Page 1



May 28, 2019 - June 10, 2019 PGHCURRENT














STAFF Publisher/Editor: Charlie Deitch Associate Publisher: Bethany Ruhe


Vol. II Iss. XI May 28, 2019

EDITORIAL Managing Editor: Haley Frederick Art Director: Emily McLaughlin Music Editor: Margaret Welsh Visuals Editor: Jake Mysliwczyk Staff Writer, Arts: Amanda Reed Columnists: Aryanna Berringer, Sue Kerr, Jessica

Semler, Mike Wysocki Craft Beer Writer: Day Bracey Contributing Writers: Jody DiPerna, Nick Eustis, Meg Fair, Ted Hoover, Thomas Leturgey, Matt Petras, Mike Shanley, Steve Sucato, Mike Watt, Justin Vellucci Interns: Emerson Andrews, Annabelle Hanflig, Sydney Keller Logo Design: Mark Adisson

NEWS 6 | Existence = Resistance 8 | Breaking the cycle 11 | Pride Month Events OPINION 12 | Yes, I’ve Had an Abortion 13 | Sticking to Her Story 14 | Township Line ARTS 16 | 20 | 21 | 24 |

Abra ca-dazzle Three Rivers Arts Fest Honest Interpretation Action Art

MUSIC 25 | Driver’s Seat 29 | Restarting Lineup FOOD 32 | Sweet Treats 33 | This Tastes Funny 34 | Day Drinking NEIGHBORHOOD 35 | Friendship 38 | Neighborhood Conversation EXTRA 42 | News of the Weird 42 | Crossword 43 | Savage Love

ADVERTISING Vice President of Sales: Paul Klatzkin Senior Account Executive: Andrea James Account Executive: Mackenna Donahue


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.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:

Marketing and Administrative Coordinator: Sereny





SEPT 4 – 29 | Benedum Center 412-456-4800 (10+):

412-471-6930 © Disney


PITTSBURGH/ C M Y K 9.5”W X 4.875”H



Big Freedia. Photo by: Hunter Holder





elebrating Pride in 2019 is a radical act of celebration, self-preservation and joy. It’s all those things in the face of everuncertain times for the community. If you live under the LGBTQIA umbrella, right now merely existing is resisting. We’re living under a presidential administration hellbent on attacking the rights of trans people—Betsy DeVos rolling back protections for trans teens trying to use the bathroom in school—all while the president sports Pride T-shirts, as if that’s not some cruel, twisted joke. Large corporations make Pridethemed ads, floats and merchandise solely for feel-good optics while giving little to no money to causes that actually support and benefit the LGBTQIA community. Some of those same corporations with temporary rainbow logos spend the entirety of the year exploiting their workers or destroying the environment through investment in pipelines or fracking. Violence against queer folks, especially trans people of color, is

a real threat and concern. Just this year there have been five reported murders of trans women of color, and those are just the ones that have actually been made public. Dana Martin. Ashanti Carmon. Claire Legato. Muhlaysia Booker. Michelle “Tamika” Washington. But pop culture is full of the work and influence of LGBTQIA folks, especially queer people of color. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is a hit with straight, cisgendered fans, nearly all popular slang like “tea” and “shade” and “yasss” have been pulled straight from African American Vernacular English and most of that language has been pulled from trans women of color. But there isn’t too much celebration in pop culture of trans women of color. On the mainstream surface, it may seem to straight, cis folks like we’re making lots of progress because of legalized samesex marriage, but there is little representation or advocacy for those who aren’t white, middle to upper class and cisgendered. Working class queers care far more about making a


living wage than getting married, for example. “But a gay man is running for president!,” some may say. Sure, Pete Buttigieg is a gay man. But is he queer as in fuck you? There would be no LGBTQIA liberation without the “queer as in fuck you” community. The radical community living their truth in a society that doesn’t want them or care to understand them has been at the root of LGBTQIA liberation all along. People of color, trans folks, drag queens, dykes, poor queers—those were the people at the Compton Cafeteria riots and Stonewall. In order to truly celebrate those early acts of resistance, the celebrations we throw must honor the community with an intersectional and thoughtful lens. That’s why People’s Pride in Pittsburgh is so very important. In its third year, the celebration centers around the most vulnerable in the community through a vivacious and joyous parade, parties and activities that bring comfort and care to attendees. SisTers PGH and True T PGH are collaborating to create a weekend full of music, food, dancing and community. SisTers PGH is a sheltertransitioning program that centers around transgender and nonbinary people. The goal is to establish lowincome housing for people coming out of emergency shelters, and it’s an important job. According to the Williams Institute, a public policy research institute based at UCLA that’s focused on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, 43 percent of clients served by drop-in centers identified as LGBTQIA. True T PGH is a platform for queer arts, activism and entertainment that emphasizes sharing resources and making safe spaces. Each year True T hosts its Galaxy Ball, a fundraiser that gives back to the ballroom community in Pittsburgh. Ball culture began in the ‘60s as underground drag competitions that featured black and gay men, and it has since then remained a strong place of community and excitement.

This year’s People’s Pride will kick off its festivities on Penn Avenue for First Friday with a dance party and art exhibit that centers around the very folks that Pride was created to honor. It is a space that is selfdescribed as “pro-black, pro-trans and intergenerational.” The exhibit is designed to celebrate liberation and joy and realistic representation of the LGBTQIA community. On Saturday at True T Studios, there will be a day of self-care with massages from the LGBTQIA-friendly Body Euphoria Massage Therapy staff. Being tender and taking care of one’s self is so important to survival in marginalized communities. It is also a great way to ease the tension to prepare for Sunday’s festivities. On Sunday, the People’s Pride celebration will take to the streets in its annual parade full of colorful characters and chants for liberation, dancing and celebration. It is a time to be visible, to be heard, to have fun and to take up space without apology. The grand finale is a free concert in the Allegheny Commons Park West with a performance from the New Orleans Queen of Bounce, Big Freedia. Her high-energy bounce music makes for a spirited party that centers around queerness and blackness in a powerful way. There is truly no better way to celebrate Pride than by joyously getting down with your community of queerdos, freaks, friends and LGBT family. Celebrations and gatherings like People’s Pride are essential to the LGBTQIA community in Pittsburgh. It’s empowering to gather in celebration, in mourning, in activism, in hopeful conversations, to dance together and be absolutely carefree. It provides a place to build coalitions, but most importantly it provides a place to just be yourself, be loved and raise hell. Meg Fair is a genderqueer journalist living in Pittsburgh. They love professional wrestling, labor activism and punk rock.

CALL FOR HEALTH & WELLNESS VENDORS Join us Downtown in Market Square for a new weekly Health & Wellness Fair, an interactive and engaging lunchtime event every Monday June 3- August 26. It’s a chance for health, wellness and fitness professionals to connect to a wide variety of people from throughout our region with resources, products and services that encourage a healthy lifestyle.

For details, please go to


Esther Chavéz services the derailleur of her bike. Current Photo by Annabelle Hanflig.





n the biking community, there exists a phrase called “no-drop.” It means that on any given group excursion, not a single cyclist, no matter how far behind the pack they ride, will be left to go it alone. This particular principle is one of the many methods certain circles of bikers use to make their craft more open and inclusive. Biking has gotten quite the reputation in the city of Pittsburgh. The installation of bike lanes was a contentious topic during the 2017 mayoral election. Earlier this year, Pittsburgh City Councilor Erika Strassburger introduced legislation to move oversight of issues regarding pedestrian and cyclist safety from the state to the city. At the same time, Pittsburgh has recently grown to be one of the

most bike-friendly municipalities in the country, ranking eighth in a list of major American cities with the most bicycle commuters, according to a 2016 report on biking from the League of American Bicyclists. We even have the oldest city-wide bike master plan in the country. But beyond the bountiful hills and bike lanes, Pittsburgh is home to a slew of bike collectives, advocacy groups and events that ride around the typical elitism of cycling to draw in riders of all stripes within city limits. How these groups go about making their marks vary, but they all seek to foster bike-centered community building, education and safety. For many, especially those who identify as a woman, queer, transgender, non-binary or anything


outside of our typical notions of gender and sexuality, biking is more than just a means of transportation or a mildly bearable way to stay in shape. It can serve as anything from an empowering outlet to a necessary refuge. As Julie Mallis of Bike Pittsburgh puts it, it’s a “vessel which helps people prove to themselves that they’re capable of great feats.” Mallis is the Education Program Manager for Bike Pittsburgh and is tasked with running the women and non-binary programs for the biking advocacy, education and community non-profit founded in 2002. They organize and host coffee meet-ups and rides for women and non-binary bikers, so participants can escape and address the challenges that come with partaking in the maledominated cycling world, Mallis said. “I think it’s a really great place for people to come together knowing that it’s not going to be dominated by men,” Mallis said. “It’s not like we’re just saying ‘oh let’s meet up for a bike ride’, we’re meeting up for a bike ride with intentionality.” The inclusion of women and LGBTQIA folks is purposefully built into the infrastructure of bike collectives and co-ops all over the country. Bike Collective Network, an online resource that connects people working in not-for-profit biking projects, provides a “Starter Kit” applicable to anything from building a shop from scratch to expanding the reach of an already established one. Under the “Common Activities” section, one can find the suggested framework for a “Women’s Only Night” bent on “encouraging more women and transgender people to get involved and learn in a comfortable space without men.” For BCN, creating safe spaces for those with marginalized identities is a necessary, although tricky endeavor. Finding the most inclusive language and forging a space that feels authentic is no easy task, but a healthy shop depends on it. In cementing the purpose and execution of opening up space for bikers with marginalized identities,

Bike Collective Network aims to make the organizations that house them more open and equitable. Besides the groups that aim to open the roads to all Pittsburgh cyclists, a host of events held throughout the year provide additional space to make more bikers feel welcome. There’s the annual Frigid Bitch Alley Cat Race, hosted by Pittsburgh Babes on Bikes, which takes women and non-binary cyclists on a race through the city in the dead of winter to benefit the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. There’s also the Pittsburgh Underwear Ride, which has cyclists don their drawers on a ride to promote positive body image. For cyclists with marginalized identities, building and defending these spaces is akin to surviving in them. Kat Gregor of Highland Park says specialized events like those hosted by Bike Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Babes on Bikes have helped her explore the intersection of her hobby and her identity without feeling threatened. “Without these spaces, we risk danger alone. There is a great power in a room full of cyclists that don’t look like the Tour de France riders,” Gregor said in an email. “These spaces are critical to allow marginalized people to be seen and heard. There is something very special about connecting over shared interests and struggles.” In the summer of 2017, Katie Blackburn, a council member at the bicycle collective Free Ride Pittsburgh, was putting a new set of pedals on their bike during open shop hours when they were approached by an older male shop user. The man, who Blackburn had never met, proclaimed that they had chosen the wrong pedals. Knowing this not to be the case, Blackburn brushed off the gratuitous comment and continued to service their bike. Shortly after, Blackburn momentarily walked away from their bike and across the shop. It was during this time that the man took the pedals off Blackburn’s bike without their permission.

Women and queer cyclists utilize Free Ride Pittsburgh’s shop during its weekly Women and Queer Night. Current Photo by Annabelle Hanflig.


Katie Blackburn, council member of Free Ride Pittsburgh, helps diagnose a problem with a shopgoer’s mountain bike. Current Photo by Annabelle Hanflig.

