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April 7 2020 - April 13, 2020






STAFF Publisher/Editor: Charlie Deitch Charlie@pittsburghcurrent.com Associate Publisher: Bethany Ruhe Bethany@pittsburghcurrent.com Advisory Board Chairman: Robert Malkin Robert@pittsburghcurrent.com


Vol. III Iss. VIlI April 7, 2020

NEWS 4 | Inside the ACJ 6 | Titanic Problems 7 | Planned Parenthood 8 | Brewed on Grant




April 7 2020 - April 13, 2020



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V I R T U A L D A N C E PA R T I E S A R E B E C O M I N G P O P U L A R D U R I N G T H E PA N D E M I C , B U T C A N B E T R I C K Y T O P U L L O F F The Fine Print The contents of the Pittsburgh Current are © 2019 by Pittsburgh Current, LLC. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this publication shall be duplicated or reprinted without the express-written consent of Pittsburgh Current LLC. One copy per person. The Pittsburgh Current is published twice monthly beginning August 2018. The opinions contained in columns and letters to the editors represent the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Pittsburgh Current ownership, management and staff. The Pittsburgh Current is an independently owned and operated print and online media company produced in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Beechview neighborhood, 1665 Broadway Ave., Pittsburgh, PA., 15216. 412-204-7248. Email us or don’t: info@pittsburghcurrent.com.



We are an influence-free, Independent alternative print and online news company in Pittsburgh Pa. As we’ve been reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen firsthand the dramatic effect it’s having on businesses around southwestern Pennsylvania. This is especially true for small businesses like ours. While we remain steadfastly committed to reporting on the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak through the latest information and features, we need your help. Support independent journalism through a sustaining or one-time donation to the Pittsburgh Current. 80% of all donations go toward paying our staff and content creators, 20% will help keep the lights on. And 100 percent of it will ensure this city continues to have an alternative, independent voice. Even before canceling events and staying at home became the new normal, media companies like ours were struggling to keep things going. But we, like others, have found a way because people depend on our product, they like what they do and we feel that appreciation every day. We announced last week that we were temporarily halting our twice-monthly print publication and focusing on our online digital edition because people aren’t going outside, and the businesses where we distribute are all closed. The good news in all of this is that our digital edition will now be coming out weekly instead of bi-monthly. So beginning March 24, you’ll be able to get the Current every Tuesday (to make sure you get it delivered to your inbox, fill out our email signup on our homepage). We are a small team with a big mission and we’re stubborn enough to know that with your help we will get through this. The Current, like many small businesses, is at a crossroads. We plan on doing our part to get you the information you need to make it through this crisis, but we need your support to make sure we’re also able to report on the next one. You can donate by clicking the popup on our homepage or clicking donate below.

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Allegheny County Jail Workers say Manageme



n employee suspended for wearing a mask; inmates crowded even closer together in a time of social-distancing and nearly 225 cells sit empty for reasons no one can discern. Welcome to the Allegheny County Jail in the time of COVID-19, according to some of the people who work there. Pittsburgh Current recently talked to several employees of the county’s lockup and they paint a picture of poor planning and arbitrary enforcement of rules that they say are putting the public and the employees in harm’s way. “Let’s put it this way,” said one anonymous employee. “If the Allegheny County Jail were a baby, CYS would come and take it away.” It is important to note that the employees the Current spoke to, did so on the condition of anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs or other reprisals. However, the information was gathered from multiple sources. The Current sent 10 detailed questions to a county spokesperson, however, the only response was a general statement sent out to all media. None of the information you will read in this story was either confirmed or denied specifically by the county, despite a second request to do so. “Rumors and misinformation can be destructive and can even cause harmful behaviors that increase personal and public health risk,” spokesperson Amie Downs wrote in the statement. “We have worked hard to ensure that the public has the most reliable information and balanced the need for transparency with private health considerations throughout this process. “The rumors currently being spread about the jail, whether purposefully or unknowingly, are

irresponsible and dangerous. Announcements related to what steps are being taken at the jail to address COVID-19 concerns have been made on an ongoing basis since mid-March and are also posted on the jail’s webpage. The Courts have even issued data and information regarding the release process to address misinformation being spread. We announced last week that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19 and shared information regarding that individual’s contact with colleagues and inmates. The safety of the staff and inmates at the facility is our main focus. We will continue to take every precaution necessary to mitigate the potential impact of the virus at our facility.” However, employees inside the facility on a daily basis dispute that the steps being taken are enough to stop the spread of the virus. In fact, the statement on the county jail’s website says in part, “With the exception of the temporary suspension of social and professional visits, inmates have had little change to their daily routines. Presently, there are no restrictions for out-of-cell time due to COVID-19 concerns.” “That’s just not true,” said one employee. “The inmates know what’s going on and they’re scared. Some of them were wearing their clothes around their faces but we put a stop to it. “And I know that social-distancing inside a jail is impossible, but what they’re doing just doesn’t make sense.” According to several employees, inmates from across the jail have actually been consolidated in certain pods (cell blocks). Inmates who work in food service have also been consolidated into tighter quarters, instead of being


even somewhat segregated. As of last week, the county had released more than 700 inmates to lessen their risk to COVID-19 should an outbreak occur at the jail. Although no inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, employees say several have gone to quarantine. One jail employee tested positive, but that person did not directly supervise inmates. There have also been indescrencies in the number of inmates released.

The removal of those individuals freed up roughly 225 cells. Those cells, employees say, are sitting empty while the inmates are being herded even closer together. “It doesn’t make sense to me,” one employee said. “I thought the idea of releasing people was to make it easier to manage the risk of an outbreak, but that space sits empty. “I’ll even allow that they might have a valid reason for doing this. But nobody tells the employees anything. We have no idea what’s


ent 'in way over their heads' with COVID-19 crisis


going on. We’re on a need-to-know basis. Can you imagine that; the people charged with dealing with the inmates and actually running this facility don’t need to know.” The “need-to-know” waiting room is apparently an area where a lot of people are hanging out these days. Members of the County Jail Oversight Board, including Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and Allegheny County Councilor Bethany Hallam, have been asking all along for information on how the jail is responding to COVID-19. They were hoping to get their answers last week at the board’s monthly meeting, but it was canceled. In a crisis, public information is the bare minimum to be expected. While the County has decried ‘rumors’ circulating about virus cases and response, the best way to prevent this is by providing clear and timely facts about what’s happening on the ground,” Wagner said. “In the midst of quite possibly the most critical challenge County government and many of our residents will ever face, it is reckless to willfully withhold critical information the public needs. “Official County actions now have a real impact on the ability of our community members to survive this pandemic, and it is well past time for them to be forthcoming with the public and show unequivocally that they are following their own directives.” One piece of information the public does get on a somewhat regular basis is the number of inmates released from the jail and what the county jail population actually is. But even that information doesn’t seem to be accurate. In the most recent press release from the county, it touts that the jail population of 2,224 (not counting federal detain-

ees) has decreased by 30 percent between March 1 and March 31. The number of federal detainees has decreased 32percent. However using the county’s own numbers, the non-federal inmate count was 1,998 on March 1, meaning the decrease was 22.7 percent. Could the mistakes simply be an error instead of intentional? Absolutely and it probably is. But it doesn’t bolster the public’s confidence in the facts they are getting. Additionally, the number of released inmates doesn’t tell us how many people are going into the jail on a daily basis. Most law enforcement agencies have been instructed to not make arrests for minor crimes, but there is no evidence of how much the flow of people into the jail has slowed. Employees tell the Current that if there is a new standard protocol for operating under COVID-19, they are not aware of it. One employee, whose job requires them to closely interact with inmates, said (as of last week), the way he interacts with inmates hasn’t changed. “I’m still required to go face-toface with them,” the employee said. “We’re really close, there are no masks and we are always passing papers back-and-forth. Also, just in the course of close conversation, some people do spit a little when they talk. I don’t feel safe.” Masks are a current bone of contention at the jail. The jail does not currently require masks for employees and inmates and up until this weekend, there was a specific policy against wearing them. Last week, for example, a corrections officer was suspended for wearing a mask, according to employees with knowledge of the situation and verified by written documents about the incident reviewed by the Current.

