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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 11:25 AM

British playwright Mike Bartlett’s intriguing little 2009 work is good theater that has something to add to our ongoing discussion about sexual identity.

click to enlarge Thomas Constantine Moore and Erika Strasburg in "Cock" - PHOTO COURTESY OF KINETIC THEATRE CO.
Photo courtesy of Kinetic Theatre Co.
Thomas Constantine Moore and Erika Strasburg in "Cock"
It’s an edgy dark comedy about a young man named John who, after a breakup with his longtime male partner, falls in love with a woman, then tries to go back to his ex. The play’s climax, at once hilarious and wrenching, is a dinner where the three try to hash things out, joined by an unexpected guest.

Cock, directed by Kinetic founder and artistic director Andrew Paul, is cleverly minimalist. It’s set in a sawdust-filled ring (like a cockfight pit), with no props and barely any lighting changes. While the actors gesture normally when conversing, most other actions (sex, eating) are only indicated verbally, not performed. And the fast-paced 90-minute show is intermissionless, with what would normally be scene changes instead rendered as live “jump cuts” indicated by a ringing bell.

While those choices add texture, the play comes down to John’s equivocation – which turns out to be more complicated than it looks, and bound up with the binary way we think of sexual identity (gay vs. straight). Bartlett probes this issue intelligently, though without necessarily drawing any conclusions for the audience.

The cast excels; Thomas Constantine Moore, who plays John, is a Carnegie Mellon alum, as are Ethan Hova, who plays M, his male partner, and Erika Strasburg, who plays W. The ensemble is completed by stage veteran and local favorite Sam Tsoutsouvas.

Here’s Ted Hoover’s review for CP.

Cock has five more performances at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, tomorrow night through Sunday, including matinees on both weekend days.

Tickets are $20-36 and are available here.

Playwrights Theatre is located on the third floor of 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

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Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge John Hinderliter with his Pittsburgh City Paper cover illustration - PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN HINDERLITER
Photo courtesy of John Hinderliter
John Hinderliter with his Pittsburgh City Paper cover illustration
John Hinderliter, this week’s cover illustrator, is a freelance artist from Bethel Park. He first arrived in Pittsburgh back in 1975 when he came here for art school and never left. He calls the local art scene “eclectic, diverse and incredibly welcoming.” We caught up with him  over email after he completed this week’s cover illustration.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always drawn and painted, but in high school I was planning on being an engineer since I loved physics. Then I learned you could make a living doing illustration (I went to high school in a very small rural town and didn’t know anyone making a living as an artist), so engineering went away and I got serious about my art.

Your cover artwork this week is a digital illustration, but your portfolio includes a wide variety of styles, from cartoons and woodcut drawings to watercolor and fine-art paintings. Do you have a favorite medium?
Nope. I use whatever medium fits the project and, more importantly, what the deadline allows for. No sense in trying to do an oil painting if the deadline is two days away.

You’ve been a freelance illustrator for over 30 years. What was your first big break?

There was no one big break, just endlessly making phone calls, showing a portfolio and sending samples. When you’re a freelance illustrator, the majority of your time is spent getting the work, not doing the work.

What's the most challenging part about working for yourself?

As I told my accountant years ago, I never wanted to be a businessman. I have no interest in being a businessman. I have no talent to be a businessman. And yet, I’ve spent my entire adult life being a businessman.

This week’s cover illustration depicts men from U.S. dollar bills attending a night out at the theater. Do you have a favorite local theater? Favorite play?
I wish. My wife and I should really get out more and attend local productions. If she reads this, I will definitely be seeing more theater productions.

You’ve done some illustration work for us in the past, but your most recent appearance in City Paper was as a model in an advertisement! Do you moonlight as a supermodel after your illustration work is done for the day?
Ha, I’ve been doing acting and modeling jobs for about 15 years now. Thanks to the folks at Docherty Casting, I make a couple commercials a year. It’s fun, and you get to meet and work with some incredibly talented people. Plus, it’s just plain fun to pretend and get paid for it.

