Saturday, October 31, 2009

PITT'S SUCCESS YET ANOTHER NOTCH IN CITY'S BELT OF "WINNING TRADITION"... PIRATES...AHH NOT SO MUCH

"CLEARING MY DESK"    

   By Angelo Spagnolo --Publisher


The thought occured to me that we are most definitely in another "Golden Age" of Pittsburgh sports right now. At the very least least, it's as good as we last experienced in the '70s which before now was the greatest period ever in this city's long and storied history of sports.

With the clear exception of the Pirates; a franchise that who knows when it will right itself (if ever) every other sports team is either the best in its' respective league or right near the top.


ABOVE: PNC Park is a beautiful venue to see ugly baseball.

The Steelers and Penguins, both coming off championships are showing no signs of self-satisfaction or complacency. To the credit of both organizations, they have successfully managed to convince their players that what happened last year has no impact on this season. The Steelers are 5-2, just beat what is probably the second toughest team in the league, and are tied for their division lead. The Pens are off to their best start in history with an 11-2 mark. They are also still undefeated on the road with a 6-0 record! They'll finish off this year then move into their new Consol Energy Arena.

This will be the fourth new venue in the last nine years for Pittsburgh. In Heinz Field, PNC Park and Consol Energy Arena, Pittsburgh will have, arguably, three of the finest professional sports venues in the country...and Pitt also has the Petersen Events Center, which is certainly no slouch there either.


ABOVE: "The Big Ketchup Bottle". One of four outstanding sports venues in Pittsburgh.
 
Even fishermen have the Three Rivers which provides a most scenic background for Bass Masters Tournaments! So what more could anyone ask for?

In addition to our professional teams, the University of Pittsburgh has been experiencing halcyon days there as well. Last year their highly successful basketball program enjoyed its' most successful season ever, making it to the Elite 8. The football team, under Dave Wannstedt has been making steady progress during Wanny's tenure as well. This season, Pitt is currently 7-1, up to number 15 in the rankings and off to their best start since the days of Danny Marino.


ABOVE: "The Pete" on the Pitt Campus. No slouch here either.

While Pitt has made itself "bowl eligible" with seven wins already, a Big East title and BCS berth are looming in their near future. So far this year, Pitt's offense looks absolutely deadly and their defense has been making steady progress after losing a couple key players to injury. In short, this Pitt team has the capability to be one of the greatest in school history. Next week, by the way, we'll be covering their game against Syracuse and to say that we're looking forward to it would be an understatement!

Speaking of Pitt, I'm so happy for Bill Stull, a Pittsburgh native, who's finally having a great season at quarterback. It seems that new offensive coordinator, Frank Cignetti Jr. was all that Stull and the offense needed to really get things going. Stull had struggled mightily in prior seasons, so his success hasn't come easily. Wanny hasn't had it easy either, but it looks like his ship is finally coming in too. I couldn't be happier too for this Pittsburgh native and all the other WPIAL players who came to Pitt to help make this program strong once again. Dave Wannstedt has cleary proven that if he "Put up a fence around Western Pennsylvania" that there's plenty of talent right here to help build a successful program. While Pitt has many out-of-state players as well, the team has a distinct Western PA. feel to it.

Without question, the fans of Pittsburgh have been blessed to have so many extraordinary athletes on their respective teams' rosters, but even more so, with the glaring exception of the Pirates, to have such tremendous front office capabilities as well. Believe me, I want the Pirates to have success and I'm not trying to rain on them any more than has already been done over the last 17 years, but until they start having success on the field and aren't pointing to three more years down the line, I'll unfortunately have to keep deriding the current administration until they manage to turn things around.

I think what really irks most people about the Pirates is that they continue to deal players such as Nate McLouth, who could have instead been shifted to another position to make room for, say, an Andrew McCutchen, in order to get "prospects". This team has no credibility with the fans right now. Until they can start drafting good players consistently and they get their minor league system loaded with prospects the "natural" way, they simply are going to have to open up those cheap purse strings and start acquiring players who have the ability to compete at the major league level. Besides, who ever heard of sacrificing things on the big club because the minors have been run so badly in the past?

In a city that knows only champions, the Pirates remain a pariah on the local sports scene as they continue to stand out as an ever-growing sore thumb.

The only disappointing thing about Pitt's football season has been that the schedule, by some freak of nature, has both Pitt and the Steelers off this weekend. It would have been great if the Panthers would have played this week and had last week as their off week. Pitt would have then had the entire local football center stage all to itself for two weekends (since the Steelers next play on Monday Night, November 9th). Maybe they would have then gotten more of the attention which they so richly deserve.

Oh well, if that's the worst thing that happens to Pitt this year, they won't have to worry about getting enough media attention. That's what being in a BCS Bowl is supposed to do for you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

IRON CITY BREWING CO. RE- CONNECTING PITTSBURGHERS WITH "ONE CITY, ONE NATION"




ABOVE: New logo for the "Pittsburgh Nation". Iron City Brewing Co. has instituted a new program for certifying bars around the country that feature Iron City and their related products. 

The Iron City Brewing Company has undertaken a unique initiative aimed at re-connecting with transplanted Pittsburghers. With their new web site titled http://www.onecityonenation.com/, ICB is looking to establish and certify bars across the United States that handle Iron City Beer and display Pittsburgh colors as being "Pittsburgh Nation Bars".


LEFT: Steeler player (only kidding) displays how to properly drink through a facemask.

The agressive plan has been the pet project of Shelby Cole, Marketing Specialist for Iron City Beer. The site has been in operation since August and there are 410 establishments that have already been certified. Believe it or not, Oregon leads the country in Pittsburgh-certified bars so far with 96! Virginia-Washington D.C has 54, followed by Illinois with 47, Florida 36 and Alabama 33. There are corrently 15 states that do not have Pittsburgh-certified bars, but these are more often caused by wholesale distribution problems or in some cases, bottle laws. 


RIGHT: A thoroughly-satisfied yinzer lays a lip-lock on a can of "Ahrn". How many times has this scene been repeated? Calculators don't go that high!!!

