Last night, I was thinking about my grandfather. My
grandfather passed away many years ago, but he remains a part of my
life. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him. He
was, without a doubt, the greatest single influence in my life. He
was my hero - and he still is.
While thinking of my grandfather, I thought about the times he took
me to Pittsburgh when I was a kid. He took me there quite often -
usually for long weekends. Why he took me to Pittsburgh, I have no
idea. But as a kid, Pittsburgh was a fun place to go. In fact,, any
place that took hours of driving to get to was fun - even
Pittsburgh. Places that took fifteen minutes or less to get to, like
to the dentist or doctor or school, were always so not fun.
When I think of Pittsburgh, I think of my grandfather and I and the
fun times we had when I was a kid. I have some wonderful memories of
those days. Pittsburgh is just one of them. It's interesting to look
back on things you did as a kid. Kids are so often awestruck by
mundane things -- like Pittsburgh for instance.
Pittsburgh is one of the few things in Pennsylvania not named for
William Penn. Like all things not named for William Penn, it is
good. The first thing that comes to mind about Pittsburgh is the
building that changes color. Well, not the entire building, just the
roof of it. The roof changes color with the weather. Every time I
was in Pittsburgh as a kid, the roof of that building was orange.
Every time I've been there as an adult it has been orange. Orange is
not good. Orange means foul, nasty weather. And, like all things
orange, it is dangerous.
Pittsburgh has a hill they call a mountain. Pennsylvania has lots of
hills they call mountains. Pennsylvania is the hyperbole state. The
hill in Pittsburgh is called "Mount Washington". I do not know why
they call it "Mount Washington". It is neither a mountain or
anywhere near Washington D.C. or Washington the state. Obviously, it
is named for George Washington. Too many things in this country are
named for George Washington. Each time they name something for him
his importance is diluted. George was a great man, but too many
things have been named for him. Now, when we see a "Mount
Washington" or a "Washington Street" or a "Washington Park", we
never think of George Washington. Washington's name has become as
ubiquitous as Kleenex. Too bad! Obviously Pittsburgh wanted to name
something for George and they named a hill for him. They called it
"Mount" to make it sound more important and stuck George
Washington's name on it. Pittsburgh? It's not a "Mount" - it's a
In Pittsburgh, they are so proud of that hill, they had a cable car
(maybe they still do) that you could ride to the top of it. As a
kid, I thought it cool. As a kid I thought the cable car was there
so you could go up to the top and look down on the city of
Pittsburgh and watch the smoke pour out of the smokestacks of the
steel factories - or maybe get a nice view of that building with the
orange roof. Now I know it is because all the rich folks live on top
of the hill. They live up there because, as all of us know, rich
folks like to look to down on the rest of us. Besides, the air is
cleaner up there - high above the chimney tops....
Pittsburgh comes by their tendency toward hyperbole honestly.
Pittsburgh, it just so happens, is in Pennsylvania. The mountains in
Pennsylvania are called the Allegheny Mountains. They are hills, not
mountains. A mountain is a mountain and a hill is a hill. Come on,
Pennsylvania! Let's talk about the Rocky Mountains or Himalayas, eh?
You know what would look great on Pennsylvania license plates?
"PENNSYLVANIA - THE HYPERBOLE STATE".
Pittsburgh has a street called "The Boulevard of the Allies". It's
not a side street either. No, it's not a street they hide away away
in some rat-infested, garbage-cluttered, run-down part of town.
Believe it or not, it's one of the main streets of Pittsburgh! Can
you imagine having to write that on your return address every time
you sent a letter? No way! Again, Pennsylvania, with the help of
Pittsburgh, is living in the state of illusion.
This may come as a surprise to the fine folks in Pittsburgh - but we
(the U.S.A.) no longer have any allies. We won't even play ball with
the rest of the world and sign the Kyoto treaty. We won't agree to
stop putting junk in the air. We (the USA) think if we stopped
putting junk in the air it would hurt our economy. I think if we
keep putting junk in the air everyone will die - and that will hurt
the economy more. I'm not an economist, but even I know that dead
people don't buy much stuff.
Pittsburgh is one of the few cities lucky enough to have a
confluence of three rivers. The three rivers are the Monongahela,
the Ohio, and the Allegheny. What kind of people would call a river
the Monongahela? American Indians - er I mean Native Americans -
that's who! Native Americans, like Polynesians, love vowels and
despise consonants. The word "Monongahela" while containing some
soft consonants, is mostly vowels. And what about Kahalui ? Kahalui
is in Hawaii. It certainly is not in Pittsburgh. It is Polynesian.
Speaking of Polynesian - consider Prince Kamaimai from Hawaii. They
love vowels. I point that out for a reason.
