Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meat Loaf Passes Out On Stage in Pittsburgh

Meat Loaf was in town for his tour on Thursday at the Trib Amphitheatre when four songs into his set he collapsed on stage after singing "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)."  Paramedics attended to 'Meat' as he was down for 10 minutes on a hot and humid Pittsburgh evening.  Fans were wondering if he had a heart attack and would possibly die on stage.  Meat Loaf was ok, publicist Maureen O'Connor said, "He hadn't been feeling well the past few days as his asthma had been bothering him."  Meat Loaf continued with his show and went right into one of his hits, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light."  Meat Loaf explained to the crowd why he passed out: “I f**king fainted.  I have asthma…I can’t breathe…and then…oh wait, I forgot…I got poked by a pin and bled half to death…and then I got slapped in the face and my tooth is loose.”

Friday, July 29, 2011

U2's Space Oddity Lands in the Burgh

Throughout Tuesday's U2 show at Heinz Field, I halfway expected the spaceship stage to actually take off. I wouldn't put it past Bono to make it happen.

After going over the set list and reliving the night, I think the show can basically be walked through in four parts.

Part 1: The Intro
The show was appropriately kicked off when David Bowie's Space Oddity began piping over the speakers as the band made their way to the stage. From other reviews I had read of the tour, I had been anticipating an Achtung Baby-heavy set list, so it wasn't a big surprise that the opening was a no-stop, high energy run through four AB songs: Even Better Than the Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, and Until the End of the World. This was followed by their first hit, I Will Follow. I wouldn't call any of those songs particularly memorable, but it sure did set the tone right with heavy lifting being done by all four band members to show off their cutting edge stage. It was at this point in the show that Bono did his introductions and also reminisced about a long tour and his first time in Pittsburgh, at the Decade in Oakland, and even joked about his mullet.

Part 2: The Spaceman
In the second part of the show, we were shown that Bono can basically make anything he wants happen at a U2 show. Following Get on Your Boots (the worst song of the show), I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, and Stay, we were greeted with a "Hello, Pittsburgh" from astronaut Mark Kelly in outer space. Remember, this is an active duty military officer who was leading a sing along of Beautiful Day via satellite in space. Appropriately enough, Bono also mixed in some Space Oddity lyrics.

This portion of the concert continued on with another All That You Can't Leave Behind tune, Elevation, staple U2 anthem, Pride (In The Name of Love), the operatic Miss Sarajevo, and, as the spaceship stage began transforming, Zooropa.

Part 3: The Spaceship Soars
This show was every bit as much about proving that a stadium show can draw you in like an arena show as it was about the music. In the third act, we really got to see it. With a video screen netting that extended multiple stories down from the "claw" stage putting on a dazzling red and white light show, U2 launched into one of my personal favorite songs, City of Blinding Lights from the How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album. This is a song that really shows off what Bono's enthusiastic vocals and lyrics and The Edge's trademark rapid-paced guitar sound can accomplish together.

After Vertigo and an odd medley that featured The Rolling Stones' Miss You, I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight, Discotheque and the refrain from the Talking Heads' Psycho Killer, we were treated to another trademark U2 anthem, Sunday, Bloody Sunday, before closing out the main set with Scarlet and Walk On.

Part 4: The Encore
The encore kicked off as most U2 encores do, with the classic One. I might not be saying enough about their sound in this recap, but every song is what you'd want to hear and more. More than just faithful-to-the-album performances, they all had that "live" sound with some surprises built in along the way. By the time we got to Hold Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, Thrill Me, Bono was wearing some sort of light suit, while swinging from a dangling, neon red glowing microphone.

The show finished off in grand style with my all-time favorite U2 song, With or Without You, my favorite song off the newest album, Moment of Surrender, and the fan favorite Bad.

This was the third time I've been to a U2 show. While I wouldn't put it at the top of my list (that would be the Vertigo tour at Mellon Arena in '05), it was definitely better than the other time I saw them in a stadium on the Pop Mart tour at Three Rivers in '97. I'm a huge fan, so would see them again any time they came back. But, I'm pretty sure that all it takes is a basic appreciation of their music to feel like any U2 show is well worth the price of admission.

