Dilbert pulls a Johnson... or does he?

Via CmdrSue in a comment on the Angry Drunk Bureaucrat's Blog I learned that Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, appears to pull a Johnson.. by that I mean he completely disses the Burgh before visiting. Read his blog post on a visit to Pittsburgh here. Adams sums us up this way:
"And if you love seeing thousands of grey birds lining telephone poles waiting for a dropped French fry, you’ll love Pittsburgh."

Pulling a Johnson being the operative term for insulting the Burgh a priori, i.e. based entirely on preconceived notions. Pittsblog called out the progenitor of the phrase, Denver Columnist Bill Johnson who described Pittsburgh as "butt ugly" in a column the week before the Pittsburgh-Denver AFC Championship game last January. In the poor guy's defense, what was he supposed to do. It was the playoffs and for a week Pittsburgh was the enemy. Editors don't send columnists off to their opponents' hometowns looking for fluff travelogues.. they were looking for chalkboard material.

the problem is Adams is not alone. The Pittsburgh international marketing machine needs a little help these days. Also yesterday, a column in the Australian, Australia's largest daily newspaper, gratuitously described us solely as the "cold, steel city of Pittsburgh"... They must not have gotten the memo about this officially being knowledge-city.

but just as ol Bill was won over by our hospitality, plus a few beers at Jack's... Adams is not so negative after actually visiting. He updates his blog simply: "Okay, it turns out that Pittsburgh is a very nice place. Now I feel bad".


10 Responses to "Dilbert pulls a Johnson... or does he?"

Judge Rufus Peckham said... 8/10/2006 3:12 PM

Scott Adams mentions our "Festival of Rust" in his blog. He sure is one funny cartoonist. The irony is that there are a lot of people here who'd be very happy pushing the clock back and having Pittsburgh become the "awful" rust town he and so many others who've never been here still think it is. When a drive down Second Avenue was like eating sulfur, there were jobs galore in the Mon Valley, as unpleasant as that might sound to learned gentlemen such as Chris and Mike. I would add that if you've never had to shut your car windows on 8th Avenue in Homestead, your Western Pennsylvania credentials are suspect.

C. Briem said... 8/10/2006 10:41 PM

as unpleasant as that might sound to learned gentlemen such as Chris and Mike

I suppose it's always true that our perceptions of ourselves do not match what others think of us. What is funny is that I more often than not will introduce myself in meetings as the sole defender of the 'old economy' when everyone else wants to focus on something else. For what its worth, to this day every time I go over the Brady Street (I mean Birmingham) Bridge, I still find it hard to believe the J+L Plant is not there.

C. Briem said... 8/10/2006 11:22 PM

any by the way. Rust can be an architectural feature. The US Steel Building has that color by design.

Judge Rufus Peckham said... 8/11/2006 12:14 AM

I'm only kidding about you -- I am certain of your Western Pennsylvania credentials. On the other hand, "Mount Lebanon Mike" --that's an entirely different story . . . .

As for the Corten steel, you remember that was going to be all the rage, with the Steel Bldg. its showcase, until it started flaking and owners of the surrouding buildings complained. I like it, but not on that building (but perhaps it's just that I don't like certain tenants in that building and I can't separate the two).

You mention the J&L plant. Another telling indication of how far we've come is the giant man-made mountain at the West Mifflin-Pleasant Hills border next to Century III Mall. You'll remmember they used to dump the slag over that hill and people came from all around to watch the synthetic volcano show. You know what sits atop (what's left of) that hill today? Wal-Mart.

Mike Madison said... 8/11/2006 7:47 AM

I thought that my credentials as an apologist for Mt. Lebanon were, by now, unassailable. Oh well! How about "Menlo Park Mike"? If we're all about our native lands, then that's mine.

Judge Rufus Peckham said... 8/11/2006 7:50 AM

Oh, Mike, I'm only kidding about you -- I am certain of your Western Pennsylvania credentials. Now, Chris -- that's an entirely different story . . . .

Mark said... 8/11/2006 9:22 AM

Am on my sixth day of vacation from Pittsburgh, and feel a little out of the loop. So I was happy to find some more navel-gazing in the blurghosphere.

Festival of Rust? What a great idea. An entirely post-industrial festival. Hold it at Heppenstall's. Everybody can wear "One for the Thumb" gear. You can get in for free if you have credentials taller than the kangaroo.

Your honor, I have no idea what you meant by the roll your windows up in Homestead comment. So I imagine I don't even have the credentials of a Mt. Lebanonite, or perhaps even of a Menlo Parker.

Judge Rufus Peckham said... 8/11/2006 2:31 PM

Mark, let's just say that you are, at the very least, an honorary Pittsburgher, and we're very proud to have you. But I'm sorry, I am not permitted to tell what that Homestead comment means. If this information were strewn about the internet, anyone could adopt the pretense of being a bona fide Pittsburgher.

Mike Madison said... 8/11/2006 2:37 PM

Man, Mark, even *I* knew what the Homestead comment meant, and I'm no bona fide Pittsburgher! But the Judge may well be right with his last point: There's only so much pretense in Pittsburgh to go around.

C. Briem said... 8/11/2006 7:05 PM


actually.. maybe the question of "what makes one a bona fide Pittsburgher?" could be blog fodder for Mike. Of course, the real question is why the question even exists.

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About Pittsblog

Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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