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Sadie Shoaf of Three Pigs Collective (Photo by Katie Krulock)
FOR THE WOMEN BEHIND THREE PIGS COLLECTIVE, CLOTHING IS AN ART FORM
ast weekend, at its brick and mortar location on the 52nd block of Butler Street, Three Pigs Collective hosted a pop-up summer carnival. There were clothing racks to browse, and games, and vegan versions of county fair treats like corn dogs and fried Oreos. There were mimosas and cupcakes. And there were clowns. Lots of clowns. Some of the clowns were in the form of large hand-painted wood cutouts. Shop founder Sadie Shoaf and shop manager Kelley Brennen
BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM were fully outfitted, face-paint and all. And as a special bonus, anyone who showed up dressed as a clown or other carnie-type character received a 50-percent discount in the store. At least one shopper found the scene too creepy to handle. “They were like, ‘I can’t…. I can’t look at you. I’m terrified of clowns,’” photographer Katie Krulock — Shoaf’s long-time collaborator — recalls with a laugh a few days later. There’s a subversiveness in hosting an event centered on
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something that many people find viscerally frightening. These clowns were more kitsch than killer, but the Three Pigs folks understand that there’s a place in fashion for the bizarre. And aesthetically speaking, Three Pigs only knows one way to go, and that’s all the way.
hoaf, now 25, started selling and learning about vintage clothing when she was 18, working for Highway Robbery Vintage in the South Side. Later, she, Krulock and poet Andy McIntyre
set up an art space on Howley Street in Bloomfield. There, Shoaf occasionally sold clothing, and the three made art together under the Three Pigs banner – Shoaf painting, Krulock taking photos, McIntyre writing. “Three Pigs has always been a collaborative thing,” Shoaf says. As they began to grow as online vintage sellers, Krulock (27) started shooting inventory, modeled by Shoaf and a handful of friends, in her third floor Braddock apartment. Over time, the sets and narratives have become more involved and
Photographer and Three Pigs Collective collaborator Katie Krulock (Photo by Katie Krulock)
Shoaf has started to explore video and performance art as a way of keeping things fresh. But from the start, the photographic element felt like art it its own right, rather than just a means to sell inventory. Krulock’s photos are often lush and dreamy; other times they’re stunningly deadpan. She has an eye for beauty, but — like Shoaf — possesses an innate sense of camp. There is a series of Shoaf as Miss Piggy, in a rubber, factory-made mask, and another of her wearing a sinister-
looking hand-made pig mask — apple in mouth — and a shimmery ball gown. And the ongoing fictional story of Wayne and Sheri, which you can follow on the Three Pigs blog, simultaneously explores love, jealousy, and hilarious wigs. “We’re all friends so we feel comfortable enough experimenting together,” Shoaf says, noting that such scenarios are rare. “I’ve worked with younger people who are like, ‘Yeah, I just showed up at some guy’s house, he had beer there and we just took pictures,’” she says.
The Butler Street store front of Three Pigs Collective (Photo by Katie Kruock)
“But we have a relationship with each other, we know that we have creative freedom [and] we’re going to support each other. Or if it’s too much, we have a conversation about it as its happening. I think it’s just that collaborative process and the relationships that we’ve built.”
ast October, Shoaf came across a Craigslist listing advertising a storefront for rent in Lawrenceville. There was no photo but, since the ceiling was collapsing in her South Side apartment, she
went to take a look. “The landlord was like, ’This is your spot,” she recalls. “Katie was on a bike trip but I [called her] and was like, ‘Hey, I just got a store.’” They celebrated their grand opening at the end of November. When I stopped by one weekday afternoon in early summer, Shoaf was behind the counter, as she often is, working on a hand-painted piece. Bright colors dominate her painted work: flames flair up leather vests and snakes wrap around boots and jeans and elbow-length gloves. There
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Sadie Shoaf clowns around at a recent event. (Photo by Katie Kruock)
are appearances by scorpions, nude women, and – unsurprisingly -circus clowns. “I just found this body suit that’s really high cut, so I did a tongue all the way down [the crotch],” she says later with a grin, sitting out on the store’s back patio, which they use for pop up sales and events like the summer carnival. A similar piece – the “Krampus sued bra” – featured two strategically-placed demons sticking out long, ribbon-y tongues. “I’ve been having a lot of fun [with] more three- dimensional things coming off the clothes.” (Both items have since been sold). “It’s so much more interesting than something that’s just hanging on the wall,” Shoaf says. “It’s a sculpture, and then I see all my friends wearing it, and it feels really cool.” The racks of Three Pigs are filled with the sorts of things you’d hope to find in any decent second-hand clothing store: floral-print polyester mini dresses and broken-in band t-shirts; snakeskin shoes and oversized trench coats. Some of those items are sourced by Shoaf, the rest come from the dozen other vintage sellers who share the space. Krulock notes that having multiple sellers keeps it interesting for everyone. “You really don’t know
what other people are going to bring in. It’s always wildly different.” For her part, Shoaf focuses on pieces from the 1960s through the early 2000s – things that shoppers love, but that some vintage sellers do not consider “true vintage,” a.k.a. items from the ’60s and earlier. “I just want it to be accessible,” she says. “I feel like with vintage, people are like ‘I’ll never find something that fits me,’ or it seems like this thing. But there’s so much cool shit.” Sometimes, she reworks items to make them more wearable (cutting the skirt off of an ’80s prom gown or a wedding dress and turning it into a top, for example). “That stuff normally sells out pretty quick too,” she says. “I think its [about] finding a way to style it to make it appealing to other people, so they’re like, ‘Oh, I could wear that!” But Three Pigs isn’t just about providing people with cool outfits. “I want clothing to be respected as an art form,” Shoaf says. Krulock considers her friend for a moment. “You’re not a dealer,” she says. “I think you’re functioning as an artist and clothing is a tool of yours. “I think that with most [vintage] stuff, it starts and ends with clothing. With what you’re doing, it’s just a whole different world.” The actual business part of
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Fashion as art at Three Pigs Collective (Photo by Katie Krulock)
running a business isn’t necessarily Shoaf’s favorite part, but there are benefits to having a storefront, especially because Three Pigs has use of the whole building: Shoaf and Krulock share the upstairs living spaces with painter and collaborator Dave Watt. Tattoo artist Matt Wallenstein works out of a small room on the top floor. Krulock runs her film processing business, Rat Lab, out of the building as well. “I knew that I wanted Katie to have her darkroom here,” Shoaf says. And Rat Lab offers an incredibly specialized service for film photography enthusiasts: Krulock processes film – color and black and white -- by hand. “The thing that’s been cool with the lab,” Krulock says, “is how much of Pittsburgh I’m seeing that I didn’t know about, or just didn’t think about. It’s been so cool to have a place in this city for people to walk in and drop stuff off.” “You’re making film really accessible,” Shoaf adds. “Katie has film for sale, and cameras, and I think it’s like, ‘Oh, loading a film camera, its point and shoot, I could do this.’” It’s all an incredible amount of work, and Krulock jokes that both she and Shoaf are rapidly graying. “But it’s been cool to come back from whatever freelance job that I
have for the day and Sadie’s been up front all day, and has two custom orders to bang out,” Krulock says. “And I have some film orders to finish and we’re both spazzing, but we’re both there. And I find a lot of comfort there.” Back when the store was only online, Shoaf says, they would get together every Thursday to work on things. “We were forced to all hang out,” she smiles. “But this is every day, and we all talk, and are there for each other, and that’s been a really rewarding thing.” The night before the carnival, Krulock returned from two weeks overseas, exhausted, with a lot of work to catch up on. “That whole day I was in the lab processing, popping in and out to eat a corndog.” It was, she says, awesome. “When you come back from being gone for so long, you think ‘Oh, I need solace, I need time to reflect.’ “But I come back here and I’m like, I actually think I need to be around these people. It’s kind of refreshing.”
THREE PIGS COLLECTIVE.
5218 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412337-5766 or www.threepigsvintage. com
BETHEL PARK SCHOOLS ADDRESS GENDERED LANGUAGE ON STUDENT FORMS
BY MEG FAIR - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MANAGING EDITOR MEG@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
or the third year in a row, a same-sex couple with a student in the Bethel Park school district was disappointed to receive paperwork from their son’s school that asked for the name and contact information from a mother and a father rather than the gender neutral terms “parent or guardian.” According to Mt. Lebanon resident and 1989 Bethel Park graduate Kristin Wessell, the gendered language on the forms came to her attention in August of 2017 when the aforementioned couple shared the forms to Facebook. One of the wives had to list her son’s mother and her wife as “father” on a parent teacher organization form. “I didn’t want her to have to fight this battle on her own, so I emailed the superintendent,” says Wessell. She sent the first email on August 31, 2017, and she says that the superintendent’s assistant responded quickly that the forms would be updated. But when her friends’ son moved to middle school in 2018, the same problem occurred, allegedly on
four separate school contact forms. Once again, Wessell emailed the superintendent. “I posted about it on my Facebook, and other friends with kids in the [Bethel Park] school district responded. Some indicated their forms listed ‘parent’ or ‘guardian’ while others noted they used ‘father’ and ‘mother.’ There wasn’t consistency between schools, and sometimes there wasn’t consistency between forms at the same school,” explains Wessell. According to Wessell, the superintendent’s assistant apologized once more and promised to check all the forms the schools use, but on August 21, 2019, her friend posted about the “mother/ father” phrasing on Facebook again. It was at this point that Wessell
reached out to the Pittsburgh Current. The use of “parent/guardian” is the standard in courts of law, and it’s the phrasing most common across districts. Using “mother/ father” doesn’t just make forms exclusive for same-sex parents. It also excludes students who may be in the foster care system or are raised by grandparents or other extended family or friends. Vicki Flotta is the director of public relations for Bethel Park School District. She says that several years ago, it was brought to the district’s attention that using “mother/father” on forms might be exclusive, so some changes were made. “As a District, when we were first made aware of this, we immediately changed all of our forms online to “parent/guardian,” and removed any gender specific identifications. We asked our schools to replace their paper forms with the new ones,” says Flotta. “The forms that are posted online refer to “parent/guardian,” and not “mother/father,” and we believe all of our schools are now using the proper paper forms as well.” That being said, parent and teacher volunteer groups like PTAs and PTOs are organizations that operate independently of the school districts and have their own bylaws and bank accounts. The holders of leadership positions change nearly annually, so Flotta posits that checking the verbiage on the forms might have fallen through the cracks. “We did express to them when we made the changes to our forms that they should as well. I can’t speak for them, and I don’t want to make excuses for them either. They are volunteer organizations that work
very hard to support our schools and students,” says Flotta. Flotta says that in the upcoming monthly meetings with the PTO/PTA presidents that the district will reemphasize the importance of using forms that use “parent/guardian” rather than “mother/father,” as well as try to establish a checks and balances processes where outgoing forms are reviewed annually by PTO Council Leadership before being distributed to parents and guardians. Wessell says the language on forms is imperative, and she felt obligated to reach out to the district. “It’s important to me because I can see how it hurt my friends, and I can take action to support them. And I’m sure they aren’t the only samesex parents in a district as large as Bethel Park,” says Wessell. “All families deserve to be recognized and respected.” “Schools should be as welcoming as possible and should not make people feel excluded by something so easily changed. The simple use of “guardian” covers everything,” adds Wessell. Flotta says that any occurence of “mother/father” on a form from the district was made in error. “The schools are responsible for producing their own forms for their families. We have asked the Principals to make sure that the forms they are using are the correct ones. We sincerely apologize if any of the old forms were used,” says Flotta. “We continue to emphasize to our principals the importance of using the updated forms. The Bethel Park School District values all of our families and would never intentionally do anything to make anyone feel excluded or uncomfortable.”
