Virginia Montanez – That’s Church Blog:
First, can you tell readers about your blog That’s Church – what you cover, what inspired you to start the blog and what readers should expect in 2012?
I started my blog on a whim, really. Back in 2006, I just wanted a place to put down my thoughts about Pittsburgh, so I started The Burgh Blog thinking it wouldn’t ever become anything. Little did I know.
I mostly like to draw attention to the things that make Pittsburgh great, the news stories that make Pittsburgh quirky, and the sports teams that make Pittsburgh rabid. I’ve been doing that since 2006, and 2012 will be much the same.
“That’s Church” – ok … are you a Snoop Dogg or Monk fan – and is Snoop Dogg being a Steelers fan a good or bad thing?
I’m not really a Snoop Dogg fan, but I am a huge Monk fan. It was my sister, however, who drew my attention to the fact that Snoop Dogg used “That’s church” in a Monk episode. She used the phrase in a family email and I just stole it and made it my own.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Snoop is a Steelers fan, but let’s remember he’s been spotted in a Patriots jersey and has attended Ravens camp, too. I just don’t see how you can be a Steelers fan AND a Patriots and Ravens fan. Not possible!
You also write for Pittsburgh Magazine. What stories of yours are you most proud of so far, and why?
I’m most proud of my column about my experience flying home one Christmas with my children, and how Pittsburghers made the trip much more bearable. I’m also proud of my letter to Roberto Clemente. I wish more than anything that he could read it.
If you could ask any Steelers and Penguins player one question each, who would you interview, what would you ask them, and why?
First, can I add in the Buccos? I realize they suck, but I’m a huge fan. If I could, I would ask Andrew McCutchen and Mike Wallace if they would agree to a foot race to settle once and for all who is the fastest runner. My money is on Andrew.
As for the Penguins, I’d probably ask Matt Cooke about how he felt about his reputation as a dirty player and what was the single biggest thing he did or change he made that allowed him to alter his game to fix that reputation.
You have covered Pittsburgh extensively, expressing a deep appreciation for the city and it’s sports teams. From your point of view though, does Pittsburgh place too much of it’s identity in the hands of it’s sports teams? Why/why not?
Maybe there was a time when we did, but I don’t believe we as a collective whole do that any longer. We have way too much to be proud of and to identify ourselves with outside of sports.
We have technology and world-class education and a vibrant, active outdoors lifestyle. We’re greener than we ever were, more Hollywood than we ever were, smarter than we ever were, and more innovative than we ever were. I think now more than ever, when you tell someone you’re from Pittsburgh, their brain might first call up the image of one of our sports teams, but then I think they’ll go to all the OTHER wonderful things they’ve heard about us lately.
What makes Pittsburgh special?
We’re a little big city made up of true neighbors that value our blue collar past in such a way that we continually “keep it real” no matter how successful we become or how many accolades we garner as a city.
It’s like when you meet a famous person and you’re worried he’ll be pretentious or standoffish, and you fret about putting your elbows on the table or saying the wrong thing, and then you get to know him and he’s the most down to earth, normal, unaffected person you could ever meet. THAT’S what Pittsburgh is.
What’s next for you? Are you looking to further parlay your writing career/blog to radio or other media?
I’m a writer. I use my words … my written words … to profess my love for the city. I don’t particularly have much desire to branch out into other media. I’m shy. I’m not exactly the most extroverted girl you’ll ever meet, so, no, I think I’d like very much to just stay a writer.
What Pittsburgh athletes have you met (if any) – and how was that experience? If you haven’t met any, which would you most like to hang out and have a beer with, and why?
Well, I met Mario Lemieux at a fundraiser and chatted with him for a short bit and the experience sort of blew my mind. He was tall and gentle and kind and soft-spoken and perfectly normal. I don’t remember what exactly I said to him, but whatever it was, I know I sounded flustered and ridiculous and probably a bit worshipful, and that’s fine with me.
He’s a Pittsburgh icon and if I ever meet him again, I will probably be just as awkward. He fries my brain or something.
If you could be the GM of one Pittsburgh team for a day, what team would you choose and what would you do as GM?
Oh, man. I’d choose the Buccos, of course. But honestly, what can you possibly do in one day to fix twenty years of losing? I’d probably bring a priest, a voodoo doctor, a scientist, a witch and Anthony Robbins with me to see if they could maybe put their heads together and figure out a way to remove the curse that has clearly been a pox upon our team since that day Sid Bream destroyed our 1992 World Series dream.
I’m pretty sure it all started there.