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STAFF Publisher/Editor: Charlie Deitch Charlie@pittsburghcurrent.com Associate Publisher: Bethany Ruhe
CONTENTS Vol. II Iss. V Mar. 5, 2019
EDITORIAL Art Director: Emily McLaughlin Emily@pittsburghcurrent.com Music Editor: Margaret Welsh Margaret@pittsburghcurrent.com Visuals Editor: Jake Mysliwczyk Jake@pittsburghcurrent.com Staff Writer, News and Food: Haley Frederick Haley@pittsburghcurrent.com Staff Writer, Arts: Amanda Reed Amanda@pittsburghcurrent.com Columnists: Aryanna Berringer, Sue Kerr, Jessica
Semler, Mike Wysocki firstname.lastname@example.org Craft Beer Writer: Day Bracey email@example.com Contributing Writers: Jody DiPerna, Nick Eustis, Meg Fair, Ted Hoover, Thomas Leturgey, Matt Petras, Mike Shanley, Steve Sucato, Mike Watt firstname.lastname@example.org Interns: Hannah Walden, Madeline Ury Logo Design: Mark Adisson
NEWS 6 | Remembering Jimmy OPINION 9 | Simple Math 10 | Stomach Churning 11 | Unhealthy Choices ARTS 12 | 14 | 16 | 17 |
Great Expectations Migratory Patterns Authentic Works Moving In
MUSIC 18 | Wide Open [Computer] Spaces 24 | New Folks 25 | Heartfelt Beats FOOD 26 | Festival Food 28 | This Tastes Funny 30 | Day Drinking NEIGHBORHOOD 31 | Mt. Washington & Station Square 34 | Neighborhood Conversation EXTRA 38 | News of the Weird 38 | Crossword 39 | Savage Love
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Jimmy Cvetic (Photo by: Duane Rieder)
SAYING GOODBYE TO PITTSBURGH’S ORIGINAL RENAISSANCE MAN BY CHARLIE DEITCH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT EDITOR CHARLIE@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
f the roughly 1.2 million people living in Allegheny County, Jimmy Cvetic knew 942,000 of them. I know you’re thinking that number is ridiculous and you’re probably right. Jimmy probably did know all 1.2 million. Jimmy died Feb. 15 after a fight with cancer that had him on the ropes many times in the past several years. A celebration of his life is slated for 5 p.m. March 18 at the Monroeville Convention Center and we’ll bring you more details as they’re available. Jimmy was a man of many lives; Pittsburgh’s own renaissance man. The Vietnam veteran joined the 6 | MAR. 5, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
Allegheny County Police force in 1973. He mostly worked in homicide and narcotics, spending time under cover. But that was just the start of who he was. He was a boxing coach, a poet, a humanitarian and to many, an unconditional friend. Jimmy’s charm and heart was matched only by his wife, Gloria Sztukowski. That’s probably why they made such a great couple. Jimmy was a guy always on the go and I think Gloria was the only one who could keep up. Even in his late 60s with a bad hip, Jimmy got around more than anyone half his age. He always had irons in the fire and at times you swore he had to be
more than one person the way he was able to juggle it all. In a way, he was several people, at least five that I knew of. I only knew Jimmy the cop by reputation. But let me tell you a little about the four Jimmys that I knew in the order that I met them. Jimmy the Poet This is the side of Jimmy Cvetic that would surprise a lot of people because he was a boxing coach and a police officer before he really became known as a writer. But, I first met Jimmy through his poetry. He had written a book of poetry called The Evidence Room. The poems focused on the atrocities of
the Holocaust and he was putting on an artistic performance centered around some of the works. Jimmy read his poems as dancers and a live painter reenacted his words each in their own medium. The topics of his work varied as much as his life’s work did. He wrote about growing up Catholic and his time in school with the nuns. He wrote about his time as a cop, the good and the bad. He wrote about life honestly; he saw all its smiles and all of its blemishes and he wrote about every one of them in fantastic detail. After this story is my favorite Cvetic poem, Identity Theft and the Vanity of Your Worth. He has written
several books, many carrying a title incorporating his nickname, Dog. Titles include Dog Days and Dog is a Love from Hell. Jimmy met the actor Nick Nolte when Nolte was in town to film the movie, Warrior. Cvetic served as his chaperone, keeping Nolte out of trouble. They started talking about poetry and Nolte read and loved Jimmy’s work. “Jimmy shows me this giant stack of poetry,” Nolte says. “I read it and it was some of the best poetry I’d ever read.” Nolte was so impressed with Cvetic’s poems that he took them to poets at the nearby Los Angeles Poetry Club in Venice, Ca., and they were so impressed that they have had Cvetic out to the club for readings. More than he wanted to be a police officer or anything else, Jimmy told me that he wanted to be a writer. He often said that he wanted to be known as the Charles Bukowski of Pittsburgh. I once told him he got it backwards: Charles Bukowski was the Jimmy Cvetic of Los Angeles. Jimmy the Fighter Jimmy ran several boxing gyms in the region, most famously the Third Avenue Gym Downtown. He was heavily involved along with Sztukowski in the Western Pa. Golden Gloves and the Police Athletic League. He was also the first trainer for some well-known local fighters including Monty Meza-Clay and Paul Spadafora. But what I always appreciated was the way Jimmy would use boxing to work with troubled youth. A 2007 story I wrote about Jimmy sums up why he did it. “As a rule, we get tough kids through these doors,” Cvetic says. “They’re not all bad or in trouble, but let’s be honest: We’re not getting choir boys from Vienna in here.” But whatever else the kids get from Cvetic, they get a shot at greatness, however fleeting. “I don’t care how tough the kid is or how bad he is,” Cvetic says. “When he puts on those trunks and those gloves and steps into that ring under the lights, it’s a moment he’s
going to carry with him the rest of his life. “No matter what he becomes in life, for at least one moment, he’ll always have the lights.” Jimmy the Humanitarian “There’s no such thing as a bad kid and every kid deserves to get what they want at Christmas,” Jimmy would often say in one variation or another. That’s why he spent the bulk of his year collecting toys or collecting money for toys or setting up fundraisers to make money to buy toys. The drive was through the non-profit Police Athletic League and he used a storefront at the Monroeville Mall as his own personal North Pole. Jimmy lived by the motto: “Anything for the kids.” And when he said anything he meant it. He was never afraid to ask anyone for anything to reach his holiday goals. He was always taking a meeting or making a call. I once asked him if he was ever uncomfortable asking for donations and he answered with a quick, “no.” “Brother, all they can say is no,” Jimmy once told me. “But you don’t get yes without risking getting a no.” But from the level of success he’s had over the years, I doubt he heard “no” very often. I also know that besides donations, Jimmy put a lot of his personal money into the program. And the poetry that ran in the Pittsburgh Current and in the City Paper before that was all done in exchange for an end of the year donation to the toy drive. Anything for the kids. Jimmy the Friend I am one of many people who was proud to call Jimmy Cvetic my friend. We met nearly 20 years ago when I was working as a reporter for the former In Pittsburgh Newsweekly. However, we became closer in the past five years or so and even more so since the launch of the Current. Even when he was at his sickest, Jimmy came to the office a couple of times a week. He’d drop off poetry, talk about the state of things in the
world and generally make sure all was well. In the past six months, we began talking about some of his old cases, mostly unsolved ones. He talked a lot about a man incarcerated in Florida for committing several murders. Jimmy suspected the guy was also responsible for some murders in this area. He wanted to take a road trip and we could talk to the guy and make him give it up and then we’d write the book. Another time he came to me with a project about writing a piece in verse about some of Pittsburgh’s women poets. The piece was impressive and we published it a couple of months back. “Man,” he would say. “These women are powerful. Their work will blow your mind.” We were also planning a video project around that story, but, it would seem, that we ran out of time. Looking back on the time I spent with Jimmy the past year, I think he was assembling a bucket list of things he wanted to do before that motherfucker, cancer, won the last round. I’m glad we could do some of it together and hopefully, I can do a couple of them for him. Because I know there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for me or you. Regardless of how many favors
Jimmy asked for over the years, they will never equal the good that he was able to do with them. Epilogue One of the last times I saw Jimmy was before Christmas. I had a load of toys to give him that I had purchased. We engaged in small talk as we walked to the back of my car. “What about that one,” Jimmy said pointing to a boxed Spider-Man action figure still in my trunk. I replied, “I think I’m going to keep that one.” I explained that it fit in nicely with the collection of action figures I displayed in my office. “I think it’s great that you have those toys in your office,” he said. “We need to act like kids sometimes to stay young.” “Thanks, Jimmy,” I replied as I started to close the trunk. “But,” he quickly added. “Sometimes we have to act like adults, so give me the goddamned Spider-Man, I got kids waiting.” We both broke out in laughter as I handed over the doll. “You’re a good kid, Charlie,” he said as he hugged me, still laughing. “Behave yourself and maybe Santa will bring you one next year.”
Nick Nolte and Jimmy Cvetic (Pittsburgh Current File Photo)
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 7
IDENTITY THEFT AND THE VANITY OF YOUR WORTH BY JIMMY CVETIC - PITTSBURGH CURRENT POET LAUREATE INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM Editor’s Note: Over the years, I think I’ve read more than 100 of Jimmy Cvetic’s poems. In my opinion, no one piece captures who Jimmy was more than this piece. Jimmy lived his life for other people, it’s who he was. And he was the only guy for the job.
Jimmy Cvetic (Photo by: Duane Rieder)
A guy called me with a foreign accent, I think he could have been from India or maybe from some country in Africa that has tigers and hippopotamus’ and he sounded like he was from a place that I probably couldn’t pronounce a Godforsaken place where children play in raw sewage where the men probably stone women for adultery ... “I’ve stolen your identity.” I said, “You want to be me? I don’t even want to be me! How’d you get my phone number? It’s unlisted.” He said, “Nothing is unlisted, haven’t you read Orwell’s book 1984? I said, “But that was over twenty years ago, nobody reads that book anymore, except maybe some professors that used to be hippies in the 60’s and probably swam in Walden’s Pond.” He said, “You only have $22.00 in your checking account, would you like to borrow some money?” I said, “No, you can keep the money, I would only use it to buy tofu, or maybe a Bukowski or Twain book.” He asked, “You don’t care about your identity?” I said, “Not really, I’ve reached the age when I get up to pee at least three times a night, and sometimes I stub my toe which hurts, but I’m too old to even jump around in pain, so you can keep my identity.” I hung up the phone, went to the refrigerator and found a piece of yesterday’s pizza. I thought of my father … how he’d go to the bakery and buy yesterday’s doughnuts. It was good except he’d make powdered milk, 8 | MAR. 5, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
which was not really that good, and I don’t even want to mention the government cheese, but in a strange wino way it was all good. I lost my balance the other day and I felt like I’d been drinking, so I went to the doctor. I found out it was because my inner ear had to be cleaned, which had me feeling almost drunk. Anyway, the guy calls me back, “I want to give you back your identity.” “You can keep it,” I said. I hung up the phone and felt all the pain in my body and looked up at the ceiling, because that’s where God is usually hiding, when he’s not punishing someone or curing them from some terminal disease, and I said, “God, you only punish my vanities. I should have never danced naked on the bar, because, truth be told, it wasn’t pretty then and it sure ain’t pretty now.” The next day at 5 in the morning the phone rang. “Please take back your identity.” I said, “You stole it, you can keep it.” He cried like a sissy who just had his gym shoes flushed in a toilet, “But there’s nothing in your wallet.” I said, “I told you that.” He said, “But now everyone thinks that I’m you and I’m getting calls about how a kid was shot or how a guy beats his wife or a mother that needs money for her teeth, another called because her daughter is whoring and is on heroin, or needs this or that and needs help with a ticket for driving the wrong way
on a one-way street. I now go around sweeping cigarette butts off streets in Pittsburgh. I don’t even smoke.” I said, “It makes good practice if you can find the Tao in sweeping up the butts. It’s almost like Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, actually, more like becoming an Archer or studying the Art of War.” “I don’t want your identity, you’ve seen stuff that I don’t want to see, besides, your manly hangs too low, and when I sit on the toilet it presents a problem.” I said, “Alright, I’ll take it back on two conditions. He said, “Anything, please.” “Promise me you will not vote straight Republican or Democrat, and when you go to church you will not stare at women’s backsides. Also, one more thing, you must read all the teachings of Buddha at least twice.” He said, “Agreed. Thank you, and may the fleas of a camel never alight on your privates.” I hung up the phone and it rang again, “Dog, you don’t know me but my son is smoking crack and stealing Granny’s bingo money. Can you help me?” I asked, “How did you get my number?” She said, “I found it in the toilet stall at the bus terminal.” I said, “Alright, you got the right guy. But try to hurry, I’ve got to sweep up some cigarette butts. Go ahead and tell me the sad story anyway, I need a fix.”
