Thursday, September 07, 2006

Solidarity Pittsburgh

Burgh expat Damon Boughamer mourns the passing of Mayor Bob O'Connor:


I have gathered over my twelve years away that you have mixed feelings about those who leave you, even if we have nothing but affection for you. It's largely understandable. My mom split for the suburbs before I was even born. I skipped western Pennsylvania altogether. A fine lot of good we're doing for the economy and tax base. Bob O'Connor was the simply the latest mayor who probably would have found us less than useful!

But he was still our mayor. The mayor of Pittsburgh always will be. We hope that you don't mind that we think so, and that we added our prayers from Charlotte and Phoenix and even Shrewsbury, York County to those from Bloomfield and Glenwood and Shadyside.

We are always rooting for the person who holds that job. His or her successes are times when we applaud, and his or her failures are blows not just for the Steel City, but for its sons and daughters scattered across the country.

We miss you, and we're sorry we didn't make it back for this, even if all we could have done was sit, troubled, watching the events unfold on KDKA, instead of reading about it at

Our thoughts are with the O'Connor family and with new Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. We hear lots of folks are calling him "Mayor Luke." We like that, by the way; sounds like Pittsburgh to us.

Hang in there. We're with you.

Any readers of Salman Rushdie and other postcolonial writers will recognize the angst about homeland ambivalence (if not outright rejection) concerning the people who leave. I didn't realize this until now, but the Burgh Diaspora can lay claim to the same liminal experience that Rushdie explores in his novels. This is a tragic tale of unrequited love and the price pioneers pay for exploring the global frontier.

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