: Yankees
NL Champ: Phillies
AL Champ: Detroit
WS Champ: Phillies
NL MVP: Troy Tulowitzki
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander
Pirates victories: 74

Predictions Time: NHL Playoffs

Even more than lists, I love making predictions. With the start of the NHL Playoffs tonight, I want to get everyone's predictions down. Here are mine, leave yours in the comments and then I'll revisit them when throughout the playoffs:

  • Bruins over Sabres in the Eastern Conference Finals
  • Canucks over Sharks in the West
  • Canucks win the Cup
  • Ryan Kesler wins playoff MVP

MLB season predictions next

Ghosts of Barry Bonds still haunt me

Bob Smizik's blog has one of the best non-cocaine or LSD story I've ever heard about the Pirates. It's from the infamous Francisco Cabrera-Sid Bream play in Game 7 of the '92 NLCS:

Van Slyke told the MLB Network that on the game-winning hit, ``he motioned to Bonds to move in. Bonds responded by giving him the finger, and the ball ended up landing exactly where Van Slyke said to play.''

That made me laugh out loud. By coincidence, my dentist has a signed photograph of Sid Bream sliding home on that play hanging on her waiting room wall. I asked her about it one time and it turns out Bream is her uncle. One time I was in the waiting room and Sid Bream's mom was there for a cleaning. She was actually very nice. I had just presumed that Bream was the spawn of Satan for the way he ripped my 11-year-old heart out.

"First Overall," Pittsburgh is Ranked as Top American City of the Future

This really shouldn't be a surprise at all. Pittsburgh ranked number 1 in another category... again. 'America's "Most Livable" City Now Recognized as a Top Destination for Global Business Investment'

Creepy kid from Back to the Future 3 points to his Flux Capacitor

I consider myself quite knowledgeable of the entire Back to the Future trilogy. However, I must not have not paid close enough attention to the third installment to notice some extracurricular activity occuring in the background of the final scene. This is not surprising, as the third movie was awful compared to the first two. I saw this posted on a friend's facebook page the other day, and decided this needs to be shared. Wow is that kid creepy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Your Last Meal

I was listening to Joe Starkey on the FAN this afternoon and he posed the question, "If you could only have one piece of pie for the rest of you life what would it be and why?" It made me think of this question: If you could have a last meal planned what would it be? Also, would you be able to enjoy it knowing it was your last meal. Here is what I came up with and keep in mind that I am not trying to be thematic with my choices.
Appetizer: Shrimp Ceviche, this is the taste of Ecuador for me, just add some fried plantains and it takes me back to the beaches of Ecuador and great memories.
Soup: Chili, I could eat a bowl of good chili at any time of day.
Salad: Traditional House Salad with Italian dressing, nothing fancy just add some feta cheese.
Main Course: New York Strip Steak grilled medium well with some A1. This was a tough choice, but it had a narrow margin over my Aunt's Lasagna.
Side Dish: My mom's Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. I could eat a whole plate of these without a drop of gravy.
Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cheesecake, to me it is the best of the pie and cake world in one.
Cocktail: Johnny Walker Blue Label on the rocks, I love Black and would want the best. 2nd place to a Margarita on the rocks, I have really grown to like margaritas recently.
Drink: Schneider's Peach Iced Tea, I loved these 1 pinters from BPHS cafeteria.
After Dinner Drink: Ecuadorian Coffee, it is the best I drink and brings back good memories.

Worst. Column. Ever.'s Hot Clicks is one of my must-visit sites for when I take a quick mental break at work. It's just links and pics so it's quick to get through. Today's edition was especially delightful as it ripped on John Steigerwald. Steigy's latest column blames the fan who got attacked in the parking lot of a Dodgers game and is now in a coma for wearing a Giants jersey in the first place. If you've ever read Steigy's blog, with all its attention-whoring and mispellings, you know that this bothers him greatly for some reason. In his mind, real, mustachioed men like him don't wear jerseys with the names of other men on the back. That would totally be gay, which neither him nor his dad are, really.

