Hail, Mary! Front Yard Mary Roundup

grotto with statue of Mary in front yard, Pittsburgh, PA

Deluxe grotto Mary, Spring Hill

With apologies to James Rado and Jerome Ragni:

Don’t ask me why, I’m just a Mary guy
I’m Mary noon and night, Mary, she’s a sight
I’m Mary high and low, don’t ask me why, don’t know

Not really expecting Mary to fly in the breeze, get caught in the trees, or provide a hive for the buzzing bees, we’ll end this frivolity right now–there’s big Mary business on the docket!

Mary statuette in front yard grass, Pittsburgh, PA

The Run

More Marys! In super-deluxe retaining wall grottos, bedecked in spinners and lights, obscured by Halloween decorations, enveloped in the deep-fry aromas of Big Jim’s, and standing alone in shame like a misbehaving student at recess.

The Orbit was not at all sated the by The Front Yard Marys of Bloomfield. No, that June, 2016 scene report just whet an appetite that inspired us to climb mountains, ford streams, and canvas for Hillary Clinton to slake this curio-religious thirst. Drink up.

Statuette of Mary in front yard, Homestead, PA

Homestead

Mary statuette in front of brick house, Pittsburgh, PA

Stanton Heights

Mary statuette in front yard, Pittsburgh, PA

Morningside

statue of Mary in front of older pink frame house, Pittsburgh, PA

Oakland

front yard Mary in grotto with a separate front yard Mary, Pittsburgh, PA

Big Jim’s Marys, The Run

Front yard Mary, Pittsburgh, PA

Lawrenceville

Mary statuette in wooded yard, Pittsburgh, PA

Mary of the Wood, South Side Slopes

Mary statue in grotto in front of frame house, Pittsburgh, PA

Halloween Mary, Spring Hill

statuette of Mary in front yard of house, Pittsburgh, PA

Allentown

Three statuettes of Mary in front yard of home, Pittsburgh, PA

Trio of Marys, Stanton Heights

statue of Mary in homemade grotto, Pittsburgh, PA

Back yard Mary, Lawrenceville

Day of the Dead: Susan Hicks, Uber Alles

bicycle painted completely white and decorated with flowers and lights, Pittsburgh, PA

Ghost bike memorial for Susan Hicks, Oakland

Last week marked the one year anniversary of Susan Michelle Hicks death. This blogger didn’t know her personally, but Ms. Hicks was “friends of friends” who commuted–and was killed–riding her bicycle on a stretch of Forbes Avenue in Oakland where I ride all the time. Quite literally, it could have been me.

Very near the tragic spot where Ms. Hicks died, just across the street from Dippy the Dinosaur and the Carnegie Music Hall, is a so-called “ghost bike” memorial. Chained to the pole of a stout street lamp, it’s a decommissioned older bicycle, painted completely white, draped in flowers, ribbons, personal messages, and a strand of solar-powered lights. A felt-tipped pen left on the seat invites visitors to ink inscriptions to the fallen–many have done so.

The effect of seeing the Hicks ghost bike–or any other–is incredibly moving. It’s both beautiful and haunting, arresting, sombre, and reverent. It’s also encouraging that this obviously-un-sanctioned memorial has been allowed to remain intact; city works crews choosing to leave it alone–now, for over a year–in this very public, well-travelled spot instead of treating it as an act of litter or vandalism.

detail of ghost bike for Susan Hicks, Pittsburgh, PA

Statistically, Pittsburgh is among the very safest U.S. cities to be a bicycle rider/pedestrian. This is, perhaps, surprising given our severe infrastructure challenges, but according to some numbers collected by Bike PGH, the city’s rate of 1.8 fatalities per 10,000 commuters is way down the list of American cities. As comparison, the bottom of the collection contains Ft. Worth, Detroit, and Jacksonville, all with an average of 40 to 50 fatalities on the same scale.

That said, it’s sadly no surprise this particular tragedy happened in the heart of Oakland. Any Pittsburgh cyclist will tell you what a nightmare it is to navigate the neighborhood on two wheels. It’s nearly impossible to feel safe riding from, say, Neville to Atwood, or CMU to Pitt without either breaking some kind of law or going way out of your way–and this is a part of town with 40-some thousand college students! I get mad at the kids riding on sidewalks, but what alternative do they have?