My mother supported our family and kept a roof over our heads by working three different jobs. As a waitress, my mother made $2.13 per hour. That was 1995. At the end of each shift whether it was at the hotel or two shifts at Olive Garden (they ensured that she never worked more than 40 hours in a week to keep her from earning health insurance or other benefits. But hooray for unlimited salad and breadsticks!), she was to report to management what her tips were for the shift. Then, when it was time to get her paycheck the next week, it would read $0.00. That’s right. She didn’t actually get a paycheck at all. You see, after taxes, there was nothing left. Sadly, that is not uncommon for servers in Pennsylvania either. Currently the tipped wage in Pennsylvania is just $2.38. Just last week, with good intentions for a fourth year in a row, Governor Tom Wolf proposed a hike to Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to state legislators. At the federal level, Senator Bob Casey just co-sponsored the Raise the Wage Act. Both of these proposals eventually gets either
Pennsylvania or the United States as a whole to a $15 minimum wage; not at once of course, over time, 2025 and 2024 respectively. The Republicans in Harrisburg have basically told Wolf to go pound sand for the past four years, but there seems to be a little wiggle room this year to potentially get us to $12 per hour. Although, I wouldn’t hold my breath. The current proposals do not take into consideration that by the time any employees actually reach the $15 per hour rate, inflation will have already exceeded the added benefit of . . . wait for it … just getting your head above water. Don’t let anyone fool you, $15 an hour won’t put anyone on easy street. Now, back to those in the tippedwage industries; think about my mom. Here’s another simple math word problem. A politician gets to choose between making $7.25 an hour or $2.38 an hour plus tips. Which do they choose? Yeah, we all know the answer.
#FightFor15 Rally (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
A $15 MINIMUM WAGE WON’T MAKE WORKERS RICH, BUT IT MIGHT GIVE THEM A CHANCE BY ARYANNA BERRINGER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT POLITICAL COLUMNIST ARYANNA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
et’s start off today’s column with a simple math word problem. If a person works 40 hours a week at a rate of $15 an hour before taxes makes $31,200 per year, what does that make this person? What is the one fact we know about this person? Answer: They’re struggling to get by. I called my mom last night to make sure I got the facts and figures
right because the memories of my preteen years can be a little hazy. Turns out I remembered more than I thought. What I recalled was my mother dressed for the breakfast shift at a hotel with two neatly pressed uniforms on hangers in one hand and her purse and keys in the other. As she kissed me goodbye, I knew I wouldn’t see her again until the next day.
ROB ROGERS PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 9
GRAND JURY REPORT ON PREDATORY PRIESTS SHOULD MAKE YOU RETHINK FISH FRY SEASON BY SUE KERR - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ent is arriving in Pittsburgh and that means fish fry season is upon us. A mainstay of Catholic culture in Pittsburgh, this is the first fish fry season since the release of the Grand Jury Report in August 2018 describing sexual violence by nearly 100 priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the complicity of Diocesan officials in covering up that abuse. For decades, fish fries have been important fundraisers for parishes throughout the region, staffed by stalwart volunteers of all ages. Fish fries have also expanded to fire halls and local restaurants and the sheer volume of events that have cropped up in recent years has led to many media outlets to launch bracket challenges, Facebook groups, and a Google map. You can find fish fries with hipster themes, locally sourced fries, and everything from fish tacos to fish pizza to help meet the Lenten obligation when
you tire of a 29-inch piece of fried cod on a hamburger bun. For the past several years, I’ve featured a blog series called Fish Fry Fridays, essentially my reviews of assorted fish fries throughout the region. I dive into the food quality, portions, and price, but I also consider the accessibility of the venue, the friendliness and welcoming attitudes of the community, any evidence of recycling, and more. Examining the tension between my personal experience of Catholic culture and our shared experiences at the fish fries has been a useful starting point for some of my reviews. But the whole time I wrote these, I knew about the sexual violence occurring in the Church. I was one of the kids who grew up knowing that most of the priests in our parish (Holy Spirit in West Mifflin) were just terrible. That was proven true when I discovered that the parish was staffed by child predators for at least
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23 consecutive years. My friends were preyed upon and still deal with those scars today. I have never been unaware of the magnitude of sexual violence in the Catholic Church or Christianity writ large. It has shaped my life in ways that are difficult and painful to describe. I read accounts of local parishes struggling to reconcile the realities of the grand jury report and hear very little acknowledgement of how these remaining parishioners were complicit in these events. Instead, people focus on what they will lose -- their church buildings might close, their schools might be consolidated, their losses are potentially catastrophic. But very few people take that next step of considering that all of these things were built on a culture that has been skewed toward violence, abuse, and power hoarding for the past several millenia. Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, have violent histories. In truth, rather than handwringing over what this will costs the remaining faithful, all of us who grew up in this violent culture deserve an apology by the adults who failed us as children and young adults. Our lives are the catastrophic loss, not the buildings or stained glass windows or Central Catholic “mafia” connections. Those can all be replicated or replaced. Or, just maybe, left behind as we move toward a culture that protects children and adults from sexual violence. And as an adult now, I must hold myself accountable for how my Fish Fry Friday reviews feed into the fish fry cultural fetish. I can hear the eyeballs rolling as people read the phrase “fish fry culture fetish” but I’ve been dreading Lent more this year than in any year of my life. There are plenty of non-Catholic alternatives. A Presbyterian Church near my home has appropriated this little fundraiser with the glee and zest that would make their “we are leaving the island of Catholicism and taking our buildings/properties/
chest of gold with us” forefathers proud. They have gourmet soup. The Elks have banjo club samplers and a full cash bar. There’s a fire hall with a deep fried grilled cheese sandwich and you can’t swing a dead fish without hitting a DIY pierogi option. I wish some or any of these institutions that fundraise on a concept tied so innately to horrific sexual violence would have the decency to own how that legacy fuels their fundraiser. It could be something as simple as donating a percentage of the proceeds to SNAP (Survivors Networks of Those Abused by Priests) or other survivors’ organizations. It could be programming around sexual violence and child abuse. It could be safe space stickers. It does not look like “we do good work here so we get a pass on community accountability.” I used to find the appropriation distasteful and garish. Now I’m grateful because I can indulge my surface skim of Lenten fish fries without having to actually spend time with Catholic people or in churches. My original thought was to retire the reviews and just find something else to do on Friday nights, but I realize that Lent presents me with at least 6 opportunities to explore these questions in great detail as I write a post-grand jury report series. Spoiler Alert: Bishop David Zubick has to resign. I know that many Catholics are decent people who simply cannot wrap their heads around the magnitude of these crimes. That doesn’t absolve them of their responsibility to do so. I know that people honestly think Christianity can be something that it never has been -- an instrument of peace, justice, and communion with a loving God -- if we can just try things a little differently. The kids in my home parish know better. So enjoy your fish sandwiches and pierogies, but before you go out on Friday nights at least read the Grand Jury Report.
UNHEALTHY CHOICES BY NOT ACCEPTING THAT ABORTION IS HEALTH CARE, REPUBLICANS ARE PUTTING PEOPLE AT RISK BY JESSICA SEMLER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ast week the Trump-Pence Administration announced changes to Title X, the nation’s family planning program. In as few as 60 days from the announcement, a “gag rule” could be in place that would affect more than four million patients across the country. It forces all medical providers receiving federal assistance to refuse to “perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning.” That means a doctor couldn’t tell a patient that abortion was a legal, safe option, even if asked. If they did talk about abortion, the clinic would lose access to Title X funds that help their patients pay for birth control, pap smears, cancer screenings, STI testing, treatment and more. While this Gag Rule practice hasn’t been implemented in the US before, it is a mainstay in stipulations that the U.S. places on all healthcare aid funding to all foreign countries. The Global Gag Rule (GGR) was initiated by the Reagan Administration in 1984, and it’s been a political football ever since. When a Democrat wins the White House, it is revoked; when a Republican wins, it’s reinstated. The GGR requires countries receiving aid from the US to “neither perform nor promote abortion as a method of family planning.” This includes aid from the U.S. that pays for contraception, safe pregnancy and child delivery. Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating the gag rule as one of his first presidential acts. Additionally, he expanded the GGR to include all healthcare aid from the U.S.; this includes programs for HIV and AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria, tuberculosis, Ebola, and other infectious diseases. The results of the GGR? According to the World Health Organization,
every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for 15- to 19- yearold girls globally. This happens because of the GGR because lack of access to safe abortions does not stop abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an international reproductive rights policy nonprofit, “abortions occur as frequently in the two most-restrictive categories of countries [abortion banned completely or allowed only to save the pregnant person’s life] as in the least-restrictive category. Bans equate to unsafe conditions, not less abortions.” In the continent of Africa, about 93 percent of women of reproductive age in Africa live in countries with restrictive abortion laws. Despite this, between 2010 and 2014 an estimated 8.2 million induced abortions occurred each year there; only 1 in 4 of them were done safely. The suffering caused by prohibiting these procedures is unnecessary.The Global Gag Rule is a shameful export and a moral failure. The Hyde Amendment (language in the yearly labor health and human services and related agencies appropriations ) and the GGR are both policies that separate abortion care from healthcare. Lawmakers are required to vote each year on The Hyde amendment, cleverly imbedded in the appropriations process for Medicaid since 1976, has been successful barring Medicaid from covering abortion care, except in the case of rape or to save the life of a pregnant person. Congressman Henry Hyde was transparent about his intentions when he first introduced his amendment: “I certainly would like to prevent, if
I could legally, anybody having an abortion; a rich woman, a middleclass woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the… Medicaid bill.” Despite his desire to impact women on all socioeconomic levels, Hyde’s Amendment hurts poor women. Because of deepseated systemic racism, women of color are more likely to rely on government insurance. Singling out folks on Medicaid with this rule is economically prejudiced and explicitly targets people who are already economically disadvantaged. Add up the cost of the procedure itself, travel to and from a clinic, possible overnight stays in a hotel due to mandatory waiting periods, gas or air costs, food, lost wages, childcare (the majority of women who decide to end a pregnancy already have one or more children) and the out of pocket expenses for abortion can add up very quickly for anyone, but creates a situation of inaccessibility for women in poverty. Women are the experts on their lives and their families, but if they’re economically underprivileged, somebody else is making the decisions when it comes to their reproductive health. Both the Hyde Amendment and the GGR, silo abortion care from the umbrella of reproductive healthcare. A common misconception when anti-abortion operatives advocate for the GGR and the defunding of Planned Parenthood, is that they are ensuring “no taxpayer funds go to abortions.” Clearly, they already don’t; but they should. One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Abortion care is more highly regulated than any other health service, despite having fewer complications when done legally and safely than colonoscopies, wisdom teeth removal, and actual childbirth. The Trump-Pence Administration continues to promote policies that make it harder to prevent pregnancy, damn near impossible to get an abortion and difficult to
raise a child in a safe, affordable environment. Looking at unplanned pregnancies, the rate is five times higher among poor women. Lack of access to effective birth control due to cost, proximity to doctors and transportation is a big contributor. These issues disproportionately affect people of color, and that is especially true in Pennsylvania. According to Merck for Mothers, a non-profit set up by the pharmaceutical company, Merck, to fight against maternal fatalities around the world, “black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women,” regardless of socioeconomic status. Black women make up 11% of our population, but 31% of all pregnancy-related maternal deaths. This is unacceptable, and the national numbers aren’t much better. Last month, abortion providers in Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit with the state to end the Medicaid Abortion Coverage Ban, addressing the siloing of abortion care. Sue Frietsche, an attorney with the Women’s Law Project, said of the suit: “People have studied what happens to low-income women who are deprived of access to abortion and it is devastating to their lives.” Elicia Gonzales of Women’s Medical Fund, an organization that exists to connect patients in need with the funding to pay for abortions added “The entire purpose of Medicaid is to prevent people from having to choose between healthcare and necessities like food and heat.” Abortion is healthcare. But while no taxpayer funds go toward abortions, they absolutely should.