I think vowels are nice, but consonants are more forceful. The white
man, who loves consonants, conquered both the Native Americans and
Polynesians - both of whom love vowels, The white, consonant-loving
Europeans stole these poor, vowel-loving people's land - and their
women. And, because of the white man's love of consonants, they got
away with this - they even were rewarded for it. Consonants are so
omnipotent. The consonant-loving, white Europeans did all manner of
despicable deeds and now rule a good part of the world. Face it:
Consonants are powerful; vowels are lovely - but timid and weak. I'm
sorry to have to lay that on those who are forced to live in some
country where the language is vowel-laden. If I lived in one of
those countries - and you know who you are - I'd learn Russian or
German quickly. You never know when the white Europeans may rise up
again as capricious as they are.
Speaking of Russian and German, I've come to the conclusion that we
really need to worry about Germany and Russia. These two countries
adore consonants! Both of these fine countries despise vowels. Which
leads me to think about another country: China. I'm not really sure
about China. I think they love vowels too - but I don't read
hieroglyphs. And the only Chinese I ever hear spoken is at the
Chinese place here in town whenever I eat lunch there. But, they
talk too fast for me. So, I am not sure whether they have a lot of
vowels or not. But vowels and consonants aside, we need to be
careful of the Chinese because they have nukes. If I had anything to
say about the Chinese situation, I wouldn't mess with them. Our
predecessors were fortunate that neither the Polynesians or the
Native Americans had nukes - even though they had a love affair with
vowels, nukes would have certainly made them more testy.
But, let's get back to Pittsburgh. Besides The Steelers and The
Pirates, Pittsburgh has an airport. It's really true, they do! In
fact, the last time I was in Pittsburgh, I was there to change
planes on the way to someplace else - of course. I compliment
Pittsburgh on its airport. It's fun to fly into their airport in
Pittsburgh because, in order to land there, you have to fly through
hills, which they call mountains. These hills (or "mountains") are
always very foggy. When you're in a plane coming in for a landing in
there, you'll certainly be more inclined to call the hills
"mountains". Pittsburgh airport's runways sit at the very bottom of
a deep and foggy valley. The valley is even foggier than hills
(mountains). The runways are always shrouded in fog and that makes
them very difficult to see. I imagine the pilots can't them either.
Luckily they have instruments to assist them - otherwise
Pittsburgh's airport might be a whole lot messier than it already
is. I always find landing at the Pittsburgh airport a challenge and
a thrill. I get plenty of challenges at my age - but I don't get
many thrills, so I like landing in Pittsburgh. For those who are
squeamish about flying, don't fly into Pittsburgh if you can avoid
it. If you find that you must fly into Pittsburgh, my advice is to
drink heavily and close your eyes tightly during descent. If you're
the religious sort - say lots of prayers.
If you're from Pennsylvania (or Pittsburgh) I'm sorry my grandfather
ever took me to Pittsburgh. If it weren't for the memories he gave
me, you wouldn't be upset with me right now. I might have written
this about Grand Rapids, or Youngstown, or even, perhaps, Moline,
Illinois. But, nope! My grandfather took me to Pittsburgh - not
Grand Rapids or Youngstown or Moline. I love the people in
Pittsburgh but they're awash in hyperbole, perhaps because they were
unlucky enough to be plopped down in Pennsylvania - the hyperbole
state. Pittsburgh? You'll never convince me that the Allegheny
Mountains are mountains - HELLO? They are hills. I'll grant you,
they are big hills but big hill do not mighty mountains make. In
Pennsylvania the hills are alive
with the sound of hyperbole.
If you are Polynesian or Native American, I'm sorry. Don't blame me.
I had nothing to do with whatever my forbearers did. I'm innocent.
You keep on loving those vowels. They make you sound cute. If it had
been up to me, I'd have left you alone with your respective
buffaloes and coconuts and found someplace else to live. You'd still
be producing many millions of little Native Americans and
Polynesians and flooding the world with vowels. If you had only
developed nukes the world would have been a different place. Global
warming might not be a problem. Maybe we would all be talking about
pollution by totem poles and poi. But, you didn't have nukes then
and you don't have them now - still, you never gave up on the
vowels! I admire your tenacity if nothing else. At least you know
I'm not saying nice things about you now because I'm afraid.
If you're German or Russian, you're better than I am. You can read
English but I can't read German or Russian. I admire you. What do I
know? I'm just a stupid, uncouth, environment-wrecking, American
dude. Both of your countries are teeming with fine folks who adore
consonants - and both of your lovely countries have nukes. Nukes and
consonants make a very potent combination. I do love both of your
countries very, very much. I really, really do!
And, if you're Chinese, what can I say? I love your food
Tell us what you think -
Here are just a few unedited comments we
received on "Pittsburgh":
Cathy says: "I
think this person is a nut case. Sounds like someone who would walk
into a school yard and start shooting kids. The police should be
warned about this "nut"."
