10 tagged with #pittsburgh

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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

early frost

frost crystals blinked in the sunlight at me as i stepped onto the porch. by the time i got close enough to look at them, they were gone. the rubber sheeting glistened with dew.

there's a work truck of old rastas who wave and shout enthusiastically at me whenever we pass each other in the mornings. i smile and wave back, but i wonder if it's cool that i'm not actually a rastafarian and they just think i am.

we're bad at remembering how we felt the day before yesterday. we're bad at evaluating our progress towards long-term goals.

07 October 2014 08:29


the morning fog deadens sound and smells like the back of a storm front. we shift between seasons, a rapid cycling through the unbearableness of mid-july and the desperate press of late-october.

when i'm trapped in a bubble of traffic, anxious revolutions buzzing at my feet and restless for a window, i remember: the sunsets are always good. nothing can be so bad if the sunsets are good.

04 September 2014 08:26

To Mayor Bill Peduto

original letter mailed on 17 february 2014

I first started living in Pittsburgh in 2005, when I came here to attend Carnegie Mellon University. After a little over four years of being a conditional resident, I realized there was nowhere else that made sense for me to move to; in 2009, I turned in my New Jersey driver's license for a Pennsylvanian one and remained in Pittsburgh as university staff. Nine years is young compared to many other residents, but given that I still spend most of my time around people who are unlikely to exceed four, I feel like I have a lot to say.

I've been here through two Steelers Super Bowls, G-20, and Snowmageddon, and remember going to bars before smoking was banned in restaurants. I've voted here in the only two presidential elections of my adult life. I've cried and laughed and loved and hated and learned so many of things I know about what it means to be a person while nestled comfortably in the first city I've ever felt homesick for. There's rarely a day that passes without a feeling of love and wonder that comes from touching my feet to the ground here, even if my neighbors haven't bothered to shovel their driveways; there's rarely a week that passes without something strange and beautiful about this city striking me into a breath or two of grateful awe, even if it's just a particularly nice sunset I've seen hundreds of times already.

Thank you for being the mayor of Pittsburgh. In the short few weeks since you've been in office, I have felt so much more love and hope that this city will learn and grow into something that I will continue to adore. Thank you for communicating honestly and keeping in touch with residents. Thank you for taking care of the streets through these past few storms and for valuing transportation options that make sense for the layout and usage of the roads. Thank you for honoring the people who contribute to the well-being of the city. Thank you for protecting what's good and working to solve what's not. Thank you for loving Pittsburgh.

Best regards,

Vincent Zeng

17 February 2014 12:27

To Turkey Hill Dairy

original typewritten letter mailed on 24 September 2013

To the friends of Pittsburgh:

I have been a resident of Pittsburgh for about eight years. I started attending Pirates games about four years ago, and found that I greatly enjoyed watching them regardless of where Pittsburgh ended up in the standings. They are a group of players who love the sport, the city, and each other, and that passion and excitement is evident every time I sit in PNC Park.

On a recent grocery run, my eye was caught by your Blitzburgh Crunch flavored ice cream, because it was surpriseing to me that an ice cream company would support an individual sports team. The packaging was silly and clearly unapologetic in its chessiness of presentation, and the description of the flavor seemed so appealing that there was no way I wasn't going to bring that half-gallon carton home. Despite not being much of a Steelers fan, I felt this was a proper way to support my growing love of Pittsburgh professional sports, and devoured that ice cream while watching the Pirates scare the crap out of me in the tail end of the 2013 season.

Now that the Pirates have secured a place in the post-season for the first time since the early 90s, I hope you'll consider supporting them by creating a flavor that is a proper tribute to their fantastic performance this year. I noticed that your other sports team flavors are based on baseball teams, so I know there are some baseball fans among you.

Go Bucs!


Vincent Zeng

24 September 2013 21:42

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