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Apr. 2, 2019 - Apr. 15, 2019 PGHCURRENT






burgh Action Against Rape

Learn more: paar.net

Join us for our annual

Teal Ball Saturday, April13, 2019 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh 600 Commonwealth Place Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Admission: $125 per guest

Cocktail Attire

Register here: p a a r . s a l s a l a b s . o r g / t e a l b a l l 2 0 1 9

An evening to Turn Pittsburgh Teal This year’s event will celebrate the communities’ achievements in increasing awareness, honoring survivors, and continued efforts to end sexual violence. We will continue to #TurnPGHTeal by walking the teal carpet, enjoying specialty teal cocktails, savoring Pittsburgh inspired cuisine and of course take home a few of your favorite sweets from our Pittsburgh Cookie Table!

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STAFF Publisher/Editor: Charlie Deitch Charlie@pittsburghcurrent.com Associate Publisher: Bethany Ruhe


Vol. II Iss. VII Apr. 2, 2019


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

Semler, Mike Wysocki opinions@pittsburghcurrent.com Craft Beer Writer: Day Bracey info@pittsburghcurrent.com Contributing Writers: Jody DiPerna, Nick Eustis, Meg Fair, Ted Hoover, Thomas Leturgey, Matt Petras, Mike Shanley, Steve Sucato, Mike Watt info@pittsburghcurrent.com Interns: Hannah Walden, Madeline Ury

NEWS 6 | Antwon Rose II OPINION 10 | Rules of Engagement 11 | Justice Denied, Again ARTS 12 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 |

Card Sharp The Rant is Due Mask of Absurdity Personal Statement On the Outskirts

MUSIC 24 | Top Flight 26 | Family Circle 27 | The Year In Music FOOD 28 | This Tastes Funny 30 | Gluten Freedom NEIGHBORHOOD 31 | Sharpsburg 34 | Neighborhood Conversation EXTRA 38 | News of the Weird 38 | Crossword 39 | Savage Love

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THE FINE PRINT The contents of the Pittsburgh Current are © 2018 by Pittsburgh Current, LLC. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this publication shall be duplicated or reprinted without the express-written consent of Pittsburgh Current LLC.The Pittsburgh Current is published twice monthly beginning August 2018.

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The Charlie Chaplin Silent Picture Show With Live Piano and Clarinet TUESDAY, April 23, 2019 at 7:00PM THE MATTRESS FACTORY 500 Sampsonia Way Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Pay what you wish! $15 suggested. Tom Roberts, Piano

Mary Beth Malek, Clarinet

Tickets and Information: 412-624-4129 www.chambermusicpittsburgh.org



Messages written by protesters during the March 30th Chalk for Change event in South Side (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)





he March 26 acquittal of former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld in the shooting death of Antwon Rose II is as baffling as it is maddening. Why? Because Antwon Rose didn’t have to die on June 28, 2018; that’s a fact. Plain and simple. Cut and dried. 6 | APR. 2, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT

Black and white. Some people will quickly agree with me, saying that if Rose wanted to live that night, all he had to do was stay home. Don’t get in a car that would be later used in a driveby shooting. If you do and that car is stopped by police, don’t run from the car. But that’s not what I mean at all.

Others, including the thousands of people who have been protesting since a Central Pennsylvania jury found Rosfeld not guilty, also agree. Their rationale makes a lot more sense, however. Officer Michael Rosfeld shouldn’t have fired his weapon at two unarmed kids who were running from the area. As much as people want to blame

the 17-year-old, he had no power that night. That all belonged to Rosfeld. Yes, Rose made the splitsecond decision to bolt from the car. But he hadn’t been cuffed, hadn’t been ordered to stay where he was. He was 17 years-old and acted on an impulse. That was a “fight or flight instinct,” not power. Rosfeld chose to stop the car.

Second day protests continue along Centre Avenue (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)


Rosfeld chose to proceed with the stop without backup. Rosfeld decided to remove the driver of the car first. Rosfeld didn’t issue any orders to the passengers. Rosfeld made no effort to search the car for weapons. Rosfeld chose to pull his weapon and fire. Rosfeld shot Rose in the back and left him bleeding in the alley without seeing if he hit anyone. Antwon Rose II may have had choices, but he never had control. He lost it that night to Rosfeld. But he and every other black male in this county lost control of their fate years ago. Rose’s homicide and Rosfeld’s acquittal was preordained in this county by a history of violence against young black men committed by white police officers and emboldened by decisions made by juries, judges, attorneys and state lawmakers. Black men have been murdered, beaten and paralyzed by police officers who rest easy in

the knowledge that none of their brethren have ever been properly punished. They also know that they can hide behind a state law that allows them to shoot any-goddamned-body that they want as long as they believe the target is a threat to the officer or the community at large. That’s why the jury said they acquitted Rosfeld. That’s why use-of-force experts I talked to said the jury got this one right, by golly. What it seems like no jury ever considers, however, is that the cop may be lying to save their own ass. Police officers are rarely convicted in this country because juries give them the benefit of the doubt over the victims. “No one wants to believe that the police officers out their protecting them aren’t honest,” one expert in police procedure told me. In Allegheny County, it has happened time and time again. This isn’t a new occurrence. “Yes, we want the cops to come home safe, but we want our children

to come home safe! We need that! This has been going on for decades! The pain that you feel today, is the pain that we’ve felt for decades! But no one wants to understand that. They think we’re just out here protesting just to protest, but we’re not doing that! What we’re saying is that we want life for our children and when we’re not done right, we want humanity to make us right,” State Rep Ed Gainey said the night of the acquittal. But things have never been right in these cases. Everytime a police officer wasn’t held accountable for their actions in one case, it emboldened future officers. Each acquittal or failure to file charges pushed that fatal bullet deeper and deeper into Antwon Rose’s back. On April 6, 1995, Jerry Jackson was shot to death by Housing Authority Police Officer John Charmo. Jackson led police on a high-speed chase through the southside. When Jackson and Charmo entered the Armstrong Tunnels, the officer claimed that

An estimated 1,000 students take to the streets of Downtown Pittsburgh (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)


Jackson intentionally spun his car around and sped toward Charmo’s vehicle. The officer fired in selfdefense, killing Jackson. Except for the fact that none of it was true. Witnesses lied and evidence was buried that showed that Jackson had two blown tires and never spun the vehicle. Prosecutors said that Charmo pinned Jackson’s vehicle against the tunnel wall and opened fire. The case would have never gone to trial if a civil suit hadn’t turned up the missing evidence. As it was, it was more than five years before charges were even filed. The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict and Charmo later pled guilty in exchange for time served and was released. On October 12, 1995, Jonny Gammage was driving a Jaguar that was owned by his cousin, former Steelers lineman Ray Seals, when he was pulled over by police. He was beaten and choked by a group of police officers from Brentwood, Whitehall and Baldwin. Three of the cops were indicted on felony

Activist Christian Carter is comforted following the March 22 verdict (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)

charges. A judge later ruled that all three officers would be tried only for a misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter. Two of the officers were not retired after two mistrials and the third was acquitted. On Dec. 21, 1998, Deron Grimmitt was shot and killed by Pittsburgh Police Officer Jeffrey Cooperstein, who shot him in the head. Cooperstein claimed that Grimmitt was driving straight at him. The problem was, not one of Cooperstein’s bullets hit the windshield and the fatal wound hit the motorist in the side of the head

as he was going by and not a danger to the officer. Cooperstein, of course, was acquitted. To add further insult to injury the city had to cut him a check for more than $200,000 after Cooperstein successfully won a case against the city for wrongful termination. These aren’t the only cases, of course. There have been complaints for years about officers mistreating black people. The two most recent was the beating that Jordan Miles took at the hands of three much larger police officers as he walked to his grandmother’s house one night

Michelle Kenney, mother of Antwon Rose and Attorney Lee Merritt enter the courthouse. (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)

and the shooting of Leon Ford in the spine, causing paralysis. Ford was pulled over for a traffic violation that took way too long because officers didn’t want to believe that Ford wasn’t guilty of something. None of the officers in those cases were ever brought to trial. That’s why the protests have to continue. The momentum that has been feeding off of Rosfeld’s acquittal can’t die away because there will be a next time. There will be another Antwon Rose II, another Jonny Gamage, another Jerry Jackson.

The bullet that killed Antwon Rose II has been forged over the course of two decades. The mold is a state law that is basically a manual to show cops how to shoot someone and walk free. The lead is the sickening apathy from cops, jurors, lawyers and judges who seem to think that the life of a police officer is worth much more than the life of a black kid who made a mistake and died for it. The next round of bullets has been made. It’s going to take all of us to make sure they’re never fired.



Positive Identification • Officer Rosfeld failed to establish positive identification of the vehicle as being the same vehicle that was reported as used in the drive-by shooting incident. • Officer Rosfeld failed to positively identify the presence of a weapon. De-escalation • Officer Rosfeld failed to engage in de-escalation techniques when the children ran. Engagement • When he pulled the car over, Rosfeld failed to give proper instructions to the youths by not telling them to stay in the car. • Officer Rosfeld failed by using deadly force, firing three shots to the back of an unarmed, non-threatening, civilian child.

Second day protesters demonstrate “hands up, don’t shoot”(Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT BY ARYANNA BERRINGER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT POLITICAL COLUMNIST ARYANNA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM When soldiers are deployed to a war zone, we are trained in the rules of engagement. This strict set of rules informs those of us heading into combat when and how we should engage in de-escalation and deadly force. We must not only have positive identification of our enemies, but we must wait for clear, hostile intent before engaging in any kind of deadly force. No matter what anyone tells you, there is always time to make an assessment; it’s what we are trained to do. And a lot of soldiers are trained to do this at 18-years-old. But apparently, police officers don’t have to adhere to any specific rules while patrolling at home. In

On May 6, 2016, Stephen Mader, a combat Marine Corp veteran and rookie cop in Weirton, W.VA, faced a 23-year-old black man with a gun, and because of his military training, followed the rules of engagement

the United States of America we are not in an active combat zone. Well, unless you are black. Last month, a jury acquitted former police officer Michael Rosfeld of homicide charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose. Rosfeld shot the unarmed teen in the back as he and another teen ran away from a traffic stop last year. Rosfeld pulled over the vehicle they were riding in because he thought it might have been used in a driveby shooting. Rosfeld said he felt “threatened” and decided to fire. Let’s apply the rules of engagement to the facts of what happened on June 19, 2018.



and did not shoot. (‘Just shoot me,’ an armed man told a cop. The officer didn’t — and was fired, his lawsuit claimed.) When Mader’s backup arrived, they escalated the situation and Ronald “R.J.” Williams was shot and killed by police. Mader was later wrongfully fired from the police force for following the de-escalation techniques he learned in Afghanistan and has since been awarded a settlement with the city for $175,000 as a result. I think more officers should be trained in the standards of the military. In fact, if we apply the rules of engagement to the shooting of Antwon Rose II, it is clear to see that Officer Rosfeld did in fact murder Rose. Had Rosfeld committed his acts while in the military he would have received a court-martial and sent to prison. If we can expect 18 year-old-men and women to make split-second decisions in an active war zone in countries where they do not speak or understand the language, we can certainly have the same level of expectation for those who we charge to protect and serve here at home.

