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VOL. 2 ISSUE 12
June 11, 2019 - June 24, 2019 PGHCURRENT
Don’t just look Experience the art galleries in a new way! We invited performing artists slowdanger and City of Play to create innovative new programs that explore the senses. Look for workshops, games, activities, and pop-up performances all summer.
All activities are FREE with admission. 2 | JUNE 11, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
City of Play leads engaging social games that combine martial arts, dance, sports, theater, and yoga.
An illustrator turns your feelings into shape, color, and texture in the form of a drawing you can take home! Registration required.
Encounter interpretive dancers responding to the artwork through movement.
Starts June 12 10 a.m.–noon
Starts July 10, 2–4 p.m.
July 22–27, noon–3 p.m.
TEN DAYS OF FREE
POINT STATE PARK | CULTURAL DISTRICT | GATEWAY CENTER
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STAFF Publisher/Editor: Charlie Deitch Charlie@pittsburghcurrent.com Associate Publisher: Bethany Ruhe Bethany@pittsburghcurrent.com
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Vol. II Iss. XII June 11, 2019 NEWS 6 | Roadblock 8 | The Write Stuff
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS: 10-15
Art Director: Emily McLaughlin
OPINION 16 | WTF, That’s Impressive 17 | Get Out of my Womb, Bro
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ARTS 18 | The Mystery’s Mystery 20 | Dreamscape 25 | Beautiful, Intentional and Unapologetic 26 | Depth of Field MUSIC 28 | The Good Ones 30 | Music Therapy 32 | All That Jazz FOOD 34 | Shell Out 36 | This Tastes Funny 37 | Day Drinking NEIGHBORHOOD 38 | Cultural District 40 | Neighborhood Conversation EXTRA 43 | Savage Love *Due to technical issues, News of the Weird and the puzzle will return in the 6/25 issue.
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Pittsburgh Current just had its BEST YEAR EVER, and we want to celebrate with YOU! Friday, July 12th 7:30 - 11:00 pm HIP at the Flashlight Factory, North Side
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PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 5
POLICE OVERSIGHT IN ALLEGHENY COUNTY WOULD REQUIRE POLICE DEPARTMENTS TO OPT IN
BY ANNABELLE HANFLIG - PITTSBURGH CURRENT INTERN INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
he law enforcement professionals of Allegheny County’s nearly 110 police departments would be subject to a new level of scrutiny if complaints against them are brought before a newly-proposed countywide review board. If passed, Bill #10909-18 will establish a board to investigate complaints of police misconduct in the county. The board’s jurisdiction is built on an opt-in system, so it would be unable to hear complaints against departments in municipalities that have not signed themselves onto the ordinance. Co-sponsors and Allegheny County Council members DeWitt Walton and Paul Klein see the bill as a crucial first step in a much wider reckoning. The 21-page ordinance was introduced in December 2018 to “establish a mechanism for citizen review of allegations of misconduct undertaken by police officers within Allegheny County,” according to the bill’s own language, as well as mend the severed trust between citizens and law enforcement that has publically plagued the region for over 20 years. Klein hopes the proposed ordinance will “create a framework where there is greater interaction between communities, municipalities and the police.” He admits he has his work cut out for him in passing the bill, but ultimately wishes to forge “a greater living arrangement for police and the people that they are charged with policing.” This proposal is not the first attempt at additional police oversight in the Pittsburgh region. Following a string of complaints against the Pittsburgh Bureau of
Police for offenses including racial and gender bias, use of excessive force, and inadmissible searches and seizures, the City of Pittsburgh and the Justice Department entered into the first consent decree between a city and a government agency in 1997. The city was able to dodge any admission of malpractice in its policing as long as it agreed to adhere to a laundry list of reforms handed down by President Bill Clinton’s Justice Department. Amendments included the implementation of an automatic early warning system to identify officers most likely to step out of line, cultural diversity training and a revamped use of force policy. The bureau soon became known as a “model for progressive policing” under federal intervention, according to a 2017 story in the New York Times.” That same year, an arduous yet successful citizen-initiated referendum established the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, a collection of Pittsburgh appointees completely independent of the city and tasked with investigating citizen complaints of misconduct against any Pittsburgh Bureau of Police officer. However, all of their recommendations were nonbinding on the department. Despite this evolution, the voluntary expiration of the decree in 2002, combined with rotating administrations with disparate attitudes towards police oversight, left the PBP to fall back into some of its old ways. The ensuing instances of alleged misconduct, from the beating of Jordan Miles in 2010 to the shooting and paralyzation of Leon Ford in 2012, intensified the lack of trust in policing from citizens all over
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the region. David Harris, a Pitt Law professor and a nationally recognized scholar of law enforcement practices who lent his expertise to this proposed ordinance, believes that responsible policing and community trust are contingent practices. He sees civilian oversight of police as necessary to building and maintaining a healthy community. “If you don’t have trust, you can still have policing, but you won’t have policing that is quite as successful,” he said. “People have to believe that there’s accountability.” Harris views the board as a timely and worthwhile endeavor but recognizes the weight of its numerous opponents and seemingly shallow capabilities. “There’s no power to compel the various small police departments in these outlying towns and boroughs and cities to join it—that’s its biggest problem,” he said. “You might think [the structure of the board] is or is not the right format, but I think it’s still worth doing in order to have that structure… I do think the general trend over time will be for police departments to join it.” As of now, Sharpsburg is the only municipality to commit to opting in to the proposal. Others can opt in or out at any time. Jasiri X, Activist and founder of the Pittsburgh anti-violence coalition 1Hood Media, is another supporter of the proposed ordinance. He views its function as a lens through which citizens can gauge how committed their police truly are to bettering community relationships. “It actually allows us to have a conversation with a starting point to say, ‘If you want better community-police relations with Swissvale or Braddock or Duquesne or Wilkinsburg, then we need you to sign up to be involved in this [ordinance],” he said. “If [departments] choose not to, you’re actually sending a signal that you don’t want better police-community relations.” Jasiri X sees a reluctance to participate in the partnership as a
sign of departments wanting to cover up their unjust methods of policing. He also points out the insincerity of departments who claim they want to foster more positive relationships with those they police but are hesitant to sign onto the proposed ordinance. “You’re policing my community where I live and my children live, and then you’re saying I’m not qualified?” he asked. “I’m not qualified to say to you, ‘I don’t like the way you’re policing my community,’ when I’m supposed to be the one you’re serving? That doesn’t make any sense to me.” If initiated, the independent citizen review board would assess sworn complaints of alleged misconduct submitted no more than 180 days after their initial occurrence. If the complaints make it through a hearing and subsequent investigation, the board will issue one of eight verdicts, two of which include the right for the voting members to collectively recommend non-binding action. The proposed ordinance’s current framework suggests an 11-person board consisting of an Executive Director, a solicitor and nine board members. The Executive Director and the solicitor will serve as nonvoting members with limitless terms, while five of the nine voting members will serve no more than two consecutive four-year terms and the remaining four will serve no more than two consecutive two-year terms. Unlike the Executive Director and solicitor, voting board members will not receive any compensation for their work. At least one board member is required to have some kind of professional legal background, and there will be a maximum of two spots open for board members with previous experience in law enforcement. No member of the board may be actively employed by Allegheny County or any other governmental body, or as a law enforcement officer during their term. A public forum held last
Jasiri X, right, and members of 1Hood Media hold a memorial to Antwon Rose Jr. during the trial of Michael Rosfeld, the officer who shot and killed Antwon Rose. Rose’s death has rekindled the discussion for a county police review board (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
Wednesday at Sixth Presbyterian Church in Squirrel Hill promised attendees an explanation of the proposed ordinance from Councilman Klein and testimonies from citizens who’d been personally impacted by police use of force. The nearly 40 attendees witnessed neither, as the hearing focused mostly on the challenges facing the ordinance and those it aims to protect. Klein spoke for a majority of the meeting and introduced the bill by weighing it against the hefty opposition it would inevitably face. He spoke of those who had already made clear their hostility towards the proposed ordinance, from Republican council members and law enforcement officers to community members from all over the county. “There’s many people who just don’t understand why we’re doing this and what we hope to accomplish,” he said. One of these people is Henry Wiehagen, the North Braddock Police Chief and president of the Allegheny County chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. While Wiehagen believes that the police should be monitored, he sees the countywide board as an unnecessary and unqualified watchdog looking over the police’s shoulder. “We’ve had a trial system that’s been in place for years and it works fine,” he said. “If an officer doesn’t do anything properly he has to justify
his actions and if his actions [aren’t] appropriate, the district attorney files charges. What more do you need?” This system tried and acquitted former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld after he shot and killed unarmed Antwon Rose II last June. A jury of seven men and five women, three of whom were black, acquitted Rosfeld less than four hours into their deliberation on the fourth day of the trial. The verdict sparked days of protests in the city and added to the list of cases in the United States in which white police officers have skirted punishment for killing black men while on the job. A police officer in Allegheny County has never been convicted as the result of an excessive force complaint, either by a jury or bench trial. Few complaints have ever even made it to a courtroom. Wiehagen says he did not regard Rose’s killing as police misconduct or recognize race as a factor in the incident. He said that suggesting otherwise was a matter of citizens and legislators “looking for scapegoats.” “[Rose] was an individual that conspired to commit murder. They just shot a person. Now they’re turning that out to be political. If I was the black race, I would find a better example to use than the Antwon Rose case, who committed a criminal act,” he said. Wiehagen continuously insisted that what happened to Rose had nothing to do with race, yet chalked up the outrage over his death to be a
specifically black issue. Rose’s death angered and mobilized people of all backgrounds, who believe that he did nothing to warrant his fate. Rose was sitting next to Zaijuan Hester in the backseat of the vehicle that Rosfeld thought to be involved in a drive-by shooting minutes prior to when he pulled it over. Hester, who pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault and firearms violations, confessed that he, and not Rose, was the shooter. Rose’s death at the hands of Rosfeld preempted any investigation into Rose’s alleged involvement in the shooting. “Policemen are not going to suffer over [the proposed ordinance], the only ones who suffer over us not doing what we’re supposed to do is the citizens,” Wiehagen said. “We’re only doing what you want us to do.” Klein recognized the hefty disparity between the topics the board is eager to tackle and its capability to do so. After mentioning issues plaguing law enforcement officers, from lack of resources to increasing numbers of disbanded departments, he admitted that the proposed review board would not be able to directly alleviate those obstacles. “As far as the board’s role in determining ‘gee what do we do with these communities that are failing,’ the board really will not have a role in that at all,” he said. Klein also voiced concern over the board’s inability to hear cases relating to officers in noncompliant departments. The board would have no ability to subpoena testimony or evidence from departments outside of its jurisdiction and would be unable to issue enforceable verdicts. The ordinance also cannot force any municipality in the county to adhere to its authority. Regardless of the work to be done in passing the proposed ordinance, Klein trusts that it has support from the right people and would eventually leave a positive impact on the county. He mentioned support from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, whose signature would be the final obstacle
between the ordinance and the law. A statement from Allegheny County Communications Director Aime Downs says Fitzgerald is “supportive of the idea of a police citizen review board” but will review the ordinance once it “passes Council to determine whether he will sign it.” “I think the feeling is we need to build something,” Klein said. “We will no doubt over time have to make modifications, but my hope is that in creating [the board] we can see a path forward where it can play that more positive role.” The proposed ordinance is set to take effect on January 1, 2020 but has no solid date for when it will come before the county council. It must first be sent to a special committee for review, who will then relay it to the council with an affirmative or negative recommendation. Klein said that he would wait until the details of the bill were more fully-formed before bringing it to the committee. He also suggested a desire to push the vote off until January if the newly-sworn county council would be progressive enough for the bill to have a fighting chance. Marie Norman, a resident of Squirrel Hill, came to the meeting because she believed both citizens and law enforcement officers of Allegheny County would benefit from a shared governance of criminal justice. Norman proposed that police departments embrace the proposed ordinance as an avenue through which they could mend ties with the community. “It’s in the police departments’ best interest to have citizens, taxpayers, community members on their side and [see] them as allies and not enemies,” she said. Norman was still convinced of the proposal’s benefits after a question she posed to Klein on where the board would derive its power from went mostly unanswered. “I guess if I have any concerns it’s that [the countywide board] might possibly give sort of a false sense of accountability,” she said. “But I still think it’s worth doing.”
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 7
Sue Kerr. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
THE WRITE STUFF
PITTSBURGH BLOGGER SUE KERR HONORED WITH NATIONAL GLAAD MEDIA AWARD
BY EMERSON ANDREWS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT INTERN INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ast year was a busy one for Sue Kerr, a long-time social worker-turned-writer who is the person behind Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents. The 14-year-old blog is about Kerr’s life, politics and her experience living in Western Pennsylvania the past few decades. In 2018 alone, Kerr covered the Turahn Jenkins campaign for Allegheny County District Attorney, the Pittsburgh Diocese report on child sex abuse and she even tangled with Fox News over Chickfil-A’s sponsorship of the Pittsburgh Marathon despite their ongoing contributions to anti-LGBTQ causes. Her work was rewarded in May when Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents was recognized with the title of Outstanding Blog at GLAAD’s 30th Annual Media
Awards. This was her second consecutive nomination and her first win. Though her partner and other people in her life provided positive responses, Kerr was taken aback by the lack of local media response. “I expected local media to pick the story up...it’s about the longestrunning LGBT blog in Pennsylvania,” Kerr said. “Pittsburgh’s never won this award in any category. It’s national, it’s Pride, it’s the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.” Kerr has only been interviewed by her local paper, the Northside Chronicle, since winning, as well as the Current, for which she contributes a regular op-ed column primarily on issues facing the region’s LGBTQ community. Kerr has been thinking a lot about the relationship between Pittsburgh and the LGBTQ community. In her
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view, the lack of coverage is a story itself, and one of queer erasure. Pittsburgh has one of the smaller LGBTQ populations for a city, which leads to a smaller market. Only one print publication has an LGBTQ beat. This puts pressure on bloggers like Kerr to pick up the stories that might otherwise be missed. “People get mad at me because of what I do and do not cover, and sometimes it’s a really conscious choice on my part about how to approach something, and sometimes it’s just that there’s too much,” Kerr said. Kerr is one of three contributors to her blog now. She also runs a project called, AMPLIFY, a space for LGBTQ community members in Western Pennsylvania to tell their personal stories and have them archived. These unfiltered Q&A
interviews showcase the diversity of the community. Kerr believes that this is the best way to promote the voices of those whose identities she does not share or those with the experience of living as both LGBTQ and a racial minority. Racial justice, along with socioeconomic inequality, are issues she feels Pittsburgh should be focusing on most this Pride month. “I’m glad we have People’s Pride. I think it’s really important...I’m also there at an event that is celebrating and lifting up people who are not white cis gay men and lesbians,” said Kerr. “That we’re there, we’re included, we’re welcome, we’re supported, but at the same time, like this is a real, very diverse — it’s so political and so safe at the same time.” Kerr’s current focus besides these issues is on the kittens she and her partner are taking care of after they were born under their porch. Her blog is updated with posts and photos regularly. She is also very active on both Facebook and her Twitter, @PghLesbian24. For Kerr, one of her proudest achievements has been keeping the blog running so long. A recent humbling experience came in the past week when she put up a fundraiser for a new laptop, which was fully funded in around twelve hours. Kerr describes those donations as “investing” in her work, and is grateful to not have to worry about losing access to having her voice heard. A lot of the data on the blog needs to be archived, and Kerr says she is always in the market for a web designer and developer who would be willing to put in about five hours a month to help deal with the site’s increased traffic and attacks, especially in the light of her receiving the GLAAD Award. Despite this, Kerr has few regrets that her life took this turn back in 2005: “My life is much richer, it’s a better life than I would have had, I think. If it stopped tomorrow, I’d still be very glad I did it.”
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 9
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
COMMUNITY FESTIVALS AND COUNTY FAIRS OFFER ONE-OF-A-KIND EXPERIENCES
BY CHARLIE DEITCH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT EDITOR CHARLIE@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ew people in these parts will argue that Kennywood is, quite frankly, one of the best amusement parks to spend a summer day. In Central Pa., you’ll probably get Hershey Park. In Ohio, they’ll rave about the awesomeness of Cedar Point. The fact is, while amusement parks are great, there is nothing better than a fair or a carnival going on right in your own backyard. When I was a kid, we looked forward to the Wellsville Fireman’s Carnival. For us, it was like we had Kennywood Park right down the street for six glorious days. It was the 1970s and 1980s; the rides were rickety, the operators were usually drunk or high and you could buy a wrist band for five bucks and ride all week. By week’s end, we were covered in bruises from the faulty Tilt-A-Whirl, all of our clothes were stained with ketchup from all the Firefighter Fries we ate and our bodies were filthy except for one streak of skin that sat under that ride band.
These days fairs and carnivals are the height of safety; rides are always tested and it costs more than $5 to ride all week. And although there’s no longer the fear of death, fairs, carnivals and street festivals are the perfect summer adventure. Here’s a look at some of our favorites. First, nothing is more local than celebrating your neighborhood with your neighbors. From now through October, many of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods hold their own Community Festivals. There are some, like the Polish Hill Arts Festival on July 21, and Homewood’s Black Family Reunion on Aug. 10 that draw crowds from beyond its neighborhood borders. Others celebrate what makes their little of corner of Pittsburgh special, like the It Takes a Village Community Day in Northview Heights on July 12 or Beltzhoover Community Day on July 13. For a complete list of the city’s community festivals visit, http://pittsburghpa.gov/events/
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community-festivals. The first thing to make note of when discussing local county fairs is that Allegheny County doesn’t have one. Sure there’s plenty of other stuff to do, but to get to a real county fair, you’ll need to do some driving. I never start a conversation about Western Pa. fairs without first mentioning the Lawrence County Fair, 464 Midway Road, New Castle, Aug. 12-17. I spent a lot of my teen years hanging out at this fair with my brothers and cousins. A quick trip up state Route 79 gets you to what I’ve always felt was one of the most authentic county fairs in the region. It’s not huge, but it’s big enough and always features a top-notch midway. There are also plenty of tractor pulls, demolition derbies, boxing and bull riding to keep you entertained. lawrencecountyfair.com From June 28-July 6, Western Pa’s grandest fair of them all takes place, The Big Butler Fair, 1127 New Castle Road, Prospect, Pa. Whether you’re looking to take in some of
the livestock competitions, indulge in some fair food and see a great fireworks display, you can find it here. Highlights include a school bus demolition derby and a free June 28 concert by The Clarks. Bigbutlerfair. com. Speaking of The Clarks, I never yearned to go the Fayette County Fair, 132 Pechin Road, Dunbar, Pa., until the boys gave it a shout out on their song, “Cigarette.” The Clarks aren’t playing this year at the July 25-Aug. 3 fair, but there’s still some great entertainment, including country singer Jo Dee Messina and Munhall’s own Gabby Barrett, who finished third in season 16 of American Idol. fayettefair.com If you’re a big car person or truck person or, apparently, a “Wheel of Death” person, the Westmoreland Fair, Aug. 16-24, is for you. Sure, they’ve got food and farm animals and rides, but the schedule is jampacked with stuff to do with motor vehicles of al stripes. You can take a ride on a monster truck, watch monster truck races, and see demo derbies between cars, trucks, minivans, tractors and all kinds of death-defying stuff! And, I’m not sure what the wheel of death is, but I’m sure heading to 123 Blue Ribbon Lane in Greensburg to find out! Westmorelandfair.com My final selection will take you back up Route 79. This time, all the way to Meadville, Pa. for the Crawford County Fair, Aug. 17-24. The draw here, aside from the normal fair specialties, is entertainment you’ve likely never seen before. First, there’s “The Rhinestone Roper.” This is a Wild West Show that features, ropes, whips, and throwing knives. Then, there’s the “Swifty Swine Racing Pigs.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. There’s also a professional wrestling show in a barn featuring former WWE Superstar, Gangrel. Indy Wrestling is huge in Pennsylvania and seeing it in a barn at a county fair is a must.
TAKE IT ALL IN FAIRS AND FESTIVALS YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS THIS SUMMER. BY SYDNEY KELLER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT INTERN INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
Fox Chapel’s Wine Shine Wheels ‘n FoodTruck Fest - Fox Chapel’s Wine Shine Wheels ‘n FoodTruck Fest will include wine, beer, cider, food trucks, shopping and Fox Chapel’s “Classic and Custom Car Show”. 50 cars will be showcased at the festival as well as 11 wineries and dispensaries, 15 food trucks and exhibitors and 17 shopping vendors that will be present at the fest. The fest will include entertainment from Right Turn Clyde Band. 11:30 a.m. June 15. Fox Chapel Yacht Club, Downtown. $10-$17. Localwineevents.com. Pizza Fest! A Slice of Delish - Pizza Fest! A Slice of Delish is a great way to experience the best pizza places throughout Pittsburgh. Food ven-
dors and live music will be included throughout the festival, so feel free to go and stay awhile. Attendees will have a chance to sample seven of Pittsburgh’s best Artisan Pizzas hot and fresh from the oven. In addition to pizza samples, there will be samples of Arsenal Cider and Ole Smoky Whiskey’s Summer Blend. 6 p.m. June 23. The Pennsylvania Market, Strip District. $25-$35. Ages 21 plus. Eventbrite.com. The Pittsburgh All-Star Craft Beer, Wine, and Cocktail Festival - PNC Park will be hosting The Pittsburgh All-Star Craft Beer, Wine, and Cocktail Festival, Pittsburgh’s largest craft beer, wine, and cocktail festival with 250 plus samples of beer. There will be two different sessions where participants have access to unlim-
ited samples of the best craft beer, wine and cocktails. In addition to the unlimited samples, the festival includes live bands and DJ’s, a souvenir sampling glass, yard games and two tickets to a future Pirate Game for the 2019 season. 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. June 29. PNC Park, Downtown. $24.95-$79.95. Ages 21 plus. Ballparkfestival.com.
7 food trucks for attendees to come and celebrate an evening out. The grandeur of the 1920’s Tudor Mansion will be a backdrop for all the vendors and live music. Samples will be provided from wineries and distilleries and food may be purchased from food vendors. 4 p.m. July 20. Hartwood Acres Park, Allegheny County. $5-$31. Alleghenycounty.us.
Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest - Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest dedicates two nights for craft beer fans to sample 125 plus breweries while fundraising for Animal Rescue Partners. The festival is hosted by Stage AE and presented by Fat Heads Brewery. The festival allows fans to celebrate with craft beer while also raising money for a great cause. 6:30 p.m. July 12 and 13. Stage AE, North Shore. $20$65. Ages 21 plus. pittsburghbeerfest. com. (Fresh Fest)
BrunchBurgh: A Pittsburgh Brunch Festival - BrunchBurgh: A Pittsburgh Brunch Festival is holding its second annual Brunch Festival. Thee festival will include food and drink vendors from some of the best breakfast places Pittsburgh has to offer from coffee to beer mimosas.If you are a brunch person, this festival is definitely right up your ally. 9:30 a.m. July 20. Hitchhiker Brewing Sharpsburg, Downtown. $25. Ages 21 plus. Eventbrite.com.
Allegheny Wine & Spirits Festival Allegheny Wine and Spirits Festival will include 8 wineries, 5 spirits and
Picklesburgh - Pickleburgh is a weekend long event that takes place on the Roberto Clemente Bridge inn
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 11
Downtown, Pittsburgh. You don’t want to miss the giant, pickle balloon that only comes out once a year for this spectacular weekend. The event includes food, drinks, competitions, merchandise and live entertainment. July 26. Roberto Clemente Bridge, Downtown. Free. picklesburgh.com/. Rosé All Day PGH - Rosé All Day PGH will be holding their first annual event in Pittsburgh for summer 2019. Enjoy rosé themed wine, cocktails, craft beers and ciders. In addition to beverages, there will be food vendors, live music and local arts to experience. 1 p.m. August 3. Nova Place, North Shore. $45-$89. Ages 21 plus. localwineevents.com. Fresh Fest - Fresh Fest is the nation’s first Black brew festival which includes 3,000 craft beer veterans, connoisseurs and novices coming to Pittsburgh from all over for this festival. Fresh Fest is presented by The Drinking Partners and Black
Brew Culture. Fresh Fest is back for summer 2019 with a lineup of Black-owned breweries and breweries collaborating with Black artists and entrepreneurs. 5 p.m. August 10. Nova Place, North Shore. $45-$150. Freshfestbeerfest.com. Bloomfield Little Italy Days Bloomfield Little Italy Days is a weekend long festival that begins August 15. The 18th annual festival will take place in Bloomfield with plenty of music, food and activities to participate in. The weekend will be Italy anything and everything. 6 p.m. August 15. Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, Downtown. Free. eventcrazy.com.
Tropical Forest Cuba Festival The Tropical Forest Cuba Festival is culturally diverse festival hosted by Phipps Conservatory. Come and learn dance steps of the rumba and
Picklesburgh. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
all about Cuba’s plant life. Other activities include Cuban food samples, Children’s Pot-a-Plant and a presentation about Orchids of Cuba. This festival will allow participants to gain more knowledge on the natural beauty of Cuba, a beautiful, most biodiverse Caribbean island. 11 a.m. June 15. Phipps Conservatory, Oakland. Free with Conservatory Admission. Phipps.conservatory.org.
Western PA Juneteenth Celebration and Black Music Fest - The Western PA Juneteenth Celebration and Black Music Fest is a two day celebration of black music and the end of slavery in the African American community. The festival will include a parade, live entertainment such as bands and dance troupes, motivational speakers, a kids zone, raffles, vendors, games and historical knowledge. June 29 and 30. Point
IT’S WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT.
EVENT SCHEDULE NOW AVAILABLE www.YouGottaRegatta.org 12 | JUNE 11, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
State Park, Downtown. Free. www. visitpittsburgh.com. Himalayan Festival 2019: The Himalayan Festival for summer 2019 will include all culture, music, dance and a DJ. This festival is culturally diverse and a great time to celebrate with friends. 5 p.m. July 28. Stage AE, North Shore. $30. Pittsburgh.net. 29th Annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival - The 29th Annual Pittsburgh Irish Festival holds a weekend celebration starting September 6 as a halfway to St. Patrickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day festival. The festival contributes to awareness of cultural Irish history and works with the Irish Education Outreach Program to expand the knowledge of Irish history year round. There will be food and drinks as well as activities such as ax throwing, food samplings and much more. 4 p.m. September 6. Riverplex at Sandcastle, Homestead. $8-$14. Pghirishfest.org.
PPG Festival of Color - PPG is sponsoring the PPG Festival of Color to celebrate the day dedicated to the world of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. The day will be full of colorful activities including sand art, chalk art, coloring, face painting and t-shirt tie-dying. The event is open to all ages and is a day to discover your own colorful world. 10 a.m. June 22. Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, Downtown. $15.95-$17.95. Pittsburghzoo.org. 23rd Annual Shadyside...The Art Festival on Walnut Street - The Art Festival on Walnut Street is holding their 23rd Annual Shadyside Festival. The two day festival began as a neighborhood fair and is now one of the most known art festivals in Pennsylvania. There will be over 140 artists at the festival with their own work as well as painters, potters, jewelers and photographers. The festival is open to anyone and if you have a knack for art yourself, then this festival should definitely be in your summer 2019 itinerary. 10 a.m. August 24. Bellefonte St, Shadyside. PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 13
at the award-winning festival. The non-profit live festival has a focus of fostering economic and community development as well as promoting live music throughout Pittsburgh. Enjoy live music, food and clubs at the 2019nDeutschtown Music Festival. 2 p.m. and 12 p.m. July 12 and 13. Allegheny Commons Park, Northside. Free. deutschtownmusicfestival.com.
Deutschtown Music Festival. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
Sad Summer Festival - The Sad Summer Festival is an outdoor, music festival featuring live performances by The Maine, Mayday Parade, State Champs, The Wonder Years, Mom Jeans., Stand Atlantic, Just Friends and Jetty Bones. 12 p.m. July 19. Stage AE, North Shore. $30$37. promowestlive.com/. Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival 2019 - Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival is a four-day festival dedicated to jazz music. Over 140 musicians will be present at the jazz festival including well-known and new artists. Featured artists include Patti Labelle, Charles Lloyd, Stanley Clarke, War and Black Women Rock. 8 p.m. June 20. Liberty Avenue, Downtown. Free. pittsburghjazzfest. org. Outlaw Music Festival - The Outlaw Music Festival is an outdoor music festival with artists including Willie Nelson, The Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, Old Crow Medicine Show and Dawes. 3 p.m. June 22. Keybank Pavilion, Burgettstown. $29.50$229.50. Songkick.com. Instrumental Collaborative Piano Festival in Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music is holding its first annual Instrumental Collaborative Piano Festival in Pittsburgh. This unique festival will provide masterclasses, lec-
tures, workshops and voice lessons with Carnegie Mellon’s faculty and musicians. The festival is open to both well-known and new pianists interested in gaining and learning new skills. Applicants can participate in the masterclass performance track or lesson track and compete in the festival competition. The winner will have the opportunity to perform at the faculty recital. The Instrumental Collaborative Piano Festival allows students interested in piano and music to develop their skills in a professional environment with Carnegie Mellon’s well-known School of Music. 8 a.m. June 23. Carnegie Mellon University, Oakland. $0-$600. Instrumentalcollaborativepianofestival.com. WYEP Summer Music Festival: UPMC Health Plan presents the 45th Annual Anniversary of the WYEP Summer Music Festival. The 2019 WYEP Summer Music Festival provides an alternative genre of music for adults throughout Pittsburgh. 91.3 WYEP has been a Western PA source of music since 1974. The all-day festival includes a line up of musicians including DeVotchKa, Cautious Clay, Clara Kent, Nevada Color, Elias Khouri and Pierce Dipner. 3 p.m. June 29. Schenley Plaza, Oakland. Free. wyep.org. Deutschtown Music Festival: Deutschtown Music Festival is a free music festival with 30 plus stages and 300 plus bands. There are both outdoor and indoor stages
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Blues and Roots Festival: The 2019 Pittsburgh Blues and Roots Festival presents concerts that take place on both the pavilion and festival stages at The Syria Mosque in Cheswick, PA. The concert includes bands, DJ’s and a live performance of the national anthem by Joey Hnath. The event uses live music to raise money for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh. The two-day concert event includes a great variety of live music and all proceeds benefit a great cause. Ages 16 and younger are free. 1:30 p.m. July 27 and 28. The Syria Mosque, Cheswick. $26.pghbluesrootsfest.com. Metal Immortal Festival 2019: The Metal Immortal Festival presents heavy metal band Lady Beast for one night. Join for heavy metal music from Pittsburgh based heavy metal artists. 5 p.m. June 29. Mr. Smalls Theatre. Millvale. $40-$65. Decibelgeek.com. Skull Fest: Sixty punk bands will spend three days playing live shows across the city, aka, Pubksburgh. Aug. 15-18. skullfestpgh.com Rock, Reggae and Relief Music Festival: The 2019 Rock, Reggae and Relief Music Festival is a benefit concert for cancer research: Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance. The concert takes place over two days with live music from renowned artists. The lineup for Friday features Gavin DeGraw and includes The Expendables, Roots of Creation and Ras Prophet. The lineup for Saturday features Michael Franti and Spearhead and includes Magic!, Roots of Creation and Flow Band. The concert will support The Piatt Family
Foundation as the live music helps celebrate late Julie Ann Guss who passed away from ovarian cancer January 2019. 4 p.m. August 24 and 25. Market Square and Forbes Ave, Downtown. $39.95-$290.00. Rockreggaerelief.com.
The DVE Comedy Festival: Randy Baumann and the DVE Morning Show present DVE Comedy Festival. The festivals 50th Anniversary Edition will be hosted by Billy Gardell and featuring Bill Burr. Special guests include Roy Wood Jr., Jessica Kirson, Ian Bagg and Bill Crawford. These comedians come to the DVE Comedy Festival in Pittsburgh from all over with past experience on podcasts, television, stage and radio. 8 p.m. June 29. PPG Paints Arena, Downtown. $13-$123. Ppgpaintsarena.com. EQT Three Rivers Regatta. Point The EQT Three Rivers Regatta combines music, boating, food, family and fun, all in the name of preserving and protecting the rivers we call home. Check their website as 2019 events are announced. yougottaregatta.org July 5th 50’s Freedom Fest: The 50’s Freedom Fest will be a post-celebration of the 4th of July. Come and enjoy a drive in movie style screening of Grease. Also included will be a car show, food and games. 5 p.m. July 5. Wall Rose Club, Baden. Free. eventbrite.com. Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix: The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is a charity event for the Autism Society that has taken place for 36 years. The event has 150 racers that will compete through the streets of Schenley Park. The festival will include car shows, parades, a gala, tours and races. July 13 and 14. 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Bob O’ Connor Golf Course, Schenley. Free. pvgp.org. Jeff Fest: Jeff Fest is a three day long festival that will include music, food,
a kids zone and many more activities. Live entertainment includes Polynesian dancers, Irish cloggers and local bands. 9 a.m. August 2. Jefferson Memorial Park, Pleasant Hills. $5. 10times.com. Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival: The Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival willl occur six weekends for summer 2019. Attendees are encouraged to dress in costumes and keep up with the calendar of themes that each weekend has to offer. There will be entertainment such as music, magic and dance groups. 10:30 a.m. August 17. Renaissance Lane, West Newton.
Pittsburgh Water Lantern Festival: The Pittsburgh Water Lantern Festival will include food trucks and music along with lanterns that people can design and release into the water. The festival should allow friends, family and loved ones to come together to experience the magic of thousands of lit lanterns released into the water. 5:30 p.m. August 31. Allegheny Commons Park, North Park. $25-$40. Waterlanternfestival.com.
20% off with
promo code: PghCurrent
*your first time at PNME is FREE
You are where you eat.
PNME.org JULY 12, 13
Chris Cerrone commission at City Theatre
JULY 19, 20
Storytelling through music at City Theatre
BYO Wine for our signature afterparties!
JULY 11 - 14
The Gray Cat & the Flounder Film in 360° (audience in headphones) at Row House Cinemas
The Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant designation gives you the power to make dining decisions that align with your personal values. There are over 150 designated restaurants in our region that care about the growth and health of our region. With a range of price points, a variety of cuisines, and all types of dining experiences, Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants make it easy for you to eat sustainably.
Look for this symbol. Find out what it means at EatSustainably.org.
Steven Bryant Binaural 360° Workshop at City Theatre
A Program of Sustainable Pittsburgh
Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants pictured: Della Terra Italian Bistro; Jambo Grill; Kaya; Millie’s Ice Cream; Monterey Bay Fish Grotto; or, The Whale; Piazza Talarico; Sorrento’s Pizza Roma; and The Commoner. Additional photography credits: Adam Milliron, Paul Selvaggio, Emily Philpot, and Distrikt Restaurants PGH.
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School Board District 4) Weldianne Scales (Swissvale Borough Council) Gina Englert (West Mifflin School Board) Marilyn Scott (Woodland Hills School Board) Amy Fazio (New Brighton School Board) Lisa Carpenter (Washington County Treasurer)
Deb Gross. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
WTF, THAT’S IMPRESSIVE
BY ARYANNA BERRINGER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT POLITICAL COLUMNIST ARYANNA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ear after year, Pennsylvania ranks toward the very bottom of the list for electing women to office — at all levels. We’ve never elected a woman to the United States Senate or the Governor’s Office and when you narrow your focus to the Western side of the State, the numbers get even worse with representation locally. However, I’d venture to say that Western Pennsylvania is electing women at a higher rate than the rest of the State (maybe even the country) and it could be because organizations like Women for the Future of Pittsburgh exist. Now, full disclosure, I serve on their Board, but what the organization as a whole is accomplishing when it comes to local elections can’t be ignored. They endorsed 14 candidates in
Look closely at these names and the offices they’re running for. These aren’t just women in the City of Pittsburgh or even Allegheny County or seats sitting at the top of the ticket. These wins cover everything from county council to school board, and cover communities throughout Western Pennsylvania. Women for the Future of Pittsburgh is making an impact up and down the ballot and across Western Pennsylvania by contributing money in those races where $500 can mean the difference between a win and a loss. WTF donated $7,250 dollars to these candidates in the Primary and it was enough to make a significant impact on each of the races. Nearly 90% of WTF donors are women. That means women are supporting and empowering other
the Pennsylvania Primary. Guess how many won? Every single one of them. 14 for 14! A complete sweep. Here’s the rundown: Bethany Hallam (Allegheny County Council-At-Large) Liv Bennett (Allegheny County Council District 13) Christine Allen (Allegheny County Council District 2) Deb Gross (Pittsburgh City Council District 7) Kate Abel (Dormont Council) Jen Partica (Moon Area School Board) Valerie Fleisher (Mt. Lebanon School Board) Deanna Philpott (North Hills School Board) Pam Harbin (Pittsburgh Public
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women in Western Pennsylvania and those gains are starting to show. I don’t see organizations like Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, or even unions contributing or endorsing at similar rates. Women for the Future of Pittsburgh is standing alone in the depth and investment of women in Western Pennsylvania and if you ask me, that’s pretty badass. I joined WTF because I saw them engaging a new universe when it comes to political donors and making investments where traditional political action committees wouldn’t. WTF raises money in a pretty unconventional way, too. They hosted a Drag Brunch at Le Mont this spring. And they give money early, often, and to races where smaller dollar donations can make a big impact. Women for the Future of Pittsburgh hasn’t even been around for two years and has contributed almost $48,000 to progressive women in our region — just imagine what will be done in five years.
GET OUT OF MY WOMB, BRO
BY JESS SEMLER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ast week in the UK, a pregnant woman ordered a caramel macchiato at Starbucks. The man behind the counter refused to make her drink unless it was decaf, and argued with her when she insisted on her order. This barista doesn’t also moonlight as an obstetrician, he was just being paternalistic to a woman he didn’t know. A few days ago at a MoveOn forum in San Francisco, a white dude bum-rushed the show and grabbed Kamala Harris’ microphone when she was about to answer a question about the gender pay gap. Yesterday, a friend told me she was visiting someone in the hospital. Her friend, whose concerns about persistent abdominal pain had been dismissed by doctors for quite some time, had recently been diagnosed with late stage cancer, far too late for any meaningful treatment. The needle that threads these stories together is that they show that often women aren’t trusted to make decisions for themselves, to be the experts on their experiences, or even deserve to hold space that is theirs. In 2019 alone, more than 350 bills that would limit abortion access have been proposed across the country. Despite Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s harrowing testimony of her sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh, he was swiftly confirmed to the Supreme Court. Last week Justice Clarence Thomas gave the signal that contraception bans are on the horizon. The trend of women’s pain (particularly black women) not being taken seriously is well documented.There is no denying that we live in a climate where the bodies of women and other people with uteruses are constantly the battlefield on which political war is waged. Naturally, this permeates through to the bigger culture. We are not trusted to make decisions for our bodies in their most intimate, singular moments. Restrictions
on our bodies are primarily made by white cis-men legislative bodies, without consultation from physicians. Let’s break for a second. I’m not saying that all white cis-dudes are guilty of taking these actions, but I am saying that they all carry privilege, and that impacts how they interface with the world. Looking through a different lens, I don’t get personally offended when people of color generalize issues with white folks. It isn’t personal. The fact is, we were all raised within white supremacist culture, where racism is institutionalized. This isn’t something to feel bad about; you can’t be in the water without getting wet. What it does mean is that as a white person, it’s not enough that I don’t act overtly racist- I need to actively work to make spaces antiracist. The same goes with men and sexism. Back to that big-bearded-manbun-sporting-hacky-sack-tapping hippie (description courtesy of my partner) who felt empowered enough to hop up on stage, grab Kamala’s mic, and start yapping about animals. Lois Beckett of The Guardian spoke with this doofus, “I asked (the dude bro) who jumped onstage to interrupt Kamala Harris, if he had considered the optics of literally taking the microphone away from women of color. ‘I did,’ he said. ‘I tried to show my profound respect for each of the people onstage.’” My good dude, you took the microphone from the only black woman running for president. The optics of a white man taking up space and silencing a black woman is not okay. Consequently, white folks who speak out about animals but are silent about black lives are also not okay. The Starbucks barista, who’s been aptly dubbed ‘the womb botherer’ by comedian Tiffany Stevenson (at least something good came out of this!) thought it was appropriate to
deny a woman her coffee because he thought he knew better than she did herself. This story went viral in part because so many women jumped in to talk about times they themselves were womb-splained by random strangers during their pregnancies. Starbucks is known for its coffee, but let me refill your tea. The coffee conglomerate prides itself on being LGBTQ friendly, but former barista of nine years, Maddie Wade, is suing Starbucks for discrimination and harassment that she experienced after coming out as transgender. Her manager deadnamed her, cut her hours, and purposely used incorrect pronouns. While we’re here, a quick note. Forget “preferred pronouns.” A person’s pronouns are nonnegotiable and part of showing basic human respect. Rather than fire the bigoted manager, Starbucks is digging in their heels and saying that Maddie’s experiences didn’t meet the threshold for discrimination or harassment. Can you believe this? In June 2019, the 50th anniversary of
when luminous transwomen warrior queens Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera ignited the Stonewall Riots, Starbucks has the nerve to say this behavior wasn’t harassment. I don’t want to hear about feminist spaces needing to be more inclusive of men. We need straight white cis dudes to make their spaces safe for everyone.
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The Speckled Band
THE MYSTERY’S MYSTERY
KINETIC THEATRE’S ‘THE SPECKLED BAND’ BRINGS THIS SHERLOCK HOLMES ADVENTURE TO THE STAGE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DECADES
ew works are the lifeblood of the theater. But it’s not often that a “new work” was adapted for the stage 109 years ago. That play is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Speckled Band. The company putting on this Sherlock Holmes mystery is Kinetic Theatre at the Charity Randall Theatre June 13-30. Doyle wrote the short story in 1892 and adapted it for the stage himself in 1910. Kinetic’s Artistic Director Andrew Paul, who is directing and producing The Speckled Band, says this was the only one of Doyle’s stories adapted for the stage by the author himself.
BY SYDNEY KELLER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT INTERN INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM “What Doyle has done, which I think is pretty genius, is that he has made it a completely theatrical version,” Paul says. “It actually is not similar to the original story. He has written it as a living, breathing stage play. This is more than a murder mystery, it’s a sheer adventure. “It debuted in 1910 in London and on Broadway and then it just sunk without a trace. Somebody told me the script existed and I finally found the damn thing.” The search for the play turned Paul into a Sherlock Holmes of sorts, and he finally found the entire play printed on a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fansite in the UK. As far as Paul is
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able to discern, the play has only been performed once since its 1910 debut, in 1979 at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. He says he believes the underlying secrecy of this particular adaptation of Doyle’s work is what makes this play unique and why people must see the play for themselves. “Nobody in the business seems to know this existed,” Paul says. “I think it’s going to play grippingly. It’s more of a thriller.” Well-known local actor David Whalen plays Sherlock Holmes in The Speckled Band. Whalen also agrees that Doyle’s writing truly gives the sense of a mystery-thriller.
“Thrilling” is the first word Whalen used to describe the play. “I like the fact that he is really involved in finding out the minutia, the backstory of crimes. I love that he goes deep into that.” Whalen is Pittsburgh born and raised and says he gets his work ethic from being raised in the community. He has performed in more than 50 shows in Pittsburgh and is excited to perform with the Kinetic Theatre again because he has established a connection with Paul. “It’s like going back to a relationship that you know and that you trust,” Whalen says. “He trusts me and I trust him.”
Whalen has played Sherlock Holmes five times; each time with Paul by his side. The trust is mutual because Paul says he considers Whalen as a co-producer of The Speckled Band. Whalen says he’s also made connections with his fellow cast members and has worked previously with many of the actors in The Speckled Band including David Crawford, Sam Tsoutsouvas, John Reilly and Ethan Saks. “I love being a part of a company,” Whalen says. “It’s like being a part of a sports team that has been together for six, seven or eight years.” Whalen describes The Speckled Band as, “A true locked-room mystery/drama of Sherlock.” He says that each time he plays the role of Holmes, he brings as much of himself to the character as possible. Both Whalen and Holmes are workaholics which helps the actor relate and continue to play the character. “I try to bring as much from my own history to make personal connections to the material so that it really feels alive and spontaneous because that’s what I think Sherlock is,” Whalen says. “I think within him is a deep yearning for good.” Whalen describes how he has a passion for both acting in film and theater, but theater is alive and real, something that film doesn’t offer. “Theater is exhausting, but it’s so rewarding,” Whalen says. “I love acting in the theater because that’s a real craft. There are no cuts, there’s no editing. Once it’s over, it’s over.” That’s why he plans to enjoy his time as Holmes in this longforgotten play. “It’s a wonderful script,” he says. “I can’t wait to unleash it.”
THE SPECKLED BAND: A SHERLOCK HOLMES ADVENTURE. June 13-30
at the Charity Randall Theatre, 4301 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $20-$45. Kinetic.showclix.com.
friday, june 21, 2019 6:00-11:00pm
Mattress Factory Contemporary Art Museum Hosted by the Mattress Factory + the Factory Fellows
Tickets on sale now at mattress.org Let’s dance the midsummer night away with visions of fairies, druids, centaurs and all things mystical!
Allegheny General Hospital Staff • All in Good Taste Productions • Central Outreach Wellness Center Cozen O’Connor • PJ Dick Trumbull • PNC FHL Bank • First National Bank of Pennsylvania • Jones Day • Scott and Sue Lammie • John and Deb Lantz Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl, LLC • Nancy and Woody Ostrow • Plantscape • Rectenwald Brothers Reed Smith LLP • S&T Bank • Schell Games • Walnut Capital
The Mattress Factory 500 Sampsonia Way
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 19
Artist-Composer Alexis Gideon. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
the surroundings and creating an environment for the audience to come into and experience the whole installation,” he says. Although Gideon ran with what transpired during his dream, the themes from the work come from a grounded, personal place: three of his four grandparents fled Europe during World War II, and Gideon’s father didn’t move to the United States until Gideon was 17. “Those things sort of were always buried somewhere in my subconscious. So I wasn’t thinking about those things when I set out to work on this piece, but they kind of revealed itself,” he says. According to Gideon, this specific experience with loss and longing point to a ubiquitous feeling of wanting to belong. “I feel like these issues are very universal beyond any one person or group of peoples’ experience of trying to find a home or having to leave their home. I hope that it is
open enough for it to relate to all different types of people and all different types of cultures going through any feelings of loss,” he says. Much like the inspiration for There Is Not an Infinite Space between Two Points, Gideon hopes viewers take in the entire experience of the work when entering 937 Gallery. “I’d like people to come in and be taken on a journey and feel like they’re kind of in a dream and kind of in a state that is separate from most of our waking life, to have a moment where things feel a little bit looser and that anything could happen,” he says. ALEXIS GIDEON. THERE IS NOT AN INFINITE SPACE BETWEEN TWO POINTS. Now until Sun., June 16 (Live performances Fri., June 14 and Sat., June 15 at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.) 937 Gallery, 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Free. www.trustarts.org
ARTIST-COMPOSER ALEXIS GIDEON EXPLORES LOSS AND LONGING IN NEW SOLO WORK BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM he idea for composer and performance piece, along with artist Alexis Gideon’s newest accompanying light boxes, window work came to him in a dream. murals and paintings on wood. Literally. Part of Princess’ tour included “I was finishing up another piece a stop at the Warhol Museum in and I had this dream where I was February, where he and collaborator having lunch with my father. He Michael O’Neill performed, Out asked me, ‘Alexis, what’s your new There, a concept video album piece going to be about?’ And I told exploring the role men should him; it was this piece. I woke up play during the current cultural and I remembered it and I was like, reckoning of misogyny, inspired by ‘Huh!’” he says. “One of the ways that science fiction, MTV and concept I work is, if an idea comes and it feels albums like David Bowie’s Ziggy right, I like to run with it.” Stardust. Fresh off of a 40-city museum According to Gideon, this new, tour with his art band, Princess, solo work has a different feel to it, Gideon debuts this new solo video tackling much different themes and performance piece at 937 and exploring different parts of his Gallery Downtown in coordination practice. with the Three Rivers Arts Festival. “It’s more of an exhibition which Titled, There Is Not an Infinite Space has a performative element, whereas between Two Points, Gideon tackles the Princess piece was more of a transgenerational trauma and performance without an exhibition feelings of loss and displacement element,” he says. “This one’s a lot with an 11-minute video and more dreamy and a lot more about
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There Is Not an Infinite Space between Two Points (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
by Andrew Schubert
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Best in Show By Phil Juliano
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Best of Rob Rogers, June 3-9
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.
email: email@example.comPITTSBURGH CURRENT | OCT. 23, 2018 | 21
Public art by D.S. Kinsel.
