Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pittsburgh Optimism

Where do you go for story about economic optimism? Pittsburgh:

"Once you hit bottom the only one way to go is up," said John Bair, 23, a photographer and filmmaker from Pittsburgh. "Everybody that I come in contact with seems to be on the upswing. I consider that a pretty good thing."

That anecdote qualifies as a mesofact moment. Attitude and perception are instrumental to any recovery. Anything is possible in Pittsburgh, including growth. The rose colored glasses suit the film industry. From Variety:

Tim Iacofano, a producer on Fox's "Locke & Key" pilot that filmed in Pittsburgh, says location selection is often driven by the best financial deal. "We only seriously looked at locations with tax incentives," he says, noting that "Locke & Key" is set in an old, haunted mansion. "Pittsburgh was chosen because the architecture we needed for this house was found there." ...

... Iacofano, a Cleveland native, says he's impressed by the Midwestern work ethic of crews when he's shot in Chicago and Pittsburgh. "The workforce in Pittsburgh is a very motivated group, which is not to say they aren't in Los Angeles, which has some very talented professionals who are also motivated. But when you work in a place like Pittsburgh and realize the future of the industry in your town is at stake, it's different," he says. "It's a little extra something."

Emphasis added. The word about the Pittsburgh scene is getting around. Outsiders are moving in. It's a cool place to be:

Jeremiah Clark was weaned on sad contemporary Christian songs. But now that's he secular? ''[A sad song] doesn't have to be Jesus on a cross anymore,'' he laughs.

Clark was only 16 when he started writing songs in his bedroom. Last year, after years spent in more traditional employment, Clark, now 26, committed to becoming a full-time musician, a move spurred on by touring in support of D.C.'s popular gay rocker Tom Goss. This Saturday, May 14, Clark stops by Black Fox Lounge on Connecticut Avenue for a show to promote his self-released debut album, Just Another Sad Song.

Clark turned away from becoming a contemporary Christian musician soon after graduating from his Memphis-area high school. ''My beliefs changed a lot when I accepted who I was, as a homosexual,'' he says. ''I became much more spiritual. I found faith in the people around me more so than any holy text.''

Now a practicing Taoist living in Pittsburgh, Clark grew up the youngest of two boys in a family nominally Southern Baptist. ''My parents have accepted me for who I am, they embrace that,'' he says. ''I'm very thankful."

I'm interested to know how Clark ended up in Pittsburgh. Even if there is a native connection, he hasn't bolted for New York or some other big city with a better community of musicians. Like any other boomtown, Pittsburgh will transform into a destination for talent before anyone notices. That moment has come to pass. "Steel City" oozes irony.

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