adrian is rad


things we’ve made

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:05 am

The other day I was surprised to find out that no only has Rick Sebak put some of his programs on DVD, but that Netflix carries some of them. Rick has made documentaries for many years. Originally they were all for WQED, one of Pittsburgh’s PBS affiliates (now it’s only PBS affiliate) and they were about Pittsburgh. A program about downtown Pittsburgh; another about the churches and places of worship in Pittsburgh (just about always shown on Christmas and Easter), another about the renowned Kennywood; a couple about things that used to be around and one specifically about things that are still there. I watched all of them, taped most of them off of TV during one of their pledge drives. When I first moved to the city they were a way to get into the culture pretty quickly. Later I just loved watching them. I remember when I first heard that he was going to do national programs and I was happy. Now I pop on the TV occasionally to see “Sandwhiches that you will Love” or the one about roadside attractions. They’re infectious. I want to go to the places that Rick shows and talk to the people he talks to.

I haven’t seen some of the newer programs, both the national ones and the Pittsburgh ones. I put Things We’ve Made into my queue and watched it on Friday.

This movie is probably mostly of interest to Pittsburghers or ex-Pittsburghs, but there is quite a lot of manufacturing processes shown, so geeky mechanical engineers or the like might also like it. One of the coolest parts is when they’re showing the Glenshaw Glass Company plant in which they made millions (billions) of beer bottles and how the machines cut up the molten glass into measured blobs and then pushed it into molds and out popped a bottle.

There’s still steel made in the Pittsburgh area—they visited the Clairton US Steel plant. I’d love to go there and take photographs. There’s this one shot in the movie where they’re in a semi-open area and there are these two giant cauldrons of molten steel being poured out and in the background there are the machine operators and a sign saying “House of Pain.” My goodness that could be an amazing photograph.

There were also quirky little things in there, like when they’re talking about All-Clad which is made in Canonsburg, really close to where I grew up and they’re talking about taking some of the new products to this restaurant and this chef to test. Well, that place, the Classroom in McMurray, is where I took my first girlfriend before the Homecoming dance and where my family at dinner on New Year’s Eve, 1999. I realize it’s just a local Pittsburgh movie, but given that it’s a movie out on DVD and that I got from Netflix it has enough separation that it seems weird to see this place on the screen.

5 Responses to “things we’ve made”

  1. Colin Says:

    I love Rick Sebak films. My wife’s sister and dad are in the Oakland movie – in separate shots. They’re both in the part about CMU. The footage of her Dad is from like 15 years ago. He’s playing with an antiquated robot. Her sister is just walking across campus in one of the pan shots of the lawn or mall or whatever that section of campus is called. I have yet to be featured in any of his films, but I’m working on changing that…

  2. Milkshake Says:

    In college I had a professor who is friends with Rick Sebak and he brought him in to teach a class. It was neato.

    Did they happen to show the boxes the all-clad products come in? We make those.

  3. adrian Says:

    They did show those, Milkshake. Way to go!

  4. Milkshake Says:

    Cool my Dad will be thrilled

  5. Bill Says:

    Saw your comments on Glenshaw Glass,and I agree.Even after working there for 29+ years,I still found things there that could fascinate.The most fun was taking people in there who had no idea how the process was done.One thing that they didn’t tell about in the film was that even though most of our history we were a one plant operation,we were the standard for the rest of the glass industry.One more thing,if I may,don’t believe the stories in the press,it wasn’t the “greedy employees” that destroyed that 109 year old company.

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