Pittsburghese song a hit on YouTube

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Singer and songwriter Ron Romanovsky speaks Pittsburghese and he's not afraid to admit it. He may have left Pittsburgh when he was 19, but whenever he comes back for a visit, it doesn't take long for him to start saying "meer" instead of mirror, "cahch" instead of couch or to invite people to "stawp aht da haus."

On his last visit to Pittsburgh, he teamed up with his longtime friend and fellow musician Janet Pazzynski to produce the music video "Pittsburgh, PA." The song features Mr. Romanovsky singing lyrics with Pittsburghese in every line as familiar Pittsburgh scenes such as the Roberto Clemente Bridge, the Duquesne Incline and the three rivers flash by.

Ms. Pazzynski lives on Observatory Hill in the North Side, and when Mr. Romanovsky approached her about making a video to the song he had written 15 years ago, she knew it had to be filmed on the North Shore.

'Pittsburgh PA' song catches on as a video

The song "Pittsburgh PA," written and performed by Ron Romanovsky, a Pittsburgh native who has moved to Sante Fe, N.M., has been made into a lighthearted Internet video, filmed here with locals. (Video courtesy of YouTube; 7/10/2013)

"The views from the North Shore are just amazing," she said. "There's so much there, you see ... Mr. Rogers and the stadiums and Bill Mazeroski. There was so much there we could use. It really, really, really represents Pittsburgh."

But what is Pittsburgh without the people? Each time Pittsburghese comes up in the song, the video flashes to a Pittsburgher mouthing the words. Ms. Pazzynski makes a few cameos and brought many others into the video.

"I tried to get real people, not somebody pretending to have a Pittsburgh accent," she said. "We just have that lovely whatever it is that we do, and that's what I was trying to have Ron capture and look at."

For non-natives, subtitles at the bottom of the screen display the Pittsburghese word or phrase and its translation.

"If you say 'crick' instead of creek, if you say 'bub-bye' each time you go away and if you drink a can of 'pawp' or 'have a shot 'n' a beer' then you must be from Pittsburgh, PA," Mr. Romanovsky sings to upbeat polka music.

Since being uploaded to YouTube on June 30, the video has received more than 13,000 views and a number of comments peppered with Pittsburghese.

"I will share the video with the natives and they'll just look at it and they'll laugh and go, 'This is so true,' " Ms. Pazzynski said. "I haven't met one person that doesn't like it yet."

Shot in the span of two days with an $80 digital camera that also shoots video, Mr. Romanovsky wanted the video to be a tribute to his hometown.

"In some kind of way it was some kind of homecoming for me, coming out as a Pittsburgher. Not that I was in the closet about it, but it's something I've never really written about so my fans who might not know about my life, it was something new for them, too."

Mr. Romanovsky hasn't always had fond memories of Pittsburgh. What he remembered most was being bullied by his peers because he was gay.

"In the '70s, it wasn't as easy as it is now. I was teased a lot at school, and I was ostracized for being gay," he said.

Mr. Romanovsky moved to San Francisco in 1978, but through the process of shooting "Pittsburgh, PA" and seeing the city through Ms. Pazzynski's eyes, he has fallen in love with his hometown.

"I realized after all these years that I could have had a miserable childhood anywhere, and it wasn't Pittsburgh that was to blame," he said.

Mr. Romanovsky, a former member of the Pittsburgh music duo Romanovsky & Phillips, now lives in Santa Fe, N.M., where he plays the accordion at a downtown cafe. He performs original songs, American show tunes, movie themes and European music.

With his newfound appreciation of Pittsburgh, he plans to make more visits to the city, and if he writes another Pittsburgh song, it could be about all of its different neighborhoods.

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Kitoko Chargois: kchargois@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1088.


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