Everybody Comes to Rick's

Among the many fabulous lines from Casablanca is Rick Blaine's comment to Major Strasser. Strasser wants to impress on Rick that the Germans know everything about him; Rick, reading the dossier himself, asks the Major, "Are my eyes really brown?"

I flew on USAirways over the weekend and had an "are my eyes really brown" moment reading the Profile of Pittsburgh that appears in the current (March 2007) in-flight magazine. The whole thing is a masterful piece of marketing by the Allegheny Conference, the Pittburgh Technology Council, and the Mayor's Office. The city and region have rarely been shown off to such wonderful advantage. Still, reading some of the descriptions of the city, I wondered about the region's self-description much as Rick Blaine wondered about the color of his eyes.

Some interesting, and representative, quotations:

"The economic development climate in Pittsburgh has gone from hot to one fire," adds Mayor Luke Ravenstahl . . . .

"VisitPittsburgh President and CEO Joe McGrath says, "There's tremendous momentum in Pittsburgh right now, and that message is being heard across the globe -- how the city continues to develop, creating an environment that's great for business and families alike."

"[T]he region's economics are both strong and diversified," says Allegheny Conference's [CEO Mike] Langley . . . ."

"With the role they've played in past renaissances," Ravenstahl says, "we know we can rely on the Allegheny Conference for the revolutionary advances we'll make in twentieth-century Pittsburgh."

[Referring to the Life Sciences Greenhouse, Innovation Works, and the Technology Collaborative] "This is the kind of help that technology receives in Pittsburgh," [PITC CEO Steve] Zylstra says. "It is unprecedented -- and unmatched."

"Where else could innovators and entrepreneurs be in the midst of both corporate and university research centers, live affordably near where they work, and have access to world-class culture and outdoor recreation?" wonders Future Strategies President Harold Miller. "No wonder people never want to leave."

I don't want to be too hard on well-intentioned, meaningless puffery, since it's always nice to see Pittsburgh look good. Criticizing Luke Ravenstahl for praising the "revolutionary advances" he anticipates from the Allegheny Conference would be like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown. Lucy loses that confrontation; we pity Charlie Brown.

But do people really never want to leave? Didn't the Commonwealth just agree to pay Mario Lemieux $10.5 million to stay?


1 Response to "Everybody Comes to Rick's"

Benjamin said... 3/16/2007 12:49 PM

"Criticizing Luke Ravenstahl for praising the "revolutionary advances" he anticipates from the Allegheny Conference would be like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown."

Ha. That's good stuff

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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.

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