"We mailed to over 1,500 bars across America telling them about our web site and how they would get free publicity for being a certified "Iron City" bar," said Ms. Cole. "What got this idea rolling in the first place was that last year, when the Steelers were in the SuperBowl in Tampa, we sent five people to the area to follow up on the listings that were being mentioned in the local papers as to where fans could find Steeler bars. We wanted to stock them full of Iron City but found that a lot of the information was either inaccurate, outdated... some places had closed...that sort of thing. So we thought that if we were to do this that we would promote those places that we have certified as selling Iron City through our various wholesalers."

The interesting site is a combination  bar locator, and  place where devotees of "Ahrn" City can post photos of themselves either consuming their favorite Pittsburgh brew or wearing an Iron City shirt on top of the Himalayas. It really is still in its' infancy, so it should eventually go a long way towards helping former Pittsburghers reconnect with their roots. At the very least, there are 64 master distributors listed around the country where these folks can pick up a case or two for their next shindig! 


ABOVE: A proud yinzer stands in front of a poster of the top of Mt. Everest while displaying his Iron City colors.

Further testament to the incredible magnetic draw that Pittsburgh has become, can be seen on our own "Site Meter" map that is displayed a little further down this page on the right hand side. Despite being a blog about Pittsburgh and its' sports teams, there are literally "hits" from all over the U.S. and the world displayed. These are not curious outsiders interested in learning more about Pittsburgh. They're homesick former Pittsburghers who are thrilled to be able to have some news about the town they will always love. We're always glad to oblige them here at "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold" and we truly appreciate their visiting this site as often as they do!


ABOVE: Yinzer shows off his "Ahrn" in ultraviolet light. Breathtaking! (not him, the "Ahrn").

The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been that rallying point in the past. But now, Iron City Brewing is taking a giant step towards helping to get former Pittsburghers together by certifying the places where they can find Iron City Beer and its' related brands. We here at "P.B. & G." are glad to help spread the word and we wish Iron City Brewing nothing but success in this venture.

Iron City Brewing Company is currently manufacturing 6 varieties in its' new Latrobe plant that was the former location where Rolling Rock had been brewed for decades until that brand was sold. Today, all products are now brewed in Latrobe, but the brewery is outsourcing its' canning operation until a new line is installed there soon. Then it will be able to manufacture and package all of its' varieties under one roof. Current brands include the ever-popular "Iron City" and "I.C. Light" brands as well as "American", "American Light", "Old German"and "Augustiner Amber Lager". Iron City only recently closed their original plant in Lawrenceville and this week was auctioning off memorabilia from its' operation there since it was first established in the late 1800s.

We'd like to invite our out-of-state readers to visit "One City, One Nation" and if you're planning on traveling anywhere around the U.S. we encourage you Pittsburghers to also check for a "Pittsburgh Certified Bar" before you begin your journey. Cause if it ain't certified by Iron City, it ain't certified!!!

Besides, you can't go too long without enjoying an "Ahrn" and being in the company of fellow Pittsburghers no matter where you are in the U.S.A.!


ABOVE: We're always a sucker for a good shot of Pittsburgh, so we threw in this beauty of the "Best city in America."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

STEELERS DEFENSE CHECKMATES FAVRE, VIKINGS 27-17

That was some chess match that we saw at Heinz Field last Sunday. In much the same fashion that you would see a SuperBowl game be played, the Vikings and Steelers went toe-to-toe, each team trying their best to hold down the many weapons that each offense possessed, but in the end there was just too much Steeler defense for the Vikings in this 27-17 loss. But who would have ever thought that the hero would be someone as unlikely as backup linebacker and special teams demon Keyaron Fox?

But Fox it was and you certainly had to be happy for the young man's day in the sun as he grabbed a deflected screen pass and galloped 82 yards for the second long score by the defense on this day. Earlier in that wild fourth quarter, Lamarr Woodley picked up a Brett Favre fumble and fought his way with some excellent downfield blocks to score on a 77 yard "rumblin', stumblin'" type of return. Fox was in the game because of an earlier injury to starting linebacker, Lawrence Timmons.


ABOVE: Lamarr Woodley smiles before sucking air after a massive 77 yard fumble return that saw him weaving through half of the Vikings offense. Brett Keisel originally knocked the ball loose from Brett Favre which Woodley had the good fortune of being able to pick up without breaking stride.

Sandwiched in between these two massive plays for the Steelers was a balloon-deflating 88 yard kickoff return by Percy Harvin for the Vikings. Harvin got past the last possible tackler, kicker Jeff Reed, when Reed made a feeble attempt at a tackle and barely even slowed Harvin down.

These two teams played a game that was as close as Pittsburgh's ever going to get to hosting a SuperBowl. With idyllic game conditions and a record 65,597 in attendance, Steeler fans were treated to as exciting a game as has ever been played at Heinz Field.

Of course there are those who will say that the offense did not perform well (they were outscored by their own defense 14-13). While Minnesota dominated the offensive categories and time of possession, the category that really counted most, points scored, showed Favre and Company holding the short straw and gripping a tough-to-swallow 27-17 loss, their first of the season.

For the Steelers, their victory comes just before a much-needed bye week seven weeks into the season. The Steelers now own a 5-2 record having won four consecutive games. Coming out of that bye week, the Steelers will face currently undefeated Denver at Mile High Stadium. However, they will be a well-rested team and the Steelers own an impressive record playing on Monday Nights and always bring out their best playing in front of a national television audience.

Most importantly, the Steelers once again seem to be the team that will dig down deep whenever there is a major challenge in front of them. With games coming up against Denver followed by 5-2 Cincinnati, it will take two more superlative efforts to take over sole possession of the AFC North. The Bengals are a classic example of a genie that's been let out of the bottle. Ever since they beat the Steelers in week three, they've been steadily improving, except for a loss to Houston. Now they are 5-2 and stand atop the AFC North with the Black & Gold.

Personally, the bigger these challenges are for the Steelers, the more confident I am that they will come away with the "W". I'm more concerned with them playing the Raiders, Chiefs and Browns. Those type of "letdown" games can easily happen when teams have gone through a string of difficult games.

