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Turahn Jenkins (far right) at a campaign event sponsored by Will Allen and Malcolm Jenkins. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
DESPITE A ROCKY START, TURAHN JENKINS HAS LEARNED A LOT SINCE LAUNCHING HIS CAMPAIGN FOR DISTRICT ATTORNEY BY CHARLIE DEITCH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT EDITOR CHARLIE@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series on the upcoming Allegheny County District Attorney election. Part two can be found online Thursday, May 3 on pittsburghcurrent.com.
n July 2, 2018, under gray skies and heavy downpours, Turahn Jenkins announced his candidacy for Allegheny County District Attorney. While the weather was horrible, it didn’t dampen the mood or the excitement around his candidacy. The stage behind him and the ground in front of him were packed wall-to-wall with progressive voters and elected officials thrilled at the thought of someone viable, who shared their vision of what justice was supposed to look like, taking on two-decade incumbent Stephen Zappala. His candidacy came on the heels of the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Antwon Rose II by a police officer. The fact is, Zappala hasn’t played
well with more progressive voters and many were excited that Jenkins, a former prosecutor and former public defender, was the right person for the job. On that rainy July day, for example, Jenkins was introduced by Leon Ford, a young unarmed man shot by police and paralyzed following a traffic stop. Many were upset that not only did Zappala charge Ford, he didn’t charge the officer who shot the young man. The campaign was launched with enthusiasm and momentum. But within a week, things took a sharp downward turn. In a meeting on July 6 with members of the LGBTQ community, Jenkins was asked about his affiliation with an anti-LGBTQ church and he said that he believed being gay was a sin. The news
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travelled fast and the excitement surrounding Jenkins campaign waned. Many progressives who had backed Jenkins just four days earlier had rebuked him. But a lot has happened since July. The officer who shot and killed Antwon Rose with three shots to the back was acquitted. Many blamed Zappala’s trial strategy and were refocusing again on the upcoming election. But that wasn’t the only thing that had changed since July. Turahn Jenkins began a self examination. He set out to learn more about the LGBTQ community. He talked to community members and he read books dealing with the massive injustices that many LGBTQ individuals were forced to suffer through. He says he’s learned a lot
since the day of that meeting and has deep regret that it ever happened. “I am so sorry that this happened. I never want to be a person who causes someone else pain. That’s the last thing I wanted to do. It’s absolutely opposite of who I am as a person. Part of the reason that I decided to run for this office was that I’m tired of the devastation that this office has brought on everyone,” Jenkins told the Current in a recent interview. “I’ve met with dozens of members of the LGBTQ community since this happened. A lot of it was in a private setting because they didn’t want it known publicly that they had met with me. I’m so glad they met with me because I wouldn’t have the knowledge that I have now. Like with Maria, I can’t stress how glad I
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am that she decided to come in and meet with me despite everything that happened.” Maria is Maria Montano, a union organizer, member of the LGBTQ community and a well known trans activist. Montano was at that July meeting and her social media posts were the catalyst for the fallout. “There was a lot of excitement when Turahn announced his campaign,” Montano said recently. “But when he said what he said at that meeting, I was heartbroken because every person in that room wanted to support him. “I think he finally saw how damaging words like the ones he used could be. But he’s been watching, learning, reading and truly trying to understand more about our community. I told him all that was left was for him to own up to his mistakes and work to bring people together.” Indeed, a lot has happened since that meeting. Not only did Jenkins recently get the endorsement of the Pittsburgh arm of the Democratic Socialists of America, he got Montano’s endorsement as well. When the Current showed Montano Jenkins’ recent apology she replied with four words: “He has my vote.” With just about 20 days left until the election, Jenkins still has some ground to cover against Zappala. He has radically different ideas than the ones Zappala has initiated in his time as DA. His experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, he says, has allowed him to see how the office of the DA affects people from both sides of the table. “I’ve been to every part of this county; honestly, parts of this county that I didn’t even know existed,” Jenkins said. “But I’m finding that no matter where I go, there’s someone who has been adversely affected by the criminal justice system. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from. “People everywhere realize the devastation caused by the criminal justice system. Lives have been ruined because of one low-level
misdemeanor. Even if they get probation, they have to spend their lives explaining to employers that one really small misstep because it follows you for life. The criminal justice system is a black hole. It’s really easy to fall into it and very difficult to get out.” Treatment of the public at large once they enter the criminal justice system and working to divert people away from the system all together whenever possible, is the linchpin of many of the policy changes he would make as DA. Here is a roundup of Jenkins’ stances on important issues facing the District Attorney’s office, compiled from a recent interview: More defendants, particularly in drug cases, need to be placed into better diversion programs. “I believe in diversion,” Jenkins says. “We have a drug court, which is a diversionary court, but true diversion means diverting them before they enter the criminal justice system.” Under the current system, the individuals must plead guilty to all charges and receives a sentence of about 23 months. The individual can then be sent to a treatment facility, but if they relapse or are noncompliant, the sentence can be converted to either county or state prison time. But even if they make it through the program, they’ve still been convicted. “Relapse is part of recovery and we need to recognize that,” Jenkins says. “We spend a lot of resources on the Allegheny County Jail, $100 a day per inmate. I believe we should be taking that money and putting it toward treatment. These people are sick and need help. I’m not naive enough to think we can help everybody, but we’ve gotta try because our current system isn’t working.” The criminal justice system in Allegheny County is creating more criminals. When someone is accused of a crime, even a minor offense, their first concern is usually avoiding jail time. So when an offer of five years
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probation instead of incarceration is offered a lot of people jump at that chance, Jenkins says. But any kind of conviction comes at a price. “We convict someone for a lowlevel drug offense, for example, and we are essentially blocking these folks from housing and better jobs,” Jenkins says. “Essentially, we’re turning probation into life sentences and they are going to commit more crimes. I want everyone to be safe, but the way we are conducting business in Allegheny County is making more criminals and that means none of us are safe. It’s better to take those resources that we are spending on over-incarceration and supervised probation and use them to help people get their lives back on track.” Establish prosecutorial priorities. Jenkins says the more serious punishments in the criminal justice should be reserved for the most serious offenses. “The justice system should be more focused on the people who are truly dangerous and violent,” Jenkins says. “We shouldn’t be focused on people with mental health issues or those with drug addiction or those who are trapped in poverty. We haven’t done a good job in this county of setting the right priorities.” Mass incarceration has become an epidemic. “I think there are a slew of offenses that, barring extenuating circumstances, should never be incarcerated for,” Jenkins says. “For example, last year I represented a young man who was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by police. Officers patted him down and he had a small amount of marijuana on him. In that situation, the officer could have taken the marijuana, stomped it out and told the kid to ‘beat it;’ he could have written him a citation or they could have charged him. He was charged and went to the Allegheny County Jail. He spent a week in jail and lost his job. How are we any safer because of that.”
Make prosecutions across the county fair and equitable. “What I can say is, as a former prosecutor and a defense attorney, I’ve handled cases all over this county and cases are prosecuted differently here in the city than thy are in the suburbs,” Jenkins said. “There are cases that are resolved outside of the city that would never be resolved that easily in the city of Pittsburgh.” In the case of filing charges against police officers, Jenkins says many people have told him that they “don’t believe that justice has been even-handed. They believe that favoritism is paid to police officers and that just serves to widen the divide between the citizens and the police. A lot of people don’t even feel in these cases like justice is even remotely available to them.” The prosecution of Officer Michael Rosfeld in the killing of Antwon Rose was mishandled. Jenkins says that Zappala is not a prosecutor and that Jenkins would have prosecuted Rosfeld himself. “You can’t be the chief law enforcement officer in a county and have a thorough understanding of the criminal justice system having never had the experience of trying the case,” Jenkins said. In regard to the Rosfeld case, Jenkins says he believes Zappala only charged Rosfeld to try and quell the public protests that were shutting down the city and that Zappala’s heart wasn’t really into the prosecution. Jenkins says he has an issue with the fact that Rosfeld had the opportunity to remain on house arrest pending trial. “Typically, if you are charged with criminal homicide, you are held without bond. What kind of message does that send that a police officer gets house arrest,” Jenkins asks. “I’ve also continually brought up the fact that they never put up a use of force expert. That gave the defense instant credibility. They claimed they couldn’t find one, but I find it hard to believe that they weren’t able to obtain a use-of-force expert.”
cites pursuing more affordable and accessible housing, jumpstarting partnerships between area schools and area entertainment or hospitality venues, and being more responsive to 311 calls as priority items if he is elected. He also argues that voting for Wilson -- whose campaign Peduto formally endorsed in March – is only further fueling Harris’ fight with mayoral authority. “The loser of this thing is the voters of District 1,” said Brentley, 62, of North Shore. “We need someone who knows how to disagree without being disagreeable.” Harris, in the meantime, has touted her legacy of local service – about four decades of working for North Side causes and communities – as justification for being reelected a fourth time. However, Harris did not respond to numerous calls to her office, home or campaign contact seeking comment for this article.
From left to right: Stephen Braxton, Ricky Burgess, Deirdre Kane, Deb Gross, Bruce Kraus, Chris Kumanchik, Mark Brentley Sr., Quincy Swatson, Bobby Wilson, and Andre Young
CONTESTED PITTSBURGH CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS ARE HEATING UP IN DISTRICTS 1,3,7,9
BY JUSTIN VELLUCCI - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
he best ways to redevelop Pittsburgh into a 21st-century city – and championing policies to help ensure the tide raises all boats – are at the center of the May 21 Democratic Party primary for four contested Pittsburgh City Council seats. Fourteen candidates, five of them incumbents, are vying for the party nod to run in the Nov. 5 general election, though, barring a writein candidacy or two independent campaigns fomenting on the North Side, the primary likely will decide who will be inaugurated to the four $68,066 council posts in 2020. Only Councilor Corey O’Connor, a Swisshelm Park Democrat in District 5 is unopposed. DISTRICT ONE Councilor Darlene Harris always has been a lightning rod for controversy. Often a staunch voice of opposition to Mayor Bill Peduto,
she has won over North Side voters since first being elected in 2006 with attentive constituent services, something even a handful of her critics concede she handles well. She is being challenged by Bobby Wilson and former Pittsburgh Public Schools board member Mark Brentley Sr. Chris Rosselot and Quincy Swatson, who both originally filed to run against Harris in the spring, are now planning to run this November as independents against whomever wins the primary. Wilson, a University of Pittsburgh medical researcher from Spring Hill, ran unsuccessful bids to unseat Harris in 2011 and 2015. He thinks this is his year. “I feel [Harris] is out of touch with new leaders that have moved here and want to volunteer their time,” said Wilson, 36, who is a fifthgeneration North Sider. “We need to give people who haven’t had a voice in this district a voice right now.
There’s decisions being made where Darlene is listening to the same two people she’s been listening to for 20 years … She’s been in for 13 years. The city operates differently than it did a decade ago.” Wilson, who has served as a board member for North Side Leadership Conference, feels he can help bring the North Side into 2020 by taking a fresh look at affordable housing and blight. And he doesn’t think the North Side should rest its laurels on the presence of Rivers Casino, North Shore development or the two stadiums; he wants to shine a light on parts of the district that have not received as much attention and renew conversation about how to revitalize and beautify them. Brentley feels his experience as a Pittsburgh city employee – he worked for more than 33 years as a public works foreman – makes him uniquely qualified to navigate the corridors of city power. He
DISTRICT 3 Council President Bruce Kraus is fighting for reelection against two opponents with differing ideologies and priorities – one, Chris Kumanchik, a vocal opponent of the controversial city gun laws Kraus champions, and another, Ken Wolfe, Kraus’ former chief of staff, who maintains the councilman doesn’t pay enough attention to his hilltop constituents. Kraus is quick to cite his accomplishments. He has moved PennDOT to invest $21 million to give South Side’s East Carson Street a facelift. His work with the Carnegie Library board has led to investment in South Side, Knoxville and Mt. Washington, and a pop-up library in Allentown. And, among others, he has pushed for progress with the Brashear Association and the Hilltop Alliance, a consortium of hilltop neighborhood representatives tackling hyper-local issues. Wolfe also has been involved with Hilltop Alliance. “I wish I could give you a onesize-fits-all answer [to what I’d like to do if reelected], but, in this council
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 9
district, that’s not possible,” said Kraus, 65. Wolfe said he left his post at Kraus’ chief of staff in 2009 “for the same reason I’m running.” “There’s nothing happening on the hilltop – and everything’s happening on the South Side, on Carson Street,” said Wolfe, 44, an Allentown truck driver and former president of the Allentown Community Development Corporation. “We’re right for development. The city should be looking at it …. We need to make sure what’s happening with any development is happening on the hilltop.” “I’m not going to get into a food fight with Ken,” Kraus responded. “’What have you done? Where have you been?’ He’s every bit as much a part of these neighborhoods as I am.” Kumanchik, a University of Pittsburgh senior and member of the NRA, meanwhile takes issue with Kraus’ support for controversial Pittsburgh laws banning bump stocks and regulating gun use in city limits. “To me, that’s an overreach of power. That, in my mind, keeps you from having an objective mind and serving on a governing body,” said Kumancik, 25, who instead favors strengthening licensing and firearms training. “I’m not saying we should go in there and shoot down these laws. I’m not going to revisit things that I feel are outside the scope of the legislative branch. I don’t want to get into the same political games that got us into this mess.”
zoning to revisiting the issuance of pro-development tax credits. “I’d really like to be able to push that conversation: not just to look at what we have built but also looking at what we’ve incentivized,” said Gross, a Highland Park incumbent whose campaign website dubs her “a lifelong progressive activist.” Gross stressed she also wants to ensure public services remain public. “It seems like such a high-level, big concept but it affects people,” she said. “The people of the City of Pittsburgh own the water system. I do not think it should be there for a private equity firm in San Francisco’s profits or Wall Street’s profits.” Kane, a lifelong District 7 resident and Lawrenceville United board member, said residents she meets while knocking on doors think a little closer to home. They want her to focus on quality of life issues like constituent services, she said. “That is the reason people would be looking for a change,” said Kane, 46, of Lawrenceville, who has worked in Highmark’s marketing department for more than 20 years. “A lot of people, quite frankly, don’t know who their councilperson is.” “The number one thing for me? Initially, I thought it was affordability … but then after talking [with residents] the number one thing that rose to the top was constituent services, making sure the roads are done,” Kane said. “I went down a great many streets full of potholes. I don’t want to be reactive in reference to these problems.”