Here are some other random thoughts about the show:

  • How cool is the story about how U2 came to add Pittsburgh to their schedule? I won't rehash it, you can read it here. But speaking of people who can pull off great feats, Pittsburgh is lucky to have someone like Dan Rooney on their side. The acknowledgment from Bono last night speaks for itself.
  • I've had two people over the past year tell me they don't like Bono. Otherwise indifferent towards U2's music, they harbor anti-Bono feelings. To me, this is inexplicable. He's not even overtly political, he just hates injustice, poverty, AIDS and other ills of the world and uses his position of influence to pressure politicians the world over to try to do something about it. What could be more noble than that. I never get the impression that he is anything but genuine in his charity and advocacy. I even heard rumblings that some people were turned off by the Amnesty International update. To these people I say, "It's a U2 concert, dummy. What did you expect?"
  • After some research, I found out that Andrew Rowen, to whom the show-closing Bad was dedicated to, was actually the inspiration for the song. He is the brother of Peter Rowen, the boy on the cover of the War album. Andrew has apparently battled addiction in his life. This review of the show was just one of my sources in piecing together that history, which also confirms that the couple who slow danced on stage together were celebrating their 60th concert together.
  • While I'll still take a show at the smallest venue possible, the 360 set made me a believer that it is possible to do a stadium show that feels the same as being in a closed building.
  • The Post-Gazette review can be found here. Trib here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Obituary of a Legendary Eatery: Johnny's Place

It is a sad week on North Craig Street in Oakland this week as Johnny's Place will be closing it's door for good at the end of the week. Johnny's Place has arguably the best sandwiches in all of Pittsburgh and I have yet to taste a sandwich outside of the city which compared either. Unfortunately, there will be no more delicious meals being served at 256 North Craig Street as Johnny and Karen are closing the door on their restaurant for the last time at the end of the week.

Johnny and Karen were restaurant owners who set the bar for food, service, and genuine friendliness. I made my last trip to Johnny's yesterday and I did not need a menu as I have tried everything on it at least once. I thought I would go full circle and order the first meal I ever ordered there, the Steak and Egg sandwich and Johnny's famous fries. Johnny even gave a dozen of his famous wings to us on the house. What more could you ask for? Although the food was fantastic, the mood was melancholy as everyone reminisced with Johnny about life and what the future holds. Johnny told me that he would have loved to stay open, but there were too many factors that forced him to shut down such as the economic downturn and people not eating out as much and the closures or moves of local business that supplied steady customers. I felt the worst when I said, "I guess everyone is making a farewell stop?" Johnny replied, "Yeah, it is too bad that if only everyone came in more often maybe I would not have to close, but everything happens for a reason and I am going to make the best of the situation. Just don't say good-bye because then we'll all be sad." It was this friendliness and honesty that made Johnny's Place more than just a restaurant.

Although, the building that housed Johnny's has been on the market for a while, Johnny and Karen are still not sure what their future holds. Will their recipes be sold? Will they open another restaurant in the South Hills where they reside? These are a few of many questions that they did not have answers to. One thing is for sure, Johnny and Karen will always be remembered by their patrons as friends and their food will always be the best. If they do decide to open a new store I am sure that people will drive the distance in order to say 'hello' to old friends and eat delicious food.

No one really wanted to walk out of Johnny's for the last time, but as we did we said good-bye, good luck, we all hoped to see each other in the future, and there was a tear in everyones eye.

Good luck Johnny and Karen, Johnny's Place will be missed, but never forgotten.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wiz Khalifa Up For "Best New Artist"

It seems like the possibilities of recognition just keep growing for Pittsburgh. This week Wiz Khalifa was nominated to the "Best New Artist" category of the MTV Video Music Awards for his single Black and Yellow. The MTV Music Video Awards will air on MTV on August 28 at 9PM.

Be sure to vote for Wiz and help Pittsburgh earn another coveted award and solidify Wiz's place among music legends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Celebrities Flock to Pittsburgh

If you have been paying attention to local news for the last few months it is obvious that Pittsburgh has been at the top of it's game by being named with many honors such as 'Most Affordable City', 'Most Livable City', and most recently '#3 Worst Dressed City.' We know that in a few weeks downtown Pittsburgh will be another traffic nightmare while parts of the city shut down for filming The Dark Knight Rises. Although all of these distinctions have made Pittsburghers proud there were still some that questioned Pittsburgh's place among the nation's elite cities. All of that debate can now be put to rest as Pittsburgh can be dubbed as a new advertising home of Gary Busey as he stars in a commercial for Century III KIA.

It is clear that Busey and Century III KIA were a match made in heaven because Century III KIA's general sales manager Rich Ward said,"his high-octane personality aligns well with the company's energetic approach to selling cars."

Go get 'em Gary!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pirates all over ESPN

You know the Pirates have begun making waves nationally when ESPN begins paying attention. Just today, the Pirates were both the lead story and the subject of their Top 10 list on SportsCenter, a front page story on, featured in a segment on Outside the Lines and debated on both Around the Horn and PTI. To top it off, the Pirates will be on Monday Night Baseball for the first time since 2002 next week in Atlanta.