Also, as a bonus, today's Hot Clicks also had this video of people hanging up the phone in movies without saying "goodbye." This drives me nuts and is something I always point out to Evelyn while we're watching television. I'm glad someone else with better technical skills than me has noticed it.

Update: Boom! Just saw that Deadspin is also showcasing the stupidity of Steigy. You know though, this is all Steigy has now, to say something outrageous and hope for some attention. And when he hits on something, it just validates his existence. It won't be until he's completely ignored that he'll finally go away.

Wiz on Letterman

Thanks to Doug's late night message, I did set my DVR and caught Wiz Khalifa's performance from Letterman last night. He performed the song "Roll Up." Here's the video:

Pretty good performance. The worst part though is that DJ Bonics is getting this much attention. There was a time when Wiz Khalifa wasn't good enough for DJ Bonics, he of the immense fame that comes from hosting a shitty radio show and spinning live at Pittsburgh's hottest nightclub, The Matrix. Funny how things change. Someone needs to tell the DJ Bonics story in the comments. Did you know that he recently had a heart attack?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Technology, is it really a sign of our advancement?

I was walking home from work today and had to contemplate numerous times whether I would zig then zag, zag then zig, or walk straight and barrel right into a few on comers as they text or surfed on their smart phones. Maybe this is just annoying to me because I own a dumb phone, but since when did it become my responsibility to be careful when I am walking and be careful to look where other people are walking. I see people walking around as if they are using a steering wheel, but two things are wrong: 1) it is not a steering wheel, it is a phone and 2) even if it were a steering wheel the driver is driving drunk careening back and forth. This made me think of my 3 biggest problems with technology.

1.Smart phones: Just because you have one doesn't mean you have to be staring at it and using it non stop all day, no matter what you are doing. Seriously, do you really need to check your email while walking down the street or get a fantasy update between reps at the gym? And besides, doesn't your neck get sore?

2. Ipods/MP3 Players: I love my Ipod just as much as the next person, but when did it become common for so many people to use their Ipod/MP3 player and headphones while driving. Over the weekend and recently I have seen a lot of people driving and/or getting in/out of their cars while still listening to their headphones. Call me old fashioned, but I always thought it was cool to pound bass so loud out of my car stereo that the car would vibrate, now just having ear buds is enough to show your true coolness.

3.YouTube: Just because you can out yourself on the Internet doesn't mean you should. I mainly bring this up because of the recent web sensation song "Friday" because it was the overwhelming jukebox winner at the Pirate game. Seriously, how can being so bad make so many people so famous. This reminds me of the Renaissance writer Erasmus and his work "The Praise of Folly" in which he ridiculed society for rewarding stupidity in hopes that the world would progress and become enlightened. He would be spinning in his grave.

All Time Sports Jerseys

Over the weekend we received a special shipment of our old hockey jerseys when we first began playing. Reminiscing about jerseys of yesteryear inspired me to make a top 5 list of the major sports jerseys. I know some people like to rank by classic, unique, or what ever, but this is just based on my taste.

Top 5 NHL Uniforms:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins, White, Back to Back Cup Era
2. Edmonton Oilers, Blue, Gretzky era
3. Chicago Blackhawks, Red, Roenick era
4. Los Angeles Kings, Black,Gretzky era
5. Calgary Flames, Red, 80's

Top 5 MLB Uniforms:
1. St. Loius Cardinals Home Uniform
2. Los Angeles Dodgers Home Uniform
3. Philadelphia Phillies 80's Away Uniform
4. Chicago White Sox, Black Sox Scandal Era
5. Pittsburgh Pirates, Away, Last Winning Season Era

Top 5 NFL Uniforms
1. Oakland Raiders Black
2. San Fransisco 49'ers, Montana Era
3. New York Jets, White
4. San Diego Chargers, Powder Blue
5. New Orleans Saints, All Black

Top 5 NBA Uniforms
1. Boston Celtics, Green
2. Los Angeles Lakers, Yellow
3. Chicago Bulls, Red
4. San Antonio Spurs, Black
5. Los Angeles Clippers, Red

