P100 Podcast

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Ep. 1 - A taste of Labor Day, RibFest, Steelers, and Pick Patek

August 27, 2019

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This is our inaugural episode of the P100 Podcast, featuring hosts Paul Furiga, Dan Stefano and Logan Armstrong of WordWrite Communications. Here's a bit about how the show will work.

As with The Pittsburgh 100, the P100 Podcast will be coming to you 25 times a year, the same week the newsletter hits inboxes. What can you expect? Every episode will have a quartet of roughly five-minute segments featuring not just the three guys in the room, but great guests, insightful segments looking at the region’s news, history and culture, and a deeper dive into stories from the newsletter. 

This episode covers the events and history around Labor Day weekend, including Pittsburgh’s ties to the holiday, another fantastic food festival to look forward to and, of course, the start of football season. We wrap it up with a discussion of the region’s surprisingly long musical history, including a look at a local who might have a big future on the scene: Pick Patek, a hip-hop artist with a big following over Spotify. He was also featured in a recent Pittsburgh Polyphony article.

Enjoy listening to this episode of the P100 Podcast, and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Special thanks to the folks at the Pittsburgh Technology Council for the use of their studio.

And this episode’s sponsor WordWrite Communications:

At WordWrite, Pittsburgh's largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand, before you sold any product or service, you had a story. WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own Capital S Story, the reason someone would want to buy from you, work with you, invest in you or partner with you. Through our patented Storycrafting process, we’ll help you discover your own Capital S Story. Visit us at WordWritepr.com to learn more.

Full episode transcript here:

Logan Armstrong:

You are listening to the P100 podcast, the biweekly companion piece to the Pittsburgh 100, bringing you Pittsburgh news, culture, and more, because sometimes 100 words just isn't enough for a great story.

Paul Furiga:

Welcome everyone to the inaugural episode of the P100 podcast, the audio version of the Pittsburgh 100. My name is Paul Furiga. I'm Publisher of the Pittsburgh 100 and President and Chief Storyteller of WordWrite. I'd like to introduce my colleague, Dan Stefano. Dan.

Dan Stefano:

Thanks for the introduction, Paul. My name's Dan Stefano. I am the Editor of the Pittsburgh 100 and the Brand Journalist at WordWrite. Spent some time in the media before this, before I got to WordWrite and happy to be here right now.

Paul Furiga:

Glad you're here, Dan. We also have a third member of the crew here today, the three Musketeers, and that is Logan Armstrong. Logan.

Logan Armstrong:

Hi guys. My name is Logan Armstrong. I'm a Staff Writer for the Pittsburgh 100 and also an Account Coordinator for WordWrite. A recent graduate from Pitt, so hoping to bring a 21st-century millennial, Gen Z perspective for everybody.

Dan Stefano:

Yes. Logan is at the low end of the millennial spectrum. You know you're pushing, I think gen Z there.

Paul Furiga:

I think he actually is Gen Z.

Logan Armstrong:

I'm '97 so ...

Paul Furiga:

Now, if that's the case, I'm pushing Gen A. I don't know what I'm pushing as a baby boomer. Whatever it is, I'm the opposite of.

Dan Stefano:

I think Henry Ford called it the Model T generation or something.

Paul Furiga:

Thank you, Dan. I appreciate that.

Dan Stefano:

You're firmly a Boomer.

Paul Furiga:

Well, as you can see folks, we don't like each other. We don't get along well. We don't have fun together. Actually we do. We're glad you've joined us for this first episode of the P100 podcast. Let me just tell you a little bit about how this podcast is going to work. As with the Pittsburgh 100, the P100 podcast will be coming to you 25 times a year. We'll be coming out during the same week that the Pittsburgh 100 comes out. What can you expect from the podcast? Every episode, four segments of scintillating content, not just the three guys in the room right now, but great guests, insight segments like Beyond the 100. I'll look at music and culture in the region, history. Four segments, about five minutes each, each episode, and we're going to mix it up for you. Every episode you can expect some variety in what we're talking about. And with that as an introduction, Dan, what are we talking about this time, brother?

