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The Mouse That Rohrs

Cheer up! CEOs say happy days are here again!

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As a certified grumpy-ass bastard, I have felt the need to remind you from time to time that we're all freaking doomed in this city. And you suburbanites are doomed as well, because we're a millstone around your white-picket-fence neck.

When I say doomed, I mean the city's population keeps shrinking, the young people don't stay, we elect mediocre, unimaginative leadership, and we have a tendency to be stuck in the past.

But I have completely turned around. I have hope again. The time has come to embrace mediocrity. Stop bitching about what we don't have and be thankful for what we've got, you whiny hipster. That's right, I'm talking to you, you East End, tattooed groovemeister.

For one thing, if the city was on the upswing, you'd have nothing to complain about -- and one thing we ALL have in common here is our love of bitching. Just look at me, I'm bitching up a storm right now. I'm even bitching about you bitching.

Here's the thing: I didn't realize I should stop bitching until I heard about what a big-shot banker said at the Big Meeting of Important White Guys where they decide everything.

The more formal name for this organization is the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. And the head white guy is James Rohr. (He's the head white guy, hear him Rohr.) He also heads up PNC Bank. So you really can't get any bigger, whiter, or more important. And he put everything in perspective.

Dig this, you dissatisfied whiner: My man Jimmy says it's a damn good thing we're shrinking and not growing. "What do we really want to be?" he asked the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Is meeting the national job growth average good enough for our kids? I think it probably is. Do we want to grow at 15 percent? I don't know if we want to. Our infrastructure, our roads couldn't handle a 15-percent growth rate. We couldn't handle a 10-percent growth rate."

Well shit my pants and bring me a new pair! We've been idiots all this time. My man Jimmy says if more people came here, there'd be no place for them to drive. How do places like Orlando and Phoenix and Charlotte do it? I guess a certain percentage of the population isn't allowed to drive. Unless of course, they did something wacky like ... build more roads. Come to think of it, since the city used to be twice the size it is today, how did the 'Burgh handle it before everyone hightailed it out of town?

Anyway, back to the new optimism. Jimmy says all we have to do to realize how great we've got it is realign our expectations.

Now according to the Post-Gazette, the Allegheny Conference, much like Pittsburgh itself, ain't what it used to be. "Its reputation for miracle-making has suffered in recent decades as Pittsburgh struggled with the loss of more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs, several high-profile headquarters losses and the most dramatic population loss of any big city in America," writes staffer Dan Fitzpatrick. But that was before my man Jimmy came up with this whole "lower your sights and don't expect so much" way of thinking. It's sheer genius, I tell you.

Jimmy reminds us that even though US Airways totally screwed us by largely abandoning the airport we built for them, more rinky-dink outfits are lining up every day. I'm thinking there's a new slogan in there somewhere: "Pittsburgh: We think rinky-dink every day."

Jimmy says there's a new "Pittsburgh Regional Compact," linking students with local companies. Golly. So that's why all those kids left! They just didn't know we had any local companies!

And get this! Things are going so well that the old rich white guys are gonna throw one helluva party! It's the city's 250th anniversary! Jimmy cautions you, though, that the conference shouldn't be in the "party-throwing business." And yet they've raised $11 million for the party and hope to raise another million on top of it.

You could create some jobs with $11 million, but screw it: Let's just throw a big-ass party. Now that I've realigned my expectations, everything's coming up freaking roses. We're not losing population: We're just downsizing.

From now on, my glass is half full. It's the power of positive thinking. Rose-colored glasses for everyone! See you at the Duquesne Club!

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