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 11
“Da Vinci the Exhibition” at the Carnegie Science Center (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
GREAT EXPECTATIONS DA VINCI’S BRILLIANT MIND INSPIRES VISITORS AT CARNEGIE SCIENCE CENTER
BY MADELINE URY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT INTERN INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ost of us know Leonardo Da Vinci as the Renaissance painter famous for the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.” But Da Vinci produced much more than just those few works of art in his 67 years. Taking a special interest in flight, light, anatomy, music, engineering and hydraulics, he was the creator of countless imaginative inventions. “Da Vinci the Exhibition” at the Carnegie Science Center brings many of his ideas and creations together in one place to immerse visitors in Da Vinci’s world. The
exhibit, which was produced by the Atlanta-based company Imagine Exhibitions, features over 60 reproductions of his inventions and 20 fine art replicas—all true to size. Upon entering, visitors encounter a two minute video that serves as an introduction to Da Vinci, his life, and the inventions on display. The rooms of the exhibit are organized according to Da Vinci’s various interests. To make the exhibit more interactive, visitors are able to touch more than half of the inventions. Signs on each display denote which
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can be touched. There are also interactive activity tables. Some of the activities include mirror writing, building bridges, coloring the Mona Lisa and building your own paper plane to see if it can fly. Nicole Chynoweth, Carnegie Science Center’s manager of marketing, public relations and social media, said the hands on activity tables are popular with children and adults alike. “All of them I think have been pretty successful so far,” Chynoweth said. “I was here Saturday, opening day, and the mirror writing one
really got people because it’s so challenging, they seemed particularly fascinated by that one.” Some of the inventions on display are also interactive experiences, including an armored tank in the military room that children can go inside. According to Chynoweth, the Science Center chose to put this exhibit on display because it is an all ages show that offers something for everyone. For art lovers, “Da Vinci The Exhibition” provides a chance to see some of his most famous works without travelling outside of the United States. Some of the true to size replicas on display include “The Last Supper,” “The Annunciation” and “Virgin of the Rocks.” “[This exhibit] was at the top of our list because it so clearly demonstrates a lot of the concepts that we try to work into all of our exhibits here, which is hands on experiences and interactive experiences in science and technology,” Chynoweth said. Senior Director of Exhibits and Experience Dennis Bateman emphasized the Science Center staff’s excitement. Bateman said that they jumped right into researching Da Vinci and brainstorming how to engage with the public through the exhibit. The public’s reception of the exhibit has been quite positive, according to Chynoweth. A lot of the draw seems to come from the fact that most people had no idea that Da Vinci had such a wide variety of interests. All of his areas of expertise make him the perfect example of a Renaissance Man, although many of his inventions and accomplishments went unrecognized until after his death. Chynoweth says that Carnegie Science Center always hopes to inspire and expand the minds of all of their visitors. Science is not a separate entity from creativity, she said, and Da Vinci’s exhibit is a perfect example, as he believed science and art were deeply interconnected. “There is an additional educator’s
guide that teachers can go on our website and download so that whenever they bring their field trips here, there’s more material that they can take back to the classroom and connect the concepts here with whatever they’re teaching at school,” Chynoweth said. The guide includes an overview of each section of the exhibit, questions for students while walking through and activities and questions that can be completed in the classroom to help students reflect on their experience. So far, it seems like the Science Center’s mission to inspire through this exhibit has been a success. Chynoweth says that students are leaving feeling empowered by Da Vinci’s message. In a society where people may feel they can only be one thing, Da Vinci’s message provides a new outlook for visitors. Chynoweth spoke of one student who voiced this realization while touring the exhibit with her class. “There was a class of school students here last week, and one of the students mentioned how the exhibition showed her that she can pursue so many different interests and studies,” Chynoweth recalled. “She can dabble in so many different things and learning does not have to be limited to one particular field. “Da Vinci really did it all and I think that is inspiring to visitors of all ages, to just motivate you to dive into anything you’re curious about.” Seeing visitors of all ages explore the exhibit, their curiosity and intrigue was evident. Everyone was interested in finding out more about Da Vinci and what his brilliant mind had to offer the world. “Da Vinci had endless curiosity, and curiosity is definitely something that we try to inspire in all of our visitors as they explore Carnegie Science Center,” Chynoweth said. “Da Vinci the Exhibition” opened on Saturday, Feb. 16 and will remain open until Sept. 2. Tickets can be purchased for just this exhibit or along with tickets to see the rest of the Science Center. PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 13
know the names of plants and trees. I pay attention to that kind of thing within the body. How did you decide on “lost children,” because I think the nomenclature really matters. It’s a little bit eerie now. That term has a political connotation that it didn’t quite have when I began writing the novel in 2014. I was thinking from the very beginning about childhood in the context of political violence and how childhood is lost. The title Lost Children Archive kept filling with different connotations as time passed. This is a very a dense read. It slowed me down. I take that as a compliment. I hear people say ‘fast read’ as a good thing. I don’t know. I think that slowness is something that is a great value. This novel is precisely about that—slowing down and listening. There’s such a focus on sound—it’s a medium that forces you to sit in
time, really. Talk about the seven boxes the family traveled with and the ephemera they contained. I had to make them. I had to buy bankers boxes and make the archives to know where things were in relation to each other and how to group them. It involved leaving out and including and how things stood in relation to each other. The boxes are still there. I dare not open them. They feel like they’re not mine, like I would be intruding. Can you talk about the narrative shift to the son’s voice and how kids think differently than adults. It was challenging, but it also felt like a playground. I never write linearly, so I didn’t write the mom and then the boy and then the elegies. They were all growing together at the same time. How will these relate to each other to create its own narrative? Form tells the story as much as the content. I wanted clear echos between the three voices.
MARCH 2 – 24, 2019 Valeria Luiselli (Photo by: Alfredo Pelcastre)
MIGRATORY PATTERNS VALERIA LUISELLI’S ‘LOST CHILDREN ARCHIVE’ IS A COMPELLING STORY OF OUR BORDER PROBLEMS
“When an ‘Odd Couple’ story shifts toward ‘Breaking Bad’” — LA TIMES
BY JODY DIPERNA - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER JODY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
aleria Luiselli’s new novel, Lost Children Archive (Alfred A. Knopf, 2019) is a densely layered, timely, challenging book. It is a meditation on how we curate our thoughts and how we tell stories. It is about family and childhood, and who gets to have a childhood. It is also a beautiful, elegiac new American road trip which should move immediately into the canon. Luiselli is in high demand in literary circles, but took time to speak with Pittsburgh Current via telephone from her home in New York.
You write about Martha Graham (from Pittsburgh’s North Side) and I saw you have a background in dance. I wasn’t a very talented dancer. That’s why I’m a writer. Dance is hard to write about. Definitely. It’s not easy for me, but there is a consciousness of very specific body movements. There’s hyper consciousness of the deeper places in your body. I like to be able to translate that to the page. People
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TAMARA TUNIE and LAURIE KLATSCHER in
THE ROOMMATE JEN SILVERMAN DIRECTED BY REGINALD L. DOUGLAS BY
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There is a sadness and something painful about writing a boy who knows what’s going on, but also there was something lighter. For many refugees coming to the US, they are trying to reunite with family or save their families. It’s not running away, but a moving towards. Definitely. Migration has changed in this recent diaspora. Of course there is an economic motivation for survival, but kids who have to flee now from the northern triangle are also fleeing from death, death threats and being recruited as child soldiers for gangs. (MS-13) There is an element of urgency. How did you land on the troubled marriage as a throughline? I’m definitely not interested in drawing parallels between family separation and migration, and this particular family’s marital separation. The way this woman was documenting everyday moments of this trip had a kind of nostalgia of the present. It creates a dent in reality. She’s documenting a world that pretty much feels like it has ended, the very abandoned face of the America: closed down motels and empty diners, superhighways coming to replace smaller state roads, industrial farming. It feels to her that it has ended somehow. She says there’s a sensation of something changed, we don’t know exactly what. Our sense of time has changed. We live at such a fast pace, maybe we’ve lost the sense of a future. In that loss, we sense the present like an avalanche. It’s not so much backgrounds and foregrounds, but this entire braid of the last thing, the last of something. Answers have been edited for length.
will speak on Monday, March 11th at 7:30 at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. Tickets: $15-$35. trustarts.org
IN HONOR OF
NATIoNAL JAZZ APPRECIATIoN MoNTH
APRIL 19 2019 8 P.m.
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PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 15
Maleek Washington and Vie Boheme in Camille A. Brown’s ink (Photo: Christopher Duggan)
DANCE WORK INK EXPLORES BLACK LIFE AND BLACK IDENTITY AT AUGUST WILSON CULTURAL CENTER
BY STEVE SUCATO - PITTSBURGH CURRENT DANCE WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
he third work in her trilogy on black identity, Camille A. Brown’s ink (2017) follows in the dance steps of previous works Mr. TOL E. RAncE (2012), about minstrelsy and BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play (2015), about Black womanhood. The hourlong dancetheater piece will be performed by Brown’s New York-based Camille A. Brown & Dancers, March 9 and 10 at Downtown’s August Wilson Cultural Center. Brown, whose career has skyrocketed recently serving as choreographer for the Emmy Awardwinning television special, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert and The Tony Award-winning revival of Once On This Island on Broadway, is also a four-time Princess Grace award winner and a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. She describes ink as celebrating
“the rituals, gestural vocabulary and traditions that remain ingrained within the lineage of the African Diaspora and reclaims AfricanAmerican narratives by showcasing their authenticity. The work examines the culture of black life that is often appropriated, rewritten or silenced.” She also sees the six characters in the work (including herself ) as superheroes and its seven sections as representing the super powers of spirituality, history, heritage and more. Another of those six superheroes performing the work in Pittsburgh is second-year company member Maleek Washington. The 31-yearold, nicknamed “Baby Shark” by his fellow dancers presumably for his dancing prowess, says in performing the work, “I feel like I can do anything. I don’t think she [Brown] knows this, but before
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I joined the company I was in a really low place and I didn’t think I was going to dance anymore. She [Brown] has reinvigorated my idea of what is possible for me and I feel like Superman.” Washington, by phone from an Arizona airport where his flight was delayed because of a freak blizzard, says of ink and the trilogy, “I don’t think she [Brown] knew that the trilogy was happening when she first created Mr. TOL E. RAncE but thematically the three works came together beautifully. They go from the past and the pain of minstrelsy in Mr. TOL E. RAncE to the present in BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play and into the future with ink.” There is also a consistent movement language weaved into every piece according to Washington. That being said, each work has a different feel to it. “In Mr.
TOL E. RAncE I feel as if having been shot out of a canon with the rhythm and speed of it. With ink there is so much joy and expression and the idea of the community is solidified.” Set to an original score that Washington characterizes as a full-on playlist of black culture from djembe rhythms to hip hop, ink features a quintet of musicians playing live that will join the dancers onstage including Buffalo-native, violinist Juliette Jones. Jones says Brown relayed to her and the other composers/musicians working on the score that she was influenced by two albums growing up; Lauryn Hill’s “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and “Like Water for Chocolate” by Common whose “raw authenticity and vulnerability” she wanted to bring them into the ink’s score. To capture those intentions in her own playing Jones says, “I try to figure out what is going to pull the best sound out of the instrument (a 1929 violin played with a 1795 baroque bow) for what we are doing.” She will also be creating some of the score live. “I am literally improvising for 10-minutes every performance trying to pull as much sound as I can from the instrument and evoke a level of spirituality in that moment in the work and in response to what the dancers are doing.” Also, included in the music making is the use of found and handmade instruments including buckets, jugs, shakers, coffee cans and wine bottles that Jones and the other musicians will play. Sadly, says Brown, David L. Arsenault’s full set design for ink will not be used in Pittsburgh. But despite that, the work’s powerful message on Black Life is certain to ring through.
CAMILLE A. BROWN & DANCERS PERFORM INK;
8 p.m., Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10 at Downtown’s August Wilson Cultural Center, 980 Liberty Ave.; Tickets are $10-65 and available online at TrustArts.org, by calling (412) 456-6666, or in person at the Box Office at Theater Square.
“The Roommate” (Photo by: Jan Hoover)
TAMARA TUNIE AND LAURIE KLATSCHER REUNITE FOR “THE ROOMMATE” AT CITY THEATRE
BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
heater is often depicted with a pair of masks, one laughing, one weeping, two feelings on opposite sides of the emotional spectrum. The laughing side represents Thalia, the muse of comedy. The weeping side represents Melpomene, the muse of tragedy. Reginald Douglas, artistic producer at City Theatre and director of this season’s production of Dominique Morisseau’s Pipeline and now The Roommate, says that the similarities between staging comedy and drama are more common than we think. “It’s all in the timing, so there’s the same kind of rigor that you approach to building the stakes of a dramatic performance, you really do apply to directing a comedy,” Douglas says. The Roommate begins previews on March 2 and runs through March 24. Sharon—played by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) School of Drama grad and Pittsburgh native Tamara Tunie—is a recent divorcee, and needs extra cash and extra company in her Iowa home. Robyn, played by Laurie Klatscher—a CMU School of Drama alum and 2011 Post-Gazette Performer of the Year—
is a hip New Yorker who becomes Sharon’s roommate. They form an unlikely bond in Jen Silverman’s tale of friendship and breaking the law. The production also marks the second time Tunie and Klatscher perform together in Pittsburgh. Currently, both star in Pittsburgh Public Theater’s production of The Tempest, where Tunie plays powerful wizard Prospero and Klatscher plays Gonzalo, adviser to Queen Alonso and Prospero’s confidant. According to Douglas, this previous working relationship at the Public Theater has helped their chemistry in The Roommate. “We didn’t have to rehearse it,” he says. “They were already really good friends and already shared a deep commitment to City Theatre and an excitement about new plays, and there’s a lot of trust in the room, me having a friendship with them, them being friends, them calling this place their home. We got to skip that step in the process.” The Roommate marks Tunie’s first mainstage production at City Theatre. She previously performed her holiday cabaret, Legends from the Burgh, at the theater in 2016. She became a City Theatre board member earlier this year. On the
other hand, this is Klatscher’s 13th performance at the South Side theater. As a director, Douglas says that the best part of the rehearsal process is “getting out of their way,” sitting back and watching the two actresses interact with each other during rehearsals. “I mean, what more could a director ask for?” Douglas says. Tunie and Klatscher rehearse at City Theatre in Southside during the day and perform downtown at the Public Theater at night. Douglas says their work on both shows is an example of their commitment to the city that helped kick-start their careers. “To see them to take on two huge productions back-to-back is a testament to their skill but also their love of making great work for our community,” he says. And, although The Roommate and his previous City Theatre directorial work, Pipeline, are different in tone,
both shows have strong characters played by strong actors, along with a Douglas flair. “The show may or may not open with Beyonce, so you’ll still know Reg Douglas directed it,” he says. Douglas says The Roommate, with its story of friendship, starting over and being a little lawless, fits into City Theatre’s values of showing new and diverse works. “When Jen [Silverman] wrote the play, she wanted to write roles into the theatrical canon for women who she knew but wasn’t seeing onstage, and that’s a real City Theatre mantra, to put all kinds of people—real diversity of our world—onstage for our audience,” he says. “And that includes women over fifty who may or may not sell drugs.”
March 2 to March 24. Tickets starting at $29. 1300 Bingham St., Southside. 412-431-2489 or www. citytheatrecompany.org
Author & Anti-Ageism Activist
Ashton Applewhite 7:00 pm, Carnegie Lecture Hall, Oakland Tickets $10 pittsburghlectures.org
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 17
Image made by Danielle Rager for DXGPVWZ in openFrameworks
WIDE OPEN [COMPUTER] SPACES
WITH AN UPCOMING SHOWCASE, COSMIC SOUND HOPES TO OFFER A WINDOW INTO THE WORLD OF ALGORITHMIC MUSIC AND ART BY MEG FAIR - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
here’s a myth that music made with computers is cold, unfeeling. But what if music made with computers, algorithms and code could bring a room full of people together, grooving to the beats, swaying, nodding and freaking to the intricate, interwoven rhythms and melodies brought to life by a conductor of a hundred tiny electronic instrumentalists inside of a computer program? What if the programs and code bringing that
electronic music to life could have a bit of a mind of its own? And what if the visuals projected behind the artists had a life of their own, too? This is the world of generative audio-visual music, algorithm-based art often categorized as ‘algorave.’ Making generative music and visuals may seem intimidating for those not familiar, but its basis in free, open-sourced programs opens the sandbox of audiovisual exploration to anyone with a computer. With its upcoming showcase,
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Cosmic Sound hopes to offer a window into algorave creation. Cosmic Sound is a consortium that focuses on the promotion of live music and art that pushes bound aural and visual boundaries. This event aims to demonstrate the many ways that generative music and visuals can be made, creating an exploratory opportunity for anyone curious about algorithmic music and art, the core of algorave culture. Cosmic Sound’s captains Kevin Bednar and Danielle Rager
will be performing as DXGPVWZ (pronounced Dog Paws). The pair create an audio/visual experience using open-sourced programs like openFrameworks and TidalCycles, and both artists pull from experience at their day jobs: Bednar is a programmer and Rager a computational neuroscientist. While fields like computer programming, math and science may seem at odds with creative work, skills from the STEM world can translate rather nicely to algorithmic art.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.orgPITTSBURGH CURRENT | OCT. 23, 2018 | 19
Sucks to Be an Animal
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.
20 | OCT. 23, 2018 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
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
Image made by Danielle Rager for DXGPVWZ in openFrameworks
“I’m making a lot of plots and figures and doing a lot of mathematical functions in three dimensional spaces for my day job. You can make a lot of cool 3-D things using math,” explains Rager. “I’ve been learning to translate that to openFrameworks, which is a [computer] language to do visuals where basically you can animate those things and make them move through time.” For DXGPVWZ, both Bednar and Rager work with the coding, and sometimes the results can be unpredictable. Bednar says that’s not always a bad thing. “Some of the best reactions I’ve gotten during my sets are when the code is totally shitting the bed, and I’m like, ‘Oh, well, I can’t do anything because my computer is freezing and it sounds insane,’ and people are cheering. I think people like the chaos,” he explains. One of the other performers, Renick Bell, is a well-respected algorave artist from Japan. His intricate electronic sounds and visuals are generated by a program he himself authored called Conductive. Rager and Bednar describe Bell as the conductor of an orchestra of electronic sounds,
rather than the instrumentalist himself. Therefore, his results are a bit more predictable. Bell’s latest EP, What Holds You Back, is an electrifying nine minutes of dynamic, danceable music that feel so precise, yet so organic. If open-sourced programs are the sandbox, Bell is the person who makes giant, intricate sand sculptures at competitions on the beach, and he makes it look easy, too. Performer William Fields approaches generative music a little differently. Fields begins with a ruleset and lets the program do its thing, making up its own rules based on patterns or keys implemented by Fields. In this scenario, the sand in the sandbox has become a little sentient, so it’s a bit more like collaborating with sand than strictly sculpting with it. The fourth performer, Father In Training, uses electronic music to explore and solidify the connection between Midwestern dance music, UK soundsystem culture and wider global club sounds. In the past he’s showcased generative musicians in his mixes, showing that the generative performances can exist past their live iterations
in amorphous ways, giving second or third life to performances that happened in real time. If this all seems mysterious and strange and confusing—music and art made from computer code and programs with different computer languages, and the way it isn’t and isn’t like playing in a sandbox— fear not. One of the main focuses of algorave is sharing insider information—giving you a seat at the sandbox and some tools to build with too. At most events for generative music, you can hear the sounds, see the visuals and also see a projection of the code itself that the artist or artists are working on. “The interesting thing about algorithmic art culture is that people are into sharing the process instead of hiding it,” says Rager. “The whole core of algorave is very much about showing screens. You don’t want to be making some secretive creation you hold the keys to,” adds Bednar.
Whether or not they understand the actual syntax of the programs, viewers can see what changes in the code are making things happen. “I think most people come in not knowing what they’re looking at, but by the end have a pretty good idea of how changes in the code will change the sound or image,” says Bednar, “And that makes you want to use it too.” And it doesn’t take a mountain of money to create this kind of art. “It’s all free and open, so I don’t need to spend 30 grand on a studio [like old school electronic artists],” says Bednar. “It’s cool that people can use this free set of tools to make crazy, complex unheard sounds.”
RENICK BELL, WILLIAM FIELDS, FATHER OF TWO, DXGPVWZ. 9 p.m. Saturday, March 9.