“I felt very violated. I was frustrated,” Blackburn said. “I was like ‘I don’t feel safe in this space. I can’t do what I needed to do’ which to me was build this bike. I now had to watch what other people were doing.” Free Ride Pittsburgh had been hosting a weekly women and queer night where riders of marginalized identities could utilize the shop without fear of falling into similar situations, but it was defunct at the time of Blackburn’s incident. The event had been on an indefinite

hiatus after its staffers decided a few years prior that they could no longer uphold the integrity of the space on top of their other responsibilities to the shop. Upon hearing what had happened to Blackburn, thenpresident Scott Kowalski was moved to reach out to Free Ride users who had experienced comparable frustrations with the intent of finding a way to forge a safe shop for all. Kowalski himself didn’t identify with the people he was trying to make space for, so he passed the power to

We’re your sexual partner. 10 | MAY 28, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT

those who did. Free Ride’s Women and Queer Night was up and running again shortly after. “For the women and queer identities, there’s a lot in society that constantly pushes one down. It’s a constant barrier of getting catcalled or getting told you don’t know what you’re doing and feeling and internalizing that,” Blackburn said. “We’re trying to create a space for those that may not otherwise have voices.” For some female and LGBTQIA bikers, the intentional creation of

-Birth Control -STD & HIV Testing -Gynecological Care -Pregnancy Testing -Emergency Contraception -PrEP & HIV Prevention -Abortion Services & Counseling

these spaces brings mixed emotions. They’re no stranger to being pushed aside, but don’t necessarily see the solution in further exclusivity. Is pushing oneself further away from those who have historically oppressed you making the kind of change necessary to tear down those very same walls? Blackburn sees these spaces as a temporary fix to a problem their community is actively working to solve. “It is a challenge because do we really want to separate that space. Our goal is not to keep it separate forever…. but we’re envisioning it as a stop gap. This is a short-term solution to integrate the population to a whole shop that is safe for everybody.” Blackburn has been a cyclist in Pittsburgh for 10 years, but a car accident left them misplaced and afraid in an environment that only ever felt like home. The space created for them at Free Ride and beyond, they said, is what got them back on the seat. “To be in a space with other queer folk and to be reminded, even though it’s been years later, I still seek that ability to connect with folks who understand that challenge, who understand that pain, that trauma, and I don’t need to explain it. I don’t need to explain myself, I don’t need to explain it to anybody else.”

933 Liberty Ave. 1.800.230.PLAN @PPWPA

Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania

JUNE 1 The Andy Warhol Museum hosts the sixth annual LGBTQ+ Youth Prom, the largest of its kind in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The event includes dinner, dancing and multiple activities. Youth ages 13-20 are permitted. Online registration is sold out, but 50 free tickets will be available at the door on a first come first serve basis. For those who want to be able to celebrate themselves fully at prom, this event is for you. 6 p.m. 117 Sandusky St. Free for the first 50 people.

JUNE 2 Workshop PGH DIY School and Assemble holds a Queer Craft Market at the Ace Hotel. Local artists and creatives will showcase their work, and attendees can enjoy refreshments and make their own DIY crafts. 10 a.m. 120 S Whitfield St. Free.

JUNE 6 Lola LeCroix hosts the Wheels and Heels Drag Show Benefit presented by Lyft Pittsburgh in partnership with Pittsburgh Pride. The show features performers such as Sharon Needles, Dixie Surewood, Danyel Vasquez and Anna Steezia. Come out for a night of fun and celebration. Lyft Pittsburgh will match all tips with donations to Proud Haven Pittsburgh. 8 p.m. 5801 Ellsworth Avenue. Free with reservation. Wheelsandheels. AIDS Free Pittsburgh holds their Too Hot for July free concert on the patio of the Ace Hotel. Start your Pride celebration with performances by Leikeli47, moon baby, HUNY and more artists. A 90s inspired Vogue Dance Battle is open to all with a $350 cash prize. Free HIV and STD testing will also be provided with healthcare professionals available to answer questions about sexual health.

Workshop PGH DIY School holds a First Friday Pride Party & Queer Art Show featuring local makers. A fundraiser will be held for Proud Haven Pittsburgh with a dance party following. Refreshments and food trucks will be on site. 6 p.m. 5135 Penn Ave. Free. or 6 p.m. 120 S Whitfield St. Free. facebook. com/AIDSFreePittsburgh To begin Arcade Comedy Theater’s month of highlighting queer members of the comedy community, improv and Sketch Comedy team babyGRAND builds a Gay Fantasia musical based off audience suggestions. Nik Nemec will also perform stand-up comedy. 8 p.m. 943 Liberty Ave. $12.

JUNE 7 Walk the Moon kicks off the first night of Pride Rocks PGH concert events by Pittsburgh Pride. Toni Braxton headlines Pride Rocks PGH for the second night with opening act Rina Sawayama. 7:30 p.m. 9th & Ft. Duquesne Blvd. $39 general admission, $69 weekend package. People’s Pride - Pride of the Ages starts their weekend-long events with an art exhibit and party with artists DJ Amos, DJ Scotty and the Mayday Brass Band. The event promises both historical and contemporary art from queer Pittsburgh, as well as homemade empanadas for sale. 7 p.m. 5120 Penn Ave. sisterspgh. org/calendar

JUNE 8 Pittsburgh Pride will hold PrideFest on a bridge this summer for the first time. Vendors, food stands, crafts and other entertainment will be available, as well as free STI and HIV testing. The event begins Saturday and continues on Sunday, June 9. 12 p.m. Andy Warhol Bridge & Ft. Duquesne Blvd. Free. pittsburghpride. org/event People’s Pride invites members of the community to engage in a Self Care Day—Prohibition Style. Free healing workshops and tips for healthy living will be offered all day. 11 a.m. 4623 Liberty Ave. Free. People’s Pride also holds their third pride celebration focused on uplifting all intersections of the community. Registration and sponsorship fees will go towards providing safety and entertainment for the event as well as contributing to SisTersPGH’s Initiatives Black Trans Education Fund and Expanding Our Pride mini-grant. The celebration will continue through Sunday, June 9. 12 p.m. Freedom Corner. $100 minimum sponsorship.


Queen of the Arcade Schwa de Vivre performs as Liza Minelli to host the Big Gay Game Show at Arcade Comedy Theater. Audience members will be chosen to compete for prizes. 8 p.m. 943 Liberty Ave. $12. arcadecomedytheater. com/events

Pittsburgh Pride’s Equality March begins at Boulevard of the Allies. Registration to join the march is open, or watch the parade follow its path down Grant Street, Fifth Avenue and Liberty Avenue. 2:30 p.m. Blvd of the Allies. Free.

Arcade Comedy Theater also puts on Queer Folks Telling Jokes, a night of queer Pittsburgh stand-up comedians. Performers include Chrissy Costa, Joe Esch, Shannon Norman, Peggy Walkush, Helen Wildy and more. 10:30 p.m. 943 Liberty Ave. $12. arcadecomedytheater. com/events

DJ Tony Moran closes out Pittsburgh Pride’s Pride Rocks PGH with a free dance party. 7 p.m. Fort Duquesne Blvd & 7th Street. Free.

JUNE 15 Nick Kochanov brings his No Good Very Bad Gay Podcast to Arcade Comedy

Theater for a live episode. Nick and other guests will discuss pride and queer pop culture, with trivia and prizes available to the audience. 8 p.m. 943 Liberty Ave. $12.

JUNE 21 Arcade Comedy Theater hosts an LGBTQBert: Improv Jam featuring queer performers of all kinds and experience. Short and long form improv scenes will be performed over the course of the night, and audience members are encouraged to BYOB. 10 p.m. 943 Liberty Ave. $7. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History holds a Celebrate Pride After Dark 80s themed event. Attendees must be 21 and older and can participate in a scavenger hunt, learning about museum exhibits and talking with representatives from PERSAD, Allies for Health and Wellbeing and other organizations. Signatures are welcomed on a 2020 Pride scarf that will be given to Dippy the Dinosaur. 6 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave. $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

JUNE 28 Pittsburgh Pride and the Delta Foundation celebrate 50 years since the Stonewall Riots with a mural by artist Leonardo Moleiro at the intersection of Ellsworth and Maryland. 6 p.m. Ellsworth Ave. & Maryland Ave., Shadyside. Free. People’s Pride protests the Delta Foundation’s involvement in Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ+ community. 5:45 p.m. 5800 Ellsworth Ave. Free. The Andy Warhol Museum hosts a screening of the documentary “Before Stonewall,” with a Q&A session conducted over Skype with co-director and producer Robert Rosenberg. The film utilizes historical footage as well as interviews. After the screening, local group Jellyfish will hold a dance party in the museum’s entrance space. The event is free with registration, and a cash bar will be available. 8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St. Free with registration. art-in-context-before-stonewall




few years ago I was at a Pirates tailgate with friends, and a woman I didn’t know asked about the small hanger tattoo on my ankle. “Is it because you love fashion?” I told her that it’s a reminder to myself of what happens when abortion is made illegal—women die. She said she didn’t know anyone who’d had an abortion. I told her that she most certainly did—one in four people with a uterus will have an abortion. We all know people who have ended a pregnancy, but many folks don’t feel safe or comfortable disclosing it because of the rhetoric, shame and hate that is ubiquitous around the subject. I’ve had an abortion. Since multiple states have passed bills that will criminalize abortions and miscarriages, it seemed like the time to be vocal about my experience. This story is not for people who think ending a pregnancy is callous or unfeeling, or those who believe that unplanned pregnancies should be carried to term to teach folks a lesson about personal responsibility. This story is for anyone who feels isolated, shamed or silenced about their personal experiences. I don’t have what some might consider a “good” abortion story. My pregnancy wasn’t the result of rape or incest. I had an abortion at about 7 weeks, too soon to tell if fetal anomalies were present or if the pregnancy might cause other complications. I was pregnant and I didn’t want to be, so I had an abortion. After working on the 2012 Obama campaign in Colorado, I was back in Pittsburgh looking for another job— and without insurance. I went to Planned Parenthood to get a refill on my birth control and a pap smear. When the nurse told me that the

routine pregnancy test I had taken came back positive, I was in absolute shock. This was impossible! While I had always been pro-abortion rights, I hadn’t thought about what I might do personally, and had been very intentional about never having to find out. This wasn’t how I was supposed to feel the first time I find out I was pregnant! I didn’t know if I wanted kids, but I knew that if I did I would want to provide my child with everything my parents gave to me and more. At that point in my life, I wasn’t even sure if my debit card was going to cover parking. The Planned Parenthood staff noted that had I come in any earlier, my pregnancy might not have even registered on a test. I was lost in an ocean of feelings, and then had a moment of clarity. “This is so amazing, I am so excited that you’re even possible,” I said to the cluster of cells in my uterus. “But I’m just not ready for you yet. Please try again in a few years.” I made the soonest available appointment for an abortion, and since it would be weeks away, I asked for information about adoption as well, thinking that since I had time I could at least look into it. My body did not react well to the pregnancy. I lost weight because I couldn’t keep food down. I was exhausted. My coworkers asked if I was on drugs because I was so out of it. I called a few adoption agencies and was dismayed to find that medical bills for prenatal care wouldn’t be covered until the seventh month. I also considered the psychological reality of carrying a baby to term—to feel them grow and kick in my stomach, to go through giving birth, to hold them in my arms only to give them away. I wouldn’t be able to do that. I never realized


how callous and offensive it is to suggest that folks with unplanned pregnancies “just choose adoption” as if that isn’t a MASSIVE fucking deal. Other than the psychological factors at play, early abortion is 14 times safer than carrying a pregnancy to term. Adoption is an alternative to parenting, not pregnancy. I had told my mom, but I didn’t want my dad to know. He was very Catholic. Like “went to the seminary and left right before becoming a priest because he didn’t think he was worthy” Catholic. My mom promised she wouldn’t tell him, and then did anyway. He told me that he knew and wanted to talk about it. I was crushed. I had made my decision, but I didn’t want him to know. He pressed the conversation—“Jessi, I want to talk about this.” He said that my mom mentioned I spoke with an adoption agency. “Dad, to be clear, if I were to do that I would give it to a gay couple.” He immediately said, “and what a blessing that would be for them.” I shook my head. “Honestly, dad, I can’t do that. I’m going to have an abortion.” He continued, “that’s your choice, and I support your decision.” “Dad, you think that this is a sin,” I replied. Without hesitation he said, “Jessi, I’ve had premarital sex. I’ve sinned in my life. God gave you free will and a conscience to choose what is right for you. I love you.” If my mom hadn’t told him, I wouldn’t have had the chance to see his grace and compassion in that moment. I went to Planned Parenthood, feeling strangely calm as I walked past the protesters. During my ultrasound, the technician asked if I wanted to look. I glanced over, and saw a blip on the screen. She said it was about the size of my pinky nail. That image was a far cry

from the gross, misleading pictures protesters held outside. I know that what I looked at had the potential to be more, but in that moment, it was the best choice for me. The peace remained. I took the first dosage of mifepristone and headed home. Driving home, I called my best friend to update him on the procedure. He commented that the tone in my voice had changed—it was the first time I sounded like myself in weeks. Like 95% of folks who have abortions, my immediate feeling was relief. The next day I took the second dose of medication, had about a day of what felt like a heavy period and that was it. But, months later, I was still dealing with the shame of even having an unplanned pregnancy. That changed one evening as I was working as a server, and one of my coworkers suspected she was pregnant. I suggested she take a pregnancy test as soon as possible, so she knew her options. She exclaimed, “just because YOU had an abortion doesn’t mean I’m going to!” The kitchen went quiet. I took a deep breath, and said loudly “Yes. I did have an abortion. That does not mean I think you should, and how dare you try to shame me for my decision.” That night, an 18-year-old woman we worked with sent me a message online. “Hey, I just wanted to say I’m glad you stood up for yourself today. I had an abortion last year, and only my boyfriend knows. Thank you.” Not everyone is in a safe space to “come out” about their abortion story, and that is valid. Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have, and if it means more folks will be comfortable sharing their truth, or feeling less alone, deal me in. I will not be shamed, and I am not alone.

