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Mayor of Braddock, Chardae Jones (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
POWER PLAYERS BLACK FEMALE MAYORS TAKE THE LEAD IN FIVE WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA TOWNS BY BETHANY RUHE - PITTSBURGH CURRENT ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BETHANY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
n April of 1973 in the little town of Taft, Oklahoma, history was made. Lelia Foley-Davis was elected as the first black female mayor in the United States. She was a single mother, raising five children on welfare; doors slammed in her face at every turn. She didn’t let that stop her. She didn’t let anything stop her. Soon after, Doris Davis became the first black female mayor of Compton, California. Other black women have been following in their
footsteps ever since. As of Monday, February 11, when Chardae Jones was sworn in as the Mayor of Braddock, Western Pennsylvania became home to five black female mayors. Braddock, Wilkinsburg, Duquesne, Bridgeville, and Farrell (Mercer County) have joined the ranks of municipalities led by black females at the helm. Many of them are making history as the first black woman elected to their office.
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Betty Copeland didn’t plan on becoming the first black female mayor of Bridgeville. Heck, she didn’t even plan on becoming mayor at all. “I had a group of friends, and one in particular who ended up being my campaign manager, Deb Colosimo, they took me out to lunch, and I thought they were just taking me out to lunch for the heck of it,” Copeland recalls. “And then they finally said to me, ‘we would like you to run for
mayor.’ I said, ‘you have got to be kidding.’” They thought she would be a goodwill ambassador for the town. “I told them I would pray about it.” So she prayed about it and went back to tell them she was in. She never anticipated winning, she “just wanted the experience.” Then on election night, the incumbent mayor, Pasquale DeBlasio, called her. “He said ‘madame Mayor’, and
I said, ‘no no no.’ I was shocked, because number one, my age had been plastered all over the papers. I thought there was no way they were going to vote for me against this young man. But I was happy that I did win.” Copeland, who recently became a great, great grandmother, is 84. She credits her victory to her long history of volunteerism in the community, and the people she met during her husband’s tenure on council. “My husband was Postmaster for Bridgeville, and he retired in 1987. He ran for council and served the borough for four years,” Copeland said. “This is something I never anticipated for myself. But I was volunteering in our library, St. Clair Hospital, the Bridgeville Historical Society, and I think that helped me with the election. Because I got to know a lot of the right people.” Her campaign slogan, coined by Colosimo, ‘Bridgeville Loves Betty’,
probably didn’t hurt, either. A history of community engagement and advocacy has been the gateway to office for many of these women. If you ask Braddock Mayor Chardae Jones what got her into politics in the first place, she doesn’t hesitate. “Volunteerism. I learned the best way to help my community is to be in it and engage with my community,” Jones says. And this doesn’t turn off when they take office. Wilkinsburg Mayor Marita Garrett still operates the Wilkinsburg Free Store, where residents can come to get free clothes, coats, furniture, or whatever else they might need. Jones is excited that in the very short time she’s been in office, she’s already gotten a swell of people wanting to know how they can help, and not even in Braddock, but other places. “I already have people asking me how to get involved in their community,” she said, “and I’m
always willing to help them help their communities.” If you drive about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh, into Mercer County, you’ll find the City of Farrell. If you walk into their city building, you will be in a circular lobby with portraits of all the former mayors ringing the walls. It is an unbroken line of white men, until you hit the very last portrait. It’s of current Mayor, Olive McKeithan. Eleven years ago she became the first black female mayor of Farrell, and she hasn’t looked back. McKeithan is proud of many of her accomplishments over the years, but is particularly proud to have brought a Juneteenth celebration to the residents of Farrell. Juneteenth is a celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It’s celebrated on June 19th, the day that Union soldiers landed in Galveston, TX and General Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Farrell Juneteenth celebration is a two day affair, with live music, gospel choirs, vendors, and a parade. But because of McKeithan’s driving passion to curb the drugs flowing in and her city’s struggles with the opioid epidemic, she also organizes a drug forum around the event. “Drugs have increased in all of the communities,” she explains. “It’s terrible, it’s terrible. That fentanyl is terrible. We just buried a young man a few weeks ago that had something that was laced with fentanyl. The girlfriend took it, too, but she didn’t go to sleep—she threw hers up. The boy went to sleep and he died. It’s bad.” But she stresses that Juneteenth is a celebration, and that Farrell has had a lot of wins under her leadership, like coming out of Act 47 after 32 years. “There are good things happening here,” McKeithan said. Having mayors that celebrate
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Marita Garrett working inside her Wilkinsburg office (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
events like Juneteenth is a direct result of what happens when there is racial diversity in leadership. So this doesn’t surprise Dr. Larry Davis, Director for the Center on Race and Social Problems at the University of Pittsburgh. “Clearly it’s important to have representation everywhere,” he said. “Things get by people when they aren’t thinking about them. Different races and genders bring different perspectives. There is better insight.” He explains that when he’s asked to be on a committee, it’s usually to be the ‘black person’. “Initially, you don’t like that,” he says. “You find out you’re the sole voice for your race, but then you start to be
thankful you’re there, because you are bringing them valuable insights.” Braddock’s Jones also felt the tug of representation when she decided to step up to be considered for mayor. “I also noticed the lack of representation in the community,” she said. “I wanted to see someone like me represent the community.” Wilkinsburg’s Marita Garrett agrees, representation is really important, and still a work in progress. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, and things were just, well, different. “I never thought about not having a black council person, not having black congress people. In Akron, half of our city council was black. And women, we have a black
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congresswoman (Marcia Fudge, U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 11th congressional district).” Fudge is actually the former mayor of Cleveland, and she ran for Congress to replace Stephanie Tubbs Jones, another black female politician, who died while in office. That’s the landscape Garrett was used to. “Coming here I was like, ‘wait, what?’” she asks, somewhat incredulously. “I’m happy, but we still have our work cut out for us.” While clearly some of our surrounding areas are making history, the City of Pittsburgh itself has never had a black mayor, and only one female mayor, in entire its
history. While it’s a disappointing fact for a lot of people, it also doesn’t surprise Dr. Davis. “Blacks aren’t challenging whites in dominance for elections,” he explains. If you look at the larger cities that do have black female mayors, like Baltimore, MD and Atlanta, GA, those cities are 63 percent black and 52.4 percent black, respectively. Fudge’s Cleveland is 53.3 percent. Pittsburgh, as of the 2010 census, is 25.8 percent black. The dearth of black female mayors also makes sense. “In terms of perceptions of competence, black women are perceived to be more competent than black men, and even white
Olive M. McKeithan photographed at her desk in Farrell PA (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
women. If you think of it as a chart, it would start with white men, then black women, then white women, then black men.” The reason for this, he explains, is black women historically doing more for themselves. “Black women have always been in the workforce,” he said. “When they talk about women entering the workforce, they mean white women. Black women have a worker’s background.” Each woman had a reason for running as unique as they are themselves, but many common themes connect them. They all wanted to make a positive impact on their communities, they wanted to help combat issues that they
saw negatively impacting their communities, they wanted to see people who looked more like themselves leading their communities, or they wanted to stamp out corruption. That’s the case for City of Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby. When she took office in January 2018, she discovered that she had been handed quite a mess. In an interview with the New Pittsburgh Courier, Nesby outlined many of the hurdles she’s been jumping since taking office, including audit deficiencies, real estate tie-ups, and lawsuits. She’s also battling social issues. Quoted in the same article, she
said, “I have three generations of illiteracy, a poverty rate of 76 percent and 40 percent have criminal records—they’re in jail before they get out of high school.” That’s a lot for a brand new, first-time mayor, and now according to Nesby and her supporters, someone is trying to intimidate her. She recounts finding feces smeared on a bathroom wall, right down the hall from her office, having items stolen and people taking and posting photos of her home on the internet. Part of it might be sour grapes from the previous administration, and part of it might be something more sinister. “I think it’s a combination of
people being afraid of change and me being a black woman, and people that don’t like that I’ve been talking about all of the issues I’ve uncovered,” she said. “Everyone is trying to shut me up.” Fighting challenges isn’t new to any of these women. And the challenges aren’t always based on race or gender, either. Jones, the youngest of the five, said her age was an issue on her quest to become mayor. “I didn’t feel I had to prove myself because I’m a black woman, “ Jones said, “but I did have a lot to prove being a young millennial.” Others, like Copeland and McKeithan, are on the other side of that. McKeithan is 77 and Copeland is 84. They both get asked often about running again when their terms are up. Copeland isn’t sure yet, but McKeithan is already planning to run, and this time, she’s not alone. “A man is running against me, and so is one of our council members (a woman). It’s going to be different,” she said. “We are all fighting to get those votes.” From age to background to geography, a lot separate each of these women. But they are joined by a common desire to improve their communities, and a steady confidence that they are the right people to do it. “I do love this city,” said McKeithan. “It certainly isn’t about the money. It’s a commitment to this community. I raised my children, my grandchildren here.” Duquesne’s Nesby echos that sentiment, “I’m just trying to help the city where I live.” And none of them are afraid of rolling up sleeves and doing the hard, sometimes scary work of building lasting changes in their communities. Jones channels advice from her mother, advice she would give anyone who wanted to follow in her footsteps: “If it scares you, do it.”
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Shame on the Blocks poster hanging inside the PG newsroom.
BLOCKADE POLITICAL CANDIDATES SHOULD STAND WITH PG
Fast forward one year later and we find Block embroiled in yet another confrontation with his Pittsburgh-based newspaper. If you have not already heard, a little over a week ago, on a Saturday night, Block, with his child in tow, stormed into the the newsroom of the PG with what has widely been described as a poorly thought-out purpose. It has been reported, based on witness accounts, fortified by video recordings, that Block went on a tirade that witnesses described as “berserk” in front of his employees and in front of his young daughter, all because of the workers’ pursuit of fairness in the workplace. Workers be damned is apparently his philosophy. Just this Friday, Block’s editorial board published, “Sherrod Brown goes low: Claiming Trump is a racist was beyond the pale” again defending the President’s repeated racist remarks and acts as something we shouldn’t concern ourselves with. So now we find ourselves in the midst of another election season. The Block controlled the PG editorial board and will most likely be conducting endorsement
UNION AND PASS ON PAPER’S ENDORSEMENT PROCESS BY ARYANNA BERRINGER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT POLITICAL COLUMNIST ARYANNA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
n some situations, one news publication providing space to find fault with another news publication may be considered taboo - but since my editor already wrote his opinion on this topic, I decided to share mine. In fact, recent events at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette warrant considerable comment. I think it would be journalistic malpractice not to discuss how we can push for a constructive outcome to save the legacy of the PG. When I was a candidate for Lt. Governor, the PG editorial page published a piece “Reason as racism” on Martin Luther King Day 2018. For all intents and purposes,
the piece sought to justify President Trump’s use of race with regard to who we should allow to immigrate to our country as something palatable and valid. As a black woman, I did not tolerate this appeasement in 2018 and as a result, I came out and declared that I would not seek the endorsement of that publication. Don’t get me wrong, the reporters of the PG do a fine job. And the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents the company’s editorial employees, responded at the the time with their own letter to the editor stating they were appalled that the paper’s publisher, John R. Block dictated that this editorial be printed.
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meetings with candidates. Many voters tend to drop interest in the odd year election seasons, and for many reasons they shouldn’t. I refused to seek out a PG endorsement and called on other candidates to join me. But this time around, it’s different in the sense that the Block problem has only worsened. Block dug himself in deeper. So to those running for office this year, Pittsburgh City and Allegheny County candidates, you should not just refuse to pursue the PG endorsement but actively stand with PG employees. You know, the people who were working on a Saturday night while Block was out finedining and then, on a puerile whim, decided drop by in an attempt to intimidate them for the sake of what appears to be an acknowledgment of his fragile ego. I’m rooting for the PG. I think many people are. And I hope the other stakeholders realize that, too. If they do, they’ll find a way to lock out Block, with a legacy firmly moving toward salvation.
