I'm a writer and journalist from Western Pennsylvania. I've written essays, many about class and culture, for Guernica, Oxford American, and The Rumpus, and my reporting has appeared in the Atlantic, Esquire, Forbes, and Spin. I'm currently at work on No Place for Disgrace, a memoir about love and identity set in the American suburbs. My tumblr is a collection of notes and images — some of my own, and some from others. For a more detailed archive of my work, you can visit my website.

newyorker:

Hua Hsu on scenes from the New York City’s pre-gentrification graffiti subculture:

“I remember seeing stickers by COST and his partner, REVS, everywhere: on buildings, trucks, cranes, ladders, lampposts, crosswalk signals, stop signs. It troubled me that I could not decode their meaning. What were they selling? When I learned that the answer was nothing, I was confused and then astonished.”

Photograph courtesy Artists Public Domain/Cinema Conservancy

(via newyorker)

pgdigs:

1991: Life and death of the Syria Mosque
For today’s post, you can thank the Monday blues.

We had ‘em, so we googled our second favorite Monday song (the first is by the Mamas and the Papas). We found it on YouTube — a live version of “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, filmed at the Syria Mosque in 1986.
Ah, the Syria Mosque. Thus began another search. We found on the web several live performances at the Mosque — Genesis (1976),  the Band (‘70), James Taylor (‘76), Allman Brothers Band (‘71), Edgar Winter Group (‘72). Most are just audio files, but a few contain video of performances in what was once the city’s prime concert venue.

The Syria Mosque was a colorfully regal presence on Bigelow Boulevard, across from Soldiers & Sailors Hall. Most people today may remember the 3,750-seat hall for the rock and roll shows it hosted. But in its 75-year life, the Mosque was home to much more.

Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Shriners celebrated the Mosque’s opening in 1916 with a week of festivities, one of which was captured in a picture published in The Pittsburgh Press on October 29 of that year. The image shows the hall crowded with hundreds of children, many holding American flags and wearing Shriner hats. The caption says “moving pictures and a luncheon” kept the children entertained.

Over the years, the Mosque was home to the  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and the National Negro Opera Company.
Then there was jazz. The list of performers includes:

— Louis Armstrong (three appearances, beginning in 1949)— Duke Ellington (in ‘54, he shared a bill with Armstrong and Billy Eckstine) — Count Basie— Benny Goodman (‘41)— Miles Davis (‘55)— Charlie Parker (‘50)— Art Blakey (on a number of occasions, including a concert in 1955 with the Jazz Messengers)— George Benson (‘76, ‘77 and ‘86)

We could go on, but you get the point. The Pittsburgh Music History website offers more detail than we can provide here.

Now let’s talk rock:
— Bill Haley and the Comets (in ‘55, with Bo Diddley and the Drifters; tickets ranged in price from $1.75 to $3.75)— Buddy Holly (four performances ’58, the last in October, four months before his death)— Bob Dylan (in February ‘66, six months after going electric at Newport; also played in ‘64 and ‘90)— Bette Midler (forgive us for lumping her with rockers, but she had a great quote in her ‘73 show: “We’re on a tour of the tackiest city’s in the world, of which Pittsburgh is without a doubt No. 1”)— The Who (in ‘69, the year of the rock opera “Tommy,” and ‘90)— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (‘74)— Bruce Springsteen (in ‘75 and ‘76; his manager Jon Landau called the Mosque “one of the finest theaters he has ever played in”)— Linda Ronstadt (‘75)— Bob Marley (‘77)— James Brown (‘76 and ‘86)— Ramones (‘88)— R.E.M. (‘85 and ‘86)— Bon Jovi (‘84)
Can’t forget the comedy:
— Robin Williams (‘86)— Richard Pryor (At the height of his career, in ‘78)— George Carlin (‘84)— Bill Cosby (‘71)— Jack Benny (‘50 and ‘63)— Bob Hope (‘50)
Of course, these are just partial lists. 
Time was up for the Mosque in 1991. UPMC, then known as Presbyterian University Health System, bought the building for $10 million. What followed was one of the most intense preservation battles in the city’s history. It ended with a handful of protesters, including then City Councilman Jim Ferlo, getting arrested in an unsuccessful attempt stop the bulldozers from advancing on the Mosque.

Today the site is a surface parking lot.
— Steve Mellon
Top picture: Demolition crews at work in 1991. (John Heller/The Pittsburgh Press) pgdigs:

1991: Life and death of the Syria Mosque
For today’s post, you can thank the Monday blues.

We had ‘em, so we googled our second favorite Monday song (the first is by the Mamas and the Papas). We found it on YouTube — a live version of “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, filmed at the Syria Mosque in 1986.
Ah, the Syria Mosque. Thus began another search. We found on the web several live performances at the Mosque — Genesis (1976),  the Band (‘70), James Taylor (‘76), Allman Brothers Band (‘71), Edgar Winter Group (‘72). Most are just audio files, but a few contain video of performances in what was once the city’s prime concert venue.