Top 5 NCAA Football Uniforms
1. USC Trojans, Red
2. Alabama Crimson Tide, Crimson
3. UCLA Bruins, Powder Blue
4. Pitt, Blue, Script Era
5. Florida Gators, Blue

Top 5 NCAA Basketball Uniforms
1. UCLA Bruins, Powder Blue
2. Georgetown Hoyas, Blue
3. Marquette Golden Eagles, Yellow or Blue
4. Syracuse Orange, Orange
5. DePaul Blue Demons, Home White

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Disturbance in the stands

Wow, check out this blog post, the story behind the video is about two thirds of the way down the page. Dan, Matt and I were at this game. I remember at one point a bunch of people were standing and looking out towards the left field bleachers. This must have been what they were looking at:

Golf Season is Here!

Golf Season is Here

It is the time of year to dust off the gold clubs and warm up the swing. I am looking forward to playing golf this season. The Post Gazette had a great section listing all local public golf courses and I wanted to share it with everyone. See you at the tee box.

Public golf courses

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Legend of Good Gibbons

Well, the story goes as follows. (roll old fashioned music) A group of young gents headed to a local tavern, Gene's Place, for a nightcap. The young gents were finding a place to stand before ordering.  Chris and I looked on the wall and there was an old, crumbled sign (very similar to the one on the bottle) that said "Gibbon's" with the price (possibly $1.50). Chris and I decided to order one, and so the legend began. Following that night we went back and ordered round after round. We passed on the story that anytime you order a Gibbon's you must buy one for someone at the bar and they must do they same to pass on the Good Gibbons. What will live on even more is the famous quote, "Hey barkeep, get this man a Gibbons!"

Gibbons is brewed by Lions Brewery, Inc. in Wilkes-Barre, PA. This clean crisp beverage is not available in many bars and distributors.  It was last seen in Duffy's Pop and Beer Warehouse on Curry Hollow Rd.  If the classic 16 oz bottles look dirty, they probably are due to Gibbons eco-friendly recyclable bottle initiative. 

Thoughts and Observations

In honor of Bob Smizik's bullet pointed blog and not meant as some John Steigerwald curmudgeon rant (wow, did he ever go off the deep end) here are some random thoughts and observations:
  • Went to Dunkin' Donuts in Oakland for my weekly Friday buying coffee out day.  Line is always to the door at 8am.  Bunch of Nebby Debbie's in line ahead of me taking forever to get their donuts.  One would think that a customer would know what they wanted when they go up to order especially if you are standing in line for a long time staring at the donut selection.  Just wanted a coffee and get on with my day.
  • Staying in Oakland, ground has been broken to construct an Eat 'n Park on a portion of the Schenley Plaza across from Hillman Library.  I kind of liked all of the green space, but money talks
  • Hoping the Pirates contract with right-wing radio station 104.7 FM ends soon.  Tired of hearing the Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity promo's about what great Americans they are.  What's worse is going to bed listening to a game and waking up to Quinn and Rose in the morning.  Hey Quinn, go back to making the B94 Quinn and Banana Show...what a hack.
  • Borders Books is closing in Bethel Park and East Liberty/Shadyside, the only two places I liked to buy books.  They had some decent coupons too. Always liked going out and searching for books at a store, options are dwindling, I guess I'm left with Barnes & Noble,
  • Watched the McDonald's All American game with incoming Pitt recruit Khem Birch, the 6-9 F/C played really well, 15 pts 10 reb and 6 blocks.  He looks really athletic and runs the floor well.
  • New Pitt football coach Todd Graham sounds a lot like George W. Bush, hopefully he's a better coach than Bush was a President.
  • It was brought to my attention that country singer Neal McCoy, made famous by being on an Old Milwaukee Pounder can showcased at Kopy's Bar is coming to Pittsburgh.  An article and pic of the billboard by a Blast Furnace author to come?
  • Wiz Khalifa's new album came out and debuted at # 2 on the charts.  It's ok, a few good songs, but sorry to say it isn't in the same class as "Show and Prove" or "Welcome to Pistolvania"
  • Mark Madden filled in for Mike Prisuta on the 'DVE Morning Show last Tuesday, he was surprisingly tame and polite.
  • Always wonder when I'm sitting in traffic on 51 how many people are listening to 'DVE at the same time as me whether it be the "Electric Lunch" with Michelle Michaels or the drive home with Sean McDowell....then I have to turn the channel cause one of their many terrible songs is requested and I'm no longer a part of the community.
  • Sorry, not into Hines Ward and Dancing with the Stars, never watched it and don't plan on it.  It seems to be the talk of the town
Until next time......

