'AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS' PLAY COMES TO PITTSBURGH PUBLIC VOL. 2 ISSUE 23
Nov. 12, 2019 - Nov. 25, 2019 PGHCURRENT
Tis the season
LIGHT UP NIGHT IS COMING DOWNTOWN
A Very Yinzer Christmas
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Vol. II Iss. XXIII November 12, 2019 NEWS 6 | Hit the Lights 8 | Checks and Balances 9 | Brewed On Grant OPINION 10 | Time to Bust the Myths About Hymens 11 | Fostering Tolerance ART 12 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 |
Girls Will Be Girls Dance Nation Latest Dance Sugar Run The Can't Miss
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Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
HIT THE LIGHTS
PITTSBURGH'S ANNUAL HOLIDAY KICKSTART SET FOR NOV. 22 BY MATT PETRAS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
olten Gill, the Marketing and Communications Manager for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, vividly remembers going to Light-Up Night in Pittsburgh with his family when he was in middle school. It really inspired his love of the city. “Coming down here and just feeling that energy of the city and everyone coming together for one thing was really inspiring to me,” Gill says. “Just seeing all the lights,
there’s something magical about having everyone down here for the same reason and celebrating with people from all walks of life.” Now, PDP is readying the 59th Annual Comcast Light-Up Night on Nov. 22, set to be a night filled with homages to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, an Adam Lambert concert, lights and fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks. Light-Up Night, a defining tradition for Pittsburgh during the hol-
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idays, brings several events across downtown. At noon will be the Dedication of the Crèche at the U.S. Steel Tower. Then, throughout the day, trees and buildings will be lit up at the Allegheny County Courthouse (4:45 p.m.), the City-County Building (5:15 p.m.), PPG Plaza (5:30 p.m.), One Oxford Centre and Market Square (5:45 p.m.) as well as Highmark (7 p.m.). During the Highmark tree lighting is the first fireworks display
at Fifth Avenue Place, followed by another in Point State Park (7:45 p.m.) and the grand finale at BNY Mellon (9:30 p.m.). Interwoven throughout these lightings and fireworks displays will be musical performances, headlined by Lambert, who will perform at 8:30 p.m. at the Comcast Main Stage on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and Stanwix Street. The Nox Boys and Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers will play before Lambert at 6 and 7 p.m.
NEWS respectively. Lambert became famous in 2009 after finishing second-place in American Idol’s eighth season and boasts several hit songs, like “For Your Entertainment” and “Whataya Want from Me.” Since 2011, he has taken on the role of Queen’s lead singer. “That’s one of the biggest highlights,” Gill says. “He recently was in Pittsburgh fronting for Queen, where he was at PPG Paints. He performed live there, and we’re happy to welcome him back to the city.” On the BNY Mellon New Music Stage, located at Penn Avenue and Stanwix Street, Beauty Slap (6 p.m.), Tribe Eternal (7:30 p.m.) and Krunk Movement (8:30 p.m.) will play. And on the EQT Jazzmasters Stage on 625 Liberty Avenue, renditions of music from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood will be played. The titular star of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a children’s cartoon produced by Fred Rogers Productions, will make an appearance at this show, which runs from 6-9 p.m. “I think the messaging of Fred
Rogers is all about being a good neighbor,” Gill says. “And I think that’s something that all of the holiday activities throughout downtown are about, it’s being good neighbors to the people of Pittsburgh.” Several food vendors will be available throughout the day in addition to Downtown’s regular restaurants. “Obviously all of the Downtown restaurants are open for Comcast Light-Up Night usually,” Gill says, “so there’s a great opportunity if you haven’t been Downtown to just stop in, get out of the cold and enjoy the fantastic dining scene that Downtown has to offer.” All of the events throughout the day are free to all, but folks can purchase a $100 VIP ticket for a premium experience. Ticket holders can hang out in the U.S. Steel Tower lobby from 6:30-9:30 p.m. for included drinks and food. Then, there will be a rooftop-tour and special, up-close viewing of fireworks. “You get to see Downtown all lit up from the rooftop of the steel tower,” Gill says.
Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
Pittsburgh has celebrated LightUp Night since 1959, though it wasn’t always a Christmas celebration, according to Gill. Originally, it was done to celebrate a season of Pirates baseball.
“Then, the year after that, the city came together and thought it was a really great way to attract people into Downtown Pittsburgh to kick off the holiday shopping season. And it’s really continued since then,” Gill says. “It was off for a few years in the '70s and '80s and then it came back as this really big tradition of bringing the Pittsburgh community together.” A ton of preparation goes into Light-Up Night every year. “It’s probably at the back of the mind almost all year,” Gill says. “It’s one of our crowning events, so we like to get a jumpstart on things.” Pittsburgh has a great sense of community, Gill says, and Comcast Light-Up Night really underscores that. “It’s one night where you get to see everybody from all around the city and the region just come together [and] celebrate for a good time,” Gill says. “There’s good feelings in the air. Everybody’s happy to get things kicked off, and it’s really a time for the city as a whole to come together.”
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This happened to be Merriam Webster's Word of the Day a week after Trump was elected in 2016
CHECKS AND BALANCES BREAKING DOWN TRUMP'S QUID PRO QUO
BY DAVID DEANGELO - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
n the evening of November 3, President Donald Trump tweeted a new defense regarding his October phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with: “False stories are being reported that a few Republican Senators are saying that President Trump may have done a quid pro quo, but it doesn’t matter, there is nothing wrong with that, it is not an impeachable event. Perhaps so, but read the transcript, there is no quid pro quo!” Setting aside Trump's habit of using the third person to describe his own actions (“...Senators are saying that President Trump...”), there are multiple layers of this assertion that needs to be unpiled here. But before we continue, have you ever wondered what the phrase “quid pro quo” actually means? Well, it's latin and Google translate tells us it means “something for something” while Merriam-Webster goes a bit further, that it's “something given or received for something else.” Simply speaking, it's an exchange. I do a favor for you and you do a favor for me. An exchange of something for something else -- a quid pro quo. The first layer of Trump's tweet, denying that any Senate Republicans are saying Trump “may have done” a quid pro quo, has already been
confirmed. The Washington Post reported on November 1 that Louisiana Senator John Kennedy argued, during a recent GOP lunch meeting, that a quid pro quo may have occurred on that phone call. If that part of the story is false, then where is Kennedy's denial of it? As of this writing (four days after the Post's reporting), Kennedy has made no such denial. It's pretty safe to assume he that said it and that Trump is wrong to deny it. But then Trump goes deeper with the tweet, saying that it doesn't matter because a quid pro quo of that nature isn't “an impeachable event” anyway. This defense can be found in that same reporting by The Post as well, with Senator Kennedy saying that there was “nothing amiss” with that quid pro quo. We're looking at a shift of defenses here coming out of Trump's GOP. It went from, “There was no quid pro quo” to “Ok, maybe there was one but it's not impeachable if it happened.” What do we know about what happened, anyway? From the September 24 memorandum released by the White House, we know that immediately after the Ukrainian President inquires about purchasing more weapons from the US, Trump responds with:
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“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows alot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine…” This was enough to trigger a whistleblower and a number of witnesses to corroborate the whistleblower's charges. For example, the whistleblower complaint said: “Multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call informed me that, after an initial exchange of pleasantries, the President used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests. Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President's 2020 re-election bid.” Lt Col Alexander Vindman (who actually heard the call) corroborates this in his opening testimony when he said: “I was concerned about the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine.” That U.S. citizen is presidential candidate (and former VP) Joe Biden. We've already seen how Biden's previous actions in Ukraine (pressur-
ing that country to fire a prosecutor) were not for his personal political benefit, but were a reflection instead of the U.S. Government, the G-7, the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. That was very different from what Trump did as Trump was holding up military aid so that Ukraine would help out his presidential campaign. So what does the Constitution say about impeachment? Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 says that the House “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and Article I, Section 3, says that The Senate will have the sole “Power to try all Impeachments.” For cause, Article II, Section 4 says: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. The House investigates and then, if necessary, draws up articles of impeachment for the Senate to vote on. If a 2/3 majority votes in favor, then the President will be removed from office. The offense does not need to be a crime in order to be impeachable. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65: “The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” And as then-Representative Lindsey Graham said 2 two decades ago when he was heading the Clinton impeachment: “The point I’m trying to make is, you don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic. Impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office.” Then, the impeachment cleanse was triggered by a president lying about fellatio. Now, it's about a different president withholding military aid (already approved by Congress) for another country until that country agreed do him “a favor” regarding a potential political rival of his.
