Saturday, November 12, 2016

How Could I Have Missed It?


I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming. I mean, I was in Greece for all three of the populist SYRIZA party’s successful elections, in Europe for the populist Brexit victory, and born and raised in western Pennsylvania amid the down-to-earth families making up the heart of America’s steel and coal country.  Think Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter,” and you get the picture.  In fact, I played football against the high school team from the Monongahela River mill town of Clairton where much of the movie was filmed.

My father's friend owned the tractor featured in this opening scene of The Deer Hunter

I also realized from the moment I first set foot in New York City in 1969 that New York City—whoops make that Manhattan—thinks nothing like the rest of the country, until you hit LA, Washington D.C., or a few spots around Chicago.

Yet, the same as practically everyone else in NYC, I drank the media’s and odds-makers’ Kool-Aid and never saw it coming. 

Yes, folks, the populist Cubs actually won the World Series!  Who would have thunk it? 

Cleveland rooters are understandably disheartened. So close, but yet so far.  At least there is solace to be taken in knowing that, “Better luck next year” is far more optimistic a rallying cry than say, “Better luck in four.”

And speaking of Pittsburgh (where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet to form the Ohio), I returned for a fundraiser Thursday night, and a book event Friday night at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Pennsylvania (under new owners, Natalie Sacco and Trevor Thomas)—a town rather far up the Allegheny River from where I grew up.

Mystery Lovers second from left

And with its legendary Oakmont Country Club, known for hosting US Open Golf Championships, a much different community from The Deer Hunter’s Clairton.



Both nights’ events were grand times packed with folks, food, and adult beverages, but I want to mention something about the first…the second is old news. 

Wynton Marsalis headlined the non-booksigning event

The event on Thursday night brought together 1100 supporters of The Pittsburgh Promise, a charitable organization offering all students of Pittsburgh Public High Schools, resident in Pittsburgh and in its schools since 9th grade, who graduate with at least a 2.5 grade average and 90% attendance record, scholarships of $7,500 per year for four years toward accredited post secondary education, be it college or technical schools in Pennsylvania.

Since its creation a decade ago, The Pittsburgh Promise has raised $194 million toward its funding goal of $250 million, awarded over 6800 scholarships totaling more than $89 million, and seen college-going rates increase from 58% to 68% among graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

The motto of The Pittsburgh Promise is, “Dream Big, Work Hard, Give Back.”

I’d say that’s a solid motto for us all to grab onto in these times.

As for those Cleveland fans out there still down in the dumps, allow me to pass along a bit of anecdotal advice.  Someone I hold very dear spent a solid two weeks at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center working twenty-hour days as one of those in charge of organizing the victory celebration for Hillary.

Trust me, it doesn’t get much harder on the soul than what happened that night. 

Yet, by today, my friend is back on track, putting the disappointment behind, and doing what one must to go on. 

That’s consistent with what my pappy always said, “The only ones who lose in life are those who give up when they’re down.” 

So, listen up all you Chief Wahoo fans, hang in there for this, too, shall pass. “Go Indians”…unless, of course, you happen to be playing the Pirates in the Series.

Chins up.



  1. I gave myself a week to mourn. Monday morning I'll be back on track. But no papers, no social media, no CNN. Just pleasant thoughts and good novels.

  2. I'm all up for ignoring the media, treating it the same as I do in Greece--it's all Chinese to me...or perhaps I should say Russian?

    And yes on the pleasant thoughts, which always come to me when I hear from you, Charlotte!

  3. People had a week to grieve, be depressed. But young folks were out protesting all over the country.

    Next year I hope this continues and spreads on every issue that harms people. And I see signs that some of the Democrats may be jumping into the fray. Hope so.