Signs for Antwon Rose II raised during the student walkout protest following the Michael Rosfeld verdict (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)




e all have different tools in our toolbox when it comes to fighting white supremacy and patriarchy. This platform is one of my tools, and after the announcement of the Michael Rosfeld verdict last week, it felt inappropriate to write about anything else. I’ll do my best to not fumble this, acknowledging that I am speaking as a white woman. The community has been reeling since the murder of Antwon Rose II in June 2018 and there is anger and blame to spare for different people at fault. There’s Rosfeld, who shot unarmed Rose three times in the back within hours of being sworn in as an officer for the East Pittsburgh Police, who made him an officer less than six months after the University of Pittsburgh Police Department fired him for use of excessive force. Over the past two decades, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala has failed to hold police accountable for questionable and excessive use of force, but I thought he’d take this case seriously since he has a challenger for the first time in years in the May 21 primary election. I asked several lawyers for their take on how Zappala’s office handled the case; they were all appalled by the lack of effort. They did not consult a Use of Force expert and

failed to push Rosfeld on multiple changes to his story (or his abusive past). The defense played Rosfeld as the victim, rather than the boy he shot to death in the street. The DA’s team didn’t call them out. That is the tragedy of the verdict; the folks tasked with bringing #justiceforantwon didn’t do their job. As an attorney friend told me, “The jury won’t bear the burden if the prosecution will not.” “After hearing about the outcome of the trial, youth leaders from different schools and universities all came together collectively to give youth a way to make their voices heard,” Alyza Foster, a CAPA student and a member of the Youth Power Collective, which planned the march, said. “Friday night into Saturday morning, a few student leaders from different schools created a group chat, adding different students as we continued planning to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to share how they felt and how we planned to organize around it.” Folks don’t need to have known Rose personally to feel deeply affected by his murder. This tragedy reverberates through our community, and the verdict is an indictment of the culture that allowed this to happen. His peers

are still fighting for the justice he deserves. “I personally want to help people discover their voice and learn to speak up when dealt injustice,” Foster said about her passion for this march. “Two people who graduated from CAPA last year (Nia Arrington and Christian Carter) helped me find my voice, and now it’s my turn to help others find theirs.” I attended the youth march on Monday and was blown away at how quickly the student organizers put together such a large, effective action. The rain didn’t stop hundreds upon hundreds of students from showing up. Many held signs with Antwon’s poem “I Am Not What You Think.” Other signs I witnessed made me realize I needed to write about this, as a white person, to other white people. Quotes included “White Silence = Violence,” and Desmond Tutu’s quote, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” In MLK’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, he noted that the “white moderate” is even more dangerous than folks who are blatantly racist. It isn’t enough to not wear a MAGA hat. If you care about others and say you want equality, you must take an action. Is Pittsburgh Stronger than Hate? Let’s prove it. We need to listen to the youth who are organizing and follow their lead. Below are the demands they listed for their march, and links to donate. “On June 19, 2018, 17 year old Antwon Rose II was shot in the back as he ran for his life. On March 22, 2019, the police officer who murdered Rose walked free. We demand justice for Antwon Rose II. Walk out of school at 11 a.m. (12 p.m. for downtown students) and join us at the Pittsburgh CityCounty Building in peaceful protest to celebrate the life of Antwon and work toward the justice he deserved. This is an event organized by Pittsburgh high school and college students. We encourage every high

school and college in the area to attend. We are coming together as high school and college aged youth, demanding: 1. Justice for Antwon Rose II 2. Fire the FOP president. 3. Get rid of DA Stephen Zappala. 4. Full community control and democratic oversight over the police! Strengthen the Allegheny County Police Review Board by making it democratically elected and giving it the power to hire and fire, issue binding recommendations and approve or deny police department funding requests. 5. Convict and sentence killer cops. End the policies which have led to the mass incarceration of black youth and end the school to prison pipeline. 6. No more Pittsburgh police inside of city schools. Fully fund public schools and youth job programs to give kids the resources they need. 7. Environmental justice now! Clean air and water for all, especially the black and brown working class neighborhoods most impacted by corporate and institutional negligence. 8. Black homes matter! Build more affordable housing and create protections for renters to address the increasing shortage of affordable quality housing and gentrification of black and brown working class neighborhoods. 9. Build a mass movement of youth and workers to fight for a new system and a better world free of police violence, racism and white supremacy. 10. Work towards the collective liberation of all people and a world where police and prisons are obsolete. Until black and brown folks are liberated, no one is.” Support protesters with donations via Cash App to $APAPGH1. Donate to Rose’s family via Cash App $AntwonsMother.



Lee Terbosic (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)




t the beginning of his career, Pittsburgh-based magician Lee Terbosic found himself buying deck after deck of playing cards. His tricks rely on 52 unmarred, new cards to maintain the illusion, meaning Terbosic can’t reuse a deck after folding a single card. One year, the family decided to help Terbosic with his card conundrum. So, they went to a

BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM wholesaler and bought the budding magician a years-worth of cards, beginning a running joke and tradition. “That’s kind of how it started and it became funnier and funnier each year,” he says. “Each year I would have a stack of… three or four hundred decks of cards.” Since then, Terbosic has gone from performing for family and


friends to having his own magic residency in Pittsburgh with “In Plain Sleight,” which he performs from now until May 12. Located at Liberty Magic—the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s new parlour magic venue—“In Plain Sleight” combines sleight of hand magic with storytelling and standup, a culmination of Terbosic’s favorite tricks from the last 10 years

on the road and on television. Terbosic, 36, was first introduced to magic at age 10 when he saw a live magic show. Afterward, Terbosic begged his parents to teach him magic tricks. Instead, they took him to the Carnegie Library of Homestead, where he checked out books about magic. While he was teaching himself, Terbosic traveled to the Cuckoos Nest Magic Shop in

South Side to build his toolbox of tricks and deceits. “I remember how magic was something that I could fool adults with, and I thought that was very powerful,” he says. “The fact that a kid could, you know, blow the mind of an adult was new to me.” Terbosic had his first regular gig at 13 performing at a Pizza Hut in Lincoln Place. While customers sat and ate their pizza, Terbosic bounced from table to table handing out business cards between tricks. Those Pizza Hut performances soon lead to performances at banquets, birthday parties and community events. And, even later, Terbosic used these gigs pay his way through college at Robert Morris University, where he majored in business and marketing. At first, Terbosic didn’t want to attend college, but changed his mind after discussing it with his mentor, Pittsburgh magician Paul Gertner. “He’s the one who bestowed the information upon me: ‘You’re in show business, you’ll always have the show, you’ll always be the magician,” Terbosic says. But, Gertner told him, “you have to learn the business element of this industry.’” In order to meld real world studies with becoming a professional magician, Terbosic took classes in economics, marketing and accounting to learn the business side and electives in theater, voice and television to learn the entertainment side, applying what he learned to his next gig. After graduating, Terbosic toured across the country performing at corporate events, which lead to television work, appearing on “America’s Got Talent” on NBC, “Now You See It” on the BBC and, most recently, “Houdini’s Last Secrets” on the Discovery Channel. But, his career wasn’t troublefree. During the 2008 recession, Terbosic had to work even harder to stay relevant. “Companies aren’t saying yes anymore,” Terbosic says. “They’re

Lee Terbosic in “In Plain Sleight” (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)

saying no, and that’s only because they didn’t have the budgets they had before.” On top of this, Terbosic says it’s not an easy life as a professional magician, a lifestyle that includes living out of suitcases, missing family events and constant travel. So, after about a decade on the road, Terbosic decided it was time to return home. “I decided that at one point, I was going to transition and I was going to come back to Pittsburgh and I was going to just work my butt off to make myself a home, instead of on the road all the time,” he says. After returning to Pittsburgh, he became a regular correspondent on Pittsburgh Today Live with “Monday Magic,” performing magic tricks on the last Monday of the month beginning in August 2015. In 2016, he self-produced a residency at Dave and Buster’s on the Waterfront called “Bamboozled,” which ran for 100 shows. That lead to a residency at Hotel Monaco called “52 Up Close,” a 90-minute show featuring sleight PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 2, 2019 | 13

Lee Terbosic (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)

of hand card tricks in a small setting, which began in 2017. On top of residencies, Terbosic also performed Houdini 100 on Nov. 6, 2016. The stunt celebrated the 100th anniversary of Harry Houdini’s upside down straight jacket escape, with Terbosic recreating Houdini’s trick while hanging 100-feet above the corner of Liberty Avenue and Wood Street. Over time, these events showed him that magic had a place in Pittsburgh. “I envisioned a theater in Pittsburgh like the Magic Castle [a nightclub for magicians and magic enthusiasts in Hollywood, California]” he says. “But of course, that’s a huge, huge idea.” With the help of the Cultural Trust, though, Terbosic was able to make that huge, huge idea a reality. According to Terbosic, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust reached out in early 2018 after attending a show and scheduled a meeting with him. In those talks, Terbosic and the Cultural Trust discussed how to bring more magic to Pittsburgh. “We think the city is hungry for this kind of entertainment,” Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust said at a Liberty Magic press event in December. Along with Dennis Watkins, Terbosic serves as the artistic advisor to Liberty Magic. According to Scott

Shiller, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust vice president of artistic planning and Liberty Magic producer, Terbosic’s expertise in magic and his connections in the industry help with Liberty Magic’s mission of bringing top entertainers to the Steel City. “Lee is the keeper of Pittsburgh’s prestidigitation history and has been an invaluable member of the team helping us establish a truly authentic experience for our Pittsburgh audiences,” he says. “He has his pulse on the best emerging and established magicians across the country and is a great collaborator.” According to Terbosic, television appearances, stunts and now his residency at Liberty Magic would not have been possible without the hours and hours spent practicing and working, flipping cards and perfecting magic at birthday parties, community events and, of course, the Lincoln Place Pizza Hut. “I’m living proof that if you set out to do something and you follow it and you stay with it long enough, incredible door starts to open and the magical things start to happen to you,” Terbosic says.