THE WHOLE STORY PROGRESSIVE HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH PROJECT FILLS IMPORTANT HISTORICAL GAPS BY SUE KERR - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
hen I began interviewing historian Anne E. Lynch for this column about progressive history, I shared my long-standing joke about the public education I received from the West Mifflin Area School District: History always comes to a standstill once you reach the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand as the precipitating event for World War I. We’d read about that and the history books would automatically reset to 1492. “My roommate said she remembered that the Archduke was assassinated, and that started the war. But she couldn’t say where he was killed, by whom, either of their nationalities, and WHY that triggered a world war,” responded Lynch. “It’s that kind of rote memorization that makes history so dreaded in most schools, as opposed to delving deep into the backgrounds and understanding why things happen.” You probably don’t remember much of anything about 20thcentury history. I went off to college with most of my understanding of modern history shaped by television, thanks to shows like M*A*S*H. While the artistic merit of ostensibly exploring the Vietnam War through an 11-year series about the Korean War makes sense, it was very confusing to someone like me born in 1970. The same holds true for regional history. It was 2016 before I learned that the man who founded the City of Clairton also built a fully operational plantation just five miles from where I grew up in West Mifflin. Back then,the region was a contested part of Virginia. He built the Kuykendall-Forsyth estate in 1768; the dispute with Virginia was resolved in 1780. Slavery was partially abolished in Pennsylvania
in 1780, but did not disappear from the Commonwealth until 1847. Yet somehow in all my exposure to Clairton both as a kid and an adult, no one ever mentioned that it was founded by a man who enslaved human beings. Or thought that bit of information might be relevant in regional conversations around the Mon Valley. These educational gaps were hard to overcome and certainly shaped my worldview as a youth and young adult. I felt like a fool in college because I had to self-learn so many things other students knew. Thankfully, we had a robust school library with these wonderful tools called Encyclopedias that were credible and comprehensive. And very much tilted toward the white folx history of America and beyond, but it was a start. When I stumbled across the Progressive History of Pittsburgh project on Facebook, I was thrilled finally to find information about events that shaped our collective experiences. The page posts On This Day type content about significant progressive historical events and people throughout the Southwestern PA region. The project was launched by Anne E. Lynch, historian and now-interim Executive Director of the Three Rivers Community Foundation. She was concerned that official Pittsburgh histories laud only the accomplishments of white, cisgender and heterosexul men at the expense of Indigenous residents, women, people of color and others whose contributions to this region deserve acknowledgement. So she began compiling overlooked historical facts about the region. In 2015, Lynch and TRCF published a 100-page spiral-bound
booklet, On This Day in Pittsburgh’s Progressive History and then launched the Facebook page to keep adding new information. The project uses progressive and social justice history interchangeably in line with Howard Zinn’s concept of a people’s history. “I look at the history of protests, of actions, of people being “firsts” or near firsts at something (first woman graduate; first Black doctor; etc.), events and people that have had impact greater than just on themselves and their communities (example: Rachel Carson, whose environmental work had a worldwide influence). Then there are journalists who have uncovered injustices, and that work became the basis of new policies (example: Nellie Bly and her uncovering the treatment of women in mental health facilities),” explains Lynch. “But I also like focusing on small acts of resistance, too – things that can show people today that one person can make a difference.” She relies on historical Pittsburgh resources such as the Pittsburgh Mayors, The Homewood Cemetery Historical Fund, and The Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh Facebook pages as well as contemporary sources including PublicSourcePA and the Pittsburgh Current. Lynch takes care to include antiprogressive events as well. She says, “Ignoring history and why things are the way they are is dangerous, as it allows toxic systems and situations to remain in place.” The database includes an array of labor history and industrial accidents as well as environmental disasters, examples of racism, sexual violence and other systemic violence. And that’s where the information
about the history of enslavement in this region falls. The KuykendallForsyth-Reed farm is not just a terrible thing to ignore from our long-ago past. The buildings and 6.5 acres of lands are still in operation and listed as historical structures. The property passed out of the original owner’s descendants’ hands in the early 1980’s leaving a legacy of more than 220 years of pure white male cisgender heterosexual privilege. It is ludicrous to think this legacy of what is daintily presented as “gentlemen farming” has not been a formative component of the realities of black and white folx living in this region and part of the conversation about current events in Clairton. The original idea was for the book to be distributed to classrooms and include discussions with TRCF staff about this history. Staff and time constraints made that difficult, but Lynch hopes that a planned Labor History Center will include this intersectional documentation. She’s also considered offering ‘radical history tours’ of the region. For the time being, she plans to keep the Facebook page content fresh and is always interested in contributions from the public. Copies of On This Day in Pittsburgh’s Progressive History are available via Three Rivers Community Foundation for a donation of $10 or more. For more information, 412-243-9250 or email@example.com. Author’s Note: Read my full interview with Lynch at pghlesbian. com.
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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor with Barack Obama and Joe Biden
FASHION STATEMENT WOMEN CANDIDATES USING PATRIARCHAL VIEWS ON APPEARANCE AGAINST THE PATRIARCHY BY JESSICA SEMLER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ou should wear heels. Have you considered wearing more makeup? I think you should try a dress, or at least a skirt. A couple weeks ago I was at the Keystone Progress Summit, listening to a panel of four Pittsburgh women discussing what it was like to run as first time candidates. Some of them had already won their races, like Emily Marburger, mayor of Bellevue. Bethany Hallam was the newcomer of the group, she announced her run for Allegheny County Council at Large a couple weeks ago. The women shared their stories, and all had some variation of being told to “wait their turn.” Political nepotism fosters mediocrity and creates more barriers to women and people of color. The good ol’ boys club isn’t new of course, but it’s still disappointing. The pièce de résistance for me however, was the outdated, unsolicited fashion advice that was a common thread in all of their stories. This is still fair game for women candidates? Of course it is. Three days after the conference, the State of The Union aired. There was a powerful visual; a striking swath of dozens of Congresswomen all dressed in white.
Discussions of women candidates almost always includes commentary on their appearance, whether they like it or not. Therefore, the adornment and clothing women candidates choose is inherently political, and politicians have been utilizing this as another way to subvert the patriarchy and traditional gender roles. In 2009 Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was told to keep her appearance during her confirmation hearing subdued, down to the minute detail to keeping her nails a neutral color. She defiantly wore her signature red nails. Nearly a decade later, newly inaugurated Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez wore white as a nod to suffragists, a red lip as an ode to Justice Sotomayor and hoop earrings, stating “Next time someone tells Bronx girls to take off their hoops, they can just say they’re dressing like a Congresswoman.” Politicians wearing white to invoke the symbolism of women, power and equality isn’t new. Since women in the U.S. suffragist movement chose to wear white clothing as their identifier, elected officials have since donned the
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same. In 1968, Shirley Chisholm wore white when she was sworn in as the first African American woman in Congress. VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro did the same in 1984, and Hillary Clinton wore a white pantsuit at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. While the symbolism of the suffragettes is effective because it is universally recognized, it isn’t without its problems. To be clear, the voting rights movement for women was a white women’s movement. While women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott are revered as kickstarting America’s first wave of feminism at Seneca Falls, we must acknowledge that women of color were left behind. Feminist author/activist bell hooks once said that “Patriarchy knows no gender.” At worst, white women were primarily concerned about getting the same structural power as white men. At best, fighting for only white women’s vote was seen as the expedient thing to do, and that black women could wait. Between Jim Crow and a plethora of barriers, they waited decades more. In 2018, two years after Donald Trump’s win, we saw the most diverse group of candidates ever elected up and down the ballot across the country. For the first time we have a Native American and Muslim woman in Congress, and more black and latina women than ever before. The 2019 State of the Union took place less than 100 years after the 19th amendment was ratified. The sea of white clothing paid homage to an imperfect movement, and the varied identities of the women in white was a united sign of resistance, making it their own. It’s oppressive and sexist that appearance still carries so much weight, but women are using this medium as a canvas to be subversive and make a statement. Now, let’s move on from white suits to a pink coat and fur stole. I was over-the-moon excited when I saw the pictures of Kyrsten Sinema being sworn in to the United States Senate. The layers of irony have
been noted as this became one of the first memes of 2019. America’s first openly bisexual Senator was sworn in not on a bible, but on a copy of the US Constitution. The fact that her oath was given by openly homophobic Vice President Pence was simply delicious. A high femme-presenting woman wearing her hair in curls, makeup done up, and a fierce dress showing off her shoulders, Sinema stood boldly in contrast next to a man who refuses to dine alone with any woman who isn’t his wife. The juxtaposition here is a picture of beautiful defiance. As a queer woman who has a penchant for hair fascinators and fabulous outfits, I felt SEEN. Hillary Clinton wore her signature pantsuits, some said in an attempt to remove gender as a part of the conversation. As the first woman nominated for president in one of the major parties, this was a losing battle; when there isn’t a framework for a new paradigm, like it or not, her gender was front and center. I spoke with a candidate who told me she purposely wore all neutral colors because she never wanted her clothing to be a discussion point. Even in deciding to be demure, women are still conscious of what their appearance will say to others. Some electeds, like Sinema, are turning up the volume. Dressing up highly femme is not in fact in contrast to being serious about governing, policy and getting shit done. Bethany Hallam asked for my thoughts about the advice she was given to wear heels rather than her signature sneakers. “I’ve been an athlete all my life- not a politician. This is what I’m comfortable in; this is who I am.” But now, Hallam is both. I told her to wear the damn sneakers. The more women that run for office and present as their authentic selves, whatever that looks like, creates space for others to do the same. Women elected to office are creating their own molds for what femme politicians can look like -however they want.
‘Aunt Rita along the King Coal Highway, Mingo County, West Virginia’ (Photo by: Roger May)
NEW WORK CURATES A RESPONSE TO ‘HILLBILLY ELEGY’ BY JODY DIPERNA - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM “This isn’t about de-valuing J.D. Vance’s experience,” Meredith McCarroll said about the new book Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy, out from West Virginia University Press this month. “But it is about creating a chorus around his solo voice to show that there’s more to say about the region than his perspective can give us.” J.D. Vance’s blockbuster hit book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, (Harper Press, 2016), became a cultural and political phenomena and was
listed on the NYT Bestseller List for nonfiction for many, many weeks. It was recently announced that Ron Howard is adapting it into a movie for Netflix. McCarroll, a child of the mountains of western North Carolina, and the director of writing and rhetoric at Bowdoin College, teamed up with Anthony Harkins, a professor of history at Western Kentucky University, to gather this collection. The result is a blend of academic thinking, as well as good old-fashioned storytelling which includes essays, poetry and
photography. Some of the essays are a direct repudiation of Vance’s book, most notably Ivy Brashear’s ‘Keep Your “Elegy”: The Appalachia I Know Is Very Much Alive,’ which confronts the extractive plunder of Appalachia which created harsh economic conditions many still face today, as well as personal stories about her indomitable Grandma. Elizabeth Catte’s [author of What You’re Getting Wrong about Appalachia (Belt Press)] ‘Stereotypes on the Syllabus’ is a fascinating interrogation of how Vance’s book has become the singular, overused go-to on Appalachia, particularly on campuses. In this section, the book very much directly addresses what Harkins describes as, “visions of all the people being trapped in a desolate present without any change, that they all have the same experience, that the experiences of people in coal company towns is the only experience. The book tries to highlight the diversity of experiences of people in the area, the experience of people who leave the region, as well as those who stay or come back.” The experience of black Appalachians is either excised or completely left out of nearly all depictions of the region. William H. Turner, a leading scholar on the African-American experience in Appalachia, corrects that with his essay, ‘Black Hillbillies Have No Time for Elegies.’ Equally powerful are the Affrilachian poets included. The voices of Keith S. Wilson, Kelly Norman Ellis and Ricardo Nazario Y Colon explode the notion that Appalachia is a monochromatic monolith. Well known to Appalachian scholars and admirers is Roger May, a writer and photographer based in Charleston, West Virginia and the creator of the Looking at Appalachia project. His entry, just a simple paragraph and attached photo of his ‘Aunt Rita along the King Coal Highway, Mingo County, West Virginia,’ is moving and deeply
personal in a way that makes it easy to connect with him. “Too often it [Appalachia] gets framed as completely a world apart and only the issues they face, both the joys and the pains, are somehow only there.” said Harkins of the universality of region. “I think it’s a really important counter-response to [visions of ] impoverished looking, sad looking children trapped economically and socially.” In this way, some contributors elide Vance’s presentation of the region and its people and capture more distinctly American themes. Communities protesting the development of more prisons is a hot topic both inside and outside of Appalachia and is captured nicely here by photographer Lou Murrey. Rebecca Kiger’s contribution, “Olivia’s Ninth Birthday Party,” which is just that, a tender photograph of a birthday party at Grand Vue Park in Moundsville, West Virginia. It’s a fine line to walk. To set down and make a record of the experience of Appalachians that is both universally American and also unique to the mountains and hollows and creeks that shape that experience. There is melancholy in these mountainous regions. There is strife and resistance. But there is also joy and rambunctiousness. “If you look closely at Appalachia, it is incredibly diverse. It is a place where there is struggle and there are challenges. It is also a place where there is hope. There is opportunity,” said McCarroll. “In some ways it is universal and connected to the rest of America. And in many ways, because the experience of growing up in Appalachia is not completely different than the experience of growing up in America -- sometimes it gets asked that way. This book is a way of passing the mic around, collecting lots of different perspectives and showing different points of view. It just immediately complicates this really rich and diverse region.”
