❄️ Cellphone luge season has arrived
Plus, 8 socially distant Valentine’s Day ideas.
Hello and happy Friday.
This is it, my final Incline newsletter. After more than three years with this local news outlet, I'm moving on. And if this past week is any indication, I'll be working as a full-time snow shoveler now. <Grabs lower back and winces>
It's been a hell of a run — The Incline, not the shoveling.
I've made lifelong friends. I've learned so much my trademark Pittsburgh Pirates hat no longer fits right. I've done work I'm really proud of (keep scrolling for some of my faves). I found a sense of belonging and like minds in a community populated by all of you.
If you're looking to get me a going away gift (you generous so-and-so, you), here's my wish:
Support this outlet any way you can. If you can afford $8/month, become a supporting member.
If not, forward this newsletter to a friend and help it grow. Follow The Incline on social media. Share its stuff on social media. Tell other people about what The Incline is doing and why you like it.
Now, before I find out just how water/weeping-resistant this laptop keyboard is, let's do what we do and get to the news.
Here's what we have for you today: "Teenie" Harris' huge impact, affordable housing and the race for mayor, stadium goes bye-bye, and a story I probably shouldn't tell.
What Pittsburgh is talking about
Snow way. | Tag #theinclinepgh to be featured in our Instagram of the Day. (📸: @crazycitylady)
4 things to know today
📊 Pennsylvania is not administering COVID-19 vaccines quickly enough. The commonwealth ranks 41st in the nation in the number of shots given per 100,000 people, and 46th in the percentage of on-hand vaccines that have actually been administered. The Wolf administration and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers are forming a task force meant to speed the whole process up. The Associated Press has more.
🏠 Will affordable housing be a defining issue in this race for mayor? Most likely. Incumbent Bill Peduto may have to defend the pace of change seen on his watch while making affordable home ownership a central feature of his bid for a third term. PublicSource has an update on the city’s recent efforts and potential next steps through the lens of this campaign. Find it here.
✅ Mayor Peduto wants to clarify a law protecting people with ethnic or religious hairstyles from discrimination. Why? Because it’s led to police showing up for work unshaven, a violation of bureau policy. But the city’s civil rights investigative body is warning against the change. The Post-Gazette explains.
📸 Charles “Teenie” Harris photographed at least 125,000 people in the thousands of images he made as a Pittsburgh Courier photographer. His prolific work would become a definitive chronicle of the Black experience in Pittsburgh and a cherished historical record. Here's local author Damon Young's appreciation in The Atlantic.
4 things to make you smile
📱 A WPXI reporter slid a cellphone down an icy sidewalk and created the best on-air gauge for winter conditions we've ever seen. See the video here. (*We hope the warranty's still good.)
🏟 It's been 20 years since the implosion of Three Rivers Stadium, and the footage is as impressive as ever. See for yourself.
🌽 The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s mobile farmers market has launched a delivery service. TribLIVE has the details.
💜 Need some socially distanced Valentine's Day ideas? Very Local Pittsburgh has you covered. Need a Pittsburgh-centric Valentine's Day card? We've got you covered.
It me. (📸: @colin_deppen)
A lot has happened in three years.
My time at The Incline included gingerbread house contests, pickle binges, marathon special elections, gubernatorial fact-checks, and a visit with the Dalai Lama's personal physician.
But there are many Incline stories that I'll remember. Here are six more.
- I had just started at The Incline in 2017 when the Nazi flag-draped "Unite the Right" rally stepped off in Charlottesville, Va. It immediately made me think of one group: World War II veterans who fought against the Nazis decades earlier. I decided to speak to three local WWII vets about how they felt seeing those images on their TV screens. This is what they told me.
- Stormy Daniels was quite literally the most famous pornstar in the world when she brought her "Make America Horny Again" tour to a Downtown strip club in May of 2018. I went on assignment for The Incline, watched the show, brushed the glitter off my notepad, and wrote the story in my car parked on Fort Duquesne Boulevard. Here's what I said.
- Drew Whitley had been out of prison for more than a decade when I decided to check in on him in 2018. Wrongly convicted of a Duquesne murder in 1989, Whitley served nearly 20 years before his conviction was overturned and he was released. But in some ways his troubles were only just beginning. Read the deep-dive here.
- I love a good random act of kindness as much as the next guy. A good random act of Pittsburgh kindness? Even better. So, naturally, I was delighted by your responses to my callout for your best stories of mystery mensches and stand-up strangers in the 'Burgh. Find my favorites here.
- I am not a fan of haunted houses. But when you get a chance to join the crew at the famed ScareHouse as a professional monster, you must oblige. So I did, and wound up scaring some folks but mostly myself. Here's my dispatch.
- Dean Bog's YouTube videos about Pittsburgh were flashy, offbeat, and impeccably produced. I immediately wanted to know more about how this New Jersey transplant came to make short films about Pittsburgh that resonated so clearly with locals. This is what he told me.
What's on The Incline's radar for the year ahead? A few weeks back we listed five big questions for Pittsburgh in 2021. Some already have answers: The Steelers did not win the Super Bowl. Others are worth revisiting.
Things to do
Submit your events to our calendar.
🌳 Raise funds for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy by raising a glass with help from Threadbare Cider House (Online)
➡️ Go inside Sojourner Truth's journey to becoming an abolitionist and women's rights activist with this theatrical performance about her life — multiple dates (Online)
🎵 Celebrate Valentine's Day with "Songs from the Heart: A Valentine from Pittsburgh Opera" (Online)
🍺 Go "behind the beer" with this peek inside Penn Brewery during this Doors Open Pittsburgh event (Online)
🔬 Hear from Dr. J’Tia Hart, nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory, in this Carnegie Science Center Career Connections chat (Online)
🎞 Mark Black History Month by exploring the story of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moved back to Mississippi to protect the graves of his ancestors (Online)
🎭 Catch a reimagined "Romeo and Juliet" from Pittsburgh Public Theater, this version centered on Black culture and characters — multiple dates (Online)
One more thing ....
If you have a memorable experience at a city park, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy wants to share your story in a new monthly series.
Here's mine: A few weeks back I slipped on ice at Frick Park and landed hand-first in a pile of cold dog poop inexplicably perched atop a three-foot-high retaining wall with my wife looking on.
We laughed until we cried, the tears sticking to our cheeks in the bitter, early morning wind.
But that's not the kind of story the Parks Conservancy has in mind. City Paper has more on the kind they do.
Thanks for reading to the bottom. Thanks for reading always.
And while I won't see you back here on Tuesday, this newsletter certainly will.
Signed, a proud Incline alum.