Heads Up

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pittsburgh faith leaders to hold community hearing to discuss action and Black Lives Matter

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 5:02 PM

Rev. Rodney Lyde speaks at the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network about race and police. - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Rev. Rodney Lyde speaks at the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network about race and police.

On June 12, a coalition of faith leaders convened to lament the recent shootings of two black men by police officers and the killings of the five police officers in Dallas, during a Black Lives Matters protest. The Rev. Rodney Lyde, president of Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, says he is deeply saddened by all the killings, but is calling for a move that goes beyond protesting.

“This is a time for above and beyond,” said Lyde. “If our police are the best trained in the world, but we fail to deal with basic racism and the adversity of people of color ... our black people are arrested, locked up, and the worst possible outcome, killed.”

Alton Sterling, of Louisiana, was shot and killed by police officers after he was confronted for selling CDs on the street. Philandro Castile, of Minnesota, was shot by a police officer while alledgedly reaching for his wallet while being pulled over for a broken tail light. Pittsburgh activists marched through Downtown on June 9 to protest the killings.

Lyde said that police-community relations, or lack thereof, are not the sole cause of all the tensions and shootings of African Americans. PIIN has been involved in other social-justice fights in Pittsburgh, including faith leaders that were arrested outside of the UPMC Steel Tower after protesting the right for workers to form a union. He applauded the effort forged between PIIN and Pittsburgh Police to have officers trained in implicit bias but says that there is much more to accomplish to deal with the root causes of “structural racism.”

“That is where see the manifestation,” said Lyde. “In the lack of affordable housing, the disparity in education, and there are not enough family-sustaining jobs.”

Dave Swanson of PIIN and pastor of Pittsburgh Mennonite Church in Swissvale concurred with Lyde’s sentiments and said that perceptions need to be changed before positive progress occurs. “As long as black bodies and black lives are viewed as lesser, this will continue,” said Swanson.

The Rev. De Neice Welsh of PIIN announced that in response to the recent killings, PIIN will hold a community meeting on July 21, at 7 p.m., at the St. James AME Church in Larimer. Welsh said that topics will include economic inequality, loss of community resources, and self-hatred in minority communities.

“We see to convene this forum to seek justice,” said Welsh. “We believe faith should be at the center of the work going forward.”

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Rally scheduled and website started in support for Pittsburgh immigrant in process of being deported

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 4:01 PM

After City Paper reported the story of Martin Esquivel-Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico with no criminal record who is currently in the process of being deported, CP editor Charlie Deitch called for Pittsburghers to get involved in the fight to keep Esquivel-Hernandez in the Steel City.

Martin Esquivel-Hernandez marching in a immigrants-rights rally on May 1 - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Martin Esquivel-Hernandez marching in a immigrants-rights rally on May 1
And many have responded. On July 8, more than 100 marchers will rally in support of Esquivel-Hernandez and “to oppose the politics of hate and fear,” according to the group’s Facebook page. The supporters are particularly calling out presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, from Pa., for their remarks and actions against undocumented immigrants. (Trump has called Mexican immigrants rapists, and Toomey sponsored a bill to block funding to “sanctuary cities,” or ones that refuse to communicate with the Department of Homeland Security about undocumented immigrants without warrants; the bill was blocked recently by U.S. Senate Democrats.)

In fact, Esquivel-Hernandez was picked up by immigration officers most likely because he had been cited for driving without a valid license in Mount Lebanon, a town without a sanctuary city-like policy. Lt. Duane Fisher, of the Mount Lebanon Police, says the township's general policy is to make contact with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if police “find someone who is unlicensed” and to see whether ICE has “any reason to see if [the suspect] is wanted.” Fisher says that from there, Mount Lebanon police don’t follow up on the case, and that it becomes ICE’s call. Pittsburgh, while not a sanctuary city, has a policy to not initiate contact with ICE, but will cooperate if contacted.

Immigration will be a main topic at the public march on Friday, which will coincide with the People’s Convention being held Downtown, and begins at 2:30 p.m. at 10th Street and Penn Avenue. For those wishing to provide further support to the Esquivel-Hernandez family, a website has been created (keeptheesquivelfamilytogether.com) where supporters can sign a letter to U.S. District Attorney David Hickton, who is prosecuting the case against Esquivel-Hernandez, that asks Hickton to drop the felony re-entry charges.

