While joining what seemed like millions of Pittsburghers watching Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's 40-foot-tall rubber duck towed around the Point upon its arrival Friday evening, I thought, "Man, I'd give anything to know what kind of random thoughts are going on inside that duck's head."
And then I remembered, for Christmas last year the kids by strange coincidence gave me a device enabling me to do exactly that. So ...
• Where are all the blankets I thought would be hanging along the Andy Warhol Bridge? The main reason I came to Pittsburgh was to see something whimsical myself.
• This city seems so much cleaner and prettier than my preconceived notions. I wonder if any other first-time visitors have ever mentioned that to the locals.
• Even though everyone's cheering me, I still feel bad about being shrunk a story smaller to fit under the bridges here. Thank goodness these folks have low expectations. You'd think they'd never seen a giant, inflated, cute, colorful, rubber object on their waterways before.
• I sure hope those clowns in D.C. don't shut down the government. Who's going to protect me on the river at night if the U.S. Coast Guard isn't doing its usual job?
• I'm happy for the Pirates, but swear to God, if Pedro Alvarez hits one of those home runs outside of PNC Park Tuesday that hits and deflates me, I'm going to call that Edgar Snyder guy from TV and get some money out of it.
• Shouldn't the mayor be here to greet me? Where's the mayor?
• This trip would be a lot more fun if the towboat would go faster and let me catch some waves.
• I hope Pennsylvania isn't much of an NRA state. I don't see many good hiding spots on the rivers for a conspicuously large yellow object if someone gets all trigger-happy for target practice.
• Why does everybody in Pittsburgh quack so much? Ever since I got here, that's all I hear. Pretty primitive species, if you ask me.
• I guess I can manage fine here for three weeks, but would it have been too much trouble for them to blow up a similar-sized duck of the opposite sex to help me pass the time? Two giant inflated ducks mating -- now that would be something people might be willing to pay for Downtown parking to see.
• There was something in the air in Amsterdam when I was parked there for weeks that I'm not sensing here. Can't quite put my finger on it, but yes, there's definitely something missing.
• "Hey, would one of you people on the shore come back here late Sunday and tell me how 'Breaking Bad' ended? Please!"
• They have a funny way of giving directions here. When I came up the Ohio River and asked a boater which way to the Roberto Clemente Bridge, he said, "You can't miss it. It's the second bridge past where Three Rivers Stadium used to be." Good idea, use a landmark that doesn't exist as a reference point for a newcomer. Jeez.
• I don't know why Florentijn Hofman gets all the money out of this from the Cultural Trust -- I'm the one everyone comes to see. I need a new agent.
• I know I shouldn't do this, but I can't resist at least once in each city because it's so funny: When one little girl on the riverbank seemed a little frightened by my size as I went by, I roared like Godzilla just to see her jump into her father's arms. He didn't seem to appreciate the humor of it, but, c'mon, a cute duck suddenly acting like Godzilla -- that's priceless.
• I hear people leave Pittsburgh because they don't like the weather. Are they crazy? This city has the best weather I've ever seen.
• Call me paranoid, but sometimes when I see everybody smiling as they look at me, I worry that they're smiling at me instead of with me.
• Just for a day, I'd like to be the color black and see if I get the same reaction from everyone. I bet Justin Timberlake has days he feels that way, too.
• So San Francisco hopes to get me next, according to the newspaper? Hmrpf, what a come-down that would probably be after this nice spot.neigh_city - intelligencer
Gary Rotstein: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1255. First Published September 30, 2013 4:00 AM