Seems like a coordinated effort as anchor Steve Levy tweeted the following: spent 30 minutes on the pirates alone today in the sportscenter show meeting...that's a first...#firstplace

For the record, the question on PTI was "Will the Pirates make the playoffs?" Wilbon gave 25% odds, which basically means he puts their chances at even with the other three contenders in the current quagmire. Guest host Tim Cowlishaw put them at 11%.

Bonus Pittsburgh coverage: For good measure, PTI also covered James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall today.

Post-victory update: Just minutes after I posted this and the Pirates clinched their eighth straight series victory, the Pirates are the lead story on Baseball Tonight. Coverage of the NL Central was wrapped up with speculation on how many wins it'll take to win the division. Larkin said in the 90s, Kruk said he felt 90 would definitely do it, may even be lower. For the Pirates to finish with 90 wins, they'd have to go 39-28 over the last 67 games, which is obviously an even better pace than they are currently on. For perspective, if they played .500 ball over those last games, they'd end up with 84 or 85 wins. 85 would have won the division four times over the sixteen year history of the division.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pittsburgh: One of Worst Dressed Cities in America

Pittsburgh is always making "Top Ten" lists whether it be for "Most Livable Cities" or "Best Sports Towns," but now we have a new distinction that is sure to make us proud: "Worst Dressed." A Top 40 List of the Worst-Dressed Cities in America was recently published in the 'Style' section of GQ Magazine and Pittsburgh not only made the list, but placed # 3 overall. Just going to sporting events, Kennywood Park, or driving through local neighborhoods it is not difficult to see why we were ranked so high. GQ's Gil Mansfield cites the following characteristics that we Pittsburghers witness on a routine basis:
  • high top sneakers, preferably Converse, worn loosely tied
  • white tube socks
  • distressed jean shorts, worn long and with a sag in the keister
  • Pittsburgh Steelers jersey, size XXXL, preferably black
  • facial hair, preferably goatee or chin strappy beard
  • baseball cap, preferably something in a florescent shade of camouflage or a piece that reflects a strong allegiance to a NASCAR driver
  • ensemble varies slightly depending on the season; during the blustery winter months, Pittsburghers will often apply a heavy winter coat
Mansfield goes on to conclude, "there is no city on Earth that can equal the utter sloppiness of Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh came in only behind Boston and Los Angeles in the poll. What do Pittsburghers' think of this 'honor'? See the interview below:

There are a few things that I believe Mansfield got wrong. I do not believe that Pittsburgh is a huge NASCAR town; Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt, and the Steelers off-season is enough to occupy the minds of fans. While the goatee is popular among Yinzer's in their 20's and 30's, the mustache is still the preferred style of facial hair for Baby Boomers and I do not see too many "chin strappy beards." Tank tops are also favored during the summer months, this is a prominent look for Kennywood goers. It is too hot and humid in the summer time to wear jerseys. He also missed the 90s sunglasses and Brillo-Pad hair style with some still sporting the mullet and the gold chain around the neck. All in all, I suppose this is a fair article, but it is clear that Mr. Mansfield probably needs to spend a little more time in da 'burgh.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Pittsburgh Trio's Trip to Cleveland

Last weekend R Korn, The Zuk, and I decided to make a one day road trip to Progressive Field in Cleveland to check out and compare the home of the Indians to the friendly confines of PNC Park.

The three of us decided to begin the roughly 2 1/2 hour drive around 9:30 in the morning because we wanted to take advantage of all that our rival city had to offer. We already had tickets to see the Indians and Blue Jays play, but wanted to be sure not to miss The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and any other possible attractions.

We made it into downtown Cleveland a bit before noon and we were blown away by the lack of people in the city. Granted downtown Pittsburgh is not a hotbed of commotion outside of normal working hours, but Cleveland was like a ghost town. To further illustrate this point we searched for an all day parking garage, but after passing by many we saw that you had to be out by 7:00 PM. This did not give us much hope that anything was going on in Cleveland.

Once we parked we immediately headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, conveniently located about 2 miles north of Progressive Field.  Everyone in Cleveland must have been in line as we waited a good 20 minutes to pay and enter the museum. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was structured like a pyramid similar to the glass structure outside of the Louvre in Paris which made navigating through a crowded museum a bit difficult. There many different sectors of the museum which included The Roots of Rock and Roll, Girls on Film: 40 Years of Women in Rock, Cities and Sounds, Treasures From the Vault, Hall of Fame Inductee Gallery, and Right Here Right Now, among others. We all agreed that our favorite part of the museum had to have been the Treasures of the Vault section. You were able to see many different costumes, guitars, original music, pianos, and clothing of many different musicians. Particularly what was great was the Michael Jackson glove, the Metallica set display, David Bowie costumes, and Slash's guitar and hat. Although, the Rock and Roll HOF claims to have "one of the most comprehensive Beatles exhibits in the world" we were a bit disappointed. The section was only about 20-30 feet long with one Sgt. Pepper costume, a few generic Beatles suits, and other less than awe-inspiring items. Continuing through we also thought that the Rolling Stones were not done justice as there was only about one-third of the amount of items that the Beatles section contained. The Doors and Jim Morrison along with Jimi Hendrix both seemed to have more than the Rolling Stones.

