On Steely McBeam

Steely McBeam, seen here as his alter-ego, Frighten McInfants, is criticized by one of our local development gurus:

Jay Aldridge still flinches when he comes across a newspaper reference to that “old steel town.”

And, “the McBeam thing,” he said, “is just more of the same.”

Steely McBeam is the new Steelers mascot, a square-jawed representation of a 1950s-era mill worker, with hard hat, overalls and heavy eyebrows. To Mr. Aldridge, a man formerly responsible for marketing the Pittsburgh area to prospective businesses around the country and overseas, Steely McBeam reinforces an outdated image of our town, just as the Steelers do.

Once I quell the urge to rip Jay Aldridge’s nose from his face for maligning the Pittsburgh Steelers, I have to admit he has a point. Maybe a steelworker isn’t the best mascot for the town that all the steel mills left, especially if Joe Magarac isn’t available (he moved to Japan and changed his name to Hamato Magaracu). But what is the iconic image of the new Pittsburgh? I have been brainstorming.

Biotechnology is a hot field, especially gene therapy, and the University of Pittsburgh is at the fore of treatments for sexy but non-life-threatening disease:

Gene therapy using nerve growth factors reversed erectile dysfunction in rats within four weeks, say University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers.

This could lead to a treatment for humans, cheering men everywhere who think that it is more important that medical researchers make sure they can get laid long into their golden years than, say, work on cancer or AIDS.

And so, perhaps next season we will see the arrival on the football field of Squeek Bonerratski, the functionally erectile rat.

On the other hand, maybe penis science isn’t your thing. Perhaps you prefer high culture. Thanks in part to the efforts of Point Park University and Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh has first rate theater, including the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, whose repertoire swings between the murderously violent and squib filled work of Martin McDonagh and the carefully literate work of Noel Coward.

The 2008 season might see this pioneering theatrical company honored by the creation of a Steelers mascot, Wittyquip O’Shotinhead.

If one isn’t interested in science or culture, politics might hit the spot. As the Trib P.M. revealed yesterday, Pittsburgh City Council President Douglas Shields spent eight years as a sweaty young man in a Steelers/Cabbage Patch uniform. This is a revelation guaranteed to give palpitations to City Council groupies, a dangerous prospect as the average age of Council groupies is octogenarian. It was wise of the Tribune-Review to put this story in the Trib P.M., thus eliminating any danger that anyone would read it.

Now, Doug Shields is no spring chicken, and couldn’t really be expected to hop back into the rubber suit. You know who is a spring chicken, though? That’s right: Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. Thanks to his famous enthusiasm for celebrity, we could see him appearing as Golflover Partycrasherstahl in 2008, before being quickly retired in 2009.

If none of this appeals to you, we can turn to the one kind of news that all Pittsburghers crave: hidden fetus scandal. If there is anything we, as a city, love more than a fetus in a Miller High Life box jammed in the freezer, it is five score fetuses in a garage.

My prediction: around 2012, when all these other ideas have run their course, we will see the rise of the permanent Steeler mascot, as the Phanatic is to the Phillies or the Murderous Nutcase to the Raiders: Unborn Deadlockvitch, the shut-in fetus. Beer companies will compete for multi-million dollar contracts to put their logos on the side of the box Unborn is wheeled onto the field in. The love for Unborn will bring the fans together and usher in a golden age of unbroken winning seasons and fan unity, just like the Pirate Parrot did.

1 Comment so far

  1. Jonathan Potts (unregistered) on August 19th, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

    Steely McBeam, of course, isn’t the mascot for the city; he’s the mascot for the Steelers. Do people in San Francisco fret that the 49ers don’t accurately reflect the city’s image?

    Frankly, I think we obsess far too much about what people think of us. I don’t think our image, or stereotypes about our past, are what stunt our economic growth. If all the resources and energy devoted to marketing Pittsburgh were devoted instead to solving our very real and tangible problems, like our ballooning debt, crumbling infrastructure, and struggling school system? We might end up with a city we can all be truly proud of–and one that could sell itself.



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