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SAFE2SAY YOU’RE NOT OKAY ANONYMOUS STUDENT TIP LINE REVEALS ISSUES WITH MENTAL HEALTH AND BULLYING
BY NICK KEPPLER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
n January, Pennsylvania launched an app to let students send anonymous tips about threats of school violence. Instead, the state got an SOS about the prevalence of bullying and mental health issues. The resultant dataset shows a hierarchy of teenage anxieties and their environment. The Safe2Say Something program was meant to “provid[e] for methods of anonymous reporting concerning unsafe activities in schools,” according to the law that created it. When it was announced last October, Attorney General Josh Shapiro touted it as a measure for school safety, declaring that “students deserve a safe place to learn, free from the threat of violence from classmates or other individuals.” About a thousand schools or school districts in Pennsylvania, both public and private, held trainings for 863,986 students in the use of Safe2Say. But, once the app was in the kids’ hands, reports about threats of violence from disgruntled classmates or outsiders were dwarfed by tips about bullying and mental health concerns. From the app’s launch, on Jan. 14 of this year through June 30, Safe2Say received 23,494 serious tips. The most common categories, according to a recently released report were: Bullying/Cyber Bullying, 3,558; Cutting/Self-Harm, 2,529; Suicide/Suicidal Ideation, 2,184; Depression/Anxiety, 2,121; Drug Use/Distribution/Possession, 1,921; Tobacco Smoking in School, 1,448; Inappropriate Language/Gestures/ Behavior, 949; Threat Against School, 607; General Harassment, 574; Threat Against Person, 523; Anger Issues, 195; Planned Fight/Attack, 183
There were 1,940 tips in Allegheny County: Bullying/Cyber Bullying, 327; Drug Use/Distribution/ Possession, 170, Cutting/Self-Harm, 158; Suicide/Suicide Ideation, 154; Depression/Anxiety, 136; Inappropriate Language/Gestures/ Behavior, 100; Tobacco Use in School, 85; Threat Against School, 66; Threat Against Person, 55; General Harassment, 54 Statewide, students were less frequently disturbed by threats of violence than they were by problems of mental wellness and issues with bullying; about 29 percent of tips were about depression, self-harm or suicidal thoughts, 17.5 about bullying or harassment and 6 percent about a threat, a fight or anger issues. Numbers in Allegheny County were a microcosm of this. This information comes with a few caveats: The is a list of reports rather than verified incidents. Also, some episodes generated multiple tips, according to a source in the Attorney General’s Office, who was not authorized to speak on the record. Students in kindergarten through grade 12 were trained in how to use the app (and a corresponding phone number and website), but expectedly most tips came from high-school age students using the app, said the source in the AG’s office. The behavioral health tips were reported by both people experiencing them and witnessing them in others. The program was developed in partnership with the Sandy Hook Promise, a gun violence prevention group formed by parents from Newtown, Conn., following the 2012 school shooting. Since its formation, the group has developed anonymous reporting programs, says Tim Makris, co-founder and managing director of the Sandy Hook Promise. “When we first studied this, we
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found most [anonymous reporting systems] were not liked by police and most were not working for schools,” says Makris. Pennsylvania’s program is the largest implementation of one of the Sandy Hook Promise’s systems and protocols, which call for a vetting of tips, says Makris. Once it received a tip, the Attorney General’s office corresponded with the tipster to determine if it was immediately lifethreatening or dangerous. If it was, it was passed on to police. If it wasn’t, it went to the school district. The report’s conclusion acknowledged a pivot, stating that the majority of tips “have not been about students making violent threats to their school or to their classmates — instead, they have been focused on students struggling with mental health issues.” Makris says he’s not surprised by Pennsylvania’s results. Training materials encouraged students to come forward with any behavior they saw as dangerous. Also, teenagers are engaged in measures to prevent violence, as evidenced in the activism after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, he says. Also, just because the data doesn’t indicate reports of immediate violence, it’s still extremely helpful. Markis says that tips not related to immediate safety should be seen as part of a spectrum of harmful behaviors. “To get to those 4-to-6 percent of kids who will get to the extreme of hurting themselves or others, you have to get to those at-risk behaviors to be able to diffuse the situation,” he said, adding that an FBI report showed that more than half of mass shooters previously expressed suicidal thoughts. Sophia Choukas-Bradley, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and director of its Teen and Young Adult Lab, says that the most common categories of tips show stressors that are common among teens. Depression and suicidal thoughts are on the rise, particularly for
girls. Still, she says, “It is striking that over 3,500 reports were made of cyber-bullying, along with over 4,500 reports related to self-harm or suicide, in less than six months. These high levels of reporting indicate that teens are looking for a space to share the concerns they’re experiencing.” Threats of violence are “less common than the all-too-common experiences of bullying and emotional distress,” says ChoukasBradley. However, it’s important to not lose sight of them, she says. Notably, Pennsylvania students did make over a thousand reports of threats of violence. “[S]ymptoms of anxiety and depression may be affected by fears about school safety.” “This generation of teens has grown up with access to social media apps that allow for written disclosure of intense experiences and emotions,” says ChoukasBradley pointing to modern students’ propensity to pour their fears into apps and technology. Last year, texting overtook in-person conversations as the most preferred means of communication for 13-to17-year-olds. “Many teens report discomfort with using the phone, ‘voice-to-voice’ communication having learned to engage in dayto-day communication and even intense, intimate conversations via text message or social media apps, rather than through phone or inperson communication.”
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President Trump at the G7 Summit
CHECKS AND BALANCES
CLIMATE SCIENCE IS NOT A HOAX, REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY TIMES THE PRESIDENT CLAIMS IT IS BY DAVID DEANGELO - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
elcome back to Checks and Balances. This is a fact-checking column that will analyze the statements of prominent politicians (both local and otherwise) as well as editorials from some prominent editorial boards (both local and otherwise) to see if those statements are, in fact, true. Before we go any further, here is an ongoing frame of reference for this column: There is an objective reality that we can understand scientifically. Furthermore, individual statements about that reality are true if, and only if, they correspond to what we already understand about that reality. Of course as the science advances, the big picture is always changing, always shifting, but in the end it all boils down to something like this: the statement “snow is white” is true if and only if there is such a thing
as “snow” and it corresponds to the visual perception known as “white.” Here are some examples (in everyday terms) of some true statements: • The solar system in which we live is about 4.56 billion years old (give or take a few million years). • Every object in the universe exerts a gravitational pull on every other object in the universe. • Light travels at about 186,000 miles per second and this rate is constant for all observers. The evidence for each is so overwhelming that any attempt to deny any of them would entail an even thornier issue of having to explain why all that supporting evidence is somehow wrong. For the age of the solar system to be wrong, for instance, the science
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of radiometric dating and all of the nuclear physics connected to it would have to be wrong. For Newton’s gravitation to be wrong, all of the classical physics supporting it would have to be wrong. Thanks to Einstein, it turns out it is less incorrect than it is incomplete. For relativity to be wrong, then all of the science supporting Einsteinian physics would have to be wrong. And so on. If that’s granted, then all else follows. Whenever these theories are checked, the evidence supports them. As Carl Sagan once said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Denying these scientific theories, whether it’s the age of the solar system or gravity or the speed of light, requires extraordinary evidence – none of which has ever been produced. The theories stand as true. Today, I’d like to fact-check something larger than one specific incorrect utterance from one specific grandstanding member of Congress. Let’s talk about climate-science deniers. In November 2012, Donald Trump called climate science a hoax. He also said that this hoax was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Just last week, he skipped a climate change meeting at the G7. A picture of his empty chair at the meeting told us all we needed to know about his faith in the science. Before we can debunk this and any other denials out there (a neverending process, to be sure) we have to establish what’s being denied – the scientific theory of climate change. So what is the theory itself -not the evidence that the planet is warming up -- but the theory that explains all that evidence? The story begins with a French mathematician named Joseph Fourier (1768-1830). In a thought experiment in the early 1820s, Fourier assumed the existence of a so-called “black body object” (an abstract object that absorbs all forms
of electromagnetic radiation from all directions and reflects none of it back) and calculated what the temperature of this object would be if it was in Earth’s place orbiting the sun. He was able to show that this object would be significantly cooler than the Earth is. As a result, we can assume that without an atmosphere this planet would be significantly cooler than it is now, even without climate change. This is the beginning of the discussion of “the greenhouse effect.” Since then, scientists have discovered that visible light passes through the atmosphere and heats the surface of the planet. It’s the surface that then emits infrared radiation to heat the atmosphere. In 1856, Eunice Newton Foote (18191888) demonstrated that carbon dioxide absorbed the sun’s heat more efficiently than “common air.” In 1863 the British scientist John Tyndall (1820-1893) also found that as more carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, the atmosphere would be able to retain just a little more water vapor, and with that added water vapor the atmosphere would be just a little more efficient at retaining the infrared heat emitted by the surface that was warmed by the sun. In 1896, Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927) was able to calculate the effects of halving or doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Halving it would lead to another ice age and doubling it would warm the planet by 5 or 6 degrees. Since then the evidence has all pointed towards one undeniable conclusion: the planet is getting warmer due to the greenhouse gasses dumped into the atmosphere by human beings. And there you have it: climate science. The science itself isn’t new. In fact, it’s more than a century old. And it’s most certainly not a Chinese hoax.