The Syria Mosque was a colorfully regal presence on Bigelow Boulevard, across from Soldiers & Sailors Hall. Most people today may remember the 3,750-seat hall for the rock and roll shows it hosted. But in its 75-year life, the Mosque was home to much more.

Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Shriners celebrated the Mosque’s opening in 1916 with a week of festivities, one of which was captured in a picture published in The Pittsburgh Press on October 29 of that year. The image shows the hall crowded with hundreds of children, many holding American flags and wearing Shriner hats. The caption says “moving pictures and a luncheon” kept the children entertained.

Over the years, the Mosque was home to the  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and the National Negro Opera Company.
Then there was jazz. The list of performers includes:

— Louis Armstrong (three appearances, beginning in 1949)— Duke Ellington (in ‘54, he shared a bill with Armstrong and Billy Eckstine) — Count Basie— Benny Goodman (‘41)— Miles Davis (‘55)— Charlie Parker (‘50)— Art Blakey (on a number of occasions, including a concert in 1955 with the Jazz Messengers)— George Benson (‘76, ‘77 and ‘86)

We could go on, but you get the point. The Pittsburgh Music History website offers more detail than we can provide here.

Now let’s talk rock:
— Bill Haley and the Comets (in ‘55, with Bo Diddley and the Drifters; tickets ranged in price from $1.75 to $3.75)— Buddy Holly (four performances ’58, the last in October, four months before his death)— Bob Dylan (in February ‘66, six months after going electric at Newport; also played in ‘64 and ‘90)— Bette Midler (forgive us for lumping her with rockers, but she had a great quote in her ‘73 show: “We’re on a tour of the tackiest city’s in the world, of which Pittsburgh is without a doubt No. 1”)— The Who (in ‘69, the year of the rock opera “Tommy,” and ‘90)— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (‘74)— Bruce Springsteen (in ‘75 and ‘76; his manager Jon Landau called the Mosque “one of the finest theaters he has ever played in”)— Linda Ronstadt (‘75)— Bob Marley (‘77)— James Brown (‘76 and ‘86)— Ramones (‘88)— R.E.M. (‘85 and ‘86)— Bon Jovi (‘84)
Can’t forget the comedy:
— Robin Williams (‘86)— Richard Pryor (At the height of his career, in ‘78)— George Carlin (‘84)— Bill Cosby (‘71)— Jack Benny (‘50 and ‘63)— Bob Hope (‘50)
Of course, these are just partial lists. 
Time was up for the Mosque in 1991. UPMC, then known as Presbyterian University Health System, bought the building for $10 million. What followed was one of the most intense preservation battles in the city’s history. It ended with a handful of protesters, including then City Councilman Jim Ferlo, getting arrested in an unsuccessful attempt stop the bulldozers from advancing on the Mosque.

Today the site is a surface parking lot.
— Steve Mellon
Top picture: Demolition crews at work in 1991. (John Heller/The Pittsburgh Press) pgdigs:

1991: Life and death of the Syria Mosque
For today’s post, you can thank the Monday blues.

We had ‘em, so we googled our second favorite Monday song (the first is by the Mamas and the Papas). We found it on YouTube — a live version of “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, filmed at the Syria Mosque in 1986.
Ah, the Syria Mosque. Thus began another search. We found on the web several live performances at the Mosque — Genesis (1976),  the Band (‘70), James Taylor (‘76), Allman Brothers Band (‘71), Edgar Winter Group (‘72). Most are just audio files, but a few contain video of performances in what was once the city’s prime concert venue.

The Syria Mosque was a colorfully regal presence on Bigelow Boulevard, across from Soldiers & Sailors Hall. Most people today may remember the 3,750-seat hall for the rock and roll shows it hosted. But in its 75-year life, the Mosque was home to much more.

Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Shriners celebrated the Mosque’s opening in 1916 with a week of festivities, one of which was captured in a picture published in The Pittsburgh Press on October 29 of that year. The image shows the hall crowded with hundreds of children, many holding American flags and wearing Shriner hats. The caption says “moving pictures and a luncheon” kept the children entertained.

Over the years, the Mosque was home to the  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and the National Negro Opera Company.
Then there was jazz. The list of performers includes:

— Louis Armstrong (three appearances, beginning in 1949)— Duke Ellington (in ‘54, he shared a bill with Armstrong and Billy Eckstine) — Count Basie— Benny Goodman (‘41)— Miles Davis (‘55)— Charlie Parker (‘50)— Art Blakey (on a number of occasions, including a concert in 1955 with the Jazz Messengers)— George Benson (‘76, ‘77 and ‘86)

We could go on, but you get the point. The Pittsburgh Music History website offers more detail than we can provide here.

