Discover more from Breathing Space
The boy who cried "Route 28 is almost done!"
Is that a "kabossy" in your "sour crout" or are you just --
In this edition: I’m done with summer * more Route 28 lies * pollution intentionally left on Pittsburgh buildings * the Pirates social media team deserves a raise * amazing Pittsburgh insult from the 1800s * and more! It’s long. You may need to click a link to view it all.
I said this on Twitter yesterday, but listen … I’m done with fighting the bugs and the weeds. I accidentally exploded a hornet nest that was so ferocious, I HEARD it before I saw it. Do you know how deaf I am and how loud that sound had to be for me to hear it? My professional bug-killing guy looked terrified as he poked it WITH A LITERAL TEN-FOOT POLE.
I’ve earlier battled ground yellow jackets by the mailbox, and now there’s some other swarming stinging horde that has turned a section of my landscaping into a very tiny but threatening airport. Just constant stinger-having flight traffic coming in and out of a hole in the ground and I REFUSE to get close enough to figure out what the hell they are.
I’m done keeping my flowers alive. I’m done cutting the grass while swatting at bugs that seem to want to lay eggs in my nostrils or eyeball sockets. I’m done checking for ticks and I’m done with not being able to hear well outside in the evenings because the bugs are just constantly all, “AHHHHHHHHHHH [inhale] NEAHHHHHHHHH.”
I am ready for fall and I am unapologetic about it. Give me cool breezes and fuzzy swea-
To quote this painting …
1. Fool me thrice, shame on Route 28
“Good” news, Pittsburgh drivers!
The pain of navigating the construction on Route 28 is rapidly heading to a conclusion.
Gasp! Construction on Route 28, the highway Satan created on the 8th day and saw that it was very good, is just about done? This is fantastic! Let’s read on.
In fact, some ramps and lanes are going to be reopening in just a few weeks
Okay. Slightly less positive. “Some” ramps and lanes opening in a few weeks. Let’s read on. I’m sure the good parts are coming.
Ramps to and from the Highland Park Bridge will all be open by at least early October. Route 28 Northbound will be fully opened to two lanes by the end of October.
Okay. So wrapping up in late Octobe-
Southbound, however, still needs work. Specially on the bridge over Delafield and Lexington so the pattern may shift, but it won't be open to two lanes until mid-December.
So that means the 75-year construction project on Route 28 will be done in mid-December?
All that remains … is that a section of Route 28 near the old Heinz Plant might need some resurfacing and within the next couple of years they need to rehabilitate the main span of the Highland Park Bridge as well as the ramps on the south end.
Why even give us this lie of an update? Just tell the truth. Route 28 is not a road; it’s a place where we store construction equipment. Forever.
2. Pittsburgh history: “You missed a spot”
There’s a new item on the map at Pittsburgh Remains to be Seen and it’s a fun one!*
As you know, Pittsburgh was filthy starting around the 1830s. In fact, one of the earliest mentions of Pittsburgh’s pollution came by way of the New York Daily Herald in 1843 as a correspondent wrote of the “sparks, cinders, smoke and dust, which overwhelm the city, and, at times, put out the light from the stars, moon, and sun, and obscure the heavens.” Then later in that same dispatch, he reported that the locals ate “cold slaw and sour crout.” Toss some ka-bawsy in there and we’ve got a Pittsburgh meal!
My point is that the stone used to build many of Pittsburgh’s buildings in the 1800s and early 1900s did not stay clean long as the years marched on, the skies black with the smoke of industrial progress. Andrew Carnegie gifted what was first known as the Carnegie Institute in Oakland to Pittsburgh in 1895. Today you know it as the complex that houses the museums of art and natural history as well as the music hall and library.
Here’s how it looked in 1897 when it was a shiny new baby** compared to what it looked like by 1937 at the why-is-my-lower-back-always-hurting age of 42:
Black as my cold dead heart. In 1990, the building took its first-ever bath at the age of 105.***
But! They intentionally left a small section of the stone dirty and THAT is now on the map as a visible remain of our smoky past!
If you’re a patron of the museum portion of this complex, there are a few spots on the grand staircase mural inside that were also left dirty during cleaning and restoration in 1995 (see red arrows):
If you’re about to email me that the pollution on the Mellon Institute columns falls into this “pollution intentionally left there” category, that is false. Mere local lore that can’t be proven. The real story is that the lower edges of the columns were cleaned because they would be visible in a movie scene (Hoffa, likely) and the crew just cleaned as high as they needed to go. The fact that I was able to prove that this Carnegie pollution was intentionally left, but have found nothing similar about the Mellon Institute is further proof it most certainly isn’t true. So don’t email me unless you have real proof or unless you are dying to tell me how young and attractive I am.
