Friday, May 26, 2006

Riding the White Elephant

Anytime the Post Gazette heads off a story with the words "Developer Has Big Plans For...," expect a pile of shit like the one we're being offered here. Cordish, Co., famed developer of rustbelt entertainment centers, now wants to "Live" up Pittsburgh. A proposed North Shore concert venue will feature a Glass Topped concert venue, "...surrounded by restaurants, clubs and shops, with entrances facing in so that patrons would have access to them from the event space." Plans show a space dominated by office space and retail... a veritable "24 hour" downtown just like the one we already have.

Cordish's plan seems like a good fit in this town, where insular developments like Station Square and the Boardwalk alternatively lure lust-blind suburban brats with bad music and busty barmaids, and myopic politicians with the next silver-bullet catalyst for the city's revival. Though the revival never materialized, such realities aren't viewed as failure by Station Square, the Boardwalk, or Cordish for that matter. A few extra million in public subsidy, perhaps a slots license or a parking garage. Bobby O is looking for a "Wow?" Cordish sez: "Though all of our storefronts face onto an inner courtyard, the ass ends of our buildings (ie: dumpsters and brick walls) are gonna light a fire under the North Shore!"

Cordish's development in Baltimore, the Inner Harbor, successfully draws in thousands of revellers from Central Pennsylvania, who prefer Cordish's brand of faux city to a real neighborhood.
Those who prefer a genuine urban experience neatly cut Cordish's plastic downtown out of Saturday's plans, choosing not to drink, to shop or to live nearby. York County hicks "come dahn, drank, and scoot." The net effect is an abandoned downtown. Sadly for the City of Baltimore, the Lombard Street redlight district two blocks away is a veritable melange of sexual horrors: abandoned by polite society to gothic hoardes of she-men riding naked astride wild animals.

For Pittsburgh, the tragedy is much more poignant. Booming East Liberty and bustling Lawrenceville bristle in competition for thousands from a shrinking pool of funds; while their respective projects will generate millions in real tax revenue for the city's coffers; while their efforts will eventually create high-value, stable neighborhood like the South Side or Squirrel Hill; the city will offer millions to make Cordish's glass-topped White Elephant a reality.

If the definition of insanity is the blind repitition of an act with the expectation of different results...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Where's the outrage?

The students of the bedraggled Duquesne School District will not be taking art or music classes next year. The 2006-07 preliminary budget passed last night by the state's board of controllers also eliminates the positions of elementary math teacher, elementary English teacher, high school Spanish teacher (forget about foreign languages in grade school), kindergarten assistant, psychologist, social worker, and speech therapist.

This means students will learn from the school superintendent, principal, custodian, and football coach.

There's plenty of blame to be assigned for the plight of the small, decaying urban district, but what's been most disappointing has been the absence of leadership on the part of the governor and one of America's great newspapers, the Post-Gazette.

When a fundamentalist cabal seized control of the school board at the uber-wealthy and ever-so-modest Upper St. Clair School District, and proposed the elimination of the frighteningly secular International baccalaureate program, the PG leaped into action, chronicling every development. A google search of the PG web site shows the paper printed more than 40 stories and editorials on the subject.

After several weeks of debate on the program's fate and vociferous community activism, Governor Ed Rendell opened his taxpayer-issued checkbook and offered $85,000 to the region's wealthiest school district if they would keep the IB program.

The USC community was indubitably critical to the program's restoration. Whether the PG was instrumental is debatable, but it certainly did not hurt. Why the PG has been less than intrepid while covering the demise of Duquesne or the indifference of politicians and the community, has yet to be explained.

And so I ask, where's the outrage?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Legislator Crashes Car After Attaching Supplemental Whiskey Sours To Bar Bill

Congressman Patrick Kennedy, (D-W.I.) -- er, (D-R.I.), I mean -- smashed up his car early this morning and then got a lift home from Capitol Police, according to reports. Kennedy maintains he was sober as an activist judge when his car hit a barrier near the US Capitol at First and C Streets.

Honestly, I’d expect shady behavior of this type from a Taft or one of those dirt bag Van Burens. But a Kennedy?? Wait, there is this… .

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Darn News attempts to weigh in on a topic of great import ...

... in which we rate Stephen Colbert’s performance at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where the Comedy Central funnyman ridiculed the president, skewered a doomed war, and held an establishment media accountable for its unforgivable complicity and shocking cowardice:

Not funny.