OPINION SMARTER JUSTICE BY JESSICA SEMLER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ast week, the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission hosted hearings in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to hear from the public about a Risk Assessment Instrument. The state legislature mandated the commission to come up with an algorithm to assess a defendant’s risk for violence in 2010. They’ve gone back to the drawing board a handful of times after receiving scrutiny from various groups about the very nature of using a mathematical equations and data that could affect someone’s life. I attended the Pittsburgh hearing on Thursday, August 22. About 30 folks in a small courtroom gathered to give their testimony. It’s worth noting, that having a public hearing during the middle of a workday downtown is not ideal when seeking feedback about any issue. The experiences and identities of the speakers were varied, but each person made the same ask: scrap this mandate. The Commission claims that the intentions behind creating such a tool include reducing prison populations and giving more lenient sentences; but if you hear from experts, the impact will not match the intent. Nearly 30 criminal justice researchers signed onto a letter criticizing sentencing risk algorithms, and the folks who spoke up at the hearing agreed. This tool was supposed to make judgments more objective, but it does just the opposite: it statisizes people based on factors like their zip codes, job history, finances, “attitude towards authority,” and other measures that are bound to yield skewed results when black and brown folks are so heavily policed; the incarceration rate for black people is roughly nine times the rate for white people
in the commonwealth. A woman representing public defenders claimed that this tool will decrease transparency, while increasing profiling and disparity. Terrell Thomas is the State Organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pa, and spoke about his personal experience being charged for something he didn’t do, and having to take a plea deal because he was facing 10 years in prison. He posited that as a black man from his neighborhood, this algorithm would spit out information about him that could be used against him. Mr. Thomas suggested that instead of using resources to develop algorithms that will be used to crunch numbers about distressed communities, why not put those resources into fixing the underlying causes of distress in those communities? A student currently pursuing their doctorate in computer engineering at CMU said that while algorithms give the illusion of accuracy and science, they just reiterate bias; the overall response from people opposed to this plan. Senator Sharif Street has also introduced a bill to scrap the mandate: “Since the passage of the mandate, the Commission has worked hard to create an automated tool that is statistically predictive of risk and does not show bias against any protected class. After reviewing more than eight years of thorough research and development conducted by the Commission, many, including members of the Commission itself, have serious concerns that such an automated tool is possible.” Addressing criminal justice in a meaningful way requires a multipronged approach. As we see above, using factors impacted by systemic
inequality such as location, arrest records, finances, etc. to gauge likelihood of criminality is frankly a criminal use of technology and efforts. Rather fittingly, the ACLU has rolled out a campaign this month to address these issues: Smart Justice September is a month of criminal justice reform events to bring awareness, connect resources, mobilize, and educate; this initiative aims to reduce mass incarceration by 50%. It is misleading to call the US the “home of the free.” Even if we were to reduce our prison population by 50%, we would still boast the most citizens incarcerated of any country in the world. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of imprisoned people has increased by 700% since 1970, outweighing by far what population growth and crime could account for. What’s more, black people experience higher arrests and harsher sentencing for crimes of their white counterparts. In 2014, the imprisonment rates of black me was six times higher than white men, and the rate for black women compared to white women was doubled. Ava DuVernay covered the criminalization and incarceration of black bodies in
her documentary “13th,” a nod to the amendment which abolished slavery. But incarceration looks pretty similar. The kick off for #SmartJusticeSeptember starts this Friday, September 6 at 6 p.m. at the Student Services Auditorium at CCAC North Side. There will be a screening of When They See Us, a miniseries about the Central Park Five, young boys who were forced to confess to a crime they didn’t commit. After, there will be a panel discussion with Terrell Johnson and Ricky Lee Olds, two folks who’ve experienced and overcome the abhorrent inequities of the criminal justice system right here in Allegheny County. Smart Justice’s third event, Inside Out will be on Saturday September 14 from noon-4 p.m. at Repair the World. This is targeted to and will benefit people who are formerly incarcerated, their families and friends, and folks who work with impacted populations. In addition to different resources and services, workshop topics include healthcare, re-entry employment opportunities, and more.
ROB ROGERS / Andrews McMeel Syndication
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | 13
The death of Antwon Rose sparked protests and calls for a County Citizen Police Review Board. County Council voted down that measure last week. (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
CONSOLIDATED SCRUTINY BY KIERRAN YOUNG - PITTSBURGH CURRENT POLITICAL COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
n Tuesday, August 27th, Allegheny County Council voted down (9-6) a bill to create an independent civilian police review board for the entire county. The legislation was brought to the table by Allegheny County Councilor DeWitt Walton in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Antwon Rose, an unarmed, black 17-year old in East Pittsburgh. This measure would have provided for a county-wide civilian police review board that would have been tasked with investigating allegations of misconduct against Allegheny County Police and suburban officers, but only if those municipalities optin. If the municipality decides not to opt-in, the county would have had no jurisdiction over municipal police departments.
That’s a problem. One, I believe is solved by a county-wide CPRB as well as the consolidation of local police departments throughout Allegheny County. There are 105 municipalities in Allegheny County with police departments, many are staffed with part-time officers, others often divert funds from other items in their budgets to fund their policing efforts. Throughout Allegheny County many of these police departments lack appropriate and proper training, as well as, adequate funding. The sheer number of police departments in Allegheny County strain boroughs and municipalities and make it difficult to properly train and manage police officers. I believe that a civilian review of police departments along with
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consolidation will create an environment where police officers can be properly trained and held accountable for their mistakes. I believe that when we consolidate police departments and create a centralized civilian review board, it will cut down on incidents like Officer Michael Rosfeld killing Antwon Rose by shooting him in the back. Officer Rosfeld should not have been on the force in East Pittsburgh because of his performance at other departments. Through consolidation and sharing of information, we can insure that officers who have previous incidents do not get hired in other police departments in the county. I believe consolidating law enforcement services throughout the county would serve our region well. Smaller municipalities would not have to compete against larger municipalities with larger budgets for the same resources. Where some municipalities are staffed with parttime officers making $10 to $12 per hour there are other municipalities who pay upwards of $60,000 per year to their officers. Consolidation can be an appealing idea for many reasons, particularly to smaller municipalities and their governing bodies. Consolidation can produce a higher volume of police services, lower response time, reduce overtime, duplication of effort, and lower overall operating costs. Consolidation can also increase resources, and capacity. The quality of policing would rise under consolidation as a result of more efficient and coordinated use of manpower, more flexibility to meet hours of peak demand, enhanced training opportunities, and improved management and supervision. Consolidation seems especially attractive when you consider that police departments will be able to share records and criminal data throughout the region and across municipalities, which will lead to better targeted policing and cutting down on crime in both the city and the county. This, to me,
would be especially helpful to city and county decision makers where fragmentation or redundancy in policing may be present and where fiscal challenges exist. If we had civilian police review and a regionalized database of officer involved incidents, it would not have been as easy for Rosfeld to move from department to department without scrutiny. In Allegheny County, we have too many small police departments that do not have the time nor the resources to perform thorough background checks before hiring. However, if we had a county-wide centralized database along with the civilian review board, I believe that these problems would be pointed out before an officer had the chance to get hired elsewhere. I also believe that cutting down on the number of police departments will cut down on the number of places that bad apples can hide. In order to solve the nationwide problem of officer involved shootings, I believe the problem requires a multifaceted approach. Civilian review is a step in the right direction but it can’t be the only step. We need to regionalize police departments and provide more resources and better training for local police officers. If we continue with the current structure, we will see more police departments like East Pittsburgh shut their doors and rely on the state police to police their communities and I don’t believe that’s the best option. I believe a strong investment in regional community policing and training is necessary along with civilian review.
FAT, GAY, AND IN THE WAY
BY SUE KERR - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ne of my favorite t-shirts reads “Fat, Gay, & in the Way” in glittery gold letters set against a lovely dark shade of blue. It is a comfortable jersey, so I wear it quite a bit. The lettering isn’t easy to make out so people often ask me what it says. This gives me numerous opportunities to say, “Fat, Gay, and in the Way.” And then I have numerous opportunities to watch their smiles dim and their eyes dart back and forth as they try to figure out what to say to me. Should they agree with me that I’m fat? Will that offend me? What does ‘in the way’ mean? It is one of the few times people seem relieved to talk about my gay identity. I’m a fat woman. There are lots of reasons why, but it shouldn’t matter. I am ‘in the way’ because I deserve to take up space. I’m not obligated to make myself fit, whether it be into cisgender heteronomative standards or my weight. I grew up a pretty scrawny kid, a combination of genetics and poverty dooming me to a life of unpredictable food sources. Sometimes the gambling gods sent us lots of food and sometimes, nothing. But, I was definitely skinny. In 4th grade, we had to create food diaries. Several times during that project I ate a handful of stale popcorn for breakfast with a glass of water. My teacher was more concerned with counting this as a starch than in making sure I was being fed at least while I was in her care. In 7th grade, I begged my parents to sign us up for the school lunch program. The bullying in the lunchroom was intense, so I tried to take something from home as often as possible. I knew the other kids who ‘took’ their lunch and felt safer sitting among them. That’s what led me one morning
in eighth grade to stand in our living room comforting my sobbing father because there was no food in the house and the lunch program tickets had run out. The money had run out or, more precisely, had been spent on gambling and alcohol. But I was comforting him because that’s how it worked when I was a 13-year-old. I made do; I made my parents feel better, and I made sure to not overshare with extended family because I knew they wouldn’t actually help us. In ninth grade, I realized no one in my household liked yogurt or granola bars so I added those to the weekly shopping list and ensured myself a consistent, if boring, lunch for the entire school year. Once I began earning my own money, I realized that cheap junk food was another way to fill the meal gaps. I bought generic spaghettios, powdered soup packets and big bags of pasta with my paychecks. At the end of my freshman year of college, my father criticized me for gaining the fabled “Freshman Fifteen,” and I felt shame, even despair. It took me years to acknowledge that this had been the first time I had access to decent meals three times a day for more than eight months. Sure, I ate my share of junk food, but I was secretly enamored with the balanced meals and the daily salad bar. Most people would say that they just wanted me to be healthy. But healthy would have been easier to achieve if those same judgemental people had acknowledged the addictions, untreated mental health issues and violence that haunted my family for generations. What if they had simply noticed that we didn’t eat every day and that our access to other health resources was precarious at best? I call bullshit on anyone deciding what is healthy for other people without asking them, even kids.