The Forbes Fictional 15
You’re not imagining it: The rich do keep getting richer. Even the fictionally rich.

The members of our 2011 list of wealthiest fictional characters have an average net worth of $9.7 billion, up 20% from last year. In aggregate, the Fictional 15 are worth $131.6 billion --more than the gross domestic product of New Zealand. To qualify for the Fictional 15, characters must be known, both within their fictional universe and by their audience, for being rich. Net worth estimates are based on an analysis of the fictional character's source material, and where possible, valued against known real-world commodity and share price movements. All figures are as of market close, April 1, 2011. Read more…

Friday, April 8, 2011

Overcoming Giambi

Pirates won dramatically last night, clawing back from a 3-0 first inning deficit to win it with a walkoff hit from Jose Tabata in the 14th. At least it must have been dramatic for those watching or listening, instead I was followig it using Stattracker and Twitter because it wasn't televised.

The most interesting thing I learned on the night though is that Jason Giambi is still playing baseball. I vaguely remember him being on the Rockies roster last year, but was pretty sure he had already retired and gained 150 pounds when I saw this courtroom illustration of him from the Bonds trial just earlier this week:

"Trust me, I know fun"

I had it in my head all day that I'd be flipping back and forth between the Pirates and Penguins games tonight. The obvious realization that they are on the same channel and thus the Pirates would get bumped didn't occur to me until about 30 minutes before game time. Anyways, I overheard this gem of a story while walking the streets of Dormont this evening from a guy on his porch talking on his cell phone just loud enough so any passersby would hear with envy just how much fun he really is:

"...we'll get dropped of at [indistinguishable], then picked up again by the limo bus and taken to [some other club or party], etc., etc. You gotta come, it's really gonna be fun. And when I say "fun," not to brag or anything, but I know fun. It'll be one of those times when everyone will say afterwards, 'I had so much.'"

I, of course, was duly impressed. Though I think he wasted this awesome tale of fun on me, who was walking down the street with his gimpy dog and carrying a baby in the Baby Bjorn.

Notes from Opening Day

Yesterday was Opening Day for the Pirates and even though we got thumped, it's always fun to be in attendance for the first ball game of the year. Here's the view from the third base line with Walker at bat and McCutchen on deck:

(not pictured: Mayor Steelerstahl, who was seated a few rows from where this picture was taken.)

The most important development from the game, however, was that Garret Jones' new choice of at-bat music is Enter Sandman. With Doumit being introduced with Mother by Danzig before him, I'll posit the theory that there is no greater possible back-to-back at bat songs possible. Those are the two best songs possible for striding up to the plate and feeling like a bad ass. Anyone disagree?

Also, here's what my choice would be if I were a Major League Baseball player, the opening riff from Godzilla by Blue Oyster Cult:

Bill Hillgrove Day

Bill (right) with long-time partner Dick Groat (center) and Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon (left) courtesy of

Today has been proclaimed Bill Hillgrove Day in the City of Pittsburgh.  The longtime announcer of the Pitt football (37 years) and basketball teams (42 years) and the Steelers (17 years) will have his day in the sun.  The Pittsburgh native had the privilege of calling four Super Bowls, a college football national championship, and countless top ten NCAA basketball games.   In 2007, Billy became a winner of the Chris Schenkel Award which is presented by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame which recognizes a sports broadcaster who has "enjoyed a long and distinguished career broadcasting college football at a single institution."  Only three other college basketball announcers have a longer tenure than Mr. Hillgrove.

