by Diana Nelson Jones/Jan 28
North SIders are good at abiding, what with the on-again off-again good-news-bad-news cycle of reports and rumors we live with. But some among us are taking a dilemma by the horns and - no bull - starting a magazine. Yes, one of those things you can thumb through and that uses the printing process.
The first issue of "Northside Now," a quarterly, 9-by-6-inch full-color instrument of neighborhood promotion, has been out for a month, and its creator, the North Side Cultural Collaborative, is ready to celebrate - this evening from 5:30 to 7:30 at the New Hazlett Theatre in Allegheny Square.
The event is free and open to the public. Johnny Angel is scheduled to perform, as are the Swiss Singers - a traditional group made up of forebears of the North Side's Swiss immigrants.
The collaborative is sort of new, though the people who make up its board have been talking about doing a publication and complimentary web site - www.northsidenow.com - for several years. The point is to showcase the good stuff, said editor Robin Rosemary Miller, who heads the Northside/Northshore Chamber of Commerce.
The project has support from the Buhl Foundation and Rep. Jake Wheatley and from the institutions represented on the board, from Allegheny General Hospital to the New Hazlett Theater.
John Graf, owner of the Priory Hotel and president of the collaborative's board, said one goal is to get the word out about the Charm Bracelet, the collective effort of all the North Side's cultural institutions. The concept was envisioned a few years ago as a metaphoric linkage. (The reassembled auto in the top photo is at the Children's Museum and the kid trapped in the twilight zone of my bad photography is in the penguins exibit at the National Aviary.)
We're looking to go wide," John said, "to include the whole North Side and not just the glitzy pockets [i.e. North Shore]."
"We're not competing against the Chronicle [the neighborhoods' newspaper]," Robin said. "We're the good-news bureau, telling people about the quirky and the fun things. Our niche is nothing other than bragging about our neighborhood."
Make that neighborhoods. Plural. The North Side is 19 neighborhoods. Some are featured in the first issue, including Troy Hill with its world-class collection of religious relics at Saint Anthony's Chapel; the North Shore's Andy Warhol Museum, whose director Tom Sokolowski is interviewed; and Brighton Heights' Friday's Market, where Tom Friday is one of the city's few butchers left.
After being almost vacated, almost obliterated then kicked around awhile and dissed for crime that did and did not happen, the North Side is healing its scars and kind-of sort-of almost There.
Federal Hill rowhouses are being built and occupied, the new Carnegie library branch is established, a strategic corner on North at Federal is serving up coffee and WiFi as Crazy Mocha and little birds are telling us that soon, pretty soon, possibly soon, the Garden Theater block is going to turn.
Our maxim is: Never hold your breath unless you're under water.