Once we passed though the main section we moved upstairs to the lesser exhibits. The traveling exhibit while we were there was Women Who Rock. There were all sorts of costumes from Madonna, Britney Spears and the woman who seemed to get all of the glory on all levels of the HOF, Stevie Nicks. We all agreed that is was also great to see the infamous Lady Gaga meat suit from the 2010 MTV Music Awards.

There were a few other sections which peaked interest, but not much more. We were disappointed in the Inductee section. In order to see the inductees the HOF provided a long movie which no one wanted to invest the time in to watch. The names of all of the inductees were signed in alphabetical order, but there was no bust or plaque which we all thought would have added to the inductees importance rather than just sticking them on a wall behind the movie screen. R Korn noticed something cool in the Rolling Stone magazine section in which Charles Manson wrote a letter to the editor saying that he enjoyed the article about himself, but next time call him for information and that he would like a subscription as well.  We thought that the Right Here, Right Now section needed a lot of improvement as there were only a few things from Weezer and The Jonas Brothers, this was disappointing.  All in all we enjoyed the HOF, but agreed there was a lot of work to be done.

Not wanting to have to sit around, the three of us decided to walk to Cleveland Browns Stadium because there seemed like there was nothing else to do before the game. We were right. All we could do was walk up to it and leave. It was next to the Great Lakes Science Center, but we knew it would not match our own Carnegie Science Center.  Moving on we looked for a mall or other attraction, but to no avail. I think we saw every Toronto fan doing the same. Walked to the Rock and Roll HOF looked for something else, found there was nothing, and then retreated out of the heat to a hotel to relax before the game.

After relaxing in a local hotel, we decided to look for a place to eat and stumbled upon the only, and I mean ONLY, sign of life in the city.  It was a quaint alley that was turned into a strip of fancy restaurants with terrace dining located on East 4th Street.  We walked through and realized this was out of our price range and we were not about to propose to anyone so we moved more towards Progressive Field and found a nice restaurant and bar called Harry Buffalo.  We were pleased with the food and then made our way to the stadium for the game, but not before passing the former home of LeBron James, Quicken Loans Arena, which looked like a fancy warehouse.

I was very impressed with Progressive Field.  Of course nothing will compare to PNC Park, but the home of the Indians reminded me a lot of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  Progressive Field was designed well and had a cozy feel to it as opposed to being wide open like PNC Park. The stadium had great viewing angles and a picturesque outfield.  Unfortunately the city surrounding it was lame and no buildings really caught our attention, it was clear that the design was to make baseball the focus. In the outfield there was a section called Heritage Park which allowed fans to see monuments and pictures important to Indians history, much like Monument Park in old Yankee Stadium.  The game was not a sellout which was surprising considering it was a Saturday night and the Indians were in first place.  The fans were courteous and we did not witness any of the many Blue Jay fans being harassed.  We even were able to see former Pirate Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays hit two home runs, one of which ended up being a 10th inning game-winner.  I have been to several ballparks and even though I have not seen to them all, I would have to rate Progressive Field as a top 10 baseball stadium.
Following the game there were fireworks, but we knew they would not hold a match to a Zambelli skyblast or fireworks night at PNC so we headed to the car and made our way home.  It was a fun trip, but be forewarned, Cleveland can be done in one day; a half day if you only want to see a game.  I did notice that Cleveland is home to two other attractions and not much else:  the Great Lakes Brewing Company and the house of Ralphie from "A Christmas Story."

I recommend Cleveland for a baseball game, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not much else.  I guess that is why they say 'Cleveland Sucks.'

Thursday, July 14, 2011

311 and Sublime with Rome Review

I went to the 311 and Sublime with Rome Unity Tour on Tuesday night and I thought that it was a great show and Stage AE proved to be a great venue for both groups. 311 is one of my top bands both to see in concert and to listen to at any time of the year, while Sublime is a great band to listen to in the summer or when good weather or vacation is impending. That being said, this concert was right up my alley.

