The Legends of Squirrel Hill: Chapter One – Salt Mine Road

Forward and Shady Avenue, Squirrel Hill, July 1, 1970

Isidore Jesse Saint Ben-Levi walked out of the back door onto the tiny porch. He closed the old door behind him. The metal know was painted over a hundred times, with the latest coat of white paint revealing a pervious coat of pale green underneath. The door barely shut correctly. It had a weird little pane of glass above which could be adjusted by a long-broken knob.

Isidore’s Backyard

It was typical July anyway: 90 degrees and windy. It was very green and very old in the rump of a backyard. Old garages, cracked pavement, weird rusty chemical-smelling contaminated industrial drums which served as garbage cans in this City and mezuzahs on the door post.

The one elderly neighbor’s yard was meticulously coiffed. The other was a rental duplex with maybe three families. Isidore’s House was also a duplex. A duplex. Two families under one roof. What an awful idea created by some cheapskate landlord.

He surveyed the yard to the left. Empty boxes from unpacking from the latest move, were stuffed into the giant pungent cans.

He wore jeans and a blue Yankees t-shirt. His hair was long and always unkempt. His Converse All-Stars were already sweaty.

Breakfast had been Honeycombs with milk. His father and mother were puttering around the house, unpacking, but he didn’t pay any attention to their business. His brother, Meerschaum Polonius did not join him, rather staying in his room reading a tattered Edgar Rice Burroughs paperback in near-darkness. His mother would always yell at him to turn on more light, but he never did.

His dad, Hervé was born in Weirton, but raised in Pittsburgh. Hervé’s father Ian was born in Allegheny City in 1900.

Ian’s father, Olivier was born in East St. Louis, but Olivier’s father Otto was born in Oakland Township next to Pittsburgh in 1874.

The rest of them were born in Squirrel Hill, going back to 1793 when Jean-David Ben-Levi, a 53 year old French Veteran of the American Revolution and « La guerre de Sept Ans » (what we would call the French and Indian War), settled his family, two sons, two daughters and several grandchildren in what is now the bluff at the tail end of Pocusset Street where it meets Schenley Park.

Hw first saw the City as it were when it was Ft. Duquesne. He was an 18 year old cannoneer from Lille serving under the ill-fated Colonel François-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery of New France.

Jean-David was fascinated by the little frontier outpost. He would explore on foot, crossing the creeks with his Indian friends and climbing the steep green ridges. His favorite place was the bluff above « Le Course de Quatre Bornes ».

The bluff now sits above the Greenfield bridge. The old street is now pedestrian only. It had been collapsing into Four Mile Run since 1800 any way. Beneath the bluff was the remnants of Old Salt Mine Road, destroyed in part by the Parkway East back in the 1920’s or so.

‘Salt Mine’ was the first road built by the white-eye. It meandered from the raft-crossing point at Monongahela River at Duck Hollow along the giant goose-neck of land back to the Monongahela River yet again where Second Avenue criss-crosses over Irvine Street at the base of giant flaming Steel Mills that ran along the river.

Isidore started to explore the neighborhood. He walked up Forward Avenue towards Beechwood. There was a Church called St. Philomena’s with a parochial school. He knew of Catholic Schools from New York City.

St. Philomena’s

On the grounds, amongst the old massive trees was a girl about his age. She was blonde. Playing alone.

”Hi!” She Said with a wave. She had a peculiar accent.

”Hi.” Responded Isidore. She was the first person his age that he spoke to in the new city.

”Do you live around here!”

”Right there.”

”What’s your name?”

”My name is Jesse.” He used his middle name as he was always embarrassed by the name Isidore.

”My name is Mary.”

”So you want to go for a walk with me? I’m exploring the neighborhood.”

”I don’t have permission to go, maybe tomorrow.”


The church wasn’t a place he belonged, so he crossed the street to an old gravel parking lot with a set of stairs and an old broken lime-green wrought iron fence.

The steps to the ballfield

He walked up the steps between two ancient, white stone storage sheds. At the top, was a small tennis court, a basketball court and a combination baseball/football field with an oiled dirt surface straight out of the roaring 20’s.

