Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Podcamp Pittsburgh 5, Part 1 (PCPGH5)

OK, work is done, pictures are processed, and dinner is eaten; now it’s time to tell the tale of Podcamp!

This wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun if I didn’t get to go to Pittsburgh to attend.  As I mentioned two posts ago, I opted to stay at a hotel downtown rather than stay with my relatives in the suburbs and have to drive back and forth, in an unfamiliar city, in the dark, drunk.  I wanted to be within crawling distance, so the William Penn was just the ticket.  (See picture in previous post.)

But before I could even get there, I realized it was a regional holiday.  Apparently it was Mid-Atlantic Fuckstick Day, because every 10 miles or so, I’d come up on some fuckstick driving squarely beside the car he was allegedly trying to pass.  Nothing like a nice moving roadblock when you got to be somewhere.  And for some reason, the only term that kept coming to my head to describe these assholes was “fuckstick.”  Go figure.

But I found my way to the Penn uneventfully and went directly to the parking garage.  Screw your $27 a day valet parking.  I got this.

Now since I was getting my room on points, I was expecting one of those little hole-in-the-wall rooms, with space for the bed, a desk, a TV and diddly-squat else.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice long room that included a love seat and easy chair in addition to an enormous king-sized bed.  This room would be acceptable, all right.

Only down side was the view, because there was none.  My room was deep in one of the “creases” of the building (again, see picture in previous post) so all I could see was this:

I checked in around 4 and the Carpetbagger was picking me up for the meet and greet at 7, so I had time to kill.  So instead of gazing out my window at the brick wall for the next 3 hours, I decided to take a walk arahnd dahntahn.  (That’s Pixburgh dialect, for the uninitiated.)   Like I mentioned before, for someone that’s visited Pittsburgh frequently throughout life, I’ve spent very little time actually in the city, with time on my hands and no where I had to be.

One of the things I just can’t get over is the decoration on the buildings in Pittsburgh.  It’s like every other building has got some kind of ornate carving on the fringes.

I love the claustrophobia of the very tall buildings and very narrow streets.

Another thing I notice is that most of the streets have 2-way traffic.  Most of downtown Baltimore is made up of 1-way streets, so it tends to make you a lazy pedestrian.  You only have to look one way before jaywalking.  In Pittsburgh, you have to keep your head on a swivel.  I also noticed that very few people jaywalk.  In Baltimore, the maxim of crossing with the light at the crosswalk is taken as a mere suggestion.

First, I found my way to Honus Wagner’s Sporting Goods.  That place always has good Pittsburgh sports swag.  I picked up a new Steelers hat and Penguins tee shirt.  Then, wonder of wonders, I found a liquor store.  Nothing like a little Crown Royal for the room, to provide a nightcap if needed.  Whiskey in hand, I headed towards “The Castle.”

That’s what I call the PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) building.  It’s the one you notice immediately whenever you see the Pittsburgh skyline… the giant glass building that looks like a castle tower.

There’s actually a big plaza, surrounded by this tower and other smaller but similarly constructed buildings.  The whole thing is really eye-popping. 

It’s like you’re in the Wizard of Oz and the Emerald City has been redone in onyx. 

The only thing missing would be the Oh-Wee-Oh Guards patrolling outside, probably wearing Steelers game jerseys.  That’s another thing… all over town I saw people wearing game jerseys.  This went for Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon… whatever.  In Baltimore, I see maaaaybe a jersey or 2 every week or so, usually on game day.  Those Pittsburghers are nothing if not devoted to their teams.  It’s nice to know it’s not just my family that has that particular genetic variant.

Next, I made it over to Market Square to have a look around.  The place is interesting, if not quite as photogenic as the PPG plaza.  It’s still being worked on though… lots of sidewalks and storefronts being obscured, including that of Las Velas, the restaurant owned by PittGirl’s husband.  Las Velas would be providing the food for the Podcamp Friday Night Meet-n-Greet. 

Right.  PittGirl, aka Ginny of That’s Church.  My primary objective of the weekend was to finally meet Ginny.  I still wasn’t sure what I would say to her, but I knew I didn’t want to be a sweaty mess, so I beat feet back to the Penn to shower off.
I was really impressed by the Penn’s dazzling lobby, but then realized that I wasn’t really going to be doing anything there but walking through it from time to time.

Promptly at 7:05, the Carpetbagger-mobile, containing both Mr. and Mrs. Carpetbagger, swung by to pick me up and take me to the party at Alphalab.  They were out of stick-on name tags by the time we got there, so we had to improvise with notebook paper and clothespins. 

Immediately I began doing the “Terminator Scan”, looking for Ginny.

I didn’t see her anywhere, so I went for the next best thing… The wine!  Luckily for me, the wine was being tended to by 2 of the 3 illustrious bitches from Bitchburgh!
Hot Mama and Wormy guard the wine.

