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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Monday is Bill Peduto Day in the city of Pittsburgh and his transition committee has announced a whole slew of Inauguration Day activities, including a photo-op for “portraits” with the mayor and his cabinet at the Wintergarden at PPG Place.

It’s never too early to get that 2014 Christmas card photo taken care of.

The public meet-and-greet will begin at 2:30 p.m. and follows the official swearing-in ceremony at 1 p.m. on the steps of the City-County building. All events will feature a food and cash donation drive to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The Pittsburgh Foundation will match a portion of donations raised.

The full release is after the jump.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Have you or someone you know made a short film with Jewish themes in the last three years? If not, can you make one in the next few days?

Pittsburgh's JFilm, which organizes the long-running Pittsburgh Jewish and Israeli Film festival among other events, is looking for entries for its Robinson International Short Film Competition. First prize is $10,000, with two smaller prizes of $3,000 each.

Entries are due by Jan. 15, 2014; there is a submission fee of $30. But if you sign up before Dec. 31, 2013, the fee is only $20.

Prizes are awarded at the Gala Awards program, in Pittsburgh, on May 7, 2014.

Full details for submitting films is here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Posted By on Tue, Dec 24, 2013 at 1:15 PM

  • Dumplings

Hi all!

It'ls not Monday, I realize. Forgive me; holiday scheduling got me off track. I do have an MP3 Monday for you, though, and it's a holiday song!

Local label Production Procedures Productions has put together a pay-what-you-want holiday compilation with a bunch of local indie, lo-fi and punk bands. Today's track comes from the band Dumplings; below, find "It's Snowing All Over the World."

Enjoy your holidays!

It's Snowing All Over the World

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Posted By on Tue, Dec 24, 2013 at 10:38 AM

They say that art mirrors life. Which may explain why, even in a Post-Gazette illustration of notable Pittsburgh personages, outgoing Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is a no-show.

The "Magazine" section of today's P-G includes a full-page illustration of notable Pittsburghers, all gathered in Market Square. The illustration is a "Where's Waldo"-style visual game in which you are urged to "Find Xante" — a service dog that exerts a powerful hold on the paper's collective psyche. But readers are also urged to see if they can identify "a variety of Pittsburgh figures, present and past" in the image. Among the local personages depicted in the illustration are: mayor-elect Bill Peduto, blogger Virginia Montanez, rapper Wiz Khalifa, an assortment of local sports heroes — and, OK, a couple car dealers/P-G advertisers.


Ravenstahl's name is listed among the 40-plus celebs readers are invited to find — he's named just after Pittsburgh Symphony music director Manfred Honeck, and just before organ-transplant pioneer Thomas Starzl — but he's actually not in the illustration at all. A reader could spend hours hunting him in vain ... just as many a reporter has done in recent months. But a check of the illustration's index, printed on the section's second page, confirms that the mayor is simply not to be found. Readers are left to wonder: Did the illustrators who created the image — Daniel Marsula, Ed Yozwick and James Hilston — simply forget to pencil in the mayor? Was Ravenstahl omitted because Seven Springs fell outside the page margins?

Or, as we here at City Paper suspected, was the omission a wry commentary on the mayor's no-show reputation?

"It's just what you said," Marsula confirmed when reached by phone.

"It wasn't my idea," Marsula added. Illustrators sounded out the newsroom staff on which local figures should be included, and making Ravenstahl conspicuous in his absence "was one of the very first things that they mentioned. After they suggested it, we threw around the idea of doing it back and forth" before deciding to do it.

Marsula says he doesn't know who first proposed the idea. Which is too bad. 'Cause in the holiday spirit, I was going to buy that staffer a seasonal beer.

Though on the other hand ... no one from City Paper was included in the illustration either.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Posted By on Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 12:04 PM

A compact new book of color photos documenting the Civic Arena during its last days (including its picturesque demolition) might make a good grab for the Pens fan, concert-goer or modernist-architecture afficionado on your list.

Photo by David Aschkenas
  • Photo by David Aschkenas

At 117 pages, this small-format paperback boasts about as many photos by internationally exhibited Pittsburgh-based shooter David Aschkenas. The Arena: Remembering the Igloo text, including some 30 Igloo anecdotes solicited from Pittsburghers, was written and edited by regular CP contributor Abby Mendelson.

Mendelson’s introduction reminds us of the Igloo’s history, including its stint in the’70s, especially, as one of the country’s top indoor concert venues.