The Field was deserted except for a bespectacled old man, maybe in his late 70’s who was sitting on a bench. He was a distinguished-looking thin gentleman. He wore an old timey hat, like Connie Mack and he stared straight ahead as if he was watching a movie.

The ancient field

“Hello there, young man. I am Dr. Cornelius McTaggerty.”

Isidore stopped. He didn’t fear adults. This old man was strangely interesting and not at all threatening. The old man exuded knowledge and mystery.

”Hi. I’m Isidore.”

”Pleased to make your acquaintance, young master Isidore. May I tell you a story? I am afraid, as it were, that I have run out of time, and I must tell a story, lest it disappear into the fabric of time.”

“OK. That sounds kind of cool.”

Isidore perched on a dry, dilapidated water fountain. The ever-present mosquitoes still found him. He could hear them buzzing in his right ear.

Some baseball players appeared and their cleats clattered across the ill-maintained asphalt and broken, forgotten concrete as they walked towards the cramped urban ballfield.

“There is an old rumor that something is buried under Salt Mine Road. When the French evacuated Ft. Duquesne in November of 1758, they forgot that they had buried a payroll shipment of coins, silver plates from the officer’s mess and even a Fanion from the Regiment. under what is now Saline Street. Back then it was an Indian trail.”

“Sounds interesting to me, I collect coins. I’d like to find that.”

“No one had ever found the payroll or anything else, young man. I’ve been searching for it for seventy years since I was a boy your age. I had some clues which I put into a map and a little notebook. I came close, but I never found it. I think I know where it is, but how do you excavate without a permit?”

“Hmm might be fun to look for it. But someone could have found it decades ago, Sir.”

“Possibly, but neither I nor anyone else could ever share the story, or treasure hunters from all around the world would descend on the city with a grand public todo and beaten me to it. And if they didn’t find it, I would die with the reputation as a famous local crackpot. Some say it’s a legend. I’ve done my research, it’s no legend. You’ll see, it’s all in my notes.”

“Cool. Are there any other legends?”

“There are several other local legends:

the secret storage room under the Lions Club Ruins of Frick Park,

the hidden telephone of Mellon Estate,

the skeleton in the wall of Colfax School,

the top secret government spy lab in the Bell Telephone building on  Pocusset Street,

and finally, the 1920’s speakeasy beneath Poli’s restaurant.

and the strangest of all, the Slentav Screen experiment in Schenley Park.

You’ll have to read about it… the Slentav screen designed by Dr. William Blake Hall and Professor Valarious Stephenson of Carnegie Tech.”

“Sounds kind of far-fetched, but it’s a good story. I’m so bored since we moved here that I need a quest. I read the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Almanac all the time.”

“Ha! Wait until you meet the Internet. Einstein believed that all things past and present leave a little trace behind. If you look really carefully you might just find it.”

”The quest for the Legends of Squirrel Hill. I like it. I can do it! Unless you are crazy. Because why me?”

“You will know in time. This was no chance meeting. Take this book. Your future self will thank you.”

Isidore looked at the thick old leather book. It had a little leather locking strap, with a brown bronze snap.

“How do I start, Doctor McTaggerty?”

“Start in the old collection of the Carnegie Library in Oakland in the third floor. Ask for Doctor Chaminade. But you dare not show this book to anyone else ever or others will get there first.”

“How do I contact you if I have a question?”

“I still have an office in the top rotunda of Hammerschlag Hall at Carnegie Tech. If I’m not there, leave a note about what date and time you can return and I will be there.”



1949 Brownie Hawkeye Camera 1975 GE 3-5308 Cassette Recorder and Dynamic 500R Microphone

The Botendaughter is retro: she spins vinyl, takes black and white photos and records audio analog.

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye ca. 1949

The Brownie was the great American post-WWII Camera 📷 that went on Griswold type vacations from 1949-1961. A true piece of Americana… manufactured in France 🇫🇷.

I’m going to order film and flashbulbs. It was quick work to fix the viewfinder and clean up. The flash stand requires two c-cell batteries.

The bulbs are GE 5B and the film is TX 120, 35mm. The black and white quality is in-sane. I got this one in Penn Hills at the Thrift King.

