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Friday, September 28, 2012

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Todays' Localism post deals with stuff you can buy from Pittsburgh vendors on Etsy! Let's get to it!


— Obviously, before you can buy anything else, you want to get this vintage Safe Guard check writer. That way you'll have any easy method for paying for all the rest of your purchases.

— Dino lovers might want this set of OHMIGODSOCUTE dinosaur cupcake toppers and wrappers!

— In contrast, no one on earth ever should buy their baby a personalized Cleveland Browns hat.

— Question: What the hell is steampunk about octopus soap? Oh, whatever. If you're the type who buys octopus soap, I suppose you'll buy octopus soap whether it's steampunk or not.

— A traffic rosary! That is something I had not thought of, but that would be useful.

— Aaaaaand then there's this Snow White-inspired bra.

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Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Image courtesy GAC
  • Image courtesy GAC

Freedom Farms, in Butler County, is the focus of a new reality show, Farm Kings, on the GAC cable channel. (That’s Great American Country, for those of you who don’t spend all day watching country-music videos.) New episodes premiere Thursday nights at 9 p.m. with repeats throughout the week.

At the farm, run by the King family, they raise corn, chickens, peppers, flowers and, most notably, strapping young men. Don’t take my word for it: The introductory show, “Meet the Kings,” splits its time between showing the family members (mom, nine sons and one daughter) at work planting, cooking, packaging, selling — and showing a couple of the King lads shirtless. (For the record, these are dudes who look good without a shirt.)

Sometimes they’re working shirtless — farming is tough physical labor — but other times they’re just lounging around bare-chested in a barn talking about farming. The show introduces two of the brothers as they casually doff their shirts. The title image is four Kings standing shirtless. The brothers generously wrestle shirtless. One King works the farmers’ market shirtless, claiming (probably correctly) that it helps sales.

The intro episode didn’t set up much conflict, or suggest what a series arc might be. The family emphasizes in rather generic statements that farming is hard work, but the show so far feels more like a “Hot Farmers” calendar come to life. But if it leads more viewers to appreciate where their food comes from — or to work out more before tackling their own gardens sans shirt — it can’t be a bad thing.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Two of Pittsburgh’s best-known political cartoonists team up on Sunday to talk about its most legendary.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers and former P-G cartoonist Tim Menees will discuss the craft and impact of Cy Hungerford at the Carnegie Library’s main branch. The event is free.
Hungerford was Pittsburgh’s top political cartoonist from 1927 through 1977. The Indiana native joined the Pittsburgh Sun in 1912 and drew for the P-G starting in 1927. He was known for his gentle style. “You can’t preach. Bitterness and viciousness defeat their own purpose. Make people smile and think while they’re smiling,” he was once quoted as saying in the P-G. Hungerford died in 1983. Here's one of his pieces from during the Johnson administration.


"Following in the Footsteps of Hungerford," part of the Allegheny Regional Asset District’s RADical Days lineup of free events, takes place in the library’s Quiet Reading Room.
The 2-4:30 p.m. talk accompanies a gallery exhibit drawn from the library’s extensive Hungerford collection. The exhibit is up through Oct. 6.
For more information, call 412-622-3151 or email

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Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 11:26 AM

This Saturday, The Altar Bar hosts two very good, very talented, very similar bands. They’re both from Brooklyn (a borough of New York City), both have a knack for haunting ambients, sleek guitars and falsetto vocals and both create beautiful, arching narrative gems (staples of my Crying Mix on Spotify, find it). They are The Antlers and Port St. Willow.

Port St. Willow is Nick Principe, a plural instrumentalist and talented singer with an EP (Even//Wasteland) and a full-length called Holiday to his name so far. The latter is a particularly gorgeous record, bleak and substantive and weirdly uplifting in all the right places. Check out “Hollow” from his full length; it’s a fitting introduction to the sound and a good example of how depressed music isn’t necessarily always depressing. Much like those Antlers.

The similarities between the two are not coincidental, Principe and Antlers’ mainman Peter Silberman go way back (like spinal chords and car seats?) and have been collaborating/supporting each other musically since childhood in upstate NY (north of Brooklyn). You can find one such collab here and though there are no guarantees in live music, we can hope they join each other on stage Saturday.

