Hello! Welcome to EvBetPGH 21 Questions. Modeled off of New York Magazine's 21 Questions, this idea was suggested to me by my friend Allie. So, full credit to her for that. Enjoy!
Meet Michael Cunningham.
|Photo by Brian Taylor.|
Mike is so many things. Lead singer of Neighbours, DJ extraordinaire. My cousin, my friend, and (more often than not) my confidante. I feel like Mike is known by just about everyone in Pittsburgh. He's one of those people who is undoubtedly making a mark on the city. So, for those of you that don't know him yet, here's your chance. For those of you who do, the very Mike Cunningham-like answers you're hoping for are on their way.
Cunningham and I sat down to chat one night about these questions. I've known Cunningham for many many years now, but his answers to these questions were mostly new (and hilarious) to me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Q1: What is your name?
Q2: What is your nickname (/@twitter/instagram/etc.)?
"Cunningham" / @thepacketman / instagram: thepacketman
Q3: What is your occupation?
Senior Academic Coordinator for the Master of Arts Management Program at CMU
Q4: How long have you lived in Pittsburgh?
Total? Let me think about this for a second. [Ed. note: He literally assumes the "Thinking Man" pose. No joke.] 13 years. WAIT NO! 17 years.
Q5: How did you end up in Pittsburgh?
I was born and raised here and through a series of moves and a desire to eventually here, I came back approximately four years ago.
Q6: Who is your favorite Pittsburgher?
Ahmad Jamal. He is a jazz pianist. He does something that I really enjoy doing and consider my craft and I feel like he is a little under-appreciated. I've always gravitated toward him and looked up to him.
Q7: What is the best meal in Pittsburgh?
The N'yam at Quiet Storm is my favorite regular Pittsburgh meal. It's the one thing that I get regularly that is unique to Pittsburgh.
Q8: What is your favorite yummy treat in Pittsburgh?
The kettle corn they sell at PNC Park is fantastic. I'm a big fan.
Q9: What was your first job in Pittsburgh?
I was a freelance sports writer for Gateway Star Publications, which formerly published a bunch of weekly East End suburb newspapers. It's since been absorbed by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. I did that my freshman year of college.
Q10: What is your favorite season in Pittsburgh?
FALL. Hands down. Autumn if you're snotty.
Q11: What is your favorite Pittsburgh neighborhood?
That's a really good question. I'll represent my neighborhood. Regent Square/Wilkinsburg. Nice area, isolated enough to where you feel like you're in a neighborhood, but close enough to everything that it's easy enough to get around everywhere. I'd give an honorable mention to the North Side too. I've really grown a love for the North Side since I moved back here four years ago.
Q12: You have to choose one - and just one: Steelers, Penguins, or Pirates?
I'd be lying to you if I said anything but the Steelers. I love all those teams. I have a special place in my heart for the Buccos, because I really liked baseball most of all when I was a kid. My strongest sports-related memories from my childhood revolve around the Pirates. But, the Steelers are really a family legacy; they're the only team my dad, my brother, my mom, and I all support together. So there's a familial element to my support of the Steelers that doesn't exist with the other two teams. I am extremely concerned about the direction in which the NFL is heading, and from a philosophical standpoint that makes me want to support professional football less than I have in the past. But I know that once the fall rolls around, I know I'll be obsessing over the Steelers for three hours a day like an idiot like I always have. [Ed. note: That last sentence is the most true statement that has been and will ever be said about Michael Cunningham.]
Q13: Where do you go to be alone in Pittsburgh?
I'm never really alone, am I? Really I think my shower is the only alone time I get, if I was being honest with you. I enjoy being around people and I spent a lot of time with my girlfriend. Mostly if I'm alone I'm watching tennis with my cat in my apartment.
Q14: What makes someone a Pittsburgher?
If you live in Pittsburgh and you love Pittsburgh, you're a Pittsburgher. It doesn't matter if you were born here or you moved here in your adulthood, and it doesn't matter if you've lived here for thirty years or a year and a half. If you claim Pittsburgh as your home and you embrace its traditions and cultural concepts and opportunities to be involved in the community, then you're a Pittsburgher. As someone who has lived in a couple different places, I can tell you that Pittsburghers are very open to embracing people who are willing to embrace Pittsburgh regardless of their background or where they're from. It's a very inviting community.
Q15: What's your favorite building/bridge/landmark/statue/etc?
This is kind of a safe pick, but I see the Cathedral of Learning from work every day. I'm a Pitt alum; I had a lot of classes there. To me it's one of the more striking buildings that I think of whenever I think of Pittsburgh.
Q16: What's your favorite mural/street art thing/graffiti tag?
I like that mural of all the old Pirates under the bridge... I don't know what street it's on exactly... I've always though that was a really cool nod to the past. [Ed. note: That's under the Boulevard of the Allies downtown.]
Q17: Who is your favorite Pittsburgh mascot/costumed character?
Pirate Parrot. The original Pittsburgh mascot. I love that bird. [Ed. note: At this point I ask Mike what his favorite Pirate Parrot move is.] He does the thing where he slaps his belly back and forth. I'm really into that.
Q18: What is your favorite Pittsburgh fact?
Pittsburgh was the original Gateway to the West during colonial times. So, any innovation or event that happened in Pittsburgh was always the first of its kind west of the Alleghenies. You don't think of southwestern Pennsylvania as frontier territory, but before the English moved west at all, it was pretty much the western-most large market in America. That seems lame, but I always thought it was cool. [Ed. note: Mike was a history major at Pitt.]
Q19: What do you love most about Pittsburgh?
I like the sense of community that one can get here while simultaneously feeling like he or she is living in a major metropolitan area. The fact that there are neighborhoods within Pittsburgh that are so clearly defined and really feel like neighborhoods is something that is really unique to Pittsburgh when compared to other major cities.
Q20: What do you
The roads. The roads suck. They're made of crap. And every winter there's potholes the size of swimming pools and they're impossible to avoid. And they take too long to fill them up. It's a nightmare.
Q21: Pittsburgh burns down. Where do you go?
I'm going to answer this on the basis of places I've actually been to, and thus not include fantasy destinations. Like someplace in Europe or, you know, Rio or something like that. With that in mind, I would have to pick Atlanta, because I couldn't live any place smaller than Pittsburgh or colder than Pittsburgh. Atlanta is a large, extreme diverse city that offers a lot culturally and artistically in terms of things that I'm interested in. I would still root for the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates through. [Ed. note: I'm pretty certain the teams would cease to exist if the city burned down, but that's what makes Mike a true fan.]