Sixteen Sundays in Czech Republic

Sixteen Sundays in Czech Republic

The first international exhibition of photographs from Sixteen Sundays will be part of the exhibition of “Connecting Pittsburgh.” Below is the information:

Connecting Pittsburgh

This city, once called the Steel Heart of America, had once been the final destination for immigrants from all over the world. The Czech and Slovak enclave, created at that time, still exists today, albeit in a changed form. It was here that T.G. Masaryk signed the Czech-Slovak agreement – or Pittsburgh Agreement as it became known – one of the most important documents on route to Czechoslovak independence. These rich historical events are followed upon by new cooperation and friendships by Czech and Pittsburgh artists, resulting in an exchange exhibition project, organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Prague House of Photography. Its aim is not only presenting the public with works of top photographers but also to awaken and bring back the relations between both places, so fatally created many years ago.


Super Bowl XLIII Parade

Super Bowl XLIII Parade

For the second time in my life I had the opportunity to walk the streets with thousands of Steelers fans as they cheered loudly for the Super Bowl Champion Steelers. Troy Polamalu jumping into the crowd was one of the highlights. This parade was much more controlled and the fans were kept back from the cars. It was orderly and safe, and I got a great view. I can remember running into Lake Fong from the Post-Gazette adn he turned to me and just said, “Isn’t the funnest thing?!” while we were all gathered around James Harrison’s car while he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. I just love seeing the crowd go wild with pride. And I have to say Troy jumping into the crowd was a sight to see. He totally made the occasion for the dozens of people who got to catch him. Chaotic, but memorable.

Super Bowl XLIII - Tampa

Super Bowl XLIII – Tampa

I never really made a journal entry for this event because I was away with my wife and daughter. I took a lot of photographs but only the digital ones ever really made it up online. I have family in Orlando, so I left my daughter with cousins and met my wife and friends in Tampa. Some in-laws also live in Tampa and are connected to the Pirates Den, a great house across the street from Raymond James Stadium devoted solely to tailgating.

It was a  beautiful day in Tampa for the Super Bowl. Much better weather than Detroit, but a different vibe. A more tropical spirit made it all seem a little happier. I walked around the neighborhood and was happy to see lots of Steelers fans. We had a great spot to park within sight of the stadium so we just hung out until game time. It got a little chilly, but I wasn’t complaining.

This Super Bowl was much more subdued that XL. Less grandiose. It was simple. And Bruce Springsteen re-emphasised that. Less flags and light show, just entertainment. And the game couldn’t have been more entertaining. We never left our seats except at halftime. Can;t really remember anything but three plays. Harrison’s touchdown run, which I photographed the crowd for 12 seconds. He collapsed in the endzone right in front of us. Second, the Holmes touchdown catch, and thirdly, Woodley’s sack on Warner to end the game. Those were all great. I still get chills thinking about them.

Tailgate Topped with Playoff Win

Tailgate Topped with Playoff Win

This one is for you Joyce. Better late than never.

I love the playoffs. The fans have more intensity and every moment seems more charged with importance. The noise builds when the defense is on first and second down, not just big third & fourth downs. The Steelers faced the “Stay Classy” San Diego Chargers last Sunday in the AFC Divisional Playoff game. After a bye week, the steelers came out fresh and played convincing football, defeating the Chargers 35-24. But there were moments when every heart sank. Like when the Chargers scored within 2 minutes of the opening kickoff. “Oh well! It was nice to be here. See next season,” I thought for an instant. But as they say there was a whole lot more football to be played. It felt like the Steelers were back in action: running the football, good protection, mistake free, stellar defense. The steelers controled the ball on offense for all but 17 seconds in the third quarter. The best defense is a good offense, right? I could tell they were having fun out there. Jeff Reed dyed his hair pineapple blond. And it was good to see Jerome Bettis clowning around on the sidelines with his old teammates. Hope he comes back this week to rev up his old teammates. I can see Bus crying a tear or two of joy if they win the AFC Championship.

When the temperature dips in January, tailgating also intensifies. How else do you keep warm? While everyone may have felt unsure of a win, we all appreciated one more game in Pittsburgh. Over the last five years, I have joined quite a few tailgates, but my home has always been in a corner of the ghetto. That’s not it’s official name or even a politically sensitive name, but it is a little corner under the highway. It is tucked away between a now dilapidated bar and the railroad tracks. On any other day, the only people you would find there would be homeless. In the beginning, way back when Heinz Field first opened, there was lots of open parking. The kind you needed a pass for, but a nice open atmosphere for tailgating, where you could enjoy an open fire. Those who didn’t have a pass for the reserved lots, found sanctuary under the bridge, in the ghetto. Now the area dubbed the North Shore, has been highly developed and consumed with massive construction sites, vertical garages, and towering buildings. But the ghetto remains, and that is where I have friends who will feed me and provide me with shelter. This week I wandered around the parking lots, but came back to enjoy the comfort of friends. And for this game I was asked to take a group portrait.

