LOCALpittsburgh Issue #18

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ISSUE 18 p

Artist DNA with Rick Bach

a studio visit with

Brenda Stumpf

Story Telling with STEEL SMILING



Government Cheese to Government Appointee

On the move? New to town, or just a new neighborhood? If you haven’t tried transit before maybe now is the time. Port Authority has convenient and frequent service to and from the urban areas of Pittsburgh. East Liberty is the heart of the East End’s transit service. Many Port Authority bus routes use the East Busway to bypass local traffic including the P1 and P3 from East Liberty’s busway station which offer quick rides to Downtown and Oakland. Various other routes have stops on Penn Ave. and serve just about anywhere in the East End of the city. Living Downtown? You CAN get anywhere from here. You can catch a bus or T to almost anywhere in Allegheny County. Groceries in the Strip District, take the 88. For all the flavor of Lawrenceville the 91 works. Nearly all of Port Authority's 100 routes travel in and out of Downtown. For more neighborhoods go to onthemove.portauthority.org and make this town your own.

OVER 100



Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants are all around us. From local pizza joints to posh gourmet, our growing roster of more than 100 restaurants across the region offers delicious dining experiences for all palettes, at all price points. These restaurants are committed to building vibrant communities and supporting environmentally responsible practices. They love Pittsburgh and want to help you eat sustainably. But don’t take our word for it. Choose your next dining destination by using our handy Restaurant Finder at EatSustainably.org.

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info@local-pittsburgh.com PUBLISHER/ PRESIDENT Jeff Rose 412-215-6759 jrose@local-pittsburgh.com COPY EDITOR Carrie Rose CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kelli Koladish EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Christina Wells cwells@local-east.com SOCIAL MEDIA CONSULTANT Kate Dierdorf Seremet kate.seremet@outlook.com DESIGN Jake Bellaire | Graphic Designer PHOTOGRAPHY Morgan Richardson | Contributing Photographer Patrick Hogan | Contributing Photographer David Bernabo | Contributing Photographer Hayden Rose | Contributing Photographer Corrine Jasmine | Contributing Photographer Drew Kennedy | Contributing Photographer EDITORIAL STAFF Rachel Saul Rearick | Arts Editor Amanda Roszkowski | Music Editor Leah George | Living Editor Lyndsey Kramer | Food Editor Heidi Balas | Blogger Corrine Jasmine | General Assignment Writer Cedric Rudolph | General Assignment Writer Jeremy Hooper | General Assignment Writer 2

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Cover Image: Submitted after a night with friends: Trish, Tim, Jeremiah, DannieJo, Carrie & Jeff

www.local-pittsburgh @localpittsburgh @local_pgh @LocalPittsburgh


s stories


JULIUS Written by Brittany Hailer

Julius Boatwright values storytelling as a means to combat the stigma that surrounds mental health. His organization, Steel Smiling, enters Pittsburgh area neighborhoods in order to talk to residents, share stories, and offer resources.

Julius hit “share” and waited. Soon, messages and comments of overwhelming support poured in. Julius realized that he was not alone and that his community had his back. He experienced catharsis, and above all else, hope.

This year, Julius did something scary. He shared his own struggle on social media.

Over and over again his community told him that he was loved.

“As a trusted community member, I was hesitant to share this publicly for fear of being judged, ridiculed, and ostracized. At some point, I realized that suffering in silence doesn’t help any of us heal our wounds,” he wrote. In his Facebook post, Julius admitted to struggling with thoughts of suicide and other symptoms related to depression. Julius’s post also described the duality of presenting a stable exterior to the world, while struggling to maintain stability on the interior. “Those of us who may appear to be doing well externally are oftentimes crumbling on the inside. Please understand that as we’re processing traumatic events, asking for support can feel impossible,” he wrote.

At first, Julius didn’t understand the power of storytelling when he started doing this work. “The first conversation I had out on the streets, I was ridiculously nervous. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I wanted to be very, very open and transparent about my own story,” Julius said. While Julius wholly believes in clinically-sound therapeutic practices and their benefits, his training had always emphasized taking oneself out of the equation when talking to patients. Meaning, don’t tell your story. Julius realized that “as someone with lived experience, as a black male, as a mental health | Issue 18


professional, whenever I started to share my own personal experiences about myself, my friends and my current and past challenges, it was almost like magic.” He would tell his story to someone and say, “We would love to hear your story, too.” And people responded. People started talking and admitting to their struggle Steel Smiling engages folks though community conversations. The organization provides, food, music, and group sharing sessions. Julius’s journey into his work was also catapulted after a close friend lost his battle with mental illness a few years ago. To do this day, Julius carries his friend’s story, hoping to offer stability and kinship to others who are struggling. He said that Steel Smiling is an effort to honor his best friend’s

legacy. “It’s still difficult for me to really explain the impact it had and continues to have on me because grief is such a complicated process. It’s one of those life experiences that is eye-opening, grounding and inspiring all at the same time.” Julius obtained his Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. He is also certified in mental health first aid. Julius has worked as a licensed social worker, a community-based therapist and an outpatient therapist. It was working within the system that lead him to the question: “Who is doing the preventative work?” Julius wanted to empower people to become active mental health advocates and liaisons for themselves. He believes it is our duty to reach out and ask people how they are doing. It is our duty to offer empathy and understanding.

Steel Smiling is now developing an app that will help provide mental health care advocacy, awareness, and education to its users. This technological platform will start locally and regionally and better connect people to mental health resources and treatment. Steel Smiling is still in the beginning stages of development. “In the research I’ve done, I’ve realized that technology can be a really, really great tool to connect people to resources.” The mobile or web app will also help users share their stories. Julius wants the technology to be an extension of the outreach his organization provides. The technology will have the same intentionality. He wants users to feel comfortable accessing the technology and hopes it will encourage them to share their personal stories.

“Take the care and the treatment to the people” is how Julius describes Steel Smiling’s efforts. His organization isn’t providing clinical support to individuals, but instead, bridges the gap to help folks get access to treatment. But, folks also need to be educated

about that access: what is treatment like? What are mental health facilities like? What steps will you take with your therapist? Steel Smiling helps prepare future patients and guides them through their treatment process.

Steel Smiling has community conversations and awareness events planned through the rest of the year. To learn more please visit www.steelsmilingpgh.org and LIKE their Facebook Page @SteelSmilingPGH.

Julius said one of the biggest challenges is getting folks from low income areas to get treatment and stick with it. “One of the biggest problems is that when individuals come into the mental health care system to get support, if they’ve had limited exposure or education or knowledge about what to expect, they typically don’t stick with treatment for long.” Julius talked about people who get court recommended mental health treatment or those who feel “forced” to enter the system: “You don’t have the opportunity to own your story and own your process.” Steel Smiling’s meetings help individuals find a common thread and struggle within their community. And maybe a month later, a community member who attended the conversation will call Steel Smiling to finally say, “I need a therapist.”

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“Frank Frazetta was probably my earliest influence. I saw that Molly Hatchet album cover and I thought Holy Shit, what the hell is this?”

Interviewed By John Eastman Photos By Drew Kennedy


...Artist DNA

The first thing you need to understand about Rick Bach, is that you’re probably not going to understand Rick Bach. Think ultracomplex, exotic, psychedelic, high test liquid creative fuel, a storyteller, and a kind soul of a man...all rolled up into one. You haven’t lived, or perhaps thought about not living, until you’ve been in his matte black Dodge Pickup truck, flying through the beltway of Washington DC…..punk rock music blasting, maybe serving as a distraction from the swerving between other vehicles. Note: He’s totally relaxed in this moment.

