Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jimmy? Is that you?

The saying goes that life imitates art...  (Speaking of art, the above illustration was graciously produced by Mario Zucca who's work can be found at www.mariozucca.com- contact him for your illustrating needs from there)

Just as Jimmy Detillo was troubled during his life, so was the actor who played him on the big screen.  Robert Pastorelli, best known for his role as Eldin Bernecky, the painter/nanny on Murphy Brown, died tragically in 2004.  Starting out as a young boxer, a near fatal car crash at the age of 19 ended his pugilistic hopes, where he then turned to acting.  Taking on roles in films like Dances with Wolves, Michael, and Sister Act II, his career eventually culminated in his masterful character study of Jimmy Detillo.

The links between Pastorelli and his Striking Distance alter-ego deserve close consideration.  

***Warning!  Spoiler Alert!  For those of you who have not seen the dramatic conclusion to Striking Distance, I urge you to see the film and come back later.***

A recent report in the local paper (Man Rescued from the Allegheny River, June 29, 2009), {Special thanks to The Captain for the link} with the discovery of an unidentified male, roughly fitting Pastorelli's description has raised doubts about whether Robert Pastorelli indeed died on that fateful night in 2004, or whether he has pulled an elaborate hoax on us just as Jimmy Detillo did a decade earlier.  The coincidences are shocking. 

Unable to deal the ensuing jail term he was to be charged with, as well as his fathers certain knowledge that Jimmy was behind the deaths of many women, Jimmy ended his own life by plunging from an unspecified Pittsburgh bridge (the McKees Rocks Bridge? Sewickly Bridge?) into the churning river waters below.  Years later he returns.

Robert Pastorelli likewise met his demise, by his own hand, dying of an apparent drug overdose.   While he did not jump into a river, he did jump into a sea of drugs after being sought in the firearm death of his then girlfriend Charemon Jonovich.  Initially charged as an "accidental death" the case was reopened months later with Pastorelli now labelled as a "person of interest."  Days later he was declared deceased.  The investigation into his girlfriend's death was closed,  and thereafter her cause of death was recast as homicide.

With the unknown body found nearly lifeless in the Allegheny River, just down stream from where Tom Hardy's houseboat was docked, new questions and coincidences arise.  Jimmy and Pastorelli were both tied up with the mysterious deaths of women.  Both were unstable individuals with formidable talents: one being a recognized thespian, the other being "the best cop now."  Both caused their own apparent suicides, taking their lives by their own hand.  But, only one has returned.... YET!

The appearance of an unknown male, roughly matching our subjects description, in our city's river, sure makes you wonder...

Jimmy?  Is that you?

"I got you.  Oooh, I got you good.  Admit it...
What a world!  Its hard to believe isn't it?
I jump off a bridge. I don't die.  Go figure."
-Jimmy Detillo

by Lord Johnson

Monday, June 29, 2009

Damn Good Writing

As an appreciator of the newspaper industry, and the fifth season of The Wire, I often have mixed reviews of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  For instance, this each Sunday they fail to put my favorite comic "Pearls before Swine"  in their comics section, despite being there all week and worse, Sunday's front page and local news are mushed into one section.   This week, even their combined might were not enough to produce stories worthy of spending my morning, nor the quarters it cost me.

However, the Monday edition completely redeemed such poor performance with one report.  The local section is my favorite and undeniably the most important section of any city paper.  While national news can be retrieved from any number of sites, the local section bears the burden of reporting on issues of importance to the denizens of the Best City in the World.  Even though pitifully short in its number of articles, (blame it on a slow weekend of news, I guess)  one article blew my mind.  

Hard Time at a Young Age by Daniel Malloy is some damn good writing.  Admittedly D. Malloy has never jumped out at me in the past, but his work today deserves praise for a number of reasons.

He manages to tell a story.  In fact he grabs a full page about a young black juvenile offender, not exactly the subject of your typical Disney movie nor local newspaper coverage unless being demonized, and makes him a understandable character.  He never lets young Mr. Nowlin off the hook for his transgressions, and plainly presents the facts of his past offenses, yet manages to make him a realistic and sympathetic figure based solely on the presentation of his humanity.  Malloy also succeeds in making the inconsistencies and injustices of the juvenile justice system clear without sounding preachy.  No small feat.  And saddest, for both young Mr. Nowlin and all kids caught up in the system everywhere, is the admission that great rehabilitative progress was being made in a youth residential treatment facility, and now in the adult system such rehabilitation efforts will be completely ignored.

