ISSUE 15 13 p
HAPPY MEAHL Sarah Meahl’s journey from Point Park to Paramour
FOOD BLOCKS! Pittsburgh’s Little Italy, Bloomfield
REVIVAL THROUGH RETRIBUTION The elusive second chance lives at Revival Chili
TRACKS Homestead is here, and it still works
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As we grow this publication, we also constantly ask ourselves the same questions. I think the best way I can describe what we're trying to do is that are trying to be the publication that engages it's readership. Regardless of economic background, educational background, professional background, race, and so on; we hope to publish pieces that are interesting and sometimes make you stop and think. Our readership are citizens that are engaged, people who enjoy life, doing things; whether it be a sporting
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Letter From THE EDITOR When we falter, what makes us give it another go, and more so, what makes us keep making the same
Editor's Notes THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PITTSBURGH In 1905, John P. Harris and Harry Davis
mistakes over and over again? Or, make brand new mistakes in a magnificently original way? It’s
opened the Nickelodeon, America’s first movie theater. They premiered two short films, Poor but Honest and The Baffled Burglar.
a mystery that plagues even the most astute psychological minds. The paradox of the second chance mystifies, and seemingly repeats, because we’re spoiled well-advantaged people who think chances will keep coming; and so, we don’t
The smiley emoji was invented by CMU
take said chance to better our situation, therefore repeating steps 1-20 and subse-
computer scientist Scott Fahlman in the early 80’s : )
quently walking through the same inferno. But what if we took our second chances, and did everything we could to transform our current reality?
The Big Mac was invented in 1967 by Jim
Is there a program we’re wired with to thrive and survive planet earth in an all-consuming infrastructure built to succeed off of our failures? Banking, school, medicine…It’s
Delligatti, a Uniontown native, and early adopter of the McDonald’s franchise. Delligatti opened his first stores in Uniontown, and eventually loads of others, leading to a grand total of 48 across PA.
all designed in some way to succeed from our failures. Even the construct of business is wired to succeed from failure on some level… and with the acceptance of something below par, we now begin to lower expectations from both sides. There is no easy answer, or quick fix, it’s simply something we should all pontificate in
The Carnegie Museum of Art
our down time. How can “I”, “Me”, “Us” take advantage of our second chances?
was the world’s first museum of modern, opening in 1895.
In this issue, we meet Jordan Robarge, founder of Revival Chili and purveyor of the second chance. His business hires ex-offenders and teaches them to become com-
The Banana Split was invented in 1904 by
petent and confident business people in order to start their own company. We also visit with Sarah Shaffer, owner of Overcast Skate shop, and one of the city’s budding
David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist in Latrobe, PA.
entrepreneurs who also took her second chance and made the best version of herself, not only for her, but for the community she serves.
This year, because of our incessant need to
We will all be given second chances in our lifetime, be it life, love, business, or friend-
text/social media while driving, and speed, Pittsburgh drivers were rated the worst in the country, tied only with New York. As in, New York, the live version of Mario Kart.
ship. And while second chances are nice, it’s ultimately up to us to create a brave new reality and forge through the messiness of our past inequities in order to live life, not just dwell in it. I would love to hear your stories of redemption, either received or given. Send to email@example.com, and as always, thanks for spending your time with us.
Rodney Burrell, Editor-In-Chief
Social Media @local_pgh
Story ideas? Send them to rburrell@Local-pittsburgh.com localpittsburgh
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There are so many.
Proof that Homestead still works.
Revival through Retribution
Jordan Robarge of Revival Chili offers up hearty food, with a side of second chances.
Other Side of the Tracks
The best outdoor spots, and the beers who love them.
Liberty Ave, Bloomfield.
An interview with Sarah Shaffer.
LOCALpittsburgh invades James Gallery for a night of hand-made Neapolitan pizza.
The best ways to search, and find new music.
The Art of Pizza
Skate and Prosper
Data mining Decoded
Social justice groups in Pittsburgh.
Making the most out of your tiny yard situation.
Pilot for Change
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Big Little Living
Data mining Decoded
The best ways to search, and find new music.
Happy Meahl with a Twist
We explore the perfect balance of crazy/sane with performer Sarah Meahl.
CONTRIBUTORS S.C OM
. P GH
Years ago Jason Cercone stumbled mouth first into adult beverages and never looked back. He’s managed to transform his love of beer, spirits, mead, and wine into his life's work and pinches himself regularly to make sure it’s all real. If you miss Cercone sitting at the end of the bar, you can check him out at breakingbrews.com or his podcast, The Breaking Brews Power Hour.
TH 34 22
G IN LD SB UI EE TR M DU NE BE
Mike Buzzelli is one of Pittsburgh’s most entertaining theater critics, buzzing around the city’s bustling theater menagerie and giving his entertaining and quirky thoughts on some of the performing arts’ best and brightest. You can catch Buzzelli on Burgh Vivant, an online cultural talk show, produced by Brian Edward, at the Observer newspaper, where he writes a weekly column, or at Arcade Theater where he performs stand up. Basically, he’s everywhere, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Heidi Balas is a regular contributor for LOCALpittsburgh, and brings her own brand of perspectives to Pittsburgh at www.thesteeltrap.net.
By Heidi Balas
Now that it’s happening to me, I can accurately state that there’s nothing quite like being pregnant. Furthermore, I believe that I can add to that statement by saying that there’s nothing quite like being pregnant in the first world. This of course brings me to the nature of this article (or rant or whatever); since discovering that I was carrying the truly wonderful blessing that is my son, life in the first world got really complicated. To think that before he came along, my biggest issues were not being able use Snapchat at work because of our wifi restrictions and the unparalleled stress that is caused from never knowing if it’s okay to take the tag off of pillows or appliance cords. Boy, was I wrong!* To start, I am mentally exhausted from cataloging and ranking all of the public restrooms are in the entire greater Pittsburgh area, considering that I need to use one roughly every fifteen minutes. Then, there’s the issue of parking. Like, how pregnant do I have to be before it’s acceptable to park in the spaces reserved for expectant mothers? Is it a monthly thing or a size thing? And why aren’t there spaces reserved for pregnant women at the liquor store? Just because I cannot drink, doesn’t mean that I am not buying booze! Speaking of alcohol, there’s the issue that I can no longer indulge in of all the things that I love to enjoy like alcohol, sushi and certain cheeses, tanning products, energy drinks, aerosol sprays, etc. How am I supposed to blog about my dining experiences without a glass of wine or a craft cocktail? It’s uncivilized! How am I to exist being pale? I haven’t been pale since 1997! How am I to maintain energy levels higher than a sloth? And how can I possibly get through the week without using an entire bottle of dry shampoo? Am I going to have to wash and dry my hair (gasp) every day? Then there’s the task of having to choose the right smartphone app for my pregnancy. Truthfully, I downloaded about five of them, realized that they were very annoying, deleted them all, and then found one that was quirky with min-
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imal ads and that didn’t send me emails every five minutes. I also had no idea where to register, let alone what to put on that registry so I had to email all my friends with kids. Furthermore, I had to decide whether or not to do a maternity photo shoot and if I was going to take photos of my growing stomach each week. I mean, am I even really pregnant if I don’t post an ultrasound picture and some Pinterest announcement on Facebook? Lastly, the clothing. Why do most maternity clothes accentuate the areas of my body that need the least amount of accentuating/exploitation or are just plain ugly? Even the Bitmoji app has hideous maternity clothing options. And why are maternity clothes complicated? For instance, I bought a pair of tagless maternity leggings for comfort on Amazon and then I couldn’t tell if I had them on frontwards or backwards! Where’s the comfort in that? Why are the tolerable maternity clothes either available exclusively online and nearly impossible to return, or found tucked in a corner behind the plus sized section(s) in stores? Should I be offended? Nevertheless, like I said above, I was so wrong in thinking that my first world problems prior to being pregnant were rough. But, I’ve never been more thrilled to have been wrong, because I wouldn’t trade my latest set of “problems” for anything!