Now let’s talk rock:
— Bill Haley and the Comets (in ‘55, with Bo Diddley and the Drifters; tickets ranged in price from $1.75 to $3.75)— Buddy Holly (four performances ’58, the last in October, four months before his death)— Bob Dylan (in February ‘66, six months after going electric at Newport; also played in ‘64 and ‘90)— Bette Midler (forgive us for lumping her with rockers, but she had a great quote in her ‘73 show: “We’re on a tour of the tackiest city’s in the world, of which Pittsburgh is without a doubt No. 1”)— The Who (in ‘69, the year of the rock opera “Tommy,” and ‘90)— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (‘74)— Bruce Springsteen (in ‘75 and ‘76; his manager Jon Landau called the Mosque “one of the finest theaters he has ever played in”)— Linda Ronstadt (‘75)— Bob Marley (‘77)— James Brown (‘76 and ‘86)— Ramones (‘88)— R.E.M. (‘85 and ‘86)— Bon Jovi (‘84)
Can’t forget the comedy:
— Robin Williams (‘86)— Richard Pryor (At the height of his career, in ‘78)— George Carlin (‘84)— Bill Cosby (‘71)— Jack Benny (‘50 and ‘63)— Bob Hope (‘50)
Of course, these are just partial lists. 
Time was up for the Mosque in 1991. UPMC, then known as Presbyterian University Health System, bought the building for $10 million. What followed was one of the most intense preservation battles in the city’s history. It ended with a handful of protesters, including then City Councilman Jim Ferlo, getting arrested in an unsuccessful attempt stop the bulldozers from advancing on the Mosque.

Today the site is a surface parking lot.
— Steve Mellon
Top picture: Demolition crews at work in 1991. (John Heller/The Pittsburgh Press) pgdigs:

1991: Life and death of the Syria Mosque
For today’s post, you can thank the Monday blues.

We had ‘em, so we googled our second favorite Monday song (the first is by the Mamas and the Papas). We found it on YouTube — a live version of “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, filmed at the Syria Mosque in 1986.
Ah, the Syria Mosque. Thus began another search. We found on the web several live performances at the Mosque — Genesis (1976),  the Band (‘70), James Taylor (‘76), Allman Brothers Band (‘71), Edgar Winter Group (‘72). Most are just audio files, but a few contain video of performances in what was once the city’s prime concert venue.

The Syria Mosque was a colorfully regal presence on Bigelow Boulevard, across from Soldiers & Sailors Hall. Most people today may remember the 3,750-seat hall for the rock and roll shows it hosted. But in its 75-year life, the Mosque was home to much more.

Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Shriners celebrated the Mosque’s opening in 1916 with a week of festivities, one of which was captured in a picture published in The Pittsburgh Press on October 29 of that year. The image shows the hall crowded with hundreds of children, many holding American flags and wearing Shriner hats. The caption says “moving pictures and a luncheon” kept the children entertained.

Over the years, the Mosque was home to the  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and the National Negro Opera Company.
Then there was jazz. The list of performers includes:

— Louis Armstrong (three appearances, beginning in 1949)— Duke Ellington (in ‘54, he shared a bill with Armstrong and Billy Eckstine) — Count Basie— Benny Goodman (‘41)— Miles Davis (‘55)— Charlie Parker (‘50)— Art Blakey (on a number of occasions, including a concert in 1955 with the Jazz Messengers)— George Benson (‘76, ‘77 and ‘86)

We could go on, but you get the point. The Pittsburgh Music History website offers more detail than we can provide here.

Now let’s talk rock:
— Bill Haley and the Comets (in ‘55, with Bo Diddley and the Drifters; tickets ranged in price from $1.75 to $3.75)— Buddy Holly (four performances ’58, the last in October, four months before his death)— Bob Dylan (in February ‘66, six months after going electric at Newport; also played in ‘64 and ‘90)— Bette Midler (forgive us for lumping her with rockers, but she had a great quote in her ‘73 show: “We’re on a tour of the tackiest city’s in the world, of which Pittsburgh is without a doubt No. 1”)— The Who (in ‘69, the year of the rock opera “Tommy,” and ‘90)— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (‘74)— Bruce Springsteen (in ‘75 and ‘76; his manager Jon Landau called the Mosque “one of the finest theaters he has ever played in”)— Linda Ronstadt (‘75)— Bob Marley (‘77)— James Brown (‘76 and ‘86)— Ramones (‘88)— R.E.M. (‘85 and ‘86)— Bon Jovi (‘84)
Can’t forget the comedy:
— Robin Williams (‘86)— Richard Pryor (At the height of his career, in ‘78)— George Carlin (‘84)— Bill Cosby (‘71)— Jack Benny (‘50 and ‘63)— Bob Hope (‘50)
Of course, these are just partial lists. 
Time was up for the Mosque in 1991. UPMC, then known as Presbyterian University Health System, bought the building for $10 million. What followed was one of the most intense preservation battles in the city’s history. It ended with a handful of protesters, including then City Councilman Jim Ferlo, getting arrested in an unsuccessful attempt stop the bulldozers from advancing on the Mosque.

