Pittsburgh: A Very Nice City

Me and Bellgirl celebrated the 4th of July in style, road tripping to Pittsburgh for the Brewers/Pirates game. I picked her up from work on Thursday night, and we kept rollin, rollin, rollin for nine hours until we got there. Some of the badder fires we seen:

Forget that cute little Gary, Indiana Song. The whole place is factories, refineries, smog, pregnant teenagers, and an insane number of Fazoli’s. All along the interstate are signs warning “animal present when light is flashing”. Thank god the light never flashed.

Birthplace of our own Zach Moneypenny. Again, not a very cool place. The interstate is all toll way and boring as hell. Every thirty miles is a “service plaza.” The Service plazas all look the same and house the same four restaurants, so you never get any variety or fun when you stop. At the Penn/Ohio border is a quaint little burg called Warren. After nine hours of str8 driving we ventured off the turnpike and stopped for some eggs at a truck stop. We sat at one of the two non-smoking tables and met this 10 year old who must have been the world’s youngest trucker.

We arrived at about ten in the morning, and thanks to my recent poker winnings, upgraded from the Motel 6 on the outskirts of town to the Downtown Westin. It was a swell place. The Brewers and Jessica Simpson were also staying there. Our room was on the 19th story and offered a wonderful view of the city, including an honest to god ketchup factory. Overall downtown is a bit beat up, but nice, completely different form our trip to Minneapolis for last years Brewer/Twins game. In Minn, Miller Lites are 6 bucks. In Pitt, you get 50cent tappers.

We slept for a bit then explored the city, checking out the Warhol Museum. If art made from human urine is your thing, this is one place you will not want to miss. Piss Flowers, art made from peeing flower patterns in the snow and making a plaster mold of the pattern: art can go no further.

After that we hit the second game of a double header that the crew lost by a combined score of 21-3. Ouch. After the game we hit a bar, and while I was in the bathroom whazzing, Bellgirl met a man from Milwaukee, Darren Sutton, the Brewers TV guy. He was swell, getting us drunk, talking brewers and giving us tickets to the next night�s game. Overall a very odd and interesting experience. Worth noting: I had to stop an intoxicated bellgirl from telling Darren that she suspects that Bill Hall has the biggest penis of all the Brewers.

A few more interesting things:

1. The hobos in Pittsburgh are a very limpy, sickly, beatdown brand of hobo. Even more so than normal hobos. We even witnessed a hobo domestic dispute: two hobo lovers had it out in full daylight because of the woman hobo’s (Cheryl) supposed infidelity. During the entire argument Cheryl sipped from a Blue ICEE.
2. Instead of racing sausages, Pittsburgh has racing perogies. I had never had a perogie so I tried one at the game. Very gross. They are some Polish delicacy sort of like mashed potato stuffed ravioli.

Hmm, that’s about all for now. All in all Pittsburgh is a friendly and interesting city worth checking out. They put on a great fireworks show, and nestled in between mountains and surrounded by three rivers, it is a physically beautiful place. A bit rusty, but still a nice looking city. Booze is cheap, the restaurants are good, and not all the art is piss art. The baseball stadium is still very new (2001?) and it’s located in the center of downtown, just like Milwaukee’s oughta be. A good place to catch a game. My only regret is not checking out that ketchup factory.

Whazz on,

26 thoughts on “Pittsburgh: A Very Nice City

  1. 1. Nice story, Wirkus. I’m glad to hear that Pittsburgh is romantic as hell. Or at least they have cheap beer.

    2. Friday night included one of the strangest/funniest events of my life. I had dinner with a friend at Casa de Lara; after dinner we rented “Big Fish”, and realized as we were pulling out of the parking lot that it was 9:30 p.m. and my refridgerator was in the crisis mode of only containing two beers. What is the only remedy to this situation? That’s right, kids: Vic Pierce.