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Written by Rodney Burrell
650,000 people will be incarnated in 2017, and out of those people, two-thirds will find themselves back in prison. Even more, those who remain out of the penal system, will face unemployment at a 30% higher rate than the rest of us. It’s a tough road to climb back from in a lot of cases; and no one knows that better than Jordan Robarge, founder of Revival Chili, a food truck that hires ex-offenders and mentors them to become entrepreneurs.
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Robarge, a transplant from Falls Church, VA, with a degree in Systems Engineering from The University of Virginia, travelled to Pittsburgh with Venture for America, a nonprofit encouraging young entrepreneurs across the country. He got his first indication that chili was his thing after he started catering friend’s and family’s events. His business launched not long after that, primarily as a pop up. “Starting a Chili food truck has been my dream for years, but Revival Chili isn’t just about amazing food. We are creating a life-changing solution for reentering citizens,” said Robarge.
Robarge, who also found himself in the crosshairs of unemployment after a looming underage drinking charge, decided to make his own break, in where he could not only build his business, but offer opportunities for people who needed a chance to reinvent themselves with the workforce, as well as society. Although Robarge didn’t experience the same scrutiny as more serious offenders, it opened his eyes to the problems that ex-offenders face in the workforce. As a result, Robarge and Revival Chili’s main focus is employment sustainability. With most programs focusing on placement, not longevity, there’s a visible gap in real-world re-entry, but more than that, survival in today’s economy. The starting wage at Revival Chili is $15.50/hour, over double minimum wage. Not only does this give Robarge’s employees a “real” chance at living a fruitful life, but it’s integral in their path on the straight and narrow. Most ex-offenders, if they can get a job, don’t make much more than $7.25/hour, a poverty level compensation package currently bestowed upon roughly 3 million hourly workers in the United States. This destitute financial narrative often leads ex-offenders back to the grey areas financial entrepreneurialism. Robarge creates a program that teaches and cultivates, it only encourages the cycle of second chances. Professional development, fiscal responsibility, and business savvy will lead more ex-offenders to the business owner circle, and offering more second chances to the people who need them during dark times.
Robarge also partnered with Zero Six Eight, an entrepreneurial incubator geared toward ex-offenders who want to start a business, or companies looking to hire them specifically. Zero Six Eight provides logistical and operational support, along with community development training for employees. The support has helped to make end roads in a challenging business model. Revival Chili served as a pop up since 2016, but after a successful Indiegogo campaign and private funding, the company launched their food truck in May, catering to all who not only love the hearty bowl of chili, but also support a business that facilitates the true nature of reinventing ourselves, no matter where our past journeys have lead us. For more information on Revival Chili, visit www.revivalchili.com
“Starting a Chili food truck has been my dream for years, but Revival Chili isn’t just about amazing food. We are creating a life-changing solution for reentering citizens”
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Written by Eric Boyd Photography by Julie Kahlbaugh
Just before the turn of the millennium the three boroughs of Homestead, Munhall, and West Homestead worked together to bring a massive open-air shopping complex to the area. Where the historic Homestead Works steel mill once stood, the over one million square foot Waterfront mall now operates. Few remnants from the Works remain, most notably a row of smokestacks near the AMC multiplex; most of the real history of the town is on the other side of the train tracks which both literally and figuratively separate the Waterfront from the Homestead area. But from food to art to shopping, Homestead has a lot to offer. Let’s take a look at everything on their side of the tracks. 18
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OTHER SIDE OF THE
FOOD & DRINKS Food is always a good place to start. There’s always something thoroughly satisfying in standard fare like pizza and wings from Homestead Capri or hoagies and soup from Old School Italian Sandwich Shop, but Homestead also offers a wide variety of quirkier bites. Blue Dust is a excellent place to begin seeing such variety. Open just across the tracks since 2009, the folks at Blue Dust are particularly proud of their location. “The corner of Amity and 6th used to be the main entrance for US Steel and has been a bar since the 1800’s,” says Stephanie, who helps run Blue Dust.
HOMESTEAD STILL WORKS
Keeping with tradition, Blue Dust has enjoyed great success as a classic bar and restaurant— only, they also happen to offer hummus, curry, and homemade smoked salsa. One of the first local bars to serve craft beer, Blue Dust is also known for hosting a number of events under the Homestead Grays bridge, including an annual Pumpkin Fest with Fall-flavored beers from several regional and national breweries.
“THE EVENTS UNDER THE BRIDGE ARE BRINGING PEOPLE TO OUR NEIGHBORHOOD,” STEPHANIE SAYS. “THE VIBE HERE IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY POSITIVE.” Another unique place to get food and drinks is Honest John’s restaurant. Open since late January, Honest John’s offers French-American cuisine proudly made from scratch in-house; owner John Wray (the restaurant is not actually named after him; it is named after John McLuckie, the mayor of Homestead during the infamous steel strike of the 1800’s) is proud to be cooking on 8th Avenue, especially with family nearby.
OPEN SINCE LATE JANUARY, HONEST JOHN’S OFFERS FRENCH-AMERICAN CUISINE PROUDLY MADE FROM SCRATCH IN-HOUSE
“The response has been very positive,” Wray says. “The locals are thrilled to have another nice business on the avenue and have been extremely supportive. The reviews, in our short time operating, have been better than I anticipated.” Another place that hasn’t been getting many bad reviews is Voodoo Brewery on 9th Avenue. Part of it could be that they recognize an important part of coming to a historical neighborhood is making sure not to erase that history. With that in mind, Voodoo Brewery set up their Homestead location in the town’s old firehouse, doing little to hide the space’s former self, in fact keeping some firefighter jackets hung on the walls.
VOODOO BREWERY SET UP THEIR HOMESTEAD LOCATION IN THE TOWN’S OLD FIREHOUSE, DOING LITTLE TO HIDE THE SPACE’S FORMER SELF “My wife and her family are from this area,” Wray says. “My brother-in-law, owner of the Local Motion fitness studio across the street, lives in West Homestead and is on the community development council. He is aware of the path Homestead is trending toward and is very optimistic on this neighborhood's future.” Wray, too, is optimistic: Honest John’s dishes—from Crispy Pork Belly to Bourbon Bread Pudding—have proved to be hits.
ART IS OFTEN AT THE FOREFRONT OF ANY THRIVING NEIGHBORHOOD, AND HOMESTEAD IS CERTAINLY NOT LACKING. One of the best-known around the city is Baron Batch’s Studio AM, which aims to be a cultural space that not only houses many of former-Steeler-turned-painter’s vibrant, color-drenched works, but also hosts Sunday brunch and a new Summer sound series. Tori Meglio, Studio AM’s marketing manager, says that Batch, along with chef Steve Morehouse, hope to celebrate creativity in Homestead.
ART IN THE
With a food truck parked outside and a pinball arcade across the bar, Voodoo has kept busy since their opening. During weekends it’s even possible to check out some amazing photographs at Chuck Beard’s Abandoned Pittsburgh gallery / storefront, right next door to Voodoo and accessible from the bar. Of course, it’s hard to leave said bar when they line the back wall with always-interesting local art and offer delicious brews like the Rakau Pale Ale or Voodoo Love Child, their Belgian-style tripel.
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lic to engage with me on a personal level.”
ART CONTINUED ...
