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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 3:32 PM

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched in support of local DJ Paul Zyla.

On July 14, Zyla suffered an aneurysm and seizure. He is currently in stable condition in the neurovascular ICU at UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland. Zyla performs as Relative Q (his DJ moniker), is a co-founder of record label Young Robots and was a former keyboardist in the Harlan Twins. He is also a contributor to Humanaut, a monthly house and techno show, and hosts a weekly online DJ event at

The campaign has a goal of $10,000 and $7650 has been raised. Donations can be made starting at $1. Young Robots is hosting a record drive for those unable to donate monetarily as well.

A benefit show is being held tomorrow night at Belvedere's Ultra Dive in Lawrenceville with all proceeds going directly to Zyla and his family. Another benefit event is being planned for Aug. 13 at Rock Bottom in the Waterfront.

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Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Pittsburgh's neo-burlesque community is getting together Saturday night to help send one of its own to a national competition.

Macabre Noir
  • Image courtesy of
  • Macabre Noir
Cattivo Bar and performer Lita D'Vargas host the benefit show to send Macabre Noir, winner of the 2014 Regional Burlypicks title, to Los Angeles for the Burlypicks finals.

The big show will feature burlesque (of course) by a dozen local performers including D'Vargas and Noir herself, live music by Phat Man Dee and Holly Hood, a DJ set and drag and sideshow performances.

Macabre Noir, among Pittsburgh's top practitioners of the revived art of burlesque, heads the Steel City Burlesque Academy. She has also performed with the North Carolina-based troupe Kabarett Vulgare and nationally touring outfits like the Coney Island Rock N Roll Roadshow.

As her name suggests, Noir's style is dark, blending gothic and sideshow aesthetics with the burlesque tradition. She sometimes incorporates glass-walking into her act, and is a co-producer and founder of The Atrocity Exhibition, a big annual local underground art and performance event.

Other burlesque performers at Saturday's benefit includ Daisy Decotchka, Demdare Eyes, Gigi Coudray, Luna La Creme, Midnight Mame, Phoenix Rose, Pushing Daisys, Sophie Du Mal, Sueno del Mar and Violet Corbeau.

Tickets are $10, and 100 percent of the door and sales of raffle tickets go to Noir's travel expenses.

The 21-and-over show starts at the chic hour of 10 p.m.

Cattivo is located at 146 44th St., in Lawrenceville.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Today is Day 17 of what 85-year-old activist Roland Micklem calls an “open-ended fast” for the environment at the State Capitol building in Charleston, W.V.

Micklem and Roselle on Day 16 of their fast
  • Photo courtesy of Catherine Dees
  • Micklem and Roselle on Day 16 of their fast
Micklem and veteran environmental campaigner Mike Roselle are fasting outside the office of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to draw attention to the environmental damage and health effects caused by practices like mountaintop-removal mining. And they say their next step might be civil disobedience.

Reached by phone this morning, Micklem and Roselle said they were feeling strong after more than two weeks of nothing but water, juice and coffee. (They’d been accompanied for the first two weeks of the fast by Pittsburgh-based activist Vince Eirene.)

Micklem, who has fasted for the environment before, said he felt “much better than I expected to be feeling” after 17 days. The army veteran and retired science teacher is a Virginia native who now lives in New York. Roselle is a co-founder of Earth First! A decade ago, he founded the West Virginia-based Climate Ground Zero, an anti-mountaintop-removal mining initiative.

The men hold their vigil at the capitol building from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (and for four hours daily on weekends), and in the evening retire to a motel.

So far, “We’ve gotten to know practically everybody who works there,” said Roselle. They’ve even gotten some press coverage.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Posted By on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 1:55 PM


As a beat writer and later a columnist, Dejan Kovacevic has been a part of the Pittsburgh sports scene for more than 25 years. That will still be true tomorrow morning but don’t look for his work on the pages of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review as you have since 2011.

On Wednesday, Kovacevic will launch his own subscription-based website — DK on Pittsburgh Sports — offering subscribers his insights and coverage of the city’s local sports teams. Kovacevic tells City Paper that the new platform has only been in the works for the past couple of weeks while he was on vacation from his job as a Trib sports columnist.

He returned to work Monday, let his bosses know of his plans and immediately parted company with the paper. He says the split was amicable — “I have nothing but good things to say about the Trib or [editor] Frank Craig.

Kovacevic spent his vacation thinking about the future of journalism and his relationship with his readers. Those relationships, he says, is why he decided to take this plunge.

“Without sounding over melodramatic about it, I have developed this readership that I believe in,” Kovacevic says. “I’ve been able to connect with people over through the years through writing at first at the Post-Gazette and then at the Trib.

“People trust you to research and write opinions that they feel are honest and transparent, even if that opinion differs from their own. Also it helps that I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, I grew up with the sports team that I now cover. Maybe that carries more weight than it should, but that means something to people here.”

