Log in

Notes from the 16:62 Design Zone Cabal

The 1990’s market stash and .com remenents will ensure the Babyboomers Gen Y progeny if only for a short time,that their baby’s dreams will come true. Oh what a story for the neighbors. “Yep, my kid has an art gallery/ a pretentious boutique/an avant-garde cafe of their very own! In an up and coming edgy neighborhood of Pittsburgh.”


Business plans be damned! It doesn’t matter if they make a sale for days and days. Those mutual funds will hold them over until that neighborhood begins to boom. I know that they are just one more cookie festival away from bringing in tons of big spenders from the Cranberry and Wexford.


“These kids, all their technology and the way they dress and die their hair with the colors. They tattoo and pierce themselves any damn place they want. They stand for everything we worked so hard to achieve in the sixties. “


Rian….29….freelance photojournalist as seen in CP, Deek and the Pitt News…..BA in Communications Pitt 2000…..PhD Candidate….???? Formerly loosely associated with Flux events, former Richard Florida devotee, former Green Party member, former employee (or maybe he just spent 8 hours a day there we are not so sure) of Kiva Han  (it is  rumored that he masterminded the plot to foil the construction of the Starbucks location at Forbes and Craig.


          Thought to be the hand that threw the last brick, he was made a silent shared partner in that franchise location) Dissertation ….  Media and Politics in Modern Society currently working at his love’s store “If and That” on Butler Street specializing in (clothing from the streets of New York garment district discarded by sample purveyors and priced and marketed to sell beyond retail value to fool unsuspecting unsophisticated Cranberrians and Wexfordites) high end women’s fashion in sizes 0-3.


“so what if customers come in, if we are on our Razr with a former classmate that lives in a real city like Portland or Boston, we must hang on their every word.”


“It is vital to our social strata to remain ‘not from Pittsburgh’ and to visit other, cooler places as much as possible.” These conversations are essential in having something to quote at the higher- end Big Burrito joints over 15.00 glasses of California fusion reds. Or at the Harris Grill on bacon night when the former members of the ‘movement’ get together once per month at undisclosed times.


“This is far more important than showing stuff to a person who comes into our store off the street.” (Like any of these people can afford our 500.00 shoes anyhow.)


Those who wait too long….. getting that minor in anthropology, waiting for a boyfriend or girlfriend to graduate, or changing majors….


Oh the horror….afraid….. Not good enough… are not good enough, not brave enough to make it



You are probably condemned. 


Condemned to where all the hipsters go when the money from home or Uncle Sam dries up, when the new kids on campus ‘forget’ to invite you to the parties….


That’s right….Butler St. or bust baby.


Pittsburgh Purgatory….where the young and not so young Hipsters go to die. East Lib and Wilkinsburgh too ‘iffy’ Not wanting to move too far from the city, or from the beloved places you know South Craig, Forbes, Walnut, Ellsworth, Schenley Park, Frick Park, Oh glorious views from Flagstaff Hill at night…


You can no longer afford to be a cocky cosmopolitan east ender “I’m not from here I just came here for school” with friends and acquaintances from all over the country and the globe. 


Your days of hanging at Doc’s, swinging over to the South Side to walk the streets like drunk hungry zombies from a Romero flick, cruising Atwood for half priced eats, and later the streets of the South O for barely dressed freshman are so fresh in your mind, yet the years go by…


The rent is so much cheaper there between 39th and 52nd on Butler, in and around those narrow and brick streets in between and up to Penn.  It’s so European hill town if you use your imagination. You can catch a bus to almost anywhere. It’s still the city, right? You can actually see the skyline at night if you stand on your toes at the top of the hill on Penn Avenue.


A place where almost everyone who wasn’t born there is this close to becoming tragically aware of his or her own mediocrity.

Children of the upper middle class from somewhere else. Spending money to dress poor, still always thinking rich. All at are at the cross roads of becoming a vegan or a heroin addict or….gasp! A full time research assistant.


There are bars galore. Liquor is so much cheaper here. Beer flows like so much water from the Liberty Ave brewery around the corner. There are gays too. Some Asians, some blacks….okay it’s not so bad.


This guy is in a band. He invites us to his show. It’s at an old hall somewhere down by the river. Its ‘pop Goth’ it’s so original you could have never even guessed that would exist. Here it does along with professional wrestling and the local office of everyone’s favorite populist state politician.


Enter a land of endless, inane gallery openings, with boxed wine and free beer that only lasts an hour or so….Galleries sponsored by the well meaning, hoping and wishing boomer parents that became stock brokers or attorneys, had those kids and forgot about becoming a writer or a rock star.


In Line At tHe REX

The Hipsters

Pabst Blue Ribbon filled veins.

All pierced up bodies

Your’e all tattooed the same places

Eyes lined so heavy

Mutton chopped

White people with dreadlocks

Doc’s made in China.