“IN PLAIN SLEIGHT.” Now through May 12. $40-$65. 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-4566666 or www.trustarts.org


Lee Terbosic in “In Plain Sleight” (Current Photo by: Jake Mysliwczyk)



Sloane Crosley 7:00 pm, Carnegie Lecture Hall, Oakland Tickets $22, includes a copy of Look Alive Out There pittsburghlectures.org

older. They’re living longer, what kind of care can they afford? I’ve never heard anyone in the middle class say, “Boy, isn’t this economy great?” I also talk about potholes and infrastructure. That stuff is ignored because roads have no party affiliation. You know what, “Go fuck yourself and fix the street!” It seems like a simple thing, yet people seem to have a hard time with common-sense decision making. I really go into the things I’ve seen. There are usually two keystone categories for the things I talk about on stage: authority and the level

Lewis Black



ewis Black has been angry for a long time. A former Daily Show regular, Black has been touring for years with his unique brand of observational comedy delivered with a perfect WTF perspective. He brings his “The Joke’s on Us” tour to Heinz Hall at 8 p.m., April 13. There’s a lot going on in American Politics today. Is there enough material to make even the angriest angry comedian a little jovial? It’s just noise, really, especially now, because everything is so screwed up. I’d love to wake up one morning and hear about how we’re going to do well today. But, we really are good about fighting over nothing. Obviously, you talk politics in your act, there’s so much going on, how do you know what to focus on? Actually, I only do a couple of jokes about the president. When I

talk about politics, I try to rise above the politics of the system. I don’t know how much of that actually affects real people. A lot of people only talk about how good Trump is. It’s intolerable. I have so many people come to me and say, “I can’t believe what you said about the president .” But I’ve always criticized the president, no matter who it was. This one is just a little more nutty. But really, I don’t talk much about the president because the crazy behavior has become a constant. But Trump is not a new topic for you, right? When I lived in New York, he was my neighbor; he lived like a mile away. I started doing jokes about him then. The guy is comedy gold. What kinds of things do you talk about on stage these days? My parents are 100 and 101, I talk about them a lot. I talk about what it means as our parents grow

of stupidity of some people. Do you know there’s a high number of American children that have no idea that an egg comes from a chicken? That’s why I have about 20 minutes at the end of my show dedicated to audience rants. It’s called, “The Rant is Due.” People can go on my website or social media and they can send me a rant about something that bothers them in their community. It could be about anything, but it’s a rant by Americans for Americans in the city where they live. I am so sick of people speaking for the American public. This gives them their voice back.



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

LECTURE: A STORY OF PITTSBURGH’S STREETS & ALLEYWAYS PRESENTER: JOHN SCHALCOSKY THE STORY OF HOW PITTSBURGH’S STREETS AND ALLEYWAYS IS STEEPED IS FILLED WITH FASCINATING ANECDOTES, FROM REBELLION TO MURDER, AND MYSTERY. IN THIS LECTURE, JOHN SCHALCOSKY TAKES A DEEP DIVE INTO THE HISTORY OF PITTSBURGH’S STREETS, LOOKING AT HOW THEY CAME TO BE, HOW THEY WERE NAMED, AND HOW THEY EVOLVED OVER TIME. About the presenter: John Schalcosky is the founder of the “Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh”, a very popular Facebook Page that explores the most unusual, mysterious and forgotten tales of Western Pennsylvania. He is a frequent speaker at high schools, universities and at public events, and is often featured in stories and interviews on Pittsburgh history.


744 REBECCA AVENUE - WILKINSBURG, PA 15221 - 412-471-5808 PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 2, 2019 | 15

Dolina. (Photo: Renee Rosensteel)





or her very first fulllength dance work dancer/ choreographer Kasia Reilly is embracing the absurd. Her new work, Dolina, presented as part of the New Hazlett Theater’s 2018-2019 Community Supported Arts series on April 11 & 12, takes it inspiration from Polish author Witold Gombrowicz’s 1965 absurdist novel “Kosmos.” Wikipedia describes absurdist literature as focusing on the experiences of characters in situations where they cannot find any inherent purpose in life, most often represented by ultimately meaningless actions and events that call into question the certainty of existential concepts such as truth or value. “I have always liked absurdist literature like that of Samuel Beckett,” says Reilly. “Gombrowicz’s writing style is high energy and frantic compared to other authors I have read whose absurdist works can be very dry, dusty and airless.” A dusty and airless space is the opposite of where the 24-year-old recent graduate of the University of Michigan’s dance program sees the setting for Dolina (meaning “valley” in Polish). “The work takes place in

an uncanny valley where people are always wearing masks to hide who they are,” says Reilly. “Gombrowicz writes about the masks we wear as people and how it is not possible to remove them only put on others over them depending on the situation.” The 48-minute, non-narrative and intermission-less modern dance work grew out of the Ann Arbor, Michigan-native’s senior thesis project at college and features the same cast of dancers including Reilly, John Matthews, Madeline Joss and Alayna Baron. Baron, also from Ann Arbor, has known and danced with Reilly since high school and describes the work as a series of non-linear and abstract vignettes or snapshots along a pastoral, yet surreal, trip. It was the surreal trip of Dorothy Gale down the yellow brick road in the 1939 The Wizard of Oz motion picture that first got Reilly interested in dance at age three. “I saw the ballerina munchkins (“Lullaby League”) in the movie and wouldn’t shut up about wanting to take ballet classes after that,” she says. Switching from ballet to modern dance in college, Reilly


learned works by choreographers Andrea Miller, Meredith Monk and Richard Alston as well as presented her own choreography at the American College Dance Association conference. Danced to an original ambient soundscape by Maya Chun, another University of Michigan friend, along with music by Manchester, England electronic musician The Caretaker (James Leyland Kirby), the work has been a bit of a logistical challenge for Reilly who recently moved from Pittsburgh back to Ann Arbor. “There was a lot more to do in organizing people’s schedules for rehearsals and I had to take a longer view of the flow of the piece because I had so much more material to make.” Baron describes Reilly’s choreographic process as being not so much collaborative as it is communicative with the other dancers. “She picks our brains for ideas but generates all the movement herself,” says Baron. “She knows what she is looking for and I respect her vision.” Baron, who now lives in Baltimore, says the creative process this time round has also been a

big change for her. “It’s been an interesting and different process for me because I am not local to her,” says Baron. “I have had to learn choreography from videos she has sent me and have traveled to Pittsburgh for intensive weekend rehearsal sessions which is new for me.” Reilly, who describes her movement language for the work as being expressive, athletic and gestural, says she knew she wanted to work with the same dancers that were in her senior thesis piece again because “they really get my movement and we all click when we dance together in a really nice way. It has done the piece well to work with people who have done my movement before because they snap into anything I give them really quickly.” The choreography she has crafted for herself and the dancers, says Reilly, feels as if we are floating in space and are aware of our own isolation. “For this work I have not taken an outward look at the world around me, rather it is more me synthesizing my own feelings about authenticity and connection with other people.” Playing into the abstract nature of the work, the production, other than a brief monologue Reilly has written, contains no multimedia. Faux flowers and masks the dancers wear are the only stage dressing and props. “The work focuses on the movement,” says Reilly. In the end, Reilly says she is “hoping to show people a work that looks as if it could end really solemnly or cynically but instead lifts them up and leaves them feeling relief and hope.”

KASIA REILLY’S DOLINA will be performed

at 8 p.m., Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. Tickets are $25 and available by calling (412) 3204610 or at newhazletttheater.org.

‘I’: New and Selected Poems by Toi Derricotte




oi Derricotte’s poetry is an intimate conversation, a contemplative sigh, an ordinary moment which proves transformational. Like Chance the Rapper singing about his grandma’s hat, dinner rolls and peppermints, Derricotte’s poems suck you in. She lures you in with the promise of the commonplace and the everyday. The

corned beef sandwich shared with her aunt and the empty pill bottle in a stranger’s purse seduce the reader before she navigates into much deeper, more ponderous waters. She is a master of the specific and the confessional. “Sometimes it has to do with something that I don’t want to talk about, a question or something

that’s bothering me,” Derricotte told the Current via telephone while traveling. “For me, writing about the self is a way of transforming the self and gaining access to powers that have been repressed or forbidden. Or taken away by society.” Derricotte’s newest collection, ‘I’: New and Selected Poems, out this month from University of Pittsburgh Press, feels very much like a gift to the hungry reader. In addition to the 35 new poems, there are selections from five earlier collections dating to 1978’s The Empress of Death House. A professor emerita at Pitt, Derricotte has stepped away from the grind of day to day teaching. She has received too many awards to count, including three Pushcart prizes and a Pen/Voelker award in 2012, the same year when she was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 1996, Derricotte co-founded Cave Canem, the safe home for black poetry, with her friend Cornelius Eades. At the time, they had no idea it would grow to be the platform it has become. They just wanted to create fertile ground for AfricanAmerican poets to blossom and share in community. Cave Canem has exploded in its twenty-plus year existence. The fellows are poetry all-star lineup including US poet laureate, Tracy K. Smith (interviewed by PC this fall), Terrance Hayes and Pitt professor Yona Harvey who co-authored Black Panther and the Crew with Ta-Nehisi Coates. “Poetry, when I was growing up, was for white people,” Derricotte explained. “I never read a black poet in grade school or high school or college or graduate school. There was an underlying belief that black people weren’t capable of this kind of thinking. Cornelius and I knew the need was there, but had no idea how much people wanted this and needed this. It’s like food. You gotta have it. It was missing.” The difficulty of being black in America is something that turns up in her writing often, as well as the beauty and diversity of black people.