Today's activities begin with an 8 a.m. mass at St. Lawrence O'Toole Catholic Church in Garfield followed by a proclamation at 11:30 a.m. in the courtyard of the downtown City-County Building and a 2 p.m. reception at Petersen Events Center.

Here's to Bill, Pittsburgh won't know what to do without you when you finally hang up the headset.

Read more: The Voice of the Pittsburgh sports gets his day - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Double M's Pizza Guns for Safety

The sign board outside Double M's Pizza serves as a warning to would-be criminals and a recommendation to his employees: "We Now Carry."  Having come face-to-face with a would-be armed robber, North Charleroi Pizza Shop owner Mark Miller has some advice - protect yourself; pack heat.

A white male dressed in black wearing a black ski mask, walked into the shop at 372 Pennsylvania Ave., 10:45 p.m. Saturday, brandishing a shotgun and demanding money.  "I picked up a dough tray and went behind there and told my driver, 'Get your cell phone. Call the police. Let's go, let's go!'" Miller recounted

Miller said the robber walked back outside, got into a car and drove away. He said this was the first time in eight years his business has been targeted by a thief. No injuries were reported, but the owner said he doesn't want to take any chances so he's urging employees to arm themselves while working.

Miller's stance has been met with guarded support from the law enforcement community.  Is it coincidental that the robbery occurred in a town with a police force of one full-time officer.  "Would a lessened level of police service contribute to the occurrence of these issues?" said Southwest Regional Police Chief John Hartman,  "It could. If that wasn't true, why would communities pay for police?"

Now for the absurd quotes from the Washington County District Attorney Steve Toprani ; "You have to exercise due care and be cautious."  Dangerous weapons exist for a reason - to protect.  You have to be fully cognizant of the dangers of carrying a deadly weapon. When you carry a firearm, you have to be willing to use it."

For the full story see

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Preakness, have you no shame?

A new mascot for the Preakness Stakes has been unveiled.  The mascot's name, "Kegasus," is in honor of the hard partying infield crowd of Pimlico.  This mascot was introduced in hopes of bringing back record crowds to the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown.  Attendance has been down the last couple of years due to the recently implemented alcohol policy that banned fans from bringing in their own beer into the infield.  Pimlico officials are trying to recapture the legendary spirit of the event by charging $20 for a refillable cup that entitles fans to unlimited beer refills with purchase.
In honor of the Pimlico's policy change, I will recount my experience at the 2008 Preakness Stakes. 

May 17, 2008 was a gorgeous sunny mid 70 degree in Baltimore, MD where my brother Pills, friend Chris, and I ventured out of Pills' downtown Baltimore apartment to watch the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown.  The horse races started at 10:30 am and the post time for the Preakness Stakes was 6:09 pm.  We had purchased infield tickets after hearing tales of the drunken debauchery and entertainment that took place inside the track.  Pimlico had a policy that anyone could bring beer into the infield without purchase as long as you did not posses any glass bottles or weapons:  our first order of business, buy beer and take the subway to Pimlico. 

We decided on a 30 pack of Natural Light, a Maryland favorite, and a bag of ice.  In order to get to the Metro station at Lexington Market we had to walk a few blocks to a historically African American area known as Camden.  While walking the streets with a case of premium pilsner beer we heard comments from some of the locals like "man they gonna have a good time today."  Being the only three white people in a lower class neighborhood in a crime-ridden city was a bit unnerving at first, but what the heck, we were on our way to watch one of the biggest sporting events in the country and all was good.  We boarded the Metro for the 5 1/2 mile trip, beer and ice in hand and we were off into the abyss of the Baltimore ghetto.   During our thirty-three minute trip we noticed that our bag of ice was melting and a puddle was forming on the train floor; the water then started running up and down the train car floor.  Embarrassingly we hurried off the Metro at our stop and boarded a transit bus to get us to the track.

