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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2015 at 9:17 AM

This year we've taken you behind the scenes to see how we created some of our most fun and interesting City Paper covers. Here's a look back at our video series: 

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 5:22 PM

We slog through the twitter streams of the 2016 Presidential candidates and give you a weekly round-up of the more entertaining ones. 

Another candidate didn't even make it to 2016.

George Pataki sent out this hilariously cryptic tweet on Tuesday night, inspiring nobody to tune into Chicago Med.
Unsurprisingly, this was the news. And one passive statement. See ya!

With Pataki's departure, the debate "kiddie table" — a.k.a. the early-evening feature with candidates who are polling in the basement — is now down to two men: Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee

Santorum asks to sit at the big table.

And then he brags how his failings are a sure sign of success. 

Trump starts a weird battle of who is the bigger sexist tool, him or Bill Clinton?

With no awkward mass shootings for a week or two, Ted "Side Eye" Cruz is back to pandering with guns.

Ben Carson asks a solid question. Gives an unconvincing answer.

Have we ever had two surgeons running for the same presidential nomination? And working so close together on the body — one on the eyes, the other the brain. I would watch this reality show.

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Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 5:06 PM

When City Paper art director Lisa Cunningham decided to choose her top five favorite covers of 2015, editor Charlie Deitch decided to make a list as well.  Here are Deitch's choices and his reasons behind why he loved them so much:

1. The New American Flag (July 1): There were several issues going on nationally that elicited a great deal of emotion from people all over the country and Pittsburgh was no exception. The U.S. Supreme Court had just brought marriage equality to the entire nation and at the same time, there was a huge backlash over the removal of the Confederate flag from state-house grounds throughout the South. At the same time that many were elated over finally receiving marriage equality, many were angry over a flag that symbolized hate and racism. My initial reaction was a cover depicting the destruction of the Confederate flag, but it didn't really describe all of the emotion of the week. We gave illustrator David Pohl the leeway to develop a few concepts and this wonderful image was the clear choice.

2. Music Issue (April 22): It was a great concept by Lisa Cunningham that was executed to perfection by photographers Heather Mull, John Colombo, Renee Rosensteel and Sarah Wilson. Thanks to some wheeling and dealing by production director Kevin Shepherd, we were able to produce all four covers for our production run. And while everyone had a favorite, mine was the Patti Smith Horses album by Wilson. It was the only female recording artist in the group, and Wilson's reproduction was spot on. The fact that my goddaughter was the cover model didn't hurt my opinion of this great cover.

3. Wedding Issue (Feb. 11): A lot of people were surprised when City Paper decided to produce a wedding guide in 2015. We knew that if we were going to do it, however, the guide, including the cover, had to keep with CP's sensibilities. I don't remember whose idea this concept was, but it was perfect: the same model portraying the bride and groom. Photographer John Colombo enlisted the fantastic drag performer Lola LeCroix, a.k.a. Kevin Nelson, to be our bride and groom. The bride was beautiful and elegant, the groom was handsome and trendy, and the cover was as stunning as we hoped it would be.

4. Pittsburgh's Black Friday Sale (Nov. 25): Art director Lisa Cunningham came up with the concept of an advertisement as the cover for our pre-Thanksgiving issue and I wrote the copy. It captures the spirit of a Black Friday advertisement and we were able to use a little satire to produce a cover that worked on a couple different levels.

5. Wizard World Comicon (Sept. 9): I'm a pop-culture and comic-book nerd from way back in the day, so when the opportunity came to put a Pittsburgh spin on the heroes of my youth, I couldn't resist. We were already profiling local comics artist DJ Coffman for the piece and he agreed to do the cover. I love the details of this cover, down to the cracking of the sidewalk under Hulk.

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Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 3:51 PM

Temperatures this December have been some of the highest in recorded history. And with record-breaking highs last week, it was pretty clear there wouldn't be snow for Christmas.

Many have made light of the situation, filling the Internet with memes about Pittsburgh's unending rain. But it's not all comedic. Some cities have been especially hard hit by extreme weather, with rampant flooding leading to deaths throughout the country and abroad.

It's time, say many, for governments to address the causes behind these extreme weather conditions, most notably, climate change.

On Dec. 29, a group of local environmentalists took their concerns to Pittsburgh City Council to call on local government to divest from fossil fuels.

"The earth, as we know it, is changing right now," said Kelly Kochanski. "We're seeing more extreme events around the world. We're seeing droughts in California, rain in Alaska and the Northwest, and warm Decembers in Pittsburgh."

Yesterday's speakers are part of the Divest Pittsburgh movement, a campaign of the Thomas Merton Center, a local organization that advocates for peace and social justice. The group has worked with city council and Mayor Bill Peduto's office to craft legislation supporting fossil-fuel divestment in line with the Paris Accord, a legally binding global climate agreement that was adopted by 185 countries earlier this month. 

"We ask the city council to take action against this industry by divesting  from coal, oil and natural gas," said Raphael Cardamone, an intern at the Thomas Merton Center. "We have gathered over 400 signatures to petition this council to take action to pull its money out of this industry."

The ordinance would divest the city's public funds from fossil fuels within five years. These funds would be for "socially responsible" investments like local alternative energy production, small and medium businesses, and infrastructure and government improvement projects.

"The duty of the city council first and foremost is the well-being of the citizens that elected them," said Cardamone. "We are the sixth most polluted city in the United States and have one of the highest black-carbon ratings in the country. The lack of action against this danger to our citizens is alarming. This legislation is an opportunity for this council to take a moral and just stance against the methods and industry that threaten the lives of the citizens they were sworn to protect."

Following yesterday's meeting, Council President Bruce Kraus pledged to make working with Divest Pittsburgh one of his priorities in the new year. 

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Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 2:17 PM

There are countless options for celebrating New Year’s. But if you’re the sort who enjoys being near a big New Year’s party but not necessarily in it; gravitates toward literature and recorded music; and still digs a little adult beverage on a secular holiday, Amazing Books & Records might have you covered.

Image courtesy of Amazing Books & Records
At its Downtown and Squirrel Hill locations, the store hosts its Books & Beer New Year’s Bash from 8 p.m. to midnight tomorrow.

Fair warning: The Downtown event will of course sit in the midst of the huge annual First Night Pittsburgh festival. But for those who think browsing books and LPs sounds plenty festive, thank you, this is a great alternative (or complement).

Amazing’s Downtown location is 929 Liberty Ave. The Squirrel Hill store is at 2030 Murray Ave. (There’s no party at the brand-new Oakland outlet.)

At the time of this posting, Books & Beer was not yet listed on Amazing's website, but CP has verbally confirmed that it's happening.

Happy New Year.

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Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 1:17 PM

Every Wednesday, we make a Spotify playlist containing tracks from artists covered in the current music section. Ring in the new year with our selections, below:

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 1:52 PM

click to enlarge COURTESY OF CHUCK BARRY
Courtesy of Chuck Barry
This week's track comes from singer-songwriter Tom Breiding. Stream or download his topical new song "Refugee" below; you can also read our review of his most recent record River, Rails or Road here.


To download, right-click here and select "save as"

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Posted By on Thu, Dec 24, 2015 at 9:00 AM

We slog through the twitter streams of the 2016 Presidential candidates and give you a weekly round-up of the more entertaining ones. 

And this week, the various holidays are upon us!

But first, Campaign 2016 bids farewell to Sen. Lindsey Graham, who dropped out on Monday, and who once tweeted out one of the saddest photos ever.

Ben Carson coloring books are the new lumps of coal.

"I hope for Christmas you get voted next president."

Santorum ponders if Trump (?!) is ushering in more Christ in Christmas. Hey, Rick — HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Jeb shops at Zeb's.

Trump took a break from insulting everybody and starting a national discussion about the semantics of "schlonged" to tweet out this decorated-for-the-holidays set of poll numbers.

Hillary sent out a holiday tweet with all the warmth and sparkle of a 404 error message.

Turns out Rand Paul was serious about celebrating Festivus and spent much of Wednesday tweeting out dozens of humorous grievances, including ripping into fellow GOP candidates.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 3:16 PM

Yesterday, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James struck down the city's paid-sick-leave ordinance. The law, which was passed almost unanimously in August, would have granted city employees one hour of sick time for every 35 hours worked.

"Our members fought to get this law passed," says Janice Brown, regional vice president of Action United, one of the organizations who advocated for paid sick leave. "We were glad that city council and the mayor passed it."

click to enlarge Organizers gathered in October to prepare for the city's paid-sick-leave law to go into effect. - PHOTO BY ASHLEY MURRAY
Photo by Ashley Murray
Organizers gathered in October to prepare for the city's paid-sick-leave law to go into effect.
However, almost immediately after the law was passed, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, along with five local businesses, filed a lawsuit against it. The lawsuit alleged that the law exceeded the city's power.

"Obviously, the business owners, they wanted a little more in the bill and we understand that," says Pittsburgh City Councilor Corey O'Connor who sponsored the legislation. "I met with a lot of them that had objections. It's a give-and-take process. At the end of the day, we didn't meet their full criteria. If we went back to the drawing board, would it have changed the outcome today? Probably not."

O'Connor, and even the activists who championed for the ordinance, say they weren't surprised by the court challenge, but hoped the judge would rule in their favor. Similar court battles have been fought in cities like Seattle and Milwaukee. 

"I think it's a bad decision. But honestly we weren't surprised by it," says Brown. "We hope the city appeals this decision because we think it's wrong."

"It's the right thing to do," says Bill Bartlett, director of Action United. "I think it's terrible that the restaurants are going to waste all of this time and money in court. Ultimately, we hope the city challenges this." 

For now, O'Connor says Pittsburgh City Council and Mayor Bill Peduto will consult the city's law department to see what the options are.

"If this is a fight we're not going to win, we don't want to waste taxpayer money. We certainly believe in this cause, but at this point I don't know," says O'Connor. "On a positive note, the whole purpose of this bill was to fight for working families, and I think that was a clear message and one that we're going to continue to fight for as well."

According to Judge James' opinion, the paid-sick-leave ordinance violated Pennsylvania’s Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law by placing “affirmative duties on businesses, occupations and employers." To support his opinion, James referenced a 2009 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision where another employment ordinance was defeated

"Obviously, we're disappointed. We thought the legislation we passed was a good piece of legislation," says  O'Connor. "Ultimately, at the end of the day, the outcome is a little positive, I think, because we now have a conversation about paid sick leave and before we didn't."

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Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 2:20 PM

click to enlarge Don't clog up beautiful streams like this one in Settler's Cabin park with your old Christmas trees. Recycle them! - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
Photo by Ryan Deto
Don't clog up beautiful streams like this one in Settler's Cabin park with your old Christmas trees. Recycle them!
So Christmas is not quite here yet, but try to think past it for just  a second and imagine what you will do with your dying Christmas tree (or whatever you call the pagan-originated detached winter pine).

You'll probably chuck it in the dumpster or throw it in the woods. Well, instead of contributing to the pile at the dump, or squishing the young, delicate plants of the forests Allegheny County Parks and the city of Pittsburgh have a more useful solution for your former holiday tree: Recycle it.

Beginning Dec. 26, nine county parks will be accepting trees from dawn to dusk. All lights, ornaments, tinsel and stands must be removed before dropping off the trees. Collections will continue through Jan. 16 and the specific drop-off points are listed below.

Pittsburgh also has a tree-recycling program, with trees accepted from 8 a.m. to 2.p.m at the four locations listed below. Trees are accepted year-round, except at the Strip District location. Lights, decorations, tinsel, stands, netting and plastic wrap must be removed from trees before dropping off.

For county drop-off zones, all trees will be wood-chipped and the resulting mulch will be used across the county’s regional parks. At Pittsburgh drop-off zones, trees will be mulched by a private contractor, with a percentage of that mulched being reused on city property. 

Give a holiday gift to Mother Earth and recycle your tree this winter.

Allegheny County drop-offs:

Boyce Park: Parking lot by the wave pool

Deer Lakes: Parking lot by Veterans Shelter

Harrison Hills: Parking lot at the intersection of Chipmunk and Cottontail drives

Hartwood Acres: Parking lot at the mansion

North Park: Parking lot at the swimming pool

Round Hill: Parking lot between Meadow and Alfalfa Shelters

Settler’s Cabin: Parking lot by the wave pool

South Park: Parking lot at the swimming pool

White Oak: Parking lot by Poplar Shelter

Pittsburgh drop-offs:

East End, 2nd Division of Public Works: North Dallas Avenue at Hamilton Avenue

­ Hazelwood, 3rd Division of Public Works: Melanchton Avenue off 5200 block of Second Avenue

West End, 5th Division of Public Works: 1330 Hassler St., off Hershel and Steuben (near Herschel Park)

Strip District (January only), Environmental Services Lot: 3001 Railroad St. (next to recycling drop-­off)

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