But I like where the Steelers are at this point in the season. The team has lost only one starter for the balance of the year, defensive end Aaron Smith, although they have had Willie Parker and Troy Polamalu miss a significant number of games. Polamalu seems to now be rounding back into shape, but Parker is still nursing a "turf toe" which is a slow injury from which to recover. To his credit, Mike Tomlin has given the Steeler players the entire week off. For a team that has not been lacking in focus during 2009, the SuperBowl champs deserve this break. This week of "R & R" should do wonders for all of the banged-up Steelers, not to mention have them come back refreshed and ready to throw themselves into the remainder of the 2009-2010 season.

For the fans, they get to rake leaves this weekend, something they'll certainly enjoy. But it was fun hosting a SuperBowl at Heinz Field under idyllic conditions and winning it in dramatic fashion before the biggest football crowd in Pittsburgh history, too!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PITTSBURGH: THRU THE LENS OF GARY GAYDA


What a week last week last week was with our now-epic piece, "The Ghosts of Morganza". All week long my inbox kept getting filled up with the same questions: Is the ghost real? Was that really a ghost? Was that a person? Did you make that up? Etc. Etc. Etc.

Well I just want to let you know a couple important factss: First, if you saw that image it wasn't because it was photoshopped. Gary Gayda's shots are exactly that: Shots. If you don't think it was a ghost, then don't believe it. There that wasn't hard, was it? However, for those of you who had the hair on your neck stand up as did, you apparently know a good ghost picture when you see one!
ABOVE RIGHT: Director of Pittsburgh Photography and chronicler of Paranormal Activity here at "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold", Gary Gayda. 

Even Gary Gayda himself continues to be haunted by the developments of that day. "There were signs everywhere that said no trespassing...as I was leaving, I remembered a quote from a photography instructor that I had once had. "Before you take your shot, look around. There's probably a better shot right there.  It was then that I captured the now infamous image of the "Ghost of Morganza"...



ABOVE: Whether you believe it's real or not, someone or something was walking through the deserted Morganza property just as a thoroughly creeped-out Gary Gayda was vamoosing and managed to take this photo. 

These are the everyday perils that await an intrepid photographer who is charged with capturing the "feel" of Pittsburgh each and every week. It's a dirty job, but hey, like we say around the offices here at "P.B. & G.", "Somebody's got to do it, better that it be Gary."

This week Gary's going to do something a little different from last week's haunting. Pittsburgh has a famous street in Mt. Washington named "Grandview Avenue". A more appropriately-named street there never was! Today we're going to show you a few different views of Pittsburgh from up high on Mt. Washington. We'll call it:
   
"A Ride Along Grandview"


By the way, all of Gary's photos can be purchased directly from the photographer himself by emailing him at GMGayda@yahoo.com. Simply let him know what size photo you are interested in as well as the photo number and title. He will then get back to you with price information. So here now is this week's edition of 

PITTSBURGH: THRU THE LENS OF GARY GAYDA 

#31 Roadside Flowers 
 



ABOVE: With the skyscrapers of Pittsburgh off in the distance, our photographer catches some of the local flora in his viewfinder.

 #32 Mountain Road On A Mountain Top



ABOVE: Even on the top of Mt. Washington you always know that it's a mountain that you're standing on!

#33 Colored accent


 
ABOVE:  Pittsburgh is city of intrinsic beauty, but residents never stop trying to help.



#34 SELDOM-SEEN VIEW







ABOVE: Across the street from Grandview Avenue lies this tiny parklet. It offers visitors there a unique perspective of the Mon River from high atop Mt. Washington.

#35   A VIEW FROM THE CLOUDS




Sunday, October 25, 2009

THOUGH TWO MEMBERS ARE NOW DEAD, THE BEATLES APPARENTLY NEVER BROKE UP!!!

PARALLEL UNIVERSE DEPT.
_____________________



ABOVE: New pirated Beatles release from parallel universe titled "Everyday Chemistry". Apparently they have not yet graduated to the CD world in the parallel universe.


Yes, I've read some crazy things in my life, but this next story is truly a "cake-taker". A guy, why takes on the anonymous name of James Richards, says that he fell while chasing his dog and was knocked unconscious.

He next wakes up in a room with full of "weird electronics stuff" and meets a strange character named "Jonas", a time traveler from a parallel universe. During the course of his exchanges with Jonas, he learns, much to his delight that the Beatles are together and even still touring in this parallel universe!!!

While I won't give away all of the details of this incredible story here, I'll tantalize you by letting you know that apparently the Beatles came out with a new album that was never released on this side of the parallel universe and James Richards stole a cassette tape of it from Jonas after being warned not to take anything from this parallel universe. Will this cause a "tear" in the cosmic fiber? Good Lord help us!


ABOVE: Harrison and Lennon are apparently alive and still writing songs with the Beatles in the parallel universe. Pittsburgh has long been rumored as a tour stop in the parallel universe.

Just to prove that his story is true, Richards is offering a free download of this new album titled "Everyday Chemistry". Some of the purported "Beatles" tracks include: "Four Guys", "Sick to Death" and "Mr. Gators Swamp Jamboree".

I don't know about you, but this is the best news that I've heard in years! The thoughts of hearing a new Beatles album are really incredible! Instead of watching the Steelers-Vikings game, I think I'll listen to this instead!

Now back to reality. I have concluded that James Richards either:

A) Has just come back from a very bad LSD trip,

B) Has assembled a "Beatles" band of his own and is promoting his new CD,

C) Is covertly working for Al Qaeda and looking for the quickest way to destroy all of the computers in the western hemisphere or,

D) He has unwittingly stumbled across the greatest discovery in the history of mankind.

I'll leave that final decision up to you dear readers, but if you want to read this increadible story and hear the latest Beatles album, just follow this link:
www.thebeatlesneverbrokeup.com//

I'll be anxious to hear your comments about this new Beatles album.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

HOW WE ALL LOVE OUR COMPUTERS !!!

PICTORIAL HUMOR DEPT.
____________________

While exploring the high seas of the internet this week, I came across a unique site titled www.freakymartin.com/. Since its' mast head said that it was "for real freaks" I knew I was at the right place.

What I'll never understand is how the people who assemble these collections of real odd photos manage to do it, but in this case, Martin posted ninety bizarre photos of computers doing unnatural things. In some cases the poor things have suffered terrible abuse as people are wont to do even with their pets.

I'm posting below what I thought were the best of the best of these photos, but I want to encourage you to visit Freaky Martin because there are tons of other things there like "Brides in Underwear" (35 photos).

My own computer here at "P.B. & G." could find itself in this collection if it doesn't start behaving pretty darn quick. We all love computers, but strangely enough hate them at the same time.

I saw a quote the other day from Stephen Hawking where the esteemed great thinker, obviously angered over a computer virus on his wheelchair computer, said in that robot synthesized voice of his, "If we consider a virus to be a living thing, then how ironic that the only living thing ever created by man is something that destroys life like a computer virus."

Well said Stephen!

I know, personally, that I would love to take a hammer to some of these people's computers and maybe a few choice blows to them too! I'm sure that somewhere on some remote island in Indonesia, Al Qaeda has set up rooms full of people doing nothing but creating viruses. Who else would be sick enough to do this?

Anyway, I digress. So let's enjoy some real entertainment on a rainy weekend with some wacky computer photos. Thanks Freaky Martin!



ABOVE: Here's a computer that apparently has been redesigned to run the Space Shuttle program for NASA by a blogger.



ABOVE: Who hasn't dreamed about doing something like this? This creative blogger turned his dreams into reality!



ABOVE: Who needs a computer that overheats? Not this guy!



ABOVE: This blogger had serious overheating issues so he brought out the big guns!



ABOVE: I am truly impressed that someone would have the knowldege to do this. I also like the sign. I can just see some prankster switching one wire and screwing up the whole thing...just for laughs.



ABOVE: We've all thought about it, this blogger did it!



ABOVE: An obviously-enraged blogger with karate knowledge goes over the edge and damages a perfectly good desk.



ABOVE: I'm seriously considering using this for my new picture on "CLEARING MY DESK".



ABOVE: This aspiring Luke Skywalker has really built a flight simulator that we can all be proud of!



ABOVE: This envoronmentally-conscious blogger accomplishes two things at once: He destroys his hated computer while at the same time cooking some delicious kabobs. Only problem is that he's roasting that meat in noxious fumes being released from all those viruses (and plastic, etc.).



ABOVE: Just when you think you have a bad computer you come across a picture like this so that you can say to yourself, "Hey, I don't have it so bad after all!"



ABOVE: When something as terrible as this happens to your computer, there's only one thing that you can do...



ABOVE: No one can have a dirty computer. You could catch a virus! There now, you're as good as new!



ABOVE: A perfectly good use for an old monitor!



ABOVE: Yet another keyboard wantonly damaged by an inconsiderate smoker. He'll probably blame Al Qaeda for all of his computer problems too!


ABOVE: This blogger obviously "lost it" over this laptop.




ABOVE: Al Qaeda operatives secretly designing new viruses in their island headquarters. Once we find out where this secret base is, I'm sure there will be a "smart bomb" heading their way! I'll fly it out there myself!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

POLITICS MADE SIMPLE FOR "P.B. & G." READERS




"CLEARING MY DESK"

During the course of producing this site each week, I find myself researching things and sometimes I'll find a gem that I just can't resist putting up here on Pittsburgh's Black and Gold". Such was the case when I found the doozy of an article below.

I won't take credit for this and for that matter, neither did the site where I found it (although I did manage to greatly embellish it). Let's just file it under the heading of "Web Gems of Unknown Origin made even better by "P.B. & G.""

If for no other reason, you should read this because along with being funny, you may very well learn something in the process.



ABOVE: Two cows at sea. No wonder why every government wants to control them, they're everywhere!

POLITICS FOR THE NON-ILLUMINATED

(Subtitle: POLITICAL DEFINITIONS FOR THOSE WISHING TO CHANGE THE AMERICAN WAY)

Here's a simple way to explain the various forms of government, just in case you're thinking about going to another "ism".

FEUDALISM: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.


PURE SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all of the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.


BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs as the regulations say you need.


FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them and sells you the milk.


PURE COMMUNISM: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.


RUSSIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.


CAMBODIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes both of them and shoots you.

CHINESE COMMUNISM: Government owns all cows, takes all profit. Tells people of the evils of capitalism.

CUBAN COMMUNISM: Government seizes your two cows, gives you a '54 Studebaker but no milk.

AMERICAN COMMUNISM: Government creates so many laws that you no longer want to own cows, but rather, you hope that some fairy godmother will give you your milk every day for free...along with your health care!

NORTH KOREAN COMMUNISM: This is a unique form of communism where people gladly take care of cows, feed them, milk them daily and give all milk to the government just to insure that whackjob dictator leaves them alone. They have found that they can live without milk.


ABOVE: Cows are highly-prized as everyone knows. Even artists know the value of having two of them as this beautiful painting depicts. I tried to talk my wife into buying this one for our living room, but sadly, no dice...

DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.


PURE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.


REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.


BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.


PURE ANARCHY: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors try to take the cows and kill you.


LIBERTARIAN/ANARCHO-CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.


SURREALISM: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.


(Original source unknown )

Thursday, October 22, 2009

NOSTRADAMUS REAFFIRMS 14-2 PREDICTION!!!

Three things that I learned a long time ago about football: The best team doesn't always win. Another thing I also learned a long time ago: The team that panics the least and has the most confidence in their quarterback's ability to come back and win very often does just that. The third thing that I learned a long time ago: Nostradamus knows what he's talking about when it comes to the Steelers.

In a recent phone call to the reclusive seer and mystic, Nostradamus, incredibly, stuck to his pre-season prognostication of the Steelers going 14-2 this season, that despite the fact that the Black & Gold have already lost two games! That would mean that the boys would simply have to finish the season's final ten games at 10-0. What a daunting task!