Bethany Hallam (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

would listen about her transformation. It was authentic truth. Out with the old. In with the new. It was time for change in her life and she realized it was time for a change in local politics. She had a great comeback story and Pittsburghers know a helluva lot about comebacks; they practically invented them; they thrive on them. It’s as if they’re woven into the Terrible Towel receiving blanket that wraps any child born a “yinzer, n’at.” Bethany went everywhere with her boyfriend, George, or in an Uber, because she lost her driver’s license. She spoke one-on-one with residents in the doorways of their homes and in large groups. Anywhere there was a voter to talk to, Bethany was there and she told them about her life in very open terms. Her story connected with voters and on Election Day it paid

dividends and not just in precincts considered to be progressive enclaves. She didn’t win everywhere, but she earned votes everywhere. All of it added up to Hallam being the first Democratic challenger in any Allegheny County-wide election to beat an incumbent in their own party since the inception of the Home Rule Charter that formed our current structure of county government. She is also the first Democratic woman ever elected to county council’s at-large seat. Historic. Now, I am not advocating for anyone considering a run for office to do it by taking Hallam’s playbook and replicating it. She took a huge risk. Even by her own admission on Election Day, Hallam wasn’t sure she would win. But the gamble paid off. Hallam trusted that voters would connect with her if she just avoided the normal campaign bells and whistles — like spewing only slick, focusgroup tested rhetoric, or listening to “advisors” in her ear trying to mold her into their view of the cliche candidate. Instead, Bethany Hallam stuck with the one thing she knew better than anyone else. Her story.



hen you look back at Bethany Hallam’s successful campaign to unseat a 20-year incumbent Allegheny County Councilor, you can’t point out a hallmark moment when you thought, “That’s it. She’s going to win this damn thing.” There was no amazing TV ad, no scandal, no stellar debate performance in which she crushed the entrenched incumbent, John Defazio. She didn’t outspend him. Hallam barely had two nickels to rub together for the entire campaign. There’s no way that she could buy

TV time, or radio time, or pay for direct mail flyers. Bethany Hallam didn’t have a strategic gimmick up her sleeve. But what she had that her opponent didn’t was her story. As I wrote back in January, Hallam fought through opioid addiction that led to her living out of a car at an I-79 rest stop, multiple arrests and eventually, incarceration in the Allegheny County Jail. She was released after six months of detention and was dead-set against allowing those experiences to determine her path in life. She never shied away from telling anyone who




hen Julie Cantrell learned that the best way to address the lack of statewide nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community was to work for a municipal ordinance, she took action. She promptly contacted her township council. Julie lives in Peters Township, an affluent suburban community in Washington County. No rural community in all of Pennsylvania has passed such an ordinance, according to the Pennsylvania Youth Council, the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization. But Julie did more than ask. She did her research and presented the township with similar ordinances passed in Ross Township (September 2018) and Mt. Lebanon (November 2017). Mt. Lebanon is about eight miles from Peters, part of Allegheny County, and had passed the ordinance unanimously. Peters Township unanimously decided not to pursue the ordinance process, after listening to reports from the Township Manager and the Township Solicitor, John Smith of the law firm of Smith Butz LLC. It is a little baffling to think that two communities pretty similar in most ways could have such disparate experiences of discrimination— Mt. Lebanon thinks it requires unanimous support to address, and Peters thinks it requires unanimous opposition to even schedule a public hearing. “I’ve seen communities like Mt. Lebanon and others all over Allegheny County adopt protections.

It occurred to me that it would be great to see Peters Township lead the way in Washington County,” said Julie Cantrell. ”Sadly, our council didn’t agree.” The Township Manager made three points in his formal report and he was factually wrong on all three. Note: you can find the embedded video of this report and the entire meeting, including the vote, on my blog. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission issued guidance redefining sex to include sexual orientation, effectively creating statewide protections. What he didn’t say is that a guidance is very specifically not codified law, nor did he explore the caseload and resources of the State Human Relations Commission. In fact, our state government has never successfully passed a statewide right for the LGBTQ community— everything we have is either through court rulings or regulatory guidance. When the State expands the scope of the State HRC through legislation, they will also expand the resources and staffing if necessary to do these extra investigations. The guidance is a step forward, but it is in no way a substitute for local or statewide law. These types of ordinances require municipal government to investigate and enforce state and federal laws. These ordinances create new municipal laws. They are not in any way an extension of federal or state law. It is a local law that in this particular case addresses a gap in state and federal law. The ordinance will create the law and


establish a process for enforcement. No municipal government can just vote to decide to take responsibility for investigating state or federal laws. This is Local Government 101. Frankly, I was shocked that no one challenged this statement. Local government cannot create these protections so the ordinance creates a false sense of protection Since 1982, 55 Pennsylvania municipalities have created these types of ordinances. Obviously, opponents would have challenged these in court if they had the standing. The Township Solicitor concurred, referring vaguely to other reasons in his support—reasons he did not mention on the record. So Julie has asked the Township to release that report to clarify what the other reasons are. At the time of this column, the Township Manager was consulting with the Solicitor to determine if his report was a public document. As I watched the video of this particular meeting where they decided unanimously to table the matter, I was struck by the realization that some of the council members seem to think there is no discrimination in Peters Township, that this is not a problem they need to address. A few days later, a story broke about a School Board Director in the Peters Township School District sharing racist, sexist and otherwise offensive content on his social media channels. His name is William Merrell and his wife Monica Merrell serves on the Peters Township Council. She is the Councilor who stated that the Township is in compliance with expectations of nondiscrimination. Her husband has proven her wrong. At this point, it is imperative that Peters Township advocates for this ordinance take the time to educate members of Council about the realities of discrimination in the township and to correct their flawed understanding of how these ordinances actually work. When Ross Township passed their ordinance this past September,

the measure’s sponsor was challenged to explain why it was necessary given that Allegheny County’s ordinance already covered Ross. He told the Trib: “Ross residents now can file complaints directly with their municipal government and have an appointed board that is accountable to their local officials.” If Peters Township took this step of creating a Human Relations Ordinance and Commission, there would be a local government entity charged with education and outreach on inclusion and respect. Investigations could be completed more quickly on a local level and a resolution reached to strengthen the values of the local community, values that include respect, dignity, and fairness. If the council is right and incidents of discrimination are very low, the actual burden on the commission and the township would be minimal. Efforts are underway to address these matters on the state level. Multiple versions of the ordinance have been introduced in the General Assembly with bipartisan support. Julie is not taking this ‘no’ for an answer. She wants the recommendations and reports released publicly and a public hearing scheduled. She has started a Facebook page for local residents who are interested in this effort. And she’s working with key folks in nearby communities within Washington County to introduce similar ordinances on the local level. For information on how to get this process started in your municipality, contact the Pennsylvania Youth Congress.




Magician Billy Kidd photographed inside the Liberty Magic space downtown. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)




illy Kidd hasn’t always been a magician. She’s been in show business—mainly acting— since the age of 11. But she wasn’t exposed to magic until 11 years ago when she saw a street festival performance by fellow magician, Nick Nickolas. “It was literally his show that made me switch careers and go, ‘Hey, I think I’m in the wrong career, I think I need to become a magician,’” she says. Kidd’s magic residency, “Bridging the Gap,” runs from now until June 23 at Liberty

BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM Magic, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Downtown parlour magic venue. Kidd’s show—specifically designed for Liberty Magic—brings a theatrical flair to the intimate downtown venue, combining dry humor and sleight of hand magic that’s enjoyable for all ages. Most magicians are self-taught, Kidd says. At the behest of Nickolas, she picked up The Royal Road to Card Magic, a book on card tricks, and began practicing and performing on the street, just as Nickolas did.


Kidd says performing on the street was “the best education I could have given myself. And from that exposure being a street performer, people would then go, ‘Oh can I book you for this event?’ And then it kind of grew from there. Eventually, Kidd would go on to star in a variety of magic-based television shows, like Masters of Illusion on the CW, BBC’s Now You See It and the Discovery Channel series Breaking Magic. There’s little research on the percentage of professional female

magicians actively performing around the world, but a 2013 article in The Atlantic puts that number at around 3 to 8 percent. Kidd says her position helps change that statistic. “I’ve learned now that, because I’m a rare thing and in the industry, it does help younger people to see a female magician. It is, again, coming down to that exposure thing. If I never saw that magician I would have never become a magician,” she says. Kidd says women who want to

Current Comics




Best in Show By Phil Juliano

Sucks to Be an Animal

By Sienna Cittadino SYNONYM RAISIN

by Andrew Schubert

CARTOONISTS CARTOONISTS WANTED WANTED pittsburgh current is looking for local artists who would like to have their comics featured on our twice-monthly funny pages.

20 | OCT. 23, 2018 | PITTSBURGH CURRENTemail:

Nils Hanczar


Magician Billy Kidd photographed inside the Liberty Magic space downtown. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

Jinkx Monsoon .Winner of ,

“RuPaul’s Drag Race”


Thursday, July 11 at 8pm Friday, July 12 at 8pm Saturday, July 13 at 5:30 & 9pm

Liberty Magic, 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Times vary. $40-$65. 412-456-6666



“What Billy has the ability to do onstage is to bring you to a place where you stop asking, ‘How did she do that?’ And you start saying to yourself, ‘I want to see more. I want to believe. I want to be a part of what’s happening tonight,’” he says. Despite having a successful magic career, Kidd has never had a moment where she’s thought, “I’ve made it.” Instead, she focuses on the present, taking her career one day at a time. “That’s kind of how I look at my career, going, ‘If I’m still doing this tomorrow, great. If I know what to do in the next 48 hours, even better,’” she says.

pursue a career in magic shouldn’t be held back from doing so. “I don’t think it should be an issue for any other women who want to get into magic because you just do what you want to. Do what you love and whatever you’re passionate about so nothing else really matters,” she says. Along with being the first female magician-in-residence at Liberty Magic, Kidd is also the first international magician. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, says Kidd’s show brings this international experience onstage, which aligns with the Trust’s values. “We’re very much about bringing the world to this city and vice versa,” he says. According to Scott Shiller, vice president of artistic planning at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Liberty Magic producer, Kidd’s show evokes childlike wonder.

