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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Here’s a dispatch from the first two hours of this week’s public hearings on a proposed rule to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Pittsburgh is one of four cities hosting hearings, and so many people signed up to speak that the EPA added a second day of all-day hearings — and then added a second room for each of those sessions in Downtown’s William S. Moorhead Federal Building. The rule is the first national attempt to limit emissions of carbon, the main greenhouse gas behind climate change.

For much of the morning, the 13th-floor hearing room was crowded by a few dozen guys in the green-camo T-shirts of the United Mine Workers union, which opposes the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. But of the first 24 speakers to address the hearing panel, 17 supported the plan. Several, including representatives of the National Wildlife Federation and the American Lung Association, even called for stronger regulations.

Because coal is the source of 75 percent of all carbon emissions from U.S. power plants, the Clean Power Plan would in effect restrict how much coal we can burn. Supporters argued that in addition to helping slow climate change, the new rules would reduce other air pollutants of the sort that lead to asthma, for instance — as well as lessening the dangers posed by rising temperatures and fiercer storms. Several spoke of a “moral obligation” to address climate change.

“It is an ethical decision as to whether we leave our children a living earth or an earth that has been devastated by fossil-fuel combustion,” said Patricia DeMarco, a visiting researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.

And Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper told the panel, “Reducing carbon emissions is a matter of public health.”

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Public officials join environmental groups Downtown tomorrow morning to support the U.S. EPA’s proposed limits on carbon emissions from power plants, meant to reduce air pollution and fight climate change.

The rally, to be held outside the August Wilson Center, coincides with the start of two days of EPA hearings on the Clean Power Plan, being held around the corner, at the William S. Moorhead Federal Building. Pittsburgh is one of just four cities hosting such hearings.

Speakers at the rally in support of the rules include Mayor Bill Peduto, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper and representatives from groups including the Sierra Club PA, PennFuture, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program.

The rules primarily affect coal-fired power plants. Carbon emissions can be cut by reducing energy consumption, increasing the efficiency of power plants, and moving to energy sources that emit less carbon. Lower emissions of soot and of the chemicals that go into forming smog, would follow suit.

According to the EPA, by the year 2030, the new limits would prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths and as many as 150,000 asthma attacks in children annually.

Emissions of carbon dioxide are the primary driver of human-caused climate change. The EPA’s rules would help reduce carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. This is the first attempt to limit carbon emissions nationally.

The rally begins at 11 a.m. at the Wilson Center, at 980 Liberty Ave.

If you are unable to comment in person to the EPA, you can do so in writing until Oct. 16. For more information, see

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Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 1:06 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Dana Yavin
  • Reignwolf

Reignwolf plays Brillobox tonight at 9:30 p.m.

Saskatoon's Jordan Cook makes up the rocky, fuzzy, bluesy band, with some help from others with on tour. Think a one-man Black Keys, but who rocks harder. During his live shows, Cook has been known to play guitar and drums simultaneously. Having only released a few singles, an actual release is still yet to come from the rock n' rolling Canuck.

It's not that Cook isn't capable or writing music. Hell, he picked up his dad's Fender Stratocaster at age 2. At 5, he was playing blues jams at local clubs. At 9, the average age of a third or fourth grader, he toured western Canada with his elementary school band, with his father being their driver and tour manager. Since those early days, Reignwolf has been named one of Rolling Stone's 10 New Artist You Need to Know in January. With such acclaim prior to an EP or full length, Jordan Cook looks to have a huge upside.

Cook plays Brillobox tonight with local Shaky Shrines. 9 p.m. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $15. 412-621-4900 or

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Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 10:45 AM

The first production by this company — originally scheduled as the second show by Phoenix Theatre Co. — isn’t for everyone.

Andrew Swacckhamer (left) and Matt DeCaro in Romance
David Mamet’s knowingly offensive 2005 courtroom farce is quite funny at times. And this production is smartly acted, and directed with lightning dispatch by Kinetic Producing Artistic Director Andrew S. Paul (who co-founded the now newly renamed Phoenix last year).

With its feckless judge hopped up on allergy meds, an anti-Semitic lawyer with a weaselly Jewish defendant, and a character who’s a flaming gay stereotype, Romance — at one act, and 75 minutes — is as over-the-top as they come. But though one woman who saw the performance I saw last Saturday guessed that Mamet wrote it as a joke, there was definitely more on his mind than yuks.

Paul clearly thinks so: Why else would he provocatively round out the show’s printed program with a long excerpt of Mamet’s infamous 2008 essay “Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal?”

You don’t insert a subplot about Israeli-Palestinian peace talks into a comedy set in New York City unless you’ve got something to say about it. In the essay, Mamet’s brief for his newfound conservatism, he notes that he used to refer to NPR as “National Palestinian Radio.” So while everyone in Romance is mocked, it’s a lot easier to imagine that the play reflects real disdain for the Palestinian cause, for instance, than it harbors about Jews, Episcopalians and gay men.

To be fair, Mamet's mockery of lawyers and judges is quite forthright. As the play’s defendant asks his lawyer, “Why did you go to law school if you don’t want to lie?” (Here’s Michelle Pilecki’s review for CP .)

And perhaps, as Paul himself himself notes in the program, the play’s really meant as an antidote to political correctness, and a “fiesta of forbidden laughter.”