    As many of you Madison, or former-Madison whazzers may well know, inside the Madison City Limits sale of beer and alcohol end nightly at 9 p.m. sharp. Outside of the city limits, however, you can buy beer until midnight. Hence, there were many a night upon finishing my shift at the HoJo at 11 p.m. when a trip out to Vic Pierce’s was in order. The fact that they sell beer until later than the city means that the clientele is also unique in its own right. When we got to the store, at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night, the parking lot was PACKED. We literally drove around looking for a space. When we found one, I volunteered to “just stay in the car.” My idea was vetoed, however, and we made our way from the very back of the parking lot to the door of the store where a security guard was checking IDs so that we could GET IN LINE TO GET INTO THE STORE TO GET IN LINE AGAIN TO FINALLY BUY OUR BEER. I’ve had worse ideas in my life.

    So we’re standing in line surrounded by semi coherent people, and right in front of the store is an 87 Oldsmobile full of people. The driver of the car comes out with beer and they start to pull away. As they pull away from the curb, one of the passengers, a greasy, fat man with long brown curly hair and a Def Leopard t-shirt leans out the window and yells at me, in front of the crowded parking lot, and the line to get into the store:


    I froze. I had thought my outfit was really cute, maybe a little on the pink side, but cute. The whole parking lot is looking at me, and there is nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. So I waved.

    Then he shouted back: HOW ABOUT THAT VIDEO?

    I tried not to cringe, cry or faint; quite frankly it was the most hysterical moment of my life, and I yelled back: BESTSELLER, MAN. BESTSELLER.

    Needless to say I survived. Barely.

    3. Big Fish was fabulous and I cried like a baby.

  2. What is this? Crazy Upside Down World? Go Back Into the Past and Change Your Mind World? I thought we all agreed that Big Fish was very, very bad. In the words of the scienteezer: Balk. Balk. What. Oh well, maybe I’m confused. Anyway who cares. MP sorry I missed your call and the ol’ ball game. I was in Canada. Oh Canada, We Stand On Guard For Thee. So what’s up with no MP review of F9/11? I know you’ve seen it- why no speaky?

    2. Kerry/Edwards: Word To Your Mother.

  3. Big Fish: why it is powerful art

    The easy answer
    Like Life of Pi, an example of the importance of storytelling— not only are stories “fun” but they make life livable, have the ability to transform it from schlepping luggage or accounting or answering phones into something more, the ability to make a soul crushing job, 2.5 kids and car insurance into a life full of movie stars and monuments.

    A bit more complex
    The story helps us see people for who they are and appreciating that. Most times we want people to be a certain way or we focus on their bad traits until that person becomes only their bad traits. A lot of times we do this as a defense mechanism. Getting past this, to me, is one of the big secrets of life. In the movie, dude hated his father for not being what he wanted him to be, failing to see all of his father’s good traits, and in the end when he gets past this, it’s pretty powerful stuff. To me, art really can go no further. In the end he gets past it and becomes his father, and that’s, to me, very moving.

    Sure the movie is not perfect, the casting of Brits as southerners was a bit perplexing, but overall good stuff, better than some neurotic Woody Allen bullshit, or Pee Wee’s Big Adventure or Farenhight 9/11 and its two seconds of relevance. But if that’s what you want out of your art then fine, but really I think you are missing out.

  4. You havn’t even seen Fahrenheit 9/11! and you really have to give “art can go no further” a rest. sorry to sound harsh. ok hold on… I’ll be back in a sec.

  5. Ok I’m back. Sorry Wirkus I don’t buy your easy or complex answers. BIG FISH IS GARBAGE. This guy on Bigempire.com (http://www.bigempire.com/filthy)has a pretty good take on it and I dug it up… For further reading check out his Fahrenheit 9/11 review. He pretty much pans it which you better believe annoyed me to no end. But I digress. BIG FISH:

    “…Big Fish, Director Tim Burton’s latest failure in a quickly deteriorating career, is a father-son story: the kind where the boring, whiny kid blames his pop for ruining his boring life. Waa waa waa. Billy Crudup is a grown man, a journalist married and living in France, essentially estranged from his father (Albert Finney–bloated in body, spirit and performance). You see, the father is a teller of tall tales; stories of hokey, fluffy Southern-style bullshit, and the son feels like he never got to know the real man behind them.