Nostradamus pointed out to me that the Steelers' final ten opponents currently have a combined won/lost record of 31-27. Of course, that's barely above .500. In addition, only four of those teams currently have a winning record: They would be this week's challenge, Minnesota, the Broncos, Bengals and Packers. The Steelers, according to Nostradamus, need not fear any football team as they are continually improving each week of the season.

Having just breathed a massive sigh of relief, and even knowing the outcome of this week's game already, we still decided to analyze this Steelers team and see where Nostradamus is getting his opinions.



ABOVE: It was nice hearing from Nostradamus again. Hey, the man's a Steeler fan, what can we say?

The Steelers offense, right now,  is functioning in a manner that can best be described as "breathtaking". Ben Roethlisberger continues to elevate his game each season to a point where it now appears that he is merely toying with the opposition. With the advent of yet two more potent weapons, Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall, I think it is safe to say that the offense representing the Steelers today is every bit as good, if not better, than the dynastic offenses of the 70s.

Even though Terry Bradshaw was my favorite Steeler of all time, I have to give Big Ben his due. He is a better quarterback than "The Blonde Bomber". For one thing, Ben doesn't force the ball nearly as much as Brad did. Terry's arm was so strong that he often thought he could beat any defensive back in any situation. While his confidence level was admirable, his decision-making often left fans aggravated during games. Big Ben, on the other hand, got off to a faster start in his career than Bradshaw and except for his vehicular and other off-the-field hijinks, has been most most impressive when lined up behind the center.

What is most impressive though is his complete grasp of the offense. Ben knows where every receiver is during each segment of every play and has the impeccable ability to extend that play and find his guys wide open. I have never seen any other quarterback with the ability to consistently do this. Ben is also so big and strong and relishes the physical aspects of the game so much, that he has managed to stay upright on the field, for the most part, during his career.



Make no mistake about it, the Steeler offense has matured, much like a fine wine, into what you see on the field today. Even a more senior player such as Hines Ward is enjoying a record-setting season. Ben's success has been everyone's success and vice versa. Bruce Arians, who for some strange reason has not received the "love" that people like Ken Whisenhunt and other past offensive coordinators have received, has proven what having a solid relationship and trust in your quarterback can mean for a football team. I also think that Steeler fans, though not used to having this type of an offense, are starting to warm to it. In fact, what other offense have you ever seen where the quarterback deliberately holds onto the ball for an extended period of time in order to get receivers wide open? None that I know of and it's a thrilling brand of football to watch. I certainly wouldn't want to attempt it with a lesser physical specimin than Big Ben.

ABOVE RIGHT: Big Ben, the clock, may be older, but Big Ben, the player, is much more valuable!

The reason that more teams don't employ this type of offense is because there are few teams that have the collection of unique talents such as Big Ben, Hines, Santonio, Heath, Mike, Rashard, Willie and Mewelde bring to the table. The offensive line? They're looking better each and every week. If this group can stay relatively healthy, this offense should probably own every offensive record, other than rushing yards, in Pittsburgh Steelers history. Write down that I said that, not Nostradamus.

On defense, the team, though playing well, is not playing suffocatingly great. They've had lapses that have been costly, but they've also played most of the year without their most dynamic player, Troy Polamalu. Polamalu's injury will take time to be fully recovered from, because it's tough to get healthy during the season when your body is taking such a continual beating. If Polamalu can get through the Minnesota game without suffering a setback, he'll then have a bye week to completely rest his knee. The Steelers chances will increase exponentially if this occurs.



ABOVE: Aaron Smith is a quiet unassuming man who has always been a rock on the defensive line. His humble disposition makes him a favorite among Steeler fans. Smith was a casualty of the NFL's annual "War of Attrition" that occurs each year between September and February.

The loss of Aaron Smith is huge, make no mistake about it. However, the Steelers proved to the league a couple seasons ago that an All Pro  caliber player such as Casey Hampton could go down and the team would not show a perceptible difference in continuity. This is because the Steelers have quality depth and they routinely rotate their players so as to keep fresh bodies on the field. This pays gigantic dividends when a starter gets hurt. A real test of how well backups Brett Keisel, Nick Eason and first rounder Ziggy Hood will perform will take place this week when Adrian Peterson comes to town. Peterson's nickname is "A.D." as in "All Day." That is what his teammates say he can do all game long, bring a brutally-fast and relentless running attack right at you. He could be in for a rare long day, especially if the Steelers jump ahead by a couple scores.

The special teams have been a mixed bag so far. Stefan Logan has been great on kickoff returns, but looked "dazed and confused", as the song goes, on punts. Putting Mewelde Moore back there was a good move that should pay off big. Daniel Sepulveda has been tremendous in the punting game, but kicker Jeff Reed is having some non-football-related problems...again.  Sad to say, this mostly-reliable kicker is right now in the process of getting himself kicked right off the Steelers. Oh, they won't make a change during the season, but the Reed baggage is something that the Steelers will not tolerate. Don't expect Reed to score a jackpot contract this offseason unless he kicks five field goals and is named SuperBowl XLIV MVP.


ABOVE: If party animal supreme Jeff Reed gets into any more trouble, I'm sure we'll all be referring to him as "Former" Steeler kicker, Jeff Reed.
The Steelers have some tough games coming up which is good. This team always performs better and is more focused against quality opponents. Look for a big win this week against the undefeated Vikings in what should be a thoroughly enjoyable beat-down of Brett Favre. Then the bye week will kick in at a most opportune time so that the guys can catch their breath in preparation for the long stretch run.


ABOVE:  Officials gather during Steelers-Browns game to determine if nose of ball has reached the first down marker. Sometimes when your fate is in the hands of these guys you live to regret it. That's why the Steelers have to start "putting teams away" and keeping them there in the fourth quarter.

Will the Steelers win another SuperBowl? Well you and I both know that luck, both good and bad can enter into this as well as injuries and interesting calls by the zebras. However, I feel as strongly today, six weeks in as I did before the campaign opened. This team can win it all again and its' chances right now are as good as any team's in the league. The big key is to keep improving, throughout the season, so that by year's end the Steelers are, once again, the team to beat. The Steelers always manage to accomplish this and with the maturity and leadership present on this team, there's no reason to think that it won't happen again.