DISTRICT 7 Councilor Deb Gross is running against challenger Deirdre Kane, who recently won the Democratic Party committee endorsement for her first run for public office. Gross, like many in the region, has seen Butler Street development boom and market prices for homes in Lawrenceville skyrocket in the past five to 10 years. She wants to make sure, though, that more is being done to ensure housing is affordable – from inclusionary
DISTRICT 9 More than any other district in Pittsburgh right now, the District 9 race is a referendum on incumbency, with development in Homewood and Councilor Rev. Ricky Burgess’ relation to it seated front and center. Burgess is facing four challengers – Stephen Braxton, Cherylie Fuller, Judith Ginyard and Kierran Young. Fuller lives two doors down in Homewood from Nazarene Baptist Church, where Burgess serves as
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pastor. But her proximity to Burgess ends there. A 62-year-old retired Port Authority bus driver, Fuller said she supports “transparency, inclusiveness, dependability, accountability and approachability.” “It’s not about being against Councilman Burgess,” she said, “it’s about addressing what’s lacking.” To illustrate her point, Fuller cites 58 units of housing developed with Burgess’ support along Kelly Street and Hamilton Avenue, near his church. The Homewood Concerned Citizens Council, which she has helmed for more than five years, protested the construction, as did groups of local residents. “Definitely, we are not against low-income housing – they call it affordable housing --- but these units were not for us,” Fuller said. “The two- and three-bedroom units are priced at $1,200.” Ginyard, 60, a North Point Breeze real estate broker who has run for this seat several times, takes it a step further, questioning how much the project benefitted Burgess’ church. Burgess’ church bought three parcels that became part of the Kelly Street development for $600 in 2001, $1,000 in 2004 and $1,500 in 2010, Allegheny County property records show. According to the city Housing Authority – on whose board Burgess sits – the parcels were assessed by Trustmark Real Estate Services of Aliquippa for $31,350, $32,250 and $30,600, respectively. The city Housing Authority paid Burgess’ church $94,200 to buy them in 2017. Burgess abstained from the board vote. “The first thing I see is collusion,” Ginyard said. “As long as I’ve been selling real estate, I’d love to have a sweetheart deal like that, wouldn’t you? That’s not fair to the residents.” Young, in the meantime, takes exception to the very presence in District 9 of Burgess, who he called a “top-down” Peduto ally. “He’s had three terms. He deserves four? Why? Because he helped build substandard housing?” asked Young, 26, a Stanton Heights
man and Peabody High School graduate who has worked as a political consultant in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. “I’m not a huge fan of Darlene [Harris] but I am a huge fan of her independence from Bill Peduto … I believe it’s racist that Bill Peduto doesn’t think AfricanAmericans can pick their own leaders. He picked Ricky because he thinks Ricky will do what he wants him to do. I think it’s disgusting.” Young’s father, Andre Young, previously ran against Burgess, placing second to him in a contested primary in 2015. Braxton might be the only candidate not taking shots directly at Burgess. He just doesn’t know if the Councilor has done enough for his district’s senior population. “I just know what I want to do,” said Braxton, 51, of Stanton Heights, a maintenance technician for a senior-care facility, who wants to do more to address older residents’ housing needs. “The seniors, I work with them every day. They inspired me to run for office.” Like Gross in District 7, Braxton also touts the benefits of inclusionary zoning, and its benefits for providing better quality lowincome housing. Burgess is no stranger to contested elections. He faced primary opponents in 2007, 2011 and 2015. This time, he’s working to stay above the fray and stresses that, while Homewood – which he says remains more than half vacant – is improving, there’s a long road ahead. “You’re seeing the community taking investment in a way they haven’t in 50 years,” Burgess said. “But I have to keep working to ensure the investment in our community and our city are felt by everybody.”
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JUDICIOUS DECISION BY ARYANNA BERRINGER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT POLITICAL COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
efore 2013, I never gave judicial elections the time of day. I’m also willing to bet most people still feel the same way. Sure, I voted but I just didn’t really pay attention. Judges didn’t matter, did they? Except, they really, really do. Let’s look at the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The Superior Court is responsible for reviewing most of the civil and criminal cases that are appealed from the courts of common pleas. But the most thought I ever heard anyone give this race was someone once saying, “In the judge races I just pick the woman, let’s be real, they make better decisions than men.” I really couldn’t argue with him there. On May 21st there are two open seats on the Superior Court and both parties will be nominating their candidates. Republicans have endorsed Cumberland County Judge Christylee Peck and Chester County Deputy District Attorney Megan
McCarthy King. Former Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren is also running. Democrats have endorsed Amanda Green-Hawkins from Allegheny County and Judge Daniel McCaffery from Philadelphia County. Democrats also have a third candidate on the ballot, Beth Tarasi, also from Allegheny County. You may remember her from a Congressional race in which she had to withdraw from after legislative district boundaries were redrawn. She had been running against Conor Lamb. But before we talk about 2019, let’s go back in time a bit. In 2015, voters elected Democrat Alice Dubow over Republican Emil Giordano. In 2017, the General election for Superior Court allowed voters to select four judges. Our options included: • Geoffrey Moulton (D) • Carolyn Nichols (D) • Maria McLaughlin (D)
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Deborah Kunselman (D) Craig Stedman (R) Wade Kagarise (R) Emil Giordano (R) Mary Murray (R)
The women won every seat. That’s right, above party affiliation, the women won. Now we have Judges Nichols, McLaughlin, Kunselman, and Murray sitting on the Superior Court. Many have called the recent surge in women candidates running and winning, a referendum on President Trump. I don’t disagree, though I think it’s been a slow build. However, Democrats should pay attention to who they are nominating and if they want to add two more Democratic judges to the bench they should be considering more than just geography. The Republicans will have two women on the ballot come November, no matter how it shakes out. If Democrats want to be competitive, they have to consider the two women who have thrown their hats in the ring and what they bring to the table. Beth Tarasi, is well known to many in Western PA after her run for Congress. She is a trial attorney who has decades of experience in
the courtroom. She often tells a story about playing basketball at Pitt just after the passage of Title IX. Amanda Green-Hawkins, a former Allegheny County Councilor, has been a long champion for workers. Not only because she was raised by union parents but because she’s spent her career as counsel for the United Steelworkers. She’s argued in Federal courts keeping workers’ rights first and foremost in her mind. We expect our judges to be impartial, patient, and openminded. But let’s not forget that judges bring with them the experiences they’ve had in life. You can’t forget being a single mom, a working mom, the passage of Title IX, or how unions ensured you lived a solidly middle class life. We all know that I have never been one to hold a lot of stock in the endorsement of the Democratic party to any particular candidate. In fact, we disagree more than we agree. On November 5, 2019, I’d rather see two Democrats elected to the Superior Court and I think the best chances for that lie in the nomination of both Amanda GreenHawkins and Beth Tarasi.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY’S SUPERVISION PROBLEM BY REGGIE SHUFORD - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PENNSYLVANIA ACLU INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM Pennsylvania has one of the highest correctional supervision rates in the country. And while many states are rolling back their supervision systems, Pennsylvania’s is growing, thanks in part to excessively long probation sentences and overinflated parole terms. More than half of the people sitting in the Allegheny Jail are being held, not because they have been convicted of a crime, but because they are accused of violating a condition of probation. Allegheny County sends more people to prison for parole violations than for new crimes. But it need not be this way: Allegheny County’s district attorney can take immediate steps to dramatically reduce the harm that supervision has inflicted on our community. When a person is on probation, even for minor offenses, like marijuana possession or disorderly conduct; or legal behaviors, like missing an appointment or running late, can land a person back in jail on what is known as a “detainer.” People on supervision must fulfill numerous obligations that often have no relationship to public safety but make it almost impossible to rebuild a normal life. Supervision meetings in the middle of the day
interfere with work, random drugtesting appointments interfere with childcare, and monthly probation fees take money directly out of families’ mouths. What’s more, the hiccups of everyday life, like running late, forgetting an appointment, or getting pulled over, can mean incarceration for a person on supervision. Incarceration has devastating impacts on an individual and a community. An incarcerated individual cannot contribute to her family’s income or stability, leaving the families of incarcerated people at higher risk of losing their housing and at higher risk of having negative outcomes for their children. Even a brief period of incarceration can destroy an individual’s economic mobility, making it less likely they will be able to contribute productively to their community in the future. At the end of 2017, nearly 25,000 people were on probation, and another 5,000 people were on parole in Allegheny County alone. With an adult population of just under a million people, that means 1 in 34 adults is under supervision here. That rate is 36% higher than the national average. Allegheny County’s enormous supervision
crisis is driven, in part, by excessive probation terms: its average misdemeanor probation sentence is 30 months, and the average felony probation sentence is 60 months. No one should be kept under supervision for that long. Research has shown that these long supervision terms harm public safety because the conditions make it so difficult for people to maintain employment and housing. Lengthy probation terms simply function as a tripwire, where technical violations for non-criminal behavior, such as missing appointments with a probation officer, drive probation revocations and reincarceration— not new crimes. Although lengthy supervision provides no public safety benefit, Allegheny taxpayers foot the enormous costs for this crisis. Allegheny County employs 133 probation officers at a cost of more than $8.6 million a year. Those assigned to “low-risk” supervisees carry an average caseload of 965 people each, meaning that each officer would have to see 48 people every workday just to check in each month. (The recommended number of “low-risk” supervisees per officer is 200.) Not surprisingly, most of these “low-risk” individuals have no contact with their probation officers beyond an initial meeting. And yet, 86 percent of those on “low-risk” probation succeed, not because they benefited from supervision but because they did not need
supervision in the first place. It does not have to be this way. Allegheny County’s district attorney and other elected officials can take direct action to address Allegheny County’s mass supervision crisis. It is time for actors at every level of our political system—from Allegheny County’s district attorney to our elected representatives in Harrisburg—to come together to address this crisis. In fact, earlier this year, SB14, a bipartisan bill to dramatically limit the amount of time a person can be kept on probation, was introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate. And earlier this month, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner shortened the supervision terms that his prosecutors may request during negotiated pleas. It is now time for our elected prosecutor in Allegheny County to take affirmative steps to reduce the county’s supervision problem, both by limiting supervision terms and vocally supporting legislative action. Such a policy will save the county money, provide better supervision and programming to those who truly need it, and promote both rehabilitation and public safety. Shuford is an attorney and has been executive director of the Pennsylvania branch of the American Civil Liberties Union since 2011. aclupa.org
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 13
UNEQUAL PROTECTIONS BY JESS SEMLER - PITTSBURGH CURRENT SOCIAL JUSTICE COLUMNIST INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ast week the US Supreme Court announced it would be hearing three different cases that will determine if federal antidiscrimination laws protect people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, particularly in the workplace. If this would have happened with a pre-Gorsuch and Kavanaugh SCOTUS we would be celebrating right now. Alas, there currently aren’t any parties being planned or champagne bottles being popped in anticipation of these cases. I’m personally lighting some candles and praying that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes her vitamins and Justice John Roberts finds his conscience. While thinking about this I remembered an incident I’ve tried not to dwell on, but it’s clear in my mind again. In 2013, I had recently moved back to Pittsburgh and was paying my bills with a corporate job while I searched for something in the do-goodery field. I settled into my new work environment seamlessly, developing the camaraderie coworkers develop when spending everyday together; sharing chats about pop culture, politics and inside jokes. I felt comfortable talking about my personal life, if not a little bit vaguely, especially when it came to dating. One day I slipped up with my neutral pronoun gymnastics when I mentioned the person I was dating
and that I was going to visit her for the weekend. Cue the sound of a record screeching, at least that’s how I remember it. My coworkers were surprised because I didn’t “look gay” and had heard me talk about an exboyfriend before. This led to one of the most awkward conversations of my professional life. “It’s either/or. You like one or the other; you can’t like both… I don’t believe bisexuality exists,” my boss said. Yet here I was, standing before her. My bisexuality making me as unbelievable as the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and a damn unicorn rolled into one. I tried to explain my queerness to a woman who just didn’t get it. “I can be someone who has dated a man before and is now dating a woman… I’m, you know, doing it right now.” As wild as this sounds, I didn’t complain about this to our HR department at the time because I didn’t want to have to come out to someone else and relive this embarrassing, awkward experience or worse, talk to them and lose my job. In May 2014, Pennsylvania allowed same sex couples to marry after a ruling by a federal court judge against our 1996 gay marriage ban. Miraculously, PA was ahead of 13 other states in this respect. Then, in June 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a fundamental right that extends to same sex couples under the
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Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Yay! Gay rights! We did it! Rainbows and glitter for everyone! Just kidding. Because in all 50 states, you could marry a same-sex partner on Sunday, and in 35 of them, get fired on Monday for exercising your constitutional rights. For years, the issue that dominated the mainstream discussion around gay rights was marriage equality. A host of issues contributed to this, including the palatability of the “love is love” message and marriage being an assimilation into heteronormative culture which made gay folks seem less threatening. Of course, this leaves out the less affluent and more marginalized members of the queer community. After the fight for marriage equality, in nearly 30 states there are no explicit protections for employment, housing, and public accommodations because of someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation. A small handful of states have extended their discrimination laws to explicitly cover LGBT folks, but 30 still have not. Thankfully in 2018 the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission stepped up and ruled that LGBTQ folks fall under the list of protected groups under the law. However, the Republican-controlled state legislature has blocked laws in the past several years specifically meant to prevent LGBTQ individuals from facing discrimination. In fact, many Republican members of the house contend the HRC’s opinion is “overreaching.” But before the HRC decision, it was unable to even take cases regarding LGBTQ discrimination. Federally speaking, things are murky at best when it comes to SCOTUS. When it comes to the executive branch, President Trump has stacked his cabinet with people who are openly hostile to the queer community, and there is a laundry list of terrible policies that have been rolled out as a result. Then of course there is Vice President Mike Pence.
The only issue that gets this dude more hot and bothered than gay people is the idea of women having access to quality reproductive care. As dire as all of this seems, there is a glimmer of hope with the legislative branch. Last month Congress and the Senate introduced the Equality Act which would expand the rights outlined in the 1964 Civil Rights Act to LGBT folks. Additionally the ACLU said in a press release, “The Equality Act also clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) cannot be used in civil rights contexts, prohibiting religious liberty — which is a core American value — from being used as a license to discriminate.” In light of SCOTUS taking on the suite of cases addressing these same issues, it is even more imperative that these bills become law. An iteration of this bill was first introduced in 2015 but failed. Because of the gains made in the November 2018 elections, it’s a different scenario this time. There are 241 cosponsors for the bill in the House and 47 in the Senate, which is unprecedented for a bill that didn’t move four years ago. There is likely to be a vote in the House Judiciary Committee in the next week, so it’s important to call your Congressperson and urge them to support this. After you’ve called your representative, I invite you light your own candle and say a chant or two for RBG’s health. If you’re still frustrated at our state of affairs and want to do something donate here: Sisters Pgh: A local organization that offers outreach, accurate trans/ nonbinary education, advocacy, and emergency sheltering for trans/ nonbinary youth and adults, with the primary goal of establishing permanent low income housing for people transitioning out of emergency shelters. LGBT Victory Fund: National organization dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBTQ officials at all levels of government.
BY CHARLIE DEITCH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT EDITOR CHARLIE@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
n April 2001, then-mayoral candidate Bob O’Connor sat in the cramped conference room with six people who looked more like they worked on a loading dock than a newspaper. It was four years before he’d become Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O’Connor. He sat in the room with those blue-jeans, no-tie wearing journalists for more than an hour. He answered question after question about city services lacking in economically distressed parts of Pittsburgh. We asked him about Downtown development in the wake of the “Fifth-Forbes” debacle (Google it). We asked him about the use of public funds to build sports arenas. At the time it didn’t seem remarkable, but he sat there and answered every one of our questions in the ramshackle South Side offices of In Pittsburgh News Weekly. We were all good journalists, we knew our stuff. But we weren’t the mainstream media, not by a longshot. But O’Connor and his opponent, then-Mayor Tom Murphy met with us in an effort to gain our endorsement. Our coverage had
been super critical of both men for years but they still met with us. (In case you’re wondering, our editorial board endorsed Murphy by one vote, despite my passionate arguments for O’Connor, a result that still makes my head spin.) Why did they sit down with us? Because that’s what politicians did then. It would have been extremely out of the ordinary if they didn’t. Somewhere over the past two decades, though, that has changed. Politicians now have social media to get their message out unfettered and unfiltered through a reporter. But the only person that’s actually good for is the politician. And it’s not just journalists who get the snub. In the past if a community group was having a forum, both candidates showed up to engage with voters and each other. It wasn’t always a debate, but it got the two candidates in a room together to let voters see how they measured up. But that’s all become a thing of the past, especially in larger races. There was a time that if your opponent didn’t show up at an event, they paid for it in some way.
