January 12, 2022 - Pittsburgh City Paper

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PLUS INSIDE: CELEBRATING MLK DAY AND A FOOD REVIEW OF MOONLIT BURGER FREE EVERY WEDNESDAY FRE PITT PITTSBURGH’S ALTERNATIVE FOR ALTE NEWS, ARTS + NEW ENTERTAINMENT ENTE SINCE 1991 SINC

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JAN. 12-19, 2022

> The Coloured Section founders Natiq Jalil, Crystal Noel Jalil, and Zeal Eva

NEW EXHIBIT BY

THE COLOURED SECTION


CELEBRATING 30 YEARS SERVING PITTSBURGH SINCE NOV. 6, 1991

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JAN. 12-19, 2022 VOLUME 31 + ISSUE 2 Editor-In-Chief LISA CUNNINGHAM Director of Advertising JASMINE HUGHES Director of Operations KEVIN SHEPHERD Managing Editor RYAN DETO A&E Editor AMANDA WALTZ News Reporter JORDANA ROSENFELD Arts & Culture Writer DANI JANAE Photographer/Videographer JARED WICKERHAM Editorial Designer LUCY CHEN Graphic Designer JEFF SCHRECKENGOST Sales Representatives ZACK DURKIN, OWEN GABBEY Circulation Manager JEFF ENGBARTH Featured Contributors REGE BEHE, MIKE CANTON, LYNN CULLEN, TERENEH IDIA Intern TIA BAILEY National Advertising Representative VMG ADVERTISING 1.888.278.9866 OR 1.212.475.2529 Publisher EAGLE MEDIA CORP.

FIRSTSHOT BY JARED WICKERHAM

A man walks along North Avenue in the Mexican War Streets in front of the Garden Theater as snow falls on Thu., Jan. 6.

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COVER PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM READ THE STORY ON PAGE 10

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12/30/21 PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER JANUARY 12-19, 2022

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1:51 PM


MAIN FEATURE

GIVE ME LIBERTY BY AMANDA WALTZ // AWALTZ@PGHCITYPAPER.COM

N

EIGHBORHOODS throughout Pittsburgh have gone a bit quiet as the post-holiday rest and recent COVID-19 variant paused some big events. That will change on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when the Kelly Strayhorn Theater honors the legacy of the late civil rights leader with a day of empowering art, music, dance, and more. Presented in collaboration with the Garfield gallery BOOM Concepts, as well as other local organizations, Give Me Liberty: East Liberty Celebrates MLK Day offers a diverse range of live activities at the historic theater. The event, which takes place on Mon., Jan. 17, is described in a press release as beginning KST’s winter season with a focus on “the power of activism.” KST executive director Joseph Hall says that the theater has hosted this type of program for over 10 years, adding that the 2022 celebration is “really about spotlighting artists and the community on stage.”

This year’s theme is “Give Me Liberty,” which Hall thinks of as “a declaration, a call to action, a claiming liberty for yourself in this moment of the resurgence of Black Lives Matter and many of the protests that were happening and the demonstrations that were actually in the heart of East Liberty,” referring to the summer of 2020, when many took to the streets after the high-profile police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “And we think about this program as a way to inspire people to see how they can be a part of social justice, and also tell their story,” he adds.

The sentiment keeps in the spirit of Dr. King, who, in his short lifetime, led demonstrations to protest desegregation, and to call for the voting, labor, and civil rights of Black Americans. In 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to address racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize two of the three Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama, and media coverage of the events, which showed police attacking the peaceful marchers, led to a national outcry. King and other civil rights leaders of the era are credited with furthering

“TODAY IN THIS COUNTRY, PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE STILL HELD DOWN BY CHAINS OF JOBLESSNESS, HATRED, AND DISCRIMINATION.” federal protections for Black Americans, including the Voting Rights Act. Even so, the following decades have seen an uphill battle for equal rights, as Black Americans face evident disparities in terms of economic opportunities, housing, and police treatment in Pittsburgh and across the nation. Johnnie L. Miott, president of the Pittsburgh Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, issued a statement ahead of Jan. 15, what would have been King’s 93rd birthday. It points out that, in the 59 years since King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, his vision of a more equal America has still not come to fruition. “Today in this country, people of color are still held down by chains of joblessness, hatred, and discrimination,” writes PHOTO: COURTESY OF KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