This type of news coverage is rarely seen and is a testament to writers and editors willing to give both sides of a story their due.  Rarely is such thought and effort put into a story in the paper... 
unless it's about the Steelers.

"I don't want any problems from you, you hear me?  You should be glad we caught him."
-Uncle Nicky Detillo 
by Lord Johnson

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Sad Day in da ‘Burgh

Today, Monday June 22, 2009 is the last day that Iron City Beer will be brewed within the confines of our fair city.


Former County Exec Jim Roddey glooms and dooms the possibility of the City/County merger.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, or ‘Rats’ for short, are at their season lowest mark, at eight games below .500. 

There’s no more hockey on TV until next season.

I shaved my Mustache this morning.

And now some punk town in the mountains of Puerto Rico, Cayey (Rhymes with “Hi, eh” for those of you Canadians in the audience) is challenging Pittsburgh as the Best City in the World.  As shown by the garbage can below…

Ok, not the world, but Cayey, never known for exaggeration, claims that it is “The Best City in the Americas.”  Still a brazenly bold claim, made even more forcefully by the fact that all of their garbage cans say it.  What really bugs me is that our mayor has made quite a large investment in our city’s trash receptacles lately, and yet they do not say anything like “Pittsburgh: Best City in America.”  Damn it! 

Cayey- 1

Pittsburgh- 0

"No, Bob!  Don't lick me with that fish breath."

-Tom Hardy

By Lord Johnson

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pittsburgh Hero: Harry Liller

Living in the Best City in the World, it is no surprise that we have our fair share of Heroes and Villains.  One Hero recently brought to my attention by Kelly, Miranda and Vanessa (Thanks you gals, even if you don’t live on the Mount) is Mr. Harry Liller of Ruxton Street in Mt. Washingtion.  He is a veteran of the Marines from a long line of servicemen and women in the employ of the United States Military.  In his own words:

“My uncle got the Silver Star on Okinawa. He took out a Japanese machinegun nest on his own. He got half his skull blown off... My family saved the Liberty Bell from the British. My family was at Andersonville and helped draw out the Code of Conduct. My uncle was at Pearl Harbor and fought all the way to Okinawa and this is how we are treated.”

      But to really get the feel of Harry Liller I recommend you watch these links.  These are films of Harry exerting his right to three minutes of public comment at Allegheny County Council meetings.  They are no less than stunning…

Harry Liller talks about race (I think)

Harry Liller talks about Mayoral corruption (I think)

Harry Liller riffs on April Fools Day

            I am so intrigued after seeing him on film.  My only thought now is that I must meet this man.  My new task will be to interview Harry Liller for an exclusive Mt. Wash Brain Trust & Pipe Club expose called “ The Scourge of City Council.”  (its a working title… I’ll take suggestions.)  

            I think Harry speaks well enough for himself, so I’m going to refrain from too much comment until I get to meet the man, but discovering this individual brings two thoughts to mind.  1)  I can’t believe I’ve never spoken at a city council meeting and 2) I hope Harry keeps it up.

 "Because I'm the most stubborn person in this county and I'm pretty sure Dan Onorato is the second stubbornest person in this county."  

On that reccomendation I may do a write up on "Big Dan" Onorato next.  For just one more taste of the Liller experience, below is a link with most of a previous rant, though with some great shots of council members listening/trying not to listen to Mr. Liller.  Its probably my favorite.

Here it is.

"Maybe you need a drink to ease the pain of being wrong?"

-Tom Hardy

by Lord Johnson

Friday, June 12, 2009

Brouhaha about Iron City Brewing

The Best City in the World, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, is losing its hometown brewery.  

No longer will the Best Beer in the World, Iron City, be produced on the shores of the Allegheny, as its canning and bottling lines move to the shores of the Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  The former brewer of Rolling Rock beer will now house the production of Iron City.  

And according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, people are pissed!

The most interesting of the pissed that Mr. Boselovic interviews is one, Chris Hoel who is, I qoute:
"a Pittsburgh attorney who specializes in the beverage industry"
That's Awesome!  I know a few lawyers in town, and none of them have specialized to such a degree, that I know of at least.  Maybe my wife should specialize in the Pittsburgh "Fries on a Salad" industry, or the Pittsburgh Pierogi industry.  Now I bet those would be lucrative.  Anyway this guy is hilarious.  He says calls Iron City...