Dan Stefano:

This week's scintillation ... This first episode is coming at a time that's ... It's the unofficial end of summer heading into the LaborDay weekend. So we'll be talking a little bit about Labor Day and it's history in Pittsburgh, the history of labor in Pittsburgh and obviously it's a former manufacturing center. Few cities in the country, I think, have a relationship with it quite like we do here. We'll also be discussing Pittsburgh's rule as a foodie city. There's a big food event coming to Pittsburgh this weekend that we're excited about. And just this past month we had more. We had Pittsburgh restaurant week, so we'll dig in a little more there. Also, this weekend Pitt football's going to get started and the week after that Steelers football is going to get started, so we're going to be talking a little about football and its role in the city, the impact that it has culturally and economically, and we'll wrap it up a little bit. We'll learn a little more about our friend here, Logan Armstrong, who is a musician, but we'll be digging deeper into a recent article that we had in the Pittsburgh 100, the Pittsburgh Polyphony series, which looks at local music artists and yeah. We're excited to introduce you to a musician and some of his own original works too.

Paul Furiga:

It's a great episode, folks. We're glad you're along with us. Where the first episode, let's kick it off.

Paul Furiga:

All right. Once again, I'm Paul Furiga, the publisher of the Pittsburgh 100 president and chief storyteller of WordWrite. This is the inaugural podcast of the P100 podcast, the audio companion to the Pittsburgh 100. Today this episode is recorded at the Huntington Bank podcast studio of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. We want to say thanks to the PTC in Huntington. We are members of the Technology Council, what a great facility. We're honored to be here today to talk about, because we're coming up on that weekend, Labor Day. Dan, you got some thoughts? You want to kick it off?

Dan Stefano:

Oh, lots of thoughts actually. But you know, I this is always one of my favorite weekends of the year because one it's-

Paul Furiga:

Picnics.

Dan Stefano:

Yeah. Picnics. Fantastic. Yeah, well it's a three day weekend. It's always wonderful. The weather is still great. You know, it's kind of the end of summer, a little bit. The unofficial end of summer. It stays warm, but it's just marking that progression into fall. But it's also important to think about whenever you get these three day weekends, think about why we're celebrating them and for labor day, you're celebrating the American worker and that matters a lot in this city. People have a history of ... People still reflect that blue-collar aesthetic, that blue-collar attitude that Pittsburgh has and-

Paul Furiga:

Steely McBeam.

Dan Stefano:

Steely McBeam. Yes. Yeah. I think he ... I don't know if he is a card-carrying member of United Steelworkers, but he should be. I think Labor Day is a good time to recognize that America's labor history at times was very violent and there's some of the stuff that we take for granted as far as a five day work week and eight-hour workday, -sick time off, holidays off. That didn't come easy. Especially for people that worked in manufacturing industries and didn't even have blue collars. They were wearing brown colors and maybe no collars at all at some of these positions.

Dan Stefano:

One moment that was kind of seminal in American history, especially as far as the labor movement goes, was in 1892 they call it the Battle of Homestead, where striking workers at Andrew Carnegie's Steel Mill in Homestead. They actually barricaded themselves inside of the steel mill for about six days. And it was incredible. By the end of it, Pinkertons who were basically private detectives-

Paul Furiga:

Right, from the company Pinkerton.

Dan Stefano:

Exactly. The company's name was Pinkerton. These detectives, they got violent and seven workers were killed, three Pinkertons were killed whenever tempers flared up. And that made a big impact around the country. At the time, not only was it happening at Homestead, Chicago had violent disputes between their workers-

Paul Furiga:

Detroit.

Dan Stefano:

And Detroit. It happened everywhere, you know?

Paul Furiga:

Pullman Strike in Chicago. You're talking about Dan. Yeah?

