Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Talk of the Tahn: One Tough Heaven

Editor’s Note: Meet Pittsburgh Magazine’s new back-page columnist: actor, writer, artist-at-large and rabid Pittsburgher David Conrad. Born in Edgewood but half Philadelphian — which explains the attitude — he’s been a regular on television for 20 years. David divides his time between Los Angeles, New York City, London and Braddock. You’ll find him in this space each month as he delves further into his relationship with Pittsburgh.



photo by Chuck Beard
 

Last week, I went for a bike ride up the Mon. The next day I played golf on the side of a cliff. Between the two, our river valleys and our hills, I think lies all of Pittsburgh. 

Back and forth from one to the other — our jagged Pittsburgh Pilgrimage. It’s who we are. How we’re built. 

“Clothes maketh the man?” Well, we’re clothed by our geography. 

In steaming heat, I rode an old rail line to Connellsville, past towns abandoned by industry before I was born. Mothers and their children, teenagers and their headphones, old men and their little dogs, all of us following the course of the river trail for our own reasons. Past hillsides where you still can see acres of ruined coke ovens beneath the foliage. That dense growth, and the smell of it in the summer air. 

That thing I sometimes forgot when I’d fly in from California — in a hurry to grab a cab, get to Tessaro’s before it closed — the airport doors opening and, bam, Pennsylvania’s intoxicating damp, all of that dark water in the air, that stuff, half sweet, half dead … my home. Riding through it at 20 miles an hour — a cyclist’s baptism. What’s better than to trail the scent of your beloved? 

On the clifftop, I played a working-man’s golf course. They let me walk. By the ninth hole, I was sure the wind was in my favor, but a thunderstorm was coming down the Mon.
The temperature dropped 20 degrees. The clouds turned white-grey, presaging a downpour, and then their tails dove toward the earth, presaging something worse. But closing in, God, it was mighty and beautiful. 

Before it hit, I could, by the 10th hole, see the top of Pittsburgh’s last standing steel mill. I could see Kennywood, where all of us had spent our youth. To the north, I told myself I could see Oakmont and its tony golfers hiding in their club. When I turned to look back across the fields, I could see the monoliths of Downtown, and in the spaces between the varying shades of hillside grey I knew there were rivers. 

Right next to me was East Pittsburgh, which is still a town and not a direction, and below were Braddock Hills and Chalfant, which few Pittsburghers even know exists. And beyond them, the beautiful tracery of the Westinghouse Bridge, which faded as the thunderheads closed in and the local pro rolled up in his cart to drag me off the green. “Greatest round of your life, huh?”

I missed the putt.

I miss a lot. 


photo by Duane Rieder
 

I’ve never missed anything more than I miss my hometown. And whenever anyone from the TV business, on a working Monday, asks me what I’d been doing the past weekend and I tell them I flew home for two days, across the country just for the heck of it, not for a funeral, not because my mom was ill, not for a reunion, no … just because I wanted to breathe it in, they look at me and pause. 

And I believe in that pause what I hear and what I see is, I have something they want. Or something has me.

More often than not they smile and say, “I hear ya” or “Good for you man,” or some such phrase we use in a minor chord when the words we might otherwise speak might be too big to believe. 

So, I’ll be writing some words on this back page for awhile, and I hope I can keep them not too big but not too far from what we all share here in our tough heaven, Pittsburgh.  
 

Read more from David Conrad on his blog and and follow him on Instagram.
 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Sharing Knives Grows into Sharing Farms

For its third season, the collaborative dinner series at Ace Hotel will celebrate the region’s growers.

A Slice of Pizza Kept Sean McDowell Going in the Early Days

After 41 years in the business, the legendary rock DJ on WDVE has announced his retirement.

This New App Will Help You Track Upcoming Cicada Swarm

Follow Brood VIII, which is expected to have three species of periodical cicadas emerging from the soil as early as this month, on the Cicada Safari App.

Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2019

Our annual roundup of Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants covers a lot of ground. The list of 30 includes everything from fine dining at a resort hotel to a scrappy, farm-to-table breakfast and lunch counter in Bloomfield.

This Restless Pair are Pittsburgh Restaurateurs of the Year

Together, Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik of the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group form the Pittsburgh restaurant world's most dynamic duo.

Our 50 Years: The Best Restaurants of 1999

Twenty years later, nearly everything about our best restaurants list is different. But our picks for the best of 1999 hint at the great leap forward that was on the horizon.

How Pittsburgh's Homeless Teens Escape the Mean Streets

For homeless Youth, living on the street can end up being worse than what they’re running from. Gaining their trust and guiding them to safety is a long and painful process, but local agencies are making progress.