Best’s work contrast dark backgrounds with bright streaks and drips of color reminiscent of the late New York artist Jeremy Blake. At the 7th Avenue gallery, his abstract works line the walls in large-scale paintings and dot the floor with repurposed furniture. Best says that the area in general is an exciting place to create art.
“This space exists to elevate the standard of culture in our community by enhancing cultural diversity and inspiring change through curated experiences,” says Meglio.
“Pittsburgh is steeped with incredible art history,” Best says. “I see big change coming here and hope to be involved, making new friends every step of the way.”
So far, that mission has been a success.
A big part of Pittsburgh’s art history, and perhaps the most celebrated in Homestead, is undoubtedly Robert Qualters. Likely the longest-working artist in Homestead today, Qualters has enjoyed countless awards and honors, including the title of Pennsylvania's Artist of the Year in 2014.
Hoping to fulfill a similar mission, Jesse Best is the newest artist in Homestead, having recently opened a brand new gallery on 7th Avenue to showcase his work. Before Homestead, Best, who creates large-scale works, says he often had to scale down his pieces due to a simple lack of space. The gallery he’s found in Homestead allows him the physical and creative space to do what he loves. “I have the freedom to make whatever inspires me and immediately display it in one of the two showrooms at the gallery,” Best says. “My goal is to continually curate the space into something unique to Pittsburgh and finally open my doors for the pub-
Speaking of Homestead, Qualters says, “I have always felt welcome here.” Painting since the 1950’s and settling into the Pittsburgh area permanently in the late 60’s, Qualters first started working out of his Homestead studio nearly 30 years ago. His vivid paintings often serve as a visual diary, a snapshot of the world around him. Neighborhoods, bridges, mills, people: Homestead has been lucky to allow us to see what he sees in the town. For his part, he knows what makes the town special. “Homestead has benefitted from people and organizations, like HERC (Homestead Economic Recovery Corporation) and Rivers of Steel that have had a strong presence in the area. Individuals like Charlie Batch and others have been dedicated in helping the life of this area.”
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AVENUES LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE DEDICATED TO THIS AREA, AND MANY OF THEM ARE OPENING UP SHOPS ON THE AVENUES.
While bars and restaurants are never a bad thing, and art is always at the foundation of any cultural revival, few towns can offer must-see attractions like Escape Room Pittsburgh’s location in an old, ornate bank building on 8th Avenue. Visitors have one hour to break out of themed rooms filled with various clues and puzzles that further enhance the dire scenario. Joe Deasy runs Escape Room Pittsburgh and is proud to have Homestead as the business’ second location.
Deasy, who grew up in Munhall, said he passed through Homestead, and the building where the new Escape Room is, for years. Getting to operate out the bank building provided Deasy with instant themes; for instance, having a bank vault at their disposal, the current escape scenario is called Carnegie’s Millions. “Local detail and flavor are key to us,” Deasy says. “The experience becomes more immersive.” Immersion isn’t difficult in Homestead. Walking along the Avenues, one may hear a barge or train at any moment; it’s easy to close your eyes and imagine supplies being moved in and out of the mill. Easy to picture the Mom-and-Pop shops, like Harry’s Clothing or Isaly’s. Open your eyes and you can see those places aren’t there anymore, but ones like them are. Perhaps the best place to get a sense of history is the place that sells goods from its kitschier side: Retro on 8th. Opened in 2003, Haley Kile and her partner Jennifer Horovitz bought the Retro building two years earlier from the owner of Gold’s Shoes. While working to get their own storefront up and running, Kile and Horovitz actually became “amatuer shoe salespeople” and sold the remaining stock the owner of Gold’s left behind. Once Retro finally had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony, Kile says the reaction was mixed.
after the mills were sold, Rivers of Steel houses a small museum and provides tours of the Carrie Furnace across the Mon. Baraff says that the current uptick in the Steel Valley has been a long time coming. “When the Waterfront came in, I think they oversold themselves. They said that there would be all of this natural spillover from their properties into the town itself. Of course it didn’t work out that way.” Such trickle-downs rarely work, but in Homestead’s case it took nearly 20 years before people really began to recognize the area’s potential. Baraff is on the fence about what role, if any, the Waterfront really played. “When you look at how Homestead is rising up now, can you attribute that entirely to the Waterfront? No, not at all; ultimately I don’t think [the Waterfront] really cares what happens to the town. But you can’t totally dismiss them, either.”
“People thought we were nuts for opening our shop in Homestead,” Kile says. “Homestead seemed like it was lost in time somewhere, still finding its way back from the closing of the steel mill.” Kile is happy to think those people are wrong as, over time, the shop gained a reputation for their odd, one-of-a-kind goods. Mod furniture and vinyl records are to be expected, but Retro is also curated with oddities like motorized drink coasters and board games based on TV shows such as Murder She Wrote, plus plenty of barware (Speaking on a personal favorite—a line of books that open up to reveal a glass and mixer set—Kile says, “That one’s great because people think, ‘Oh you must be very well-read’; then they open it up and see you’re just an alcoholic”). The people who “get” Retro on 8th are never unhappy. Getting to own pieces of nostalgia is always fun, but it’s important to think of why that is. It’s important to consider the past’s role in our present. Rivers of Steel agrees. Ron Baraff is the Director of Historic Resources and Facilities for Rivers of Steel, which runs out of the Bost Building on 8th Avenue, next to the local post office. Saving the building from being torn down in 1988
Baraff concedes that, whatever the Waterfront’s motives, it has technically brought more people to the area that may not have visited otherwise. “The Waterfront has brought people to Homestead, but the rub is, they’re not really visiting Homestead.” Real Homestead, he says, is community. A place whose history is tethered to its present, and will invariably shape its future. “When I come across the Homestead Grays Bridge and see a dozen different steeples, that’s what Homestead is to me.” However far Pittsburgh reaches into the future, it seems that its past is never-fading. Homestead’s Big Steel distinguishment may have become an unfortunate disposition after the mills closed, but that doesn’t mean the caring, hardworking mentality built from the old days is gone. Whatever the Waterfront is doing, and even whatever shops may open up along the Avenues, Homestead’s spirit—in its food, art, and culture—will continue to thrive.
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“Three years ago, I was a hot mess,” Sarah Shaffer uttered in a confident tone, explaining that her journey to entrepreneurship was not an easy one. "I believe in second chances."
As we sat in her business, Overcast Skateboard Shop in Bloomfield, a gritty embodiment of the growing sub culture of skaters, she explained her desire to connect with the community at large and serve as an inspiration to anyone looking to dip their feet into the entrepreneurial waters. “I try to encourage everyone to give their business to my fellow entrepreneurs. They've been great and very supportive.” Shaffer doesn’t come from a skating background, but her boyfriend is rather prolific in the scene, and when she noticed the vast gap in legitimate and affordable shops that catered to the market, she jumped on the opportunity to create a space that’s not only accommodating to the lifestyle, but affordable.
Written by Rodney Burrell | Photography by Julie Kahlbaugh
BACK TO THE GRIND 24
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“I really laid back in the beginning and learned about the skating scene, because I didn't want to come off as disingenuous,” said Shaffer. Overcast offers affordable gear that includes shoes, socks, decks, and other accessories. During our interview, a customer came in asking about a pair of Iron Maiden socks; the direct result of Shaffer’s social media marketing and constant piloting of her brand. I don't know if he bought them, but he sure was excited about the idea of Iron Maiden fabric wrapped around his feet. "It's important to stay in line with your market, why have a pair of $150.00 shoes if your customer isn't going to pay that? This isn't that type of neighborhood,” said Shaffer.