Give Me Liberty: East Liberty Celebrates MLK Day at Kelly Strayhorn Theater

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Miott. “Still left behind on the island of poverty with no way to salvation. Still, in many situations, we continue to be judged by the color of our skin rather than the content of our character.” He adds that, while progress has been made since the speech, “the work is far from over,” and urges everyone to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and “think about how you can contribute to making a difference in the struggle for a more perfect Union.” KST and other organizations throughout the city will offer chances to do just that, while also elevating Black leaders, performers, and others in the Pittsburgh community. Hall says that the MLK Day festivities at KST will feature BOOM Concepts co-founder and artist DS Kinsel as the emcee, and open with a rendition of the song “Lift Every Voice” by musician Anita Levels. From there, visitors will find activities in the theater lobby by community partners like the arts collective Women of Visions and the BloomfieldGarfield Corporation. There will also be live performances by the STAYCEE PEARL dance project and Soy Sos, Alloy School, Balafon West African Dance Ensemble, and more.

GIVE ME LIBERTY: EAST LIBERTY CELEBRATES MLK DAY 1-4 p.m. Mon., Jan. 17. Kelly Strayhorn Theater. 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. Free. kelly-strayhorn.org/events

Hall admits that, while previous MLK Day celebrations have attracted crowds of up to 500 people or more, this year, the theater will err on the side of caution due to the latest resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the region. He says they plan on keeping the theater to half capacity, and


“WE THINK ABOUT THIS PROGRAM AS A WAY TO INSPIRE PEOPLE TO SEE HOW THEY CAN BE A PART OF SOCIAL JUSTICE, AND ALSO TELL THEIR STORY.” CP ILLUSTRATION: LUCY CHEN

that visitors will be required to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status. Since the start of the pandemic, KST delivered dynamic virtual programs to stay connected with its audience. This includes Hotline Ring, an online event designed to showcase local artists and

performers while also raising funds for a variety of arts and cultural organizations. Still, the East Liberty theater will deliver ways for people to become inspired by the work of Dr. King, as well as past and current civil rights activists, by providing what’s described on the KST

website as “engaging activities and performances that will highlight the multitude of ways we can use our voices and stories to transform the world.” “It’s a tricky balance because so many theaters were doing lots of digital programs, and we certainly were as well,

and had much success and developed new techniques. However, so many folks are just itching to be together, to experience each other’s energy,” says Hall. “So I do think it’s important for the mental health of all of us to find ways to safely hold it in person.” •

Follow a&e editor Amanda Waltz on Twitter @AWaltzCP PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER JANUARY 12-19, 2022

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VOICES

REDISOVERING MY LIONESS HEART The end of a COVID love story BY TERENEH IDIA // CPCONTRIBUTORS@PGHCITYPAPER.COM

CP ILLUSTRATION: LUCY CHEN

E

ARLY IN THE MORNING, I woke up alone in the last bed I will share with my now ex-boyfriend. I was awakened by a trio of dogs at my friend Chelenge’s home in Kenya. The dogs had smelled a lion, apparently lions smell very bad. I left the cottage and walked up to where they were standing at attention, barking with their fur also standing straight up. After a couple of minutes, nothing was seen, so I returned to the cottage which slopes down near a small river. Then, in the corner of my right eye about 30 feet from me, I saw what looked like a tree stump I hadn’t noticed before. I even said out loud, “Was that tree there?” At that moment, a beautiful simba, a male lion, cocked his head to the right in unison with my own. I stood as still as the tree stump I had mistaken him for. We locked eyes. He was so beautiful, I couldn’t move. The huge majestic head and face, the coat the color of the Kenyan sun with a crown-like mane matching our sun’s own corona. My heart stopped and sped up at the same time. His eyes, his eyes …