“You know in AA anyone who said my worst day sober is better than my best day drunk. I’m like...those fucking people weren’t doing it right.” horses. I had like 40 horse statues in my bedroom...the whole Johnny West thing. So some guy gave my Dad a Shetland pony for painting his car, but he didn’t tell him he was a stallion which was mean because they still have their balls and you’re supposed to get a gelding for kids so the pony doesn’t murder the kids. So

There’s a lyric in the 90’s song Bittersweet Symphony from The Verve that reads, “I’m a million different people from one day to the next.” This may be an inside tract to the creative mind of Rick Bach. What’s his work output like? Imagine a firehose of paint on full throttle, aimed at a metal canvas….and let it go. Maybe he is the only one who understands, but hey, that’s OK, The collectors come to his openings, like for instance Rob Store, professor of art and former Dean of Art at Yale, and the commission’s line up, including ones from

restaurants in Pittsburgh and Washington DC. We talked in his apartment, in his studio at length, (film version coming soon), in his truck (WOW), at brunch, and just walking around DC with his beloved bulldog Ruby. E:Tell me about where you grew up, the environment there, your house, parents? RB: My parents’ house was in the little brick ranch in the county, what is now Cranberry Township. The bought it at a sheriff’s sale when they were like 19 and 17 yrs old and still live there. It was cool, four sisters, (twins) then 2 more, riding our bikes, dirt roads, minibikes. My Dad had motorcycles, it was pretty fun. There were really no other neighbor kids so it was just us. There was one family who had 5 boys but their family were all alcoholics. We were like Little House on the Prairie and who knows what was going on up there. We had a pony, the meanest pony on earth. E: His name? RB: Duke….the meanest pony on earth. My Dad painted cars and I wanted a horse because when I was little I always drew | Issue 18


E: How about other artists that influenced you? RB: Frank Frazetta was probably my earliest influence. I saw that Molly Hatchet album cover and I thought ‘Holy Shit, what the hell is this?’ This was like 1976-77 and I’d never seen anything like that. Then the second one, Flirting with Disaster, and had the guy coming through the mountains. The first one was a death dealer. It was the way he drew women, vultures, asses. I spent a lot of time in the 70’s copying that, in my own little weird way onto cars, motorcycles and vans. I’ve painted all of the major Frazetta paintings at least once. E: You had a studio in the Brewhouse Southside. How long? RB: Yes...19 years. when you tried to feed it, it would just bite your hand. It was so mean. So it finally broke my arm and back he went back to the farm. But we had a lot of animals. E: And your Dad had an auto body shop. RB: Well, he worked at VW, and then, yes, his own shop. E: Is this where you learned how to paint? RB: Kind of. I always drew. My Dad would see me drawing a car and come in and give me lessons, putting perspective lines all over it, showing me how to make a three-quarter view, and stuff like that. 8

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E: When did you exhibit for the first time? RB: Likely late 80’s in a group show. E: How about the first solo? RB: 94. It was above Groovy, on Carson Street in Southside. The exhibit was called Psychotic episodes. 96 paintings on steel, I sold like 90 of them. E: What influences are there that now show up in your work? RB: My Dad is a pretty good airbrush artist. He is a master of blending colors. I learned color, blending, depth, dimensionality, shadows from him.

E: I want to talk about the Trojan Horse work. Tell me about that. RB: Over the years I’ve always drawn horses, and then working on the Mad Mex projects I started putting them in suits. In 1999, I did a show called Two of Everything and I built a 9 foot tall horse on wheels and I sold him, but recently the guy who bought it, sold the house it was in...so I bought it back and it’s in the kitchen of our shop in Pittsburgh. But beyond that one, in 2004 I built a 16 foot tall one for a show in James Gallery called “More of Everything.” That one involved cranes for installing. And one day I wrote down Trojan Horse farm and that seemed funny and I went with it,

designing these sculptures with just a neck for years, like 20 years. Once I built the prototype it was beautiful and I had a few really great fabricators working with me and l wanted to see it in repetition so we made a lot of different sizes. Size of galleries prevented them from becoming what they wanted to become. The shadows are magical. The ideal situation is to have a group of them on a hill where the shadows can convene into one giant neck and head. E: What was the significance of putting the horses into suits? RB: I hung out with some people who would say things like So, clotheshorse...fashion weirdo’s. So Clothes horse...someone who looks good in clothes. E: Tell me about Kaya, the restaurant in the Strip District, that is part of the Big Burrito Group. RB: Yes. They wanted someone to paint the bathrooms and I was in the bathroom spray painting this mural for 3 days with no ventilation. They loved it. I was friends with Lauri and I just had a show called Lazy Man Hand in 1995 and there was a painting in it called Fat Elvis’s Last Fancy Jacket, subtitled The Red Hands of Death. So Lauri contacted me when they were building their Philadelphia restaurant. I showed them my work and offered for them to buy 30 paintings for a lump sum, of which they would pay monthly

for a year and a half...we signed a little hillbilly contract and that was the beginning of the relationship...every restaurant since then. I took over the metal work. Now every restaurant has a big painting of mine and a big sculpture. E: You are about 18 months into being sober. Something you haven’t done in a long long time. How’s it going? RB: It’s fine. It’s different. I mean I could use a fucking drink right now, but I know that doesn’t end well for me. My life is better, my work is better, I like coming to work everyday now, I’m not hungover. It was a weird experience but something that had to happen. I’m not blinded chemically and I just think a lot more. E: So how has has it affected your work? RB: I went to rehab in 2013, like 5 years ago. It took 3-4 years of horrific relapses for it to take. Because after I went to rehab and then I’d get fucked up, I’d drink a bottle of vodka in an hour and end up in jail. So once I figured out how important it was to not do it, it became impossible to do it without consequences. But it’s good now. E: You like your life better now than before. RB: Yes, it’s boring but boring is nice. All the excitement of money and you know pain,

consequences, and the fun times too. You know in AA anyone who said my worst day sober is better than my best day drunk. I’m like... those fucking people weren’t doing it right. I mean WTF, why would you even do it if it wasn’t fun. But I was pretty much a blackout drunk from 1979 until 2013. So I think that’s a pretty good run...I can rest, I competed on the pro circuit. E: So craftsmanship up, work being be harder, even taking longer to work, are you producing more work now….in the past 18 months? RB: Yes, well….if I don’t have a

deadline, I’ll make shit day and night but not get anything done. But if I have 9 months and specific space to fill and I have a target and I’ll just go for that. I think everybody’s that way though. E: Do you have up and down periods, depressive periods? RB: Yes, but not too bad. There was no perfect place to end this abbreviated interview with someone as unique as Rick, so check out the complete interview and video cast at www. theartistdiscussions.com.


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Emmai Alaquiva:

From Government Cheese to Government Appointee Written by Tyler Polk

with a love of the arts, Emmai Alaquiva grew up ic. He grew up listening us m p ho phi lly ca ifi spec S-1, and Rakim. “HipKR , ul So La De e lik ts to artis . “If it wasn’t for va ui aq Al id sa ” e, lif y m hop saved t and mind, I wouldn’t art penetrating my hear His love for hip-hop led ” y. da to am I e er wh be p group, production ho phi n ow s hi te ea cr him to ter a nomination la d an p, ou gr n io at uc studio, ed uncil of the Arts. “To to the Pennsylvania Co council, 67 counties be able to serve on the arts funding is mindin ns io ill m ng ei se er ov . blowing,” said Alaquiva Emmai grew up in Wilkinsburg, during the economic downturn of the area, but he tried to stay positive during the hard times. “Stores were closing, schools were getting worse,” said Alaquiva. “It wasn’t the greatest place growing up, but I knew the potential of Wilkinsburg.” His first exposure to hip-hop came from his mother. She had bought a ColorTyne entertainment center consisting of a TV and a double cassette stereo with a record player. She would purchase a lot of music, but one cassette caught Emmai’s ear. De La Soul’s iconic song “Me Myself and I.” “She bought it because it sampled a song called ‘Rapper Dapper Snapper’ by Edwin Birdsong”, said Alaquiva. “When she went to work, I would blast the hell out of the cassette.” 12

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I appreciate it’,” Esoon said mimicking the legendary rapper’s iconic voice. “We asked him if he had any advice for us in our careers, he said ‘just never stop’.” The group would soon drift apart from being Pensoulzinakup, but they stayed close friends and are all involved in the music business in some fashion.

George “Bubby” Coles, a music artist from Penn Hills, was a part of one of the first classes for the program says the program helped him prepare for life in the industry. “He told us what to expect from the business,” said Coles. “He gave my group free studio time to create music because he saw our potential, we signed a record deal within a year or two of working with him.”