Handmade sign reading "Are we the last generation who learns to drive?", Pittsburgh, PA

Anti-Uber sign, Oakland

On a recent ride home from work, I came across a batch of wooden signs nailed to telephone poles. On each was a hand-scripted message: Are we the last generation who learns to drive? read one on Craig Street, and Humans crave community, not isolation another. The messages continued in Bloomfield:  Automation smothers natural beauty and awe and Deep in your humanness, your heart longs not to be mechanized.*

If you’ve spent any time in the East End over the last half year, you know where these are coming from. Uber self-driving cars are being tested all over the city–we see them every day**. It’s a technology that’s not without controversy, but surprisingly little considering the potential societal implications. Overall, opinion has felt more like a collective ho-hum.

collage of photos of Uber self-driving cars being tested on Pittsburgh city streets

Uber self-driving cars testing in Pittsburgh [photos, clockwise from top left: P. Worthington, M. Hertzman, A. Hoff, K. Barca]

The full point of these guerrilla signs is not entirely clear, but each contains Uber’s name in a crossed-out circle. We can assume the opposition to the ride-sharing company is the anonymous sign-poster’s major thesis, but there are also messages around community, beauty, and “humanness”.

Is Uber being accused of colossal corporate takeover? Or is the issue that they’re developing self-driving technology? Assuming the latter, how does changing the way a car navigates “smother natural beauty and awe”? [We did a pretty good job of this way before Uber came along.] Plenty of people drive alone every day–why do these vehicles create any more isolation than any other solo car trip?

If we’re worried about the number of Uber (and other) human drivers who may be put out of work by this technology, that’s legit. But let’s not assume that’s the only sociological possibility for self-driving vehicles. There is the very real likelihood that autonomous cars will be much safer on the road than humans. They certainly won’t drive drunk or fall asleep at the wheel. They won’t show off to impress the girls in the back seat and won’t take their eyes off the road when their phones light up. There are a whole lot of people with disabilities who can’t wait for an alternative to Access.

Handmade sign reading "Automation smothers natural beauty and awe", Pittsburgh, PA

Anti-Uber sign, Bloomfield

Bicycle riders are not saints. There are a lot of dangerous people out there, and we come across them every day–treating sidewalks as bicycle lanes, recklessly jack-rabbiting through traffic, ignoring traffic lights, signaling, and stop signs. Cyclists who take off without a helmet or foregoing lights in the dark are just plain foolish.

These are condemnable actions that frankly burn this biker’s breeches–you guys give us all a bad name! That said, it’s nothing compared to the regular behavior we see from drivers toward cyclists. I’ve never been hit by a vehicle driven by a computer; the same can’t be said for humans. In my years (ahem, decades) on two wheels, I’ve been spit on, had trash thrown at me, yelled-at, cat-called, and aggressively hip-greased more times than I can recall. Drivers routinely drift absent-mindedly, park in bicycle lanes, and wildly swing open their parked doors without first consulting their mirrors. While driving, they eat and drink, talk on the phone, apply lipstick in the rearview mirror, and, of course, are constantly texting.

Given all this, I’ll take my chances with the robots. If they’d been deployed to Oakland last year at this time, maybe Susan Hicks would still be with us and on the road today.

bicycle painted completely white and decorated with flowers and lights, Pittsburgh, PA

Ghost bike for Susan Hicks, Oakland


* If anyone has seen more of these, we’d love to know about them.
** So far, always with a human in the driver’s seat.

The Sweet’N Lowdown: Three Theories on a Street Art Secret Stash

Tiny wooden picture frame containing a Sweet'n'Low packet

Street sweets

What makes a person frame a single Sweet’N Low packet and then hide the tiny objet d’art inside the metallic drain of an Oakland office building? Strange but true, The Orbit came across exactly one such exhibit earlier this week, on the side street face of one of Pitt’s off-campus buildings. Yes: conspiracy theorists are rampant, their evidence minimal, but the desire for truth is as strong as black coffee.

Theory: The framed packet as tribute to an artificial sweetening classic

This one comes from co-worker Rizzo, present at the discovery. I always say: if you want to know about something that pretends to be sweet, look no further than Rizzo. Sweet’N Low, though not the first artificial sweetener, owned that market for half a century. That’s not so true any more. Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, Truvia, Sweet Leaf, and probably others, are all out there crowding the field. In Rizzo’s theory, the perpetrator has created a tiny tribute to that most famous saccharin-dextrose concoction whose time has come, wolves hopped-up on Splenda gathered at the door. One would hope for the honor of being memorialized in bronze and on public display, rather than hidden in a dingy side street hidey-hole, but if you’re Sweet’N Low, I guess you take what you can get.

Brick wall with bricks missing and metal opening containing tiny picture frame

A couple missing bricks and one secret hiding place

Theory: Sweet’N Low sachet as cruel “gotcha”

What if the tiny picture frame didn’t always contain a Sweet’N Low packet? How many works of fiction have placed stolen artwork in obscure secret stashes–often hidden in plain sight. Nothing quite gets the heart racing like a great heist film–cat burglars in berets and turtlenecks spiriting stolen canvases on thrilling guy wire runs between rooftops. In the best of these, the original owner of the artwork is always shown aghast the following morning with the discovery of the disappeared oil painting replaced by a cheap, comical substitute–the thief’s ultimate “you’ve been had.” Perhaps the tiny frame once contained a pocket Picasso or a miniature Miro, its present owner having slipped in the pink packet with a wink to let you know there’s no sugar here, but you can have one of these.

Craig Hall, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

In context: Craig Hall, home of the secret stash of tiny street art

Theory: Art scavenger hunt prize gone missing

It’s only a couple weeks past Easter, and we’ve still got egg hunts on the membrane. What if a cabal of clever art-gamers decided to stage a city-wide scavenger hunt for tiny hidden art pieces, each one identified by its common wooden frame? Maybe the Sweet’N Low portrait is just one that got away, left behind unclaimed. Somewhere out there, there’s a participant laying awake at night, replaying the one missed clue: At Craig on Craig, at the base of the leg, lies something pink, and something sweet. That’s the treasure hunt this blogger wishes he’d been invited to. Sigh. Add another one to The Orbit‘s big list.

We may never know lowdown on the Sweet’N Low, but then again, who really wants to know what’s in that pink packet anyway? The taste is good enough…isn’t it?

Pittsburgh’s Next Hottest Neighborhoods

older frame houses with clear blue sky and bare trees, Pittsburgh, PA

Allentown rooftops, just around the corner from NoCarSoSoSlo

Pittsburgh is famously a city of neighborhoods–ninety of them, to be exact. Most are incredibly distinct. There’s no questioning the transition from Bloomfield to Oakland or Larimer to Lincoln or Polish Hill to Lawrenceville–you have to cross a bridge to get there. Spring Hill and Troy Hill are way up on the top of steep hills; Spring Garden is down in the valley between. More subtley, Bloomfield and Friendship are on the same plane, but as Friendship Ave. dog-legs around, the street grid changes bias, the blocks change dimension, and Friendship’s stately detached homes yield to tight Bloomfield aluminum-clad row houses. It’s clear you’re somewhere else.

But not all of the city is as well-defined, nor is it all prospering at the same rate. What to do? Enter the acroname–the citizen and/or developer-based rebranding of urban spaces to upsell low-rent sections of town into yuppie havens and “whitopias”. New York has famously come up with SoHoTriBeCaNoLita, Dumbo, etc. to address this; others have followed suit. Pittsburgh has been blessedly free of this trend*, but at the rate we’re gentrifying–and our collective me too obsession–it seems like it’s only a matter of time.

Here then is an Orbit modest prediction/proposal for the rebranding of some parts of town that are maybe a little harder to define just how and where they fit in.

NoSOak (“No Soak”)

row homes in Pittsburgh, PA

Empty beer bottles, an American flag in the window: that looks like NoSOak to me

The residential section of central Oakland, with Bates as its main through street, was traditionally an Italian-American neighborhood, but that legacy has largely ceded to college ghetto. Ratty old couches fill front porches , flags and beer signage decorate dirty windows. By rebranding itself NoSOak (North of South Oakland), the neighborhood’s landlords and property developers may be able to usher in an entirely new clientele of tech yuppies and hospital workers, eager to rehab those turn-of-the-century row houses on pedestrian-friendly blocks, the lovely aroma of street tacos perpetually wafting in the breeze.

NoCarSoSoSlo (“No Car–So, So Slow”)

Detail from the hand-painted storefront of the Mount Oliver Mens Shop, Pittsburgh, PA

The Mens Shop, a NoCarSoSoSlo icon for generations

The southern borough of Mount Oliver is a politically-independent island entirely surrounded by the city of Pittsburgh, but hasn’t benefitted from (or gotten ruined-by–take your pick) the rapid gentrification that so much of the city is experiencing. Heck, even hilltop neighbor Allentown has a heavy metal coffee shop now! With the rebranding NoCarSoSoSlo (North of Carrick/South of the Southside Slopes) the borough can reference two city neighborhoods without ever mentioning you have to pay goofy Mount Oliver taxes.

VoBeShaBlo (“VO-bee-shay-blow”)

older frame houses, train tracks, and busway, Pittsburgh, PA

View of VoBeShaBlo through the chain link fence of the Aiken Ave. Bridge

The two-to-three-block-wide strip that runs between the train tracks/east busway and Baum Boulevard are technically Shadyside, but it’s physically cut off from the heart of that neighborhood and it doesn’t share its hoity-toity feel. To mix our metaphors like we’re real urban planners, VoBeShaBlo (The Void Between Shadyside and Bloomfield) is a line in the sand that its resident “Shay-Blowers” will wear with pride, finally attaining an identity that’s been missing for a long, long time.

The hoodlet has some appealing (potential) amenities that can make this work. There are nice, if not fancy, older frame houses (although not that many of them). Between Centre and Baum they’ve got a bigger business district than a lot of city neighborhoods. And it’s well-connected/located if you’re either a cyclist or bus rider. VoBeShaBlo’s Giant Eagle even sells beer!

PaHolE / WheBiJIs (“PAY-hole / we-BIJ-iss”)

Tile sign for Big Jim's in The Run, Pittsburgh, PA

Big Jim’s, a PaHolE / WheBiJIs institution since 1977

Four Mile Run, or just “The Run”, is the tiny sub-neighborhood under both The Parkway and Swinburne bridges. Its technically a part of Greenfield, but doesn’t really feel like it. Like Rodney Dangerfield, a lot of people go back to school via its walk/bicycle path directly to central Oakland and cyclists know it as the connection point to the jail trail. But with literally just one-way-in/one-way-out, motorists typically ignore it and most of Pittsburgh has probably never even been to the neighborhood.

Luckily for PaHolE / WheBiJIs (Panther Hollow East / Where Big Jim’s Is) there are a couple of great local places of note including the great St. John Byzantine Church, access to the Schenley Park ball fields, city steps up to Greenfield proper, and Big Jim’s terrific eponymous tavern. Let’s quit fooling around and put it on the map.

HiDiBuNoQuOak (“HI-dee-boo-no-quoke”)

View down Dunsieth Street, Pittsburgh, PA

Looking down Dunsieth Street toward Carlow University in HiDiBuNoQuOak

The area around Pitt’s upper campus doesn’t really feel like it fits in anywhere. It’s the university, so that’s Oakland, right? But it’s also way up the hill–at the southeastern edge of The Hill District–physically separated from the hospitals and school buildings below. By embracing their new identity as HiDiBuNoQuOak (Hill District, But Not Quite Oakland) residents tell the world they’re doing their own thing in their own time, man. No quoke.


LoLa (Lower Lawrenceville) and Eastside (East Liberty adjoining Shadyside) are the two painfully obvious exceptions, although The Orbit doesn’t know anyone that actually uses these terms.

A Thomasson!

Man relaxing on unused, but well-maintained entry steps to apartment building in Pittsburgh, PA

At least one guy uses this thing. The Thomasson, after a full rehab, March, 2016

We got really interested in Thomassons from a story of the same name on the great 99% Invisible podcast. A Thomasson, as defined by the Japanese artist Akasegawa Genpei who first identified and named them, is an architectural leftover or vestige that no longer has any use and is actively maintained. The name is a reference to one Gary Thomasson, a baseball player who, through twist of fate and contractual obligations was paid to ride the bench–ineffective, but maintained. [The podcast has that whole backstory.] Pittsburgh Orbit became obsessed with finding a local Thomasson.

Pittsburgh is littered with evidence of architectural decay. The giant extant former stone supports of the old Point and Manchester bridges downtown or the countless foundations of long-gone hillside houses come to mind–but there are plenty of examples. The tricky part in identifying a Thomasson is in finding one that people are still actively taking care of.

Bellefield Tower and Bellefield Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA

Bellefield Tower, Oakland. The mother of all Thomassons or still in use?

Bellefield Tower, at the corner of Fifth and Bellefield streets in Oakland, is a potentially glorious Thomasson–we could go as far as saying the mother of all Thomassons. But does it count? Bellefield is a freestanding bell tower that appears to have outlived the church (we assume?) it was once attached to. It’s now mere feet from the curved puce and mauve shopping mall chic exterior of Bellefield Clinic, making for possibly the most painfully awkward architectural juxtaposition in the city.

But does the tower really have no current use? It’s hard to say–this blogger has never heard its bell ringing, and it seems too small and awkwardly-shaped for much else. But possibly the clinic stores scrubs and hypodermic needles there. Maybe a couple of lucky administrative employees get solo offices, each with a tiny staircase. The point is, it could be in use. An investigation is in order*, but we’re not ready to call this a Thomasson…yet.

Apartment building on Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA

In context: Webster Hall’s Thomasson (pre-rebuild), Summer, 2015

Luckily, though, almost right next door, on the corner of Dithridge and Fifth Avenue, sits Webster Hall and what is an undeniable Thomasson. The eleven-story apartment building clearly used to hold something like lunch counters, or maybe retail spaces, on each ground floor corner–you can tell by the decorative masonry work and big window openings. There’s also a strange pair of steps that lead up to a now-bricked-in and glassed-over former entry point. It’s dressed-up with a pair of inviting potted boxwood shrubs, but they’re not fooling this blogger: in nine years of working a block away, I’ve never seen anyone (except The Orbit‘s hired stooge/model) use this as a resting spot. And why would you? As steps, they’re an uncomfortable, awkward seat–there’s no back and not enough leg room–and who wants to relax on busy/noisy Fifth Avenue when you could walk two blocks and be in Schenley Plaza?

Work truck and crew repairing unused steps on apartment building, Pittsburgh, PA

The Thomasson during reconstruction, Feb. 2016

The steps are also undeniably under active maintenance. By last fall, they had lost some of their mortar, causing stones to shift and structure to break apart. The coming of winter only made it worse. When Team Orbit spotted a work crew out front in January it led to some great group rubber-necking and speculation, trying to get a glimpse at what was happening under the mysterious plastic tent. Would they tear up the downtrodden, useless steps-to-nowhere, dashing our hopes that this was our first legit Thomasson? Or was the crew there to make things right–to enpower Oakland’s pedestrians to once again bypass this funny stoop on their way to more pleasant places of repose?

Well, by this point in the story it’s no surprise that the workers came armed with mortar and trowels (not a jackhammer) and we can happily report that the Thomasson is alive and looking as good as new. To Pittsburgh’s other Thomassons, hang in there: we’re coming for you!


* Yes: finding out what’s up with Bellefield Tower is on The Orbit‘s big list!

 

Pop des Fleurs

Dippy the Dinosaur with a Pop des Fleurs necktie, Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, PA

Dippy le Dinosaur with a Popped des Fleured necktie, Oakland

A blast of lovely spring color in the darkest, coldest days of winter. At least, that’s the idea. This winter has basically been a no-show but rest assured that the eye-popping collision of vibrant fantasy flora still made a bold entrance and looks magnificent against the electric blue skies we’ve been seeing. Yes, we are officially neck deep into Pop des Fleurs* season.

Pop des Fleurs art project, Carnegie Library, Pittsburgh, PA

Pot d’Pop des Fleurs, Carnegie Library, Oakland

If you’ve been to the library in the last couple weeks–any library in the Carnegie system–you’ve seen the flowers. You can’t miss them. They’re planted in huge pots; they cover giant wall panels and adorn railings; they decorate nearby structures. Each installation site has a different arrangement, media, and theme so it’s rewarding to make your way around to as many as you can. There’s a Google map pin-pointing a couple dozen locations in the county.

Pop des Fleurs art project, Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Library, Central North Side

Pop des Fleurs is a project of the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh and anyone who’s seen one of their shows or is familiar with their work knows that the “fiberarts” extend to cover a pretty wide range of materials, styles, and techniques–it ain’t just knitting and quilting. You get a pretty great cross-section look at those in the various installations: knit and crocheted yarn, recycled shopping bags and product containers, plastic stretched over wire forms.

Pop des Fleurs art project, Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Library, Lawrenceville

Around this time last year, The Orbit ran a story on Pop des Fleurs trial run for the project in Arsenal Park. The experience, in winter 2015’s unrelenting snow and brutal cold, was a revelation. If we have one regret, one minor quibble with the terrific Pop des Fleurs project, it is that by attaching the arrangements to institutions (sometimes literally) they lose some of their terrific namesake “pop” we experienced at the test installation last winter. Brilliant flowers against white snow and gray skies just look terrific.

I’m sure there are very practical reasons for this approach–legal, financial, grant-obligated, etc.–and the association with the Carnegie Library system is great–but these flowers would bring so much desperately-needed life to barren parks and desolate public spaces that it feels like a missed opportunity.

