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Friday, November 30, 2012

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 1:33 PM


A few weeks ago we told you to hurry up and vote so the Animal Rescue League in East Liberty could win a share of prize money in a national contest, the Rachel Ray ASPCA $100k Challenge. On Friday the ARL received news that they did indeed win $30,000 in the contest.

The shelter, located in East Liberty, is an "Open Door" facility which means it accepts all animals that need to be sheltered. They were competing for the contest's Community Engagement Award which is decided by the number of votes an agency receives on Facebook. The ARL won $25,000 for winning that contest and “an additional $5,000 for increasing lives saved by more than 300,” according to an ASPCA press release.

“In addition to saving a remarkable 2,176 cats and dogs in just three months — an increase of 533 animals over the same three months last year — Animal Rescue League did a phenomenal job of engaging its staff, volunteers, supporters, the public and the media,” said Bert Troughton, vice president of community outreach for the ASPCA. “Animal Rescue League held unique events, ran creative adoption promotions, reached out to new audiences via various social media channels and enlisted their network of volunteers to help them save more lives.”

To Celebrate the Award, The ARL will be celebrating at The Waterfront Town Center (former American Eagle store) with a public pizza party beginning at 6pm.

The full release appears after the jump:

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Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Just a quick heads-up on some shows that we couldn't fit into print this week but that deserve a mention:

— Tonight's late show at Club Cafe is the last one for local jazz-jam outfit Black Coffee, whose Cait Cuneo is going on to pursue a solo career. I suspect we'll hear more from others in the group too, but for now this is the last hurrah.

— Tonight at Thunderbird, Elikeh returns; read my pick on that band last time they pulled through.

— Tomorrow night at 6119 Penn, a final show for another band, Kim Phuc. The band issued a full-length early this year after quite a few singles; after tonight, they call it quits.

— Tomorrow night at Stage AE, The Pittsburgh Scene, which I wrote about a few months back, hosts an all-locals benefit show for Project Bundle-Up. It features the likes of Pete Bush, Mike Medved and There There, and it's for a great cause.

Get out there and enjoy some music!


Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 12:30 PM

This week in the CP:

— Check out the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Composer of the Year, Mason Bates, in our music feature. Stream some of his music - ranging from symphonic and chamber/vocal to electronica - over on his website, and scope out some of his upcoming performances in our November 28 issue.

— Want to know if any good shows are coming to the 'burgh this week? Take a peek at our Critics' Picks.

Conditions @ the Smiling Moose - Thursday, Nov. 29

Rachael Yamagata @ Mr. Small's - tonight! Friday, Nov. 30

Aaron Dilloway @ The Shop - tonight! Friday, Nov. 30

Phat Man Dee @ the Shadow Lounge - Sunday, Dec. 2

Jane Siberry @ the Friends Meeting House - Thursday, Dec. 6

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Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 10:33 AM

Quick thoughts on Pulitzer-winner David Lindsay-Abaire's comedic drama, entering its final week at the Public. See Program Notes.

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Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Contemporary theater doesn’t often tell stories of the working poor, and that’s not too surprising. Such stories can be harrowing, theater audiences tend to be well-heeled, and most companies don’t want to trouble subscribers more than necessary.

So kudos to Pittsburgh Public Theater for staging Good People, and to David Lindsay-Abaire for writing it. The play, which runs through Dec. 9, sends a working-poor, 40ish South Boston woman named Margie like a guided missile into the life of a former boyfriend named Mike, now an affluent doctor.

Kelly McAndrew and January LaVoy in Good People.

Here’s Robert Isenberg’s admiring review for CP.

While the show plays largely as earthy comedy, at heart it’s a serious, even harsh, look at class in America. A central issue is whether Mike’s financial success isn’t due as much to luck as to the hard work he claims got him there. And conversely, whether unemployed single mother Margie’s troubles are all her own fault or also fundamentally the luck of the draw.

I can’t help but recall a talk at Point Park University last month by journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich, whose books include Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, often notes that the affluent like to think the poor have something wrong with them — bad morals, bad judgment — when in fact poverty is, simply, the lack of money.

With Good People, Lindsay-Abaire’s hand is likely tipped by the fact that the play’s final bit of dialogue is a bingo call.

Still, there’s a sense of qualified hopefulness for Margie that might allow theater-goers inclined to blame the poor for their lot to depart the aisles without a conscience overburdened. Meanwhile, perhaps Lindsay-Abaire — with help from director Tracy Brigden and the Public’s fine cast — will even change a few hearts, if not minds.

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Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Gov. Tom Corbett held a series of interviews with reporters in the Capitol press corps. Yeah, we weren't there either. But Corbett held forth on a number of issues: Among them are pensions (look out!), taxes (he's sticking to that idiotic pledge), and healthcare exchanges (?!? actually, still not real clear where he's at on that one.) The great John Micek directs you to the key headlines.

Over at the Keystone Research Center, Stephen Herzenberg calls on the state's business leaders to rally behind a continued investment in renewable energy. Herzenberg notes that, since renewable energy is almost self-evidently the technology of the future, encouraging state investment in it isn't some hippie dream ... but makes practical business sense. It's a cogent, sensible argument, which is why I'm not optimistic that the folks at the Chamber of Business and Industry will pay it any mind. In other call-to-action news, meanwhile, the folks at Keystone Progress are urging you to speak up on behalf of letting tax cuts expire on the wealthiest 2 percent. This, too, is an eminently sensible position, which explains why it is also opposed by many conservatives. But the prospects for victory seem reasonably good.

