Discover more from Breathing Space
Leaving Cheez-its out for the Lanternfly Fairy
Is that a pickleball in your pants or ...
In this edition, which is once again very long and you may need to click a link at the end to read the whole thing: I’m at war now * the hot new Pirates fans * pickleball is tearing neighborhoods apart * scathing Pittsburgh insult from 1906 * a cool Kennywood auction * new pics of the Carnegie being cleaned of its pollution * and more!
Unfortunately, we need to talk about the spotted lanternflies … again. The plague. The scourge. The pox.*
First, shout-out to the old dude on Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg just chasing the menaces down and curb-stomping them like he was putting out a fire on a 10,000-dollar bill. Complete absence of mercy. I want to join his army, especially if it has lightsabers.
Second, yesterday, while I was sitting on my deck writing and minding my own business, a lanternfly landed on my cheek. My human face. My very person. But “landed” isn’t the right word. Landing implies controlled flight and alighting. This was more like the lanternfly was strapped to a caterpillar and catapulted at my head. My human face. My very person. This was a hard collision indicative of either ineptitude or intentional maliciousness. I jumped up from my seat and turned into the world’s best (or worst) interpretive dancer.
I’m telling you this to say that 1. this means an escalation of war unseen since I declared it on pigeons, and 2. Pittsburgh comedian Don Arner has been posting hilarious, locally filmed TikToks of him as a spotted lanternfly and he is perfection.
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It’s the “try me” look while eating Cheez-Its straight from the box that does it for me.
*Is there a name for a group of lanternflies yet? Can I nominate a villainy of lanternflies? Is there an official group-naming body I should contact about this?
1. Get in, you drop-dead gorgeous loser; we’re going losing
Let’s check in with your Pittsburgh Pirates! After a red-hot April, the Pirates have Pirated and lost way more games than they’ve won, currently holding on to next-to-last place in the NL Central division. They are 13.5 games out of first place and 11 games below .500 ball. There are only 8 teams in all of Major League Baseball with worse records than the Pirates.
If you are like me—elderly—you do not know who these people are. Influencers for the Elderly 101 is now starting; pay attention because this WILL be on the test. Olivia Dunne is [runs to Google] an NCAA gymnast/Instagram model with a huge social media following, and she is dating the Pirates’ latest hope for salvation, mustachioed pitcher Paul Skenes*. Hannah White is a college basketball player and social media influencer/model, also with a large following.
Is it weird that I have never heard of either of them? Regardless, welcome to the fanbase, ladies, but please keep in mind there is only one queen we acknowledge here in the city of baseball suckitude and it is that icon Jalapeño Hannah. She has a tilde in her name, a knife in her purse and chaos in her heart. Put THAT on a shirt.
She has her own merch after all:
Your fave non-dumpling-shaped Instagram influencer slash model could never.
*Not to be confused with previous Pirates’ hopes for salvation—Pedro Alvarez, Mark Appel, Gerrit Cole, Gregory Polanco, Cole Tucker, Chris Archer, Oneil Cruz etc. etc. etc. And you’re like, Ginny, who ever claimed these people were the possible saviors of the team, and the answer is ME. I DID. I believed in them and put all my hopes in them. At least we still have hope for Oneil. Let us pray.
2. And now the deaf girl will lecture you about decibels
As you know, I adore tennis, though I rarely get to play it these days. I sucked so terribly at it as a teen that it was embarrassing, so I took lessons in college and got good at it. I would go down to the courts at midnight and smack a ball against the practice wall for hours. After college, my dad and I used to play almost every single day after we got home from work. Therefore, I love any game with a racket or paddle. Ping-pong. Badminton. Racketball. Just put a launching implement in my hands and I will smash the projectile into your terrified face as soon as I learn the rules.
Then pickleball came around and my sister in Virginia introduced me and the rest of the sisters to the game. Using a ping-pong-sized paddle on a court that my brain associated with a tennis racket did a number on me. It was like my brain was all, “This looks very much like a tennis court and therefore you should assume the weapon in your hand is as big as your tennis racket.” I whiffed the stupid wiffle ball so damn much. I have improved, but I still don’t feel like I’ve conquered that sport enough to leave wiffle ball marks on your stupid elderly face*.
Now that pickleball is all the rage in Pittsburgh, a new first-world problem has arisen!
Let’s head over to Edgewood and see what’s up:
To Louise Deriso who who lives across the street from the Edgewood court, that sound is maddening. “It’s a high pitch. The same pitch as a garbage truck backing up, ‘beep, beep, beep’ and it’s irritating,” said Deriso.
Uh, to quote Britney Jean Spears:
As a person who has played the sport, I need to ask Louise if perhaps she’s not … actually hearing a truck?
“It has a higher pitch than tennis. Tennis is a kind of ‘thump.’ Pickleball has a kind of pop and when you hear that ‘pop, pop, pop’ it can get annoying,” said Bob Unetich, a former CMU professor and engineer who studied sound waves and signals.
Okay, then, as a person who is profoundly hearing impaired, do my ears just not actually know what a beep, pop and thump are? I thought a beep was like a high-pitched “eeeeeeeeep” sound, a pop was the hollow sound your face makes when you do that thing with your finger and your mouth, and a thump was the solid sound a dead body makes when it hits a hardwood floor (don’t visit me, FBI). Beeping is the last word I’d have ever used to describe the pickleball pop and therefore I’m now questioning hearing-aid technology and my entire existence.
Regardless, you’re wondering, “How loud can a ball named after a brine-infused cucumber actually BE, Ginny?” We have the numbers!