Now? There are no repercussions. Take a major race like the one for Allegheny County District Attorney. Challenger Turahn Jenkins tells me that he has yet to run into his opponent at any of the candidate forums he’s attended. The same thing happens in city council races, county council races and even more frequently in state-level races, especially for state house and senate seats. Allegheny County Councilat-Large candidate Bethany Hallam hasn’t run into her opponent, John DeFazio, at an event this election season and he’s served for 20 years. Last year, you’d be hardpressed not to see candidates like Sara Innamorato, Summer Lee, Daniel Smith and Emily Skopov at local candidate meetings. Their opponents on the other hand were pretty much always no-shows. In the case of Smith, who ran against the vile Daryl Metcalfe, on the rare occasion that they did see each other, Metcalfe refused to shake hands with his openly gay opponent. For a lot of incumbents, avoiding places where they could be asked about their job performance and record of public service, that’s a
campaign strategy. Apparently, they think if people can’t ask you why you’ve made questionable legislative decisions, then they can’t vote against you for said decisions. Hiding out and shutting up has replaced facing the public and defending your record. And it’s not just candidate events that are getting snubbed. If a politician doesn’t want to talk to a reporter for an election story because they don’t want to be asked tough questions, they just don’t call them back. That leaves the reporter with a tough decision because we want to provide a complete story. How long do we wait for an answer before we just run what we’ve got. And if a candidate won’t take the time to call us back, what’s our level of responsibility to search public records and news accounts to try and figure out where they stand? You’ll find that in this very issue. Incumbent Darlene Harris refused to speak to the Current’s Justin Vellucci for his city council preview this week. He included information from past coverage, but at the end of the day she declared she just didn’t have time to participate. We’ll have a story on the aforementioned HallamDefazio race online later this week because we made every effort to get DeFazio to respond and at the end, just ran out of time. We need to hold our incumbent officials responsible for the decisions they’ve made. And to be clear, it’s not all of them, but way more than there should be. This culture of ignoring the public has gotten out of hand. Public officials rarely hold townhall meetings because they only want to talk to the constituents who support them. As you head to the polls in a few weeks, think about how often you’ve seen or heard from your elected officials. Think about whether their name was in a news story about their race with the words, “declined to comment for this story” after it. If they won’t show up for you, they probably don’t deserve your vote.
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 15
THE MUSIC ISSUE
TOUR GUIDE BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ittsburgh music is a great thing to be a part of, full it is of supportive people (see our story on the Lopez for more proof of that) and inspiring artists. But a conversation with rapper Mars Jackson earlier this year got us thinking about the sometimes insular nature of the local scene: as Jackson put it, “there’s nothing in the city of Pittsburgh that’s actually helping artists in the area of touring.” So with the Current’s first-ever Music Issue, we’re hoping to encourage our city’s talented musicians to expand their reach. We called on some Pittsburghers who have spent time on the road to share their expertise. Within these pages, you’ll find a step-by step guide to putting together your own DIY tour, insider info on how to endear yourself to the front-ofhouse and thus sound your best at any club, and tried-and-true hints on how to stay healthy on the road. We’ve also included an index of local venues to share with the friends you make in other cities, because the impact of hitting the road boomerangs back: Increased touring means more connections, more out-of-town bands adding Pittsburgh to their own itineraries, and ultimately a stronger, more exciting local scene. “When [Pittsburgh artists] tour, they’re repping Pittsburgh,” says Spirit General Manager Justin Strong, who talked to us about how audiences can support artists in a more material way. “They’re sowing the seeds of opportunity in these other places.” Touring always involves a lot of trial and error, but we’re hoping this starter guide gets some wheels turning, literally and figuratively.
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ON THE MONEY
PROMOTER JUSTIN STRONG GETS REAL ABOUT INVESTING FINANCIALLY IN PITTSBURGH’S MUSIC SCENE BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
“WE HAVE TO GET OVER THIS 1990S MENTALITY. WE HAVE TO SPEND MORE AT THE DOOR.”
ouring is, of course, not as simple as just setting up some shows and piling all your gear in a van. What if your day job won’t give you time off? What if you have a family and a mortgage? What if you’re just broke? A robust and active music scene needs everyone’s help. And for Spirit general manager Justin Strong, that help has to come in the form of cold, hard cash. “I think what Pittsburgh suffers from the most is, the consumer behavior needs to change,” he says. “We’re still charging covers today, in 2019, that I was charging in 1992. The price of movies has gone up. The price of gas has gone up, the price of milk. And it’s like, what do you want to be produced for five bucks? “We have to get over this 1990s mentality. We have to spend more at
the door.” Strong’s been in this game for a long time. He got his start putting together events in college, and then went on to open the Shadow Lounge, the fabled East Liberty venue where Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa honed their skills. He’s always approached booking more as a producer than a venue owner, but he’s all too aware of the stark economic issues at play. “In my older age, I’m more skittish,” he says, particularly when it comes to booking out-of-town artists. After expenses, and once everyone is paid properly, any given show – including Spirit Sessions, Strong’s popular open-stage series – will easily cost around $500700. “There has to be this jump of faith,” he says. “We wanna bring in
these acts, but they’re charging us New York prices. And they don’t realize that Pittsburgh has a foreign exchange currency rate.” Strong has some pretty simple ideas on how to begin to make that consumer shift. First, he says, bookers need to form an alliance. “I always say, get the major players onboard and say, ‘Look, let’s all agree: Fridays and Saturdays, if you have a DJ or a performance of anything, charge $10. “On the weekends, I don’t think there should be anything under $10 at the door,” he says. “That money is going to go to the artist to make a living. If they could just do their craft and be artists, and practice – which means they don’t have to work their second job – they’re going to put on a better show.” Plus, the more money a promoter brings in, the more money there is to invest in the venue, and the better the overall experience becomes. And when local artists make money, they can tour. They start representing Pittsburgh in other
cities, ultimately raising our city’s profile as a desirable place to play. Strong also suggests, among other things, a PR effort by the city and various arts non-profits to encourage patrons to think about where and how they spend your money. “Mathematically its simple, but its behavior,” he says. “We will spend $8 on a hot dog at PNC Park. We’re cool with that. So I would just line up the comparisons of what you get for $10 [for a three or four hour show], and do a conversion rate. How many movies is that? How many hot dogs? If you want to have some intent about this, then we just gotta shift the money a little bit. That’s all. “There’s nothing sexy about racing to the bottom,” he adds. “Romanticizing the struggle. I think Pittsburgh has struggled enough. Let’s just pay some bills here. Let’s support each other and say, ‘Hey, I value you and I’m going to show that value with tangible love energy in the form of U.S. currency.”
THE MENDELSSOHN CHOIR OF PITTSBURGH PRESENTS
CU ode mo c s! o r p iCkET Use Off T % 0 1 . r 9 1 fo 5/17/ offer
May 18 - 7:30pm
East Liberty Presbyterian Church
May 19 - 3:00pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Matthew Mehaffey, Music Director Tickets: $10-$45 in advance. Youth under 12 are free. Tickets and info at WWW.THEMENDELSSOHN.ORG or call 866.811.4111 PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 17
ARE YOU REALLY READY TO TOUR? The harsh reality is that maybe your band is not at the point where touring is the best idea. Have you only played one show in your hometown? Is an iPhone recording of band practice you posted on YouTube your only form of digital media? Are you lacking physical media (tapes, records, shirts, etc.)? Do you only have five likes or followers on social media? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then you’ll probably want to hold off. Playing out of town when no one knows your band will be a costly, disappointing vacation where you play to an empty room. If you do have physical releases, a Bandcamp or other digital platform with media, and have played consistently for a year or two, then move on to the next question.
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO? Where are you starting and what is your destination? Is there a far-away festival or other big event you’ve been invited to? Do you just want to hit the four or five closest cities to your town? Get out a map and see exactly where you want to end up and figure out the most logical order of those places you want to stop.
WHEN DO YOU WANT TO GO?
TOURING, DIY STYLE
SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU HIT THE ROAD
Is this a three-day weekend or a month-long tour? What time of year are you going? Are you going to be playing all college towns and will school be out of session? Are you touring through the northern midwest and the Rocky Mountains during blizzard season? Sometimes a city can be better on a Monday night then a Friday night if the music crowd works in the service industry. Consider the weather, if the city population is seasonal, and – if you can – talk to people who live there to get a feel for the scene.
BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
Booking a tour for the first time is a daunting task. That’s why we asked certified road-dog and Excel spreadsheet fanatic Dave Rosenstraus to lay out some of the do-it-yourself basics. Rosenstraus has toured all over the world with bands like R.A.M.B.O, Pissed Jeans, Hounds of Hate, S.L.I.P., and others. He also rents vans to touring bands, so maybe keep him in mind when it comes time to figure out the ever-bedeviling transportation issue. 18 | APR. 30, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
CAN YOU ALL GO, AND HOW WILL YOU GET THERE? Does your bass player have enough vacation days to do this whole tour? Is the singer starting a new job right when you plan to hit the road? After setting aside dates and a proposed route, get together an old-fashioned band meeting to confirm everyone is on board before booking even starts. Nothing sullies a band’s reputation like canceling last minute. Secondly, what equipment do you need, and how are you going to lug that gear to different cities? The largest cost of a tour is the transportation. Make a budget and make sure the band can afford the costs even if the tour does not do as well as expected.
HOW DO YOU BOOK IT? If you have figured out all the boring logistics of the tour, the final key is getting shows. Here are the do’s: Hit up touring bands you have played with previously in your hometown and ask them for venue and promoter recommendations in their cities. Find other bands you like in those cities and contact them via social media or their band media pages (Bandcamp, etc.). Other bands can check you out and if they are into what you are doing they will get back in touch with you. Look up upcoming Facebook events for shows of your band’s style in that city. Does the same person host each event? If so, message them and ask for advice. Here are the do nots: Do not call up a bar or venue directly. Bars will host shows, but promoters deal with setting up the shows and promoting them. Always talk directly to a promoter. Do not “put a hold” on a bar and try to book your own show in another city. I get emails from out of town bands I don’t know asking to play at a local bar they have put a hold on. This makes you seem desperate and will likely result in an empty room. Promoting your band in your own city is difficult enough, don’t try to take on the task from hundreds of miles away. A couple more helpful tips: If you find a promoter willing to work with you don’t be too pushy. Some people have a lot on their plate and need gentle reminders, but also be respectful of their time. A promoter is likely taking a chance booking a touring band so be grateful for their time and effort. Spreadsheets. Make one so you can keep track of all the show info. Date, city, promoter name and contact, show time, other bands, load in time, and even distance between each show. This will help keep things in order and be a reminder of the holes in your tour you need to fill.
MONEY No matter how many of your songs are about the destruction of capitalism, the reality is that you need money to travel, eat, and perform. From gas money to drum sticks, think of everything you need to buy ahead of time and while on the road. When dealing with a promoter on a first tour it’s likely you will get a door deal. You will get a portion of the money from the door collections. There are some bars that give promoter funds from the bar for attracting people to drink and in that case you may be able to know how much you will be getting ahead of time. No matter the amount, always thank the promoter. (But if there are 200 people at the show and the promoter gives you $50 at the end of the night, then you have the right to do some not-so-friendly questioning.) Decide ahead of time what will be paid for by a band fund and what will be paid for by individuals. It’s easier to have everyone pay for their own meals and then divide extra money at the end of tour rather than having people put in loans to a band fund and keep track of money in and money out. Sell some stuff! Bring t-shirts, tapes, records, etc. and price them where you make a few bucks but it’s still affordable to someone coming out to the show. PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 19
each venue you will play in advance of the show and bring a printed copy with you in case the sound engineer doesn’t have it with them. Bring a few backups of whatever accessories you need for your set - instrument cables, power strips, picks, etc. These things seem to break and disappear constantly and it’s not safe to assume a venue will have more for you. Rehearse before you hit the road. Soundcheck isn’t your practice space.
Madeleine Campbell, far right (Photo: CJ Harvey)
TIPS TO MAKING YOUR BAND SOUND JUST RIGHT ON THE ROAD BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
here’s plenty to worry about on tour, but when it comes down to it, what’s more important than sounding your very best? We asked recording engineer/ tour manager extraordinaire Madeleine Campbell – who is currently on tour with Chvches and Cherry Glazer – for some tips on keeping it pro. What’s the best way to make friends with a sound engineer? Start by showing up on time! If you aren’t sure what time you are supposed to arrive, figure it out. If you are going to be late, let your contact at the venue know. Be patient. Especially in small clubs and venues of a certain
capacity, one person is often fulfilling many roles--front of house engineer (mixing what the audience hears), monitor engineer (mixing what the band hears on stage), stage and production manager, lighting technician, loader, among others. A good engineer will move with a sense of urgency and work as efficiently as possible, but recognize and be sensitive if they are balancing many tasks at once. What should happen before tour to prepare for smooth soundcheck experiences? Make a complete and accurate input list/stage plot that will let the sound engineer know how the stage needs to be set up for you. Email it to
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We’ve only played basement shows and are playing a club with a professional engineer for the first time. What should we expect? When you get to a venue, introduce yourselves to the house engineer. Ask them if they are ready for you to set up your gear on stage or if you should set it up in another particular place until that time. Ask them where your empty cases should go and stack them neatly. As you set up your gear, the engineer will patch the stage, meaning they will plug each microphone input into their stage box that connects to the mixing board. Once soundcheck starts, each musician will play their instrument one at a time as the sound engineer dials in levels for the house PA and in your monitors. Other musicians should be attentive and not play while their bandmates check their instruments. Be patient, especially if one person is mixing both front of house sound and monitors but don’t hesitate to ask for what you need to play your best show. When you are finished with your set, tear down your gear quickly. Changeover for the next band usually needs to happen in 15 or 20 minutes so wait to talk with your friends until after you clear off the stage. Any other general soundrelated advice? There is a finite amount of sonic space for a sound engineer to work with before audio signals start distorting and feeding back. Understand that if they ask you to turn something down on stage,
they are probably doing you a favor. It likely means the clarity of other instruments on stage is being compromised by that particular one. Be flexible and open to making adjustments as sound systems and room acoustics vary wildly from venue to venue. Figure out a way to communicate your monitor needs to your sound engineer in a way that works for you individually and as a group. Ask for whatever changes you need one person at a time. It can very quickly turn into several people talking over one another which becomes confusing for everyone. Sometime hand signals work well. If you need more or less of a particular instrument in your mix, raise your hand up or down until the level feels good for you, then give them a thumbs up. It may sound silly, but it really helps to be very clear. Any GENERAL touring advice for staying alive and happy on the road? Everyone tours differently but for me, eating well is essential to my mental and physical health. I spend a lot more money on groceries than I normally would while I’m on the road but it’s totally worth it. Get as much sleep as you can. If you are already tired, that after show party or trip to the bar is not worth it. Be self-sufficient and punctual. Touring can be mentally and physically exhausting for everyone, no matter what their role within the tour is. No one has the energy to babysit you. Carve out at least few minutes each day for alone time and fresh air, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Be respectful to everyone, even if you are tired and having a bad show with a mediocre production crew. The touring world is smaller than you may think, and people remember.