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Andy Swackhammer stars in The Legend of Georgia McBride at Barebones Productions
BAREBONES THEATER KEEPS IT EDGY WITH ‘THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE’ BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM “Casey is a guy working as an Elvis impersonator, married with a kid on the way. He loses his job because the bar is being turned into a drag bar. He stays on as a bartender to make ends meet. One night, one of the queens gets too drunk to go on stage. He steps in, and a legend is born.” That is how Patrick Jordan would summarize The Legend of Georgia McBride, a 2015 comedy play written by Matthew Lopez. Jordan’s own theater company, Barebones Productions, is hosting a production of Georgia McBride that began on Valentine’s Day and runs through March 9. Jordan directs. In the play, Casey, played by Andrew Swackhammer, is taught the
ins and outs of a career in drag by seasoned drag mother, Miss Tracy Mills, portrayed by Shua Potter. “She’s a motivational queen of sorts, she wants to make the best of her life and everyone around her,” Potter said. “And she’s fabulous!” The role is a natural fit for Potter, who performs a regular drag cabaret at Arcade Comedy as his drag persona, Schwa de Vivre. “It’s kind of a sidestep from the character I do in my show,” Potter said. Jordan first discovered the play around the time it was originally published, and had had his eyes on it since. “I read the play a couple years ago when it was first produced,”
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Jordan said. “The first time I read it, I thought it had so much heart. The underlying message of acceptance is really strong.” The Legend of Georgia McBride is certainly an ambitious, campy and different kind of play, but that is exactly the kind of work Jordan wanted to put the spotlight on when he started Barebones Productions in 2003. “I thought there was a void in the theater landscape, that a lot of different playwrights that appealed to younger audiences and were a little edgier weren’t getting produced in Pittsburgh,” Jordan said. The early days of Barebones epitomized their name, doing shows in old bars, storefronts and
abandoned buildings. “The first show we did underneath the old Forward Lanes bowling alley in Squirrel Hill, in a storage room with clip lights and furniture from my apartment,” Jordan said. Barebones was also not founded with longevity in mind. Instead, Jordan hoped that putting on these more obscure, edgy productions would help to push the mainstream theater scene to do the same. “We thought we would just do one show and be done with it, and we ended up doing a second one, because people came,” Jordan said. “We thought other companies would start doing these kind of shows, but they never did, so we just did show after show after show. It just blossomed over the last 15 years.” After bouncing from space to space for six years, Barebones moved into their first permanent space in 2009. “In 2009, we went into residency at the New Hazlett theater, and we were there until three years ago,” Jordan says. 2015 marked their first show in Braddock, where the theater company is now based. They host all productions in the 70 seat Barebones Black Box, and Georgia McBride will be no exception. While Jordan and the rest of the cast know audiences will be delighted by the camp and comedy of Georgia McBride, they also want the audience to leave taking the play’s message of acceptance and inclusivity to heart. “This is an important play, while also being incredibly fun and inspiring,” Potter said.
THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE
runs through March 9 at the Barebones Black Box Theater in Braddock. Tickets are available at barebonesproductions.com
BLACK BOTTOM FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS FOR THIRD INSTALLMENT
BY MIKE WATT - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
or the third straight year, the Black Bottom Film Festival, presented by the August Wilson Cultural Center, will bring a week’s worth of film and events to celebrate the African American film experience. This year’s selections brings us everything from a young Florida man seeking purpose in Life And Nothing More (2017); a male prostitute on the run from the law, in Melvin Van Peebles’ seminal “blaxploitation” (and originally X-rated) epic, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971); and Dorothy easing on down the road in the 40th Anniversary of The Wiz. “This is the third annual Black Bottom Film Festival and this is the first year we’re expanding our footprint in collaboration with Row House Cinema,” Cydney Nunn, tells the Current. She’s the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for the August Wilson Cultural Center, working with artistic director, Joe Lewis. “From the 15th to the 21st, Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will be screening films as a part of the festival. They’re screening two Oscar-nominated films— Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018) and If Beale Street Could Talk (2018). So we’re really excited about that collaboration. It’s just part of our efforts to grow the festival and get the news out to as many people as possible.” This year’s festival is brimming with both Pittsburgh premieres and classics still relevant to today’s issues. Teaming with Shudder, the horror-film streaming service, the Black Bottom Film Festival offers the Pittsburgh premiere of
Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019). An adaptation of executive producer Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman’s book, Horror Noire presents interviews with creators like Jordan Peele (Get Out), Keith David (The Thing), Rachel True (The Craft), and Tony Todd (Candyman). “I think that’s going to be an interesting documentary,” Nunn says. “I know me, personally, you hear ‘the black person always dies first in scary movies.’ So this kind of delves into that, and talks about the history of blacks in horror films and why is the black character always the first to die? How is that changing now?” Also making its Pittsburgh premiere is Idris Elba’s directorial debut, Yardie, a tough film about honor, duty, and revenge. On the
This year classic Blaxploitation film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, will play at the Black Bottom Film Festival
flip side of that, there is the 40th Anniversary screening of The Wiz, the classic African-American take on The Wizard of Oz, starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Richard Pryor. “We’re offering free tickets to anyone under 13. This is The Wiz’s 40th anniversary and the August Wilson Center’s tenth year, so it’s a whole fun anniversary celebration.” And if that weren’t enough, Nunn points out that the festival is also hosting a variety of Q&As, workshops, and events. Living Single and In Living Color star Kim Coles is running an acting workshop on February 23; screenwriter Gerard Brown (Juice) is running a screenwriting workshop on Feb. 24. “We have recently confirmed Terrence Nance (director of the upcoming Space Jam reboot) is joining us,” says Nunn. “He’ll sit down for a Q&A and we’re screening a short film of his, as well as several episodes of his HBO show, Random Acts of Flyness.” In a film festival town like Pittsburgh, it can be difficult for one festival to stand out from the others. This doesn’t appear to be the case with The Black Bottom Film Festival. “We’re showcasing films dealing with themes of spirituality, race, family conflict, honor, duty, workingclass struggle, and these are themes also ever-present in August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle of plays,” says Nunn. “We’re trying to continue to recognize our own mission, building on the legacy of August Wilson, and still giving a new spin and showing contemporary aspects of these themes. I definitely think there has been growth in the three years since this has been going on. Just the simple fact that this collaboration with Row House attests that we are gaining traction. This definitely helps our efforts to gain more attention and get more ‘butts in seats,’ [laughs]. If you will.” It’s not just the power players invited either. This year’s “Pittsburgh Spotlight Filmmaker” falls on Alisha Wormsley, writer and director of the “Afro-futuristic” film, The Children Of Nan, about clones locked away from
the world by their creator. Wormsley will take part in a Q&A about the film and is also facilitating the talk with Nance. What’s most striking about this year’s line-up are the themes we’re still discussing today. With racism still very much prevalent worldwide, it’s telling that one of Lewis’ choices is the 1968 Sidney Poitier film, For Love of Ivy. While not a “race film” per se, For Love of Ivy tells the story about a white family whose beloved black maid has a chance at a better opportunity, so they conspire to fix her up with an eligible bachelor to keep her part of the family. The ignorance in this case is no less ignorant for coming from a place of love, but the racial aspects of the film are not central, which may come as a surprise for many. Instead, it discusses the black experience as the human experience. While the end game is a world without qualifying adjectives, we aren’t there yet. “Of course we would love to not have a special festival to highlight black culture, but until that day comes we have to create our own platform and share with people and educate and let them know we have so many similarities,” says Nunn. “Seeing people on screen and thinking ‘I can relate to that’, having those moments helps you create that feeling of ‘yes, we are similar and we don’t have to use all these adjectives all the time.’ We’re all doing the same things. We’re all human. The artistic director, Joe Lewis, definitely picks movies with a lot of consideration. The main themes of For Love of Ivy is why it was included this year. We’re repeating ourselves, but we’re going to continue to repeat ourselves.”
THE BLACK BOTTOM FILM FESTIVAL runs through
February 21 at Rowhouse Cinema and February 22-24 at the August Wilson Cultural Center/various locations. For a full schedule of events, please visit: https://aacc-awc. org/bbffschedule/
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 15
“Redemption Sons” from the 2016 New Hazlett CSA (Photo: Renee Rosensteel)
NEW HAZLETT THEATER USES COMMUNITY TO INVEST IN ART WITH CSA PROGRAM BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
he New Hazlett Theater found an unlikely muse for its Community Supported Art (CSA) program: farming. “What inspired it is the agricultural CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture,” René Conrad, executive director of the New Hazlett Theater, says. In an agricultural CSA, a farm or a group of farms asks people to buy a small share of land. In return for buying this share, the farm provides the person with a box of vegetables or other farm goods. The practice is a form of civic agriculture that aims to strengthen a sense of community through local markets, where the producer and consumer share the risks of farming. “You know that you kind of
invested in having it grown and that you believe that it’s great quality because of your relationship with the farmer,” Conrad says. Now in its sixth season, the New Hazlett’s CSA program encourages patrons to buy one $100 share to support five works created by new and emerging artists, who specialize in different media, from dance to music and plays to experimental animation. The New Hazlett’s program is inspired by a similar one by Springboard for the Arts, an artsdriven economic community development organization in Minnesota. Also called Community Supported Art, their CSA program uses visual art. Nine selected artists receive a commission to create
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50 “shares.” Interested collectors purchase a share from Springboard for the Arts and receive boxes or portfolios of locally produced artwork at intervals during the season in return. Conrad and Bill Rodgers, programming director at the New Hazlett, downloaded Springboard for the Arts’ toolkit for their CSA program and modified it for the performing arts, giving those who buy a “share” new works of performance art instead of boxes of paintings. Those interested in the CSA program first submit an application for proposals, which are due in January. However, applicants have until Dec. 15 to receive feedback on their proposals. An anonymous
panel chooses finalists, who are interviewed. From there, five works are chosen to be performed in the next season, beginning in October. The CSA program participants receive a $3,500 stipend, the opportunity to work with two theater technicians, access to the New Hazlett’s rehearsal space, professional documentation of the performance via still photography and raw video footage. The New Hazlett Theater also helps CSA program participants with fiscal sponsorship to secure additional funding through grants. Additionally, the New Hazlett’s CSA program has a separate track for emerging designers, who team up with the performance artists to help bring their works from concept to stage. Rodgers says that, with the platform and the New Hazlett’s CSA program acts as an incubator and accelerator for new and emerging artists. “They have this whole kit that they can afterwards continue to apply to bigger and better things,” he says. The New Hazlett’s CSA program has changed since its inception in 2013. In the past, the New Hazlett sponsored six CSA shows. Now, the theater sponsors five, but has added another evening performance to ensure patrons have a better chance of viewing the new works. Additionally, the New Hazlett has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts for the CSA program, and has incorporated a CSA EDU Student Sponsorship Program that invites local high school students to experience performing art at their own Friday student matinee for each work. Murphi Cook and Zach Dorn of Miniature Curiosa performed their work, “Birds of America,” in the first season of the New Hazlett’s CSA program in 2013. According to the pair, having access to a larger audience lead to future professional achievements: someone saw “Birds of America” and nominated Dorn to be an inaugural Julie Taymor World
FEB. 20, 2019 | 1 P.M. FEB. 21, 2019 | 8 P.M.
This one woman show presents the stor y of 19 th Centur y abolitionist H arriet Tubman reimagined as a young woman growing up in H arlem .
Theater fellow, where he spent a year in Japan in 2016. He is currently pursuing an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts. Cook wrote “Birds of America” while pursuing her MFA at Carnegie Mellon University and is currently working on a new play funded by a Pittsburgh Foundation creative development grant, which will premiere in April. Since performing “Birds of America,” Miniature Curiosa has performed other works, like “The Clown Was Stung by Wasps” at the San Antonio’s 2017 Luminaria festival in San Antonio, Texas. Dorn and Cook say that the program allowed them to perfect a form while pushing themselves creatively. “The New Hazlett sort of gave us a place to form a structure on how we interact with actors and how we build puppets and how we produce new work, and we could then apply that structure to other shows,” Dorn says. “It gave us evidence that we could actually do things and it also made us think about pushing our work further and thinking beyond the bowling alley, the only thing we’ve thought about before,” Cook says. Ben Barson, of Afro Yaqui Music Collective, performed in this season’s CSA program with “Migrant Liberation Movement Suite,” a multicultural jazz performance that connects climate change to mass migration. Along with the connections made during the program, Barson says the CSA program has allowed “Migrant Liberation Movement Suite” to live outside of the New Hazlett: Afro Yaqui Music Collective recorded its October performance and turned it into a jazz album. “It’s much more than just a performance,” he says. Although the number of people who sign up for a share varies from year to year, according to Conrad, the support is unwavering. “It’s great that we have a town that really appreciates performing arts and that they come to see it,” Conrad says.
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
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PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 17
Jeron Sanders, Drake Phouasavanh and Matthew Losco in ‘USO’ (Photo: Katie Ging)
POINT PARK’S ‘FACULTY DANCE CONCERT’ KICKS OFF SEASON OF STUDENT PERFORMANCES BY STEVE SUCATO - PITTSBURGH CURRENT DANCE WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
s one of the nation’s premiere college dance programs, Point Park University has helped launch the careers of many dancers, choreographers and dance educators working today. Preparing those future dance professionals for such careers are the dance
department’s talented instructors. Six of them will get to show off their choreographic and staging skills in Conservatory Dance Company’s upcoming Faculty Dance Concert, February 21-24 at the University’s George Rowland White Performance Center. The annual concert, kicking
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off 2019’s offering by the student dance troupe features a diverse mix of dance styles from ballet to Broadway. New professor of jazz, Rocker Verastique, who has probably the coolest name for a professor, makes his Faculty Dance Concert debut with new work “USO”. A former dancer
with American Ballet Theatre, Verastique has also appeared on Broadway in Contact, Chicago and Carousel and in 46 episodes of the television series Fame from 1983 – 1986. His 12-minute, 1940s styled, multimedia, theater-dance piece is for 16 women and 6 men costumed as showgirls and sailors. Danced to
music by Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Joe Pots, the work says Verastique, is a tribute to his father who served in World War II and “is about democracy, patriotism and sacrifice.” A montage of abstracted moving portrayals is how dancer/ choreographer Maree ReMalia describes her new work “Shimmer.” Created in collaboration with its 15 performers, the 19-minute piece is set to music by Los Angeles multigenre music producer Steven Ellison (a.k.a. Flying Lotus) and others. The South Korean-born, Ohioraised ReMalia, who danced with Richmond Ballet and has a masters in choreography and performance from The Ohio State University to go with a certification in Gaga (no relation to “Lady”) movement language, says for “Shimmer” she incorporated set designs and video projections that can be seen in her upcoming evening-length work, A Letter Compiled From All Letters with Gigi Gatewood and Lillian Cho which will premiere June 13-15 at the New Hazlett Theater. “Synergy” is Matthew Powell’s latest work for CDC that he describes as “a study of the manner in which movement affects both dancer and audience member.” Powell, who danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Kansas City Ballet and was a New York Choreographic Institute fellowship award-winner, says the 9-minute neo-classical ballet in 2-sections features an all-female cast of a dozen and “works to compare and contrast artistic energy in many forms.” Longtime faculty member Kiesha Lalama’s new work “The Box” she says, “introduces a magical world that opens the pathways to various and emotional stories expressed through thematic soundtracks.” The multifaceted Lalama who has created more than 50 works for such dance companies as Ballet Arkansas, Giordano Dance Chicago and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, was also the choreographer on the feature films The Perks of Being a Wallflower
(2012), Sorority Row (2009) and the 2012 television documentary Broadway or Bust. Her 15 minute, multimedia work for 17 dancers is set music by The White Stripes, Michael Jackson and others. A restaging of a work choreographer Jason McDole originally created for CDC in the Fall of 2007, “Conscious” is a 10-minute contemporary/modern dance work for a cast of twelve set to music by Polish composer Wojciech Kilar. A Juilliard grad, McDole has danced in the companies of Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch and David Parsons. Of “Conscious” McDole says: “Everything you say and do have a rippling effect — good or bad. What do you choose? As humans we have the power to create our immediate future. Our thoughts, actions and hearts create the very existence we wish to experience in our lifetime.” Rounding out the program will be former Chair of the Department of Dance, Susan Stowe’s restaging of Act II of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s ballet Swan Lake danced to music by Tchaikovsky.
