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This Week in City Paper History

Breakout: On Tue., April 10, 2012, one hour before City Paper was scheduled to print our primary election guide, Pennsylvania’s favorite conservative, Rick Santorum, announced he was suspending his presidential campaign. For a liberal alt-weekly that spent years wishing he’d just go away, one might think this was great news. But, sitting at the printer, ready to go to press, was that week’s cover: Rick Santorum, illustrated as a zombie by local artist Frank Harris. The cover language? “HE’S B-A-A-A-CK! Is he pro-life or just undead? Either way, Pennsylvanians may have to kill Rick Santorum’s political career again.” A quick call to the printer followed. “STOP THE PRESSES!” With no time to find new cover art, then-editor Chris Potter changed the text to “IT’S (NOT) ALIVE! Do we have to wait until 2016 to ruin his career again?” Yup.

Fans Wanted (April 12, 1995)

After the Major League Baseball strike of 1994-95, management at the Pittsburgh Pirates worried that fans wouldn’t return to Three Rivers Stadium. “[The fans] have talked about boycotting the games or ripping up their tickets,” said Steve Greenberg, the club’s vice president at the time. In John Enrietto’s piece, the Pirates mentioned adding a second mascot to attract fans. Could that be what inspired our beloved pierogie races? 

All the Wage (April 12, 2000)

Last month, after a years-long battle, health-care giant UPMC became one of the latest employers to announce it would raise the minimum wage for its employees to $15 an hour. Rich Lord’s story shows the fight to increase the minimum wage has been going on for decades in Pittsburgh. In April 2000, long before the Fight for 15 and “living wage” became a part of our lexicon, workers at county-funded human-services agencies were fighting to raise their wages to $9.12 an hour. One worker’s comment — “Basically I live paycheck to paycheck” — remains a common refrain at demonstrations today.

What’s Wrong With This Picture? (April 10, 2002)

Arts editor Sharmila Venkatasubban took a look at staff turnover and financial troubles at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The piece examined the PCA’s storied history and the factors that contributed to its struggles. Three years later, PCA was stabilized after merging with Pittsburgh Filmmakers — but today, Filmmakers has difficulties of its own, including budget shortfalls and a management shakeup last year.

Last Holiday (April 12, 2007)

Marty Levine’s piece marked the closing of the Holiday, Pittsburgh’s oldest gay bar, after the Forbes Avenue building was purchased by Carnegie Mellon University. “This business goes back to a time when gay bars hid in plain sight,” said bar patron Chuck Honse. “They were here — this was right on a main street — but you had to know where to find it. There were no flashing lights and no sign hanging out over the sidewalk.”

A Jones for Music (April 16, 2009)

Musician Sean Jones has been part of the Pittsburgh jazz scene for more than a decade. Mike Shanley’s profile looks at Jones, his career, his impact on the jazz community and his desire to bring more attention to local jazz musicians. “You go anywhere now and if people talk about Pittsburgh, they talk about people that either used to live here, or they don’t talk about what’s going on now,” Jones said. “We’re going to try to give Pittsburgh the credibility that it deserves in the here and now.”

Management Issues (April 10, 2013)

The Pirates were on the cusp of beginning their 21st consecutive losing season and writer Charlie Deitch decided to take his frustration out on the team’s owners – Bob and Ogden Nutting. In addition to being majority owner of the Pirates, the Nuttings also owned a chain of newspapers, where Deitch once worked as editor. “Working for the Nuttings, like being a Pirates fan, was full of head-scratching moments,” Deitch wrote. “But in some ways, walking away from a job can be easier than walking away from a team that you are invested in.” Deitch would admit he was wrong later in the year when the Buccos broke the losing streak and made the playoffs.

Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest
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Ephemeral art made at Chalk Fest

By Pam Smith