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Monday, December 31, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2018 at 7:22 PM

1. Clara Kent, photographed by Huny Young
April 4, 2018

That beautiful cover photograph of Pittsburgh singer Clara Kent looks like it was taken in a gorgeous garden, right? Prepare to have your mind blown. Photographer Huny Young took the "Michaels' Challenge" for this cover photoshoot, putting Clara in a bustier and posing her in front of plastic greenery and lemon branches in the floral aisle at Michaels arts and craft store at North Hills Village. Every photograph Huny turned in was killer and each could have easily been Clara's next album cover. The best part of giving Huny this assignment? Finding out she and Clara became good friends after meeting for this shoot. They even continued to work together on more projects. Here's a behind-the-scenes shot from Clara's Instagram account where you can see more of the backdrop.

2. Distracted Pierogi, illustrated by Pat Lewis
July 4, 2018

One of the most popular Internet shares over the past few years has been "Distracted Boyfriend," a meme that just won't die. It features a stock photo of a man checking out another woman while holding hands with his disgusted girlfriend. Memes usually place text over each person, giving every image a new meaning.

What better way to incorporate one of the best memes in recent history with one of the best weeks of the year? One of our favorite things about summer in Pittsburgh is when furries come to town for Anthrocon. The annual convention is beloved by locals who swarm Downtown to take selfies with the costumed animal characters. Brainstorming this cover was one of the best days at work this entire year, maybe ever. Former editor Rob Rossi, senior writer Ryan Deto, and I laughed for over an hour straight until we were all crying, throwing out ideas at each other for this illustration.

We first played around with the idea of placing a Pittsburgh celebrity like Sally Wiggin in the picture with furries, yelling things out to each other like, "That doesn't make any sense!" And then, "But it's funny!" But in the end, we decided that showing a few of Pittsburgh's mascots falling for a furry attending Anthrocon was the best move. Fun fact: In Pat's initial sketch, the role of Sauerkraut Saul was originally filled by Kenny Kangaroo.

We decided to have even more fun with this cover by changing the name of our paper that week from Pittsburgh City Paper to Pittsburgh Furry Paper. We absolutely loved seeing furries get a kick out of it on the streets while they were in town.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: CONNOR MARSHMAN
CP photo: Connor Marshman

3. Nihilist College Issue, photographed by Maya Puskaric
Aug. 29, 2018

click to enlarge Maya Puskaric brings on the tears. - CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham
Maya Puskaric brings on the tears.
Staff nihilist, I mean staff writer, Hannah Lynn guest edited our College Issue this year, conceptualizing the theme and choosing which articles appeared in the issue. A recent college grad herself, Hannah was by far the best person on staff to take the lead on the issue. When she approached us with the nihilism theme, and suggested putting "Best Places to Cry on Campus" as the cover art, we were sold.

CP graphic designer Maya Puskaric, also a recent college grad, wasn't just the photographer for this cover. She also talked one of her friends into modeling and dressed her in clothes from her own closet. I added on headlines from Hannah's stories, pulling everything together to make it resemble a teen magazine. Read Maya's behind-the-scenes story to find out how she got that fantastic crying-while-dying-on-the-inside look.

4. Coloring Issue, illustrated by Jim Rugg
Sept. 26, 2018

click to enlarge FILM STILL: IMAGE TEN, INC.
Film still: Image Ten, Inc.
I admit it. I'm addicted to zombies. Add a zombie to a movie, and I'll watch it. Add a zombie to a book, and I'll read it. When CP senior writer Amanda Waltz pitched the idea of doing an oral history on the Night of the Living Dead's 50th anniversary, it was an easy decision to make zombies the theme of this year's Coloring Issue. Add a zombie to a Pittsburgh City Paper cover? Boom! It makes my Top Covers of 2018 post.

Night of the Living Dead was filmed in nearby Butler County. Jim Rugg took the iconic movie scene of zombies walking in the field and moved them to one of the best views in Pittsburgh, Downtown as seen when exiting the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Can you imagine coming out of the tunnel to this motley crew?

5. Election Issue and the Tree of Life synagogue, photographed by Jared Wickerham
Oct. 31, 2018

AAN, the association of alternative newsmedia, recently asked editors from around the country to share their best work of 2018. Our Election Issue was my selection, largely because of this cover image. Jared Wickerham joining our staff earlier this year as our full-time photographer and videographer was one of the highlights of our entire 2018, and he's proven himself time and time again as one of the most talented photographers not just in Pittsburgh, but anywhere.