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CONSERVATORY DANCE COMPANY PRESENTS their Faculty
Dance Concert, February 21-24 at the University’s George Rowland White Performance Center, 201 Wood Street. Tickets are $10 students and seniors, $20 -24 general and can be purchased by calling the Pittsburgh Playhouse box office at (412) 392-8000 or visiting pittsburghplayhouse.com.
MARCH 2 – 3, 2019 • BYHAM THEATER T R U S T AO RF T SF. OI C R GE• B O X O TH F F I CE E ATE A T T HR E A TSQ E R SUAR Q U A RE E BOX AT 41 2 - 4 5 6 - 6 6 6 6 • G R O U P S 1 0 + T I C K E T S 41 2 - 471 - 6 9 3 0
412- 456 - 6666
412- 471- 6930
TRUSTARTS.ORG TRUSTARTS.ORG TRUSTARTS.ORG
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 19
A PLETHORA OF ACTIVITIES ABOUND AS BLACK HISTORY MONTH WINDS DOWN BY MADELINE URY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT INTERN INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
Lyft is offering one free ride to black history museums, organizations and memorials for the month of February. Using the code BHM19PIT, you can get a free ride up to $10 to the August Wilson Cultural Center, Heinz History Center, Hill House Community Center, University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning’s Africa Room and the New Horizon Theater.
“Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power” is a film examining black radicalism and resistance. The film features interviews with historians, biographers and even a first person account by Williams’ wife, Mabel. The screening at Carnegie Library - Homewood Branch is a part of the Heinz History Center’s 2019 From Slavery to Freedom Film Series. 5:30 p.m. 7101 Hamilton Ave., Homewood. Free. www. heinzhistorycenter.org
FEB. 19: The Heinz History Center has partnered with the Smithsonian Channel for an early screening of the yet-to-be-released documentary, “The Green Book: Guide to Freedom.” The film features stories of the daily struggles and danger, as well as opportunities that African Americans faced during the civil rights movement. Be one of the first to see the film before it premieres Feb. 25 on the Smithsonian channel. The event is followed by a panel discussion. Admission is free with pre-registration. 6 p.m. 1212 Smallman St., Downtown. Free. www.heinzhistorycenter.org
Lacresha Berry in Tubman. (Photo Courtesy of Hi-Arts)
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Tubman is a one-woman show written by New York-based writer Lacresha Berry. Her story reimagines Tubman as a young woman growing up in Harlem. She places the same woman with the same spirit into a different time but one that still battles the mistreatment of African Americans. The first show is at 1 p.m., Feb. 20 with the second coming Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. $23.75-33.75. Aacc-
Black Queer History Month Town Hall is hosted by the Mayor’s LGBTQIA+ council. The event will be held at the Persad Center, and the featured panelists will discuss the history and experience of Black Queer Pittsburgh. 6 p.m. 5301 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Free. tinyurl.com/ y6oo64r6 or 412-255-2694
FEB. 21: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein shares his extensive knowledge on housing policies and the modern American metropolis. Rothstein makes it clear to the audience that de jure segregation was what prompted discrimination. That is, the laws and policies passed by local, state and federal governments rather than through de facto segregation. The Smithfield Critics Book Discussion Group hosts a discussion of Rothstein’s book at The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Downtown and Business. 12 p.m. 612 Smithfield
St., Downtown. Free. www. carnegielibrary.org or downtown@ carnegielibrary.org
FEB. 24: The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is proud to host the beautiful vocal stylings of Jemiriye. World Kaleidoscope Presents Jemiriye features her songs, which she uses to advocate for the liberation of African American women, children’s education, peace in Africa and putting an end to child marriage. The recipient of several awards also spoke out against discrimination following the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue this past fall. Jemiriye was also a part of history as the first Black African to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the Jackie Robinson Day celebration at a Philadelphia Phillies game. 2 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-622-3105
T H E WA L L O F S O U N D S E R I E S F E AT U R E S
THE NEW, FRESH SOUNDS FOR THE INTERESTED EAR… People who love music and want to hear the artists telling compelling stories through song will be devotees to the Wall of Sound Series.
FEB. 28: The Heinz History Center’s African American program is proud to present its fifth annual Black History Month Lecture: Black Power and Black Politics of the 1960s-’70s. The lecture features Dr. Leonard Moore. Not only is Dr. Moore an American History professor at The University of Texas at Austin, but he has authored three books on black politics, and is currently working on another. The biography is about Adam Clayton Powell Jr., a controversial pastor, congressman and civil rights leader. Admission is free, but requires registration and does not include museum access. 6 p.m. 1212 Smallman St., Downtown. Free. www.heinzhistorycenter.org/events
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PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 21
Gia T. Cacalano and Oreen Cohen (Photo: Isabella Rozalia Cacalano Jordan)
HEALING ARTS BY STEVE SUCATO - PITTSBURGH CURRENT DANCE WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
lot has been researched and written about the power of the arts in promoting healing and well-being. Local dance maker Gia T. Cacalano is a believer in that power. “I am very much immersed in educating many different populations through the vehicle of art as a method of healing,” says Cacalano. Her latest effort in bringing art’s healing power to the masses is Somatic Automatic: an interactive public performance, February 22 and 23 at the Cultural Trust’s 937 Gallery. A co-collaboration with area visual artist, performer and educator Oreen Cohen, Cacalano is taking a page from her own creative processes in creating improvisational dance works and translating them into something Somatic Automatic’s
audiences can be a part of. Known for her “instant composition” dance works created in the moment, Cacalano says she incorporates in the creation of those compositions methodologies learned in training with a Body-Mind Centering and somatic educator. Having already used these methodologies in her work as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, a resident teaching artist at La Roche College’s Dance Department and in working with senior groups, Cacalano says she wanted to create a vehicle to bring this to the general public. For the hour-long Somatic Automatic, audience members (who choose to participate) will first be guided through somatic movement meditations and sketching exercises. That will be followed by
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a performance by Cacalano and Cohen inspired in-part by those exercises. In it, Cohen will react to Cacalano’s instant composition dancing and create her own largescale charcoal drawings in real time. As part of her drawing process Cohen will also act as performer throwing her body into sweeping motion. The soundtrack for the performance will also be an instant creation coming from microphones placed throughout the space that will pick ambient sound that Cacalano and Cohen will respond and perform to. Cacalano and Cohen see Somatic Automatic as a trial balloon they hope will take off and lead to the program being repeated in other communities. Limited to 50 audience members/participants per
showing, the intimate and inclusive performance says Cacalano will “remove that imaginary boundary between public and performer so the dialogue between both becomes more pronounced.”
Gia T. Cacalano and Oreen Cohen present Somatic Automatic: an interactive public performance, 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.), Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23 at 937 Gallery, 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Tickets (cash only at the door) are $15 student, $20 general - children under 13 are free. Reservations recommended, go to tinyurl.com/ y28q62g5
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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 | 19
Sucks to Be an Animal
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By Sienna Cittadino
by Andrew Schubert
CARTOONISTS CARTOONISTS WANTED WANTED pittsburgh current is looking for local artists who would like to have their comics featured on our twice-monthly funny pages.
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | OCT. 23, 2018 | 21
From left: Mike Smales, Brad Collins, Amy Linette, Ryan Hoffman (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
AS A COLLABORATION, RYAN HOFFMAN AND THE PIONEERS ARE STARTING TO HIT THE SWEET SPOT BY CHARLIE DEITCH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT EDITOR CHARLIE@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ased on his last two records, you’d swear that Ryan Hoffman has been lost in a forest for the past couple years. In February 2017, after a few satisfying years playing guitar in the band Roadrunner, Hoffman released his first solo record, The Pines. He’d been in a string of bands and when Roadrunner broke up he decided to go it alone. It didn’t last long though, before he hooked up with drummer Mike Smales, vocalist/saxophonist Amy Linette and Brad Collins on guitar, bass and synth and formed Ryan Hoffman and the Pioneers. The indie-folk group’s debut record, In the Alps, was released in November. So, when he mentions that the band is already writing music for the next record, one question comes to mind. What forest imagery will the
next record be named after? “That’s the great thing about writing with people as opposed to writing alone,” Hoffman says over beer and coffee at The Abbey in Lawrenceville. “We want this new record to be about topics. Brad, Amy and I write in a circle; someone comes in with an idea and we fine tune it. They do a good job of not letting me run wild with my bullshit. We made a soft rule that I’m not allowed to write about birds, trees or the color blue, all of my default imagery. “So, don’t hold me to it, but the next record likely won’t have a treelike title or be about the mountains.” While he liked taking a break to do personal, solo music, Hoffman seems more comfortable in a band setting. He likes the collaboration
and being surrounded by musicians that gel together. That’s probably why they’re already working on new material. “The process has been great so far, very collaborative,” Hoffman says of the music they’ve been recording in Smales’ basement recording studio.. “It’s a much more dynamic experience this time than before. We’re utilizing Amy’s voice differently than we have in the past and I’ve been working on my vocals as well. Musically and lyrically, we’re taking more risks. Rather than hiding what we’re trying to express behind these dense metaphor, we’re just saying it.” Hoffman says a lot of the themes revolve around growing and moving on. “But moving on at a time in your life when it really means something
because of time,” Hoffman says. “My favorite song is one called “Bigger than the Now,” about how the decisions you make today are way bigger than the moment your making them in.” Hoffman gave the Current a chance to listen to a rough cut of “Bigger than the Now.” In the first 40 seconds you notice the changes the band was trying to make. Vocally, it’s a straight-ahead number that is less “sing-songy” as Hoffman describes, and is instead delivered with a tension in Hoffman’s and Linette’s voices that gives the song almost an instant sense of gravitas. But while there is something raw and stripped down about The Pioneers’ modern indie rock sound, Hoffman says the band is starting to incorporate more digital elements, although they’ve been trying to introduce it thoughtfully. “The rule of thumb we go by is that if I can’t sit down and play the song by myself, then we need to take a look at it and see what went wrong,” Hoffman says. “Because at the core of everything there’s this song and you dress it up, but if the song is good at the core, it’s probably going to be solid.” Electronically, the band has been working an analog synth, an electron sampler and other pedals to “texturize the song with some sawtooth bass or high-pitch synth sounds. We’re also starting to see what kind of sound we can get by mixing electronic beats with our natural beats. “I never liked that stuff growing up but I think we’re doing some really cool stuff with it,” Hoffman says. “We still want to keep that singer/songwriter vibe, but I like the idea of mixing old school and new school. Now, we’re never going to go as far as EDM, but I think adding a little drop here and there is a good thing.”
READ A LONGER VERSION OF THIS STORY ONLINE THURSDAY AT PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 27
MUSIC LIBRARY THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY OF PITTSBURGH LAUNCHES STACKS, AN ALL-LOCAL MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
rom physical media, to borrowable musical instruments and recording equipment, to workshops and classes, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is constantly deepening and expanding on traditional ideas of what a local library can and should offer. In that spirit, the organization has ventured into new technological territory, and on Friday, Feb. 15 it launched Stacks, a digital streaming service featuring exclusively Pittsburgh-based artists. As with a platform like Spotify, Stacks brings music directly to your computer or phone. From the comfort of home, listeners can explore an array of local music, hopping from country western elder-statesman Slim Forsythe to wild psych-rockers Come Holy Spirit to arty hip-hop act JunkFoods. Working in conjunction with technology startup Rabble – which is based in Pittsburgh and in Madison, WI, and has helped launch similar programs in Seattle, Austin., Tx. and elsewhere -- the Library staff aimed to create something that could serve library patrons while helping to amplify the Pittsburgh music scene. “We know that the local music scene is … not a cohesive unit,” says Toby Greenwalt, the Library’s Director of Digital Strategy and Technology Integration. He notes that conversations with musicians, particularly those who use the library’s resources, helped guide some of the early research. “We were thinking of it as a community entity. We have an opportunity to help document some of the work that’s being created and hopefully bridge some of the gaps and show how many styles and creators are being represented here in the city.”