Today the site is a surface parking lot.
— Steve Mellon
Top picture: Demolition crews at work in 1991. (John Heller/The Pittsburgh Press) pgdigs:

1991: Life and death of the Syria Mosque
For today’s post, you can thank the Monday blues.

We had ‘em, so we googled our second favorite Monday song (the first is by the Mamas and the Papas). We found it on YouTube — a live version of “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, filmed at the Syria Mosque in 1986.
Ah, the Syria Mosque. Thus began another search. We found on the web several live performances at the Mosque — Genesis (1976),  the Band (‘70), James Taylor (‘76), Allman Brothers Band (‘71), Edgar Winter Group (‘72). Most are just audio files, but a few contain video of performances in what was once the city’s prime concert venue.

The Syria Mosque was a colorfully regal presence on Bigelow Boulevard, across from Soldiers & Sailors Hall. Most people today may remember the 3,750-seat hall for the rock and roll shows it hosted. But in its 75-year life, the Mosque was home to much more.

Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Shriners celebrated the Mosque’s opening in 1916 with a week of festivities, one of which was captured in a picture published in The Pittsburgh Press on October 29 of that year. The image shows the hall crowded with hundreds of children, many holding American flags and wearing Shriner hats. The caption says “moving pictures and a luncheon” kept the children entertained.

Over the years, the Mosque was home to the  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and the National Negro Opera Company.
Then there was jazz. The list of performers includes:

— Louis Armstrong (three appearances, beginning in 1949)— Duke Ellington (in ‘54, he shared a bill with Armstrong and Billy Eckstine) — Count Basie— Benny Goodman (‘41)— Miles Davis (‘55)— Charlie Parker (‘50)— Art Blakey (on a number of occasions, including a concert in 1955 with the Jazz Messengers)— George Benson (‘76, ‘77 and ‘86)

We could go on, but you get the point. The Pittsburgh Music History website offers more detail than we can provide here.

Now let’s talk rock:
— Bill Haley and the Comets (in ‘55, with Bo Diddley and the Drifters; tickets ranged in price from $1.75 to $3.75)— Buddy Holly (four performances ’58, the last in October, four months before his death)— Bob Dylan (in February ‘66, six months after going electric at Newport; also played in ‘64 and ‘90)— Bette Midler (forgive us for lumping her with rockers, but she had a great quote in her ‘73 show: “We’re on a tour of the tackiest city’s in the world, of which Pittsburgh is without a doubt No. 1”)— The Who (in ‘69, the year of the rock opera “Tommy,” and ‘90)— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (‘74)— Bruce Springsteen (in ‘75 and ‘76; his manager Jon Landau called the Mosque “one of the finest theaters he has ever played in”)— Linda Ronstadt (‘75)— Bob Marley (‘77)— James Brown (‘76 and ‘86)— Ramones (‘88)— R.E.M. (‘85 and ‘86)— Bon Jovi (‘84)
Can’t forget the comedy:
— Robin Williams (‘86)— Richard Pryor (At the height of his career, in ‘78)— George Carlin (‘84)— Bill Cosby (‘71)— Jack Benny (‘50 and ‘63)— Bob Hope (‘50)
Of course, these are just partial lists. 
Time was up for the Mosque in 1991. UPMC, then known as Presbyterian University Health System, bought the building for $10 million. What followed was one of the most intense preservation battles in the city’s history. It ended with a handful of protesters, including then City Councilman Jim Ferlo, getting arrested in an unsuccessful attempt stop the bulldozers from advancing on the Mosque.

Today the site is a surface parking lot.
— Steve Mellon
Top picture: Demolition crews at work in 1991. (John Heller/The Pittsburgh Press) pgdigs:

1991: Life and death of the Syria Mosque
For today’s post, you can thank the Monday blues.

We had ‘em, so we googled our second favorite Monday song (the first is by the Mamas and the Papas). We found it on YouTube — a live version of “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, filmed at the Syria Mosque in 1986.
Ah, the Syria Mosque. Thus began another search. We found on the web several live performances at the Mosque — Genesis (1976),  the Band (‘70), James Taylor (‘76), Allman Brothers Band (‘71), Edgar Winter Group (‘72). Most are just audio files, but a few contain video of performances in what was once the city’s prime concert venue.

The Syria Mosque was a colorfully regal presence on Bigelow Boulevard, across from Soldiers & Sailors Hall. Most people today may remember the 3,750-seat hall for the rock and roll shows it hosted. But in its 75-year life, the Mosque was home to much more.

Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Shriners celebrated the Mosque’s opening in 1916 with a week of festivities, one of which was captured in a picture published in The Pittsburgh Press on October 29 of that year. The image shows the hall crowded with hundreds of children, many holding American flags and wearing Shriner hats. The caption says “moving pictures and a luncheon” kept the children entertained.