Dan Stefano:

Absolutely. Yes. And-

Logan Armstrong:

Yeah, it's interesting to see that people were this passionate about labor rights and working rights and unions, that they were willing to give their life for it. And I think that's just something ... I know from my perspective and my generation, that's not something we have really ever had to see firsthand. And to have that kind of perspective on it is just something that I think is forgotten a lot these days.

Dan Stefano:

Well, none of us who are sitting at this table were around in the late 1800s but-

Paul Furiga:

Let me check my driver's license, Dan.

Dan Stefano:

That's true, Paul. Yeah. You should really check that out. Ironically I have more gray hair than Paul does. That's the funny thing. I've got three decades less on him, but-

Logan Armstrong:

Paul has a gray head of hair, that's for sure.

Paul Furiga:

Well, thank you. To bad this is audio and you can't see that.

Dan Stefano:

Right?

Paul Furiga:

Yeah. I do think, Dan though that as people enjoy their picnics and whatnot this weekend, it is worth remembering the reason for the weekend and-

Dan Stefano:

Yeah, you know, those moments of history are all around us. Especially whenever you go to Homestead to do some shopping at the waterfront. Right now you can go and you can see those old smokestacks from the old Homesteads steel mill that was there and you think 130 years ago there was a battle there where people lost their lives. And it's an important thing to, to remember, Labor Day is not only about organized labor, but it's also about everybody that just goes out and works hard every single day of their life. You know, everybody's earned that day off. And so it's important to just kind of remember that. Kickback, relax, have yourself a beer or a nice cold Coke and maybe cook up some food and enjoy yourself on Labor Day, everybody.

Dan Stefano:

Well, another great thing about the Labor Day weekend here at this time of year is typically Pitt's first football game of the season. And right around Pitt's first football game of the season, we always have the Heinz Field Rib Fest and Kickoff Festival. And I love Rib Fest. It maybe is one of my favorite food festivals of the year. You know, Picklesburgh is great, but you don't get too many great ribs and you don't get some of the best rib makers.

Paul Furiga:

There's not enough meat in a pickle.

Logan Armstrong:

Yeah. You can't really dig into a pickle, but you can dig into some ribs.

Paul Furiga:

Precisely. A pickle is great as a garnish with my ribs. That's fantastic. So I love that. But yeah, one thing that I think you can say is, one Rib Fest is just a lot of fun because it brings a little bit at the south up here and it's just a lot of people getting together and it's a fun time of year.

Paul Furiga:

But it also just explains again that Pittsburgh is such a great city for food. And I think it always has been. I grew up on pierogi and haluski growing up in a Hungarian and Croatian type family, but we've really in recent years seen some extremely interesting restaurants open, some really classy places that get ranked among the best in the country. And even last year, a publication out of San Francisco named us foodie city of the year or best city in the US for foodies. And so that's special. And it just got me thinking, you guys, what do you like about Pittsburgh's food here? I think everybody loves talking about it. We just had Pittsburgh restaurant week a couple of weeks ago where everybody got to try new places. So do you have any favorites? And just your thoughts on the city and food. Logan.

Logan Armstrong:

Yeah, I love it. I think it's great. I'm a huge fan of food as these two know, but I think what's something good about Pittsburgh is that, for example, just a great example on the Southside, you have Mallorca, which is one of the best Spanish restaurants in town. And then you walk four blocks and you run into Dish, one of the greatest Italian restaurants in town. And so I think with Pittsburgh being such a melting pot of people that came here, you have the Germans and the Italians. This fusion of food, you can go anywhere in the city and find great restaurants. So there are some cities where there's like a cultural district where you're going to find the best restaurants in that particular area of the city. But I think with Pittsburgh is that you can walk to any neighborhood and go to any neighborhood and find a spot that is just excellent food.

Dan Stefano:

That's a great point. You know, I just moved to Mount Lebanon with my wife Lisa, and I didn't realize quite the amount of restaurants that they have out that way, and it's a ... I grew up in the Northside and we were living in the East end for a while and lots of good restaurants out that way, but you move South and all of a sudden there are great places like Pizziola, Bistro 19 just over in uptown. Lots of awesome restaurants. Just anywhere you go in the city. Paul, what do you think?