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The Steelers victory means they will host the AFC Championship game against our old rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. Their third meeting this season. I for one am not about to book my tickets to Tampa yet. The Ravens are the exact team I did not want to see in the playoffs. So for now I am thankful for one more game. I’ll enjoy seeing all my ghetto friends one more time. But don’t be surprised if you see me warming my hands by the burn barrel this week, looking deep into the flames and quietly hoping for one more game. That would be sweet!

Up Next:

AFC Championship Game: Sunday January 16, 2009. CBS 6:30 PM.

Playoff Fever Hits Pittsburgh

Playoff Fever Hits Pittsburgh

Calling out all Steelers Fans! It’s time to get your winter booster shot of playoff pride. A bye week made it a little boring around Pittsburgh, but nothing can bring out the black and gold like a Terrible Tree. What is a Terrible Tree you might ask? It’s a Pittsburgh tradition that dates back to, well 2006. Kathy Colosimo, an Allegheny County employee suggested that the city decorate the country Christmas tree with Steelers wishes for the playoffs. Of course this idea lead to the Steelers winning Super Bowl XL, so the tradition goes on. And paired with another long standing tradition of Steelers Fridays, the City held a pep rally for the Steelers Divisional Playoff game against the “Stay Classy” San Diego Chargers. County Executive Dan Onorato told the crowd that they are the only place in the country that has a Terrible Tree, and the only city that can even begin to imagine what one is. If the Steelers beat the San Diego Chargers, there will be another rally at noon on the Friday before the AFC Championship game. Be sure to come early if you want a hot dog.

KDKA interview where Kathy Colosimo explains the origin of the Terrible Tree

I enjoy Steelers Fridays, a local version of casual Fridays, where the citizens of Pittsburgh wear black and gold on the Friday before a Steelers game. Now this is only a corporate sanctioned event, because Steelers Fridays are hard to distinguish from any other day of the week. Pittsburghers are required to wear something black and gold at all times. But is it possible that this frenzy for all things black and gold is a disease? If you were an alien observing our fair city, it would seem that these “steel-ers” have quite a cult following. Beware, the fever is spreading. If you stay in Pittsburgh long enough, black and gold will somehow take over your closet, your Sundays, your casual Fridays, and most of your conversations for the next week. Get used to it. Resistance is futile!

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Believe it or not there is at least one Pittsburgher who is embarrassed by all the Steelers hoopla:

Read Brian O’Neill’s encounter with Deep Route, a disgruntled Steeler fan

If you see Deep Route anywhere, be sure to give him a “Go Steelers” for good measure.

AFC North Champions

AFC North Champions

To Celebrate the Steelers AFC North Title, and prepare for the 2008 NFL Playoffs, I have decided to launch the updated Sixteen Sundays website. As we move forward in the hunt for the sixth Lombardi Trophy, I thought it would be nice to look back on the past few years. An archive of photographs is now available for viewing and purchase at the Photo Gallery

For the second year in a row, Coach Mike Tomlin has delivered a division championship for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Carried on the backs of the number one ranked defense, they locked up the division title and a playoff bye with the last-minute victory over the Baltimore Ravens. So get ready for at least one playoff game in Pittsburgh.

Steelers Playoff Season, the best time of year!

Farrior High Five: The Story Behind the Shot

Farrior High Five: The Story Behind the Shot

Photography is usually an endeavor of observation, but occasionally a photographic moment has emotional significance for the photographer. This is the story behind the shot of James Farrior giving a high five after Super Bowl XL.

The hand that Farrior is about to slap is that of the photographer. It represents the moment that a professional project became a personal moment of triumph shared between the Hero and the author so to speak. It is filled with a small measure of disbelief but a sincere strength of exhilaration over the Super Bowl win.

The story begins before the Super Bowl, when I was trying to find seats for the Super Bowl near the tunnel. No easy task, and an expensive location on top of that.

I had two pairs of tickets. One by the tunnel and one up on the second level. For the sake of karma, I decided to share the tickets with two friends. They got to sit by the tunnel for the first half, and I would sit by the tunnel for the second half. The thought was that either way I wanted to see the players reactions after the game, win or lose. It would be the end of a long photography project that would hinge on one final moment. And the photograph pictured above was the culmination of that moment.

Fast forward two years. My friend, who sat in the seats first, works at a restaurant that is frequented by Steelers players. Over two years, he kept telling James Farrior about the photograph. So much so that Farrior probably thought this photograph was a hoax. But I made a special set of prints for Farrior, and my two friends. I brought the prints to my friend at the restaurant with the hope that Farrior would be willing to autograph three of the four prints. The fourth was a gift to Farrior, who came in to eat dinner after signing a 5-years contract extension with Steelers. Farrior seemed happy with the photograph according to my friend.

Tonight I, had dinner in the same restaurant. And James Farrior was also eating dinner. As I was leaving with my family, James got up, and walked over to thank me personally for the photograph (my friend had no doubt pointed me out as the author of the mysterious photograph). A real class act. I never would have bothered him, but I feel honored that a moment shared by so many has some significance for a few of us. The best part of the evening was when my two year old daughter gave him a high five. Karma has nice way of coming full circle.