From then on, he would expand his knowledge of the genre and would cut grass, hedges, rake leaves, and shovel snow to purchase old jazz records from Wes Montgomery and John Coltrane. His love for music and wants to acquire records made him sort of an outcast. He was okay with being the weird artsy kid around the neighborhood because he had bigger plans. “I had to be creative and I had to learn the value of a dollar in order to make it,” said Alaquiva. “I sacrificed not having the latest gear or freshest haircut, so I could record music.” Emmai and his friend, Akil Griffin, under the name Akil Esoon created Pensoulzinakup. They came up with the name because they were making their mark like a pen, in an uncivilized place, or a cup. The group was made up of three members, Emmai, Akil and Roland “DJ Su-pa C” Matthews. The group was made after a night of deejaying and rapping at a sleepover. The next morning Emmai called Supa C and Akil with an offer. “He needed Dancers and a DJ,” said Esoon. “We agreed and it all took off from there, we became Pensoulzinakup.” They became one of the pioneers for Pittsburgh’s hiphop scene in the early 90’s. From opening for artists who came through the city to be in a Public Service Announcement spot for PBS, encouraging young people to stay in school. “We thought our artistic contributions would bring the world together,” said Alaquiva. In one of the group’s final performances, they opened for The Notorious B.I.G. Biggie Smalls. An experience Akil called “tremendous.” “We walked to his car, we thanked him for allowing us the opportunity he said ‘Word that’s what’s up,

Cory Gale was the first employee of YaMomzHouse, accepted the head audio engineer job in 2005 and says he’s been a mentor and a big brother to him. “It was more than just a job or logging into the clock in some hours,” said Gale. “It was like learning from someone who had your best interest at heart.” In 2007, he started Hip Hop On L.O.C.K., a K-12 afterschool program that teaches kids 13-18 about the music business by creating a mock record label, that teaches them writing, recording, copywriting, songwriting, and marketing.

Emmai would go on to get a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Pittsburgh, but he fell into a deep depression and became homeless. His bounce-back came from getting a job as a doorman at the Shadow Lounge. Justin Strong, the owner of the club gave him opportunities to expand his horizons. “He gave me an opportunity to see what entrepreneurship looks like,” said Alaquiva. “He showed me the struggles, the good times, and community impact.” One day, mail was delivered to the lounge instead of to the tenant who lived above it. Emmai was asked to take it up and he realized the room was unoccupied. He had been planning for a year and a half to create his own studio, located in the basement of the Shadow Lounge but the rent had gone up for it. He changed plans and with Supa C cosigning and the rental of music and recording equipment he bought the studio space in 2001. The studio was named YaMomzHouse, it paid homage to Emmai’s former recording space with Pensoulzinakup, his mom’s house. “From there on every dollar he made 90 cents was put into the studio,” said Alaquiva.

Emmai was also honing his skills while teaching kids about the industry, he “accidentally” taught himself how to do video production. “We were hiring and working with a lot of videographers to do videos for the kids in the program,” said Alaquiva. “But they couldn’t tell the story of these kids, the way we wanted to.” He went to a Best Buy in Manhattan, New York, and bought a Canon 7D camera. He used the camera to produce a show called Waffle Wop, from Carnegie Mellon University’s Waffle Shop and uploaded the videos to YouTube. He was shocked by the praise he received from people. “People began requesting we shoot videos for their organizations and their companies,” said Alaquiva. “It gave way to a mountain of success for the YaMomzHouse brand.” He gained his first big partnership with hip-hop group, The Roots, in 2012. His friend Ian Wallace used to work on a project of Questlove’s. He asked if he could shoot two days of an event called ShuffleCulture for free. He went and shot the event with an employee, Jordan Gilliam, and put the video together in a week and uploaded to YouTube. “They didn’t believe my work, they thought it was pure luck,” said Alaquiva. “They asked me to direct photog-raphy for The Roots Picnic, and to this day they still use my footage for sponsorship.” Emmai won an Emmy for Music Composition and Arrangement in 2007 and was nominated for the | Issue 18


them. “Game Changers was amazing to work with athletes,” said Alaquiva. “To be in the same breath as [Sesame Street] is outrageously insane.”

It wasn’t an easy journey, but it’s a journey I never gave up on it.”

He credits his approach of creating the most soulful story with the elements given for his success with clientele. He compares his production approach to Jean-Michael Basquiat and DJ Premier. “Premier is extremely rhythmic and accurate, Basquiat took complexity and try to make it simple,” said Alaquiva. “Those combined is a great melting pot of how I like to tell stories.”

series Game Changers with Kevin Frazier in 2014, and his documentary Ghetto Steps in 2017. Game Changers lost the daytime Emmy to Sesame Street and he’s honored by the nomination alongside

To be appointed to the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts required one of the most rigorous background checks Emmai had ever gone through. It went through every possible angle from financial to legal. If anything raised a flag, he wouldn’t have gotten the seat. “I always believed in doing things right,” said Alaquiva. “It shows that I’ve been pretty good at keeping a clean slate.”

He’s one of four African Americans on the council, joining one of his mentors, Justin Laing, who has been a member for 6 years. “Justin is a legend in [the arts] if there’s anyone I want to support or be supported by is him,” said Alaquiva. “I want to push some Hip Hop into the council and give it a ‘little nah mean’ in it.”


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Despite the nomination to the council, Emmai is still making moves. He’s working on a documentary on Leon Ford and a piece called Grey Skies, a documentary detailing the similarities between slavery and the Holocaust. He’s also involved in a documentary called 50 Shades of Silence with former WPXI news anchor Darieth Chisolm. The documentary is a part of a campaign to end sexual harassment and cyberbullying. “I want to change people’s lives through the arts,” said Alaquiva. “It wasn’t an easy journey, but it’s a journey I never gave up on it.”

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c Brandon has been doing drag for five years under the name Bambi Deerest. A name he chose because “I have long legs, dark eyes and a terrible childhood.” Brandon came out as gay at 19 years old. Shortly after, his father died. Brandon only has a few family members who still support him now that he is out--most notably his grandmother. “She’s 70 and she supports the hell out of me,” he said. Coming out as gay was one thing, but Brandon had to come out again as a drag queen when he turned 21.


Meet Bambi Deerest:

He called it two bombs he dropped on his family. Drag has helped catch Brandon after this loss and abandonment. It’s been a foundation for his evolution as an artist. He found a chosen family and community who embraced him. Blue Moon, a gay bar in Lawrenceville where famed drag queens Sharon Needles and Alaska got their start, has been Brandon’s haven and incubator for the last five years. In January, Bambi/Brandon made his directorial debut with the short film “Steeletto.” The seven-minute long short was written in the very coffeeshop where I interviewed him. “I sat down right over there and wrote it in 20 minutes,” he said. Brandon, who likes tough women and feminine men, wanted to tell a story of revenge. He recalled falling in love with Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns as a little boy and wanted to channel that character but with a drag twist. The film, shot entirely in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville, can be found on Youtube. There is a clear horror and femme fatale influence to the film, but above all else, the short is very, very Pittsburgh.

By Brittany Hailer

Photo By Morgan Richardson

Photo By Garrett Matthew

David Bowie is who I thought of when I walked in the door of a coffee shop of East Carson Street in the South Side as Brandon White stood up to greet me. He is tall, very tall, with bleach-blonde hair and wearing a black leather jacket. Later, Brandon will tell me David Bowie has had a major impact on his art and career as a drag queen. 16

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“I wanted it to be so Yinzery! I am from Pittsburgh. I was born and raised in the South Side two blocks from here. I grew up going to Pirate games. I grew up walking the Strip District with my mom getting a meatball hoagie.” “Steeletto” tells the story of Bambi performing at Blue Moon. A male patron develops an attraction for her until realizing she is a drag queen. When Bambi leaves the bar out of costume, the parton finds him and beats him in an alley. The rest of the short explores a sort of fantasy where the victim gets back at his abuser and brands him. “Steeletto” opens with a quote from Rudy Giuliani

that says, “Revenge is not a noble sentiment, but it is a human one.” “We’re not gonna take it anymore,” Brandon said. He talked about folks who come into gay spaces and drag shows “not understanding what we are doing.” Drag queens are not strippers or sex workers. Brandon talked about bachelorette parties coming to his shows and women groping him, putting dollar bills in his waistband or grabbing his hair. “This is not Chippendales. I am not here to dance for you. This is my job. This is what I do. Just hand me the dollar. I am not going to chase you around stage. I don’t need the dollar that bad,” he said. But what is drag, exactly? Brandon says you have to just go to a show to figure it out, but don’t forget to be respectful. “You have to go and you have to watch it to actually know what it is,” said Brandon, “I could sit here and say that a grown man is going to get up on stage in a blonde wig and lip sync Britney Spears and you’re gonna love it, but that sounds crazy. On black and white paper it sounds stupid. But, you go and you see it and it’s really endearing and fun.” Brandon hosts an array of shows and events at Lawrenceville’s Blue Moon. Every Wednesday he hosts “Open Stage” where people, no matter their sexuality, can take the stage and lip sync, sing, perform spoken word poetry, or complain about their mother. The idea is, whatever you talent is, show it. Brandon declares a winner of the open stage weekly. So what’s next for Pittsburgh’s burgeoning drag filmmaker? Two things. Brandon wants to create a mini-documentary about his relationship with his grandmother (who has yet to see him in drag) and a slasher film a la Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th but with a drag queen serial killer (complete with calling card). Again, Brandon hosts Blue Moon’s Open Stage every Wednesday. Sign up is at 11pm and the show starts at Midnight. “No matter your talent, we count it!” he said.

