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Details, details, details: it's official! Your host for the Pittsburgh convention has thought of everything!

You're about to bank that extra editorial and confirm that last pile of letters. Your office fill-in is sweating bullets over your departure, and your boss wants a list of every phone number that can ring you in Pittsburgh. That means only one thing: It's NCEW convention time.

With the September 13 opening nearly upon us, here are some last-minute questions I've been fielding from members on the Pittsburgh event.

I saw those crazy Steeler fans at the last Super Bowl. If I want to fit in when I get to Pittsburgh, do I have to paint my belly black and gold?

Not mandatory. The place has loosened up since the Super 70s (named for the Steelers' four Super Bowl wins back then), so belly paint is optional. It's not only okay to keep your gut covered, it's advisable especially in the evening when September temps can be in the low fifties after a pleasant day in the mid-seventies.

I'm flying in and don't have a lot of dough for frills like taxi cabs. What's the cheapest transportation from the airport?

Express Shuttle USA will deliver you directly to our hotel for $19 one way and $34 roundtrip.

But if you really want to stretch a buck and can pack light, catch the 28X Airport Flyer outside the baggage claim area. It's an express bus run by Port Authority Tran sit. One-way fare is $2.25. Get off near the Hilton Hotel downtown, then schlepp your bags (on wheels preferably) half a block to the Gateway subway station.

Take the light-rail train to the Station Square stop (one-way fare is $1.25), then wheel your bags the final couple of blocks to our hotel.

Yo, Tom. The guys who broadcast this year's All-Star Game from PNC Park still called Pittsburgh the Steel City. Will I have to pack my Homeland Security breathing mask to keep the smoke out of my lungs?

No way. Pollution is so 1970s. Today the sky is blue and the air is clear, especially in September when the summer humidity is gone. If you'll be coming from the airport, just wait till you cross the Fort Pitt Bridge to downtown (especially if you go through the Fort Pitt Tunnel). The city skyline explodes in your face as you glide over the Monongahela River, and you immediately understand why travel writers say Pittsburgh is the only American city with a gateway.

I heard NCEW is using a different hotel than the one that was set to host the 2001 convention. Why are we at the Sheraton Station Square?

Simple. We got a better deal from the Sheraton, and its commercial neighborhood, Station Square, has boomed in the past few years. With the marketing slogan "Less Locomotion--More Commotion," this historic district, which was once a major rail depot, is one of Pittsburgh's hottest nightspots. A block from the hotel you'll find the Grand Concourse restaurant, a converted former train station with stained-glass ceiling. In between are Starbucks, Hard Rock Care, Buca di Beppo, Joe's Crab Shack, the Buckhead Saloon, and the Funny Bone comedy club.

Across the street are the Freight House Shops, with jewelry, clothing, wine, chocolates, books, and assorted specialties under one roof. Outside, near the Monongahela River, is the Fountain at Bessemer Court, where the city skyline is the backdrop for forty-foot shoots of water.

Also nearby is the Monongahela Incline, a pair of tracked cable cars dating from 1870 that will carry you to the top of Mount Washington and an incredible view. Roundtrip fare is $3.00.

Pittsburgh has such a reputation as an old working town, what can I do to sample the local color?

As my grandmother would say, "Yoi!" There's the Andy Warhol Museum (an easy do-it-yourself tour); the Primanti Brothers sandwich (meat, fries, and cole slaw piled inside the bread); larger-than-life statues of Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, and Honus Wagner outside PNC Park; high tea at Pittsburgh's elegant 1916 hotel, the Omni William Penn; jogging along three rivers at Point State Park; the remains of Fort Pitt, site of a military outpost chosen by young George Washington; and the funky Strip District, where biscotti bakers mix with hip restaurants and sidewalk vendors mix with fish mongers.

What's the biggest mistake I can make before leaving for Pittsburgh?

Forgetting your camera. This will be one photogenic NCEW conference--from the opening boat cruise around the city to your ride on one of the inclines up Mt. Washington, from our visit to Pitt's gothic Cathedral of Learning and its Nationality Classrooms to the hospitality suite's private balcony overlooking the river, from Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater to the 9/n crash site of United Flight 93.

Of course, I don't care about your football team, but a friend of mine in the newsroom is a Steelers fan. Where can I pick up a souvenir?

Several stores downtown carry Steelers stuff (Macy's, Honus Wagner Sports, and hotel giftshops, to name a few). The best outlet, though, may be right across the street from our hotel, at Hometown Sports. They've got more Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins gear than just about anybody.

Not that I would ever play hooky, but let's just say someone at the convention did. Where would we be likely to find them spending half a day or more in the city?

* At the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Museum of Art in Oakland. Hop a bus, take a cab, or use the free hotel shuttle. The museum is renowned for its dinosaur fossil collection, architectural holdings, and gems. The gallery is home to works by Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso, and other masters. Admission is $10 and covers both museum and gallery.

* In the indoor/outdoor splendor of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, another Oakland treasure. Stroll through thirteen rooms of a Victorian glasshouse, including the Palm Court, Desert Room, Orchid Room, and Butterfly Forest. Admission is $7.50.

* Shopping. Downtown has a ten-story flagship Macy's department store (formerly Kaufmann's) on Smithfield Street (a ten-minute walk from our hotel). On the same street are Saks Fifth Avenue, Barnes & Noble, Brooks Brothers, and S.W. Randall Toys. Also in the "Golden Triangle" are Sharper Image, Talbots, and the chic shops at small indoor malls in Oxford Centre and Fifth Avenue Place.

Final sports question, Tom. Will there be any games going on while NCEW is in Pittsburgh?

Of course. Your best bet is the Pirates hosting the Brewers at PNC Park on Wednesday, September 13, at 12:35 p.m. (before the opening reception) and the Mets on Friday, September 15, at 7:05 p.m. (NCEW's dinner-on-your-own night). Pitt's football Panthers will play Michigan State at Heinz Field on Saturday, September 16, at 3:30 p.m. (conveniently between NCEW'S business meeting and the closing dinner). Finally, the defending Super Bowl champions will be out of town, which is probably a good thing since they're sold out through the next decade.

Have a safe trip to Pittsburgh. If you have other questions in the meantime, you can reach me at 412/263-1669 or twaseleski@post-gazette.com

Tom Waseleski, editorial page editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is NCEW's 2006 (and 2001) convention chair. E-mail twaseleski@ post-gazette.com

New NCEW members January 1,2006, to June 30, 2006

Maria D. Anglin, copy editor/columnist, San Antonio Express-News in Texas

Stephen W. Bell, editorial page editor, The Buffalo News in New York

Bob Blalock, editorial page editor, Birmingham News in Alabama

Lisa Maria Boyles, associate editor, The Fresno Bee in California

Ann Brown, editorial page editor, Arizona Daily Star in Tucson

Rebecca M. Chapa, editorial writer, San Antonio Express-News in Texas

Brian Chatman, student, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas

Doug Clark, editorial writer, Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina

Richard Coe, editorial writer, The Bulletin, Bend, Oregon

Jim Dunn, editorial page editor, Daily Gazette/Telegraph, Sterling, Illinois

Barbara Ellis, editorial page news editor/designer, The Denver Post in Colorado

Dennis A. Hartig, editor, editorial page, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Virginia

A. Barton Hinkle, senior editorial writer & columnist, The Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia

Theresa Keegan, assistant editorial page editor, Poughkeepsie Journal, Kingston, New York

Carolyn Lumsden, deputy editorial page editor, The Hartford Courant in Connecticut

Johanna Marizan, student, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida

David Mastio, Editor, In Opinion, Chesapeake, Virginia

Colleen McCain Nelson, editorial staffwriter, The Dallas Morning News in Texas

Thomas Mellana, assistant editorial page editor, The Advocate, Stamford, Connecticut

Rick Mercier, commentary editor, The Anniston Star in Alabama

Dawn Miller, editorial writer, The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia

Mark Moretti, editor, The Catholic Times, Heath, Ohio

Charles Dennis Neal, Jr., opinions editor, The News Leader, Buena Vista, Virginia

Jennifer Ooton, editorial page editor, Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colorado

Paul Owens, editorial writer, Orlando Sentinel in Florida

Lindsey Poisson, student opinion editor, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Stephanie A. Rex, student, Point Park University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Sarah M. Ridley, student, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida

Joe Ritchie, Knight Chair in Journalism, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida

Shannon Sexton, student, University of Texas, Arlington, Texas

Janet W. Smith, editorial page editor, The Island Packet, Bluffton, South Carolina

Christina Spencer, editor, Kingston Whig-Standard, Kingston, Ontario

Clint Talbott, associate editor, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colorado

Ceal M. Watson, student, University of Cincinnati, Maineville, Ohio

Meagan K. Welling, student, West Liberty State College, Wheeling, West Virginia

Barbara White Stack, editorial writer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Title Annotation:CONVENTION 2006
Author:Waseleski, Tom
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Sep 22, 2006
Words:1568
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