3577 Studios. 3577 Bigelow Blvd., Polish Hill. $10-15. cosmicsound.club
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Call 888-316-9085 or visit cccregister.com PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 23
Turning Jewels Into Water: Val Jeanty (left) and Ravish Momin (Photo: Ed Marshall)
TURNING JEWELS INTO WATER USE ELECTRONIC INSTRUMENTS AND IMPROVISATIONAL INSTINCTS TO MAKE MODERN FOLK MUSIC BY MIKE SHANLEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
avish Momin describes Turning Jewels Into Water as “folk music from nowhere.” He quickly clarifies that this type of folk music has nothing to do with someone like John Gorka. “I’m talking [about] folk instruments of our time, which to me are the electronics. The guitar was a folk instrument in the ’60s. But now everybody has a phone so to me, these are the folk instruments of our time,” he says. As he thinks about his musical background and that of his bandmate Val Jeanty, he adds, “And for me, it’s about taking all these familiar elements – like Indian rhythms and Haitian rhythms – and putting them together hopefully in this new way.”
Turning Jewels Into Water consists of Momin on electronic percussion and Jeanty on turntables and electronic percussion. Both can lay claim to a wide range of musical experiences, including jazz improvisation. When they connected during a residency at Pioneer Works, an artist-run cultural center in Brooklyn, they immediately began collaborating. Their music moves constantly, not just with grooves but with additional sonic elements coming and going overtop of the steady beat of Momin’s drums. To that, they infuse the music with messages regarding environmental justice. Momin’s interest in music began while he studied engineering at
24 | MAR. 5, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
Carnegie Mellon University in the 1990s. He played in Ensemble Duchamp, an avant jazz quartet with the unlikely instrumentation of drums, piano, oboe and tuba. Momin enthusiastically attacked his trap kit, combining punk rock enthusiasm with a knowledge of free jazz drumming techniques. “We were ahead of our time,” he recalls. “I hate to use that phrase because it’s a cliché. But we were doing Ornette and Pat Metheny and Kurt Weill. Just weird stuff mixed together. Even now it’s not that common.” As he talks by phone from his New York home, Momin looks back fondly on the Pittsburgh music scene, recalling the rise of both Rusted Root and Don Caballero
in the same breath. The political climate of that time, with the Persian Gulf War, had as much of an impact on him. “That was definitely really important me to me — being aware of [the idea that] you can be a player but there are all these other issues also,” he says. “What is the role of music, ultimately? So I was always trying to think about that. After meeting those free jazz guys like Archie Shepp, it really all sunk in. It’s all part of the aesthetic.” Momin moved to New York in the late ’90s and took drum lessons with Andrew Cyrille, who played with envelope-pushing jazz musicians like pianist Cecil Taylor. Following that experience, he worked with everyone from pop singer Shakira to free jazz saxophonist Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, as well as his own group Taranna. He and Jeanty named their project Turning Jewels Into Water to express their concern for the environment. “The idea—I hope it’s obvious—is really that, in the future, water is going to become a precious commodity. And it’s already happening,” Momin says. “I was reading an article about how a lot of places are losing drinking water and [feeling the effects of ] climate change. How do we deal with that?” The release of their new album Map of Absences coincides with the appearance in Pittsburgh. On the album, Jeanty, whose past collaborations include the late Geri Allen, and Momin might rely on electronics to create their music but they infuse it with the real-time reactions they honed as improvisers. “It’s different from a lot of ‘electronic music,’ where you hit Play and the track sounds the same, 120 bpm,” Momin says. “No, I want to make electronic music that has that fluidity of jazz, but it’s all digital.”
TURNING JEWELS INTO WATER with SOY SOS.
8 p.m., Saturday, March 16. Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky Street, North Side. $12. 412-237-8300
Rapper Moemaw Naedon (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
ON ‘HARD HEAD MUSH BRAIN’, PITTSBURGH RAPPER MOEMAW NAEDON LOOKS INWARD BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
istening back recently to his soon-to-be-released new record, rapper and producer Moemaw Naedon started to get a little nervous. There were moments of Hard Head Mush Brain—which he made in collaboration with French producer Phado Pantoja—that felt almost too emotionally open. “I almost hit up Phalo and was like, ‘Yo we gotta cut this one track, I’m not comfortable with this,’” Naedon says with a laugh. Staying open is almost invariably a good thing when it comes to art, and in the end Naedon kept the record, which comes out March
8, as it was. But while he hasn’t completely abandoned his typically veiled, metaphoric approach to lyricism (Hard Head Mush Brain still features plenty of surreal cinematic story-spinning) working with Pantoja naturally led him in a different direction. “Phalo’s beats are almost, I wanna say, heartfelt, at times … I can only do the abstract stuff so much before [the beats] eventually brought it out of me,“ he explains. “I like to leave [lyrics] open for interpretation because that’s the kind of stuff I enjoy listening to, but I was like, ‘I’m going to be more direct this time.’”
Naedon, who grew up in a rural town outside of Pittsburgh, started paying attention to hip hop in 5th grade, around the time that Dr. Dre, A Tribe Called Quest and Wu Tang Clan were all releasing their most iconic records. Later, in high school, skate videos introduced him to weirder acts, like Arsonists and Mr. Dibbs. “That’s when I paid attention to what they were talking about, and hip hop as a culture with graffiti and breakdancing, and I was really interested in that,” he says. “I was kind of like, ‘I want to be a part of this.’” With his friend Brother Seamus
(who is featured on this record, and with whom Naedon just released a 7-inch single) Naedon bought turntables, and the two started taking trips to Pittsburgh record shops where they would see fliers for shows. “That was around 1998,” Naedon recalls. “I just totally dove into hip-hop at that point, I started getting samplers and turn tables with tape decks and started doing what I could in my room to make beats.” Naedon has the style of someone who’s been at this for awhile, and who’s old enough to have gained a certain amount of perspective and comfort with himself. His flow is bold, self-assured and elegantly aggressive, providing deeply satisfying tension to Pantoja’s delicately constructed soundscapes. Guest spots are also well-selected. On “Master of the Masks,” the loose, chatty style of Queens-based rapper Homeboy Sandman serves as the perfect auditory foil to Naedon’s laser-focus. And because of Naedon’s confidence, this record’s moments of deep introspection never come off as maudlin over-sharing. On “Needy,” he takes stock of his (very relatable) faults, copping to sleeping in too late, bumming too many cigarettes, and generally falling short. “Need to be a better friend, better brother, better son, better lover, better man,” he raps, reminding himself that being fully, brutally honest with himself is always something to work towards. These are simple, universal sentiments, and listeners may be inspired to self-evaluate in the same way. But, as always with Naedon, there is subtle catharsis in a later line: “What I need might not be what I want next/ I need to be less selfish although I know/ I need to love myself first before I can let it go.”
CLOCKWORKDJ WITH MOEMAW NAEDON, CHOO JACKSON, DJ ADMC. 9 P.M.
THURSDAY, MARCH 7. SPIRIT, 242 51ST ST., LAWRENCEVILLE. $10. WWW.SPIRITPGH. COM
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 25
Festival attendees enjoy the fare at last year’s Food Truck A Palooza. Photo courtesy of GoodTaste! Pittsburgh (Photo: Ed Marshall)
INDOOR FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL RETURNS FOR THIRD YEAR BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
t’s officially March and snow is still falling in and out of the forecast. We’re all beyond being sick of the slush by now and itching to get back to some of our favorite warmerweather activities, like going to food trucks. Remember food trucks? Winter just isn’t their season. Dee Weinberg knows the feeling and she’s here to bring a food truck oasis to a desolate, wintry Pittsburgh. For the third year running, Weinberg’s event company, GoodTaste! Pittsburgh, is putting on its Food Truck A Palooza indoors at the Monroeville Convention Center. This year’s lineup features 39 different food trucks.
“The first year, I believe we had 28 trucks,” she says. “The second we had 32, so it has grown and we are at full capacity right now.” The growth of Food Truck A Palooza and it’s success—more than 3,000 people attended the event last year—are a direct reflection of the food truck’s continuing rise in popularity. It’s thought that the impetus for the initial boom in the United State’s food truck industry was the 2008 recession. In a time of widespread financial struggle, the food truck emerged as a lower-cost, lower-risk way to enter the food industry. And while they were once seen as a step on the path to opening a brick-
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and-mortar restaurant, today food trucks are seen as legitimate culinary ventures in and of themselves. “People in this area love food trucks, and as the list of food trucks grows, the list of people who love them grows,” Weinberg says. It’s true. It seems that for consumers, the novelty of food trucks hasn’t worn off. Why? Perhaps there’s something serendipitous about them. It’s exciting to happen upon something new and unexpected. A new restaurant is exciting. A food truck is essentially a new restaurant in every place that it pulls over and pops open the service window. Then, once you happen upon
a food truck that you love, you get to follow it. When it comes to your neck of the woods it’s a special occasion—you just have to go get some. Following your favorite food truck’s whereabouts is like your favorite band being on tour. When they announce they’re coming to your town, how could you possibly not go? Food Truck A Palooza, then, presents the perfect opportunity for food-lovers to discover the truck they’ll be stalking this spring and summer. It’s the only indoor food truck festival in western Pennsylvania. That could be because of the practical challenges that an
event like this presents. Having 39 vehicles—each with its own kitchen—operating in the same space is a lot to manage. But just like previous years, Monroeville Volunteer Fire Department #6 will be on site all day, working to make sure that everything is done safely. “We could not do this show without them,” says Weinberg. “Having an indoor show with vehicles that are running on propane is a tricky situation, and the fire department makes it work.” Each year, a portion of the event’s proceeds are donated to the Monroeville Volunteer Fire Department #6. While you may be imagining taco and barbeque trucks taking up half of the room, that isn’t the case at Food Truck A Palooza. Weinberg makes sure to keep a wide variety of trucks at the festival, allowing no more than three trucks that serve the same type of food at the event. “Everything from mediterranean to desserts to tacos to sandwiches to barbeque to juice to vegan--I think we’ve represented every food group possible on the show floor,” Weinberg says. Each year, attendees vote on a “People’s Choice” award for the best truck. Past winners include South Side BBQ and The Coop Chicken and
Waffles, who will both be returning for the festival this year. Three years in to the business of running an indoor food truck festival, it seems that GoodTaste! has thought of everything. Last year they noticed people fumbling to juggle all of their food as they visited multiple trucks, so this year they’re providing trays. They know that people will have to wait in some lines for their food, so there will be in-line entertainment by a magician, a balloon sculpture and musicians. And there is beer and booze available for adult attendees to enjoy. Other than the food and drink people can get from the trucks, there are 40 vendors they can visit, too. There’s a photo booth and face painters. And some of Bob FM and Q 92.9’s on-air personalities will be broadcasting from the convention center and interacting with the food truck fans. In Weinberg’s words, “This is truly a festival.”
FOOD TRUCK A PALOOZA.
12-5 p.m. March 9 at the Monroeville Convention Center. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. To buy tickets and see the full list of food trucks, visit goodtastepittsburgh.com.
Art camps for school-age children and teens begin June 17 on our beautiful Shadyside campus. With over 80 offerings in studio and media arts, campers can explore drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, podcasting, fiber arts, filmmaking, video game design, jewelrymaking, animation, coding and much more at PF/PCA this summer.
bring your creativity. we’ll take care of the rest.