You can follow Brandon on Instagram at @ BambiQween. Photo by Garrett Matthew | Issue 18









The Steel City …as many of us have come to know and to love. Pittsburgh is a city full of history, culture, food and fun. A few of the ways that Pittsburgh rose was from the building of steel mills and through its sports teams. The city was founded in November, 1758 by General John Forbes, but the production of steel didn’t begin until 1875. Pittsburgh and the surrounding area boomed until the beginning of the 1970s when overseas competition became more prevalent and less expensive steel coming from overseas caused steel mills to close throughout the area.

Professional sports came to Pittsburgh by 1892 with the start of football in the steel city. Today, sports are an integral part of life with the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates playing at various times throughout the year. College sports are also very popular with the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne and several other colleges/universities within the city. Another defining aspect of the Steel City are its bridges. Bridges dot the skyline and are a focal point when you enter the city from any direction, providing an awe inspiring view. Pittsburgh has the most bridges of any city in the world – 446. Pittsburgh has some visually appealing bridges such as the Hot Metal, Fort Pitt, Duquesne, and Birmingham bridges. We wouldn’t be where we are without the prevalence of

museums in our town. The Heinz, Frick, Warhol and Carnegie Museums, just to name a few, are a fundamental part of history and learning in the area. All four museums provide a wide range of displays from dinosaurs to paintings to antique cars. Along with the museums, there are other enticing activities as well. There is the Duquesne Incline, the Gateway Clipper fleet, Segway tours and trolley/bus/duck boat tours in which to view and enjoy the city sights. Food is another diverse area with restaurants representing practically all cultures and tastes. One would be hard pressed not to find a restaurant to your liking from German, Irish, Mexican, Thai, Caribbean and more. You can find most of these in the Strip District. Not only can you eat your way through this part of town but spend the rest of your time shopping also! No one should grow bored in the Steel City with all there is to do and see. This synopsis of Pittsburgh has been submitted in loving memory of LOCALpittsburgh History Editor Benjamin Hamrick who moved to Pittsburgh in 2012 and attended Duquesne University and lived and worked there until 2017. His love for the city was unparalleled and inspired us to embrace all there is to do in and around Pittsburgh. Black and Gold forever. Rest In Peace Benjamin Hamrick was the History Editor for LOCALpittsburgh, a friend to all who met him, a fellow Bobcat (WVWC) and an all around really good person…..Jeff Rose

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MONDAY - FRIDAY 4:30 - 6:30

$1 OFF CRAFT DRAFTS (412) 741-6078 1518 Mt Nebo Road Sewickley, PA, 15143 www.goodfellasdrafthouse.com


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We’re more than just pizza… DINE-IN - TAKE OUT - LOUNGE Wexford • 10441 Perry Highway • 724-935-4151 North Hills • 2198 Babcock Boulevard • 412-821-0600 www.montecellos.com

307 Grant Ave, Millvale (412) 821-2647

Neighborhood Bar, Community Proud & Family Owned! Craft Cocktails Menu Local Craft, Hometown Beers Wine and more live music FREE Texas Hold’em Thursday Nights Check our Facebook for Drink Specials and Events Take Out - Eat In Available smoking allowed

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Your Choice For Affordable Family Dining Check out our Weekly Wing and Drink Specials Mon-Fri 12-5 Domestic Drafts | Mon-Sat Happy Hours | Sun 5-7 Fri-Sat 9-11 $2.25 Domestic Drafts & Bottles | $1 Off Import Drafts | $2 Well Liquor | 1/2 Off Apps


Monday Wing Night - 40¢ Wings | $2.25 Yuengling Drafts Tuesday Buddy Bottles $2.95 | Karaoke 9-1am Wednesday Guys Night - $3 Burgers (5-8) - $2.95 Magic Hat, Sierra Nevada, Great Lakes Thursday $3.25 IPA Bottles Friday $3.50 Wine by the Glass


Saturday $3.50 Guiness Drafts | $4.00 Pinnacle U-Call



Join us for BREAKFAST! Saturday & Sunday 8am-1pm 9805 McKnight Road • 412-366-4990

Lunch • Brunch • Happy Hour

Pittsburgh, PA 15237 | 412-837-2031

Larger Beer Selection in the North only 10 minutes from Downtown

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W W W. T H E U R B A N TA P. C O M




LUNCH (MON/FRI) / 11-4 │

HAPPY HOUR (MON/FRI) / 4:30-6:30 BRUNCH (SAT) / 11:00 -2:00PM BRUNCH (SUN) / 10:00-2:00PM

SOUTHSIDE F R I DAY: L AT E N I G H T H A P P Y H O U R 1 0 - 1 2 A M | Issue 18



Monday - Saturday: 11am - 10pm Sunday: 10am-3pm Brunch


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Take a tasty trip...

AROUND THE BURGH Take your taste buds a trip around the world, without having to leave Pittsburgh. Like most of America we are blessed by being a nation of immigrants and benefit from their culture and the flavors that they brought with them. Rich in educational institutions and a large base of students from abroad we have seen a boom in ethnic dining establishments. Here are just a few; some new, and one, a long established favorite.


Ting Kitc ’s hen

Located in the North Hills, Ting’s is the “go to” restaurant for authentic Taiwanese cuisine. While much of Pittsburgh has discovered the hot and spicy Szechuan dishes, the more subtle and flavorful dishes from this island are truly special. If you’re unfamiliar with the dishes or not sure what to order; just ask, and be prepared for a treat. tingskitchen15237.com Braised diced pork belly, with sweet daikon radish, and cilantro served over rice

Roast Pork Mini served on a sweet flower bun with pickled vegetables and cilantro Zha Jiang Noodles Chinese noodles with pork, bean sauce and julienne cucumbers Popcorn Chicken, thigh meat, tossed and fried with a dry seasoning

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COLUMBIAN Opened in 2017 on the Southside; this ‘spot’ has a rapidly growing clientele and has been quick to catch on. The flavorful food can best be described as a cross between Spanish and African, and much of the menu is naturally gluten free. www.thecolombianspot-pgh.com

The n Colombia Spot VIETNAMESE A well established Strip District restaurant, Pho Van is best know for serving pho, it also has a menu that allows you to discover other tasty treats from this region. The Strip District location allows this establishment to use the freshest ingredients in its traditional dishes. www.phovan-pgh.com

Empanadas-Fried corn stuffed with potatoes, minced sautéed tomatoes and onions, with your choice of meet, or vegetarian

Papaya beef jerky salad- Papaya sliced thin with dried beef, mixed with a mint sauce and topped with peanuts

Pho Van

Arepa Pabellon- each arepas is hand made from ground corn, then stuffed with shredded beef, black beans mozzarella cheese and madras (sweet plantains)

Pork Skewers with Crispy Rolls -Fried rolls filed w/pork, mushroom, carrots, jicama served w/chili garlic sauce.