At 47, Kovacevic says he is young enough to see where the next generation of media is heading but old enough to know what goes into providing quality, responsible journalism. His goal, he says, “is to try and strike a balance between the two.”

“The plan is for a venture built not only in an online community but also on social media, which is my only megaphone,” explains Kovacevic who boasts more than 51,000 Twitter followers and whose blog the past year at the Trib received 3.3 million page views and more than 250,000 comments. “So, the question became do I have to be associated with a brand name or can my own reputation be the brand.

“I looked for the precedents out there for what I’m attempting, and quite simply there are none.”

Since his announcement Tuesday night, Kovacevic says the response has been positive. He’s already received several subscriptions and he’s also heard from “journalists across North America” who were very curious about is new endeavor.

“These were some really big-time guys,” he says. “I didn’t see that coming and it’s encouraging.

“There’s no question there are a lot of eyes on what I’m doing both here and outside Pittsburgh to see if this works. I’m the lab rat.”

Kovacevic says he’s still working on what all the site offerings will be. It will start out with two to three columns per week along with other daily content meant to spawn discussion among the site’s readers. “The goal is to create a community,” he says. There will also be game discussion threads and pieces written in a less-than-traditional manner. For example coming up later this week he plans to write a piece about a Penguins prospect and part way through the piece, he’ll insert video from the interview so the reader can see how the player responds and handles the questions, and then pick the writing back up again. “The great thing is when you’re online, there are so many ways to present things.”

Kovacevic plans to cover as much for the new site as he ever did as a reporter for the Post-Gazette since 1990 (he began in 1985 as a freelance writer) and later the Tribune-Review. He is fully credentialed through all the major sports teams and he plans on traveling to cover the teams, just as he has in the past. The only difference is he’ll be working for himself instead of a newspaper.

“I’ve been asked a few times how I could leave the security of my job to do this. I don’t know, did I?” he asks. “None of us know where newspapers are heading."

The goal of the site is to be completely subscription supported. However, Kovacevic says he will be announcing a major corporate sponsor in the next few days that will help him through the start-up process. The cost of Kovacevic’s subscriptions is $4 a month, $24 a year and $54 dollars for three years. A price he thinks is fair for the content he’ll be providing.

“If you get the three-year plan it’s only $1.50 a month,” he says. “In newspaper terms, that’s only a paper-and-a-half.”

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:20 PM

The Danzas
  • The Danzas

Hey hey!

As you well know, each week, we bring you a new MP3 from a local band. This week? We've got The Danzas! Their album is, of course, called We're the Boss, and they've got a show this Fri., July 25, at the Smiling Moose. (It's the late show, at 10:00, with GAHARA and Super Fun Time Awesome Party Band.)

If you wanna give them a test drive before you go see them in person, here's your chance: Stream or download "Torn," from We're the Boss. (Hint: It's a poppy punk number, not a cover of the Natalie Imbruglia song.)

The Danzas: Torn

(Download link expired, sorry!)

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Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Yesterday's Post-Gazette brought us the disheartening news that some residents of Emsworth are upset that refugee children fleeing hardship in Central America may be cared for by a Catholic charity there. It's a painful read, with Emsworth residents worrying aloud that the children may bring diseases with them, or be working as mules for drug cartels. One business owner suggested that bringing kids here would be like "putting one bullet in a gun and putting it to your head."

"We can't look at that age group the same way that we look at kids in a more civilized country," he added.

It would be easy to hate on that kind of attitude -- too easy. (Though City Paper reserves the right to do so in a future column/blog post.) No doubt many Emsworth residents are horrified by the sentiments expressed in that story. And no doubt you can find similar ideas expressed well outside of Emsworth, starting with anyplace that a Fox News camera happens to be pointing. Years ago, I did a story about a controversy surrounding the use of immigrant labor at a South Side construction project, and the threat of disease-carrying immigrants was one of the concerns raised by workers on a picket line outside.

And in fact Gov. Tom Corbett has begun raising fears of importing disease-ridden children in an interview with KDKA's John Shumway. Corbett opined that before any kids got sent to Pennsylvania, the federal government should "make sure ... that they've had all their immunizations and so forth because we have a strong concern about that."

"Measles is one [disease] that comes to mind very quickly" as a concern, Corbett added.

Where to begin? First, the World Health Organization reports that in most Central and South American countries, immunization rates against measles and other childhood communicable diseases are actually on par with, or even better than immunization rates in the United States. Mexico and Nicaragua, for example, have immunization rates of 99 percent -- well above the 92 percent rate in the U.S. Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Colombia, Peru -- all do at least as well as the US at inoculating their children against measles.

In fact, when you realize that Texas does a worse job of inoculating kids than, say, Guatemala, you have to wonder who the real "civilized country" is.

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 10:22 AM

James Selecta Scoglietti
  • James "Selecta" Scoglietti

The Friday night early-evening radio slot is an important one: This is the music you listen to when you're getting ready for a night on the town, or maybe driving to the restaurant before a date. That slot about to get a boost in Pittsburgh with the addition of Grand Groove Radio, a new DJ slot on WYEP-FM, hosted by longtime local crate-digger and hip-hop head DJ Selecta.