DEALING WITH INCARCERATED POPULATION IS A NATIONWIDE ISSUE PAGE 6 According to employees, two corrections officers were tasked with searching cells. Before going into the room, they both put on masks and began their job. Shortly after they began, an order came down that they were to immediately remove their masks. The officers refused and were pulled from duty to meet with supervisors, including Warden Orlando Harper and Chief Deputy Warden Laura Williams, who although not a medical doctor, told them that in order to contract coronavirus they had to be within six feet of a person for more than 10 minutes. According to sources, employees have not been allowed to wear masks because management feared that then the inmates would start demanding them. When face-toface with prison officials, both officers (one has a small child and the other takes care of an elderly family member) initially refused. One of the officers was then suspended for two weeks and escorted from the building. That employee has been reportedly called back to work since the intrduction of masks into the jail. The other, a newer hire still on probation, returned to work, fearing for her job, sources said. However, in a turn of events on April 5, after Gov. Tom Wolf ordered that Pennsylvanians wear masks in public, N95 masks were offered to both inmates and staff. The inmates’ mask had the metal nose strip removed and an employee said no one, staff or prisoner, was given instructions on how to properly use the mask. Like, for

example, the mask won’t seal tightly over facial hair. “A lot of guys didn’t know what to do with them, how to wear them,” an employee said. “And in the end, most people weren’t even wearing them.” The county has said that masks were not required at the jail according to guidance from the Allegheny County Health Department. The masks this weekend were offered on a voluntary business and each employee who took one had to sign an acknowledgement that the mask would not be “fit-tested” because wearing them was not a mandate. A lot of people have concerns about jail management’s ability to handle a pandemic because proper healthcare has long been a problem at the jail. Many employees say they worry about healthcare because Laura Williams, the Chief Deputy Warden for Healthcare Services, doesn’t have a medical background. Her background is in substance use and mental health counseling. Employees say a number of nurses have walked off the job in the past month and they are being temporarily replaced by “agency nurses” who also work at other hospitals and nursing homes. Employees also said that over the weekend that during a radio-check, Williams checked in as the Assistant Director of Nursing on duty. According to jail records, there are also currently 48 vacancies on the facility's medical staff. “She’s not a nurse,” one employee said. “We don’t have competent leadership here during normal situations. With this, they’re in way over their heads. They have no idea what they’re doing and they’re trying to keep that from the public and jail oversight board.”





ore than 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States. That’s more people than there are living in major U.S. cities like Phoenix and Philadelphia. They’re particularly vulnerable to health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They live in close-quarters. Many are elderly or pregnant. Many also have pre-existing medical conditions that put them at higher risk for serious complications from the respiratory disease. Prison reform advocates are pushing for swift actions to protect inmates and employees. They want officials to take urgent steps, like releasing elderly and otherwise vulnerable prisoners, ensuring that sanitation supplies are available and eliminating medical co-pays for prisoners. “We locked these folks up and it’s our job not to let anything bad happen to them,” said Emily Galvin-Almanza, executive director of Partners for Justice. Some actions to safeguard inmates and prison employees have been taken by federal, state and local officials, but advocates are warning the moves aren’t sufficient. And they fear that officials won’t act swiftly enough to save lives. “It’s difficult to have an issue like this gain public traction when everybody is affected by this pandemic,” said Ed Chung, vice president of criminal justice reform at the Center for American Progress. “That’s the enduring challenge of criminal justice reform issues like this, to get the public not to look at people who are incarcerated as those who should be dealt with last.” Galvin-Almanza and David Mills, a senior lecturer at Stanford Law School, penned an op-ed in Business Insider warning that as


many as 100,000 people who pass through U.S. jails and prisons could die from COVID-19. Incarcerated people “face a much higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 than they would on the outside — and behind bars, infection is more likely to be a death sentence,” they wrote. ‘This is life or death’ Members of Congress are pushing the Trump administration to do more to limit the pandemic’s spread in prisons. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chairwoman of a Judiciary subcommittee, sent Attorney General William Barr a letter on March 30 asking the Justice Department to “use every tool at your disposal to release as many prisoners as possible, to protect them from COVID-19.” A bipartisan group of senators also asked Barr and the head of the federal Bureau of Prisons to consider using their authority to quickly transfer non-violent offenders facing significant medical risks to home confinement. Barr issued a memo in late March urging the Bureau of Prisons to reduce the populations by sending some prisoners home, but said many prisoners would be safer in federal facilities, Politico reported. “It was very tempting to get excited” when Barr issued that memo, said Galvin-Almanza. But the process laid out by the Justice Department for releasing inmates would “render any benefit completely impossible,” she added. It lays out burdensome requirements for prisoners, she said, and requires a 14-day quarantine period before anyone can be transferred to home confinement. “We need an expedited process in


a pandemic,” Galvin-Almanza said. The Bureau of Prisons announced that, beginning April 1, inmates in every federal prison would be quarantined in their assigned cells or quarters to combat the spread of the virus and that facilities would allow “limited group gathering.” The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment about how many prisoners had been transferred to home confinement since the order was issued. By April 2, four inmates had died from COVID-19 at a U.S. prison in Oakdale, La., as the disease spread through the facility. Reuters reported that 18 inmates and 17 staff members had contracted the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Dozens more people had shown symptoms and were in isolation. Across the country, the Bureau

of Prisons reported on April 3 that there were 75 positive cases of COVID-19 cases among inmates and 39 cases among staff. Kate Chatfield, senior advisor for legislation and policy at the Justice Collaborative, stressed that prisons are not contained, and outbreaks will inevitably spread to local communities.“It’s much worse than a cruise ship” in that way, she said. People are in tighter quarters and employees are cycling in and out, she said. “Just because people are locked up doesn’t mean that it’s going to be contained in that facility.” State responses Federal prisons account for only a small amount of the population incarcerated in the United States. A March report from the Prison Policy Initiative shows that the vast majority of U.S. prisoners — about



1.3 million people — are held in state prisons. Another 631,000 are in local jails; federal prisons and jails hold 226,000 people. Still, the federal government’s actions during the pandemic could significantly influence state and local policies, advocates say. “Any big, visible system has the opportunity to show leadership in terms of dramatic moves,” said Galvin-Almanza. Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to spread among inmates and employees at prisons and jails around the country.For example, a Detroit transportation officer with the Michigan Department of Corrections died from COVID-19, the station WZZM reported, and at least 25 MDOC employees had tested positive for the virus. Georgia’s Lee State Prison has

been hard hit by the virus with one inmate death and a total of 12 inmates and staff testing positive, according to the Georgia Recorder. Overall, at least 23 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at Georgia Department of Corrections facilities. In North Carolina, the first COVID-19 case at a federal prison was reported March 27 and involved a staff member. Less than a week later, 10 inmates tested positive for the virus at the same facility, NC Policy Watch reported. The Prison Policy initiative is tracking examples of state and local agencies taking steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. In Hillsborough County, Fla., for example, the sheriff announced that 164 “low level, nonviolent” offenders would be released from county jails. Hundreds of inmates were released from jail in Allegheny County, Pa., due to concerns about the virus. Prison reform advocates are hopeful that the crisis will lead to broad changes. “We’re seeing the fault lines in our system and the flaws,” said Chatfield of the Justice Collaborative. She said those flaws go beyond the risks posed to prison populations and pointed to the vulnerability of homeless people and the broader needs for adequate health care. “My hope and my fear are completely entangled right now,” said Galvin-Almanza. “My hope would be this would be the moment we as a society realize that we need a better system.”Her fear, she added, is that in order for that to happen, “the worst predictions about death in custody will have to come true.” Robin Bravender is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Pennsylvania Capital-Sta, where this story first appeared.