Unlike most Indian restaurants in the Pittsburgh area which include buffets, Yuva offers a menu selection cooked to order. Fresh, flavorful ingredients and recipes from several regions of India set this restaurant apart from others. It’s located on Craig Street in Oakland and is a favorite with college students and staff. www.yuvaindiaindian.com

Papadi Chaat-traditional street food, crisp fried dough wafers, boiled chick peas, dahi (yo-gurt), chutney and topped with chaat masala with naan bread

Ali Baba

SYRIAN Since 1972 this Craig Street establishment, now in its second generation of family ownership, has served the best in Syrian cuisine in Pittsburgh. The menu, Mediterranean based, is considered one of the healthiest diets, ingredients are prepared to order in a simple flavorful fashion. www.alibabapgh.com Moussaka Layers of eggplant, tomato, spiced ground lamb, and potato. Topped with melted cheese.

Tabooli Salad-Parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cracked bulgar wheat; tossed with lemon juice

Color & Extension Specialist Miranda Stull

TRADITIONAL VIETNAMESE CUISINE In The Strip 2120 penn ave pittsburgh, pa 15222 412-281-7999 monday - sunday 10:00 am - 9:00 pm

2343 Smallman Street Suite 2 814-229-2820 @mirandaleighstull


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Leah George

HOWARD HANNA REAL ESTATE SERVICES 6310 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15217 LeahGeorge@HowardHanna.com DIRECT 412-713-0513 OFFICE 412-421-9120 Ext. 516

4110 Old William Penn Hwy, Monroeville, PA 15146 | 412.810.0040 | Issue 18




CALL TODAY 412-609-5634 OR 412-951-7580 26

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Written by: Carson Paul Photos by: Hayden Rose & Fujiya Ramen

People create culture, and culture creates street food. Yakitori is a Japanese street food consisting of skewered chicken that dates back to the early 1900’s. | Issue 18


Best Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi In Town! Holiday, Corporate and Private Parties Welcome



WITH PURCHASE OF ADULT HIBACHI Choice of chicken, shrimp or steak. Kids 10 and under. 1 adult hibachi per 1 kid hibachi. Valid only on Sunday.

Monday Special UP TO



www.SagaHibachi.com Monroeville

710 Mall Circle Drive Monroeville Mall


In the District Shops, Behind Barnes N Noble Bookstore


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During the Japanese Meiji Restoration, many cultural shifts took place. The people of Japan now had a common language, industrialization was introduced, and somewhere in the 44-year period some of the Japanese people started to drift away from some traditional Buddhist practices. America and Europe had a massive influence on Japan at the time, therefore the Japanese people started doing things they’ve never done such as eating chicken. Chicken started out as a highend dish, and since Japan was practically having their own industrial revolution subsequently not many people could afford the dish. The parts of the chicken that the restaurants refused to use such as the tendon were sold to local street vendors. These street vendors tossed the leftover meat onto a grill and collectively came up with the idea to throw that chicken remain on a skewer creating what is known as Yakitori. Yakitori soon went mainstream as the Japanese people loved not having to use chopsticks with this convenient chicken byproduct. In the time since, the iconic Japanese street food has evolved greatly. Yakitori now comes in exotic and intriguing varieties, such as Gyutan which utilizes beef tongue as the meat and the Ginnan which uses seeds of the Ginkgo Biloba tree. The seasonings of Yakitori are primarily split into two categories, salty-sweet and simply salty. The saltysweet flavor profile, commonly labeled as Tare, uses the essential Japanese condiment Mirin as a base. The preparation of modern Yakitori is quite simple. The desired meat (commonly chicken) is cut into small teriyaki-sized bits and later skewered with kushi. The skewered meat sticks are then placed over a charcoal grill which does not allow for much water vapor which eliminates any steaming from the cooking process. Whether you’re in a hole-in-the-wall or a high rise, Yakitori is served all throughout Japan. Even better, Yakitori is available at several locations right in our backyard here in Pittsburgh. Some of these include Fujitay Ramen , Umami, and Sakura Teppanyaki & Sushi. As a genuine taste of Japanese Cuisine, its availability allows for anyone in our area to experience its history for themselves.

SAKE, THE WORLD’S FIRST SPIRIT. If there’s one thing that has remained consistent throughout the majority of modern history, it’s that humans love alcohol. It’s a term that’s been used to signify a good time that dates back to the eighth century. Although alcohol made a first impression in our lives at an early age with the education of The Wedding at Cana and throughout the majority of restaurants, it’s seen on its own tri-fold colorful menu, most people fail to recognize the first alcoholic spirit ever made. This spirit is called Sake (pronounced sah-kay), and it’s the national drink of Japan.



Although Sake is consider the national drink of Japan, it actually dates back to around 4800 BC China. Sake made its way to Japan during 300 BC with the revolutionary technology of wet rice cultivation. The process of creating Sake is lengthy, arduous and really shows that if you’re dedicated enough anything can become alcohol, even rice. A huge amount of rice is gathered, ground, washed and then steamed. After the steaming process, mold spores are mixed into the pile of rice to promote the fermentation process. Although Koji fungus is currently used for this process, early creators of the beverage would utilize spit as an accelerator due to the high acidity in human spit. After the three-week long fermentation process requiring daily maintenance, it’s filtered into a drinkable state. Sake is poured from porcelain flasks which are traditionally known as tokkuri. It’s most commonly poured into small ceramic cups, but in some cases such as rituals, it may be placed inside of a rice container which is known as Masu. Sake can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature, however, recent studies may suggest that the heat destroys the famous Sake flavor profile. Sake can be found all throughout Japan as well as many areas in China, but more importantly Sake can be found right here in Pittsburgh. Some of the restaurants in the area that serve Sake are Nakama Japanese Steakhouse, Soba, and Tai Pei. Simply put, you can’t be an alcohol enthusiast without trying Sake. And yes, there’s definitely a difference between being an alcohol enthusiast and an alcoholic. It’s a very similar taste to wine with a very dry and cool sensation. For anyone interested in obtaining an authentic taste of Japan, it’s absolutely a must-try. 30

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w w w . fu ji y a r a m e npa.com 815 South Aiken Avenue | 412-688-0188


SAKE, THE WORLD’S FIRST SPIRIT. If there’s one thing that has remained consistent throughout the majority of modern history, it’s that humans love alcohol. It’s a term that’s been used to signify a good time that dates back to the eighth century. Although alcohol made a first impression in our lives at an early age with the education of The Wedding at Cana and throughout the majority of restaurants, it’s seen on its own tri-fold colorful menu, most people fail to recognize the first alcoholic spirit ever made. This spirit is called Sake (pronounced sah-kay), and it’s the national drink of Japan.



Although Sake is consider the national drink of Japan, it actually dates back to around 4800 BC China. Sake made its way to Japan during 300 BC with the revolutionary technology of wet rice cultivation. The process of creating Sake is lengthy, arduous and really shows that if you’re dedicated enough anything can become alcohol, even rice. A huge amount of rice is gathered, ground, washed and then steamed. After the steaming process, mold spores are mixed into the pile of rice to promote the fermentation process. Although Koji fungus is currently used for this process, early creators of the beverage would utilize spit as an accelerator due to the high acidity in human spit. After the three-week long fermentation process requiring daily maintenance, it’s filtered into a drinkable state. Sake is poured from porcelain flasks which are traditionally known as tokkuri. It’s most commonly poured into small ceramic cups, but in some cases such as rituals, it may be placed inside of a rice container which is known as Masu. Sake can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature, however, recent studies may suggest that the heat destroys the famous Sake flavor profile. Sake can be found all throughout Japan as well as many areas in China, but more importantly Sake can be found right here in Pittsburgh. Some of the restaurants in the area that serve Sake are Nakama Japanese Steakhouse, Soba, and Tai Pei. Simply put, you can’t be an alcohol enthusiast without trying Sake. And yes, there’s definitely a difference between being an alcohol enthusiast and an alcoholic. It’s a very similar taste to wine with a very dry and cool sensation. For anyone interested in obtaining an authentic taste of Japan, it’s absolutely a must-try. 30

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(412) 364-9933 3200 MCINTYRE SQUARE DR. PITTSBURGH PA. 15237 MON - THR 11AM - 9:30PM • FRI - SAT 11AM - 10:30PM SUN 12NOON - 9:30PM

KITCHEN OPEN Tuesday – Thursday: 11:30 AM – 9 PM Friday & Saturday: 11:30 AM – 10 PM Sunday Brunch: 10:30 AM – 3 PM Bar Open Late Happy hour Tuesday through Friday from 4:30–6:30 PM