I have to say that I got very lucky in choosing company for the night.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Carpetbagger were adept at starting conversations with complete strangers.  Then once the ice was broken, I could kind of slide into the conversation with a minimum of awkwardness.  They were the perfect wingmen.  (Or wing-people… whatever.)  If left to my own devices, I'd stand there quietly against the wall, like a geek at an 8th grade dance, waiting for someone to talk to me.

It seemed like every time I looked up, Mrs. Carpetbagger was surrounded by guys.  The first time, it was comic book podcasters.

Later, it looked like it was a batch of young skateboarders, probably thinking that they were gonna get some Mrs. Robinson action.  Or should I say “Stiffler’s Mother”?

Funny, I didn’t get any pictures of Mr. Carpetbagger.  Who would, when you could shoot this instead?
Unless someone was pulling my leg, this dude was just there for the free food and drinks.  Not that that’s a bad reason to be anywhere…

Later during the evening, I was approached by blogger, “Uncle Crappy”, who said he wanted to meet me.  (ME?!?)  He writes a blog by the same name, (which may be found on my blogroll), and we talked Ohio State football for a few minutes.  Then later, he showed me a tweet from Red Pen Mama saying she was jealous that he got to meet me.  (MEEE????!!??  WTF?)  Obviously these bloggers don’t get out much.  RPM was the person with whom I cooked up the idea for the Darwinfish Fry, but she was unable to make that date.  I’m looking forward to meeting her as well.

I spotted Pittsburgh radio DJ Tall Cathy, whose session I planned to attend on Saturday.  Hers was the only session I selected for the sole reason that she’s smokin’ hot.  And tall.  She was doing a session on Twitter, which I’m not on.  But it looked like it would be a pleasant way to learn about it.
Ginny published this shot a while back, of her with Tall Cathy.

Tall Cathy was not hard to find.  Ginny, on the other hand, was still nowhere to be seen, no matter how many times I did the Terminator Scan.  Now the night was drawing to a close and I was no closer to meeting my blogging inspiration than I was when I was in Baltimore.  Earlier in the evening, we met a real estate agent named Kathryn, who didn’t have a blog but intended to start one, so she was attending Podcamp.  When the Meet-n-Greet drew to a close, The Baggers, Kathryn and I went next door to the Double-wide Bar where the After-Party was taking place.  I had a couple more beers there and a plate of fries. 

It was kind of an indoor/outdoor place with a big patio.  Outside, I met up with Wormy and Hot Mama.  In what would become a theme of my weekend, Wormy began working on me to join The Twitter.  The rest of the night flew by in a torrent of yakking and lots of laughs.  I met a lot of people whose names start with “@”, like @yay_toast.  It’s weird enough meeting and referring to people by their “blog names”, even after you know their real names.  The Twitter names are a whole different ballgame.

Round about midnight, we got out of dodge and the Baggers deposited me back at my hotel.  I didn’t even bring up the Crown… we all needed to get some shut-eye.  We had a big weekend ahead of us, after all.

Next up:  My Podcamp Pittsburgh Experience, aka: Stalking Ginny.

Unrelated Note:  You can find an encore performance of my Firehouse Belle (Ex gets stuck upside down behind the dryer) post from last month on the humor site, Laugh Out Loud.  Please check it out, if you haven’t seen it here already.  It’s a hoot.  (And if you have, maybe you could click on over anyway, so it looks like more people like my stuff and she runs another one of my posts in the future.)


sherry stanfa-stanley said...

Pittsburgh has been on my to-visit list for a long time. This post so reinforces the idea. Only wish I could line up the same crazy crowd to entertain me!

bluzdude said...

I highly recommend a visit, Sherry. There are so many cool things to see and do. Or just walk around and look at stuff. You're only about 4.5 hours away...

The Guy's Perspective said...

This is cool to hear about, because I'm thinking of going to Podcamp this weekend.

I've mentioned before that I have very fond memories of a crazy trip to Pittsburgh. The actual downtown looks like it's come a long way. Really nice!

Jessica R. said...

1. That castle building is insane. Just the pictures make my eyes hurt.

2. Everyone here wears Saints and LSU jerseys even when football isn't in season.

3. What's with the guy in the mad hatter get up in the fourth pic from the bottom?

Cassie said...

If I didn't know you better, I'd be creeped out when you wrote: "AKA stalk Ginny." Your stalking would be consisting of: "There she is! Holy shit! She's in the same room as me! I think I'm going to pee my pants. OK, mission accomplished."

I love William Penn hotel. It's so pretty. I don't think there's a single 'hole in the wall' room, either, unlike the Hilton, or whatever it's called now.


Cher Duncombe said...

You did such a great job of capturing Pittsburgh's wonderful architecture. Too often we take it for granted until we visit a place like oh...Akron! Sorry, Akron residents, but you need a decorator.

red pen mama said...