fter endorsing a former anti-choice male state representative over a progressive, pro-choice woman candiate, The Political Action Committee of Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania had to partially reverse course last week after their endorsement caused a firestorm in the community. Early last week, state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, who had long identified himself as and voted as a pro-life legislator, received the endorsement for the first time since he entered politics in 2010 from Planned Parenthood PA Advocates (the political arm of the organization. Nonprofit clinics like Planned Parenthood of Western Pa., are prohibited from doing electoral work, according to PPWP spokesperson Sara Dixon. Last fall, Ravenstahl began identifying as pro-choice. In September 2019, Ravenstahl told WESA: “I’ve been voting pro-choice for the past few years. I changed my mind.” But not everyone is happy with the endorsement, especially here in Western Pennsylvania. One of those people is Ravenstahl’s challenger in the June 2 Primary, attorney Emily Kinkead. “I’m shocked,” Kinkead told the Current this morning. “Shocked because I can’t believe someone saying I’m prochoice erases a lifetime of anti-choice behavior. In his career, he’s had a chance to vote on legislation around this issue six times. Four of those times, he decided to vote anti-choice. “You can’t erase all of your actions just by saying the magic words, ‘I am pro-choice.’ He voted pro-choice because that’s how party leadership told him to vote, that’s what he’s always done. He hasn’t been an advocate in any capacity for Planned Parenthood.” The Current wrote about the issue on Friday and by the end of the day, PPPA decided to endorse both candidates after hearing complaints from multiple supporters.“In response to passionate and thoughtful feedback from our

community of supporters in Pittsburgh, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC is endorsing both Adam Ravenstahl and Emily Kinkead in the primary contest in HD 20. “Representative Ravenstahl has repeatedly stood with Planned Parenthood in opposition to numerous attacks on sexual health and reproductive freedom. Emily Kinkead has made her commitment to reproductive health, rights, and justice a centerpiece of her campaign. We look forward to working with either of these great candidates in Harrisburg. “ After the endorsement Kinkead responded: "I am encouraged that Planned Parenthood has course-corrected. This co-endorsement is unprecedented in their history and I think it speaks to unprecedented times. While I disagree with their continued endorsement of my opponent because I believe that he has utterly failed to acknowledge or make amends for the damage that he has done with his anti-choice votes and actions, this is a time to focus on real change and to move forward. I am proud that Planned Parenthood has presented to its supporters that District 20 has a choice. Our current situation has only more strikingly demonstrated that our system is broken. We need new voices and strong advocates to ensure that the changes we make now to protect and support each other last.” Apparently Ravenstahl’s endorsement shocked everyone but the incumbent. “I was not that surprised to receive Planned Parenthood’s endorsement,” he said. “As a member of the Women’s Health Caucus, I have formed a solid and open relationship with Planned Parenthood and appreciate their advocacy. Elected officials are ultimately judged by the votes they make. I think the notion that Planned Parenthood endorsed my candidacy “out of nowhere” and without merit is offensive to what Planned Parenthood fights for every single day.”






n a day when America set a record for deaths, many are rightfully questioning what the Administration is doing to address the National Emergency. In the middle of the pandemic, President Trump spent his afternoon meeting with the CEO’s of the oil and gas industry including Phillips 66, Continental Resources, Hilcorp Energy, Occidental Petroleum, American Petroleum Institute, Energy Transfer Partners, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil along with Republican lawmakers from oil-producing states. Earlier in the week, Trump told the Fox Business Channel that he was intervening in the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. After talking with Putin and the Crown Prince, Trump suggested to a Fox Business contributor that he got them to agree to a deal cutting back on daily production by ten million barrels. Knowing low gasoline prices were good for American consumers short on cash during this time of crisis, Trump was troubled that low oil prices were hurting the industry. U.S. oil from deep offshore and fracking is not competitive with the low rates of Middle East oil. According to a Desmog blog, “While the oil and gas sector is struggling amid plummeting prices and demand, the struggle is due to factors far beyond the pandemic, and mostly of the industry’s own making. Many shale companies had amassed large debts that allowed them to rapidly spend and expand production, for example. And the oil and gas giant ExxonMobil’s stock hit a 10year low in late January, and a 15-year low by March 5, before the pandemic reached a crisis point in the U.S.” At his briefing with oil executives, Trump said, “I think President Putin and the Crown Prince want something to happen badly. Certainly terrible for them, what’s happening, too. So they want to see something happen. I’ve

spoken to both of them, and we’ll tell you about that in a little while. Okay?” Trump promised to discuss the details of his conversation in a closed session with the oil executives. During the public portion of the meeting, Trump was ingratiating himself with the oil executives. “You know, our 2.2-trillion-dollar relief package includes provisions to allow businesses to deduct their losses this year against taxes they paid in previous years, which gets you a lot of liquidity.” “And you’ve done a great job, and we’ll work this out, and we’ll get our energy business back. I’m with you 1,000 percent.” Trump disclosed that he would make 30-million-barrels of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s storage capacity available to producers so they can essentially hoard oil that would bring a better price at a later date. The Strategic Petroleum Reserves are intended for our national security, not for hoarding oil by the industry, but Trump ignores the law. The Trump administration is taking many steps to favor the oil and gas industry. Last Tuesday, EPA finalized proposed rules to weaken mileage standards for automobiles at the request of the oil industry. Trump’s rule change guts the landmark auto efficiency rules that will cause new cars and light-duty trucks to use more gasoline. This overthrows an Obama agreement with United Auto Workers and the auto industry. GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo all agreed with the Obama administration’s rule to increase fuel economies that would reach 54.5 mpg for cars/light-duty trucks by 2025. In return, the Federal government promised financial incentives for research and development to improve vehicle performance dramatically. The auto industry was well on its way to achieving this goal when at the

urging of the oil industry, the Trump administration moved to freeze the effort. Had this rule stayed in place, American families would save over $1.7 trillion in fuel costs, reduce oil consumption by over 2 million barrels/ day by 2025. The Obama Rule would significantly reduce toxic emissions and help to curb climate change. The Trump policy change will allow annual vehicle emissions to climb by one billion more tons of carbon dioxide, starting in 2021. Despite the worldwide oil glut and little enthusiasm for Federal leases, last week, the Bureau of Land Management granted oil and gas companies access to more U.S. public lands. BLM sold the right to drill for oil on 87,000 acres in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Through this irresponsible move, the government got pennies on the dollar. Just this week, the EPA announced an unprecedented new directive which will remain in place indefinitely that ends environmental enforcement and limits penalties in the wake of COVID-19. This extraordinary EPA enforcement shutdown gives refineries, factories, power plants, and other polluters a free-hand with their pollution discharges and hazardous wastes.This irresponsible action occurs at a time when increased air pollution exasperates the health consequences of the virus. Leading up to the 2016 Presidential election, Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson reported in The Guardian: “Fossil fuel millionaires collectively pumped more than $100 million into Republican presidential contenders’ efforts. It was an unprecedented investment by the oil and gas industry in the party’s future.” They found about one in three dollars donated to Republican hopefuls from mega-rich individuals came from people who owe their fortunes to fossil fuels who stand to lose the most in the fight against the climate crisis. The scale of investment by fossil fuel interests in presidential Super PACs reached about $107 million in the Republican primary season. The unbridled influence of fossil fuel contributors and their toxic transactional dollars

tilted the government in their favor for a substantial return on investments. They are now receiving payback in the middle of the crisis in the form of EPA malpractice. Tax cuts are another factor in our current troubles. They delivered 97% of the benefit to the mega-wealthy and mere crumbs for the working class. The massive tax cuts did not help middle or low-income Americans who have no cash reserves for this crisis. Most Trumpeters voted against their financial self- interest. Multinational corporations used their tax savings to buy back stock rather than investing their substantial tax savings by bringing jobs back to America or by paying better wages. These are all unmistakable symptoms of rampant greed undercutting our late-stage democracy, and threatening our children’s future with a run-away climate system and a poorly managed pandemic. Concurrent with the tax giveaways, the Trump administration promoted budget cuts to EPA, Medicare, Medicaid, even Social Security, and other critical safety-net programs. This reverse-Robin Hood approach of taking money from the poor working class and giving it to the mega-rich is mean-spirited. At a time when the number of homeless, including many working poor, is growing, the failure to enact minimum wages and sound health care measures is inexcusable and deeply alarming. A staggering number of homeless have fallen victim to a rigged economy in every major city, including nearly 60,000 people living in the streets in Los Angeles alone. Unchecked, filthy street conditions will surely spread the coronavirus through the poor to the greater community.The White House and the Senate have become limited access highways where money matters most. For decades, enormous tax-breaks, and direct subsidies have flowed through influential lobbyists to the dominant interests that they represent. Now many of the same corporations, including big oil, are looking for Federal bailouts. Never before has a President been so blatant about who he actually serves, and who he doesn’t.



For DJs, live streaming their content comes with its pluses and its perils


n Friday, March 27, Matthew Buchholz -- armed with a playlist of dance tunes -logged on to Facebook Live for the first virtual installment of In Bed By Ten. The concept behind the dance party series, which is normally hosted by Spirit in Lawrenceville, is all in the name. For people who want to go out and have fun -- but because they have kids or early-rising pets, or just don’t want to stay out till 1 a.m. anymore -- In Bed By Ten offers an earlier alternative. Buchholz co-launched the series in 2015, and now runs it alone. After the 2016 election, he started using it as a means to raise funds for various charitable organizations. As of this year, In Bed By Ten has raised more than $100,000 for organizations including 412 Food Rescue, Trans Buddy, City of Asylum, Latino Community Center PGH, and many others. The virtual event was a fundraiser for SisTers PGH LGBTQI Emergency Relief Fund -- people who stopped by via their laptops were encouraged to donate to the organization -- and, Buchholz says, it was relatively successful. “I think as far as the response to it, it went really well, people enjoyed it,” he says. As one viewer commented to Buchholz on Facebook, “Man, you killed it tonight! We had a disco ball and we were SWEATING. The only time we stopped dancing was to watch you having such a good time.” However, around 8:30 p.m. he had to shut it down. “Sorry to cut the live stream short but FB kept cutting us off,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “If anyone knows a platform for a streaming dance party that isn’t FB, Instagram, Twitch, or Zoom, let me know!” When you’re DJing live in a club, the venue’s entertainment license, usually through the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) or Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), allows you to play music you don’t personally own the rights to, whether


Illustration by Andrew Schubert

you’re a band playing a cover or a DJ playing a record. On the internet, no such blanket licence exists, however, platforms like Facebook are required to root out and get rid of infringing content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As soon as the Facebook algorithm recognized something Buchholz was playing, his stream was muted or pulled down. At one point, between less-well known disco tracks, he played a Lizzo song just to “test the waters.” The stream ended after about 30 seconds.


