Please discuss Steely McBeam the new Steelers mascot. Why can't we let big steel go? What's your perspective as an outsider?
As to Steely: I won't demean the blog by posting a picture of this lunacy or a link to any of the news stories describing it. ("Steely McBeam" is the new name for a steelworker-inspired 3D "mascot" for the Pittsburgh Steelers.) Football is a simple game. It calls for simple measures. As a great but flawed man once said of a different sport, but in a related spirit, "'This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." Think about that for a while." Someone in the Steelers organization should take that to heart.
But that's the easy part.
The harder part is calling me an outsider. By the bizarro rules of Pittsburgh culture, I *am* an outsider, because I'm not a native. I wasn't born in Pittsburgh. I've lived in the area only for nine years. No member of my family was living in the area when Maz and the Pirates beat the Yankees; no member of my family worked in a mill. I don't know where Isaly's used to be. (But I'm learning.)
So, yes, I get that. Native Pittsburghers are tribal, and they have their rituals, and you can "convert" if you adopt the rituals (I, too, mute the TV and listen to local radio on Sunday afternoon in the Fall), but you will never acquire a native-born belief in their true power and significance. Still, it grates on me that those people who are natives -- many of whom no longer live in the area, of course -- so obsessively impose and re-impose their tribalism on newcomers. Instead, try this. If you care about the future of this area, no matter where you live or where you were born, you're a Pittsburgher. "Insiders" take note: Accept our interest! We come in peace.