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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 3:56 PM

Photo courtesy of Team Kaplan
Kimberly Kaplan, of Squirrel Hill, will challenge incumbent Corey O'Connor in Pittsburgh's City Council District 5 Democratic Primary. The Israeli-born, Pittsburgh-raised (specifically, raised in Greenfield and Sharpsburg) Chatham graduate traveled for a brief time after her completing her undergrad work to get a closer look at politics around the world, including trips to South Korea and Israel. Kaplan returned to Pittsburgh to pursue a graduate degree in International Relations and Conflict Resolution from the American Public University online program. She says she chose the university system because she liked its mission — educating returning vets — and she wanted to put her money there, even though she's doesn't fit that category. She says she became more involved in local politics in Squirrel Hill and other activism surrounding the Clean Water Act and pollution. With three classes left to finish, and a planned graduation date in November, she's campaigning nonetheless and wants to enact changes "that reflect what the neighborhoods [in District 5] need." Kaplan spoke to CP on Tuesday afternoon:

What made you want to run for Pittsburgh City Council?
It was a combination of things. I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something big for the community. At age 10, I thought I could do that through writing. I was inspired by the civil-rights movement. But, because I was good in math and science, my parents encouraged me to focus on that for college. I got my undergrad at Chatham in mathematics, mostly concentrating on physics. But, at Chatham, a lot of the core classes were geared toward a global focus and political issues. My senior year, I took a class on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that hit close to home for me. ... [After traveling abroad] and around the U.S. in 2012, I returned to Pittsburgh because I missed it and started my graduate degree. ... I started getting involved in my local politics in Squirrel Hill. I got interested in seeing what my city-council member was doing, and I personally felt like it wasn't enough. ... So I decided to play around with the idea of running. And after attending Ready to Run [events] at Chatham, [I] decided to run.

One of my main goals for running is, ultimately, I would like to make some changes that would reflect what the neighborhoods need. Whether I win or lose, at least those issues will be brought to public light, and whoever wins, they’ll have to address them. Although ideally I’d like it to be me.

I noticed your campaign team is very young and may not have worked on campaigns before. Is that by design?
Not only do I want the policies that I’m bringing to the table to be inclusive of residents, but I want the actual political campaign to make a statement. The No. 1 focus of my campaign is to inform the public and encourage active participation in the political process, and the same goes for the statement I’m making with my team. From what I’ve gathered as I’ve become more involved in Pittsburgh politics ... there is a strong wait-your-turn system in place. And I don’t agree with it, which is why I’m bringing new people on my team who deserve a chance to show what they’re capable of.

What are the issues that reflect what the neighborhoods need?
I noticed that city council used to not be districted, and they changed that so that neighborhoods would be represented. But city-council members get very territorial and focus just on their areas rather than the whole city, and I don't think that's a very constructive way to run a city. My policies are separated into two sections, citywide and District 5 neighborhoods.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 4:13 PM

It's Tuesday, which means the concert announcements are rollin' in. Here's a quick and dirty list:

click to enlarge of Montreal - COURTESY OF CHAD KAMENSHINE
Courtesy of Chad Kamenshine
of Montreal

-David Crosby appears at Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, June 28 ($39-69, on sale Saturday)

-Between The Buried And Me plays Stage AE on Aug. 7, along with Animals As Leaders and The Contortionist. ($25, on sale Friday)

- Butch Walker and Jonathan Tyler will be at Mr. Smalls, April 27 ($20-22, on sale Friday)

of Montreal and Icky Blossoms: Mr. Smalls, May 5 ($18-20, on sale now)

- Wire also plays Mr. Smalls, June 7 ($20-22, on sale now) (allow me to editorialize: !!!!)

-At the Brillobox: The Donkeys. May 7. ($8-10, on sale tomorrow)

And a slew of things at Club CafeMandolin Orange, May 10 ($10-12, on sale Friday); Emily Kinney, May 12 ($15, on sale now); Black Pussy, May 27 ($7, on sale Friday); Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, June 5 ($8-10, on sale now)

And a few more:

-Bad Suns plays Altar Bar, May 4 ($15-18, on sale now); Vixen will be there Aug. 7 ($25-27, on sale Saturday)

-Candlebox does an acoustic set at Hard Rock, May 9. ($18-20, on sale now); Metalachi also stops by HRC Oct. 16 ($10-12, on sale Saturday)

