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This Week in City Paper History

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The Bad Old Days (April 9, 2009)
Writer Adam Fleming took a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ miserable losing streak and asked the question that fans asked every year: “Is this the season when things start to go right?” There were a lot of interesting things about this particular piece. First, it argued whether it was time to replace Nate McLouth in centerfield with a young upstart named Andrew McCutchen. Obviously we now have the benefit of hindsight, but still this should have been a no-brainer way back when. There was also a story behind the story. The illustration by Mario Zucca, which featured the racing Pierogies mourning the death of the Pirate Parrot, was originally supposed to be the cover. On the Saturday before the issue was to hit the streets, however, three Pittsburgh Police officers were killed in a shooting at a Stanton Heights home. After a brief discussion, then-editor Chris Potter decided that featuring baseball on the cover in what was also a funeral depiction was in very bad taste. Instead the cover featured a photo of the city’s police memorial on the North Side.

Utterly Hilarious (April 1, 1992)

It’s not often that April Fools’ Day falls on a Wednesday, but when it does City Paper has had a little fun from time to time. In fact, on the first April Fools’ issue in the paper’s history, we ran a story called “Moos Along the Mon: Cattle Ranching in Pittsburgh comes of Age.” The more than 1,000-word story went to great lengths to steer (get it) readers toward the joke. “He saw the rivers, our topography and said, ‘We’d kill for this kind of grazing land in Texas,” a “source” told CP.

Welcome to McCopsport (April 3, 1997)

CP’s Rich Lord delves into the political power that the McKeesport’s police department was wielding in the late 1990s. Sources reported that the department had torn down political signs of opposition candidates, and that business owners who didn’t support the incumbent political powers were continually harassed by officers. 

History for Sale (March 31, 1999)

Chris Potter wrote about an “exhibit” at the Heinz History Center focusing on the 25th anniversary of Eat’n Park. Potter noted that the exhibit seemed a lot more like a commercial than an exhibit. It turns out the majority of the display was mostly composed by the restaurant’s PR department. The headline of the piece was “Eat’n Park’s the place for guile.”

I’m a Failure, Not a Loser (April 4, 2001)

This week in 2001, CP ran its first and only Failure Issue. The stories focused on how being a failure wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Writer Frances Monahan (now Rupp) wrote: “Isn’t it about time we begin to embrace our failures and realize that a failure is a learning experience?” Other stories focused on local political failures, stories from staff writers about their past failures and a piece by Mary Binder on why no sport other than hockey ever survived in the Civic Arena.

Danger, Bill Robinson (April 3, 2002)

Longtime Pennsylvania state Rep. Bill Robinson was locked in a political battle with newcomer Jake Wheatley, a former aide of Pittsburgh City Councilor Sala Udin. Robinson and Udin were political rivals and the two argued about the best way to lead development in the Hill District. Both men were prepared for a fight, leading Robinson to tell CP’s Rich Lord, “If this is political Armageddon, I’ll do what I have to do.”

The Journey Begins (April 2, 2003)

Long before he was a Pittsburgh City Councilor and later executive director of Allies for Children, Patrick Dowd was a history and economics teacher at a private school. Like many people, he was fed up with infighting on the Pittsburgh Public School Board. Dowd would go on to defeat entrenched incumbent Darlene Harris (the two would later become city-council colleagues) using a strong grassroots campaign. Writer Julie Mickens detailed the Dowd campaign and the strategy that would get him elected to the school board and later council.

Vote for Me and Get a Beautiful set of Steak Knives. (April 6, 2005)

Writer Marty Levine looks at the campaign giveaways being distributed by local candidates. Sure, there are buttons and bumper stickers, but some are even more specialized like the Bob O’Connor for Mayor seven-day pill container. Levine writes about the item: “Never has a campaign tchotchke spoken more clearly about a candidate’s constituency.”  

The Steelers’ Wandering Way (April 8, 2010) 

Steelers fans don’t need more reason to be cocky, but one thing they always bragged about was the so-called “Steelers Way.” Coach Mike Tomlin explained it like this: “Our standards of conduct, is above and beyond that of our peers.” But at the time, the Steelers had several players who had gotten involved with the law or in other scandals. Ben Roethlisberger had been recently accused of sexual assault in Georgia, Antonio Brown had been accused of assaulting a woman in a nightclub and kicker Jeff Reed had been in trouble for altercations with a Sheetz paper-towel dispenser and city police officers. “No longer can the color of a guy’s helmet protect the player inside of it,” Washington Post NFL blogger Robert Littal told CP.


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