While library usage is certainly not a requirement for inclusion, the Stacks project provides some insight into what happens once patrons leave the building. “Now that we’re getting ready to launch, it’s really given us an opportunity to connect the dots between the instruments we [loan] out, the classes we put on ….and then kind of defining the relationship that we have with new and established artists across [Pittsburgh].” Unlike many streaming services, Stacks is highly curated. Currently the platform features 40 artist, chosen from 165 applicants. A jury comprised of library staff and people who know and care deeply about the local music scene – including artist/ activist Jacquea Mae of 1Hood, Jim Cunningham of WQED-FM, Mary Tremonte aka DJ Mary Mack, and James Armstead Brown, who runs the YMCA Lighthouse Project – determined who would be included this time around. “We went with people who we know have connections to different subsets of the local music scene,” Greenwalt says. For example,
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Pittsburgh’s dynamic hip-hop scene is often overlooked, so it was important to have the involvement of someone like Mae, who is immersed in that world. “We know there are a lot of women and non-binary artists out there making really interesting stuff, so we want to make sure that we have somebody who can speak to that experience,” Greenwalt adds. “We know there are a lot of teens coming up from after-school programs and other sorts of things at the library who are making music, so we want to make sure we have people who have connections to those folks.” Limited resources also make curation necessary. Unlike, say, Spotify, Stacks artists get paid a onetime stipend of $200. It’s not a huge
number but, with Spotify’s rate of $0.0084 per play, it would take more than 23,000 song plays to reach that amount. If you missed the opportunity to be included, don’t worry: Greenwalt says the Library plans to open submissions twice a year, and will likely put out a call for another round of artists in April. “Really, I hope it creates a virtuous cycle … for the Library, but primarily for musicians,” Greenwalt says. “We want to create a space where the exposure not only [helps] to cement their role as part of the local music scene, but also hopefully leads them on to better things.” Learn more at stacks. carnegielibrary.org
Traces by Molly Alphabet
CHARENÉE WADE BRINGS THE WORK OF GIL SCOTT-HERON TO THE KELLY-STRAYHORN BY MIKE SHANLEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ne of Gil Scott-Heron’s first poems has become something of a cultural quote: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” The sentiment occasionally gets referenced and updated due to modern media’s willingness to televise anything and everything, but the root of the 1970 poem hit upon something deeper than news coverage. “That was about the fact that the first change that takes place is in your mind,” Scott-Heron once told a filmmaker. “You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move…The thing that’s going to change people is something that no one will be able to capture on film.” When Scott-Heron first introduced the poem, as a 20-year old sounding wise beyond his years, it was accompanied by minimal but driving conga drums. A few years later, a remake was backed by a funky jazz groove, by which time Scott-Heron was singing as often as reciting, in collaboration with keyboardist Brian Jackson. This is the period that vocalist Charenée Wade touches on with Offering, the first tribute created by a woman to honor the late poet, who passed away in 2011. Wade’s powerful voice provides a unique setting for the tense lyrics of “Home Is Where the Hatred Is,” which gets a punch from Stefon Harris’
vibraphone. Christian McBride, one of the foremost bassists in jazz, lends his voice to the spoken introduction of “Peace Go With You Brother,” which becomes a rich ballad in Wade’s hands. Charenée Wade entered the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Vocal Competition twice. She placed second in the 2010 run, serving as runner up to Cécile McLorine Salvant. Originally inspired by Sarah Vaughn, she also takes hints from vocalist Betty Carter, who was known for her signature style that dug into the lyrics of a song, making each one a personal statement. Wade’s work has also garnered recognition from Jazz at Lincoln Center, who gave their Millennial Swing Award to her in 2017. When not performing, Wade also teaches at the Aaron Copland School of Music at the City University of New York. Onstage, Wade proves that, for better or worse, the sentiments that Scott-Heron evoked more than 40 years ago still have a strong resonance with the current state of affairs in this country. After all these years, the revolution might not be televised but, as the original poem said, the revolution will be live.
The Annual Northside Mardi Gras Celebration is a 2 week long party featuring 35+ restaurants, pubs, and businesses offering live entertainment and New Orleans and other Pre-Lenten inspired food and drink specials .
March 5, 7:00PM Allegheny Elks $10 at the door.
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8 p.m. Saturday, March 2. Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Avenue, East Liberty. $35. 412-363-3000recommended, go to tinyurl.com/ y28q62g5
pittsburghnorthside.com/mardigras PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 29
Chef Gaetano Ascione preparing a meal in the kitchen at Jean Louis in Dormont. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
RENOWNED CHEF BRINGS WEALTH OF TRAVEL AND EXPERIENCE TO DORMONT RESTAURANT BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
he West Liberty Avenue spot that was previously home to Needle & Pin, an Indian fusion restaurant and cocktail bar, has reopened as a bright and cozy French bistro called Jean Louis. The blue and white checked tablecloths at this Dormont eatery invoke the French countryside, while warm brown wood and rich yellow
curtains create a homey atmosphere. The menu isn’t long, but it covers the classics and has a clear focus on highlighting quality ingredients. The star, though, of Jean Louis is the man behind the menu, Chef Gaetano Ascione. Chef Ascione is originally from Naples, Italy, but he has travelled the world over. He’s lived and cooked in Germany,
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the U.K., Singapore, the Bahamas, Chicago and Miami. The chef welcomed the Current into his kitchen at Jean Louis recently, where he gave us a demo of a few special dishes and shared anecdotes collected from across the world. Ascione originally came to Pittsburgh to be a part of The
Pennsylvania Market, but left to open Jean Louis with co-owner Shiv Bandhu. “Pittsburgh, for me, I like it because people are food oriented,” Ascione says. “They are loyal and they go to the restaurant because they like to eat, not because they like to be seen. “People come to see you because
they trust you and they know that they can get a good experience.” Ascione’s resume includes achievements like working for the White House and cooking at a Michelin star restaurant. He could name drop the people who have eaten his food—Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Nelson Mandela— all day if he wanted to. At one time, his list of references would have included the late Jean-Louis Palladin, the celebrated French chef whose seventeen years cooking at the Watergate Hotel are the second most legendary thing to ever happen there. Chef Ascione decided to name Jean Louis in honor of Palladin because of everything Palladin taught him about cuisine. The premiere lesson that Ascione still abides by today: ingredients, ingredients, ingredients. “[Palladin taught me] about the respect for the ingredients, and the uniqueness of the ingredients,”
Ascione said. “What I loved about his approach was the [attention to] quality.” Palladin discovered and loved to use the pasture-raised lamb from Jamison Farm in Latrobe that Ascione uses today at Jean Louis. Another ingredient that Ascione is very fond of are the Kennebec potatoes that he believes create Jean Louis’ perfect french fry. Ascione spoke at length about the ingredients as he prepared two dishes for us in the restaurant’s kitchen. His maple glazed pork belly uses his favorite Berkshire pork and Pennsylvania maple syrup. It is marinated for 36 hours, and then roasted for three. His crab cakes, which Ascione told us once gained a seal of approval from a former Maryland governor, contain Ritz Crackers, but no bread crumbs, flour or egg to bind them, because Ascione says they take away from the taste of the crabmeat. He adds Old Bay to keep it
classic, a mayonnaise that he makes in house and Lebanese zaatar, which he is “very partial to” over other varieties. Both dishes come together beautifully. The crab cake is perfectly seasoned and the giant lumps of meat remain tender and in tact. The maple pork belly is deliciously sweet, savory and fatty. Neither of these dishes are on the menu at Jean Louis, but Ascione says they are always available if you request them. And we recommend that you do. Chef Ascione’s food was a delight to eat, and his company was delightful to be in. Ascione doesn’t work from recipes, so he could never write a cookbook. Though, he said several times that if anyone wants to learn, they should come join him in his kitchen. And he sounded like he sincerely meant it, even if he did joke that he loves “free staff.” When it comes to the restaurant industry, a lot has changed over
Chef Ascione’s career. But, the two things that haven’t are the two things he loves: the importance of the ingredients and that people still come together to eat them. “I like the interaction,” Ascione said. “Restaurants are still a personto-person business—no matter how many computers or handheld phones and things you have, it’s still person to person.”
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Chef Gaetano Ascione preparing a meal in the kitchen at Jean Louis in Dormont. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
WE DELIVER! PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 31
Comedian Aaron Kleiber brunching at Honest John’s in Homestead (Current photo by: Haley Frederick)
THIS TASTES FUNNY: BRUNCH AT HONEST JOHN’S WITH AARON KLEIBER BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
aron Kleiber is a busy guy. When I invite him out for a meal and he says he can squeeze me in for a Sunday brunch as long as it’s in his neighborhood, I’m happy to oblige and join him at Honest John’s in Homestead. Why is he so busy? Kleiber is working in entertainment full time. He hosts a monthly comedy game show called the “Stand-Up Get Down” at Arcade Comedy Theater, where he also serves as stand-up director. He hosts a weekly showcase, “Comedy Sauce,” at the
Pleasure Bar in Bloomfield. He releases new episodes of his podcast, “Grown Dad Business,” on iTunes each week. He’s racked up a sizable list of acting credits in TV shows, movies, shorts and commercials. He travels across the country performing stand-up. And this week he’s launching a new merch line, a Patreon account and preparing his taxes. Oh, and today after this meal he has to go home and decorate a unicorn cake for his daughter’s fourth birthday. (Go check out the
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finished product on his Instagram @ aaronkleiber—it’s impressive.) So, when he penciled me in for a Sunday morning, I assumed it was the only time Kleiber had left. But while talking to him, I’m starting to feel like he may have an ulterior motive. The guy loves breakfast. “Breakfast is one of my favorite things ever. Everywhere I go around the country I try to find a cool breakfast spot,” Kleiber says. “I get the simple eggs, meat, potatoes and toast. And then you try a little tasty-taste of one of the pancakes or french toast.” Kleiber follows his breakfast blueprint to a T, ordering the Honest John’s Breakfast with his two eggs over medium, bacon, home fries and texas toast (they’re out of wheat today). I get the rosemary and roasted mushroom scramble. And then for our ‘breakfast dessert,’ as we decide to call it, we ask that an order of the french toast be brought out last for the two of us to split. Kleiber is so passionate about his methods for ordering food that as he’s explaining them to me, his emphatic hand gestures knock over the small jug of creamer for our coffees. “Get this lil’ ass cup out of here,” he says, feigning anger and holding back a laugh. Honest John’s opened in Homestead in 2017. It’s a new(ish) neighborhood spot for Kleiber, who grew up in Pittsburgh and has built a life here with his wife, Wendy, and their three kids, who he refers to on his podcast “Grown Dad Business” as The Professor, Luke the Nuke and Lil Firecat. He’s so friendly now that it’s a bit surprising when he describes his young self as a “little jerk” who eventually came around through theater and church. “I was kind of a bad kid,” Kleiber says. “There was a group of us who just started doing musicals to meet girls...and then suddenly you have all of these lines and you have to sing two songs and you’re learning how to tap dance...I loved the attention.” He decided to go to Point Park
University for filmmaking and acting, but at the time the programs were focused on Super 8s and Shakespeare, so he didn’t feel like he was learning the modern skills that would help him have the career he wanted. “The whole time I was working with kids because I wanted to give back,” Kleiber says. “I felt like there were people who were good to me and payed attention to me and helped my life, especially in my community through church.” Kleiber then went to Geneva College to get a degree in adolescent ministry and counseling. He spent the next few years working with kids at an after school program and a church. But eventually, he knew he had to move his focus back to entertainment. “That job is a very selfless job, and I’ve always said from day one, people are like, ‘Why do you do comedy?’ and I say, ‘Because I’m selfish,’” Kleiber says. “I like some attention, and you can make people happy doing [comedy]. That’s a pretty cool deal.” But the counselor in Kleiber isn’t gone. Whether you’re listening to his conversations with Jason Clark on “Grown Dad Business” or talking to him over breakfast, you can tell that Kleiber likes to give guidance. While my personal experience is limited, I’m willing to bet that he’s good at it. “I’ve always felt like I’m like the youth group leader of Pittsburgh comedy—I love meeting new comics,” he says. “That’s why I do my show ‘Comedy Sauce’ at Pleasure Bar. I’ve been doing that for almost 8 years, every Tuesday. “It’s really the only thing I do that keeps me connected with the new comics, the young comics. It’s like my youth group. I just hang out and pass out whiskey and we all make
“GET THIS LIL’ ASS CUP OUT OF HERE!”
each other laugh.” A lot of newer comics look up to Kleiber because of his 10 years in stand-up and because he’s been able to make it into a full time job. But Kleiber is honest with them about how hard it really is—about how many times he’s been told he’s about to have a ‘big break’ that didn’t come, how even the ‘big breaks’ that do come don’t change your career overnight and how he still works his ass off for every payday. “It’s not a lucrative living all the time; it comes in ebbs and flows... and so the hustle is never gone.” But even if it sounds like he’s preaching, that doesn’t mean he feels like he’s above anyone; Kleiber doesn’t pretend that he’s reached the proverbial ‘promised land.’ In some ways, he feels more like he’s in comedy purgatory. “Last year, months ago, I filmed a comedy special with seven cameras, someone paid for the whole thing,
and that’s still in limbo,” Kleiber says. “That’s sitting at Netflix just on somebody’s desk. And I’m sitting here just trying to pay my bills. “Everyone has a different path and I’ve been super blessed. You just learn as you go and you experience things. Those experiences let you know that you’re never going to ‘arrive,’ or you’re not going to ‘arrive’ as soon as you think you are. “Look, this is me giving a pep-talk to myself right now,” he says. “You gotta know that there’s room for you and you’re on your path. It’s going to happen differently for everyone.” We’ve gotten so deep in conversation at this point that we forgot the french toast was even coming, but when it does we’re stoked for some breakfast dessert. The three slices are topped with spiced honey butter and candied pecans. It is, in Kleiber’s words, “stupid good.”
Current photo by: Haley Frederick
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 33
KEEPING UP WITH PITTSBURGH’S CRAFT BEER SCENE BY DAY BRACEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CRAFT BEER WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM February 2, Noon: I’m meeting up with Aadam Soorma, a man of many hustles. Today’s venture is Porter Tours, a school bus that takes you to fun places like breweries and other breweries. The tour lasts four hours, includes three stops, three free samples at each and a worldly tour guide to edutain and avoid DUIs. They play music, provide snacks to keep you based and hydrated, and meet at Nova Place. So, don’t worry about parking, plenty of cheap space in the
garage. I would suggest bringing a growler, something I neglected to do. Something I often neglect to do. Someday, I’m going to research how many growlers are sold to people who have 37 empties in their dining room. I know the number is greater than zero. I’m joined by two older couples from Ohio, and a younger couple on their third Porter Tour. Everyone is friendly and eager to imbibe. It feels like we’re doing something wrong. Like the cool kids stole a bus and took it for a joyride. Fugees are playing through the speakers, so it definitely feels like high school again. And much like high school, I’m fairly stoned and ready for whatever. February 2, 12:15 p.m.: First stop is Bier’s Pub on Western Ave. The place is packed, but fortunately we called ahead. The owner/brewer Jake Bier serves us samples, gives us a tour and even lights a fireplace for us. Still not sure if Bier is his real last name, or a stage name. Thinking of changing mine to Day Drunk. February 2, 1:27 p.m.: We’re at Full Pint Wild Side. I sip Swedish Designed Furniture, a 4.5 percent lingonberry Berliner Weisse. It’s tart, but not crazy sour. If I haven’t mentioned it before, let me say it now. Full Pint Wild Side has two of the most shittable
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bathrooms in the beer industry. They’re unisex, clean, the toilet seats are of adequate size, and they’ve got candles and deodorizer. I didn’t actually shit while there, so no review of the ply count. But I would be surprised to see less than two in such a well-thought-out inhouse. February 2, 3:01 p.m.: We have arrived at our final stop. Spring Hill is located in the cut, at the top of a murderhorn in the Northside. You know that street off of route 28 that was built as a one way path for welterweight horses carrying small loads, but now somehow acts as a two street for Semis and Hummers? Yeah, that one. Hats off to Aadam for managing to drive a bus on the street equivalent of a tightrope, at a 90 degree angle. Like most difficult journeys, what awaited us at the end was well worth it. The India Pale Vortex is like a saison IPA, brewed with Kveik yeast. I first encountered this yeast at Hitchhiker and have been a fan of it everywhere and in every iteration I find it. Get you some, son. February 2, 5:05 p.m.: The tour is over and I get a chance to sit with Aadam for a quick interview. I order a goat cheese mushroom pizza from Michigan & Trumbull, and something dark and barreled from the bar. Me: You do a lot. How did you get into this gig trade? Did you get out of college thinking you were going to have one job that paid all of your bills and raised your family until you died? AS: It all started in Ohio. I grew up in Canton, & went to OSU and studied journalism thinking I was
going to be a writer. When I finished in 2010, I couldn’t find a job. So, I ended up taking a position as a French translator for a company in Montreal. Me: So, you speak French? AS: And Hindi. And I can read and write Arabic. English is my second language. Me: Small flex. AS: Tiny language flex. Do you speak any other languages? Me: English and bad English. AS: After that translating job, I randomly applied to grad school and got into CMU, which brought me to Pittsburgh. I got a Master’s degree in Public Policy, then got a job with the United Nations in DC managing their social media. Afterwards, I went to an ad agency in Philly servicing NASA. Then in 2012, I came back to Pittsburgh to help my buddies start a co-working space called Beauty Shop. And in 2017 I started my own hospitality based media company, WHOM Creative. This interview went on for another 30 minutes. But this struggling college dropout needs to go reevaluate his poor life decisions and work ethic. Preferably under the influence...
NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE: On the side of a library a mural entitled “Introversion Excursion” by Andy Matia (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
CRAFTON SMALL BUT STRONG BUSINESS CORE IS THE HEART OF THIS BOROUGH
BY BETHANY RUHE - PITTSBURGH CURRENT ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BETHANY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
here are two things people from Crafton will tell you within five minutes of meeting you: “I was born and raised here,” and “Crafton is only 12 minutes from Downtown.” Crafton Borough does indeed sit 12 minutes from downtown. It’s also just minutes from Robinson, a hop, skip and a jump to Greentree, and just a quick ride to the airport. Like many city-adjacent neighborhoods, it’s gone through good times and bad in its 137 year existence. But what it has never done is give up on itself. Crafton has roughly 6,000 residents and a somewhat sprawling business district, or, as borough manager RJ Susko calls it, a “business core.” Susko has only been on the job for six months but she has big plans for Crafton.
As borough manager, Susko wears many hats. “Typically a manager does financial forecasting, day-to-day supervising operations of the whole municipality, preparing the annual budget, which is usually a multi-month process, interpreting the borough code, or our code of ordinances, or just finding solutions,” Susko said. “The thing about local government is it’s local, and it can change based on needs. For example, some of the basic stuff is advising council on the policy decisions that they make, or managing the finance stuff.” But she also spends time thinking about economic development. “Another hat I wear is Main Street manager, since we don’t have a community development corporation right now.”
She’s hoping to help bring even more to the neighborhood’s existing business ecosystem. Crafton’s current mix of businesses include a vibrant patchwork of long-standing, been-here-forever type places, and a smattering of newcomers. One thing that almost all of them have in common though is a deep, strong Crafton connection. Mugshots Cafe is tucked on the back edge of the Crafton Ingram Shopping Center. A sign outside alerts passersby to their worldfamous fish sandwich. Dan Rusin has run the place for 15 years, although it’s been in his family since his grandparents bought it 36 years ago. “My grandma is still here,” Rusin said, gesturing to the back. “She still takes care of the books and things. I do everything else, though.”
The bar is a study in Pittsburghthemed decor, resplendent in black and gold. Rusin is from Crafton, born and raised, and is proud of Mugshots’ Crafton bonafides. “This is a local place, when they park their car and start walking across that parking lot, their beer is already on the bar,” Rusin said. “We have some customers that have their barstool. They have to have their barstool. Now, if you’re a new person and you’re sitting there, they’ll let it go, move to the next seat. But if you’re a regular, they’ll say you gotta swap seats, let’s go. One time we thought about name tags, but we didn’t want to scare off new customers.” The joint is very welcoming to new customers. Rusin has karaoke, specials galore, food for days and special events. They throw a huge
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 35
Wright’s Gym (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
bash outside on July Fourth, has fundraisers for Humane Animal Rescue and puts out buffets for Steelers games. “We are your typical Pittsburgh bar,” he said proudly. “You don’t always get these places in other cities. It’s all new development or big chains type places.” While he’s made some changes since taking over 15 years ago, Rusin is happy to let Mugshots be Mugshots. “I added more liquor and beer selections,” he said. “Oh, and Red Bull and Jager. We didn’t have that here when I took over.” Almost caddy-corner to Mugshots is Wright’s Gym. Rusin actually works out there, and has for three years. That’s another hallmark of Crafton residents; you support local businesses through patronage and recommendation. “You gotta check out Wright’s,” Rusin said, as two locals take their seats at the bar. “Dave is great.” Dave Wright, owner of Wright’s Gym, and a very large and nice person. Wright’s is down a set
of small steps, and you think it’s going to be a cramped space, but it opens up to a labyrinth of spaces, filled with either gym equipment or dedicated as classroom spaces. Rick, who works the front counter, mentions it used to be a Pat Catans. “We’ve been here since 1996,” Wright said. “It’s a unique combination of health club/martial [arts] facility. We specialize in three elements: fitness, self-defense and fighting. It coincides with what I do on the other side of my life. I’m a 26 year Pittsburgh Police veteran. I am the lead use-of-force instructor, so I teach self defense and physical fitness to police. The two kind of match up pretty well.” Wright’s offers training in Krav Maga, an Israeli self defense system, along with Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. “We are a health club, but we also realized we needed to have a niche to compete with the big corporate chains. Our niche is our self defense fitness classes. They can’t do what we do,” Wright explains. Which is another Crafton
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A look inside D&O Wine Cellars on East Crafton Ave. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
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point of pride, offering something you can’t get at most corporate chains. “We provide for this community, too. I was born and raised in Crafton. We give a lot back the Carlynton (the local high school) wrestling team, we let them have free training here, if their school is closed they can practice here, we’ve done selfdefense classes for the community.” A lot of the businesses serving Crafton have been around for a long time, but you do have your newcomers. Like D & O Wine Cellars. They opened six months ago and Owners Doug and Olesia Johnston started making wine in 2009. “People really liked our wine and wanted to buy it, but you can’t sell homemade wine,” Doug explained. “So we decided to take the plunge and see if we could get our home licensed as a winery, which we did. Then this place became available.” The place is a sprawling storefront on Crafton Avenue. Previously a Ben Franklin store and a dance hall, the space has now been converted to a warm, welcoming tasting bar and event venue. You can taste and purchase D & O’s wines, as well as a selection of Pennsylvania beers and liquors from Quantum Spirits in neighboring Carnegie. The Johnstons are long-time Crafton residents who wanted to open a place close to home. The fact that the space is close to Sarafino’s, Crafton’s celebrated Italian restaurant, doesn’t hurt either. “They’re BYOB, so we get a lot of people that stop here to get a bottle of wine for their dinner,” Doug said. “There’s also a dance studio next door,” he continued. “I’m not saying all dance moms like to drink wine, but…” Olesia breaks in, “There’s dance dads, too.” There is a cupboard full of board games and a table with an almostfinished puzzle. “People come in, have their glass of wine, work on the puzzle and when it’s done,” Doug points back to the table, “we put out another one.” They’ve already hosted live
entertainment, yoga and are launching an open mic night. The event space keeps them busy, too. “We are hosting a kids birthday party this weekend,” Olesia explained. “The kids all play in the back, and the grownups can come out and have a glass of wine.” If you’ve ever been to a kid’s birthday party, you can understand how appealing this might be. The Johnston’s are very happy with the support they’ve received from their Crafton community. “We were the starting point for the Crafton House Tour this year,” Doug proudly pointed out. “It brought 400 people here on a Sunday morning, which was a huge help for us getting our name out.” Susko references places like D & O when she talks about the future. “We are engaging with our borough engineers to get the conceptual groundwork down for a full streetscape of [the business core],” she said. “It’s important to let people know you’re open for business if you want them to come here. We’re lucky we have a couple really cool places that are walkable that have located here. “If you take care of the center, the goodness kind of radiates out. Your fingers get cold if you don’t keep your core warm, right? But you’re not warming up your core by putting on gloves.” Crafton has taken care of its center. It has a dedicated army of people who were born and raised there, who are dedicated to keeping that core warm and letting goodness radiate out. And, in case you haven’t heard, it’s only 12 minutes from Downtown.
We’re all goodfella’s here. Serving good food from our family to yours. Everyone’s happy. No one gets hurt.
Owner, Joe Caliguire, named Restaurateur of the Year by the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association.
CRAFTON 40 East Crafton Avenue | Crafton, PA 15205 412-922-8911 Monday - Thursday 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Friday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. Most major credit cards accepted
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 37
less than 40 bucks, 50 bucks if you want to. We’ve barely changed the prices since we’ve opened. We really just wanted a nice family place. My mom and dad always used to go out and say, we’re going out for a sandwich, but they were really going out for a beer or something. People like to go out. When they do go out and get a sandwich and a bite to eat, we wanted it to be a place where people can go to eat twice a week, instead of waiting for a special occasion. It worked out in this little alley in Crafton.
Joe Caliguire, owner of Sarafino’s Restaurant and his son Joey (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
You were on Bizarre Foods with Andrew ZImmern on the Travel Channel. What was that like, and do you get people who come here just because of that? People come from all over to eat here. We get West Virginia, Ohio, all over. Always have. At the beginning of the day you’ll see all the locals, and by the end of the day you’ll see all the different cars come in. It’s
been good. It’s been real good. It was Bizarre Foods Pittsburgh, so they picked the destination and then did research, and they were looking at greens and beans and all the good reviews we had, and they called me. My mother said ‘why would you serve that? That’s a weed. Nobody’s going to eat that, it’s a weed.” We still get people that say hey, I saw you on Bizarre Foods. I invited all the Italians from the Strip. My cousin owns La Prima, down in the Strip, so we invited everyone up for the taping. When it aired, we had a big viewing party, TVs in every room, I had a big screen outside. It was wild.