A few years ago, one of my niblings (nephew/niece + sibling) was quite distraught about calories, particularly the calories his sister was eating as a snack. I asked him what the worst outcome could be and he blurted out, “She’ll be fat” and then quickly covered his mouth with his hands as he looked at me. I assured him that being fat isn’t even on the top 20 list of worst things that could happen and reminded him that I was fat. He stared at me; my heart broke for him as he struggled with this internalized fatphobia and his love for me. I can’t undo those messages that still torment him, but I can be present, be in the way with my fatness as an adult who resists these distorted messages and the lasting harm they inflict on kids. I’m now a fat adult whose family has regular access to food. Being fat is not a state of sinfulness or shame. And even though I shared examples from my childhood, it isn’t simply a legacy of growing up in poverty. It
is my armor, my body’s protection doing the job that so many adults in my life failed to do. I occupy this space and fill it with my intersecting identities as a queer, disabled, white, cis woman who is fat and in the way. That’s how I get my needs met and stand in solidarity with other bodies that don’t fit the conventional status. Get your Fat, Gay & in the Way shirt from the queer and trans owned printershop Etna Print Circus. For more body positive links and stories, follow me on Twitter @Pghlesbian24
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Patrick Jordan, left, and Gabriel King as the brothers at the center of Sam Shepard’s True West
BAREBONES PRODUCTIONS TAKES ON THE SAM SHEPARD CLASSIC
BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
he American West has a mystical draw that has defined its history. People throughout history have made the journey west in search of better opportunities. But the West Coast is a place of many faces with cultural oases surrounded by harsh and barren landscapes. That’s the inspiration for the works of the great playwright, Sam Shepard. Shepard’s 1980 play True West is the latest show from Bare Bones Productions and opens on September 6. The Braddock-based theater company has, with founder and artistic director Patrick Jordan at the helm, produced dozens of shows over the past 16 years, many of them plays never done before in Pittsburgh. For Jordan, True West is a classic of the American stage. “I think it’s just this perfectly
distilled little diamond of a play,” says Jordan. “It’s funny, it’s scary, it’s visceral, it punches you in the gut, but you find yourself laughing throughout the whole thing.” Shepard’s work is known for its surrealist elements and critical view of American culture, often viewed through the lens of characters living on the fringes of society. True West indeed carries these trademarks, telling the story of estranged brothers Austin, a well-educated Hollywood screenwriter, and Lee, a drifter drawn to life in the desert. The play digs into the many cultural facets of American life through their clashing personalities, a sibling rivalry taken to extremes. “Sam Shepard was wanting to write a play about duality, and how that’s a very real thing for people,” Jordan says. “The play talks about
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what’s true and false about American culture, and I feel like now is the perfect time to have a conversation about that, especially when people are having a hard time figuring out what’s true and false.” The play is one Jordan has had his eye on for quite some time, but has been unable to successfully stage for one reason or another. The death of Sam Shepard in 2017, as well as the passing of Jordan’s colleague, mentor, friend and one of the city’s greatest actors, Bingo O’Malley in June 2019, brought the play to the forefront for Jordan. True West was the last show Jordan talked with O’Malley, about producing before his death. “We had a mini-production meeting with him a few days before he passed about this show,” Jordan says. “That added to the fire that we
had to do this play right now.” In addition to directing the production, Jordan will be on stage as well, playing the desert-living brother, Lee. He will play opposite Gabriel King as screenwriter Austin, someone Jordan has worked alongside in the past. “This is the third show we’ve worked on together, so we’ve got a built-in rapport and we know what to expect from each other,” Jordan says. “It’s almost like a family-thing.” Rounding out the cast is Randy Kovitz as Saul, a Hollywood producer, and Heidi Mueller Smith as the mother of Austin and Lee. Kovitz also directed the play’s fight scenes. Just as crucial to a production as a strong cast is a talented crew, which True West definitely brings to the table. Lighting design is managed by veteran technician Andrew David Ostrowski, known for his prolific work with Pittsburgh City Theatre. Sound design is in the hands of Dave Bjornson, who has worked with Bare Bones on several past shows. Stage manager Brittany Spinelli also worked previously with Jordan, managing Bare Bones 2018 production of Taylor Mac’s “Hir.” Finally, the set was designed by Tony Ferrieri, who was the 2018 recipient of the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award, recognizing his 40-year career in set design. With a powerhouse cast and crew, Jordan hopes that audiences will enjoy the theater experience they have in Braddock, and knows it will be a unique, truly Bare Bones show that everyone can relate to. “Everyone’s gonna take something different,” Jordan said. “Our production’s going to be different, it will be very much ours.”
runs from September 6-29. Go to barebonesproductions.com for show dates and tickets.
CAPTCHA by Lizzy Lubitsky at Bunker Brojects.
LIZZY LUBITSKY EXPLORES TECH AND ART IN CAPTCHA AT BUNKER PROJECTS
izzy Lubitsky, Bunker Projects’ latest artist-inresidence, didn’t know Pittsburgh’s history with CAPTCHA, or Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart, before creating an entire show based on it. “I kind of love that it just was something that was really resonating with me, these random combinations of words that are sometimes like, ‘Just before you fill out this document, could you tell me which one of these is a bus?’” she says. Combining sculpture, Arduino motors and interactive elements, Lubitsky’s Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart — CAPTCHA for short — interprets the test through absurd, Rube Goldberg-esque machinery. The term CAPTCHA is credited to Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists Manuel Blum, Nicholas J. Hopper, John Langford
BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM and Luis von Ahn, who coined it in 2003. CAPTCHA in its earliest iteration, used garbled text to filter out spambots from humans. “I took it out of the visual context and kind of introduced into this 3D world that still requires a person to function,” she says. CAPTCHA uses three abilities that only humans can understand: invariant recognition, or the ability to recognize the variation in the letter shape; segmentation, or the ability to separate one letter from another; and parsing, which is analyzing something based on its context. Lubitsky’s exhibit focuses specifically on parsing, which she connects to culture itself. “I think that we as people should be stepping back and analyzing ourselves within our context of technology and how we’re letting it move the way we grow up and interact with each other specifically,” she says. Lubitsky’s machines only require a quarter. Put in your change, turn
the handle, and watch as a stream of water moves from one tank to another. Or, watch as three lamps turn on in succession. The machines can’t function without the human element. “We are so integrated with technology, so it’s only natural that we continue to form different relationships with technology,” she says. According to Lubitsky. She’s not an engineer, and began incorporating technology into her practice slowly, beginning with creating impractical light sources or creating a light source that manipulated the color of water. “That’s where I kind of wanted to learn how to integrate simple lighting systems or triggers or just collect data from the actual happening now and then create a response to it,” she says. Lubitsky says this hands-on approach helped her master learning the tech behind her art. “It didn’t make any sense but just
the more you practice it, the more it makes sense,” she says. “It’s cool to be able to be like, ‘Oh my gosh I could just wire this to that and nothing will explode.’” Lubitsky graduated from Temple with a BFA in sculpture in 2018. She says it’s refreshing to make tech-inspired art thanks to humans advocating for emerging artists, especially so early in her career. “You graduate art school with your super high in demand sculpture degree and then you’re like, ‘What’s going to happen now?’” she says. “It feels really good to have such a supportive community here in Pittsburgh.”
LIZZY LUBITSKY. Completely
Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA). Beginning Sept. 6 through the end of the month. 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. www. bunkerprojects.org
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | 21
News N’at at Steel City Improv Theater.
NEWS N’AT BREAKS NEWS AND BARRIERS BY COMBINING LOCAL JOURNALISM WITH COMEDY
BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ike Kauffman and the rest of the News N’at team, like the local papers who inspire them, are figuring out how to leverage a print product with digital presence in today’s world. “We might have to say, ‘We’re going to take online articles, so tweet an article at us” or ‘Share something with us and we’ll bring it up.’ We might have to use a projector and bring it up on the screen or something. These are all things we’re thinking about,” he says. News N’at is a monthly improv show at Steel City Improv Theater in Shadyside, using news articles from local papers as inspiration for longform improvisational scenes. As a local journalist who does improv, this show panders to me specifically. I first began my improv journey last year after taking a free sample class at SCIT, hoping to turn my irreverent and increasingly unbearable Twitter presence into something more productive. As I took classes and performed with house teams, I learned that improv informs my abilities as a journalist. I’m able to quickly establish
emotional relationships with sources, which is important when covering intense situations. I can come up with better questions on the fly. I’m more confident throwing myself into potentially dangerous situations in the name of journalism, like riding the Steel Curtain. Improv has made me a better person and communicator, and thus a pretty decent journalist. The News N’at form is different from traditional improv forms. Instead of giving the performers a suggestion, audience members pick clips from a table — sometimes printed out, sometimes cut from the papers themselves — and pin them to a closeline hanging on a stage wall before the show. After performing an opening scene — the second show featured slo-mo running while sweaty, blazer-clad performers held newspapers, which is very accurate to what happens here at the Current — the performers grab the clips from the wall and read the headline and story until someone initiates a scene by walking onstage. News N’at is truly a show by improvisers with local news in mind. A Post-Gazette story about bikelines
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mentioning Mayor Bill Peduto’s monikers of “Bike Lane Billy” and “Bicycle Bill” turns into a scene about new nicknames for Peduto in order to rebrand. A story about property tax increases in the North Hills leads to the improvisers riffing on the IRS. Even I’m not safe from the show, where my story about a Downtown dream-inspired art show is turned into a meta dream-withina-dream scene. Although there are some local stories that are inherently funny — take the alligators in Carrick or the saga of Darlene Harris, for example — those stories end up being the hardest to execute, according to Kauffman. “When you have something that is already funny, you don’t want to act it out exactly as the story goes,” he says. “You have to be extra clever and try to add your spin on it or take it in a different direction that the audience didn’t expect.” Kauffman has reached out to other local journalists to see the show, but allegedly I am the only one who has shown up. According to Kauffman, he hopes that changes.
“I hope that no one thinks that we’re we’re poking fun at their journalism,” he says. “I think all we’re doing is using their journalism to inspire comedy and find the comedy in and in these articles.” The show uses local journalism to make it more appealing to audiences, Kauffman says, so they can have a truly unique experience. But, as a local journalist watching the show, it’s nice to see that your work has an impact, even in a small way. It’s even nicer to see local journalism being championed and appreciated at a time when it’s not. And, as a local journalist who does improv, this improv show about local journalism is a mix of my two passions — comedy and journalism — that sometimes seem at odds with each other. I never thought I’d be taken seriously as a journalist if I was funny. It works with News N’at, which means it can work for me, too.