On to The Antlers. Where Principe has remained PSW’s principal player (sorry), The Antlers have since filled out to full-band status without losing the bedroom edge. Breakthrough came in the form of 2009’s near praised-to-death Hospice, a ten-track concept-ish album about a hospice worker falling in love with a dying patient. Despite the heavy subject (and it is that), the strengths of the compositions are too good to ignore and somehow, end up way more memorable than the dreary hospitalness in the lyrics.

Since then, The Antlers have released an EP (Undersea, July) and a pretty excellent full length called Burst Apart. While maybe a little less original than Hospice, it’s much more gratifying and much less taxing on your mood. Check out the Hail To The Theif/Sigur Rosie “Parentheses” below.

This Saturday, find The Antlers and Port St. Willow at The Altar Bar. The show is all ages, tickets $15. Doors 7pm, show at 8pm.

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Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 10:03 AM

In an effort to raise funds for and draw attention to issues facing LGBT youth, the Persad Center will be holding a 5K walk/run at 9 a.m. on Sunday Nov. 4 at the North Park Boathouse in Allison Park. The registration fee, which includes the race as well as food and music afterwards, is $25.

According to the event website (where you can get more information and register):

Persad 5K Run & Fun Walk was created as a way to broaden community awareness and involvement in LGBTQ youth. In the spirit of giving back, why not do good for yourself and your community by participating in our 5K Run & Fun Walk.

Whether you are a competitive runner, a casual walker, or just love the idea of supporting a wonderful cause, participating in Persad’s 5K allows you to show your support for local and regional LGBTQ youth.


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Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 7:55 AM

Story of the day: Pennsylvania awaits the decision of Commonwealth Court Robert Simpson in the Voter ID case. Judging from media accounts, Simpson is looking for a compromise in which people without IDs can vote by provisional ballot ... but rather than requiring them to produce ID after Election Day, as the law requires, Simpson would allow any ballot cast by a registered voter to count. So ... now the elections could depend on how many provisional ballots each polling place has on hand? I guess the number of ballots cast could be an interesting experiment, to see where people have the most trouble getting hold of IDs. But otherwise, it sounds like the kind of judicial compromise that will satisfy nobody: It basically strikes the ID requirement at the polls, while leaving it place in the law. I think? I just don't even know anymore.

Bill Peduto has essentially announced his intention to announce plans to run for mayor ... with a big ol' check from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Technically, he could still change his mind, but right out of the gate, Peduto has shown that, unlike two previous runs for the office, he's got some heavy hitters behind him. Don't look for this to be another reprise of the abortive 2007 race.

Speaking of that mayor's race, here's a storyline you can expect to hear more about in the future: The Pittsburgh Promise, perhaps Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's most lasting achievement, seems to be paying dividends for city students whose grades allow them to qualify. More than three-quarters of Promise scholarship recipients have returned to school after their first year -- a higher percentage than the national average.

You may have been wondering: What ever happened with Seeds of Peace, the collectivist traveling food kitchen that was harassed by police during the lead-up to the G-20 convention? They and another group, Three Rivers Climate Convergence, have settled a civil rights lawsuit, to the tune of $143,000. It's one of those "admit no wrongdoing" situations.

Democrats are drooling over Gov. Tom Corbett's weak approval ratings, and though the next gubernatorial election isn't until 2014, there's already buzz over who'd be the best Democratic challenger. One name in the mix: Our very own Dan Onorato ... who lost to Corbett in 2010, but who probably looks better and better to people every day.

Today marks the inauguration of what I'm sure will become a much-beloved exercise in corporate PR: the Marcellus Shale Coalition 3 Rivers Challenge. Pro and amateur anglers alike will be casting their lines into the water, and it's all for a good cause: demonstrating the gas-drilling industry does too care about the environment.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 9:17 PM

"Want to know how serious I am about this campaign?" Bill Peduto asked me, speaking from his cell phone. "I'm driving a Ford."

Which is a joke, of course, but one intended to suggest that Peduto -- whose previous cars have included a Saab, a high-mileage Audi, and a presentable Cooper Mini -- is no longer content to be mayor of the tony East End. His campaign to challenge Luke Ravenstahl in next year's mayoral race, though not officially announced, was made public today. And it began, significantly enough, with a high-profile contribution from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

"It was Rich's idea to make the announcement through his e-mail," says Peduto, who notes that he was an early backer of Fitzgerald's 2011 county executive campaign -- even though the early favorite had been rival Democrat Mark Patrick Flaherty. Fitzgerald's $8,000 contribution -- the most allowed under the city's campaign finance rules -- will help Peduto put together the bare bones of a campaign. "It's not an endorsement because I haven't officially announced my candidacy yet," says Peduto. "But I think it sends a message."