Selecta (James Scoglietti) has been a DJ on and off the air for over 20 years, and most recently has hosted an overnight free-form show on WYEP. He's also co-owner of 720 Music, Clothing and Cafe, in Lawrenceville. Expect a mix of soul, funk, jazz and golden-era hip hop on Grand Groove Radio.

The show launches Fri., August 1. It replaces the Friday evening edition of The World Cafe.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 1:48 PM

A prominent area farmer is appealing for help to prevent a natural-gas compressor station from being sited next to his property.

Don and Becky Kretschmann have run their 80-acre organic Kretschmann Farm in Beaver County for 40 years, and their produce feeds hundreds of local households through a subscription program. But Don Kretschmann says that siting the proposed compressor station less than a half-mile from his fields would industrialize the rural setting, risk contamination of his crops, and generally threaten his business.

“It has us very nervous,” said Kretschmann in a phone interview yesterday. “People trust the integrity of that food. It’s as safe as you can get it. Even the perception or the suspicion can be a problem” if customers believe the food might be contaminated.

In addition to pollution from the compressor station itself, Kretschmann says he is concerned about increased truck traffic to and from the station. The road that accesses the proposed station is narrow and lightly traveled, he says.

The Pike Compressor Station is proposed by Cardinal PA Midstream, LLC. The siting must be approved by the New Sewickley Township board of supervisors.

Compressor stations pressurize gas from nearby wellsites so it can be sent through pipelines. Hundreds of such stations have been built in the region since the Marcellus Shale boom began, in 2008. Neighbors have complained about odor and noise, and researchers have found that compressor stations emit such pollutants as volatile organic compounds, benzene and other toxic chemicals.

The gas industry contends that living by compressor stations is safe.

Kretschmann says that while many of his neighbors have signed drilling leases, he and his wife have refused. He notes the irony that while some farmers sign leases because they are in bad shape financially, “Here is a farm that’s economically very viable” but “threatened by industrial use in an agricultural area.”

Kretschmann says another property adjacent to his hosted a well starting late last year, and that it caused light and noise pollution during the drilling phase.

Kretschmann, a former member of the New Sewickley board of supervisors, spoke against the compressor station at a July 3 municipal hearing. The issue was continued to July 23.

Kretschmann is asking his customers and others in the community to write to the township board in advance of that meeting to voice their concern. Emails can be sent to Kretschmann requests that senders cc

The New Sewickley Township municipal hearing is at 6:30 p.m. Wed., July 23, at the Big Knob Grange, 336 Grange Road, in Rochester, Pa.

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Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Andy Warhol, Jack’s Cigarette (excerpt from Batman Dracula), 1964
  • Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum
  • Andy Warhol, Jack’s Cigarette (excerpt from Batman Dracula), 1964

In the fall of 2008, Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips came to Pittsburgh to perform a live-music program set to Andy Warhol's famous "screen test" films, as commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum. The program, part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, was a world premiere.

Now the Warhol is bringing Wareham back, along with a number of other rock-music luminaries, to set more Warhol films to live music. "Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films" is a new project curated by Wareham (of Galaxie 500, Luna), bringing together Tom Verlaine (of Television), Martin Rev (Suicide), Eleanor Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces) and Bradford Cox (Deerhunter). All five musicians will perform live, in accompaniment to the previously unseen Warhol films, featuring everyone from Marcel Duchamp to Allen Ginsberg and Warhol himself.

The world-premiere event takes place Fri., Oct. 17, at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland; tickets run $15-20. More info on the Warhol's site.

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Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 9:00 AM

The Frick Art & Historical Center opens its new Orientation Center and Museum Store to the public this weekend, and to celebrate, it's scheduled a whole weekend of activities.

The new Orientation Center
  • Photo courtesy of Frick Art & Historical Center
  • The new Orientation Center
The Orientation Center was constructed as the first phase of a $15 million expansion that began last year and also includes plans for a new Education Center and improved storage facilities.

The building adheres to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards, while incorporating design elements that help it blend into the pre-existing green space and architecture. And all the glass, steel, wood and Pennsylvania sandstone that went into its construction was harvested or manufactured within 500 miles of Pittsburgh.

As always, the Frick is free and open to the public, and this week’s activities include: a talk from local jewelry designer Audra Azoury; children’s activity tables at the Frick Children’s Playhouse; and design talks with the architects behind the new building.

The current exhibit, a collection of Edgar Degas’ private works on paper, remains on display, accompanied by free docent tours and talks with the curator. And visitors are welcome to tour the first two floors of the Clayton, which was the Frick family’s home for 22 years.

The new museum store will also be selling its wares, and Frick members will receive a 15 percent discount and a free gift with any purchase.

Events are held on Sat., July 18, and Sun., July 19, during regular hours of 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Frick is located at 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. For more details and a full list of activities, click here or call 412-371-0600.

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