What year is it? If I relied on the culture of middle-aged, white male comedians to try to figure this out, I’d guess we’re living in Pittsburgh circa 1977. That’s probably before a lot of you were even born.
From the retro-aviator-bespectacled, ’70s-porn-star-groomed Pittsburgh Dad hawking for the Pennysaver — “You paid too much? I told yinz to check the Pennysaver first” — to blogger and podcaster “Ya Jagoff” and his snooze festivals reminiscent of the SNL skit, “The Chris Farley Show” (“Remember that? Yeah, that was awesome.”), you might find yourself scrambling for respite from nostalgia saturation — which we have reached.
While the population in Pittsburgh is down a smidge overall, it remains a big age spot on the skin of the United States map. But thanks to thriving universities, a mentionable increase in younger folk has occurred. According to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, the population in Allegheny County in the past five years has lumbered along from 7 to 7.6 percent in the 25-29 age range, and from 6 to 6.5 percent in the 30-34 age range. In Gary Rotstein’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story last spring, he quoted University of Pittsburgh economist and demographer Chris Briem, saying, “There are parts of the city growing and changing and doing well — absolutely. But people forget that of 90 neighborhoods, there are a lot of them still suffering from trends of the past.”
You can say that again.
For example, the ’70s-style rock-guitar riff that underscores the latest promo for WTAE meteorologist Mike “4-Degree Guarantee” Harvey would also leave a hapless, time-traveling soul to speculate he had arrived the year when Apple Inc. first incorporated. What may be the most cornball promotion in local-news history doesn’t help, either.
His “4-Degree Guarantee” works thusly:
“Every weekday during the 5 p.m. newscast, Mike Harvey will give viewers his 4-Degree Guarantee. He guarantees the next day’s low temperature will be within 4 degrees of what he predicts. The following day we will compare Mike Harvey’s guaranteed forecast to the actual temperature. … When he is right, one viewer will be randomly selected from among all eligible entries and will be offered a ‘Mike Harvey. He Gets It Right’ ice scrapper [sic] prize.”
That’s right, folks, you WIN AN ICE SCRAPPER.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that one of Harvey’s proudest moments was meeting the “Hansen Brothers” [sic] from the 1977 movie Slap Shot.
Which brings me back to Ya Jagoff, who recently posted an interview on his blog, yajagoff.com, with “yinzer” Dave Hanson, who does, in fact, have a really cool (pun intended) and impressive hockey story. The tagline? “We are yakkin’ with Dave Hanson from the 1970s cult hockey movie ‘Slapshot [sic].’”
In case you were wondering, the movie Slap Shot could be pithily described as a struggling hockey team in a struggling Rust Belt town, coached by a character portrayed by Paul Newman to play like goons. (Great movie, by the way.)
Let’s Do the Time Warp, Again!
Seriously, more 1977? ICYMI, there is a Facebook community — 2,219 strong and growing — with the cleverly crafted moniker, “Straight Outta Pittsburgh.” On Jan. 3, it posted a vintage WTAE promotion from 1977. It sounds a lot like the theme to The Love Boat, which isn’t strange at all since TLB first aired in 1977. Instead of cruising the Pacific Princess, though, you’re riding a Sea-Doo on the Mon. (Treat yourself here.)
Look for us;
We’ll be there;
Action News is everywhere;
From the warm and friendly city;
Where three rivers flow
We’re always there
The local-news promotional themes of yesteryear and today are much the same. The images and soundtrack may change, but the message is always: “WE ARE WATCHING YOU.” So, you know — relax.
The Pitt News reported last week that more millennials are buying homes in Pittsburgh, so it’s only natural to want to keep our ears to the ground and keep 1977 around … forever. Emily Migdal of TPN writes, “[Matt] Stephens is one of about 12 percent of millennials buying and considering buying homes in the Pittsburgh region — a number below the national average of one-third, but one that, according to a December 2015 National Association of Realtors prediction, is set to rise.”
I think working toward peaceful coexistence is the only solution. I mean, you did see Star Wars, right? I’m talking about the one that debuted in 1977, of course.