Currently billed as "a city made for getaways" by the Greater Pittsburgh Convention Visitor's Bureau, one wonders if they actually mean fleeing youth or a vacation hotspot for bored people in West Virginia who actually believe the advertising on which this organization is spending thousands of dollars.

Cultural Assets
Albeit, we do have many regional assets which assist in a high quality of life for Pittsburgh residents and visitors alike. The Carnegie Museum {of which The Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Science Center are subsiderary organizations} are simply the beginning of what our fair city has to offer. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has a delightful and profound wing which is a historically (somewhat_ accurate exhibit on Native American culture and life. The Scaife Galleries offer quick glimpses of the masters - modern and ancient. These galleries contain - among other worthy artists - Picasso, {Monet] and Matisse works and a decent wing of ancient Egyptian artifacts. All of this housed in one building with a major library! The facility is kind of like a cultural and intellectual version of one stop shopping. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concerts are better attended in Europe than they are here. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra receives quotes such as, "You will never hear such an amazing performance by any other orchestra in the world." Onku No Tomoga, Japan. They are currently under the musical direction of Mariss Jansons. You can hear them at: http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org. The Pittsburgh Dance Council presents very cool modern dance ever year bringing folks like Eiko and Komo, Sankai Juko, Shaolin Warriors, Nrityagram Dance Ensemble of India

Major League Sports
We have major robber baron, Andrew Carnegie to thank for this. Even though he massacred workers, he did leave a profound legacy - namely - libraries, universities and money for stuff to happen in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh sales tax is a tad bit over 7%. But, wait! Before you balk, 1% of this tax goes to funding for what are determined to be regional assets such as: our new stadia, libraries, parks, zoo and cultural institutions. While big behemouth deficit monsters suck up a majority of these dollars a fair portion does go to support small, lean avant-garde cultural institutions such as: Sun Crumbs, Afro-American Music Institute and Umoja African Arts. But, see for yourself how the money is spent at: http://radworkshere.org/finalbudget2001.shtml

If you like professional sports, well, you are in luck! We have football, baseball, hockey, and soccer teams respectively known as: Steelers, Pirates, Penguins - no no they were around before Linux - and the Riverhounds. The whomping sales tax has guarenteed that they will be staying in our fair city. We have just completed two new stadia, PNC Park and Heinz Field on behalf of the football and baseball contingents - even though the taxpayers voted against it. In essence, Pittsburgh responded to negotiations like new school parents. Threatened with the teams leaving, Pittsburgh responded by imposing a tax which the voters defeated in a referendum. My daughter went to school with the daughter of Art Rooney - one of the owners of the team. If Megan's demeanor is indicative of the family's negotiation tactics, then, I am not surprised that Heinz Field was temper tantrumed into being. Even less surprising is what Heinz Field looks like. While PNC Park is as elegant as any Victorian mansion, Heinz Field is the trailer park down the block. It looks as if the construction company went around to various sites and grabbed whatever was left over. Then, they slapped it all together and called it a new stadium. If you go in for quieter, more dignified sports, then count on seeing incredible golf. Pittsburgh is home to Oakmont Country Club which hosts many a PGA Tournement. (It's a really great thing that they admitted my parents as members about a year before the PGA decided to only play at intergrated courses. My parents remain the only African American members to this day.

African American History
Racial discrimination never stopped Pittsburghers. Pittsburgh fielded two major championship teams, Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords - in The Negro Leagues which were popular in the 1920's 30's and 40's. Because African-American baseball players were denied access to The Major Leagues, Black communities across the United States formed their own ball clubs. Legendary ball players had their moments of glory including Jackie Robinson because of Pittsburgh's successful Black baseball teams. Of course, segregation had its benefits. For one, it forced African Americans to confine their resources to their own communities. Pittsburgh's Hill District had a thriving, active economically thriving community until Urban Redevelopmebt in the 1950's. The Hill drew the biggest names in music-- Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Art Coltrain, Dexter Gordon, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Artie Shaw all came because we were a viable hub between New York and Chicago . One of Pittsburgh's journalistic credits is The Pittsburgh Courier, also born in the Hill. The Courier began as a small neighborhood weekly newspaper and quickly became the most important, nationally known paper because they reported on national news of interest to African Americans. The paper eventually became so important that white trucking agnecies refused to deliver it in the South. This obstacle was over come by the Porter's Union who made a deal with Black railroad porters to carry the papers on trains. The paper brought economic validation to self-taught media artist/ photographer, Teeny Harris who took more than 80,000 pictures of black life in Pittsburgh. His archives have only been discovered and begun to be catalogued by the University Of Pittsburgh. A wonderful timeline of Black Pittsburgh History is available at: http://www.wqed.org/erc/pghist/logs/wylie.html This website chronicles significant moments in Black Pittsburgh History as documented in the film Wylie Avenue Days. Finally, no mention of Pittsburgh's Hill District would be complete without including playwright, August Wilson. Other notable African American writers from or in Pittsburgh include: Derrick Bell, Toi Derricote and John Edgar Wideman.

