Sorry Iggy

Monday, January 9th, 2006, 12:51 am

Steeler Nation is celebrating a playoff win tonight, but with little hoohah or gloating. Histrionics like that would be unseemly after Carson Palmer went down on the second play of the game. Big Ben looked like he was done for the year after the hit he took against San Diego, but he got lucky and Palmer didn’t. Freak play, and then Kitna comes in and looks like he’s going to pull a Don Strock on us, but Roethlisberger isn’t the same sore-armed rookie as last year. I actually didn’t see the best part of the game, I was driving to our volleyball match when the Bengals bungled their FG, when Bettis bullied his way in, and when Big Ben completed the first Irish Flea Flicker in Steeler history. That’s what we called that play when we played football as kids. Snap/pitch to the guy in the backfield, toss back to the QB, throw deep. Irish Flea Flicker. And no, that’s not some racist slur. I’m Irish. Kiss me to confirm.

Indy killed us earlier in the year, but they’d better be ready to have a really bad time next Sunday. Steelers will have their chin straps pulled tight. Bring the pain.

As I was sifting through Bloglines I came across this post by James Walcott, who quoted at length an article that appeared in a periodical called the Monthly Review, which seems to be a lefty pro-labor magazine. It’s a good article, though probably not of interest to those who don’t live in Pittsburgh or whose political leanings are to the right of Alan Combs, but some of what Wolcott quoted is worth re-quoting here:

“Pittsburgh is little known or appreciated nationally despite the important role that the city played in the rise of U.S. global power. Pittsburgh’s birth occurred at the cutting edge of imperial French and British expansion into the heartland of the continent. The city’s rapid decline coincided with the recent assumption of global imperial power by the United States. In between these two eruptions of global imperial realities into southwest Pennsylvania flows a story of collective work, struggle, and skill that arguably created the most productive region on the earth between 1880 and 1950 considering both diversity and volume of production.”

I don’t think Pittsburgh’s decline started with the “assumption of global imperial power” by the United States, whatever the hell that means. I think the author means the invasion of Iraq, and, sadly, Pittsburgh fell off the cliff a long time before that. My dad worked for US Steel for 40 years or so, most of it at the Homestead Works, which was once a Goddam Fucknormous Steel Mill. Today the site of the mill is home to The Waterfront, perhaps the biggest retail/dining/nightlife center in the city. Lots of chain stores, lots of cookie-cutter big boxes and quesadilla distributors. They left seven huge smokestacks from the mill intact as a sort of signature piece for the development, and using them as a guide my Dad figured that the space where his office once stood is now occupied by a TGI Fridays. Jesus.

Another snippet:

“The glory that is Pittsburgh today derives from its stunning beauty and historic character, its people and its memories. Sitting in a natural amphitheater carved by the three rivers, its hillsides green and leafy, its rivers once again filling with fish, its neighborhoods a crazy quilt of accommodation with its convoluted geography, the town has character and complexity. Pittsburgh has always been a proud place despite the often bitter labor relations that played a significant role in its history. What has remained true is an intense loyalty to this rooted locale: its neighborhoods and hollows, its forgotten corners and “seldom seens,” its churches, teams, taverns, schools, and unions. A loyalty from the heart beats in the Pittsburgh Nation, at home and away, waving the ‘terrible towel’ of memory.”

Very well said. Getting around in Pittsburgh can be a challenge even for adventurous natives. I’ve always lived in the North Hills–I don’t think I’ve spent five hours total in the South Hills. Christ, to get there I have to go across two bridges, cut through town, go through a tunnel…I once dated a girl in Baldwin (actually, there were two girls who lived in Baldwin…odd) and I was driving in a freezing rainstorm to pick her up to see a movie and I remember thinking “If I don’t get laid in the movie theater tonight, then this relationship is over.” I didn’t get laid, and she dumped me that night. I gleefully sang the whole way home. Mind you, it isn’t like these two points are THAT far apart, as the crow flies, but to get there you’re always fording rivers or driving through mountains.

There are signs of life here, signs that progress is being made, but my hometown is far from out of the woods. When we watch the Steeler road games we’re always proud to see all the Terrible Towels waving inside the enemy camp. Of course, those are folks who had to leave Pittsburgh to make their fortune. That’s a move I either lacked the ambition or daring to try myself, and in retrospect maybe I should’ve left. But, in retropect, every major decision I’ve made in my life was proven to be a mistake. Which is humbling, believe me.

The 2nd anniversary of this blog passed last month with little fanfare, as it should have, as second anniversaries are always not worth mentioning. But I thought back to some of the first things I wrote, before I started writing about poker. I wrote that Jerome Bettis should retire and not sully his legacy. Yeah, that was pretty friggin’ sharp. And I wrote about how fiercly proud and loyal we Pittsburghers are. We are, to a nearly pathological point. If you even wanna get in a fight, walk up to some guy in Black and Gold and trash talk the ‘Burgh. We go from mellow to postal in a second flat. We love our hometown, because it deserves it so. And that’s why the win today means tomorrow will be a bright and cheery day at work, everyone happy and smiling. With some bitching about the dumb penalties and the trick plays that didn’t work. Just because we’re loyal doesn’t mean we don’t bitch. Well, the people on the call-in shows bitch. Christ, how the bitch. Me, I’m gonna be happy and smiling. And hope Carson Palmer is 110% healthy when we play the Bengals come October.

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3 Responses to “Sorry Iggy”

  1. Ken P Says:

    Well, I live in NW Indiana and USS still survives–more-or-less. I’ve been around a long, long time so I have watched the changes you outline. Shift changes were traffic nightmares as literally thousand move to or from home. They finally put in an expressway to help about the time of the big decline.

    It take a very large book to detail all the changes. It would take an even bigger book to detail the flaws of both union and management. Today we make about as much steal with a miniscule labor force. Most of the supporting shops that lived off the mills have fallen by the wayside. Many of the staff/craft have ignore the pressure of outside contractors but had that driven into them.

    The ol’ rust belt isn’t dead but it sure has changed.

  2. Whaaaaa? Says:

    Gotta love Wolcott.

    Right up there with Hunter S. in the art of invective, not the guy you want on your bad side:

    “It must be awfully uncomfortable watching TV or going to the movies with a stick up your ass. Makes it hard to sit. It’s really not conducive to anything except making yourself sore and testy. But for cultural conservatives, making themselves sore and testy is what’s it all about. They’re masochists who like to hear themselves complain. Always on the lookout for something to offend them, some trespass against their sensibilities, they suffer so that they can make others suffer by having to listen to their cranky litany of stale umbrage at liberal media’s insults to the moral values of decent folk.

    Take Tim Graham, for example. The righteous stick up his butt extends to the top of his head, leaving a little nub that he’s convinced has magical qualities. He believes that if he keeps rubbing it the Hooters girls will bring him extra pie. A frequent pest in the letters section of Romenesko, Graham must be the only person in America to park himself in front of the Christmas edition of Meet the Press and find the mere mention of Hurricane Katrina evidence of liberal piety.”

  3. DuggleBogey Says:

    One thing that always makes me laugh (Other than the Heinz worship in the Airport…the stuff should just say “US Steel Who?”) is that apparently the town after the Airport on the Interstate is called Beaver, so the signs on the interstate read:


    Sophomoric? Yes. Funny? Yeppers!

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