Remember when the West Penn Allegheny Health System wanted to abandon its acquisition by Highmark, because it thought Highmark was going to force it into bankruptcy? Gotta say, that's starting to look like an increasingly moot point today.

Here's a story first anticipated by Chris Briem a couple days back: The Army Corps of Engineers' response to ongoing drought conditions may crimp river shipping ... and thus Pittsburgh's prosperity. This is the kind of problem we're going to be facing in the decades ahead, courtesy of our previous lack of response to the threat of global climate change.

An interesting discussion over at Keystone Politics about Congressional District 12, which of course just elected Republican Keith Rothfus over incumbent Mark Critz. Jake Sternberger argues, not for the first time, that if Democrats are going to take the seat back, we dippy progressives need to reconcile ourselves to a candidate who is anti-choice, a backer of Big Coal and high-power firearms. What? That doesn't excite you? Maybe this piece will ease the pain. It argues that being a "Blue Dog" doesn't necessarily mean being a lap dog for the health care and financial industries: There's still room for an economic populist out there in the hinterlands.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 5:03 PM

All politics is local, goes the famous adage. Dan Gilman is counting on it.

Earlier this week, Gilman announced his candidacy to replace his boss, Bill Peduto, as the city councilor representing District 8, which includes the city's more prosperous East End neighborhoods. At age 30, Gilman is the youngest of three candidates to have announced their intention to run: His two rivals, Jeanne Clark and Sam Hens-Greco, are longtime leaders within the Democratic Party, and chair its 7th and 14th ward committees respectively.

But while Hens-Greco and Clark have connections that stretch back years, Gilman has been building up his own social capital after nearly a decade of working for Peduto. "I have nine years of going to neighborhood meetings, and hearing those concerns. I can tell you the top 25 streets in the district that need to be paved, which catch-basins are collapsed, the history of the wooden-block paving on one street in Shadyside. No one else brings that kind of experience, and I'm going to tell that story."

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 2:50 PM

The festival celebrating the centennial of the civil-rights icon, postponed in October because of Hurricane Sandy-related travel issues, opens tonight with a World AIDS Day Program at Heinz Chapel, on the Pitt campus.

The program begins at 8 p.m. and is sponsored by the Pitt Mens’ Study.

Rustin, a mentor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, was openly gay in the 1950s, at great personal risk. (More info about Rustin, in an earlier post, is here.) The festival, organized by local activist Deryck Tines, brings the community together to address the impact of homophobia, HIV and homelessless on gay black men.

The festival continues tomorrow with a Community Elders Roundtable (noon at Downtown’s Benedum Rehearsal Conference Room) and the 6:30 p.m. opening reception at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. The free reception includes a screening of the documentary Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, and a drag performance by Kierra Darshell as Diana Ross.

Saturday’s events include the all-day UN-Masked Conference, at Pitt, and a 5-9 p.m. Town Hall on the role of the black church, hosted by radio personality Bev Smith, at the Hill District’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Sunday, the festival concludes with a concert headlined by gospel star Edwin Hawkins. That’s also at Ebenezer Baptist. Admission is a free-will offering.

For more information on the Rustin Centennial, call 412-983-8895 or email

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Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Paul Spadafora, as seen on our Dec. 17, 2009 cover story.

I know everyone loves mixed martial arts these days, but this region’s boxing scene is starting to re-emerge to the forefront and a familiar face looks to be leading it.

Former IBF lightweight boxing champion “The Pittsburgh Kid” Paul Spadafora will go for an astounding 47th win this Saturday night at Mountaineer Casino in Chester, West Virginia against Solomon Egberime (22-3-1, 11 knockouts). The event is promoted by former world champion Roy Jones Jr. and also features local boxing favorite Monty Meza Clay.

Spadafora’s current unbeaten streak and win total — 46-0-1 with 19 KO’s — is sort of astounding when you consider he has spent years dealing with legal and personal troubles that forced boxing to the background. He has fought just eight times since 2004.

The 37-year-old McKees Rocks native has long dealt with issues relating to alcohol abuse. In 2003 he shot his former girlfriend following a traffic incident in the Rocks. He was sentenced to 21 to 60 months in prison for the crime. He has also been arrested on DUI charges, including two a month apart in October 2011. Spadafora has also been recently sued by his former manager Al McCauley, who claims he should be paid a piece of Spadafora’s purse from an August fight and wants to lay claim to any future earnings from the former champ.

In August, Spadafora defeated challenger Humberto Toledo at Mountaineer and said rehab saved his life and allowed him to get back into the ring.

"Seven months ago, I was in a bad spot. Every day is good for me now. I got my life back, I'm boxing, I got my kids. Sobriety's perfect. I'm doing good and taking it one day at a time. Tomorrow's another day," he said in August.

Saturday’s fight is crucial for Spadafora who is ranked 11th by the World Boxing Association and 19th by the World Boxing Council in the Super Lightweight Division. A strong showing Saturday should give Spadafora a huge boost in the rankings and a potential title shot against WBA and WBC champ Danny Garcia.

Tickets for the fight are still available at Mountaineer's website starting at $25


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Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network are holding a town hall tonight, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to brainstorm solutions to the achievement gap in the public schools.

It is being held at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 616 North Highland Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15206.

"Recently parents, teachers and administrators have been pitted against one another in the effort to deal with funding cuts and other issues. But PIIN believes that if these critical stake holders work together solutions will be more effective," according to the press release the groups sent out announcing the town hall.

The town hall will include breakout groups of parents, teachers and administrators from the same schools working to identify school specific issues.

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