NEW YORK -- Declaring it "a heckuva town," Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said his impromptu visit to this city was a morale-booster for a local population still reeling from 9/11, a struggling economy, and the Donald Trump-Rosie O'Donnell feud.
"Pittsburghers have always been a caring people," the 27-year-old mayor said. "It was time somebody stopped by just to tell them, 'Hi, I'm from a city where they don't pee in stairwells. How are you doing?'"
New Yorkers responded with typical warmth, telling the young mayor to enjoy their outdoor amenities, such as taking a hike, and to enjoy various parts of his anatomy.
The Mayor said he was especially impressed with how random New Yorkers expressed concern about whether he had enough money for his visit to one of the nation's most expensive towns.
"They kept coming up to me and asking if I had any spare change. I told them, yes, thanks, I was just fine in that department. But just imagine how comforting this must be to visitors from places like Erie or Fayette County."
"At heart, these are truly caring people," Mayor Ravenstahl said. "They seemed concerned about my well-being. At almost every corner, total strangers were walking up and asking me if I was looking for a date. I had to explain that I was married, but that my wife wasn't with me on this trip. The Rendell guy who came along with me was so impressed, he got a few of their phone numbers and said he was going to pass them on to the governor. Probably they're putting together some kind of commission to study single lifestyles in Pennsylvania."
After a nighttime visit to the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Carnegie Hall, the mayor settled in for the night. An avid outdoorsman, he said he was delighted to discover a hard-core camping community in this city, and eagerly joined in the inner-city sleep-out.
"I was surprised to discover that there's no Motel 6 here," the mayor explained. "I mean, here it is, the country's biggest city and, really, you can't find a motel or a drive-in theater anywhere in town." Not to be discouraged, they mayor joined two of his newest friends, Harpo and Radio Man, in a rustic, natural setting in an alleyway behind the Ed Sullivan Theater.
"It was really cool -- we lit a little fire and spread out our kits, and this Harpo guy even had what looked like a genuine Indian peace pipe. I must have really been tired, because I took one puff and the whole place seemed to just swirl around me." After awakening, the mayor was disappointed to discover that he'd somehow misplaced his wallet, cell phone, watch, rings, several gold fillings from his teeth and, in what must have been one of the odder mishaps in urban camping, his pants.
"Well, I was in such a hurry to get there, I probably left that stuff on the plane," Mayor Ravenstahl said. "But I think Pittsburgh scored some important public relations points with the people of this town and I'm definitely going to come back sometime soon. I probably won't even need any spare change."