BEAUTIFUL, INTENTIONAL AND UNAPOLOGETIC ARTISTS EXPLORE THE FUTURE OF THE BLACK EXPERIENCE WITH ‘BLACK ON BLACK MAGIC’
BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
his month’s First Friday kicked off with a bang thanks to BOOM Concepts new art exhibition, “Black on Black Magic.” Featuring the work of D.S. Kinsel, his wife Anqwenique, and Bekezela Mguni, “Black on Black Magic” is a month-long installation at BOOM that explores the present and future of the black experience. The concept for “Black on Black Magic” came in part through the source of the exhibition’s funding. “Darrell and I were really honored to receive a grant through the Office of Pittsburgh Public Arts with the project ‘There Are Black People in the Future” by Alicia B. Wormsley,” said Anqwenique Kinsel. The “There Are Black People in the Future” project is rooted in a 2018 billboard that Wormsley imbued with the sentence that would become the project’s title. Less than one month after its installation, however, the text was abruptly removed at the request of the billboard’s owner. This decision was met with immediate backlash, and seen by many as a representation of East Liberty’s gentrification woes. “I find it tragically ironic, given East Liberty’s history and recent gentrification, that a text by an African-American artist affirming a place in the future for black people is seen as unacceptable in the present,”
said Jon Rubin, founder of The Last Billboard, who exhibited Wormsley’s work. The billboard’s removal led to Wormsley’s collaboration with the Office of Public Arts, providing small grants to black artists, like the Kinsels and Mguni, allowing them to explore the relevance of the phrase “There Are Black People in the Future.” The title “Black on Black Magic” originated in D.S. Kinsel’s temporary street installations, and is his way of steering the narrative around the phrase “black on black” in a positive direction. “It’s making sure we bring positivity in our work, positivity in our messaging, and positivity in the language connected to the black identity,” D.S. Kinsel said. D.S.’ work for “Black on Black Magic” is based on his newlyreleased photobook “Sacraments, Totems and Shrines.” The book, which will be available throughout the exhibition, features temporary street installations created by D.S. in various cities throughout America, made using found objects. His installation will consist of several screen prints of images from the book, juxtaposing traditional art against the commercial art of the photobook. “It’s almost using my street art practices like geotags, like spiritual
geotags, turning telephone poles into totem poles by putting these found objects on them,” D.S. said. D.S. does not intend to keep this technique to himself, however. As part of BOOM’s Juneteenth celebration, D.S. will be holding a workshop to teach other artists how to create totems and shrines in his style. He hopes that this will allow his totems, meant to be symbols of safety and community in urban environments, to appear in places they have not before. “It would be cool, when people learn how to make these totems like me, if I begin to see these items in other neighborhoods or my own neighborhood,” D.S. said. D.S.’ wife, Anqwenique, will have her own visual art on display as well, with her work centering on the role black women play in shaping the future of the black community. “Thinking about the phrase ‘There are Black People in the Future,’ I wanted to view that through in the context of black mothers, how are we as a society taking care of black women as they parent, and how can we create a space that is conducive to black women having all that they need,” Anqwenique said. Further supplementing this concept, Anqwenique, a trained vocalist and musician, will also be hosting her own workshop, meant to teach black women how to use singing and music to improve the lives of both themselves and the children who depend on them. “As a vocalist, musician, and a new mom, I wanted to make a workshop space where I’m talking about how we use our voices in singing for self-care, for healing,” Anqwenique said. “I’m also going to be talking about how important it is for mothers to sing for their young babies, and how that helps babies and young children with developmental milestones.” The final component of “Black on Black Magic” comes in Bekezela Mguni’s “Black Unicorn Library” project. With her background in library and information sciences, Mguni has archived a large selection
of literature by black female writers, and created an experiential library to tell their stories. “Black Unicorn centers on the literary and artistic contributions of black women,” Mguni writes on her personal site. “Using a black queer feminist approach, Black Unicorn brings a unique experience and lens to material collection, information sharing and community building.” Black Unicorn Library serves as an important piece of the message “There Are Black People in the Future,” as its goal is to teach young people about the black perspective and tell the stories of black women. The ultimate goal is to provide knowledge, which Mguni argues will be the root of liberation. “When Black writers, artists, musicians, teachers and creatives share the tools that help us think critically about ourselves and the world, they empower and awaken a part of us that cannot be touched by any physical force,” Mguni writes. It is this sharing of tools that sits at the heart of BOOM’s June programming, and it is the hope of those involved in “Black on Black Magic” that these tools become a piece of that which shapes the future of the black community in Pittsburgh. “We’re envisioning what the future for black people and black artists really look like and what it means, and this is our small way of representing that in a beautiful, intentional, unapologetic way,” said Anqwenique Kinsel.
“BLACK ON BLACK MAGIC”
will be on display throughout the month of June at Boom Concepts, 5139 Penn Ave., Garfield. The Black Unicorn Library Reading Room will have open hours every Tuesday in June, from 5-8 p.m. at 732 E. Warrington Ave., Allentown. D.S. Kinsel will host a Juneteenth celebration and street art workshop June 19 at 6 p.m. Anqwenique Kinsel will host her Just Sing! workshop June 26 at 5:30 p.m.
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 25
Anjali Sachdeva. Photo by: Thurner Photography
DEPTH OF FIELD
ANJALI SACHDEVA TO READ FROM DIVERSE SHORT-STORY COLLECTION, ‘ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD’ BY JODY DIPERNA - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER JODY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
he stories all start with an idea. Something in the news will catch her eye. She’ll ruminate about a trip to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. She’ll find herself thinking about a beloved poetry professor. These are just some of the seeds that blossomed into Anjali Sachdeva’s collection of short stories, “All the Names They Used for God” (Spiegel & Grau, 2018). The stories have settings as disparate as English poet
John Milton’s bedside circa 1670s and two young women from Chibok who survive their abduction by Boko Haram. Raised in Pittsburgh, Sachdeva studied at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop before returning home. She worked at Creative Nonfiction based in Friendship for six years. She taught at Carnegie Mellon and currently teaches composition at the University of Pittsburgh.
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“It started with an image,” she told the Current. “I was thinking about glassblowing. This was weird, but I was thinking, what would happen if you breathed in when you’re supposed to be blowing out? Of course, what would happen would not be anything like what I described, but it just got me thinking in that direction.” She’s talking about Glass-Lung, the second story in the collection wherein an immigrant steelworker is severely injured while working on an experimental process involving glass. The jumping off point may be inspired by the history of her hometown, but she takes the reader to unexpectedly beautiful, lyrical places that are all uniquely hers. “All the Names They Used for God” won the 2019 Chautauqua Prize and has earned raves among literary sites like Tin House, The Millions, Kirkus and The Rumpus, as well as being named one of the year’s best by NPR. These nine stories were written over a period of about a dozen years. Sachdeva admits to being a slow writer and says that it is extremely rare for her to finish a piece in under six months. She will take up to a year with a story sometimes. The time she allows permits her to move around in these universes she’s created; world-building in short stories is compressed, but by spending so much time there herself, Sachdeva manages to convey very lived-in spaces. The patience of her process, her willingness to give ideas, situations and characters room to breath, is a balm in the world of hot takes and insta-culture. In Killer of Kings, she imagines John Milton composing his epic poem, Paradise Lost, with the guidance of a rogue angel who inspires mesmerizing descriptions of the devil. “Milton was devoutly religious and yet he wrote this poem where the devil is clearly the most interesting character. I wanted to think about what was behind that,” Sachdeva said. It is a very different setting than ‘Manus,’ her dystopian sci-fi story,
which she says just came to her. “That idea was there,” she said. “Unlike almost every story I write, the idea of having aliens cut people’s hands off was the seed and I cannot tell you where that came from.” The original idea may be a mystery, but the details she brings make it come to life. The sluglike nature of the Masters and the workaday world of the humans, who are permitted to go about their lives, stay in their townhouses and barbecue on the weekends. Sachdeva writes, “Bea and I spent most of the morning playing online Scrabble at our desks and sending each other links to hilarious or disgusting Internet videos, but around eleven a Master slithered into the doorway and said, ‘Hey, anyone who don’t have upgrades needs to go to the conference room.’ The Masters all had the exact same voice when they spoke English, a high-pitched, androgynous blend of Long Island nasal tones and fat Midwestern vowels.” With a collection this varied, turning the page from one story to the next can be like watching “Game of Thrones,” and then “Office Space,” followed by “The Deadliest Catch.” But Sachdeva is a gifted storyteller. She manages to bring whimsy and humor while also keeping the reader on the edge of their seats, creating suspense through intense situations and a bit of danger. It’s quite the balancing act. “I usually start with a concept or idea,” Sachdeva said. “I really do think that short stories are a literature of ideas. You can use the space of a story to really explore one concept or one key turning point in someone’s life.”
ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD has just been released in
paperback. Sachdeva will read at White Whale Books on June 21st at 7:00 and will be Clare Beams.
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THE GOOD ONES
DETAINEES’ BRISK CLINIC ON PUNK ROCK
BY MEG FAIR - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ittsburgh’s Detainees are teaching a clinic on punk. In under 10 minutes you can learn nearly all you need to know about what makes great punk music — driving tempos, solid riffs and energetic vocals that are just a little unhinged. And those punk rock essentials have been at the root of the project from the beginning. “The idea for the band was Punk 101, just ripping off the records that got me hooked in the first place,” says Tom Moran, the primary songwriter for Detainees. “[I’d] had the Detainees stuff in my back pocket for a couple years before anything happened with it. I moved to Philly for about two-and-
a-half years, and though I met some really great people, I was so bored out of my mind that I spent most of my time at home, listening to records and learning to play guitar.” When Moran moved back to Pittsburgh, the wheels started moving. Initially he asked Nick “Scud” Leombruno, the guitarist of Concealed Blade, SLIP and more, to play drums in the band. “I figured if I sucked at guitar and he sucked at drums, we’d be equal,” says Moran. “He wasn’t into it.” Instead, Moran asked veteran drummer Dave Rosenstraus to play. “He’s been an ass beater for quite some time,” says Moran. Once Rosenstraus was on board, he asked John Villegas, who owns Cruel Noise
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Records and plays in De Rodillas and Peace Talks, to join on bass. Moran and Villegas have known each other for over a decade, and went to the same shows at the old Roboto Project as teenagers. “John was an obvious choice,” says Moran. “He wears a Misfits shirt all the time.” Rosenstraus, Moran and Villegas recorded the five songs on the release live to half inch tape at Braddock Hit Factory, Rosenstraus’ studio, home and practice space. Moran then recruited Cole Weber for vocals. “Cole has been an under-theradar freak for as long as I’ve known him. The first time I really heard his vocals was when he was recording
them for this 7-inch and I was shocked. I knew he’d be good, but goddamn,” says Moran. The result is something that doesn’t sound quite like anything associated with the band members’ prior work. “It’s definitely different from what any of the people in this band has ever done, which is really fun,” says Villegas. The result of all this work is a shitrockin’ blast of punk that is equal parts aggressive and fun, catchy and edgy. It’s the kind of record you can listen to over and over again, short enough to keep you wanting more. “One of the Good Ones” and “Reputation” have hooks that are ripe for shouting along to. You can almost picture a packed in crowd of punks thrusting their crushed beer and La Croix cans in the air along in sync. Songs like the eponymous track, “Detainees,” and “Big Foot” feel like they’re moving so fast that it could crash off the tracks at any moment, while closer “City Grief” has a more hardcore punk energy and lyrics that drip with playful disgust, despair and resignation. “It’s a nice idea, going out, meeting up, being cool,” drones Weber with a tinge of growl, “Saying ‘what’s up’ to everybody, I don’t want to say what’s up to everybody.” The 7-inch will be available on June 21, pressed by Gotta Groove records in Cleveland, Ohio. “For the nerds, there are 500 [copies]. 100 of them are white. Jason Lee, formerly known as Laura Pallmall, did the artwork and it came out really awesome,” says Villegas. And with its first physical release under its belt, Detainees is ready to get at it again. “For me the most exciting part about this record being out is that we can work on the next one,” says Moran. “Playing shows and touring is cool, but writing and recording are my favorite parts.” The full demo is available to enjoy on Cruel Noise’s YouTube channel: youtu.be/aPpZMuscloA
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Old Game. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
OLD GAME EXAMINES MENTAL HEALTH IN NEW EP, ‘LUNATICS’ BY JUSTIN VELLUCCI - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM renda Leeds knows about the Thom Hunter, bassist Josh Hovanec to the Kaiser Family Foundation, feeling. and drummer Erik Pitluga -- will mental health treatment accounted The vocalist and rhythm encourage others to “talk with for $89 million in spending in the guitarist of Pittsburgh underground their hands” Saturday, June 22, U.S. in the most recent survey year, rock band, Old Game, has felt when they headline a live show in almost twice the amount Americans it sneak unsuspectingly, like a Lawrenceville to mark the release spent on pregnancy and childbirth. disconnected whisper, into the of the group’s new EP, “Lunatics.” Leeds also has a front-row deepest crevices of her ear. When The event also will feature an art seat to the world of mental health she’s not paying attention, it exhibit, where 18 artists – some treatment; a former clinician, she sometimes can knock the wind out professionals, some amateurs – will now supervises 11 mental health of her. present work ruminating on the therapists in an outpatient setting in She first encountered that gray, word “lunatics.” The doors at Cattivo the Pittsburgh area. sinking sensation as a teenager in for the 21+ show open at 6:30 p.m. “Mental health and wanting to Somerset County and it followed Jess Klein & The Good Times, the be a counselor in general are things her westward when she came to Dayton, Ohio hip-hop artist TINO, I’ve been thinking about since high Pittsburgh, first to study, 10 years and Sikes and The New Violence school,” Leeds said. “I think this ago. also are set to perform live. A $10 is one of the purposes the music For her, making music has been admission fee gets those attending serves, to process it all in a safe way the antidote to this depression. a free physical or digital copy of so I don’t have to quote-unquote “Sometimes our hands, if you Old Game’s new record, which is ‘bring it home with me.’ It’s about will, tell us things we’re not ready a punchier and, at times, punkier understanding. And it’s definitely a to say,” said Leeds, 29, of Verona. “I outing than the group’s debut, 2016’s way of catharsis.” really like taking that approach to “Flower Moon.” Though the new record’s title healing – letting our bodies tell us About one in every five adults in might owe more to Old Game’s what’s going on.” the U.S. – nearly 47 million people allegiance to the moon than it does Leeds and her band – she is in all – experience a mental health the nature of the medical term joined by vocalist and lead guitarist issue in a given year. According “lunatic,” Leeds and Hunter – the
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songwriting duo at the core of the quartet – admit a mental-health theme runs through the new EP. It’s hard to argue against that point when one of the four tracks is explicitly titled “WPIC,” short-hand for Pittsburgh’s Western Psychiatric Inpatient Clinic. Leeds worked there for a spell and was influenced profoundly by the experience. “It’s hard to see people trapped and really hard to feel helpless, like you can’t help them,” she said. “I don’t think I was seeing myself. I think it was more seeing the hole in the system of treatment.” But will people who attend the show and accompanying art exhibit June 22 be triggered to dwell in a space where they feel liberated to speak about their own mental health, instead of trapped? “For me, as a person, I’m excited about the dialogues it might spark [and] if people come up to me at the show and want to talk with me about things, I can be a resource,” Leeds said. Stephen Lin will be one the artists exhibiting his work at the release show at Cattivo. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Lin was nearing the end of his time at Taylor Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill when the death of an uncle hit him unexpectedly. Then, a month into his freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh, his father died from liver cancer. He spiraled downward quickly and says the resin-casted food trash in his art piece reflect the filth in which he felt he was living at the time. He started using drugs heavily. Halfway through his sophomore year, he dropped out of Pitt. Today, though, things are improving. He returned to Pitt after a tough hiatus and graduated, eventually finding work Downtown as a technical writer for an immigration services firm. “For the most part, the depression is not as severe as it was – and being sober definitely helps,” said Lin, 25, of Greenfield. “I’m managing without self-medication, which is fortunate.”