"I know the carpet is a little rough, it's a little dingy in here, but I really think our customers like the authenticity, because skating isn't a clean sport, it's rough and gritty,” Shaffer added. But the skate scene is not Shaffer's only venture, her diversified portfolio is continuing to grow. She's become somewhat of a serial entrepreneur, delving into real estate, and now the bar business. We walked next door to her latest project, a bar that she recently purchased and is in the process of renovating. "I want this to be a place where my fellow service industry people can come in and relax. I want it to be warm and inviting with a neighborhood bar feel." And value is still her core benchmark. “I'm not going to charge $8 for a cocktail, because when you charge that, the customer is
paying for the fancy decor and the lighting, and everything else. I want people to see value in community," she stated. Tina's, named after Shaffer’s mother, who served as an inspiration and conduit for her career, will have a pool table and an old-school juke box that offers customers a very organic experience. No frills, just good service, great conversations, and better community.
Shaffer proudly highlighted the space, which she plans to renovate as well. "This is all going to be a big open space, very clean and modern. But most importantly, affordable for the area,” she said.
"This is all going to be a big open space, very clean and modern. But most importantly, affordable for the area,”
After we perused the downstairs space, we ascended a Kilimanjaro-worthy flight of stairs to feast on Shaffer’s other venture, an apartment in the wonderful world of landlording. "Don't worry, I'm getting these steps fixed," she chuckled.
Shaffer’s commitment to creating a budget-friendly market is admirable in an area that is known for pillaging its inhabitants.
"I want people to be able to afford to live, it's insane that an apartment costs $1,500 a month. If they can afford to live here, maybe they’ll come have a drink at my bar, or go across the street and grab a cup of coffee, it's great for everyone," Shaffer said.
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It's an unconventional philosophy; create a quality product that people can afford, but Shaffer is anything but conventional. Lashing out at trends, she doesn't walk to anyone’s beat. Not an atypical personality trait of the entrepreneur. “I like being original, for instance, my car is from Japan. I have some connections there, so I had it imported and dealt with everything that comes with permitting and making it street legal,” said Shaffer. Shaffer’s weapon of choice is a bright orange jeep-like vehicle, AKA a 1990 Suzuki Jimny Turbo. It’s weird, and awesome. "Originality will never go out of style. I can't try to keep up with every trend, why? Sure, I could have bought a BMW, but that's not me. When I see the types of people in those
cars, I just know it's not who I am," said Shaffer. "Also, if it's not turbocharged, and a manual, I can't drive it," she jested. My mind waxed and waned as we talked about business, and her plans for the future. Incredibly articulate with a side of grit, Shaffer’s immediate plans are to continue her projects, but her heart is with the skate community, and spearheading programs that can develop a stronger and more vibrant skating community. "I really want to get a skate park built for the city. There's so little for skaters in Pittsburgh, so I'm going to be working hard to be part of that process," said Shaffer. In the meantime, she allows skating in the front of Overcast, and they also built a small ramp on the back patio of the store where they host free skate sessions. In all of her ventures, Sarah Shaffer brings an incredibly human element to the world of business. She will continue to encourage a community infrastructure that not only develops commerce, but more importantly, sustainability.
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On the afternoon of May 1, 2017, the Pittsburgh region was hit with both a tornado watch and warning. But this didn’t stop hundreds of people from taking to the streets to honor May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day. “It was pouring rain and 250 people still came out, disregarding the tornado warning, to show their solidarity for workers and immigrants,” said Marni Fritz, Director of Communications at the Thomas Merton Center. “It was a beautiful march.” In light of recent political controversies, social justice activism has become a hot ticket in Pittsburgh, with many people and groups feeling vulnerable to a new president and policies, including science—hundreds marched in Oakland on Earth Day to defend its role in policy and society.
JUSTICE CITY STEEL SOCIAL in the
Written by Megan McLachlan 28
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“Social Justice is fighting for equity for everyone,” said Fritz. “It is about holding our policy makers, our social networks, and our work spaces accountable to the ideals of equity, inclusion, anti-racism, anti-exploitation, and anti-oppression. It is the aim of social justice to dismantle the white-supremacist-capitalist patriarchy.” For Pittsburghers scrolling through their Facebook events to see what’s going on in an upcoming weekend, they’re more than likely to see lots of social activism, whether it’s informal gatherings like “On Fridays, We Fight Fascism” to more organized events like “Bey-B Shower Pittsburgh,” hosted by the Black Femme Excellence Co., to gather baby and nesting supplies for expectant mothers of color in the area. “Recently [Black Femme Excellence Co.] organized an event supporting mothers of color to help meet their needs and celebrate them while highlighting the extreme inequality women of color face, especially single mothers” said Fritz. Infant death rates in Pittsburgh are higher among black babies than white babies by 9 percent. Another group that’s working hard to address institutionalized oppression is the Good People’s Group, an anti-racist group with a handson approach toward education and development. “Predominantly run by women of color, they are focused on dismantling oppression in nonprofits, schools, companies, and the Pittsburgh community at large.” For nearly 45 years, the Thomas Merton Center, a central hub for social justice activism in the Steel City, has been a fruitful champion of change.
“Recently, we have been putting pressure on local Allegheny County Democrats to oppose anti-immigrant legislation in PA and have been successful in changing the position of Representatives like Dom Costa,” said Fritz.
But Thomas Merton Center isn’t the only resource in town when it comes to fighting for equal rights. Surprisingly enough, even area churches, like First Unitarian Church at 605 Morewood Avenue, are heavily involved in social justice action.
“Like most other Unitarian Universalist churches, we engage in social justice work because of our seven principles, which reflect a deeper theological heritage,” said Reverend David Herndon, Senior Minister at First Unitarian Church. The seven principles include the inherent worth and dignity of a person to the respect for all of existence. “In particular, our Universalist theological heritage calls us to view the humanity as one interdependent family with a common origin and a common fate.”
First Unitarian Church has a lot of issues on its plate, including its impact on the environment. Recently, the church completed a $500,000 geothermal heating and cooling system to reduce its carbon footprint. The church has also successfully pushed for green infrastructure rather than gray infrastructure for solving the sewage overflow problem in Pittsburgh due to the city’s combined sanitary and rain sewers.
When it comes to being involved, Herndon said the motto “Deeds not Creeds” is a common principle, which conveys that action trumps doctrine. “Through PIIN [congregation-based community-organizing group Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network] , we have helped the Pittsburgh Public | Issue 15
School system move toward the Community Schools model which provides wrap-around services for children under one roof to help ensure more positive educational outcomes.” And while many churches skew toward more conservative stances, First Unitarian Church isn’t afraid to make bold statements in order to further social justice. “When we put up the Black Lives Matter banner on the outside of our building, that was an expression of our commitment to what our first principle calls 'the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.’ Before that, we had a banner that said, ‘Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right,’ which was another expression of that same principle.”
But in typical Unitarian fashion, the church did more than just hang a banner. It also worked with former Chief of Police, Cameron McLay, to adopt practices like body cameras and diversity building to strengthen the relationship between the police and the community at large. From churches to online groups, when it comes to fighting for the rights of the oppressed, Pittsburgh offers a lot of options for those wanting to get involved. The Thomas Merton Center was created in response to ending the Vietnam War, but today its goals and connections are vast within the ‘Burgh, similar to the social justice involvement in the city. “If we are not planning actions, we can tap people into other groups who are,” said Fritz. “There is always activism happening in Pittsburgh.” 30
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REFLECT ON COLOR Choose contrasting colors when decorating and hang a unique mirror or two to make the space look bigger. (Hint: a simple color palette like white, black, and green allow you to easily add lots of accessories without clashing.)