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November 12, 15, 17
A mystical journey into the jungle... and beyond Benedum Center • Tickets $14+ • Kids & teens half-price English supertitles projected above the stage Inspired by the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez
pittsburghopera.org/florencia Photography by David Bachman. Taken at the National Aviary. These performances have received special funding from The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Season Sponsor Tuesday Night Sponsor: Ambridge Regional Distribution & Manufacturing Center
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 12, 2019 | 7
Repeal Day Party Thursday, Dec. 5th / 7 - 10 PM the speakeasy at Max's Allegheny Tavern
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OPINION TIME TO BUST THE MYTHS ABOUT HYMENS BY JESS SEMLER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
don’t know how old I was when I learned that a hymen was supposed to be indicative of a person’s “intact” virginity. I do know that I was 11 years old when my hymen broke at cheerleading practice. No, I wasn’t having vaginal intercouse in the yard of St. Bonaventure Elementary; I was actually engaging in vigorous stretching. I haven’t thought about that fateful day in years. However, after reading about how 18-year-old Deyjah Harris has been subjected to a “virginity check” at her yearly gynecologist appointment, with her doctor checking her hymen to confirm that she was still a “virgin” and reporting the results to her father, rapper TI, my coworkers and I found ourselves sharing our hymen-breaking stories. Wouldn’t you know, none of them were sexual. There is a whole lot happening here. A father checking to see if his daughter’s hymen is intact, because it implies she is still a virgin? That is a massive violation of privacy. Dr. Colleen Krajewski, a gynecologist in Pittsburgh shared her take in the Washington Post: "A parent or partner handing you a form in front of the doctor and demanding that you sign it is not to be mistaken for your consent. A doctor should be able to recognize this as coercion, regardless of how famous the person in front of them is. Reading about how this transpired made my blood boil and my heart break." What is equally disturbing is that these tests aren’t based in science. The World Health Organization, the United Nations, and countless doctors have called for an end to “virginity testing,” including the hymen test and the “two-finger test,” for many reasons. Not all women are born with hymens. Some have thinner hymens than others; some hymens are torn over time or altogether, due to anything from sports, tampons, biking and more. Here is my favorite analogy for hymens: When I was a cheerlead-
er in high school, each week we’d make a giant sign for the football players to run through at the Friday night game. It was made out of white butcher paper and red tempera paint, ordering the team to “Stomp the Titans!” Or whatever. Sometimes, we’d make a small rip in the middle of the sign to make it easier for the guys to break through. Occasionally, we’d forget to do so, and thus they were met with more resistance. When it would rain, we could barely hold up the sign long enough for them to run through it before it simply fell apart. That’s kind of how hymens are! Completely dependent on a host of factors. Hell, sometimes we’d forget the damn sign on the bus, so there was nothing to begin with. So, not only is this a complete violation of privacy, as far as determining whether or not his daughter is a “virgin” based on a method that isn’t even reliable, for gathering data that is meaningless, on who his daughter is as a person. On top of this being a complete violation of privacy, why is there such a preoccupation with virginity in the first place? How would it feel to have your dad’s view on you and your worth so deeply connected to whether or not he thought you had sex? One coworker read an online comment made by a woman defending TI’s comments, who said “he was just protecting his daughter because he values her worth.” That right there, is ingrained gender discrimination and internalized misogyny. I remember receiving messages about sexuality and abstinence as a teen and the messages differed. There was pressure to have sex and to use sex as a tool for power. But there was also just as much pressure to not have sex, and campaigns promoting abstinence that portrayed remaining a virgin until marriage as a source of empowerment were thrown into my face. These myths exist so that women think about sexuality not as something that belongs to them, but
as a means of currency, something that is meant to be given or withheld. When it comes down to it though, even when there were models in Candie’s shoe ads wearing shirts with slogans like “You Don’t Have to Have Sex to be Sexy,” a woman’s sexuality was and clearly is still perceived as her baseline worth. A person’s value is unconditional and shouldn’t change whether or not they have had sex. I don’t know how old I was when I learned that virginity wasn’t real; when I realized that it was a myth intended to sanctify heterosexual intercourse and the implications of what penises do to vaginas. I remem-
ber getting really fed up talking to some folks at a college party when a guy was talking about not wanting to be with a woman (he said “girl”) who’d been with too many guys because then she’d be “stretched out.” I fucking hate math, but I found myself doing word problems in my head: If a woman bangs it out with a different man twice a week for three years, how is that different than if a woman bangs the same guy twice a week for three years? Answer: It isn’t and it doesn’t matter! This has nothing to do with anything! Fellas -- your penises aren’t magical and powerful parts that have the ability to change a woman’s anatomy. It really seems like it’s more about some of these guys wanting women to have lots of sex, but only with them. I can think of two reasons: 1. The idea of ownership, and 2. If we’re only sleeping with you, maybe we won’t realize that you can’t find the clitoris with a flashlight, compass, and a map.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK
BY STEPHEN MALLATRATT NOV. 7-23, 2019
WQED'S FRED ROGERS STUDIO
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OPINION FOSTERING TOLERANCE BY SUE KERR - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
or three years, I worked as a foster parent recruiter and trainer with one of the thenfew secular foster care providers, Family Services of Western Pennsylvania (now part of Wesley Family Services.) During one orientation session, I explained the placement process and reminded the applicants that we might ask them to take a child outside of their stated ‘preferences’ and to please keep an open mind because the job is to meet the needs of the children in care. A potential foster parent asked “What if you want me to take a teenager who is gay?” So I launched into the supports we could access for LGBTQ youth, the foster families, and the birth families as well. She walked out, saying “I don’t want that in my house. I’ll go to a Christian agency.” Another time, a would-be foster parent asked me about taking their foster child to church services. I explained that the child and their birth family had rights to determine religious practices and that if the child did not want to attend services, they could not be compelled. She asked me who would babysit the child because she wasn’t missing church to be a foster parent. Let that sink in. You can’t miss church to care for a child. Religious issues came up on a regular basis. We had Catholic foster parents who tried to have infants in their care baptized without permission or consent. But, we also had families who took turns attending services so they could meet the children’s needs and still engage in their own religious practices. One family, in fact, that did not observe Christmas decorated the foster child’s bedroom for the holidays with the help of the caseworker and CYF staff complete with a tree and lights. Another Catholic family began attending mass in a predominantly African-American church to ensure their foster children were culturally connected and not isolated. Being religious does not mean
someone is incapable of adapting to the needs of the children in their care. That’s the compromise that all spiritual and ethical practices should guide us - prioritizing the needs of these kids and balancing our own needs as well. That goes hand in hand with finding more qualified foster parents and adoptive parents for the children who need homes and families. President Trump does not understand this issue. On November 1, his administration proposed a rule that would permit foster care and adoption agencies to deny services to LGBTQ families because of their organizational faith strictures. The Department of Health and Human Services released the proposed rule, which would roll back a 2016 discrimination regulation instituted by the administration of President Obama that included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Family Equality is collecting comments from the public to submit to HHS. You can submit your comment at this website: http://bit.ly/FosterCareComments. You must comment by November 30. What’s important to understand is that this includes both LGBTQ families that want to foster and/or adopt children and LGBTQ youth in the foster care system. Tax dollars paid by LGBTQ citizens will be used to fund discrimination against us and our children. While it is not necessary to place an LGBTQ youth in an LGBTQ home, it is important to have that option. It is also critical to find every single possible qualified home to care for the 400,000 children nationwide who are in the foster care system - there are never enough homes. Eliminating LGBTQ homes from contention is ultimately hurting children and youth, both LGBTQ and cisgender heterosexual children. Trust me, I spent three years looking for new foster families while helping to sustain our existing homes. It is a difficult support to offer, one that radically redefines the
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entire family. Discouraging people from fostering or adopting because of their identity will hurt children, not protect anyone’s religious beliefs. These rules could mean LGBTQ youth placed in the care of a faithbased agency can be denied access to LGBTQ supports that are essential to the welfare, even if their biological family supports that care for example, participating in an LGBTQ-centric after school or youth program to spend time with peers. If a foster family believes that LGBTQ identity is sinful or false or anything along those lines, they should not have LGBTQ identified youth placed in their care -- that includes gender nonconforming and gender creative children. The right to worship without interference from the government extends to children, too. It is the government’s responsibility to protect children in their care from being forced to participate in religious activities or have their identity manipulated or coerced by the religious beliefs of foster or adoptive parents. We should be looking for ways to expand the pool of families willing to provide foster care or to adopt children and youth in need of those supports. A “pro-family” position acknowledges that families do not all look the same - single parents, a parent-grandparent family, siblings sharing co-parenting, married couples - it is patently untrue that a home with a traditional mom and dad is the ideal. I grew up in a family like that and would have certainly been better off being removed from their care and placed elsewhere. Rolling back these protections is not about what is best for children and youth, nor is it about a genuine concern for religious liberty. It is part of the ongoing false equivalency of sexual orientation and gender identity with threats to religious freedom, used to drive a wedge between reasonable people of faith and the LGBTQ community. I’ve conducted dozens of home studies and application reviews. If a home is unsuitable because of
the family dynamics, we know. I’ve found potential foster parents with adult children ‘secretly’ living in garages or basements who tried to avoid background checks. I’ve had to sort through the legalities of an applicant being physically, but not legally separated from an abusive spouse. I’ve had foster parent applicants who refused to buy beds until they had children assigned to their house, assuming they would run out to the 24 hour bed store and get that set up in the time it took to transport the child to the home. Yes, I worked with LGBTQ foster families. One family originally signed up to provide respite support to other foster families and ended up adopting their foster son when his original placement fell through. Another family parented a young gay male through his teens, doing everything possible to keep him from ending up in a group home. Another family fostered a young trans child who endured terrible abuse from his mother and grandfather, both pastors in a local church. That child’s siblings remain in the care of their biological family. I’ve also had the privilege of being an aunt to two young boys, now 7 and 12, adopted by my good friends, a lesbian couple. Their Herculean efforts to get their children the education and medical care they deserve as well as building an enriching life has been an important part of my life. I am speaking to this issue as an LGBTQ person, a former professional foster care worker, and as part of the chosen family with two adopted children. I will continue to preach that we need more qualified foster families, but it is imperative that the federal government recognize that children and youth flourish when their entire family is valued.