    Of course, Finney’s character is dying, which gives him a grand opportunity to lie in bed and give one of those powerful deathbed performances full of phlegmy coughs and profundity. Crudup agrees to visit his father one last time with his pregnant wife. From then on, what we get in the present time is some variation of that soggy Tuesdays with Morrie horseshit, where one guy lies prone and spews wisdom like methane at a feed lot, and the other guy sits around, listens and then thinks, “Gosh, I’m a better person now.” The stories Finney spews are fantastical and mesmerizing, or so the bombastic, clichÈd soundtrack would have us believe. Each spins the story into the past, where Finney is played by Ewan MacGregor.

    This premise serves Tim Burton well. There is very little plot and lots of visual oddities like circus freaks, a giant, midgets, lost utopias, werewolves and haunted woods. It’s all sort of interesting, but not as interesting as they should be considering they’re all the movie’s got going for it. In the end, the stories don’t enrich or enlighten the dreary, predictable father-son story. They are just weird stuff that Burton and screenwriter John August thought up.

    The basic story of Crudup and Finney reconciling is too fucking dull to cry over, which is what Burton wants. Boo hoo, a pouty little bitch doesn’t like his father. Join the fucking club. Big Fish doesn’t ever give us a reason to care that one more dullard is sucking oxygen or that, no surprise, he realizes he was wrong as Finney takes his final breaths in a hospital. And of course, we learn that Finney’s tales aren’t so tall. He really did do a lot of these crazy things! In other words, Big Fish doesn’t even ask the son to accept his father for who he is, which might be a profound lesson. Instead, it tells him it’s okay to hate his father as a liar, but as a truth-teller he must be loved. What a bunch of backpedaling Hollywood horseshit.

    Every time the movie spins into Finney’s fantastical past, I held my breath thinking the movie was going to surprise us. It does once, with a war sequence and Siamese Twins. The rest of the time, the dreamy sequences feel too slight, too detached from the theme, and not fantastical enough. Part of the problem is that the characters are more awestruck by Burton’s vision than I was.

    Crudup’s character is a dour, judgmental asshole. He’s also as boring as a dentist’s waiting room without even the anticipation of getting a boner when the dental assistant puts her latexed hands down your throat and scolds your brushing habits. Come on, guys, we all have those fantasies. Crudup’s dullard is not worth hanging a movie’s emotional journey on, because he has nowhere to go but to get his comeuppance. This is painfully obvious from the first time this whiny bitch opens his mouth.

    Finney’s bedridden southern man is pure cornball. He’s acting and drawling like he’s going for at least two Oscars. Every time he opens his mouth, he looks pleased with how damn cutesy he’s being before the words start tumbling out like honey-soaked wool socks. I would never give any asshole who talks this much the pleasure of letting him think I like his story as much as he loves telling it.

    In the flashbacks, miscast Ewan MacGregor plays a younger Finney as a southern-accent-challenged blabbermouth who struts through every scene pretty certain that the digital effects will add the magic later. At one point he’s playing the world’s only 18-year old who could qualify for a 10% senior discount at Wendy’s. He, like the rest of the cast, seem to think a southern accent is all that’s needed to be heart-warming.

    Here’s my final beef. This movie feels as fucking synthetic as a leisure suit. It’s all manufactured sweetness. None of it, present story or fantasy past, rings true or sincere so much as it feels like what a bunch of coldhearted Hollywood grassfuckers think we’ll eat up. It feels like nobody who made Big Fish believed the crap they were putting up there, but they kept thinking that if they added more sugar, more treacly music and heavier Southern accents it would ring true.

    It’s garbage, really: an old, stinking carp wrapped in a bow.”

