November '17

Monthly Project 01


City County Building Christmas Tree


Up at 5:30am to arrive at the Forestry Division with James by 6:00 to film the workers arriving and preparing. One friendly older guy with a raspy quiet voice ( he introduced himself by his nickname “Whispers” ) asked if we wanted to meet his raccoons. Yes. We went back out to the parking lot, it was far too dark to get any photographs but sure enough he fed some crackers to a couple raccoons underneath a truck, but they weren’t all there, usually there are at least a dozen.

*Tree Facts



On *date a *weight corner piece of stone fell from the top of the *13 floor *100 year old Frick Building in downtown, plummeting to Grant street and chewing a sizable chunk out of the brick around 2:00 am. No one was hurt. A block of grant street and the sidewalks surrounding the building were closed for almost a month as they surveyed and secured the rest of the building exterior. The street and sidewalks reopened the scaffolding has grown to encompass nearly the entire building as they work on the facade.



Street Photography and such




Steel executives used to land their helicopters up here. They haven't used it since the 80s, instead now I am here.


I hung out at a bar in Downtown Pittsburgh for a couple hours on a Tuesday night while waiting for my 11:00pm overnight bus to NYC that would board nearby.

Bar playlist highlights That I recognized and that set the tone for these stories:

Ladytron "Destroy Everything You Touch"

Tegan and Sara "You Will Take Me Anywhere"

Lily Allen "The Fear"



Part 1 The Bartender and the Girl

The Bartender is a good guy, a little hipster looking with a beard and a minimal baseball cap with the state of texas on it, no text. sitting around the corner of the bar next to me are The Girl and The Friend. The Girl seems to know the bartender as well as the trials and tribulations of service work. The friend doesn't seem to know him, and doesn't talk much.

The Bartender was telling The Girl, also technically her quiet companion, but mostly the girl, that he and some friends had decided to rent out a hotel room downtown tomorrow night. They planned on drinking everywhere that's good and some new places Downtown and on the Northside, getting hammered, and not worry about driving home.

The girl suggested the new Southern Tier place on the Northside, or Burgatory, but apparently thats no good, his ex works at Burgatory.

Oh, that ex? the girl asks, apparently she guessed the one. He says their relationship went downhill when she came under house arrest. The girl asks if the ex had followed in the path (the ex)'s sister had taken but doesn't elaborate, he has to go serve some people.

While he's gone the girl talks to her companion, I heard part of a conversation where she was explaining how she used to go shopping with "Daddie's card".

The Bartender accepted my excuse for nursing my drinks, I had two more hours to wait and was going to pace myself. He laughed, told me that was a good idea, and that it reminded him of this one time his connecting flight had been canceled. The airline offered him another flight the next morning and paid for a hotel room nearby. The shuttle he took went to the wrong place, but he met some other travelers and went out drinking with them. He went on to describe how much fun they were having, then sighs, one of his new companions had started rolling a joint at the bar, then shrugs, it got a little crazy after that. He said he woke up on the floor of his hotel room and can't remember how he got there. It was the afternoon, he had totally missed his flight.

Everyone laughed and The Bartender said he doesn't do stuff like that anymore.

As The Girl and The Friend clear out their tabs The Girl makes a point of tipping the bartender in $1 bills and they both start laughing before she can finish explaining herself, after he said that the strip club is definitely on the list of places he plans on visiting tomorrow.

The girl and her companion left and I moved myself, my whisky, and my bags around the corner of the bar, taking the seat against the wall, enjoying the secluded status those two seats at the bar but different afforded me.


Part 2 The Guy and the Woman

I had left my battery up against the wall at the end of the bar while I went to the bathroom. While I was gone this duo takes my seat and the guy assumes the battery is the bar's as some cool modern courtesy. When I get back he realizes his mistake, apologies, and offers it back (but not the seat) and I laugh and tell him it's fine, if he needs it I am more than happy to share, he said he actually didn't *need* it, but she did. This whole exchange was an apt introduction to the duo who had usurped my past the corner of the bar nook who I couldn't help but find confusing and intriguing.

This guy looks a little white trash, not by much, but had an attitude, a grey hoodie, messy blonde short hair. The woman was an older, quite well dressed, black woman wearing a cotton turtleneck vest and tastefully large dangling rough silver and smooth blue stone earrings.

To add to their stereotype confounding appearance, they were incredibly comfortable and talkative, more so than the CMU students I had sat near when I first arrived, more personal struggles and memories than predictive advertising and noteworthy articles. They were both courteous, never talked over each other, really listened, and honestly laughed. It was all bizarrely sincere.

Occasionally the guy draws me into a conversation, nothing longer than a few sentences before they return to their dynamic. I explained where I was headed, he says he would have guessed I was from Massachusetts because I look just like a guy he served in the military with. The woman says she used to like the Celtics but likes the spurs now because of her daughter (but didn't elaborate).

Later, back in their own conversation, they grew quiet and commiserated about not knowing what they were doing with their lives at 30. The guy added that he thinks he has laid a pretty good foundation with his military service, but his tone sounded like more speculative than epiphany.

They left soon after, wished me happy holidays and safe travels. The guy shook my hand and told me to say hi to his war buddy because I probably knew him. On their way out the door I caught one last part of their conversation, they were headed to the gay bar a few blocks down.

It was a cold Tuesday night, there aren't that many places that stay open after hours in the business district, on their walk they probably passed more skyscrapers than people.



The Yards construction project is the most expensive in the nation


The Farm