I can't speak for Uncle Crappy, but I don't get out nearly as much as I would like. Pregnancy turns me into a hermit. A tired, achy hermit with a messy house and two kids running rough-shod over me. And I can't drink! So screw socializing. This is why, now more than ever, social media is vital to my peace of mind.

Nice pix of the 'burgh. And I really have to meet the Carpetbagger & his missus. I find his blog entertaining, although I've been a poor commenter there.

Off to find and follow Tall Cathy on Teh Twitter. Can't wait until you're all joined up and we can harass you!

red pen mama said...

I also wanted to add, about the passing lane: welcome to my daily 30 minute commute. The left lane isn't for hanging out in people. I need one of those f%^# sticks please.

Anonymous said...

Your camera was definitely pointed in the right direction. Like most vampires worth their salt, I don't show up on film. Unfortunately, I do show up in mirrors.

I never did talk to the Mad Hatter dude. I don't cotton to clowns.

Mary Ann said...

A photogenic city, fersure. You capture some sparkle, especially the William Penn lobby where one always feels like royalty with all that overhead crystal.

bluzdude said...

Pittsburgh is an absolutely beautiful city. People that say otherwise are talking about a place that’s not there any more.

And I highly recommend going to a Podcamp. It’s rejuvenating to talk about our on-line livelihood with a group of like-minded people. I left there ready to roll!

3. The clown guy is known as the Gladhatter. I didn’t know that until after I got back home. I was sitting beside a guy in one of the sessions and one side of his nametag said “John” and the other side (he was fiddling with it) said “Gladhatter”. I wrote it down in my notes and googled it when I got home. (I don’t have one of your fancy googly internet phones.) Anyway, I still don’t know what he does, but I caught a comment that he was at the Meet and Greet on Friday night, so I finally put it together.

Your description of my “stalking” is pretty much spot on. Just add the part where I finally get to speak with her for a brief moment, and it’s perfect. Thank you for reiterating one of the points they covered at Podcamp… it’s hard to write “tone”. You know I’m kidding around because you know me. Maybe I should include a disclaimer: “No bloggers were actually harmed in the making of this post.”

Anyway, I’ll provide more clarifying details in the next post. In the meantime, I’ll just have to duck the Blog Police.

The Downtown Burgh definitely rocks… not that I want to drive around down there much… but I love walking and visiting, especially when it’s not freezing out. Again, Cass, I wish you could have been there. But at least I didn’t have to stalk you this weekend.

By the way, that’s a nice outfit you have on.

As someone that works every day in downtown Baltimore, I can say that they have a couple of cool(ish) buildings, but nothing that holds a candle to The Burgh.

bluzdude said...

The Carpetbaggers are great people and they took very good care of me.

I should be on The Twitter by the weekend. Good thing I missed that nasty old Twitter virus yesterday, huh? I probably would have though I accidentally caused it.

I can appreciate how social media must be a lifeline for you. I have had many stretches were I was hermitted… in a new city, far from friends and family, not knowing anyone or even where to go, and being rather shy when I did go out… I just wish I had such options back then.

RMP (Comment #2),
Amen. Is it really that hard to get around a car, then move the fuck over? Or even worse, they pull up just a little bit ahead of the car they’re passing, then camp out THERE, not allowing enough space to pass on the right without cutting off the car in the right lane.

At one point, there was a whole trail of cars backed up behind one Fuckstick that was blocking things up, with a whole stretch of empty road in front of him. The lack of self awareness on the road is staggering to me.

Grow a pair and hit the gas. ‘Nuff said.

You know my thing with clowns… I gave it a wide berth. I didn’t find out I was talking with him until long after the fact, because he was in disguise as a regular guy. I bet he still had the big shoes one though… I never looked.

Mary Ann,
Yes, it was very nice to walk through, a couple times a day. Under different circumstances, it would have been a cool place to hang out. Wish they would have had a couple computer terminals set up in there…

Cassie said...

Outfit as in my Malkin tee? Yah, I know how to make the boys come holla.

Next time you're in the 'burgh, you must stalk me. I can honestly say, I've never had the pleasure. And you're not creepy. So there's a plus.

bluzdude said...

Whoooooo! for hot Russian Chickz.

Sitcom Kelly and I have a running joke about stalking... her stalking, anyway. That's going to be a recurrent storyline in the show. If she lived in Pittsburgh, she'd totally be stalking Kris Letang. Or any other Penguin.

Anyway, that's probably why I'm so cavalier in talking about it.

Christy said...

It looks like you had a lot of fun. Makes me want to get as many bloggers in my area to have some fun too.

bluzdude said...

You should totally do that! If you have a nest of bloggers in one area, set up a meet-up. You won't regret it.

Bachelor Girl said...

I think Mid-Atlantic Fuckstick Day might be my new favorite holiday.