Sept. 7, 8 p.m. Steel City Improv Theater, 5950 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside. $10. www. steelcityimprov.com
my mind. I knew several people who had become very relaxed with the idea that suicide was, or could very well be, the way they were going to end it all. None of them were threatening. None were in an emergency situation. None were even screaming for help. It wasn’t that. But I knew people who had come to a certain acceptance of this possibility of suicide. That was very troubling. And that’s why the book starts out the way it does. At first, I thought ‘The Friend’ was the mentor. By the end, I was thought the titular friend was Apollo. Did you know you were going to write about a dog? The idea of somebody doing that -- her becoming the caretaker of this dog -- it really came later. But I love animals and I always wanted to write something that had an animal as an important character. There’s one more person people seem to forget about when they’re talking about The Friend: the narrator. She turns out to be a helluva friend. The narrator muses at multiple times throughout, “There is a certain kind of reader who is thinking, but does something bad happen to the dog?” I am one of those readers. Everyone is. Sigrid Nunez. Photo by: Marion Ettlinger
‘THE FRIEND’ SIGRID NUNEZ NOVEL CENTERS ON GRIEF, FRIENDSHIP AND A REALLY LARGE DOG
BY JODY DIPERNA - PITTSBURGH CURRENT LIT WRITER JODY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
igrid Nunez’ novel, The Friend (Riverhead Books), winner of the 2018 National Book Award, is hard to describe. It is the story of a woman taking in the dog of a close friend after his death, but it is also a rich examination of a very fully lived interior life. It is a novel about grief and friendship, about Rilke and Virginia Woolf, about the changing role of writers, about suicide and trauma. And, yes, it is about caring for a very large dog in a very small
New York apartment. The author of numerous books, including A Feather on the Breath of God and For Rouenna, Nunez spoke to the Current via telephone from her home in New York. Answers have been edited for length. This is a book about the death of a really good friend -- a grief that is often overlooked. Can you talk about how you started this novel? There were certain things on
What is it that so horrifies us when an animal is harmed? I was very struck by the Robert Graves quote [about the trenches of WWI] and seeing the corpses of horses. He said, it’s all very well for human beings to have gotten themselves in this mess, but then to drag the animals in, it just didn’t seem right. There is this innocence that we all have and we pass out of. Whereas animals remain in that innocent state. To abuse them or see them suffer, it can feel particularly barbaric because it’s an innocent being. I don’t think it’s warped. I worked hard on that because I felt it was a difficult argument. I don’t think it means anything bad about
the human heart. I think it’s quite positive: it speaks quite well for the human heart, not something misanthropic or perverted. The way that the narrator and Apollo sort of sniff around each other is really lovely. You refer to them as two solitudes that protect and border and greet each other. That’s from Rilke. It’s something I’ve known and had in my head for a very long time. Isn’t this Rilke’s definition of love, even though it’s not at all what Rilke had in mind? That’s the thing about her being a literary person. That thought would only occur to somebody who loves literature, who loves Rilke, who has these thoughts at her fingertips. Otherwise I think it would have been not authentic. She drops a Mary Oliver in there, too. Yes, yes! Also very much of a dog person. When I was writing this, I reread all of Mary Oliver’s dog poems. In some ways, the book is the craft of writing and getting in the mind of a writer. Can talk about that? I had this certain sensibility, this certain consciousness in mind. She is very isolated, in grief, and on the verge of a breakdown. The way this particular character looks at the world, thinks about the world, observes the world is clearly a writer. She is somebody who takes references from books read and writers loved. It would have been so false not to just go there. What she is doing, besides walking the dog, is thinking. Her interiority is the main character. So I just let myself go in that way. It seemed a little bit like a gift.
will speak on Monday, September 23rd at 7:30 at the Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | 23
MUSIC ROCK OF AGES
Pittsburgh’s 1990’s Rock Powerhouses Are Seeing a Resurgence
BY BETHANY RUHE - PITTSBURGH CURRENT ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BETHANY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM The Pittsburgh live rock scene during the mid-90s and early aughts was something special. The air wafting off the Mon contained music magic and it spread itself far and wide, producing a spate of musicians, producers and venues that shaped the sound of the city for the next 20 years. If you weren’t here for it, or weren’t born yet, fear not! Great music never truly goes away, and some of the best rock bands of that era are either still making music, or thinking about making more. Brownie Mary, for example, is playing a sold-out acoustic show at Club Cafe this week. Brownie Mary was one of the most popular bands in Pittsburgh during this time. Led by lead singer Kelsey Barber (now Friday), Brownie Mary’s driving pop style was one of the auditory hallmarks of Pittsburgh in the 1990s. There was also what my musician friends called the ‘Pittsburgh guitar’, that indie/alt slap-off-the guitar sound that just made you want to move. One band that mastered that sound was Shonuff. Gene Walker was, and still is, a gifted and energetic front man. Born and raised in North Braddock, Walker started playing guitar at 14, singing at 19, eventually joining skarock outfit, Chronic Groove. After a few years, Walker linked up with three former Woodland Hills classmates in 1995 and created the soon-to-be-must-see band, Shonuff. They came out swinging, with catchy riffs and Walker’s powerhouse vocals. When I lay my head down on my pillow at night I can still hear him telling the crowd, ‘Lemme hear you say… Shonuff’, and all of us answering, ‘Shonuff’ in unison, bouncing up and down to the beat
like we were born to be there. “It was such a great time to be playing music in Pittsburgh. Everyone supported everyone. If you didn’t have a show, you were at a show to support your friends,” Walker recalls. This sentiment is echoed by Friday, “Honestly it was some of the best years of my life. The Pittsburgh music scene was so vibrant. Original. Organic. The chemistry between all of the bands, looking back, was super supportive and genuine.” Most of the big venues of that day haven’t survived the years. Metropol, Rosebud, Club Laga, Graffitti, Altar Bar and, of course, Nick’s Fat City. Nick’s Fat City is the legendary, mythical music venue on Carson Street that would roll over in its grave to see what the space has become today. Nick’s Fat City was the bar you went to when you wanted to see live rock music. It didn’t matter which day of the week it was, or who was playing, you were going to see some amazing artists. LAll of the ’90s heavyweight local bands played there and many national touring acts graced the stage. And one time, I sang backup there for Acoustic Soup. Once. Tim Gaber was there to see it all. He started out playing bass for Brownie Mary, put down his bass, started Hep Cat Productions and became the Buzz Poets’ manager. Then, one day, he accidentally became their bass player. “Their original bass player had to step away. So I said, I’m happy to fill in while you find someone.” For one reason or another, each audition fell through, and so one day Gaber “shaved my head, got earrings, and showed up to my first official Buzz
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Brownie Mary’s Kelsey Friday. (Photo: Rich Frollini/Coda Photography)
Poets gig at Nick’s Fat City.” That kicked off 8 long years of playing more than 200 shows a year, trying to “make it.” They Toured all over and had meetings in New York, but it was all just ever-so-slightly out of reach. “We got really, really close. We almost become a one hit wonder. I would have taken that,” Gaber said wistfully. “You can go out and tour any time you want to on the strength of that one song.” We are talking at a sidewalk table outside of Gaber’s Pittsburgh Winery, a winery and tasting room in the Strip District. If you ever get the chance to talk to a Pittsburgh rock legend about the crazy days of the ’90s, while also comparing Napa grapes to Sonoma grapes, I highly recommend doing so. Gaber is a man who really loves music, really loves wine and is one of the lucky few who has found a way to combine two loves into a living. The original location is undergoing renovations, one of which is to accommodate a 250-person live music venue. While this was happening, Gaber missed live music so much that he started Vine Rewind, a two-day music festival in the heart of the Strip, now in its
fourth year. One of the great features of Vine Rewind is it pairs the best of yesterday with the best of today and tomorrow. New Invisible Joy playing with Beauty Slap, Good Brother Earl paired with Buffalo Rose. Asked what venue she is most excited abouplaing , Brownie Mary’s Friday says, without hesitation, “The Pittsburgh Winery. I’m hoping it’s back up and running soon. Tim Gaber just gets it.’ (It also bears mentioning, not everyone’s favorite venue was Nick’s. For Friday’s money it was “Graffiti... hands down.”) Brownie Mary’s show at Club Cafe this week is sold out, but this will not be your last chance to see them, so please don’t cry. They do try to get together a few times a year to play. Gabner mentioned some Buzz Poets material that never got recorded that he’s been thinking about. Even Walker mentioned that Shonuff enjoyed their ‘farewell’ gig at the Nick’s Fat City reunion concert so much that they’re mulling over doing something next year. Either way, you can’t go wrong. That rock magic is back in the Mon air.
like the perfect place for a budding artist. It’s not overwhelmingly crowded like some big cities yet there are still many opportunities and experiences that allow for growth to happen. There is also so much hidden talent here! Growing up I always thought the best musicians would surely be in the biggest cities but here I have found some of the most talented people I’ve ever seen. Thanks, Leila. I agree that Pittsburgh is a perfect incubator for artists to grow due in large part to ‘Goldilocks’ it’s size. Not too big, not too small. You can easily connect
FIRST/LAST BY HUGH TWYMAN - PITTSBURGH CURRENT FEATURED WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM Editor’s Note: Starting today, each issue of the Pittsburgh Current will feature an exclusive edition of Hugh Twyman’s trademark, First/Last column.
The first album you ever bought? Insomniac by Green Day. Your last album bought? Revenge of the Dreamers III by
For more Leila Rhodes: facebook. com/leilarhodesmusicpage. Hugh Twyman (AKA HughShows) has been documenting the Pittsburgh music scene since 2004. His website (www.hughshows.com) features a comprehensive Pittsburgh Concert Calendar, episodes of HughShowsTV, a newly launched public Pittsburgh music database, exclusive audio steams from local bands, thousands of his concert photos and his trademark First/Last interview series.
LANDMARKS PRESERVATION RESOURCE CENTER
Casanova Way by Leila Rhodes
eila Rhodes is a Pittsburgh based singer-songwriter and guitarist who produces all of her music herself. Everything. Combining elements of the blues, hip-hop, alternative rock and electronica, she redefines the musician as an artist by bringing a fresh and personal approach to the craft of making music. She recently released her debut album, Casanova Way, this past summer and will be on the bill for the latest installment of The Girlie Show along with Jessica Rosario and Liss Victory on Friday, September 20 at Hambone’s (4207 Butler St.) in Lawrenceville. I want to thank Leila for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.
with other musicians and find that the opportunities to do that are incredibly exciting.
Dreamville. Favorite album of all time? Off the Wall by Michael Jackson. Least favorite/most disappointing album? N/A. First concert attended? Red Hot Chili Peppers at Consol Energy Center in 2010. Last concert? Wiz Khalifa at Key Bank Pavilion in July 2019. Favorite concert ever? It is a tie between Red Hot Chili Peppers and Janet Jackson.
- A Program of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation JOIN US AT THE LANDMARKS PRESERVATION RESOURCE CENTER FOR ONGOING PROGRAMMING ON ARCHITECTURE, HISTORY, DESIGN, URBAN PLANNING, AND OTHER TOPICS RELATED TO HOW CITIES FUNCTION AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION AS A TOOL OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
6:00 P.M. TO 7:30 P.M.
LECTURE: 1969: A REVOLUTIONARY YEAR IN PITTSBURGH PRESENTER: MARK HOUSER In this lecture, Mark Houser takes a detailed look at two civil rights struggles that reached their boiling point in Pittsburgh 50 years ago. These struggles saw black activists shut down construction sites at the former Three Rivers Stadium and at the former U.S. Steel Building, while feminists picketed the former Pittsburgh Press newspaper in a battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Mark will also discuss other significant and quirky anecdotes about Pittsburgh history. For example: what happened to the person who drove off the Bridge to Nowhere — and survived! About the presenter: Mark Houser is a frequent Pittsburgh Magazine contributor who writes and speaks about Pittsburgh history. You can find more stories at his website, HouserTalks.com.
