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This week in City Paper History

Cover illustration by Vince Dorse

The 2013 Pittsburgh mayoral primary between Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Bill Peduto, Michael Lamb and former state Auditor General Jack Wagner was shaping up as one for the ages. But despite a host of new scandals — a slush fund in the police department and a federal investigation of his administration, for starters — many pundits questioned whether Ravensthal could be defeated. After all, he’d been doing stupid crap for years — using a Homeland Security SUV to go see a Toby Keith concert, hanging out with Snoop Dogg at the Super Bowl and playing the do-you-know-who-the-fuck-I-am card to get into a private event featuring Tiger Woods. But in February, the mayor, who wasn’t showing up for work much at this point anyway, announced he wouldn’t be continuing his campaign. CP’s original plan for our May 8 issue was to do a Luke Ravenstahl cover, but now he was gone. Not ones to back down from a challenge, we did it anyway. The result was Vince Dorse’s hilarious illustration featuring Snoop, Luke and that much maligned SUV.

Silence of the Neighborhood (May 10, 1995)

On May 2, 1995, local actor Don Brockett died of a heart attack at age 65. Although he had dozens of film and television credits to his name, Brockett was best known as Chef Brockett on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. To mark the local legend’s passing, cartoonist Lee Adam Herold dedicated his strip, “Smithfield,” to Brockett. The cartoon depicted a forlorn man sitting on the sidewalk outside of “Chef Brockett’s Bakery.” A sign on the door reads simply: “Closed due to a death in the family” — a touching tribute to Brockett’s most-loved character. But the actor had quite a range, appearing in films like Day of the Dead, Hoffa (starring Jack Nicholson) and the iconic Silence of the Lambs. If you want to find the chef in that film, go to the scene where Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster meet for the first time. After one inmate “unloads” on Foster, our Chef Brockett can be seen screaming one of the film’s most memorable lines: “Miggs, you stupid fuck!”

Jackie O … Dear God, That’s Expensive (May 9, 1996)

Writer A.J. Caliendo reports on the $2.6 million spent by Heinz Chairman Anthony O’Reilly on a ring formerly owned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. O’Reilly bought the ring — valued at $600,000 — as a birthday gift for his wife. To put the cost of the ring in perspective, Caliendo offered this comparison: The ring held the value of 2,184,873 bottles of Heinz ketchup. 

The Devil and Larry Dunn (May 8, 1997)

Marilyn Manson played the then-Civic Arena on May 4, 1997, and Allegheny County Commissioner Larry Dunn got a huge case of the red ass over it. Dunn, as well as other protesters, tried to have the show canceled. In this issue, John Hayes reviewed the show in the form of a letter to Commissioner Dunn. Hayes said that despite the “predictable pre-show hoopla … it was a relatively innocuous, lackluster event. Outside, a couple dozen well-behaved Christian activists passed out leaflets while bored motorcycle cops waited for the apocalypse that didn’t come.”

Unmanned Charter (May 13, 1998)

Nowadays we take our system of Allegheny County governance for granted. We haven’t always had this super-fair system that allows us to elect a 13-member council to make laws for us, and then lets us elect a county executive who ignores the council and does whatever the hell he wants. Eighteen years ago, voters got to go to the polls and decide whether to replace a three-commissioner system with the executive and council model. Chris Potter’s story on the county’s latest attempt to enact home rule highlighted CP’s election issue. The measure would pass and be enacted two years later, but Potter points out that this attempt was different than the two previous tries in that the county’s council districts wouldn’t be defined until after the charter was approved. That left critics, like Mark Brentley, who had not yet been elected to the Pittsburgh School Board, skeptical. Charter supporters, he says, were telling voters: “Give me a check; I’ll fill in the blanks later.”

The Tribe has spoken, but KDKA won’t say shit (May 9, 2001)

Local viewers of the second season of the hit CBS show Survivor had an extra reason to watch the show, set that time in Australia. A 22-year-old Beaver County resident named Amber Brkich was one of the contestants. To capitalize on the show’s popularity, KDKA reporter David Highfield reported each week from a watch party with Brkich’s friends and family. The problem, as City Paper reported, was that Brkich was also there, even though the KDKA broadcasts didn’t include her or that fact. The show had rules against contestants appearing in public while the show aired, but still, some people were upset at how the station handled it. “The KDKA live shots were wrong,” Mike Dodgson, a journalism professor and former local news producer, told CP. “It goes to the credibility of the station first, but also goes to the reporter’s credibility. Don’t fake it.” Brkich did eventually show her face around the ’Burgh again and even returned to Survivor, where she won the show’s all-star version and met her future husband, “Boston” Rob Mariano.

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