SUMMER ART CAMPS for school-age children · begin june 17
over 80 camps in studio & media arts on our beautiful shadyside campus Festival attendees enjoy the fare at last year’s Food Truck A Palooza. Photo courtesy of GoodTaste! Pittsburgh (Photo: Ed Marshall)
pfpca.org/summerartcamps PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 27
Ian McIntosh at Smallman Galley
Fried chicken and cornbread from Home at Smallman Galley
THIS TASTES FUNNY: LUNCH WITH IAN MCINTOSH AT SMALLMAN GALLEY BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
t’s lunchtime in the Strip District and I’m meeting local comedian and filmmaker Ian McIntosh for a meal at Smallman Galley. If you’ve never been, walking into Smallman Galley can be a little disorienting if you don’t know what to expect. It’s set up a bit like a food court, where you go up to the counter and order from one of a few separate restaurants, take a numbered sign and pick a seat in the bar area or dining room.
And all of that is because Smallman Galley is a restaurant accelerator. It houses four different restaurant concepts, providing them the infrastructure they need to get off the ground in a low-cost, lowrisk opportunity for the chefs and owners to hone their skills and build a following. So before we take a seat and get to chatting, I point out each concept and what they offer to McIntosh so he can decide where he wants to go.
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Iron Born has Detroit-inspired pizza. Ba-Co makes barbeque and puts it in tacos. Banhmilicious offers modern Vietnamese and Home does modern classic comfort foods. “I think we should both do something different,” I say. “I’m doing tacos,” McIntosh says. “And I’ll get Home.” We place our orders and go take a seat at a long table in the dining room where it’s nice and bright. In my preparation for this interview, I noticed that McIntosh’s online presence is pretty limited. He uses his Facebook a little, but his Twitter account features only two tweets, the most recent one being from September 2017. It reads, “someone help me use Twitter, please?” And in the attached gif, an elderly white man confusedly drags the “My Computer” icon on
his desktop into the “Trash” and his desktop computer vanishes. “I don’t really like being on the internet all that much,” he laughs. “A lot of people say I’m like an old dude.” Though, at 27 years old, McIntosh is decidedly not an ‘old dude.’ “You’re listening to people’s thoughts at all times, and it’s too much to just be piling that into you— especially if you’re doing something creative,” he says. “To me, I don’t like listening to other people talk because then I’m not developing my own stuff.” Last year, McIntosh was chosen to be a part of the live storytelling podcast “RISK!” The podcast’s tagline is “‘true stories, boldly told.” Ian’s story, which is the wrenching tale of an interracial relationship, is on episode #931. It’s more than
The Texan taco from Ba-Co at Smallman Galley
worth a listen. In both his stand up and this podcast appearance, it’s clear McIntosh is a natural storyteller. And he’s passionate about his creative work. He also works as a filmmaker making promotional videos for local businesses. “I think that it’s very important that you love it...there’s no other way to do stand up,” McIntosh says. “And if you love it, be ready to not see success for a long time.” McIntosh’s food from Ba-Co comes out first. He went for the Texan taco, which features their house-smoked brisket and slaw. My fried chicken and cornbread from Home come out a little bit later. The chicken is boneless for easy eating and pickle-brined for deliciousness. It pairs well with the garlic and thyme mashed potatoes, pepper jelly and jalapeno cheddar cornbread. McIntosh has been at stand up for about five years now. In that time he’s progressed from open mics
and house shows to hosting and producing shows. He says his favorite show he’s involved in at the moment is “Live at the Barbeque,” which he produces and hosts at the Arcade Comedy Theater downtown. It’s a lineup of all black comedians. “People are like ‘how can you do an all-black show?’ and it’s like, ‘most of the shows are all white, so fuck you, I don’t know what to tell you.’” At the most recent “Live at the Barbeque” the audience filled the room and then some. So clearly, you can do an “all-black show.” The next “Live at the Barbeque” should be coming to the Arcade in the spring. You can keep an eye out for it on McIntosh’s Instagram, @ imaccomedy, because he’s definitely not putting it on Twitter.
CATCH IAN MCINTOSH in the Burning Bridges Comedy Fest on March 22 at 8 p.m. at Bella Notte, 1914 Penn Ave.
FRIDAY, MAY 31 PETERSEN EVENTS CENTER $30 +FEES TICKET • PASSWORD: 412CURRENT
*WHILE SUPPLIES LAST
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 29
KEEPING UP WITH PITTSBURGH’S CRAFT BEER SCENE BY DAY BRACEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CRAFT BEER WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
Feb. 21, 5 p.m.: I’m at Maggie’s Farm Rum with owner Tim Russell. I interviewed him for Drinking Partners about four years ago. He has a lot less hair and a lot more awards these days. I’m not really into cocktails but when in Rome, order a Zombie. Feb. 21, 5:10 p.m.: I’m really into cocktails now. Maybe not all cocktails, but this Zombie is pure crack. It’s fruity and spicy, but
doesn’t have that super sweetness that you associate with hangovers. Me: So, tell me about this Zombie. Tim: It’s a classic cocktail with 1,000 iterations, but this is the original. With that we use our white, dark and Queen’s Share overproof rums. It totals about 3.5 ounces of alcohol, which is why we limit it to two per visit. Me: Is that why I’m already drunk? Tim: Yeah. There’s also fresh juice, pomegranate, lime, grapefruit, passion fruit and cinnamon syrup. Me: What is nondistilled rum? Tim: It’s not really a thing. Non-distilled whiskey is beer, brandy is wine. I guess you could call it cane wine, but it’s not something you’d see on the market or purchase. It’s not a super complex flavor. There’s a reason it’s not for sale. People don’t drink it that way. Most rum bases are molasses. Fermented molasses is weird and funky and not in a good way. Me: So, does the flavor from rum come from barrels? Tim: It’ll develop flavors from the distillation process. You’re going to get esters [flavor and aroma] from the yeast, same as beer or wine. That’s part of it. We acidify our fermentations to make kind of a sour cane wine. And then you get a chemical reaction that not a lot of people know about. When you
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mix acids with ethyl alcohol, you get more esters over time. So, by having an acidic distillate, the rum will continue to develop more and more flavor. So, you’re not only getting flavor from the barrel, you’re getting it from the aging process, which is a little different from whiskey. Me: What’s your aging process? Tim: We start off with used Wigle barrels. We don’t want our rum to taste like whiskey, so the first thing we do is condition them with boiling water. Me: Wait. You take a fresh whiskey barrel and pour boiling water into it?! Sounds like a brewer’s nightmare. Wouldn’t it be easier to just use a barrel after it’s been leeched by beer? Tim: We’ve tried that before, and the rum ends up tasting like beer, but not in a good way. Beer leaves organics in the grain, and you don’t want to age something for two years to find out it’s awful. So, it’s easier to buy fresh and condition it. Me: Gotcha. Tim: So, as the water cools, it draws the whiskey flavor out. We dump that, add rum to it, and soak it for about three to four months. That rum still tastes like whiskey, but we blend that out into our spiced rum to cover up the whiskey flavor. And now that barrel is ready for aging. Feb. 21, 5:30 p.m.: I love this geek shit. We continue to talk science and history while sipping shots of examples. Did you know molasses is a byproduct of sugar cane that no one wanted back in the day? It was waste. Rum, like many other boozes, came about by accident,
after someone found it rotting and thought it’d be a great way to get hammered. I now think of Maggie’s as a history “Boozeum,” and Tim, its curator. This short column can’t quite cover all I learned, but I do have room for this great nugget: Tim: There’s this fucked up story that I had read. So, there was a Jamaican plantation way back when, and at night the slaves were sneaking into the distill house to get drunk off the cane wine. The slave owner was getting mad about it, so one day he collected all the chamber pots from around the plantation and in open view of the slaves dumped the pots into the fermenters with the cane wine. Sounds gross. It is gross. But once you distill it, it’s all boiled and sanitized, and nobody is going to steal from that fermenter. It’s full of shit now. What they inadvertently did was compound the bacteria from that shit in the chamber pots. There’s a bacteria in your gut called c-diff that creates butyric acid, which smells like baby vomit or dirty diapers. If you mix butyric acid with ethanol, it’ll eventually turn into butyral, which is the ester that gives pineapple its aroma. So that chamber pot rum, after they aged it, would have turned into a pineapple-y rum. That is how Jamaican rum got its flavor. Holy shit.
MT. WASHINGTON AND STATION SQUARE
The Pittsburgh Skyline rises over Mt. Washington (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
BY BETHANY RUHE - PITTSBURGH CURRENT ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BETHANY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
eanut butter and jelly. Milk and cookies. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Peas and carrots. What do these things have in common with Mt. Washington and Station Square? They’re all classic pairings. Each exists on its own, but when you put them together, it just works. In the case of Mt. Washington and Station Square, both are individual places: one a riverfront business hub, one a residential neighborhood with great views. But together they combine to make one of the hottest spots for out-of-town guests, foodies, fun-seekers and view-lovers alike. Mt. Washington looms high above the city, with Station Square nestled at its base. Connecting Mt. Washington and Station Square
together are the Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne Incline. The two use cars and cables to get from the top to the bottom and vice versa. Originally built to haul coal, folks soon realized that they might be a good way to get people and goods up and down the quicklydeveloping hillside. The easyaccess they afforded people helped encourage the rapid growth of the city’s most scenic neighborhood. The Monongahela Incline (or the Mon Incline, as most people refer to it) is the oldest continuously operating incline in America. The incline, also called a funicular, carries almost 600,000 passengers annually, commuters and tourists alike. A series of water main breaks has temporarily shut down the Mon
Incline as of Feb. 4, but according to Port Authority it should be operational again in 8 weeks or so. Grandview Avenue in Mt. Washington is home to some of the oldest, most enduring restaurants in the City, like LeMont, which has been serving up five-star dinners with ten-star views for more than 60 years. And while Mt. Washington has done a really good job of attracting and keeping business tenants, it’s neighbor at the bottom of the mount hasn’t always been as successful. Station Square in theory should be a real estate slam dunk. It boasts riverfront property, stunning views, loads of parking, it’s flat, and it is replete with gorgeous, historic buildings. Yet it has struggled throughout the years with attracting
and maintaining tenants, both for the Freight House Shops and Bessemer Court. Last year the then-owner and landlord of Station Square, Forest City, was quoted as saying that they enjoyed a 60 percent occupancy rate. A current rate was unavailable, and a call to new ownership resulted in being pointed to the ‘Renovations’ page of the Station Square website, but it’s pretty clear from just walking through that 60 percent might be just a tad high. There are a some sturdy staples, like Buckheads and Just Ducky Tours, (and, of course, local artist and long-time Station Square fixture, Sam Thong), but there seems to be a lot of empty spaces. Like the spot where Houlihan’s sat for 37 years.