On the bus a clueless elderly English couple was sitting near us taking in all of the scenery of the area often seen in the HBO hit series "The Wire."  The short bus trip ended and it was time to walk through the neighborhood.  I had been to the mean streets of Baltimore once before and Pills worked as a school teacher at the infamous inner-city Frederick Douglass High School so we knew what to expect, but Chris' jaw-dropped at the dilapidated conditions of the neighborhood.  Men and little kids were pushing shopping carts up and down the street asking everyone who had beer or picnic baskets if they could load up their cart and push everything to the gate for a small fee, many obliged.  Residents were barbecuing on their front porches and selling it to race fans, they were also selling out their bathrooms; $5.00 to use.  Teenage girls were even swinging from their porch railings like pole dancers.  People were passed out on the ground near the parking lot before they even entered; the local kids had some fun with the drunks by poking them with sticks to see if they were still alive. The community members really got into the spirit and you could tell this was a big day for them, I felt good for them too.  For all of the talk about the items you couldn't bring into the venue, it seemed as if you could bring just about anything.  Security was very lax, just a few locals at the gate asking if you had any bottles or weapons, not even a pat down or a check of bags. 

As we entered the infield the first things we saw were inebriated males and females being carted out by paramedics and bloodied faces of brawling college-aged kids (not sure if they were actually in college due the lack of intelligence and trashiness I observed), we were in disbelief.  Then came the "Toilet Run" where some moron would try to run across the tops of a line of Porta Johns while being pelted by spectators with beer cans.  They would usually slip off and violently fall to the ground.  We staked out a spot on the muddied grass and soaked everything in.  A crowd of 112,222 people made for the perfect scene for the people watcher:  countless brawls, throwing up, public urination, and stumbling glassy-eyed drunks.  Pills, Chris, and I made fast friends with a group after convincing them that we knew them and that was the reason why we were taking beer out of their cooler.  Drunks would come by scavenging through garbage looking for alcohol using all of their primal instincts.  A woman even picked up a couple beers stuck in mud and asked if she could take them home for her husband to drink; "I'll just wash 'em off and he'll never know the difference."  We even had an encounter with a forty-something year-old gentlemen resembling Det. Stan 'Wojo' Wojciehowicz from the 70's TV series "Barney Miller."  'Wojo' was dressed in a plain ball cap, white shirt and tie and taking Polaroid pictures of the chaos to prove to his family that the Preakness was crazier than the Kentucky Derby.  The logic for the Polaroid he claimed, was because a digital picture could be manipulated.  He then tried hitting on some really good looking girls, but stumbled and fell over.

There was horse racing going on during the day, you wouldn't have known it had you been in the infield, but I made several bets during the course of the day.  I was excited for the Preakness Stakes; Big Brown was the heavy favorite after a dominating performance in the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier.  I decided to place a $2 wager on trifecta box on the main event; Big Brown, Macho Again, and Icabad Crane and wouldn't ya know, they placed in 1-2-3 and I took home $150. 

After collecting my winnings it was time to head back to Pills' spacious apartment.  On our way out we observed a shirtless redneck playing basketball with some black kids.  It was nice to witness true inter-racial harmony.  Chris decided to buy a "Polish hot dog" from one of the residential entrepreneurs’ and we had a nice little chat with them while Chris ate.  Before boarding the Metro we saw three teenagers handcuffed on the platform the last memorable image we had of the day.  It was a long day, and being out in the infield all day walking through god-knows-what, it was time to get back, take a shower and relax before our trip home to Pittsburgh.  We were glad to have been a part of the 133rd running of the Preakness Stakes, it was a unique experience.  Maybe Pimlico can recapture some of the past glory by loosening the alcohol rules again, sadly Chris, Pills, and I won't know.

Pimlico in all its glory
'Wojo' and his Polaroid camera

Batman to the 'Burgh

The third movie in the Batman trilogy titled "The Dark Knight Rises" will be filmed in Pittsburgh this summer and is scheduled to be released in July 2012.  Christian Bale will grace us with his presence and we can only hope that he has one of his legendary meltdowns in the Steel City.