This Weekend in Pittsburgh: the Paris of the United States


This isn't an email about climate change or politics.  It's an email about Pittsburgh.  

When President Trump justified pulling our country out of the Paris climate agreement by invoking Pittsburgh, it was an antiquated and derogatory comment on our fair city's present based on unfair notions of its past and untrue assumptions regarding its future.  

President Trump used Pittsburgh as a symbol of past industrial glory with bleak future prospects in stark juxtaposition to Paris, an undisputed cultural capital of the world. We couldn't help feel the sting as a part (and admittedly a small part) of the cultural fabric of this city.

We are realistic about our contributions to the cultural infrastructure of Pittsburgh.  Our tiny bars pale in comparison to the incredible institutions of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Carnegie Museum of Art, the Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory, and our educational institutions, all of which make global contributions to the cultural universe that are worthy of comparison to similar institutions in Paris (not in contrast to them).  But we still feel like we're doing something; and part of the reason that we did it in the first place was that we wanted to be part of the great things that are happening here with food and drinks.

When I moved back to Pittsburgh in 2005, I found a city that was miles ahead of where it was when I left for college in 2000.  Now, when I look back to 2005, it seems like a different century.  The store fronts that were largely vacant throughout Lawrenceville are full of small boutiques, restaurants, and bars now.  The ghost town that was downtown after 5 p.m. on Friday is now a bustling city center every night of the week.  There's a brewery on practically every corner and a new hip restaurant concept opening every week; and while our overly humble cocktail director will always be too modest to admit it, Squirrel Hill has a tiki bar making drinks that are some of the best in the country.  Our humble little bars employ young people who came here from places like Boston (gasp!) and New York (hush now!) and they're doing cool stuff like working on novels, working on movies, and starting small businesses of their own, right here in Pittsburgh -- a place that young people shunned for a generation.

We love this city; we are building our futures here; we're pursuing our dreams here; we're having fun here.  Together, we comprise a bustling little city on the rise.

And you know what else?  We're getting sick of explaining it to our friends and family who live elsewhere, and come to visit and say, "whoa...this is NOT what I expected."  And you know what's better yet?  We are finally getting to the point where we don't have to anymore, although President Trump apparently didn't get that memo (or more likely failed to read it).

So, Mr. President, next time you want to invoke a city to support a decision that a majority of people in every single state oppose, pick somewhere a little less tenacious and a little less hip than Pittsburgh.

See you OUT tonight.  Come to our bars or go somewhere.  Get a drink; get something great to eat; enjoy our nightlife; enjoy our restaurants and bars; keep this city and its neighborhoods looking and feeling more and more like Paris.