Do you have any big projects coming up?
I wouldn’t say big, but ongoing and interesting. I’ve been illustrating historic chapter books for Penguin Random House for the past four years and I have a couple more of them to finish up; a memorial portrait that will be printed on decals for a Jeep event; and I just brought home some new canvases, so I’m looking forward to getting a new painting on the easel. I love it when I have projects going on in all the stations in the studio — computer, drawing table and easel. Any email could wind up swamping me with work.

Where can our readers see more of your artwork?
The best place is my horribly-out-of-date website and my blog.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 10:53 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LUKE THOR TRAVIS
Photo by Luke Thor Travis
This week’s MP3 comes from Pet Clinic. Stream or download the wild ’n’ wooly “Sick Witch,” from the band’s new record No Face. Stream or download the song below, and then check out the band's record release show this Friday at Spirit. 

Sick_Witch.mp3

This download link has expired, sorry!

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 3:08 PM

Compared to the past few years, things have been relatively quiet at the Allegheny County Jail, in terms of inmate deaths. One inmate has died this year — an apparent suicide last month — compared to the 11 deaths that occurred there over the previous two years. The high death toll led the county to not renew the contract with private for-profit health-care provider Corizon and retake control of inmates' medical needs.

But the Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project, an advocacy group that launched last year to address the ongoing health-care issues at the jail, believes that just because mortality rates are down, that doesn’t mean that alleged abuses are not ongoing. In response to more than 20 complaints they have received from inmates and their families, the project is launching a documentation campaign to spread the word.

click to enlarge TeOnna Ross of the ACJ Health Justice Project - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
Photo by Ryan Deto
TeOnna Ross of the ACJ Health Justice Project
“The ACJ Health Justice Project has continued to receive stories of severe medical neglect and abuse at the Allegheny County Jail, even after the supposed county takeover of health care in September of last year. People incarcerated at the ACJ go weeks if not months without the medication they need to survive and be well. Our community members are coming out of the ACJ worse than when they went in, and that is unacceptable,” says ACJ Health Justice Project member TeOnna Ross.

Julia Johnson, of the Health Justice Project, says they are looking to compile more than 200 stories of neglect and abuse at the jail. Those wishing to submit to a survey can email ACJInmateAdvocates@gmail.com or visit healthjusticeproject.wordpress.com/take-the-survey. The group also plans to produce a short documentary film about health care at the jail as part of the project.

“We have heard from inmates that come into the jail with illnesses, and as soon as they tell staff about those illnesses, they are ignored or denied treatment,” says Johnson. City Paper has also received letters over the past eight months from multiple inmates claiming medical neglect.

The group is hoping the survey will help catalyze their mission of getting warden Orlando Harper fired and help fulfill a list of demands that include the jail pharmacy to be fully stocked and its status reported bi-monthly to the public; a federal Department of Justice investigation of the jail; and for random tours of the jail to be completed by the county controller.

“It is clear that Harper will only continue to ignore the human right’s violations that are going on at the jail,” says Johnson. 

Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald has repeatedly defended Harper and has said his job as warden is secure. County spokesperson Amie Downs says the county does not have a comment on the press conference. Downs did say that county officials met with the advocates months ago and asked them for documentation of alleged claims, but the advocates were unable to provide them.

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Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 2:52 PM

click to enlarge Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL SAHAIDA
Photo courtesy of Michael Sahaida
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

On Sunday, in the midst of a 14-date European tour, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will capitalize on today's advances in digital infrastructure with a live-streamed performance from Berlin, and their first ever public simulcast at Heinz Hall and online at pittsburghsymphony.org.

“[The Berlin Philharmonic has] an incredible technical set-up there which is equivalent to the Met broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera,” says Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra President Melia Tourangeau. “So what we’re doing is basically taking advantage of that system and doing a live feed of the concert back to Heinz Hall in real time. It will be as if you’re sitting in Berlin watching the Pittsburgh Symphony.”

The concept for the Digital Music Hall, the Berlin Philharmonic’s in-house online concert streaming wing, started about 10 years ago. As music consumption shifted away from television, radio and CDs to the internet, the Berlin Philharmonic needed a new way to reach new audiences, even if the technology wasn’t quite there yet.

“At the beginning, HD streaming on the Internet was a tough challenge,” Tobias Möller, Director of Marketing and Communications at Berlin Phil Media, wrote in an email to City Paper. “But we are very happy that nowadays it has become very usual to enjoy audiovisual content online. However, you need to invest continuosly [sic] in all kinds of platforms because customers expect you to present your content on all media, from mobile devices to streaming devices and SmartTV.”