Over the years, the Mosque was home to the  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and the National Negro Opera Company.
Then there was jazz. The list of performers includes:

— Louis Armstrong (three appearances, beginning in 1949)— Duke Ellington (in ‘54, he shared a bill with Armstrong and Billy Eckstine) — Count Basie— Benny Goodman (‘41)— Miles Davis (‘55)— Charlie Parker (‘50)— Art Blakey (on a number of occasions, including a concert in 1955 with the Jazz Messengers)— George Benson (‘76, ‘77 and ‘86)

We could go on, but you get the point. The Pittsburgh Music History website offers more detail than we can provide here.

Now let’s talk rock:
— Bill Haley and the Comets (in ‘55, with Bo Diddley and the Drifters; tickets ranged in price from $1.75 to $3.75)— Buddy Holly (four performances ’58, the last in October, four months before his death)— Bob Dylan (in February ‘66, six months after going electric at Newport; also played in ‘64 and ‘90)— Bette Midler (forgive us for lumping her with rockers, but she had a great quote in her ‘73 show: “We’re on a tour of the tackiest city’s in the world, of which Pittsburgh is without a doubt No. 1”)— The Who (in ‘69, the year of the rock opera “Tommy,” and ‘90)— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (‘74)— Bruce Springsteen (in ‘75 and ‘76; his manager Jon Landau called the Mosque “one of the finest theaters he has ever played in”)— Linda Ronstadt (‘75)— Bob Marley (‘77)— James Brown (‘76 and ‘86)— Ramones (‘88)— R.E.M. (‘85 and ‘86)— Bon Jovi (‘84)
Can’t forget the comedy:
— Robin Williams (‘86)— Richard Pryor (At the height of his career, in ‘78)— George Carlin (‘84)— Bill Cosby (‘71)— Jack Benny (‘50 and ‘63)— Bob Hope (‘50)
Of course, these are just partial lists. 
Time was up for the Mosque in 1991. UPMC, then known as Presbyterian University Health System, bought the building for $10 million. What followed was one of the most intense preservation battles in the city’s history. It ended with a handful of protesters, including then City Councilman Jim Ferlo, getting arrested in an unsuccessful attempt stop the bulldozers from advancing on the Mosque.

Today the site is a surface parking lot.
— Steve Mellon
Top picture: Demolition crews at work in 1991. (John Heller/The Pittsburgh Press) pgdigs:

1991: Life and death of the Syria Mosque
For today’s post, you can thank the Monday blues.

We had ‘em, so we googled our second favorite Monday song (the first is by the Mamas and the Papas). We found it on YouTube — a live version of “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, filmed at the Syria Mosque in 1986.
Ah, the Syria Mosque. Thus began another search. We found on the web several live performances at the Mosque — Genesis (1976),  the Band (‘70), James Taylor (‘76), Allman Brothers Band (‘71), Edgar Winter Group (‘72). Most are just audio files, but a few contain video of performances in what was once the city’s prime concert venue.

The Syria Mosque was a colorfully regal presence on Bigelow Boulevard, across from Soldiers & Sailors Hall. Most people today may remember the 3,750-seat hall for the rock and roll shows it hosted. But in its 75-year life, the Mosque was home to much more.

Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Shriners celebrated the Mosque’s opening in 1916 with a week of festivities, one of which was captured in a picture published in The Pittsburgh Press on October 29 of that year. The image shows the hall crowded with hundreds of children, many holding American flags and wearing Shriner hats. The caption says “moving pictures and a luncheon” kept the children entertained.

Over the years, the Mosque was home to the  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and the National Negro Opera Company.
Then there was jazz. The list of performers includes:

— Louis Armstrong (three appearances, beginning in 1949)— Duke Ellington (in ‘54, he shared a bill with Armstrong and Billy Eckstine) — Count Basie— Benny Goodman (‘41)— Miles Davis (‘55)— Charlie Parker (‘50)— Art Blakey (on a number of occasions, including a concert in 1955 with the Jazz Messengers)— George Benson (‘76, ‘77 and ‘86)

We could go on, but you get the point. The Pittsburgh Music History website offers more detail than we can provide here.