Cast members of School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk )
GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS
PITTSBURGH PUBLIC THEATER BRINGS HOPES 'SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY' WILL HELP THE CITY'S THEATER SCENE BECOME MORE DIVERSE BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
arkia Nicole Smith, a Point Park University graduate who plays Paulina in School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, says her time on the Public stage is a full-circle moment. “We've come to see shows here. Some of our professors were in shows here and now those same people get to come and see us do what they taught us to do,” she says. Smith is not the only Point Park grad in the show. Castmates Atiauna Grant (Nana) and Shakara Wright (Gifty) also graduated from the Downtown university. All make their Public debut in “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play,” written by Jocelyn Bioh and directed by Shariffa Chelimo Ali, running now through Dec. 8. Originally selling out two off-Broadway runs, “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play,” is based on the playwright’s moth-
er’s experience at an elite boarding school in Ghana. Paulina (Markia Nicole Smith), the queen bee of the Aburi Girls’ Secondary School, assumes she’ll win the Miss Ghana pageant and a chance of becoming Miss Universe. But when Ericka (Aid3aa Peerzada) enrolls, Paulina’s popularity plummets. Paulina, Ericka and her classmates find out if beauty really is skin deep in this comedy the New York Times calls “a gleeful African makeover of an American genre.” Ali says she is excited to write her own chapter in the “greater book of ‘School Girls; or the African Mean Girls Play’” and demystify the African continent, specifically Ghana in particular. “I feel very fortunate to have ideological and sociopolitical proximity to this work, being that I was raised in South Africa. And so there's an immense sense of pride that comes with that,” she says. “We have all
kinds of preconceived ideas about Africa and vulnerability and tragedy and pain and colonialism, and here is a joyful and dark and somewhat tragic but overall delightful depiction of the continent that celebrates its triumphs and nuances and complexities.” The cast features actors of Nigerian and Ghanian descent and some who are from the African diaspora. Ali was born in East Africa. She says the play and the people onstage show that Black women are not a homogenous group. “I think embracing our differences and our complexities and allowing ourselves to be seen and to see each other is quite a radical thing,” she says. Grant says that she’s excited about what happens outside of the Public when the lights dim and the show ends. “The conversations that will happen after the show are what I'm
so excited for people to engage in, putting those big topics like colorism out, but in a comedic way so that it's accessible, and it doesn't feel like it's something that's so far away and so vague that they can't talk about it,” she says. Wright says this production is a start to bringing more diversity to the Pittsburgh theater scene. “We need to keep pushing to tell stories of black women, of African people, of minorities that we're not hearing,” she says. “I'm just I'm glad we're doing it.”
“SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY.” Various times.
Now through Dec. 8 Pittsburgh Public Theater. 621 Penn Ave., Downtown. $31-$81. 412-316-1600 or www.ppt.org
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 12, 2019 | 11
The cast of Dance Nation which runs from Nov. 22-Dec. 15 at barebones in Braddock
AMBITIOUS PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST IS BARBONES' 2019 FINALE BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
omen in society are often told to behave, to not assert themselves, if they want a seat at the same table as men. But, how different would society be if girls were encouraged to own their power, rather than hold it back? This is just one of the questions posed by Dance Nation, the latest play by Clare Barron, which will close the 2019 season for barebones productions in Braddock. A finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Dance Nation centers on a troupe of eight adolescent dancers, seven girls and one boy, putting together an act worthy of a national dance competition. Though each character is a teenager, they are portrayed by adult actors in several
different age groups. “The dancers in the show are played by actresses ranging in age from their twenties to several decades later,” says Patrick Jordan, founder and artistic director of barebones. “They’re all earnestly playing eleven, twelve, and thirteen year olds in this dance troupe.” While training for a competition, the characters also deal with the many struggles of adolescence, from peer pressure, to developing sexuality, to self-actualization and empowerment. “These dancers have more than choreography on their minds, because with every dance step, every plie, it’s a step toward finding themselves and a fight to unleash their
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power,” says Jordan. “You realize how much power a 13-year-old actually has. Is that gonna be squelched, is that gonna be squashed, or is that gonna be encouraged?” Interspersed throughout the show are moments when one of the actors will become their character’s future self, reflecting on that time in their life. “The playwright, Clare Barron, says it’s a play about thirteen years olds that are haunted by their future selves,” says director Melissa Martin. When looking for future productions, Jordan had long been searching for a play by and about women, hoping to counteract male dominance in theater, as well as show off the talent in Pittsburgh. Dance
Nation fit perfectly. “I’ve been looking for a play to showcase the female actresses in the city for a long time, because there are so many amazing actresses,” says Jordan. Jordan and Martin agreed Dance Nation was one of the hardest shows they’ve ever casted, because of the number of talented performers they saw. “We could have cast this show three or four times over from the actresses that we saw,” said Martin. “It was the hardest task because they were all so good.” “It’s the definition of an ensemble piece, everyone is really bringing it,” Jordan says. “Of the seven women in the cast, everyone brings something totally different to the table.” Casting was not the only challenge to putting on Dance Nation. The size of barebones’ stage, which Jordan describes as a “postage stamp,” has made staging the dance numbers particularly challenging. Fortunately, choreographer Tome Cousin was up to the challenge. “We have a wonderful choreographer in Tome Cousin,” says Jordan. “There are some people who have taken dance, and some who have never danced before, doing these dance numbers, and he was able to translate the language very easily.” While centered on adolescents, parents interested in seeing Dance Nation will likely want to leave the kids at home, due to adult language and content, as well as brief nudity, throughout the play. But that is part of what makes Dance Nation so effective; it conveys the essence of teenage life in ways we can all relate to, no matter how old. “The shocking and outrageous things that happen in this script are allegorically accurate representations of the internal struggle of a thirteen year old, and how funny, sad and touching we find it all to be,” said Martin. “It’s poignant, it’s dirty, it’s funny, it gives you all the feels,” said Jordan.
will run at barebones from November 22 to December 15, with shows every Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. There will not be a show on Thanksgiving. barebonesproductions.com
Mesha Maren (Photo by Jesus-Perez)
MESHA MAREN'S NEW NOVEL DELVES DEEP INTO THE CONCEPT OF HOME BY JODY DIPERNA - PITTSBURGH CURRENT SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR JODY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
he places in our lives are as complicated as the people in our lives. Economic exigencies may make it impossible to remain in the place that feeds your soul, and the countryside that provides a refuge from the tempests of modern life can't shield you from your past traumas. Mesha Maren's novel, Sugar Run (2019, Algonquin Books), burrows deep into this territory, the balancing acts we pull and how we forge relationships with the places we call home. We meet Maren's protagonist, Jodi McCarty, in 2007, as she is being released from a Georgia prison where she has served 18 years. She doesn't have much of a plan for
her post-prison life, except that she wants to return to her grandmother Effie's land in West Virginia, a place she has been cut off from since she was a teenager. Jodi has nostalgia, but not savvy and she holds a dream of this place -- of raising livestock and living off the land -- as a child might dream of it. Maren writes, 'I'd fit, she thought, and pictured the land in West Virginia, the smell of wheat in the field and sunlight scissoring through the trees, the way the rhythms of the days and even the air around her had always felt right.' Maren grew up in a pretty isolated stretch up on Muddy Creek Mountain, outside Alderson, West Virginia.
