Not taking a dive
Recently, I received a very favorable write-up in your 2007 City Guide; however I was placed under the category of "'Dive' Bars." My customers, employees and myself find this interpretation to be baffling.
Upon relocation in 2002, I went to great lengths to make certain that all aspects of my establishment were of the highest quality and depicted Le Mardi Gras's original ambiance. I would respectfully like to correct City Guide's misinterpretation of my establishment.
In 1954, when Le Mardi Gras opened, its owner and designer went to great lengths to accommodate the wealthy families from the Pittsburgh area who were affiliated with the Duquesne Club in Downtown Pittsburgh and Rolling Rock Country Club in Ligonier, PA. Being that we had a very high-end type of clientele, we were classified as a "Cocktail Lounge." This is a place where people gathered and held intelligent conversations while sipping on their favorite libation.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of entertaining and serving many celebrities from not only the Pittsburgh area, but New York and Hollywood as well.
In 2004, upon our 50th anniversary, I received a Proclamation from the City of Pittsburgh granting me the Key to the City for our longevity and excellence.
I am now informed that City Guide's interpretation was actually used in a positive manner, and the classification was meant to be authentic and unpretentious. I am very happy that City Guide views my establishment as appealing entity. Perhaps, the next time my establishment is reviewed by City Guide, you will consider placing me under the classification of "Unpretentious" and "Authentic." This classification would certainly make myself, employees and patrons much happier.
-- Richie Costanzo, owner
Le Mardi Gras
The sound (and sight, and smell) of music
Re "Facing the Music" [Aug. 1]: I love buskers, but I feel they need to meet their audience half way. Maybe buskers need to change a little, then Pittsburghers will change a little.
I have been in the entertainment business since I was a teen. I keep trying to tell people (especially producers and musicians) that human beings use all their senses when they embrace something.
Live performances are no different. When you are on the street and someone walks by. They hear you. Then they see you. Then they smell you.
If you don't want to be mistaken for someone who is homeless, DON'T LOOK HOMELESS.
It's very simple.
I know we have become a society of casual dress, but many of you do LOOK homeless. Maybe iron your clothes, comb your hair, maybe don't wear that "oh so comfy" shirt with all the holes in it.
You want people to take you seriously, take yourself somewhat seriously.
Once I went to put money in a busker's guitar case and I couldn't jump back fast enough from the stench of body odor. I am not saying all buskers are unkempt, but many are.
Also, upgrade your stage presence. If you are making the sidewalk your stage, get professional about it!
Make signs that look professional. Don't just make them out of torn paper bags. I'm not saying, lose that classic look and use computerized signage, but I am saying, be professional. I know every musician knows an artist friend or two who can help. Make a decent sign. This is a performance -- if you want the public to treat it as such, then you need to treat it as such. Don't use duct tape!
Be positive. People don't want to hear or see nasty words to convey your message. Some shirts, stickers on your cases, etc. are offensive. Be smart; leave that stuff at home when you are performing. Also, being friendlier would help. I have had buskers totally ignore me when I put money in their cases. I understand you may be singing, but a smile would be nice. I have had some buskers, after playing music, just ignore the fact that I just put a few bucks in their case and just start talking and cursing to their friends!
Maybe you can have some flyers, if you are going to be performing at an indoor event. Perhaps if you are not performing anywhere, have a fellow musician's flyer. When you are taking a short break, hand these flyers out and converse with your audience. If the musicians were friendlier, and are on a certain corner or in front of a certain shop regularly, people can't help not to be nice to you. Also if your friends are hanging around you, perhaps you can get them to hand out flyers and say thanks.
I hope no one takes offense to this. It was meant to be some help and I hope it is taken as such. I have been all over the USA and have done facepainting on boardwalks and [at] street carnivals. I somewhat know what it is like in that position. I make it a point to give each and every busker I meet a few bucks for their contribution to our wonderful small-town atmosphere.
Keep up the good work, but give what I say some thought.
-- Lisa Marie Bruno, McKees Rocks