Paul Furiga:

Yeah, I'm thinking about, my family is originally from Pittsburgh, but I actually grew up in Cleveland and I'm sure we can do an entire segment on Cleveland jokes. We'll save that for another day. But when I came back to Pittsburgh in '94, the basic thing was what do you'ins want for dinner? Italian, Italian or Italian? And you know, things have really changed. It's quite different today compared to the way it was 25 years ago. Part of that is the generational change with the population of the city and Pittsburgh becoming more attractive to millennials, young people. Part of that is the changing complexion of the economy and the kinds of people who've been attracted to the city in the last two decades. And you know, I think people like Justin Severino and the several restaurants that he's put together in succession. We now legitimately have people in the restaurant industry here in town who can be followed and you can say, you know, "Kevin Sousa or Severino, when are they going to open their next restaurant and what's it going to be?"

Paul Furiga:

It didn't use to be that way. When I first got to Pittsburgh, there was everybody's favorite pizza joint or Italian or my heritage Polish, or there was the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, which really in terms of Polish, it hasn't been replaced. It was much more of a meat and potatoes in an ethnic sort of town. You know, one other thing, we talked earlier today about labor and there used to be this thing called the Pittsburgh steak, and the old story was that guys in the mills, they wanted something special in the lunch bucket. They'd take a steak and throw it on some very hot piece of machinery and create this seared steak and I can remember when I first got to town, people were like, "Well, you have to have a Pittsburgh steak." People don't talk about that now. We're talking about farm to table. We're talking about organic, we're talking about locally sourced, we're talking about fusion. It really is quite a foodie town and it's a lot of fun. It really is.

Dan Stefano:

You know, Paul, you could come up with that right now. You could come up with just a hot pipe, get a bunch of millennials to come in and tell them, I'm going to cook your steak on this pipe and they would love it.

Logan Armstrong:

I would love it.

Paul Furiga:

You think so?

Dan Stefano:

I think we're onto something.

Logan Armstrong:

I think that'd be great. Logan's very susceptible to this type of marketing, I think.

Paul Furiga:

What's old is new again.

Logan Armstrong:

Anything with food, you don't have to sell me too hard on.

Logan Armstrong:

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Dan Stefano:

All right. The other great thing about this time of year, we mentioned it already a couple of times, but it's close to football season and I love football season. I could sit, basically from Saturday morning to watch college games to Sunday night and just enjoy myself and watch football the entire time and have my wife leave me because I get yelled at quite a bit for doing those types of habits. But you know, she understands and she lets me do it at least for a few hours each day. And it's just such a great time because football means a lot in this city as we all know. Whenever we think of football and Pittsburgh, I think a lot of people jump to the high school games, you know, Thursday nights, Friday nights, sometimes-

Paul Furiga:

Friday Night Lights.

Dan Stefano:

Friday night lights as they called them.

Dan Stefano:

So I went to a city school, so they also played on Thursday nights. Everybody had to cram into South stadium. But it really ... For the impact that it does make here, it's hugely beneficial financially. I mean, you think about what has happened to the North Shore since they built the brand new stadiums, including Heinz Field. When I was a kid, it was just three rivers and basically a pile of gravel. It was great to go down there because everybody could stand down there and watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. But after that, there wasn't too much to do. And so now, with what this franchise has meant to the city, and the advancements that we've taken in terms of rebuilding certain areas. You can really see the impact that football season has. And whenever it's a Steeler Sunday, it's just such a great time to be around and be downtown and be out in the North Shore.

Paul Furiga:

Yeah. You know, as we mentioned earlier today, we're recording from the Huntington Bank Podcast Studio here at the Pittsburgh Technology Council and it's on what is now known as the North Shore. Dan, when you were a kid it was probably still known as North Side.

Dan Stefano:

You know what, it took me a long time to adopt North Shore and there are probably still plenty of people that will not call it that. But it's always, I mean it's Northside. Yeah. And I think where we're at right now, you could call that Central North Side.