And that message, he hopes, will be: Bill Peduto is ready to go all-city.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 1:34 PM

The burgeoning local beekeeping community must be abuzz (sorry) with word of this visit by Tammy Horn.


Horn is author of three books on bees and beekeeping, including 2005’s Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shapes a Nation. Central to her writing is the crucial role bees play in pollinating our food and other vital plants.
Tomorrow, Horn visits Bloomfield’s Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore to discuss her forthcoming book, Apiforestation: The Future of Beekeeping. This one’s about using beekeeping as a reforestation tool — and even simply restoring bees to areas that have lost them, like parts of her native Kentucky.
The talk is free.
Horn was an English professor who first took up beekeeping (working for her apiarist grandfather) in 1997. She went on to study industrial-scale beekeeping, and specialized in using beekeeping as a way to reclaim old coal-mining sites.
She currently chairs the Appalachian-studies department at Kentucky’s Berea College, but continues to promote beekeeping through groups including Coal Country Beeworks. Her other books include Beeconomy: What Women and Bees Can Teach Us About Local Trade and Global Markets, which profiles international women beekeepers.
The Fri., Sept. 28, talk at Big Idea is free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Afterward, the nonprofit group Burgh Bees co-hosts a Tea-and-honey tasting.
Big Idea is located at 4812 Liberty Ave.

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Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 10:13 AM

After months of speculation about whether or not he'll take on Luke Ravenstahl next spring in the Pittsburgh mayor's race, City Councilor Bill Peduto made a significant announcement this morning on Facebook and Twitter:


Website PoliticsPa also had an item on an email that County Executive Rich Fitzgerald sent to supporters this morning saying that he was endorsing Peduto and had already made a maximum campaign donation.

According to PoliticsPa: “Today, Bill Peduto filed the paperwork necessary to make him eligible to run for Mayor of Pittsburgh,” Fitzgerald wrote in an email to supporters. “Although he has not officially announced that he will run, I am honored to be the first to donate the maximum amount allowed by law to his campaign.”

We will have more on this story as it becomes available.

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Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 8:41 AM

Just the other day, some jagoff observed that, with all the 11th-hour hour changes made to the voter ID law, "it's hard to see why opponents or supporters of Voter ID should have any faith in the law." And guess what? At least one of the law's jagoff authors is losing faith in it. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe tells the Tribune-Review that the law doesn't allow for easier-to-get forms of ID now being issued by Gov. Tom Corbett's administration: "I think the executive branch has gone farther than what the law allows them to do." Metcalfe shouldn't worry: There's plenty of evidence that voters are still having a hard time getting ID, thanks to a lack of information. The left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has found that nearly half of people going to PennDOT are getting misleading or incomplete information about how to get their IDs.(There'll be more testimony in Commonwealth Court about the law today; in the meantime, there are long lines to get ID in Philly.)

Seems like there's not a lot of local interest in the case of Terry Williams, who is facing execution for crimes committed as a teenager. (Though there are exceptions.) But if you'd like to register your opposition to the death penalty in this case, the ACLU is making it easy, with a form you can send to the Board of Pardons, which is rehearing his appeal. Williams' execution is set for Oct. 3. (In related news, two Pennsylvania newspapers are seeking full access to the proceedings.)

Could a change in leadership be in the offing at the local NAACP? A rematch of the 2010 race between Regina Ragin Dykes and M. Gayle Moss is in the offing. Although I dunno. According to the New Pittsburgh Courier, "When asked what she would do differently from the current NAACP leadership, Dykes wouldn’t go into specifics."

In these tough economic times, it's good to know that at least somebody's job is safe. And Pirates fans will no doubt be pleased to know that the Pirates' front office isn't going anywhere. Yes, despite one of the most epic late-season collapses in pro sports history, the Pirates have issued a statement in support of the team's top executives. This will remove any cloud of uncertainty from the team's off-season -- ensuring more airspace for the cloud of despair.

Schenley High School is up for sale, despite the hopes of former Schenley parents and other advocates who hoped students might return to it. Great location, distinctive architecture -- and as a bonus, it's got less asbestos than you may have been led to believe.