Just then, my stomach growled so loud, and I could see in that instant that the lion was trying to calculate this sound coming from this little brown human. It was enough to startle him and he moved away. I soon remembered how my ex-boyfriend really wanted to see a lion. But the lion presented himself the day after my ex left. I find that intriguing. I’m currently in Kenya to begin a renewable energy project but, for now, I am getting rest during an artist’s retreat on the border of Nairobi National Park. I’m staying with my friend Chelenge, who I first met in the mid-2000s when I was in grad school in Nairobi, reunited by chance via her AirBnB. There is no fence between the community and the Park, so Chelenge just tells her guests to stay safe by not walking past the stone wall she has built. Surrounded by this lush ancient forest and all of the animals: birds, hippos, lions, rhinos, giraffes, pythons, zebras, baboons, leopards, and many more — all of these creatures living in absolute truth. You

cannot fake it here. I think that is why the final day of my relationship with a man I fell in love with over the internet during COVID, then again in Turkey, and again during a month together in Kenya was so much fun. It was filled with laughing and dancing, singing and drinking. It was one of the funnest days of our relationship, which is why it was so shocking when it ended so abruptly. But I cherish that final day, it is evidence that real love and friendship existed. I won’t get into the end end. That is the past already. Right now, I am sitting on the veranda looking at the spot where I saw that simba. I am wondering how, after only a few days since my now exboyfriend flew back to Turkey, that this place is not a place of mourning? But one of love, joy and truth. Why doesn’t that little cottage feel lonely? Why does it feel full, like home? That very kitchen which could be a place of sadness is the place where I cooked a huge meal on New Year’s Day.

Follow featured contributor Tereneh Idia on Twitter @TerenehIdia

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Even my version of a Turkish lamb dish that my ex taught me only a few days ago was a central point of the special dinner. I shared what I cooked with everyone and Chelenge said she could taste the joy in the food. I had transformed a space of trauma to one of love. How can it be so? If I truly loved, should I not be crying, sad, or unable to get out of bed? I say again it is because this forest, this bush, this jungle is a place that pulls your truth out. If you’re not ready, you may explode. If you’re open, you grow … no, you remember who you are. My truth is that I fell in love for real, deeply, and I worked hard for the relationship. But in the end, there was nothing more I could do than let him go. My heart knows it, and the jungle knows it, too. I loved in such a new, deep, and full way that I look forward to loving again. This time with the wisdom in my mind, heart, gut, and soul to know when a man truly deserves me. •


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FOOD

SMASHING GOOD BURGER BY RYAN DETO RYANDETO@PGHCITYPAPER.COM

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URGERS ARE EVERYWHERE in Pittsburgh. You can get them at gas stations, bars, food trucks, and even fine-dining establishments. But when it comes to a certain fast-food style burger called a smashburger, the options start to become limited. Luckily for those in Dormont and the South Hills, a new joint has opened up and has become an overnight sensation. Moonlit Burgers started as a pop-up restaurant and officially opened its brickand-mortar location on Potomac Avenue last October. It specializes in smashburgers, a style where the hamburger patty has been smashed onto the grill as it cooks, resulting in a thin patty with slightly irregular edges that crisp up nicely. The style originated in the Great Lakes region and became a staple of the West Coast burger scene, most notably at the In-NOut Burger chain. Moonlit’s location on Potomac is a fast-casual joint, complete with a bar that serves local craft beer and cocktails. The vibe is modern, yet a bit retro. During my recent visit, I ordered the Classic Moonlit Burger, the Moon Bird Chicken Sandwich, shoestring fries, and a vanilla milkshake. The burger had the most important quality of a good smashburger: the edges were extremely charred, complete with smoky, chewy bits. Combine this with the melty and rich American cheese, and it’s easy to be satisfied by that combination alone.

MOONLIT BURGERS 1426 Potomac Ave., Dormont. moonlitburgers.com

Moonlit ensures a great burger experience by adding caramelized onions, the sweetness of which offset the savoriness. Jalapeno-brined pickles offer crunch, sour, and spiciness.

CP PHOTO: RYAN DETO

A Classic Moonlit Burger outside of Moonlit Burgers’ location in Dormont

Each bite of the pickles provides some heat, but it is subtle enough to not distract from the overall enjoyment. Also, if you like spicy foods, this is a burger for you. Not for people who want a burger experience with sweating and coughing on spiciness, but for someone who wants just a little kick. All of these strong flavors are held together by the creamy Moon sauce and the soft potato roll. My one small critique is that the roll could have been just slightly toasted on the griddle, but that absence didn’t really change much. The shoestring fries were exactly the kind of fries one would want with a

smashburger. Thin, salty, a bit chewy, and not too crunchy. It’s hard not to compare them to McDonald’s, which serves arguably the best fast food fries, and Moonlit matches those. The chicken sandwich is definitely something that spicy food fans would enjoy. Two crispy and juicy chicken tenders come inside a long roll with jalapeno-cilantro slaw, Moon sauce, and jalapeno-brined pickles. The whole thing had the marks of a good chicken sandwich — moist enough for satisfying bites, and enough sauce and accompaniments to add some crunch and cut through the richness.

Follow managing editor Ryan Deto on Twitter @RyanDeto

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However, it was a bit unwieldy and fell apart about halfway through consumption. Again, toasting the bun here might have helped the structural integrity of the sandwich. But overall, it was satisfying. Finally, I washed everything down with a vanilla milkshake. The flavor was spot on and helped cool some of the spiciness. Made with Millie’s locally made soft serve, the vanilla was rich and smooth. The consistency was on the thinner side, which I tend to enjoy, especially with a meal. Overall, Moonlit is a fine addition to Pittsburgh’s burger scene, and its focus on crafting a well-made smashburger is extremely welcome. •


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PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER JANUARY 12-19, 2022

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CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM

The Coloured Section founders Zeal Eva, Crystal Noel Jalil, and Natiq Jalil

ARTS

ALL EYES ON US BY DANI JANAE // DANIJANAE@PGHCITYPAPER.COM

T

HE JOURNEY OF AN ARTIST is inspiring to watch. But for Black artists, the journey can be fraught with deadends, missed opportunities, and outright discrimination. While this is a national problem, it is especially notable here in Pittsburgh where Black artists often feel they are kept out of artist circles, and are left to make their own way. One such Pittsburgh artist is Natiq Jalil, who, with the help of his mentor and his wife, Crystal Noel Jalil, started The Coloured Section Black Artists’ Collective. Originally from Montgomery, Ala., Jalil has traveled to and lived in many cities — including New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles — before settling down in the Steel City. Jalil says he’s always been an artist, and his mother would recount stories

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about him being drawn to making art as a toddler. Still, he went to school to study Theoretical Physics but ended up getting his degree in Computer Science. “My heart has always been with the arts. And so, for a while, I did spoken word poetry as a profession. Eventually, I started doing my visual arts and including words in it, which I still do to this day, and now I do art full time,” he says. The collective’s second show InVisible, now on view at Downtown’s 820 Liberty Avenue gallery, was born out of a conversation between Jalil and featured artist Amun Ray, and focuses on themes of mental health and stigma in the Black community. The show features painting, sculpture, performance, multimedia installations, and poetry by 12 artists, including Jameelah Platt and Cheré D.

Gordon, all exploring their personal battles with mental health.

THE COLOURED SECTION BLACK ARTISTS’ COLLECTIVE PRESENTS

INVISIBLE Continues through Feb. 13. 820 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free. tinyurl.com/PittsburghInVisible

The show also explores the “trichotomy of the Black lived experience.” Jalil says that Black artists are “the unwanted, the copied, and the dismissed” and while the influence of Black artists can be seen virtually everywhere, they hardly get their due. One of Jalil’s mentors, George Gist, was a professional portraitist, muralist, and jazz musician who lived in Pittsburgh’s

Hill District. Jalil says that Gist came up with the idea for The Coloured Section, down to the name and the mission, but Gist died in 2020 before the project could come to fruition. “George, he felt like there was way too much competition amongst the Black artists here in Pittsburgh. He felt like it was impeding our ability to fully take advantage of all the talent here,” says Jalil. “And so he wanted to start a collective that would focus on a true community amongst Black artists.” Gist was widely respected in the Pittsburgh arts community, especially by those he mentored, so having his vision become a reality was important to Jalil, who operates The Coloured Section with both his wife and curator Zeal Eva. The other members of the collective


Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM

Detail of Natiq Jalil’s work shown at Invisible

“WE’VE HAD TO COME UP WITH OUR OWN ROUTES INTO THE ART WORLD.” are Gordon, Platt, Isaiah Spencer, Jessica Vaden, Maurice Sturdivant, KiAsia, Trenita Finney, Amun Ray, sarah huny young, Jabari Mercer, Nina Soto, Shori Sims, Tomi Adebayo, and Trinity Spencer. The Coloured Section officially formed in November 2020, and their first show An<says>Tors was made in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The exhibition, curated by artists Zeal Eva and Jalil, premiered in September 2021 and featured art by a few select members of the collective. “We are the artists that have had a hard time getting in through the front door, so to speak. And so we’ve had to come up with our own routes into the art world. I’m trying to leverage the name that I’ve built as Natiq in order to get The Coloured Section out there,” says Jalil. “So we really focus on artists that are either unknown, underrepresented somehow, or those that have struggled with mental health. Some have been ostracized a little bit, just any Black artist who has had a hard time getting their work out there.”

Starting The Coloured Section was, in part, a response to the long history of the dismissal of Black arts, but Jalil also considers the artists in the collective to be a part of his chosen family. Just as his biological family would gather on Sunday for dinner, the artists in the collective meet for Friday meals. As far as the future goes, the group of artists plan to have four major shows every year, one for every season. They are looking to expand beyond Pittsburgh, and have some shows planned for L.A. this year. While the collective is closed for membership currently, Jalil says that if an artist catches his eye, there is always an opportunity to be folded into the group. “People have different expectations for us and, but our own expectations are to overcome it all,” he says. “We welcome those eyes on us as an example of what Black folks can do when we really put our minds to it. We won’t do everything perfectly, but we will put our best foot forward in everything.” •

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Follow arts & culture writer Dani Janae on Twitter @figwidow PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER JANUARY 12-19, 2022

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SEVEN DAYS IN PITTSBURGH

IRL / IN REAL LIFE EVENT VIRTUAL / STREAMING OR ONLINE-ONLY EVENT HYBRID / MIX OF IN REAL LIFE AND ONLINE EVENT

PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

^ PSO pianist Benjamin Grosvenor

THU., JAN. 13 EVENT • VIRTUAL Get the dirt on dirt when the Three Rivers Urban Soil Symposium comes to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Organized by the Pittsburgh Urban Soils Working Group, the event is described as “an exploration of urban soils and their relation to urban agriculture, environmental justice, and community health.” Featured speakers include Raqueeb Ajamu-Osagboro of The Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-op, Naim Edwards of the Michigan State University Detroit Partnership in Food, and Dr. Fushcia-Ann Hoover, a North Carolina-based researcher specializing in social-ecological urban systems. 6-8 p.m. Takes place over Zoom. Free. Registration required. phipps.conservatory.org/calendar

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LIT • HYBRID Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures brings another installment of Made Local, this time featuring Pittsburgh author Terry Miller and her book Behind God’s Back: Finding Hope in Hardship. Miller grew up in public housing in Pittsburgh’s Arlington Heights neighborhood, and the book recounts the author’s experiences with poverty, food insecurity, abuse, addiction, recovery, and, eventually, community service. Learn more about her life and work as she’s joined in conversation at the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall with University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Emeritus Mark Nordenberg. In-person attendees must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Also available online. 6 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free with registration. pittsburghlectures.org

