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Columnist’s comments are ‘butt-ugly,’ not this town | TribLIVE.com
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Columnist’s comments are ‘butt-ugly,’ not this town

Eric Heyl
| Friday, January 20, 2006 12:00 a.m

Pittsburgh, you are a city besmirched.

By a Denverite, no less.

A Denverite!

Bill Johnson, a columnist with Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, is in town this week. He supposedly is giving his readers a birdseye view of life in Pittsburgh, whose Steelers play the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s AFC Championship (if you’ve been living under a rock).

I say “supposedly,” for Johnson seems incapable of gazing upon our city with anything but a jaundiced eye.

Here’s an excerpt from Johnson’s column Wednesday:

“I will tell you this, something I would never tell one of the locals. Pittsburgh is one butt-ugly town.

“It is precisely the type of town that would name its professional football team the Steelers. Old mills, long stilled, dot the town. Weeds spill from smokestacks.”

Johnson attempted to backtrack somewhat in a column published yesterday.

“This is not a bad town. Not at all. I swear it,” he wrote. “Now can I please come home?”

I called Johnson yesterday and e-mailed him at johnsonb@rockymountainnews.com . I offered to take him around town to prove how wrong he was regarding his initial assessment of the city.

I can only assume the reason he did not immediately return messages is because the only part of town he is now interested in seeing is the Pittsburgh International Airport departure gate.

It would be very easy for me to take cheap shots at his city. I could put a negative spin on the fact that in 2004, Denver was rated the worst place in the country for eye comfort by the makers of Acuvue Advance contact lenses.

Denver’s high altitude, its number of days below freezing, low humidity, high computer use, moderate pollution and long commutes all contribute to the dry eyes of its residents, according to Acuvue.

I could point out that this ocular failing probably is a key factor in a Denver columnist being unable to see what is plainly in front of his face, for erroneously labeling butt-ugly a city that is anything, well, but.

Instead, I’ll take the high road with Johnson and the rest of the mile high citizenry. I’ll point out how their chronic eye conditions actually will turn out to be a positive this weekend.

Their tears won’t flow quite as easily Sunday after the Steelers beat the Broncos.

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