Lin’s mixed-media piece -- which he is considering titling “What Is Strength?” – also will feature pieces of a resin-casted picture frame and some sort of poetry or text, possibly “No one will plant flowers over your grave.” He admits the work is still very much a work-in-progress but sounds excited by the prospect of sharing it publicly. “A lot of it is really exploration for myself – a lot,” he laughed. Then, at the center of it all, stands Leeds. She hopes, in some small way, the event leads people to consider just how many of us are touched by mental health issues or,
specifically, depression. It is, in her words, an increasingly pervasive diagnosis in American society, and Old Game is far from immune to it, just like any group of people in their late 20s and early 30s. “Some days, we need to reschedule band practice because someone’s not feeling well. But being in a band, in general, keeps us motivated – that, in itself, is very hopeful and very healing,” Leeds said. “[For this event] I just reached out to as many artists as I could. I wanted to bring people together to have an open space to connect.”
JOIN US AT THE LANDMARKS PRESERVATION RESOURCE CENTER FOR ONGOING PROGRAMMING ON ARCHITECTURE, HISTORY, DESIGN, URBAN PLANNING, AND OTHER TOPICS RELATED TO HOW CITIES FUNCTION AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION AS A TOOL OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.
THURSDAY, JUNE 20
6:00 P.M. TO 7:30 P.M.
LECTURE: THE SKINNY ON THE SKINNY BUILDING PRESENTER: MARK HOUSER Learn the surprising hidden history of Pittsburgh’s “skinny building” at Forbes and Wood, including the inspirational role its creator played in the struggle for civil rights. Plus the first great Mt. Washington billboard battle and more forgotten stories and colorful characters from Pittsburgh’s fascinating past. About the presenter: Mark Houser is a frequent Pittsburgh Magazine contributor who writes and speaks about the city’s history. You can find more stories at his website, HouserTalks.com.
THIS LECTURE IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC. RSVPS ARE APPRECIATED: MARYLU@PHLF.ORG OR 412-471-5808 EXT, 527.
744 REBECCA AVENUE - WILKINSBURG, PA 15221 412-471-5808 PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 31
the remix, then we can perform it as a live band and use it as a catalyst to improvise over that form or create something [else].” Tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd, performing Sunday, June 23, also works in different contexts and has been doing it for more than half a century. In 1966, Forest Flower, a live set from the Monterey Jazz Festival, became a commercial hit, drawing an audience that crossed over into the rock crowd. While his earlier work often had a spacey quality that appealed to ’60s counterculture, Lloyd has worked in numerous settings since then. In recent years he has recorded
for the adventurous ECM label — combining originals with covers like Brian Wilson’s “Caroline No” — and collaborating with singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams. Combining brawn and lyricism, Lloyd summarized his approach in a JazzTimes article last year. “I don’t have lines of demarcation. I’m about the music. And it’s not my profession; it’s my life,” he said. PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL. Thursday, June 20 through Sunday June 23. Various locations, Downtown Pittsburgh. For a complete schedule, go to pittsburghjazzfest.org
Makaya McCraven. Photo courtesy of David Marques
ALL THAT JAZZ
MAKAYA MCCRAVEN AND CHARLES LLOYD ARE AMONG THE CAN’T-MISS ACTS AT THIS YEAR’S PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL
BY MIKE SHANLEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
he Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival strikes a balance that is all too rare at jazz festivals around the country, other than perhaps the longstanding Newport Jazz Festival. Like some such events, PJF’s schedule features a few acts associated more with R&B than jazz – WAR, Patti LaBelle — but it also includes both edgy jazz players like Chicago-based drummer Makaya McCraven and veterans like Charles Lloyd, whose playing doesn’t betray his octogenarian status. Some of the performances are ticketed items, but the majority of the festival is free, taking place on street stages Downtown. McCraven, who performs on Thursday, June 20 at the August Wilson Center, has been dubbed a “beat scientist,” and the term has more truth than hyperbole. “I study beats, whether it’s hip-hop beats or hip-hop production, whether that’s the cymbal beat of a jazz band or polyrhythm, advanced meter, odd
time signatures or the polyrhythms of West African music,” he said in a Downbeat interview earlier this year. “Rhythm and time are all-important to me.” In fact, free improvisation and grooves have equal significance in McCraven’s work. Albums like In the Moment (2015) were culled from hours of live improvisations, which the drummer shaped into songs in the studio. This year’s Universal Beings features sessions recorded in four cities with as many groups. Sometimes it challenges listeners to distinguish harpist Brandee Younger’s improvisations from looped vamps. When McCraven’s group performs now, they add even greater depth to the music. Explaining the whole process in the same article, he says, “We improvise, then I edit and rearrange and recontextualize…Then I can take it and pass it to a DJ, who can remix those ideas. Then [we] take that remix and get a live band to learn
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JOIN US AT THE LANDMARKS PRESERVATION RESOURCE CENTER FOR ONGOING PROGRAMMING ON ARCHITECTURE, HISTORY, DESIGN, URBAN PLANNING, AND OTHER TOPICS RELATED TO HOW CITIES FUNCTION AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION AS A TOOL OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.
TUESDAY, JUNE 25
6:00 P.M. TO 7:30 P.M.
LECTURE: ABANDONED AMERICA: STATES OF DISREPAIR PRESENTER: MATTHEW CHRISTOPER Join author and photographer Matthew Christopher for an exploration of ruins across our cities and countryside, as he shares a hauntingly beautiful portrait of the abandoned America around us. From steel mills and industrial sites to schools, churches, prisons, homes, and more, Matthew’s work provides a glimpse into lost worlds that few get to visit firsthand. About the presenter: Matthew Christopher has had an interest in abandoned sites since he was a child, but started documenting them a decade ago while researching the decline of the state hospital system. His two books, “Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream” and “Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences” and his website, also titled Abandoned America, have chronicled the stories of modern ruins across the United States and gained international attention.
THIS LECTURE IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC. RSVPS ARE APPRECIATED: MARYLU@PHLF.ORG OR 412-471-5808 EXT 527.
744 REBECCA AVENUE - WILKINSBURG, PA 15221 412-471-5808
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 33
Photo by: Oyster Recovery Partnership
PITTSBURGH RESTAURANTS SEND OYSTER SHELLS EAST TO RESTORE THE CHESAPEAKE
Maryland-based program to take restaurants’ oyster shells to the Chesapeake Bay for restoration efforts has made its way west to Pittsburgh, thanks to Sustainable Pittsburgh and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. “Pittsburgh is the first city in Pennsylvania to have restaurants joining the Shell Recycling Alliance,” says Joylette Portlock, executive director of Sustainable Pittsburgh. Six restaurants have joined in on the efforts since November, collecting their oyster shells
BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MANAGING EDITOR HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM in the name of sustainability and rehabilitation. The current participants are Eleven, Merchant Oyster Co., Muddy Waters Oyster Bar, Off the Hook, Spirits & Tales and St. Clair Country Club. Together they’ve recycled 559 bushels, or 19 tons, of shell since Pittsburgh’s collection started. “Oyster shell recycling is a great step for restaurants looking to be more sustainable,” Portlock says. “Sustainability is a comprehensive, ongoing effort to support healthy residents, build vibrant communities
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and advance environmentally responsible practices.” Originating in Maryland in 2010, the Shell Recycling Alliance is now the largest oyster shell recycling network in the nation with nearly 350 seafood businesses participating and 70 public drop-off sites throughout Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia. The expansion to Pittsburgh was made possible in part by grant funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “If you’re looking at doing
restoration, oyster reefs are the key,” says Stephan Abel, executive director of the Ocean Recovery Partnership. “They’re like the coral reef of the Chesapeake Bay, they’re critical to all of the marine life—crabs, striped bass, other fish—they all conjugate around these oyster reefs.” Oyster populations have suffered in the Chesapeake due to historical overfishing in the late 1800s, when Baltimore became the hub of the American canning industry and the bay supplied the world with oysters. The population was depleted even
further in the mid-1900s when the bay was hit by two difference oyster-specific diseases. “The hope is that we want to bring back specific tributaries that are conducive to restoration to populations last seen 50 to 100 years ago,” Abel says. The oysters that are served in restaurants today are almost always sustainably farm-raised and thus do not harm wild populations. But, the shells are not commercially compostable. So the collection serves two purposes—keeping them out of landfills, as well as supporting the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The shells that the Oyster Recovery Partnership collects through the Shell Recycling Alliance are aged outdoors for about a year, washed, set with spat (also known as baby oysters) and planted in protected sanctuary sites where they can grow into water-filtering reefs. But before they make their way to Maryland, the shells have to be collected and stored at restaurants, which can seem like a tricky
situation when they’re used to throwing them away. Smell is a concern. “Oysters aren’t necessarily dry and clean,” Abel says. The participating businesses are given airtight barrels to keep it all contained until pickup time. They just need a bit of space to store them. Jessica Lewis, the Executive Chef at Spirits & Tales who helped launch the initiative in Pittsburgh, says that the little bit of extra effort is doable and, at the end of the day, definitely worth it. “For us it’s really about instilling a culture among the people that work for us that we’re doing the right thing,” Lewis says. “I think a lot of people now want to eat at places and be associated with doing the right thing and being sustainably aware.” Lewis says there’s not a big financial impact to the restaurants involved. There is no cost to participate in the program, though restaurants may see some cost savings through the offset of waste.
“The embrace of sustainable practices in the restaurant industry has grown tremendously over the past four years, in part due to our Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant Program,” Portlock says. “Restaurants have sent their shells to landfills, but now there’s an infrastructure set up for them to have the shells recycled for good use.” And, Portlock says, it is part of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s mission to create the infrastructure that makes the right thing to do the easy thing to do. Since it’s announcement, more restaurants have reached out about participating, and they believe it will continue to grow as other businesses realize how this simple change in behavior can impact the environment.
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PITTSBURGH CURRENT | JUNE 11, 2019 | 35
Collin Chamberlin at DiAnoia’s Eatery in the Strip at Penn and 26th. (Photo by Haley Frederick)
THIS TASTES FUNNY:
DINNER WITH COLLIN CHAMBERLIN AT DIANOIA’S EATERY BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MANAGING EDITOR HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM hen Collin Chamberlin comedy career, I realize I’ve caught and I sit down at DiAnoia’s Chamberlin just in time. He’s done Eatery in the Strip— stand up for over six years now. considered by some to be the best Originally from the Mckees Rocks Italian spot in the city—I make an area, he’s been in Pittsburgh the offhand remark about ‘how could whole time. you order anything but pasta?’ But Chamberlin is already in the before Chamberlin says that he third and final act of his Pittsburgh doesn’t plan to order pasta. story arc. We’re off to a good start. “I’m moving to New York in We do briefly discuss the famous August with Ray Zawodni,” he says. gnocchi bread bowl that appeared “It’s definitely time to go, I think—for on the Cooking Channel’s “Best all good reasons—I’m excited to get Thing I Ever Ate” earlier this year, but out and do something else.” decide that it’s not really a deathHe says they were originally by-carbs kind of day. Though what a going to move to Chicago. They got way to go, honestly. so far as touring apartments there The cocktail menu is broken when they realized that something down into four sections: morning, just didn’t feel right, and changed noon, night and after dinner. courses toward New York instead. And even though it’s after 6 p.m., “The plan is to just go out there Chamberlin and I both order from and do it,” Chamberlin says. “There’s the “morning” selection because so much stage time out there; there’s hey, it’s nine o’clock (in the morning) so much opportunity.” somewhere. We talk about the portrayal of the I go for the Bianco Spritz (white New York comedy scene in the HBO wine, vanilla, passionfruit) and he show “Crashing,” which is pretty gets the Amaxocillin (amaro, ginger, accurate, according to Chamberlin, honey, lemon). until Sarah Silverman randomly Chamberlin gives a drawnencounters the struggling comic on out “ho-lee shit” when the server the street and lets him move into her delivers our drinks. They look apartment. beautiful. They taste even better. We move on to “The Marvelous Seriously, whoever concocts the Mrs. Maisel” and “I’m Dying Up beverages at DiAnoia’s is a genius. Here” and the countless other shows When we get to chatting about his and podcasts that are about comedy.