PITTSBURGH MUSICIANS SHARE THEIR TIPS FOR STAYING SANE AND HEALTHY ON THE ROAD BY MIKE SHANLEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
ouring can make you crazy, Frank Zappa opined in the film 200 Motels. And he was right. Those long hours and days away from home can be hazardous to one’s health. And it’s not restricted to the mega-rockers either. The Replacements once laid waste to a tour bus with cans of paint and a free-flying toilet. Mike Watt of the Minutemen used the pantlegs of his jumpsuit to combat a health issue during a tour. (Check out the book, Our Band Could Be Your Life for the scatological details). Pittsburgh bands have their fair share of road stories too. We asked a handful of them about how they do it without wrecking their health. Here are a few answers. BRAD YODER: Back in the day, I did a fair bit of driving too far on too little sleep, sleeping on random couches and also sleeping in my car. Some of the crazy long drives I did in my 20s or 30s don’t make sense [now] at 52. My body would just punish me too hard. I would
always try to stay with friends, or “fan-friends,” whenever possible to save money and that usually worked out. One reason I try to show extra hospitality to musicians who crash at my house now, is that I know that being on the road is tough and can take a lot out of you. And frequently, it’s a labor of love, in terms of the money earned. MARY BIELICH (Behind Enemy Lines, Mud City Manglers): Being vegan, I’m always stocking up on any sort of snack bars and nuts and anything I can get, assuming that the next place you go, you’re going to have nothing. Let’s say you’ve got five peanut butter Clif Bars? You might want to get ten. Stick them under the seats. Stick them in the visor. Stick them anywhere they fit. Be prepared to break down and stash that stuff. You never know when you’re going to need that bag of nuts. This is the unpopular opinion, but I’m going to say it: Do you really have to drink on the road? Most people do. I always refrain from drinking on the road because I made
that mistake once: of being horribly hungover in Europe. We were going to a castle the next day, in Germany. It was miserable. So if you’re not going to watch your booze, know when your driving shift is coming up. Be mindful and don’t be the jerk that makes your one bandmate drive all the time. You’ll feel better and you’ll sound better. Here’s my advice for smokers: If you’re standing outside of the show and you’re talking to people and you’re getting a little bit anxious and excited because you’re talking to all these people, don’t smoke three cigarettes in a row. You might get nicotine poisoning. You’ll definitely get tunnel vision. You might pass out. One of the most important things as well: If and when you have the opportunity to take a shower, do not lose that opportunity because you don’t know when you’ll have it again. Your bandmates will thank you. MICHAEL KASTELIC (The Cynics): Most important thing: put something over your face. People laughed at Michael Jackson because he wore the medical mask over his face. What I use is a regular cowboy bandana. Sometimes I get in trouble on airplanes. Here’s the thing: You have to keep your nose, mouth and throat humidified. There has to be moisture because that’s what kills the bacteria. Otherwise you’re going to get any kind of fucking bacteria or viruses in your throat. If your nose dries out, if your throat dries out, if your eyes dry out, that is where the viruses start. Keep your face covered. And it’s not just an affect, it’s a scientific fact. Be like Greta Garbo, just cover your face and say, “I want to be alone. I don’t want to breathe your goddam fucking viruses.” Also I take the multi-vitamins. It’s pretty much Propecia for the hair and multi-vitamins. But sometimes I’ll bring a springtime mix of Vitamin supplements, some D, some C. Also I’ve switched from Tums to Rolaids. Not that I really suffer that much from acid reflux. But I don’t think the Tums work that well. Take a roll of Rolaids. If you get dyspeptic, you can
chew on it, you can suck it. DAVE WHEELER (OutsideInside, Limousine Beach): On one U.S. tour, I subsisted on cold cans of Hormel chili (no beans). After the tour ended I discovered a rogue can that had rolled under a seat and decided to treat myself by heating it up and eating it with some cheese and onions. I’ll tell you what…it wasn’t much of an improvement. It’s a little easier in Europe because the hospitality is better. They almost always provide you with a meal made from actual food and they seem to care about things like dietary restrictions and whether or not eating a peanut will kill you. As a singer, I do have to at least make an effort to preserve my voice. The means less booze and avoiding conversations at the venue before and after the show. You know: you’re chatting away at the merch table while another band is raging in the background and you don’t realize you’re yelling the entire time. Next thing you know, you’re voice is gone with 23 shows to go. So I guess my advice is eat chili, only tour Europe, don’t drink and don’t to talk to anyone. ELI KASAN (The Gotobeds): Beyond remembering your running shorts or to pack vegan food for when you’re stuck in Middle America and the only thing to eat is something that looks like America ran over it with its car, is remembering to check on each other’s mental health and remember that other people are dealing with real shit — shit that doesn’t go away when you’re on vacation, “touring.” I’ve been out enough that, inevitably, someone has had a death in the family, a pet that got sick or there’s an angry partner. It’s easy to get annoyed with your bandmates when you’re in close quarters for long stretches. But try to remember to be kind. Traveling under duress can be difficult, so the Number One thing I try to keep top of mind is to have empathy with, and for, your traveling companions.
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A GUIDE TO PITTSBURGH’S MUSIC VENUES, INCLUDING TWO NEW PLAYERS ON THE SCENE
BY BETHANY RUHE - PITTSBURGH CURRENT ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER BETHANY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
cKees Rocks is about to become McKees Rocks and Rolls. Two hotly anticipated venues, Roxian and Black Forge Coffee, are both opening in the coming weeks, giving a lot of people a whole lot of reasons to check out the neighborhood. The Roxian, an old vaudeville theater, is almost ready to open their doors for their first show and Grand Opening May 10 with British funk band The New Mastersounds. John Pergal, COO and Partner of Roxian Live, decided to invest in the old theater when he was approached by Tairs Vrcek of the McKees Rocks CDC. “He’s a fan of the Thunderbird Cafe, my other venue. Once seeing the Theatre for the first time, I knew it had great potential to become an incredible live music venue.” He also saw the opportunity to have a positive impact on the community. “This was also a chance to help transform the Lower Chartiers business district, similar to what the Thunderbird Cafe did in Lawrenceville.” Pergal promises world class sound and lighting and great sight lines to enhance people’s experiences. They will also feature 20 beers on tap, with a focus on local craft breweries. That local-focus will continue when it comes to booking acts, too. “Whenever possible, we’re going to be pulling local acts as openers for nationally touring acts. We’ll also be hosting special events and local showcases that will incorporate our favorite Pittsburgh talent.” Black Forge Coffee is also officially opening their new McKees Rocks location soon, although a date has not yet been set. After battling noise issues with live music in their Allentown location, the metal-loving coffee heads decided to find a new location, settling on a former Chartiers Trust Bank building. They plan to hit the ground running, so make sure to check their website for upcoming shows and events.
THE FOLLOWING IS A SELECT LIST OF MUSICAL VENUES FROM AROUND THE PITTSBURGH REGION Venue Guide compiled by Amanda Reed and Charlie Deitch
AUGUST WILSON AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER Address: 900 Liberty Ave., Downtown Contact: aacc-awc.org Upcoming Shows of Note: Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival Recent Shows of Note: Gregory Porter Bottom Line: Named for Pittsburgh’s famed playwright, the musical offerings here are as good as the top notch literary, dance and visual arts presentations. A mix of national and local acts; top-flight jazz is a particular specialty.
BENEDUM CENTER Address: 237 Seventh St., Downtown Contact: trustarts.org Upcoming Shows of Note: Hozier (May 26), Peter Frampton (July 2) Recent Shows of Note: Mariah Carey Bottom Line: Catch classic works performed by Pittsburgh Opera and some of the best touring acts in the country at this 2,800-seat theater.
BRILLOBOX Address: 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield Contact: brilloboxpgh.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Mars Jackson, Rich Jones (May 15); Recent Shows of Note: Paddy the Wanderer Bottom Line: Unapologetic hipster joint with great food and a variety of local and touring acts from a variety of genres.
CARNEGIE OF HOMESTEAD MUSIC HALL Address: 510 E 10th Ave., Munhall
Contact: librarymusichall.com Upcoming Shows of Note: The Tallest Man on Earth (May 10), David Crosby (June 2) Recent Shows of Note: Sunn O))) Bottom Line: Intimate historic venue focused on national acts from a variety of genres. The only thing better than its music lineup is the number of top-level comedians to take the stage.
CATTIVO Address: 146 44th St., Lawrenceville Contact: cattivopgh.com Upcoming Shows of Note: I: Scintilla (May 1), The Clay People (May 30) Recent Shows of Note: Neyla Pekarek Bottom Line: A great spot for a wide range of live music in one of Pittsburgh’s most popular entertainment districts.
CLUB CAFE Address: 56 S. 12th Street, South Side Contact: clubcafelive.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Brooke Annibale (May 10), The Forty Nineteens (May 24) Recent Shows of Note: Cactus Blossoms Bottom Line: One of the best places in the city to see intimate performances from great local and nationally known singer-songwriters.
CRAFTHOUSE Address: 5024 Curry Road, Whitehall Contact: crafthousepgh.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Nashville Pussy (May 22)
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Recent Shows of Note: Enuff Z’Nuff Bottom Line: The 50 craft beers on tap is already an attraction. Musical offerings tend toward Hard Rock, Southern Rock and Classic Rock. It’s also the ideal place to catch a tribute band of our favorite artist.
FOXTAIL Address: 1601 E. Carson St., South Side Contact: foxtailpgh.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Chris Lake (May 16); All that Remains (June 14) Recent Shows of Note: T-Pain, Crystal Method Bottom Line: Live music events range
from hip hop to hard rock to EDM.
GOOSKIS Address: 3117 Brereton St., Polish Hill Contact: tinyurl.com/gooskisfb Upcoming Shows of Note: The Russells (May 4) Recent Shows of Note: The Spits Bottom Line: The music is loud, the beer is cheap. Punk, metal, hard rock, blackmetal, hardcore.
GREER CABARET THEATER Address: 655 Penn Ave., Downtown Contact: www.trustarts.org Upcoming Shows of Note: Damien
SATURDAY, MAY 4, 8 P.M. Trinity High School, 231 Park Avenue, Washington, PA 15301
Tickets available at 1-888-71-TICKETS or www.washsym.org or at the door. For more information call 724-223-9796 or visit www.washsym.org The WSO has received funding for its 2018-2019 season marketing project from the Washington County Tourism Promotion Agency, Inc.
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Best in Show By Phil Juliano
Sucks to Be an Animal
By Sienna Cittadino SYNONYM RAISIN
by Andrew Schubert
CARTOONISTS CARTOONISTS WANTED WANTED pittsburgh current is looking for local artists who would like to have their comics featured on our twice-monthly funny pages.
20 | OCT. 23, 2018 | PITTSBURGH CURRENTemail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | OCT. 23, 2018 | 21
Jurado (May 20) Recent Shows of Note: The Cooper Family, Ann Hampton Callaway and Amanda McBroom Bottom Line: A small, intimate space to get away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Pittsburgh.
HARD ROCK CAFE Address: 230 W Station Square Drive, Station Square Contact: hardrockcafe.com/location/ pittsburgh/ Upcoming Shows of Note: Cosplay Karaoke (May 9), Beasto Blanco (May 20) Recent Shows of Note: Steel Blossoms, Dale Watson Bottom Line: It’s Pittsburgh’s version of the iconic brand featuring live local and national acts. Do yourself a favor and check out Cosplay Karaoke.
HEINZ HALL Address: 600 Penn Ave., Downtown Contact: trustarts.org Upcoming Shows of Note: Beethoven’s Ninth (June 6), Igor Levit plays Mozart (June 14) Recent Shows of Note: Leslie Odom, Jr., Renée Fleming Bottom Line: A grand, spacious concert hall featuring the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and nationally touring acts.
HIGHMARK STADIUM Address: 510 West Station Square Drive Contact: highmarkstadium.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Sammy Hagar and the Circle with Night Ranger (June 5) Bottom Line: A great place for smaller stadium shows while you check out the million-dollar view.
HOWLERS Address: 4509 Liberty Ave., Lawrenceville Contact: howlerspittsburgh.com Upcoming Shows of Note:The Sun Champs & Zachary Lee (May 3), Whiskey Daredevils with Smokey Bellows & Brian Mcquaid (May 4) Recent Shows of Note: A Pittsburgh Tribute to John Prine Bottom Line: This rock bar located in Pittsburgh’s Little Italy packs a big punch with rock ‘n roll Wednesdays through Sunday.
JERGEL’S RHYTHM GRILLE Address: 103 Slade Lane, Warrendale Contact: jergels.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Jefferson Starship, Abbarama, Last In Line Recent Shows of Note: The Allman Betts
Band, Tyler Farr Bottom Line: A two-story, 17,000 square foot venue featuring local, regional and national touring acts of all genres.
KEYBANK PAVILION Address: 665 Route 18, Burgettstown Contact: www.burgettstownpavilion.net Upcoming Shows of Note: Wiz Khalifa (July 20), Hootie and the Blowfish (July 21) Recent Shows of Note: Lady Antebellum & Darius Rucker Bottom Line: Rock out to some of the best touring acts at Pennsylvania’s biggest outdoor amphitheater.
MCG JAZZ Address: 1815 Metropolitan Street, Chateau Contact: mcgjazz.org Upcoming Shows of Note: Booker T. Jones (May 10) Recent Shows of Note: Fred Hersch Trio and “The Genius of Eddie Jefferson” feat. Allan Harris Bottom Line: Providing some of Pittsburgh’s chillest tunes since 1987.
MR. SMALLS THEATRE Address: 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale Contact: www.mrsmalls.com Upcoming Shows of Note: The Mountain Goats (May 7), Soccer Mommy (July 12) Recent Shows of Note: Mitski, Chase and the Barons Bottom Line: A multipurpose theatre bringing some of the best to Pittsburgh for the past 15 years.
O’REILLY THEATER Address: 621 Penn Ave., Downtown Contact: www.trustarts.org Upcoming Shows of Note: Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp (May 6), The Vaudevillians (July 11) Recent Shows of Note: Bottom Line: Catch the best of regional theater and live performance at Pittsburgh’s only thrust-stage theater.
THE PALACE THEATRE Address: 21 West Otterman St., Greensburg Contact: www.thepalacetheatre.org Upcoming Shows of Note: Whitesnake (May 14), The Lettermen (May 19) Recent Shows of Note: REO Speedwagon, Needtobreathe Bottom Line: Catch everything, from ballet to the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra and national entertainers, at this Westmoreland theater.
PETERSEN EVENTS CENTER
THE MR. ROBOTO PROJECT
Address: 3719 Terrace St., Oakland Contact: www.peterseneventscenter. com Upcoming Shows of Note: JoJo Siwa (July 30) Recent Shows of Note: TOBYMAC, Arctic Monkeys, Bottom Line: Hail to Pitt and hail to live music at this 9,000 seat venue.
Address: 5106 Penn Ave., Bloomfield Contact: www.therobotoproject.com/ Upcoming Shows of Note: Fog Lake, Great Grandpa Recent Shows of Note: AllegrA, Slaughter Beach Bottom Line: A DIY show space and art gallery that creates a comfortable and open safe space for music lovers in Pittsburgh.
PPG PAINTS ARENA Address: 1001 Fifth Ave., Downtown Contact: www.ppgpaintsarena.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Ariana Grande (June 12), Khalid (July 29) Recent Shows of Note: Cher, Mumford and Sons Bottom Line: Yes, it’s the home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it’s also home to national touring acts that happen to land in the Steel City.
THE REX THEATER
Address: 4100 Forbes Ave., Oakland Contact: www.pittsburghparks.org/ schenley-plaza Upcoming Shows of Note: Make Music Pittsburgh (June 21), WYEP Summer Music Festival (June 29) Bottom Line: Nothing says summer like listening to music outdoors in a park
Address: 1054 Herron Ave., Polish Hill Contact: https://www.facebook.com/ rockroompgh/ Upcoming Shows of Note: Fuckin Basterd, Mower and Kollission (May 29) Bottom Line: Just right around the Gooski’s, The Rock Room features cheap food and metal music to rage to.