Paul Furiga:

You know, my perspective on this, and I wrote about this in the 100 a week or so ago as growing up as a Cleveland Browns fan. I can't really speak to the winning culture and a few other things there I guess. But what I can speak to, and I think that's why it's important to talk about this too, is that football is intrinsic to the culture of Pittsburgh. And you know, you think about a family like the Rooneys, they're not this celebrity ownership kind of a team. They are Pittsburgh blue-collar, you know? And I think about football, I can't separate the whole, the Rooney families from the Northside too. The team is from the Northside. How the grandfather in the family, Art Rooney, wound up with the team. Supposedly, in a card game or gambling.

Dan Stefano:

I think it was a good day at the track.

Paul Furiga:

A good day at the track. That's part of-

Dan Stefano:

That's the legend.

Paul Furiga:

That's the legend. It's also part of what people think about when they think about the character and nature of Pittsburgh. I don't know Logan, I mean, what's your perspective on that?

Logan Armstrong:

Yeah, I would have to agree. I mean I think Pittsburgh is one of the strongest cities where when someone first moves here if someone's visiting, going to a Steelers game is one of the ultimate activities that you can do. That it's really ingrained you in the culture. I mean, you go to a Steelers game and you're there, you're going to figure out what Pittsburgh culture is about. You know you're going to see the terrible towels waving and you're going to see the people that are really die-hard for the city in general and for the sports and a fun fact, actually, I don't know if you guys know this, but we actually cut Johnny Unitas in training camp. He didn't even make it out of training camp, which is just crazy to me. It's kind of odd and interesting the way you see things go.

Paul Furiga:

It is crazy.

Dan Stefano:

They skipped over Dan Marino too. They skipped over drafting him.

Logan Armstrong:

Yeah, the South Oakland boy.

Paul Furiga:

Yeah. For those of you who are listening who aren't deep football fans, it is kind of impossible to avoid the whole football season thing. I remember shortly after I moved to town, I saw this bumper sticker for the first time and it's certainly, I've seen it many, many times since, "Pittsburgh, drinking town with a football problem," and you know, that's kind of a little joke, but that is also kind of as Logan said, the way the town turns. At a previous employment where I was running a department, I had an adjustment problem because if the Steelers had a particularly tough Sunday night game, the attendance at work and the department the next morning, let's say it fluctuated and I said something to somebody about it and I said, "What the hell's going on? So-and-so and so and so and so and so aren't here." And they gave me this like dumbstruck look like, "What the hell's wrong with you? The Steelers had a tough game last night they're probably nursing a hangover or whatever."

Dan Stefano:

Well, Paul just a word of warning here then for you, the Steelers open their season against the super bowl champion, Patriots. So you might not see me the next morning. I don't know.

Dan Stefano:

Okay guys, for our final segment here, we're going to discuss Pittsburgh in the music industry and in particular take a deeper dive and do a column that we had recently in our Pittsburgh Polyphony series, which looks at local artists and one of those included Pick Patek who is a Philadelphia native who lives here in Pittsburgh now, attends Pitt and is actually making a name for himself in the music industry, but we're going to reel it back a little bit and talk about the city's history and music as well, especially in that, people don't quite think of Pittsburgh as a city for ... As part of the music industry here. People might think of New York City, they might think of the West Coast, they might think of Nashville, but Pittsburgh has had its role as well. And Paul, also a musician here. If you want to speak to that a little bit, maybe talk about your own history of music.

Paul Furiga:

Well, thanks, Dan. Yeah, one of the things that I think is great about Pittsburgh is the music scene. I think in American culture we tend to think of music centers as being those places where there are recording studios and while over time there have been some recording studios in Pittsburgh. It's really LA or Nashville or New York or places like that that have the studios. What's great about Pittsburgh music to me is that so many great artists spent a large section of their career here or they're from here. In recent years Stephen Foster has been more a subject of controversy in Pittsburgh because of some of his early lyrics. But over the years if you want to go back and get really far back into Pittsburgh music history, we can claim Stephen Foster and his talent. You know, doo-wop was another big genre here and in the 60s with The Del-Vikings and Lou Christie and Bobby Vinton and The Vogues and the Lettermen and we had DJ Porky, Chadwick and lots of other folks that help make music-

Dan Stefano:

Do you sing a lot to doo-wop there, Paul?