Several days before going to print on our Election Issue this October, tragedy struck our city: a mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. The cover we initially had planned — an optimistic, hopeful smiling photo of Summer Lee, the first Black female state legislator from our region — suddenly no longer made sense while the city was in mourning. Jared was on the streets day and night covering the tragedy and provided the beautiful last-minute cover photograph of women embracing in front of the memorial outside the synagogue.

Bonus favorite: Pittsburghers of the Year, photographed by Jared Wickerham and hand-lettered by Abbie Adams
Dec. 19, 2018

A personal note: To say 2018 has been a hell of a year would be an understatement. I started this year as Art Director, was promoted to Managing Editor this spring, and finally, became Editor-in-Chief in October. When I first started working for Pittsburgh City Paper back in 1997, I knew I found my home. So, you could say this ending has been a long time coming. You can read more about my transition in the letter I wrote our readers when I was promoted.

But it was as Art Director for the past 13 years where I really fell in love with Pittsburgh, as I worked behind-the-scenes with so many amazing artists and photographers who taught me to look at the city through their eyes. After designing almost every cover and editorial story in the paper myself for all these years, it brought me great joy to finally hire an Editorial Designer a few weeks ago to help me with the paper's design. Abbie Adams, not just a great designer but a fantastic illustrator too, created this cover image her first week, hand-lettering the Pittsburghers of the Year title and designing it on top of a beautiful cover photograph Jared took of the city skyline.

The absolute best part of working for City Paper is getting to share Pittsburgh's stories with our readers. The second is getting to work with such an amazing staff. I'm ending this year better than the last and hope the same for all of you.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Posted By on Sun, Dec 30, 2018 at 9:18 PM

click to enlarge Terrell Edmunds #34 watches the Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens game on the big screen following their 16-13 win against the Cincinnati Bengals. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Terrell Edmunds #34 watches the Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens game on the big screen following their 16-13 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

In my 10th season shooting NFL games, I've never encountered a situation like what transpired at the end of the Steelers vs Bengals game.

With their playoff hopes in the hands of the Cleveland Browns, who had to defeat the Baltimore Ravens, about half of the team stayed on the field, along with thousands of fans, to watch the other game finish on the big screen. Terrell Edmunds was the first I saw, who held his hands up. Then T.J. Watt, who stood with coaches. Other players sat on their helmets on the field. But they were all glued on every move by Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense as they made their way down the field with less than two minutes remaining. A close catch. A review. It kept everyone on pins and needles through Heinz Field even though the game they were there for had been over for ten minutes. Then JuJu Smith-Schuster walked to the other side of the field and watched the game with two members of the team the Steelers had just defeated 16-13.

As the Browns went for it on 4th down, Mayfield threw an interception. Game over. Fans left and JuJu made his way to the tunnel. There's still a slim chance that the Steelers make the playoffs, as I write this, if both teams in the Sunday Night Football game tie. But I think Lloyd Christmas had a better chance with Mary Swanson.

Thanks for following along all season with my coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I hope to bring you more sports coverage in the coming months and wish everyone a Happy New Year!

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2018 at 12:24 PM

Snowdonia - CP PHOTO
CP photo

Stay up-to-date with your favorite tours coming to Pittsburgh in the next few months. Each week, CP  will bring you the most recent concert announcements so you never miss a show.

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Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2018 at 11:57 AM

Encountering an active shooter isn’t easy to prepare for. In light of the recent mass shootings seen around the country and here in Pittsburgh, groups are finding more and more of a need to train for the unexpected. In response, active shooter trainings are popping up across the country, teaching schools, offices, and religious centers tactics to recognize and react to mass homicide.

But one local company has been leading the field since 2003 — INPAX Academy. “Since inception, it’s been our mission to empower people and organizations with the same skills used to protect public figures,” says Sam Rosenberg, the company’s founder.

A former Marine Officer and bodyguard to celebrities, dignitaries, and business leaders, Rosenberg has dedicated his life to protecting people and organizations, and for the past 16 years, is teaching them to protect themselves. “It’s good to have a lifeguard, but better to know how to swim,” is the central philosophy of INPAX’s comprehensive training programs. The veteran-owned establishment instructs and empowers across a full spectrum of personal and travel security to self-defense, defensive firearms, and active shooter response, the goal being to build a safer community through individual empowerment.

Universally, federal, state, and local law enforcement recommends two things to combat mass homicide: have a plan and get training. For an active shooter situation, the universal plan stands on three actions: run, hide, or, as a last resort, fight. But are any of us truly prepared for this situation? If we have to run — Where?  And if we need to hide — How? Most importantly, what do we do if we come face to face with an armed intruder and have no choice but to fight back?