The poem, ‘What Are You?’ closes this new collection and she writes: “... What are you? A question that black people Never ask, perhaps, catching the drift of a slave ship In my speech, most likely, what I laugh at Or how I laugh …” She examines blackness, her blackness, as though she is examining a found riverstone, turning it over and over in her hand, seeing it from every angle and in every light. What does it even mean to be black? Or white, for that matter. “It’s (the concept of black) something we made up as a result of slavery,” she said. “It’s not only an illusion, it’s also a metaphor. I think part of the thing is that, even the people who are black, sort of go through these layers of doing and undoing who they are and who we are. It’s not something fixed — there’s no fixed point to aim for, is what I’m saying.” Having published more than 1,000 poems in her career, this collection, her first since 2012, is an assemblage of all of the “selves” that comprise this generous, daring writer. It is both a looking back and an embrace of this moment, this time, this history. She is able to explore new territory as a writer fully possessed of her own voice. As always, Derricotte is reconnoitering deep territory — what is it to be a woman, what is it to be black, what is it to just be yourself? What is the nature of love? Of connection? Of human growth? How do we embrace change? “If my work is about people being open to change, how do you access that part of a person that is open to change?” she said. “To me, it’s with a way of creating a moment of dramatic, but informal conversation.”


will speak on Sunday, April 7th at 5 p.m. at City of Asylum, 40 W. North Avenue, Pittsburgh.


“Tentacles” at last year’s Fringe Festival (Photo by Lauryn Haley)





or the past five years, the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival has gathered together artists of many different disciplines from around the country, and given them the opportunity to share their work in a supportive environment. The festival prides itself on creating a supportive, inclusive environment for artists of diverse backgrounds to showcase talents in dance, comedy, theatre, music, visual arts, family entertainment and more. The festival has continued to grow every year since its inception in 2014. Typically 20 to 30 shows have been performed, but the 2019 festival will feature more than 40. It is also the first year that the festival will go four days instead of three. Co-founder of Pittsburgh Fringe Festival Xela Batchelder began her journey with Fringe Festival while living in Scotland. Beginning in 1947, Fringe originated in Scotland and is “the largest arts festival in the world.” “I had to get involved,” Batchelder says. “So for 13 years, I ran a venue. At one point my venue had grown to

eight theatre spaces — We produced 500 performances of 75 different shows in three weeks — but the Edinburgh Fringe is so huge that only made my venue a mid-sized venue.” Batchelder has also written, produced, directed and acted in her own play for the Edinburgh Fringe. The importance of the festival to her life and career made it essential to search for a Fringe Festival when she found out she would be moving to Pittsburgh. “What I found was that Dan Stiker was just starting to put the very beginnings of a fringe together, so we joined forces to build the Pittsburgh Fringe,” Batchelder says. “And here we are six years later.” There is no central planning committee for the festival, and no one pre-selects shows and performers. Performers put in their applications, and one of the “Fringe Zone” venues takes it on. Each year, the festival features one visual artist. For the sixthannual festival, the spotlight is on visual artist David C. Mueller, who


considers his art to be inspired by the Saturday cartoons that filled his childhood. Done on found or recycled wood, his paintings tell powerful stories. Mueller will premiere his exhibition Unplayable Characters during the festival. The art opening will take place April 5 at 7 p.m. at Level Up Studios, which is just one of nine locations where performances will occur throughout the weekend. Other locations in the Fringe Zone include Artisan Cafe, Bantha Tea Bar, Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, Boom Concepts, BGC’s Community Activity Center, The Pittsburgh Glass Center, the Ace Hotel and METT. The Fringe Zone runs from Bloomfield to East Liberty. Another unique performance that audiences will not want to miss is Brian Feldman’s “Dishwasher.” Unlike the other performances, this one takes place in a ticket buyer’s home. The premise of “Dishwasher” is Feldman telling a personal story of his journey as from a child actor to a restaurant dishwasher. He’ll wash the dirty dishes, then perform a monologue of the audiences choosing. Performing in a stranger’s home may sound unconventional to some, but Feldman says that it makes everything feel “immediate and real.” “In this age of Netflix and ubiquitous streaming media, I wanted to create a live project that would reach people where they were spending more and more of their free time, in the familiarity and comfort of their own homes,” he says. Batchelder echoed the sentiments of intimacy at the festival, describing performances as having “a very DIY feel.” The plan for “Dishwasher” is for it to be a different experience each time for each audience. The number of audience members changes, kitchen layouts vary, the materials to work with are never the same. Going into a performance, “the answer to the central question of the project,” as Feldman put it, is always

a mystery. “I never know what to expect when I knock on the ticket buyer’s front door,” Feldman says. The Pittsburgh Fringe Festival will be Feldman’s sixth Fringe Festival, with his ultimate goal being to perform at every one in the world, and there are more than 250 of these celebrations across the world. In fact, one of the weekend’s shows serves the purpose of helping artists who are interested in potentially putting their work out at one of those 250 Fringe Festivals. “Beyond Pittsburgh: Which Fringe Is Next?” will hold a panel discussion for those who want to take that next step, or those who simply want to learn how it comes together behind the scenes. Not all performances and exhibits are for everyone. But festival attendees can find out ahead of time if the show is suitable for children, or even themselves on the festival website. The wide variety of genres and ratings presents the opportunity to unite all creative minds, regardless of interest or age. This connection is something that Pittsburgh Fringe Festival aims to strengthen through the weekend long celebration. “I love working on Fringe Festivals because it means so much to me to create opportunities for artists to share their work with the world,” Batchelder says. Prices for each performance vary and audiences can pick and choose what they want to see. Some shows are even free. Plus, with the purchase of a $5 Fringe Button, every show is $3 off, no matter what the original price is. For those who want to see it all, a “See As Much As You Want” pass can be purchased for a whole day, or even the whole weekend. Batchelder described this opportunity to see anything you’re interested in any time of the day as one of her favorite parts. Feldman summed it up best when he said, “I have an extraordinary journey ahead of me.” It would seem we all do.






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


About the presenter: Cory Bonnet is a Pittsburgh oil painter and preservationist who paints contemporary nostalgic scenes of Pittsburgh and the surrounding area using salvaged and reclaimed materials. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Named the “2017 Preservationist of the Year,” by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh, Bonnet was recently profiled in the winter issue of Preservation Magazine. THIS LECTURE IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC. RSVPS ARE APPRECIATED:  MARYLU@PHLF.ORG OR 412-471-5808 EXT. 527

744 REBECCA AVENUE - WILKINSBURG, PA 15221 - 412-471-5808 PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 2, 2019 | 23


Mr. Airplane Man (Photo: Robert Matheu)




t’s been nearly two decades since Margaret Garrett and Tara McManus released their first record as Mr. Airplane Man, but the guitar-and-drum duo’s roots stretch back much further than that. From when they first met, as 10-year-olds, “music was our connection,” Garrett recalls over the phone from Waltham, Mass, where she currently lives. “Listening to music together, that was a huge part of our friendship.” They made each other mixtapes. As teenagers, they went to punk shows together. But with the exception of summers spent together at camp,

they were almost always at some distance: as kids, they lived a 40-minute bus ride apart. They got older and went to separate colleges. Currently, for the first time in a while, they’re both living on the East Coast – McManus is in Providence, Rhode Island. But that sort of geographic closeness is rare and temporary. “We are kind of both not quite rooted in a specific place,” writes Garrett in a later text message, describing herself as a drifter “ever looking to make a home on high.” But regardless of distance, their connection is always there. It’s something you can hear


in their music, which is often categorized simply as garage rock, but feels like something wilder, freer and more expansive than that label suggests. The duo draws from the sparse jangle of the Velvet Underground and the unfastened ferocity of the Stooges; Garrett’s slide guitar – a technique she originally picked up to add some extra noise to her Sonic Youth-influenced college band – pays heavy, noisy homage to blues artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Fred McDowell and Jessie Mae Hemphill. (And that’s a shorter auditory walk than one might think: “If you listen to Fred MacDowell,” Garrett says,

“It’s blues, and it’s not going way out. But … the way he’s using that slide … it feels like he’s messing with time and space. It’s very psychedelic in a very subtle way.”) Playing as a two-piece has its sonic limitations, but can also allow for a kind of psychic bond and level of visceral expression that is harder to achieve with a larger band. From the start, “we had this really intense connection, this really special connection and we kind of had a bubble around us,” Garrett says. “And even in the early days when we were like, “Oh I guess we need to find a bass player, I guess we need to

find another guitar player,” we would play with some people and it never really worked.” As obvious and indelible as that musical chemistry might be now, Garrett notes that it took a little roundabout nudging from another Mr. Airplane Man influence – the late Morphine frontman Mark Sandman – to help discover it. Living in Boston in the very early ’90s, Garrett went to see that elegant alt-blues-rock trio, and afterwards approached Sandman to ask if he would give her guitar lessons. “He said, ‘I’m not really a guitar teacher but if you want to come over I’ll show you what I know.’” The lessons were unconventional: Sandman was a far cry from the folky guitar teacher Garrett had in middle school, with whom she *plink* *plink* *plinked* her way through ditties like “Drunken Sailor.” “Mark would get me really high and play something he’d been working on and would say, ‘What

do you think of this?’ and every now and then he would show me a chord,” Garrett remembers with a fond chuckle. “And he talked a lot about, ‘This is the stance you take,’ … looking back it was like he was teaching me Qigong moves … He was kind of all about how you hold yourself, and the right mindset.” But what Garrett really wanted to know was how to start a band. “[Sandman’s] like, ‘I think you should just travel for a while. I think you shouldn’t worry right now about starting a band.’ And it was the best advice he’d given me. Because the only person I had to stay with cross country was Tara.” Mr. Airplane Man ended up doing its first tour with Morphine, and Sandman’s influence remains. Sometimes it comes across in the duo’s ability to express erotic menace, or ice-cold sophistication. Sometimes it’s more explicit: 2018s Jacaranda Blue includes a track called “Angels Between Us (For

Mark).” Garrett and McManus continue to expand the limits of what they can achieve musically as a twopiece. For their forthcoming new record, Garrett – inspired by seeing another guitar/drum act, the Gunn-Truscinski Duo – bought a loop pedal, which helps create the impression of a second guitar, and ultimately a fuller sound. “We’ve always done our best work when I come in there with a foggy notion about something, and Tara takes it, and kind of interprets it her way, and then it goes back and forth a bit so we’re kind of improving together,” Garrett says. “So we just kind of wanted to capture that.” They decided to record live, surrounded by mics, with the two musicians facing each other as if it was a practice. “When Tara can hear the loop going really well, it’s so ecstatic and fun,” Garrett adds. “It was definitely really fun doing it. And it’s going to be totally different than

anything we’ve ever recorded.” Regardless of where in the world either member ends up next, Mr. Airplane Man will endure. “I love what we do. I love the ecstasy of where we can go together,” Garrett says. Looking back to the beginning, “[It] was such a life saver to find your soulmate in a friend. “I think we both walked around feeling weird and lonely, we were both total loners and weirdos and not necessarily relating and connecting to most of the other kids in our world. So when we found each other it was really amazing that we had so much in common and really clicked.”


