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A NEW RECORD FOR PITTSBURGH'S RADON CHONG VOL. 3 ISSUE 41

Nov. 25, 2020 - Dec. 1, 2020

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BREAKING N

60 EMPLOYEES AT THE ALLEGHENY COUNTY JAIL HAVE CONTRACTED OR BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 AFTER LARGE OUT-OF-WORK GATHERINGS. ACTIVISTS WORRY THAT THE VIRUS' NEXT STOP IS INSIDE THE JAIL'S WALLS.


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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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2 | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT


Climate Crisis and Corrupt Politics By: Larry J. Schweiger Free Shipping Paperback $29.95 or purchase an eBook for $19.00 (Read the first 25 pages for free)

There is only one earth and our world is undergoing dramatic changes brought on by the climate crisis and other human-induced ecological disruptions. The world's top scientists studying these threats and the forces behind them have been warning us for decades to end the use of fossil fuels or face catastrophic consequences. Their long-ignored warnings have become more dire. Larry Schweiger has long been on the front line of efforts to enact rational clean energy and climate policies and has witnessed efforts to undermine our democratic system that has been rigged leaving America hoodwinked and held hostage to dirty fuels. Climate Crisis and Corrupt Politics pulls back the curtain on the central role of big oil, coal, and gas interests in American politics through the flow of money to fabricated entities for independent SuperPAC expenditures for mass deception through distorted advertising. Larry wrote this urgent message aimed at parents, grandparents and young adults who care about their children forced to live on the ragged edge of an unprecedented climate crisis. This book is especially for leaders who understand that we must act now with a "Green New Deal" scale response. Together, we must confront and overcome the many toxic money influences, reverse a failing democracy and retake the reins of government to enact policies that secure our shared future and the future of life on earth.

PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | 3


STAFF Publisher/Editor: Charlie Deitch Charlie@pittsburghcurrent.com

contents

Advisory Board Chairman: Robert Malkin Robert@pittsburghcurrent.com

Vol. III Iss. XLI Nov. 25, 2020

EDITORIAL

NEWS 6 | ACJ COVID-19

Music Editor: Margaret Welsh Margaret@pittsburghcurrent.com

OPINION 8 | Larry Schweiger

Visuals Editor: Jake Mysliwczyk Jake@pittsburghcurrent.com Sr. Contributing Writer: Jody DiPerna Jody@pittsburghcurrent.com Social Justice Columnist: Jessica Semler jessica@pittsburghcurrent.com

Arts 10 | Radon Chong EXTRA 12 | Matthew Wallenstein 13 | Dan Savage 14 | Parting Shot

Contributing Photographer: Ed Thompson info@pittsburghcurrent.com Contributing Writers: Jody DiPerna, Atiya Irvin Mitchell, Dan Savage, Larry Schweiger, Brittany Hailer, Matthew Wallenstein, Caitlyn Junter, Aryanna Hunter, Nick Eustis, Jessie Sage, Mary Niederberger info@pittsburghcurrent.com Logo Design: Mark Addison TO ADVERTISE :

Senior Account Executive: Andrea James andrea@pittsburghcurrent.com Charlie Deitch charlie@pittsburghcurrent.com

The Fine Print The contents of the Pittsburgh Current are © 2020 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.

4 | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT


PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | 5


NEWS

60 COUNTY JAIL EMPLOYEES INFECTED OR QUARA ACTIVISTS SAY SYMPTOMS OF IN

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en employees of the Allegheny County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19 and another 50 are currently quarantined as a result of community exposure and are not exposures from the workplace. The quarantines have left the jail short staffed. “While these steps will impact staffing levels at the facility, we have worked with the union leadership to ensure the proper staffing to maintain the safety and security of all inmates and employees.," said Warden Orlando Harper in a written statemnt. "We are confident that these measures will ensure the necessary levels of staffing for the continued security of the facility. “We also continue to follow the advice of the facility’s medical provider as it relates to precautions for inmates. As has been done since the very beginning of this pandemic, those measures are in line with the guidance provided by the CDC, PA Department of Health, PA Department of Corrections, and the Allegheny County Health Department.” But, according to sources inside the Allegheny County Jail and sources familiar with the massive exposure, employees were exposed at two recent, large social events -- a party and a wedding -- where many employees were in

BY CHARLIE DEITCH - PITTS

CHARLIE@PITTSBUR

attendance. “They get on us here about making sure we’re wearing masks and social-distancing and are quick to write us up for it,” one employee said. “But, they can all get together outside of work spread the virus.” The Current reached out to Allegheny County Spokesperson Amie Downs for official confirmation of how the massive exposure happened, but she said “the jail is not privy to the information provided by the employees to Health Department (ACHD) case investigators. ACHD has also not made such information public. Based on data gathered by case investigators for all cases, the vast majority of spread is coming from private gatherings. Weddings and parties would certainly be examples of those.” And while the jail has set protocols for employees at work, Downs said that “neither the county nor the jail has provided guidance to employees about what they can or cannot do outside of their workplace in excess of that provided by ACHD for the general public. The guidance put out by federal, state and local health officials, however, is shared through our HR Department so that employees are aware of what is expected outside of the workplace as well.”

6 | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT

This past summer families of incarcerated individuals protested their loved-ones' tre

While it’s unclear when these events were held, COVID-19 cases have been surging in Allegheny County and across the country. And additional guidance limiting gatherings have been put in place. Last week the Allegheny County Health Department asked “to stay at home to stop social gatherings to stem the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases

and hospitalizations in the county. Residents are advised to only leave home to go to work or school, for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, getting food, or the like. Residents must always wear a face mask and practice physical distancing by staying at least six feet away from others in accor-


NEWS

ANTINED FOLLOWING LARGE SOCIAL GATHERINGS; NCARCERATED WOMEN IGNORED

SBURGH CURRENT EDITOR

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eatment (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

dance with the November 17 state masking order.” Employees are worried how the quarantine is going to affect jail operations. The Current also asked what the agreement between jail administrators and union officials outlined in terms of proper coverage and of the 50 quarantined and 10 infected employees, what departments

or jobs they hold. That information is still being gathered. Activists have also taken notice of not only the quarantine of 60 employees, but allege that active COVID-19 symptoms in incarcerated individuals are being ignored. Attorneys for the ACLU, the Abolitionist Law Center and the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, sent a letter

today to attorneys for Allegheny County and the County Jail. The letter also alleges that employees were exposed by social gatherings held outside of work. “We have received reports that since Friday, November 20, 2020, multiple women incarcerated on 4F and 4E have submitted sick call slips and asked correctional staff to contact medical staff because they have been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms,” according to the letter. “There has been no response by ACJ despite the fact that at least one of the guards who tested positive was in direct physical contact with women on 4F on the same day she was placed in quarantine.” The letter goes on to list the many symptoms the women are experiencing and the individual employees (names redacted) who were in contact with the incarcerated women, who have either tested positive or gone on quarantine. “We have been told that those two women and their cellmates have been exhibiting symptoms of the virus. Additionally, it has been reported that incarcerated workers who distribute meal trays and hygiene products to the people who reside on the housing pod are exhibiting symptoms of the virus. We are further troubled that ACJ

has apparently not conducted any contact tracing of Officer's [REDACTED]’s interactions with the women incarcerated on level 4, as none of the incarcerated women have been consulted, advised, or tested by medical staff,” the letter continues. “We are requesting that the jail test the above-named individuals pursuant to the consent order in this case. “Given the extraordinary rates of COVID-19 in the community at the moment, prudence and reason also dictate testing everybody on 4F, as well as all other pods where staff who tested positive interacted directly with incarcerated people. We also want to emphasize that decisions regarding whether to test an individual for COVID-19 are medical decisions and must be made by a trained medical professional. Testing decisions, including decisions not to test, must be documented, and include notes on interviews with incarcerated people and their reported symptoms. Additionally, we are requesting that contact tracing be performed in regard to all incarcerated people who have been in proximity to staff who have tested positive or are on quarantine.”

PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | 7


OPINION

IN THE FACE OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS: BIDEN'S KEY APPO

BY LARRY J. SCHWEIGER - PITTS

A

2019 United Nations Environment Program report found that for the earth to stay within the 1.5o C threshold, all greenhouse gas emissions must decline by fifty-five percent by 2030 and reach “net zero” around mid-century. Achieve that urgent goal requires an average global emission reduction of more than seven percent annually. It is a steep cut needed because we have failed to act much earlier. During the last decade, annual global emissions have increased by 1.5 percent annually. We must stop the increase and cut CO2 emissions dramatically to avoid triggering more emissions from the earth’s carbon stores. President-elect Biden understands the urgency and has pledged to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord on his first day taking office in January. His first climate action is linked to his appointment of former Secretary of State and former senator John Kerry as a special envoy. As Secretary of State, John Kerry was instrumental in negotiating the Paris Climate Accord, so he is an excellent choice for a special presidential envoy for the climate. I worked with Senator Kerry for several years during our failed attempts to pass climate legislation. I know John Kerry understands the climate risks we face. I cannot think of a more qualified leader to take on the planetary crisis as a special envoy. In making the Kerry appointment, President-elect Biden commented, “I’ve asked him to return to government to get America back on track to address

INFO@PITTSBURG

one of the most urgent national security threats we face—the climate crisis. This role is the first of its kind: the first cabinet-level climate position, and for the first time, climate change has had a seat at the table on the National Security Council. There could be no one better suited to meet this moment.” In response to the announcement, Kerry tweeted. "America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is. I'm proud to partner with the President-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the President's Climate Envoy." We should be hopeful about this vital appointment.

8 | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT

President-elect Biden has also recognized the importance of the U.S. transportation sector in restarting efforts to control climate pollution. Cars, trucks, planes, trains, and boats are collectively the largest source of CO2 in the U.S. now. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, transportation has taken first place since 2017. All transportation sources combined currently emit 1.9 billion tons of CO2 annually. At the same time, Trump dismantled the fuel efficiency standards that would have cut auto and other light vehicle emissions in half by 2025. President-Elect Biden has an opportunity to jumpstart the auto industry's electrification, create

manufacturing jobs, and accelerate the transition to electric vehicles. Biden advisors authored a Report entitled “Clean Energy for Biden: Building Back Better.” They are suggesting five policy ideas to address the light-duty sector: Improve the personal income tax credit for electric vehicles; Establish a 50% Zero Emissions Vehicle requirement for federal light duty vehicle procurements; Create a National Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate; Create a National Clean Miles Standard to reduce emissions and rapidly electrify fleets, including the federal government and corporate fleets and transportation


OPINION

OINTMENT AND PROPOSED TRANSPORTATION POLICY

SBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST

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network companies; Establish a feebate scheme that incentivizes electrification, improves equity, and rapidly transitions drivers to affordable electric vehicles. Buried in the middle of the recommendations is the most important one. We must advocate for a national zero Emission vehicle mandate to create a path to full EV adoption by 2030. Relying on the internal combustion engine from the beginning, the auto industry has been slow to innovate and failed to adapt to changing external forces like the climate crisis. The industry’s reluctance to change has far too often forced the Federal government and, at times, the state of California to require fuel efficiency changes, air emissions, and safety standards like seat belts and airbags. While a carbon tax or carbon fee on fossil fuels levied at the upstream source would help curb emissions from the electric energy sector. A tax will do little for auto emissions since motorists have experienced large swings in gasoline prices with little change in fuel usage. Instead of taxing fuel, we should seek a ten-year phaseout of fossil-fuel-powered automobiles. The U.S. should follow Norway and the Netherlands in phasing out all fossil fuel-powered automobiles by 2025. Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum in Norway have done what up to this point has been nearly impossible in the U.S. They reached a far-reaching agreement requiring 100 percent of the cars running on green

energy by 2025. As Norway bans the sale of all fossil fuel-based cars, they will continue becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries on the planet. To achieve a legislative initiative like that in the U.S. would require the Democrats to control the Senate ending the self-proclaimed “Grim Reaper.” Mitch McConnell recently boasted that he killed 395 House Bills in the Senate creating a do-nothing Congress. It has been nearly thirty years since the environmental community got Congress to enact significant environmental legislation. Various polluting industries have worked together to successfully create an iron wall of dark money influencing politicians. Michael B. Gerrard of the Columbia Law School points out, “Congress has not enacted a major new environmental law since 1990, when President George H.W. Bush signed the Clean Air Act Amendments and the Oil Pollution Act. He also supported, and the Senate ratified, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.” As the Biden administration seeks to end carbon pollution, the environmental community might be getting some critically important help from the insurgent clean auto industry. Announcing Zero-Emission Transportation Association (ZETA) as the first industry-backed coalition advocating for electric transportation with a simple mission; 100% of new car sales should be EVs by 2030. ZETA is the first indus-

try-backed coalition of its kind. Twenty-eight businesses employing hundreds of thousands of workers across all 50 states launched ZETA, to advocate for national policies that will enable 100% electric vehicle sales throughout the light-, medium-, and heavy-duty sectors by 2030. Founding members include a diverse collection of large and small corporations, including ABB, Albemarle Corporation, Arrival, ChargePoint, ConEdison, Copper Development Association, Inc., Duke Energy, Edison International, Enel X, EVBox, EVgo, Ioneer, Li-Cycle, Lordstown Motors, Lucid Motors, Piedmont Lithium, PG&E Corporation, Proterra, Redwood Materials, Rivian, Siemens, Southern Company, SRP, Tesla, Vistra, Volta, Uber, and WAVE. Achieving ZETA’s goal will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, securing America’s global EV manufacturing leadership while dramatically improving public health and significantly reducing carbon pollution. Specifically, ZETA is calling for several key policies that can put America on the pathway to full EV adoption by 2030 including: 1. Outcome-driven consumer EV incentives; 2. Emissions/performance standards enabling full electrification by 2030; 3. Federal investments in clean charging infrastructure investments; 4. Federal policies to encourage job creation through domestic manufacturing. By enacting ambitious–but realistic–policies to accelerate electrification, ZETA seeks to

create hundreds of thousands of additional well-paying jobs. Congress must seize this opportunity or risk ceding this obvious economic growth opportunity to other nations. EV produce no tailpipe emissions and are 67% less carbon-intensive than gas-powered cars over their lifetime. By going EV, its estimated that car owners can save over $700 a year in fuel costs and an additional $330 in annual maintenance costs. Joe Britton, Executive Director of ZETA, acknowledged, “For the first time in a generation, transportation is the leading emitter of U.S. carbon emissions. By embracing EVs, federal policymakers can help drive innovation, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and improve air quality and public health. ZETA’s formation recognizes a pivotal moment for national leadership and reflects the will of the growing clean transportation sector.” We have little time to avoid catastrophic climate changes. The new decade, starting with the Biden administration, will be critical. After thirty years of Congressional inaction, it is time to enact far-reaching federal laws to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles to help address America’s largest source of climate pollution. The United States must become the leader in establishing a global clean transportation economy, ending a major source of air pollution, and creating hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of American jobs as the zero-emission industries sell American-made vehicles into the enormous world market.

PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | 9


MUSIC

RADONG CHONG

'SINCE THAT FIRST TAPE, WE’VE DEVELOPED A REAL RHYTHM BETWEEN THE FOUR OF US,” BY JUSTIN VELLUCCI - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER

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Radon Chong swears up and down that it’s not a – patent pending – Thinking Man’s Band, despite lots of mounting evidence to the contrary. “I think people take Radon Chong seriously,” said Sasha Weisfeld, the band’s frontman, a healthcare worker “on Sabbatical” who came to Pittsburgh and fell into the band’s ranks by way of New York City and Miami. “Being a Jew, Bronx-born, a street Jew, I’m smart but I really don’t give a shit about ‘smart’ so much, about being an intellectual. People think we’re trying to be smart – but we’re not.” Well, you could’ve fooled us. The Pittsburgh-based, post-everything quartet is rearing its head on the noise scene again with “Honey World,” a brand new, Bandcamp-only EP. And that record is a small but mighty thing. The EP, which the band is self-releasing Dec. 4, is the perfect companion to the group’s Bizarro-world underground debut, “I Keep On Talking to You,” which the Philly label Single Girl Married Girl released on cassette and digital formats

Radon Chong

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MUSIC in 2017. Like “I Keep On Talking to You,” the new, four-song EP, culled from 2017-era material and recorded at PUHD 2 in Philly, makes great hay out of knotty guitars, atonal rhythms and somehow-in-tune histrionics from Weisfeld. If you imagine Captain Beefheart fronting Cheer-Accident, with a blender-ized smattering of Pere Ubu or U.S. Maple to boot, you’ve got a pretty good point of reference to start crafting your definitions. Brian Hecht plays guitar in Radon Chong and sketches out demos of a lot of the band’s songs. (He stresses, however, that Radon Chong’s songwriting is highly collaborative and often based in free-improv.) Hecht says there’s no rocket science to a Radon Chong song, no precise chemistry. He just writes what’s in his head – and that’s often music centered around an atypical guitarist with something to say. “I love guitar music,” Hecht told Pittsburgh Current. “I’m a sucker for any weird guitar stuff, whether it’s Derek Baily or Sonic Youth or John Fahey or Gastr del Sol – that’s what I like to listen to.” Hecht also attributes

some of the band’s newfound spit and polish to Spencer Carrow, who joined Radon Chong on drums – Bill Oliver and Hecht trade bass duties – after the first tape was released. His influence is evident on a song like the excellent “Rashomon,” where Carrow is a kind of gluey plastic polymer, lending verse/chorus/verse colors to the odd outing. “I’ll say this about the new record: since that first tape, we’ve developed a real rhythm between the four of us,” Hecht said. The EP also harbors a few surprises. On the last track, “Sissy,” Matt Aelmore – he of the lauded avant-noise group How Things Are Made – guests

on trumpet during what Hecht called the song’s “improv section.” Radon Chong’s members, despite the allure of a sophomore release, are modest to a T. Even Weisfeld, an animated presence among

undistorted but wonderfully anti-rhythmic proceedings, doesn’t take much credit for his mesmerizing lead vocals, instead passing the praise to Hecht, Oliver and Carrow. “I think Radon Chong is a good reflection of who [Hecht] is – quirky, yes, but funny and very sincere,” Weisfeld said. “I can sing along with him, you know what I mean? I have a sense of what he’s doing. I just rehearse and it’s just singing along. Eventually, there’s lyrics and there’s ideas there. Everything comes as part of improvisation.” “And, if nothing else,” he added, laughing, “you follow the bass.” To check out the new EP, set your Internet browser of choice to https://radonchong.bandcamp.com/.

PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | 11


ESSAY THE DRUNK AND HIS FRIENDS ENDED UP IN A PILE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CONCRETE STAIRS

BY MATTHEW WALLENSTEIN - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST

I

once lived in illegal housing above a factory. Noises, fumes, slumlord. We didn’t like our neighbors. That is, we were very close to the people in apartments 201 and 206. We did not like our other neighbors. Particularly the people in apartment 202 that sat right between us and our friends in 201. Apt. 202 was always causing problems. The apartments all had a tacit agreement about letting people do what they wanted within reason, but there were also some important ground rules that they disregarded. There were a lot of conflicts because things they did often caused the fire fighters and the cops to show up. Every time the police or the fire department was called we were in real risk of everyone getting kicked out. Illegal housing all over the city was getting shut down and replaced by overpriced condos. Their band played music day and night. K from 201 and I would sit in her kitchen sometimes and sing along to each part we had heard so many times through the walls. They would have unruly parties, the drunk people would kick holes in the walls in the hallway, come into our apartments uninvited, harass the girls that lived there. There were fights sometimes as a result of these things. We knew the camera down the hall worked because one night a drunk guy, a straggler

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from a 202 party, started kicking in the door of apartment 206. C came out swinging and the drunk and his friends ended up in a pile at the bottom of the concrete stairs. Even M, a girl who lived in the apartment, who couldn’t have weighed even 100 pounds, pushed one of the drunk guys down the steps. W, who lived in 206, asked the landlord for a copy of the tape so everyone could watch it. So when the people from 202 had been gone a full week

12 | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT

we knew we couldn’t use the hallway door to go in their place without the camera documenting it. Our landlord didn’t like us going on the second floor roof so they had installed a metal cage over our window. If there actually had been a fire in the building and the hallway was burning that window would have been our only way out, meaning we would have died. So G had sawed the cage off with an angle grinder and one of the saws we stole from

the hardware store. The cage being gone meant that we could break into the neighbors’ place by climbing out of our window onto the roof and then into theirs through their window. Once we crawled in the window we went around feeling the walls until we found a switch and turned the lights on. There was a trunk full of old porno VHS tapes next to the downstairs door. B announced this find. I was on the second floor. There were a lot of instruments around the place. I picked up an acoustic guitar. It had broken strings, cracks in the neck. “Batter up,” B said. He pitched a tape at me like a baseball and I swung the guitar. “Strike.” Another came. I made contact. It flew back at him. Then I smashed the guitar against the steps. It felt good to do that. There were a lot of us. People from two apartments. We walked through, smelled things, loaded what we wanted out the window, explored some more. Someone threw a plate like a frisbee and it smashed against the wall. Soon a lot of the plates decided they were frisbees too. I found a package of flour and shook it out, threw it behind me. White like chalk fell over us as we kicked holes in things, as we knocked things over.


SAVAGE LOVE

It took a couple tries but I managed to put the keg I’d found through the wall between two bedrooms. More things were tipped over, rolled down the stairs, a bowling ball went through a wall, a door was kicked off its hinges, things were peed on. We found some items of use to us and did take them but it felt more like that Graham Greene story. The one with the kids who hung out in the parking lot. They ransacked an old man’s house, picked the meat of it off; the frame naked as chicken bones. We climbed out of the window and walked back across the roof to our apartment. We sat in the kitchen. The mice ran across the support beams and scratched behind the oven. It was warmer there with the new space heaters. A rubbed his hands together over one like a hobo over a barrel fire. C was leaning against a pole. F was laughing loudly. Everyone was feeling pretty good. When the Super came knocking on our door the next morning he was furious. “Did you hear a lot of shit going down last night next door to you?” “No,” I said. “No? All that mess. You are right next door here and you didn’t hear anything?” “Anything what? What happened?” “Okay.” He went down the hall and pounded on 201’s door. Turns out they hadn’t heard anything either.

Savage Love Love | sex | relationships

M

BY DAN SAVAGE MAIL@SAVAGELOVE.NET

y boyfriend and I were friends for a couple of years (we're both 30-year-old gay men), then I stopped traveling around the world and pursued him. We’ve been boyfriends for a year and a half now. We were both happy and we had sex on a regular basis during the first year. I'm more into anal (as a top) but we mainly did oral because he isn't into anal. We tried a few times early on but every time I mention it now he doesn't seem keen, so I've left it alone. Six months ago he started having trouble “getting it up” even for oral. After it happened a couple of times he basically said, “I'm sorry it's because I think people aren't attracted to me.” After that happened I started to lose my interest in sex between us and now we rarely have it. Even if he did offer to try anal I don’t even think that would motivate me to have sex with him. Apart from that we get on great but I feel as though I'm starting to see him more as a friend. I've been thinking about breaking up for the last three months but I would feel terrible for a few reasons: his previous boyfriend broke up with him without giving him a reason, which he struggled to come to terms with, and he's very self-conscious about his weight. So I can’t tell him the reason I want to break up—I don’t find him attractive anymore—because that might erode his mental health. (He is seeing a therapist.) If sex was great between us I would be happy to remain boyfriends since everything else is working out and I'm fairly certain he's happy with our relationship as it is, which makes it even harder to end it. Advice? Promising Relationship Is Sexless Or Nearly So

A sexless relationship may be fine

for your boyfriend—it may be what he wants—but it’s not fine for you, PRISONS, and it’s not what you want. And a guy who’s too insecure about his own attractiveness to get it up for a guy who’s attracted to him is unlikely to be secure enough for an open relationship, which means staying with him and getting sex elsewhere isn’t a workable option. So unless you’re prepared to spend the next fifty years of your life in a sexless relationship to avoid hurting your boyfriend’s feelings, PRISONS, you’re going to have to end it. But instead of saying, “It’s over because I’m not attracted to you anymore,” say, “It’s over because we clearly aren’t attracted to each other.” He might claim he’s still attracted to you, PRISONS, and that might even be true, but if he’s too insecure to have sex with you—if his insecurities are such huge stumbling blocks—then he’s not in good enough working order to be in a sexually exclusive relationship. You should, of course, be as considerate as possible about his insecurities when you end things, PRISONS, but you don’t have an obligation to stay with him forever because of them. He has an obligation to work on them with his therapist before entering into a new relationship. A friend just shared on Facebook that she has been accosted by some dude—a stranger to her—over the phone. Sexually explicit stuff. She hung up and blocked him but he kept leaving her messages and sending her texts somehow. She just learned how to permanently block his number, which she has done. I have this dude’s phone number and it traces to Phoenix, Arizona. My question: Is there some service somewhere where I could share his

phone number and an army of allies would call him? Or tele-market to him? Or otherwise accost him until it becomes so inconvenient that he has to get a new number? I don't want him to be sexually harassed. I am not the kind of person who would invite sexual harassment on anyone. I just want him harassed to the point where he can no longer use the number he currently has to sexually harass anyone else. I get scam calls all the time about winning another free vacation at a Marriott Hotel. (I don't know why I'm still paying rent with all the vacations I'm supposed to have won.) Is there a way I can sign him up for endless calls for free vacations? Can you or your readers think of some other suitably annoying/debilitating fate for his number? I'd love to write to my friend in support and solidarity and inform her of the annoyances about to rain down on this dude’s number! Sexual Harassment Unleashes Totally Unrelenting Phone Promotions I’m sorry your friend was harassed by some asshole with a phone, SHUTUPP, but the counterstrike you’re considering could backfire on your friend. I mean, let’s say you got this asshole to change his number—let’s say your campaign of targeted non-sexual harassment was a success—then what happens? Well, then the asshole gets a new number. He’ll still be an asshole with a phone, most likely the same phone, just with a different phone number. And since his new number won’t be the one your friend blocked, SHUTUPP, and since he’ll still have your friend’s phone number, he’ll be able to resume harassing your friend and any other woman who’d blocked his old number. As unsatisfying as it might seem, your friend’s best course of action here is the one she already took—blocking the fuck out of this asshole—and your best course of action would be to express sympathy and solidarity without doing anything that might make things worse.

PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | 13


PA R T I N G S H OT PITTSBURGH CURRENT PHOTO BY JAKE MYSLIWCZYK PITTSBURGH CURRENT | NOVEMBER 25, 2020 | 14


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