Then, by all means, have at it. Here are some words you can use. Bonus points if you can fit ten into one sentence.
* Granted, my idea of fun is going to lectures about the pandemic of 1918, but I still think you’ll find this one interesting.
** It obviously underwent major changes (1907) and no, there were never any bells in those towers. They were just for show. Like eyeglasses without lenses. Like speed limit signs on Bigelow.
*** Insert your own THE FRENCH joke here
3. Is that giant drunk bird with the beer belly … hitting on me?
As I’m sure you’re aware, Threads is Meta’s (formerly Facebook) knockoff of X (formerly Twitter), and should not be confused with Blue Sky, the Twitter/X knockoff from Jack Dorsey (formerly of Twitter). Imagine explaining THAT sentence to someone who has been in a coma since 2005.
One thing about every Twitter-alternative is that users have to figure out the culture of the place and how their branding/posting vibe will be structured to fit into it. Do you just repost everything you put on Twitter/X? Or do you go a different direction?
I think it is safe to say that the Pittsburgh Pirates have gone … a different direction:
But wait! There’s more!
“relax, mr. pockets”
I don’t know who is running that account, but the Pirates better take some of the money they make on their $8 waters and give said person(s) a raise.
4. I’m rubber, you’re glue, ya jag
About a year or more ago, I got the idea in my head to compile the best insults ever published about Pittsburgh since the 1700s. After a year of archive searches, I found dozens and dozens just up to the early 1900s. When I tell you Pittsburgh was the regular target of scorn, ridicule and finger-wagging, pearl-cluthching, smelling-salt-smelling, fainting-couch-fainting judgement. Whew.
All of that work has gone into my October Pittsburgh Magazine column. But there was no way for me to fit them all in, so I’m going to start sharing them here until I run out, which might take us right into 2050 when they’ll tell us Route 28 needs to be completely demolished and rebuilt from scratch because Satan said so.
This one didn’t make my final edit and it comes to us from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minnesota on December 2, 1875 from a correspondent’s dispatch under the headline of “Pittsburgh: What a Minneapolis Type thinks of the City of Dust and Soot.”
“One thing that strikes the new comer very forcibly … every person you meet looks as though he had either lost a near relative or expected to soon; and yet, Pittsburg is said to be healthy. Many, of course, die, but for want of street room for funeral processions, the corpses continue to walk around waiting for their time to come.”
Talk about an “Oh, snap!” line before “Oh, snap!” was a thing. I bet if he lived today, that correspondent would shoot straight fire at rap battles.
5. Pittsburgh history and space!
If you aren’t aware, local artist Kathy Rooney is the niece of Art Rooney. I recently stumbled upon the Etsy shop she shares with her husband, an artist in his own right. I was so excited to see these prints (commissioned for the Allegheny Observatory movie Undaunted) that feature John Brashear’s Pittsburgh astronomy history!
Brashear as a young boy growing to learn about and love space, Brashear and his wife Phoebe working in their South Side Slopes telescope/lens-making workshop, and them stargazing from the slopes. Whew. I’m in love. Check out the whole shop that also features other Burghy artwork. Not an ad!
6. Random roundup!
Reminder that my next book talk/signing is set for September 27 at Norwin Public Library. The event is free. Register to attend here and come hear me talk about writing my debut novel and the lessons I learned along the way.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller shared a horrifying video of the lanternfly problem in Mount Lebanon. YIKES.
Pittsburgh has plans to control the invasive deer population by allowing hunting in Frick and Riverview parks.
This video snarking on Penn State is hilarious
The 27th illegally packed gun of the year found at PIT airport FELL OUT OF A MAN'S BAG LIKE AN ERRANT TAMPON AND IT HAD FIVE BULLETS LOADED IT IN.
It is only August. All of last year, the TSA found 26. So is the gun problem getting worse or is the TSA getting better at their jobs or are we all just flying around the sky with people who have loaded guns in their bags? Forget pretzels; pass out bulletproof vests.
7. That’s all!
Have a great week! Be kind! Don’t litter! Be sure to come out and see my new all-girl Hole cover band Errant Tampon.
And a 1-2-3-4!
See you next week!