7 p.m. Thursday, April 11. Get Hip Warehouse, 1800 Columbus Ave., North Side. $10. www.gethip.com




April 5 & 7 at the Benedum Center

April 27, 30; May 3, 5 at the Benedum Center

Tickets start at $14 • Half-price for kids & teens • pittsburghopera.org • 412.456.6666


Essential Machine. Photo courtesy of Katie Pascarella




lthough RJ Dietrich handles the lead vocals in Essential Machine, the band’s songwriting process is a shared effort. He or his wife, drummer Karen Dietrich, might create a lyrical outline but they usually work together to flesh out ideas. “I think Karen and I can both relate to the idea that your place where you are, or where you have come from, informs your identity — even if you don’t want it to. Or even if you do want it to,” he says. “So I feel that a lot of the songs have this theme of trying to figure out who you are and how you fit into the greater picture of things.” Although Dietrich says this while discussing the title track of Essential Machine’s new release, Wildfires, the concept can extend beyond the lyrics to the band itself. Husbandand-wife musical acts aren’t unusual in-and-of themselves, and Essential

Machine is rounded out by RJ and Karen’s 17-year old son Robert, who fills out the sound on keyboards. But any generalizations about a family band can end right here. After meeting in Florida, where Connellsville native Karen moved after college, the couple eventually relocated to Greensburg, seeing it as an ideal midway between Karen’s hometown and Pittsburgh. “It was a good decision for all kinds of reasons but creatively, it was like a turning point for both of us,” says Karen, who has published two books of poetry, a memoir and has a novel due next year. “There’s such an arts culture here in Pittsburgh that is community-based. Tampa doesn’t have that. Not the way that you have it here.” Essential Machine began as a stripped down duo in 2009, with Karen singing and playing concert bells along with RJ’s voice and


guitar. After recording and releasing a few EPs that featured a bigger production, their live sound needed a boost. “We were talking about who can we get to play drums and we had a couple of people in mind,” RJ says. “And Karen was like, ‘I want to play drums. Get them out of the basement.’ She started playing every single day and jamming with me and really getting into it and I thought, ‘Oh, she’s a drummer now.’” Robert’s role in the group came about organically. “I always thought that it was cool that they were in a band. And I definitely had an interest in playing shows with them,” says Robert, who first sat in at the age of 12. “I don’t know how clear I made it before I became an official member but they ended up asking me, so I assumed they knew that I wanted to be part of the band.” His parents didn’t want to put any pressure on Robert either. “I made it clear to him, this is only if you want to do it,” RJ says. “I don’t want you to feel obligated in any sort of way because that’s not going to make good music.” Robert proved his commitment by spending a night learning a keyboard part note-fornote to their song “Paper and Stars.” Wildfires, the group’s sixth release overall but first full-length album, reveals the band with a sophisticated approach to songwriting. While songs like “Wasted” and “One Shot” have choruses that sound immediately accessible, “5th Ward” and the title track reveal a more narrative quality, that hints at Karen’s background and the way she and RJ work together. “Sometimes I almost interview him about what a song is about, so he comes up with this whole character,” Karen says. “I’ll have him talk about a song and take notes almost like I’m doing an assignment, and see what I can come up with.” RJ adds that either one might originate lyrics, passing it to the other to edit and arrange them. The group worked at their own pace over the past year, recording Wildfires with Jake Hanner of the band Donora. By taking their time

with the songs, the 10 tracks touch somewhat on the more ethereal sound of classic albums on the 4AD — due to Robert’s keyboard work — while still relying on both a hard edge with the guitars and a pop sense that runs through them. This week’s CD release show also celebrates another local release by one of the bill’s other performers. LoFi Delphi is releasing its “Gold” single with the songs “Right On” backed with “Sweet Sweet” that night. Both tracks find the band continuing in its power pop mode, fueled by Becki Gallagher’s powerful vocals and some sharp songwriting that represent the standard for the evening.


8 p.m. Friday, April 5. The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls, 400 Lincoln Avenue, Millvale. $8-$10. www.mrsmalls.com

Over 10,000 LP's Starts Record Store Day, Sat. April 13th thru Sat. April 20th Closed Monday

JERRY’S RECORDS Pittsburgh’s Largest Used Record Store BUY • SELL • TRADE 2136 Murray Ave 412-421-4533 Tues. - Sat. 10-6 Sun. 12-5 web: www.jerrysrecords.com instagram: @jerrys_records

year, it follows a dramatic trajectory,” he explains. “The lighting changes, the clothes that I’m wearing change, the instruments that I’m playing change. The likelihood of a theme appearing, or not appearing, changes because there are times that I’ll play a theme and it’ll mutate throughout different days.” The film could be considered a work of music in and of itself, but this weekend’s premiere takes it even further. Sunday, April 7 at exactly noon, the Regent Square Theater hosts tENT— as friends call him — and seven musicians who will accompany the performances in 365. Each player has a breakdown of the scenes as a guide, but what they play is up to them. “The main instructions are that people can’t play more than two scenes at once and can’t play during the scenes that are marked as ‘Do not play’ scenes,” he says, the latter referring to things like the June duets or segments with spoken performances.

tENT, whose bio describes him with terms that include “Mad Scientist/ d-composer/ Sound Thinker” says he enjoyed making the film, “in an obsessive type of way. I am not easily satisfied with what I do. I always feel like I have to up my own ante in order to make It interesting for myself.” In addition to Sunday’s 365 screening, the Regent Square also presents Stiv: No Compromise, No Regrets, a documentary on Stiv Bators, the late founder of the Dead Boys and Lords of the New Church on Saturday, April 6 at 8 p.m. For more information, call 412-682-4111.


Noon, Sunday, April 7. Regent Square Theater, 1035 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square. cinema.pfpca.org

Oxycontin, Vicodin, Neurontin... Screencapture from the film 365


? LL these pills A g n i k a t f o d Tire



he artist/performer known as tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE began 2018 with a productive focus: He decided he’d play music each day and document it on film. The project went on to incorporate all of the instruments packed into his house, which, to name just a few, includes a piano and electric keyboards, ukulele and percussion ranging from drums, glass marimba and wooden frogs. Whole months were each devoted exclusively to playing toy piano, alto saxophone and trombone.

“It wasn’t about me being a virtuoso musician, which I’m not,” he says. “It’s about me picking these objects up and doing things with them. Sometimes I’m good sometimes I’m not so good. Which is okay.” Every day in June featured a duet with a musician who dropped by what he calls his (M)Usic room or performing via Skype or FaceTime. The results of the year-long effort can be seen in 365, a 127-minute film that highlights each day’s work chronologically. Some segments get a couple seconds while others go on longer. “As you go through the whole

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Comedian Zach Funk at Alquisiras Paleteria in Beechview




ach Funk is not a stage name. Funk is the real name of a real Pittsburgh comedian who is recording his first comedy album live at Mr. Smalls on April 12. But before that, he’s meeting me for lunch at Alquisiras Paleteria in Beechview. But Funk is used to people thinking that he’s using a fake name. He even joked about it in his first ever comedy set back in the summer

BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MANAGING EDITOR HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM of 2011. “Yes, my name is Zach Funk— that is my real name. My dad was Richard Funk—so yes my dad was Dick Funk,” he says, recalling the original punchline. A version of that joke has morphed into something almost entirely different over the past 8 years, and it will make it onto his comedy album, “Brains are Weird.”


We decided on Alquisiras Paleteria, the bright pink building on Broadway Ave, because Funk and the Current both reside right down the road in Beechview. But Alquisiras isn’t just a paleteria—a shop that makes and sells fresh Mexican ice pops called paletas—they also have a sizable menu of Mexican dishes. I order two sopes—one chorizo, one chicken. And some horchata to

wash it down. Funk gets a chicken quesadilla. “I picked the title ‘Brains are Weird’ because I talk about mental health in my act—I’m very much the therapist friend for people.” Mental health is important to Funk. He has had his own experiences with depression, or in his words, “I got shitty brain chemicals and sometimes I hate

Paleta from Alquisiras Paleteria in Beechview

myself.” And as the “therapist friend,” he’s talked a lot of people through tough times. Funk believes that talking about these kinds of issues, even in a comedy set, can help people who are struggling. “I try to be very open both on and offstage because I think there’s so much stigma around stuff,” Funk says. “Remember it’s OK to not be OK and you don’t have to make sense all the time.” It’s easy to tell that Funk is a genuine guy. Sure, he can get existential when talking about the randomness of the universe, but he isn’t a downer. He approaches everything with a sense of wonder. Like a true and unapologetic nerd, he references scientific theories like the law of the conservation of energy or the comic book hero he has tattooed on his arm. But he isn’t doing it to make you feel stupid or to prove his nerd-cred—he just genuinely loves the stuff. “I’m one of those people where I don’t want to fake enthusiasm,” Funk says. “If I care about something, I care about it very deeply, and if I don’t, I just don’t.” In the set he’s put together for his album recording, he’s going to touch on a lot of the things he cares about. “I like to say it’s Zach Funk show, if you don’t laugh you’ll at least learn things,” he jokes. But if the few bits he tells me over our dinner at Alquisiras are any indication, I think you will laugh. Funk has a way of taking a typically unfunny situation and reframing it

as something silly, but it’s a kind of silliness that gets at the truth. After we’re done eating our food, which is classic and good Mexican fare, we’re not really hungry for paletas. But I, being a staunch, dedicated food professional, suck it up and eat a popsicle anyways. There are so many flavors— coffee, pistachio, watermelon, rootbeer, strawberry, peanut butter, cotton candy and more. I get strawberry, and it’s superior to american popsicles in every way. It’s creamy, full of fresh fruit and it holds up to biting way better than that sad sugar-water on a stick that the typical ice cream truck carries. If you find yourself in Beechview in the soonto-come warm weather, get a paleta at Alquisiras. And if you find yourself with free time next Friday night, go see Funk record his album, “Brains are Weird,” at Mr. Smalls in Millvale. Local comedians and “This Tastes Funny” alum, Krish Mohan and Helen Wildy will be opening up for Funk at the show. Afterall, it’s a Zach Funk show. So even if you don’t laugh, you’ll learn something.


presents “Brains are Weird: A Live Comedy Album Recording” with special guests Helen Wildy and Krish Mohan. Friday, Apr 12 at the Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. Doors at 8p.m., show at 8:30p.m. Tickets are $10. mrsmalls.com/events

FRIDAY, MAY 31 PETERSEN EVENTS CENTER Chorizo/chicken sopes and chicken quesidilla from Alquisiras Paleteria in Beechview




Quelcy Kogel photographed for the cover of her new cookbook. (Photo by Noah Purdy)





t’s not every day that an email offering you the opportunity to achieve your dream makes it’s way to your inbox. But for local cookbook author Quelcy Kogel, that’s basically what happened. “The editor found me out of the blue, she was just searching ancient grain recipes and found my blog,” Kogel says. “She emailed me and asked me if I’d ever thought about doing a book, and I was like ‘yeah, every day for the last ten years.’” And while it may sound like a serendipitous internet search, Kogel didn’t just get lucky. She’s been putting the work in for years. She started her successful food and lifestyle blog, With the Grains, in 2010. She’s a food and prop stylist who works with brands like Modcloth and publications like TABLE Magazine. She does interior and event design. Through all of it, Kogel has developed an undeniably gorgeous personal aesthetic that is somehow

whimsical and grounded, rustic and refreshing all at once. And every ounce of that style is present in her first book, “The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook,” which comes out on April 9. While it’s her first cookbook of her own, Kogel is no stranger to the process of putting a book like this together. She styled the images for Lindsey Smith’s ravely-reviewed book “Eat Your Feelings” in 2017, and styled Smith’s west coast book tour in 2018. Working together, the two became fast friends. So Smith was happy to get to help Kogel with her own project, acting as Kogel’s agent. “I dove in from a business standpoint to help her throughout the process,” Smith says. “From there, she went full-steam ahead into creative mode and I have to say, I enjoyed eating her creations and not having to be the one making them for once.” Full-steam ahead is almost an


understatement. Kogel was on a tight timeline with about four months to research and develop 75 gluten-free recipes for the book. Kogel herself doesn’t follow a gluten-free diet. The publishers at Page Street Publishing wanted her to do a gluten-free book because of recent food and health trends. As evidenced by her “With the Grains” blog, Kogel does love to cook and bake with all sorts of whole grains. But, she knows that she isn’t a nutritionist and that wrestling with the research was a rabbit hole with no clear answers. “I started researching gluten-free and like what’s the healthiest and I had to kind of shut that off because everyone has a staunch opinion on what is the healthiest and it can be so daunting to try to please everyone,” Kogel says. So Kogel says she pushed the book in a direction that is more about the recipes and the stories behind them than it is about a diet. The book is almost equal parts recipes, stories and beautiful images. Kogel’s writing provides a personality and substance that backs up the books aesthetics with something deeper. An introduction gives readers a background on how Kogel’s relationship with food has changed over time, and talks about what she values. For her, food is all about sharing and the book is about making food accessible. “The thing that’s important to me is sharing food and bringing people together and I hate when someone at the table can’t partake in the food because of dietary restrictions,” Kogel says. “So making gluten-free recipes for me is just a way of making a more inclusive table.” For the same reasons, in addition to all of the recipes being gluten-free, many are vegetarian or vegan, or offer an easily made substitution for animal products. Whether you’re cooking for someone who is gluten-free or not, Kogel’s book can expand your mind and your pantry to include grains like amaranth, millet, cornmeal

and sorghum. In a culture so attached to white flour, we can all get stuck cooking the way we’ve always cooked and eating the way we’ve always eaten. “The GlutenFree Grains Cookbook” is a great opportunity to have a paradigm shift and see what’s possible with ingredients you’ve never considered before. When you think “gluten-free” you may think of attempts to mimic ‘regular’ foods by substituting different ingredients with results of varying levels of success. But that’s not what Kogel offers. “I’m really picky that if something is called ‘pizza’ it should be pizza,” Kogel says. “I’m not trying to mimic [foods with gluten].” Kogel says that even though she thinks her amaranth flatbread recipe is “magical,” it won’t replace pizza— so she didn’t call it a pizza. Unlike so many other collections of gluten-free recipes, Kogel’s aren’t trying to disguise any of the ingredients. For so many of them— like her Thai-Inspired Slow Cooker Pork with Cornmeal Sopes, or her Mushroom Bourguignon with Lemon-Herb Millet—the names of the grains are right there in the title. “These are whole grains, they have nuances, they have flavors and textures that add to your food versus just trying to mimic something else,” Kogel says. In addition to all of the recipes, “The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook” includes a few special guides for amateurs. There’s a section that gives a guide to building up a wholegrain, gluten-free pantry, as well as “quick tips and tricks” for using those ingredients in baking. Kogel says she’s of the “grandma” school of thought when it comes to cooking: you throw in a bit of this and a bit of that and see what feels right. “I’m not a precise cook or baker, so I just see this more as a guide for people,” she says. She hopes that people will try her gluten-free recipes and then make them their own.




An aerial view of Sharpsburg centered between the Allegheny River and Route 28 (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)


harpsburg is a piece of the Pittsburgh puzzle often overlooked. Squeezed between the North Shore of the Allegheny River and sharp Appalachian rock faces, the borough is compact and narrow. Though Main Street can be traversed end to end in just a 25 minute walk, getting to Sharpsburg without a car can be challenging. This geographic separation from Pittsburgh proper has created a self-reliant, tight-knit community. Many of Sharpsburg’s 3400

BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM residents have lived in the city for most of their lives, and had family members before them do the same. One of them is the borough’s mayor, Matthew Rudzki, who, at 32, is one of Pennsylvania’s youngest mayors. “I’m a fifth-generation Sharpsburger, and I’ve lived here my whole life except for a college study abroad,” Rudzki says. Though Sharpsburg has always been an industrial, working class town since its incorporation in 1826, the decline of the steel industry in Pittsburgh hit the borough hard.

One by one, the many shops lining Main Street began to close, leaving vacant storefronts in their wake. One of Rudzki’s top priorities has been working to reverse this trend, and bring businesses back to Sharpsburg. He decided to follow the example of a recently revitalized neighborhood just across the Allegheny. “We saw what happened in Lawrenceville, and we realized that if we could build out Main Street the way Butler Street was built out with businesses, then the residential end would follow,” Rudzki says.

Part of Rudzki’s plan has involved working with businesses one-onone, helping owners to navigate permit laws, building codes and other bureaucratic aspects of starting a company. Another key angle is to make the neighborhood more pedestrian friendly, by upgrading sidewalks, crosswalks and lighting, among other changes. “It’s a place where in a four-block span, you have a high density of businesses, and if you make that walkable, you’re going to attract not just businesses, but visitors and new


residents,” Rudzki says. It’s a plan that has already begun to bear fruit, according to Brittany Reno, Sharpsburg’s council president. The past five years have seen a number of new storefronts open in the region. “Sugar Spell Scoops, which makes vegan ice cream; Ketchup City Creative, an art gallery and great community space; Dancing Gnome and Hitchhiker Breweries, Dragon Palace, and Boat Pittsburgh have all opened in the past couple of years,” Reno says. “Redhawk Coffee is working on their new roastery and coffee shop. Pittsburgh Winery is opening up shop soon, and Zynka Gallery is also coming to town.” One of these new arrivals is Deeplocal, a creative marketing company that started in East Liberty in 2006. Working with a number of high-profile clients, including Google, Deeplocal creates unique marketing media of many varieties to find new ways to reach consumers. “We do everything from brand marketing to temporary popup environments to permanent installations,” Creative Marketing Manager at Deeplocal Caroline Fisher says. “Everything we make is a new invention, never before seen by the world, and we make all our stuff in house.” These projects have ranged from a collaboration with Netflix to create socks that pause the content you were watching if you fall asleep, to a full-scale, Disneyland-style dark ride for Google’s display at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show. Projects like the latter require a large fabrication space, one of the major factors in Deeplocal’s move to the former Fort Pitt Brewery in Sharpsburg. “Space was a major motivator, we tripled the size of our office and shop when we moved here,” Fisher says. The spirit of the neighborhood also proved a key influence on Deeplocal’s decision to relocate. “Pittsburgh is really important to our company ... and Sharpsburg embodies a lot of the spirit of Pittsburgh. It’s very humble and

industrial, but also forward-thinking and positive,” Fisher said. Other entrepreneurs decided on Sharpsburg for reasons of practicality. Dancing Gnome Beer opened its doors in October of 2016, and founder Andrew Witchey wound up in Sharpsburg after struggling to find an appropriately sized space in central Pittsburgh. Searching outside the city, he came across the property on Main Street which now houses his distillery and taproom. “I saw the building and thought it was pretty perfect for what I was trying to do,” Witchey says. Sharpsburg’s location along multiple major thoroughfares was also important to keep in mind. “[Sharpsburg is] so easily accessed by so many large highways. Route 28 is right here, Route 8 is right here,” Witchey says. “It’s super easy to hop on the 62nd Street Bridge to get to Highland Park, Morningside, Lawrenceville.” This accessibility was something Witchey knew would be important to a growing brewery. “I knew no matter where I was gonna be, [Dancing Gnome] would be more of a destination spot than a walkabout spot, so that was a huge draw,” Witchey says. Now in its second year, business at Dancing Gnome has been steady and the neighborhood has been very welcoming, according to Witchey. The brewery’s success has been such that Witchey has even begun considering expansion. “We have a couple projects for our own growth and expansion planned for 2019 and 2020, and we’re staying right here in Sharpsburg,” Witchey says. Right next door to Dancing Gnome sits a seasoned Main Street veteran. Frame Gallery, a custom picture frame shop, was opened by Paul Rojik in 1980, and has been in Sharpsburg ever since. When searching for the location of his storefront, Rojik could see the potential of Sharpsburg all those years ago. “There was a possibility of turning the area around, bringing new


Looking down Main Street (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

The view from Sharpsburg Islands Marina (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

Inside Frame Gallery located on Main Street (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

businesses in, upgrading storefronts, so that was a big influence on us coming to the area,” Rojik says. Over nearly 40 years, Rojik has witnessed the slow but steady change in Sharpsburg, and is pleased with the current pace of development. “There’s got to be change, it’s for the positive,” Rojik says. Not all residents are so welcoming. The increase in business has resulted in increasing property values. Houses have sold at record prices for the area one after another, and some Sharpsburgers have expressed concerns about renters being priced out of their units. “Almost 60 percent of residents here rent their homes, and they are most vulnerable to these skyrocketing housing prices here,” Reno says. Fortunately, this is a problem Mayor Rudzki and the Sharpsburg Borough Council are working to mitigate. Sharpsburg has partnered with the TriCOG Land Bank and City of Bridges Community Land

Trust to build two affordable single family homes in the area, with plans to build several more over time. And ultimately, Sharpsburgers both young and old agree that the progress they’ve seen by and large is a good thing, and that the future for the borough they hold dear is bright. “It’s a plus that progress is being made, and there’s a lot of good influences coming into Sharpsburg,” Rojik says. “As far as the people I see daily, the borough executives and the board, it’s just a really nice place to be,” Witchey says. “I’ve found that Sharpsburg is a really fun place to be who you are and pursue your dreams and wacky ideas alongside a bunch of friendly and welcoming people who are doing the same,” Reno says. “The pieces were always there for Sharpsburg. We just needed the glue to get them to stick,” Rudzki says.

Inside the brewery at the Dancing Gnome Beer (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)




SERVING CRAFT, DOMESTIC AND IMPORTED BEERS or pick up 6 packs to go from our large selection


An aerial view of Sharpsburg centered between the Allegheny River and Route 28 (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)


EVELYN SHOOP, NEARLY 80-YEAR RESIDENT OF SHARPSBURG BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM Evelyn Shoop is a Sharpsburger if ever there was one. At 82, she’s lived nearly eight consecutive decades in Sharpsburg, and has watched the borough grow through World War II, women’s liberation and the neighborhood’s modern revival. Shoop and her husband James raised two daughters in Sharpsburg in the 1950s and ’60s. After her daughters grew up, Shoop decided she wanted to have a career and went to the Floral Academy in Downtown Pittsburgh to become a certified florist. She would go on to open and run a flower shop independently for more than 20 years. She continues to be active in the community today, volunteering with St. Mary’s Church in Sharpsburg regularly. What was your early life in

Sharpsburg like? Oh, it was wonderful. [The fire department] would block the streets so we could sled ride, and then they would hose the streets down and we would jump in the puddles. You had your neighborhood gang, and we always played out at night. There was a brewery up the street, Fort Pitt Brewery, and when the brewery whistle would blow at nine o’clock, that meant ‘Everyone get home!’ We were Second World War children, so we had drives where we collected any junk we could find. We would put it all in this one kid’s yard—my God, we wrecked his yard!—and a truck would come and take it away for the war effort. I actually wore a dog tag to school... because they were concerned that we could be invaded or bombed. So we wore them to school in case


anything happened, they could identify us. It didn’t really scare us too much...we sort of accepted it, we were all like, “Get Hitler!” What was it like to own a business as a woman in the 1970s? I was 40 years old at the time, and I wanted to get a career, because I was always a housewife. I decided I wanted to work in a flower shop. So I went downtown and went to the Floral Academy, took the full course, then jumped in with two partners and opened a flower shop in Sharpsburg. That was The Flower Gallery. When I was in my shop, I couldn’t get a Visa card without my husband’s name. In those days, you had to use your husband’s job and his references. And I retaliated, I said, ‘I want it in my name.’ So, the Floral

Society of America offered me a Visa card, and I signed up for it and I got it. Wonderful! Well, my mother was a widow, and all the old ladies at church that were widows, they said, ‘Can you get us signed up? We want to order out of catalogues.’ So we got them all signed up! Right now Sharpsburg seems to be in transition, if you will. Is there anything you’d like to see change? The thing I miss about Sharpsburg is that, if you look at the storefronts, they’re so retro. It has that quaintness, we had hardware stores, grocers. I wish we could get a lot more of the little shops in that would be interesting. A phone shop, that’s nice, that’s good for the borough; a beer store, but how about some cute little shops, too?




In an environment of over-sharing and over-exposure, Brooklyn rapper Leikeli47 offers some tantalizing mystery. In addition to her nom de guerre, she never performs without a mask. It was, originally, she’s said, a method to deal with stage fright. But as any superhero knows, masks have a way of increasing one’s power. Or maybe that’s just the pure force of Leikeli47’s novelistic rhymes. With an effervescent flow set against the

crackle of bare-bones beats, “Acrylic” – released last year – puts the everyday lives and experiences of black and brown women at the forefront, particularly celebrating black-owned salons as a safe-haven. On Wednesday, April 3, Leikeli47 comes to the Smiling Moose with support from Yung Baby Tate. 7:30 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $18. smiling-moose.com


The teens are taking over The Andy

Warhol Museum for Youth Invasion 2019! The event will highlight youth artwork and their own personal take on Warhol’s art. You can also see the youth artwork exhibition starting today and running through the 20th. 5 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Shore. Free with museum admission. information@warhol.org or warhol.org If you’re a Pittsburgh music fan of a certain age, you’ve not only heard of The Clarks, you’ve likely heard them in person a number of times. They’ve

been around since the mid-’80s and hit their highest levels of success in the 1990s. If you listen to any local rock radio station, you’ve probably heard songs like “Better off Without You,” “Let it Go” and “Born too Late.” And if you head to Jergel’s Rhythm Grille tonight, you can hear them in person. 8:30 p.m. 285 Northgate Drive, Warrendale. jergels.com.


Vintage and antique lovers, unite!The 13th PGH Vintage Mixer


Show at Teamsters Hall Local 249 features 30+ vendors including fashion, furniture, home goods and much more. You’re guaranteed to find something you love, that you didn’t even know you needed! You can also snack on pizza and enjoy some coffee and cocktails. You can get early access ticket to shop from 8:30-10 a.m., priced at $15 for adults and $5 for ages 2-12. A portion of proceeds from this event will be donated to the American Porphyria Foundation. 10 a.m. 4701 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $5 (adults), free (12 and under). pghvintagemixer@ gmail.com


Head over to Frick Park bright and early for The Mother Fricker Trail Run and After Party. All you need to bring are donations of one non-perishable food item and one old pair of running shoes. You can run one of four trails ranging two to eight miles in distance, or run the whole thing. There’s something for everyone, and an after party with free beer and fun giveaways. 8 a.m. 1981 Beechwood Blvd., Squirrel Hill. Free. 3riversoutdoor.com Celebrate our beautiful planet this afternoon at the Westmoreland Museum of Art. Community Day: Earth Month will have upcycled art activities for all ages. You can even get a jump start on your own garden with a flower or some seeds. There will also be live a performance by members of the performing arts and theater group Stage Right. 11 a.m. 221 N. Main St., Greensburg. Free. thewestmoreland.org or 888-7184253


Judith R. Robinson has always taken a particular interest and felt a sense of identification in studying the Holocaust. As a Jewish woman born in the midst of World War II, Robinson recognizes the different direction her life could have gone had she not been born in the United States. Join her for The Numbers Keep Changing: Poems and Paintings

at Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, in which she will read her poetry alongside paintings that help tell her story. 7 p.m. 826 Hazelwood Ave., Greenfield. Free. csahovey@hcpgh. org or 412-939-7289 Despite not sharing a last name, Page Burkum and, Jack Torrey are brothers. If you need further proof beyond their word, just listen to their band, The Cactus Blossoms. You’ll hear the familial relationship quickly, because no group harmonizes like sibling groups. The Minnesota-based Americana act recently released its latest record, Easy Way. On it, the brothers’ roots sound is occasionally kicked up with a driving rock beat. Plus, they come armed with a catalog of originals steeped in traditional country and Western Swing. Singer-songwriter and fellow Minnesotan, Jack Klatt opens. 7 p.m. Tuesday April 9. Club Cafe. 56 South 12th St., South Side. $15. clubcafelive.com


Come out to Boom Concepts tonight for the second Puppet Karaoke of the year. Bring puppets to sing along with, make one when you get there or just watch the mayhem unfold. This event is even BYOB. 6 p.m. 5139 Penn Ave., Garfield. $5. facebook. com/boomconcepts/

and much more. Come experience the fun at Monroeville Convention Center for one day or for the whole weekend - it runs through the 14th. 9:30 a.m. 209 Mall Blvd., Monroeville. $23-$50. steelcitycon.com

premiere. The event is free with registration, and you can purchase food and drinks from participating vendors. 12 p.m. 4107 Willow St., Lawrenceville. Free with registration. eventbrite.com


The sixth annual Mother of All Pottery Sales is, as the name suggests, the biggest clay celebration of them all. Whether you love ceramics, are an experienced potter or want to learn more about working with clay, join the celebration at Union Project. There are hands on activities for the whole family, and a sale of locally made pottery. 10 a.m. 801 N Negley Ave., Highland Park. Free. unionproject.org

Join some passionate Pitt students today for the 39th Annual Latin American & Caribbean Festival. Hosted by Pitt’s Center for Latin American Studies at Wesley W. Posvar Hall, the festival will feature Latin American and Caribbean food, arts and crafts. There will also be music and dance performances. You won’t want to miss this celebration, as it one of the largest in Western Pennsylvania. 12 p.m. 230 South Bouquet St., Oakland. Free. clasfestival@pitt.edu or 412-648-7394


Get a taste of one of Pittsburgh’s trendiest neighborhoods at Taste of Lawrenceville at Bay 41. The celebration features events for the whole family, from food vendors, to kids activities, to breweries. There will even be a Game of Thrones themed pop-up bar for all you die hard fans looking forward to the final season


