Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Lynn Swann

So remember that calendar I mentioned before? The one for the Pittsburgh Power dance team (officially called The Sparks)? Well, it’s happening. In earnest. It’s also a swim-suit calendar. But the pictures above is, believe it or not, tacitly related. How? I’ll explain after the jump.
This is, of course, a picture of Lynn Swann. #88. Owner of four Super Bowl rings. ‘Round these parts he’s about as close to Royalty as you’re ever likely to see.

He’s also the owner (full or in part, I’m not sure) of the Pittsburgh Power. So there’s the basic connection.

Back to this calendar; today I just finished the second of a proposed three day shoot for it. Well, yesterday I was having a pre-shoot phone call with the Ad agency. It was a lot of “we need to do this…” “don’t forget to do that…” kind of call. Bottom line, we all agreed on the (rather grand) expectation of shooting eleven girls on this second day. In eight hours. Now, that was going to be a fairly full shooting day; but I was willing to give it the ‘ol collage try. Point is; I wasn’t really taken back when – mid phone call – I was told they wanted to add something extra…

“Uh, so. We think we’ll need to add one more shot to the list. Mr. Swann will be stopping by for a photo.”

Stop. Wait. Let me tell you about Super Bowl X. After the Steelers won that game my Dad literally threw me in the car to drive out at something like 2am to the Pittsburgh International airport. Just to stand in the crowd of hundreds there to greet the championship Steelers as they got off the plane. I can remember, like it was yesterday, standing on the cold tarmac surrounded by an endless crowd of Terrible Towel waving fans all screaming their frick’n heads off. In the very mitts of that din, I distinctly remember thinking “hey, isn’t this a school night”.

Ok, I wasn’t the biggest football fan growing up. I’m still not. To be honest, I don’t really give much thought to football at all. What I am, tho; deep down in the very core of my being is a Steelers fan. There is, I assure you, a profound difference.

For better or worse, I’m old enough to remember what this town was like in the early Seventies. When the steel industry collapsed was ripped out of the fabric of this city, it damn near did us in. Lots of people, people in my own family, suddenly had their legs kicked out from under them. And not gentle like. It was a knockdown from which it was damn near impossible to rise again. On the off-chance you don’t believe me, look at a map sometime of the “rust belt”. You'll see an endless string of names; towns once bristling with population running three mill shifts a day, seven days a week. Sadly, the names on the map are all that’s left of a lot of those places.

Pittsburgh – and god bless for it – pulled it’s self out of that seemingly endless pit; and largely by it’s own boot straps. It was a Herculean effort to come back from the brink of the abyss. Renaissance I & II. Mayor Caligiuri. Industry & families alike; they did all the real heavy lifting, no doubt about it. But at that one moment in history, when we were at our collective lowest, a bunch of men in black & gold uniforms stood up and told the entire watching world that we, Pittsburghers, could be Champions.

Did that turn the tide? Probably not. But let me tell you from experience it’s the kind of thing that makes you want to turn the tide. And that, that can make all the difference in the world.

Mr. Swann. He couldn’t have been nicer. At one point I had to admit that I wear a Hines Ward jersey. “It’s ok, I understand you’re just trying to be trendy.” Classy guy.


End of line.