THIS LECTURE IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC. RSVPS ARE APPRECIATED: MARYLU@PHLF.ORG OR 412-471-5808 EXT, 527.
Least favorite concert? N/A. Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh? I love my city because it seems
744 REBECCA AVENUE - WILKINSBURG, PA 15221 412-471-5808 PITTSBURGH CURRENT | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | 25
BAT ZUPPEL CLOSES THE DOOR ON ‘MIRROR|RORRIM’ WITH A VISUAL FLOURISH
BY MEG FAIR - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MANAGING EDITOR MEG@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
here’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs in your mind when your brain gets stuck on a person. Be it a freshly separated partner or an eyecatching mysterious stranger, you see them everywhere. You see their characteristics in everything. It can make you question your own reality, that eerie sense of someone being both everywhere and nowhere. It can make you question what ‘real’ actually even means at all. This dazed, dream-like existential crisis is audibly captured by the fuzzed out, slightly sinister track “Suspicion” by grungy psychedelic rock band Bat Zuppel, from its 2018 release MIRROR|RORRIM. Just shy of a year from the album’s release, the band is releasing a music video that takes this phenomenon and brings it to visual life through a western lens.
A group of cowboys (played by the members of Bat Zuppel) go about their day-to-day business, but one of these cowfolk, played by singer and guitarist Zach Bronder, keeps seeing a mysterious stranger everywhere. But is she real? Is she a figment of the cowboy’s overactive imagination? Played by Karisa Sosnoski, this mysterious ‘Her’ is haunting and charming, a spectre whose intentions never quite clear. The director, producer and editor Ben Hammock wanted these kinds of mind games and psychological tangle to be at the forefront of the video. “He’s seeing her in places. There’s this idea of, is this him being insane? Did she ever exist? Does she exist now? Is she somewhere else? Is she there? The more I started getting into the idea of the questions, we wanted to maximize the questions.”
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The result is a disorienting, dreamy black and white video with spacious landscapes, fireside scenes and an open-ended conclusion for the viewer to interpret in their own way. The music video was shot at Victory Stables in Apollo, PA. The band had been photographed there several months before shooting the video for promotional pictures taken by Shauna Miller. When coming up with a concept for the next video, the stables and land came instantly to mind. “We thought the photos looked awesome, but we didn’t immediately think of the music video,” says Bronder. “[Guitarist Spencer Geer] and I had been texting, and we were like, ‘We should do a video with the cowboy concept. That’s when we took it to Ben.” Hammock then storyboarded and built out the concept with his wife Sarah. When it came time to shoot, original photographer Miller joined the crew alongside Andre Pavlinko
who had worked with Bat Zuppel on a prior music video for the song “Deja.” Over the course of a weekend the band received a crash course in horse riding from Sandy Hobbs, one of the owners of the stables, and set off on its western adventure surrounded by cameras and drones for two 14 hour long days of shooting. After all those hours of shooting and editing, the release of the video for “Suspicion” is a visual punctuation to the album cycle of MIRROR|RORRIM. The band sets off in October to record its next full-length, and the experience of producing such an intense visual has Bat Zuppel inspired to do more music videos for its next release. The video will be viewable at PostTrash.com at 10 a.m. on September 6th.
MONTREAL’S BIG|BRAVE BRINGS EXISTENTIAL TENSION AND HEAVY RIFFS TO ROBOTO
BY IAN THOMAS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
t’s tempting to say that the fourth release from Montreal’s Big|Brave, A Gaze Among Them, finds the band at its most accessible, but the truth is it just finds itself particularly in sync with the times. The experimental trio’s sound has emulated pulsing dread since its debut in 2012. In 2019, don’t we all? With song titles like “Body Individual” and “This Deafening Verity,” Big|Brave’s latest seems to channel the alienation and depressing inevitabilities of modern life. The ability to find nuance within its massive sound (and within the silences) has always been what made Big|Brave so emotionally resonant. They lean into that playbook on A Gaze Among Them. The arrangements are minimal, magnifying the spaciousness and putting the elements that comprise the whole into a greater state of conflict. Robin Wattie’s confident vocals hit the ear as invocations to some transcendent state, weaving disparate elements like churning riffs and plodding beats into something cohesive, if reassuringly off-kilter. Guest appearances by Thierry Amar of Godspeed You! Black Emperor on contrabass and producer/engineer Seth Manchester on synth overdubs accentuate without distracting
from the central guitar and drum arrangement. For all the heaviness of A Gaze Among Them, the moments in which Big|Brave sidestep the genre tropes of heavy music are the most compelling. The band will build tension through persistent, heavy riffs a la typical doom metal fare. Rather than release that tension with crashing finality, Big|Brave will end a phrase with an intimate flourish, like a small breath of synth. In denying the release, the band offers something more true to the lived experience and its frequent lack of satisfying resolution. That’s not to say A Gaze Among Them is a drag. There is joy in the sheer emotiveness of the album. Fans of the band’s Southern Lord label mates Sunn0))) will find a different wavelength of a shared sonic spectrum in Big|Brave. If the punishing, monolithic drone of Sunn0))) speaks to the eternal and the maximal, Big|Brave’s fractured staccato addresses the precariousness of the day-to-day.
live music & dance, axe throwing, genealogy, kid's activities, Irish Marketplace, Celtic Cuisine & beverages, & so much more!
BIG|BRAVE WITH WISTERIA, FLOWER CROWN, REQUIEM. 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13. The Mr. Roboto Project, 5106 Penn Ave., Friendship. $10. All ages. www. therobotoproject.com PITTSBURGH CURRENT | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | 27
Current Comics Rob Jones
18 | OCT. 23, 2018 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
by Andrew Schubert
Phineus: Teen Wizard
By Barry Linck
Â© Barry Linck phinmagic.net
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | OCT. 23, 2018 | 19
Best in Show
By Phil Juliano
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | OCT. 23, 2018 | 21
Heroineburgh By H-Burgh and Zeus
Sucks to Be an Animal
By Sienna Cittadino
CARTOONISTS CARTOONISTS WANTED WANTED pittsburgh current is looking for local artists who would like to have their comics featured on our twice-monthly funny pages.
20 | OCT. 23, 2018 | PITTSBURGH CURRENTemail: email@example.com
Anthony and Lee Anne of Antney’s Ice Cream near Green Tree (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
AFTER OWNERS’ HEALTH SCARE ANTNEY’S ICE CREAM IS REOPENING IN SEPTEMBER
nthony Ciotti, co-owner of Antney’s Ice Cream in Green Tree along with his wife Lee Anne, thought he felt some plain old indigestion pain one day in late May. He had been going to the doctor for that already, and Lee Anne had actually gone into cardiac arrest the previous month. When he got to the hospital, he
BY MATT PETRAS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM learned he needed heart bypass surgery. And, surprisingly, when he spoke to me about it, he seemed a little gleeful. “What a neat process though, Matt. I’ll tell you,” he says. “I’d do it again. I wouldn’t want my chest open, but, just going to the catheter, you’re seeing your heart, they’re pumping all the ink in it, the dye.
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You’re talking to the cardiologist. It was like a party.” I told him I’d imagine most people I know wouldn’t describe it that way. “Oh my God was it interesting,” he says. “Honest to God.” But since the couple has been put through the ringer recently, the store has been closed for much of the
summer. However later this month, they’re reopening the shop. Known for its long list of eclectic flavors, this beloved Pittsburgh-area ice cream shop will be entering its eighth season of operation. The couple decided to start their own business after running two Rita’s Italian Ice locations. Anthony learned the art of ice cream At
any given time, Antney’s offers 16 constantly changing flavors. There are perhaps more than 500 flavors total at this point, Anthony says. New flavors include chocolate milk and cookies and ruby chocolate, which Anthony says has been referred to as “the fourth chocolate.” “It tastes like milk chocolate with a background note of a little bit of fruit and then a sour taste at the end, you get,” he says. The 58-year-old Anthony makes all of the ice cream in-house from scratch with milk, sugar and cream. It goes into a freezer overnight, then into a cooler, then into the dipping boxes where it’s served to customers. Though it’s not yet open, Anthony has been going down to the shop to just make ice cream - he says it takes about two weeks of preparation to get ready. He took a course in ice cream making at Penn State
University, whose Creamery is often credited with some of the best ice cream in the state. Antney’s employs about 10 people. A few teenagers went off to college, but the rest will be returning to work once they’re back in action. “We were gonna probably stay closed, but you know what… all the customer response we had was unbelievable,” Anthony says. “I couldn’t describe how great they were.” They’ve been updating their customers about their health and the status of the shop through their Facebook page. Support in the form of social media comments, reviews and likes have predictably come flooding in, but the couple has also received gifts from customers like food and cards. The couple appreciates this support, as they’ve been stuck in hospitals a lot recently. When
chatting with Pittsburgh Current, the couple was at the beginning of a five-hour day at a hospital. During her last appointment, Lee Anne met with a slew of doctors, including a nutritionist, physical therapist and occupational therapist. “I’m excited to see what kind of information they’ll give me today,” Lee Anne says. Anthony glowed with appreciation for the doctors who have helped them throughout the process. “Even just the anesthesiology people, they were all great, terrific,” Anthony says. “I was at Upper St. Clair, and Lee Anne was at Mercy. Even at Mercy, they treated her like, you know, it was unbelievable what they do down there.” Despite all of the time spent at the hospital and all of the serious tests and procedures, the couple is doing well.
“All the doctors are impressed with our progress,” Anthony says. “I mean, they said I should have been dead three times, and Lee Anne should be in a nursing home now.” Lee Anne needed immediate help after she suffered a heart attack. Anthony was impressed by that help, too. “Thank God for the first responders, the city firefighters,” Anthony says. “They revived her, and then off to the hospital she went.” They’re eager to get back to work. They keep the business going because of just how enjoyable it is, Anthony says. “It’s just the fun of it,” he says. “You have fun with the customers. You have fun with the employees. “The customer base and then our employees are all coming back. It’s like nothing even happened, almost.”
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | 29
Arvin Clay. Current photo by Gab Bonesso.