Digital streaming has become an integral tool for orchestras worldwide to reach new audiences as attendance and budgets have continued to shrink. The Detroit Symphony notably introduced their digital streaming capabilities in 2011, the first in the U.S. to do so. While the PSO hasn’t yet released their own digital streaming service — Berlin’s Digital Music Hall is a hired producer. Sunday’s performance will not stream on their channel — Sunday’s performance marks their first foray into live digital streaming from abroad.

Under Music Director Manfred Honeck, PSO’s Berlin performance will include pieces by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, with Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov. Back in Pittsburgh, the simulcast at Heinz Hall will be emceed by WQED’s Jim Cunningham.

“When I first came here, there were a lot of questions in the community of ‘what’s the value of international touring for this orchestra and what does it mean and why do we do it?’ And that type of thing. It’s an expensive venture,” says Tourangeau. “The purpose of this broadcast back to Heinz Hall is to say, ‘come and see what the world is actually seeing while we’re out and about.’”

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Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Here's what's been going down in Pittsburgh:


1. Planned Parenthood
says it will spend $30 million this election cycle, and this past weekend it trained more 1,000 volunteers from across the country at its two-day "Power of Pink" conference held in Pittsburgh. The event trained members on community organizing, media strategies and engaging the public on issues of reproductive and women's health in the months leading up to the election.

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click to enlarge SCREEN CAPTURE FROM @ALTHISTORIES TWITTER ACCOUNT
Screen capture from @AltHistories twitter account

2. The tiny house in Garfield popped up on Airbnb at least twice over the past month. Some are questioning whether advertising the house as a bed and breakfast conflicts with public money the project has received from the Urban Redevelopment Authority. “Posting it on Airbnb could lead one to believe that her using it as a bed and breakfast may be occurring more than occasionally,” wrote Rick Swartz, of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp., to CP after the first Airbnb posting two weeks ago. “I don't think the URA would accept this, and could conceivably require the developer, cityLab, to repay the $49,000 in URA funds that the project received.”

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY REBECCA NUTTALL
Photo by Rebecca Nuttall
3. Pittsburgh Public Schools has selected its new superintendent. Anthony Hamlet, formerly of Palm Beach County's school district, brings more than a decade of experience as a teacher and principal for both alternative learning institutions and suburban schools. In his current role he serves as director of school-transformation accountability. (He also played professional football for the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.) Hamlet will replace retiring Superintendent Linda Lane, who has led the district since 2010. 

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click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
Photo courtesy of University of Pittsburgh
4. Terrace Hayes, the well-known Pittsburgh-based poet, has snagged another high honor. He received both an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature — he's in good company with the other winners, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me — and, most recently, election into the venerable American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Hayes won the National Book Award in 2010 and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship "genius grant" in 2014. In 2015, his most recent collection, How to Be Drawn, was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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click to enlarge PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
Photo by Ryan Deto
5. The Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project is launching a documentation campaign in response to more than 20 complaints they say they've received from inmates and their families. “The ACJ Health Justice Project has continued to receive stories of severe medical neglect and abuse at the Allegheny County Jail, even after the supposed county takeover of health care in September of last year. People incarcerated at the ACJ go weeks if not months without the medication they need to survive and be well," says ACJ Health Justice Project member TeOnna Ross. Project organizers say they are looking to compile more than 200 stories of neglect and abuse at the jail. County officials say they met with the advocates months ago and asked them for documentation of alleged claims, but the advocates were unable to provide them.

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click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL SAHAIDA
Photo courtesy of Michael Sahaida
6. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will be live-streaming a concert from Berlin this Sunday — their first ever public simulcast at Heinz Hall and on their website. “[The Berlin Philharmonic has] an incredible technical set-up there which is equivalent to the Met broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera,” says Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra President Melia Tourangeau. “So what we’re doing is basically taking advantage of that system and doing a live feed of the concert back to Heinz Hall in real time. It will be as if you’re sitting in Berlin watching the Pittsburgh Symphony.” 

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On our podcast:
click to enlarge WAYNOVISION
WaynoVision
Hear the man behind WaynoVision on our podcast this week. Wayno talks to us about his sense of humor and his process for illustrating WaynoVision, which we began featuring in City Paper's print edition this week.

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Behind-the-scenes:

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF PETER MORSILLO
Photo courtesy of Peter Morsillo
Meet City Paper's Summer Guide cover artist Emily Traynor in our Q&A. Traynor talks to us about her whimsical style and her favorite neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.

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On our music blog:

Every week on our FFW music blog, we make a Spotify playlist containing tracks from artists mentioned in the current music section. Listen below!



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From the pages of our print edition:

It's that time again — Summer Guide time! Check it out for listings of music, film, arts, theater, kids' activities, outdoor adventures, and fairs and festivals. (If you picked up the print edition, color the Summer Guide picture on page 64, and send a photo to PghCityPaper on Snapchat for a chance to win a City Paper prize pack.)

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This week in City Paper history:

In 2009, City Paper caused quite the stir with its "Mon-Monkeys" Summer Guide cover. Artist Mario Zucca drew the cover, based on the ads in the backs of old comic books that sold Sea Monkeys — underwater creatures that could be “trained to do tricks” and “entertain.” Our spoof instructed readers that for $2.50, plus $1.50 shipping and handling, they could get a Mon-Monkey starter kit by sending the money and order form to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. (Our spoof was so obviously fake that we thought nobody could mistake it for a real product. After all, we said these creatures could be trained to wave tiny towels above their heads and vote for members of the Zappala family.) Not only did we receive inquiries at City Paper offices about ordering the creatures, but the ACCD received several order forms in the mail that included real checks for a fake product. Two weeks later, CP issued a clarification under the headline: “Mon-Monkeys do not exist.” Read more about what happened this week in City Paper history.

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Happy snapping!





Editor's note: This post has been updated to include news about the Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project, as well as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 5:15 PM

click to enlarge A student receives a certificate for completing the summit. - PHOTO BY REBECCA NUTTALL
Photo by Rebecca Nuttall
A student receives a certificate for completing the summit.
According to education researchers, the likelihood of a student graduating from high school can be predicted in middle school. 

Earlier today 50 middle school students from Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy in Wilkinsburg participated in the Smart Pittsburgh Summit. There they learned about health and wellness inside and out and how their health relates to scholastic achievement and future success.

The event was hosted by Internationally Smart Is Cool (the organization uses Smart=Cool for short), an organization aimed at changing the negative culture around learning and education in underserved communities. 

click to enlarge A student shares what they learned at the summit - PHOTO BY REBECCA NUTTALL
Photo by Rebecca Nuttall
A student shares what they learned at the summit
"Today is just the beginning. Today you all learned a little bit about how you can figure out what makes you smart and how you can use that and your academics to move forward," said Jamillia Kamara, the head of Smart Is Cool told the students. "When you go home, I want you to think 'what am I good at?' What are the things you're really passionate about? What would you do for the rest of your life if money wasn't a thing. I want you to start cultivating that. Start finding opportunities in your community to help out. Start figuring out who are the adults in your life who can help you develop that skill." 

The event was emceed by Devyn Swain, a local musician and educator. 

"I really support the message of Smart Is Cool because I think a lot of times in black and brown communities we don't have that positively reinforced," says Swain. "Naturally these kids want to aspire to be athletes or entertainers because that's where black and brown people are overly represented, but we need to teach them smart is cool. They can be doctors, astronauts and veterinarians, too."

One of today's sessions was led by members of the organization Grindware Community Center, a soon-to-be opened recreational space in Wilkinsburg that will feature a conference room, studio, storefront, computer room and an educational classroom. Shemaria Scharmann taught the students how to create success in their personal lives, at school and in the future.

"Maybe we could stop a lot of the violence that's going on if you guys channeled your energy into something you're passionate about instead of getting angry because someone said something about what you're wearing," Scharmann said.

The students also learned about poetry from Jay Oriola, a local poet.

"If you don't speak for yourself, other people will speak for you," Oriola said. "I want you to know there's freedom in expressing yourself."

Sister Thea Bowman is made up of kids from across the Pittsburgh area including neighborhoods like Penn Hills, Garfield and Wilkinsburg. The school has partnered with Smart Is Cool for the past two years.

