Wednesday, November 11, 2015


ONE EARLY EVENING several years ago, when I was still living with my family in Oakland, I walked towards the storefront district along Forbes Avenue. I don't recall what for. I may have been headed to the 24-hour drug store, or the local music store where my sister worked, or any other number of places. I don't remember exactly which street I was on either, although it was one along the Fifth and Forbes corridor near the hospitals. I also don't remember a small item falling unnoticed from my bag.

What I do remember in very exacting detail is hearing a voice, a child's voice, calling out to me above the din of Oakland's street and sidewalk traffic. I was so focused on getting to wherever I was going that I hadn't heard this at first. I turned to make sure it was me being hailed, and there was a little boy, no more than four or five years old, running down the hill after me. (For those who live outside of Pittsburgh, everything here is on a hill.) In his outstretched hand was my umbrella (for the sake of expedience, we're going to say the item was an umbrella), and he continued to call to me, with a slight Chinese accent, "Sir! Sir!"

Just up the street from him was a lady, presumably his mother, who had presumably just told him to run after me and deliver it back. I knelt down and he handed it to me. I thanked him and smiled, then watched him turn and run back up to her. I waved my thanks and she smiled back. Then the two of them continued on their way and I went mine, amused and touched that the woman would trust her child to be safe enough to allow them both to grant me that small act of kindness.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

#Burghosphere and

This November is National Blogging Month (which I didn't know was a real thing until someone told me, so woo-hoo!), and THOUGHT IN MIND has been asked to participate in The Best of Burghosphere, an awards event that celebrates the best of Pittsburgh-based bloggers doing what they do best. It's all the brainchild of Most Wanted Fine Art in Bloomfield, which supports the arts locally in more ways than can be mentioned in one brief post. So we'll just have to follow up with a longer one at some point!

Anyway, I was asked to designate an award for another one of the participant blogs - - and say why I'm nominating them for this award.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

36 Hours in Pittsburgh (and a Lifetime in America)

Portrait of the author as a malcontent
in the audience.
Let's consider this an open message to the editors of the New York Times.

I'm a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and currently reside in the neighborhood of Lawrenceville. I've got friends and acquaintences all over this city, and I can say with pride that I've curated a pretty eclectic, multi-faceted group. A lot of them are movers and shakers, creatives and business owners, and it was through this network I found out a few months ago you were planning to do a little travelogue-type piece on our town.

I  was really looking forward to it, and having now seen 36 Hours in Pittsburgh I can say with pride that you really make a number of our local destinations shine. I've been to many of these restaurants, businesses, and art spaces and love them. Lawrenceville is (heavily) referenced, and since I live right around the corner from a lot of the places shown, I have a very personal appreciation for what you managed to showcase.

Here's my question though: where are the Black people?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Neighbors In Heaven

TOMORROW IS FRED ROGERS' birthday, so he's been on my mind lately. (He would have turned 87.) I was one of millions of children who were blessedly raised on his long-running show MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD and I was faithful. I watched that show from the time I was around five years old until into my twenties. Even now I'll catch an episode here or there as a reminder of where I came from and how much I absorbed his lessons without even realizing it. I didn't know when I was little that the show was filmed right here in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Even now, knowing that something so important to so many people for so many years originated right here where I live remains a little stunning to me.

Last summer I was up late one night when I came across episodes of his show online. I watched one that I dimly remembered where he went to buy a new pair of dress shoes. He invited us along as he took a trip to visit a friend who owned Wagner's Shoe Store, and he bought a new pair. I paused wondering if this was the same store residing only a few blocks from my house in Lawrenceville. So at 1 in the morning, I pulled on my own pair of sneakers and walked over to see if my suspicions were correct. The facade has changed a lot over the years, so I had to do some more checking online to make sure, but yes, it's the same store. I was walking on the same ground that one of my earliest heroes had walked on.

I learned a lot from him. Today it occurred to me just how much I learned.

Friday, March 13, 2015

MISC. Thoughts 1: Phat Man Dee, Carolyn Belefski, Julie Sokolow

I have gotten so far behind in helping to promote some friends with their recent projects that it's embarrassing. Let's start to chip away at the mountain of information I need to share with you about some amazing things happening here (and abroad) that you can participate in. I'd seriously be remiss in my artistic duties if I didn't tell you about these things. They span the arts - music, comic-books, and film - so there's something for everyone's interests.

So let's get started, okay?
*     *     *     *     *     *

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Prince Setlist

It was brought to my attention a couple of days ago via a post on my Facebook wall that Prince will be performing a series of "pop-up" concerts  in the United States this year, under the banner of his "Hit and Run Tour". And you know, that's pretty doggone cool. I haven't seen him live since 2004, and the notion that he might end up back here in Pittsburgh is something to look forward to.

Wayne made a joke about Prince performing in our living room, then asked me what songs would I include on the set-list if I had the opportunity to host such an event? I have to admit, the question gave me pause because I do loves me some Prince. I was a child of the 1980s, and vividly remember the buildup to his domination of the pop landscape of 1984. He has remained on my radar since, through highs and lows, and he's still in the game. His recent performance on Saturday Night Live (not to mention his already fabled after-party performance following their 40th anniversary show) cemented his reputation as a must-watch live entertainer.

There is only one Prince. He's the only person on Earth over twelve years old allowed to use letters and numbers instead of words in his writing who I will still take seriously. So what if he did perform a concert in my living room? Quantum mechanics suggests the possibility of innumerable dimensions branching off from one another where anything that you could possibly conceive of as a reality exists. Therefore it is theoretically possible - I would even suggest it is likely - that a dimension and universe exist where Prince will be playing a short concert in my living room. That means I should be prepared if it turns out to be this one.

I asked Wayne how long such a show would be, and he said one hour. Assuming I have a little latitude for applause time, encores and such, here's what I came up with. (I even created a playlist on Spotify, if any of you are so inclined to listen along.) This doesn't reflect what I consider to be the Ultimate Prince Songs or even my Favorite Prince Songs (and trust me, I left off notable ones), but just what I think would be the most fun, eclectic mix to hear. I should also mention that I'm a bit of a control freak, and given a chance would even suggest orchestration and arrangements.

Hey, this ain't Paisley Park. This is my house party and I'll rock it how I choose!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Row House Cinema: Sci-Fi Fest!

I live in Lawrenceville, right around the corner from Row House Cinema, so close in fact that if friends wanted me to join them there for a last-minute movie, all they need to do is shout my name from the front doors. They've been here for about a year, and I'm in love with this place. It's probably safe to say that I'm one of their "Norms" (as in, when I walk through the doors the staff usually greets me with "Marcel!"), which has its perks. Just like Norm, I have a favorite seat (if you've been there with me, you know which one), and just like Norm, the staff puts up with me lingering around when I should probably be doing other productive, constructive things.

That last part is a joke. I fully consider time spent at Row House to be productive and constructive, and it definitely fuels me being creative at the drawing board. Case in point...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Grammar School

I was born two and a half years into a post-Martin Luther King, Jr. world, and my childhood existed blissfully within the good Doctor’s dreamscape. By the time I started attending the grade school bearing his name on Pittsburgh’s North Side a substantial part of my worldview had already been forged. The students there were Black, White and a myriad of shades in-between, and for the most part I considered this immaterial. I chose friends – along with favorite school teachers, entertainers, comic-book characters[1], etc. – based not on aesthetics or anything topical, but instead according to the simple criteria of how likable they were. That was usually the only distinction necessary and nothing else mattered.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Why this doesn't exist already is beyond me.
When my buddy Dan Greenwald recently asked if I would join him again as a guest on his podcast THE COMIC-BOOK PITT, I was happy to oblige. He graciously accepted my suggestion of a theme for the episode, which was discussing "Best of..." comic-book character lists. The topic has been on my mind since I came across two such compilations in the last couple of months which had some intriguing similarities worthy of exploring.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Time of My Childhood

I have a friend who is particularly fond of my writing, and she has been vocal in her appreciation of my previous blog entries, among other works to be found here and there. It is this same friend that I found myself exchanging texts with mere minutes into the New Year of 2015, enough that it became obvious the conversation needed to transition into a phone call. When I dialed her digits however, the call stubbornly refused to go through. Angrily, my phone disconnected instantly from each attempt to call, yet would allow texts to come through and be sent. This felt just shy of being passive-aggressive, and for a moment I despaired at the thought of beginning the year needing to replace my stupid smart phone.

I thought about calling someone else to see if this was limited to only the one number, but this proved a challenge: who else wouldn’t mind the call at that hour? Yes, lots of friends were likely still up for New Year’s, but we’re all at an age where more and more of us are going to bed at earlier hours, even on holidays. My own body clock is just horrific when it comes to such things (which I blame on both a genetic predisposition toward staying up late, and many years working late and overnight shifts), but normal human beings tend to go to sleep at normal hours. It wouldn’t have been fair to wake anyone else up just to test my cell phone. And anyone else who was already up was probably partying too hard to answer. I was stuck.

Then it hit me: call the time.