Discover more from Breathing Space
The lovechild of a bridge and a tunnel
"Order in the yinzer court!"
In this edition: book stuff * incline versus funicular * new Bill Peduto graffiti * a comedian’s bit about the Pittsburgh accent
Happy . . . TUESDAY?????
There is no longer any rhyme or reason to my posting schedule and that is because I’m the CEO of Overbooking Myself and the executive vice president of Saying Yes to Too Much Shit.
Last week’s edition didn’t happen due to travel, media commitments, meetings, and mom stuff. This week is book launch week, so you get the newsletter on a Tuesday. Next week, I might invent a new day of the week called some shit like Fjorday and post the newsletter then. Always keep them guessing, is my motto for 2023. My other motto for this year is Will you marry me, Jaromir Jagr?
This is a shorter one than normal, but now that my novel is published, my life should return to normal somewhat and I’ll be able to devote the necessary time to polluting your inbox with my baloney*.
* not a euphemism
1. It is book release day!
Today marks the culmination of something I started back when I was a pre-teen … novel writing. My debut novel Nothing. Everything. was released today.
I won’t lie; I’m terrified. Having you read my fiction as opposed to my history, humor columns, or essays is a whole new ballgame and I don’t yet know which team is showing up — the Pirates that beat the currently first place Diamondbacks 13-3, or the Pirates that lost to the currently last place Athletics 11-2.
Did I write a good book? I’m about to find out. Because some of you have been reading me for a bunch of years, I want to reiterate that this is a work of fiction. It grew out of a childhood memory and out of me struggling with finding my footing and myself after my divorce. It is not my story at all. My story would have been boring and not worth a read.
That said, here are a few of my favorite pages, to give you an idea of the voice I’m writing with as I take you across three cycling timelines: the past, when the main characters are children and teenagers (written in third-person past tense), the next, when the main characters are adults (written in first-person present tense), and the present (written mostly via transcripts of therapy sessions. I wrote this book before I ever started therapy, so again, these are not reflecting my own therapy experiences):
The past (in this scene, the characters of Ellis Marks and Lincoln Hale are aged 8 and 10):
The next (adult Ellis interacting with her teenaged son):
The now (adult Ellis’ therapist is reminding her of an important understanding):
Here are the places you can order the book, that I’m aware of currently:
Local to Pittsburgh:
City Books (signed copies will be available in store after tomorrow)
It will also be available in the University of Pittsburgh bookstore once it reopens following remodeling and I will sign all of those as well.
Tonight is the book launch event at the Heinz History Center (reserve tickets here). I look forward to meeting a bunch of you this evening! Group hug!
Oh, also, my mom deleted the confirmation email from the History Center with her ticket and book purchase receipt and when she couldn’t find it, she texted me this:
It took all of my will not to reply with, “Depends. Do you know if your cloud is Cirrus 4 or Cumulonimbus 3.2?”*
* Yes, I’m aware that someday my kids will make fun of me all, “OMG LOL Did mom also ask you if she could heat up her mac n’ cheese in the transmogrifier??”
2. “Funicular?! I’ve never even met her!”
I love viewing slideshows of giant Pittsburgh houses that are for sale for craptons of money. I love seeing the 47 rooms and 23 bathrooms and saying to myself, “Imagine cleaning that many toilets.”* To which I always reply, “Self, they do not clean that place themselves. They have housekeepers.” To which I usually respond, “Does the housekeeper wax the basement bowling alley lanes too or do you think they have a guy for that?”
There’s a website, Mansion Global, made for just the kind of nebbiness I subscribe to— virtual tours of mansions for sale. They’ve got former Pirate closer Mark Melancon’s mansion on there and it’s amazing and someone should buy it for me preferably with expedited shipping.
They recently published an article about “Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington neighborhood,” calling it a “walkable neighborhood [that] features world-renowned vistas and nature galore.” They feature a home for sale on Mt. Washington for $1.4 million and it is a stunner so if you could just “add to cart” that one when you’re purchasing Mark’s mansion for me, that would be swell.
