The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Earth Day Post

Well, we've got crummy weather here, so instead of planting a tree, a couple things about Rachel Carson.

First, one of the icons of Pittsburgh is the Three Sisters bridges, once known as the 6th, 7th, and 9th Street Bridges. When they built PNC Park beside the 6th, they renamed it the Roberto Clemente Bridge (a lot of people had argued for naming the ballpark after Roberto, but when the humanitarian martyr's widow didn't pony up the $20M, well, you know). They close the bridge to cars on gamedays, and the walk over from Downtown has become one of our great gameday traditions. The folks at The Warhol, which was already near the 7th St. Bridge, then got the idea, so that one is now the Andy Warhol Bridge, after Pittsburgh's favorite son who got the hell out of town once he reached his majority (actually, he was a good Pittsburgh boy at heart - he lived with his mother, Julia, a sweet old Carpatho-Rusyn baba who lived upstairs from the Factory. Really.). I don't recall who first floated the idea, but someone was smart enough to suggest Rachel Carson for the 9th St. Bridge, and the dedication ceremony is today. Rachel grew up about ten miles upriver (where her Homestead is preserved as an environmental center) and went to school here, so it's a great monument.

The dedication was the cause for an excellent editorial in today's Post-Gazette. Fiona Fisher, who's the coordinator for the upcoming 2007 Rachel Carson Centennial, writes to debunk the "confounding charge [that Rachel Carson is responsible for every single death caused by malaria in Africa] which is repeated with monotonous frequency on special-interest Web pages, right-wing radio shows and in less than open-minded newspapers." This has come up repeatedly on Crooked Timber, and Tim Lambert at Deltoid has done yeoman's work in knocking it down. But for those few souls who may not read CT religiously, this column is a firm rebuttal. With a nice note about raptor recovery at the end, I might add.

On a minor note, I was tickled to learn that Charles Schultz, who had such an idiosyncratic relationship with pop culture with his strips, included Carson in at leats one early-60s strip. Lucy quotes her - it's obvious that she looked up to Carson as a hero, and that she was. For fussbudgets and the rest of us.


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