Voted Best New Restaurant & Best Contemporary American Restaurant

216 E 8th Ave, Homestead | www.honestjohnspgh.com

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Joe Chahine

Written by Beth Taylor, Photos By Hayden Rose

the Family Business

Workers arrive at 5:00 a.m. six days a week to bake billowy puffs of pita bread at Brookline’s Pitaland Mediterranean Bakery. The 17 local employees do not need to watch the parking meter while on the job because every one of them live within walking distance of their workplace. Their beloved boss, business owner Joe Chahine, has been baking the bread of his childhood in the area since 1974 and his story reads like an exemplary tale of the American Dream. In March of that year, Joe and his bride, Jocelyn, traveled to Pittsburgh from Lebanon for their honeymoon. They planned to visit relatives and stay about a month in America. Joe called his father when they were contemplating extending their visit. A civil war broke out in Lebanon and his father, fearing for their safe return, begged them to stay longer in the States. Their visas were extended three times and the couple was eventually granted political asylum. Joe’s brother, baking pita in a brick oven in another Brookline Boulevard location, hired him at minimum wage, $3.00 per hour. The pair slid the loaves in and out of the small oven using a shovel and worked together until 1980. Borrowing money from friends, Joe bought the business from his brother who was ready to move on. Over the next ten years, he expanded production by purchasing larger and more efficient equipment at auctions. An old Foodland storefront became available along the boulevard in 1990. Joe reminisces that he went to the city, state and county for loans and bought the building, the current home of Pitaland. Visiting the bright and welcoming store one realizes that it is a space where neighbors connect and newcomers feel at ease. It is not just a place to buy food; relationships are formed and maintained in Pitaland.


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watchful eyes in the store front office. Recently, an injury kept Joe away from work. In his absence, customers called regularly inquiring about his progress, and sent best wishes and prayers for his recovery. His presence provides the essence of the store.

In the right front of the store is a large observation window where on a busy Saturday morning you can see the pitas, cooled by fans, as they travel along a conveyor belt from the oven. Passing a beautiful cart full of buckets of olives, you travel toward the rows of imported Mediterranean foods. Customers sit at the counter awaiting their freshly made lunch or select prepared foods from the cases in the back of the store. The pita production line has a story of its own. A sign reading “Pita House� beckoned Joe as he was traveling through Lebanon to visit an older brother nine years ago. He asked the hesitant owner to take a look at his baking equipment. The gentleman was wary that Joe was a competitor and insisted upon seeing his passport before allowing him to access the bakery. A mammoth, automated pita baking system was revealed to Joe. It mixed, proofed, rolled, baked and cooled the bread; he had seen nothing like it here in the States. Danny Chahine was hesitant when his enthusiastic father called asking for money to cover the check he needed to order the system. But three months later

the mammoth machinery made its way to Brookline, complete with a mechanic from Lebanon to help with the installation! Joe could add another component to the machine to bag the fresh bread, but chooses to have older employees bag it by hand. When the women retire, he then will consider further automation, for now he wants them to keep their jobs.

Two young brothers, with noses pressed against the glass, watched the pita loaves roll off of the line. Joe invited them into the bakery, and gave each a paper towel, and told them to grasp a loaf from the line. The brothers savored the warm bread, a food memory made. That you do not get in a big box grocery store.

The Chahine children help to run the business today and the family members are always accessible to the customers. Their daughter Donna was holding down the fort on a recent visit while her small boys were under Joe and Jocelyn’s | Issue 18


roman Style Pizza 4055 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224 412.405.6031 smokin-brews.business.site

BUSINESS HOURS Mon 12:00 – 7:00 PM Tue 12:00 – 7:00 PM Wed 12:00 – 5:00 PM Thu 12:00 – 7:00 PM Fri 3:00 – 8:00 PM Sat 12:00 – 7:00 PM, Sun 12:00 – 7:00 PM

126 South Highland Ave. 412 404 7410 BYOB tagliopgh.com


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Located within Federal Galley 200 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 www.ElLugarPGH.com

t | i | f @ElLugarPGH

Located within Federal Galley 200 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212 www.ProvisionPGH.com

t | i | f @ProvisionPGH | Issue 18



The Party Initiators:

DJs To Watch Story and Photography by, Corrine Jasmin

Pittsburgh is full of flavorful DJs that dominate various events and nightlife venues throughout all corners of the city. Featured on the “DJs to Watch” list are two lively and passionate gentlemen, Slim and

Tha Dj (Jourdan Martin)

Arie Cole (Ron Coleman) Both spinners are

Pittsburgh natives, representing their city to a tee, and are proud of it. These two both hold their own unique style, are active members in the local music scene, and have a very loyal following around town. These guys aren’t strangers to intimate, smaller venues or to packed clubs with lines outside the door. They deserve the spotlight for the immense work they’ve been putting in, weekdays and weekends, captivating crowds and keeping them pleased. There are a variety of events currently rotating and popping up around the city frequently, with that being said, it’s important to recognize the people who keep the dance floor moving, flowing, and keeping dancelife events alive. 36

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, Where d your name come from? Arie Cole: My DJ name is a play on my real name. I took the first and middle initials (R and E) and spelled it out to get “Arie,” then I just shortened my last name (Coleman) to make it sound right. It’s really important to me that I don’t have DJ in front of my name. I often have to call promoters and people that book me in order to correct it. Slim Tha DJ: I knew I didn’t want to be DJ Gizzle (my close friends call me Gizzle). Someone jokingly said my name should be a contradiction, so we said Slim and DJ Slim was pretty weak, so I went with Slim Tha Dj. , Where d you get your start? Did you come from a music background? Slim: I started off playing the violin in elementary school. My older cousin played and I thought she was pretty cool, so I picked it up. As I got older I and started to formulate my own taste in music and I gravitated towards Jazz and Hip Hop. In high school I focused on making beats and rapping but I realized I could make money by DJing so I did that on the side too. In college I found a program called Virtual DJ, and I would sit around for hours just mixing songs and kicking it with my friends. Arie: My Dad was a gospel DJ and my good friend Chi Money DJed in college. I always loved music and made sure that I always knew what artists were up next or had a dope song. My first ever gig was in 2015 at Remedy. They were nice enough to give me the second Thursday of each month. I don’t play there anymore, but I gained a lot of experience there. What makes you passionate about DJing? Arie: There’s a trust that a DJ has built where you can play songs that the crowd has never heard of, but they keep dancing anyway. I really like that relationship, it makes for a good night. Slim: I just really like music. When I DJ, I’m not really worried about anything but what I want to hear at that moment. I know what I can do make them (the crowd) go crazy because it makes me go crazy. I love how people react when they hear songs they like or haven’t heard in a while, or

when a song they weren’t expecting comes out of nowhere. Having the vibe of the night in my hands all night is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. What’s your favorite spot to play in the city? Slim: Spirit, especially downstairs. Arie: I like playing any gig that lets me be as experimental with my sets as possible. Umami allows me to do that. On a typical night, I go through jazz, hip hop, house remixes, indie, etc. I like showing my range and it allows more people to feel welcomed. What genres do you typically play and what genres do you feel like you could incorporate more of? Slim: I play new hip hop and R&B, mostly trap (real trap like Gucci and Jeezy not the EDM stuff). I love Hip Hop. I’m lucky enough to play my favorite artists like Drake, Lil Wayne, and Wiz Khalifa. As far as other genres I would incorporate, I’m not really sure. I like to play whatever gets it cracking so I move with the wave, however I do wish there were more women rappers I enjoyed and that could turn the party up. I love when I play a Cardi joint and the ladies in the party have a chance to talk that talk. Arie: I consider myself to be an open format DJ, which means I’ll weave lots of different genres into one set in order to create the right vibe. However, I mostly play Hip Hop and R&B. I came of age in the 2000s so artists like Cam’Ron, Kanye West, Gucci, and Pharell really were my guys. Honestly, I wish I played more indie music. There was a period from 2010-2014 that I really loved. I spent a lot of that time listening to Toro Y Moi, Two Door Cinema Club, and Whitest Boy Alive. , What s your take on the event scene in Pittsburgh? Slim: I love what the city is doing right now and I’m happy to be involved. I’ve been in Pittsburgh most of my life and I can’t think of a time where so many different types of people came together to have a good time. Just a few years ago I would complain about how there was never anything to do, and now I find myself needing a break some weekends. I do wish there was an after-hours spot for the hip hop, hipster, trap crowd. I feel

like in other major cities I could have a residency somewhere with the music I play but in Pittsburgh I’m “niche” DJ. So where some might see it as a struggle that I don’t gig every single weekend, I love it because when I do DJ people want to come see me because they can’t get what I do every weekend. Arie: I love it! When we started my party, Slappers N Bangers in 2015, Lawrenceville didn’t have a party that was dedicated to Trap, Hip Hop, and RnB. There were sporadic events around the city that were here for the culture, but nothing super consistent. One of the dopest ones to me was the event D.S. Kinsel threw at Wood Street Galleries. It had a DJ, hands on art, and people who genuinely wanted to have a good time. I wish there were more events where the art and DJ worlds collided. I love the artist scene in Pittsburgh. Also, we need more DJs who are women of color. I really hope to encourage more women of color to try DJing in the future. What are challenges you face? Slim: When it comes to DJing, I feel like an underdog. I’m not a DJ because I had a burning passion for turntablism, that’s just not my style, but when I hear the DJ ADMC’s and the DJ Bamboo’s of the world it makes me want to compete and be mentioned with those guys. Everyone thinks DJing is easy. Since I don’t scratch at my gigs people think I can’t do it, or I’m just up there pushing the play button and that’s it, but anyone who’s stood beside me when I’m DJing knows it’s so much more than that. Arie: The biggest misconception is that you can just pick up a controller or some app and start DJing. DJing takes time. You have to learn the music you want to play, mixing techniques, your sound, etc. There are lots of elements that go into the craft that only hours upon hours of work will help you get. I watch routines that other DJs do and try to recreate them for myself. Doing this helps me get better at analyzing different moves and helps me expand my skill set. I also go to lots of live sets to see if I can break down and identify techniques that DJs are using as they happen.

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A Special Place in the Strip District of Pit tsburgh

2009 Penn Ave • Pittsburgh, PA 412-281-4670




Now Taking Holiday Orders!

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myth and material:

A Studio Visit with Brenda Stumpf

Story and Photos by: David Bernabo

Bright daylight enters through the high windows of a former Methodist church--now a home art studio--gently lighting a new series of Brenda Stumpf’s tactile art. Sculptures rest on pedestals, assemblages of wood and tattered paper hang on the newly painted white walls. This work is meticulous in its craft, but made to look haphazard, weathered, eternal. “They’re sophisticated in that there is a formality to them,” says Stumpf about her recent body of work. “But if you get up close they’re not refined in their making. I like the ruggedness of these pieces.” This ruggedness is a slight pivot from Stumpf’s recent Cavomyrt painting series, which embeds objects in elaborate, earthen environments, 40

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recalling youth through the use of childhood dresses. In the back of the studio, covered with protective plastic, a number of works from Stumpf’s last few shows rest, awaiting a more permanent storage solution. Like her new pieces, these works represent a clear vision and a practiced hand at creating otherworldly settings of myth, memory, and secrets. ***

“It’s the

freedom that anybody that was raised in the 70s without cell phones had.”

While Stumpf knew art would be a part of her life from an early age, the path to making these highly evocative, layered works was a slow evolution. “If you saw my early work, we would all laugh,” says Stumpf. “It wasn’t horrible, but it was lyrical and colorful--words that you would never attribute to the work that you see now.” Stumpf considers herself a selftaught artist, citing that a two-year stint at the Columbus College of Art and Design provided little insight into the process of making art. A chance visit to an exhibition of Cy Twombly’s sculptures at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. provided an unexpected catalyst. Unfamiliar with Twombly’s work at the time, Stumpf felt a kinship with the materiality of the sculptures. “I

could see these soft-lit, wet sculptures, all these encrusted objects with mythological names--things that always were appealing to me, even as young child, mystery and intrigue and ancient things.” The existence of Twombly’s work validated Stumpf’s impulses and gave her a green light to dive headfirst into working with unorthodox materials, assemblage, and myth. The freedom to play with material harkens back to her youth playing in the woods. “It’s the freedom that anybody that was raised in the 70s without cell phones had. We just wandered on our bikes and in the woods without any sense of time. Freedom to explore. Fantasy. You start making up things about some magical thing that lives in the woods and your friends are all buying into it.” | Issue 18


to get done, and you can’t do the next thing until the first thing is done. You can’t go to C until you get through A and B.” *** On the table in the middle of the former chapel, there are three piles of metal, showing an evolution of rusted metal sheets: a stack of large squares, smaller rectangles cut from a parent square, and small rolled tubes of metal. The tubed metal will be further manipulated and worked into a painting, but at the moment, it rests on the table waiting for Stumpf’s inspiration to take hold.

That freedom, combined with a habit of browsing National Geographic-”pyramids and naked people and weird things embedded in bones”-provided a foundation for Stumpf’s investigative spirit. “In nature, it feels like there is always something hidden in the trees or under a rock,” says Stumpf. Stumpf’s description of her childhood is a marvelous, stream-ofconsciousness that credits her parents as harbingers of her meticulous craft. Her father in the garage, surrounded by car parts, refurbishing antique cars. Her mother teaching cake decorating classes--”multi-tiered cakes with lace, icing, and flowers.” A room full of drag racing trophies--”shelves of monuments.” The cumulative impact of this upbringing and nearness to objects can be summed up in Stumpf’s idea that “it takes as long as it takes, meaning you do the thing that needs 42

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Stumpf talks about feeling the resonance of the material, paying close attention to the clues given by the material, and following those cues until something intuitive clicks. It’s a feeling that is hard to explain. It’s not a mental thing, but a deep intuition of how something should look.

After a successful number of years in Cleveland with a solid collector base, Stumpf moved to New York City. The brief stay in the Big Apple was influential--”saw a lot of work that kicked my butt”--but the hustle resulted in a dramatic drop in production of her own work. Seeking more space, both physical and mental, Stumpf moved to Denver. “When I got to Denver, I was walking down the street to get groceries, and I physically felt my being unfold and become bigger. It was the strangest thing that I ever experienced.” At the time, the relative affordability of Denver allowed Stumpf the space to create major bodies of larger works, defiantly flying in the face of the art market’s push for smaller work following the financial crisis of 2008. Ultimately, the legalization of marijuana boosted the property values in Denver, which tripled the rents, and Stumpf was again seeking a new home, this time with her partner Sid. Enter Pittsburgh. Despite the domino effect of gentrification in the city, Pittsburgh is still a good value, especially if you are looking for a building to fix up. The couple bought a former church, and after three years of renovations, Stumpf says she is living the dream. A home with a studio. Or rather, a studio with a home. ***

“It’s the stuff that’s right below the surface,” says Strumpf. “The older that I get, I’ve learned not to question that. It’s not on the surface of consciousness, but it’s doing its job. You learn to trust it and not overintellectuallize it.”


Back in the studio space, daylight still pouring in, scaffolding rises beside a wall conspicuously absent of artwork. Stumpf recently finished painting the former chapel and is now plotting a few ambitiously large works, much larger than her already sizable canvases. The process continues with intuition and material acting as guides along this esoteric journey. New work emerges and the cycle continues.