High muckety-mucks in Pittsburgh are quick to tell people that we are one of the most important, fastest growing high technology corridors in the country. One visit to http://www.visitpittsburgh.com will make most geeks scratch their heads in frustrated, angst-ridden bemusement. We are the corporate headquarters of such talented high tech icons as: Lycos, Free Markets, Ripple Effects Technologies, and Carnegie Mellon University. However, a significant high technology corridor remains a marketing buzz word.

Medicine and Education are actually Pittsburgh's primary industry. We are home to over seven institutions of higher learning including: Carnegie Mellon University, University Of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Chatham College, Carlow College, and Robert Morris College. The University Of Pittsburgh Medical Center - which is a teaching hospital - has lead the field consistently in transplant research and application. On February 26, 1963, a team of University of Pittsburgh surgeons led by transplant pioneer Thomas E. Starzl, M.D., Ph.D., performed the city's first liver transplant. Continued dedication to the field has earned Pittsburgh a reputation as the "Transplant Capital of the World." But, that was nothing really compared to Jonas Salk, founder of the University of Pittsburgh's Research Laboratory, was among those leading the assault on polio. In 1954 Salk and his Pittsburgh associates began the human testing of the first truly effective antipolio vaccine. Within another few years, outbreaks were fast becoming a thing of the past.

Television / Media
Growing up in Pittsburgh can be something of a trip to television land. When you step foot in the city, you are entering Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The creator and host Fred Rogers started making television programs for children in 1954. The program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is the longest-running program on PBS. It is common to run into Mister Rogers himself at various arts functions in the city. In fact, Fred is a huge supporter of the internationally recognized Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. But, don't go up to him (or any other on screen personality for that matter) and say, " Hey!! I saw you on TV! Because in an eerie Stepford Wives kind of way each, and every one of them will respond: "And now, I get to see you!" However, The Neighborhood off screen is rumored to be one of the most abusive workplaces in the city. (No! No! Not Mr. Rogers himself.... his production staff.) I had the great privilege of growing up on the same block as Chef Brockett. Just for the record, he always baked something special for Halloween to hand out to all of us greedy little beggars.Yes, Virginia, there really is a Fred Rogers and you can learn more about The Neighborhood at: http://www.misterrogers.org

But, firsts in the field of media aren't anything new. KDKA Radio made one of the first radio broadcasts in the United States. In 1920 - when it was run by the then Westinghouse Electric Company - KDKA used the Associated Press? election returns to present the very first radio newscast. The program was broadcast from the top of the Pittsburgh Post?s building and reported on the results of the Warren G. Harding victory over James M. Cox in the November 2nd election of 1920.

Nature, Geography
Hemmed in by rolling hills, Pittsburgh is very much Rome. We are surrounded by three rivers, one of which is one of the seven rivers in the entire world which flow North like the Nile. Green space, parks and nature preserves abound. This often makes driving difficult because as soon as you think you're on a grid you run into a dammed park. If you don't run into a park after three miles, you run into a hill or a river. According to In Pittsburgh Weekly's 2001 compilation of the 102 Best Things About Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh is a city where "even poor people can own their own house." Okay - I buy it. I'm a poet married to a take his good old economic time software engineer]. We have an adolescent female child. We own a four bedroom house which sits on top of a commercial space. This commercial space is the home of the non-profit I run and my studio. Our mortgage is $478 a month. Find out all of the truly fantastic things about Pittsburgh at: http://www.inpgh.com/html/2001_03_28/news/feature.tmpl Bonus points if you find a picture of Svaha. Clue: 19 to 10

But, believe it or not, Ketchup and pickles have truly made Pittsburgh a livable city. The Heinz Foundation has been second only to The Pittsburgh Foundation for support of cutting edge avant-garde art. Our steel and industrial heritage have made Pittsburgh worthy of.... if not a vacation stop...a city worthy of giving a second thought.