The Federal Prison Camp for female prisoners is located there and her father volunteered there, sometimes taking his daughter with him to visit the prisoners. Now, Maren herself teaches creative writing inside prison walls, as well as teaching at Duke University. "Those of us who love Appalachia -- there's a certain connection to the land. Because we love it so much and because the land is hard. It's not the easiest place to make a living or get the land to give back to you, you know? I almost think that makes the love stronger," Maren said when she spoke to the Current recently. She inherited the 13-acres she grew up on and she and her partner return there on the weekends and over the summers when they're not both teaching in North Carolina. "I know the land there so well. Sometimes my relationship to it feels like a relationship to a person -- that intense and that deep." Sugar Run pivots between the events leading to Jodi's incarceration in 1989, when she was a 17-year-old, in love with and running scams with a cardsharp named Paula, and the time immediately after her release. Upon her return to the mountains of her childhood, she finds the land surrounding Effie's land owned by fracking operations, the latest iteration of the extractive capitalism that has shaped the Appalachian experience for centuries. "Now there's a fracking operation less than 10 miles from Alderson, from my hometown, but the research I was doing was on fracking in Western Pennsylvania -- the way that it was affecting communities from drinking water to the economic impact," Maren said. "The short-term economic impact of having people come to town and suddenly the rent goes up. You have this company paying the employees they bring with them, who are not locals. People can charge higher rent and charge more for food and beer and there become these little bubbles. And then everything leaves town." Ill-equipped to deal with the realities of real estate and industry interest, she still fights for the land she views as a refuge from judgment. But Jodi is a lesbian and has shown up with a woman, a lover, who she met right after release. This rural area is more conservative than a big city, so
her brother cagily weaponizes her sexuality against her. His manipulations place her and everything she loves in danger. The land may be welcoming, but the place is not hospitable. "I found this to be true of my own lived experience as a queer woman in West Virginia," Maren said. "There is a way in some rural communities where your role as a member of the community can sort of supercede the otherness about you. But it's a very dangerous place to be in, because you never quite know where those lines fall. That's a part of the push-pull of West Virginia, for me and for others. It is a place that can be so comforting. But it also is a place that can be deeply troubling or problematic for queer people. Or for people of color. That is never not there."
MESHA MAREN will read at White Whale Bookstore in Bloomfield on Thursday, December 12th at 7 pm.
717 N. Homewood Ave. Shop for thoughtful gifts for loved ones, or treat yourself! Sign up to be a vendor visit - bcpgh.info/popup For more info please contact 412-242-4920 or email@example.com
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Attack Theatre in "Dressed to Remember," part of The Kitchen Sink (Photo by Dave Garson)
ATTACK THEATER IS THROWING 'THE KITCHEN SINK' AT ITS 25TH SEASON BY STEVE SUCATO - PITTSBURGH CURRENT DANCE WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
hile it may be popular Pittsburgh dance troupe Attack Theatre’s milestone 25th Anniversary Season, fans shouldn’t expect the forward-thinking company to go all nostalgic. In fact, for its newest production, The Kitchen Sink, November 15-17 at the New Hazlett Theater, there are only a few select references given to the company’s past. The triple bill of mostly new repertory works in typical Attack Theatre fashion comes with live music courtesy of a qurtet of musicians and kicks off with the premiere of “Gordian Knot,” choreographed (as are all the works on the program) by Attack co-founders/directors Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza. The piece is inspired by the ancient legend of Phrygian Gordium, about the untying of an impossibly-tangled knot that is often used as a metaphor
for an intractable problem. Its alternative-thinking solution can also be seen as a metaphor for Attack’s approach to their creative process: “Train your mind to look around a problem.” Set to snippets of music from past Attack works composed by longtime company collaborators/ members Chuck Palmer and Grammy-nominated artist Dave Eggar, the 20-minute work features a cast of 6 dancers including Attack’s newest company members, Chicago-native Drew Lewis, a former dancer with Sidra Bell Dance New York; Michele Li, a Princeton University grad from Taiwan and apprentice dancer Genevieve Li from Miami. “The piece probably packs more movement per minute than any in Attack Theatre history,” says de la Reza. “It’s a dense work filled with group partnering and highlights the
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individuality and physicality of the dancers.” Next, another premiere, “We Were Strangers, Until We Met” explores the creative influences that affect our lives. It is portrayed through the parallel voices of two women, de la Reza and Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Rebekah Del Rio who is best known for her work on David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive as “The weeping woman of LA” and in episode 10 of 2017’s Twin Peaks: The Return. Danced to a mix of existing and original music, the choreography for the piece was built on movement phrases contributed by past influencers in de la Reza’s creative life including dancemakers David Dorfman, Nita Little, David Rousseve and former Dance Alloy artistic director Mark Taylor. Joining central figures de la Reza and Del Rio in the 15-minute work will be the full company along with Kope and former Attack dancers Jeff Davis and Jil Stifel. Rounding out the 75-minute program will be its only true blast from the past, a re-worked version of 2004’s “Dressed To Remember.” Set in a café to music by Eggar and Palmer, the 23-minute piece for a quartet of dancers and one large table, “is about how to keep relationships fresh and thriving,” says de la Reza. Attack Theatre performs The Kitchen Sink, 8 p.m., Fri., Nov. 15; 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Sat. Nov. 16 and 6 p.m., Sun., Nov. 17; New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. Tickets $20-50. attacktheatre.com or newhazletttheater.org.
In its 14th edition, Bodiography Contemporary Ballet’s Multiplicity returns to the Byham Theater November 15 & 16 with a program of mostly new works by Bodiography company members and guest artists Ina Colizza and Antonello Apicella of Italy’s Matrafisc Dance and Montreal-based choreographer Giverny Welsch. The program will be performed by dancers from Bodiography’s main company, its sister troupe BCB3, made up of retired Bodiography dancers, and pre-professional company BCB2. Also appearing will be the student company of the Bodiography Center for Movement.
“The underlying theme of the program is transition,” says Bodiography’s founding artistic director Maria Caruso. The 90-minute program opens with Amanda Fisher’s “Bionic” for the BCM Student Performance Company followed by the premiere of Welsch’s work for the main company “Pit Subtlety,” a contemporary dance work about femininity and sensuality. Caruso says she was introduced to Welsch by chance when she struck up a conversation with her father, one of the pilots on a flight to China Caruso took earlier this year. “What I love about her [Welsch] is her choreographic process,” says Caruso. “She is very specific and precise in her approach.” Next, Bodiography star dancer Bethany Schimonsky’s new work “One Day At a Time” set to music by Texas post-rock band This Will Destroy You is for BCB2 and takes its inspiration from transitions in Schimonsky’s personal life says Caruso. One of three works on the program from Matrifisc Dance, “1 + 1 = 1” is a duet created and performed by the troupe’s founders Ina Colizza and Antonello Apicella that looks at expressions of gender and identity. Then wrapping up the program’s first half will be Nicole Jamison’s “Case In Brief” danced by the main company and BCB2 artists. The program’s second half will see a new work from Colizza and Apicella for Bodiography’s main company about disquiet and loneliness; Kristie Corso’s latest for BCB3’s artists set to music by French techno artist Guillaume Ferran, and Caruso’s duet “Provenance”. Multiplicity then concludes with a new pas de deux to music by Vivaldi choreographed and performed by Caruso and Apicella that is emblematic of the four seasons of one’s life, and a reprise of Caruso’s 2015 work “Within the Confines” for the main company to music by Nils Frahm. Bodiography Contemporary Ballet presents Multiplicity, 8 p.m., Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16; Byham Theater, 101 6th St., Downtown, $15-60, (412) 456-6666 or trustarts.org.
