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I’m Ready for My Close-up

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More exciting media news: I got a call from my publicist earlier this afternoon; apparently a producer from a WPXI talk show is interested in having me share my insights about the best that Pittsburgh has to offer. Sounds like a hoot, no? I haven’t figured out quite yet if the show I’ll be appearing on, Talk in Pittsburgh, is actually aired live. But as of now, I’m scheduled to be in the studio for taping on the morning of Thursday, June 21. I’ll post an update once I hear when the program is supposed to run. I’ll also see about getting my appearance transferred into video for YouTube, and I’ll post a link here once that happens.

In other media news: My Post-Gazette piece, which has been described to me as a short blurb about Moon Handbooks Pgh and my ties to the city, is scheduled to run this Sunday. I’m guessing it’ll be in the paper’s Lifestyle section.

Speaking of the Post-Gazette, I’ve been assigned to write a full-page essay for the paper about the experience of researching and writing a guidebook to the city I’ve called home for more than 10 years. The tentative title: “What I Learned While Writing a Guidebook to Pittsburgh”. I know, I know … it’s not so good. Anyone out there have a snappier suggestion? If so, I’m all ears.

At any rate, the essay will be running in a regular Sunday section called the Next Page, which as far as I’m concerned is the most creative and forward-thinking project the P-G has produced in years. After I first proposed the story, I had a meeting with the paper’s op-ed editor, John Allison, to discuss its specifics, and he told me a bit about how the section had originally come about.

Basically, the P-G’s editor-in-chief, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist by the name of David Shribman, was interested in having a page where literally any idea could run. He wanted something experimental and unique — a place where journalists could stretch their idea muscles in a fashion that might cause some scowling and consternation in a more serious section. If you’re a journalist yourself, you will probably recognize that brand of thinking as the sort of thing that always sounds clever during the weekly meeting, but tends to crash and burn when put into actual practice. Somehow that hasn’t been the case with the Next Page, however — a fact that is most likely due to the impressive efforts of Allison.

One of my favorite Next Page pieces was written by John Schulman, a guy who co-owns a used-book store here in Pittsburgh called Caliban Book Shop. John’s essay ran during the holidays, and was a sort of self-depricating first-person piece. It explored the concept of New Year’s resolutions from the viewpoint of a “balding flabby guy in [his] 40s.”

There was a particularly interesting piece written by a recent college graduate who’d gone off to teach English in China. It was designed to resemble a series of blog posts.

Click here to see a fantastic Next Page piece put together by a local design firm. It’s laid out to look like a comic book, and uses the model of a successful public-transportation system in Brazil to suggest how we might fix our own transport problems in Pittsburgh.

And click here to see a useful entry from March 18 called “Tools of the Trade”; it explains in precise detail how Blak Block-style protestors use unconventional methods to foil local law enforcement during demonstrations.  

If you’d like to see more of these, click here, and then enter the words “Next Page” into the search engine. However, because of the way artists are graphic designers are given free reign to fill out the section’s white space, the online versions of these stories simply do not do the print versions justice. So you’ll have to use your imagination. Or better yet, pay a visit to Pittsburgh and pick up the Sunday paper while you’re here.     

Finally: Can anyone out there explain to me why I can’t seem to go more than 24 hours without checking this incredibly addictive site?

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