Announcing our Scenic Photo Contest Winner

There were 682 photos submitted to our Scenic Vistas photo contest, which ran during the month of April. Art Director Chuck Beard picked a winner and two runners-up.

Braddock Brewery Brew Gentlemen Turns Five

A deliberately slow fermentation has the young brewers primed for a big expansion.

Claudy Pierre is Non Stop

The owner of Arnold’s Tea spends his time connecting communities and working to empower a new generation of Pittsburghers.

Daytripping: Enjoy Comedy History 3 Hours from Pittsburgh

The national comedy center in Jamestown, N.Y. takes the whole comedy thing kinda seriously (just kidding)

Remembering Some of Mister Rogers' Famous Houseguests

A world renowned French pantomime artist, an astronaut, a TV news anchor and a beloved chef are among the notable visitors to Mister Rogers' neighborhood.

Perspectives: Call of the Wild

Award-winning journalist Sally Wiggin explains the evolving role of zoos, including the Pittsburgh zoo, to save endangered species from extinction.

Pirates’ First Quarter Record Defies Logic if Not Description

The 21-19 record the Bucs took to San Diego doesn’t add up given all they’ve had to overcome. Perhaps there’s more to this team than meets the eye.

The 400-Word Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

Keanu Reeves returns, and Halle Berry arrives, as the action series broadens its scope.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


A Slice of Pizza Kept Sean McDowell Going in the Early Days

A Slice of Pizza Kept Sean McDowell Going in the Early Days

After 41 years in the business, the legendary rock DJ on WDVE has announced his retirement.

Comments

This New App Will Help You Track Upcoming Cicada Swarm

This New App Will Help You Track Upcoming Cicada Swarm

Follow Brood VIII, which is expected to have three species of periodical cicadas emerging from the soil as early as this month, on the Cicada Safari App.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Sharing Knives Grows into Sharing Farms

Sharing Knives Grows into Sharing Farms

For its third season, the collaborative dinner series at Ace Hotel will celebrate the region’s growers.

Comments

A Look at the Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

A Look at the Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello (again) to Dish Osteria, Cinderlands Warehouse, Pizzeria Davide and more.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

Comments

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

Even novice runners can work their way up to these fun and (mildly) challenging races.

Comments


The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls is a Treasure

The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls is a Treasure

The small, second venue above the Millvale hall is one of the city's best rooms for live music.

Comments

Unleash Your Inner Pinball Wizard at Kickback

Unleash Your Inner Pinball Wizard at Kickback

The Lawrenceville pinball cafe offers new and classic games for you to play solo, or (as we were surprised to learn) in competition with a friend.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pirates’ First Quarter Record Defies Logic if Not Description

Pirates’ First Quarter Record Defies Logic if Not Description

The 21-19 record the Bucs took to San Diego doesn’t add up given all they’ve had to overcome. Perhaps there’s more to this team than meets the eye.

Comments

Steelers' Rookie Impressions Destined to Excite If Not Convince

Steelers' Rookie Impressions Destined to Excite If Not Convince

“Football in shorts” won't solve the Steelers' kicking woes, but for a team on the rebound, the rookie workouts are an opportunity to take another step in the right direction.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

The 400-Word Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

Keanu Reeves returns, and Halle Berry arrives, as the action series broadens its scope.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Hail Satan?

The 400-Word Review: Hail Satan?

The documentary about the (non-theistic) Satanic Temple explores the controversial religion's origins and goals.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
This Wedding Had a Guest List Unlike Any Other

This Wedding Had a Guest List Unlike Any Other

Brendan Renne and Thais Canedo wanted a penguin at their wedding. They ended up with a menagerie.

Comments

You’ll #ShalieveInLove After Seeing Ryan Shazier's Wedding Photos

You’ll #ShalieveInLove After Seeing Ryan Shazier's Wedding Photos

Pittsburgh Steeler Ryan Shazier danced at his wedding Friday 18 months after a serious spinal injury.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
New Tour Gives Insider Look at Pittsburgh’s Ethnic Neighborhoods

New Tour Gives Insider Look at Pittsburgh’s Ethnic Neighborhoods

With stops in Bloomfield and Polish Hill, the event from DOORS OPEN Pittsburgh celebrates the contributions immigrants made when they settled here more than a century ago.

Comments

Three North Side Garden Tours (And One on the South Side) You'll Want to Explore

Three North Side Garden Tours (And One on the South Side) You'll Want to Explore

Here’s your chance to explore some the city’s most beautiful historic (and new) homes and outdoor spaces.

Comments