“Facebook, Instagram, Twitch , I think even Zoom -- have restrictions against copyrighted material. At the same time they have no option for you to purchase some kind of subscription that would let you do that,” he says. “There’s no user support, there’s no one you can talk to, there’s no way to appeal.” Other DJs have had more success with live-streaming, but for everyone it seems to be a matter of experimentation with the form. DJ collective Hot Mass managed an

extended Facebook stream live from the empty Hot Mass venue in the Strip District on March 21 with minimal shut-downs. The lineup featured Clark Price, Alex Price, Naeem, Father of Two, Boo Lean, and Jarrett Tebbets. “We wanted to look at it as five one-hour streams verses one five-hour stream,” says Tebbets, who has been spinning disco/boogie/house tracks as part of Hot Mass for about six years. “It kind of breaks it up, it gives a chance to reboot and cleanse, and if there were any issues, now we’ve restarted, and my 55 minutes isn’t going to affect the next person’s 55 minutes.” The trick is to stay ahead of the algorithm, which is always watching. “Playing popular songs is going to get you flagged. I always try to tell people to think about being more thoughtful about the music that you’re playing. Or play music that maybe people haven’t heard about, and then go in that direction,” he says. “Or a remix of something, so it's not a direct rip of whatever artist you’re trying to play.” The more underground a track, the less likely it is to be recognized by the algorithm. “With some music,” he adds, “because you worked so hard to find it, it kind of gives you a leg up, because someone hasn’t searched it out as hard as you have, and now you’re able to play it.” The consequences for playing copyrighted material varies. You could get a notification that your stream has violated copyright protections and you must remove it; or you can receive a strike. Too many strikes will result in banishment from the platform. You could have portions of your stream muted or shut down entirely. As for how many strikes a person can get, you’d have to get a job at Facebook to find out. According to the official website detailing Facebook’s enforcement of community standards, “[w]e don’t want people to game the system, so we do not share the specific number of strikes that leads to


a temporary block, or permanent suspension.” “I’ve never been on the side where, if you get too many strikes, what does Facebook do?” Tebbets says. “I don’t want to find out. Because that's sort of my means of communication when it comes to promoting...I find Facebook to be invaluable, because I can reach a larger demographic, and I don’t want that to change.” James Scoglietti, aka Selecta, has had relative success with streams, including shorter stints that drew as many as 12,000 viewers in real time, and a 10hour stretch he did on Saturday, March 28. “I’ve learned that the way that the algorithm works with the music, if you’re not a DJ that talks on the mic a bunch, it allows their detection service to pick up the music that you’re playing.” he says. “So I got booted every hour, sometimes less than every hour, once after 20 minutes. Nevertheless, Scoglietti, for whom DJing is the sole source of income, has a relatively zen approach to the whole thing. “[Facebook] is a great platform, but I understand why they have to take us down,” he says. He always includes a disclaimer on his live-streamed videos that he doesn’t own the rights to the music he’s playing. “Some say that helps, others say that it doesn’t matter at all, and it totally contradicts me putting my Cash App up,” he admits. “I will continue to live stream, even when I'm employed again, now that I know it can open me up to a global audience too. Other than [being taken down] it’s a wonderful tool that I'd never utilized

Matthew Buchholz spins dance tracks via Facebook Live until this pandemic.” Like Tebbets, Scoglietti, who spent his 10-hour stream playing lots of neo-soul, house, jazz and general “feel good music,” has used this as an opportunity to get a little bit innovative with his artform. “It changes how I present the songs,” he says. “The longer you play a song the more likely it is to be taken down, so it motivates me to play more remixes, and things that it can’t detect.” When he really plans out his set, Scoglietti is able to make cleaner transitions which result in longer streams. “The 10 hours it was all just me going off the top of my head, so it wasn’t necessarily a performance, it was more just impromptu jam after jam after jam.” Regardless, at least one viewer was impressed enough with the stream to book Selecta for a wedding. He, like most other DJs who are exploring streaming, is still learning. “Being taken down is the only issue because as a DJ it breaks your flow.” Of course, there’s plenty that can break a DJ’s flow in real time too: your computer might crash, or the people on the dance floor might be unresponsive, or maybe someone comes up and interrupts you with a request. Digitally, you’re still trying to keep the party going, trying to keep engagement up. “It's just like anything else, if you’re sitting there playing to an empty bar you’re going to be on autopilot,” says Scoglietti. There are financial reasons to keep dance parties going via the internet, whether it's fundraising for charitable

causes, or helping the DJs themselves survive. But the motivation goes deeper than that. “Everybody’s reason for streaming is going to be different but i think the commonality is, you want people to hear your art,” says Tebbets, noting that the beauty of Hot Mass is that, as a DIY collective, they’re able to improvise and experiment with streaming without expensive or elaborate equipment. All you really need, he says, is a phone and a WiFi connection. “Two Saturdays ago [Hot Mass] had like 20,000 people tune in over the course of six videos. That’s crazy! I mean, how often in Pittsburgh do you play in front of, lets say, a captive audience of 1,200 people at one given point,” Tebbets says. “It's an interesting thing to see how even though we can’t come together, we can come together” Scoglietti has, he says, the “DJ bug” and regardless of how much, or how little might be donated to his Cash App, he’s compelled to share his skills. And people have been responding, offering encouragement and thanks for helping them get through this hard time. Towards the end of his 10- hour set he broke into tears, both out of general exhaustion and because of the outpouring of positive feedback from listeners. “Thank you for rocking with me all week,” he later posted on Facebook. “You are all amazingly beautiful & have aided me in getting through this trying period, one rekkid at a time.”

The Deutschtown Music Festival, scheduled for July 17-19, has become Pittsburgh's first major summer event to cancel due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. But festival co-founder Cody Walters says the three-day free music festival will come back even stronger in 2021. “It is our responsibility to assure public health -- for the safety of our fans, musicians and venue operators. We feel that having the festival go on with thousands of people gathering for three days would be irresponsible and reckless at this unprecedented time,” said Cody Walters, co-founder of the festival. “As DIY organizers, we have always had the well-being of our participating musicians and attendees at the forefront of everything we do.” “We love our neighbors and feel that canceling at this time, even though it tears us apart to do so, is the wisest decision to make,” said co-founder Ben Soltesz. “Just know that we will be back next year in July 2021 with a new and improved festival that regional and national music lovers have come to expect and appreciate.” The July 2019 festival drew record crowds of more than 40,000 concertgoers enjoying more than 400 musical acts spread across 40 indoor and outdoor venues, myriad children’s activities, and dozens of food trucks and local food vendors. “Please stay safe and thank the heroes who deliver the goods, stock the shelves, check out your groceries, and especially the first responders and medical professionals who keep us healthy and safe during these trying times,” said Walters.  Deutschtown Music Festival is a program of the Northside Leadership Conference.



Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures announces lineup for 30th Anniversary Season



ow do we understand friendships, love, and family in the era of social distancing? What is the nature of citizenry? What does it mean to be human, living in a community with others? And what are our obligations to one another? These are all questions we face at this moment and in moving forward with our lives. In September 2020, Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures will kick off their Ten Evenings series, a thought-provoking, inspiring, challenging collections of thinkers, researchers, and writers to help us examine our humanity and shared experience. "As always, there is a lively mix of fiction and non-fiction, with several beloved authors who have crossed into exciting new genres. Nonfiction icon Ta-Nehisi Coates debuted his stunning novel, 'The Water Dancer;' award-winning novelist ('The Moors Account,' 'The Other Americans') Laila Lalami is soon to publish 'Conditional Citizens,' a brilliant work of non-fiction about the place of nonwhites in American culture; while award-winning poet Ocean Vuong made his grand entrance as a novelist with 'On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous,'" Stephanie Flom, the executive director of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures told the Current via email. The lecture series marks its 30th anniversary of mining deep waters with speakers who grapple with the turmoil of uncertainty, the challenges of community and the meaning of human connection. In addition to Coates, Lalami and Vuong, above, the 2020-

2021 season brings Bernardine Evaristo from the UK. Evaristo is the first black woman to win the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction for her novel, 'Girl, Woman, Other.' Pittsburgh will also welcome Karen Russell with her new collection, 'Orange World.' Russell was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for the weirdly wonderful 'Swamplandia.' Anthropologist David Treuer comes to Pittsburgh with 'The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present,' a compelling work of non-fiction that combines history, reporting, anthropology and memoir. Physicist Brian Greene, author of 'Until the End of Time,' will take the audience on a cosmic journey from the big bang to the end of time. Terry Tempest Wiliams will speak about the erosion of community, democracy, science and trust, all of which she inspects in her book, 'Erosion: Essays of Undoing.' Lily King, whose prose manages to be both comfortable and elegant will read from her new novel, 'Writers & Lovers,' as will Susan Choi, author of 'Trust Exercise.' The lecture series matters now, maybe more than ever, according to Flom. "In spite of these difficult days or perhaps, profoundly, because of them, it is an honor to announce our roster of acclaimed Ten Evenings authors in the hopes that we’ll be connecting with each other and with these important literary voices this fall."


Ben Coates and Laila Lalami

2020-2021 TEN EVENINGS September 14, 2020: Susan Choi, 'Trust Exercise' October 12, 2020: Terry Tempest Williams, 'Erosion: Essays of Undoing' October 26, 2020: Laila Lalami, 'Conditional Citizens' November 16, 2020: Lily King, 'Writers & Lovers' November 23, 2020: Brian Greene, 'Until the End of Time' December 7, 2020: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 'The Water Dancer' January 18, 2021: David Treuer, 'The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee' February 22, 2021: Karen Russell, 'Orange World' March 22, 2021: Ocean Vuong, 'On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous' April 5, 2021: Bernardine Evaristo, 'Girl, Woman, Other'



he COVID-19 epidemic has impacted so many aspects of everyday life in Pittsburgh, from the shutdown of nonessential business to social distancing separating us from friends and loved ones. One casualty of these safety measures are Pittsburgh’s many cultural institutions, which have had to close their doors to limit the spread of the virus. Since people cannot visit in person, some have responded by bringing the information to the people. The Carnegie Science Center is one such institution, having used a variety of digital resources to provide educational content to the community. “We’re using social media, email and our website, those are the main ways we’re reaching out to the community,” said Connie George, senior director of marketing and community relations at Carnegie Science Center. “Every day at 8 a.m., we’re posting a thing to read, a thing to watch, and a thing to do for families.” Carnegie Science Center has utilized their social media pages, as well as their website, to post educational reading and viewing content, as well as simple science projects for families to do at home. These resources are also assigned a grade level based on Pennsylvania state standards, so parents can assure their children are hitting appropriate milestones. Also on Carnegie Science Center’s online pages are educational videos on a variety of topics. Three times weekly, they hold a storytelling session for children on Facebook Live. Fur-

thermore, their animal ambassadors have recorded a series of videos showing how the animals at the Science Center are cared for. “[Our educators are] doing a video when she goes in, talking about each of the animals,” said George. “It’s a very cool behindthe-scenes view of the animals in our H2O Habitat.” The Science Center has also provided resources to help parents and teachers cope with the shutdown of the educational system. “We’re also doing a teacher resource page, with lesson plans for teachers and homeschoolers,” said George. These online services have already proven successful, with traffic to Carnegie Science Center’s website and social media pages increasing 250% over the month of March. Hopefully, this increased activity will translate to more people walking through their doors once this crisis is over. PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APRIL 7, 2020 | 13


DSC MonkTime [JazzAvenue 1]


eon Lee Dorsey filled some big shoes at the University of Pittsburgh in the early 2000s. The Pittsburgh-born bassist was established in New York City — with his own production studio and an impressive list of performance experiences — when he came home to serve as Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Director of the Jazz Seminar, filling in for Dr. Nathan Davis. He served in those positions from 2008 to 2011, when Davis returned to wrap up his tenure. Last year Dorsey finally found the time to record only his second album as a leader, in MonkTime, a tribute to pianist Thelonious Monk. In a bold move that speaks to Dorsey’s sense of adventure, he avoided Monk’s bestknown compositions like “Round Midnight” and “Rhythm-a-Ning,” the former of which has seen more than its fair share of interpretations. More significantly, MonkTime doesn’t include a piano or saxophone, two instruments closely associated with Monk. The trio features Dorsey’s bass grooving together with guitarist Greg Skaff and drummer Mike Clark (who played with Herbie Hancock’s famous electric jazz unit Headhunters). Thelonious Monk’s piano style and his compositions both have a unique approach that gave his work its personality. His own solos often took a song’s theme and extended it over the changes, pausing in unusual spots to shed more light on the melodic quality. While it’s best not to copy his style, neither does a successful Monk cover completely abandon the theme when it’s time to solo. For example, “Blue Monk” is not merely a chance to play the blues; it should be the blues refracted through Monk’s vision. Dorsey, Clark and Skaff have an understanding of this on Monk-

Time. The bassist plays with a strong bounce that recreates the stride feeling of Monk’s work. When he takes the lead in the ballad “Monk’s Mood” he gives it the right sense of lyrical dynamics. Likewise, Skaff ’s guitar never wails, preferring to focus on single-note clarity, bringing out the snaky quality of a melody like “Well You Needn’t” or the playful jump of “Little Rootie Tootie.” Clark, who could easily show off his chops with a lot of flash, also takes a more economical approach here. There’s something really engaging about the way his cymbals resonate after he strikes them. In a way, it evokes the spirit of Shadow Wilson, who drummed with Monk in the quartet that also featured John Coltrane. Jazz tribute albums can be dicey territory, sometimes missing their mark when the interpreter tries to either “improve” on the source material or simply replicate the originals. MonkTime succeeds because Dorsey, Skaff and Clark really get inside the compositions, understanding what makes them so crucial and only then do they put their spin on it. (Mike Shanley) Lady Beast The Vulture’s Amulet [Reaper Metal Productions]


ately many of us have taken up something that may have once seemed unthinkable: running. While I don't want to reduce Lady Beast’s latest release, The Vulture’s Amulet, to such a specific activity (you can listen to it doing whatever you want!) I do recommend throwing this one on for your next mile or two. Opener “Metal Machine” warms up with a sprint from drummer Adam Ramage, then cuts that in half, setting a perfect pace. Andy Ramage’s guitar riffs wind tighter and tighter, and by the time Deb Levine’s vocals sweep through,


hearts are pumping. Since the 2012 self-titled debut record, the band has continued to refine its New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound. Long-time fans will hear more power and control in Levin’s voice, which has always recalled Dio and Rob Halford and occasionally Ann Wilson in terms of range and dramatics. And, though the band has never been sloppy, a decade of playing has scraped off some of the edges without becoming too shiny. As far as this record goes, I’m particularly crazy about the punchy funk with which Levine spits “Sacrifice to the Unseen.” It's one of the less obviously theatrical tracks, and also one of the toughest. But that’s about 12 minutes into the record, which means I’m probably already back from my run, or maybe hobling home, gasping for air. But the record -- which also features Greg Colaizzi on bass and Christopher “Twiz” Tritschler on guitar -- keeps up the urgent pace and frantic instrumentation, giving me something to aspire to. In the meantime, I’ll spend the rest of the run-time banging my head in my room. (Margaret Welsh)

Buffalo Rose Borrowed and Blue: Live Around One Microphone [Misra Records]


f there’s one thing to be thankful for in this godforsaken coronavirus-infested world, its that Buffalo Rose got to record their new EP before social distancing. Borrowed

and Blue: Live Around One Microphone is exactly what it sounds like. The six-cut record was recorded around a single omni microphone and each song had just one take. Listening to the record, which isn’t due to hit until May 29, is an experience. By and large, I wouldn’t say I noticed these songs were recorded on one mic in one take. But, then again, I don’t really know what that would sound like because few, if any, 6-memeber folk/Americana bands have ever really tried. And if they did, you can bet your ass that they didn’t succeed like this. The sound is rich and complex and excellently mixed … well, except for the fact that it wasn’t mixed. Honestly, it was a very hard concept for me to grasp until Misra sent over a couple behind the scene videos of the EP’s first and last cuts, a cover of Madonna’s “Borderline,” and a mindblowing mashup of the White Stripes’ Seven Naiton Army and “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. The musicianship here is impeccable, but the rope that ties it all together are the vocals of Shane McLaughlin, Lucy Clabber and Rosanna Spindler. And all due respect to McLaughlin’s talent, Spindler and CLabby have moments on this record, vocally, that are a bit groundshaking. Nowhere is this more on display then the “Seven Nation Army” mashup. In this instance, seeing how the sausage was made was a really awesome experience. Buffalo Rose cuts through these tunes with precision. It’s the kind of project that if one person is off, the whole experiment fails. But that didn’t happen here. Not only does Buffalo Rose share one microphone, they must all share one brain because there’s no way six individuals could have pulled off something so difficult with the suchprecise artistry. (Charlie Deitch) Buffalo Rose EP Release Show, May 29. Bloomfield Liedertafel.