PPT.ORG 412.316.1600 Groups 10+ 412.316.8200x704


Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena’s “Los Trompos”



ow in its 60th year, the Three Rivers Arts Festival is practically synonymous with summer in Pittsburgh. From June 7 to 16, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust brings musical acts, art shows and special exhibits to Downtown for all to enjoy without any admission fees. “When you talk to Pittsburghers, almost everybody knows about the Three Rivers Arts Festival,” says Sarah Aziz, festival director. “They’re like ‘Oh yeah, we go every year.’” “It’s really become part of the fabric of the city—it’s sort of the unofficial kickoff to summer, it’s the joke about the rain—it’s really part of our city at this point.” So while it’s become a part of the routine as sure and true as pierogi races at Bucs games or the Potato Patch fries at Kennywood, it should not be taken for granted that each year world-class art is made available to Pittsburgh, completely free of charge. But some things have changed over the festival’s 60-year tenure. It started as a small outdoor arts show put on by the Women’s Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art in 1960. A few years later it moved Downtown and grew and grew until it became the largest multidisciplinary show of art in the region. Three Rivers Arts Fest has hosted more than 10,000 artists, from legendary musicians like Ella Ftizgerald, Smokey Robinson and Phillip Glass, to recently successful acts like Norah Jones, the Avett Brothers and the Black

Keys. Renowned writers like Allen Ginsberg and Spalding Gray have taken part in the festival, as well as visual artists like Keith Haring and Nam June Paik. This year’s festival continues the legacy of hosting diverse talents. The list of musicians performing across three stages is padded with internationally touring bands like Nahko and Medicine For The People, Grammy winners like India.Arie and Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives, and the winner of NPR’s 2017 Tiny Desk Concert Contest, Tank and the Bangas. Local acts like Brittney Chantele, Lily Harvey, Wild Blue Yonder and Jordan Montgomery will also be performing. Aziz says that when they are choosing artists and performers for the festival each year, there are a few main priorities that they take into account. “We feel really strongly about inclusion and diversity, and I don’t use those terms lightly,” she says. “We really want people to feel like they belong at the Three Rivers Arts Festival and we feel like the best way to do that is to program lots of different musicians and artists throughout the ten days so that people find someone that they love—that they identify with.” The visual art exhibits include Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena’s “Los Trompos”—colorful spinning tops woven in a traditional Mexican style that festivalgoers can play on at Point State Park. Compagnie


Furinkaï brings their performance piece “Origami,” where dancer Satchie Noro defies gravity on a 40-foot shapeshifting shipping container, from France to Pittsburgh for its U.S. debut. A couple of the visual art exhibits selected for this year take on a theme of looking at the past as a nod to the festival’s history in honor of its 60th anniversary. The theme for the 2019 Juried Visual Art Exhibition is “Remember Me.” In this exhibition, open all ten days of the festival on the fourth floor of the Trust Arts Education Center, 52 works of art by 39 artists interpret what the theme of remembrance means to them. The blind jury chose the featured creations from over 500 submissions by 300 artists. “We also strive for that balance of really fine craftsmanship and accessible art,” Aziz says. “So we want to really balance the fact that art is for everyone and it doesn’t have to be a high-brow, stuffy, uptight experience that’s only for certain people, but we also want to highlight and honor the craftsmanship that’s put into the art around the festival. ” A theme like “Remember Me” gives people something universally human to connect to, whether they frequent galleries or only see art once a year at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. The other visual art project that deals with looking back also requires us to look forward. Local artist Toby Flatey is creating “The Pittsburgh Time Capsule.” “I thought it might be interesting for the future people of Pittsburgh to get an insight into what the average, everyday person thought about things, because we’re going to have all kinds of records of celebrities and politicians and what they think about what’s going, but we don’t hear a lot about what the everyday [person] on the street might be thinking about,” Flatey says. The 8-foot tall booth will be open at Gateway Center Plaza from noon to 9 p.m. each day of the festival. People will be welcome to enter

the booth and film a one-minutelong video, telling the people of Pittsburgh in the year 2120 whatever they wish to tell them. Flatey is saving the videos—of which there could be as many as 2,000—in different mediums and formats, including on a type of CD called an M-disc that is guaranteed to last for a thousand years. “Right now we live in a purely digital age as far as recording things, and my concern was having something that’s still going to be a readable format and a common format one hundred years from now,” Flatey says. The videos will take some time to compile, edit and archive so Flatey says the capsule won’t be officially sealed until 2020, putting the opening date in 2120. There will be two capsules for safe-keeping— one entrusted to the Mayor’s Office of Pittsburgh and the other with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Upon entering the booth, participants will type their names into an iPad and check a box that indicates whether they want their video to be unseen until 2120, or if it can be included in a montage that Flatey will create in the much nearer future. He says it was important to him that there be the option that people’s entries to the capsule be kept entirely secret if they wanted them to be, for now. “It’s almost like one-part time capsule, one-part confessional booth in a way,” says Flatey. “However they want to be represented in the future, I wanted that to be the basis of this whole project.” Flatey will be the first and last person to record a video in the booth. In a way, he’ll be hosting the 2120 exhibit centered around the capsule. As people exit the booth, they’ll be given a momento postcard with their entry number and the day they filmed their video—a “save the date” for an event that none of them will be attending, but that will bring crowds to the Three Rivers Arts Festival a hundred years from now.



ocal poet Corrine Jasmin’s new collection takes the reader on a journey with her through her 20s. She writes about her own alienation and identity, about being a woman, about being black and about being queer. At the same time, Jasmin refuses to be limited by those terms. “It’s just part of holding on to my identity and not wavering. But I’m not out to just create black art, or queer art. I feel like there’s this idea in the air where I only have to write about race issues or I only have to write about discrimination of women. I just write about my actual experience,” Jasmin told the Current. Jasmin is also a filmmaker, photographer and screenwriter. Wearing so many creative hats, she wanted to drop anchor and put a cohesive collection of her work together. The work is honest, bracing and daring. It’s title, Tread, is, like most of her work, both a literal truth and an elegant metaphor.

“I’m actually not that great of a treader in real life,” Jasmin laughed. “I grew up on Lake Erie, but I never found myself able to tread water. I can swim pretty well, but I’ve always struggled with [treading].” In 2017, USA Today published a study that ranked Erie, Pennsylvania as the worst city to live for African Americans, based on income, unemployment and other economic markers. “It’s not a place where black people thrive,” Jasmin said. Living in the inner-city, a city where black median income was just 43% of white median income, and busing to the white suburbs for school was a real push-pull for the young writer. The adversity shaped her voice. “I spent a lot of time being ashamed of my identity and also resonating with my identity.” The difficulty and disaffection of growing up female, queer and black are prominent themes in some of the

poems. The ones she wrote after the 2016 election as a “way to get those things out” of her body are nakedly political. But most of the work is deeply personal. She believes her candor can pave a road to connect with the reader. She writes intimately about family and loss and heartbreak. She brings freshness to writing about beauty and inhabiting space in that black, female body. She also explores her struggles with anxiety and depression. Creating art has always been a way to understand and confront her experiences and her struggles, pain and triumphs. In her poem, ‘Are you Still Watching Ep. 3,’ she writes, “The scar on my wrist holds. Very sorry for the scare. I was trying to scare myself. My inner me. Championing for me. Screaming at me. Crying for me. At me. With me.” The aim is always to be completely honest in her work. And that honesty, she believes, is what

creates a universal human language. “Even when I’m not explicit, sometimes it’s me coming out of depressive bouts or coming out of an anxious episode, or me entering them or what’s causing them. People who have just experienced their first heartbreak … all of those human moments. Once you recognize a human moment -- it can’t be written for one particular person.” Jasmin will read at Alphabet City on May 31st. Her reading will be followed by a moderated question and answer session. The event is part of City of Asylum’s ‘’Stories That Heal’ programming in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Keystone. ‘Stories That Heal’ is a monthly event featuring local writers who address different aspects of mental illness.


7 p.m. Alphabet City, 40 W. North Ave. North Side. Free with registration.



We take some of the TOP Pennsylvania MMJ card RUMORS and find out whether they are...MYTH, TRUTH or...WELL, ITS COMPLICATED


Only my Primary Care Physician can legally certify me.

While this is a viable route, most PCP’s are not registered to recommend MMJ. There are a number of high quality certification clinics which specialize in certifications only. These physicians do not take over your overall care, but simply help you through the process of becoming a certified patient.


Call 888-316-9085 or visit PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAY 28, 2019 | 21






Corporate Supporter

Festival Supporters

Media Partners


co-presented with the Pittsburgh Dance Council The bold collaboration between Satchie Noro and Silvain Ohl, inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding, pairs a monumental, 40-foot shape-shifting shipping container and a gravity-defying dancer with the backdrop of Point State Park’s Fountain.

LOS TROMPOS BY ESRAWE + CADENA Drawing inspiration from the form of a spinning top, the colorful, threedimensional, larger-than-life works are woven in a traditional Mexican style, made complete with human interaction.








FLIP THE FLOP BY OCEAN SOLE AFRICA Ocean Sole Africa turns flip-flops into art and functional products, raising awareness and sending a message about how we can help our planet, and people, through art.



Marvin Wynn. Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk.



script always pleases Wynn. “That’s the most exciting part, because there are some times where he’ll make a change to something and I’ll be like ‘oh, that works better,’” Wynn said. Wynn has worked in information technology since the late 1990s, and sees his comics work as somewhere in the middle of a second job and a hobby. “It is a business, so you have to somewhat treat it like work,” Wynn said. “But if I start treating it more like work than a hobby, then it becomes a time sink for me, because then I have to schedule time to do it and I just want to be able to do it on

a whim.” Wynn had booths dedicated to The Edge at Steel City Comic Con and Three Rivers Comic Con this year, which greatly helped the series, he said. Some customers bought comics at one convention and then bought more at the next. Meeting fans supportive of his comics at these conventions made him feel great. After pouring so much energy into the comic series, he said, it felt nice to get some love. “It’s exciting,” Wynn said. “You spend a lot of time creating something, and it’s just nice to know that people appreciate it.”



arvin Wynn read a lot of comics in the 1990s. He loved titles like X-Men and a series from Image Comics, a company founded in that decade, but they left him wanting more. “Some of the things that were coming up in those books I didn’t really like. I didn’t think it ever came to a really good conclusion,” Wynn said. “So I said, ‘okay, let me see what I can create on my own.’” With Wynn’s comic The Edge, a continuing series following genetically enhanced characters that debuted in 2012, he hopes to add his own spin to the storytelling style established by the action-packed comics of the ’90s. The Edge is written by Wynn, a 44-year-old Westview resident and drawn by Phillipines-based artist Mark VuycanKiat. It has gained a solid social media following, raking in more than 1900 likes on Facebook. The series reached its ninth issue this month, which concludes the “Reign of Chaos” story arc. The book boasts a cast of characters with varied superpowers thanks to their exposure to the titular “edge,” a mysterious substance that genetically alters those exposed to it. The Revenant, a central character introduced in the first issue, serves

as a villain of sorts who wants to take revenge on the people for loading his body with the dangerous compound. He faces a team of ostensible heroes also enhanced by the substance, including Mystic, the leader, who wields an energyblasting sword. There’s also the young Bolt, who lacks strong control of his own electrical powers. Interim, another team member, can wield portals and see five to 10 seconds into the future. Wynn has been building a story with these characters that he hopes to continue for a long time. He originally envisioned the story ending after 25 issues, but now sees it lasting as long as readers will allow. “It’s that longform storytelling where I’m not giving you the whole entire gamut of everything up front,” he said. “I’m pacing it out and letting the reader decide on what they want to absorb, what they want to put in the back of their mind for later and then only giving them little bits of nuggets of what’s coming.” Wynn communicates back and forth with his artist over email and Facebook Messenger, he said. The two bounce ideas off each other as they collaborate. Getting the initial pencil art back after he sends out a




6:00 P.M. TO 7:30 P.M.

LECTURE: HISTORIC RAILS TO RECREATION TRAILS PRESENTER: MATTHEW HYLAND HOW TRACKS COME BACK This talk presents an overview of the national rails to trails movement with a particular focus on how the program fosters historic preservation. Through select case studies, Matthew Hyland will present various challenges of utilizing historic railroad alignments for recreational trails. The talk will highlight tensions between memory, heritage, and history that emerge in this development of our usable past. About the presenter: Matthew G. Hyland is an experienced architectural historian, with expertise in historic preservation practice and public history education. He has completed numerous Section 110 and Section 106 above-ground compliance projects, intensive-level historic resource surveys, National Register eligibility evaluations, criteria of effects determinations, preservation treatments, and mitigation programs.


744 REBECCA AVENUE - WILKINSBURG, PA 15221 412-471-5808


Pittsburgh based hip-hop artist Jordan Montgomery (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)




t feels like a very long time since Jordan Montgomery released his 2016 record, Driving While Black. But the record itself is easy to remember. From the bold album art—a black and white photo of a group of young black men dancing on a defaced cop car—to the lyrical subject matter, Montgomery’s superb debut was a stirring indictment of unjust, racist systems. But it also pivoted justified rage into a celebration of black culture and black lives. This week, Montgomery releases his sophomore record, Dark Horse.

BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM This release, he says, is characterized by his personal and artistic growth. “It’s very different from Driving While Black because [that record] was very focused on that subject matter of what was going on in America, and what’s still going on,” he says. “Police brutality and race issues and things like that, and basically how it felt to be young and black in America at that time.” Montgomery was just 21 when Driving While Black came out and Dark Horse, he says, showcases his creative progress over the past four years. “Growing as an artist

musically, trying new sounds, taking my current sound and [adding] a more modern twist on it,” he explains. The title references Montgomery’s sense of being, if not a rap game underdog per se, than at least an artist who isn’t yet totally understood. Dark Horse opens with an introduction addressing doubters, skeptics and critics who might claim his tracks don’t slap “that much.” “It’s just the intro, man,” he promises coolly over a minimal piano line. “Let y’all know what I’m

comin’ with this time around.” “After hearing Driving While Black and other singles I have, people started to get the idea of the type of artist I was, and a particular sound associated with me,” he says. “Like, this traditional hip-hop sound, which I love. And that is me, but I just kinda wanted to show people that I have more to offer. “I think people started to think of me as a one-trick pony, in a way,” he adds. “At least that’s how I felt.” Montgomery’s interest in hip hop was a natural extension of a childhood love of reading and


artists Livefromthecity, Lucas Akira and Jaybee Jackson joined together in an effort to function more professionally as a label. “It just made sense because we all worked together already, we might as well make it official and just stand as a unified front.” Montgomery says. “It’s just a natural chemistry.” Just a few months ago, Driving While Black Records signed a licensing and distribution deal with Pittsburgh-based, nationally-focused Misra Records. Along with Dark Horse and Livefromthecity’s recent release, Lightwork, the crew plans for a busy summer of performance and recording.

Pittsburgh based hip-hop artist Jordan Montgomery (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

writing. “I used to go to the library as a kid and just have stacks and stacks of books and fly through them and then return them and fly through a whole new stack of books,” he says. For high school he attended CAPA, the Creative and Performing Arts magnet school, with a concentration in writing. It was there that his social consciousness was born. He was a freshman when fellow CAPA student Jordan Miles was brutally beaten by three white police officers while he was on his way to his grandmother’s house in Homewood. Organizers from Art’s Greenhouse, Carnegie Mellon University’s hip hop-focused afterschool program, reached out to CAPA to see if any students there might be interested in dealing with the Miles incident through writing or rap. Montgomery jumped at the chance, writing and recording his first ever track about police brutality. Not long after he met rapper and activist Jasiri X and got involved with the social justice-focused hip-hop collective 1Hood, which nurtured Montgomery’s work and gave him a network of artists, many of whom are still close friends and collaborators.

Montgomery is still deeply invested in social justice issues, and always endeavors to use his art to help create a better city and a better world. Like Driving While Black, Dark Horse is a bold, confident record. But it’s more inwardly focused, dealing with past pain and personal failings (“Bad Habits), as well as success (“Level Up”) and the endless hustle (“The Come Up”). “I want to show people that while those things are important to me, talking about issues, I’m an artist that can do more fun records, or love records, or [talk about] more personal things,” he says. The spirit of community evident on his first record, though, lives on with Driving While Black Records. When Driving While Black came out, Montgomery says, he started selling Driving While Black shirts and hats, which were popular even with people who hadn’t heard the record. “And I was like, OK, we might have something here to promote as a brand.” Launching a label of some kind, he thought, might be a good way to do that. At first it was just a vehicle for Montgomery’s various singles. Then, earlier this year, Pittsburgh-based


It’s the kind of collective approach Montgomery wants to see more of in Pittsburgh as—he hopes—the city’s reputation as one with a great hip-hop scene grows. “I think a lot of artists are taking it on themselves instead of waiting on booking agents and venues and publications.” As a result, he says, venues and booking agents who might otherwise be inhospitable to hip-hop acts will want in on the action. “So I think we just kind of continue to be on our DIY stuff to break down these walls. We can really make a name for ourselves.”



6:00 P.M. TO 7:30 P.M.

LECTURE: LISTING YOUR HOUSE IN THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES PRESENTER: JESSE BELFAST Have you ever wondered about what it means—or what it would take—to get your house or a building listed in the National Register of Historic Places? Do you know the potential benefits of National Register listing? Are you interested in pursuing National Register designation for your house, but unsure of the procedural requirements? About the presenter: Jesse Belfast is an architectural historian at Michael Baker International, where he is involved in numerous aspects of historic preservation through National Register-designation of buildings and management of mitigation processes around real estate projects involving historic buildings.


744 REBECCA AVENUE - WILKINSBURG, PA 15221 412-471-5808

David Sickmen far right and Hackensaw Boys. Photo by: John Smith




n the 20 years since the band was formed, the Hackensaw Boys have certainly gone through its share of changes. The band’s sound is the first thing most longtime fans might take note of. Once a band solidly rooted in traditional-style bluegrass music, the Hackensaw Boys have, over time, developed a solid folk sound all while keeping its musical roots planted firmly in the soil that it grew out of. The other major alteration to the band’s fabric over the years has come in the form of personnel changes. Since the band was

BY CHARLIE DEITCH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT EDITOR CHARLIE@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM founded in 1999, 25 different players have rotated in and out of the band’s primary lineup. In fact, the band has only one founding member remaining in the group, while at the same time not having one person in the group who has been involved for all 20 years. “This band has definitely gone through a lot of adversity and still managed to keep its chin up,” laughs David Sickmen, the band’s guitarist, frontman and lone founding member. Born in Charlottesville, Va., the group still calls the state home despite spending a lot of the year touring the U.S. and Europe.

In June, the band will release a five-cut EP, A Fireproof House of Sunshine, featuring its current lineup of Sickmen, Caleb Powers, Chris Stevens, Beau Dodson and Thomas Olivier. The songs on the new record, the first since 2016’s full-length Charismo, find the band in the Hackensaw sweet spot—soulful, uptempo tunes with ample doses of rootsy folk, like the Dylan-esque “Late Night Kitchen” and the more bluegrassy “You Act like My Friend.” But as good as the record is, it almost didn’t happen. In January 2018, longtime fiddle-player and

singer Ferd Moyse decided, along with percussionist Brian Gorby, to leave the band. While not an original member, Moyse had been a huge part of the band since 2004 as a musician, vocalist and collaborator. “When Ferd left, it was pretty terrifying, really,” Sickmen says. “I didn’t know he was thinking about leaving the band to spend more time at home. So I really had to ask myself if I wanted to continue to carry the name. But I wasn’t ready to stop playing. I wanted to continue going out to play and evolve Hackensaw Boys-type music.” It should come as no surprise


that Sickmen decided to once again reshuffle the lineup and stay on the road. He left the band in 2006. In 2010, the band’s lineup was about to call it quits. Sickmen realized that he wasn’t ready to see the group come to an end. He talked to guys like Moyse, who were happy to keep playing together if Sickmen was going to come back. It was a fitting solution—Sickmen didn’t leave the band because he wanted to, but because he had to. “To be honest with you, I had a nervous breakdown,” Sickmen says. He was 37 at the time, experiencing depression and extreme anxiety. The mental fatigue was partially a product of a long life of pressures on the road as a touring musician. But it was more than that. “I think it was more a culmination of things that were going on with me from childhood on. It’s not something I ever expected, but when it hit, I got a crash course in depression. People think of depression as sadness but it’s more than that. I was in a dark cloud and I found myself looking around in my own mind.” He didn’t seek treatment, instead choosing some level of selfmedication. Eventually he met his current wife—they’ve been together for 15 years—and started to figure out how to cope with, or at least get through, the tough times. “I’ll never forget that time in my life,” Sickmen says. “And to this day, I still fight anxiety and get sad from time to time. But that’s to be expected. It’s a sad world.” The world’s sadness hit home for Sickmen nearly two years ago when a large group of white nationalists staged a demonstration in his hometown of Charlottesville. On the second day of protests, a peaceful counter-protester was killed when she was struck by a car that an altright protester drove into a crowd. “That situation devastated me as a human being and as a person who grew up in and loves that city,” Sickmen says. “We were playing a show in Virginia Beach when we heard what happened and it was hard to even think straight.”

Sickmen says he’s a political person and that those beliefs do come out in the band’s music, but not overtly. He chooses instead to “sneak it in in small doses.” “I don’t like to preach about it, but I feel that artists should be political. But you have to do it subtly,” Sickmen says. “During the George Bush years, we were playing at the Ryman Auditorium [in Nashville] and I made a crack about one of the president’s policies. A guy yells back at me from the audience, ‘Shut up and sing your songs!’” The balance can be especially hard to find for bands like the Hackensaw Boys. In addition to their own political beliefs, they have fans from all over the political spectrum because of the type of music they play. “Ultimately, I think my job is to bring our fans together,” Sickmen says. “I’m well aware that in our audience is a guy who drove to the show in a pickup truck sporting a sticker that reads, ‘The South Will Rise Again,’ as much as I recognize that maybe by listening to our music, they’ll let their guard down a little and listen to what we’re writing and maybe some of that will make a difference.” The Hackensaw Boys are sure to see a diverse audience when they hit town May 31 for their latest Pittsburgh show. The band has come through here many times and the upcoming show is going to be a treat for fans. Originally scheduled at the newly remodeled Thunderbird Cafe, the venue isn’t quite ready, so the show has been moved to the Roxian in McKees Rocks. Admission is free, something Sickmen is excited about. “I was really looking forward to getting back to the Thunderbird and seeing the changes,” Sickmen says. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve had some legitimately magical experiences in that room. “But I’m also excited about playing this free show in a new venue. Our goal is to pack the house and have a good time.”


the youngsters say, “off the chain.” Squad members Beau Young Prince and RecoHavoc also take the stage. 7 p.m. 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $22.


Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives (Photo: Alysse Gafkjen)



MAY 29

Bodega is a punk-tinged art-rock five-piece out of Brooklyn, New York which has been touring heavily since the release of its 2018 fulllength, Endless Scrolls. The group hits Babyland tonight for their first-ever Pittsburgh show. Bodega is a high-energy, socially conscious band perfect for all the bitchers/moaners out there who whine, “there’s no good rock music anymore.” Fellow NYCers, GUSTAF opens along with Pittsburgh’s own Late. 9 p.m. 460 Melwood Ave., Polish Hill.

MAY 31

During the neo-traditional country/ honky-tonk resurgence of the mid1990s, some of the most memorable bands that made a spalsh were those that had a unique sound and a big stage presence; think BR549 and Two Dollar Pistols. That’s the feeling you get listening to Milwaukee’s own Beaumont James and the Wild Claims (with Pittsburgh’s own Rob Collier). Their 2018 debut, Try Every Trick, follows the classic honky-tonk formula with a fiddle, a steel guitar and weepy lead guitar that makes you cry over that long-ago break up

with your fourth-grade girlfriend. But while there’s the nod to the old, it’s a modern take on a classic genre. Although with song titles like “Whisky will you Miss Me.” and “I Don’t Think I Mind When you Don’t Come Home,” you know it’s authentic. With Pittsburgh’s Chet Vincent and the Big Bend. 9:30 p.m. The Park House, 403 E. Ohio St., North Side. Free.

When you strike up a conversation with your average music fan about Van Halen, the auto-response is usually something like, “Eddie Van Halen is a goddamned genius.” And although he’ a great guitarist, he might be one of the worst bandleaders/ businessmen on the planet. Because if he truly were a genius, he never would have given frontman Sammy Hagar and bassist Mike Anthony the heave-ho. Fortunately, Eddie’s ridiculous personnel changes led to the band Sammy Hagar and The Circle. Fronted by the 71-year-old Hagar, The Circle is a 1980s hard-rock fan’s wet dream. Anthony plays bass, Jason Bonham is on the drums and Vic Johnson, longtime Hagar collaborator, formerly of the Busboys, is on lead guitar. The band plays Highmark Stadium tonight to promote their debut Album, Space Between. Aside from playing new songs, you can also catch them playing the

best of Hagar, including tunes from his Van Halen days. Night Ranger opens, and while they haven’t done anything new, they still have “Sister Christian” and that’s enough! Tickets start at $55 because, of course, they would. 7 p.m. 510 W. Station Square Drive, South Side. $55-95.50.