THIS TASTES FUNNY: LUNCH WITH ARVIN CLAY AT DOCE TAQUERIA
BY GAB BONESSO - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
feel the need to start this week’s This Tastes Funny with a slight disclaimer. The comedian being featured is a very close friend of mine named Arvin Clay. How close are we? He often casually throws around the phrase, “I wouldn’t even be doing standup comedy if I didn’t stumble into your Brillobox show. It was Valentine’s Day 2016, I’ll never forget.” Clay has been doing standup comedy since May 2016, but he’s been a part of Pittsburgh’s art scene since the late ’90s. He’s been a goth DJ, a photographer, and a horror film makeup artist specializing in silicone. He even co-authored a book on the subject! And these are just a few of the cool professions he has had through the years. When I asked him to be this week’s lunch date, I had a feeling that he’d want to have lunch at Taco Bell. Truthfully, I have only ever shared a meal with Arvin at Taco Bell. I assumed it was the only food he ate. I guess things have changed now that some new information has been released about Taco Bell and its Political Action Committee donations.
“Donald Trump is so awful he’s taken chalupas from us!” Clay says. “Taco Bell had a PAC. A PAC, Gab! They gave all of their money to the Trump campaign. Who knew that a corporation that was built on culturally appropriating Mexican food would be so against immigration?” No more Taco Bell, gotcha! Arvin suggested Doce Taqueria in the South Side. It has the same fast food vibe, but without (hopefully) funding Trump’s campaign. It’s probably already clear that Arvin’s comedy treads into political waters. He told me early on that his biggest hesitation with starting standup was that the last thing comedy needed was another white, straight, cisgender, male voice. He explained that if he was going to do it, he had to speak up and out for marginalized voices. He tells me that most of the open mics around town can be a frustrating experience, with white dudes recycling the same material. Clay goes off on a rant, “If I have to hear another large man repeat the same joke about lifting up their arms and their shirt raises above their belly, but doesn’t fall back down
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after dropping their arms, I’m going to lose my mind!” At a recent open mic, Clay says a comedian spent his entire time complaining about a woman before publicly calling for her to be sexually assaulted. My chin hits the Doce Taqueria counter. He says, “It got worse. The guy then said that he doesn’t even like women, but he’d like to rape her.” At this point, flies were entering my wide open mouth because I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. I didn’t even understand what the punchline was supposed to be. It was horrifying to hear. Clay says this kind of behavior is why he’s looking to move to New York City. He says it’s the only place where he can grow professionally. He doesn’t plan on becoming rich and famous, but he’d like to be able to work as a comic part-time at the very least. Our food arrives. Clay ordered two vegetarian tacos that look way better than Taco Bell. I ordered a Walking Taco. I had my choice of chips and my choice of protein, so I went with Cool Ranch Doritos and vegetarian toppings (because I’m hella healthy). We devoured our food in minutes. It was so delicious and so fresh and so fast. Like, way faster than Taco Bell which is allegedly “fast food.” Talk about false advertising. I wanted to know if Clay finds
performing political comedy extra frustrating here in Western PA. I was curious if he felt the need to avoid it at certain shows depending on the audience. “I don’t avoid it because I can’t, but I definitely try to read the audience and deliver it in a way that we all can live with,” he says. “I say my piece, but I don’t do it in a way that criticizes who they are. It’s something that I’ve watched you do time and time again. Read the room and adjust your material. Don’t cut, edit.” We both agree that it’s really hard to avoid being at least somewhat political in today’s climate. He speaks the truth. As we finish our lunch, the place begins filling up with people. There is limited seating and everyone is looking at us like, “if you’re done eating, then get out.” But I have to ask Arvin Clay one final question. Why do you think you prefer comedy to all of your other artistic endeavours despite doing it for the least amount of time? “I have never felt any high better than the first time I got off stage,” he said. “Yes, I was using an iPad to remember my jokes, but the first time I felt someone laugh at something I wrote, I was hooked. It’s like that Monsters, Inc. bit where laughter is more powerful than being scared. If you can laugh at what scares you then you’ll be fine.”
Vegetarian Tacos from Doce Taqueria
KEEPING UP WITH PITTSBURGH’S CRAFT BEER SCENE BY DAY BRACEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CRAFT BEER WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM Aug 30, 330 p.m.: I’m in Warren, Ohio. I only come to this state for booze and sometimes to buy cheap cars. The cop pulled me over for doing 30mph in a 20mph zone. He apparently didn’t see the large truck I was driving behind, or else he would be writing two tickets. I just
hope they use this speed trap money to fix the roads. In reality, it’ll likely be spent on disproportionately policing people of color. Aug 30, 4 p.m.: After a few U turns and couple trips to a Burger King parking lot, I find Modern Methods tucked away in an artsy, dead-end alley dedicated to Dave Grohl. I’m here to meet with brewer Hannah Ferguson, one of only three employed black female brewers I’ve ever met, a real unicorn in this industry. I order a flight and hit record. Me: How did you get into brewing? HF: It’s only been about a year. My background is in home winemaking. I’ve been making wine for six years now. My stepmom has some cousins and they’ve been doing it for 30 years. So, once I started drinking wine and tried theirs, I was like, “This is way better than store bought!” After living in Orlando for a little bit, I moved back home and asked them to teach me how to do it, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Me: How did you go from wine to beer? HF: I started drinking beer in college. It was college beer, so not really the same. The first craft beer, if you can call it craft, was Blue Moon.
Hannah Ferguson. Current photo by Day Bracey.
Then someone introduced me to Great Lakes and I was like, “Ok, let me try it.” A couple of them were like eh, I wasn’t too impressed. Then I tried their Christmas ale and was like, “What is this? This is great!” After that I started following different craft beers. Me: So, How’d you get into brewing here? HF: So, we’ve only been open here for a little over a year. This was a vacant warehouse. While they were doing construction in here, I was in a leadership program with the owner’s wife. When we did retreats, I would bring wine and she would bring beer. I was like, “This is really good!” So, one day I met her husband and he talked about beer, I talked about wine, and he was like, “If you ever want to come down for a brew day and just hang out, you’re more than welcome to come.” So, I came a couple of times and brewed with them when they did double batches. And I was like, “This is actually cool.” There are some similarities to wine, but you’re actually cooking this. It’s like a giant stove. Wine just sits there. I just have to make sure it doesn’t get above 70 degrees and nothing gets in there. Me: So, how do we get more Black
people involved in the industry? HF: I think with me being from Youngstown, people are seeing me brew beer via social media and asking questions. And when I go to places, I would bring my own wine and now I bring beer. I’m like, “Try this. Get over what you think beer is. Try this and tell me what you think.” And now people are asking for it. I had a woman stop me one time and say, “I want to try Hannah beer!” I told her I just brew here. It’s none of my own recipes. She said, “I don’t care. I just want what you’ve made.” I think as people start seeing more of us doing it they will become more interested. We as an industry need to go out of our comfort zone to reach people. When events are posted, I need to be there with a jockey box. Aug 30, 8 p.m.: I stopped in Mercer, PA to get gas. As I pull out, the police officer parked in the lot pulls out as well. As soon as I hit the highway he turns his lights on. Apparently, my tints are cause enough to warrant the stop. After 30 minutes, a background check, and three sobriety tests later, I’m free to go with a warning, and a reminder of why Blacks rarely venture outside of their comfort zones for craft beer.
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | 31
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THE CAN’T MISS BY EMERSON ANDREWS & MARGARET WELSH INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM FEATURED EVENTS IN AND AROUND THE PITTSBURGH REGION
Film Pittsburgh, Unabridged Press and Point Park’s Center for Media Innovation partner to present Genevieve Clay-Smith, founder and director of Australia’s Bus Stop Films, for a talk on inclusive filmmaking both in front of and behind the camera. A reception will follow the presentation. The event is free for students and open to the public for $5, though seating is limited. 6:30 p.m. 305 Wood St. Free for students, $5 general admission. FilmPittsburgh.org or 412-426-3456 (Emerson Andrews)
Film Pittsburgh opens their ReelAbilities Pittsburgh Film Festival. Enjoy a series of short films from Sept 4 through Sept 11 featuring a diverse range of stories about individuals with disabilities. These films are award-winning and promote both awareness and appreciation. All screenings are accompanied by open captions, audio description and ASL interpretation. The venue is fully accessible. Opening night has special ticket pricing. 7 p.m. 425 Cinema Dr. $8 for students, $12 general admission. 412-426-3456 or firstname.lastname@example.org (Emerson Andrews)
Author Jeff Gordinier brings his memoir Hungry to Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures for a conversation with chef Sonja Finn and Post-Gazette food & features writer Dan Gigler. The memoir follows his journeys around the globe with Danish chef René Redzepi of Noma. A book signing will follow the lecture, and copies of Gordinier’s current book will be available for purchase. 7 p.m.
4400 Forbes Ave. $10. 412.622.8866 or email@example.com (Emerson Andrews)
Contemporary Craft holds a workshop with Daniel Baxter, the creator of Kreepy Doll Factory. Learn basic sewing skills and make a 3D doll while enjoying complimentary drinks. Ticket price includes two beverages, and attendees must be 21 or older. 6 p.m. 2100 Smallman St. $35. 412-261-7003 or klydon@ contemporarycraft.org (Emerson Andrews)
When Mac Miller died at age 26 on September 7 of last year, it was a tragic loss for the hip-hop community as a whole, but it was especially felt here in Miller’s home town. A year later, Mac is on the minds of Pittsburghers. There are several events happening around town to honor him, including a memorial benefit hosted by Philly-based independent label Chinga Chang Records and CLOCKWORKDJ, Miller’s long-time DJ and friend, who will be playing the rapper’s music and showing screenings of live performances on Saturday, Sept. 7. The celebration of the artist’s life – which is supported by his parents, Karen and Mark McCormick – will benefit the Mac Miller Fund, which provides resources and programming to underserved youth. Chinga Chang will donate $19.92 for every dollar donated by event attendees. 7 p.m. The Spot Etc, 11675 Frankstown Rd., Penn Hills. www.chingachang.com (Margaret Welsh)
insider tour of Meadowcroft Rockshelter. Dr. Adovasio first excavated the Rockshelter in 1973, and it is the oldest site of human habitation in North America. Pre-registration for the tours are required as space is limited. 10 a.m. 401 Meadowcroft Rd. Avella. $30 general admission. heinzhistorycenter.org/events Join LGBTQIA artists from around the Pittsburgh area for TQ Live! at the Andy Warhol Museum. The event is hosted by Joseph Hall, and performances include music, dance, comedy, poetry and more. Adult subject matter and language will be C O H E N
G R I G S B Y
used. 8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St. $10 for students and members, $15 general admission. 412-237-8300 or firstname.lastname@example.org (Emerson Andrews)
Shalom Pittsburgh holds their 9th Annual Apples & Honey Fall Festival. Celebrate a Sweet New Year with crafts, shofar making, vendors and more, including of course apples and honey. Raffle prizes to Omni William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Steelers and more will be available. Pre-registration is encouraged, and pre-registered
T R U S T
P R E S E N T S
S E R I E S
catapult THE AMAZING MAGIC OF SHADOW AND DANCE
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2019
7:30 PM • BYHAM THEATER 412-456-6666 • GROUPS 10 + TICKETS 412-471-6930
James M. Adovasio, Ph.D. leads an PITTSBURGH CURRENT | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | 33
participants receive double the raffle tickets for a greater chance to win. 1 p.m. 149 West Bridge St. Homestead. Free. jewishpgh.org/apples-honey (Emerson Andrews)
Mason Herberling gives a seminar at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History on “Rethinking the museum specimen in the digital age.” Admission to the lecture is free, and all attendees should tell the visitor’s desk they are there for the R.W. Moriarty Science Seminar Series. 12 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave. Free. carnegiemnh.org (Emerson Andrews) At times, Weyes Blood (a.k.a. Natalie Mering) is a vocal ringer for Karen Carpenter. Like Carpenter, the eternal queen of easy listening, Mering lulls and calms, floating along on Bert Bacharach-style orchestration and giving reformed musical theater kids something to really sing along to. But, like Carpenter, there’s more to her than pure beauty: something real, something raw occasionally catches the ear and finds its way deep into the brain. The L.A.-based singer/songwriter performs at the Rex Theater on Monday, Sept. 9. Purr opens. 8 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $15. www.rextheater.net (Margaret Welsh)
Nova Place & Faros Properties host A Taste of the Northside. Residents can sample food from local restaurants and learn more about their businesses in their community. Proceeds benefit the Northside Community Food Pantry. 11:30 a.m. 100 S Commons. $10. 412-224-5248 or novaplace.com (Emerson Andrews) In 1986, a reporter asked ZZ Top if touring ever got old. “You should see it from our side,” said guitarist Billy Gibbons. “Ain’t nothin’ old.” In 2011, I asked him if that was still true. “We’ll stand by that statement,” he said, “especially in light of recent experience where we’re seeing three generations of fans out there.” Eight years later, Billy, Dusty and
Frank head back out to celebrate 50 years of making some of the coolest, sleaziest, wild-n-wooly blues rock in history. Go see for yourself if it every gets old, from either side. The tour comes to the KeyBank Pavilion Wednesday, Sept. 11. Cheap Trick also appears. 7 p.m. 665 PA-18, Burgettstown. $25-285. www.burgettstownpavilion.net (Margaret Welsh)
A Few Good Men opens at Pittsburgh Public Theater. Running from Sept 12 through Oct 13, Aaron Sorkin’s play famously turned into a film contains the writer’s usual sharp dialogue, this time set 1986 about military lawyers and a case involving Guantanamo Bay. 8 p.m. 621 Penn Ave. $30-$80. 412-316-1600 or ppt. org (Emerson Andrews) WILD Wellness with Jenni Hulburt invites local business owners on a conversational and networking hike at 3 Rivers Outdoor Company. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. This donation-based event is in support of Tree Pittsburgh. 6 p.m. 1130 S Braddock Ave. Free. jennihulburt.com (Emerson Andrews)
rary music ensemble NAT 28, and as the co-director of the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music, Sorrell is taking the city’s musical landscape in exciting directions; with her non-traditional recital, which she’ll perform Saturday, Sept. 14 and Sunday, Sept. 15, she’s doing the same with her own instrument. Titled My Own Route –through which she tells stories by and about women – Sorrell’s performance features pieces spanning from the Baroque period up through today, as well as her own Syrinx Project, a multidisciplinary series which won Best Musical Production at the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival 2019. 8 p.m. Sept. 14 & 7 p.m. Sept 15. Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie. $15. flutist.zoesorrell. com (Margaret Welsh) The Sharpsburg Community Yard and Sidewalk Sale is a good way to either clear out your house or find some good deals. Residents can register their address as part of the event for free or reserve space at
the community lot for $5. 8 a.m. Sharpsburg. Free. email@example.com (Emerson Andrews)
The queens of Black Forge Coffee House are hosting Drag Brunch and a show. Lip-syncing and celebrity impressions will be part of the entertainment while guests can also win prizes during bingo, trivia, and other events. Seating starts at 10:30 a.m, and ticket prices vary. 11:30 a.m. 701 Chartiers Ave. McKees Rocks. $19.95 for the show, $29.95 and $44.95 for additional perks. Dragqueenparties. com (Emerson Andrews) The PGH Flea holds the first of their two planned indoor flea markets this fall. Find items and gifts of all kinds from over twenty different vendors. Drinks and brunch will also be available. 11 a.m. 242 51st St. Free. facebook.com/The.PGH.Flea (Emerson Andrews)
Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh holds a 2019 Oktoberfest Celebration. Starting Sept 13 and continuing Sept 14 and Sept 20-21, people of all ages can come enjoy the live music, activities, and naturally the food. For adults, there will be plenty of drinks to go around. Admission is free. 11 a.m. 2705 S Water Street. Free. 412224-2328 or hofbrauhauspittsburgh. com (Emerson Andrews)
The Castle Shannon Fall Festival promises fun for the whole family. Vendors, free kids activities and live music from The Flow Band will all be part of the celebration. 11 a.m. Park St. and Poplar St. Free. castleshannon.org (Emerson Andrews) Don’t miss the boat on flutist Zoe Sorrell. As the founder and artistic director of Pittsburgh’s contempo-
34 | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
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Savage Love BY DAN SAVAGE MAIL@SAVAGELOVE.NET
I don’t listen to your podcast religiously, but as soon as I told my best friend this story, she said, “That’s a question for Dan Savage!” Backstory: I have a monogamous partner who I live with. It’s a heterosexual relationship, but we are both bisexual. That little inkling of homosexuality really drew me to him when we first met. He also told me early on about his previous girlfriend, who looked like a “suicide girl” (tattoos, short skirts, dyed black hair, heavy eye makeup) but had serious issues (they had sex only 10 times in three years). I’m by no means a suicide girl. I’m pretty average looking with natural hair and no tattoos. I don’t wear makeup, and I have an affinity for baggy T-shirts and jeans. I love having sex but rarely do I present myself as “sexy.” Recently I learned that my boyfriend follows hundreds of women on Instagram, and 95 percent of them look absolutely nothing like me. (Remember the hot suicide-girl girlfriend? They mostly look like her.) It made me really upset. I felt insecure about myself. I felt distrustful of his positive comments about how I look, like he doesn’t actually think I’m sexy. It certainly doesn’t help that I want to have sex way more often than he does. He’s always “tired.” I was angry at him and instantly craving to go back to a sexual relationship with past partners who thought I was the bee’s knees. He has no idea why I would be upset. He says he feels like he’s supporting these women and that they feel “empowered” by all the men leaving comments like “Show me your boobs” and “I wanna shove my cock in you.” He says he deleted his Instagram just to make me happy, but I still feel shitty about the whole thing. Am I being oversensitive? Is he being insensitive? Could we be sexually incompatible? At this point, I’m ready to look outside of our
relationship for sexual interactions. Your Very Ordinary Instagram Girl I don’t listen to your podcast, either, YVOIG, so that makes us even. (I assume you have a podcast. Everyone does these days.) Zooming out: If we’re going to tell people they shouldn’t be so shallow as to date only their “ideal” physical types and we’re going to tell people they can learn to find a broader array of people attractive and we’re going to tell people they can find a person’s insides so attractive that they warm to their outside—and it’s mostly men people we tell these things, as women people seem less hung up on/entitled to their physical ideals—then we also need to tell people not to freak the fuck out when they stumble over evidence that they aren’t their partner’s ideal physical type. Additionally, we need to tell people that just because their partner has a particular type, that doesn’t mean their partner isn’t also attracted to them. Zooming in: You don’t have a great sex life with your boyfriend, YVOIG, as you seem to have mismatched libidos—and one partner “always” being tired isn’t a problem that gets better over time. These are both signs that you probably need to end this relationship. (Already looking outside your monogamous relationship for sexual interactions? Another sign.) But you can end things without having a meltdown about the fact that your soon-tobe-ex-boyfriend was also or usually or, hell, even exclusively with one notable exception (YOU!) attracted to “suicide girl” types. Instead of telling yourself that every compliment your soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend ever gave you was a lie, you could tell yourself that while your soon-tobe-ex-boyfriend definitely has a
type, he also found you attractive. Because you are attractive. You’re so attractive that you caught his eye despite not being his usual type. In other words, YVOIG, you don’t have to feed your self-esteem into a shredder as you end this relationship. P.S. Your soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend may have deleted his old Instagram account, but I promise you he quickly created another one. And here’s hoping your soon-to-be-exboyfriend only directs “empowering” comments like “I wanna shove my cock in you” at the kind of people on Instagram who regard those types of comments as “supportive.” They’re out there—men and women—but there are fewer of them out there than too many men, gay and straight, seem to believe there are. I’m a 28-year-old straight guy with one kink: I want to be collared and on a leash. That’s it. In private. Basically, I just want to curl up at my girlfriend’s feet with the leash in her hand. Just me on the floor next to the couch while she watches television, or me on the floor next to the bed while she reads. I’ve had three serious girlfriends, and all three laughed in my face when I told them about this. I’m dating a girl now that I like a lot, and she actually asked me if I had any kinks, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. I’m worried about her laughing in my face, too. Laughter Erases All Sexual Hopes People often have knee-jerk, sexnegative reactions to kinky requests not because they necessarily think peeing on someone or leashing someone is hopelessly perverted or disqualifying, LEASH, but because they’ve never imagined themselves peeing on someone or keeping a boyfriend on a leash. The request conjures up a mental image that conflicts with a person’s selfconception—they never thought of
themselves as the peeing-on-otherpeople or keeping-the-boyfriendon-a-leash type—and nervous laughter is a common response to that particular brand of cognitive dissonance. It would be better if people didn’t have this reaction, of course, but you should brace yourself for it, laugh/shrug it off, and then proceed to explain why this is such a turn-on for you and what’s in it for her. (It sounds like a pretty easy way for her to crank you up when she’s feeling horny.) If the reactions of the last three girlfriends left you scared and scarred, LEASH, tell your current girlfriend via text. (“Hey, remember when you asked if I had a kink? I do: being on a leash.”) Then, if her first reaction is to laugh, you won’t be there to hear it. You might get a “LOL, what?” in response, but don’t let it shut you down. Keep texting, keep it light and playful, show her that you have a sense of humor about it… and you could finally end up on that leash. On the Lovecast, we take on money AND vaginas: savagelovecast. com.
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | 35
EVERYONE ORCHESTRA featuring Pittsburgh All-Stars
BEAUTY SLAP • TITLE TOWN 1HOOD MEDIA SHOWCASE AT THE SHEETZ MAIN STAGE
September 20, 2019 • Noon-11pm • Schenley Plaza
www.thrivalfestival.com Presented by PNC 36 | SEPTEMBER 3, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
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