Manic Panic like your mamma’s purple hair from 1983.

Spent a fortune at the mall to look like that.

Skinny ass black pants with chains on yer wallets.

Take over every good venue in the city.

With your elitist bullshit



The Art around Butler, Penn and Main is distinctive in that it is reminiscent of many a high school or community college art show. The kind where they give blue, red, or white ribbons and the precocious winners may get to display their works at the local bank or grocery store for some time until someone complains.


However, in order to get respect of course, there should be some element of shock or hidden social meaning. With some nudity, a little smutty language here and there you can extend the amount of time your friends will spend looking thoughtfully at it and possibly  later talking about your work over joints and… yes of course there menstrual blood as a medium.


Making prints of yours or friends genitalia is always an attention grabbing mechanism and may even lead to having sexual intercourse with uninteresting yet hot suburbanites who come in for a night of cool city life. 


Most photography will remind you of like the time your younger sister got a digital camera for Christmas and took pictures of herself and her friends….topless without showing their faces. What shocking display of genius!


Endless ‘sculpture’ made of common hardware store twine and hot glue that just keeps growing bigger and taller and more and more prolific at each showing (the damn things even made it downtown during a gallery crawl….one wonders did they squirm their way down Penn or was a vehicle paid to transport those awful things.)


 ….is it phallic fantasy/ frustration or has that nymph figured out a way to make that stuff reproduce on its own?


The sexual reproduction of jute is a subject that the tissue engineering department back in the east end should take notice of. Robots be damned, if that little androgynous semetic creature can prove the sexual reproductive powers of hempy twine like strands that grow up to look like giant DNA strands -that just might put us back on the innovation map. 


What a shame the basement of little ‘iron’ gallery did not flood last year when it was stuck down there, those things may have come to life,  fed on the crazy mocha spilled down the drain next door for months to create a race of rope creatures that could have rivaled the Blob.


 The most worthwhile, original and interesting showing in that particular little art house whose name is the symbol for Iron of all things----that season was the posthumous sale of a real artist’s personal possessions

The curators failed to recognize its significance. It was billed it as a fundraiser. They did not see their own history, success and failure reflected in the untimely death and belongings of that man.


It was a sickening ‘estate’ sale for the Wendys and Peters of Never never land. Those kids did not seem to know a mean old bad batch of heroin might just sneak in on ya at any time! That’s why in the old days that stuff was left for the really bad off… not passed around like Smarties and Pixie Stix at parties and poetry readings.


These kids of the boomers from somewhere else, the Wendys and the Pans pretending to be artists and shopkeepers in a town populated by the old and infirm, and the addicted and the abused.


The proud sons and daughters of the working poor who work and live and go to church and fight and struggle and remember the good old days of their parents when the smoke rose high and the paychecks were good. Proud to be the home of the great balladeer and the true ‘landing’ of Young Washington in that icy cold water hundreds of years ago.


Those Wendys and Peters with their I pods, riding their Cannondales with their piercing and tattoos live along side those old and infirm.


You can count thirty or more canes walking down Butler on any given day. The average age of its prostitutes is 57. The cluster of benches on Butler is the best place to hear the local gossip and to get a hit.


 Self-proclaimed artists, hopeful and opportunistic developers, planners and community revitalizing types have their sales and their Golden Egg Hunts and cookie fests.


The drug addled veterans of war and life will walk shoulder to shoulder with those wealthier suburbanites struggling to understand  this nonsensical fairy tale world they mistakenly entered looking for shoes from New York, culture, some free ethnic cookie samples and home made soap. 

Rumour has it that Jay of Jay designs is very ill. I hope this is an exaggeration-he is a sexy, brilliant man with a beautiful family and an actual business with actual customers and the best damn soap in the world. Peace and blessings of health to you Jay and Mamma's and Bill and Animals.


Brats with I pods

Sidekicks as appendages,

Bluetooth appliances stuck in your orifices. Blogging all day at your place of employ.

 Do not bother to look up from your Mac notebook on the 61C 
long enough to know if it is raining or snowing.


 To stop and wonder if a person hit by a Prius on Forbes Ave would have a chance of survival depending on the trajectory. 

Taking digital media by night, and then running home to post it on your  

myspace, youtube…. lives lost yet recorded forever


This is the acid test of gentrification by paper and paint and colored lights strung with extension cords. Amateurs with degrees and time spent at the URA with a little government gold and less creative power beyond coming up with fake ‘zones’ and having the capital to print thousands of maps and brochures proclaiming this zone.


These books will gather dust and litter counters in these locations. The marketing materials themselves will outlive many of the businesses advertised in them. 



Legend has it that it was once bohemian unique and cool in Shadyside.


Thanks be to God for those who did not escape, and for those of you who escaped from somewhere worse…. like Ohio. We will keep you entwined with charms and praise, and false celebrations. While the doughboy stands watch you may never leave.








Latest Month

March 2007