When fans of traditional country music start naming legends, Marty Stuart isn’t probably one of the first dozen or so names you’ll hear. And, that’s a shame. Stuart has been one of the most prolific touring musicians in this country and he’s been doing it since the 1970s. At the age of 14, he went on tour with the great bluegrass musician, Lester Flatt. In the 1980s he played with Johnny Cash and even married Cash’s daughter before striking out on his own. His 1991 record, Tempted, is still one of my favorites today. He’s no stranger to Pittsburgh but tonight he plays the Three Rivers Arts Festival with his longtime band, The Fabulous Superlatives. 7:30 p.m. TRAF Main Stage, Point State Park. Free.


There’s a really good chance you’ve never heard of Memphis-bred rapper Xavier Wulf. A recent story on influential Memphis musicians in his hometown Daily Memphian, though, cited him as an example of the folks who helped the city’s hip-hop scene grow under the radar. He and his clique of performers are known as the Hollow Squad and their tour of the same name goes off tonight at the Rex Theater. Wulf built his career online, underground. According to the aforementioned article, “He serves as ruler of an underworld in the SoundCloud universe, akin to a dark web music merchant.” Aside from music, he also has a full clothing line, which means the merch table should be as

The Circle: Sammy Hagar (center front), Vic Johnson, Mike Anthony, Jason Bonham




Another family-owned spot, Page’s has been on the South Side for 68 years. Sure, they have great soft serve and Arctic Swirls, but are you really making the most of a trip to Page’s if you’re not getting a sundae? The Nancy B’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae brings together the scrumptious warm cookies from the Homestead bakery and cold, creamy vanilla soft serve. The Yinzer Sundae features blondies from Pastries A-La-Cart in Pleasant Hills and hot caramel. And let’s not forget the Raspberry Almond Torte, Hot Cinnamon Bun, Strawberry Shortcake and Hot Apple Dumpling sundaes, too.


A vegan blueberry and mango soft-serve swirl at Millie’s Bakery Square pop-up. (Photo by Haley Frederick)

SWEET TREATS A GUIDE TO PITTSBURGH ICE CREAM BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MANAGING EDITOR HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM Look, when it comes to ice cream, you can’t really go wrong. But in our humble opinion, some shops stand out in certain categories. Here’s where we think you should go for the best experience in your desired medium of ice cream consumption. You can disagree, but let’s not scream over ice cream.


This family-owned ice cream shop serves homemade ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt. Their recipes are spot-on and the flavors are fantastic. Antney’s always has chocolate, vanilla and strawberry to cater to those who want the classics, but they rotate between more than 100 others for the 13 remaining scoop selections they offer each day. These unique options include varieties like Glazed Donut, Hot Chocolate, Tiramisu, Ice Cream Sandwich and Sesame Honey Brittle. Every time you visit Antney’s, you’re sure to see something you haven’t seen before.


We all know Millie’s for their delightful scoop shops in Shadyside and Downtown, but this summer they’re introducing a new popup called Summer of Soft-Serve. The new spot, which will stay open through October, is serving up swirls of homemade soft-serve—both vegan and dairy flavors are available each day. Put it into a classic hot fudge or tin roof sundae, add toppings to a regular cone or make it into a float with Millie’s fresh lemonade. It’s a fun, colorful atmosphere with picnic tables perfect for summer evenings. 32 | MAY 28, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT

The first all-vegan ice cream parlor in Pennsylvania, Sugar Spell Scoops is the place to go for plant-based or dairy-free folks in need of their ice cream fix. Using fresh cashew, hemp and nut milks, Sugar Spell is able to make their scoops satisfyingly creamy. The flavor lineup changes each week, but expect creative creations like Cosmic Brownie, Carrot Cake and Freckled Mint. Their spring hours are limited to Friday through Sunday, but expanded summer hours are on their way.


The Klavons first opened their apothecary and ice cream shop in 1923. It closed in 1979, and re-opened in 1999 as a soda fountain. Now, nearly 100 years after it started, Klavon’s is a time capsule of the traditional ice cream parlor experience. Picturesque sundaes are served in tall, elegant glasses with a swirl of whipped cream and a cherry on top. Klavon’s is also known to offer up over-the-top milkshakes and classic floats, all made with their homemade ice cream.


Leona’s started selling their ice cream sandwiches in 2012. Not only are they making unique flavors like Malt Honeycomb and Black Sesame, they’re also using a unique process that allows them to make real dairy ice cream with no lactose. A natural enzyme breaks down the lactose, making their ice cream safe for those with sensitivities to enjoy. Leona’s doesn’t have a shop—instead, their sandwiches are stocked in stores, coffee shops and restaurants across Pittsburgh and beyond. A complete list of where you can find them is available on leonaspgh. com.


Using quality ice cream from Washington County’s Rivendale Farms, The Milkshake Factory creates decadent handspun shakes. The South Side location opened in 1978 and was revamped to focus on shakes in 2003. Since then, they’ve opened up locations in Downtown, Oakland and East Liberty, too. Classic flavors like Strawberry and Cookies & Cream are available in regular and vegan varieties. And a new Lemon Meringue Pie shake is in shops this summer.

Breakfast Salad, garlic toast, and coffee from Bitter Ends Garden. (Photo by Haley Frederick)

Kayleigh Dumas at Bitter Ends Garden and Luncheonette. (Photo by Haley Frederick)




hen Kayleigh Dumas and I decide that we’re doing breakfast in Bloomfield, the obvious choice is Bitter Ends Garden and Luncheonette at 4613 Liberty Ave. I’ve been looking at their doughnut-of-the-day posts on Instagram for weeks at this point. You order at the counter. Dumas and I both go for coffee, garlic toast and the Breakfast Salad. It’s braised lentils, griddled potatoes and turnips, lettuce, onions, with optional sausage (which we opt for), all topped with an egg sunny-side up. I also order the doughnut of the day, because duh. The doughnut is a more bready, old-fashioned consistency and the flavor is rhubarb thyme crunch. It’s weird in a good way. The place has a kind of genuine quirk and whimsy. The more you look around, the more little details you spot—googly eyes on the creamer and the water, a tiny T-rex in a succulent by the register. You pick your own coffee mug from shelves anchored onto the front of the counter. Dumas goes for the biggest one she can spot. I pick one with a

drawing of a little girl in a meadow, which I realize says “Mom, You’re A Wish Come True” on the other side after we sit down at the table. We’re lucky to get one. Bitter Ends Garden is small but mighty. Inside, there is seating for about 20. On nice days, like today, there are tables outside to expand the real estate. But Bitter Ends isn’t the kind of place that gives you three times the amount of food you actually need and then you sit there for an hour trying to shove as much of it into your mouth-hole as possible before you explode. The portions are smaller, because Bitter Ends is all about the quality of the ingredients, which they grow on their farm (herbs, greens, etc.) and make themselves (bread, sausage, etc.) whenever possible. Dumas’ review of the food is as follows: “What are these? Lentils? They’re delightful. Everything here is so fresh.” I must say, I agree. I could eat this garlic toast for days. Dumas describes herself as “newish” to comedy. She started doing

stand up a year and a half ago, and took the stand up class at Arcade Comedy Theater. Then she went to open mics. “You go through that process of [the stand ups] not knowing if you’re going to stay, so no one talks to you for a couple of months,” she laughs. “And now all of my friends are in stand up and they’re great humans.” Like the proverbial smart kid that goes to an Ivy League school, when you start out in comedy, Dumas says you realize pretty quickly that a lot of people are “the funny one” in their friend group. “Everyone goes through that in the first six months,” Dumas says. “You’re like, ‘Am I even funny? Why am I here?’” She recently started an open mic at The Yard in Shadyside on Thursday nights at 7:30. It’s in a trial phase to see how it’ll work out. “It’s definitely been a learning

experience,” Dumas says. “Hosting is a whole different skillset and I give anyone who does that every week so much credit.” Gathering both comics and an audience has its challenges, but she’s hoping that it builds up as the word gets out that there’s a new mic in Shadyside. I ask her if she has any tips for people that come to her open mic or any others. Number one is be respectful—of the host, of the other comics, of the venue. Number two is obey the light (i.e. respect the clock). And number three is to sit and watch. It’s the best way to learn.


performs June 7 at Arcade Comedy Theater as a part of “Queer Folks Telling Jokes.” Tickets are $12.





KEEPING UP WITH PITTSBURGH’S CRAFT BEER SCENE BY DAY BRACEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CRAFT BEER WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM May 8, 8;30 p.m.: I’m at Cinderlands with Hitchhiker Taproom Manager and Bierport Outreach Coordinator Michael Orellano, or as everyone in the industry knows him, “Mikey!” I’ve asked him here to get insight on what it’s like to be a taptender. More importantly, I want to know how we can be better guests. After working in the food service industry for more than a decade, I’m highly sensitive to the

treatment of staff, and proper etiquette in various establishments. Believe it or not, good service is a two-way street. The better you treat people, the better they treat you. Crazy concept, I know. I’m sure someone is going to accuse me of spreading socialism. They wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Me: Where are you from originally? Mikey: Queens, NY. I came here for school about 13 years ago. Me: How’d you get into the industry? Mikey: I wanted to make some money on the side while I pursued my art and graphic design; Jeff Holt over at Hambones put on some pretty great craft beers. I’ve been at Hitchhiker for six years, and Bierport for four. Craft beer customers are some of the most interested customers you’ll have. And for the most part, they’re pretty thoughtful. Me: How does etiquette differ from a restaurant to a brewery? Mikey: I don’t get super mad at people who leave food and dishes on the table at our brewery, because taprooms often blur the lines between dive bars and restaurants. Typically, you should bus your own table. I make it a point to thank people whenever they bring their glasses to the bar, to help encourage that behavior. I also want customers to take


their time and read the menu. Be aware of how busy it is. If there are eight or nine people in line, and you order a flight, know what you want by the time you get to the front. If not, you’re delaying service for everyone else. Me: Just like Chipotle. Mikey: There’s one thing everyone does that they think helps you but it doesn’t, wiping your mouth and nose and stuffing the tissue in the glass. I drink off of friends. I’m not afraid of a little backwash. But you’re a stranger, and now I’ve got to reach in the glass and touch your spit. This is awkward. Also, don’t say “I got this,” and cover the whole tab, then leave me like $2 on five beers. If you got this, you got all of this. Me: What is proper tip etiquette on beers? Mikey: Fifteen to 20 percent or $1 per drink. Also, make sure you order drinks at a table together, so we don’t have to take multiple trips. Again, delaying service for everyone. May 19, 3 p.m.: I’m at Grist House with Carson St. Deli’s Bar Manager, and Taptender for Roundabout, Alison Zavacky. Space Dust IPA is the soundtrack. Me: How’d you get into the industry? AZ: I knew the manager who was hiring at CSD. He wanted someone who knew something about the industry, and I’ve learned so much more since being there. It’s been four years now. Me: How does a brewery differ from a bar or restaurant? AZ: The hours are different. People often get upset when they have to leave at nine or 10 p.m.

because they’re used to bars being open until 2 a.m. Me: That always pisses me off. What are some ways employers have helped to make you feel appreciated, and make your job easier? AZ: At the Deli, what I appreciate the most is the level of trust and freedom I have. I’m allowed to try out new ideas, mess with the model and see what works. Me: What are some ways folks with kids or dogs can help you provide them the best service? AZ: There should be boundaries. I’ve had kids run behind the bar. Obviously, that can’t be allowed. Some adults need to hear that too. It’s a pretty regular occurrence to have people cross that boundary. Situational awareness is something that I appreciate a lot in customers. Be considerate of others and the people who are working. Me: What are some things you want your customers to know? AZ: Keep an open mind and try new things. I want there to be variety in beer. I don’t want just the people who drink IPAs to come in and that be all that craft beer is. Me: What are some tips for new taptenders? AZ: Keep looking for ways to improve. Have patience. It takes time to learn the nuances. You don’t need to know every beer style. Guidelines are for competitions, but don’t necessarily make the beer better. Me: I love lactose. Fuck what the industry says. I love a milky beer. Thank you brewers and cows.



