THE BLOG
12/08/2006 05:26 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ah, the Power of Celebrity: 'Brangelina' at Fallingwater

As I lament the lack of coverage of the Iraqi refugee crisis, local drug research and raw sewage in the Great Lakes, one local story has been quickly jumped on by the national press: Angelina Jolie takes Brad Pitt to Fallingwater for his birthday.

What's the perfect birthday gift for half of the world's most famous perfect couple? Why, a visit to one of the world's most famous houses, of course. Yesterday, Angelina Jolie treated Brad Pitt to an afternoon at Fallingwater.

So starts the story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Already dozens of media outlets have picked it up, and I'm sure dozens more are planning to. The websites of the owner of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, are overloaded at the moment -- OK, it's purely a guess on my part, but I would think the two incidents are (you'll excuse the expression) linked.

(For those readers who aren't familiar with Fallingwater and also can't get through to its website, I can tell you from memory that it was built in the 1930s as the mountain getaway of a Pittsburgh millionaire and art patron, Edgar Kaufmann, and his family. The house is neither large nor particularly luxurious, but it is stunningly Modern -- cantilevered over the waterfall that gives it its name. Thousands of people have toured the house and grounds since the 1960s, after the family gave Fallingwater to the Conservancy, which a few years ago spent a few million bucks to repair, restore and reinforce the house to face a new century.)

Ms. Jolie and Mr. Pitt not only got to see Fallingwater, but also enjoyed a quiet champagne-and-caviar snack in the large living/dining room -- an unprecedented treat, as far as I know, in this house museum, and I'm sure that added considerably to the usual $30 (or so) per person fee for the two-hour in-depth tour. I hardly begrudge the Conservancy either the publicity or the money, or the many visitors who will be drawn anew to Fallingwater. Nor do I begrudge the happy (and apparently art-conscious) couple a chance to visit our Laurel Highlands and its most famous landmark. I applaud their taste, and their braving of our first snowstorm of the season. But, gee, can I interest them in the growing problem of Iraqi refugees or the Great Lakes so that the media will pay attention to those stories?