When choosing a place to live, there are inevitable trade offs with regard to price, location, size, and amenities. Many people who choose city conveniences prioritize location over size since many city properties are compact with small plots of land. If you find yourself faced with the decision between a fab city pad and a lush outdoor space, use these tips to compromise on the outdoor space by making a big statement with your small square footage.
BE MULTI FUNCTIONAL Start with pieces that look great while serving several purposes. For example, a fire pit can be covered to use as a table when not in use and pretty wooden benches can double as storage bins.
Written by Leah George Pre-Edited Illustrations Courtesy Freepik.com
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GROW A GARDEN Exercise your (tiny) green thumb by getting creative with Mother Nature. Vertical or hanging gardens take up almost no space at all and container gardens can add color and visual interest without the digging!
Be multi-functional: Start with pieces that look great while serving several purposes. For example, a fire pit can be covered to use as a table when not in use and pretty wooden benches can double as storage bins.
LIGHT IT UP Strings of patio lights will brighten your space and create a warm ambiance. Try hanging them above your space, along walls, or in trees/bushes to keep it interesting.
A small pond or a fountain will create a calm, relaxing vibe as the sights and sounds of water invite a piece of nature into your city space.
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As it does annually, Summer has risen from its desolate slumber and crept back into our everyday lives. Truthfully, this past winter was much more tame than its predecessors (70+ degrees in February, anybody?), but still frigid enough on a handful of days to have us anxiously pushing the scarves to the back of the closet in lieu of tank tops and flip flops. It's a special time of year in Pittsburgh where playground business grows exponentially, the crack of baseball bats fill the air in the North Shore, and folks like you and I seek out the best place to soak in the rays while tipping back a tasty adult beverage.
YOUR MISSION: FIND AN OUTDOOR DRINKING DESTINATION AND ENJOY 36
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Written by Jason Cercone
The rise of summer seemingly brings with it a new list of
outdoor drinking spots throughout the city each and every year. It's an editorial as consistent as gravity. There's no denying finding a spacious loft, comfortable patio, or killer deck with a big screen to catch the Penguins' run at another dance with Lord Stanley is simply glorious this time of year. But, if my instincts are doing me justice, they're telling me the last thing you want to read is yet another list of outdoor hot spots in Pittsburgh.
Why? Because just like the beverage you hopefully have in your hand this very moment, the elements that make up an outdoor drinking space are intensely subjective. While one group of good-time seekers may flock to a porch that overlooks our beautiful city, others may opt for a quiet patio with a small fire pit where conversations evolve into lifelong memories. You may be looking for a winery boasting a finely-finished deck while your significant other clamors for a stool in a brewery with a garage that opens to let Mother Nature belly up to the bar as well.
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And what about the beverages themselves? You live in a virtual cornucopia of libations courtesy of a community of incredibly talented men and women prepared to deliver a season's worth of liquid memories. Pittsburgh is home to award-winning beer, wine, cider, mead, and spirits, as well as expert servers and bartenders dedicated to helping you experience each one in exciting, innovative fashion.
COLD.BREWS. If there's one type of list I can get behind,
it's one that points me towards summer beers I can enjoy just as much at my local pub as I can after mowing the lawn. Below are five solid local beers to look for this season:
Social Session IPA w/ Grapefruit by Full Pint Brewing
Haze Frehley by Levity Brewing Company
Tart 'N Witty by Reclamation Brewing Company
Low ABV with mild notes of grapefruit. As the title suggests, enjoy this one with friends.
A hazy, juicy Vermont-style IPA. Easy-drinking on 90 degree days.
A tart Wheat Ale brewed with orange peel and coriander. Sip responsibly around a campfire.
The moral of the story is this: much like your beverage preferences, Pittsburgh is overflowing with options that satiate every desire. In fact, if you look hard enough, every aforementioned element of summer done right can be found in and around the Steel City. You can use the Internet as your guide, but I think you'll agree: life is better exploring the world around you and experiencing locales, beverages, and confidants for yourself. This is not a list of the 'best of the best' or the 'hidden gems your summer won't be complete without.' This is a call-toaction. Too often, we let the views and opinions of others dictate our actions. This may cost us worthwhile experiences. This summer, get out and explore this great city we call home with the ones you love. With Pittsburgh having so much to offer, finding an outdoor destination you can write home about shall be your inevitable profit. 38
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THE MOST CREATIVE PLACE ON THE PLANET ART. FOOD. MUSIC. CONVERSATION. PRIVATE EVENTS. 225 E. 8TH AVENUE, HOMESTEAD, PA 15120
STUDIO-AM.COM | @STUDIOAMPGH
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T H E
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The event started with an informative presentation by Chef Cardone, who trained in Italy, where he went over ingredients, techniques, and other key components to making an authentic Neapolitan pizza.
A R T
LOCALpittsburgh, James Gallery, and pizzaiolo extraordinaire Dan Cardone teamed up for a night of pizza making in a wood burning oven, located on the sprawling property of James Gallery, an art gallery, framing center, and event space located in Pittsburgh’s West End.
Next up was dough smashing, kneading, flipping, and preparing our glorious slice of heaven for the pizza oven. Just so you know, the most critical component to making a grade A pie is the dough. Carefully working out the air pockets in the middle of an art gallery was rather symbolic as the pizzaiolos-in- training began to understand the parallel of pizza and art. We’re not talking the half-burnt $5.00 pie birthed by an 18-year-old at Little Caesar’s, this journey goes back to Naples, Italy in the 18th or 19th century. The art form has been redeveloped over the years, but the purity remains true with people like Cardone. 40
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Written by Enzo Knight | Photography by Julie Kahlbaugh
His art is creating an experience through food. The history and pride radiates from his persona, and he’s not afraid to smack a hand or two if you’re not kneading the way dough kneading needs to be kneaded. Mess up the dough, and your pizza is sentenced to purgatory.
I never thought there was so much to making a pizza, the simplicity is perfectly exquisite, and the end result is a pure culinary bounty. As we enjoyed our creations, we were able to take stock of how art is around us. The art we saw at James Gallery showed us beauty, talent, and dedication to a form of creativity and passion to express imagery that can evoke emotion and dialogue. The same amount of effort and commitment came from Chef Cardone and his art of creating a food experience that not only delights the taste buds, but also heightens the senses to another world that is tied to our culture. Never will I look at a pizza the same, and for that, I’m grateful. Thanks to Chef Cardone and James Gallery for creating a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone at LOCALpittsburgh.
About seven minutes, and voila, we had a handmade, homemade pizza with hearty and natural ingredients.
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Written by Enzo Knight | Photography by Julie Kahlbaugh
Lot 1 7
Lot 17 is a pub-style restaurant offering a wide variety of light, and not so light fare, as well as a fully stocked bar, of which includes a British favorite, Crabbieâ€™s Ginger Beer. Dishes like Fish Tacos and smoky BBQ ribs round the table with great food along with a down home neighborhood welcome wagon.
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on the menu Steak Strips
Tessaro’s A historical landmark in terms of longevity and more importantly, meat consumption. A former bar, Tessaro’s was reinvented by founder, Kelly Harrington, one of Pittsburgh’s most beloved restaurateurs and burger enthusiasts. The laidback vibe is indicative of Harrington’s philosophy and the hamburgers are hailed as some of the best in the city. Although Harrington passed in 2009, his philosophy for great food and family still rings throughout the floor and kitchen.
on the menu
The 2016 World Champion for Best Pan Pizza, Caliente Pizza makes their pies shine with a wide variety of topping options; but the coup de grace, and what took home the trophy is the Quack Attack, a pizza donned with pan seared duck, roasted garlic butter sauce, mushroom ragu, fontanelle and parmesan cheese, baby arugula, tomatoes, and truffle garlic oil. Yeah.