The groups rallying around Esquivel-Hernandez include the Pittsburgh chapter of the Labor Council for Latino Advancement, Latino outreach group Casa San José, nonprofit coalition One Pittsburgh, and social-justice-advocacy group the Thomas Merton Center.

A message in support of Esquivel-Hernandez is written on the website: “We sincerely believe Hickton is using this charge to brand Martín as a criminal deserving of jail time and immediate deportation. Martín does not belong in a prison cell. He should be back with his family and the community that loves and needs him the most.”

Esquivel-Hernandez has been in Pittsburgh for more than four years and has been involved in an assessment of Latino needs for Allegheny County; advocated for better translation services in Pittsburgh schools; and marched in immigrant-rights rallies.

The Obama administration has said that it will prosecute undocumented immigrants who threaten public safety, but the advocacy groups claim that Esquivel-Hernandez does not fit into that category given his lack of a criminal record and positive involvement in the community.

Donations can also be given on the website, or people can send a check to Pittsburgh LCLAA with “solidarity with Esquivel family” written on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to:

Pittsburgh LCLAA
United Steelworkers
Attn.: Guillermo Perez
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA. 15222

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Pittsburgh's SouthSide Works Exposed festival returns tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 11:09 AM

SouthSide Works Exposed is back for its 12th year, partnering with I Made It! crafts marketplace to bring nearly 70 local artisans to South 27th Street for a packed three-day weekend. Handmade crafts in all sorts of media will be available for purchase each day. 

The crowd at an earlier SouthSide Works Exposed
  • The crowd at an earlier SouthSide Works Exposed
Live bands will perform throughout the weekend. Friday will feature Tres Lads and Bastard Bearded Irishmen, while Saturday showcases Shelley Duff, The Delaney’s, Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution, Kierra Darshell & Drag Performers and closer No Bad JuJu.

Sunday is Kids Day, with live animals, a magic show, kids' Zumba and a set from Kelsey Friday and the Rest of the Week Band. 

Additionally, about 10 food trucks, with menu items ranging from Japanese cuisine to gourmet meatballs to the timeless pierogie, will be available through the festival.

SouthSide Works Exposed takes place 5-10 p.m. tomorrow; noon-10 p.m. on Sat., July 9; and noon-5 p.m., on Sun., July 10. Admission is free. For more information, including a full schedule, see here

The festival is centered at the corner of Sidney and South 27th streets, on the South Side.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Author of book on housing and segregation in Pittsburgh tomorrow

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 5:06 PM

Chicago-based journalist Natalie Moore visits the Barnes & Noble at the Waterfront, in West Homestead, with her new book The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation (St. Martin’s Press).

Natalie Moore
  • Natalie Moore
The books explores government policies that have kept Chicago segregated by race. Moore argues that race (rather than class) is the defining factor in inequality and a pervasive feature of life there.

The critically acclaimed book should have resonance nationally, and perhaps especially in Pittsburgh, where segregation is rife and where many say an influx of new development (hello, East Liberty!) has left many longtime residents, in particular African Americans, without affordable housing.

“While mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel have touted Chicago as a ‘world-class city,’ it remains one of the most segregated cities in America,” according to press materials for The South Side. “And while it would be easy to think of a city with a billion-dollar park, Michelin-rated restaurants, waterfront views, world-class shopping, and a thriving theater scene as a model for other metropolitan areas, underneath the shiny façade lurks the horrible reality of deeply-rooted and destructive racial segregation.”

Moore grew up in Chicago’s South Side and is the South Side bureau reporter for WBEZ-FM, Chicago’s NPR station. In the past, she’s worked for Detroit News, St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Associated Press in Jerusalem. Her journalism has also been published in national outlets including Essence and In These Times.

Moore will be at Barnes & Noble for an informal discussion from 7-9 p.m. tomorrow. The event is free.

The store is located at 100 West Bridge St.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

“Interactive video bath” premieres tonight at Pittsburgh’s Neu Kirche

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Internationally exhibited, California-based artist Tra Bouscaren will open Projection Theory Slant Rhyme Institute, a cutting-edge video-based installation.