EVENTS THE CAN’T MISS BY EMERSON ANDREWS AND MARGARET WELSH INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM FEATURED EVENTS IN AND AROUND THE PITTSBURGH REGION
City of Asylum @ Alphabet City hosts Professor Marian Aguiar for a reading and a Q&A session from her book Arranging Marriage, which researches the subject in the modern day through the lens of the South Asian diaspora. 7 p.m. 40 W. North Ave. North Side. Free. alphabetcity. org (EA) On its most recent release, Exiled, U.K.-based anarco-punk band Bad Breeding is venomous as ever, blasting through noisy, heavy screeds against the alienation, marginalization and hopelessness of the working class. Talking about Stevenage, England -- the band’s hometown -frontman Christopher Dodd told the website Ransom Note, “[It’s] the kind of place that has suffered from the contemporary pursuit of a neoliberal agenda. The town is home to a large proportion of low-income communities, but is increasingly becoming a place for private investment to earn a bit of coin.” Sound familiar? Regardless of politics, Bad Breeding fucking rips, so don’t miss the band when it appears at the Rock Room on Tuesday, Nov. 12 along with locals Heavy Discipline and Landsbury. 8 p.m. 1054 Herron Ave., Polish Hill. $8. www.facebook.com/CruelNoiseRecords (MW)
In honor of Kindness Day, WQED is inviting all Pittsburghers to embrace the Fred Rogers spirit and wear their favorite cardigans. Selfies should use #CardiganDay and tag WQED. Neighbors can also stop by WQED in Oakland from 8 a.m to 2 p.m. for warm drinks, activities and to see Mister Rogers: Just the Way You Are, an interactive, mixed-media portrait on display for a limited time. Parking is free. 8 a.m. 4802 5th Ave. Free. wqed.org (EA)
TELL concludes their Pittsburgh Storytelling Series with Adam Booth. Booth uses folklore, music and contemporary Appalachia in his storytelling approach and has toured across the nation. This program is for adults. 7 p.m. University of Pittsburgh, 4060 Allequippa St. $10 at the door with cash or check only. 3rstf. firstname.lastname@example.org (EA)
Assemble hosts another of their monthly Learning Parties. This month’s theme is storytelling with partners Union Project and Women for a Healthy Environment. All ages are welcome. 4 p.m. 4824 Penn Ave. Free. 412-661-6111 or email@example.com (EA) Grab your earplugs/bits of Kleenex/ gauze/whatever and head to Babyland for a noisy evening of hardcore. Blueprint, from Philly, just released Here To Please, a relentless and cathartic four-song EP that make convert even the staunchest anti-moshers among us. Locals Speed Plans and Alamoans also appear, along with Led Paint, making its debut performance. The show is all ages, so bring some kids, maybe. 8 p.m. 460 Melwood Ave., Oakland. $5. (MW)
Photographer Charlee Brodsky leads a still life composition workshop at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The workshop combines drawing and photography as students of all experience levels learn how to infuse a still life with meaning. Participants should bring objects that hold meaning to them. 3 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave. $10 general admission, $8 for members, $5 for students. 412622-3288 or firstname.lastname@example.org (EA)
Celeste Scott organizes a panel discussion featuring QTPOC artists and activists to address questions of affordable housing, gentrification and livability in Pittsburgh. A family style meal will be served before the panel discussion, prepared by Black Unicorn’s Bekezela Mguni and Chef Oliver Pinder. Tickets are nameyour-price. 1:30 p.m. 5941 Penn Ave. 412-363-3000 or kelly-strayhorn.org (EA) Aly Spaltro – who performs under the name Lady Lamb – began writing songs in the mid 2000s while she was working at a video rental store in Brunswick, Maine. Maybe that accounts for the cinematic nature of her songwriting. But the delicacy of her lyrics, which focus on small details and sharp observations feel pleasantly at odds with the size of her theatrical indie rock sound, which hits the ear like a something boundless and barely contained. Hear for yourself when she comes to Spirit on Saturday, Nov. 16. Toth also appears. 8 p.m. 242 51st St., Lawrenceville. $17.www.spiritpgh. com (MW)
Archivists for the Heinz History Center share stories that often go untold behind some of the museum’s collections. Attendees can learn more about the day-to-day lives of Western Pennsylvanians with photos and documents unavailable anywhere else. The event is free with reservation but does not include admission to the rest of the museum. 2 p.m. 1212 Smallman St. heinzhistorycenter.org (EA) The Waterfront at Homestead hosts a Let It Glow holiday celebration. Beatlemania Magic will perform while kids can enjoy activities and carolers. The tree-lighting ceremony will be assisted by Santa riding in on a firetruck. 3 p.m. 149 West Bridge St. Homestead. Free. ewittmer@wilkow. com (EA)
Mana Boardgame Tavern hosts their first trivia night. Teams of up to four are invited to see how much they know. Prizes awarded to first and second place. 7:30 p.m. 919 Western Ave. Free admission. 412209-4189 (EA)
Painter Tschabalala Self joins Carnegie Mellon University School of Art for a free lecture open to the public. Self’s work primarily concerns the black female body and intersections with race, gender and sexuality. Her work has been exhibited across the country from Harlem to Seattle. 6:30 p.m. 5000 Forbes Ave. Free. art.cmu. edu (EA)
City of Asylum @ Alphabet City hosts a screening of Small Talk (Ri Chang Dui Hua), about three generations of women and the underground LGBTQ culture in Taiwan. The event is free with reservation. 7 p.m. 40 W. North Ave., North Side Free. alphabetcity.org (EA)
Muralist Douglas Cooper presents his latest book, Knowing and Seeing for the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures series. Cooper, a professor at Carnegie Mellon, has exhibited work internationally. A book signing will follow the lecture, which is free with registration. 6 p.m. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-622-8866 or pittsburghlectures.org (EA) The Heinz History Center takes attendees behind the scenes of its A Very Merry Pittsburgh exhibition, sharing how stories were chosen, which ones were left out and the strengths and weaknesses of the collection. Doors open at 5 p.m. The event is free with registration encouraged, and attendees will have access to all History Center exhibitions. 7 p.m. 1212 Smallman St., Strip District. Free. heinzhistorycenter.org (EA)
The Carnegie Science Center holds a Light Up Night Sleepover. Guests can enjoy the best view of the downtown lights, sleep among the exhibits and wake up to a continental breakfast plus free admission to the Science Center the day after. 6 p.m. One Allegheny Ave., North Shore. $39. Carnegiesciencecenter.org (EA)
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EVENTS LOUD AND CLEAR
THE MEMBERS OF TRVSS LET THEIR MUSIC TELL THEIR STORY BY JUSTIN VELLUCI - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
SMALL TALK, NOV. 20
This month Pittsburgh’s own rootsy arena-rockers the Hawkeyes return with a new record, Ever For After (though, given the hard-working band’s heavy touring schedule, any sort of “return” is in a strictly geographic sense). With frontman Jay Wiley’s powerful hard rock vocals at the forefront, the new record offers a solid, sonically rich collection of major-chord driven modern American music. Comparisons to ‘90s heartland rockers (Mellencamp, Petty, Earle, Ethreridge, etc) are inevitable, but you’ll hear a little glam, and even some power pop mixed in there as well. The band celebrates the release of the record on Friday, Nov. 22 at the Hard Rock Café. Snarfunkle opens. 9 p.m. 230 W. Station Square Drive, Station Square. $12-15. hawkeyesband.com (MW)
I Made It! Market kicks off their holiday tour at the Edgewood Towne Center. Nearly 100 local craftspeople will be on site to sell their works for your gift-giving needs. Plenty of free parking is available, and more events will be held throughout the Pittsburgh area for the rest of the holiday season. 11 a.m. 1789 S. Braddock
Ave. Swissvale. Free. 412-254-4464 or imadeitmarket.com (EA) Kingfly Spirits partners with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) for a Cocktails for a Cause fundraiser and awareness gathering. A portion of the proceeds between 12 and 4 p.m. will go to PAAR. 12 p.m. 2613 Smallman St., Strip District. Free. paar.net (EA)
Vintage buyers are invited to Pittsburgh Pickers, a vintage market featuring 20 resellers at the Ace Hotel. Food and drink will be provided off a locally-sourced menu by Whitfield. 11 a.m. 120 S. Whitfield St., East Liberty Free admission. 412-361-3300 (EA)
Allegheny Cemetary invites photographers to enter their Facebook Photo Contest. Entrants should follow the rules on how to submit and on what types of photos are considered appropriate. Winners will be selected featured in a wall calendar for 2020. 1 p.m. Free. alleghenycemetary. com (EA)
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here are shreds of feedback and, waiting, waiting, waiting, also an air of anticipation as members of Pittsburgh trio TRVSS wait for WRCT DJ Sean Cho to peer through the studio glass and give them the thumbs up to start. Then, after a requisite “Alright, go!” TRVSS erupts over the airwaves and, figuratively, of course, blows the roof of the Carnegie Mellon’s Jared L. Cohon University Center. “For being as loud as they are, small venues are too much,” says Cho, a CMU alumnus who has caught the ascending noise-rock outfit at Spirit and Preserving Hardcore. “Here, we’re sheltered from the noise and they sound really great.” For a band that sounds this loud and, yet, this refined, TRVSS – which is set to play a live set alongside Chicago’s Salvation and Pittsburgh punk-metal outfit T-Tops at brillobox Nov. 13 – is fairly new. The group only formed last summer and played its first show in September 2018, opening for Pittsburgh indie-rockers The Gotobeds. Aside from some of the basics, TRVSS’ members – guitarist and vocalist Daniel Gene, bassist and backing vocalist Jake Pellatiro, and drummer Neal Leventry – are hesitant to provide details about themselves. They don’t cite any other bands as influences. They work day jobs but don’t want to reference them. And they surely don’t talk about other bands in which they’ve played, other than to say they’ve been doing it for a while. After all, TRVSS – pronounced “truss,” not “Travis” – is its own thing. “We don’t need to flex our library or show our bones,” says Leventry, of Crafton. “That’s not what we’re about.” “We obviously don’t want to sound like other bands,” adds Pellatiro, who lives in New Kensington. “It’s okay to have influences but it’s not cool to imitate. [For us] it’s more, like, ‘This part should be quieter, this part should be louder.’” Many parts are, um, quite loud.
