Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Our 50 Years: Revisiting Our Snarky Period

Back in the bodacious ’80s, the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine were more than happy to roast deserving targets in a yearly round-up of shame.




 

When writing for a regional magazine, there is an understandable aversion to outright negativity. While we don’t want to be blind cheerleaders for the region, it is generally a better use of our space to build up than tear down. When appropriate, we are critical; when possible, we are supportive. We don’t always walk the tightrope, but it’s the goal.

That’s the case today, anyway. In the 1980s, we were unafraid of outright snark.

The “Pits Parade,” a bygone annual feature, served as a place to razz the civic blunders and news-of-the-weird oddities from the preceding year, roasting the mishaps of the pre-internet age.

A look at the 1985 edition reveals that no sector of society was spared the (lightly) critical eye. We had no fear of City Hall, apparently: “Controller Tom Flaherty, the City’s financial watchdog, has many strong feelings, and one of them concerns indoor plumbing. Soon after he took office on January 1, he spent more than $26,000 in public funds to redecorate his offices [including] a $9,000 request for a private bathroom with shower.”

Ah, for the days when old-fashioned graft was still scandalous.

Students were not spared, as we scoffed at the rare college-aged teetotaler. Former Carnegie Mellon University student senator Orpheus Allison — sweet name, by the way — called the cops on a 1984 kegger, leading to several arrests. “I’m sick and tired of hearing kids retch all over themselves,” Allison said. The twist? CMU sided with the party. “We are not in a position to legislate morality,” the university said in a statement, before booting Allison from the senate.

Sorry we had to rub it in, Orpheus. If it’s any comfort, a hot-or-not sidebar in the same feature declared that Nerds are hot and Punks are not.

The “Pits Parade” also brought to attention an unfortunate quote from then-Panthers coach Serafino “Foge” Fazio, who said, after falling to West Virginia University, “A loss is a loss. They’re not going to bring a bulldozer up here and bury the stadium.”

Not until late ’99, anyway.

I was particularly interested in a sidebar on “Lamentable Trends,” those fads of the mid-’80s that were beginning to irritate. We regret to inform the editors of the past that some of their least-favorite cultural moments lingered. Get used to “City Ratings,” ’Burghers of the 20th century; it’s 2019, and several are printed within pages of this column.

Fortunately, some “Lamentable Trends” have abated. There aren’t many “GI Joe Dolls” around these days. No one complains about “Yuppies” anymore. And don’t fear further profilgation of “International Food Courts” — we would need to still have malls for that.

I’d advocate a revival of the “Pits Parade,” if only to find room for items such as the following, which is so wild that I’m just reprinting it in its entirety.

“During a raid on a North Side home, police confiscated a human brain, known as ‘George,’ along with four guns and suspected drugs. At a hearing, police were unable to convince Judge Robert E. Dauer that the brain, once the property of the CCAC psychology department, was stolen. The brain’s ‘owner’ petitioned Dauer for its return because he’d ‘become attached to it.’ Dauer agreed and reunited George with his happy owner. A witness for the defense testified, ‘It’s a responsibility taking care of a brain.’” 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

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

The Latest

The 400-Word Review: The Lion King

Despite a great voice cast, the new version of "The Lion King" was a bad idea from the start.

Why These 6 Days in 1969 Were So Important to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Magazine is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but we're not the only ones. We take a look at six notable events from 1969.

Women in Power: The Pros Changing Allegheny County

Allegheny County breaks the old boys’ club by placing women in key positions.

Growing Together: Farmers and Chefs Elevate Pittsburgh Dining

These seven farmer/chef pairings are leading the charge toward more vital vegetable dishes.

Afraid to Go to the Dentist? Consider the Sedation Solution

For some patients, dental work wouldn’t be possible if they were fully alert.

Restaurant Review: Spirits & Tales at the Oaklander Hotel

Executive chef Jessica Lewis’ strong voice is undermined by inconsistencies throughout the restaurant.

Perspectives: A Big Life

A former newspaper reporter's assignment leads to a lifelong friendship with a man who battled a food addiction.

Our 50 Years: Why This Movie Landed on Our Cover

Hollywood could be found on the Mon, quite literally, in 1993 — leading to some fawning coverage of the mostly forgotten (but very, very Pittsburgh-centric) action flick “Striking Distance.”