I had only been to the Weezer concert at Stage AE and the atmosphere and logistics of entering Stage AE differed immensely. Stage AE only had one gate open and security was out in full force checking and trashing any possible contraband. This was most likely due to the recreational drug use reputation of both bands and their fans. I thought that this would be a perfect concert to grab a blanket and go to the lawn area to sit and enjoy the show, but my towel was taken because "each band has different rules of what is allowed into the venue." I was disappointed that I would not be able to relax on the lawn on my towel, but once the concert began everyone was standing so the blanket became a moot point.

Surprisingly, the crowd was very divided as I talked to people around me and most were either fans of just Sublime or 311 and rarely both. Ever since Bradley Nowell died in 1996 Sublime has not been the same. I simply looked at Sublime with Rome as a glorified cover band for the original version and the lack of Nowell made a big difference to my enjoyment of Sublime with Rome. All of the hits were played and people were dancing to the music, but I was ready for 311 to begin because they were the real show.

311 is always a great band to see live with great crowd interaction, stage presence, energy, and light show matching the music. 311 began with Jackpot from their 2009 album Uplifter and the song did just that as the crowd quickly became energized and got into the concert from the start. 311 ripped through 22 songs only breaking twice for a drum solo by Chad Sexton and a bass solo by P. Nut later. The first 11 songs were all classics and then 311 moved into six of their more mellow tracks which were also good chances for bathroom or concession breaks. I had to laugh as 311 asked everyone to get out their Terrible Towels to show unity with the city, but I guess they either forgot or Stage AE management was lying because no towels were permitted into the venue and no one could oblige. They also played their new single Sunset in July which is a great track from their new album Universal Pulse which comes out on July 19. 311 went off stage for a very short time and came back to close with their encore of two of their most famous tracks. They began with Who's Got the Herb which has become one of their live anthems as it was never on an album and to close 311 was sure to say "this one is for all of you out there who are old school fans" when tearing into arguably their top single and one of my favorites Down which was from their self-titled album which broke them out in 1995.

I was surprised at how fast the concert went and I am sure I will see 311 when they come back to town.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pirates at the halfway mark: Where do we go from here?

Even though more than half the games have already been played, the symbolic start of the second half of the season begins tomorrow in Houson. And at four games over .500 and just a game out of first, they enter the second half in very unfamiliar territory.

Take a look at some of the remarkable accomplishments of this team thus far:

  • Since a six game losing streak left them at 18-23 at the 1/4 mark of they season, they have gone 29-20.
  • Despite being the all-time worst interleague team, they wrapped up the interleague slate with a winning record of 8-7
  • Have not lost a series since being swept in Cleveland in June and just two since being swept in Milwaukee the second week of May.
  • Are just 10 wins short of last year's total of 57
  • Have already won 10 games more on the road than all of last year
  • Are winning while regularly starting rookies Chase d'Arnaud, Josh Harrison, Alex Presley and, of course, Mike McKenry, the current starting catcher and seventh catcher of the year, who started the season at AAA Pawtucket in the Red Sox system.
  • Have survived injuries to Pedro Alvarez, Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Ross Ohlendorf, Ronnie Cedeno, Jose Tabata.

The strength of the team has undoubtedly been the starting pitching. No matter who has been on the mound, the Pirates just continue to get solid performances day-in, day out. And, the one guy who wasn't even in the rotation at the beginning of the season, Jeff Karstens, made a good case for NL pitcher of the month in June at 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA and 0.82 WHIP.

All of this begs the question, where does the team go from here? Dare we say, the Pirates could be buyers at the trade deadline? The one thing this team really needs is a power bat. Two names that have been floated most prominently as trade targets are the Cubs' Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez. Another possibility is Carlos Beltran of the Mets, who are currently dumping salary. I also even saw Hunter Pence's name floated, which would be a remarkable acquisition for the Pirates, but one that I just can't fathom actually happening.

On the other hand, Doumit, Pedro, Cedeno and Tabata all should be back soon, and maybe we still have yet to see the best from Overbay, Diaz and Jones. If the pitching continues their torrid pace, maybe the offense finds more life organically.

Whatever happens from here, this season has already been a success. If they can keep this up and be a factor through the end of the season, my head just might explode.

So, what do you see happening in the second half of the Pirates' 2011 baseball season.

Multi-billion dollar Multi-national company Monsanto sues area farmers over pennies

First of all, if you don't know about Monsanto, watch the documentary The World According to Monsanto.  The director definitely has an agenda, but it is an interesting look into patenting, genetics, and the legal mechanisms that have allowed Monsanto to completely dominate the world seed trade; leaving many casualties in its wake.  Accordingly, the film also explores how Monsanto was able to legally patent a gene, and whether this is ethically justifiable.

I do not want to start giving away all of the details of the film, but the documentary shows the great lengths Monsanto has gone to in order to spread their gene across all crops, and the method it employs to ensure all farmers growing crops exhibiting their gene pay up.  Many farmers, whose families have been in the seed trade for generations, have been forced into bankruptcy by frivolous lawsuits and fear-mongering among neighboring farmers. 

It looks like Monsanto is at it again, suing two Erie area farmers over the 'illegal' practice of replanting patented seeds.  Whether they did or not, it's hard to prove their innocence given the fact that the gene is a dominant trait, and any plant that is fertilized by a Monsanto plant will show the patented gene.  For example, if a non-Monsanto corn field is planted down-wind from a Monsanto planted corn field, the next generation of non-corn seeds will express the Monsanto gene due to natural reproduction.  Therefore, by natural selection, the Monsanto gene is favorable.

Furthermore, these farmers stand little chance against Monsanto's lawyers who will pile litigation up on the farmers, until they can no longer afford the legal fees, and will be forced to shut down.  But Monsanto has to defend their product, right?

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Jeter Ball: What would you do?

I'm working on a halfway point post on the Pirates right now, but in the meantime, I'm interested in everyone's take on the big national story from over the weekend, Jeter's 3,000th hit and the guy who returned it.

As you no doubt have heard, Jeter hit a homer for his 3,000th career hit and a 23-year-old fan caught it. Instead of keeping it to auction off for what some project would have been as much as $250,000, he returned the ball in exchange for some memorabilia and tickets, saying that he felt Jeter deserved it.

I know it's a cliche question at this point as it has been debated all over the radio and internet all weekend, but it's an interesting question nonetheless: what would you have done?

The easy answer is that it's too valuable to just give away. Not that I'd want to be greedy, but that's a lot of money for someone who has college payments, a mortgage, perhaps children who you need to send to college, etc. You may love Jeter, but he's made hundreds of millions of dollars over his career and dates Minka Kelly, so there's not much reason to feel that you need to do the right thing by him. If he wants it so much, he can bid the $250k on it himself.

On the other hand, I want to have it both ways. I'd love to be the guy being gushed over around the country as the sterling example of how greed doesn't drive every decision in this culture of ours. I'd easily pay a good chunk of money to receive that kind of admiration and adulation.

So, that being said, I think I'd try to work a behind-the-scenes deal. Ask to speak to Jeter and say, "Hey, I'm going to give you this ball back so we all look good, but remember that I've got kids to send to school. Take care of me." And also go to the Yankees and say, "A half season of season tickets is pretty nice, but I think a lifetime of tickets would be better." I'd be willing to take a pretty good discount in order to also be seen as some sort of latter day Mother Theresa, but not so willing that I'd forgo enough money to make the rest of my life easier.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pittsburgh Pirates above .500 by All-Star Break

Don't look now, but your Pittsburgh Pirates are above .500 by the All-Star Break for the first time since 1992.

In an unbelieveable comeback win tonight, the battling Buccos kept coming back and took the lead for good off of a three run dinger from Mike McKenry in the bottom of the eight inning.  All-Star closer Hammerin' Hanrahan shut the door for good on the Cubbies, getting save number 26 and clinching a 7-4 win.

The Pirates are making the city excited about baseball again, and for good reason.  They are only one game out of first behind the Brewers, and tied for second with the Cards.  Had the Brewers lost tonight, all three would have been tied for first.  Unfortunately, it seems, the Brewers always find a way to stick it to the Buccos. 

The crowd was absolutely electric tonight, yelling and responding loudly to every pitch and play made on the field.  The fans have definitely started to believe in this team, and have responded by selling out the stadium.  Tonight was a sellout, and tomorrow night will be too.

Let's go Bucs.  Raise the Jolly Roger.

Notes: This was the first HR of Mike McKenry's career.  He has been 1 of 7 catchers used by the Pirates this season due to injury.

Western Pa. has a motorcycle gang?

What the hell? Western PA has a motorcycle gang? If you had asked that question yesterday, I would have sworn that our biker community was limited to weekend warriors cruising down Corrigan Drive on Sundays and holidays. However, seeing as how the National President of one of the largest biker gangs in the U.S. was arrested in Hempfield, I guess I would have been mistaken.

Want to learn more about the Pagan's? Here's their wikipedia page. The least surprising part of their history? They were mostly non-violent until a guy nicknamed "Satan" took over.

Tailgates Scheduled For Impending Implosion

We all know that there are many activities that Pittsburghers enjoy from "goin dahn da Sathside," Kennywood, sports championships, bobble heads, fireworks and eating a Primanti sandwich. All of the activities are signs of what it means to be a true Yinzer, but there is one favorite past time that may trump them all only because it happens once in a blue moon...the implosion of a building. After months of debate the Sports and Exhibition Authority has announced that the Civic Arena will be imploded in the next 10 months.

