Adam Reger | Freelance Writer

Pittsburgh-based freelance writer

Cheeseburger Bulletin (or, Reason to Love Pittsburgh #4: Noble Cheeseburger)

I did not want it to pass unremarked-upon that I ate a truly superlative cheeseburger this week at the Brillobox, one of my favorite Pittsburgh bars. Others’ takes here and here. Grass-fed beef (cooked medium) with gruyere. Amazing. And as a side: mixed greens! What a world!

The cheeseburger was off a “transitional menu,” as the new menu is coming out in a week or two. The menu is here and it’s full of other stuff that sounds more exotic and appealing, perhaps, than the Brillo burger. And it’s true too that there’s a distinct vegetarian bent to the menu, that would lead one to look askance at the burger. But this burger is not to be dismissed.

The conventional wisdom on the Pittsburgh cheeseburger scene is that Tessaro’s is tops. And it is quite a good burger. But the Brillobox is serving notice to all comers. Watch your back, Tessaro’s.

Reason to Love Pittsburgh #3: Keystone State Wrestling Alliance

The Keystone State Wrestling Alliance is a local pro wrestling outfit that holds monthly (usually) events at the Lawrenceville Moose. It is awesome. I’ve been going intermittently for several years and it is a real joy. If you’re remotely interested in this, you should go. Go once, try it.

For the flavor of the KSWA, check out these profiles of the wrestlers and the photo gallery. In the latter, please note the wood paneling and drop ceiling of the Lawrenceville Moose. That is just the start of the atmospherics you can expect when (not if but when) you attend a wrestling show. There are all kinds of Pittsburghers at the Moose: yinzers, kids, diehard wrestling fans, confused newbies, grad students, hipsters (quite a lot of them, actually), families, girls’ basketball teams, and a number of other categories I’m probably omitting.

Anyway, the KSWA is having its “Summertime Bruise” event this Saturday, July 24th, at 7:30 PM. The Moose is at 120 51st Street, just off Butler Street in Lawrenceville. Tickets are (I’m pretty sure) $10. It’s one of my favorite Pittsburgh things and I cannot count the number of friends, classmates, friends of friends, and friends of classmates I’ve compelled to go to the Moose for a night of wrestling insanity and local color. Also, cheap beer.

Recordings where people laugh

I’m listening to an episode of The Best Show on WFMU (which I slavered over here) from a couple of weeks ago. Jon Wurster is in the studio as Rick Spangler, “a record producer with a diverse resume.” Although usually unflappable, Wurster here cracks himself up repeatedly, playing it off as an effect of pollen and breath mints, and glossing over the covered-microphone silences as his having fallen out of his chair.

And I am loving it. It’s reminding me of this Elliott Smith cover, “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down),” a Hank Williams, Jr., song, which is on the CD that comes with Autumn de Wilde’s Elliott Smith photo book. I think the CD is called “Live at Largo,” if a CD in the back of a book can have a proper title, but in any case that’s what the music is: recordings from a show at Largo in Los Angeles (which, just to make this post splinter off in as many directions as possible, here is a New Yorker piece describing the scene at Largo (though you have to have digital access to get at more than the abstract, so maybe save yourself the click if you don’t want your interest piqued and then rudely stifled)).

But anyway the reason I love the song is that Smith laughs repeatedly during the song and sounds, generally, happy. He totally blanks on part of the lyrics, which I’ve now discovered to be “corn bread and iced tea took the place / Of pills and ninety proof.”

Also, here’s Hank Williams, Jr. playing the original. Not surprisingly, I prefer the Elliott Smith version. Last weekend I picked up a cassette of Hank Williams, Jr.’s greatest hits at Salvation Army (minus any kind of cover or case, which made it all that much more thrilling) and by Tuesday I was pretty well done with it. Country music remains, like the films of Jerry Lewis, way better in theory than in my actual experience of them. It is a great song, though.

And another plus is that I now get the self-referential line Williams, Jr. throws into the Monday Night Football theme at the end, when he goes, “All my rowdy friends are here on Monday night.”

Freemasons Open House in Pittsburgh

I am deeply regretful that I will not be able to go to this Freemasons open house this weekend, and am jealous of anyone who is able to go.

Compounding that regret is this tantalizing quote from Mike Marcus, one of the members: “There is always an interest in boosting membership numbers, but we’re not opening our doors only to try to sign people up.”

Always an interest in boosting membership. Only to try to sign people up. Implying that, yes, they are trying to sign people up! Suggesting that I could go to this thing (if I were not heading out of town for a sure-to-be-raucous Reger Family Reunion) and come out some hours later an initiate into the secrets of the Free and Accepted Masons. Oh, cruel and fickle fate. Oh, teasing cosmos. Going out of town while this is going on could be my biggest regret since I had class while my friends were initiated into the Braddock Elks Lodge. Why didn’t I ditch that day? Why? I still don’t know.