To stave off the inevitable existential collapse that typically accompanies unemployment, not to mention looming middle age, I’ve begun taking my mom’s dog for walks.

It’s sort of Zen like, in that the sole purpose of said walks are finding my dog a nice place to shit. That’s all that matters, finding Lucky a velvet lined tree stump to shit behind. Because he refuses to shit just anywhere, and that’s fine, that’s his prerogative. But after blocks of prime real estate he still refuses. He looks me in the eye and lifts his leg, and I swear he’s fucking smirking, as if to say, ‘not this time, bitch.’

But I’ve become reacquainted with the town I live in on our very long walks, and I’ve made a few observations:

Pittsburgh is the filthiest city on the planet. At my local park there is a varied assortment of litter. This includes paper plates, a curious number of empty mini muffin packages, syringes, empty beer cans (usually Iron City, in keeping with tradition), children’s shoes, fast food bags, make up, used diapers, and so on. The litter makes its way into every patch of grass and wooded area in the city. It’s thrown from car windows and tossed into the street from front doors. There is no need for garbage cans in Pittsburgh, just patches of grass, where every degenerate mother fucker will happily dispose of their trash.

Another way of getting rid of trash here, and we’re talking the larger items, couches set ablaze because a beloved sports team either won or lost an important match, towers of tires reaching skyward, existing to only entice the alarming amount of fire bugs and amateur arsonists in the city, is to just dump said trash down the slope of hill or at the culmination of a dead end street. Almost every dead end street has a collection of trash, sometimes neatly stacked and arranged, and usually said collection is older than me by a few years.

Everyone in Pittsburgh is a hoarder. They don’t hoard cool things, like guitars or books. They hoard things like carpet remnants and bricks and other useless junk that only an idiot could look at as a good investment. Everyone who isn’t a hoarder (or a writer or a musician) is a roofer. Despite this, every single roof in Pittsburgh is on the verge of collapse.

No one here can speak English. That’s not some xenophobic slight. I’m talking about the native English speakers. Pittsburgh has an accent all its own, it incorporates the gruffness of Jersey and New York, with the apparent upbeat naiveté of the Midwest. It’s literally one of the most ridiculous accents in the United States. If you don’t believe me, please see this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEyJjAAPy38

For the record, I don’t sound like that. However, my voice sometimes twangs peculiarly on my Os, which I’ve been trying to combat for years and will probably never undo.

Pittsburgh is teeming with lovable psychos. We recently lost the crown prince of functional insanity, a guy by the name of Steve, who was famous for standing in the same spot on the avenue all summer and hosting his own private dance party. Upon Steve’s untimely death, it was found he put a lot of time into making collages, which I believe is probably a good indicator that said person has a crawl space and isn’t afraid to use it. Another guy rides around Pittsburgh on a bike exclusively. Well, that’s not very weird, is it? No, what’s weird is that this fellow decided to strap a car bumper to the front of the thing. He even took the time to loosely affix blank CDs to either side, in a nod to headlights. Why does he do this? Fuck if I know, I’m not getting within ten feet of that crazy fucker.

In the last ten years the city has been overrun by hipsters. I could go into a prolonged self righteous speech about gentrification and how they’re ruining everything, but they’re really not. These people all have jobs, they put money into the city, they’ve stemmed the hemorrhage of young people that steadily increased year to year in the past. If they want to walk around dressed like assholes and play pan flutes, well I say have at it.

What I can’t tolerate is the recent influx of crust punks, or squatters, or crusties, or whatever you call them in your locality. Think hobos with a better sense of the aesthetic. They sit on street corners with their mangy dogs (because the first thing I would do if homeless is acquire a pet) holding crudely made signs asking for money.  Most of the time these people are from well off families looking for a little adventure in the form of lax hyigene and casual drug use, which is all fine and good. Unfortunately I have hard enough time financing these pursuits for myself, so there is no way I’ve giving Caleb a fiver just so he can purchase yet another six pack of Pabst.

Do I like the place I live in? I don’t know. I regard Pittsburgh as I would an embarrassing friend or loved one. I feel loyal to some degree, but I also can’t spend a lot of time and energy defending it. I think the best thing for us would be a trial separation. Maybe Pittsburgh would look more appealing with a bit of distance between us.