YOU KNOW WHAT you almost never hear? “Let’s go to Pittsburgh!” followed by raucous applause. Very few people come here of their own volition. And no one who’s born here can ever leave; it’s written into the city charter, right after the part about no meal being complete without a handful of fries.
Pittsburgh occasionally gets some good press. We were once voted America’s most livable city, the universities are world renowned, and our gritty backdrop is the chosen locale for movies about dystopia and zombie apocalypse. But those of us who actually live here, who subsist on a diet of car exhaust and Heinz ketchup, who look at drinking as a sport and football as a religion, know that for all the promise that Pittsburgh holds, at its core is a cluster of inferiority, unpaid child support, and leftover songs from the Clarks’ catalogue.
If you’ve visited Pittsburgh, you might find it quaint. Charming, even—until you walk outside and are confronted with the most diverse array of trash any city has to offer. This includes paper plates, a curious number of mini muffin packages, syringes, empty beer cans (usually Iron City, in keeping with tradition), children’s shoes, fast food bags, make up, used diapers, clumps of hair, Rap Snacks (for people too cool to consume the white man’s potato chips) and so on.
If you can make it through the mounds of garbage clogging your front porch perhaps you may find yourself wandering around our fair city. In that event be sure to bring a map. While Pittsburgh is tiny, it’s easy to get lost here because the streets were planned by someone with a grudge against logic and reason.
There is no better example of this than the famed downtown area. I’ve lived here for my entire life and I still get lost when I travel downtown for one of my frequent court appearances. It’s pretty easy to do so when every street is one way in the same direction. Sometimes I just drive around in a circle and wind up back home, having forgotten why I went out in the first place.
While certainly not a cultural mecca, Pittsburgh is somewhat famous for being the birthplace of famed pop artist Andy Warhol (formerly Warhola). While some find Mr. Warhol’s designs fascinating, I happen to think he was the world’s most overpaid graphic designer. Despite my opinion, his work earned him accolades and enough cash to surround himself with a cadre of Kaposi splattered vampire twats, in a vain attempt to make this hermaphroditic albino look somewhat normal.
Another famous Pittsburgher, George Romero, put this ghastly little city on the map with his 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. Now we have zombie walks and zombie races and zombie bar crawls, wherein people old enough to know better dress up as the movie monsters and shuffle around town, making themselves indistinguishable from the cities many junkies and elderly residents.
It goes without saying that Pittsburgh is a drinking town. Maintaining one’s charming (to us) functional alcoholism is easy because there are bars everywhere. Bars on top of bars, inside of bars, bars under bars, bars for when after the real bars close; you can’t go a half mile without running into another bar. Yet you can’t buy beer in a grocery store. They’d prefer you do your drinking in plain view of everyone.
So we’re all drunk, and most of us have smoker’s cough, which means physical activity is practically nil. But within the past few years or so the city has been overrun by a shit-ton of young student types, more commonly known as hipsters or those damn, ukulele playing assholes, and these people brought with them many fixed-geared bicycles which they ride all over the city.
This of course perturbed the many drunken, asthmatic motorists, who waged an epic bottle with the noble bike knights. Many epithets were spewed, refuse was lobbed to and fro, until Little Lord Raven Steel decreed that all of Pittsburgh needed bike lanes. (Next time I will tell you the story of the evil alcohol tax and the fair bar wench).
If you’re considering moving here, you should know that if you’re too good-looking, too smart, or too anything positive the people of Pittsburgh will dislike you on principle. Pittsburgh despises winners. We loathe them with the entirety of our beings, because we’re not them.
The only exception is when the winning in question is being done by one of our three beloved sports teams: namely the Steelers, the Pirates, and the Penguins. The first and last have a pretty robust history of success. The middle child, not so much, which makes their recent prowess that much more exciting to all the people who still give a verifiable shit about baseball. Up until this point the most exciting thing about a Pirates game was facing all the drunken miscreants in the parking lot afterwards.
This truly is the little city that could. We have potential; we just can’t seem to ever get off the ground. We are your delinquent brother, who could make something of himself if only he’d lay off the booze and quit bringing those sketchy women to Thanksgiving dinner. We’re that kid who tries and tries in school yet still receives laughable results on standardized tests. Who’s gonna tell little Timmy he’s an idiot and should look into a government job?
Well, who’s gonna tell Pittsburgh it’s not a real city? Real cities have crime and mass transit systems that actually work. The real reason why so many ride bikes here is because you have to take fifty buses to get to a place that’s only about ten minutes from where you live.
To quote Sullivan’s Travels, “If they knew what they liked, they wouldn’t live in Pittsburgh!” That may be true. But you try outrunning the zombie horde when you’ve been pounding beer all day.
I grew up in the town Children of Men portrays as a dystopian prison.
I’ve always pictured Pittsburgh as the baked bean version of the factory from Charlie and the Chocolate factory… little orange men living in Hobbit-like bliss waking at dawn to stout ruddy faced wives and large breakfasts of beans on toast before heading to the bean mine where they sing and share jokes until sundown. Also, the river is orange and flows into the magical Heinz factory where the beans are mixed with the tomato sauce…
It upsets me to have my fantasy so cruelly torn to shreds. The drinking and fistfulls of fries sound like fun though…