1975 GE Cassete Recorder and 🇯🇵 Dynamic 500R Microphone 🎤

The cassette recorder is perfect. I got it in Canonsburg at a store located at Jefferson and Pike.

I have ONN and Maxwell cassettes.

The mic is 3.5 mm analog jack, clear quality. Goodwill Monroeville purchase.

Not everything new is Good. Do not buy new microphones 🎤 with 3.5mm jacks! They suck. USB is for babies. Digital is for infants. Grow up and get analog, you foppish, pompous, preening, ridiculous twats!

We are restoring a Bell and Howell 8mm Projector 📽 next and a film reviewer/editor. The Bell and Howell is in bad shape.

Peace be the Botendaddy

Review: David S. Pumpkins – a Smashing Success

Finally something on SNL that wasn’t over-politicized crap 💩. See, the problem with blatant political humor, whether on the left or on the right, is that it often assumes that we are too stupid to get the message. That is SNL’s problem, it often becomes unfunny propaganda.

At any rate, for those of you who didn’t get the joke, it was very similar to Ren & Stimpy’s send up of stupid 1950s cartoons where cat chases mouse 🐁  and dog 🐕 chases cat 🐈  ad infinitum, in contrast to the rather sophisticated and humorous Warner Bros. cartoons that could be viewed on two levels: adult and child 👶.

The 1950´s cartoons were literally marketed to the lowest common denominator… or in other words: they were shitty.

Many of the traditional holiday 👶 children’s cartoon specials really were just intended to come up with some kind of a concept to get all the kids to tune in so that they could buy products marketed through the commercials.

Of course, it is a business and they have to pay 💰 their own freight 🚂 but the old holiday specials were just blatant merchandising with a sketchy cartoon premise.

I had the luxury of never seeing the previous David S Pumpkins skit, but I have since seen it. I didn’t even know that the skit or character existed. Thus, when I saw the special, on SNL, I figured I would give it a minute. It reminded me of the old SNL Smigel cartoons like Ace and Gary, the Ambiguously Gay Duo; and of course it was delightfully mindless and idiotic.

I got the joke regards David S Pumpkins 🎃 . In case you didn’t get the joke, you probably didn’t like the cartoon.

I thought it was pretty entertaining and I believe people will be talking about it for the next 30 years. Kids may even put their shitty sour raisins into pumpkins 🎃 in the hope that it will magically change into delicious 😋 candy 🍭.

The other thing I want to mention while I’m here, is what was up with all those Beatle albums which totally drowned out all of the vocals? It was some idiotic, failed attempt to make it work with quadraphonic stereo. We couldn’t hear 👂 shit. What were we paying for? Doo-doo?

A word to the wise – technologist 👩‍💻 s, whenever you try to be to clever or too tricky about your new technology, it invariably ends up being useless dog 🐕 crap 💩 . Lesson: don’t screw around and try to do stuff like Blu-ray.

Nobody wanted Blu-ray and nobody bought a Blu-ray, thank God. Were we really expected to examine every DVD label and every DVD player label to make sure it was compatible? Just no.

Blu-ray was one of the dumbest ideas of all time, just like the stupid drowned out Beatles vocals, just like New Coke,  just don’t do it, just do normal.

1950’s Albums

Bonus review. So the Danny Kaye album? I have no idea what this was. I knew of him more as an actor. Some kind of comedic songs. Mildly entertaining.

The Glen Miller LP was a collection of orchestral versions of Broadway 🎭 hits. I really hate Broadway 🎭  but this Album is easy to listen to while working out 🏋️.

The Sinatra 33 was actually excruciatingly boring. I’m not a fan of Sinatra, I’ll admit,  but this was really tortuously dull. The songs were all seemingly contrived for the sole purpose of writing a filler song.

P.S. Some record players can’t detect the size or speed of the record so you have to set 7-10-12 size for 45-78-33 speed.

”Hazelnut Latté?”

Peace be the Botendaddy


Jim Croce’s Greatest Hits and It’s Hard by The Who


I listen to LP’s while I work out 🏋️. I stack two or three and just let them play.