Romance has three more performances, tonight, Friday and Saturday, at The Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., in Friendship. Tickets are $30 and are available here.

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Celebrate Great Craft Beer From Down The Street & Around The Country!

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 10:30 AM

2nd Annual Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest was held at Stage AE on July 18th & 19th. Pittsburgh City Paper was on-site as the presenting sponsor. Check out the photos from the event!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Every now and again, we like to update you on some currently active crowdfunding campaigns around town. Here's what's going on right now:

— The Pittsburgh Public Market is in the final days of a Kickstarter drive to raise the remaining $10,000 needed to finish construction of a $600,000 commercial-grade kitchen, which culinary entrepreneurs can rent hourly. You can read more about the fund drive — which ends Thu., July 31 — in tomorrow's City Paper. Donor rewards include brunches and cooking classes.

— The folks behind are crowdfunding a Punk Rock Prom — basically a dance, on a boat, for adults. But also for people under 21. With punk rock. Who doesn't like dancing on a boat?!

— Some folks are raising money to start a local Greek yogurt business: Naturi would use organic milk from grass-fed cows. You probably won't see John Stamos at the launch party, but it still sounds pretty tasty.

— The Pittsburgh Jazz Wax Museum, featured in last week's CP, hasn't gotten too close to its goal yet, but there's still a week to go — why not give it a push?

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 4:14 PM

MH the Verb
  • Photo by Crystal Engel
  • MH the Verb

Hey, itsa Monday. Here we go...

This week, we have a special MP3 Monday. One that pulls at the heart strings and makes you feel like you're watching Finding Nemo for the first time (it's that touching).

Marcus Harris, aka MH the Verb, is a hip hop artist operating out of Pittsburgh via New York City. His new single "Coraline" is the product of artistic negotiations between himself and artist Borbay. Borbay agreed to do the artwork for MH the Verb's fourth album The Balloon Guide, in exchange for a song about his newborn daughter.

Fast forward to today and on her 1st birthday, Borbay's daughter Coraline has a song written about her. If that's not a feel good story, I don't know what is.

Check out "Coraline" below.

MH the Verb - Coraline

(Download link expired, sorry!)

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Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Scott Sandage, associate professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University, is an expert on failure. His 2006 book Born Losers: A History of Failure in America was an Editor’s Choice for The Atlantic, and won the 34th annual Thomas J. Wilson Prize, given to the best book to debut with Harvard University Press each year.

This Wednesday’s episode of TLC celebrity-genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? will see Sandage utilizing his particular expertise to help Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson learn about his family history.

In particular, Sandage was consulted for the case of Ferguson’s great-grandfather, a Gilded Age grifter dogged by misfortune.

“Jesse’s ancestor had a real knack for getting in trouble,” Sandage says, “but also for convincing people to help him out when he was embezzling money, or leading ill-fated trips to the Klondike, or even being accused of murder.”

So while he might not have been a total failure, this distant relative of Ferguson’s certainly was involved with his share of bizarre and hapless schemes.

The producers of the show wanted someone with expertise in researching the lives of American with checkered careers, to help clear up the ambiguities they had stumbled upon in research and to put their subject’s failure into a historical context.

But what makes these characters so fascinating? Why devote precious airtime to someone so easily described as a failure?

“Although Americans will readily admit that they want success, in our heart of hearts we fear failure,” says Sandage. “I just thought it was time someone got to the bottom of not just our obsession with success but also our fear of failure.”

Similarly curious viewers can catch the episode as it premieres this Wed., July 30, at 9 p.m. on TLC. More information about the program and upcoming episodes can be found here.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 3:00 PM

The Neighborhood Flea, a pop-up marketplace promising everything from vintage clothing and repurposed furniture to local food, is a new outlet for "bright, hidden and newly launched regional microbusinesses."

That's according to a press release from organizer Carrie Nardini, who made her name locally with the crafty I Made It! Market.

Neighborhood Flea sets up from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at 2300 Penn Ave. (across from Marty's Market).

Other items for sale will include handmade jewelry and cosmetics, reclaimed wooden wares, and "strong brews" (Zeke’s coffee, presumably, but Wigle Whiskey will be there, too).

Neighborhood Flea also seeks vendors for future events

Additional Flea days are set for Aug. 24 and Sept. 28.

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Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 1:56 PM

JJ Grey
  • Photo courtesy of Jensen Hande
  • JJ Grey

The Pittsburgh Blues Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary today through Sunday at Hartwood Acres.

This year's headliners include Trampled Under Foot, Dr. John, Spin Doctors, JJ Grey & Mofro and more. Locals acts include Mahajibee, Norm Nardini & The Pittsburgh All Stars and more. Full line-up can be found here. Gates open at 4 p.m. today and 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with music starting at 5 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively. The festival will also have hot air balloon rides, games and crafts for kids.

Tickets for today's events are free with a bag of nonperishable grocery items to donate to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Since it's creation in 1994, the Pittsburgh Blues Festival has been the largest annual event for the Food Bank, raising over $2 million in 19 years.

One day tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $35 and two day passes are $50. Student and military discounted tickets are $25 for one day tickets and $45 for two day passes. Children under 12 attend the festival for free. Parking at Hartwood Acres is free. Shuttles will also run to and from Station Square and The Waterfront to accommodate patrons.

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