Nothing really says that summer is coming like the Carousel Opening Day in Schenley Plaza. Children and adults alike can enjoy a couple rides on the carousel while taking in the signature pipe organ music. 10 a.m. 4100 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $2. pittsburghparks.org/pnc-carouselpass


Corey Feldman, Rob Schneider, Walter Koenig and Brian Baumgartner are just a few of the celebrities you can meet at Steel City Comic Con. There will be Q&A’s, panels, costume contests, cosplay, trivia


April 9: The Cactus Blossoms (Photo: Nate Ryan)


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Universal Crossword Edited by David Steinberg April 2, 2019

ACROSS 1 Very beginning 6 Multiple choice choices 10 Folk story 14 Baseball’s “Hammerin’ Hank” 15 Well-done’s opposite 16 Muffin-rising site 17 22nd and 24th president 20 A chip, sometimes 21 Not in mint condition 22 Justice Samuel 23 Yank’s foe 25 What’s discharged 27 Tamer of wild horses 32 Kool-___ 33 Burden 34 Builds, as a monument 38 Workbench object 40 Fizzling firework 42 Rank below marquess 43 Moved using long steps 46 Groups of Across clues 49 London restroom 50 StarKist tuna catchphrase 53 Dice game shout 56 Olympic torchbearer Muhammad


57 Not out? 58 Rich soil 61 Chemist’s container 65 Attorney’s reference book 68 Three card 69 Minuscule amount 70 Last name of the fictional people at the ends of 17-, 27-, 50- and 65-Across 71 Tacks on 72 Unknown quote source, briefly 73 Soup alternative DOWN 1 Crazy in love 2 Work hard for 3 Gait faster than a walk 4 Lead the people 5 ___ in a million 6 Stoneskipping paths 7 Hay bound with twine 8 Sets of principles 9 Software programmer, slangily 10 Like a 1-800 number 11 Be of use 12 Slow tempo 13 Provide funding for 18 Like some temporary tattoos

19 “Peter Peter Pumpkin ___” 24 Prefix with “friendly” 26 Sport-___ (SUV) 27 Little League equipment 28 Really funny person 29 Gym socks’ smell 30 Rose before it grows 31 Loan shark’s crime 35 Do a telemarketer’s job 36 “Star Trek: T.N.G.” counselor 37 Gin cocktail fruit 39 A locksmith may replace them 41 Rx writer 44 Donut quantity

45 Before, poetically 47 Frisbee brand 48 Actor Mineo 51 Trust 52 Muralist Diego 53 1945 conference site 54 Oscar or Grammy 55 Partner of “hemmed” 59 Eight: Prefix 60 Codebreaker Turing 62 Pop star, perhaps 63 Bluetooth speaker maker 64 Sight from sea 66 Org. with agents 67 “Nova” network



“Colorful Characters”


© 2019 Andrews McMeel Universal www.upuzzles.com

by Greg Johnson

BY THE EDITORS AT ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION WEIRDNEWSTIPS@AMUNIVERSAL.COM PEOPLE DIFFERENT FROM US Researchers at St. Mary’s Hospital in London had been stumped how 10 British men had contracted a rare virus called human T-cell leukemia virus type 1. The men weren’t intravenous drug users and hadn’t had transfusions; none of them displayed any symptoms, but doctors had identified the virus through bloodwork. Dr. Divya Dhasmana, co-author of a study published March 13 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was eventually tipped off to the source of the infections when she saw scars on one of the men’s back: The men participate in bloodshedding religious rituals, such as cutting or whipping themselves. The rituals the men reported include striking the forehead with a knife, then passing the knife to other men; or striking the back with a chain of blades. Dr. Dhasmana told the Associated Press that one infected man told her the blades were soaked in a bucket of antiseptic solution between uses, but that didn’t prevent the virus’ spread. “Our message is not ‘Don’t do it,’” said Dr. Dhasmana. “Our message is, ‘If you do it, don’t share equipment.’” LUCKY! A 43-year-old man in Nimbin, Australia, has the proliferation of modern technology to thank for his life. Reuters reported that on March 13, the unnamed man arrived home only to find a 39-yearold man “who was known to him,” waiting outside with a bow and arrow. As Man A raised his mobile phone to take a picture of Man B, Man B “engaged the bow and was ready to fire,” according to a police report. Man B “fired the arrow at the resident, which pierced through the man’s mobile phone, causing the phone to hit (Man A) in the chin. It left a small laceration that didn’t require medical treatment.” Man

B was arrested at the scene, police reported. THE LITIGIOUS SOCIETY Joanne Cullen, 64, of North Bellmore, Long Island, wants to make administrators of St. Charles Resurrection Cemetery in Farmingdale pay for the horror she experienced in December 2016 as she visited her parents’ graves. On that day, Cullen was reaching down to straighten a bow on a wreath when the ground opened up beneath her and a sinkhole “caused her to fall forward and smash her head on the tombstone,” cracking a tooth, her attorney, Joseph Perrini, told the New York Post. As Cullen sank, she grabbed the sides of the tombstone and yelled for help, but no one heard her. Cullen filed suit in March in Queens Supreme Court, asking for $5 million to overcome the nightmares and headaches she experiences, along with the fear of walking in open fields. “I will never go back there again,” Cullen said. “Getting sucked into your parents’ grave ... it’s terrifying and traumatizing,” Perrini added. CRIMINAL INGENUITY Outside the North Fork Correctional Unit in Sayre, Oklahoma, Kerri Jo Hickman was arrested on March 10 for delivering contraband to prison inmates, reported the Associated Press. Hickman’s clever delivery method was a T-shirt gun, used by sports team mascots to shoot promotional shirts at fans. Hickman, however, launched methamphetamines, cellphones, ear buds, phone chargers, digital scales, marijuana and tobacco to some lucky con on the other side, but police discovered the gun and another package in her car, and she was booked on charges of introducing contraband into a penal institution, conspiracy and drug trafficking in Beckham County.


I’m an adult man, and I have developed a trans attraction after following a particular Tumblr blog. That blog is now gone, sadly, since all adult content has been purged from Tumblr. It wasn’t just porn; it consisted of all the things I really enjoy—images of oil paintings and antique furniture, scenic landscapes, wild animals and then pictures/ gifs of trans women. Some women appeared to have had top surgery while others didn’t. But all of the women featured on this blog had penises. I had never considered a relationship with a trans woman before, but after browsing the blog for a year, I can honestly say I’d do it in a heartbeat. I would actually like to date a non-op trans woman. I know that many trans women don’t like having their male parts touched or acknowledged, but I didn’t know that a trans woman can only have a functioning penis if she isn’t taking female hormones, and I hadn’t considered the effect that might have on somebody’s gender dysphoria. How can I meet a trans woman who is hopefully comfortable with her male parts and seeking a relationship? I live in a conservative Bible Belt state—Utah—and I am woefully uneducated on this subject. Girl’s Heart, Man’s Parts “My penis and balls aren’t ‘man’s parts,’” Bailey Jay said, the three-time AVN Award–winning transgender porn star. “They’re mine. I own them. Not some random man.” In fairness, GHMP, you acknowledge being woefully uneducated on trans issues, something your letter demonstrated again and again. But let’s start here: A trans woman doesn’t have boy parts. She has girl parts—unique girl parts, as girl parts go, but girl parts just the same. “I’m on hormones and my cock

works great,” Jay said. “Every trans woman is going to be different and have different experiences, and that’s the best first bit of advice I can give GHMP. We can smell it a mile away when we are all being lumped in together as a concept. Treat any trans woman you’re romantically interested in as an individual.” As for places to find trans individuals who might be up for dating cis men, well, you might want to sit down, GHMP, as this is pretty shocking. “I’ve heard OkCupid is inclusive, and I have friends on there whose profiles even help people navigate discussing their bodies in a respectful way,” Jay said. “And finding a trans woman to date who hasn’t undergone bottom surgery is pretty easy. The surgery is expensive and even scary to some. It’s not terribly common that a trans woman has had that particular surgery.” But just because a trans woman hasn’t had bottom surgery doesn’t mean she doesn’t want bottom surgery, so you shouldn’t assume a trans woman with a penis plans to always keep her penis. “The real question is what her relationship is with her current genitals,” Jay said. “Maybe she’s very dysphoric about them. Maybe she doesn’t even want you to see them or touch them. Even if her body is your preference, there’s a chance it isn’t hers. I personally love my penis and even like talking about it. But bringing up genitals right away can make you seem insensitive or like you’re dehumanizing your date.” Jay recommends looking for trans women on mainstream dating apps and then following their lead. “Now, genitals and curt sexual dialogue are kind of my jam,” Jay said “So I wouldn’t even flinch or blush. But this can be a very charged

subject for people.” Look to the profiles of trans women you’re interested in for cues about their approach to personal subjects. One woman might put it all out there and welcome questions about her experiences as a trans woman; another woman might be open about being trans but prefer not to focus on it. “Still, never use genital questions as an icebreaker,” Jay said. “You’ll know when your evening with someone is going well enough that there’s a certain amount of trust,” and at that point, you may be able to bring it up. “And please make sure to talk about both of your bodies,” Jay added. “This isn’t all about if her body is right for you. Make sure your body meets her standards and preferences, too. I always joke that cis men should have to disclose as well. Any expectation you find yourself putting on her, split the responsibility.” You can find Bailey Jay at her for-adults-only website TS-BaileyJay.

com. I’ve fallen into a social group of gay men who are kind of homophobic. They talk about bottoming and gayness as if they’re embarrassing things. It’s like they’re aspiring to be gay people who are really heterosexuals but just accidentally have gay sex. The other challenge is that I find them attractive. These Really Anti-Social Homos Putting up with assholes just because they’re hot—yeah, you’re not doing yourself any favors there, TRASH, and you’re not doing those assholes any favors, either. Sooner or later, they’re going to age out of hot—and if they haven’t learned the importance of not being assholes by that point, they’re going to be lonely old assholes. Losing friends due to your assholery is an important learning experience for many. Don’t cheat these guys of it. On the Lovecast, Dan chats with sex-workers-rights advocate Kaytlin Bailey: savagelovecast.com.






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Volume 2, Issue 7  

Volume 2, Issue 7