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Because of the proliferation of these shows and the “112 specials coming out a day” on Netflix, he says people who have never done comedy feel like experts on the craft. “You’re up on stage and I can just feel people whispering ‘I would’ve told that better,’ and it’s like, ‘no you wouldn’t have—you’re an electrician.’” But there are positives, too. It’s great to have people interested in comedy and supporting the work of comics. And as a comic, Chamberlin says that hearing from comedians he looks up to is helpful. “When ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ came out I was like, ‘This is amazing,’” Chamberlin says. “You almost feel validated to hear people who’ve made it talking like you talk to your friends who are comics.” Even though there isn’t an empty table in DiAnoia’s, after we order, our food comes out impossibly fast. “Oh my god,” he says. “We’re all gonna die. Shit.” Chamberlin’s non-pasta is the porchetta, which is served on focaccia alongside the drippings. I’m eating the cacio e pepe (literally translates to “cheese and pepper”). The fresh pasta is fantastic and something about the dish it’s piled up on evokes Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. We save room for dessert because
we’re both tiramisu people. Our server has us walk over to the display case, and a strawberry and brown butter cake roll catches my eye, so we get a piece of that, too. Over the next 25 minutes, we eat as much of our desserts as we can (both great, the cake would’ve been too sweet to eat all on your own, though) and discuss “Game of Thrones.” While some endings are incredibly disappointing, the story of Chamberlin’s time doing stand up in Pittsburgh is getting the kind of satisfying send-off that you rarely see in real life. Chamberlin is headlining the Pittsburgh Improv—the first club to give him real work at the beginning of his career—for the first time on June 27. “It’s exciting to have it there where I would say I really learned how to be a comedian, and I’m still learning,” he says. “They gave me a lot of opportunities and let me fail and didn’t hold it against me. “This will be my last big headlining show in Pittsburgh for a while. So it’s cool to start it there and finish it there, kind of full-circle.” COLLIN CHAMBERLIN Headlines the Pittsburgh Improv on June 27 at 8 p.m. Ray Zawodni hosts and Seneca Stone and Mike Travers open. Tickets $15. improv.com/pittsburgh
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KEEPING UP WITH PITTSBURGH’S CRAFT BEER SCENE BY DAY BRACEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CRAFT BEER WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM May 18, 5 p.m.: I’m back at Indiana University of PA, a place where I managed to spend thousands of dollars and hours without obtaining a degree, to meet up with some old friends. It’s weird being back. The campus is mostly new. The town is mostly the same. I’m not sure if I paid that last noise violation, so there’s a possibility I have a warrant out for my
arrest. One thing that has changed about the town is the addition of a few breweries. There’s a slight possibility they’ve always been here and I was just too broke to drink at any? I walk into Noble Stein, and I’m not met with the familiar scent of yeast and beards, but rather popcorn! They offer free, fresh-popped popcorn! By far the best smelling brewery I’ve ever been to. I sit with head brewer, Zack Morrow, to imbibe and discuss how this place came to be. Me: So, how’d you get into brewing? ZM: I started home brewing when I was in college here at IUP. My wife bought me my first homebrew kit. Me: That seems to be a common theme in brewing, wives helping to cultivate their husband’s passion. Does your wife drink beer? ZM: Oh, yeah. She does. Me: So, did she get you the kit because she thought you’d be interested or was it because she wanted cheap beer? ZM: I’m going to say a little bit of both. We brewed a bunch of batches in college. I had about six or seven friends over the first time. We got a couple of cases of beer and hung out for the night. That was really the root of the notion that beer brings people together, not only to discuss beer, but anything. That’s what got me hooked, the networking. The fact that our first batch turned out to be drinkable was probably key.
Me: What was your first batch? ZM: Some made-up kit called a Canadian Ale. It was basically Molson with ale yeast. Me: That’s impressive on your first try. I had a friend who made a batch and it was 90% head. ZM: That’s like a bag of Lays. Me: You had to wait a half hour for it to settle, so you could get a shot of beer. ZM: One of my first few, I thought I’d get cute with it. It was a Belgian witbier, that I added honey too. At the time I wasn’t experienced enough and hadn’t thought about the bottling process. So, I added the honey to this beer, the bottling sugars, and I bottled it. 3 a.m. comes around and I hear glass breaking. I was pretty sure someone was breaking into my bedroom. When I opened my closet, there were bottles exploded all over my clothes. That was a little discouraging, but I plowed forward. Me: I was impressed with the range you have on tap. ZM: I take a lot of pride in having a diverse selection here. Before this, I was working in investment management. So, I look at our taps as a diverse portfolio of beers. I simplify it in a sense and categorize them as yeast forward, hop forward, malt forward, or adjunct forward. Me: What’s it like opening a brewery in a college town, where the population density is pretty light, and most of the students can’t afford your product? How do you get people who drink Budweiser to drink IPAs? ZM: This location is near and dear because we grew up and went to college here. We felt this area was underserved. What I love most about the area is that it’s a close-
knit community. I’m grateful for the home brew club IPA, Indiana, PA AleSmiths. Having that club lead to the Indiana, PA Oktberfest. Home brewers put their beers on tap, and that’s where we ended up showcasing ours before we opened up. So, there was this concept in the community that people were doing this thing here, and we want to get out and support. So, it wasn’t so much the liquid, which helps, but I think Indiana wants to support local businesses period. Me: Why Noble Stein? ZM: Our name is communicating a couple of ideas with the two words. First, we have a product here that we are proud of and has a lot of integrity. It’s also a German hop family. We also were thinking about what we wanted to do. Not only did we want to brew defined, traditional styles of beer, we wanted to improve upon that. June 9, 7:50 p.m.: Just wrapped up a whole share with Pittsburgh Craft Beer society. I’ve got a story to tell...
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The Andy Warhol Bridge Downtown. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
ike many city centers, Downtown Pittsburgh has had a storied and checkered history. It is a history that has earned it a reputation with many as either a sleepy neighborhood that dies after 7 p.m., or as a seedy area that those with children should avoid. But that reputation is now a misconception, as Downtown has seen an unprecedented renaissance over the past two decades. That revitalization is, in no small part, thanks to the Cultural District. Spanning fourteen blocks along the south shore of the Allegheny, the Downtown Cultural District is the
BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM heart of Pittsburgh’s arts and culture scene. More than a dozen of the city’s largest arts organizations call the Cultural District home, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Benedum Center and Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company. Art and culture have long held an important place in the neighborhood, even going back to the early 20th century. “Back in the ’30s and ’40s, this was Pittsburgh’s entertainment district. This was where people went to go to the movies,” said Kevin McMahon, CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
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This film legacy can be seen in some of Downtown’s largest theaters. The Benedum Center, Byham Theater and Heinz Hall were all originally built as cinemas, and Pittsburghers by the thousands congregated Downtown to watch their favorite stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age on the silver screen. The rise of suburbanization after the second World War, however, would bring an end to this idyllic era and pave the way for a dark shift in Downtown culture. “When that all fell apart, and suburbia started to explode, and malls and cinemas were built,
people no longer came Downtown to see movies, because it wasn’t as convenient and they didn’t need to,” said McMahon. The movie theaters of Downtown, unable to keep up with suburban cinemas and the rise of television, either shut down or shifted focus, sitting partially empty for decades and falling into a state of neglect. This decline was paired with the advent of a very different type of entertainment in Downtown, one that earned the area its dubious reputation. “This was Pittsburgh’s notorious red-light district,” said McMahon.
“Twenty years ago, this place was atrocious. People were afraid to walk in the Cultural District.” From the 1960s to ’80s, Downtown fell into a state of blight, a blight exacerbated by the decline of Pittsburgh’s steel industry. Residential flight away from the city increased over this time and the dire situation of Downtown became too large for many wealthy Pittsburghers to ignore, particularly philanthropist Jack Heinz. “One of the great things about Pittsburgh is its civic leadership,” McMahon said. “We weren’t started by the city or county government, we were created by a group of private citizens.” Heinz, along with other famous Pittsburgh families and corporations, came together in 1984 to form the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The goal of the Cultural Trust was to create a world-class arts district, intended to draw more people to the neighborhood and change public perception. Part arts organization and part real estate managers, the Trust bought up more than a million square feet of property around the old movie theaters and worked to restore each building to its former glory. “They put together...the Cultural Trust and helped to seed the money necessary to renovate the Benedum Center and Byham Theater, build the O’Reilly Theater and begin to market and program those things,” said McMahon. “The idea was if we had a district, rather than just a building, it would promote more economic development, because restaurants would follow, people might even start to live Downtown, and the Trust could be in the background and support all those efforts.” Those efforts were met with enthusiastic success. More than a million people visited the Cultural District in 2004. Today, that number has grown to 2.2 million visitors annually, resulting in an economic impact of $385 million. “[It is] one of the country’s, and arguably the world’s, best examples of helping redevelop a Downtown
Heinz Hall Garden Cafe. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
through the arts,” said Mitch Swain, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. Today, the Cultural District is home to art of every variety, and celebrates Pittsburgh’s artistic legacy. The August Wilson Center for African American Culture showcases the contributions of African American artists from across the country and the world, bringing in rotating exhibitions and hosting performances that speak to the black experience in America. Named for famed Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson, the Center works to embody the values of Wilson’s work, and to celebrate the rich culture of the African diaspora. In addition to the massive theatrical venues that Downtown is famous for, smaller independent theaters have flourished, thanks in large part to the Cultural Trust. One of the greatest success stories in this regard is Arcade Comedy Theater, the only nonprofit theater in Pittsburgh with a focus on the comedic arts.
“Being part of the Cultural District has always been part of our identity... because part of our mission here has always been elevating the art of comedy,” said Abby Fudor, managing artistic director at Arcade. With the help of subsidized rent that the Cultural Trust could provide, Arcade has blossomed into a hotspot for all things comedy, hosting everything from improv and sketch comedy shows to drag queen cabarets. They also host a comedy school to raise the next generation of Pittsburgh comedians. Its success, Fudor believes, can be partially credited to its Downtown location. “What I love about being in the Cultural District is that we are among other elevated art forms, and it gives me a goal to achieve, to be worthy to be among them,” said Fudor. Visual arts have also found a home Downtown. Wood Street Galleries, SPACE Gallery and 707709 Penn, just to name a few, all host exhibitions from Pittsburgh’s multitude of local artists. Periodic
gallery crawl events, as well as the Pittsburgh Public Arts Festival, both organized by the Cultural Trust, give these artists a large platform to display and sell their work. The culinary arts are also a prominent feature of the Cultural District. The past ten years has seen a boom of new restaurants, including the multi-level Sienna Mercato, Butcher and the Rye, and tako. Development in the Cultural District moves at a breakneck pace, and shows no signs of slowing. The Cultural Trust is currently working to build a six-screen cineplex in the District, harkening back to the neighborhood’s early days as a movie theater hub. Also in the works are more apartment buildings and condominiums to further encourage those who love downtown to stay a while. “I’ve worked in the Cultural District now since 2001, and have really seen great change,” Swain said. “It’s become a wonderful place for people to live and work and enjoy their lives.”
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Inside Twelve27 Salon. Photo by: Chris Johnston/ Crunch Productions
NEIGHBORHOOD CONVERSATION: NEIGHBORHOOD Q&A: HILARY BALLARD-JOHNSTON OF TWELVE27 SALON
itting at the corner of Penn and 9th, above Nicky’s Thai Kitchen, is Twelve27 Salon. Opened fewer than two years ago by Hilary Ballard-Johnston and her sister, Veronica, Twelve27 works to provide an elevated, upscale salon experience to those in the heart of Downtown. In addition to working Downtown, Ballard-Johnston also lives just steps from her business in the Cultural District. Working and living in Downtown Pittsburgh over the past six years has given her a unique perspective on the area and the rapid changes occurring there. What drew you to Downtown Pittsburgh? I moved here six years ago from South Bend, Indiana. I met my husband when I moved, and we got married, which is what kept me in Pittsburgh. When I first moved here, I was living in Oakmont, which was great but small, very small. I wanted
BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM to be in a walkable area. I was working Downtown at another salon, and we wanted something closer and more convenient. I just wanted to try downtown city living, and we really thought we’d do it for a year, buy a house and that would be it. But I don’t know that we’ll leave, now we just love it!
really wanted to provide a level of elevated service in the city. Veronica, my sister, has lived in lots of larger cities, and she thought Pittsburgh was lacking that really elevated level in the beauty industry, so that’s what we’ve been trying to do here. We love it, we’re so, so happy to be in business here!