The photos themselves range from striking demolition images like the one accompanying this post to someohow poignant shots from inside the intact but depopulated arena, like one of a toaster and empty dry cereal bins on a counter in the Pens’ locker room.

The book is available online and at brick-and-mortar venues including the Heinz History Center, The Team Gear Penguins Store at Consol Energy Center, and Hobbytown USA, in Robinson.

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Posted By on Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 10:51 AM

In a press conference that -- blessedly -- had fewer fish puns than the headline of this blog post, mayor-elect Bill Peduto and Wholey's President Jim Wholey called upon Pittsburghers to find a new home for the iconic Wholey Smiling Fish.

The Fish, which has winkingly presided over the Strip District for a quarter-century, must leave its home on the side of the Federal Cold Storage building: The structure is being converted into apartments. But "As we look to the new, we don't want to throw out the old," Peduto told reporters gathered in front of Wholey's retail location in the Strip District this morning.

Peduto and the Wholey family are asking residents to help find a new location for the 100-foot-by-60-foot sign. Between now and Jan. 31, he and the Wholeys will be soliciting suggestions on new locations for the sign. Suggestions can be made via e-mail at or using the Twitter hashtag #SmilingFish. Wholey customers can also offer locations using a suggestion box at Wholey's itself.

The new site for the sign must be within city limits, have the property owner's permission, and conform with zoning regulations. Peduto pledged that if a suitable location and willing owner could be found, the city would "work with you on the zoning issue." (Which, if nothing else, would probably provide a more fun ongoing news story than the last debate over electronic signage in town).

As of 10:40 this morning, I already spotted one recommendation on Twitter: replacing the badly dilapidated Alcoa sign on Mt. Washington. Asked for his preferred location, Peduto intimated that the nearby Heinz History Center had purchased a structure at 1221 Penn Ave. -- just a few blocks from the sign's current location -- for use as a conservation center. But he was wary of mentioning the site by name, saying he didn't want to "get [History Center head] Andy Masich mad at me."

According to Peduto and Jim Wholey, the Wholey sign was a 1989 Christmas gift from employees to Robert Wholey Sr., after he traveled to Hong Kong and been impressed by the site of lit-up animal signs atop buildings there. A temporary sign, which blew off the building, was replaced by the Sargent Electric Company.

The fish sign, said Wholey, "is a part of Pittsburgh, and we owe it to Pittsburgh to let [residents] decide where it's going to go."

Wholey said that his firm would pay the cost of lighting and maintaining the sign, whose cost he estimated at $50,000. And when a new site is found for it, he said, "We'll have a big lobster party."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Posted By on Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Last month, the Sprout Fund ran an online contest for local fillmmakers seeking grant month for their projects; online viewers were asked to check out 35 projects that needed money and vote for their favorites. Today, the grantmaking organization announced three winners for its full grants — of $10,000 — and six additional winners of $1,000 grants.

The fully funded films are: Aspie Seeks Love, Julie Sokolow's exploration of the life of local artist David Matthews, who has Asperger's syndrome; Fursonas, a look at the denizens of the annual furry convention in Pittsburgh, by Olivia Vaughn and Dominic Rodriguez; and Give Us a Chance: Pittsburgh Punk, a historical documentary on the local punk scene by Mind Cure Records owner Mike Seamans.

Honorable mentions, getting $1,000 apiece, include Kirsi Jansa's Gas Rush Stories and Darrell Kinsel and Alisha Wormsley's Kill the Artist. A full list of winners is available here.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 11:31 AM

If you’re still seeking that elusive affordable-but-creative gift, tonight two venues host events that might help. You could event attend both without too much trouble.

At 6:30 p.m., the East End Food Co-Op hosts DIY Gift Ideas With Local Products, where you can learn to make edible gifts (which are always the right size).

This workshop on treats you can create at home with apple-cider molasses is led by Jackie Cleary, of Auburn Meadow Farm and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.

There is more than one such treat — think “bacon jam” and “caramels” — and samples will be provided. So will handout recipes and shopping hints. The event is free, but PASA is accepting $10 donations. Reserve your spot at 412-242-3598.

Down the road a few neighborhoods, starting at 7 p.m. (but running till midnight), Brillobox hosts the Holiday Swap Meet Vintage Vendors Bonanza.