JOSEPH CALIGUIRE, OWNER OF CRAFTON’S SARAFINO’S RESTAURANT BY BETHANY RUHE - PITTSBURGH CURRENT ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BETHANY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
oe Caliguire is open, warm, chatty and charming. His restaurant is a direct reflection of his gregarious personality. When we sat down, his son Joey, was there, too. The apple, as they say, doesn’t fall that far from the tree. Sarafino’s, tucked back in the Crafton neighborhood, is committed to keeping the ‘family’ in family restaurant. When did you open Sarafino’s? I started 18 years ago. When I was growing up, my grandmother had a pizza shop, right there on route
60, called Sarafino’s. Before this, I had a pizza shop in the Strip, back when the Strip was the Strip. I used to sell slices out the window until 4 a.m., right across from Primanti’s. They could either get a slice or a sandwich. It was crazy. Then we decided we wanted to open a neighborhood place, where someone could go get a pasta, pizza, sandwich, without getting beat over the head for it [in terms of price]. That was our concept, and we’ve stuck to it. We do specials now, crab cakes and that fun stuff, but you can get away with a family of four with
38 | FEB. 19, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
Doug Johnston Olesia Johnston Owners
70 East Crafton Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15205 412-458-0058 DOWineCellars.com DandOWineCellars@gmail.com
HOURS Mon. Tues. Wed. - by appointment | Thurs. 5pm-8pm | Fri. 5pm-9pm | Sat. 1pm-9pm | Sun. 12pm-5pm
Fallout 76 (Photo courtesy of: Bethesda Studios)
AFTER THE FALLOUT
DON’T LISTEN TO CRITICS, ‘FALLOUT 76’ IS A GAME WORTH PLAYING BY CHARLIE DEITCH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT EDITOR CHARLIE@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
rowing up in the Ohio Valley, I could look out the window of my house in Ohio to see the rolling hills of West Virginia. I’ve always had a strange fascination with the place. As filthy vagabonds from the Ohio side of Appalachia, we could always tell jokes about the toothless vagabonds from the West Virginia side. I’ve travelled through most of the state over the course of my lifetime and
have seen its beauties and cultural eccentricities. So, that’s probably why I’m the only video gamer in the country who doesn’t hate Bethesda Gaming’s latest release, Fallout 76. The game was released last fall and as a fan of the franchise, I was looking forward to an open fallout game that was also massively multiplayer. However, the product’s initial launch combined with Bethesda’s subsequent tonedeaf numbskullery in dealing with
these problems, has made this one of the most despised games in the history of games. The well-documented problems are too numerous to get into, but we’ll provide plenty of links in the online version of this story. But what I want to do is talk about why the game is worth playing; and a lot of that has to do with my unbridled love for the Mountaineer State. For those who aren’t familiar with Fallout, the game takes place
in a post-apocalyptic world that has been decimated by all out nuclear war. In Fallout 76, you emerge from a bomb shelter in the heart of West Virginia after 25 years and are tasked with rebuilding the world. There are no traditional non-player characters, just AI-controlled enemies, robots and other players. The game is glitchy, buggy and infuriates even the most seasoned players. I, however, have always loved to play games that are set in geographic areas that I know. Part of Fallout 3 took place in Pittsburgh and a huge part of The Last of Us was set in the Steel City. The fact that West Virginia is so close to us makes me even more interested to play it. Regardless of what you’ve heard about the game, here are three reasons that you should play this game. West Virginia is Awesome: From a scenery standpoint, it’s hard to beat this game. The map is huge and stretches basically from near the Pa. border down to the southern border of DC and Virginia. The locations are realistic, everything from historic buildings to the vast forests and rivers and even the legends are accurate--from the Mothman to the Flatwoods Monster. If you have any familiarity with the state, it’s a must play despite the bugs and glitches. The Bugs and glitches are keeping most players away: A lot of gamers have either given up on this game or never played it in the first place. That means there are prime spots to build your camp as well as explore without a bunch of people in the way. The players on the servers now are there because they’ve found value in the game and continue to make a gameplay world that is fun, but not too advanced for new players. It’s cheap as hell: Because everyone hates the game, the price keeps falling. Originally priced at $60, I got mine earlier this year for $19. And if you’re going to be in Germany anytime soon, they’re giving it away for free.
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 39
THE CAN’T MISS BY MADELINE URY AND MARGARET WELSH MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM FEATURED EVENTS IN AND AROUND THE PITTSBURGH REGION
Naomi Chambers is a local Pittsburgh artist and co-creator of community art studio Flowerhouse. She will be in conversation with wood sculptor Thaddeus Mosley in this Artist Lecture at Carnegie Mellon School of Art’s McConomy Auditorium. Mosley’s work can be seen in various popular Pittsburgh spots including the Pittsburgh International Airport and the Martin Luther King Jr. Library. 6:30 p.m. 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. art.cmu.edu
combination of kinetic art, sculptures, performance and more. Admission is free but pre-registration is required. Mattress Factory Museum members will receive two free drink tickets, which are also available for purchase. Light refreshments are provided. 6 p.m. 500 Sampsonia Way, North Side. Free. info@mattress. org or showclix.com
Join Silver Eye Center for Photogra-
phy in celebrating the culture and history of Panama. A few times a year the gallery selects experimental films based around a certain theme. Channel Silver Eye Spotlight on Panama is curated by Paula Kupfer, who was born in Panama and focuses her work on modern art and photography from Latin America. Popcorn and beer will be served during the screening, and a question and answer session will be held afterwards. 7 p.m. 4808 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. Free, pay what you like. silvereye.org
Not actually being able to go to the Oscars is made slightly better with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s A Night at the Oscars: Hollywood Epics. Jack Everly is a returning conductor back at Heinz Hall leading music from some of our favorite award winning films. The show opens tonight and runs through
sunday Feb. 24. 8 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. Starting at $22. Pittsburghsymphony.org I know, I know, it’s painful for any of us to admit that we’re getting too old to stay up late. But think of it this way: you’ve got shit to do on the weekends! Which is why the In Bed By Ten Dance Party returns February 22 to get your Friday night started (and finished) at a reasonable hour. This installment serves as a benefit for FlowerHouse, a Wilkinsburg-based community art studio that serves to empower women and children through arts education. The 21+ event starts at 6 p.m., so there’s even time to swing by a happy hour between work and hitting the dance floor. Spirit, 242 51st St., Lawrenceville. $10. spiritpgh.com On February 22, Adia Victoria releases her second full-length Silences, produced by Aaron Dessner
The PGH Photo Fair Speaker Series has something for everyone -- collectors and Instagrammers alike. The Ace Hotel hosts this monthly lecture series leading up to the PGH Photo Fair in April. Tonight’s speaker is Antwaun Sargent, whose writing has been featured in the New York Times among countless other publications. Sargent is currently working on a photography book to be published this fall. Attendees are welcome to stay for drinks after the lecture. 6:30 p.m. 120 S Whitfield St., East Liberty. Free. www.pghphotofair.com
Art… and Ballet is the perfect collaboration between two beautiful art forms: art, and, well, ballet. Students of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School will perform choreographed pieces alongside artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s installation “ADA.” The artist will discuss her inspiration behind the work, currently on display at the Mattress Factory. Smigla-Bobinski’s art features a 40 | FEB. 19, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
of the National. The next day, Saturday, Feb. 23, she graces Club Café with her brand of full, rich, gothic blues. Victoria’s music deals candidly with some of the rawest shit life has to offer, but she approaches the soul-wrenching subject matter with both vulnerability and well-earned swagger. Joshua Asante of the band Amasa Hines opens the show. 7 p.m. 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $12-14. clubcafelive.com
Getting a head start on your spring garden has never been easier. The Celebration of Seed: Seventh Annual Seed and Plant Swap features tips from experienced gardeners, a seed exchange, and free seeds and plants for all to take home and enjoy. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and Grow Pittsburgh are working together to host the event at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Maybe today will be the first day of Spring! 11:30 a.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. carnegielibrary.org
Whether you’re skilled at sewing and quilting or are new to the crafting scene, you are welcome at the Sewing, Quilting and Fiber Arts DropIn at The Westmoreland Museum of Art. Bring a project or just bring your curious self. Light refreshments are provided, along with entertainment by the Hempfield Area High School Jazz Band. 1 p.m. 221 N Main St., Sharpsburg. Free. thewestmoreland. org
Jonathan Wilson is a triple threat: songwriter, guitarist and producer. On tour supporting his fourth album entitled Rare Birds, his Pittsburgh stop will take place at The Andy Warhol Museum. The museum’s intimate theater is sure to make this an unforgettable musical experience that you won’t get anywhere else. Students and museum members can buy tickets for $15. 8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Shore. $18. 412-2378300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The artists we can connect with on the deepest of levels are those who really have a message to portray, and Lenka Clayton and Jon Rubin do just that. The Carnegie Mellon University School of Art presents both artists in an artist lecture at Kresge Theater. Clayton is known for her exaggerations on the rules of everyday life, while Rubin focuses on reimagining the behaviors of humans as individuals and in group settings. Both artists use their platform to make commentary on public life, something we all have some level of understanding on. 6:30 p.m. 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. www.art.cmu.edu
Tonight’s event is BYOT… Bring Your Own T-shirt, that is. Casey Droege Cultural Productions hosts Tees and Totes Vol. 1 at The Brew House Association. They are collaborating with Idia’Dega, Black Unicorn and Small Mall to host the workshop where you can learn more about what each organization does. You can also learn about screen printing, totemaking, sewing, sustainable art and recyclable materials. Small Mall is also hosting a pop-up shop featuring work from artists using recyclable materials. The event is $15, but $10 if you BYOT, including refreshments. RSVP is required as space is limited. 6 p.m. 711 21st St., South Side Flats. $10-$15. corrine@ caseydroege.com If someone had predicted a decade ago that Switchfoot would be minor rock stars in 2019, who would have believed it? Getting its start in the world of Christian rock in the late ’90s the San Diego –based band set itself apart from its peers by writing actual bangers with lyrics vague enough to appeal to the devout and the irreligious alike. The band has pretty much continued on that track, and more recently has found public support from folks like Chicago guitarist Ryley Walker: as he tweeted recently, “Switchfoot is sick and I appreciate their positive message.”
The band comes to the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 27. Colony House and Tyson Motsenbocker open. 8 p.m. 510 E. 10 Ave., Munhall. $25.87-49.50. librarymusichall.com
Did you know that Pittsburgh has 446 bridges and 90 neighborhoods? ioby is a crowdfunding platform here in the Steel City that raised over $400,00 towards making neighborhood projects and change happen. These projects prove that even one person can help make a difference, as the average donation to the company’s projects is just $35. Tonight, ioby: Crowdfunding by Neighbors, for Neighbors at Alloy 26 Auditorium will let you in on their projects and nonprofit programs in a panel discussion. The discussion is followed by dinner and mingling with fellow proud Pittsburghers. 6:30 p.m. 100 S Commons, Allegheny Center. Free. eventbrite.com
The Bodiography Student Company prides itself on health and wellness through dance as well as many other forms of fitness. In collaboration with La Roche College dance majors, The Spring Gala is born. Join the dancers for a night of classical and contemporary movement at Byham Theater. 8 p.m. 101 6th St., Downtown. $21-$46. www.culturaldistrict. org or company.bodiography.org
The Roommate starring Tamara Tunie and Laurie Klatscher is the story of a woman who needs a roommate to help pay the rent and just to have some company. But this play has a twist, as the it is described as having a touch of “Breaking Bad.” The show runs through March 24 at City Theatre. Discount programs are available throughout the shows run, including pick your price previews, under 30, 65+ and military discounts, and pay what you want for a performance. 5:30 p.m. 1300 Bingham St., South Side Flats. $5-$60. citytheatrecompany.org or boxoffice@citythe-
Celebrate the end of this interminable February with a group that is nearly guaranteed to get your toes tapping and your mood soaring. On Saturday, March 2 Calliope brings Bon Debarras, which is made up of Montreal artists Dominic Desrochers, Jean François Dumas and Marie-Pierre Lecault. The trio brings together an array of traditions from Quebec and beyond, using guitar, banjo, harmonica and violin to create a high-energy celebration of folk music. 7:30 p.m. Carnegie Lecture Hall, 4440 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $2040. calliopehouse.org Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y have been friends and collaborators for a decade, but the two rappers finally just released 2009, the joint (no pun intended) studio album they’ve been teasing for nearly four years. It’s a hard record not to love, encompassing all the loose, easy charms of these skilled stoners. It may be too early to determine if this is the solidification of one of hip-hop’s great duos, but how can you know if you don’t see them together at Stage AE on Saturday, March 2. 7:30 p.m. Stage AE, 400 North Shore Drive, North Side. Sold out. stageae.com
Celebrating Quilts, Music and Movement at The Westmoreland Museum of Art features faculty from various arts programs at Seton Hill. Their performance represents the way the arts pass down stories within communities, a symbol of the unbroken circle. 2 p.m. 221 N Main St., Sharpsburg. Free. thewestmoreland.org
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 41
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Universal Crossword Edited by David Steinberg February 19, 2019
ACROSS 1 1,000 paces, originally 5 Pungent salad green 10 Flow back 13 Colorful eye part 14 Entice 15 Canine annoyance 16 Flooring in St. Thomas Becket’s bathroom? 19 Bit of clowning 20 Make a model of 21 Rowdy crowds 24 Wheel covering 25 Court jacket? 29 Winemaker’s container 32 $50, for Boardwalk 33 Pet with “nine lives” 34 Want 36 Longest mountain range 38 Weasel sound? 40 Eagle’s claw 41 Playground lever 43 “Skip to My ___” 45 How a bad joke may fall 46 Curse
47 Tragic actor’s supply? 50 Word with “ping” or “beer” 51 Cad 52 Like an octopus’ habitat 56 To a great extent 60 Look elsewhere for that sock? 63 Temporary calm 64 Cow’s access point 65 De-wrinkling tool 66 ___ and outs 67 Uses a stun gun 68 Require DOWN 1 Layered mineral 2 Afghanistan neighbor 3 Dryer residue 4 Guesses 5 Middle: Abbr. 6 Yank’s Civil War foe 7 Kicking Australian birds 8 Small spray 9 Thwarted 10 Jazz singer Fitzgerald 11 Red as a ___ 12 Vulgar
15 Manicurist’s tool 17 Sci. with organisms 18 Castle tower 22 U.K. TV network 23 Hockey shot sound 25 Rubbish 26 French name meaning “reborn” 27 Back-ofbook list 28 Ring-shaped reef 29 Country residence 30 Like an excited stadium 31 Campers’ shelters 35 Diaper securer
37 Sweet’s culinary counterpart 39 Wading site 42 Emerges victorious 44 Alien ship initials 48 Meeting items, collectively 49 Hollow cylinder 50 Pare 52 Fruit with a cutesy name 53 n., in a dictionary 54 Two-base hits, briefly 55 Sums 57 ___ hydrant 58 Soothing substance 59 Tear forcibly 61 Casual shirt 62 Day’s two dozen: Abbr.
PREVIOUS PUZZLE ANSWER
“Rolling in the Aisles”
© 2019 Andrews McMeel Universal www.upuzzles.com
by David Alfred Bywaters
44 | FEB. 19, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
NEWS OF THE BY THE EDITORS AT ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION WEIRDNEWSTIPS@AMUNIVERSAL.COM HAIR OF THE DOG In a whole new twist on stomach pumping, doctors in Quang Tri, Vietnam, saved 48-year-old Nguyen Van Nhat’s life in January by transfusing 15 cans of beer INTO his stomach. As Dr. Le Van Lam explained to the Daily Mail, alcohol contains both methanol and ethanol, and the liver breaks down ethanol first. But after a person stops drinking, the stomach and intestines continue to release alcohol into the bloodstream -- even if the drinker has lost consciousness -- and alcohol levels continue to rise. In Nhat’s case, upon arrival at the hospital, his blood methanol level was 1,119 times higher than the appropriate limit. Doctors administered one can of beer every hour to slow down his metabolizing of methanol, which gave them time to perform dialysis. Nhat spent three weeks in the hospital before returning home. NAMES IN THE NEWS Your giggle for the week: During a Jan. 17 special program on ITV Westcountry in the United Kingdom about how police forces are suffering under budget cuts, a certain officer interviewed for the show got more attention for his name than for his opinions about the budget. PC Rob Banks has undoubtedly heard clever remarks about his name all his life, reported Plymouth Live, but Twitter users from as far away as Australia found it newly hilarious. TRY THE DECAF Officers in Madison, Wisconsin, were called to a home on Jan. 20 by an unnamed 34-year-old male resident who went on a spree of destruction when he thought his wife had destroyed his prized collection of action figures. Madison Police Chief Mike Koval wrote in his blog that officers arrived to find an ax buried in the windshield of a car. The man explained to them he had overreacted and used the
log-splitting ax to chop up a TV, TV stand, laptop computer and other items in the house before going outside to attack his car, chopping off both side mirrors and breaking out the windshield, reported WMTV. He admitted to officers that he had also been drinking too much, and he was charged with disorderly conduct and felony damage to property. THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT A 19-year-old man from Nice, France, has received a fourmonth (suspended) sentence for a clever plot he hatched in September. The man, known only as Adel, removed a PlayStation 4 from a supermarket shelf on Sept. 17 and took it to the produce aisle, where he weighed it and printed out a price sticker for fruit. Then he used the self-checkout line to pay and left the store with a $389 piece of electronics for about $10. Adel sold the PlayStation for $114 to buy a train ticket. The next day, he tried the same scheme, but police caught him in the act. He will only have to serve his sentence if he re-offends, reported Kotaku.com. LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS -- Oh, those pesky surveillance cameras. Alexander Goldinsky, 57, had a bright idea for collecting some cash, but it was just so 1990s. While working as an independent contractor at a Woodbridge, New Jersey business, Goldinsky scattered some ice on the floor in the company’s kitchen area, then carefully arranged himself on the floor as if he had slipped and fallen, according to United Press International. Then, as the security cameras rolled, he waited to be discovered. He was arrested in January on charges of insurance fraud and theft by deception, after the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office said Goldinsky filed a false insurance claim for an ambulance
ride and treatment at a local hospital. -- For David Rodriguez, 28, it was his disguise of choice that tripped him up as he robbed a 7-Eleven store in Fort Myers, Florida on Feb. 2, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Rodriguez donned a gray hoodie and a wig before approaching the counter at the store, showing a gun and demanding cash, reported the Miami Herald. When officers arrived, they got a detailed description, including the wig, and “additional witness information” led them to a nearby apartment. Inside they found Rodriguez, and “in plain view, a gray hooded sweater, several wigs and a large amount of wadded up cash.” Bingo! Rodriguez was charged with robbery with a firearm. INEXPLICABLE -- For UNCGreensboro student Maddie (no last name provided), there really was a monster in the closet. Or at least a guy named Drew. After returning to her apartment on Feb. 2, Maddie heard strange noises coming from her closet. She put her hand on the door and said, “Who’s in there?” “My name’s Drew,” answered the intruder, according to WFMY TV. Maddie continued talking with him, and when she opened the door, Drew was sitting on the floor of the closet, dressed in her clothing. He also had a bag full of her clothes, shoes and socks. Andrew Clyde Swofford, 30, begged her not to call police, and she chatted with him for another 10 minutes, “everything about his life and basically how he got in my closet,” she said. Swofford left when Maddie’s boyfriend arrived, and police caught up with him at a nearby gas station, where he was arrested for misdemeanor breaking and entering. Maddie told reporters she thinks Swofford has been in her apartment before: “We always joke that there’s a ghost in here because I’ve been missing clothes since I’ve been living here.” She signed a lease for a new apartment a few days later. -- Sharisha Morrison of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and her neighbors have been the recipients
since Jan. 1 of an odd gift: plastic grocery bags with slices of bread and bologna inside, delivered by an unknown man. At first, Morrison told KOB TV, she thought the food deliveries were acts of kindness, until she opened the bag and smelled the contents. “It smelled like urine,” she said. Morrison said she can watch the man on her surveillance camera. “He’ll just walk up and drop it on the little doorknob and walk away,” she said. “I just want it to stop.” Police have told her they can’t do anything unless they catch him in the act. THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS Residents of the small town of Hilgermissen in northwestern Germany voted decisively on Feb. 3 against naming the community’s streets. Currently, addresses are a house number and the name of one of the former villages that combined to create Hilgermissen in the 1970s, reported the Associated Press. Officials had hoped that street names would ease the jobs of emergency services and delivery drivers, but 60 percent of the 2,200 citizens rejected the council’s plan. The recent result will be binding for two years. THIEVING WITH STYLE A BP gas station in Swansea, South Carolina was the setting for a reprise of at least one iconic moment from 1984’s “The Karate Kid,” according to Fox News. On Jan. 26, as surveillance cameras looked on, an unidentified man struck Mr. Miyagi’s signature Crane Technique pose -- twice -before stealing a purse from a parked car nearby. The Swansea Police Department posted the video to its Facebook page, and with the public’s help, officers were able to identify the man and issue warrants for his arrest. Send your weird news items with subject line WEIRD NEWS to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com.
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | FEB. 19, 2019 | 45
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Two weeks ago, a longtime reader challenged me to create a new sexual neologism. (Quickly for the pedants: You’re right! It is redundant to describe a neologism as “new,” since neologisms are by definition new: “ne·ol·o·gism noun a newly coined word or expression.” You got me!) “Neo-Neologisms, Please!” was too polite to point it out, but my two most famous and widely used neologisms have been around so long—pegging (2001) and santorum (2003)—that they’re practically paleogisms at this point. So I accepted NNP’s challenge and proposed “with extra lobster.” My inspiration: on a visit to Iceland, I was delighted to discover that “with extra lobster” was a menu item at food carts that served lobster. This delighted me for two reasons. First, lobster is fucking delicious and getting extra lobster with your lobster is fucking awesome. And second, “with extra lobster” sounded like it was a dirty euphemism for something equally awesome. I offered up my own suggested definition—someone who sticks their tongue out and licks your balls while they’re deep-throating your cock is giving you a blowjob with extra lobster—and invited readers to send in their own. It was my readers, after all, who came up with the winning definitions for pegging (“a woman fucking a man in the ass with a strap-on dildo”) and santorum (“the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex”). What follows are the best readersuggested definitions for “with extra lobster,” with occasional commentary from yours truly… “With extra lobster” sounds to me like going down on someone— regardless of sex—when it’s a little more odoriferous than you would
like because they haven’t bathed in a while. For example: “Things were getting hot and heavy with my Tinder date last night, and then I started to go down and was surprised with extra lobster.” I think I have a good candidate for your “with extra lobster” definition! It could be applied to a man who has an exceptionally large and dangling foreskin (“His penis comes with extra lobster!”) or a woman whose labia protrudes (“I love pussy with extra lobster!”). When I first started dating my wife, she kept her lady parts waxed clean, and they looked a bit like a lobster claw, even being slightly red if the waxing was recent. We nicknamed her vagina and surrounding area “The Lobster,” or “Lobby” for short. So I would suggest that “with extra lobster” should mean anytime you get some extra lobster in on the act—from normal lesbian sex (two lobsters!), to a standard-issue male fantasy threesome (two lobsters and one cock), to a surprise second go-around after you thought the sex was over. The area surrounding the vagina already has a name: the vulva. While most people are familiar with the labia majora and minora parts of the vulva, aka “the lips,” fewer know the name for the area between the labia minora. The spot where the opening to the vaginal canal can be found— also part of the vulva—is called the “vaginal vestibule.” According to my thesaurus, lobby is a synonym for vestibule. So this proposed definition of “with extra lobster” is pretty apt. Now, some will quibble with the lobby-ish implication that a vagina is a space that needs to be entered. One can have a good time— great sex with lots of extra lobster— without anyone being penetrated, i.e., without anyone entering the
lobby. “Extra lobster should be the name for those cock-extender things. Example: “My husband has a small penis. And you know what? The sex is great! He gives great head, and isn’t afraid to strap-on some extra lobster now and then.” As a vegan, Dan, I strongly object to “with extra lobster.” It reinforces the speciest notion that is it permissible to consume lobsters, sentient life forms that feel pain, and associating a sex act with the violence of meat consumption further desensitizes us to acts of sexual violence. Fuck off. When you see a gorgeous ultrafeminine creature far more gorgeously feminine than my straight CIS ass will ever be. But under all the silks and stockings and satin panties… there’s a wonderful and welcome surprise! That girl comes WITH EXTRA LOBSTER! I’ve learned about fursuits from you, Dan, and so many other crazy things—like the guy who wanted to be sexually ravished and then torn apart and eaten by zombies. With that in mind, I think “with extra lobster” shouldn’t refer to a sex act. It should be ENTIRELY literal: an act of bestiality performed not with one lobster, but with two or more lobsters. (The zombie guy was what hooked me on “Savage Love.” I’m too shallow for the actual problems and stuff. More freaks please!) Too literal and too improbable— and euphemisms that describe things that have never happened or only happen very, very rarely are unlikely to enter the lexicon. I used to hook up with a cuckold couple with a particularly naughty fetish: I’d fuck the woman, fill her up, and her man would eat it out of her. So, say you hooked up with a woman, let’s call her “Melania,” and her husband, call him “Donald,” ate her pussy after you filled her with come. Donald is eating pussy with extra lobster! Sounds more like pussy with extra chowder to me—and what you’ve described already has a perfectly good (and widely-used) name:
cream pie. And, please God, let’s leave Trump out of this. There’s no need to associate something so vile and disgusting with eating another man’s come out of your wife’s lobby. “With extra lobster” should refer to any intimate pleasure where your expectations are greatly exceeded! I’m a gay man in my sixties, and my husband and I have been together for decade. I also have a friend with benefits. One night we were camping and I blurted out, “I would like to cuddle with you.” What happened next was 12 courses—at least—with extra lobster! We’ve managed to rekindle this energy every couple of years over the past 25! I believe your example of “with extra lobster” regarding an extra WOW factor during something sexual is perfect and doesn’t need extra explanation. As the saying goes, Dan, you pegged it! I agree with the last two letter writers: “with extra lobster” shouldn’t refer to any specific sex act—and it should never involve actual lobsters and/or mental images of the current president of the United States—but should, instead, be a general term meaning “expectations exceeded.” When someone really comes through for you, when they knock your socks off, when they make you see stars— when they really WOW you—then you got boned or blown or fucked or flogged or torn apart and eaten by zombies with extra lobster! And with that sorted and settled, a bonus neologism to close the column… This isn’t a definition for “with extra lobster,” but I wanted to share it. I live in Uganda and many of the streets are lined with stalls that sell BBQ chicken. If you know to ask for the special chicken, they’ll often sell you weed. Special Chicken has become my favorite euphemism for weed! On the Lovecast, the ethics of HIV disclosure: savagelovecast.com.
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