April, 2010

For those who don’t know: Urban Dare is a mini “Amazing race”. Nor have I ever seen a single episode but Arlette told me it’s kinda similar based on my description. Teams of 2 solve clues to find checkpoints where they must take photos or perform dares. For the checkpoints that mention a dare, they must check in with the Urban Dare official, accomplish the task, and get the passport stamped before moving on. On checkpoints that mention a photo, they must get a photo with both team members to show they were both there. Teams may walk, run or use public transportation to get to checkpoints. The use of all possible electronic devices and getting help from the outside is encouraged. The clue shit is given at start time. We volunteered Amy, Arlette’s eldest daughter, to help us. The results of our combined efforts are described below.


1. Anthony Quinn played this character in 1964 film. Get your picture in front of the restaurant that goes by this name.

Amy’s text: Zorba’s gyros, 400 Smithfield, which was correct.

My google search at home: very easy to find through Wikipedia. The name of the movie is ”Zorba the Greek”.


I look fat in two shirts!!!


2. Go to the art installation Uptown Rhythm for your spellbound dare

Amy: no comprehensive answer

How we found it: with a help of a very nice girl in the History center.

Google search at home: 3rd link tells us about James Simon and his sculptures in Pittsburgh: “2006 UPTOWN RHYTHM Pittsburgh, PA. 10 x 25 foot painted relief sculpture cast in concrete. Installed as part of Duquesne University’s $70 million rebuilding effort in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood”.

What is a “spellbound dare”? Each team had a passport with a word in it. Ours was “Entourage”. The letters were hidden under plants on the lawn. Each letter had a corresponding number (E-23, N-10, etc.). We had to find ‘em and sum ‘em up.


3. In Virginia it’s the home of Thomas Jefferson. Here in Pittsburgh it’s a homophone for TJ’s house where you go for your eats dare. Go to their downtown location.

Amy: Monte Cello, 305 7th Ave., which was correct

Google seacrh at home: Monticello is/was a residence of Thomas Jefferson according to Wiki. If you use “Monticello Pittsburgh restaurant” in google, the first link is the one Amy gave us.

What is eats dare? Only one teammate had to eat a slice of pizza – Max did it in no time.


4. PHOTO HUNT – get a picture of someone not in the race doing a cartwheel. And get your picture kneeling down and purposing marriage to someone not in the race.

Max refused to “purpose marriage”, and for some reason I’ve selected a gay couple for this purpose:)). One guy was very shy and didn’t really want to be in a photo, but his buddy happily agreed. Of note, neither Max nor I knows the proper way of “purposing” – don’t blame me if I did it wrong:).

A cartwheel was easy: we were approached by a girl and her friend who just saw a part of “Urban Dare” on-line. I wasted no time and asked ‘em if one of ‘em could do a cartwheel. They both happily agreed! They also gave us general directions to the clue #7.


Shy fella

His not so shy buddy

Double cartwheel


5. Get your picture with Resurrection.

Amy: a church of Resurrection in the middle of nowhere. And we were supposed to race in the downtown and on the North Side only.

How we found it: with a help of a very nice girl in the History center.

Google search at home: if you try Resurrection + Pittsburgh, you’ll get the address of the church Amy texted us. We know it’s not in downtown/North Side thus it’s not the correct answer. Now you have to think that it could be something else like a mural or a sculpture. If you try “Resurrection + sculpture + Pittsburgh”, first link will tell you the name of the sculptor: Paul T. Granlund. If you google the guy, there is an article in Wiki, which has a list of his works. Voilà! Now we know that the sculpture is near First Lutheran Church at 615 Grant Street.


Plaque in front of the sculpture reads: "resurrection" 1985/sculptor Paul T. Granlund/"for the hour is coming/when all that are in the/tomb will fear his voice/and come forth, those who/have done good, to the/resurrection of life."/john 5 28b-29a/a gift of Glenn and Lavonne Johnson


6. Go to First Ward Honor Roll that honors veterans of WWI and WWII for your ode to our soldier dare. Get ready to give your best original “I don’t know but I’ve been told”… chant.

Amy: tried to send us to the Soldiers Museum in Oakland – we refused to go. We knew it could not be in Oakland.

How we found it: serendipitously! We were on the way to Duquesne University for Uptown Rhythm challenge when we bumped into whole bunch of people in Urban Dare shirts doing push-ups:).

None of us quite understood what the above chant means cause none of has served in the US Army:). I quickly figured we have to complete the sentence, which was not a problem. I rhymed something real quick, and we were told to do 25 push-ups between two of us. Each of us did 15 just in case.

Google search at home: if you try “First Ward Honor Roll” search, first link in IMAGES will lead to “flickr”. From the gallery with tags it’s clear that the “Roll” is beside the Allegheny County courthouse.




7. Get your picture with the mural that features Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays and other notable ballplayers.

Amy: changed 4 locations including 5th floor of the History center. Then she changed her mind and sent us to PNC park. A nice girl in the History center sent us to PNC Park as well. We left this task for the last cause PNC Park in close to the Heinz field where there was another dare. To our surprise, another team asked us whether we were looking for a mural of Josh Gibson. It appeared, this bloody mural was under the bridge next to the old Medical Examiner’s building. But, the friendly team couldn’t give us clear directions. We had to run to downtown and ask a first passerby. Again, to our surprise the guy said he knows the mural and can show us the way. By that time we really were running out minutes. I asked him for directions and explained that we had to run. To my enormous surprise, the guy said he would run with us. We were on Liberty and 5th meaning we had to run uphill to the destination. The guy made the majority of the way. I stopped running when I heard heavy wheezing behind me. Max said it was very rude of me to run fast cause the guy was slightly overweight and obviously out of shape. I have to admit I didn’t think about the guy – I was preoccupied with a shortage of time.

Google search at home: FIRST link with the key words “Josh Gibson mural + Pittsburgh” is an article in the Post-Gazette, the second paragraph of which says: “The mural was digitally enlarged and mounted on the wall beneath the Boulevard of the Allies at Ross Street and visible to people driving to town on Second Avenue”.



8. He was a beloved entertainer, and is honored with a statue that shows him tying his shoes. Go to the statue for your wheelbarrow dare.

Amy: mister Rogers, Heinz field, which was correct.

Google search at home: first link with the key words ”entertainer + a statue that shows him tying his shoes” gives a picture and the exact location.

We didn’t know what a “wheelbarrow” was – for some reason none of us came across this word in the past!! The guy explained what this exercise looks like: we recognized it instantly! We frequently did it at school but none of us remembers a Russian name for it:).


9. Dinosaurs are on the loose in downtown Pittsburgh. Get your picture with a Heinz ketchup stegosaurus.

Amy: sent us to the History center! A nice girl in the History center sent us to 6th and Liberty, which was incorrect.

I was getting nuts cause we returned to the above location several times but no dinosaurs were seen. Finally, I asked Amy to look for Heinz ketchup stegosaurus one more time and she sent us to PPG place.

Google search at home: first link with the key words “Heinz ketchup stegosaurus Pittsburgh” gives you the complete list of Pittsburgh dinosaurs with the description and location.



10. Don’t go with the flow. Go to the FLOW and get your picture with this piece of art made of steel.

Amy: sent us to whatever North point drive, then to Strip District, and at that point I gave up asking her:).

How we found it: we took a picture of a team (a mother and a daughter) in front of Josh Gibson mural, and they asked if we need help with something. The only thing we were not sure of was The Flow (we took a number of pictures of all possible things which might be passable as “the piece of art made of steel”:). They sent us to UPMC building on Grant – it was behind the building.

Google search at home: we know that “The Flow” is the sculpture of some sort. Key words “The FLOW sculpture Pittsburgh” brings a number of links, and the second one is what we need: it’s an old article in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette entitled “New city sculpture shows Flow of Steel”. Open it up to find out the name of the artist: Louise Pershing Berlin. Do another search with “The Flow by Louise Pershing Berlin location” - the first link gives you a beautiful picture of this “piece of art” with a street view and the exact location.



11. The Steelers have won six of these. Get your picture in front of the restaurant whose name is a homophone for this.

Ok, I fucked up this one. I did not give Amy the original clue. I told her to look for a restaurant, which RHYMES with “Super Bowl”. I din’t know the exact meaning of a “homophone”. Max, whose English is better, knew this word but he assumed I was familiar with it as well… Later on he said that “Super Bowl” is not a homophone but a homograph… I had no idea he was so good in English semantics… So Amy was having a lot of difficulties with this one till I texted her the original question. She instantly produced the address: 910 5th Avenue, which was correct.



Summary: because we are idiots, we ran a lot. We made no less than 10 miles since we had to run from the North Side to downtown and back several times. The organizers gave 3 hours 45 minutes for the race – we finished in 3 hours 38 minutes:). Thanks to everyone’s help (especially Amy), we collected all stamps in our passport. In retrospect, I would have done it differently. I would have brought the laptop to the start/finish place (“Finnigan’s Wake” on the North Side) and used their free wi-fi to look up the clues and to plan the most logical order for the run. I would have left the laptop with a bartender and used Amy as a back-up during the race in the case of need. I could have done same thing with my smartphone – it has wi-fi and everything but I thought texting will be faster.