Address: 1602 East Carson St., Southside Contact: www.rextheater.net Upcoming Shows of Note: Hop Along (July 9), Snail Mail (July 28) Recent Shows of Note: CKY, Our Last Night Bottom Line: Originally a vaudeville theater, the Rex Theater brings live music, free movie nights, independent film screenings, plays and comedy shows to the Southside
RIVERS CASINO EVENTS CENTER Address: 777 Casino Dr., Chateau Contact: www.riverscasino.com/ pittsburgh Upcoming Shows of Note: George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic (June 7) Recent Shows of Note: Blues Traveler Bottom Line: Hit the slots, visit the free Drum Bar and catch some of the biggest names in entertainment, all in the same place
UPMC EVENTS CENTER AT ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY Address: 6001 University Blvd., Moon Contact: https://www. upmceventscenter.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Evanescence (May 12), The Doobie Brothers (Aug. 16) Recent Shows of Note: n/A Bottom Line: This new 161,000-squarefoot, 4,000 seat venue on Robert Morris University’s campus combines academics, athletics and plenty of opportunities to watch live entertainment.
SMILING MOOSE Address: 1306 East Carson St., Southside Contact: www.smiling-moose.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Kublai Khan (May 8), Wilson (June 2) Recent Shows of Note: Alex Di Leo Bottom Line: Showing regional and local acts in Southside. Come for the music, stay for the great food and beer.
SPIRIT Address: 242 51st St., Lawrenceville Contact: www.spiritpgh.com Upcoming Shows of Note: Sandy Alex G (May 3) Recent Shows of Note: Spirit Brunch with Kate “DJ Connor” Bottom Line: With brunches that feature live music and some of the best pizza in the ‘Burgh, this former moose lounge provides a cozy atmosphere to watch local and regional talent.
STAGE AE Address: 400 N Shore Dr., North Shore Contact: www.stagepittsburgh.com Upcoming Shows of Note: MGMT (May 16), Machine Gun Kelly (June 2) Recent Shows of Note: Wiz Khalifa, Maren Morris Bottom Line: An indoor/outdoor concert venue that features everything from rock to metal to rap.
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THE BIG ONE
DAN SAVAGE’S HUMP! FESTIVAL COMES TO TOWN
here are moments while watching Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival when you actually forget that you’re watching porn. It’s not because of a lack of action. There’s plenty of fucking, sucking, humping, pumping, grinding, stroking, spanking, choking, gagging, licking and fingering going on. But there’s lots of other stuff too, like painting, singing, laughing, smiling, kissing, camping, spinning and living. The kind of stuff that everyday people might do while they’re making hardcore porn. At the base of the 60-minutes of short film is sex, of course, but this collection of clips, curated by Savage himself, reminds us that sex, regardless of who we are, how we look, what we like, who we like
BY CHARLIE DEITCH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT EDITOR CHARLIE@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM or how we do it, is one of the most normal and positive things we do as humans. And sex positivity is the whole point of HUMP! “We are so excited for this year,” Savage says of the festival. “You know how they told us that this election was the most important election of our lifetimes but this year it was really true? Well, we’re always telling you that this year’s HUMP! is the best HUMP! ever but this year it’s really true. The HUMP! jury was blown away by the hilarity, hotness, diversity, and quality of this year’s films and we can’t wait for you to see them.” This year’s Pittsburgh screenings of HUMP! will take place at the Ace Hotel May 8-10. The venue was changed at the last minute after new management at Regent
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Square Theater pulled the film last week because of the content. This isn’t new for HUMP!, in fact it’s the second time in five years that Pittsburgh has had a location change. I’ve always watched a screener of the films, but those who’ve attended in the past say there’s nothing quite like watching HUMP! with a live audience. The collection of short films for this year’s festival really are among the most diverse. Without divulging spoilers -- because, afterall, HUMP! is the Avengers of homemade fuck films -- the range in body types, sexual orientation, gender, and other things that shall remain secret, is amazing. Also, without fail, I always manage to learn something new
from the festival. This year it was a practice known as “cathartic flogging.” A woman details her first experience with the practice in a beautiful black-and-white animated film. All of the films are memorable for one reason or another. Whether it’s seeing that sexual pleasure can exceed physical limitations or watching in juvenile awe at a dude covered in fluorescent paint, helicoptering his dong, there’s something for everyone.
THE 2019 HUMP! TOUR
will be be in Pittsburgh from May 8th through May 10th at the Ace Hotel. Ace Hotel, 120 S Whitfield St., East Liberty
MIND FIELD NORTH SIDER’S NEW BOOK DELVES INTO THE MILITARY’S EFFORTS TO HELP THE MENTAL HEALTH OF HIS TROOPS BY JODY DIPERNA - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER JODY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM “I don’t think it is a stretch to say many veterans feel as though the vast majority of Americans neither understand nor care to understand their experience,” David Kieran said when he sat down to talk to the Pittsburgh Current recently. A North Side resident, Kieran teaches history at Washington & Jefferson College. He is a military historian not much interested in battle plans or which platoon went where. He’s more interested in understanding the military as a social institution, how we understand the military as an organization within American culture, and how the military understands itself as an organization within American culture. His new book, Signature Wounds: The Untold Story of the Military’s Mental Health Crisis, (New York University Press, 2019) deals with the military’s efforts to confront posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and develop treatment protocols for active-duty soldiers, in real time with soldiers in the field and while facing acute political pressure and public
Signature Wounds by David Kieran
scrutiny as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were dragging on, year after year after year. “It is the story of how the advancement of medical knowledge moves at a different pace than the needs of an army at war and of how medical conditions and medical knowledge intersect with larger political questions about militarism and foreign policy,” he writes. “I got to sit in while they (the Army) trained people on suicide prevention. And I realized, they’re working really hard on this. They operated under incredible pressure and incredible stress with limited resources and trying to figure all that out. And it was … like changing the tires on a bus going 60 miles down the highway,” Kieran said. Through exhaustive research that started in 2013, he conducted interviews with Army staff, veterans and military families, culled through thousands and thousands of pages of documents, memos, powerpoints, handbooks from the Army and the VA, read and watched reams of media coverage, and spent time with the above Suicide Prevention Task Force at the Pentagon. Some of Kieran’s findings surprised him. He found that active duty soldiers felt incredible anxiety around very commonplace things like a lack of privacy, being able to call home, access to mail, concern for their spouses and children and parents who were coping with life on their own. Less of a concern seems to be the incredibly dangerous conditions they are dealing with in combat. We tend to think of the experience of the soldier, as a singular thing, disconnected from civilian life, but what Kieran explores is actually about how those soldiers and those veterans are part of a larger network of people who care
about them. Kieran devotes a lot of room in his book for military families to describe and illuminate the various stressors on families on the homefront and how that can feed into the stress for the deployed soldier; the difficulties and worries on both sides compound one another. It feels like a long-overdue discussion of the sacrifices of military families. “American culture in general is pretty acquiescent to the idea that we should use military force to solve foreign policy problems,” Kieran said. “Because you have half of a percent of them serving in the military -- it’s a small number.” He also devotes two chapters to suicide, one to active duty and one to veteran suicide. These are some of the strongest chapters in the book and these were the starting point for him. And, of course, he investigates in depth the Army’s efforts to address the mental health issues soldiers face (the titular “signature wounds.”) and that the military was
totally unprepared for long drawnout wars and the toll that would take on combat soldiers. Burned by Vietnam, the powers that be never wanted to be stuck in that type of counter-insurgent quagmire again and were instead planning for a cold war cataclysm in Europe. “There’s never this assumption that we’ll be at war for 15 years. We’ll be at war with an all-volunteer force that’s going to need to be deployed over and over and over again. That was not on the radar,” Kieran said. After all, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in 2002, “Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that. It won’t be a World War III.” Americans were expecting Desert Storm 2.0, Bigger, Badder, Faster. “The key issue,” Kieran said, “is that the military tries really hard in this, but you cannot do enough to mitigate the wars. You can’t solve the problem of a 15-year-long war.”
CALL FOR HEALTH & WELLNESS VENDORS Join us Downtown in Market Square for a new weekly Health & Wellness Fair, an interactive and engaging lunchtime event every Monday June 3- August 26. It’s a chance for health, wellness and fitness professionals to connect to a wide variety of people from throughout our region with resources, products and services that encourage a healthy lifestyle.
For details, please go to DowntownPittsburgh.com/Vendor
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That visual experience extends out of Root’s exhibit into the entire museum with an “interactive scavenger hunt.” Called “Looking and Drawing with Ruth Root,” the free guides are inspired by Root’s exploration into the CMOA collection, and ask viewers to tally how many times they see a dog in a painting or try their hand at copying an artist’s’ signature. According to Hannah Turpin, curatorial assistant for modern and contemporary art and photography, the guide encourages people of all ages to find joy in art. “These aren’t challenging prompts in the way that they demand previous knowledge of education or painting but just easy
ways for you to kind of get engaged and have fun with paintings,” she says. Much like what the guide promotes, Turpin says that Root’s works are approachable, accessible and provide many opportunities for interpretation. “She’s just an incredibly warm and inviting person, and I found her works to be very much the same way,” she says. With their permutative nature, Root’s new works create a whimsical body of work that calls to the past and comments on the present. “Once you come into the show, you enter the world of the show,” Root says.
Ruth Root. Photo by: Bryan Conley
RUTH ROOT MAKES FIRST SOLO PRESENTATION AT A MAJOR AMERICAN MUSEUM WITH CMOA EXHIBIT
BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
uth Root’s newest body of work, part of Carnegie Museum of Art’s Forum series, looks like the artistic representation of a Cyndi Lauper song: hot-pink fabric printed with photos of art supplies and women in personal saunas interplays with a section of gray. Diagonal purple stripes mingle with spray painted black-and-white dots, while pairs of eyes emerge from purple fabric, printed with red lines. The paintings are punchy and playful, mixing modern geometric shapes with powerful imagery. Although these patterned, fabric-incorporated works differ from Root’s older paintings, which use colored blocks of enamel on aluminum, Root says her older influences can be found in the new creations.
“I have my own paintings within these paintings,” she said during the opening presentation on Thursday, April 18. Ruth Root, the 81st installment of CMOA’s Forum contemporary art series, runs from now until Aug. 25. Her first solo presentation at a major American museum, these new, large-scale works take inspiration from news media, art history and CMOA’s collection of artworks and design objects. According to Eric Crosby, CMOA acting co-director and senior curator of modern and contemporary art, the works ask the viewer to consider composition, space and how a painting interacts with the wall it hangs on. “They offer this pure visual experience where it’s just you and the thing,” he says.
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Ruth Root, Untitled, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.
that is happening,” he says. According to Kirtland, Twelfth Night has “more music than any other play that Shakespeare does.” Fado, a genre that originated in Portugal in the 1820s, provides the soundtrack for the show, composed by Monica Stephenson and Gil Teixeira. “The first line to the play is ‘If music be the food of love, play on,’ and fado music kind of taps into these sentiments of nostalgia and longing and melancholy that a lot of these characters experience and it’s a very interesting way to kind of get their experience being supported by the music that’s played,” he says.
Along with directorial choices, a sensory friendly performance on May 10 and an audio description performance and ASL-interpreted performance on May 11, immerses truly everyone in the Bard’s classic comedy, according to Brinda. “The people are going to come and have a good time with Shakespeare,” he says.
TWELFTH NIGHT. May 3 through 12. 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m., Sunday. Prime Stage Theatre, 6 Allegheny Square East, Allegheny Center. $10-$25. 412608-2262 or primestage.com
Carolyn Jerz (Viola), Dana Babal (Feste), Malcolm MacKenzie (Sebastian). Photo by: John Fries
A NIGHT’S WORK
PRIME STAGE THEATRE MAKES A STATEMENT WITH SHAKESPEARE’S “TWELFTH NIGHT”
BY AMANDA REED - PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF WRITER AMANDA@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
or Carolyn Jerz, who plays Viola in Prime Stage Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the Bard runs in her blood. “My dad is an English professor at Seton Hill University and he teaches a Shakespeare class,” she says. “So from a very young age he would just tell me whatever his students were learning in their college classes and read me Shakespeare plays and take me to see [it] done in the area.” Like Viola, Jerz is driven and full of wit: The 17-year-old is a threetime winner of the Pittsburgh Public Theatre Shakespeare Monologue and Scene Contest, and takes college classes. She says she relates to Viola’s persistence when finding love and devising plans. “It’s still like I’m being me, but just in a Shakespeare play,” she says. Twelfth Night runs from May 3-12. Deceit and romance combine in this Shakespearean comedy, which centers around the residents of the island of Illyria missing connections and finding love. According to Wayne Brinda, Prime Stage Theatre’s co-founder
and artistic producing director, Jerz’s casting reflects Prime Stage’s mission of engaging young audiences in theatre and literature. “They’re seeing someone who is their age. They can relate to her, they can connect with her, but hopefully they’ll be inspired by her as well,” he says. “I think that can do a lot for young people.” Andy Kirtland, the show’s director, says her performance shows that Shakespearean literature is not as unreachable as it seems. “It’s something that’s attainable and doable and that it’s not this far away, saying that they would never be able to do themselves,” he says. Kirtland’s experience in Shakespeare is grounded in what he calls “historically informed practices”, which means being faithful to the time period it was written in. For Twelfth Night, this entails leaving the house lights on during the show. “It’s an experience where you are aware of everybody around you. The actors are aware of the audience. It’s not the separation in the storytelling. You’re very much a part of the story
JOIN US AT THE LANDMARKS PRESERVATION RESOURCE CENTER FOR ONGOING PROGRAMMING ON ARCHITECTURE, HISTORY, DESIGN, URBAN PLANNING, AND OTHER TOPICS RELATED TO HOW CITIES FUNCTION AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION AS A TOOL OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.
THURSDAY, MAY 9
6:00 P.M. TO 7:30 P.M.
LECTURE: THE CORAOPOLIS TRAIN STATION PROJECT PRESENTER: STACEY CHRISTE IN THIS LECTURE, STACEY CHRISTE DISCUSSES THE HISTORIC AND ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CORAOPOLIS TRAIN STATION, ITS IMPACT ON THE TOWN, AND THE EFFORTS OF THE CORAOPOLIS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION IN RESTORING THIS IMPORTANT CULTURAL AND ARCHITECTURAL LANDMARK. About the presenter: Stacey Christe is the president of the Coraopolis Historical Society. She joined the Coraopolis Train Station Project as a volunteer in January 2016, and has undertaken in-depth research on the history of the station as well as the architectural elements and artifacts discovered within the station. She is the creator and editor of two web sites on Coraopolis history and the train station. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, she is an account manager for TrueSense Marketing in Warrendale, Pennsylvania.
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. 30, 2019 | 31
Steph Flati of the Lopez. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
RELEASE OF FINAL LOPEZ RECORD, ‘HEART PUNCH,’ IS A TRIBUTE TO JESSE FLATI’S LIFE, WORK AND SPIRIT
n the world of pro wrestling, the Heart Punch is a finishing move. Popularized in the ’60s and ’70s by guys like Ox Baker and Stan Stasiak, the relatively restrained maneuver is exactly what you imagine: a swift, obliterating hit to the chest. Heart Punch was the title Jesse Flati came up with for the Lopez’s new record, which he and his wife/ bandmate Steph Flati had been working on for the past couple years. Jesse was a big wrestling fan, Steph says via email, so “I definitely think he liked the connection, how it sounded, and just the basic sentiment of a heart punch.”
BY MARGARET WELSH - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MUSIC EDITOR MARGARET@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM When, on October 26, 2018, Jesse died suddenly of cardiac arrest at just 40 years old, the title took on a brutally poignant dimension, both literally and metaphorically. “That was how I felt losing Jesse,” Steph says. “It was like a heart punch.” Few people Steph’s age can relate to this kind of loss. In their 17 years as a couple (at 38, almost half of Steph’s life) and eight years as a band, Steph and Jesse were a rare model of partnership, with a connection and easy love for each other which was visible from the stage, or the DJ booth (they happily lugged their sizable record collection to all kinds of events and had a
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regular DJ night at New Amsterdam in Lawrenceville). “When you have such a close relationship with someone for so long, it’s just a huge void and to try to figure out what your life is going to look like now, it’s been very confusing and really lonely sometimes,” she says. “And one of the hardest things is when you have so many inside jokes and things [that] absolutely no one else in the entire world would understand … Every single day something happens where I want to pick up my phone to text him.” The two met at La Roche College, during an activities fair. They were
both studying graphic design, and were both crazy about music. In 2001 they started dating, two years later they moved to Philly so Steph could go to grad school. That’s where the Lopez was born, mostly as a joke, because a friend needed an opener for a basement show. “We had been kind of fucking around, being silly,” Steph recalls during a recent sitdown at the Abbey in Lawrenceville. The band was, at first, a three piece, and then a fourpiece. In 2008, Steph and Jesse got married and in 2011 moved back to Pittsburgh, where the Lopez, as a duo, began performing in earnest and regularly touring cross-country.
Be Greek for a Week St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Sunday, May 5 to Saturday, May 11 Enjoy Wonderful Greek Food, Pastries & Lively Dancing SERVING HOURS Sunday: Noon to 8p Monday thru Thursday: 11a to 9p Friday & Saturday: 11a to 10p (music til midnight) LIKE US ON FACEBOOK
*St. Nicholas Cathedral is located on the corner of S. Dithridge St. and Forbes Ave., across from The Carnegie Museum.
Take-out available Monday through Friday Visit the FOOD FESTIVAL section of our website stnickspgh.org to place your ORDER ONLINE!* *Online orders can ONLY be picked up between 11a-2p & 5p-8p
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 33
Steph Flati and her cat Ralphus who is also featured on the Heart Punch album cover. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
On May 11 – Jesse’s birthday – Heart Punch will be released with a show featuring some of Jesse’s closest friends and favorite local and non-local musicians. Among other special guests, Pittsburgh’s semiiconic hip-hop duo Grand Buffet will perform, along with brainy badass rapper Sammus from Philly, and Joe Jack Talcum of the Dead Milkmen (Jesse’s favorite band). Swampwalk, who toured with the Lopez, appears, as well as Rue, and OC Feef. Steph says that Jesse would be especially pumped about a reunion set from their close friends, the long-dormant Maxi-Pads, a goofy punk trio who Lopez played with often in the 2000s. The second full-length (the duo also released a number of EPs and singles over the years), Heart Punch, finds the Lopez in full-fevered effect. Always squarely in the realm of riot grrrl, the Lopez was always on the dancier side of punk, more Julie Ruin than Bikini Kill. Much of Heart Punch is layered with a nice weighty fuzz. At times Steph sounds like she’s singing from behind a heavy curtain, or from the other side of a shark tank. It’s an immersive
listening experience, in the way that, say, End of the Century is, but most importantly, it’s a perfect reflection of the Lopez as a live experience, and as a band in general. “There’s so many layers to all the songs, and that just speaks to Jesse’s flexibility. And just how he was always thinking,” Steph recalls. Occasionally the two would disagree on some small lyrical point but, she says, “we had such a similar aesthetic both sonically and visually. Usually he would write the music and I would write the lyrics and we would give our ideas back and forth about both of those things. It would usually start with a guitar riff…and then something would piss us off and we’d write a fucking song.” Grand Buffet’s Lord Grunge (a.k.a Jarrod Weeks) has a special connection to the Lopez – he has two children with Steph’s sister. But, “they have always been one of my favorite Pittsburgh bands, relationships with the members of the band being of no factor,” he says via email. “I never saw them as a four-piece, and that’s fine by me, because as a power duo, they
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had it all. Good tunes, good gestalt. They remain one of the few bands who, from their earliest shows, did everything right, aesthetically. Not an easy feat.” The Lopez performed often, and always with the same level of commitment, regardless of how many people were in the audience. Over drinks at the Abbey on Butler, Steph tells me about the time the Lopez was hired to play an event there. When she and Jesse took the stage – following a reggae band – it didn’t take long for them to nearly clear the room of confused patrons. They were politely asked to cut their set short, but they still got paid. Steph jokes that it’s one of the most punk-rock things they ever did. Not long after Jesse’s death, members of the music community put together a fundraisng event to help with the release of Heart Punch, which has given Steph a chance to put out a record she knows Jesse would have loved. The cover art features their five cats in the style of KISS’s Rock and Roll Over; the back is covered in illustrations of pro wrestlers. The record is being
pressed on gold vinyl. “There’s going to be a lot of surprises that fall out of the record, and that’s also because Jesse loves that shit. He would love getting a record from Jerrys, it could have been some band that he didn’t even care about but if Jerry wrote “Cool poster inside!” he’d buy it and say, “Look at this really cool poster!” Of course, the May 11 show is as much a celebration of Jesse himself as of the record. When he passed, it seemed that everyone in town had a story about his kindness, his devotion to DIY, his obsession with music, his readiness to make people comfortable, his willingness to defend his beliefs, but knowing when to step back and listen. Emily Crossen of the band Blod Maud told the Current back in October that she always felt ok about asking Jesse for help. “I didn’t feel like I had to save face,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I had to pretend to know things I didn’t know, as a woman musician.” And recording engineer Madeleine Campbell, who worked with the duo for two years on Heart Punch, often recalls the time the Lopez played a set for campers at Girls Rock! Pittsburgh. “I remember Jesse playing his noisy guitar leads, leaning his whole body into Steph with a wide-legged stance as she screamed into the microphone, then stepping back in silence as soon as they were finished so she could field questions. Their powerful chemistry and partnership were instantly recognizable to everyone who met them.” Lord Grunge remembers Jesse as “a highly opinionated dude with refined tastes.” Both pop culture junkies with similar tastes, “when we disagreed about something? Watch out. Tempers would rise. Shit would fly,” he says. “When we agreed on something, though, it just got me psyched. There’s no better way to put it. It got me psyched. Pumped. Juiced. Jazzed. Jesse liking something was, in itself, a sort of recondite seal of quality.” The fact that Jesse was a fan of Grand Buffet meant a lot to Grunge. “That was a big deal to me and still is.
“I’m not implying that we were his favorite band or some shit. Hell no! We’d be lucky if we were top 50. (We weren’t.) But the fact that he dug us is huge to me.” For Steph, it’s impossible to summarize all that she learned from Jesse over the years. Trust and loyalty. Being yourself and not giving a fuck about what other people think. Not getting caught up in drama. Being a good friend. The importance of communicating and saying what you mean. “He was the kind of person who definitely said what he thought, even if it might piss you off a little bit … but he was very much about speaking your mind, standing up for other people, seeking justice, all that stuff. He really helped me with my confidence a lot, in every way. He believed in me more than I’ll ever believe in myself,” she says. Even in her grief she continues to honor Jesse’s belief in her. She still DJs at New Amsterdam. She’s still putting together Ladyfest, the annual music festival that Jesse tirelessly helped her with behind the scenes. She probably won’t play music for a little while, but she’s continuing to live with the same kind of power stance she always took onstage. “I’ve just been trying to keep [Jesse’s] spirit alive as much as I possibly can … and just to try to talk to him and talk about him, that’s probably been the most comforting thing for me,” she says. “I just think he would be really happy with this record and with how everything is turning out and I think he’ll definitely be at the show. I invited him.” She smiles. “I sent him a Facebook invite. I always do.”
THE LOPEZ HEART PUNCH RELEASE SHOW
feat. GRAND BUFFET, JOE JACK TALCUM, SAMMUS, THE MAXI PADS, MORE. 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11. Spirit, 242 51st St., Lawrenceville. $10. Proceeds benefit the Homeless Cat Management Team. www. spiritpgh.com
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 35
Barry Young, Boyd & Blair’s cofounder and Master Distiller at the Glenshaw distillery. (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
BOYD & BLAIR VODKA WINS BIG AT THE 2019 ULTIMATE SPIRITS CHALLENGE
BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MANAGING EDITOR HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
f you’ve been doing something for 10 years, you should be pretty good at it. Barry Young has been distilling Boyd & Blair vodka for a decade now. And according to the results of this year’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the most prestigious global spirits competition, Boyd & Blair isn’t just good—it is the best. In previous years, the Glenshawbased craft distillery consistently ranked near the top of the unflavored vodkas, scoring an impressive 94
or 95 out of 100. This year, Boyd & Blair got it’s first 96. And with that 96, came the Chairman’s Trophy for being the best in it’s category. “I was like ‘yes!’ because I never thought I would achieve it, and after 10 years,” Young says. Boyd & Blair was also awarded the Tried and True Award, for it’s consecutive high rankings over the past four years in the competition. “Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka...is a once-in-a-generation distillate that redefines an entire category,” said F.
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Paul Pacult, chairman of judging for the competition. “While most unflavored vodkas leave you without sensory impressions because they are void of character, Boyd & Blair gives you rich aroma, bountiful flavor, and a satiny texture,” he continued. “Little wonder that it won the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2019 Chairman’s Trophy as the world’s finest unflavored vodka.” You don’t have to be an expert like Pacult to notice that Boyd & Blair
is just different than other vodkas. Calling it an ‘unflavored vodka’ almost feels wrong. It’s sweet and spicy, citrusy and buttery, and oh so smooth. “It’s something that you have to experience to understand that it really is different,” Young says. Young left the pharmacy field to co-found Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries. He knew the chemistry behind distilling, but he had an outsider’s perspective on crafting spirits that made him question some of the usual practices. There are a few major things that Young does differently then most of the big name brands. First, nothing about the distillation process is automated—it’s all handcrafted in small batches. Next is the potatoes. Boyd & Blair is made from 100 percent Pennsylvania-grown potatoes. Distilling vodka from potatoes is more difficult and expensive than using wheat or corn, but it leads to a natural sweetness and a creamy mouthfeel. And finally, Boyd & Blair is all ‘heart.’ A distilled vodka has three parts: head, heart and tails. Everyone gets rid of the head, but most keep the tails. “We’ve all done a shot of something that was fairly cheap in our lives and you get that you face where you shake your head...that’s actually the tails that you’re tasting,” Young says. “Boyd & Blair never adds the tails.” Young says he wants the most flavor with the least aftertaste, and he has it down to a science. Everyone thinks they know what to expect from a vodka, for better or for worse. So watching people taste Boyd & Blair for the first time is one of Young’s favorite things. “People’s eyes open and they look at you and then they look at the glass and they look back and I never get tired of it,” he says. “It’s one of those things that drives you because you know you’ve made something different.”
BOYD & BLAIR IS GREAT IN A CLASSIC MARTINI OR EVEN ON THE ROCKS. BUT, TO ME, SPRING AND SUMMER ARE FOR FRUIT AND HERBS—SO HERE’S WHAT I’M DRINKING.
STRAWBERRY BASIL VODKA SODA 1 CUP SUGAR 1 CUP WATER A DOZEN STRAWBERRIES 5 BASIL LEAVES 2 OZ BOYD & BLAIR VODKA ICE CLUB SODA Make a strawberry simple syrup by simmering the sugar, water and berries in a saucepan for 15 minutes or until bright red and slightly thickened. Strain the syrup and let cool. Put the basil leaves into a tumbler and muddle. Add vodka and 1oz of strawberry syrup and stir. Add ice and top with club soda.
MANGO MINT MULE 1/2 OZ LIME JUICE 2 OZ BOYD & BLAIR VODKA 3 OZ MANGO JUICE 5 MINT LEAVES ICE, CRUSHED 3 OZ GINGER BEER Shake lime juice, vodka and mango juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Muddle mint leaves in copper mug (or just a regular old glass!), then pour in the vodka mixture. Add ice and top with ginger beer.
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 37
Carly Ann Filbin at One Thirty One East in Carnegie.
THIS TASTES FUNNY: LUNCH AT ONE THIRTY ONE EAST WITH CARLY ANN FILBIN
BY HALEY FREDERICK - PITTSBURGH CURRENT MANAGING EDITOR HALEY@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
was hoping for nice weather, so that when New York-based comedian Carly Ann Filbin joined me at One Thirty One East for lunch, we could dine on the patio and look out upon Carnegie’s charming Main Street. But, of course, it’s one of the rainiest days of the year. We ditch our umbrellas by the door and take a seat at the table. Filbin is in town to bring her show “Let Me Break You Up” to Pittsburgh at Club Cafe. It’s kind of the anti-”Newlywed Game Show” comedy show, where Filbin challenges real couples to see how well they know each other. And at the end of the night, the couple with the least points must breakup. When Filbin mentions her mom will be at the show, I assume that means her family must be from the area. But, no. Her mom just comes to all of her shows. “My mom is a really good sport,” she says. “Both of my parents have been really accepting of a lot—like, A. my personality, and B. the fact that this is what I want to do.” I ask if she tells the audience that her mom is in attendance. “Yeah, I have to. Just the juxtaposition that she’s in the
audience and I’m like talking about sex, I just have to make her a part of it, it’s so funny.” Before she moved to New York to attend Marymount Manhattan and study directing for the stage, Filbin grew up in a midwestern town that Pittsburgh loves to hate. “I don’t know how loud I can say this, and I’m just going to apologize first before I say that I am from Cleveland.” She leans in and whispers the C-word, so as not to offend any of the other diners. We study our menus to decide what to order. I land on the korean beef bao buns, and Filbin wants the butternut squash soup and a flatbread with caramelized onions, apple, pear, arugula, asiago and bleu cheese. She’s been a vegetarian for almost ten years, and One Thirty One East has a fairly good selection of veg-friendly food. “And if you wanted to split the deviled eggs, I wouldn’t say no,” Filbin says. We start with an order of the sriracha devilled eggs. They’re a tasty snack, adding the sweet heat of the pepper sauce to the egg yolk mixture. Our main courses follow and
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they’re tasty, too. One Thirty One East calls itself “a world fusion freestyle restaurant,” and their take on bao isn’t exactly authentic, but it is good. We start discussing the New York comedy scene and I admit that I’ve based my idea of it entirely off of Pete Holmes’ HBO show “Crashing,” which was recently cancelled after three seasons. (RIP “Crashing,” gone too soon.) But Filbin says her experience hasn’t been the norm. She didn’t start with open mics in grimey clubs or bark on street corners. Instead, she stumbled upon the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). “I was so broke, so I googled ‘free things to do’ and the big show at UCB is a show called ‘Asssscat,’ and back in the day it was SNL people that did the show for free on Sunday,” Filbin recalls. “And so I went because it was free and I was like ‘oh, this is what I want to do.’” The next day she had two windows open on her computer, one was the UCB improv class and the other was her bank account. As the purchase clock ticked down towards zero at the top of her screen, she bit the bullet and spent almost all of the money she had on her first improv class. Eventually, she made it onto a house team and performed improv for a few years. But she knew she needed to go out on her own. “I have to do my own thing, I went to school for directing and I feel like I always have a vision of what I
want to do and how I want to do it,” Filban says. She wanted to take on a more presentational role, to talk to the audience and make sure they’re having a good time. So now, that’s what she does in three different shows. The first one, “Let Me Break You Up,” her anti-dating game show, has been running for three years at UCB. Filbin channeled all of her dating-life angst into it at first. “I didn’t date for seven years and I was bitter as fuck. I was so mad — anyone that was happy in love I was so resistant to. I was like ‘oh well this is probably something,’” she says. But Filbin isn’t bitter anymore, in fact, she’s quite fun to be around. I can see how her energy and openness makes for a good host. “[The show] makes everyone happy—it makes people in relationships happy that they’re not the only ones with problems or secrets, it makes single people happy because they’re like ‘great, the joke isn’t on me,’” she says. “It’s a comedy show but people get really vulnerable, and once you share that vulnerability, it just feels better.” Filbins also hosts a matchmaking show called “Young, Hot Sluts,” and her comedy storytelling show, “This Doesn’t Mean I’m Your Boyfriend,” is coming to Carnegie this June.
CARLY ANN FILBIN brings her comedy storytelling show “This Doesn’t Mean I’m Your Boyfriend” to Carnegie Stage June 13 through 16 at 8 p.m., 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $20. carnegiestage.com
FRIDAY, MAY 31 PETERSEN EVENTS CENTER EXCLUSIVE CURRENT TICKET OFFER • $30 +FEES
*WHILE SUPPLIES LAST
KEEPING UP WITH PITTSBURGH’S CRAFT BEER SCENE BY DAY BRACEY - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CRAFT BEER WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM April 13, Noon: I’m still on my dry, grounded month. No weed or booze for 30 days. My brain won’t shut off. My dreams have gotten extremely vivid. Sleep doesn’t happen anymore in the traditional sense. It’s like I close my eyes and I’m in a different reality. When I open them, I’m back in ours. It’s hard to tell the
two apart. Last night, I slept with Elizabeth Warren, and then she ran down her policies during pillow talk. She made some really good points about student loans and the need for sensible dragon legislation. She’s now my 2020 frontrunner. April 13, 4 p.m.: I’m at Helicon Brewing for the Three Rivers Alliance of Serious Homebrewers’ 29th annual home brewing competition, because I’m a masochist. There are 400+ brews from all across the East Coast and Canada competing for supremacy not only in their respective styles, but also overall best-in-show. Did you know TRASH is more than 30-yearsold?! I didn’t know home brewing existed that long. I thought it was invented five years ago, around the time I first learned about it. Because, I assume nothing exists before I’m aware of it. Anywho, the water here is delicious. Fresh, icy, full of oxygen flavor with hints of hydrogen. Pairs well with the empanadas I bought out front. There is a wall full of rotating pinball machines, a beautiful front lawn, and a back patio for
summer sitting. I discuss beer things with beer guys while the judges are beerily beering the beer beer. April 13, 7 p.m: I lasted 13 days without weed. It occurred to me that my abstinence from the drug was doing no one any good, not me, the world, and certainly not my dealer. It’s more of a self-medication than a recreational drug at this point. And if I’m going to get through the month surrounded by drunkards, I’m going to need some assistance. April 14, 3 p.m.: Revival Chili’s Jordan Robarge is in the Work Hard Pittsburgh studio to record with the Drinking Partners. He brings spicy chicken chili, spicier beef chili, and a smoky, sour ale from Jeff Bloom, Prince of Sours. I imagine they pair well together. His food truck focuses not only on great chili, but also giving second-chance opportunities and skill training to individuals who have repaid their debt to society in prison. Jordan recently bought the long-standing Nancy’s Diner in Wilkinsburg and kept the name to signify the continuation of community involvement and opportunity within, rather than tearing everything apart and sounding the bell of impending gentrification. The chili is deceptively hearty, and the spicy beef brings a sub-Mason-Dixon heat. Yanks and Yinzers beware.
Long gone are the days of skipping class to smoke copious amounts of $5 ganja doobs with the broskis, filling the room with thick smoke and loud Satan music. These days, we vape discreetly, when permissible, only after our work is done, and prep is completed for tomorrow’s chores. April 20, 6:01am: I’m high. April 20, 4:20pm: Higher. April 20, 9 p.m.: Nick Jones, Master Brewer at Mindful, comes by the Night of EPIC Comedy at Arcade Comedy Theater to pour Tea Party, DIPA brewed with tea, and a Smoothcone, hoppy lager. The people can’t seem to get enough of it. I’m still enjoying my high. April 20, 11 p.m.: I’m in the alley behind Arcade with the headliner from the show and some other friends taking hits from a dirty bowl, filling the alley with smoke while Satan music plays from cars as they pass. My mouth is super dry. I could really use a drink. Ten more days to go. April 22, 4:22 p.m.: Highest.
April 20, 6 a.m.: I’m an adult. I no longer look at the calendar to determine the level of high I’m going to get. I refer to a clock. “What are you doing for 4.20, Day?” Typically working! Why aren’t you? How do you afford your habit at this age? PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 39
An aerial view of the Strip District with Pittsburgh and the Allegheny River (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
idday on a Saturday is a special time for the Strip District. The city comes out in full force to sample the wares of the many business owners lining Penn Avenue. The sidewalks struggle to contain the swarm of shoppers. Fruit vendors display their best melons and berries. Vendors of all stripes pop up for the day, hawking everything from authentic Chinese food to Terrible Towels. Business and pleasure blend seamlessly in the Strip. Just three blocks wide and 20 blocks long, the Strip District is a long stretch of land along the Allegheny River, beginning at 33rd Street and ending at 11th. Some of the only flat land in the city, it has been a center of business since Pittsburgh’s early days. Major industries, including foundries, glass factories and iron mills, were present in the Strip District as early as the 1820s. Iron, steel and aluminum production
BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM flourished in the Strip after the Civil War. It was these mills that inspired writer James Parton to describe Pittsburgh as “Hell with the lid off” in 1868. Wholesalers and retailers moved onto Smallman Street and Penn Avenue in the late 19th century, and these endeavors continued to grow and prosper through the early 20th century. The success of these businesses, as well as the surrounding heavy industry, is due in large part to the location of the Strip District. Close to both downtown Pittsburgh and major rail lines, business could run very efficiently while also attracting a large customer base. The Great Depression and World War II would hit the neighborhood hard, with growth stagnating due to the economic climate, and later due to restrictions for the war effort. The neighborhood would continue to struggle through the mid-20th century, squeezed by the
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rise of grocery store chains and the replacement of trains with trucks for transporting cargo. Many businesses unfortunately closed down over the decades, but some survived on the sheer quality of their products, continuing on to the present day. One of the oldest establishments on Penn Avenue, Pennsylvania Macaroni Company has operated continuously since 1902. Founded, and still owned today, by the Sunseri family, Penn Mac has been a major player in the Pittsburgh wholesale food market for decades. They are particularly famous today for their selection of meats and cheese, from domestic selections to French and Italian imports. Just across the street from Penn Mac sits another major presence in the Strip. Wholey’s Market began as a butter and egg store founded by Robert Wholey in 1912, originally in McKee’s Rocks. His son Robert “Bob” Wholey Jr. took over the company
after he returned from army service in WWII, moving it to what is now Market Square Downtown. The store was moved to its present location in the Strip District in 1959. “That’s when we started selling fresh fish, and we’ve grown steadily ever since, and we’re still here today,” said Dan Wholey, co-owner of the Robert Wholey Company. Today, the Wholey’s name is synonymous with fish in Pittsburgh, thanks in part to the iconic “smiling fish” sign on the side of its Strip District warehouse. Working alongside these longtime players are a cornucopia of small shops and restaurants, many of which opened in the past 20 years. One of these new merchants is S&D Polish Deli, a deli and restaurant supplying all the necessary ingredients for traditional Polish cuisine, and serving their own as well. The deli was opened in 2008 by Slamomir and Dorota Pyszkowska, a married couple
Buildings from downtown are seen overlooking Penn Ave and 21st (Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)
who wanted to provide traditional foods to Pittsburgh’s large Polish community. “I remember when they started it was just half of this store, there was no kitchen, we had a small stove and only a couple pots, we only served one soup and the pierogi,” said Agnieszka Sornek, manager of S&D. “They really started small, but because the food is delicious, really people love it, so they were able to expand a little.” Over eleven years, S&D doubled the size of its storefront, and also expanded its kitchen capacity, which in turn expanded sales. “We might still make some changes because we are still growing. It shows year by year that we have more people coming not only from Pittsburgh, but all over the United States,” Sornek said. While the majority of new businesses in the Strip are merchants, selling largely food and home goods, the Strip is also home to a film studio. At the east end of the Strip sits 31st Street Studio, a film and television production center that has worked on projects including the TV series “Outsiders” and the upcoming Tom Hanks movie “A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood.” Like so many businesses in the Strip, it sits in a historic building that was repurposed. “The studio was originally a steel mill back in the day, and you can
see the remnants of that time as you walk through,” said Alyssa Falarski, production and property manager for 31st Street. “The original cranes are still intact, you can see where the rail line ran into the facility. It’s a really cool place that was repurposed into a film studio.” When not in use as a studio, 31st Street also hosts events, most recently the 24 annual art display “Art All Night.” This year marks the first time “Art All Night” has been hosted in the Strip District. Despite this influx in new business, the neighborhood has not seen major redevelopment, with merchants choosing to move into the historic warehouses and storefronts that have stood for over 100 years. This is a tradition that has largely held to this day, but there is a question of how long this tradition will continue. The Strip’s flatness and proximity to the Allegheny River have made it prime real estate for development, and major projects have already received approval. The most notable of these is the renovation and development of the historic produce terminal on Smallman Street, managed by Chicago-based development firm McCafferty Interests. It is a growing trend that has been noticed by many who live and work in the neighborhood, like Matt Napper, president of the Strip
District Neighbors Association. “We’ve seen a shift in a lot more residential buildings and office spaces being built, developers wanting to come in, because it’s a very lucrative area right now. It’s a hotspot for developers,” said Napper. To Napper, development is a “two-way street.” “We’re happy to see it because, for years, there wasn’t much going on down here. We’re happy to see there’s residential developments coming, we’re happy to see people are interested in this neighborhood,” Napper said. “At the same time, we know that there’s a lot of history to this community. We understand that, as a community organization, we have to watch out for what everybody knows the Strip for, which is Penn Avenue.” Despite reservations about preserving the character of the Strip, the reception from the business community regarding the produce terminal development has
been largely positive, particularly regarding additional parking spaces, and the level of investment in their community. “We’re super excited about the Strip District expansions, we’re excited to see the next chapter of the Strip District,” said Chris Beers, owner of Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop. “I believe that the tradition that’s here in the Strip has been here for a long time, and I don’t think it’s gonna change.” “I’m super happy. I think there’s a place for everyone, and I’m hoping that the places that will open in that new produce terminal will also be family-owned small businesses, and hopefully Pittsburgh will welcome as much and as nicely as they did us,” Sornek said. Above all, there is happiness that the historic produce terminal, which has been partially vacant for decades, will see new life in the modern day. This is, after all, tradition in the Strip District.
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412-849-8864 PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 41
rainbow, and they needed it within 30 minutes delivered downtown. We were able to make it happen for them, but those requests happen quite frequently. It’s always surprising when someone calls and has a ‘candy emergency.’ It’s something I never thought I would deal with in the candy business.
Chris Beers, owner of Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop (Current photo by Nick Eustis)
NEIGHBORHOOD CONVERSATION: CHRIS BEERS, OWNER OF GRANDPA JOE’S CANDY
BY NICK EUSTIS - PITTSBURGH CURRENT CONTRIBUTING WRITER INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM
hether it’s candy, ice cream, soda, or any other sweet treat, Chris Beers probably has it. In 2012, he opened Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop in the Strip District, hoping to create a candy store where people could buy in bulk or by the piece, while capturing the whimsy of the candy stores of old. Since opening, Beers has expanded the flagship store twice, adding a massive collection of 225 soda varieties and an ice cream parlor. He also opened an additional eight stores in the greater Pittsburgh area and Ohio. What was the inspiration behind Grandpa Joe’s? I wanted to open up a candy store, a destination, chocolate, you name it, floor to ceiling, just packed with candy. I think I pulled that off pretty good. If you understand my obsession with ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,’ once you see
the twisted sense of how that movie was, where Grandpa Joe couldn’t get out of bed for 20 years, but as soon as there was a chance for free chocolate, he was up and dancing and happy about life, then you’ll understand how my mind works, and understand all the nostalgic, weird gifts and quirks we have here. Why did you set up shop in the Strip District? I love the Strip District. Everything about the Strip, the grittiness of the Strip District and the history the Strip has. This is where Pittsburgh comes to find stuff that they can’t find anywhere else. This is where Pittsburgh comes to show off the city to the friends and family that come in from out of town. I don’t know how I fell in love with the Strip, but for as long as I can remember, the Strip has been the fun place to be in Pittsburgh.
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Have you had any crazy or
unusual requests from customers? Occasionally, I get phone calls of people who have ‘candy emergencies,’ and that always makes me laugh, because how do you have a ‘candy emergency?” Most recently, we had a customer who needed 60 pounds of foil-wrapped chocolate basketballs. I once had a phone call from a pretty large company here in Pittsburgh, and they needed 40 pounds of every color of the
Do some of your candy selections surprise people? “Customers are always surprised when a candy existed for a long time, and now they can’t find it any more. 50 years ago, candy didn’t find its way from California to Pennsylvania, so if you wanted Abba-Zaba or Rocky Road or The Look Bar or The Big Hunk Bar, those were common in California because Annabelle Candy Company made them there. Now, we carry them here, so people who are from the West Coast are always surprised that they can find West Coast candy here in Pittsburgh. What are some of your favorite selections from your inventory? My favorites in the shop would include Happy Hippos. They’re a product imported from the UK, and they’re a little biscuit shaped like a hippo, with a chocolate-creme center, and they’re flipping amazing. We also have Curly-Wurly Bars, which were called Marathon Bars in America. It’s chocolate and caramel braided into a bar that’s about twelve inches long. Really good item, really hard to find, of course we have it here!