Pittsburgh Pandemic Resturant Guide

Open for Business

A partical list of restuarants serving during the COVID19 pandemic. Photo - Krista's Cantina



Photo - Bistro To Go


333 BUTLER ST, ETNA 412-799-2326 www.theshinybean.com, #theshinybean


21 different sandwiches. Outside grill serving Hot sausage, kielbasa and hot dogs. Please support small business.

Coffee, tea, quarts of homemade soup and some grocery items (milk, bread, eggs, butter, etc)




539 E OHIO STREET, NORTH SIDE 412-231-2812 northshoredeli.com Facebook:North Shore Deli


616 SOUTH AVE, WILKINSBURG 412 242 3447 Nancysrevival.com

Breakfast and lunch We offer carryout and delivery both by our staff and third parties. We also have Grubhub and Doordash.



4729 LIBERTY AVE, BLOOMFIELD 412-682-9603 pleasurebarpittsburgh.com/


Traditional Italian fare and 6-packs to go. Modified hours, 12-8pm call ahead 1 hour to order.


Bistroandcompany.com, FB: @bistrotogoandcompany, Insta: @bistrotogo_


We are offering curbside pickup to your trunk (carryout) as well as delivery through our restaurant's drivers. Our “Deliciousness Delivered” menu offers five traditional specials, along with two vegetarian/vegan options, along with several of our sandwiches, staples and sides. It’s Healthy comfort food. We're offering a “Bistro Fish Fry To Go” on Fridays during lent. $44 for a family of four, batter fried or "oven fried' baked (what we're known for) with mac & cheese and coleslaw..

FOOD PEOPLES INDIAN RESTAURANT 5147 PENN AVENUE. GARFIELD 412-862-7500 Search for us on Facebook Delivery through GrubHub


1307 FEDERAL ST. NORTH SIDE 412-378-7427 www.thelunchboxpgh.com


Made to order Sandwiches, soups, salads, etc..


4221 OHIO RIVER BOULEVARD, NORTH SIDE 412-761-3400 Beanthru.com @beanthru


Premium drive through coffee and espresso with a lot of delicious food options as well! You have to try our oat milk lattes! Your life will be changed!! Photo - Yinzburgh BBQ


1921 WILLIAM FLYNN HWY, GLENSHAW 412-486-9400 BeanThru.com @beanthru


Premium drive through coffee and espresso shop with lots of delicious food options as well! We also deliver via DoorDash! Brown Sugar Cinnamon Lattes are amazing! Try it made with oat milk!!



www.pizzaparma.us Delivery through restaurant's drivers & Uber Eats


963 LIBERTY AVE., DOWNTOWN 412-577-7300

www.pizzaparma.us Delivery through restaurant's driv-

ers & Uber Eats


472 WOOD ST., DOWNTOWN 412-586-5738 cornermercantile.com


Grab-and-go salads, sandwiches and prepared foods $1 off any size drip coffee 7:30- 10 am



www.bighamtavern.com @bighamtavern Delivery through restaurant's drivers. Known for our award winning wings with over 30 flavors! Now delivering breakfast in bed Saturdays and Sundays! We are also open for carryout and delivery





Gab & Eat Restaurant on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ GabNEat1999


Award-Winning American diner serving breakfast and lunch, known best for our burgers and mixed grills! We will be offering Delivery during the quarantine!



www.mick-usc.com @m.i.c.k.usc_pa


A variety of comfort food all made from scratch Daily specials, please call for more details. 10 percent off for return customers


4715 LIBERTY AVE., BLOOMFIELD 412-586-4241


Portuguese Cuisine. Full menu available Buy one entree get second for half price Free coffee with Breakfast



www.brgrpgg.com, @brgrpgh

CARRYOUT & GRUBHUB Burgers, fries, salads, shakes



Spiceaffairpittsburgh.com Delivery through restaurant's drivers & GrubHub We serve north Indian food Free lunch or dinner for senior citizens in Fox Chapel area.




FOOD get special offers sent out - Free delivery all month with DoorDash, Uber Eats and when ordering direct through our app

NOODLES & COMPANY MARKET SQUARE 476 MCMASTERS WAY, DOWNTOWN 412-562-2191 www.noodles.com/order


Noodles, Soups & Salads Free delivery through DoorDash, Uber Eats and when ordering directly through our Rewards app. Sign up for the app and get special offers sent out through the end of the month



Bean Thru


Wings, fries, chicken tenders, buffalo chicken, loaded fries, crab cakes Take out available until midnight


5920 STEUBENVILLE PIKE, MCKEES ROCKS 15136 412-787-7240 Bronzehood@comcast.net


Amazing Fish Sandwiches, pizza and wings plenty of other sandwiches as well Friday ask about the Baby Whaler Special


5431 WALNUT ST., SHADYSIDE 412-621-1188

@cappyscafepgh (instagram/twitter) Facebook.com/cappyscafePgh www.cappysonwalnut.com


Fresh Burgers cooked to order, Reubens and Rachels , Wraps , Salads, Hoagies and 9” PIZZAS Wings, Sweet potato fries, Our Famous Chili, KID’S MENU. Breakfast 10am-2pm sat and sun Beer To Go - 6 packs and growler refills available Quick Delicious Pizzas. 6-Cut Plain pizza for only $7.50 Friday Lenten Fish Special - 9-oz beer-battered fish sandwich and (fries or coleslaw ) $10.50

Choolaah.com / twitter.com/ Choolaahyum / www.facebook.com/ ChoolaahPGH/ Instagram.com/ Choolaahyum Delivery through a third-party service. Postmates https://choolaah.com/our-food/ Takeout and Delivery / UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash & Postmates


110 FEDERAL STREET, NORTH SIDE 4123222337 mikesbeerbar.com


Sandwiches and Salads $10 for Sandwich, side and soft drink


3805 FORBES AVE OAKLAND 412-621-0890 www.noodles.com/order


Noodles, Soups & Salads sign up with our Rewards app and


Photo - Cappy's Cafe


4903 BAUM BLVD., BLOOMFIELD 412-621-9469 www.yinzburghbbq.com Delivery through a third-party service. GrubHub Southern BBQ & Low Country Kitchen



www.cafeonthecornerpgh.org Delivery through a third-party service & DoorDash Gumbo, Fish sandwiches, deli sandwiches (corn beef, turkey, roastbeef), paninis, reuben sandwiches, soul food. Gumbo, over rice and cornbread

NANA'S NEW YORK HOT DOGS 1110 FEDERAL STREET, NORTH SIDE 412-904-2785 nanasnorthsidedogs


Hot Dogs, Hamburger, Cheesesteaks … Full Breakfasts all day


5528 WALNUT STREET PITTSBURGH PA 15232 412-530-5950

www.acornpgh.com or @acornpgh


Now Available Daily Acorn Takeout & Delivery 11:30am – 1:30pm 4:30pm – 8:30pm Call or Order Online at Acornpgh.com for Takeout & Direct Free Delivery Orders or Find Us on Grub Hub Current Menu Items: Bubbe’s Matzo Ball Soup, Tossed Chicken Salad, Cheeseburger, Italian Beef Sandwich, Fried Fish Sandwich, Fried Chicken Sandwich Fish Tacos. Mac N Cheese, Shrimp & Grits, Fish & Chips, Fried Chicken Plate. Gift Card Special: $20 free with $100 Purchase. Available for purchase on our website

NORTHSIDE 412-331-8000

www.legendseatery.us Delivery through a third-party service. Uber Eats Classic Italian specialties. Chicken Parmesan, Veal, Spots, Penne Vodka Open Sundays 4-8 pm


1137 FREEPORT ROAD, FOX CHAPEL 412-432-8712

Zoup.com Delivery through a third-party service & Uber Eats Soup, Salad & Sandwiches


2840 SMALLMAN STREET, STRIP DISTRICT 412-434-5800 smallmanstreetdeli.com


700 ADAMS SHOPPES, MARS 724-591-5511

www.dentedkeg.com, FB @dentedkeg, Instagram @dentedkeg, Twitter @dentedkegbc






We are selling our beer and cider to go only. No food at this time.