The trio self-released its debut, Absence, earlier this fall and it remains one of the year’s overlooked gems – and definitely is in the running for the best rock recorded released this year in Pittsburgh. It was recorded, largely live with minimal overdubs during one winter weekend, by Matt Schor at The Worm. In the basement studio at CMU, where colorful curtains cover drab white walls, the songs from the record weren’t just faithful reproductions, they were propulsive acts, even bordering on violent. (Set opener “Convergence, 1946,” which also opens the LP, was particularly visceral.) At WRCT, the band cranked down the live presence for which it is becoming known – Cho says, at Spirit, Gene perfected his “on-stage freak-out” – but the material still made unprotected eardrums throb. In a room that smelled, at the end, at least, of sweat and old pizza, the music on display was not stale. Gene, who plays an aluminum-body guitar that calls to mind noise-rock guitarists like Steve Albini, says his biggest influence when writing many of his wiry contortions for TRVSS is not a band but the film The Shining, especially its use of space. It makes sense for the band; wouldn’t you describe both as unnerving, densely textured and teetering on the precipice of an uncontrolled madness? “Because we come from different musical perspectives, [our influences] are more about tonal vibes than a band,” says Gene, of Upper Lawrenceville. “I feel like we all pull from different things. I think that’s what makes us interesting – I think we complement each other well.” If I could hear myself think right now, I’d wholly agree.
MUSIC FIRST/LAST CATCHING UP WITH THE BOUQUETS BY HUGH TWYMAN - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ouquets are a Pittsburgh shoegaze band that has been playing regularly around town since last June, supporting both out-of-towners and locals as they hone their ‘rawk’ meets emo sound. The band is currently working on releasing their debut EP expected later this year or early 2020 and I want to thank Christian Freeberg (Vocals), Ryan Thompson (Guitar), Warren Pryde (Bass), and Clark Littlepage (Drums) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last. The first album you ever bought? Christian: That Backstreet Boys album where they’re all standing up against a wall. Warren: Yourself or Someone Like You Matchbox 20 when I was 8 or 9. Ryan: Americana The Offspring. Clark: Hybrid Theory Linkin Park. Your last album bought? Christian: Norman Fucking Rockwell Lana Del Rey. Ryan: I Am Easy to Find The National. Warren: >>> BEAK>. Clark: Logg S/T. Favorite album of all time? Christian: For the sake of picking just one, Veheissu, Thrice. Ryan: Songs From The Big Chair, Tears For Fears. The most perfect album ever recorded. Warren: Changes daily, if not hourly, but I think my desert island record might be Grace, Jeff Buckley. I hate picking favorites. Clark: Speaking in Tongues, Talking Heads. Least favorite/most disappointing album? Christian: I definitely have some but I’m gonna keep those to myself. Ryan: Vaxis 1: The Unheavenly Creatures Coheed And Cambria. One of my all-time favorite bands, but it didn't grab me the way everything else by them has. Warren: Of all time? Not worth
paying mind to; I try not to dwell. But recently? Fear Inoculum Tool - I just found it pretty boring. Like, we waited 13 years for this? Clark: Junk, M83. First concert attended? Christian: Between the Buried and me, Haste the Day, Every Time I Die, Bleeding Through at this place in Cleveland called Peabody’s Down Under. Ryan: “Weird Al” Yankovic in 1999, followed by Ozzfest 2003. Warren: dredg, at the Rex Theatre in 2004 or 2005, with mewithoutYou and Veda opening. Clark: Spice Girls in Columbus, OH (1998).
ary 2019 was a letdown. At least The Gotobeds made for some fun. Clark: Radiohead’s Cincinnati show in 2012. Incredibly underwhelming. Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh? Christian: The people I’ve met making art and the way the community comes together when we need to. Ryan: Seeing so many friends be able to thrive in the scene makes me happy. Warren: Just how tight knit a lot of the music scene is. Getting to work in it is awesome. Doing sound I even get to feel like the "fifth Beatle" sometimes. Clark: There’s an unbridled energy to Pittsburgh; a lot of creatives, in all mediums, doing cool shit here constantly.
soon! My personal association with you goes back to when Warren was a head of the student union at CMU years ago and got me into some cool shows to shoot. People helping people is what this scene has been and continues to be all about! Hugh Twyman (AKA HughShows) has been documenting the Pittsburgh music scene since 2004. His website (www.hughshows.com) features a comprehensive Pittsburgh Concert Calendar, episodes of HughShowsTV, a newly launched public Pittsburgh music database, exclusive audio streams from local bands, thousands of his concert photos and his trademark First/Last interview series. Support Bouquets: www.facebook.com/bouquetspgh/ Support HughShows: www.hughshows.com
Hugh’s Take: Thanks, fellas. Looking forward to hearing your stuff
Last concert? Christian: Lana Del Rey at the Jones Beach Theatre In NY. Ryan: The Lonely Island. Warren: Iron Maiden at PPG Paints Arena and before that ELO, also at PPG. Clark: Bon Iver at The Forum in LA. Favorite concert ever? Christian: White Wives, Koji, Balance and Composure, Touché Amore at this mason’s lodge in Altoona, PA. Touché felt like a religious experience. Ryan: Either Tears For Fears, The Lonely Island, or The Dillinger Escape Plan's final shows. Warren: Really hard to say. Might be kind of a cop out, but Lollapalooza 2008 maybe? Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, The National, and Battles were standouts from that for me. Clark: LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden... only show I’ve been to that was released on DVD, ha-ha. Least favorite concert? Christian: Keeping that to myself. Ryan: Bob Dylan in 2006, he sounded like a parody of himself at that point. Warren: Gang of Four in FebruPITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 12, 2019 | 21
Ian Brill's Vault installation
SPIRIT'S ROOFTOP GARDEN PROJECT MARRIES LOCAL CULTURE WITH SUSTAINABILITY BY MEG FAIR - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MANAGING EDITOR MEG@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM Spirit Lodge has become a hub for music and culture in the Lawrenceville neighborhood, helping to grow creative scenes and communities. In the coming years, even more things will be growing at Spirit — in this case, literal plants. Kelsey Sheridan is the project manager for the Rooftop Garden Project at Spirit, an ambitious project that seeks to utilize Spirit’s roof as a solar energy source, bee apiary, rooftop garden and educational event space. The venue’s gardener Josh Barnes already grows fresh produce in the city-owned lot next to Spirit, but Spirit takes that gardening effort event further and provide an educational space to engage with urban gardeners and local farms. “A thriving local community goes
hand-in-hand with environmental sustainability, and it’s something that is really important to our staff and customers here at Spirit. As a venue that hosts a myriad of events and shows each week, we use a lot of energy. But, we also have a unique opportunity to make an impact on our eco-footprint,” says Sheridan. With help from Rebecca Bykowski of Sustainable Pittsburgh, the venue has switched over to 99% LED lighting, including stage lights. The food waste is composted each week by Zero Waste Wrangler, and all the cups, straws, flatware, napkins and disposable plates at Spirit are biodegradable. “Anyone who comes to see their favorite band, dance night, happy hour, wedding reception, or just have
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dinner & drinks with their friends on a Tuesday, supports this sustainability,” says Sheridan. When the project is complete, the roof will hold 1,000 square feet of garden beds, 2,000 square feet of solar panels and event space with room for 50 people that will host educational events as well. This past spring the 5,000 square foot flat roof of Spirit was re-insulated to dampen noise and provide the foundation to build on, but the rest of the project is still in its fundraising and planning stages. As part of its fundraising effort, the venue is hosting a Rooftop Garden Benefit Dinner on November 21 that will serve as a “Friendsgiving” inside of the iconic Ian Brill ‘Vault’ installation in Spirit Hall.