Thai Cuisine A rock-solid menu that caters to Thai food enthusiasts and vegans; Thai Cuisine is lauded for their exceptionally tasty authentic dishes that include pad thai, curry, and a comprehensive vegetarian menu. Their service is often praised, along with their heat scale, which is known for being very accurate.
Gourmet Kelly Burger | Issue 15
BOBA FRUIT SMOOTHIE OVER 8 FLAVORS
Located in Pittsburghâ€™s Regent Square neighborhood Thai Cottage offers an amazing selection of authentic Thai Cuisine. 1109 S Braddock Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15218 | 412.241.8424 | ThaiCottagePgh.com
2181 HULTON ROAD OAKMONT, PA
FULL BAR HAPPY HOUR SPECIALS ON FOOD AND DRINKS
Sausalido Napa Valley meets Bloomfield with Sausalido, a BYOB bistro with a strong emphasis on European cuisine. Founder Nicholas Mineo focuses on the casual, yet refined dining atmosphere that he experienced with his grandfather, Lido, in Sausalito, a community in Northern California. And there you have it, Sausalido. With a seasonal menu, you’re always guaranteed an authentically brilliant dish.
on the menu DJ’s Sandwich Shoppe A low-key staple in the food community, DJ’s Sandwich Shoppe whips up a litany of sandwiches design to make your mouth water with appreciation. With menu items like The Rueben Burger, Lamb Gyro, and Homemade potato and cheese pierogies with fried pickled onion, it’s no surprise that you might find yourself sneaking away to this quaint industry favorite.
DJ’s Butcher Block
The flagship business in the DJ empire, DJ’s Butcher Block has been pedaling specialty sausages, meats and other deli favorites since 2012. After culinary school took him to New York and New Orleans, Chef DJ finally came back to Pittsburgh and worked with The Duquesne Club, Steelhead Grill, Café Sam and Zarra’s. He also doubled as a sausage maker, sourcing local farmers’ markets to procure sustenance for his budding catering outfit. Now, Chef DJ is making people smile all over the city with sandwiches, meat, and more meat.
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ALWAYS A CLASSIC
CELEBRATING 25 YEARS! Patio Open
MALLORCA RESTAURANT 2228 E. Carson Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side 412-488-1818 | Free valet parking
We’re more than just pizza… DINE-IN - TAKE OUT - LOUNGE TradiTional asian Cuisine & sushi Bar DELIVERY • EAT IN • TAKE OUT 1124 Freeport Road Fox Chapel
Wexford • 10441 Perry Highway • 724-935-4151 North Hills • 2198 Babcock Boulevard • 412-821-0600 www.montecellos.com
Shop Local - Buy Local,
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Phone 412.592.6395 150 E. Main St. Carnegie, PA 15106 | 20 Hawley Ave. Bellevue, PA 15202 Tuesday - Saturday 11am to 5pm www.lungavitadesigns.com | Lunga.email@example.com
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415 Gettysburg Street Suite 1, Pittsburgh PA, 15206
What started as a hobby became a passion for photographer Patrick Hogan three years ago. Showcasing his work in different galleries across the city, taking on professional photo shoots for clients, and continuing to learn through exploring the city and its surroundings in order to better his craft.
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p a t r ic k ho g an
Originally from Buffalo, NY, and growing up in Potter County, PA, he transplanted to Pittsburgh after graduating high school to attend Point Park University. Patrick lived in the dorms on Wood Street at Boulevard of the Allies in the heart of the city. This head first exposure to the city was his crash course to exploring the people, architecture, and culture that Pittsburgh has to offer. Through the modern day wonders of social media, Patrick discovered Instagram where he began to upload and share his work with others in the area as well as across the globe. By connecting with other creatives in the area Patrick has helped create several groups whose aim is to showcase other photographers skill in the city such as @412project (a year long project which featured a new gallery each month based on selections from our hashtag #412project), @pittsburghsmostdope (which is a community page that features photos daily from the hashtag #pittsburghsmostdope), and most recently @PGH.Creative (a community of local creatives featuring the work of other photographers, artists, musicians, and models). Connect with him at @theherohogan.
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HOWARD HANNA REAL ESTATE SERVICES 6310 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15217 LeahGeorge@HowardHanna.com DIRECT 412-713-0513 OFFICE 412-421-9120 Ext. 516
Arrive Safe this SUMMER! Because We Understand Family. We are dedicated to making sure you and your family arrive safely, every time. Stop in and let me introduce you to our trained, friendly staff. Because we care, Dennis
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(412) 364-9933 Mon - Thr 11am - 9:30pm Fri-Sat11am - 10:30pm Sun 12noon - 9:30pm
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Written by Amanda Roszkowski Illustrations Courtesy Freepik.com
MUSIC DISCOVERY ISN’T DEAD
(YOU JUST NEED TO KNOW WHERE TO LOOK) Lately, do you feel like you’ve combed the depths of your music library? Seen the same band more times than you can count? Nowadays, when trying to find new music, we’ve become accustomed to letting Pandora or Spotify choose what we should be listening to. However, these modes of music discovery rarely account for local or lesser-known artists. Take that gem of a band you caught during a random Thursday night out at your favorite dive bar. Likely, no music app is going to give you that same experience, nor will it suggest to you that you check them out. So, how do you find these unique and interesting artists?
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IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE MUSIC COMMUNITY Just as you want to surround yourself with positive people as this positivity will likely rub off on you, the same goes for music knowledge. Surround yourself with those that have a like-minded passion for finding new music, and you’ll hear more often about unlikely musical one-of-akinds through word-of-mouth. When you start to immerse yourself with these equally passionate music crowd, the amount of music you hear about can actually start to be overwhelming. Basically, you will have hit the musical jackpot. Now, comes the more difficult part of deciding just how many of these new artists you can see live without breaking the bank.
Georges Dagher | Music on Fire Podcast What It Is: Free popular song every week (note: currently offline, not sure if it’s coming back!). Spinnin’ Records | Spinnin’ Sessions What It Is: Weekly podcast of the most ‘upfront dance tracks’ and guest DJ mixes.
KEXP | Song of the Day What It Is: In-studio performances, unreleased recordings, and top picks from independent artists by KEXP deejays.
GET YOUR PODCAST ON While apps like Spotify and Pandora use an algorithm that can homogenize your musical tastes, commentary podcasts can expand them. You may not connect with music initially through the sound, but through their lyrics, through the artist themselves, and this is where podcasts come in. Podcasts like Song Exploder have artists dissecting their songs, the meanings, inspiration behind them, etc., while Sound Opinions (WBEZ Chicago) the ‘world’s only rock and roll talk show’ has WBEZ veteran Jim DeRogatis and Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot voicing strong sentiments on music. The following are some of the best music podcasts out there so you can tune in.
NPR | All Songs Considered What It Is: NPR curators Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton spin tracks from emerging artists and legendary icons alike. CBS Local | Rap Radar Podcast What It Is: Interviews of top rappers by one of hip hop’s biggest publications, Rap Radar. NPR | Tiny Desk Concerts – Audio What It Is: Great artists performing live at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen. Song Exploder | Song Exploder What It Is: Every week, a wellknown artist picks apart the elements of a hit song, including the story of how it was made. Toolroom Records | Toolroom Radio What It Is: House-focused podcast from DJ Mark Knight, plus guest mixes. Ken Laster | In the Groove, Jazz and Beyond What It Is: A weekly jazz show spanning pretty much every sub-genre except for smooth jazz. This is also broadcast weekly on WWUH-FM in Connecticut. Soundwall.it | Electronic Music & Beyond What It Is: Non-stop guest DJs and artists, updated every week.