Now let’s talk rock:
— Bill Haley and the Comets (in ‘55, with Bo Diddley and the Drifters; tickets ranged in price from $1.75 to $3.75)— Buddy Holly (four performances ’58, the last in October, four months before his death)— Bob Dylan (in February ‘66, six months after going electric at Newport; also played in ‘64 and ‘90)— Bette Midler (forgive us for lumping her with rockers, but she had a great quote in her ‘73 show: “We’re on a tour of the tackiest city’s in the world, of which Pittsburgh is without a doubt No. 1”)— The Who (in ‘69, the year of the rock opera “Tommy,” and ‘90)— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (‘74)— Bruce Springsteen (in ‘75 and ‘76; his manager Jon Landau called the Mosque “one of the finest theaters he has ever played in”)— Linda Ronstadt (‘75)— Bob Marley (‘77)— James Brown (‘76 and ‘86)— Ramones (‘88)— R.E.M. (‘85 and ‘86)— Bon Jovi (‘84)
Can’t forget the comedy:
— Robin Williams (‘86)— Richard Pryor (At the height of his career, in ‘78)— George Carlin (‘84)— Bill Cosby (‘71)— Jack Benny (‘50 and ‘63)— Bob Hope (‘50)
Of course, these are just partial lists. 
Time was up for the Mosque in 1991. UPMC, then known as Presbyterian University Health System, bought the building for $10 million. What followed was one of the most intense preservation battles in the city’s history. It ended with a handful of protesters, including then City Councilman Jim Ferlo, getting arrested in an unsuccessful attempt stop the bulldozers from advancing on the Mosque.

Today the site is a surface parking lot.
— Steve Mellon
Top picture: Demolition crews at work in 1991. (John Heller/The Pittsburgh Press)

    pgdigs:

    1991: Life and death of the Syria Mosque

    For today’s post, you can thank the Monday blues.

    We had ‘em, so we googled our second favorite Monday song (the first is by the Mamas and the Papas). We found it on YouTube — a live version of “Manic Monday” by the Bangles, filmed at the Syria Mosque in 1986.

    Ah, the Syria Mosque. Thus began another search. We found on the web several live performances at the Mosque — Genesis (1976),  the Band (‘70), James Taylor (‘76), Allman Brothers Band (‘71), Edgar Winter Group (‘72). Most are just audio files, but a few contain video of performances in what was once the city’s prime concert venue.

    The Syria Mosque was a colorfully regal presence on Bigelow Boulevard, across from Soldiers & Sailors Hall. Most people today may remember the 3,750-seat hall for the rock and roll shows it hosted. But in its 75-year life, the Mosque was home to much more.

    Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Shriners celebrated the Mosque’s opening in 1916 with a week of festivities, one of which was captured in a picture published in The Pittsburgh Press on October 29 of that year. The image shows the hall crowded with hundreds of children, many holding American flags and wearing Shriner hats. The caption says “moving pictures and a luncheon” kept the children entertained.

    Over the years, the Mosque was home to the  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Opera and the National Negro Opera Company.

    Then there was jazz. The list of performers includes:

    — Louis Armstrong (three appearances, beginning in 1949)
    — Duke Ellington (in ‘54, he shared a bill with Armstrong and Billy Eckstine)
    — Count Basie
    — Benny Goodman (‘41)
    — Miles Davis (‘55)
    — Charlie Parker (‘50)

    — Art Blakey (on a number of occasions, including a concert in 1955 with the Jazz Messengers)
    — George Benson (‘76, ‘77 and ‘86)

    We could go on, but you get the point. The Pittsburgh Music History website offers more detail than we can provide here.

    Now let’s talk rock:

    — Bill Haley and the Comets (in ‘55, with Bo Diddley and the Drifters; tickets ranged in price from $1.75 to $3.75)
    — Buddy Holly (four performances ’58, the last in October, four months before his death)
    — Bob Dylan (in February ‘66, six months after going electric at Newport; also played in ‘64 and ‘90)
    — Bette Midler (forgive us for lumping her with rockers, but she had a great quote in her ‘73 show: “We’re on a tour of the tackiest city’s in the world, of which Pittsburgh is without a doubt No. 1”)
    — The Who (in ‘69, the year of the rock opera “Tommy,” and ‘90)
    — Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (‘74)

    — Bruce Springsteen (in ‘75 and ‘76; his manager Jon Landau called the Mosque “one of the finest theaters he has ever played in”)
    — Linda Ronstadt (‘75)
    — Bob Marley (‘77)
    — James Brown (‘76 and ‘86)
    — Ramones (‘88)
    — R.E.M. (‘85 and ‘86)
    — Bon Jovi (‘84)

    Can’t forget the comedy:

    — Robin Williams (‘86)
    — Richard Pryor (At the height of his career, in ‘78)
    — George Carlin (‘84)
    — Bill Cosby (‘71)
    — Jack Benny (‘50 and ‘63)
    — Bob Hope (‘50)

    Of course, these are just partial lists. 

    Time was up for the Mosque in 1991. UPMC, then known as Presbyterian University Health System, bought the building for $10 million. What followed was one of the most intense preservation battles in the city’s history. It ended with a handful of protesters, including then City Councilman Jim Ferlo, getting arrested in an unsuccessful attempt stop the bulldozers from advancing on the Mosque.

    Today the site is a surface parking lot.