Pittsburgh is sure to make the implosion of the Civic Arena an historic event just as they did for the implosion of Three Rivers Stadium. Yinzers from far and wide traveled to the North Shore in order to tailgate and look on in awe at the rare change from explosion of fireworks at local stadiums to the implosion of the stadium itself. Not to be disappointed, Pittsburgh even celebrated the implosion with fireworks. Check out this video of Three Rivers being imploded.

The debate still rages on as to whether or not the Civic Arena should have been made a historic landmark or demolished. The stadium was old, decrepit, and useless for modern times. Reconstructing the building as a mall or sitting empty were two of the many proposed uses for the Civic Arena, but the SEA made the right move by voting to implode the arena. What good would a useless arena do? Does anyone really miss Three Rivers or Forbes Field? I understand the nostalgia around keeping the igloo, but just as igloos melt so to must the Civic Arena be demolished as the seasons have changed on an era of Pittsburgh sports.

In addition, the implosion is sure to generate much fanfare as the locals will head out early to grab a seat with friends and family, roll out the grills, sell "I was there at the Civic Arena Implosion" T-Shirts, and celebrate the end of an iconic arena with fireworks by Zambelli.

Be sure to send out the Civic Arena in true Pittsburgh fashion with intense media coverage, sports stars from yesteryear, a parade, and drunkenness. This is the good-bye that out old friend, the Civic Arena, deserves.

Star Search in Bethel Park

The cast and crew of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" are staying in the Blast Furnace's old neighborhood.  The movie starring Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Paul Rudd is filming all around the South Hills of Pittsburgh thus they are being housed in the Crowne Plaza Hotel located across from South Hills Village Mall (SHV) in Bethel Park, PA.  Why is the movie being filmed in such scenic suburban areas such as the Hollywood Theater in Dormont, Peters Township High School and Bethel Presbyterian Church?  The movie's director and author of the book with the same title, Stephen Chbosky, is an Upper St. Clair native. 

The cast and crew has been to the Dor-Stop restaurant in Dormont and Il Pizzaiolo and Bistro 19 in nearby Mt. Lebanon.  Watson, Lerman and Rudd also were seen at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in SHV mall.  Actor Ezra M. Miller has made his mark on Pittsburgh as he faces marijuana charges.  Miller was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by Peters Township Police for a faulty rear brake light.  The officer detected the odor of marijuana in the car and confiscated about 20 grams of marijuana and a pack of rolling papers from under the passenger seat after searching the vehicle.

This is the second film that the Bethel Park hotel has hosted.  The crew on Russell Crowe's film, "The Next Three Days," stayed in the Crowne Plaza.  Crowe, however, had better taste and stayed elsewhere.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Google+ Selects Mark Cuban

So apparently google is launching a new 'project' that is supposed to compete with facebook called google+.  Currently, only a few people with Gmail accounts were selected, at random, to try out google's latest endeavor. 
A key feature of google+ is photo uploading from phones.  Once a picture is taken or uploaded on your phone, it is automatically uploaded to your google+ account. Privacy settings should not be worried about, because photos uploaded to your google+ account will be held in a private folder, and are only made public if the user makes them public.  Unfortunately, it seems, Google still has some glitches in its google+ project it needs to work out.
One of the 'random' people selected for the google+ trial was Mark Cuban, and some of his private photos were accidentally made public.  Deadspin found the pictures online, and posted them on their website.  In true Mark Cuban character, he offered to narrate the pictures for deadspin.  Check out the link, some of the pictures are pretty crazy (Elephant walk included).
Picture from

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kris Kringle Adds Kennywood to His Annual Visit

Pittsburgh will have to red up one of the area's favorite summer stomping grounds as Santa Claus will be entertaining the locals at Kennywood Park by adding "Kennywood's Holiday Lights" to their already growing schedule of events.

If Phantom Fright Nights is any indication Kennywood is sure to make "Holiday Lights" a memorable experience for people of all ages. It would be interesting to walk around an amusement park covered in a blanket of snow. There will be a few rides open as cleaning off roller coasters might be more trouble than it is worth, but just imagine how cool it would be to be riding down the "Phantom" in below freezing weather. The open rides will include the Carousel, Kangaroo, Paratrooper, a holiday-themed railroad and several Kiddieland rides during "Holiday Lights" hours.

So be sure to add a trip "dahn da Mon" to Kennywood to you holiday "to-do" list and celebrate Christmas 2011 in true Pittsburgh fashion at Kennywood.