Above and Beyond | Above & Beyond: Group Therapy. What It Is: Weekly music and interviews from trance group Above & Beyond. WBEZ Chicago | Sound Opinions What It Is: The ‘world’s only rock and roll talkshow’ with WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis and the Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot. Rolling Stone | Rolling Stone Music Now What It Is: Music conversation with the writers at Rolling Stone. LoudSpeakersNet.com | The Combat Jack Show. What It Is: Heavy hip-hop discussions and interviews. Tiësto | Clublife by Tiësto. What It Is: Club, Trance mixes. Laidback Luke | Mixmatch Radio. What It Is: Blend of different EDM styles, great for driving, some talk in-between. Felix Cartal | Weekend Workout. What It Is: Jam-packed mixes from Canadian DJ Felix Cartal. Joe Budden | I’ll Name This Podcast Later. What It Is: Talk from the hip hop generation, led by rapper Joe Budden. Cipha Sounds & Peter Rosenberg | Rosenberg Radio: Juan Epstein. What It Is: ‘Hip Hop Nerdcast’ featuring interviews, discussions, and rap. Oliver Heldens | Heldeep Radio. What It Is: Lots of EDM/’Future House’
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A TASTE OF Italy,
Serving freshly made Modern and Traditional Cuisine
Locally owned and operated since 2008 Located directly off the I-79 Wexford Exit in the Franklin Village Shopping Center 2602 Brandt School Road Wexford
Open to everyone, every day 7516 Meade Street Pittsburgh, PA 15208 Open daily 8 AM - 9 PM www.eastendfood.coop (412) 242-3598
724-940-7777 Join Us for SUNDAY BRUNCH!
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Pigeons & Planes This Hip-Hop, Indie Rock hybrid blog is a go-to for staying up-to-date with both mainstream and under-the-radar music. They do an awesome job at balancing the content in a way where lesser known artists are given equal recognition to more major artists. Fun fact: that's how they got the name Pigeons & Planes - pigeons (up and coming artists) and planes (well known artists) are complete opposites, but they can both fly, a poetic comparison that really Okayplayer
READ UP Music publications, both print and digital, are still some of the best ways to learn about new music or even local bands. Reason being, you can get as granular on the local level as you want with digital publications (i.e., the music section in Chicagoist often focuses on local bands), or similarly as broad as you want with a long-time print publication like Rolling Stone that covers a wider range of in-depth knowledge on several different musical genres and artists. Or, even more opinion-based blogs such as Mugatunes which had us at first hashtag with #NoShittyMusic. Mugatunes Their hashtag hooked us, but their write-ups on music ranging from funk to rap and everything in between, each song is handpicked with lots of thought and care.
Launched in 1999 by The Roots’ Questlove, this is one of the most reliable online sources for finding groundbreaking hip-hip music (although they also dip their toes into the worlds of soul, jazz, and indie rock). Okayplayer offers new songs, mixtapes, videos, artist bios, interviews, and even has a news feed on hip-hop films. Be sure to check out the site's events feed to stay up to date with and buy tickets for relevant concerts and shows. They have calendars for New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, and Chicago. Earmilk "All milk. No duds." Their motto says it all as the content is always incredible. More importantly, every song on their site is something you’ll want to immediate add to your song list(s). All of the music is organized by genre and what's hot at the moment, so you're sure to find exactly what you're looking for. They also have a weekly section with categories such as "Wobble Wednesday," "Mashup Monday" and "Daily 2%." Indie Music Filter Toronto-based music blog showcasing the best new indie music with to the point track features, videos, reviews and streaming playlists.
Aquarium Drunkard Not only does this LA-based blog offer eclectic music selections, they include impressive reviews and interviews with note-worthy artists like Arcade Fire, The National, and Foxygen (to name a few). However, the reason this blog is one of the best, is they are all about equal opportunity and showing off lesser known, up-and-coming artists too.
GET LOCAL In Pittsburgh alone, there are several inventive ways you can go about finding new music. Hit up an open mic night such as the free North Side Open Mic on Tuesdays at James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy (422 Foreland St.) at 8pm or the AcoustiCafe Open Stage Mondays at Mr. Smalls Theater (400 Lincoln Avenue, Millvale) at 7pm. You can also check out the announcements board at your local coffeehouse or pub, and sign up for your favorite local venues’ email lists. These are all good ways to spot the local bands you may be missing. Another new addition to help you find local music in the Pittsburgh area is the website, Live Music Pittsburgh, a site dedicated to connecting and growing the local music scene.
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WITH A SIDE OF...
I’m crazy, but I just want to lay in a bed of crunchy lettuce and eat it every day of my LIFE!
Congratulations on finishing an epic run with Cirque Du Soleil, Paramour, AKA Sarahmour, how are you feeling after it’s all said and done? Thank you! I am so emotional about closing our show. I was so proud to pioneer a new crossbreed of Theatre. I fell in love with my sassy, empowered character, Gina, and I made forever-friends from all over the world. I miss it all already. Our time in theatre is so fleeting. Today was my first day not having a show, so instead of putting on a corset and makeup, I took a hike and drank some wine. How was closing night? Closing night was full of 110% energy, excitement, and ALL the ugly cries. Before we closed the curtain, we invited everyone
have to " You love the work.
who was a part of our show to come take the final bow on stage with us. This included company members who had gotten injured, dressers, temporary replacements, propsmen, etc. It was SO touching. We then had an after party on the rooftop, an after-the-after-party, and then 2 more after after parties after that. BEST NIGHT EVER!!
An Interview with Sarah Meahl Written by Rodney Burrell Photography by Julie Kahlbaugh
| Issue 15
Being on stage for that long is like being in a bomb shelter, and I’m sure you’ve developed some die-hard friendships as a result. What have been your top 5 most memorable moments over the past year and a half? My Die Hard Paramour friendships were my favorite things to come out of the past 16 months on Broadway. So many memories to choose from. Some from on stage, but most from backstage in the Dressing Rooms! Here are a few:
1. One time I was on for the lead, and my dance partner didn’t make it on stage, so I did a 45 second improvised dance number center stage. In my improv, I included a cartwheel into the splits, and at least 4 fan kicks Everyone on stage was dying laughing! 2. The night one of our company members fell off the front of the stage. He was fine, we laughed the whole night. 3. The day of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. We were SO cold, SO nervous, and SO sleepy. The look on everyone’s face, DREAMS being made!
to quickly get results… results that take no time to cultivate. Everything is easier and they don’t understand dedication. Just like a perennial, you reap what you sow! When you plant in the fall, you bloom in the spring after months of winter frost and time! I hope parents these days make their kids stick to something for a while to see the way goal setting can change their lives. We need to get kids gardening so they can understand that PATIENCE and DEDICATION equals tulips and joy.
4. Towards the end of the contract, many dancer boys got permission to put on the female costumes and wigs! They all stomped through the hallway in full glory and character. On the floor laughing.
The secret to work ethic: You have to love the work. If you love what you do, you want to keep doing it. My love for Dance and telling stories has driven me every day of my life since I was a kid. I saw that the harder I worked, the more knowledge I obtained, and that made me a better performer (and human). I do feel like there is a lack of this awareness in newer generations... they are growing up with instant foods and instant learning methods like youtube and Instagram; Ways
When you’re on stage, what are you hoping the audience takes from your performance? I hope they are inspired to give whatever it is they love all they’ve got. For Paramour, I always hoped people would watch my character’s story and feel unapologetically proud of who they are and what they stand for.