"one of the most glorious breweries in the United States"
(Why not most glorious brewery in the World I wonder?)

And as someone who loves Iron City beer, probably more than anyone else in the Mt. Washington Brain Trust & Pipe Club, I still think this is a bit of an exaggeration, of which I've noticed a trend of in PGH lately.  (See Wednesday's post)  

Iron City: delicious, undoubtedly.  Iron City: provides skull splitting hangovers the next day, no question.  Iron City: most glorious brewery in the U.S.,  um... really?

Of course the Union Workers of the Lawrenceville plant are unhappy.  These same workers who took 15% pay raises when ownership changed hands just 3 years ago are now losing their jobs entirely.  They have a right to be pissed.

However, the formerly pissed off employees of Latrobe Brewing have got to be pretty happy right now.  These union workers who so unceremoniously had their jobs swiped away by Anheuser-Busch, so that the same piss-water ale could be produced in New Jersey, may now have jobs again.  And look how that worked out for the producers of Budweiser.  Rolling Rock has always been a terrible beer, but many of us drank it just for the hometown loyalty.  When they moved, we all stopped buying it.

The question is:  Will Iron City feel the same backlash from moving its operation outside of the city limits, that Rolling Rock experienced?

It may.  But it will be much less of a knee-jerk boycott than the Rolling Rock debacle.  Latrobe after all is only about an hour away from the city, and even gets the annual visit of the Pittsburgh Steelers and rapid fans each August for NFL summer training camp.  Latrobe is no stranger to this town.  In fact it mirrors Pittsburgh in many ways, though on a much smaller scale.  It is/was a primary manufacturing center, still home to Kennametal and a variety of other steel and metal working factories, of which I am too lazy to recall or look up.  And it actually has a truly state-of-the-art brewing facility.  

In fact, that's my concern.  Iron City was not made in "the most glorious brewery" in the world.  It was made in a sucky old plant with sickly Pittsburgh water.  And it was GREAT!   What's going to happen when you try to brew the same product using the pristine waters of the Loyalhanna in a high-tech modern facility?  I guess we'll see.  

I'm going to give the Latrobe Iron City a chance.  Dammit, I'm running out of home-town beers to drink during the game.

"Never scald your tongue on another man's soup."

by Lord Johnson

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pittsburgh: The Best City in the World! 'n'at

or Pittsburgh: 29th Best City in the World!

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette printed two very compelling articles in today's paper ( see Magazine gives city a jolly good No. 1 rating  and Marketer tries to boost city's profile.)  Pittsburgh is getting a lot of buzz on both a national and international stage for the first time in many years... and not for our amazing sports teams.  (Though it deserves mention that our Steelers did indeed win the Superbowl this year, with the players just now receiving their gawdily awesome rings, while our beloved Penguins have evened up an epic Stanley Cup match-up, with the championship to be decided in game 7 on Friday.)

But that's my point.  Two of our city's sports teams are of championship caliber, (sorry Pirates,) yet they are not what is garnering all of the attention.

Not only will Pittsburgh host the G20 meeting of world leaders in coming months, but our fair city has again earned title of "Most Livable City in the United States" and 29th world-wide, by British magazine the Economist.  But for some Most livable in this country is not good enough.  Eyeflow, apparently a Pittsburgh based web marketing company has this grand idea to basically spam the internet with the phrase "Best City in the World" linked to Pittsburgh's website.  I almost bit and did so at this site, but refrained from actually linking to the city based on the fact that it is a lie.  We are not the best city in the world.  The survey results printed directly above the marketing article (that's right I actually read the paper version of the newspaper) shows that 28 cities worldwide are actually better than Pittsburgh.  

However, who cares about the rest of Earth.  We are the United States right.  Bald Eagles, Apple Pie, Captain America, and whatnot.  In light of the many independent observers, from Forbes Magazine to Places Rated Almanac, who have all recognized the great attributes of the town we live in, is the United States not enough?  Will such fallacious exaggeration from "in the nation" to "in the entire World" help the city overcome its apparent inferiority complex?  

For the time being I accept that Pittsburgh is the best city in the good ol' U.S. of A.  But the world?  
Well... not until we win that Stanley Cup.  

by Lord Johnson