“We knew that we wanted to hold an annual semi-fancy but fully-weird dinner party to raise money for the Rooftop Garden Project, and Ian’s Vault just made sense,” says Tom Barr, one of Spirit’s crew of owners. “You could eat a bowl of corn flakes by yourself in the Vault and be entertained while Ian is performing it… Add actual chefs, talented musicians, and friends… And you’ve got one hell of a Friendsgiving.” The event will feature performances by Jon David Russell, Pissy Mattress (as Dawn Tawnya), Alex Korshin and jb.arnes, and will be hosted by Spirit partner Alex Korshin, who will be singing some songs around the piano. The performances will happen inside of Brill’s active Vault alongside a four-course meal created by Piebird, Sugar Spell Scoops and Kendyl Ryan and Dan Rodriguez of Duncan Street, as well as Dave Rath and John Thomas of Spirit, who will be creating dishes with produce from Pittsburgh’s Tiny Seed Farms. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options are available, with pairings curated and created by the Allegheny Wine Mixer, Spring Hill Brewing and Nicole Battle of Angel’s Envy, an original bartender at Spirit. With friends making food and drinks and performing music inside, Spirit’s Friendsgiving fundraiser is indicative of the teamwork and collaboration that Spirit strives for. “A vital element of a large project like this is that it’s truly a collaborative effort,” says Sheridan. “We intend to keep working with and finding ways Spirit as a venue can support the amazing community gardens we met through this process!” Rooftop Garden Project Friendsgiving Benefit Dinner. 7 p.m. Thursday, November 21. Spirit Hall, 242 51st St. $85. tinyurl.com/rooftopgardenproject
FLY THE COOP
WHY SOME FAMILIES EAT THANKSGIVING OUT AND SOME SUGGESTIONS ON WHERE TO TAKE THEM
Thanksgiving, like 4th of July and Arbor Day, are one of those uniquely American holidays that you quite literally cannot celebrate anything else. And perhaps more than any other holiday, American or not, no other day is anchored by, exists for and is defined by a meal. Not just any meal, but a very specific pairing of turkey, cranberries, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, and, in my opinion, the star of the show, stuffing. Sure, there are variations, but 99% of Thanksgiving tables will have one or more of these dishes present. For many, many people this holiday is celebrated in someone’s home, with friends and family gathered from near and far to be thankful, eat themselves in to a coma and pretend to watch football, all while sneak-drinking wine in the kitchen so you don’t get finger-wags from your mother. But for others, Thanksgiving is spent around the table at a restaurant. Reasons for this are as varied as the options on a Thanksgiving dessert buffet. Matt Neistein of Beechview prefers it because “for the past couple of years it’s just been the two of us, and cooking up a big meal for two people almost seems counterproductive.” Which rings true as someone who has avoided the post-Thanksgiving dinner kitchen of carnage like the plague. It is a lot of work, both before and after. Some folks alternate dining in and out, depending on the year. Jen Greenwald, of Churchill, spends the years with her husband, Dan’s, family, trying out different restaurants for Thanksgiving. This year they’re traveling to Stonewall Resort in WV. There are pros and cons to going out.
BY BETHANY RUHE - PITTSBURGH CURRENT ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BETHANY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM For instance, as many carbs as you want from the buffet, but, according to Greenwald, “You can’t hang out and talk because the next reservation is waiting for your table. And with a large group there are always several people you barely talk to because they’re seated too far away from you.” For others, it’s simply a time issue. April Hanahan of Monroeville wants more time to spend with her family, and less time cleaning and cooking; “Not spending that day cooking, gives me a lot more time to actually enjoy it with my child!” Whatever your reasons, there is a place in Pittsburgh for you to spend your Thanksgiving. Just remember, the folks in the kitchen and in the dining room are working on their holiday, too. Neinstein knows this all too well. “The restaurant staff knows it's a special day, so they seem to take a little more time making sure you're happy. And we always tip a lot more because these are people working instead of being with their families.” Places to consider for your own Thanksgiving dinner out on the town: Braddock’s Rebellion Downtown $43.95, adult, $19 12 and under, children under 5 are free braddocksresaurant.com Brick Shop Tryp Hotel, Lawrenceville $38 per person, reservations not required but suggested brickshoppgh.com The Capital Grille Downtown $43 adult, $15 children
thecapitalgrille.com The Commoner Downtown $38 per person, reservations not required but suggested thecommonerpgh.com Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Downtown eddiev.com Gateway Clipper Fleet Station Square $57 adults, $26 children 1-12 gatewayclipper.com (check out their Light Up Night cruise, too!) Grand Concourse Station Square $44 adults, $21 children, take-out options also available grandconcourse.com Hyeholde
Moon Township $50 adults, $25 children, reservations required hyehold.com Rivers Casino North Shore $24.99 riverscasino.com Senti Restaurant and Wine Bar Lawrenceville $59 per person sentirestaurant.com Spirits and Tales The Oaklander Hotel, Oakland Thanksgiving Prix Fixe, call for prices spiritsandtales.com Whitfield Ace Hotel, East Liberty $45 per person, reservations suggested. whitfieldpgh.com
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FOOD DAY DRINKING
KEEPING TABS ON PITTSBURGH'S CRAFT BEER SCENE
ov 9, 6 p.m.: I’m at Noble Creature to wrap up my Youngstown brew tour that includes Birdfish and Modern Methods, all within about 40 minutes of each other. It’s housed in an old church and has pictures and paintings of animals across the walls. A band plays in the background. I’m joined by my cohost of the Drinking Partners podcast, Ed Bailey, an Ohio native who recently headlined the Pittsburgh
BY DAY BRACEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CRAFT BEER WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM Improv. Neither of us knows much about beer, but we drink enough to fake it. Ed: The To Be Fair is a nice way to start off a flight. It’s a sessionable 5.8% ABV Belgian single, crisp and flavorful. It’s like a Blue Moon but with heavier wheat. I’d definitely happy hour the shit out of this. Me: I like this Architeuthis. It’s so low on the pumpkin. It doesn’t jump out at you like, “Pumpkin, bitch!” It’s more like, “Hey. Pumpkin?” Ed: I’ve never had pumpkin before. All of the pumpkins I’ve ever had has been in beer. Do you eat it raw? Sounds like something you’ve got to put heat to. All I know is pumpkin goes with my [orange] flannel shirt. Me: What’s that? Ed: Fickle Mistress Farmhouse IPA. It’s yeasty. I wonder if all of the backend is the yeast, and all the shit the hits your tongue is the hops? Me: I think that’s how it works. Ed: It’s an IPA but it has some elicit flavors on the end of it. I guess that’s the mistress. They got the mistress in the barnyard,
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hiding behind the hay. Me: What’s the next one? Ed: Have you ever had something that was very sour initially, but then muted afterward? When I first drank it, I was like, “This shit strong.” But now it’s not so much. I didn’t realize it was a raspberry sour. I think it’s called Thin Lips. Me: It’s very self-aware. Ed: It’s the color of white people’s lips when it’s cold outside. Nov. 9, 7 p.m.: A gingerly bearded fellow walks in and adjusts the lights behind the bar. We assume he may be of some importance. I make my way over and introduce myself. Turns out he’s Ira Gerhart, owner, and brewer, and he has time to give us a quick tour of the brewery! Ira: What are you guys drinking? Ed: This is a rauchbier. Fire to Face. I don’t know what that is. Ira: It’s a traditional German smoked lager, an amber lager with some smoke to it. Ed: I can taste the garden on that beet beer [Blast Beets]. The beets were dug out of really nice soil. I can drink that and sing the Doug theme song. Me: How long have you been open? Ira: It’ll be two years in December. My wife started going to school at YSU. We’re from PA originally. I was living in Erie at the time. I knew I wanted to start a brewery and the property was cheap. So we bought a house, a fixer-upper, and started a brewery. Me: So, did you name it Noble Creature after you moved into a church? Ira: The whole idea came from my wife, Marcy. She called all of our pets
noble creatures. Me: You have a lot of sour barrels here. Do you find there is a bigger market here for these types of beer? Ira: I got hooked on this style of beer when I worked at Sprague Farms. They do all kinds of open fermentation and everything is cask-conditioned. When I worked there I started playing around with harvesting local yeast cultures. Me: Where do you go to get your local yeast? Ira: Outside. Me: How do you yeast hunt? Do they leave a footprint? Ira: A good way to start is take a wort and stick it under a flower that’s pollinating. Me: So, how do you pick your spots? What’s a yeasty area? Ira: We’ve done stuff around orchards. A quicker way to do it is to make a wort and throw some flowers in it to jumpstart it. Me: So, you’re like yeast trapping? Ira: Basically. We capture the yeast and try to grow it up a couple of times before I try it. If you set some wort out there overnight, I wouldn’t bring that back and drink it. Let it go for a little bit, make sure the PH drops and there’s some fermentation. Step that up again and again and if it keeps going then I try it. If it tastes ok we keep it going. Most of the time it’s going to taste like shit, just dump it out and try again. It’s a weird experiment. That’s what fun about it.