I forgot one ☝️ rule of Albums: there are several boring ‘concept’ songs or ‘C’ songs that didn’t even make it onto the 45.

The Croce Album had his three greatest hits: Operator, Leroy Brown and his breakout hit ‘You don’t mess around with Jim.’ Lots of slow kind of café ☕️ songs as well. Sadly, those were quite dull.

The Who Album started with ‘Athena’, their last great song. Lots of bizarre Townsend concept songs the best of which is ´Eminence Front’ which as we all know is a put on, it’s a put on! But no matter how bad a Who song is, if you play it loud, it’s better.

All if you who are under the age of say 35, listen up. Go buy a turntable. Get speakers 🔊 with some bass. Go buy a few random LP’s at your local music 🎶 exchange store. You know the one with all the hipster, Millenial, Seattle-ish Trainspotter Sk8te kids who look 👀 like Tychy.

Stack the LP’s and do something while the record (pronounced wreck-hoards) spin in the background.

The LP has a mystical, authentic, rhythmic, scratchy quality to it. It has the beauty of mechanical imperfection instead of soulless Shit-covered ‘downloads’.

Get rid of your goddamned phone and get a record player! I command thee O Yon readers! Peace be the Botendaddy

All music has a story: Mendelssohn’s Rondo Cappriccioso Opus Quattorze

It was on the 8-Track.

I never knew the name of the piece of music 🎶 until yesterday.

After all those years. I did not know what it was called.

music sheet on black piano
Photo by Steve Johnson on

Then I was listening 👂 to public radio 📻.

The music 🎶 was on. I waited until they announced it. ‘Mendelssohn’s Rondo Capriccioso Opus XIV’.

Rondo was written in 1830 by Mendelssohn. His motivation was basically experimental. He tried to have it published in Germany, but his price tag was too high. It may have been written for his first love: Delphine von Schauroth per Muswrite – Allan Beggerow. He eventually got it published in Austria and England. See Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Rondo capriccioso for piano op. 14 Also read John Palmer’s wonderful discussion at All Music dot Com

An ancient mystery was solved. I remembered being in the car 🚗 with my dad. I would shove the 8-track in and listen 👂 to my parents’ classical music 🎶.

They also had Bizet and a few I don’t remember now. I’ve been playing their old LP’s while I work out 🏋. Three albums at a time.

A few albums

We had a good 😊 family while it lasted.

Then it all went to hell. Empires Fall. The Magnificent Ambersons. The Fall of the House of Usher.

As the poet Frost said:

‘Nothing gold can stay.’

Peace be the Botendaddy

Therapeutic Calming Meditation in Frightening Times for My Readers: Weimar Cabaret Expressionist Nihilism


[Botendaddy bow 🙇 s low with a wave of his top hat 🎩.]

“Damen und Herren, Wilkommen und Gruß Gött, many of my readers are frightened and filled with great angst by events we read in the news.

Herr Doktor 👨‍⚕️ Doktor 👨‍⚕️ Sigmund Freüd

Allow me to provide you with a therapeutic calming form of meditation. It is called Weimar Cabaret Existential Expressionist Deontological Nihilism.

The great German 🇩🇪 Expressionist Painter 👩‍🎨 Ludwig Meidner would paint 🎨 apocalyptic scenes of upheaval in destroyed, burning cities while Top Hat 🎩 ted Kapitalists, shrill jingoistic Imperialists, shrieking rigid doctrinaire Marxists and Pickelhauben Generälen fought in the swirling skies above a naked, passive, groveling depiction of the artist 👨‍🎤 on the streets below being deliciously man-penetrated by the spermatozöische Gemeinschaftlichen Apokalyptische Szene.

Hoxter Portrait – work of Meidner

I beseech you to reject all forms of news media and embrace apathetic 😐 hopeless 😩 post-apocalyptic, detached, passive deontological, existentielle, Hegelianischeren nihilism and merely writhe naked as society devolves into utter chaos from which we shall create einere neuen Kunst 🎭! Einen neue Ausdrückkunst für den Neues Jahrhundert! (Shrieking like a Valkyrie – pronounced ‘while-kai-rhee’.)

You see my dear friends, a new detached, apathetic, nihilist, post-apocalyptic art is the bridge (der Brücke) from man to the higher man which is exposed in my neue play with a tri-alectic discourse of deontological expressionism in Gas ⛽️ III based on the Werken of Georg Kaiser and Berthold Brecht.

Herr Admiral von Reuter Herö of Apathetik Deontologikalischer Nihilismus  😐

In this emotionless three-act play we find in a German First World War trench line amidst a stack of smoldering corpses, sharing and roaking a pack of Zigaretu (a delightfully healthy Täbäk grown at exceptionally high altitudes in the Bayernisches Alpen and Hand-rolled by neo-proto Neänderthals), none other than future Bavarian Marxist State Komissar Eugen Leviné, espousing the position of total Kommunist Revolutionary Marxist Principles, Herr Leutnant Hugo Güttmänn a Jew! Eineren Jüden! presenting the cause of order through Imperialism theough the beloved silly 😜 Hohenzölleren Kaiser and finally the shrieking, demonic future Fuhrer himself, Korporale A. Hitler dispassionately arguing the position of National Socialism.

There are several characters who visit the trench, such as Ernst 😒 Ludwig Kirchner, Franz Marc, Guillaume Apollinaire, Ernest Hemingway and the eminent Philosopher, Wält Disney.

As always, the terrifying spectre of ghastly, hideous demonic racist Woodrow Wilson rises above the set laughing satanically uttering horrific incantations to the fabulous Yog Sothoth!

Shrieking head of Demonic racist Wilson with genocidal Versailles Treaty

I ask members of the audience to now completely disrobe, and writhe passively, apathetically and resignedly in the aisles as our drama commences.

Vielen Dank 😊 meinerem Geehrteren Herren und Dämen

Botendaddy Graduates: Receives Laurel of Oak Leaves, Wears Toga with Regalia

In the end only the Boten-Daughter was there. Everyone else went home or on vacation. In the ancient hall of the University where many great Scholars of yore once stood, going back to the year of the risen Christ being 1797, now stood the wise ingenious Botendaddy. Only Latin and Ancient Greek were thus quod and the laurel of oak leaves 🍃 was placed upon his hoary head.


The great hall of scientists and scholars

The rest of the scholars received their various PhD’s and Masters in their various weird science 🔬. AH THE SMELL OF SCIENCE! INDUSTRY PARENT OF LIBERTY AND SCIENCE! E PLURIBUS UNUM! ANNUIT COEPTIS NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM!

‘Nice work dad.” Said the Boten-Daughter as she took pictures with her Quapple qPhone.

The administration were there, a few 👨‍🏫 professores.


I took the ancient parchment. And we walked out the door 🚪 me, the Botendaddy and the stately, melancholy Boten-Daughter, who is a great beauty, because she is adopted and thank Lord Khufu does not have my ghastly looks.

The storm approaches

“Iced Almond Latte?”


1. Start your dissertation or thesis two terms early

2. Have a thesis and hypotheses early

3. Define your data points early

4. Define precisely how you will apply statistical analysis to each and every data point early.

5. Define your statistical model early.

6. Obtain data collection tools early,

7. Define your expirement early.

8. Read your related research papers early.

9. Start writing your summary earlier.

10. Understand all of your copyright and intellectual property issues early.

11. Set your own schedule for each milestone and activity early.

12. Work relentlessly.

13. Edit your horrible shit.

14. Get friends or colleagues to review your horribly written shit, bad research and shitty experimental design early.

15. Get all approvals for your ghastly experiments on live human subjects.

16. Change your stupid unscientific fucktarded thesis statement and moronic stupid hypothesis as often as you need to in order to add something useful to science.


18. Good luck 👍🍀 If I can do it, you can do it.

Note to Crystal: scientists and engineers are awful at business, they are in desperate need of freelance MBA help when they try to start a venture and talk to business people and facilities and apply for finance and government grants and loans. So never regret getting an MBA. Business is a totally different skill and one that we do not possess.

Peace be the Botendaddy


Review: The Best of Joan Baez – Squire Records 1963 LP

I was working out in the basement, when I saw the stack of records that I retrieved from my mother’s apartment after she had died.

I played the Simon and Garfunkel, The Moonlight Sonata, The Herb Alpert Whipped Cream and other Delights (On my list of the top 10 American albums of all time).

I love the grainy sound, the rhythmic, repeating, scratching of the vinyl LP.

I love to start sentences with ‘I’ because I don’t follow anyone else’s rules of style. I’m not a writer, I’m a critic. I can do whatever I want.

I pick up ‘The Best of Joan Baez Album’ from 1963 and I take it out of the Album. I place it on the spindle with great care. Then I go to ‘auto’ so I don’t scratch it.

The Best of Joan Baez Squire Records 1963

I don’t talk about my mother often. She was a feminist, old school New Deal, JFK, Gene McCarthy, liberal, Unitarian. She sat in the lunch counter protests in North Carolina back in the late 50’s. But, she came by her beliefs sincerely.

I remember my mother and dad putting on these great dinner parties for the other professors at the University. My dad was chairman of his department. He was a WWII Veteran. They all revered him. He started out as an Archeologist/Paleontologist before he drifted into Anthro and Sociology. My mom was an Anthropologist. Sure Soc. and Anthro. were irrelevant until we started screwing around with other cultures we couldn’t comprehend, then Soc. and Anthro were suddenly relevant again. Oh Well.

I say, at any rate, we had a great family, like the Magnificent Ambersons, The House of Usher, Rosebud, you get the picture, Empires Fall. And when my dad died, we fell. The entire extended family imploded along with it. We were cast into the world on many dark passages and bright days, but that Joan Baez album survived:

I remember my mother singing ‘On the Banks of the Ohio’ when I was a little boy in Cooperstown, Oneonta, Ithaca. Joan Baez has such a crystal-clear, haunting, brilliant voice in this rendition. She’s much better than you can ever imagine if you have not yet heard her music.

I remember listening to this very same album ‘Oh! What a Beautiful City’. I hadn’t heard the song since forever. It brought me back to those idyllic days when we were a respected united family with a great upstate New York house.

I must mention finally, ‘So Soon in the Morning’ with Bill Wood. It brings away all the despair and hopelessness we have from time to time. I wish I had listened to it more often and I wish I had remembered my mother more fondly before it became too late.

I wonder, will my daughter have some memento of me many years in the future? Will she remember me fondly? I don’t know.

I sit here in my musty basement gym, listening to the final grainy rhythmic scratching as the Album comes to an end.

Peace be the Botendaddy

‘Hack’ and ‘Rep’ are Stupid, Misused Terms

“Sorry, hack has only one meaning in the sense of finding a unique way to solve a problem. It is only applicable in Software Engineering and nowhere else. Ooh try this ‘Life Hack’ try this ‘health hack’ STFU! Stop it! WRONG!

‘TED Talks’ suck miles of monster c@ck. I hate them. I don’t want to be forced to listen to them. When I listen to a TED Talk I feel like my life is wasting away and my soul is dying. Just stop it already. I hate everything about them.

‘Rep’ applies only in one meaning: performing a repetition of a weightlifting exercise AND NOTHING ELSE! Ooh the quarterback got in reps at practice. No he did not. Only if he was bench pressing. End of story.”

Example: our new Quarterback did this new United Airlines hack and he had the shit beaten out of him, because United sucks goat anus, then he listened to a TED Talk about how great the United Ticket Transfer Fee was and he was so shocked that he defecated on hisself. Then he got in a few reps of having more shit beaten out of him as he was dragged off the plane.”

The professor stood up slowly in front of the entire Writers Workshop clapping slowly. Soon the entire Writers Workshop joined in.

Drink the Tranja! … Captain!

“You are a true sexual genius, Botendaddy”, said the CEO. “United truly does suck goat anus and they must ‘change their policies'”

“Yes we need more reps of your literary critiques because they suck like United.” Said Ramon.

“I have a good hack for you, Yon Botendaddy, don’t f@&king fly United.” Said Devon.

“Mocha Java?”

Peace be the Botendaddy