Last night, I was thinking about my grandfather who has been gone for many years now. But, still, he was without a doubt, the greatest influence in my life. He was my hero - and still is.
While thinking of my grandfather, I thought about the times he took me to Pittsburgh when I was a kid. He took me there quite often - usually for long weekends. Why he took me to Pittsburgh, I have no idea. But as a kid, Pittsburgh was a fun place to go. In fact,, any place that took hours of driving to get to was fun - even Pittsburgh. Places that took fifteen minutes or less to get to, like to the dentist or doctor or school, were always so not fun.
When I think of Pittsburgh, I think of my grandfather and I and the fun times we had when I was a kid. I have some wonderful memories of those days. Pittsburgh is just one of them. It's interesting to look back on things you did as a kid. Kids are so often awestruck by mundane things, like Pittsburgh for instance.
Pittsburgh is one of the few things in Pennsylvania not named for William Penn. Like all things not named for William Penn, it is good. The first thing that comes to mind about Pittsburgh is the building that changes color. Well, not the entire building, just the roof of it. The roof changes color with the weather. Every time I was in Pittsburgh as a kid, the roof of that building was orange. Every time I've been there as an adult it has been orange. Orange is not good. Orange means foul, nasty weather. And, like all things orange, it is dangerous.
Pittsburgh has a hill they call a mountain. Pennsylvania has lots of hills they call mountains. Pennsylvania is the hyperbole state. The hill in Pittsburgh is called "Mount Washington". I do not know why they call it "Mount Washington". It is neither a mountain or anywhere near Washington D.C. or Washington the state. Obviously, it is named for George Washington. Too many things in this country are named for George Washington. Each time they name something for him his importance is diluted. George was a great man, but too many things have been named for him. Now, when we see a "Mount Washington" or a "Washington Street" or a "Washington Park", we never think of George Washington. Washington's name has become as ubiquitous as Kleenex. Too bad! Obviously Pittsburgh wanted to name something for George and they named a hill for him. They called it "Mount" to make it sound more important and stuck George Washington's name on it. Pittsburgh? It's not a "Mount" - it's a hill.
In Pittsburgh, they are so proud of that hill, they had a cable car (maybe they still do) that you could ride to the top of it. As a kid, I thought it cool. As a kid I thought the cable car was there so you could go up to the top and look down on the city of Pittsburgh and watch the smoke pour out of the smokestacks of the steel factories - or maybe get a nice view of that building with the orange roof. Now I know it is because all the rich folks live on top of the hill. They live up there because, as all of us know, rich folks like to look to down on the rest of us. Besides, the air is cleaner up there - high above the chimney tops....
Pittsburgh comes by their tendency toward hyperbole honestly. Pittsburgh, it just so happens, is in Pennsylvania. The mountains in Pennsylvania are called the Allegheny Mountains. They are hills, not mountains. A mountain is a mountain and a hill is a hill. Come on, Pennsylvania! Let's talk about the Rocky Mountains or Himalayas, eh? You know what would look great on Pennsylvania license plates? "PENNSYLVANIA - THE HYPERBOLE STATE".
Pittsburgh has a street called "The Boulevard of the Allies". It's not a side street either. No, it's not a street they hide away away in some rat-infested, garbage-cluttered, run-down part of town. Believe it or not, it's one of the main streets of Pittsburgh! Can you imagine having to write that on your return address every time you sent a letter? No way! Again, Pennsylvania, with the help of Pittsburgh, is living in the state of illusion.
This may come as a surprise to the fine folks in Pittsburgh - but we (the U.S.A.) no longer have any allies. We won't even play ball with the rest of the world and sign the Kyoto treaty. We won't agree to stop putting junk in the air. We (the USA) think if we stopped putting junk in the air it would hurt our economy. I think if we keep putting junk in the air everyone will die - and that will hurt the economy more. I'm not an economist, but even I know that dead people don't buy much stuff.
Pittsburgh is one of the few cities lucky enough to have a confluence of three rivers. The three rivers are the Monongahela, the Ohio, and the Allegheny. What kind of people would call a river the Monongahela? American Indians - er I mean Native Americans - that's who! Native Americans, like Polynesians, love vowels and despise consonants. The word "Monongahela" while containing some soft consonants, is mostly vowels. And what about Kahalui ? Kahalui is in Hawaii. It certainly is not in Pittsburgh. It is Polynesian. Speaking of Polynesian - consider Prince Kamaimai from Hawaii. They love vowels. I point that out for a reason.