SPORTS CURRENTLY WRESTLING
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN PITTSBURGH'S INDEPENDENT WRESTLING SCENE BY MICHAEL SORG - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
What you missed Ring of Honor
ROH returned to Stage AE for ROH The Experience which streamed live on HonorClub, which operated on a “fans decide” theme all night. Fans were treated to Dragon Lee taking on fan-picked Jeff Cobb, a wild 4 way match between PJ Black, Kenny King, Eli Isom, and CMLL’s Ultimo Guerrero (in which King leapt from the stage over this writer’s head at ringside). Pittsburgh’s own ring announcer Nick Lendl suffered a beat down from “Maneater” Maria Manic, and Cleveland’s ROH World TV Champion Shane Taylor teamed with World Champion Rush against Dalton Castle and Matt Taven. All but Rush are no stranger to the Pittsburgh indy wrestling scene. The night also saw matches recorded for the weekly television show that airs on Channel 22, The Point and FOX 53. www.rohwrestling.com
Friday Night Fight Society Round 5
McKeesport had another Friday Night of Fists Up, Throw Down matches. Fight Society Champion and Pittsburgh area veteran Shirley Doe defended against a newly glittered up Beast Man that took the fight all over the Battlegrounds, including a scary moment where they fought into the Crow’s Next and dangerously close to the production and audio command center. In interngender action, Scarlett was able to wrestle away the PWX Contender’s Title from the “Messiah of the Backbreaker” AJ Alexander with the
help from new colleagues Beast Man and Troy Lords. www.pwxfightsociety.com
In the finals of the Ryse of a Contender tournament, the towering Pretty Boy Smooth lost his chance at the Ryse Grand Championship to “TJ Cool” Tony Johnson after the champion Matt Conard got involved. Also, after David Lawless gained victory over Tyler Voxx, he issued challenged Youtube sensation Jim Sterling which would affect the management of Ryse Wrestling. This show also saw the return of an even more feral Honeybadger and Shawn Phoenix announced his return to wrestling after just over a year from his devastating injury. www.rysewrestling.com
Prospect Pro Wrestling: Chase for the Gold 2PW returned to Leechburg Elks Club again as the company started
to shape the field for the tournament for the first ever Prospect Pro Wrestling Championship. Zack Rayne, John Rodin, Nystrom, Bronco McBride, Jami Jemson, Elijah Dean all found victories in their qualifiers to move on to the to December 14’s 1 Year Anniversary. In a preview of the tag team championship picture, a 4 way Elimination Match between the Sexy Talented Dudes, The ETF, The Hossmen, and Board of Education broke down into a locker room emptying brawl all around the ring, and even led to Marshall Gambino, Bob the Goon, Daniel Hooven, and Stevie Lebell throwing down over and behind the bar! www.prospectprowrestling.com
Renegade Wrestling Alliance: Open Season 7 p.m. Saturday November 16 West Newton Gymnasium 113
South Fifth Street, West Newton www.rwalive.com
Ryse Wrestling: The Inclusion Revolution 7:30 p.m. Sunday November 23 Ryse Wrestling 1952 University Drive, Lemont Furnace www.rysewrestling.com
Angel Gate Wrestling 7:30 p.m. Sunday November 23 The Battleground, 2125 Beacon St., McKeesport www.angelgatewrestling.com A list of Professional Wrestling Shows in Pittsburgh area can be found at www.PittsburghWrestling. com Michael Sorg is a Pro Wrestling Podcaster with Wrestling Mayhem Show since 2006 and produces pro wrestling content with promotions across multiple states at www.indywrestling.us and www.indywrestling. network
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Current Comics Rob Jones
18 | OCT. 23, 2018 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
Best in Show By Phil Juliano
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Heroineburgh By H-Burgh and Zeus
Sucks to Be an Animal
By Sienna Cittadino
CARTOONISTS CARTOONISTS WANTED WANTED pittsburgh current is looking for local artists who would like to have their comics featured on our twice-monthly funny pages.
20 | OCT. 23, 2018 | PITTSBURGH CURRENTemail: email@example.com
Â© Barry Linck phinmagic.net PITTSBURGH CURRENT | OCT. 23, 2018 | 21
EXTRA Savage Love BY DAN SAVAGE MAIL@SAVAGELOVE.NET
y boyfriend and I met online to explore our kinks. We’d both been in relationships with kink-shaming people who screwed with our heads. Since we weren’t thinking it was more than a hookup, we put all our baggage on the table early and wound up becoming friends. Eventually we realized we had a real connection and started a relationship where we supported our desire to explore. I’ve never been happier. The only issue is how he gets down on himself if I get more attention than he does. After the first kink party we went to, he would not stop trying to convince me that no one looked at him all evening. I tried to boost his confidence, and I also brought up things like “You were on a leash, so maybe people assumed you were off-limits.” No dice. I couldn’t get him to even entertain the notion that anyone even looked at him. He’s a cross-dressing sissy who loves to be used by men—heterosuckual—and he has a lot of baggage with every last one of his exes citing his cross-dressing as a reason to leave him for a “real” man. To make things worse, we have had issues with guys coming over for him, finding out there’s a Domme female in the picture, and switching focus to me. I feel like I wind up avoiding kinky sexual situations (which I love!) because I’m so concerned about protecting his ego. I’ve tried using my words and we generally communicate well, but he is unwilling to entertain any interpretations that don’t mesh with his theory that he’s obviously undesirable. The breaking point for me was this past weekend. He encouraged me to go to a swingers party with a friend, and I had a blast. It was super-empowering, and all I wanted to do was tell him every detail—the way he will when he services cock—and he was so jealous that I was able to effortlessly get so much attention, he wasn’t ready to hear it. It made me feel the same sex shame I felt with my ex. It also made me feel like he was insinuating how could I get so lucky, which hit all my chubby girl self-conscious
places hard. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated! Seeking Insightful Stress Solution, Yup Tell that sissy to get over herself. Your boyfriend is making you feel guilty about something you have no control over: Women get more attention at mixed-gender sex/play parties than men do. And as far as your respective kinks go, SISSY, there are always going to be more people out there who want to get with Domme women than guys who want to get with/be serviced by submissive heterosuckual cross-dressers. Your boyfriend will always attract less interest than you do at a kink party, just as someone who goes to a BDSM play party hoping to do a little knife play will attract less interest than someone who’s looking for a little light bondage. Instead of counting the number of guys who approach you at a party and then trying to ruin your night for getting more attention than he does, your boyfriend has to make the most of every opportunity that comes his way. And if some guy approaches him at a play party only to realize he’s on a leash, SISSY, isn’t that guy supposed to turn his attention to the Dominant partner? If your boyfriend could resist the urge to spiral down at those moments—if he could resist the urge to make himself the center of negative attention—those men would probably turn their attention back to him at some point, particularly if you encouraged/gave them permission to do so. (You could and perhaps should also make it clear to anyone who approaches you at some-if-not-all kink parties that you’re a package deal: You play together or you don’t play at all. But even then, your boyfriend has to accept that you’ll be leveraging your desirability on both your behalves and be at peace with it. Usually when I advise readers to “use their words,” it’s about making sexual needs clear, i.e., asking for what we want with the understand-
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ing that we may not always get what we want. But what you need (and you need to use your words to get), SISSY, is for your boyfriend to knock this petty, hypocritical slut-shaming shit off. (He’s essentially shaming you for being the slut he’d like to be.) It might help if you got him to recognize and grieve and accept not just the reality of the situation— women with more mainstream kinks are more in demand at mixed-gender kink parties than men with niche kinks—but also the risk he’s running here: His insecurities are sabotaging your relationship. Him setting traps for you—like encouraging you to go out and play only to make you feel terrible about it afterward—and making hurting insinuations about
your attractiveness is making this relationship untenable. Tell him that you’re going to dump him if he can’t get a grip. And then ask him what will be worse—being partnered with someone who gets more attention than he does in kink and swinger spaces or being a single male in those spaces. (It’s a trick question, at least partly, as many of those spaces don’t allow single males.) On the Lovecast, sex workers’ rights advocate Elle Stanger: savagelovecast.com. firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Dan on Twitter @fakedansavage ITMFA.org
CLASSIFIEDS For more information on how to place your classified ad, please call 412-945-0817
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 12, 2019 | 27
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Discover something new every Thursday! Featuring access to the galleries, art-making, and special performances, ART TIL 8 is the perfect way to kick off your weekend or unwind after a long day.
ART TIL 8 Thursdays 5â€“8 p.m. 50% off admission
This month, weâ€™re partnering with the Pittsburgh Opera, New Hazlett Theater, and independent artists for our featured performances.
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Coverage of Pittsburgh Light Up Night, Donald Trump, barebones theater, Pitsburgh Public Theatre, Dan Savage, comics and more
Published on Nov 13, 2019
Coverage of Pittsburgh Light Up Night, Donald Trump, barebones theater, Pitsburgh Public Theatre, Dan Savage, comics and more