"There's not one way to be smart. I don't care what anybody tells you," Kamara said. "There are multiple ways to be smart. Whatever your interest or hobby is, you can use that to make a great life for yourself, and it starts here."

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Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 4:52 PM

Writers, producers and filmmakers of hit movies and TV and web series are among the presenters at this three-day conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. 

click to enlarge Alvaro Rodriguez
Alvaro Rodriguez
The conference, meant for aspiring writers and filmmakers as well as TV and movie fans, was created by Cathy Rescher of Mob Communications, who modeled the event after the Austin Film Festival screenwriters' conference.

Presenters include some of the names behind X-Men: First Class, Bridge to Terabithia, Epic Rap Battles of History, Black Sails, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Thor. Topics include: family films; i-phone filmmaking; independent filmmaking (on producing and directing your own script); story structure; the value of pre-production; and much more.

For a complete list of presenters and topics, see here.

The conference runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. tomorrow; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. (Pictured is Alvaro Rodriguez, a screenwriter who worked on Machete and From Dusk Til Dawn 3.)

Single-day registration starts at $60 ($30 for students) for Friday only and runs to $90/$45 for Saturday and Sunday admission. Full-conference passes are $220/$110.

Register here.

The convention center is located at 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Downtown.

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Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 10:49 AM

On last year’s national Bike to Work Day, bike-advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh performed an informal count of morning rush-hour traffic on Penn Avenue Downtown and found that 26 percent of all trips were on bicycles. (In fact, stats show bike-commuting is continuing to increase in Pittsburgh.)

This year, Bike to Work Day is Fri., May 20. Bike Pittsburgh and the city’s bike-share Healthy Ride are hoping those bike-ridership numbers increase and are offering riders a few extra incentives.  Bike Pittsburgh will be providing free coffee, breakfast treats and copies of its new 2016 bike map at five pop-up cafes throughout the city. Cafes will be run from 7:30-9:30 a.m.

click to enlarge Healthy Ride bike-share station on Penn Avenue - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
Photo by Ryan Deto
Healthy Ride bike-share station on Penn Avenue
Pop-up cafe locations are:
  • Downtown - Market Square
  • South Side - Hot Metal Street and Water Street
  • North Side - Roberto Clemente Statue (next to PNC Park at start of Roberto Clemente Bridge)
  • Oakland - Schenley Plaza
  • Bloomfield - Friendship Park (near the corner of Friendship Avenue and South Millvale Street)
“Bike to Work Day is the perfect day to try bike commuting to work,” says Bike Pittsburgh director Scott Bricker in a press release. “You’ll feel supported and welcome, and it’s a great time to meet many of the thousands of people who ride to work every day.”

And in conjunction with Bike Pittsburgh's free pop-up cafes, Healthy Ride, the city’s bike-share, will be offering free rides all day at each of its 50 stations.

“We want to see more riders on Bike to Work Day than ever before,” says Healthy Ride director David White in a press release. “Bike share offers those without a bike the ability to use active transit as a means of commuting.”

All Healthy Ride riders must register at healthyridepgh.com, or by calling 412-535-5189, before renting from bike-share stations. Registration is free, but requires an active credit card. Riders not already accustomed to using Healthy Ride bikes can watch the video tutorials on its website.

“Biking is both fun and terrific exercise. It builds strength and stamina, and improves cardiovascular fitness, mental health and sleep quality,” says Evan Frazier, senior vice president of Highmark Health, one of the prime sponsors of Healthy Ride. “It’s also environmentally friendly, so you’re not only improving your own health on your way to work, you’re improving the health of our great city.”

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 8:20 PM

This week's Short List contained the wrong date for the event at the Carnegie Museum of Art featuring pioneering artist Alison Knowles.

The event is tomorrow, Thu., May 19.

In the museum's Hall of Sculpture, Knowles is reprising her 1962 work Celebration Red, in which visitors are asked to contribute a red item to a large grid. Knowles will attend the event, which is free.

The event runs 6-8 p.m., right before the museum's usual Third Thursdays event.

The Carnegie is located at 4400 Forbes Ave., in Oakland.

For more information, see here.

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