Paul Furiga:

I sing no doo-wop. However, I have a very good friend who is in a doo-wop band.

Dan Stefano:

Fascinating. We've got to have them on one day.

Paul Furiga:

We'll get them on some time. Yeah. And we'll get my friend David Goldman on. You know, jazz, the Hill District. In the history of African American culture in the United States, one of the top cultural centers was the Hill District right here in Pittsburgh. You have the Crawford grill. You had artists like our Earl "Fatha" Hines, Roy Eldridge, Kenny Clark, Ray Brown, Art Blakely. I mean I could just go on and on and rattle off names. And I think for a time people began to think that Pittsburgh wasn't really a music city. But truly it is. And one of the reasons why we're including the polyphony series in the Pittsburgh 100 and in the podcast is because there's great music out there today. People and tunes and genres are very much worth listening to. And you know, sadly current Pittsburgh music, the scene was traumatized a bit with Mac Miller and his passing. And certainly there are other artists out there today on the national stage that we know about, but one of the things we want to do is give some prompts and some exposure to musicians maybe that folks haven't heard about yet. And that's why it's so great to have you here Logan.

Logan Armstrong:

Yeah, and those are all great points that there's been a history of Pittsburgh in different genres throughout time. And I think similar to how we talked about the food earlier, is that Pittsburgh is kind of a melting pot of genres. I would say that the main genre of music right now in Pittsburgh is probably somewhere in the field of punk rock and kind of indie rock and that kind of a genre. But to counter that, the last Pittsburgh Polyphony column we had was an indie band, indie-folk band String Machine, and this Pittsburgh Polyphony is Pick Patek, as Dan mentioned earlier. A rapper/singer, I guess you'd say. Yeah, actually it was a funny story. I just happened to see him in the library one day while I was attending at Pitt and he was making some beats and I went up to him and kind of just hit it off.

Logan Armstrong:

And then you see and look on Spotify that he's making music from his bedroom and he's got over a million streams on Spotify and he's got 20,000 plus people listening to him every month. And it's just crazy. It's a time now we're in the internet age and the accessibility of recording software and of these resources that allow you to make music so ... I don't want to say simply because it is an art, but so accessibly. Like I said, he's making music from his bedroom and he's able to turn this, I guess you could call it a small business at this point. Kind of turn that into something that he wants to do as a career. And that is something that's accessible as a career for him. And any other time in history, I don't think that would be possible.

Logan Armstrong:

As Paul said, it kind of centered around being in recording studios in your city and having access to those. And even more than that, 20 years ago, if you didn't have a major label backing or if you didn't have major backing in the entertainment industry, it was next to impossible to actually get your name out there in the music industry. And with the internet now being as it is, where you can put your music on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, wherever you want for free or very little charge, just the landscape of the industry has changed. And so in today's age, it's very interesting to me that you can balance that and still be successful as a modern musician.

Dan Stefano:

That's great. Logan, we're going to hear a little from Pick Patek at the end of this podcast, right? If listeners stay beyond the outro.

Logan Armstrong:

Yeah. So we're going to send you out with Blue October by Pick Patek. A soulful ballad that I had the opportunity and privilege to perform with him on Pitt's very own tonight show when I was still a student there at Pitt tonight. So yeah, stick around and I hope you enjoy.

Logan Armstrong:

And we are well beyond 100 words today. Thank you for listening to the P100 podcasts. This has been Dan Stefano, Logan Armstrong, and Paul Furiga. If you haven't yet, please subscribe at P100podcast.com wherever you listen to podcasts and follow us on Twitter at Pittsburgh100_ for all the latest news updates and more from the Pittsburgh100.