A: Not living in Pittsburgh. Zing! That’s right, faithful readers: it’s been a long time coming, but the much anticipated and long overdue “Pittsburgh post” has finally arrived. Before I tear this city a new goatse-sized asshole, however, I will acknowledge some of its virtues. First and foremost, the cost of living is very low. I couldn’t even rent a broom closet in Manhattan for what I pay for my three bedroom here. Of course, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, but Pittsburgh certainly is a good place to be a poor graduate student. Second, for a city its size, Pittsburgh has a fairly vibrant cultural scene. It has a symphony, an opera, and several art museums, as well as a number of attractions that can be enjoyed by heterosexuals. Finally, it must be said that there are many worse places to live, such as Beirut, the Sudan, and Detroit.
But people don’t read Moral Hazard for some bullshit hippie love fest; in fact, they don’t read it at all. But if they did, it would be for bristling, over-the-top negativity, which I shall now deliver. Without further ado, I present four reasons Pittsburgh should be swallowed up into the fiery bowls of hell.
Far and away the worst thing about Pittsburgh is the weather, which is, as Mike so eloquently put it, dog shit. To put it another way, the weather alone is sufficient reason to qualify Pittsburgh as a bona fide shithole. Winter starts in mid-November and extends into April (yes, I know it technically starts in December and ends in March, go fuck yourself). These months are bitter cold, but this is typical north of the Mason-Dixon line; what makes Pittsburgh winters particularly abominable is the constant precipitation. It’s usually snow, which, though it does fuck up the roads, at least leaves you dry. Often, however, it rains – even when the temperature is well below freezing, which leads me to believe that Pittsburgh is under some sort of gypsy curse. In such cases you wind up soaked and shivering, and the rain mixes with the snow on the ground to form a disgusting slush that makes walking an utterly miserable ordeal.
Summer is not quite as bad as winter, but it’s no picnic either. From late June through early September it’s as hot and moist as Satan’s nutsack. The humidity is what really kills; you can’t so much as walk to your car without needing a change of shirt. On top of that, there’s the frequent rain and electrical storms.
Thus, there are only two genuinely pleasant months in Pittsburgh (May and October), and even then the sky tends to be overcast. Weather is a major component of quality of life, and Pittsburgh’s is so bad that one might be happier on death row in San Quentin.
The Case Law
Pittsburgh’s alcohol laws defy comprehension. In a shrewd move to discourage entrepreneurship, the city makes liquor licenses expensive and difficult to obtain. Many restaurants are therefore B.Y.O.B.; I actually like this, since it’s a lot cheaper, but it sure does suck for the business owner. Throughout Pennsylvania, liquor and wine are only sold at state-run stores, often at high prices. This is annoying, but I’m more of a beer drinker, and the beer situation is absolutely infuriating. If you want to buy beer at a reasonable price, you must go to a “beer distributor” and buy a case. For some bizarre reason I can’t even fathom, you can’t buy single bottles or six-packs. Actually, it is possible to buy a six-pack from a bar or pizza parlor if you’re willing to pay $11 for a six of Yuengling. I’ve resorted to this a few times, and in the process discovered yet another absurd rule: you can’t buy more than two six-packs at a time. The clerk told me to buy two, leave, then come right back in and buy the third. What. The. Fuck.
While I disagree with prohibiting supermarkets from selling alcohol, at least there’s a reason for such a policy: to protect small businesses who sell booze. But I have yet to hear a single legitimate reason for the case law. The only explanation I’ve been offered is that it protects bars and other purveyors of overpriced six-packs, but since when is it the role of legislation to create an artificially restricted and inflated market?
The Pittsburgh Accent
Before I came to Pittsburgh, I wasn’t even aware that there was a Pittsburgh accent. Indeed there is, and it’s the only accent that makes southerners sound sophisticated by comparison. Here’s a taste:
This is a parody, but people really do talk like that here. In case you were wondering, “yinz” is a contraction of “you ones,” and serves as the second person plural. “N’at” is a contraction of “and that,” and means absolutely nothing; yinzers just stick it at the end of sentences for no apparent reason. It’s hard to believe that the English language could be so thoroughly mangled, but there you have it.
The Steelers are a model sports franchise; congratulations to them on their sixth Superbowl championship. The Penguins are also a fine team who made it to the Stanley Cup finals just last year. These successes, however, are canceled out by the embarrassment that is the Pittsburgh Pirates. Guess when the Pirates last had a winning record.
1992. Nineteen-ninety motherfucking two. That’s 16 straight losing seasons, including 8 last-place finishes, and no signs that this streak is going to end anytime soon. But since poor finishes lead to high draft picks, the Pirates’ minor league teams should be flourishing, right? Wrong; incompetent management has squandered these draft picks time and again and left the farm system barren.
It’s really a shame the Pirates are such a disgrace, since they play in one of the nicest parks in all of baseball. PNC Park opened just seven years ago, but now only draws more than 10,000 fans when the Cubs are in town. What a fucking joke.