Jodi wrote: "This was just great. Being from So West
Ks. I know nothing about Pittsburg but the laughter it brought this
morning was wonderful. Keep up the good work, and don't worry there
are always going to be the grumps out there that take everything to
Earl speaks out: "Good grief.....you MUST be Irish; you
didn't mention them!!!! Thank goodness you didn't bring up the
French (they don't like us either; we tell it like it is and they
don't like that).
About all I say is I'm told I'm part French, German, Indian, Irish
which makes me a mongrel (in better terms-a mutt)!!! And I can't
wait to send this piece to my sister-in-law....she's from
Pittsburgh; she uses vowels a lot!!! Slurry ones too!!!
Up until 2 years ago I lived in Colorado where mountains are
MOUNTAINS.....even here in Oklahoma they have 'mountains' (big
hills), guess if its higher then 500 feet you can call it that?????
Sue thinks: "Way to go. It was great. If anyone finds
fault with that they need an imagination and have some fun!"
Barb is livid: "I wonder what this person's Grandfather
would say about this letter. I bet he would be very disappointed. I
myself find Pittsburgh a beautiful city, especially at night!
Maybe the light on roof was orange every time he visited because HE
was there, after all it means foul, and nasty!!!
So what if they call it "Mount Washington" , or "Boulevard of the
Allies"?? Who cares?? It is a just a name, I am sure there was a
good reason for it! And I bet he has alot of vowels in his name too,
because he said "vowels are weak". Where is he coming from, another
Planet??? I think so!
If he doesn't like Pittsburgh and all the great things about it,
then STAY AWAY! We don't want or need him here!
He never mentioned his nationality, but I will lay my last dollar
that everyone would agree that he is an IDIOT, and I don't like him
Here's what AJ thinks: "WHAT A JERK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Where does he (or she) live that is so perfect???? He /she knows
NOTHING about the people and their values or beliefs. Pennsylvania
is a beautiful place with lots of USA history to it.... read about
that IF he/she can!!! Pittsburgh is a beautiful city too. I was
there this summer and was still in awe of it. Sorry I took the time
to read it. Not worth publishing... A VERY uspset reader."
Sherry from Arkansas writes: LOLOL Can only imagine who
this will tick off...........but it certainly made me
laugh.........WOW! Freedom of speech and write is WONDERFUL!"
Rita says: "Hi TC and EB! You want to know what I think
about this week's rant? I think you're silly! But today, silly is
good. You made me laugh and I needed a good laugh after a week of
much sadness. So thank you very much for your silly rant!"
Comments from Reverend Timothy: "Pittsburgh is "full of
hyperbole"? Your expose is full of something, and its not hyperbole.
It's full of errors, both in grammar and facts. In your feeble
attempt at humor, you demonstrate that you neither have a grasp on
the language or on the facts about Pittsburgh. Your grandfather
would be ashamed."
Linda says: "Sorry, but whom ever of the two of you who wrote
this rant was most surely intoxicatied or high on drugs. I guess you
had nothing to do that day but insult as many cultures as you could
in one sitting. If that was the point of the rant you could have
waited until the Christmas season was over. A lot of folks get sad
during the Christmas holidays due to personal losses and woried
about their sons and daughters in Iraq. Since your rant was neither
funny or smart or informative I feel it was in very bad taste and
downright stupid. I can not believe it came from the same people who
help so many of us with our computer problems. It would have been
better if you had taken a couple of weeks off to let out the stress
you must be under."
Janice (a proud Canadian) writes: "I thought it was funny,
but then I think other things in the US and Canada are funny. For
example a house which is 150 years old is ancient....LOL In England
or anywhere in Europe, 150 year old house is practically new. I
think you guys are funny too. People who can't laugh at themselves
have a problem I think. Laughter is marvelous and the ability to
laugh at ourselves is a blessing. I love your rants, the funny ones,
the sad ones and the poignant ones. Thank you for them all. I still
think Canada and the US are great places, no matter if I laugh at
some of the ideas here."
Atir(?) says: "I can't help but wonder why you received
critisizm on your absolutely hilarious rant about Pittsburgh and yet
nary a one about any of your rants regarding northern Ohio (your
birthplace and mine)Could it be that some of your readers may think
that Pittsburgh is better than northern Ohio? Well...can Pittsburgh
boast about being called "The Mistake on the Lake", having a river
catch on fire, or having an inept past mayor now running for
President of the United States? Just to name a few... :)."
Tracey speaks out: "I would like to take exception to you
referring to the Allegheny's as hills. Sorry but it is a know fact
that they are many many millions of years older than the Rockie's.
It has been stated in scientific areas that at one point they were
many times higher than the Rockie's are now. Now as for the
Monongahela, that is named for the tribe of Native American Indians
that frequented the area and disappeared sometime in the
Do you have comments on "Pittsburgh" or
on the comments by readers?
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