ABOVE: Is the NFL trying to tell the Steelers something? Just imagine the howling you would have heard if the colors chosen for this year would have been black and gold instead of Bengal's orange and black!



ABOVE: A ref, obviously paid by the Steelers or some rich member of "Steeler Nation" checks out the replay on the fourth and inches call against the Browns. It was obvious to everyone in the country and the idiot announcers that the Steelers didn't make this first down, but did anyone bother to check out the camera angle on this replay? No question, the Browns were the superior team last week and would have won were it not for this call. Oh those crooked Steelers!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

"THE GHOSTS OF MORGANZA"


2009-2010 nominee for
"Blackened Gold Award"





***SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT***


Fresh on the heels of our recent story, "Pittsburgh, America's Most Haunted City?" comes this very special edition of, "PITTSBURGH:THRU THE LENS OF GARY GAYDA". Gary's instructions from his managing editor on that day were simple, basic and yet...terrifying. "Parker, go out and photograph for our readers the scariest, creepiest place you can find in Pittsburgh... and don't come back, Parker, without a story we can splash across page one!!!"

Not only did he accomplish said mission, he even did one better! Completely unbeknownst until he hit the dark room, while photographing the former Morganza Reform School and Western State mental hospital at Southpointe, Gary not only managed to bottle the essence of this scary building but he captured one of those images that might make him famous some day. It's scary stuff, enough to make your hair stand up or make you quit drinking for good, so in that case, view these with extreme cautionBut in addition to the photos, our crack research department here has also included in this story some of the actual admittance reports of the kids who were incarcerated at Morganza! These records are from the late 1890s and even though these people are now, more than likely, long-deceased, we have deleted their names so that their great- grandchildren might not be needlessly offended. Hey, we all did stupid stuff when we were kids, right?... Well maybe not as bad as some of these kids!

Morganza closed in 1967 then reverted to  Western State Mental Hospital until its' closure decades later. My good buddy Ken recently told me that he used to go there for lunch sometimes because, "He was a state employee and you could go through the cafeteria line there for just a buck back in the 70s". Great idea Ken, but wouldn't McDonalds have been quicker? Are you sure that you didn't have to wear a straightjacket to get in that line? Hmmmm.


These great shots are available for purchase from our staff photographer Peter Par...(ah, make that Gary Gayda) by emailing him directly at GMGayda@yahoo.com. Give him at least a day though, the guy's pretty traumatized right now.

So here now is our Halloween season, in depth, real photojournalism, special report... Don't say we didn't warn you!


"THE GHOSTS OF MORGANZA"




#22  "OMINOUS BUILDING NEAR I-79"



ABOVE: Anybody who travels along I-79 south of Pittsburgh has no doubt seen this creepy building a million times. What are they waiting for to tear it down, an engraved invitation?

4:40 pm Complaint made before Daniel K. Cameron, Justice of the Peace of Fayette County, by Rosa XXXXXXXXXX and Pasquale XXXXXXXXX of Dunbar, Pa., mother and stepfather of Vittorio XXXXXXXXXXX. Pasquale XXXXXXXX deposes that his stepson, Vittorio XXXXXXXXXXXX, aged 10 years, had become incorrigible and cannot be controlled by him or his mother. Said son will not stay home, runs away and stays for days and nights. Said son quarrels with and fights his mother, has stoned his mother, uses profane language, boasts that he don't have to and will not obey his parents, is given to falsehoods. Said son having with a knife in his hand tried to cut a little girl but was prevented from doing so by the mother of said girl. Parents request that he be committed to reform school. Joseph Sandy a near neighbor; testimony the same. Filomena Buttellier: a few days ago he tried to kill my little girl aged 10 years. He tried to cut her with a knife. When I tried to stop him from cutting the girl, he abused me. He fights nearly every day with neighbors' children. I live very close to them. Additional Comments: Notes made at the reform school upon the boy's admission: Vittorio XXXXXXX No. 5571. Division A. Cannot speak English. Description: Height 4 ft. 1/2; weight 62 pounds. Dark hair, light brown eyes, dark complexion. 3 vaccine marks on left arm. Scar over spine. COMMENTARY: This kid was hell on wheels.

#23    "A BUILDING WITH 10,000 TALES"




ABOVE: This foreboding building is separate from the main facility. It was used to isolate the most dangerous of the mentally insane who were kept here after Morganza was closed. No surprise then that Building 22 has particularly hostile spirits now residing there.

Complaint made before T.H. Trailer, Justice of the Peace, by James XXXXXXXXX of Georges Township, father of Mary XXXXXXXXXX. She is incorrigible & disobedient. She will lead to harm younger members of the family. Minor was born May 23, 1877. (Rest of form not completed) Different version of same form: William H. Price of Georges Twp. complaintant. B.B. XXXXXXXXXX of Georges Twp. deposes: her parents are unable to prevent her immoral conduct. Her indecent conduct annoys the neighbors. E.H. XXXXXXXXXXXX deposes the same. J.P. Cannon deposes that he/she knows Mary XXXXXXXXXXX, lives in the same neighborhood. I know her conduct is of bad repute, that she is immoral, incorrigible & uncontrollable by her parents. Additional Comments: Notes taken at time of the girl's arrival at Pennsylvania Reform School, Morganza, Pa. Mary XXXXXXXXX Father, James XXXXXXXXXSr. is a wood chopper and lives at Haytentown. Sent here for associating with bad companions. Description: Height 5'2 1/2"; weight 133 pounds. Light hair, brown eyes, high cheek bones, small mouth, scar on left side of neck; ears pierced. Age: 18 years March 1897; received Feb. 1, 1897. Born: Penna., parentage American. Presbyterian. Neither parents intemperate; parents do not own property. 2 older brothers, 3 younger brothers; 2 younger sisters. Illiterate. Swears, lies. Does not steal or use tobacco. Is not intemperate. Has not been arrested before. COMMENTARY: She's just a crazy chick, so lighten up a little!  