I think vowels are nice, but consonants are more forceful. The white man, who loves consonants, conquered both the Native Americans and Polynesians - both of whom love vowels, The white, consonant-loving Europeans stole these poor, vowel-loving people's land - and their women. And, because of the white man's love of consonants, they got away with this - they even were rewarded for it. Consonants are so omnipotent. The consonant-loving, white Europeans did all manner of despicable deeds and now rule a good part of the world. Face it: Consonants are powerful; vowels are lovely - but timid and weak. I'm sorry to have to lay that on those who are forced to live in some country where the language is vowel-laden. If I lived in one of those countries - and you know who you are - I'd learn Russian or German quickly. You never know when the white Europeans may rise up again as capricious as they are.
Speaking of Russian and German, I've come to the conclusion that we really need to worry about Germany and Russia. These two countries adore consonants! Both of these fine countries despise vowels. Which leads me to think about another country: China. I'm not really sure about China. I think they love vowels too - but I don't read hieroglyphs. And the only Chinese I ever hear spoken is at the Chinese place here in town whenever I eat lunch there. But, they talk too fast for me. So, I am not sure whether they have a lot of vowels or not. But vowels and consonants aside, we need to be careful of the Chinese because they have nukes. If I had anything to say about the Chinese situation, I wouldn't mess with them. Our predecessors were fortunate that neither the Polynesians or the Native Americans had nukes - even though they had a love affair with vowels, nukes would have certainly made them more testy.
But, let's get back to Pittsburgh. Besides The Steelers and The Pirates, Pittsburgh has an airport. It's really true, they do! In fact, the last time I was in Pittsburgh, I was there to change planes on the way to someplace else - of course. I compliment Pittsburgh on its airport. It's fun to fly into their airport in Pittsburgh because, in order to land there, you have to fly through hills, which they call mountains. These hills (or "mountains") are always very foggy. When you're in a plane coming in for a landing in there, you'll certainly be more inclined to call the hills "mountains". Pittsburgh airport's runways sit at the very bottom of a deep and foggy valley. The valley is even foggier than hills (mountains). The runways are always shrouded in fog and that makes them very difficult to see. I imagine the pilots can't see them either. Luckily they have instruments to assist them - otherwise Pittsburgh's airport might be a whole lot messier than it already is. I always find landing at the Pittsburgh airport a challenge and a thrill. I get plenty of challenges at my age - but I don't get many thrills, so I like landing in Pittsburgh. For those who are squeamish about flying, don't fly into Pittsburgh if you can avoid it. If you find that you must fly into Pittsburgh, my advice is to drink heavily and close your eyes tightly during descent. If you're the religious sort - say lots of prayers.
If you're from Pennsylvania (or Pittsburgh) I'm sorry my grandfather ever took me to Pittsburgh. If it weren't for the memories he gave me, you wouldn't be upset with me right now. I might have written this about Grand Rapids, or Youngstown, or even, perhaps, Moline, Illinois. But, nope! My grandfather took me to Pittsburgh - not Grand Rapids or Youngstown or Moline. I love the people in Pittsburgh but they're awash in hyperbole, perhaps because they were unlucky enough to be plopped down in Pennsylvania - the hyperbole state. Pittsburgh? You'll never convince me that the Allegheny Mountains are mountains - HELLO? They are hills. I'll grant you, they are big hills but big hill do not mighty mountains make. In Pennsylvania the hills are alive with the sound of hyperbole.
If you are Polynesian or Native American, I'm sorry. Don't blame me. I had nothing to do with whatever my forbearers did. I'm innocent. You keep on loving those vowels. They make you sound cute. If it had been up to me, I'd have left you alone with your respective buffaloes and coconuts and found someplace else to live. You'd still be producing many millions of little Native Americans and Polynesians and flooding the world with vowels. If you had only developed nukes the world would have been a different place. Global warming might not be a problem. Maybe we would all be talking about pollution by totem poles and poi. But, you didn't have nukes then and you don't have them now - still, you never gave up on the vowels! I admire your tenacity if nothing else. At least you know I'm not saying nice things about you now because I'm afraid.
If you're German or Russian, you're better than I am. You can read English but I can't read German or Russian. I admire you. What do I know? I'm just a stupid, uncouth, environment-wrecking, American dude. Both of your countries are teeming with fine folks who adore consonants - and both of your lovely countries have nukes. Nukes and consonants make a very potent combination. I do love both of your countries very, very much. I really, really do!
And, if you're Chinese, what can I say? I love your food
Tags: Native Americans Fog Germany Russia China Hills Pennsylvania Mountai