How did you come to open a salon Downtown? This is my twelfth year doing hair. I had a career before I moved to Pittsburgh, moved here and loved it, and then convinced my sister to move. Since I’m from an all-hair background, I don’t have much of the business management side of things, and that is her background. So we started talking about starting a salon, we found the space, and we were living next door, so it all just worked. We opened the salon in November 2017, and we love it. We
How has business been? Our first year was insane, it was way, way more than we expected. We started out with a staff of six, and we just hired our twentieth employee. It’s been rapid growth in the 20 months we’ve been open now. Our focus is on our staff, and obviously our clientele as well, but we really want to be the best place to work. We want to treat everyone with kindness and it seems to be working really well! Business has been great, and we really do credit a lot of that to our location.
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What has your clientele been like? Being down here is a really cool network of people. There’s your high-end business professionals, who want to get in and out, they’re busy, they want to get back to work. And we also get a lot of kids from CAPA, really creative and exciting and doing fun things. Everyday, there’s a very different cultural clash of people in here, which we love! What is your favorite part of living and working in downtown? It’s just been really fun to be in a growing city. I think starting a business is awesome regardless and has its own challenges, and for us, I think we’ve been really fortunate to be right in the middle. It’s not new and dead, but it’s not old and established. We get to help make some of those changes, so that’s been my favorite part of living Downtown.
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FEATURED EVENTS IN AND AROUND THE PITTSBURGH REGION
JUNE 12 Jazz vocalist Tania Grubbs performs songs from her compilation I AM: Volume 3, Wood at City of Asylum @ Alphabet City. Original works, as well as both greater and lesser known standards, will be played on wooden instruments from regions all around the globe. The audience will also watch documentary shorts about woodworking and sculptor Thaddeus Mosley, produced by local filmmakers Chris and Isabelle Strollo and photographer Dave DeNoma. 7 p.m. 40 W. North Ave. Free with registration. 412-435-1110 or firstname.lastname@example.org
JUNE 13 The Heinz History Center will unveil a new marker dedicated to film pioneer and North Side native Lois Weber on her 140th birthday. Illeana Douglas, actor and host of Tuner Classic Movies, and Dr. Shelley Stamp, film historian and professor of film and digital media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will also discuss Weber’s work as featured in the award-winning box set “Pioneers: First Female Filmmakers” which Douglas and Stamp produced and curated, respectively. Douglas and Stamp will be signing copies of that box set after the event. 7 p.m. 1212 Smallman St. $20. 412454-6373 or heinzhistorycenter.org/events Alexander Soukas begins a three-day workshop in Figure Painting: Light and Form at the Sweetwater Center for the Arts. This masterclass will cover short poses and a long pose, with attention paid to gesture, rhythm and accuracy of the human figure. 9 a.m. 200 Broad St. Sewickley. $325. 412-741-4405 or email@example.com
JUNE 14 Igor Levit plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto
No. 21 in C Major with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on June 14 and again on June 16 for a 2:30 matinee. The conclusion to the PSO’s 2018/2019 season will also feature Manfred Honeck conducting Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony with a wind machine and thunder sheet to enhance the experience of climbing the Alps. 8 p.m. 600 Penn Ave. $20-$98. 412-392-4900 or culturaldistrict.org/production
JUNE 15 The Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village is hosting its 22nd Annual Meadowcroft Atlatl Competition. The atlatl, a spear-thrower used by prehistoric hunters, is available to be tried out by beginners, with an opportunity to compete against world-class atlatl competitors. The event is included for free with regular admission. 12 p.m. 401 Meadowcroft Rd. Avella. $15 for adults, $7 for children and students. 724-587-3412 or www.heinzhistorycenter.org/events
JUNE 16 Steel City Con presents a Comic-Con at Kennywood Park. Vendors and artists will be selling merchandise and pieces, and celebrity guests such as former Sesame Street puppeteer, Steve Whitmire, former Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen, Theo Crane of the “The Walking Dead,” and others will be in attendance. For those who wear a superhero or comic-themed t-shirt, tickets will be 50% off at the gate. 10:30 a.m. 4800 Kennywood Blvd. West Mifflin. $27. kennywood.com/ events
JUNE 17 Neal Stephenson comes to the Carnegie Lecture Hall with the best-selling sequel to his book, “Reamde.” A copy of “Fall,” or “Dodge in Hell” will be included with admission. Both books are of the science
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fiction and techno-thriller genres, set in the nearby future of parallel worlds. 7 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave. $40. 412-622-8866 or firstname.lastname@example.org
JUNE 18 The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council holds their Annual Convening, this year titled “Reframing.” A dialogue about the region’s trends and issues will be presented alongside expert discussions and networking opportunities for local artists and craftspeople. Lunch, a cocktail hour and live music are included in the event, as well as admission to the Arts After-Party. Group rates are available. 12 p.m. 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd. $80 in advance, $100 at the door. 412-391-2060 or pittsburghartscouncil.org/events-andworkshops-etc
JUNE 20 Join the Carnegie Museum of Art this Third Thursday for a block party. Wilkinsburg artists present a showcase of their work, and interactive events include screen printing on tote bags, a steelpan performance with Barrels to Beethoven and a DJ’ed dance floor. Student ticket prices are available. 8 p.m.4400 Forbes Ave. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. cmoa.org/event
JUNE 21 The Carnegie Science Center is holding a Summer Solstice Sleepover. Explore stars in the Buhl Planetarium & Observatory, make s’mores and learn more about the color of sunrises and sunsets along with the Center’s usual Science Sleepover activities. Registrations will be open up to five days before the event. 6 p.m. One Allegheny Ave. $39. 412-2373400 The Creative Nonfiction Foundation is hosting a Crash Course workshop for writers of any experience level who wish to learn the fundamentals of crafting true stories. Pre-registration is highly encouraged, and a copy of the book “True Stories, Well Told,” and a highlighter is included in admission price. 1 p.m. 5119 Coral St. $25 before June 10, $35 after June 10. 412-404-2975 or yates@ creativenonfiction.org Conductor Byron Stripling and the Pitts-
burgh Symphony Orchestra are joined by vocalists Denzal Sinclaire and Dee Daniels for a tribute to Nat and Natalie King Cole. On June 21, 22 and 23, the group will play all the father and daughter’s classic songs for an unforgettable concert. 8 p.m. 600 Penn Ave. $22-$99. culturaldistrict.org/production
JUNE 22 For magic fans of all ages, the Borough of Bellevue hosts WizardVue TWO. Activities like a scavenger hunt, talent show and house sorting will be held, as well as a magical market that can provide for any witch or wizard’s needs. Pricing for events varies, and pre-purchase of tickets is encouraged. 11 a.m. 537 Bayne Ave. Bellevue. Free admission. wizardvue.org The 2000’s Indie Dance Party Take Me Out returns to Belveders Ultra-Dive. For those 21 and older, listen to DJs Matt Walter & Craig Boarman play hits from Franz Ferdinand, LCD Soundsystem, Bloc Party, and other indie artists and groups from the 2000’s and early 2010’s. Attendees must have a valid ID. 9 p.m. 4016 Butler St. $5 before 11 p.m., $7 after 11 p.m. facebook.com/TakeMeOutIndieDance
JUNE 23 As part of the Ligonier Summer Concert Series, the Allegheny Brass Band will be holding a free outdoor concert at the Ligonier Diamond, come rain or shine. 7 p.m. 100 E Main St. Free. info@theabb. org or alleghenybrassband.com
JUNE 24 The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History are holding their summer camps all summer long. For kids aged five to eight, consider signing them up for The Secret Life of Bugs camp, where they can search the Powdermill Nature Reserve for creepy crawlies and learn more about the insects of the Pittsburgh area. Visit the museums’ site for information on the other camps being held this year and to register or apply for a scholarship for your child. 9 a.m. 1795 Route 381, Rector. $220. Camps.artandnaturalhistory.org
Savage Love BY DAN SAVAGE MAIL@SAVAGELOVE.NET
I’m a straight cis woman in my early 40s and a single mother. I have not dated or hooked up with anyone in years. While I miss dating, the biggest issue right now is that my sex drive is off the charts. While watching porn and masturbating once my child goes to sleep helps, I really want to get well and truly fucked by a guy who knows what he’s doing. I could likely go to a bar or on Tinder and find a man for a one-night stand, but I’m hesitant to do that. To add to my complicated backstory, I have a history of childhood sexual abuse and have had only two partners in my whole life, one of whom was abusive. My past sexual forays have not been particularly satisfying, in part due to my lack of experience and comfort indicating what I do/do not like, as well as some dissociation during the actual act. I keep thinking it would be easier to find a sex worker to “scratch the itch,” as presumably a male sex worker would be more open, sex-positive, and skilled. But I have no idea how I might go about it or what the procedure or etiquette is. And I am fearful that I could get arrested given the illegality of soliciting in my conservative southern state. Getting in trouble could have devastating effects on my life, and I would definitely lose my job. I am trying to weigh the pros and cons, but I feel out of my depth. Any advice for a gal who wants to get fucked but is not sure how to make that happen in a safe-ish space? Single Mom Absolutely Stupid Horny “In the recent past, the answer would have been ‘Google,’” said John Oh, a Sydney-based male sex worker for women. “But in a post-SESTA/ FOSTA world, that route is now unreliable—especially in the United States, where advertising on the web is far more difficult.” SESTA/FOSTA—the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act/Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act”—is a
2018 law that was crafted, backers said (backers lied), to fight sex trafficking. It made it a crime for web platforms to knowingly or unknowingly allow someone to post a sex ad. The law is so vague that platforms like Craigslist, Tumblr, and Facebook purged sexually explicit content in an effort to prevent sex workers from basically being online at all. SESTA/FOSTA’s backers claim they want to protect women—and only women—but in reality, pushing sex workers out of online spaces (where they could more effectively screen clients, share safety tips with each other, and organize politically) made sex work more dangerous, not less, and has led to more sex trafficking, not less. But one platform—one much pilloried but still popular platform— is bucking the anti-sex-worker/antisexually-explicit-content trend. “Twitter is still a (mostly) safe place for sex workers, and I have not heard of law enforcement using it to entrap potential clients,” said Oh. “So I believe that it is a reasonably safe place to anonymously research male sex workers. Many of us advertise there.” Since no one knows how long Twitter will allow sex workers to use its platform, you might want to get started on that search now, SMASH. And while sex work is work, and it’s work many people freely choose to do, not everyone is good at their job. Since your experiences with unpaid sex weren’t that great, I asked Oh for some tips on increasing your odds of finding a skilled male sex worker. “Sadly, in places where sex work is criminalized, it’s harder to find a suitable male sex worker,” said Oh, “especially for someone who needs extra special care due to trauma. I expect that for SMASH, traveling to a place where sex work is not criminalized would not be practical, but that might be an option for others.”
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If traveling to Australia, where Oh lives and where he’s been doing sex work for nine years (sex work is legal there), is unrealistic, Oh suggests chatting with sex workers in your area—but not, at least at first, the male ones. “Her best option may be to talk to female sex workers on Twitter and ask them for a recommendation,” said Oh. “This has two benefits— the first is that female workers in her general area will have local knowledge. The second is that female workers are generally very careful about endorsing male workers. So if a few female workers suggest a male sex worker, there is a high likelihood that he will be safe, capable, and professional. But if SMASH goes this route, tipping the female workers who help her out would be polite—otherwise this would amount to asking for unpaid labor.” An older guy at my gym tentatively inquired if he could ask me an “inappropriate question.” I told him he could. I’m straight, he’s pretty obviously gay, and I figured he
was going to hit on me. Then he said the question was “sexual in nature” and was I sure it was okay? I said yes. He asked if he could buy the shoes I wear to the gym once they’re worn out. I know why someone would want my old shoes—he’s obviously masturbating with them—and that’s fine, everyone’s got their weird thing (myself included). Two quick questions: Isn’t what he did risky? (I could easily see some other guy reacting badly.) And how much should I charge? Smelling Nikes Entertains A Kinky Senior It was definitely a risky ask, SNEAKS, but you’re probably not the first guy he’s approached. I imagine he has a hard-earned feel for who’s likely to react positively and who’s not (and a few canceled gym memberships along the way to show for it). And I’d say $20 would be fair. It’s not the full cost of replacing the shoes—he’s a shoe perv, not a fin sub—but it’s enough to be worth your while and it reflects the value of your old shoes. Not on the open market, but to him. We have an extensive selection of intimate apparel, vibrators, toys, lubes, DVD’s, and much, much more.
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