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Vehicles making their way up and down P.J. McArdle Roadway (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
They closed their doors last year. People of a certain age will remember when there was what was referred to as the east warehouse, the sprawling building that once stood where the Glasshouse apartments are going up. Bar after bar after bar tried and failed in that space. Not even Hooters could make it. In 2008 the Station Square Hooters served it’s last wing, leaving the city completely Hooterless. The new owners of Station Square, Brookfield Asset Management, have what they hope are the winning plans for stabilizing some of Pittsburgh’s most prime real estate. Current plans call for UPMC to come in and take over 37,000 square feet of space, as well as up to seven new restaurants and the closing of the mezzanine level in the Freight House Shops. Bessemer Court is the riverside complex that houses the Hard Rock Cafe and The Melting Pot, and the Pittsburgh-famous Bessemer Fountain. It has amazing city views, it’s on the popular Allegheny Passage bike trail, it has access to public
transit and parking, and yet even this slice of Station Square has struggled. Bar Louie was one of the original anchors of Bessemer Court when it opened, taking up a massive almost 8,000 square foot space. They closed their doors in 2017. It wasn’t long before it was announced that Rascal Flatts, the country trio, had teamed up with developers to launch a bar/ restaurant/entertainment venue, called, creatively enough, Rascal Flatts. They announced in September of 2017 they were taking the Bar Louie space, but they never opened. In 2018 they were sued for failure to pay rent, and in January of this year the band Rascal Flatts announced that they were not involved in any way with the restaurant developers, and had revoked their licensing agreement with them. Brookside Asset Management has their work cut out for them, but they seem confident. And they do have plenty of reasons to smile. Station Square is still a beloved destination for many, many people. The Grand Concourse, the Sheraton at Station
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Open Mic Comedy Night at Scarpaci’s. (Photo courtesy of Scarpaci’s)
Square, the Gateway Clipper Fleet and Highmark Stadium and the Riverhounds are all hugely popular and bring people from all over. And soon they will have the additional foot traffic of a 319 unit apartment development. Rising up where Hooters used to be is the almost-completed, $70 million Glasshouse building. Boasting luxury apartment living, the residential building will be a first for Station Square. James MurrayColeman, Senior Vice President at Trammell Crow, is happy with the interest so far. “We have had really great interest, but will truly understand the level of interest when we start to market the units in about 2 months.” He said rent prices will be consistent with other luxury apartments in Pittsburgh, with units going for $1500 - $2400 a month. Folks looking for some river-living can look for one bedroom, one bedroom with a den, and two bedroom apartments to hit the market this spring. Glasshouse is looking to give Grandview Avenue a
little competition for scenic living. Heading back up the hill to Mt. Washington, you cannot help but be taken by the vista of downtown, the North Shore and Oakland laid out before you. The awe-inspiring views attract tourists from all over the world. The overlooks, or mushrooms as Pittsburgh locals call them, have been the spot for many a marriage proposal, wedding photos, prom photos and countless selfies. Expensive restaurants offering eye-popping views dot Grandview Avenue, side-by-side with some of Pittsburgh’s most expensive real estate (a three bedroom condo on Grandview is currently on the market for a mere 1.2 million dollars). Mt. Washington might be a tourist destination, but it’s also a thriving residential neighborhood. And the locals don’t go to Grandview Avenue. Behind the killer views lays the true heart of Mt. Washington; the local shops and establishments that have been there for years. Places like Scarpaci’s. Scarpaci’s looks and feels like a long-time, family owned bar. And it
is. For over 35 years, the Scarpaci’s have owned and operated the small bar on the corner of Shiloh Street and Southern Avenue. Purchased by Anne and Sonny Scarpaci, it’s now operated by their three sons; Michael, Rick and Dan. The secret to the longevity is simple: “Cater to the local customer,” says Michael. “We don’t consider ourselves a Mt. Washington destination bar. We are the closest to the community, and we are here for them.” He continues, “We know generations of families. I have a customer, I know her grandparents from when I was a kid here, I know her parents, and now she has a kid… so I says, what brings you up here tonight? She said this bar is in my blood.” They cater as much as they can to their customers, to the extent that when one of their customers asked if they would do a comedy open mic night, they let him. That was more than five years ago, and Scarpaci’s comedy open mic night is still going strong, every Wednesday. Fifteen to 20 comics a week show up. Michael even built them their own stage, with lights and everything. Visiting comics have been known to come in when they’re in town. Word gets out. They had interest from a place out of New York who wanted them to operate more as an actual comedy club and start selling tickets. The brothers shot that down immediately. “As soon as you start charging for tickets, it’s over,” said Dan. “I’m not kicking anybody out of their seat. You’ll have people hollering, ‘I’ve been coming here for 30 years and you want to charge me for my seat?’ While they have added some features like the comedy night, they are doing it their way and remaining true to their roots. Michael sums it up, “ I’m not trying to be something I’m not. The moment I try to become something I’m not, we will lose our business. Going back to my mom and dad, we cater to the local people.”
The Station Square sign along the train tracks (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
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Your home for March Madness with over 25 TVs! Kitchen open until 1am, everyday!
Bigham Tavern 321 Bigham Street www.bighamtavern.com #GOBIGHAMORGOHOME Eat. Tweet. Like. Follow. @bighamtavern PITTSBURGH CURRENT | MAR. 5, 2019 | 33
Caricature artist Sam Thong photographed at his Station Square booth (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
NEIGHBORHOOD CONVERSATION: SAM THONG, OWNER, ARTIST
BY BETHANY RUHE - PITTSBURGH CURRENT ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BETHANY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
f you’ve ever taken a stroll through Station Square, chances are you’ve seen Sam Thong, sitting at his easel, drawing away. He does it all, from caricatures, to charcoal portraits, to pastels. He has drawn the faces of Pittsburgh for generations, and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. How long have you been located in Station Square? I’ve been here since 1981, so 38 years. What is your background?
I moved to the US from Thailand when I was 17. I went to West Virginia University and got two degrees, one in Graphic Design, and one in Business. What do you like to do when you’re not drawing? I like to watch movies and tv, listen to my stereo, cook for my family, and play table tennis. What kind of food do you like to cook? Since I grew up in Thailand, Thai food and some Chineses stir fry. My
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parents are Chinese. I like to cook curry dishes, stir fried noodles, my grandsons love my rice soup, and occasionally spaghetti for my wife. Have you drawn any famous people? Lots! Franco Harris, Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd, Tony Dungy, the Saints’ Craig-Ironhead-Heyward, and then 25 years later, I drew his son, the Steelers’ Cam Heyward. What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to draw? A woman asked me to draw a
picture of her baby’s sonogram picture! What’s your favorite part of what you do? Seeing the satisfaction on a customers face when they see the finished drawing. You can find Sam inside Station Square, in between Buckheads and Just Ducky Tours. To see more of Sam’s work, visit samthong.com.
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THE CAN’T MISS BY MARGARET WELSH AND MADELINE URY INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM FEATURED EVENTS IN AND AROUND THE PITTSBURGH REGION
Therese Rocco began life in law enforcement when she was 19 years old, and went on to become the first woman to serve as assistant police chief in Pittsburgh. Nicknamed “The Rock,” she paved the way for females in the male dominated police force. Heinz History Center will celebrate her work with the premiere of the 50-minute documentary about her contributions to the field, titled “The Rock.” Following the screening, she will share personal stories of her work and life, as well as sign copies of her new book “Therese Rocco: A Memoir.” Registration is encouraged, and copies of the book are available at the event or for pre-purchase. 7 p.m. 1212 Smallman St., Downtown. Free. heinzhistorycenter.org/events — Madeline Ury The Andy Warhol Museum is pleased to host another installment of their Sound Series. The intimate concert features Rafiq Bhatia, on tour promoting his latest album Breaking English. The composer, producer and guitarist has performed in two previous Sound Series’ events with the band Son Lux. Come out and support Bhatia’s solo debut in the Warhol Theater, including an opening performance from WILLS. Students and museum members will receive $5 off. 8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Shore. $20. email@example.com or warhol. org — MU
Today kicks off the weekend long event of Pittsburgh’s 3rd Annu-
al Tattoo Expo. At the Sheraton Station Square, you can listen to live music and interact with talented tattoo artists from Pittsburgh. There will even be special appearances by the stars of Spike TV’s “Ink Master” and “Tattoo Nightmares.” The event is open to all ages, thought you must be 18+ to get a tattoo. 1 p.m. 300 West Station Square Drive., South Shore. $25-50 Tickets purchased at door only. pittsburghtattooexpo.com — MU Dark Thoughts is one of the catchiest acts around: the Philadelphia trio writes what can only be described as absolute bops: sweet, melodic, poppy ditties that will likely put you in mind of a certain long-limbed, leather jacket-wearing, punk-rock romantic: As guitarist/singer Jim Shomo told Impose Magazine, “[I] t’s not like we don’t listen to a lot of different bands, but at the end of the day, DARK THOUGHTS is a RAMONES band. Period.” The songs are a blast live, of course, so don’t miss the band when it comes to Blumcraft on Friday, March 8. Peace Talks and Living World are also gonna be there! 8 p.m. 460 Melwood Ave., Oakland. facebook.com/CruelNoiseRecords — Margaret Welsh
Can you believe it’s been a whole year since Polish Hill coffee shop Lili became Kaibur Coffee & Café? And though the décor may be different, the fact that Kaibur has carried on Lili’s place as a warm, welcoming neighborhood center (with amazing coffee and veg-friendly food to boot) is something to celebrate. In that spirit, don’t miss Kaibur’s birth-
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day blowout on Saturday, March 9, featuring an all-star, all local, all party lineup: Kim Phuc, Loose Nukes, Detainees and Plastic Idea. 8 p.m. Blumcraft, 460 Melwood Ave., Oakland. Free. www.kaiburcoffee. com — MW Much of Colonel Daniel Brodhead’s expedition up the Allegheny River in 1779 remains a mystery. Dr. Joe Stahlman and Dr. Douglas Perelli will host the Fort Pitt Speaker Series: 1779 Bucktooth Run Battlefield at Fort Pitt Museum to dive deeper into the impacts of the battle. The two conducted a project with Seneca Nation Tribal Heritage Preservation Office to research maps, oral histories, and more. Admission is free for History Center Members. Pre-registration is required. 11 a.m. 601 Commonwealth Pl., Downtown. $5. heinzhistorycenter.org/events — MU
singles. It’s called Protons and Electrons (get it?) and each features one track by the Bay-area-born, Milwaukee-based Neutron, and one by a special guest artist. As he put it to the Milwaukee Record, “You know the pain in the ass of doing one release? Yeah, let’s do twelve of them and then compile them into one!” On Sunday, March 10, Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends (a band which sometimes but not always features Melvin’s drummer Dale Crover) brings these songs (and probably more) to Howlers. Night Vapor and Five Foot Arm open. 8 p.m. 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $7. 412-682-0320. — MW
If you’re looking for something lowkey to do on a school night, or you’re trying to impress your Tinder date with your knowledge of the local hip-hop scene (in an environment where you can actually carry on a quiet conversation), head to Spirit on Wednesday, March 13 for HipHop & Chill. Curated and presented by Spirit General Manager Justin Strong (former owner of the Shadow Lounge and a local legend in his own right), it’s an evening of laidback beats, including live music from Lovely Little Revival (Plato Black and Pugglefox) and Isaiah Small, and a DJ set by Tj Groover. 9 p.m. 242 51st St., Lawrenceville. $5. www. spirit.com — MW
It takes a certain type of musician to want to release a singles series: A real, as they say, “head.” Grungy post-rocker/general rocker Conan Neutron qualifies as such, as he’s embarked on what will be a 12-volume collection of seven-inch split
Celebrating Women’s History Month is not just for all of us grown-ups, it’s never too early for the kiddos to get in on it! Hop Into History: Movie-Making at The Heinz History Center will tell the story of America’s first female film director (who is also from Pittsburgh!): Lois Weber. 2-5 year olds and their guardians are welcome to enjoy music, dancing and games while learning about the past of movie making. Adults are required to pay museum admission, and children under 5 are free. Pre-registration is required. 10:30 a.m. 1212 Smallman St., Downtown. Free- $18. heinzhistorycenter.org — MU
Mythburgh Season 3: Episode 1 will take place tonight at Brillobox Theater. Mythburgh is all of weird and creepy Pittsburgh-esque stories told by locals, adapted by playwrights. The characters engage the audience in their stories live online and in person. This is a 21+ event. 8 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. Name your own price. 12peers.org or firstname.lastname@example.org — MU
Sam Sax uses his poetry book Madness to delve into conversations on mental health, masculinity, addiction and more. Sax is a successful writer and recipient of many awards throughout his career. Tonight you can join him for a reading at City of Asylum @ Alphabet City and learn more about his personal experiences as a queer, Jewish, writer and educator. RSVP is required for the event. 7 p.m. 40 W. North Ave., North Side. Free. alphapbetcity.org or rsvp@ cityofasylumpittsburgh.org — MU
You don’t have to be an expert jewelry maker to attend Crafts and Drafts:Textured Copper Pendants at Contemporary Craft. At the 21+ event, participants will learn basic sewing, filing and sanding techniques while making their very own pendants and earrings. 6 p.m. 2100 Smallman St., Strip District. $35. contemporarycraft.org — MU
Everyone’s favorite childhood book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, is now taking the stage. The show, created by Jonathan Rockefeller, is performed by puppets at Byham Theater. It includes not only this iconic Eric Carle story, but three others - “The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse,” “The Very Lonely Firefly and Mister Seahorse.” The show made history as the most successful and longest running children’s show in New York. Take the kids or take a trip down memory lane. 11 a.m. 101 6th St., Downtown. $20-$35. culturaldistrict.org — MU Lyn Ford uses writing and oral storytelling techniques to share Affrilachian heritage with the world. She has been a featured storyteller and speaker at conferences and festivals around the world, including Sydney, Australia and Ireland. Storytelling with Lyn Ford at City of Asylum @ Alphabet City is sure to be an entertainment filled afternoon, fun for the whole family. RSVP is required. 3 p.m. 40 W. North Ave., North Side.