-Hop Along comes to Cattivo on June 6 ($10-12, on sale now); also coming to Cattivo: Sinkane, May 29 ($10, on sale now)

- At the Smiling MooseCold Fronts with Made Violent and William Forrest (April 24, $10, on sale now)

-Kid Ink stops by Xtaza Nightclub on April 21 ($25-28, on sale now)

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Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 2:19 PM

This Thursday marks the beginning of the internationally known North Side museum’s after-hours program, “MF After 5.”

click to enlarge Art by Kathleen Montgomery - IMAGE COURTESY OF THE MATTRESS FACTORY
Image courtesy of The Mattress Factory
Art by Kathleen Montgomery
Instead of closing with business hours, the Mattress Factory will now remain open until 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month.

If you’re busy weekends, this is a good chance to catch Kathleen Montgomery’s Body Memory Architecture, an exhibit that’s the result of Montgomery’s residency at the museum’s rowhouse-sized gallery at 1414 Monterey St. The show closes March 29.

The other temporary exhibit is Artists in Residence, a group show held in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Biennial and featuring a variety of work by Montgomery, Danny Bracken, Ryder Henry, John Peña and Ben Sota. Artists in Residence is up until May 31.

The Mattress Factory is located at 500 Sampsonia Way.

Admission is $15-20, half-price for residents of the 15212 zip code, and free for children under 6 and for students at Pitt, CMU and Point Park. 

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Posted By on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 11:50 AM

click to enlarge Photo courtesy of Brian Myers
Photo courtesy of Brian Myers

This week's MP3 Monday comes from local singer-songwriter Mike Berginc. "Don't Take Yr Luv" is a hazy folk stomper from Berginc under the moniker As Ladders. Check out our review of his Yarns EP here, and take a listen below.


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Friday, March 13, 2015

Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 1:47 PM

As a parent volunteer, Mount Washington resident Tracy Link has helped implement a number of education and social programs at the schools her children attend.

At South Hills Middle School, she helped run a character-building program that was reinforced by local businesses and saw students engaging with their neighbors at local senior centers.

At Brashear, she helped create a program that paired 11th-graders with incoming eighth-graders. The eighth-graders shadowed the upperclassmen throughout the school year in order to prepare for high school. 

"I've been involved in the district as an active volunteer for years," says Link. "I believe in education. I believe it's important."

Now the mother of four hopes to use that experience on the school board. Link is running for the District 6 school-board seat in the May primary election.

"It was brought up to me in the past to run for school board," says Link. "Now that my children are all older and I have more time, I thought it was the right time."

Link says she was approached about running by current District 6 representative Sherry Hazuda, a board veteran who isn't seeking re-election.  

Among the issues currently facing Pittsburgh Public Schools, Link says the most important is the budget. For more than five years, the district has warned of a looming budget deficit and taken steps to avoid it. But Link says the steps the district has taken have reduced resources for students and teachers.

"We need to come up with other ways to generate income, because we're going to have a huge shortfall," says Link. "There are a lot of resources students need and there's a cost to those resources."

One of Link's suggestions is to solicit Allegheny County businesses with a net worth of $100 million or more to contribute a percentage of their income to the district. In exchange, they would receive a tax credit.

"We want people to view Pittsburgh as their first choice. Making sure we can provide students with a range of resources will lead to that," explains Link. "There's also probably other line items in the budget we can look at to cut costs."

But one solution to the district's financial difficulties Link says she won't consider is raising real-estate taxes.

"This governing body of the school board can raise taxes," says Link. "I think voters should consider that when they vote." 

Link will face Samuel Hurst and Moira Kaleida in the District 6 race.

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Posted By on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 11:22 AM

With its show Indigo Grey, internationally touring, Brooklyn-based dance troupe Hammerstep promises to turn audiences into characters in an action movie. But to realize its virtual-reality idea in meatspace, Indigo Grey first needs some green.

Hammerstep, co-founded by Pittsburgh native Garrett Coleman, has until 6 p.m. Monday to raise $75,000 on Kickstarter.

Promotional materials describe Indigo Grey as a journey through a re-purposed warehouse “where drones fly overhead, directing and monitoring your moves” as you traverse both real corridors and “a virtual reality composed of 3-D projections and symphonic sound … complete with hidden performers and gas-masked, renegade dancers who ambush the audience.”

The troupe promises a CGI-animated environment that looks like “a sci-fi movie set.” Intrinsic is a choose-your-own adventure aspect.

