Anthony Bourdain’s derby visit benefited Lions Club
Along with tucking into chicken paprikas at Jozsa Corner in Hazelwood, discussing the city’s revival with former city councilman Sala Udin, and getting bested at bocce in Bloomfield, Anthony Bourdain took his “Parts Unknown: Pittsburgh” tour east into Westmoreland County, giving viewers a taste of demolition derby.
It was a far cry from his stops in Pittsburgh with, he says, no “tech incubators or fears of gentrification.”
When producers of the CNN show, broadcast on Oct. 22, began researching their visit to the Steel City, they included a stop at the Salem Ukes Club in New Alexandria.
Bourdain interviewed demolition derby driver Brooke Davis and welder Chris Quenzler Jr. inside the private club.
The producers were looking for something, Fred Lydick said, “a little different” for the segment.
Lydick is a New Alexandria Lions Club member and a member of the Salem Ukes Club. He said the Lions approached the nearby Ukes Club to use for filming because it’s a private club where they could control the number of people there, and there weren’t that many other nearby options.
The Lions Club runs the New Alexandria Demolition Derby , with funds raised going to help community groups, Lydick said.
With only a few weeks’ notice, he and fellow Lion Doug Baum approached the board and planned a special event for June 9.
Funds raised from that evening’s derby went to the Lions Club Lunchables Backpack program, which provides weekend meals and snacks for local school children, Lydick said.
“We thought it would be a little free advertising, if you will,” Lydick said.
Well ladies and gentleman just 15 hrs to go and the lights will on and the drivers will be smashing them cars and also…
Reviews on Bourdain’s Pittsburgh show were, some might politely say, mixed.
Some Pittsburghers seemed to agree with his remarks on the city being in transition, and found the imagery used in the hour-long program a realistic representation.
Others were less pleased with what they perceived as Bourdain’s concentration on the 30-year-old collapse of the steel industry. He also touched on the area’s lack of diversity and whether the growing tech economy will increase the cost of living and force out long-time residents.
Lydick thought the demolition derby’s promotion was a win for the region and for charity.
“The more money we raise, the more we can give,” he said.
Having watched the episode, Lydick is diplomatic about Bourdain’s depiction of Pittsburgh.
“I think he was trying to show the contrast from the past to where it’s headed,” he said.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaryPickels.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, email@example.com or via Twitter .