Sunday, September 26, 2010

footnotes to a rant

Well, hopefully it didn't come across as a rant.  I should shut up for the day since I clearly have had my say on the Op/Ed pages today.  You can read my G20 postscript in the Post-Gazette today: What did Pittsburgh learn from the G20?

Op/Ed's are an imperfect medium if for no other reason than their limited length. It would have taken me a few more column inches to work in what I had originally intended to be the title.. something like: Perpetually Beta 'burgh.  For a general audience it just would not have made sense for most of the readers, though it really would have been perfect for others.

Also no footnotes in an Op/Ed, which they sure could use.   One theme of what I was trying to write was really about perceptions of Pittsburgh. Perceptions others have of us, and our own perceptions of ourselves. Don't I get a point for not bringing up Border Guard Bob?  
What I included in there for color was a reference to past misperceptions of Pittsburgh, in particular that which evolved from 19th century journalist James Parton.  Parton being the nominalprogenitor of the the "Hell with the lid off" description of Pittsburgh.  It may be one of the widely misused phrases in Pittsburgh history.  During the G20 media frenzy its metaphorical use really went over the top. 

It is all really an excuse to talk about two things. One is my personal provenance in understanding the history of Parton's quote, which came from Sam Macdonalds pathfinder, if now quiescent, blog on Pittsburgh: Antirust.   His post from several years ago on the misused Parton quote was insightful:  Pittsburgh, Hell with the context left out.   Yet even that post needed it's own footnote, as Sam explains he was following up on anonymous comments from one of Antirust's loyal readers. Thus the Brownian motion of ideas.

Got me thinking though.  Sam was a journalist for Reason his online bio says and he has a couple books out there.  One book should be coming back into it's own these days.  In his first book: Agony of an American Wildnerness (link below), he wrote on the impact/conflict and general social milieu in and around the Allegheny National Forest as it dealt with the complex issue of logging.  Sam is actually from Ridgeway, PA, and if you have ever been there you can legitimately say you grew up in a forest.

What the book says.???  well, you have to get the book.  On his blog Sam was a self-described Libertarian to at least some degree. Remember, Libertarians tend to refuse to fall into any one 'camp' or not when it comes to our bipolar politics.  Worth a read just for that.

Though the book was written about logging , it sure seems to me the fundamental issues he wrote about are now playing out ten-fold with the Marcellus Mania across almost all of Pennsylvania.   Might be a good time for a reprinting of the book given all the new interest in resource politics across Pennsylvania. (just for fun, let's prod Mr. Google and sundry search engines to find this by adding gratuitously:  "MARCELLUS SHALE BOOKS").   That and maybe Sam will get a few marginal bucks if a few more copies of his book are purchased:


Anonymous The Wiz said...

Read your "rant" in the PG and it was very good. Not only did you point out that Pittsburgh's past was more than just steel but that its future is always changing, always requiring foresight and diligence.

Also yesterday, I had breakfast then went online to read the morning posts and news of the day. Then I walked into the kitchen where the TV was on and, tho and behold, there was Ken Rice interviewing a gentleman by the name of Chris Briem! Alas, I had walked in as Ken was doing the wrap at the end of the show. I'll have to wait for it to be posted on KDKA's website and critic it then.

Seems you had a good weekend! Congrats!

Monday, September 27, 2010 11:33:00 AM  
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