    — Steve Mellon

    Top picture: Demolition crews at work in 1991. (John Heller/The Pittsburgh Press)

    pgdigs:

1939-40: “Pittsburgh at the New York World’s Fair”
In those years, Pittsburgh was flying high.
The center of significant innovation and dominant building industry, its presence was on prominent display across the grounds of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.
This was still more than a year before World War II really fired up the region’s steel mills.
Among the most striking exhibits was the Pittsburgh House of Glass, a building that had its home in the Town of Tomorrow, an entire suburban block designed to showcase home features that architects believed would be part of the future.
The house wasn’t made entirely of glass. That would have made for a better joke about who should or shouldn’t throw stones.
See photos inside the house not found in the PG’s archive.
Nevertheless, its purpose, according to architect Landefeld & Hatchl, was “to suggest possible additions to the comfort of modern living, particularly those features made available through the use of glass products.”
Moreover, “few persons or families may want to reproduce this house exactly as it is shown,” they wrote, according to a fan site dedicated to preserving the World’s Fair.
Beyond the House of Glass, there was the Pennsylvania Building, whose exterior was made to resemble Independence Hall. But it had a “vigorous modern interior,” according to the Fair’s publicity team. It and other Fair buildings had substantial help from Pennsylvania builders and raw materials such as steel, aluminum and anthracite coal.
Back then, anthracite could only be found in Pennsylvania. 
But symbols of the state’s ingenuity? Crowds from around the world witnessed those.
—Ethan Magoc pgdigs:

1939-40: “Pittsburgh at the New York World’s Fair”
In those years, Pittsburgh was flying high.
The center of significant innovation and dominant building industry, its presence was on prominent display across the grounds of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.
This was still more than a year before World War II really fired up the region’s steel mills.
Among the most striking exhibits was the Pittsburgh House of Glass, a building that had its home in the Town of Tomorrow, an entire suburban block designed to showcase home features that architects believed would be part of the future.
The house wasn’t made entirely of glass. That would have made for a better joke about who should or shouldn’t throw stones.
See photos inside the house not found in the PG’s archive.
Nevertheless, its purpose, according to architect Landefeld & Hatchl, was “to suggest possible additions to the comfort of modern living, particularly those features made available through the use of glass products.”
Moreover, “few persons or families may want to reproduce this house exactly as it is shown,” they wrote, according to a fan site dedicated to preserving the World’s Fair.
Beyond the House of Glass, there was the Pennsylvania Building, whose exterior was made to resemble Independence Hall. But it had a “vigorous modern interior,” according to the Fair’s publicity team. It and other Fair buildings had substantial help from Pennsylvania builders and raw materials such as steel, aluminum and anthracite coal.
Back then, anthracite could only be found in Pennsylvania. 
But symbols of the state’s ingenuity? Crowds from around the world witnessed those.
—Ethan Magoc pgdigs:

1939-40: “Pittsburgh at the New York World’s Fair”
In those years, Pittsburgh was flying high.
The center of significant innovation and dominant building industry, its presence was on prominent display across the grounds of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.
This was still more than a year before World War II really fired up the region’s steel mills.
Among the most striking exhibits was the Pittsburgh House of Glass, a building that had its home in the Town of Tomorrow, an entire suburban block designed to showcase home features that architects believed would be part of the future.
The house wasn’t made entirely of glass. That would have made for a better joke about who should or shouldn’t throw stones.
See photos inside the house not found in the PG’s archive.
Nevertheless, its purpose, according to architect Landefeld & Hatchl, was “to suggest possible additions to the comfort of modern living, particularly those features made available through the use of glass products.”
Moreover, “few persons or families may want to reproduce this house exactly as it is shown,” they wrote, according to a fan site dedicated to preserving the World’s Fair.
Beyond the House of Glass, there was the Pennsylvania Building, whose exterior was made to resemble Independence Hall. But it had a “vigorous modern interior,” according to the Fair’s publicity team. It and other Fair buildings had substantial help from Pennsylvania builders and raw materials such as steel, aluminum and anthracite coal.
Back then, anthracite could only be found in Pennsylvania. 
But symbols of the state’s ingenuity? Crowds from around the world witnessed those.
—Ethan Magoc pgdigs:

1939-40: “Pittsburgh at the New York World’s Fair”
In those years, Pittsburgh was flying high.
The center of significant innovation and dominant building industry, its presence was on prominent display across the grounds of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.
This was still more than a year before World War II really fired up the region’s steel mills.
Among the most striking exhibits was the Pittsburgh House of Glass, a building that had its home in the Town of Tomorrow, an entire suburban block designed to showcase home features that architects believed would be part of the future.
The house wasn’t made entirely of glass. That would have made for a better joke about who should or shouldn’t throw stones.
See photos inside the house not found in the PG’s archive.
Nevertheless, its purpose, according to architect Landefeld & Hatchl, was “to suggest possible additions to the comfort of modern living, particularly those features made available through the use of glass products.”
Moreover, “few persons or families may want to reproduce this house exactly as it is shown,” they wrote, according to a fan site dedicated to preserving the World’s Fair.
Beyond the House of Glass, there was the Pennsylvania Building, whose exterior was made to resemble Independence Hall. But it had a “vigorous modern interior,” according to the Fair’s publicity team. It and other Fair buildings had substantial help from Pennsylvania builders and raw materials such as steel, aluminum and anthracite coal.
Back then, anthracite could only be found in Pennsylvania. 
But symbols of the state’s ingenuity? Crowds from around the world witnessed those.
—Ethan Magoc pgdigs:

1939-40: “Pittsburgh at the New York World’s Fair”
In those years, Pittsburgh was flying high.
The center of significant innovation and dominant building industry, its presence was on prominent display across the grounds of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.
This was still more than a year before World War II really fired up the region’s steel mills.
Among the most striking exhibits was the Pittsburgh House of Glass, a building that had its home in the Town of Tomorrow, an entire suburban block designed to showcase home features that architects believed would be part of the future.
The house wasn’t made entirely of glass. That would have made for a better joke about who should or shouldn’t throw stones.
See photos inside the house not found in the PG’s archive.
Nevertheless, its purpose, according to architect Landefeld & Hatchl, was “to suggest possible additions to the comfort of modern living, particularly those features made available through the use of glass products.”
Moreover, “few persons or families may want to reproduce this house exactly as it is shown,” they wrote, according to a fan site dedicated to preserving the World’s Fair.
Beyond the House of Glass, there was the Pennsylvania Building, whose exterior was made to resemble Independence Hall. But it had a “vigorous modern interior,” according to the Fair’s publicity team. It and other Fair buildings had substantial help from Pennsylvania builders and raw materials such as steel, aluminum and anthracite coal.
Back then, anthracite could only be found in Pennsylvania. 
But symbols of the state’s ingenuity? Crowds from around the world witnessed those.
—Ethan Magoc pgdigs:

1939-40: “Pittsburgh at the New York World’s Fair”
In those years, Pittsburgh was flying high.
The center of significant innovation and dominant building industry, its presence was on prominent display across the grounds of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.
This was still more than a year before World War II really fired up the region’s steel mills.
Among the most striking exhibits was the Pittsburgh House of Glass, a building that had its home in the Town of Tomorrow, an entire suburban block designed to showcase home features that architects believed would be part of the future.
The house wasn’t made entirely of glass. That would have made for a better joke about who should or shouldn’t throw stones.
See photos inside the house not found in the PG’s archive.
Nevertheless, its purpose, according to architect Landefeld & Hatchl, was “to suggest possible additions to the comfort of modern living, particularly those features made available through the use of glass products.”
Moreover, “few persons or families may want to reproduce this house exactly as it is shown,” they wrote, according to a fan site dedicated to preserving the World’s Fair.
Beyond the House of Glass, there was the Pennsylvania Building, whose exterior was made to resemble Independence Hall. But it had a “vigorous modern interior,” according to the Fair’s publicity team. It and other Fair buildings had substantial help from Pennsylvania builders and raw materials such as steel, aluminum and anthracite coal.
Back then, anthracite could only be found in Pennsylvania. 
But symbols of the state’s ingenuity? Crowds from around the world witnessed those.
—Ethan Magoc

      pgdigs:

      1939-40:Pittsburgh at the New York World’s Fair”

      In those years, Pittsburgh was flying high.

      The center of significant innovation and dominant building industry, its presence was on prominent display across the grounds of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.

      This was still more than a year before World War II really fired up the region’s steel mills.

      Among the most striking exhibits was the Pittsburgh House of Glass, a building that had its home in the Town of Tomorrow, an entire suburban block designed to showcase home features that architects believed would be part of the future.

      The house wasn’t made entirely of glass. That would have made for a better joke about who should or shouldn’t throw stones.

      See photos inside the house not found in the PG’s archive.

      Nevertheless, its purpose, according to architect Landefeld & Hatchl, was “to suggest possible additions to the comfort of modern living, particularly those features made available through the use of glass products.”

      Moreover, “few persons or families may want to reproduce this house exactly as it is shown,” they wrote, according to a fan site dedicated to preserving the World’s Fair.

      Beyond the House of Glass, there was the Pennsylvania Building, whose exterior was made to resemble Independence Hall. But it had a “vigorous modern interior,” according to the Fair’s publicity team. It and other Fair buildings had substantial help from Pennsylvania builders and raw materials such as steel, aluminum and anthracite coal.

      Back then, anthracite could only be found in Pennsylvania. 

      But symbols of the state’s ingenuity? Crowds from around the world witnessed those.

      —Ethan Magoc

      I found a small supply of ‘In Case of Emergency,’ a zine that I published last year. Set at the height of the Great Recession, the zine tells a true story of personal crises—both past and present—that take place between the disparate worlds of adolescence and adulthood. If you’re interested in buying a copy, please send a $6 ‘gift payment’ via PayPal to mr.newton@gmail.com (please remember to put your shipping address into PayPal’s notes section).