Bill and Phyllis' cat Baby, Pittsburgh
There are only a handful of major American cities I've never been to, and one of those was Pittsburgh; so I was excited for my first chance to visit the Steel City.
I left Columbus early in the morning, heading east into Wheeling, West Virginia (another town I'd really like to check out some day...) and up into Southwestern Pennsylvania. I kept looking and looking for the exit to 279, and by the time I was about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh I realized why I wasn't seeing it: it doesn't exist. So I turned around and headed back, jamming out to Made to Be Broken for the third consecutive time. Whoa, that record has to be in my top ten favorites of all time!
And on into Pittsburgh. Bill at Copacetic had given me good directions and in no time at all I was at his shop, a third floor walkup above a coffehouse and used record store. Nice setup! The store was great and I immediately began putting aside a few items in my To-Buy stack: Chris Ware's Quimby The Mouse book, a couple recent Cometbuses, a Monty Python documentary (3 discs for $10!), and a copy of that old Ganzfeld with the Hairy Who article.
After the shop closed we went over to Pittsburgh Filmmakers, where Bill teaches a class in comics and film, and I spoke for a bit. Then dinner and sleeping like a rock.
Next morning we got up early-ish and went into town to buy organic bananas. Went to the Warhol Museum, at which point Bill took the bus back to open the shop, and I hurried through the seven floors of great art (only had 2 hours on the meter).
In Columbus I was discussing with Lauri whether or not Warhol was the most important artist of the 20th Century. In my mind only Duchamp comes close. When I brought this up, Bill (who's a lot smarter than me), pointed out that you really can't compare the pre- and post-WWII art worlds. Which is probably true. Anyhow, I nominate Warhol as King of Post-War 20th Century Art. He just nailed it.
My favorite part of the museum was a temporary exhibit where a couple sound-artists took Warhol's collection of Maria Callas recordings and ran them all simultaneously, all beginning at once. So at first it's just this incredible cacophony of sound, but gradually, as the shorter pieces clock out, a greater sense of cohesion and comprehension drifts in, until finally just one piece, the longest one in his collection, spills out of the speakers in absolute purity. Amazing.
After that I drove around town a little before heading back to Polish Hill, the neighborhood Copacetic's in. I wandered around the area for a few hours, taking pictures. I was kind of falling in love with Pittsburgh. It was beautiful in that semi-decaying midwestern rust-belt way, but also with a great, palpable spirit. It didn't feel like a city on the decline. It felt like a real place, with real people in it, going about their lives.
This scene totally reminded me of a Matchbox® Car Playset.
Beautiful set of gold, spray-painted birdhouses, along the hillside.
That orange-tan building in the center is where Copacetic's located.
Did the slideshow and signing at Copacetic, and it went great! Hung out a bit with my new Pittsburgh friends, and then stayed up til 3 AM talking about comics with Jim Rugg.
NEXT STOP: Chicago
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