Authentic Thai A few take out specials on website to help making staying at home more enjoyable



3715 FORBES AVE, OAKLAND 4126212140

http://orderforbesgyros.com/ Delivery through a third-party service & Uber Eats Serving Gyro, Salads, Kebabs, Hoagies, Pizza and Calzone


120 OAKLAND AVE, OAKLAND 412-687-3858

www.sushifuku.com Delivery through a third-party service. Uber Eats Build your own sushi, poke bowl, & burrito. We are offering a FREE SIDE or DRINK on all Pickup orders


500 E. NORTH AVE.,




Family style meals delivered to the Fox Chapel area Uber Eats is running a BOGO offer this weekend




New delivery service at 29 area locations. Carryout available through drive-thru windows or rapid pick-up shelves. Order online, through the Eat’n Park app or by calling the restaurant. During the COVID-19 crisis, Eat’n Park locations are temporarily operating under limited hours of 10

a.m. to 8 p.m. and offering a limited menu of guest favorites.


hellobistro.com New expanded delivery service to all customers. Rapid pickup shelves. Order online or with the Hello Bistro app. Entire menu available for delivery. Signature salads, make-your-own salads, fresh-cut fries and burgers. Hello Bistro’s locations and modified hours include: Downtown (292 Forbes Avenue) Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Oakland (3605 Forbes Avenue) Daily: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; South Side (1922 East Carson Street) Daily: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Pine (1000 Village Run Road) Daily: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; McCandless (701 Providence Boulevard) Daily: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Monroeville (4100 William Penn Highway) Daily: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

FLAVORS FAMOUS STREET FOOD 3231 Brighton Rd. North Side

313-632-9292 www.www.flavorsstreetfood.com Carryout, DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, Postmates Wings, BBQ Ribs, Philly Cheesesteak, Italian Beef, Seafood and chicken combos, Loaded frides and Impossible Burgers. $5 Philly & Fries ( Tuesday &Friday) .50-cent wings on Wednesday, 4-8 p.m.


412-821-8100 www.chefstablepgh.com Carryout, Delivery through restaurant's drivers and DoorDash We're a freshm made-to-order restaurant focused on serving helthy meals for the good of heart and soul. Our menu puts an all-natural twist on favorite dishes from around the world. We also offer curbside pickup. Daily specials posted on Facebook.

DIANOIA'S EATERY 2549 Penn Avenue

4129181875 Www.dianoiaseatery.com

Two Sisters Vietnamese Kitchen

Carryout, GrubHub

We are serving a limited menu of appetizers, sandwiches and pastas as well as grocery items and beer and wine for takeout from 11am8pm. We are also offering family meal packages on our website. Gift card special: buy $100, get $20 free.


216 N. Highland Ave. East Liberty 412-404-2760 Instagram: twosisters_pgh

Carryout. DoorDash

We have many authentic dishes including pho, vermicelli noodles, rice dishes, and many more specialities we like to offer!


2551 Penn Ave., Strip District

4129044149 Www.pizzeriadavide.com Carryout, DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats Our regular menu of appetizers, pizza and sandwiches is available. We are also offering grocery items and beer and wine to go. 10% off for all service industry professionals




Azorean Cafe


Bronze Hood

Cafe on the Corner


Corner Mercantile

Dented Keg Brewing Company

Eat’n Park

Forbes Gyro

Hello Bistro

Krista's Cantina

Legends Eatery


Mike's Beer Bar

Nana's New York Hot Dogs

Nancys Revival

Nicky’s Thai Kitchen

Noodles & Company

North Shore Deli

Peoples Indian Restaurant

Pizza Parma

Pleasure Bar Pittsburgh

Smallman Street Deli

Spice Affair Indian Cuisine

Spoon Fed

Sushi Fuku

The Lunch Box

The Shiny bean




Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh? Bill: I’ve spent the majority of my life in Pittsburgh, but I’ve been able to experience living in other parts of the country. One of my favorite things about Pittsburgh, are the people. There are many different characters, but all full of life in their own way. Now that I play music, it has been great getting to see the tight-knit community that is built around live and local musicians/artists. Cory: My favorite memories of growing up in Pittsburgh are going to the Steelers’ game tailgates with my dad, uncle, and grandpap. There’s nothing like getting up early on a Sunday for a parking lot hang with some of the best people in the world. We live in a special place.

“Born on Earth. Raised in Pittsburgh. Doing what we love and sharing it with the World.” Living with Monsters is a Pittsburgh based indie rock band formed by life long friends Bill Pierce (Guitar/Lead Vocals) and Cory Higgins (Guitar/Backing Vocals) who just started playing together a few years ago. They have one self-titled release from 2018 and perform out around the city quite often with a full band. I want to thank Bill and Cory for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last. The first album you ever bought? Bill Pierce: The first album I got, was Listener Supported from the Dave Matthews Band. However, that was a gift. The first album I remember buying was No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom. Cory Higgins: The first album that I remember asking my parents to buy was O.A.R., “Souls Aflame.” A girl from school named Laura was cousins with the saxophone player and she got me into them. The album that I first remember listening to non-stop as a kid, but was a gift from dad, was Will Smith, Big Willie Style. Your last album bought? Bill: The last album I bought was Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music on vinyl. Cory: Wood Brothers’ new album Kingdom in My Mind & Mac Miller, Circles. Favorite album of all time? Bill: Really tough one to even think about, but I’d probably say Dave Matthews Band, Under The Table And Dreaming, purely based on how many times I’ve listened to it.

Cory: Lucero, Tennessee. Least favorite/most disappointing album? Bill: Can’t really come up with an album that I’ve been disappointed with. Maybe at first a couple of studio albums didn’t tickle my fancy, but after time, all have found their way into my playlists. Cory: It’s rare I hear something that I genuinely do not like. I listen to so many different genres of music; if the energy and creativity behind the song is there, chances are I’ll find some love for it. There are a handful of albums and artists that no matter how hard I try; I can’t quite develop a palate for. I’ll keep those opinions to myself. First concert attended? Bill: Dave Matthews Band at Starlake Pavilion. Cory: *NSYNC at Starlake Pavilion in1999 (someone gave my dad free tickets and he took the fam.)

Last concert? Bill: Mt. Joy at the Roxian Theatre. Cory: My wife and I recently went to a music festival in Arizona. We caught sets by Dr. Dog, Portugal the Man, Jason Isbell, Dave Matthews Band, Nikki Lane, Wilderado, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and Weezer. We had an awesome time. Dr. Dog was my favorite show of the weekend. Favorite concert ever? Bill: Dave Matthews Band at Alpine Valley Music Theatre... see a trend? Cory: Toss up between Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge in 2012 and them at Red Rocks in 2005.

Hugh’s Take: Thanks, fellas. Like Cory, I have never lived anywhere else but Pittsburgh and always wondered how my perception of it would differ (as Bill relayed) if I had that experience. It’s all I’ve ever known. Support Living With Monsters: www.facebook.com/livingwithmonsters412 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.

Least favorite concert? Bill: Rascal Flatts at Starlake. Cory: I didn’t fully dig Hozier in 2015.



Savage Love Love | sex | relationships

Your last two columns and your last two podcasts were all about the pandemic. Everything everywhere is all about the pandemic right now. Can you give it a rest? For maybe a week? Could you answer some questions that aren’t about pandemic? Any fun kink questions come in this week? I could all use a break from the pandemic, Dan, and I’m not alone. Columnist’s Oeuvre Vividly Instills Dread Some kink questions did come in this week, COVID, and I’m happy to answer them. But the pandemic does come up in the second one, which you should feel free to skip. I have a kink/fetish that’s been giving me a lot of anxiety over the last few years. I inadvertently discovered that I’m turned on by big bellies, weight gain, and stuffing. It’s actually been there since I was a little kid, though I didn’t understand it until now. If it’s relevant, I’m a female in my mid-20s, in a heterosexual monogamous relationship. My problem is that I have a lot of trouble getting off without looking at pictures or at least thinking about my kink. I believe the common guidance is, “If it’s not hurting anyone, it’s fine.” But I feel super gross and ashamed. Neither my partner nor myself is large and we both value our health and fitness. I have absolutely no desire to participate in this activity with a real person. Every time I finish masturbating, I feel embarrassed and disgusted with myself. Some part of my brain obviously craves the


kink, but the rest of my brain HATES it. I keep telling myself I will stop, but I have such a hard time getting off with other porn (or without porn) that I always return to it. I genuinely enjoy having vanilla sex with my partner. I feel turned on and I have fun. But I’m often not able to come. It sometimes makes him think he isn’t doing a good job, when in reality he’s doing great and I’m just frustrated with my body. So I guess I’m wondering: Does continuing to watch belly porn reinforce the kink in my brain? Should I stop watching it and force myself to find other ways to come? Should I somehow find a way to embrace the kink instead? Big Belly Woes

Six years ago I roped Dr. Jesse Bering, author of Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, into answering a question from a dad who was worried about his teenage son’s sexual interest in Pokémon. (Yes, Pokémon.) Dad wanted to know if there was anything could done about his son’s “pathetic” sexual obsession. Bering explained that his kid’s kinks—that everyone’s kinks— are hardwired. "Nobody knows why some people are more prone to developing unusual patterns of attraction than others,” Bering said. “But whether it's a penchant for Pokémon, feet, underwear, or spiders, the best available evidence suggests that some people—mostly males—have a genetic predisposition for being 'sexually imprinted' during development." And once our erotic imagi-


nations have seized on something, once we’ve imprinted on Pokémon characters or big bellies or wrestling singlets, there’s not much we can do about it. Before we’re adults—before we hit puberty—our kinks, as Bering put it, are “pretty much fixed, like it or not.” For all we know the teenage boy with the Pokémon fetish was completely comfortable with his own niche sexual interests. The dad wrote in, after all, not the kid. (But if you’re a 23-year-old Pokémon fetishist and your dad routinely invaded your privacy when you were a teenager and heaped shame you about your kinks, please write in with an update!) But I have heard from people who, like you, weren’t comfortable with their own kinks, BBW, and desperately wanted to know what could be done. Most sex scientist and researchers agree with Bering: there’s really nothing you can do and masturbating to the porn that turns you on doesn’t “reinforce” your kinks. You can’t starve out your kinks by refusing to think (or wank) about them, BBW, and you can’t pray your kinks away anymore than I could pray my gay away. Embracing your kinks and exploring them with other consenting adults—or if your kinks can’t be realized for ethical reasons, enjoy them through solo or partnered fantasy play only— is the only realistic option. That said, some doctors have prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), aka anti-depressants, to people who were uncomfortable with their

kinks. Those drugs don’t selectively eradicate kinks, BBW, they crater a person’s libido. Taking SSRIs would mean sacrificing the vanilla sex you enjoy with your partner on the same altar with the kink that stress you out. I can’t imagine you want to go down either of this route, BBW, which brings us back to embracing your kink and coming clean with your partner. The risk you run telling a partner about your kink is no doubt the forefront of your mind, BBW, because the consequences could be immediate, i.e. he might dump you. But not telling your partner about your kink— and leaving him to wonder why you can’t get off with him but have no trouble getting off alone—isn’t risk free either. If he feels inadequate, if he feels like you’re hiding something from him, if he feels like he can’t satisfy you… he might dump you. So share your kink with your boyfriend, BBW, and kinks should always be presented as crazy and endearing—and potentially really fun—quirks, not as tragedies. You have a thing for big bellies, BBW, you don’t have leukemia. And you can explore your kinks without gaining weight or stuffing your partner until he does. A little big belly dirty talk could help you get off with your partner, BBW, and even the fittest person can push their tummy out and create the illusion of a rounded belly. Have fun!



was never very good at sleeping. As far back as I can remember, I had this ugly feeling just sort of hanging on me, and at night, when the distractions left, there was only the quiet and this weight. When I was a kid, real young, before my mom started losing it, nights I couldn’t sleep, my father would take me in his truck and just drive. We would go down Bog Road and I would think about the swamp sounds and that would be enough to make me sleep. When I was in elementary school, and things were really collapsing for my family, I would sneak out my window and walk until I was tired enough to rest when I got home. By high school, I had all these tiny hells I was hiding from everyone. It was easier than not hiding them. I stole a lot of movies, and sometimes watching them could put me to sleep by 6 or 7 in the morning, but I would often just stay up for days at a time until I crashed completely. I would spend a lot of nights sneaking out of the third floor apartment, making my way to the train tracks, picking a direction and following it; mostly thinking, kicking rocks, feeling sorry for myself. In my late teens I would stay up long enough to hallucinate. Driving wasn’t good for me because it was the only thing that made me tired. More than a few times, I woke up driving off the road or on the wrong side of the highway scraping the guardrail. It was all very stupid. Somehow, I managed to not kill anyone or get arrested for it. Maybe five years ago I was living on Holland Avenue in Braddock, Pennsylvania. This was after my wife’s visa was taken away and she returned to Mexico. A couple of friends, D. and E. moved into the spare room. My issues with sleep were pretty constant, but getting

worse due to the stress of her absence. I had been trying melatonin, which helped sometimes but often didn’t. I had to take more and more of it for it to do anything; if it did get me to sleep I would sleep very heavy and wake up confused and lethargic. According to my Google search, you couldn’t overdose on it. So when I took it, I would take four, five, or six times what the bottle said to. One morning waking up in such a state of confusion, I noticed that my bedroom door, which was about 3 feet from my bed, was wide open. This was strange because I always closed my door. I stumbled to the bathroom and peed, then walked around to the kitchen and saw that the kitchen window was open. I thought that was very strange too, but the melatonin hadn’t worn off and I was just accepting everything without questioning it. All of the knick knacks that had been on the window sill were now on the floor. Someone unlocked the deadbolt on the door next to the kitchen window. I put everything back where it was supposed to be and walked back through the living room to my bedroom. There were things in the living room that seemed out of place too, but I got dressed and went over to Dave’s house, where we worked out each morning before I headed into work. A couple hours into my shift I got a phone call from D. It was amazing how much sense it all made when someone else explained it. Somebody broke in. His laptop was gone, room ransacked, $500 cash gone, a few other things. When I got home that night from work we talked it out and sorted what must have happened. The way we figured it, someone must have seen D. and E. leave and assumed the apartment was empty. They pried the window open and

climbed through. D. and E.’s room was closer to the kitchen than mine so they must have gone in there first, went through everything, taken what they wanted. After that they would have gone to my room, opened the door and saw me sleeping. At the time I was lifting all the time and was about 190, this may have been enough to scare them off, or maybe it was just that they hadn’t expected to see anyone there, either way they saw me and left through the door in the kitchen. I had been dead asleep and the person who stole D. and E.’s stuff had been about 3 feet from me. I felt a lot of guilt for not waking up. I

also felt a lot of anger. I would have liked to have caught them, taken care of it, gotten their things back, their money back. I spent the next week running through my head what I wished had happened. Not long after that, I moved down the street. This house a few years prior had been a women’s shelter. In the years between that and me moving in, it had been empty. About two years into living there, I started noticing that every Sunday night when I got home from work, there would be marks on the inside of the door frame, little impressions and chunks of wood pried off around the locks on the door. I knew a trick using a flathead to break into houses and that was exactly what was going on here. Someone was trying to pop the locks open. Week by week, every Sunday, there would be more marks. They must have seen every week that my car wasn’t in the driveway and figured if they went for it enough times eventually, it would work. I was fed up, I thought they were actually getting close and I was carrying that anger from the last time someone had broken in when I lived down the street with D. and E. So one Sunday I took off of work and parked my car at Dave’s house so the driveway would be empty. I sat at my kitchen table and looked at the door all day. I knew I had them. I waited. They never came. The next Sunday I went to work again, came home, more marks on the door frame. I figured it had to be someone close by who could see me come and go. I had no way of knowing who though. Eventually I moved out. I still live in Braddock, about three-fourths of a mile from there. I have been better about sleeping lately, but usually, I have a few nights a week where I only get an hour or two. Last night when I was letting my dog outside, I found some flathead marks on the door frame. I sometimes get sentimental about places, like the memories remain there and hold some kind of magic. When I leave here, I won’t miss a thing.




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Pittsburgh Current, Volume 3, Issue 8, April 7, 2020  

Go inside the Allegheny County Jail, Album Reviews, Virtual Dance Parties and more

Pittsburgh Current, Volume 3, Issue 8, April 7, 2020  

Go inside the Allegheny County Jail, Album Reviews, Virtual Dance Parties and more

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