The 21-and-over event organized, by Comics Workbook and Copacetic Comics Co., includes a vendor fair with Copacetic and other comics vendors, and folks selling vinyl records and vintage clothing.

Also: a dual 7-9 p.m. book-signing by top local comics artists Ed Piskor and Frank Santoro, both of whom have new work out. (I previewed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree here, and watch CP for something on Santoro’s Pompeii.)

The Swap Meet also includes DJ J. Malls, spinning from 7-9 p.m., and karaoke with DJ Dougie from 10 p.m.-midnight. Brillobox is at 4104 Penn Ave., in Bloomfield.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Rising from Philadelphia’s thriving hip-hop scene, trio Ground Up has been making waves with a series of independent mixtape and EP releases. On Wednesday, December 18, they hit the stage at Pittsburgh’s Altar Bar for a performance that’s certain to impress.

Tell us about this upcoming show, at Altar Bar on December 18.

Azar: We’re doing a one-stop show with Hi-Rez in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has always been a really good market for us, and we always get a lot of love out there.
Malakai: This is probably our fourth or fifth time performing in Pittsburgh, actually.

That’s right, I recall you guys performing at the Shadow Lounge about a year ago. Do you remember when or what venue some of your earlier shows here were?

Malakai: We used to play at a place called the P. Café, I’m not sure if it’s still open. Probably back in, like, 2009, we used to come out to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh was probably one of our first major stops outside of Philadelphia.
Azar: We’ve had a lot of good times there, man. We all have our respective friends that went to the University of Pittsburgh as well. We did a couple of shows at the P. Café, and, like, the owner was mad cool. It would just always be a good time, because we knew a lot of people and they would always make sure that we had a good time. We spent a lot of time on Semple Street getting fucked up.

We’re all sports fans; what do you guys think of Pittsburgh and Philly as cross-state rivals?

Malakai: Well, I grew up in Baltimore and then moved to Philadelphia. So, as far as football is concerned, I absolutely can’t stand the fucking Steelers.
Azar: And I got a sensitive subject with the Steelers, my girl is actually a huge Steelers fan. And I’m a ride-or-die Eagles fan. I can’t stand Steeler Nation. So, I’m a hater, you guys got the rings (laughs).

Is there anything about Wednesday’s performance that will be unique from your past shows here?

Azar: Yeah, man, we got a little surprise for the show coming up. We’re gonna be rocking with a drummer alongside of us for one of the first times ever. So, that adds a whole new dimension to our live show and really gives us a lot more opportunity to get the crowd engaged and have a lot more fun with everything.

And your producer Bij Lincs handles the DJing duties?

Azar: Yeah, Bij is DJing, and he’s on the keys as well from time to time. He’s our DJ and beatmaker, always. So, he’s gonna be rocking the tables with the live drummer as well.

Earlier this year you guys collaborated on a song with Pittsburgh rapper Beedie. Have any other Pittsburgh artists caught you guys’ attention?

Azar: Obviously we all got a lot of inspiration from watching Wiz grow into the artist that he is. I think a lot of rappers could say that. But us in particular, I know that we were listening to Wiz way back when, back when “Pittsburgh Sound” was dropping. So that was really cool to see a guy like Wiz’s progression. Also, Beedie’s got a real dope movement. And Devin Miles, who we’re gonna hopefully have a track with in the near future, he’s really talented. And of course, man, Mac Miller. You’ve gotta give him all the respect in the world for what he’s done.

Your Promiseland EP was came out just a couple months ago. Are there any new releases or upcoming projects you’re working on?

Malakai: We recently released a clothing line of our own, called MDCCXI. As far as music, we're planning to release our new project around the middle of next year. You can download all of our music on for free.

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Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 1:29 PM

A crowd of about 200 turned out on a frigid Saturday morning for the “raising ceremony” for“The Hunt,” a totem pole crafted on the premises by Native American artist Tommy Joseph.

Unveiling The Hunt on Dec. 14

The Dec. 14 ceremony, in the museum’s third-floor atrium, included a short talk by Joseph himself. The Tlingit artist hand-carved the 16-foot-tall totem over about three weeks from a Prince of Wales Island red cedar shipped from his native Alaska. It stands permanently outside the museum’s Hall of American Indians, somewhat curiously situated in a space between and just behind two Corinthian columns of polished stone.

Because totem poles are about story-telling, Joseph’s talk was especially apt: He told the story behind the story he’d incised into the wood.

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