You won’t ever believe what you are capable of unless you try it. If it scares you, you should try it. Move your ego aside and don’t be scared to fail. How has teaching song and dance helped your overall development as an artist? Teaching has given me a chance to apply the advice I give to my classes. Getting back to basic dance fundamentals are always needed no matter how far anyone advances in their career. Teaching is why I am here. Somebody taught and inspired me, and I want to give that back!
What are you going to do with all of that newly found free time?
You’ve been on the grind since 8-years-old, how has that work ethic translated into your career, and do you feel that there’s a lack of drive in this generation to do what it takes to make it?
Having to show up and TURN ON when you want to lay in a corner and cry or sleep.
As you’ve progressed over the years, what’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
5. One time I said “shufflaffle" instead of shuffle flap. (Tap terminology). Then our friend Kenny demonstrated what that step would look like. Months of laughter.
Funny you should ask that! As I write this I am drinking wine in a rocking chair on a porch in Connecticut. I needed some peace. I am only down for 4 days before I start my next gig!!
Dancing your body in to the ground and having all the pains!
What are the top 3 most pivotal moments in your career up to this point? When did you know that theater and performing were going to be how you made a living? Around 8 or 9, I was so in love with Dance and Gymnastics. I was also in love with my Dance teacher, Miss Denise, who had been a Dancer for Disney World. I knew I wanted to do exactly what she did. She explained to me that I could have that and more. It was her! (In tandem with endless nights of Disney movies and CATS on DVD.) What’s the most challenging part about picking theater as a career? Never knowing what your next job is going to be, or where your next paycheck will come from.
1. Standard Time- a dance musical Off-Broadway in 3 acts about status, race and gender equality. I have never been part of something so important. I felt everyone in the world should see it. 2. Paramour - my Broadway debut, I played one of the main characters, and performed the lead many many times! 3. Judging Dance Competitions- humbling to see the talent of tomorrow. Something every theater major should know? Every show is "ghetto". (meaning even if you are on Broadway or doing a well-paid gig, you still may have a sad looking painted kitten heel, or a “magical stage moment” that is really a Prop guy | Issue 15
The one question you need answered?
standing off stage pulling your mermaid fishtail off with an actual fishing pole.)
Are there really evil people out there? Or do we just see one side of them? Maybe they just want something and will do whatever it takes to get it? This one has been on my mind lately…I have a hard time believing in people with only bad intentions. I think it’s because as an actor, you don’t want to judge the person you are playing…So if you are playing a “bad person” in a show, you don’t play evil. you just find that thing that drives the character. Maybe it’s really just insecurity or revenge? Does this make sense?
Top 3 favorite shows? Into the Woods Carousel Hamilton (All have something very important to say and all deal with the importance of change, stepping up, and human relationships.)
One thing not many people know about you, but you’re going to tell us anyway.
People who inspired you to think great thoughts, and strive to do greater things?
I can lick my elbow. What’s next for you?
My beautiful mama.
I am teaching a master class at the end of the week in Austin, TX, and then I begin The Golden Apple at Encores! New York City Center. After that, I have a whole summer of shows planned in Sacramento, CA, and then in St Louis, MO.
Kiesha Llama, my dance teacher from Point Park University. Mark Stuart of Mark Stuart Dance Theatre (creator of Standard Time). You’re stranded in the subway for one week, who has to be there with you? HA! Amber Van Wijk, one of the incredible acrobats from Paramour. She is from Belgium, and is wiser at 22 than I’ll ever be. I’d make her entertain me by balancing on things, we would talk about EVERYTHING like we usually do, and, one of my favorite aspects of our friendship: we wouldn’t have to talk the whole time. We could just sit near each other in silence and do our own thing. Hard to find friends like that. The one person you need to meet? Michelle Obama Obama!!!!!!!
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PAINTBALL Nothing says
outdoor fun like shooting the ones you love with balls full of paint traveling 170 mph. Not only can you decimate friends and family with tiny paintball bee stings, you can burn roughly 1,000-2,000 calories in 3 hours. Riverside Renegade, located in Homestead, is the city’s largest (and only) outdoor paintball field, offering a wide variety of choices for all ages and fitness levels.
WHO NEEDS A GYM TO SWEAT?
THE TIRE FLIP is
considered to be one of the best overall body workouts today, burning fat and building muscle at the same time. The concept is simple, find a very large tire, and flip the thing over, and over, and over again. Recommended length for a tire flip is 50-100 yards or 35-100 times if you don’t have a field. To make sure the weight of the tire is correct, you should be able to flip it at least five times without stopping.
Gyms are great, but what better gym is there than mother nature herself? The options are endless. During these summer months, consider stepping off the eliptical and stepping into the great outdoors. Here are some of our favorites. KAYAKING The ‘burgh
PARKOUR is the act of
flipping, jumping, and tumbling on, around, and over objects. And while not for everyone, there’s a place in Pittsburgh called Steel City Parkour; located in Export, PA, that holds parkour lessons and offers jump time for seasoned experts. Steelcityparkour.com.
| Issue 15
has some great water escapes if you’re willing to traverse the boating orgy outside of The Point. McConnells Mill Park, Moraine State Park, and Allegheny Islands are just a few options to give you a relaxing and scenic view of the landscape. But wait, there’s more. You can burn 300 - 500 calories/hour kayaking, depending on weight. The more you weigh, the more you burn.
SCUBA DIVING Explore the myster-
ies of the Mon, and find the elusive I.C. Light can. Besides the natural benefits of jumping in moderately clean water, it also burns between 300-600 calories/hour, depending on intensity and water temp, and develops grit. Splash Water Sports, located on Banksville Road, offers a variety of programs that include snorkeling and scuba diving. www.splashws.com.
RIDING AN ATV This gives you a mul-
titude of best case scenarios if you don’t like doing stuff that involves running, jumping, swimming, or generally being around people for an extended period of time. Ripping through the woods can burn from 100 - 500 calories/hour, depending on the terrain and intensity of your riding style. Mines and Meadows, Slippery Rock Dunes, and Four Seasons Campground are just a few places that offer great terrain for all skill sets. Remember, always wear your helmet!
OBSTACLE COURSES give you a sense
of accomplishment, tied in with the crushing fear of failure and embarrassment if you don’t walk across that tightrope. Places like Go Ape in North Park offer a wild amalgamation of rope climbing, zip lining, and tight roping, giving you the workout you need without the unpleasant aftertaste of the gym culture.
PARK GYMS are all the rage because of the new healthy living initiatives. Many city and suburban parks are now being outfitted with ellipticals, manual treadmills, pull up bars, and other equipment to make outdoor life a little more fit.
Open-Air Buddy Workouts! Countless options are available to use the outdoors as your personal gym. Whether you want to enjoy the fresh air on a nice day or don’t have access to a gym, these exercises will provide a challenge in an ever-changing environment.
Bleacher Jump Squats
For a H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training) calorie scorching boost, jump squats on bleachers will spike your heart rate while strengthening your glutes, quads and hamstrings
This variation to a traditional floor push-up will help develop delts, tris and pecs for a toned upper physique.
Bleacher Split Squats
Stand facing away from bleacher. Elevate rear foot up and flex the front knee to lower self towards ground. Hold for a moment at lowered position, exhale and return to starting position by extending front knee. Repeat sets on other leg. This is a great glute and quad builder exercise.
Bleacher Leg Extensions
Sit on bleacher, lean back and tighten your abs. Elevate heels off the ground and repetitively alternate extending legs outwards parallel to the ground and bringing legs inwards toward your body. Repeat reps for an effective core burn.
| Issue 15
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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.
Published on Aug 15, 2017