Image of a video installation by Tra Bouscaren
  • Image of a video installation by Tra Bouscaren
The work promises to immerse viewers “within images of themselves, literalized by interactive video software via live surveillance feeds from within the gallery,” according to press materials. “The projection mapping functions as an ‘interactive video bath’ constructed from multiple live surveillance feeds mashed together with drone footage, GIS imaging, and poached live webcams from all over the world.”

The purpose is to explore “the crossroads of addiction and demolition.”

Bouscaren is a lecturer in the Department of Art at the University of California Santa Cruz. His work has been exhibited at venues in Barcelona and Madrid, in Spain, and the Museum für Naturkunde, in Berlin.

Tonight’s reception starts are 6:30 p.m. The suggested donation is $10.

Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center is located at 1000 Madison Ave., on the North Side.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Final week for “Venus in Fur” at Pittsburgh Public Theater

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 1:01 PM


When I interviewed Whitney Maris Brown for a short preview of this production of David Ives’ play, she couldn’t say enough about the role she was to play: Vanda, an actress auditioning to be in a stage adaptation of a notorious 19th-century novel.

Christian Conn and Whitney Maris Brown in "Venus in Fur" - PHOTO COURTESY OF PITTSBURGH PUBLIC THEATER
  • Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater
  • Christian Conn and Whitney Maris Brown in "Venus in Fur"
Having seen this acclaimed comedic drama last night, I can’t say enough about the play, either. Seven performances of the Public's local-premiere production remain through Sunday, and I second Ted Hoover’s rave review for CP: Head Downtown for one of them. (If it’s any further recommendation, at last night’s performance I ran into another local theater person who said that this is the third production of this 2010 play he’s seen, in the third different city.)

Ives, primarily known for All in the Timing, outdoes himself with Venus. It’s just two characters, Vanda and Thomas, the playwright and director for whom she’s auditioning. Vanda at first seems ill-suited for the role: the domineering lover sought by the play’s protagonist, an aristocrat who wants to be subjugated by a woman. (Thomas' source material was Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novel Venus in Furs.)

But Vanda immediately begins proving herself to be much more than she seems, even as Venus in Fur expands into a slippery, endlessly engaging play-within-a-play, wherein the borders separating the two plays become increasingly indistinct. Partway through, Ives’ witty and incisive script takes an intriguing turn into a feminist critique of the play-within-in-a-play and its source material, even as the whole depicts a power struggle between director and actor.

The production is driven by terrific performances by Brown and by Christian Conn, as Thomas, directed by Jesse Berger. (Vanda really is a fantastic role, just as Brown indicated.) And then, in its final minutes, the play kicks imperceptibly but decisively into another gear entirely.

Tickets for Venus in Fur are $15.75-60 and are available here.

The Public’s O’Reilly Theater is located at 621 Penn Ave.


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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Afro-Pop, Reggae Concert on Saturday Benefits Pittsburgh-Based Medical Nonprofit

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 3:02 PM

The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater hosts a concert by Zambian-born musician Mathew Tembo and the Afro Routes Band to benefit Surgicorps, which provides free medical care in developing countries.

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Saturday’s benefit is specifically to support Surgicorps’ annual trip to Zambia.

Zambians who have benefited from Surgicorp’s five previous trips include Ruth, a 5-year-old girl whose scalp and one hand were disfigured in a fire when she was an infant. According to a press release, Surgicorps continues to help Ruth and others who otherwise would be “forced to live with painful injuries and deformities for the rest of their lives, with little access to medical care and little means to afford any care that is available in these impoverished countries.”

Tembo, a former Pittsburgher, is an award-winning, world-touring musician.

The benefit concert takes place at 8 p.m. Sat. June 18. Admission, per the Kelly-Strayhorn’s policy, is pay-what-makes-you-happy. VIP tickets are $100, and a VIP reception with wine, beer and hors d-oeuvres, begins at 6 p.m.

Both general-admission and VIP tickets are available here.

The Kelly-Strayhorn is located at 5941 Penn Ave., in East Liberty. 

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

SPACE hosts Pittsburgh's third annual Performance Art Festival tomorrow and Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 3:14 PM

After drawing more than 500 visitors last year, the Performance Art Festival (PAF) is back, featuring performances by 22 artists from all over the globe, and now as part of the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

PAF performer Hannah Thompson, of Pittsburgh - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Photo courtesy of the artist
  • PAF performer Hannah Thompson, of Pittsburgh
Founded by Bunker Projects, a gallery and artist residency based in Friendship, the festival plans to showcase 16 combined hours of performance. Cutting-edge pieces will include public interventions as well as site-specific performances centering on themes that connect across cultural and political boundaries.

The performers in the third annual festival, curated by Abagail Beddall, hail from as far away as Norway, Italy, South Korea, Spain and Mexico, and from Washington D.C., Chicago, New York City and, of course, Pittsburgh. 

Bunker Projects chose to expand the festival from its home base, which has a gallery area of about 500 square feet along with apartments and studios for resident artists.

PAF performer Lara Salmon, of Los Angeles - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Photo courtesy of the artist
  • PAF performer Lara Salmon, of Los Angeles
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust offered Downtown's SPACE Gallery as part of the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

PAF 2016 will take place 4-10 p.m. both tomorrow and Saturday. Admission is free. To learn more, visit www.bunkerprojects.org.

SPACE Gallery is at 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fundraising concert tomorrow for Pittsburgh music promoter, victim of house fire

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 2:58 PM

Altar Bar is the site of tomorrow’s fundraiser for hip-hop promoter and manager Elizabeth Kivovitz and her family, who lost their home and most of their possessions in a May 14 fire.

ART BY DANIELLE ROBINSON
  • Art by Danielle Robinson
The concert, hosted by Drusky Entertainment and Pittsburgh Artists for Social Change, features musical and burlesque performers including Miguel Sague, Deryck Tines, Machete Kisumontao, Sosa, Zeeppo The Clown and The Steel City Clown Brigade, Lita D’Vargas, Liz Berlin, Moemaw Naedon, HollyHood, Billy Pilgrim, Guaracha Latin Dance Band and many more. A complete line-up is here.

Kivovitz, her husband, Oliver Blackstock III, and their three children and a housemate were not at home when the fire happened. (Kivovitz's sister is performer Phat Man Dee; the house belongs to their mother.) However, the family was underinsured, and tonight’s concert is meant to supplement an ongoing gofundme campaign for the family.

The Kivowitz-Blackstock Fire Recovery Benefit and Thank You Concert begins at 7 p.m. tomorrow (doors at 6 p.m.). The suggested donation is $10. Contributors to the gofundme campaign are welcome to attend.

Tickets are available here.

Altar Bar is located at 1620 Penn Ave., in the Strip District. 

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Pittsburgh's Open Streets festival celebrating its third year of taking over the streets

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 12:56 PM

PHOTO COURTESY OF MATTHEW DESANTIS
  • Photo courtesy of Matthew DeSantis
Open Streets is back! Now in its third year of operation, the half-day street festival will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sun., May 29. 

The festival, which closes down a specified route to car traffic, allows people to walk, ride bikes, skateboard, hula-hoop and do whatever their heart desires on asphalt normally choked with automobiles. Six program hubs will be set up along the route where participants can play pick-up basketball, participate in a human stag hunt, workout with friends in free classes, and even take in some yoga. There are many kid-friendly events too.

The route starts in Market Square, Downtown, then goes along Penn Avenue and Butler Street, all the way to Allegheny Cemetery.

The festival is put on to encourage people to think differently about city spaces, maintain a healthy lifestyle, patronize local businesses and consider the benefits that can come to the environment when people walk and bike to get around.

Pittsburgh bike-share system, Healthy Ride, will also be celebrating its one-year anniversary as part of Open Streets and is hosting a program hub outside of its offices on 33rd Street and Penn Avenue. Director David White will announce new Pittsburgh bike share plans at 10:30 a.m.

Also, look forward to a new route for Open Streets come July. Scott Bricker of cycling-advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh tells City Paper that on the festival’s third and final day, July 31, Open Streets will be debuting a new route that starts Downtown, travels through the North Side and finishes in the West End. Details on the exact route are still being finalized.

And if you want to get involved, Bike Pittsburgh has a laundry list of volunteer positions that still need to be filled. Visit bikepgh.org for details.

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