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My Journey, And Why I Believe Yoga Is Good For Everyone’s Written by: Suzanne Nagel

When I think of the ways in which Yoga has changed my life, the list is long. I was first introduced to yoga in my early 20’s. I was working in television news straight out of college and under a lot of stress. I had a “Perfection problem” as I like to call it, and I would overthink, over analyze and basically try to do everything perfect, in life and my job. Soon, it all became too much. When I realized that I in fact, just like other people, made mistakes, and I wasn’t always perfect, it was almost too much to bear. I was getting married and working in a very demanding job and I was unequipped to handle my fears and feelings. Not to mention, I was tired. Bone tired. One day I was sitting in Barnes & Noble, reading a magazine (this is before cell phones & internet, folks) and I stumbled on an article about yoga. To me, yoga was synonymous with bohemian hippie-like people who sang chants in a different language, were super flexible, and did not eat meat. Yogis. But the article spoke to me about the stress I was under, the feelings I had of being hard on myself, and how I was not really taking care of myself. How do you find a Yoga class before the days of the internet? The Yellow pages, that big book. Yes. I found a yoga class in Squirrel Hill on Murray Avenue, in a tiny room upstairs. The teacher, Gae Galza, I will never forget. I was the youngest person there. When I walked in, everyone was lying on the floor, some had their legs up the walls. I copied them and did the same. I had bought a mat and I was wearing sweatpants. Gae was incredibly kind and enchanting. We spent time breathing. We did some poses. The class was an hour and a half and I left feeling stronger, and somehow lighter. I went back again and again each week. I began to feel that I had found something that spoke to my soul. Back then, yoga had “sessions” and after six weeks, this session was over. Everyone in the class, 7 of us, went to a Thai

restaurant for dinner together after. I had never eaten Thai food. Here we are just over 20 years later. Like many yogis, my first yoga class experience is one I will never forget. Yoga grabbed me by the hands, by the heart, and never let go. I bought a Gaim video to practice the postures at home. When I practiced pigeon pose, I held my breath, I had so much sensation in my hips. I had never felt anything like it. I got pregnant and practiced prenatal yoga, in a beautiful home in Edgewood. The woman moved all the furniture out of her dining room and we sat in a circle. Years went by, life changed, I got divorced, I changed careers, I got remarried. But one thing was constant. I loved yoga. On vacation, I would line up my family members and teach them yoga classes on the beach, basically just repeating what I had learned in my videos. Without fail, most everyone assumed yoga was for vegetarians who wear beads and chant. But I would assure them that yoga was for everyone. As Yoga has evolved, so have I. I now own my own yoga studio. You could say this was foreshadowed all along even though it took me a while to realize that was my path.

Today’s yoga is very different from finding small room sessions in the yellow pages. There are yoga studios everywhere. I mean, everywhere. There are more styles of yoga to choose from and hybrid yoga as well. From Hatha, Ashtanga, Yin, Restorative, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Bikram, Yogilates, Heated, NonHeated, Yoga with Weights, Yoga with Beer, Yoga with Goats, Yoga with Hip-Hop, Yoga with …well, you name it. Yoga is a huge industry. And the industry, like so many, is competitive. There are classes that sell out. There are popularity contests. Just 5 years ago, doing a yoga pose on Instagram would be fairly bold. It is common now to scroll through your feed and see time lapse videos of anyone and everyone doing yoga flows. The athleisure apparel industry has grown right along with the studios and the students and you would be hard pressed to find someone who does not know what is (or even tried) a downward facing dog. What does all this mean to us today as Yogis of the modern century? Why would I open another yoga studio in an overflowing community? For me, it comes down to this. We need Yoga now more than we ever did. We need to connect with each other, to

connect with ourselves, and to learn how to be still in an everspinning world. To this day, a yoga class for me is the equivalent of therapy and exercise in one. As a 46 year old woman, I have never been stronger, mentally or physically. This is 100 percent because of yoga. Let’s be clear. I eat meat. I drink wine. I have some very dysfunctional family relationships. Like anyone, I struggle with my shortcomings. So you might say, then what has yoga really done for you? Are you really a yogi? My answer to this is YES. I am a yogi. I believe in the ability of the practice to support us as humans in this ever-changing, ever modern world. I believe that a true Yogi is neither a vegan wrapped in mala beads, or a perfect handstanding, yoga clad, green smoothie drinking millennial yogi is someone who shows up on their mat to find connection to their mind, body, and spirit. A yogi is someone who learns how to not only forgive others, but themselves. A yogi knows that the practice is without judgment, but rather a practice of a lifetime not a day. A yogi is 21 years old or 57 years old, any body type, any level of physical skill. In truth, yoga will support you in whatever ways you need to be supported. You just have to seek it out.! | Issue 18


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We love that you read us, but here are some additional publications you should be reading:… Pittsburgh Current After being “excused” for a disagreement over editorial freedom and big money clients at the City Paper, Charlie Deitch began his pursuit of a truly independent alt-publication. He was joined shortly after by Bethany Ruhe, who left after being insulted by management. What started as a “can we” conversation quickly became a “we did.” These business partners have since been joined by other veteran City Paper staff and are well on their way.

Steel This Magazine Publisher John Dubosky just put issue #8 on the streets. Based in Polish Hill, John also didn’t buy into the hype that print was dead. The magazines has a lifestyle focus including arts features, neighborhood highlights, entertainment and more. Printed three times a year, Steel This Mag offers enjoyable leisurely reading.

Inspiring Lives Magazine A women run, women focused publication that produces stories of inspiration and success from a woman’s perspective. It celebrates features such as financial strategy, stories of achievement, health and wellness and much more. Editor-in-Chief Dr. Shellie Hipsky has dedicated her life to helping and inspiring women in anyway she can.

Sensi Magazine

(Coming in 2019)

In the rapidly growing industry of legal cannabis, veteran event planner and CEO of Easy Street Promotions, Gina Vensel, has entered the world of magazine publishing. Sensi, which is regionally published, has a city lifestyle approach and introduces cannabis curious readership to the new normal in the the post-prohibition world.

Local Writer Brittany Hailer Exposes Her Personal And Family Trauma Summary by: Cedric Rudolph Any writer knows bringing a long project into being is a difficult birth—a process punctuated by hours at a desk, rewrites, and line edits. However, for local writer Brittany Hailer, revision of her forthcoming book, Animal You’ll Surely Become, involved a reallife crucible. Writing the “memoirhybrid,” as Hailer calls it, required her to face personal and family trauma, specifically the family trauma surrounding her father, Tim Hailer.

Animal You’ll Surely Become is a cycle of essays and poem-essays that map Hailer’s life from infancy to adulthood. Hailer’s parents were both alcoholics when they raised Hailer and her brother. Hailer uses her gifts as poet, essayist, and long-form journalist to handle the subject matter. She crafts a book that defies the boundaries that usually separate poetry from prose. And the book challenges readers of traditional nonfiction with its non-linear style. Hailer admits that the poetry in the book offered a container into which she could pour violent memories. The writing process itself made her muscles tense. She recalls her body’s strong reaction to writing one essay: “I would write a paragraph and walk away and not remember what I had just written.” Hailer penned secrets she had never divulged. Her own sexual assault, her father physically abusing her mother were both topics she had vowed to never discuss. In 2014, when she began the first drafts of the manuscript, she could not even bring herself to write down the details of the sexual assault

she experienced: “I couldn’t write the sentence. I used to draw black circles in the corner of papers whenever I thought about it.” Hailer began writing her memoir at Chatham University while obtaining her MFA in Nonfiction. However, the early drafts of the manuscript bear little resemblance to the book’s final form. “The first version of this book, I was really young when I wrote it. I was 23,” Hailer says (She is now 28). “[The manuscript] was angry in a lot of places, dramatic in a lot of places.” In early drafts, Hailer could not conceive the motivations behind her father’s reckless and violent behaviors during her childhood. “I thought [my father] was this selfish, angry person who was absent, and then I realized why.” Hailer was not prepared for the why she received. Between 2015-2017, Hailer’s father struggled through a cycle of relapse and rehab. During one stint of sobriety, he asked to visit Hailer. She said yes, and the two went to see a movie in the East End. As they walked home from the movie, he revealed to Hailer he had been sexually abused by a priest when he was a child. The revelation about her father forced Hailer to re-examine the entire manuscript. She finally saw all dimensions of her father in real life, which allowed her to complicate his character on the page. Hailer credits personal therapy with helping her finally come to terms with sexual violence. She also says her father’s admission helped her face, talk about, and write about sexual assault. She says, “In a lot of ways him coming out [with details of his abuse], helped me come to terms. I have since told him that I am a victim of sexual assault.” The essay “Into Our Perfect Bodies” opens Animal You’ll Surely Become. Hailer imagines herself as a photographer snapping candid pictures of her parents. Originally, the essay ended with Hailer antagonizing her father, kicking him out of the photo booth, and snapping a picture of the empty bench. Hailer says, “It was this very angry ending. Then I went back and found he’s also this child who never got to be a kid.” Now, she ends that essay differently. A scared boy wanders into the photo booth, and Hailer places a flower in his hair. Hailer’s father has been sober since Christmas 2017. Tolsun Books releases Animal You’ll Surely Become on October 9, 2018. | Issue 18



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