  6. Cal, you really are a dumb ass. So you found some idiot that hates the movie… on the internet of all places. Nice sleuth work, tard. If you want to play the game this way, then here: a review from the Onion, really the only people I trust when it comes to reviewing shit:

    Big Fish

    After a remarkable run stretching from 1985’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure to 1994’s Ed Wood, Tim Burton hit a prolonged rough patch. Though deeply flawed, the clever 1996 satire Mars Attacks! and 1999’s visually sumptuous Sleepy Hollow each had much to recommend them, which can’t be said of 2001’s hopelessly muddled Planet Of The Apes. Taken as a whole, Burton’s second decade of filmmaking has looked like a letdown. Fortunately, he rebounds in a big way with Big Fish, a Daniel Wallace adaptation and visual feast that recaptures the fairy-tale simplicity and wrenching emotional power of Edward Scissorhands. Told largely in flashbacks, Big Fish stars Albert Finney as a larger-than-life Southern patriarch who never lets the truth get in the way of a good yarn. Billy Crudup co-stars as his bitter reporter son, who resents having grown up in the shadow of Finney’s tall tales, but returns to his ailing father’s home to try to get to know him before he dies. Ewan McGregor plays a younger incarnation of Finney who (like McGregor’s protagonist in Down With Love) seems to float through a charmed life, carried aloft by invisible winged cherubs. As Finney tells it, his life story is a great American fable in which he, in keeping with Big Fish’s enormous generosity of spirit, helps a series of misfits, kooks, and freaks, including a ringmaster (Danny DeVito) with a dark secret, a laconic poet (Steve Buscemi), and a misunderstood giant. Whenever Big Fish leaves the gorgeously wrought mythological past, with its echoes of vintage Disney and the best work of Burton and Steven Spielberg, and returns to the inevitably cold and dreary present, the shock is as bracing as waking up from a glorious dream. But when Crudup’s present and Finney’s past finally merge, the result is as powerful and heartbreaking as anything in Burton’s career. Like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Big Fish largely takes place in a kaleidoscopic, fully formed, utterly benevolent universe that seems to have originated in its protagonist’s vivid imagination—which in this case isn’t that far from the truth. With such a world-class fantasist in the director’s chair, the question of which side of the fantasy/fact divide Big Fish will fall on is never in doubt. But Burton and company make an unbeatable case for the life-affirming power of make-believe. —Nathan Rabin

  7. 1. Kill Cal.

    2. Cal, have you even admitted to seeing the movie, or are you just posting dumb crap that you googled off of the Internet to back up your belligerance? Big Fish was a great movie, aside from the Hemingway-esque fish theme (that I knew, no offense, that Wirkus would cream his jeans over), because it played with that essential art question of fact vs. fiction/fantasy vs. reality. The beauty of Big Fish is that you were never really sure. Was Finney a tall tale teller? Maybe. Were his tales a reflection or an indication of the content of his character, and the quality of his imagination? What is the value of entertainment? Which scenario is preferable: rose colored reality or plain everyday life?

    You better believe that the UW-Madison English department ruined you, pal. There’s no hope left for you.

  8. i’m not going to even read that onion review because i’m sorry but “NATHAN RABIN” has been writing terrible film reviews for YEARS! not only do you like crap movies you like crap REVIEWERS! alright fuck it, i’ll read it and right away i see some bullshit about “mars attacks” good luck with that… further… oh whatever, that dude seriously writes bad reviews and it’s really odd that you don’t know that.

  9. You two twits. I copied that review because IT IS AN INSIGHTFUL REVIEW. much unlike:

    “…because it played with that essential art question of fact vs. fiction/fantasy vs. reality”

    That, on the other hand IS NOT insightful. THAT is drivel.

    Hemingway-esque? HEMINGWAY-ESQUE??? you, jen, are pathetic.

  10. Hey Jen, did you see that last episode of Friends? Hemingway-esque wouldn’t you say? Hey Jen, how about this weather we’re having… Pretty Hemingway-esque…

  11. Cal, you asshole. Are you still in California? Don’t you know that the gays are all supposed to move to Massachusetts?

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