FRI., JAN. 14 COMEDY • IRL Stand-up comedian Jim Jefferies is bringing The Moist Tour to Carnegie Music Hall of Oakland. The Australian funnyman has starred in his own Comedy Central late-night show, as well as performed in several Netflix specials. He also hosts the I Don’t Know About That podcast, in which he discusses numerous topics ranging from health insurance to autopsies, and more. His “belief-challenging” form of comedy is very popular among audiences, so see it for yourself. 7 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $39-179.75. jimjefferies.com

MUSIC • IRL Lose yourself in the music of a legendary classical composer during Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Rachmaninoff

Piano Concerto No. 2 at Heinz Hall. Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor will perform during a night dedicated to Sergei Rachmaninoff’s most iconic piece, as part of the BNY Mellon Grand Classics. Guest conductor Lorenzo Viotti will also make his PSO debut, leading a night that showcases Rachmaninoff, as well as Verdi, Ravel, and Richard Strauss. Masks and proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test are required. 8 p.m. Continues through Sun., Jan. 16. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $20-98. pittsburghsymphony.org

SAT., JAN 15 KIDS • IRL If you’re looking for a fun event for the young child in your life, look no further than Trolls Live! at PPG Paints Arena. Based on the popular animated film characters, as well as the classic toys, the


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show invites audiences to join Poppy, Branch, and all their friends for this one-ofa-kind event. Their journey starts when Hug Time is unexpectedly put at risk, and it can only be saved by hosting a toe-tapping dance. Showtimes vary. Continues through Sun., Jan. 16. 1001 Fifth Ave., Uptown. $15120. trollslive.com

OUTDOOR • IRL Spend time on the ice with some of your favorite mascots at Schenley Skating Rink. The Mascot Skate will feature some of Pittsburgh’s most adored costumed celebrities, such as the Smiley Cookie from Eat’n Park and Iceburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguins mascot. The event operates on timed tickets, and the time slot for the Mascot Skate will be the 1:30-3 p.m. session. Slide into the new year for a fun afternoon, and don’t forget to take photos with your favorites. 1:30-3 p.m. 10341 Overlook Drive, Oakland. $3-5. pittsburghpa.gov/schenley/ skating-mascot

SUN., JAN. 16 FILM • IRL Say oui to French New Wave cinema when Row House Cinema presents a screening of the 1965 film Alphaville. Enjoy coffee from Oliver’s Donuts and fresh croissants from La Gourmandine while watching director Jean-Luc Godard’s strange, sci-fi noir tale about a secret agent on a mission in the titular galactic dystopia. 12 p.m. 4115 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $16. rowhousecinema.com/events

MON., JAN. 17 EVENT • IRL Pittsburgh Glass Center will present a Free Community Day as part of its Martin

Luther King Jr. Day celebrations. Learn about glass, and enjoy hands-on activities that will teach the importance of teamwork in the creative process. Glassblowing and flameworking demonstrations will be ongoing throughout the day. This is an all-ages event so feel free to bring the kids. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship. Free. pittsburghglasscenter.org

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TUE., JAN. 18 LIT • IRL Author Emma Riva visits Riverstone Books to read from her debut novel Night Shift in Tamaqua. The story takes place in “an out of the way corner of Pennsylvania” and follows night owl misfits Lance Miller and Ellen Kostopoulou. Join Riva in exploring Lance and Ellen’s relationship, which, according to a synopsis, “spans from late-night blue raspberry Slurpees to fasting on Yom Kippur,” and features original paintings by Coyote Jacobs. 7-8 p.m. 5825 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. Free. riverstonebookstore.com/events

WED., JAN. 19 MUSIC • IRL Celebrate two decades of music by Citizen Cope during a live performance at the Byham Theater. Inspired by a diverse array of genres ranging from acoustic folk to reggae, Citizen Cope — real name Clarence Greenwood — has made a name for himself as a songwriter and producer since his 2002 self-titled breakthrough album. His latest release, the 2021 album The Pull of Niagara Falls, is described as a “lyrically heavy, balladbased, new collection.” 8 p.m. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $49.75-54.75. trustarts.org

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ACROSS

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