George S. Kaufman’s Sensational Scandal

The Pittsburgh-born playwright made tabloid headlines in the 1930s. (it didn’t slow him down a bit.)

You Can Ride a Roller Coaster Classic

Roller coaster history is hidden nearby — and not where you might think.

Tea, Cake and Death: A Safe Place to Discuss a Scary Subject

“Death Cafes” seek to reduce taboos around the act of dying.

How He Makes the Mundane Sound Magical

Experimental sound artist R. Weis creates otherworldly sonic compositions from everyday materials.

Uber’s New Service Puts Riders in the Driver’s Seat

Passengers in Pittsburgh now can pay for a most customized experience with Uber Comfort.

The 400-Word Review: Secret Obsession

Netflix is on a bit of a hot streak with its original thrillers. Unfortunately, this dud isn't part of it.

After Dark Hall of Fame: Primanti Bros.

The beloved bar-and-restaurant chain has become a Pittsburgh emblem. It's the 10th inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Uber’s New Service Puts Riders in the Driver’s Seat

Uber’s New Service Puts Riders in the Driver’s Seat

Passengers in Pittsburgh now can pay for a most customized experience with Uber Comfort.

Comments

Do You Want to Pay More Taxes to Improve Parks?

Do You Want to Pay More Taxes to Improve Parks?

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy hopes to restore the city’s parks to their former glory, but they may need a tax increase to do so.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
The Latest Restaurant and Bar Openings in Pittsburgh

The Latest Restaurant and Bar Openings in Pittsburgh

We say hello to a new concept from Justin Severino, a summer-long dance pop-up and a new spot for cocktails.

Comments

Recommended Pittsburgh Eating: 4 Recent Dishes I Loved

Recommended Pittsburgh Eating: 4 Recent Dishes I Loved

PM Dining Critic Hal B. Klein says a corned beef sandwich, Sichuan smashed eggplants, smoked chicken wings and a cornbread dessert have his attention.

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


After Dark Hall of Fame: Primanti Bros.

After Dark Hall of Fame: Primanti Bros.

The beloved bar-and-restaurant chain has become a Pittsburgh emblem. It's the 10th inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame.

Comments

The Park After Dark

The Park After Dark

Kennywood’s “Night Rider” tickets may be the best bet for many visitors.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pirates’ Possibilities Include Contention in Surprising Season’s Second Half

Pirates’ Possibilities Include Contention in Surprising Season’s Second Half

It hasn’t gone according to the original script, but the Pirates have found a way to stay relevant — and may yet be capable of finishing what they started.

Comments

Pens’ Conundrum: The Coach and the Culture

Pens’ Conundrum: The Coach and the Culture

Try as he might, General Manager Jim Rutherford has so far been unable to change the makeup of his team as intended. It may, thus, ultimately fall on head coach Mike Sullivan to adjust the attitudes of players with a recent track record of resisting change for the greater good.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: The Lion King

The 400-Word Review: The Lion King

Despite a great voice cast, the new version of "The Lion King" was a bad idea from the start.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Secret Obsession

The 400-Word Review: Secret Obsession

Netflix is on a bit of a hot streak with its original thrillers. Unfortunately, this dud isn't part of it.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Book a Band for a Different Kind of Wedding Sound

Book a Band for a Different Kind of Wedding Sound

For many couples, family and tradition means everything. Having a band that helps reflect those can be a great way to pay tribute to your heritage, while getting your guests on the dance floor.

Comments

Eleven Couples to be Married after Love at First Bite

Eleven Couples to be Married after Love at First Bite

Wedding bells will be chiming for multiple couples this weekend … and it’s taking place at Primanti Bros. in the Strip District.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
5 Pittsburgh Vintage Homes Stores You'll Want to Explore

5 Pittsburgh Vintage Homes Stores You'll Want to Explore

PM Editoral Intern Ellie Pesetsky shares some of her favorite up-cycled furniture and home decor stores in and around Pittsburgh.

Comments

Oakmont Glassware Company Looking to Join the Big Time

Oakmont Glassware Company Looking to Join the Big Time

Amanda Lee began painting glasses in her basement to help pay for her college education. Today, she ships her products across the globe from a new, shabby-chic warehouse and gift shop.

Comments