“We don’t rise to the occasion, we fall to the level of our training,” Rosenberg explains. Our physiological response to danger absent training, is to freeze or panic. It’s a natural reaction from the central nervous system, but it takes surprisingly little training to begin to recondition that response and give people real solutions. “The goal of training is not to turn you into a ninja. It’s to ensure you can think under pressure, make good decisions, and be able to take action.”

INPAX is open to the public and is located just north of Ross Park Mall off McKnight Road. INPAX offers a state-of-the-art indoor shooting range, retail store, and full-spectrum personal security academy offering fitness, self-defense, and firearms training for individuals, corporations and law enforcement agencies. For more information visit

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Posted By on Sun, Dec 16, 2018 at 9:07 PM

click to enlarge Joe Haden intercepts a fourth quarter pass by Tom Brady. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Joe Haden intercepts a fourth quarter pass by Tom Brady.

For the first time all season, the Pittsburgh Steelers elected not to do individual player introductions against the New England Patriots.

Typically the starters from either the offense or defense will be announced one at a time and make their way through the fog and the fancy lights while pumping up themselves and the crowd before kickoff. And I was ready. On my stomach, waiting for some dramatic images. But nothing happened. I can only speculate but I'm going to assume that this type of pregame hype wasn't warranted against a team that was 2-11 all-time against Tom Brady coming into today's game. Perhaps they felt as if both sides of the ball equally needed to contribute to this game in order for them to come out of it with a win.

But win they did. 17-10. And they did it without starting running back, James Conner who remains injured. Rookie backup, Jaylen Samuels, finished the game with 19 carries and 142 yards.

We'll see if head coach Mike Tomlin keeps with the winning tradition for the last home regular season game of the season, Dec. 30 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The team has one more hurdle in their way, the New Orleans Saints, on Dec. 23.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 3:13 PM

To help combat the rise in opioid overdoses in the state, Gov. Wolf's administration has launched  Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week. On Thu., Dec. 13, the overdose-reversing drug naloxone will be offered for free at 80 locations statewide.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 10:54 AM

click to enlarge Eric Jones blowing some minds - PHOTO: JONATHAN FOBEAR
Photo: Jonathan Fobear
Eric Jones blowing some minds

Fans of sleight-of-hand — that highly-skilled field of magic involving small-scale illusions done up close — can soon stop relying on the occasional touring troupe coming to town or surfing YouTube videos of Ricky Jay (RIP). 

This week, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announced Liberty Magic: Elevating the Art of Magic, an immersive arts experience, is opening in February in Downtown. The space at 811 Liberty Ave. will offer performances in its new intimate 70-seat theater.

“We are excited to see our expertise in the Pittsburgh arts community fuse with the art of close-up magic advanced by world-class magicians like Eric Jones, Dennis Watkins and Pittsburgh's own Lee Terbosic," says Scott Shiller, vice president of artistic planning for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and producer of Liberty Magic.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2018 at 1:01 PM

Skrillex at the 2011 Sasquatch Music Festival - PHOTO VIA BILLBOARD: C FLANIGAN/FILMMAGIC
Photo via Billboard: C Flanigan/FilmMagic
Skrillex at the 2011 Sasquatch Music Festival

Every Monday, CP staff writer Jordan Snowden wraps up the weekend in local and national music news with #MusicMonday. Here's what happened in the past couple of days.

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Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2018 at 9:28 AM

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2018 at 7:19 PM

click to enlarge CP photographer/videographer Jared Wickerham, Pittsburgh City Podcast host Paul Guggenheimer and CP editor Lisa Cunniningham with students from Connellsville Area High School - PHOTO: SARAH RIDER SKORIC
Photo: Sarah Rider Skoric
CP photographer/videographer Jared Wickerham, Pittsburgh City Podcast host Paul Guggenheimer and CP editor Lisa Cunniningham with students from Connellsville Area High School
Pittsburgh City Paper photographer/videographer Jared Wickerham and editor-in-chief Lisa Cunningham talked about the importance of visual journalism on this week's Pittsburgh City Podcast. Listen to the Dec. 7 edition as they share behind-the-scenes stories from Wickerham's photo assignments and answer questions from a live studio audience of students from Connellsville Area High School.

The Pittsburgh City Podcast is a collective effort between Pittsburgh City Paper and Point Park University's Center for Media Innovation, hosted by Paul Guggenheimer.