#24    "FOREBODING PATH"



ABOVE: What is it about black and white photos that automatically makes them so creepy? I don't think you'd catch me trick-or-treating here.

Complaint made before William H. Miller, Justice of the Peace, by Lizzie XXXXXXXX of Uniontown, mother of Laurie XXXXXXXXXXX, who will be eleven years old July 4, 1897. He will not go to school, he used bad language, he is not truthful, he is disobedient, stays out at night and is beyond my control. Charles M. Fee, Constable of 2nd Ward, Uniontown Boro, deposes that he has known Laurie XXXXXXXXXX for 2 years. He is a bad boy, swears, chews tobacco, won't go to school, keeps bad company. John R. Crawford of Uniontown Boro deposes that he has known of Laurie XXXXXXXXXX being arrested several times. He runs the streets and keeps bad company. Additional Comments: Notes taken at time of the boy's arrival at Pennsylvania Reform School, Morganza, Pa. Laurie XXXXXXXXX No. 5328. Father Ed XXXXXXXXXX, a coal miner, deserted family when boy was small. Mother, Mrs. Lizzie XXXXXXXXXX is a washerwoman living on Race Street, Uniontown, Pa. Sent here for going out at night; disobedience. Description: Height 4' 6"; weight 61 pounds. Brown hair and eyes, fair complexion; scar on back of head, dimple in chin. One vaccination left arm. Spot in India ink near base of right thumb. Age: 11 on July 4, 1897; received May 25, 1897. Born: Penna., parentage American. Methodist. Mother not intemperate, does not own property. 1 younger brother, 1 younger sister. Can read & write. Swears, lies. Does not steal or use tobacco. Is not intemperate. Has been arrested before, twice. COMMENTARY: Laurie is a boy! What do you expect this kid to do with a name like Laurie? Get into fights all the time, that's what!

#25   "NICE STEPS, GUV RENDELL!" 



ABOVE: Here's a set of stairs straight out of "The Addams Family." These are a lawsuit waiting to happen, for sure. The last thing the Commonwealth needs is another needless expense. The governor should have these repaired immediately!


Complaint made before J.M. Springer, Justice of the Peace, by Fred XXXXXXX of Belle Vernon, father of Ralph XXXXXX. Incorrigibility. Stole a horse. The man got his horse again and refused to prosecute. John Manown & Samuel Elmer testified to the truth of the father's statement. Additional Comments: Notes made at Pennsylvania Reform School at Morganza at the time of the boy's arrival: Ralph XXXXXXX, No. 5338, Division B. Parents living at Naomi (Belle Vernon P.O.), Fayette Co., Pa. Father Fred XXXXXX a driver in coal mines. Sent here for running away from home. Description: Height 4' 5 1/2", weight 67 pounds. Dark brown hair, gray eyes, dark complexion. Scar from burn over spine small of back; one vaccination on left arm. Age: 10 on May __, 1897; received June 21, 1897. Born Penna., parentage German. Presbyterian. Parents not intemperate, do now own property. 2 younger brothers, 1 younger sister. Illiterate. Does not swear, lie, steal or use tobacco. Is not intemperate, has not been arrested before. COMMENTARY: You steal a horse, you go to Morganza, it's that simple.

#26  STAND PROUD, PENNSYLVANIA



ABOVE: With a backdrop of broken windows behind it, the former entryway of the state hospital still bears the proud insignia of the State of Pennsylvania. Yeah, we should all be proud of this...
 
Complaint made before James Echard, Justice of the Peace, by Samuel XXXXXXX of Connellsville, the next friend of Arthur T. XXXXXX, a minor. I am the stepfather of Arthur T. XXXXXX, and his mother is dead. Uncontrollable, given to lying, stealing. Stays from home against my wishes, sometimes out all night. Pays no attention to my wishes except when he is in my immediate presence. I am compelled by reason of my labor to be away from home much time. Infant was born May __, 1888. M.H. Ream of Connellsville deposes: I live quite a while lately in the same house with Samuel XXXXXXX. Arthur T. XXXXXXX is a bad boy, given to telling untruths, staying from home against the wishes of Mr. XXXXXX. Generally uncontrollable, inclined to take things belonging to others. J.A. Lyon deposes: I am in the general merchandise business. Arthur comes to my store occasionally, and I caught him in an attempt to carry away goods clandestinely, and he acknowledged that he stole them. Additional Comments: Notes made at Pennsylvania Reform School at Morganza at the time of the boy's arrival: Arthur T. XXXXXXX, No. 5708, division A. Parents dead. Has been living with stepfather, Samuel XXXXXXX, a shoemaker living at XXXX East Main St., Connellsville, Pa. Sent here for running away from home, disobedience, etc. Description: Height 4' 2 1/2", weight 57 pounds. Brown hair & eyes; medium complexion; freckled; small features. Large scars from burns on left upper arm. Age: 11 on May 18, 1899. Received June 28, 1899. Born in Maryland, American parentage. Methodist. Father intemperate. Parents own property. 2 younger half sisters. Can read & write. Does not swear. Lies, steals, uses tobacco. Is not intemperate, has not been arrested before. COMMENTARY: This kid's 11 years old,four feet tall and he's staying out all night. I'd say he's off to an impressive start! What's with all these burn marks these kids have? 

#27  IF YOU WEREN'T CONVINCED BEFORE, THIS OUGHT TO DO IT!



ABOVE: You'd have a hard time convincing me to get any closer than this.