But please don’t buy me this million dollar Mount Washington penthouse because just this picture of the bathroom nearly gave me a seizure:
What in the Melania Jessica Trump…??? These mirrors would 100 percent be part of an explanation I eventually gave to a doctor in one of Pittsburgh’s emergency rooms while bleeding profusely from a gaping head wound. What an unnecessary and grotesque amount of reflective surfaces.
Anyway, I love this line in the article:
These days, locals and tourists still use the funiculars to commute to the neighborhood, which ranks high on Pittsburgh’s list of places to live and visit.
Funicular. Such a fancy mansion-person word for our inclines when, in reality, if a resident called the inclines “funiculars,” they be pelted with half-full cans of I.C. Light Mango.
Here’s a visual representation of “funicular” versus “incline” …
So the moral of this post is (1) you should buy me mansions and (2) there are no funiculars in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and (3) invite me to your mansion parties please.
I promise to engage in only light thievery.
* Much the same way Pittsburgh dads see steep neighborhood roads and say, “Imagine driving THAT in the winter.”
3. “Babe, new Bill Peduto graffiti just dropped”
Having compared this handwriting to the others, I believe this to be from a copycat and not our OG Peduto pontificator. Also, the sentiment isn’t as weirdly funny as, for instance, “Bill Peduto has found a passion for the art of combat” or “Bill Peduto died for your sins.”
Regardless, I’m posting it so we can keep track of them as they pop up.
As a reminder, my stance is that graffiti (unless in chalk) is bad, and also, don’t eat babies.
That’s just good life advice.
(Spotted by Dan of the Bastard Bearded Irishmen)
4. “I submit to the courtroom this photo from the Taylor Swift Eras concert”
Pittsburgh-raised comedian Joe Kwaczala has been getting attention for a bit he posted on Instagram about the Pittsburgh accent in which he calls it trashy.
First, as you can imagine, yinzers were cool about th-- LOLOLLOOLOL. No, they weren’t. A bunch of Pittsburghers took offense at the accent being described as trashy even if it was an ex-pat saying it. Which is weird because I thought the rule was that while we won’t allow others to insult us, Pittsburghers get a pass. It’s like THEY can’t talk bad about us, but WE can talk bad about us.
My opinion: The yinzer accent is not melodious. It sounds like talking around a mouthful of gravel. If you’re going to throw trash on my lawn because I said that, please make it unopened jars of Nutella.
But that’s not why I’m writing about this. I need you to go watch the clip and then tell me if I’m nuts because, well, it doesn’t at all sound like the Pittsburgh accent when he starts talking as the judge. Like, I don’t know what accent he is using, but he sounds like he’s from some armpit shit like Jersey or something? Am I just not hearing him right on account of my deafness? Let me know what you think.
Also, one of my favorite comments was this one:
Now, calm down. I realize you want to refute this or defend the city, but I myself took a flight recently and while waiting at the gate, I looked down and realized I was not only carrying a Pirates bag, but was also wearing a Squirrel Hill Tunnel-themed t-shirt over which I had worn a Pirates hoodie and I did none of this intentionally. I just accidentally looked like the love child of a bridge and a tunnel.
Hell, the yinzer that made the news after he proposed to his girlfriend at the Taylor Swift concert during “Love Story”?
HE WORE A STEELERS JERSEY TO PROPOSE AND IT IS NOT EVEN FOOTBALL SEASON.
I find for the plaintiff. Yinz’r dismissed. Git aht-da my courtroom.
Where’d I put my wood bangy thingy?*
* also not a euphemism
5. That’s it!
I need to teach myself how to sign my name in preparation for the book-signing tonight because I get the feeling it should be more than what I’ve been doing for the last ten years which is basically writing “vee emm fwefnskdjfniwef.”
Be kind! Buy my book! Register to come see me in Fox Chapel! And be sure to catch my new band Light Thievery this week in Market Square. We don’t have a gig set up or anything; we’re just going to show up and start playing until we get arrested or pelted with half-full cans of I.C. Light Mango.
See you next Fjorday!
Jaromir, call me. The number is 976-BABE.