Measured in decibels, pickleball at 100 feet away registers 70 decibels. Similar to a vacuum cleaner. Tennis is 55.
Oh. That seems pretty high. But then I found this:
Eh. My sympathies have now waned somewhat for these people with the “misfortune” of living next to a swanky recreational court. I’m not saying it’s not annoying, but it’s within the recommended neighborhood decibel threshold. Talk to me when your neighbors start breeding a flock of crowing roosters in Cranberry.
Flock of Crowing Roosters is my new band name. We play Flock of Seagulls songs in the style of the Counting Crows and vice versa. It’s very chaotic but badass … like me.
*I get a bit competitive. Apologies, you decrepit loser.
3. “…and your father smelt of elderberries!”
Continuing the series I started last week, sharing insults that have been published about Pittsburgh throughout history, we are going back to 1906, a particularly scandalous year for the city. One set of insults that didn’t make my forthcoming Pittsburgh Magazine column comes from a wordy anti-Pittsburgh screed written by a correspondent to the Baltimore Sun dated August 11, 1906.
After deriding the “combined wealth and wickedness of this metropolis of smoke” and claiming the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah paled in comparison to those of Pittsburgh, the writer spent thousands of words insulting our roads, hills, air, millionaires, trolley system, work ethic, money habits, and even … our water:
Yeesh. And in the words of Mona Lisa Vito, “There’s more!”
Did … did he just call us woke?
I’m honestly shocked in all the thousands of words this man wrote trashing everything about Pittsburgh, he didn’t include a Shakespearean “villain, I have done thy mother” joke in there somewhere. So, how could one possibly wrap up such a scathing look at pretty much every aspect of our city?
Eugene B. Heath squashed us like lanternflies. But it’s okay because now Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh and Baltimore is what Marty Griffin wants you to think Pittsburgh is.
* Do not email me about how great Baltimore is. I already believe you. This was just a joke. But the Ravens are Satan’s team and I hope they g— I SAID DO NOT EMAIL ME WHAT ARE YOU DOING??
4. Memmmmorieeeeeees, all alone in the Haunted Hideaway
This week’s feature of Pittsburgh products for sale is actually a very cool auction. Look at this!
You could own the previous Don’t Stand Up sign from the Racer or one of the iconic green park benches. Kennywood has partnered with Give Kids the World Foundation for this fundraiser. The auction ends Friday, so get your bids in and let me know if you need my home address to drop these gifts off to me.
I’m about to have the most amazing bedroom makeover EVER.
Not an ad!
5. You know what would go good between these two bridges?
Comedian Ben Brainard’s recent bit about the ridiculous number of bridges in Pittsburgh has been riding a viral wave lately, and for good reason—it’s downright hilarious.
“How many bridges is too many bridges?”
Ask any Pittsburgher and they will tell you 446 is STILL NOT ENOUGH BRIDGES. Nearly every yinzer has had to backtrack a mile or so after driving out of the way to a bridge, and then said out loud, “We need another bridge there.”
Recently, when a semi truck wedged itself in the on-ramp of the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge, my sister and I were forced to drive two entire miles down to the Mansfield Bridge and then backtrack to the other side of the shut-down bridge. It added seven minutes to our drive time. And I said to her, “We need another bridge here.”
And then I said, “Wait. Am I 100 years old? Should I start feeding pigeons and yelling at clouds?”
Like I said … elderly. But the moral of the story is, I love stand-up comedy so much and also, Pittsburgh needs less pigeons and more bridges. Vote Montanez!
5. A fantastic history update!
You recall last week I shared a grainy screenshot of a newspaper photo of the first and only cleaning of the Carnegie Institute back in 1990. When I stumbled upon an old blog post from the Carnegie Library System that included small, low-res photos of slides showing the cleaning, I emailed them and asked how I might go about finding those slides in their archives to obtain larger photos. And they went and did the research and sent me these crystal clear photos! Wow!
I have chills. I am such a nerd, but in my defense, I’m also elderly. Where is my cardigan?
I’ll add these shots to the map at Pittsburgh Remains to be Seen when I get some time tomorrow. How exciting for us! Let’s hug.
The short things that are not long things:
I mentioned last week that the city had plans to cull the invasive deer populations in Riverview and Frick Parks. In my head, I imagined a ragtag group of camo-wearing beer-guzzling yinzers with hunting rifles slung over their shoulders traipsing through the early-morning dew while the city woke up and went about its day. I also imagined it would not end well, because guns and city parks just seem like a bad combination. But it will instead be done via archery and if you apply, are selected and don’t show up in a full Robin Hood cosplay, you are no longer my friend.
Don’t forget about my book talk at Norwin Public Library scheduled for September 27 at 6:30. Register for free here. I promise it will be fun and eye-opening. I’ll sign your books and will also bring a few copies for anyone who wants to buy one. Also, buy my book!
Another alligator was spotted in the Kiski River and people still went and stuck their butts into the holes of rafting tubes and floated all carefree like there wasn’t a monster down there capable of turning their outies into innies. No thanks!
Allegheny Cleanways, the organization that is our best weapon in the ongoing fight against litter in the county, has launched their annual fundraising drive. Pitch in if you are able and if litter is something you care about addressing. Not an ad!
There’s a yinzer in space and he took his Terrible Towel with him.
7. That’s all!
That’s it for this edition. Have a fantastic week! Be kind! Don’t litter! Murder the lanternflies with lightsabers! Send me Kennywood artifacts! I have nothing witty to end this edition with because it is late, I am tired, the next semester of grad school has begun and my brain is already like bllllllllllllllllll.
See you back here next week, loves!