Friday, July 1, 2011

More Misery As Penguins Lose Talbot, Rupp

It has been a busy day blogging about possible Penguins free agent signings. This time Stanley Cup Game 7 hero Max Talbot has signed with the Filthadelphia Flyers earning a 5 year $9 million deal and Mike Rupp signed a 3 year $4.5 million deal.

As pictured above, Talbot was famous for "shhhhing" the crowd of Filthadelphia during the Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup run. Now, Talbot will be joining the hated rivals and the loss of Talbot may hurt Penguin fans more than losing Jagr.

Rupp was only with the team for 2 years and I will not miss him, but I know he was a fan favorite among many Pittsburghers.

The bigger loss was Talbot. Talbot was arguably the biggest fan favorite among niche, hard core, casual, and hockey fans alike. There was something about Maxime that everyone loved and his status as a locker room favorite was evident in the HBO series 24/7 Pens/Caps. As if Pittsburghers were not already incensed at the Flyers signing Jagr and the way the deal went down, Talbot changing sides will lead Pittsburghers to their breaking point.

The question remains: Who will be booed?
Will both Jagr and Talbot be booed?
Only Jagr?
Only Talbot?

The three games against the Flyers are sure to be the hottest tickets of the season for Penguins fans this season. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on tickets hold on to them, especially for the December 29 game which will be included in the HBO series 24/7 Flyers/Rangers as part of the lead up to the 2012 Winter Classic in Filthadelphia.

It has been one of the most interesting days for NHL Free Agent signings in recent memory. Regardless of the losses, the Penguins are still a top contender for Lord Stanley this coming season.

Jagr Signs With In-State Rival Flyers

Just when people were beginning to think that Jaromir Jagr was only using the possibility of returning to the NHL as leverage for a larger contract with the KHL, Jagr signed a 1 year $3.3 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers were a late addition and dark horse candidate in a previously believed two horse between the Penguins and Red Wings contending for Jagr's services.

As mentioned in my previous post concerning Jagr, Pittsburgher's already have a very divided view of #68. This groundbreaking announcement could only further solidify Jagr's villainy amongst Jagr haters and also may lose the support of Jagr fans. It may have been in question before, but now for certain Pittsburgher's will boo Jagr now that he signed with the much hated Filthadelphia Flyers. It has become clear that Jagr was always concerned with money involved with re-entering the NHL due to the simple fact that after the Flyers traded Mike Richards and Jeff Carter they quickly dropped as a possible Stanley Cup contender. Jagr is certainly not going to be a player to build a team around at 39 years old, but he would have fit much better as a complementary player on a contender such as the Penguins or Red Wings.

Again, I do not blame Jagr for going for the cash, but the way this all went down certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth. There are only two teams that I would not want to see Jagr with the Flyers or the Crapitals and unfortunately for Jagr he will return to Pittsburgh as an Atlantic division rival and will feel the wrath of the Pittsburgh fans every time he comes to town.

The legacy of Jaromir Jagr as an adopted son of Pittsburgh has certainly been tarnished and this is one move that Pittsburghers are sure not to forget. Jagr will still go down as one of the all-time greats and we should be proud that he started his career in Pittsburgh. I hope that Jagr made the right move for himself and he does well this season, but I also hope that the Penguins crush his spirit and body everytime the Flyers and Penguins meet this season in an already heated rivalry. Good luck Jagr and break a leg!

Jagr Will Not Return to Penguins

After arguably one of the most anticipated free agent signings in recent memory, the Pittsburgh Penguins have withdrawn their offer to future NHL Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr. Jagr was reportedly offered a 1 year $2 million deal in order to return to the NHL to finish out an already illustrious career.

Jagr is a very polarizing figure within Pittsburgh sports, not only due to the arguments over whether he should return to the team, but also due to his changing role from rookie phenom and fan favorite staring on two Stanley Cup teams to a player who left the Penguins in a less than admirable way. Pittsburghers have been deeply divided over Jagr's place in local sports lore, but his comments stating that "his heart was in Pittsburgh" and then not signing have left a bad taste in many peoples' mouths as he has yet to determine for certain if and where he will play during the 2011-2012 season.

Regardless of the various emotions and opinions of Jagr's maturity, age, level of play, and possible contributions he could have made to the Penguins one thing is for sure: Jaromir Jagr will go down in history as one of the greatest players to play both in all of Pittsburgh sports and in the NHL. I would have loved to see Jagr back in a Penguins uniform and I am disappointed that he will not be playing here. I do not hold anything against him for not signing and feel that this has no reflection on his value to a team. I hope that Jagr does well wherever he plays and continues to build his already great legacy as an elite hockey player.