Cultured Cocktails at The Benedum Center. Photo by: Cory Morton
THE CAN’T MISS BY PITTSBURGH CURRENT STAFF INFO@PITTSBURGHCURRENT.COM FEATURED EVENTS IN AND AROUND THE PITTSBURGH REGION
It’s not everyday that you get an intimate concert experience like Sound Series, and it’s definitely not everyday that the singer is masked. Tonight The Andy Warhol Museum hosts masked country singer Orville Peck. Peck is known for songs telling the tales of love, loss, relationships, and the badlands. The country singer meets cowboy performance is sure to be one of a kind. — Madeline Ury 8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Shore. $12-$15. email@example.com or warhol.org
At Cultured Cocktails, there is something for everyone, even the designated driver. The Benedum Center is hosting mixologists and bartenders from all over the city. Everyone can enjoy food from local restaurants and live music. With a VIP ticket, you can enjoy all of that and cocktails an hour earlier at 7 p.m. — Madeline Ury 8 p.m. 237 7th St., Downtown. $25/$45/$95. trustarts.org Trombonist Craig Harris’ career includes time with the Sun Ra Arkestra and pianist Abdullah Ibrahim
as well as several groups of his own. On his last visit to Pittsburgh in 2016 with the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, he doubled on didgeridoo, proving the low, droning instrument can adapt to the context of improvisation. When Kente Arts Alliance welcomes the Craig Harris Septet on Saturday, May 4, they’ll present Black Butterfly. The multimedia performance was inspired by boxer Muhammed Ali, complete with spoken word interludes and percussive grooves that express the nuances of legendary figure. — Mike Shanley 8 p.m. Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941
Penn Avenue, East Liberty. 412-3633000.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Celebrate at Pittsburgh’s Taco Takeover at Millvale Riverfront Park. 20 food trucks from around Pittsburgh will be in attendance offering up their best takes on tacos. But it won’t be what you expect, since not every participating restaurant typically serves tacos! There will also be live music, beer, and games, and all proceeds go to Millvale Community Library. — Madeline Ury 1 p.m. 70 Riverfront
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 43
covery Channel and science world by storm. Creativity, inventing, and exploring are some of Savage’s greatest passion, and his new book Every Tool’s a Hammer was written with the goal of inspiring others in mind. A purchase of a ticket to this installment of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures includes a copy of the book. — Madeline Ury 7 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. $32. info@ pittsburghlectures.org
Cultured Cocktails at The Benedum Center. Photo by: Cory Morton
Dr., Millvale. Free. facebook.com/ Party-Wolf-Events
Whether you are a meditation expert or it’s your first time, Let That Sh*t Go - Beginner Meditation for Adults is sure to help you. Well Oiled will provide you with the tools to cope with stress and anxiety in any situation, no matter how much time you have in the day. A free gift is included with the purchase of a ticket. — Madeline Ury 6 p.m. 1414 Potomac Ave., Dormont. $20. getwelloiled.com
Monet, Degas, Renoir, and many other artists went against a lot of traditions. They were criticized and named the “Impressionists,” and thus, a new era of art was born. Crash Course: Monet and His Circle is a series of 3 classes beginning tonight. Join Kylie Seltzer as she discusses the impacts the impacts of the movement and introduces you to the new Monet and the Modern City exhibit at Carnegie Museum of Art. Seltzer is excited to share her knowledge as a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Architecture Department at the University of Pittsburgh. — Madeline Ury 6 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Students $45, Members $66, General Admission $75. cmoa.org
Michael Wurster is considered a Pittsburgh poetry legend. He has taught at Pittsburgh Center for the
Arts School, and is a founding member of Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange. Join him tonight at Carnegie Lecture Hall to discuss his new poetry collection Even Then. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and a book signing will follow the lecture. — Madeline Ury 7 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free (with registration). pittsburghlectures.org or firstname.lastname@example.org What do you do after a three-year heavy tour schedule full of emotional ups and downs? If your rapper/ singer Ceschi Ramos and producer Factor Chandelier, you condense it all down into a 13-song full-length called Sad, Fat, Luck and launch a tour of the same name. Tonight at Spirit, Pittsburgh promoter Justin Strong Presents: Ceschi and Factor Chandelier, Sad, Fat, Luck Tour. — Charlie Deitch 9 p.m.- 1 p.m. Spirit, 242 51st St., Lawrenceville. $12-$15. spiritpgh.com
Tonight, you can have a parents night out and drop your kids off for pizza and art at Heinz History Center. Art at Night features handson lessons in making art through charcoal prints, screen prints, and more. All the art will be inspired by Pittsburgh’s beautiful lights and skyline. — Madeline Ury 7 p.m. 1212 Smallman St., Downtown. $10. heinzhsitorycenter.org
Mythbuster Adam Savage is part of the team who has taken the Dis-
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Not to get too personal, but lately I’ve been falling asleep Jessica Pratt’s new record. Not because Quiet Signs is dull: her songs are ear-catching and idiosyncratic in a way that makes me wish I could somehow live inside them. Her style of retro folk (think Vashti Bunyan and Linda Perhacs) is often described as “dreamy,” and her comfortingly odd croon and lovely instrumentation do make for a restful soundtrack. But beyond that, her melodies are full of catchy, unexpected hooks that seem to follow their own kind of dream logic. Hear for yourself when she appears at the Warhol Saturday, May 11 with special guest Joseph Shabason. — Margaret Welsh 8 p.m. 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $15. www.warhol.org
Celebrate Mother’s Day at the Candle Lab by making your own custom-scented soy candle. You can choose your scent out of 10 options. You also receive a mimosa, some treats, and a polaroid photo. After the candle cools, they can be delivered to a restaurant of your choice
within walking distance of the The Candle Lab Pittsburgh. — Madeline Ury 11 a.m. 4409 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $25/$49. facebook.com/ thecandlelabpittsburgh
Tonight, the Indie Press Series at City of Asylum @ Alphabet City will host highly praised and award nominated writer Awaeke Emezi. Emezi has created many written works and video art projects. They are currently working on their fourth and fifth novels. Emezi will read their novel Freshwater, which tells the story of a woman discovering multiple selves within her identity, and how life is changed because of this. Emezi is described as “a fierce new literary voice.” — Madeline Ury 7 p.m. 40 W. North Ave., North Side. Free with registration. RSVP@cityofasylumpittsburgh.org or alphabetcity.org Chronophage is a band that reminds you how much fun sounds can be. Like the Raincoats, the Austin, Tx-based project builds wobbly tunes and then precariously reinforces them with freewheeling, splintered noisiness. In other words, it’s delightful stuff. As with the Velvet Underground, to whom the fourpiece has been compared, seeing Chronophage on Monday, May 13th at the Rock Room might inspire you to go home and start a band of your own. Peace Talks and Barlow open. — Margaret Welsh 8 p.m. 1054 Herron Ave., Polish Hill. $7. www. facebook.com/CruelNoiseRecords
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NEWS OF THE
Universal Crossword Edited by David Steinberg April 30, 2019
ACROSS 1 Add to a blog 5 Like Beethoven 9 Mane thing to avoid in Africa? 13 Bunk choice 15 Up to nothing 16 ___-bodied privilege 17 “Us” director Jordan 18 Congers, e.g. 19 They’re made by maids 20 “Gunsmoke” star James, to his nephews and nieces? 23 On, as a lamp 24 “Aha!” 25 ’80s go-getters 27 Some boys’ fishing gear? 30 “The final frontier” 31 Drink quickly 32 Pen tip 34 Replies to an invitation, briefly 37 Amazon insect 38 Highlands mothers? 41 “Dig in!” 42 Coffee + chocolate 44 EMT’s skill 45 Siberia’s continent 4/30
46 Wrote a glowing review 49 Dad jokes? 51 Like some triangles 53 ___ the moon (thrilled) 54 Parenthesis shape 55 Irish granny known for refilling her plate? 60 Camp sight 62 Calf-length skirt 63 Circa 64 Cookie sheet destination 65 “___ Brockovich” 66 Pelosi or Reagan 67 Trivia night champion, perhaps 68 Like a marathon 69 Big bag DOWN 1 Hawaiian platter type 2 Airy 3 Detail, for short 4 Tattling 5 Mark missing from “naive” 6 Where Eve wore fig leaves 7 Back lanes 8 Come clean 9 Black or yellow dog, informally
10 “That sounds right!” 11 Any Platters platter 12 Crows’ homes 14 Della of “Touched by an Angel” 21 Healthcare giant 22 Trains like Laila Ali 26 Compaq machines 27 Ponzi scheme, for one 28 “This is terrible!” 29 Toy that becomes a prince, in a classic ballet 33 Covertly email 35 Figure skating duo
36 “South Park” boy 38 Expert 39 Like the other team 40 Cache 43 Sci-fi villain with a red camera eye 45 Circus performer 47 Canine’s coat? 48 Robert of “Taxi Driver” 50 Southern pie pick 51 Beauty parlor 52 Desire 56 Father of Balder 57 Nail-biting, e.g. 58 Water carrier 59 Eye affliction 61 Book’s last word, often
PREVIOUS PUZZLE ANSWER
© 2019 Andrews McMeel Universal www.upuzzles.com
Relatively Speaking by Paul Coulter
46 | APR. 30, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
BY THE EDITORS AT ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION WEIRDNEWSTIPS@AMUNIVERSAL.COM ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT Scientists are aghast at an eBay listing offering a rare baby T-rex fossil for a $2.95 million buy-it-now price. Fossil hunter Alan Detrich, who discovered the fossil in 2013, is believed to have created the listing in February for the 68 million-yearold artifact, which until recently had been on loan to the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas. CNBC reported the specimen has a 15-foot-long body, 21-inch skull and serrated teeth, and Detrich estimates its age at death to be about 4 years. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology issued a statement expressing concerns that “the fossil, which represents a unique part of life’s past, may be lost from the public trust. ... Only casts and other replicas of vertebrate fossils should be traded, not the fossils themselves.” STAY IN SCHOOL When the Wilkinson School in El Granada, California, received a bomb threat on the morning of April 11, it didn’t take long for administrators to empty the building of staff and students. But law officers searching the grounds found nothing -- because the threatening phone call actually came from 2,100 miles away, in Woodville, Mississippi. That’s where a 15-year-old student intended to threaten her own Wilkinson County High School, reported The San Jose Mercury News, but apparently didn’t check her Google search thoroughly enough before dialing. SUSPICIONS CONFIRMED A concerned animal lover in Devon, England, contacted authorities on April 8 to report that a fox she had been watching hadn’t moved for several days, reported Fox News. In response, Ellie Burt, an officer with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, suggested trying the “broom test,” which didn’t make the fox stir, but Burt was
told it “tracked them with its eyes and seemed to be breathing well.” When Burt arrived on the scene, she quickly diagnosed the problem: The fox was a fake, “stuffed by a taxidermist. He’d clearly been placed under a bush outside of the houses as a prank,” Burt said. “Someone had been moving it around the neighborhood.” Burt discarded the fox “to avoid any further calls.” THE LITIGIOUS SOCIETY An unnamed 40-year-old man in Muncie, Indiana, is suing his parents for trashing his collection of porn videos and magazines, which he estimates was worth $29,000. According to the Associated Press, the man had been living with his parents for 10 months following a divorce, and after he bought a new house, his parents delivered his possessions -- minus the 12 boxes of porn. His parents admitted dumping the collection; in an email quoted by the lawsuit, the father told his son, “I did you a big favor by getting rid of all this stuff.” The son is seeking $87,000 in financial damages. LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINAL Brandon Cory Lecroy, 26, of Greenwood, South Carolina, really wanted to get rid of his neighbor. In March 2018, The New York Times reported, the FBI was tipped off that Lecroy had contacted an unidentified white supremacist group and asked them to kill his African American neighbor, hang him from a tree and leave a cross burning in his yard. An FBI agent posing as a hit man got in touch with Lecroy, who offered $500 for the killing and told the agent he was planning to take over the neighbor’s property. As soon as Lecroy made a $100 down payment, he was taken into custody. On April 12, Lecroy pleaded guilty to a murder-for-hire charge and was sentenced to 10 years in prison and three years of supervision.
Savage Love BY DAN SAVAGE MAIL@SAVAGELOVE.NET
I’ve been with my boyfriend for a few months. Prior to dating, I was clear with him that I would need to open our relationship at some point. He initially hesitated to respond, but then agreed we could do that when the time came. That time has come much quicker than I anticipated, but I feel like he’ll renege on his end of things because of many comments he’s made recently—comments like not understanding or liking nonmonogamy and how “his woman” sleeping around is a deal breaker. Is this a DTMFA situation? Specified Open Relationship Early Early on, you let your boyfriend know that openness “at some point” was your price of admission—the price he’d have to pay to be with you—and now he’s letting you know that monogamy is his price of admission. What’s going on here? Well, sometimes Person A tells Person B what Person A knows Person B wants to hear regarding Topic X in the hopes that Person B will feel differently about Topic X after the passage of time or after Person B has made a large emotional investment in Person A. In many cases, Person A has the best intentions—by which I mean, Person A isn’t being consciously manipulative, but rather Person A sincerely hopes Person B will come to feel differently about Topic X or that they, Person A themselves, will. But considering how little time has passed, SORE—it hasn’t even been three months, and he’s saying shitty/ judgy things to you about nonmonogamy and sexist/controlling things about “his woman”—it seems clear that your boyfriend wasn’t being sincere, he was being manipulative. DTMFA. This is another request for a kinky neologism. How about those of us who like the idea of our significant other having sex with somebody else but who aren’t into full-on cuckold-
style humiliation? “Cuckold” implies a level of subordination that just isn’t my thing, and “hotwifing,” besides sounding incredibly sleazy, assumes that it’s a couple that is opposite sex and married, and the guy is only interested in watching. Can you or the hive mind solve this problem? Cuck In Name Only I don’t think the term “hotwifing” is inherently heterosexist, as there are gay men and straight women out there into “hothusbanding.” (They get off on sharing their hot spouses with others, aren’t necessarily interested in getting with anyone else themselves, and don’t, à la cuckolds, get off on humiliation.) But if that term doesn’t appeal to you, CINO, there’s already an alternative: stags (a man who may or may not be dominant who likes to share his partner and may or may not participate) and vixens (a woman who may or may not be submissive who enjoys having sex with others in front of her partner and may or may not share them with others too). I’ve experienced anal itching in the past, and I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed it. It felt so insanely good to satisfy that itching inside. I can find lots of information about relieving anal itching, but I can’t find anything about inducing it for pleasure. Into Tormenting Clean Heinie According to the Mayo Clinic, keeping your ass too clean or letting it get too dirty can induce anal itching, as can pinworms, diabetes, and anal tumors. Seeing as you probably don’t want diabetes or rectal cancer, and since pinworms aren’t for sale at your local bait shop, ITCH, you could try scrubbing your ass with harsh soaps, which is what the Mayo Clinic urges people who don’t want itchy anuses to avoid. (I reverse engineered their advice for you. You’re welcome.) Good luck, and please don’t write back to let us know how you’re progressing, okay?
I am a 24-year-old pansexual trans woman, and I feel sexually broken. Hormones have made it nearly impossible for me to top a partner. I’m able to do it once in a while, but not as much or as reliably as I would like. Additionally, hormones have messed up my digestive system and made bottoming difficult. I’m also relatively sexually inexperienced, which means I’m enthusiastic about oral but not very good at it. This leaves me feeling like I bring nothing to the table. Horny But Sex Is Thorny Getting good at oral—like getting good at anything—takes a little practice. Let your prospective partners know you’re relatively inexperienced, and you’ll be far likelier to wind up in bed with patient and supportive people who
will let you practice on them. As for bottoming, hopefully your guts will settle down in time. As for topping, well, lots of women use strap-on dildos for penetration. Having a strap-on at the ready and actively seeking out partners who don’t regard strap-on sex as a consolation prize (or a fail) will allow you to experiment with penetration without the pressure of having to produce or sustain an erection. You can switch back and forth between your dick and the dildo as needed, and being able to make it happen for your lover—using whatever tools you need—will build your confidence. And you’re not broken, HBSIT. You are, like all of us, a work in progress. Good luck.
E’S DAN SAVAG
IVAL FILM FEST
May 8-10 PITTSBURGH T I C K E T S AT H U M P F I L M F E S T.C O M
PITTSBURGH CURRENT | APR. 30, 2019 | 47
friday, june 21, 2019 6:00-11:00pm
Mattress Factory Contemporary Art Museum Hosted by the Mattress Factory + the Factory Fellows
Tickets on sale now at mattress.org Letâ€™s dance the midsummer night away with visions of fairies, druids, centaurs and all things mystical! Feast and imbibe with some of the cityâ€™s best restaurants and bars, and join us for our art auction.
500 Sampsonia Way 48 | APR. 30, 2019 | PITTSBURGH CURRENT
The Music Issue