Visit the photo gallery for this image.

related article about James Farrior: Ron Cook: No question, Farrior’s the team leader

Stormy in Brownstown

Stormy in Brownstown


The last breaths of Hurricane Ike whipped across the shores of Lake Erie tonight, adding a mysterious tone to the Steelers Sunday Night match up against AFC North Rivals the Cleveland Browns. The seagulls were squawking, flags were flapping, and tailgate tents were headed back to Antie Em’s farm.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I have family roots in Cleveland. So sitting by lake Erie I feel like I’m sharing some of my fathers past. But it also seems very distant. In many ways Pittsburgh and Cleveland may be alike, but living in Pittsburgh for the last eight years I have that feeling like I’m in a bizarre alternative to reality. At times I could close my eyes and think I’m still in Pittsburgh. Cleveland is a town that lives for football much like Pittsburgh. But after a few minutes, everything feels strange. Things are just different. And then it feels like I’m in bizarro world.

And to top it all off Clevelanders hate Pittsburghers. On any day other than Sunday this disdain is subtle. For instance my wife recently went to the Cleveland Clinc for a conference and on her name tag they put “Pittsburg,” dropping the silent “H.” Pittsburgh was forced to drop the “H” from 1890-1911 by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Pittsburghers fought to have it restored so we take great pride in it.  Now to any casual observer this oversight would appear harmless, but I am 51% certain that it was an intentional jab by a Browns fan crazed by their brief position of power over name tags. You be the judge.

All politeness gets thrown out the window on Sundays though. Should you walk through Cleveland on a game day wearing your Steelers colors, you would hear several things, none of them polite.

“Hey Loser, you suck!”

and the favorite term that rings in unison “ass-hole!”

I went to the game by myself and the best comment I got was: “Hey Polamalu look at you walking all alone like a homo! Get a haircut.” And one guy really reached by making fun of Byron Leftwitch. Browns fans are really digging for something when the start making fun of the backup quarterback first.

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Kickoff Weekend

Kickoff Weekend

Season opener: Heinz Field. A warm September day means there’s lots of skin. Here is just one example showing a classic Pittsburgh tattoo.

Before the game I wandered a little in the parking lots and came across a one-of -a-kind grill. Brad and Willy told me the story over a beer, but Gerry later told me more about the making of the grill.This was a laser-etched grill that had the Steelers logo patterned across the whole surface. It was heavily engineered and manufactured by Marstrand industries in Crafton. It cost about $500 to make ten years ago. Luckily I found it had been cleaned one or twice in that ten year period.

I love the home opener at Heinz Field. I wake up in the morning like it’s Christmas day. I get so pumped for real, full-speed, smash-mouth football, that I almost forget to bring sunscreen. This year’s opponent was the Houston Texans, who were supposed to be an up-and-coming AFC South Powerhouse. Alas that was not the case. It was an easy Steelers win, and as the September Sun wore on, I found myself starting to lounge like I was at a baseball game, more spectator than participant. And after a while I started daydreaming of the months to come, when football will be played in football weather, with snow and rain and wind and the bitter elements. Then it will really feel like Christmas.

It's Pronounced Canada

It’s Pronounced Canada

Toronto, Canada.

“Tickets half price.”
“75% off,” says another scalper.

It a a very cordial evening in Toronto. Not a lot of black and gold outside. One desperate man said “I can’t give em away. But I’ll take ten bucks each.” That’s Canadian Dollars too. For nose bleed seats (really 500 level third base line) starting at $255 face you wonder if it’s worth it for a preseason game. This seems to be a premier event for fans of the NFL in Toront. I see jerseys of every color. Eagles, Dolphins, Bears, Cowboys, Titans, Favre in green and pink, Packers, Vikings, Broncos, even OJ Simpson.

This is the first of the 8 game Buffalo Toronto series. The games will be played over five years. That is as long as there is a team in Buffalo.

Quick Notes:
They’re now introducing the Buffalo Gills cheerleaders to cat calls in an empty stadium. Thank god one of the teams has cheerleaders. It feels like a Pirates game maybe 8000 in attendance? But the game has yet to start.

LetsGoSteelers to here we go? These people have read the manual but never consummated Steelers football before. ‘Oh Canada’ got a bigger applause than the Bills and Steelers combined.

Now that the game has started it feels a little more like a football game. Or is it. “What’s it all aboot?” I can overhear locals discuss the differences of CFL to NFL. “Their field is smaller eh? The endzone is only 10 meters as opposed to 15 meters.” Do you think they have a inferiority complex?

It’s now 14-0 Bills 9:43 2Q.

Steelers look sloppy. Numerous Penalties. An interception but Ben made a great grow from the grasp of a defenseman for a first down.

And they have a dome stadium without any air conditioning.

Halfway through the second quarter and Ben is still in the game. A nice throw to Ward at midfield.

Did I mention beers are $9.75 each? That puts the Onorato drink tax to shame. This is a home game for Buffalo and the concessions are only serving Bud and Bud Light. And Don;t even think about taking one of those beers into the restroom. That is strictly forbidden. Lord only knows what you could do in there with your beer.

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