Coleman, 27, grew up in Friendship and attended Central Catholic High School. In a phone interview with CP, he says he started dancing at age 5, at Pittsburgh’s Burke School of Irish Dance. He eventually turned pro, and spent part of his college years at the University of Dayton touring with both Riverdance and the Trinity Irish Dance Co.

In 2009, Coleman and former Riverdance lead Jason Oremus took their years of international experience and founded Hammerstep, which blends Irish, tap, hip hop, African stepping and more, and moves between stage performance, “public-ambush dance” and guerrilla theater. The critically acclaimed group was on America’s Got Talent in 2013 — in black hoodies and the aforementioned gas masks — and has performed at venues ranging from Lincoln Center to Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Indigo Grey’s creative team includes technical director Mario Beck (Riverdance, Metallica) and composer Dave Eggar, who's known locally for his work with Attack Theatre but who also boasts credits with the likes of Beyonce and Coldplay.

While Hammerstep is based in Brooklyn, it’s been hitting Pittsburgh lately, including a performance last fall at a New Hazlett Theater fundraiser. Likewise, although Indigo Grey is projected to open in New York City, Coleman tells CP that a Pittsburgh staging is a distinct possibility should the project come to fruition.

The show’s premiere is planned for this summer.

As of yesterday, Indigo Grey still needed about $25,000 toward its goal of $75,000.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 4:34 PM

The CP Weekend podcast for March 13-March 15 is now available here on the City Paper website. In store for you this weekend: Take a fish fry tour, watch some VHS videos, hear a big-time hip-hop artist, and get psyched for spring.

The podcast is hosted by our Music Editor Margaret Welsh and produced by me, Multimedia Editor Ashley Murray. For updates on what's happening this weekend, follow the hashtag #CPWeekend on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 1:30 PM

click to enlarge Andrew McCutchen - PHOTO BY CHARLIE DEITCH
Photo by Charlie Deitch
Andrew McCutchen
It's hard work covering the Pirates during spring training. The temperature this morning was a balmy 73 degrees and instead of sitting in my Downtown office overlooking PNC Park, I was sitting in the bleachers watching the Pirates take batting practice.

OK, it's not that hard, but I thought I'd share a bit of the experience.

So, assembled for your listening pleasure is a playlist of the first 10 songs played this morning for Pirates batting practice. Please note the heavy '80's -'90's pop influence. And don't forget to catch City Paper's Pirates Preview Issue April 1. 

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 1:10 PM

Photo courtesy of Halle Stockton/PublicSource

A recent report by City Paper media partner PublicSource finds that Allegheny County police still keep paper records, despite being one of the largest local departments in Pennsylvania and having spent millions in improvements to the force — money that was also supposed to support a new records management system. The report finds that searching through and filing paper records saps detectives' and officers' time, which could be spent further pursuing cases or being out among communities.

Here's an excerpt of the report:

For the Allegheny County Police Department, searching for details on past crimes sometimes calls for cabinet duty.

That means a team of detectives literally thumbing through paper records in old-fashioned file cabinets.

That’s how police work was done before computers and before officers elsewhere could access databases from handheld devices.

But despite its status as the third-largest local department in the state, with about 200 officers, the Allegheny County Police Department is downright archaic compared to other law enforcement, even lagging behind police departments with as few as 18 officers.

“It’s very difficult,” Inspector Glenn Zilch told PublicSource, describing the hunt through paper records. “We end up literally putting five or six detectives on one file cabinet to start searching.”

The county police — responsible for patrolling the Pittsburgh International Airport, county parks and nursing homes, among other county facilities — rely heavily on paper files that are not easily searchable unless you know the case number or specific date.

They also lack a system that automates some aspects of report writing and data collection, and their officers are unable to file reports or issue citations from their vehicles, which would allow them to spend more time in the community.

Zilch, second in command for the Allegheny County police, said the department’s outdated methods complicate the job of investigating murders, assaults, thefts and burglaries, narcotics use and trafficking and other illegal activity. ...
Read the full story here.

CP and PublicSource have teamed up to investigate controversial police behavior. A timeline of police misconduct can be viewed here on the PublicSource website.

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Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Every Wednesday, we make a Spotify playlist containing tracks from artists covered in the current music section or included in our concert listings OR mentioned on the CP Weekend Podcast. Listen while you read!

click to enlarge Doomsday Student - COURTESY OF NATALJA KENT
Courtesy of Natalja Kent
Doomsday Student

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