Free. rsvp@cityofasylumpittsburgh. org or cityofasylumpittsburgh.com — MU
Looking for some unique items you can’t find anywhere else? Bag It Up! Pittsburgh Artists Seconds Sale is sure to have something to spark your interest. All you need to bring to The Ace Hotel for this event is $20, and you’ll receive a bag that you can fill with as many second-hand items as you can possibly fit. As if it couldn’t get any better, this is a dog friendly event, so bring your best pal to help you shop around! 11 a.m. 120 S. Whitfield St., East Liberty. $20. email@example.com — MU
DID YOU GET YOUR TAX RETURN?
The opera La Bohème is set in 1830s Paris. Written by Giacomo Puccini, the story is described as emotional and dramatic, and even inspired a ballet and the classic Broadway show RENT. You can see the opera at the Benedum Center on March 30, April 2, 5 and 7. While you count down the days, today you can get a sneak peak with Opera Up Close La Bohème. Special guests will offer an in-depth look at the production at the Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters. Admission is free for FRIENDS of Pittsburgh Opera members. 2 p.m. 2425 Liberty Ave., Strip District. $5. pittsburghopera.org — MU
The Heinz History Center’s Irish Genealogy Workshop is back for its fifth year. Fintan Mullan and Gillian Hunt are two experts on the subject from the Ulster Historical Foundation in Belfast who will present historic records and and electronic resources on Irish genealogy. The goal is to help advance research and give genealogical societies the chance to network. Registration is required. History Center and Westmoreland Historical Society Members will receive a $10 discount. You can also get a box lunch for $10.95. 9 a.m. 1212 Smallman St., Downtown. $40. Heinzhistoryce — MU
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NEWS OF THE BY THE EDITORS AT ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION WEIRDNEWSTIPS@AMUNIVERSAL.COM RELIGIOUS RASCALITY Pastor Alph Lukau of Alleluia International Ministries in Johannesburg, South Africa, is facing lawsuits after a stunt in which he appeared to resurrect a dead man on Feb. 24. Sowetan News reported that a video of the incident shows Lukau placing his hands on the man’s stomach as he lay in the coffin, when suddenly the man, identified as Elliott, begins to gasp for air and sits up. “Can you see what happened?” Lukau exclaims in the video. “This man died since Friday, he was in the mortuary. ... Devil, I told you wherever I find you I will kick you.” Pastor Rochelle Kombou said the hearse driver heard noises coming from the coffin and ran away as soon as they arrived at the church. “I was screaming,” she said. “I saw his tongue moving. ... The man of God completed the miracle by praying because prayer is the key.” The lawsuits, meanwhile, stem from the misrepresentation of the situation to three funeral parlors, whose services were sought by church officials; a coffin was bought from one and the hearse was hired from another. Prince Mafu, who is representing the funeral homes, said the matter had been reported to the Jeppe police station for further investigation. LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINAL Christopher Thomas Knox, 37, of Hillsboro, Oregon, thought he was just calling for help when his car became stuck in the snow in Clatsop State Forest on Feb. 15. He didn’t count on Clatsop County sheriff’s deputies putting two and two together: In the car with Knox was a 13-year-old girl from King County, Washington. He initially introduced her to responding officers as his daughter, but they quickly determined the minor had been lured from her home. The Oregonian reported that Knox had started an
online relationship with the girl’s mother, and the girl left home without her parents’ knowledge or consent. Along the way, Knox allegedly sexually abused her twice, according to the sheriff’s office. Knox was arrested for attempted second-degree rape and first-degree custodial interference. PEOPLE WITH ISSUES Volleyball players at the University of Kansas had reported to Lawrence, Kansas, police a number of breakins over 2017 and 2018, but it was the list of missing items that was most puzzling: swimsuit bottoms, socks, shoes -- and many pairs of underwear. After a spring break 2018 incident, police got a lead in the case: Surveillance video captured a suspect vehicle that had a dealership sticker in the window. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that officers worked with the local dealership, which had loaned the car to Skyler N. Yee, 23, while his own car was being serviced. Yee, a volunteer assistant volleyball coach since 2016, was arrested and charged with 15 counts of burglary, property damage and theft after police searched his home in early February, where they found a 40-drawer plastic storage container full of women’s underwear, with each drawer labeled with a player’s name; six other containers with underwear; and bags containing pink high heels, boots, a sundress and a jumpsuit that victims had reported missing, along with jewelry, sex toys and other items. Yee resigned from his position in midJanuary; KU Athletics spokesman Jim Marchiony said, “We have taken precautions to ensure that he is not permitted to be anywhere near the volleyball program.” Send your weird news items with subject line WEIRD NEWS to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com.
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Universal Crossword Edited by David Steinberg March 5, 2019
ACROSS 1 Speaker maker 5 Holdup 10 Finish a Tootsie Pop 14 Walkman: ’80s:: ___ : ’00s 15 Justice Kagan 16 Houston university 17 “Release the Stars” singer whose surname means “wagon maker” 20 “Spring forward” acronym 21 Bugler’s piece 22 A Musketeer 23 Gummy animals 25 “Social” prefix 27 1976 Best Actress whose surname means “arrow maker” 32 Strange 33 “Relax” 34 ___ Miss 35 Saintly symbol 36 Holdup 38 Kind of beach 39 Smelter’s material 40 Early video game 3/5
41 Boxed, as wine bottles 42 CNN host whose surname means “barrel maker” 46 D.C. team 47 “Up” voice actor Ed 48 “___ lightly” 51 Swimmer with huge calves 52 Colorful card game 55 “The Big Sleep” novelist whose surname means “candle maker” 59 Vineyard measure 60 First U.S. multimillionaire 61 It gets old quickly 62 Zest source 63 Sits heavily 64 On the matter of DOWN 1 Owl or albatross 2 Great work 3 Runny egg style 4 College URL ender 5 Scotch brand 6 Pass, as time 7 They’re strung in Hawaii
8 Massachusetts “A” cape 9 Veer off course 10 Film reviewer 11 Like a soprano’s voice 12 Back talk? 13 Moistens 18 Straitlaced 19 Squalid 24 German mark’s replacement 25 (Sigh) 26 Fit snugly 27 Pick up 28 Pretend 29 Casino regulations 30 Tribal VIP 31 Swamp plant 32 “Wasn’t expecting that!” 36 RSVP recipient
37 Baseball’s Slaughter 38 Scruff 40 Madrid gallery 41 TBS talk show 43 Protector of the crown? 44 Sonic employee 45 Prized statuettes 48 Setup 49 Threelegged ___ 50 Bronte’s Jane 51 Bi- cubed 53 Small salamander 54 Estimate qualifier 56 Siesta 57 Broadband letters 58 Kendrick Lamar hit with a genetic title
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“Holding Down Two Jobs” by Jules Markey
Savage Love BY DAN SAVAGE MAIL@SAVAGELOVE.NET
I’m a queer man who usually tops with men. A bad first try at receiving anal at age 16 led me to not bottom for years. After seeing the looks of delight on my partners’ faces, I decided to give bottoming another go. I followed your advice—lots of lube and relaxation, a little weed—and tried lots of different positions and dick sizes. But no matter what, I never seem to get past the pain and into the pleasure zone. I enjoy being fingered and using a prostate massager, so I know my prostate is in there. How many times should I try bottoming before I decide it’s not for me? Twentysomething Into Glutes Had To Have Orgasms Lustily Elsewhere There’s no set number of times a queer person has to try bottoming before deciding it’s not for them, TIGHTHOLE. A person—queer or straight—can make that call without ever having tried bottoming. An exclusive top who isn’t afraid of his own hole, i.e., a queer guy who enjoys being fingered and using a prostate massager, doesn’t have a hang-up; he’s just a guy who knows what works for his hole and what doesn’t. And that’s more than most people know. A few days ago, someone broke into my house. Everything of value was taken—including my two dogs—but they left my clothes and stuff of that nature. Last night, my boyfriend and I were getting ready to fuck, and I went to the drawer I keep all our sex toys in, and they were all gone. I’m not only upset because hundreds of dollars of toys were taken, I also feel violated. This person has not only violated me by coming into my home and taking things, but by taking something so personal and intimate. I survived rape and molestation by a family member who is in jail for his actions,
so sadly I know what it feels like to be violated. And this has brought that violation back and makes me feel like that same vulnerable, helpless child I was so many years ago. My boyfriend is being supportive, but I just feel so horrible and I do not know how to cope with this. Thief Has Exhumed Family Trauma I’m so sorry this was done to you, THEFT, and it’s perfectly understandable that this final violation—the theft of your sex toys on top of the theft of your other belongings and your dogs (!!!)—would dredge up painful memories of past sexual violations. I can’t offer you much beyond my acknowledgment of how awful this is and my sympathy. But if you’re having trouble coping, if you’re reeling from this, schedule a few sessions with a good therapist, someone who can help you process those feelings. I also think you should consider moving to a place that won’t be haunted by this violation, if possible, and your boyfriend should—when you’re ready—take you out and treat you to a few brand-new sex toys. * Not all men have penises, not all penises have men, not all men blow loads, not all loads are blown by men, etc. ** Not the only thing men do with their penises, some men don’t do that thing with their penises, some penis-havers don’t do that thing as men, etc. On the Lovecast, we got punked! Listen at savagelovecast.com.
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TRUSTARTS.ORG/MAGIC 40 | MAR. 5, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT