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I Visited Mac Miller’s Favorite Spots in Pittsburgh – And Here’s What I Learned

On September 7th, 2018, Mac Miller’s death shocked the music community. After Miller announced a 26-date fall tour and released his fifth studio album, “Swimming,” the last thing people expected from the gifted 26-year-old rapper and producer was an overdose. Mac Miller was open and truthful about his addiction in both his music and, most recently, in a Vulture article published just a day before his passing. Miller leaves behind a discography of 5 studio albums, producer credits, 7 mixtapes and a live album.

A recurring theme is Miller’s music is his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Miller’s 2011 album, “Blue Slide Park,” is named after Frick Park, a 644-acre Pittsburgh park. Recently, a petition was made at his vigil to rename Blue Slide Park into Mac Miller Blue Slide Park has achieved over a thousand supporters and counting.

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Image via The Pitt News

“Blue Slide Park” includes some prolific references to Pennsylvania. As a Pennsylvania native myself, these songs have taken on an anthem form.  On “PA Nights,” Mac is able to capture the boredom and wanderlust often associated with home and the ironic yearning that comes when you are finally separated from it. On “Loitering”, the kind of teenage boredom and search for something to do in the suburbs, made famous in Dazed and Confused, is perfectly illustrated. “Blue Slide Park” works as an authentic depiction of being a teenager, more specifically a Pennsylvanian teenager, and the continued pursuit of finding something to do.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/mac-miller-swimming-interview-profile-706164/

Image via Rolling Stone

Recently, I was able to visit a few of these notorious Pittsburgh locations popularized by Mac Miller. Blue Slide Park’s lead single, Frick Park Market, chronicles its namesake deli in Mac’s original neighborhood. When I visited, the owners were quick to identify me as a fan and shared stories and even pictures of experiences with Mac. People spoke about him with such high regards and such love. He truly loved his home and wanted the best for it. The owner even had an autographed sandwich, which appeared in the Frick Park Market video 7 years ago. The farthest someone had come to visit the market was from Australia. Miller’s lyrics took on new meaning when visiting their source, exactly like seeing an artist’s inspiration behind their work of art.

The 7 year-old prop sandwich from the Frick Park Market video. (Photo by Olivia Chovanes)

My final stop was to visit the aforementioned iconic Blue Slide Park. Remnants of last month’s vigil marked a more somber mood. Stickers quoting lyrics, graffiti and roses all kept the memory of Mac Miller alive. Following the neighborhood kids’ advice, I grabbed a rectangle of corrugated cardboard and slid down the freshly-painted blue slide. The steep drop blew my hair everywhere, but simultaneously brought together everything I had been doubting. Mac Miller’s affinity with this small park finally made sense to me.

One of many stickers commemorating Mac Miller. (Photo by Olivia Chovanes)

Featured Image via Mac Miller’s Instagram

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Olivia Chovanes is a film-obsessed fifteen-year-old aspiring writer. She likes making playlists for friends, creating collages, skateboarding, exploring, and taking photos.

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