Thursday, April 14, 2011
First he went with me to Hipster Mass, The Mountain Goats at Mr. Smalls in Millvale, so no really I meant it, actual Hipster Mass. It exists. No one smokes there anymore. There is whiskey at the bar. Girls will go wild. I waited at the bar down the street from his house for him to get off work, and so I might have been a little sparkly and excited. I might have felt that grip of fandom in my chest, turning my cheeks pink. I remember the first time I saw Dylan in high school, smoking weed with the old guys at Nautica. Or the first time I saw R.E.M. Or staring intensely at Scott Spillane a few weeks ago. Like that. Exactly like that. Oh, let me take off work for a few days, drive to another city, meet up with a friend, and then go to the hills to see my hero play in a church with blacked out windows. Let him play at least two songs I had on my short list. More in love than ever.
I think Pittsburgh may beat Cleveland because they have more church based venues. Didn't we just close all those churches? Lets do something about that, people. Also let's build some mountains. And listen to Flashdance a little more. And drink way more than we should, so that we forget the people with us are also drunk, maybe forget we are drunk at all.
Then there was the obligatory trip home, gathering up people, being late to meet other people, handing over of the keys to people who know how to parallel park, more whiskey and at some point I ordered a cherry lambic which was disgusting why did I do that? There were meetings in booths with curtains, and being kicked out by bouncers There was walking in the rain. There was pretty much the whole Southside thing, which is a thing I can get behind, as long as it's not a Saturday night. There is a bath house I have to go back to, because it has the same stone window work as my old high school.
The next morning I set out to explore. Well first we slept till 12, and then ate pad thai, and then I set out. His house is so fucking clean. I had a general idea, and a phone with google maps, but the Pittsburgh highway system exists to mess with me. I found a beautiful abandoned place, but it lived alone, across three lanes of backed up traffic, on 28 North. Which took me about an hour to get to, all because I took a wrong turn right as I left his house. But now I know that Greenwood exists. I guess. I finally made it back to where I wanted to go, only somehow I was in Millvale again. Millvale loves me. Millvale never wants me to leave. It held me close and tight, up and down the one ways and hills and pretty much any way you can get on Grant street ever. I knew where the bridge was that I wanted across the river (which river? I have no clue. There are rivers?), but every time I got to the place I thought I wanted, I took a wrong turn. It was adorable. Millvale is like a puppy dog you really want to take home cause it keeps following you down the street. It was like "Look Bridget, a park! Look Bridget, really old signs! Stay here, love me!"
But finally, ultimately, I made it to Lawrenceville. So I could relax and get really lost there.
The general rule, you know, go to where the water is. Always head towards the banks, that's where the stuff you want to see is. The industrial rollercoasters and chunks of broken rock and train tracks with boxcars sitting on them. Dear Pittsburgh, paint your bridges as much as you want, but I know where you really live.
Lawrenceville was great, except for this one strip that had trash cans painted with the artsy community logo. That part, geez, why do people paint their trash cans? I was the worst driver down Butler, peering down the side streets, looking for the dark dinosaur silouhettes at the water's edge. People were getting pissed at me. Another thing I noticed, and maybe this isn't true really, but I saw very few trucks and SUVS, which given the hills surprised me, and made me feel safe.
I wandered around the train tracks, the soft cold gravelly mud squishing into my ballet slippers left over from last night. I walked between the depots and the sun kept teasing me, until finally it gave in, slut. I said hi to guys in hard hats, and listened to a lot of guitar rock, and at one point I did actually taste that whiskey again in my mouth, but only for a moment and then the wind washed it away.
Someday I will buy an entire city block. Or I will just take it over, with dogs, it will just become mine because I choose it.
I took Butler down to 8, and drove through the strip mall paradise that I can't help but like because the crazy on top of each other bright store signs are backdropped by such pretty undeveloped hills and trees, and all those little broken mechanic shops and bike shops and ancient gas stations. I saw that cellphone tower/giant cemetery cross we found once. I had a conversation with Sam recently where he said that he preferred states with natural borders, and I thought about that as I crossed the state line, how flat Ohio got almost immediately. And how much flatter Michigan is further on. The flattening, the rolling out pancake like of Middle America. The trucks were lined up on the toll road like migrating elephants.