9 tagged with #pittsburgh

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i spend all this time in the cemetery because it's a large expanse of grass and trees and paths next to the woods and i know there won't be a lot of cars zipping by. the deer think of it the same way; they curl up against headstones warmed by the sun, chewing on delicately trimmed grass. i see them with legs in a knot beneath them, ears twitching gently as they track my movements from one side of the hill to the other.

give me twenty minutes and i'll find you a deer, i tell people. i know all their favorite bedding spots. sometimes, i'll push through a stand of bushes and my nose fills with musk, and the weeds crushed into the mud at my feet show cloven indentations.

they're docile, here, knowing that there's nothing much that will hurt them. they live and eat and sleep and die in this cemetery.

it's hard to forget that we share space.

13 June 2018 22:16


after thirteen years of living here, i've lived in at least nine different places; maybe eleven or thirteen if i count temporary rooms, or times i've stayed with others. i've had three mailing addresses outside of my residences, maybe four if you count the times i have mailed things to my employer on my behalf.

but i never know what to call a home.

'if you don't understand,' my mother told me over a decade ago, 'i'll tell you. home is where your parents live.' i was unwilling to call her house home because i didn't like the house, didn't like the town, didn't want to live there forever. before moving away for college, we'd lived in six different places, three different states.

but i never know what to call a home.

i get a tangle in my gut if i think about leaving this city forever. i get a different tangle if i think about staying here until i die.

06 June 2018 23:58

breakfast fellows

when the chipmunk creeps across the brickwork, its position is given away by the rustling of weeds above its head. it pushes its head out, looking at me while i have breakfast; experimentally, i lift an arm, in simulation of a spreading wing. faster than i can see, it's gone, leaving a trace of quivering stalks. i smile; this one has learned how to hide.

i've watched a single squirrel for years; it's old now, for sure, moving with a relaxed swagger along the curb. it's black from head to rump, with a rust-red tail and two lighter splotches on its back. this squirrel, too, flinched when i raised my arm, but only to flatten briefly while regarding me with suspicion. but it knows i'm no predator, only an occasional antagonizer.

there's a rabbit i recognize because it likes to sit in the shade of my motorcycle wheel while ripping at the plantain leaves pushing up through the brickwork. some years, i try to defoliate all the weeds myself, because the dying hemlock needles collect under them and make a startlingly slippery surface. this year, i don't think i'll bother.

05 June 2018 23:16


i waited with the crowd to cross the street. a grandmother spoke in wide vowels to a young girl, who impatiently lifted one leg after another in a mock demonstration of stepping off the curb before the traffic stopped. when the pedestrian crossing chirped its signal, we flowed diagonally and perpendicularly across the juncture.

"hey," cut in a friendly-sounding man, his tone curious. "was that german?"

the grandmother didn't stop walking, but turned over her shoulder to give him an incredulous stare. "hebrew."

"oh. i guess it was," he backpedaled, shame flushing his face as we all drifted closer to the jcc.

30 May 2018 22:41

James Truslow Adams vs. Andrew Carnegie

Yesterday, I brought the canonical picture of Andrew Carnegie to happy hour at a bar over in Pitt's territory to perform an experiment, based on the frequent misattribution of his face to James Truslow Adam's name. I wanted to get a rough idea of how recognizeable Andy's face is to people outside of the CMU bubble, in order to quell my complete disbelief that people mistake him for JTA.

I passed the picture around the bar and asked people if they knew who that was, and if they did, to tell me who they think he was.

Almost everyone I asked claimed some amount of familiarity. Of those, only about half of them thought they could name him. Only about half of the people who could name him confidently said 'Andrew fucking Carnegie', and all but one of those turned out to be CMU-affiliated (I did not ask the lone non-CMU winner what his deal was).

Among the wrong answers were 'Howard Taft', 'Winston Churchill', 'some president', 'definitely a robber baron', 'the Monopoly guy'. For comparison, I pulled up a picture of Rockefeller as another famous robber baron to see if anyone could recognize him, and got blank looks all around.

Other faces occasionally applied to James Truslow Adams include Ansel Adams * and Paul David Hewson, better known as Bono of U2*. There is one image on the internet that looks like it has promise as a positive identification, but I've been unable to verify it to my satisfaction.

My conclusion is that all fat old famous dead white guys from the turn of the century pretty much look alike as far as the masses are concerned, and that Andy is the poster boy for robber barons.

31 October 2014 11:06

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