Complaint made before James Echard, Justice of the Peace, by Joseph XXXXXX, the father of Otto XXXXXXX, a minor. Otto uncontrollable, will not go to school, stays from home for days and nights at a time, lies, steals, associates with bad company. Otto born Jan. 24, 1884. Anna Lukas deposes that she has known Otto for five or six years, testifies to the same as the father. He has obtained money from me by falsely representing it was for his mother. Henry Trump has known Otto XXXXXXXX several years. He has stolen from me & others, tells lies, will not go to school, etc. (signed by mark) Additional Comments: Notes made at Pennsylvania Reform School at Morganza at the time of the boy's arrival: Otto XXXXXXXXX No. 5657, Division E. Parents living at Connellsville, Pa. Father Jos. XXXXXXXX a farmer. Sent here for not going to school and breaking into a car at Connellsville & stealing some whiskey. Description: Height 5' 3 1/2", weight 115 pounds. Dark hair, brown eyes, dark complexion, pit above right eye, scar on left thumb. Age: 15 on Jan. 24, 1899; received Feb. 22, 1899. Born: Austria; Austrian parentage. Catholic. Parents not intemperate; parents own property. 1 older brother, 2 older sisters. Can read & write. Swears, lies, steals.
COMMENTARY: He's 15, breaking into cars and stealing whisky. With a first name like Otto, he just has to be tough. I wonder if he met Laurie at Morganza?

#28     "BELFRY"




ABOVE: In its' day, this was a very grand structure, but today's not its' day. It should either be torn down or advertised as a haunted house.

Complaint made before James Echard, Justice of the Peace, by C.H. XXXXXX of Connellsville, father of Clyde XXXXXXX, a minor born Dec. 13, 1885. Uncontrollable, will not go to school, stays from home at improper hours, is untruthful and given to stealing, and deceiving his parents and others. Wm. O. Cropp deposes the same. Frank Campbell, Humane agent, deposes that he has known Clyde XXXXXX several years; tells lies, steals, will not go to school and associates with people unsuitable for one of his years. Additional Comments: Notes made at Pennsylvania Reform School at Morganza at the time of the boy's arrival: Clyde XXXXXXX No. 5671, Division D. Parents living. Father C.H. XXXXXXXX (sic) a butcher living on Pittsburgh St., Connellsville, Pa. Sent here for not going to school. Description: Height 4' 11 3/4", weight 95 pounds. Brown hair, light blue eyes, dark complexion, pug nose, broad scar from a cut near outer corner of left eye. Scar on top of head, two toes off right foot. Age: 13 on Dec. 13, 1899; received Mar. 30, 1899. Born Penna., American parentage. Parents not intemperate, parents own property. 1 older sister, 2 younger sisters. Can read & write. Swears, lies. steals, uses tobacco. Is not intemperate, has been arrested before. Intra-institutional note dated Pennsylvania Reform School, Apr. 7, 1899: The boy appears to be all right. He is beginning to take part in play with the other boys. He is ordinarily bright in school work. I see no indication of having ruined his mind by cigarettes as the mother intimates. At first he cried a good deal and wanted to talk to his mother by telephone, and I did not think that was customary and did not know whether you wished to establish a precedent like that. He has not cried for several days and appears to be taking an interest both in work and play. His health is good. (signed) L.B. Prowell
COMMENTARY: For being 11 years old, he has scars and is missing two toes. By comparison, I still have all ten of my toes and I'm 44 years older than Clyde! For a little guy he's already had a hard life.


#29   "GHOST'S LOUNGE"



ABOVE: Yes this is a great place for a photographer to kick back his feet and relax a while. But this was the only interior shot that was taken on this day. The sense of foreboding was suffocating Gary Gayda. He had to get out-fast!

Complaint made before Joseph H. Wilson, Justice of the Peace of Fayette County, by Annabell XXXXXXXXXX of Dunbar, mother of Charles E. XXXXXXXX aged 16. Her son is beyond her control, is vicious and extremely immoral. He frequently gets into trouble on various charges, gets intoxicated, associates with bad company. Charles born Nov. 18, 1882. A.C. Demeau, Constable, deposes that he has known Charles XXXXXXXXX and family for ten years or more. He is known in the town as a common thief. Have had him in custody several times on various charges. Have several times found him with stolen property in his possession. Have caught him in the act, and he has confessed to me. Have seen him drunk several times. I know his mother, his only parent, cannot control him. Timothy Joy of Dunbar deposes that on the night of June 10, 1899 at Dunbar I was robbed of a gold filled watch and some other articles valued at twenty dollars. On June 15, Charles XXXXXX was charged and arrested for the larceny of said watch and confessed that he in company with XXXXXXXX took and sold the said watch. I do not wish to prosecute the case in court and I am content that he be committed to the Pennsylvania Reform School. (signed by his mark) Additional form filled out by A.C. Demeau, the Constable. Additional Comments: Notes made at Pennsylvania Reform School at Morganza at the time of the boy's arrival: Charles E. XXXXXXXX. Father dead. Mother, Mrs. Anna Bell XXXXX Sent here for stealing, getting drunk, etc. Description: 5" 1/2"; weight 110 pounds. Brown hair, blue eyes, medium complexion, two scars on right side of head. Out-turned lower lip. Age: 17 on Nov. 18, 1899; received June 20, 1899. Born: Penna., parentage American. Methodist. Mother not intemperate, does not own property. 3 older brothers, 2 older sisters, 1 younger sister. Illiterate. Swears, lies, steals. Does not use tobacco. Is intemperate. Has not been arrested before. COMMENTARY: Charley, you can get away with all kinds of juvenile delinquency, but steal a gold watch and be prepared for a trip to Morganza!

EPILOGUE:

So our intrepid photographer beats a path out of Morganza, but then, inexplicably, he turns around to take one last shot and gets the picture of a lifetime...

#30  "CHANCE MEETING WITH  OTHER SIDE"



ABOVE: Look closely at the photo above. Upon developing his pictures, Gary Gayda suddenly breaks into a cold sweat. Then the awful memories come flooding back to him: His overall sense of foreboding, the anxiety he felt in "The Ghost's Lounge", the sudden cold air that he felt on his neck as he hurriedly left the building, the sense of relief he felt once he was out of there. But what made him turn and take this picture at the last minute and better yet, who was the figure dressed in a black, 1900s-style, floor-length dress that appeared in this shot when the place was completely deserted??? We asked Gary Gayda for a killer picture, but we never expected him to produce one featuring the supernatural! Take his advice: Stay away from Morganza. It is an evil place with enough bad karma to sink a battleship. But if you like having the hair stand up on the back of your neck...