Friendship Ave street sign (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)



n a city known for its blend of historic and modern buildings, the residential side of Pittsburgh architecture is often some of its most quaint and beautiful. Some of the most stately of these are large Victorian-era manors, and quite a number of them can be found nestled in a small Pittsburgh community. Friendship is a primarily residential hamlet lying in the flats of the East End. One of the smallest pieces in the Pittsburgh puzzle,

the neighborhood is a crossroads, wedged between Bloomfield to the west, Garfield to the north, East Liberty to the east, and Shadyside to the south. “Friendship now is one of these very desirable neighborhoods where people want to live,” says Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who grew up in the neighborhood. “It’s got a lot of tree-lined streets, it’s a pleasant neighborhood with a lot of good housing stock.”

Local mythology has claimed the name “Friendship” to be referencing William Penn, a member of the Society of Friends, but that’s not actually the case, according to Martha Ann Terry, president of the Friendship Community Group. “There were a couple of farmsteads on the corner of Friendship and Roup,” says Terry. “The families became very close, and they began to refer to the area as Friendship to refer to their family’s friendship.”

Farmsteads like these were the primary settlements in Friendship beginning in the 1820s. The names of many of these early family farms are reflected today in street names — Baum Boulevard, Winebiddle Avenue, and Gross Street, just to name a few. The neighborhood, along with much of the East End, remained farmland throughout the 19th century. The development of the streetcar in 1890, however, would lead to dramatic changes.


A row of houses along S Evaline Street (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

“What had begun happening in 1890 was that the whole East End became a popular place for upperlevel administrators and managers at the steel mills downtown to move out of the city and [avoid] the polluted air, the dust and grime that were characteristic of Pittsburgh at that time,” says Terry. “The managers at the steel mill could travel easily between downtown and these new big homes they were building in the East End.” The influx of new upper-class residents strongly influenced the kind of homes that were built, homes that Friendship is most associated with today. “These are your big foursquares and what people call Victorian homes,” says Terry. “These were large homes that were built by wealthy people, and meant to be run with the

help of servants.” The houses from this construction boom still comprise a plurality of homes in Friendship today, but changes in the way people wanted to live affected the area in several ways. In the 1930s, smaller houses that could be managed by families without servants became popular, and some of the larger estates were torn down to make room. Furthermore, suburbanization post-World War II saw many families in Friendship move to the south and north hills, leaving behind their historic homes. “Those nice three-story brick homes were cut up into apartments... and that did start to change the character of the neighborhoods,” says Fitzgerald. Lack of proper oversight gave


landlords free rein to configure the historic homes how they liked. “Some guys, if they had 10 rooms in a house, they would make ten apartments. There were no rules,” says Redondo. Many of these landlords were absentee, failing to keep proper tabs on the condition of their properties. “Sometimes, those landlords didn’t take very good care of their property. They didn’t take care of repairs that needed to be made, keeping lawns nice, things like that,” Terry says. Over time, this contributed to a considerable decline in Friendship; the rate of residents leaving the neighborhood increased. The 1970s into the 1980s is considered a period of general blight in the neighborhood. Ironically, the effects of this

blight would bring about the neighborhood’s salvation. The reputation of the neighborhood as dangerous and dilapidated dramatically decreased property values. This, in turn, brought new residents willing to put the work in to revitalize the area. “What happened in the mid1980s was young couples realized they could buy these large homes for very little money and rehab them,” Terry says. “There are a number of families I call ‘pioneer families’ who took a chance on Friendship and bought big homes.” This newfound interest in Friendship led to conflicts with developers looking to capitalize on increasing property values. One of the most high-profile of these skirmishes occurred when a turn-ofthe-century house was purchased

Friendship Perk and Brew at the corner of Friendship Ave and S Pacific Ave (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

by a local car dealer, according to Friendship Community Group board member Diana Ames. “That property was purchased by Baum Boulevard Dodge in 1988, and they demolished the house, intending to use the property for an employee and customer parking lot,” Ames says. “That was when the Friendship community banded together to create both Friendship Development Associates and Friendship Preservation Group to stop the encroachment of that commercial enterprise into the residential part of the neighborhood.” Incensed by the demolition, the community blocked plans to continue the development, and, unable to build, the car dealer ultimately sold the plot of land to the new neighborhood association

for $1. It has since been transformed into Baum Grove, a community green space that also hosts the annual Folk and Flower Festival. “That park is really the heart of our neighborhood,” Ames says. Since the Baum Grove situation, the specter of development has continued to rear its head. The most glaring example of this is the recently announced Whole Foods Market, to be built on the former site of the Penn Plaza apartments. This 250,000 square foot development is going up right on Friendship’s doorstep, on the East Liberty side of their Negley Avenue border. Like many major development projects, community sentiment has been mixed. Nick Redondo, a longtime Friendship resident and owner of the Friendship Perk and Brew coffee shop, sees both

positives and negatives to the effects development can have, like rising property values. “On one side, it’s great economically for the area. On the other side, I couldn’t afford to live here now. I couldn’t afford a half million dollars for my house today,” said Redondo. Rich Fitzgerald also acknowledges problems for renters caused by new development but argues the benefits outweigh drawbacks. “For the homeowners, they’re seeing an increase in their wealth,” Fitzgerald says. “For most people, their biggest investment is their home, so for folks...who’ve been paying that mortgage for many years, they’re seeing an increase in their biggest assets.” Fitzgerald also makes a case

that measures can be taken by local government to mitigate the negative impact of major development. “On the rental side, providing affordable housing, which is something I know the mayor has been pushing for, is a positive thing,” says Fitzgerald. While development might make some residents nervous, few worry that any developer can change the character of Friendship, nor break the tight-knit community that so many of its residents cherish. “We have a tradition of block parties, porch parties, backyard happy hours,” Ames says. “It’s a neighborhood that really lives up to its name.”


shop? I went to the community and neighborhood groups and said, ‘What do you guys want here?’ And everybody told me they really wanted a coffee shop. I always wanted to do one anyway. I thought of this idea when I was in the Navy in 1983. I was off the coast of Lebanon, thinking it would be really cool to have a coffee shop. What has business been like since opening? It’s been tough because people don’t know we’re here. We’re not on a main avenue like Liberty or Penn. It’s been an educational process, letting people know we’re here. I did have five people yesterday come in for the first time, so people are learning.

Nick Redondo of Friendship Perk & Brew. Current Photo by Nick Eustis




eighborhoods are often defined by their business districts. For the neighborhood of Friendship, the opposite is true. Known predominantly for its stately residential homes, most businesses are relegated to the neighborhood’s borders with Garfield and Shadyside. Friendship Perk & Brew is breaking the mold with its Friendship Avenue location, placing it in the heart of the neighborhood. Co-owner Nick Redondo opened the coffeehouse in October 2017, with the goal of creating a meeting spot for locals, in a building close to the

history of both the neighborhood and himself. A Friendship resident since 1959, Redondo celebrates the history of the neighborhood through Perk & Brew, from the exposed wood beams and brick of the 19th century building, to the black and white photos of Friendship a century ago that adorn the walls. Tell me a little about the building. How did you come to own it? This was actually a house in the 1800s. In the 1920s, the store was added on, and it was called Kushner’s Market. When we moved


here in 1959, when I was four-yearsold, it was called Margolis’. Minnie Margolis and her son, Ralph, they owned it and ran it as a grocery store. When I was a boy, about 12 or 13, I got my first job in their grocery store. I used to stock shelves and slice lunch meat, stuff like that. In 1979, my father decided to buy the building and called 7/11. They came in and tore through the walls of the house and the store, and combined them into one big store. It was a grocery store for 7/11 for about 22 years. Why did you decide on a coffee

Tell me a little about your food and drinks. My sister’s really good with food, so almost everything we make food-wise we make from scratch. We do soups, salads, sandwiches. Our main soup is Italian wedding soup, made with escarole like it’s supposed to be made, not with spinach. We have a selection of beers, not a giant selection, but we have bottled beers and beers on tap. I didn’t want to be a bar or a biergarten. We just wanted to be a place where you can get a nice beer with your food, grab a beer with friends. Our coffee is roasted in Cranberry by Kivahan. Do you host any events here? During the fall and winter we do a Tuesday lecture series on all different topics. We had a sex therapist, a marriage therapist, a chiropractor talking about inflammation, we had politicians talk about affordable housing in Pittsburgh, guys coming in talking about travel hacking, any number of topics that might be of interest to people. On second and fourth Friday’s we have trivia, and on the weekends we usually have music of some sort. It gives them some exposure, and brings people in to buy from us, so it works out for everyone.


Grease at The Pittsburgh CLO.


MAY 29

ReelQ presents one of Finland’s first queer-themed dramas A Moment In the Reeds, a story of two young men, one a Syrian asylum seeker, who spend a few summer days together. The screening will be held at City of Asylum @ Alphabet City in their downstairs Word Cellar, which is also wheelchair accessible. The event is free with registration. 7 p.m. 40 W. North Ave. Free with registration. The Carnegie Museum of Art hosts Baby and Me Movement, a monthly

yoga session for mothers and their babies from infants up to three years old. After the partner practice, a docent will lead a tour through the museum’s collection. Participants should bring their own yoga mats and all children must be in strollers during the tour. This event will be held starting on May 30, with additional sessions on June 26, July 31, and August 28. 10 a.m. 4400 Forbes Ave. $20. or cmoa. org/event

MAY 30

City of Asylum @ Alphabet City

continues their Stories That Heal series with guest Corrine Jasmine, a local writer, artist and filmmaker. Jasmine will read from her self-published poetry collection, Tread, which follows her journey as a queer black woman into adulthood. A moderated Q&A will be held after the reading. 7 p.m. 40 W. North Ave. Free with registration. alphabetcity. org/events

Arts Council Lift Grant. This hip-hop performance takes inspiration from John Calhoun’s research on utopian environments with Starr drawing parallels between that utopia and present-day Pittshburgh. The event, held at the Alumni Theatre Company, includes live performance music from the project. 7:30 p.m. 6601 Hamilton Ave. $15. universe25.

MAY 31


Lyn Starr brings a preview of his upcoming release, Universe 25, funded by the Greater Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Area Theatre Organ Society hosts a screening of Laurel and Hardy shorts with live theatre PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAY 28, 2019 | 39

organ accompaniment at Keystone Oaks Auditorium. Organist Clark Wilson will be playing along to the shorts, as well as performing some concert selections, on the PATOS 3/19 Wurlitzer. Admission is free for students who show ID. 7:30 p.m. 1000 Kelton Ave. $15 in advance, $20 at the door. or 412-322-4078


pearlPRESENTS Dance Festival debuts at the New Hazlett Theater. The festival will run for seven days and feature national and local Pittsburgh performers. Masterclasses will also be held throughout the week. Student pricing is available. 10 a.m. 6 Allegheny Square East. $50 festival pass or $20 general admission. info@ or The Carnegie Science Center has a new immersive exhibit, D-Day: Normandy 1944 in 3D. Attendees will explore the science, technology, military strategy and more that went into the historic landing. The event will run from June 3rd to the 6th. 4 p.m. One Allegheny Ave. $11.95 for children, $19.95 for adults. or 412-237-3400


The National Council of Jewish Women holds its annual meeting with a panel discussion on voting rights. The panelists will address the issues facing disadvantaged people whose voting rights are being suppressed and will include solutions to removing those barriers before the 2020 election. Afterwards, the NCJW will install its 2019-2020 leadership and bestow honors on some of their members. Refreshments will be provided before the panel. The event is open to the public and meets at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill. 6:30 p.m. 5738 Forbes Ave. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. The Silver Eye Center for Photography opens its exhibition of the winners of this year’s Fellowship

A Moment In the Reeds

19 photography competition. The competition has run for 18 years, and this year accepted over 200 submissions. Tim Carpenter, winner of the International Award, and Rebecca Arthur, winner of the Keystone Award, will be speaking at the opening. Their projects will be on display from June 6 through August 10. 7 p.m. 4808 Penn Ave. Free. silvereye. org/events


The Pittsburgh CLO’s performance of Grease opens at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. The show promises a fun look back at an era of poodle skirts and rock ‘n’ roll, with favorite songs from the hit movie. Matinee performances will also be held on the weekends through June 16. 8 p.m. 237 7th St. $26.25 $76.25.