Close-up of Pop des Fleurs art project, Pittsburgh, PA

This is, to be clear, the most minor of criticisms. The Orbit is officially on its feet, clapping earnestly, and yelling Bravo between wolf-whistles. To the visionaries and craftspeople of the Fiberarts Guild and Pop des Fleurs project, we thank you for bringing Pittsburgh such a fantastic piece of technicolor fantasy into the cruelest of month of the year. Hat’s off.

Detail of giant purple and yellow knitted flower as part of Pop des Fleurs, Pittsburgh, PA


* That’s French for “Pop the Fleurs” [Note to self: look up “fleurs”]

 

Reflections On A Hundred

St. Paul's Cathedral in Pittsburgh reflected in mirrored glass

St. Paul’s Cathedral, Oakland

A hundred! One whole century! What a very round integer!

Yes, today Pittsburgh Orbit trips the old blogometer into three digit land. It all happened in just under one calendar year. We promise to not make a big deal about that date too, but in lieu of any real story today, we’ll take this rare opportunity to reflect on a year in the blogosphere and The Orbit‘s one hundred tiny episodes so far.

reflection of small shops on Craig Street in large glass windows, Pittsburgh, PA

Craig Street, Oakland

Why blog? Frankly, it’s not something this majority introvert ever really considered. The “me me me“-ness of so much blogging is nauseating at best and just plain pathetic (much of) the rest of the time. And what hasn’t already been covered? The answer, it turns out, is a lot. But, you know, a suggestion here, an idea there–next thing we know, we’re up and blogging.

Plus, it’s fun! Roll together a bunch of things we already loved to do (bicycle, hike, explore, take photographs, drink beer, find out about other people, write) and wrap those experiences up in little easy-to-chew bite-sized chunks. It’s a tremendous regular creative prompt and get-out-the-door keister-kicker. We recommend it!

Reflection of the former Mellon National Bank, Downtown Pittsburgh in mirrored glass windows

Former Mellon National Bank, Downtown

Who reads this stuff? A good question! The stats tell us there are site visitors from all around the world, but mainly from the U.S. and Canada (and we imagine most of those are current or former Pittsburghers). Apparently they get here from umpteen different means–social media, Reddit discussions, search engines, email lists, etc.

We’ve gotten a lot of really nice feedback from friends and site visitors, but it’s been most rewarding to connect with the various outside groups, each scratching their own funny itches. Pittsburgh’s bike and pedestrian community seems to check in on the city steps stories, there’s a devoted crew of ghost sign hunters over in the U.K., the street art folks are kept in ready supply, everybody likes to read about their friends, and just about anyone who came across them seems to love the Antignanis. Oh, and every single day someone comes in looking for Jaws.

Reflection of Market Square, Downtown Pittsburgh in glass windows

Market Square, Downtown

Regrets? Yeah, this blogger has a few! For a fellow as music-obsessed as this one, we’ve barely touched the category. We’re also starving for some more food and drink stories (the weird pizza series, notwithstanding). We’ve barely touched the South Hills, the hilltops, and still haven’t made it to Duck Hollow or Fairywood. And gosh darnit, if we’re left without being able to interview Bill Bored about the Cardboards, then this whole thing has been a waste of everybody’s time. (I suppose it won’t have been a waste of Bill Bored’s time.)

University of Pittsburgh building reflected in glass windows

University of Pittsburgh, Oakland

There are also a ton of things that would have made great Orbit obits but either disappeared before we started writing, or we were in the wrong place at the right time, or just couldn’t have done them justice: the old Nickel Bingo Parlor, Chiodo’s–its decades of dangling undergarments and its “mystery sandwich”–(former) White Towers, The Suburban Lounge and their house band The Casual Approach, St. Nicholas Church grotto–ah, hell, the list goes on and on. In any case: forgive us–we’re doing our best. Sigh.

Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh reflected in glass windows

Mellon Institute, Oakland

What’s next? Honestly, the eternal tap of great ideas has run from a gushing main to more of a babbling brook–but it’s still flowing! Maybe this blogger just needs to get up off the thinkin’ chair and put his nose to the grindstone. That said, we’ve got some fun stuff planned around Lent, springtime, weird sports, fried fish, wacky artists, a hunt for the elusive paw-paw, and of course, Cemetober. Keep that Internet web browser dialed-in right here, folks.

reflection-oliver-way

Oliver Ave., Downtown