Arcade Comedy Theater presents another Penny Arcade improv comedy show for families with children ages 5-12. The show includes


a Collaboration Station where kids can write, draw and otherwise craft to see their ideas performed by the Penny Players, along with additional opportunities for children to get on stage themselves. Penny Arcade has a “Pay As You Wish” option, allowing all families to participate regardless of financial situation. 1 p.m. 943 Liberty Ave. $5 for children, $10 for adults. events


The Munhall Community Band performs a variety of music at the Homestead Carnegie Library, including selections from Holst’s “The Planets”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Homestead Carnegie Library March” and more. The MCB is comprised of volunteer musicians ages 17 - 75+. The event is free with donations accepted, and a silent auction features prizes from local businesses. 3 p.m. 510 E 10th Ave, Homestead. Free. munhallcommunityband@

This month, the Heinz History Center is hosting its Reading into History Family Book Club with the book “Shooting the Moon” by Frances O’Roark Dowell. The event includes a discussion of the book followed by a tour of the museum’s The Vietnam War: 1945 – 1975 exhibit. Registration includes one copy of “Shooting the Moon,” admission to the museum for two children ages 9 - 12 and two adults. 2 p.m. 1212 Smallman St. $20.


Members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Brass will be performing a free concert during the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. The event will feature brass favorites for the whole family, as well as new arrangements designed for the concert. Admission is free and open to the public. 7:30 p.m. Point State Park. Free.


CLASSIFIEDS For more information on how to place your classified ad, please call 412-945-0817


READINGS Distance Readings by e-mail No appointment needed Parties & Individuals by appointment 412-206-9171



Certifying for medical marijuana cards! Register online OR call 888-316-9085 + NOW HIRING! Email resume to


Specializing in Auto, Home, Life, & Business Insurance John Kwateng Insurance Agency is seeking a part time/full producer. Ideal candidate must either hold a Property & Casualty License or Life and Health license. Please send resumes to

For more information or for insurance inquiries call 412-532-9196

■ ■ ■

Automobile insurance Business or Commercial Home insurance “LET'S TALK INSURANCE, I'M JUST AROUND THE CORNER.”




Universal Crossword Edited by David Steinberg May 28, 2019

ACROSS 1 “Star Wars” warrior 5 Elapse 11 Courtroom VIPs 14 It’s pumped in a gym 15 Complete 16 Span of history 17 *Showered and shaved, say 19 Sushi bar sauce 20 Belly laugh syllable 21 Giants giant Manning 22 Go out on a ___ 23 Czech or Serb 25 *Out of the closet 27 G.I. Joe’s base? 29 Anxiety-filled 30 *Machine that munches branches 34 Bed-andbreakfasts 35 “Them’s fightin’ words!” 36 Heap praise on 40 *A little unclear? 42 “Nuh-uh!” comeback 46 Some cuddly pets 47 *“Sesame Street” game show host 51 “All right, let me get this straight ...”


52 “Strike!” yellers 53 Put the whammy on 54 Blue peg in Life, perhaps 55 Pal, in Paris 56 Feature of a fairy tale ... or each starred answer? 61 Super ___ (Wii ancestor) 62 Ready to move on 63 Play-of-color stone 64 Louvre filler 65 “Romeo and Juliet” city 66 ___ dancer (’60s performer) DOWN 1 Skippy competitor 2 Make a blunder 3 Buck’s sweetheart 4 Broken, like a vase 5 Colleague 6 Raggedy doll 7 Verb whose middle letters aptly sound like “tea” 8 Move like a crab 9 UCLA student 10 “Indeed!” 11 Decorator’s concern 12 Inviting scents 13 Bid farewell, informally

18 Wreak ___ 22 Caustic substance 23 Shortly 24 City on the Rhone 25 Neglects to mention 26 USPS delivery: Abbr. 27 ___-night doubleheader 28 Easternmost four-letter state 31 L.A. winter hours 32 Common parrot name 33 One-named Irish singer 36 “Can’t believe you won the lottery!” 37 Santa ___ (hot winds) 38 Golden Rule word

39 Prefix for “function” 40 Michelle, to Malia 41 Creme brulee utensil 42 Pet shop lizard 43 Crop top season 44 Key figure? 45 Pre-CIA spy org. 48 “___ a dream ...” 49 Biblical outcast 50 One no longer in the big leagues 54 Letter after alpha 56 Carpool lane initials 57 Yang’s go-with 58 Stock market debut, briefly 59 Bother with reminders 60 Day-___ paint



Feeling of Closure

© 2019 Andrews McMeel Universal

by Jeremy Newton


BY THE EDITORS AT ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION WEIRDNEWSTIPS@AMUNIVERSAL.COM RECURRING THEME In April, Broyles told a detective at the scene. News of the Weird reported that “He owes me choke ahi.” Broyles sweat bees were found to be living in was on probation at the time (for the eye of a woman in Taiwan. Now, allegedly threatening two people United Press International reports with scissors); he is scheduled for doctors at a hospital in Yangzhou, sentencing in August. Jiangsu province, China, found a SEX HEIST The Sioux Falls small spider building a nest inside (South Dakota) Argus Leader a man’s ear. The man, identified reported that Brody Fuchs, 25, of only as Li, arrived at the hospital Tyndall was arrested on April 23 complaining of discomfort in his ear. and charged with second-degree Doctors said the spider was too small burglary after a local man contacted and fast to be caught with tools, but police about items disappearing they were able to flush it out using from his home over the course of a water. couple of years -- about $500 worth CHUTZPAH! Ricci Barnett, 41, of sex toys. The man had installed refused to stop when a police officer security cameras in the house, which tried to pull her over for driving caught Fuchs entering the home, the wrong way down a one-way staying for about 40 seconds, then street in Las Cruces, New Mexico, leaving, according to the affidavit. on April 21. The Associated Press Bon Homme County Sheriff’s reported that when she paused at a officers searched Fuchs’ residence red light, the officer showed her his and found a number of toys the badge, to which she replied, “I don’t victim said belonged to him. It was think so” and drove away. Barnett unclear whether the homeowner was eventually apprehended and and Fuchs were acquainted. charged with aggravated fleeing CUTENESS ALERT -- Hugo from a law enforcement officer and the dog is a frequent boarder at reckless driving. Happy Tails Pet Hotel and Playland CRIME REPORT A 25-year-old in St. Ann, Missouri. In early May, man from Kapaa, Hawaii, will likely according to KTVI, Hugo proved how spend seven years in prison after much he loves his pals at the doggy going on a drug-fueled rampage in day care: He ran away from home, his former boss’s home in December. navigated a busy street and covered Forrest Broyles pleaded no contest more than a mile to get to Happy on May 7 to charges that he broke Tails, where he ran inside to greet his into the home to claim his fair share canine friends. of fish the two men had caught BABY’S FIRST SHOES When together. Broyles told Kauai police Olivia the giraffe gave birth to her he was using the hallucinogenic son on May 2 at the Woodland Park concoction ayahuasca when he Zoo in Seattle, zookeepers noticed used a machete to break the glass his rear feet were not in normal front door of the home, reported alignment, a condition called The Garden Island. He threatened hyperextended fetlocks. So the the boss and his wife, saying he 170-pound baby, as yet unnamed, “was going to kill him and chop was fitted with casts to correct the him up,” then attacked the house problem, and along with them, instead, hitting a television, breaking his own custom-made pair of windows, a sliding glass door, therapeutic shoes made of plywood kitchen cabinets, the stove and and polyethylene. “I’m hopeful microwave and a canoe paddle, they will help him walk better,” zoo among other items, amounting to veterinarian Dr. Tim Storms told about $3,000 in damages. “That is KIRO. He expects the treatment will what the whole incident was about,” continue over several months.




Savage Love Live swooped into Seattle’s Egyptian Theater and Denver’s Oriental Theater over the last two weekends. I couldn’t get to everyone’s questions at these sold-out shows—there were so many great questions and I’m just one lousy advice columnist—so I’m going to power through as many as I can in this week’s column. Weddings are terrible. I attended “Dueling Dallas Lesbian Weddings,” and both couples are pressuring me to tell them whose wedding was better (or better in the eyes of social media). Am I obligated to “rat” these couples out to each other? Weddings aren’t terrible, people are—some of them, not all of them. But you certainly aren’t obligated to “rat” these couples out to each other. You aren’t even obligated to speak to

any of these terrible people again. What is the best relationship advice you’ve ever received? Cup the balls. I’ve been talking to a guy for four months and we still haven’t met in person. He’s recently divorced, and I find it odd that he is all into me with sexting, etc., but doesn’t want to meet. What do I do? Stop wasting your time. I have always loved anal sex with my partner of more than a decade. He loves it, too. We’ve noticed a trend over the years where he gets melancholy after we have anal sex. He doesn’t know why. Do you have any ideas or theories about why? Nope. How do I make sure I enjoy my upcoming wedding instead of worrying about how it will go?

showing our PRIDE since the 70’s

Elope. I’m a woman and I’ve been in a relationship for two years. My partner is not able to make me orgasm. He is my first lover. HELP. If you can make yourself come, show your partner how you do it. If you can’t make yourself come—if you’re one of those people who have never masturbated—start masturbating, learn how to make yourself come, and then show him how you do it. My boyfriend is a cuckold and very into the humiliation aspect of cuckolding. I’ve been hooking up with one guy who is so into humiliating my boyfriend that it’s kind of freaking me out. They message each other so much, I feel like I’m the one being cheated on! You get the D. Let your boyfriend have the DMs. We are married 10 years, monogamish, pansexual. My friends are opening up their relationship and so are we. Any good reason I shouldn’t have sex with my friends?

Only the most obvious one - if someone gets hurt, these friendships could end. But friendships end all the time without anyone getting off, so… How can I nicely convince my girlfriend to have anal sex? By using your words—your best noncoercive, nonthreatening, willing-to-take-no-for-an-answer words. And it will help if you tell her you’re willing to take it slow and willing to take turns. My boyfriend of 1.5 years doesn’t feel it is “appropriate” to tell me he is in love with me. I want so bad to have our “I love you” moment. What should I do? Say it to him—and if he doesn’t hit you with an “I love you, too,” then either he’s not in love with you or he’s in love with you and knows how badly you want to hear him say “I love you” but he won’t say it because he likes to torture you. On the Lovecast, Dan chats with sex workers’ rights advocate Alex Andrews:

Hookups =

We have an extensive WE’LL SEE YOU selection of intimate AT PRIDE! apparel, vibrators, toys, Enter our free lubes, DVD’s, smoke drawing to win a products and much, fabulous gift basket. much more. Pittsburgh Locations:

7600 McKnight Rd.

4611 McKnight Rd.

346 Blvd of the Allies

Outside Pittsburgh:

Elizabeth: 931 Hayden Blvd. • Export: 6094 William Penn Hwy Monroeville: 2735 Stroschein Blvd. • Bentleyville: 8 McIlvaine Rd. West Erie: 1313 State St. • Wheeling, WV: 1437 Market St.

Visit us at to find store hours, all store locations, or to shop online! @adultmartstores


Visit to hook up today PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAY 28, 2019 | 43

Upgrade Your Night Out Grab a date for late nights at the museum! Sip a summer cocktail and spark your creativity. Now open Saturdays until 8 p.m.*

* Except July 13, 27, and August 3.


Movement Workshop

Love and Lust Tour

Third Thursday

Join experimental performers for an in-gallery movement workshop that flips the script on what it means to visit the museum. Tickets are just $20.

Jealousy! Drama! Passion! Discover history’s most famous tragedies of the heart in this sensational tour. Free with admission.

Learn to screen print, meet local artists, and party at the museum after hours for just $10.

June 8, 4–6 p.m.

June 8, 7–7:30 p.m.

June 20, 8–11 p.m.

Profile for pittsburghcurrent

Pittsburgh Current, Vol 2, Issue 11  

Pittsburgh Current, Vol 2, Issue 11  


Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded