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Saturday, February 1, 2020

Posted By on Sat, Feb 1, 2020 at 10:24 PM

click to enlarge CP ILLUSTRATION: JOSIE NORTON
CP illustration: Josie Norton

Pittsburgh City Paper is seeking the best (and worst!) tales of online dating in Pittsburgh.

Submit your true story (500 words or less) with "Swipe Right" in the subject line to lcunning@pghcitypaper.com by Wed., Feb. 5.

The five best submissions will be published in City Paper's Feb. 12 issue. All printed submissions will also win a prize.

CP's nonfiction short story contest is open to residents of Allegheny County. No anonymous stories are allowed, but names in stories may be changed to protect the innocent (or guilty).

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Editor's note: As 2019 comes to an end, I've asked Pittsburgh City Paper's editorial staff to select their five favorite stories from this year. Relive editorial designer Abbie Adams' 2019 highlights below. — Lisa Cunningham

click to enlarge CP COVER ILLUSTRATION BY SOPHIA MARIE PAPPAS
CP cover illustration by Sophia Marie Pappas
click to enlarge SKETCH BY ABBIE ADAMS
Sketch by Abbie Adams
Summer Guide // May 22, 2019
One of my favorite parts of my job is working with local artists and seeing the process from conception to the final artwork printed and on the street. I sent local illustrator Sophia Marie Pappas an initial sketch (designers use stick figures too!) of an overhead pool scene. Sophia’s delightful characters and vibrant colors really made this cover stand out and I spent quite a bit of time studying every last detail.

Pride Issue // June 5, 2019
Another one of my favorite things about creating covers are all of the collaborations that go into making them. For the Pride Issue, staff photographer Jared Wickerham shot the very cool Brittney Chantele wearing a shirt that Etna Print Circus had designed and printed just for us. Lisa and I pulled it all together in a very clean and open design.

Animal Issue // Oct. 16, 2019
For our Animal Issue, Lisa wanted to ask Milo Berezin, a local artist who does everything from printmaking to ceramics, to create a cover using little ceramic critters. Milo sculpted, glazed, and fired not one but seven alligators (in honor of the seven gators found in Pittsburgh in 2019) in less than a week and photographed them together for the cover shot. I love how one's first impression might be that they are illustrated, but upon closer inspection they are actually 3-D. I would rather stumble upon one of these out and about than the real deal too.

Wiener World // May 29, 2019
Intern Jared Murphy and I headed over to Wiener World just before lunch break the week of Ryan Deto’s story on the drama behind why the iconic sign had disappeared. After a test run on a napkin using mustard — not ketchup, for higher contrast and visibility — I lettered “We *heart* PGH” on a hot dog for the cover photo.
click to enlarge Mustard lettering by Abbie Adams - CP PHOTOS: JARED MURPHY
CP photos: Jared Murphy
Mustard lettering by Abbie Adams
We took several shots for good measure with horizontal and vertical lettering — I just turned the hot dog over and used the underside for the second shot. After seeing the squeezed-out lettering, the owner said he would hire me if my job didn’t work out.

Three Rivers Film Festival // Nov. 6, 2019
click to enlarge SKETCH BY ABBIE ADAMS
Sketch by Abbie Adams
After mulling over what the cover should be for the 37th Three Rivers Film Festival for a few days, this little popcorn character popped into my head. After I sketched it out, Lisa suggested adding the iconic points from the PPG Place building to make him more local. A little color brought him to life and I imagine a lone, greasy butter tear sliding down his flat cheek as he watches his favorite film.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Editor's note: As 2019 comes to an end, I've asked Pittsburgh City Paper's editorial staff to select their five favorite stories from this year. Relive photographer Jared Wickerham's 2019 highlights below. — Lisa Cunningham
click to enlarge Benji. at Spirit - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
Benji. at Spirit
Benji. returns to Pittsburgh on EarthGang tour // Oct. 23, 2019
As a photojournalist, I get to step into the lives of so many people. But it’s even more fun when I can continue following the lives and careers of those I’ve documented over and over again. Benji. is an example of that. After putting him on the cover of one of my first covers for Pittsburgh City Paper, I always stayed in touch. I genuinely love this guy's music and went to a couple shows as a fan. But when he went on tour with Earthgang, I knew I had to bring my camera and catch up with him at Spirit. Safe to say, it didn’t disappoint as I had an incredible time.

click to enlarge Alejandro Villanueva waits in the Steelers tunnel before being introduced. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
Alejandro Villanueva waits in the Steelers tunnel before being introduced.
Pylon Pics: The best photo advice I ever received // Oct. 6, 2019
To be quite frank, these photos and this post grew out of frustration. Frustration that security kept moving the photographers around and telling us different rules on where we could stand for every home game. So in order to avoid that same problem and make different photos, I went into the stands during the player introductions through the Pittsburgh Steelers tunnel. I did it one other time to improve upon what I captured before, but in the 18 years Heinz Field has been here, I’ve never seen anyone do that before. Don’t be afraid to take chances.

click to enlarge SurfSUP Adventure in Oakmont - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
SurfSUP Adventure in Oakmont
Escape to the beautiful islands of Oakmont // Aug. 27, 2019
I always try and find ways to incorporate what I love into what I cover at City Paper. I also love for people to find new things within the city to do, especially if they involve the outdoors. This couldn’t have been more true with my photo essay with Ian Smith of SurfSUP Adventures while we explored the Oakmont islands on stand-up paddleboards. I highly recommend it for anyone whether you’re just visiting by yourself or looking for a great date idea.

click to enlarge Jaboukie Young-White, of Comedy Central's Daily Show, marches with the People's Pride parade. - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
Jaboukie Young-White, of Comedy Central's Daily Show, marches with the People's Pride parade.
People's Pride Parade // June 10, 2019
This year's People's Pride Parade was one of my highlights because it was the coming together of so many people I had the privilege of photographing, many of whom were marching for equality and having an incredible time together. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Daily Show piece that followed.

click to enlarge Horses run the track at Meadows Racetrack - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
Horses run the track at Meadows Racetrack
A day at the track // May 1, 2019
Whether or not you agree with certain aspects of gambling and horse racing, both are very much a part of Americana. When you’re surrounded by so much technology and an ever-changing landscape, it’s always interesting to step into a world that has hardly changed in decades. Horse racing is one of those things and I am very grateful for the access I received for this assignment. Photographing next to these beautiful animals from a vehicle as they circled the track was so exhilarating and a memory I will never forget.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Posted By on Sun, Dec 29, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Editor's note: As 2019 comes to an end, I've asked Pittsburgh City Paper's editorial staff to select their five favorite stories from this year. Relive senior writer Ryan Deto's 2019 highlights below. — Lisa Cunningham
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
A Chinese woman lost her job at Westinghouse in Shanghai, so she flew all the way to Cranberry to ask for it back // Feb. 20, 2019
After three missed calls and two hard-to-understand voice mails, I finally picked up the phone when a Chinese woman called from Cranberry. She was protesting to get her job back at the Westinghouse headquarters, more than 7,000 miles from her home in Shanghai. It was a once-in-a-life time story. I will never forget it.

click to enlarge CP ILLUSTRATION: JOSIE NORTON
CP Illustration: Josie Norton
How busways can lead Pittsburgh into an equitable public transit future // April 10, 2019
In a region obsessed with futuristic transit fixes that never come close to materializing (hi, SkyBus and MagLev), it felt necessary to highlight Pittsburgh’s underappreciated public transit superstar: busways. They carry the most passengers in the region, and move them throughout the city the fastest. And they aren’t even close to operating at full capacity. Busways are Pittsburgh’s future.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNINGHAM
CP photo: Lisa Cunningham
The origin of how Pittsburgh and furries fell in love with each other // July 6, 2019
Pittsburgh has become furry town, but how did it get there? A combination of an aggressive tourism pitch reaching out to a group of people often malign. And that same group getting over their own stereotypes about Pittsburgh to embrace the Steel City as their own. I hope the furries stay in Pittsburgh forever.

click to enlarge Pa. State Rep. Caryl Metcalfe - SCREENSHOT OF VIDEO FROM FACEBOOK
Screenshot of video from Facebook
Pa. State Rep. Caryl Metcalfe
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe says reducing carbon dioxide emissions will kill his vegetables // Feb. 22, 2019
It’s not often a perfect headline writes itself. This one belongs in the Pittsburgh Hall of Fame.

click to enlarge Police Station Pizza cheese slices - CP PHOTO: RYAN DETO
CP photo: Ryan Deto
Police Station Pizza cheese slices
Why Pittsburghers should brag about Ohio Valley Pizza // Sept. 3, 2019
I got to write about food I love, and finally designated it for what it is, a Southwestern Pennsylvania specialty. And the story stirred up a lively conversation to boot. Not bad for some pizza with cold cheese on top.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Posted By on Sat, Dec 28, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Editor's note: As 2019 comes to an end, I've asked Pittsburgh City Paper's editorial staff to select their five favorite stories from this year. Relive senior writer Amanda Waltz's 2019 highlights below. — Lisa Cunningham
click to enlarge Josh Larkin, Toddy Tondera, and Ryan Thompson outside Goodwill Outlet Center. - CP PHOTO: AMANDA WALTZ
CP photo: Amanda Waltz
Josh Larkin, Toddy Tondera, and Ryan Thompson outside Goodwill Outlet Center.
Thrifty Podcast // Feb. 27, 2019
I’m a little obsessed with sub-cultures, so when I met Toddy Tondera from Thrifty Podcast, I jumped at the chance to experience the local hardcore thrifting scene. Apparently, I was initiated by a Goodwill outlet regular named Deb, who offered me a fashionable leather belt she found in one of the bins, something Toddy said she never does with anyone. We talk about it on the podcast.

click to enlarge Felicia Savage Friedman teaches a chair yoga class at The Kingsley Association. - CP PHOTO: JARED MURPHY
CP photo: Jared Murphy
Felicia Savage Friedman teaches a chair yoga class at The Kingsley Association.
Body positivity, inclusivity, and accessibility // July 17, 2019
I spoke to so many amazing women for this piece and felt so privileged that they trusted me to represent their respective missions. They also so perfectly put into words things I felt or thought about my own body, like “think about all the things we could be doing with our lives if we weren’t always wondering what’s wrong with us. There’s nothing wrong with us” and the idea of, as one woman puts it, people “waiting for their body to change to live their lives.”

click to enlarge Sara Innamorato pours sake at the Waterworks Ichiban Hibachi & Sushi Bar - CP PHOTO: AMANDA WALTZ
CP photo: Amanda Waltz
Sara Innamorato pours sake at the Waterworks Ichiban Hibachi & Sushi Bar
Drinking sake with a state representative // Aug. 19, 2019
This exemplifies one of the reasons I love this job so much, that I get to take one of my husband’s goofball ideas — a bar crawl in the Waterworks strip mall — and turn it into an article.

click to enlarge The Manor House and Castle in Gibsonia, Pa. - SCREENSHOT FROM BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY LISTING
Screenshot from Berkshire Hathaway listing
The Manor House and Castle in Gibsonia, Pa.
Ridiculous sprawling mansion in Gibsonia // Nov. 11, 2019
I rarely let loose enough to write snarkier pieces, but when I saw a tweet about this absolutely nutso mansion for sale in Gibsonia, inspiration struck. I banged it out in under an hour. It became one of our most-read stories of the year.

click to enlarge The Harris Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh on Mon., Nov. 25 - CP PHOTO: ABBIE ADAMS
CP photo: Abbie Adams
The Harris Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh on Mon., Nov. 25
Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media // Nov. 25, 2019
A Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media employee called me as I was en route to the office, resulting in one of the few scoops I’ve gotten in my career as a journalist. Big breaking news like this rarely happens in the arts and cultural scene, so I was overwhelmed to be able to report on it.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Posted By on Fri, Dec 27, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Editor's note: As 2019 comes to an end, I've asked Pittsburgh City Paper's editorial staff to select their five favorite stories from this year. Relive staff writer Jordan Snowden's 2019 highlights below. — Lisa Cunningham
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
The Music Issue // June 19, 2019
Man, oh man, did I get a lot of slack for this issue.
"What are they wearing?"
"Women in Pittsburgh don't look like this!"
"They need to put more clothes."

People were so enamored with, so distracted by, the cover (a cover that my friends and I, who regularly attend shows, posed for) that they missed the great coverage on the inside. I didn't expect for five women, who were showing a little leg, to cause such a ruckus. And it hurt.

The Music Issue was my baby. Besides posing for the cover, I curated each story, I edited them, I wrote the intro, I wrote the feature story, and I hand-picked a diverse selection of additions and changes in the Pittsburgh music scene — a scene that is thriving. The CP staff covered things like unconventional music venues in the city and how local promoters are adjusting to the boom in the concert industry yet, it was lost in the male-gaze and traditional views of how women should present themselves.

But The Music Issue is something I'm extremely proud of. I hadn't even been at the paper a year at the point that this came out. And I will continue to stand behind it.

click to enlarge The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Fiddlesticks in action with (L) Resident Conductor Andrés Franco and (R) guest vocalist Katy Williams. - PHOTO: ED DEARMITT/PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.
Photo: Ed DeArmitt/Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Fiddlesticks in action with (L) Resident Conductor Andrés Franco and (R) guest vocalist Katy Williams.
Q&A with Fiddlesticks // Oct. 16, 2019
It's not often you get to interview a mascot musical cat. This Q&A is one of my favorites because it's just pure fun — a healthy dose of positive content.

I had a blast coming up with questions to ask and Fiddlesticks gave amusing and engaging answers (I'm also 99.9% sure it's the first and only Fiddlestick interview out there). Like, did you know Fiddlestick lives in Heinz Hall? And his favorite food is macaroni and cheese? The editorial team was saying 'Fiddlesticks' for days.

click to enlarge INEZ plays drums at the YMCA Lighthouse Project - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
INEZ plays drums at the YMCA Lighthouse Project
INEZ releases her debut album // Dec. 18, 2019
I never felt an emotional attachment to a story until this one. I finished the story almost a week before the paper came out, and I had butterflies in my stomach every day leading up to its release.

I was excited to share INEZ's journey, one that was riddled with loss and hardship yet resulted in a beautiful album about her process of maturing. But it wasn't just about her, it was about the strong Black women in her life that lifted her up when she was down. (This is a recurring theme in INEZ's life and the Pittsburgh music scene, which I wrote about earlier in the year.)

So I was excited, but also scared. Did I give her story justice? Would others love it as much as I did? Am I doing my part to uplift the Black community?

I ran into local musician Clara Kent at an event a few weeks before. She thanked me for my support of the music scene and for helping give a voice to Black creatives that would otherwise be overlooked. "You don't know the impact you've had already," she said. "But remember, you don't need to do it all. You can't carry everyone on your back." Yet, I still constantly feel like I can do more. This story helped me believe in Clara's words. The love and support INEZ received was overwhelming. I'm doing the best I can, with my words, and people are noticing.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM // CP ILLUSTRATION: ABBIE ADAMS
CP photo: Jared Wickerham // CP illustration: Abbie Adams
Pittsburgh craft beer scene pairs well with local musicians // Oct. 9, 2019
&
A chat with Mumford & Sons' Winston Marshall // March 13, 2019
This is a two-for-one pick (sorry Lisa), because — keeping in the same vein of learning about myself — these two articles both helped me grow as a writer.

The beer piece allowed me to realize I can try longer, newsier stories — it's my longest story to date. I mulled over all the information I gathered for hours, stressed and overwhelmed, wanting to throw in the towel every second of the way. But I f*cking finished it, and it was the cover story for the Oct. 9 issue.

For the Mumford & Sons interview, I barely got any sleep the night before. Me, a little writer from an alt-weekly, was interviewing a member of an internationally recognized band. But then as soon as I heard Winston Marshall's voice on the phone, the knot of nerves I had melted away. He was friendly and easygoing, and it didn't seem like an inconvenience to be talking to me. It gave me the confidence and reassurance that I could interview anyone.

Tipsy on kombucha, not bad // Feb. 6, 2019
I got drunk at work via one of my favorite beverages and then proceeded to not-soberly write it at my desk. 'Nuff said. 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Posted By on Thu, Dec 26, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Editor's note: As 2019 comes to an end, I've asked Pittsburgh City Paper's editorial staff to select their five favorite stories from this year. Relive managing editor Alex Gordon's 2019 highlights below. — Lisa Cunningham
click to enlarge 40th Street Bridge - CP PHOTO: ALEX GORDON
CP photo: Alex Gordon
40th Street Bridge
Bike courier cleans 40th Street Bridge // Feb. 27, 2019
Nothing against publicists or press releases, but it's always nice to find a neighborhood story organically. In this case, it was the story I stumbled on of Dani Kramer, a bike courier who took it upon herself to independently maintain the snow and trash on the sidewalks of the 40th Street Bridge. At the time when I started reporting on it, the bridge constituted a no-man's-land jurisdictionally speaking: PennDOT, Millvale DPW, and the city of Pittsburgh all rejected responsibility for maintaining snow and trash removal on the bridge's pedestrian walkways. But there was a happy ending: After years of advocating, the city finally took responsibility and Pittsburgh DPW has been handling it since.

click to enlarge The Dirt Rag peanut butter burger at Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
The Dirt Rag peanut butter burger at Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe
Serving burgers with peanut butter // Feb. 27, 2019
File this one under passion project: I love peanut butter on cheeseburgers and wrote a short history of the dish. I learned a lot but was also pretty satisfied that the answer as to why the unconventional combination worked was basically, "because it does."

click to enlarge Shantel Cummings, Connie Dorsett, Harrison Apple, Jojo Gilbert, and Dani Lamorte, in a promotional video for the One More Time Ball in 2013 - TRANSQ TELEVISION AT CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY
TransQ Television at Carnegie Mellon University
Shantel Cummings, Connie Dorsett, Harrison Apple, Jojo Gilbert, and Dani Lamorte, in a promotional video for the One More Time Ball in 2013
Pittsburgh Queer History Project // June 5, 2019
I'm always interested in stories about the intersection of digital and tactile media, and the Pittsburgh Queer History Project is a beautiful example of how to thoughtfully combine the two. The curator, Harrison Apple, enlightened me (and hopefully some of our readers) about lesser-known aspects of queer life in Pittsburgh over the past four decades. I won't forget our talk anytime soon.

click to enlarge Miles Saal - PHOTO: CORRINE JASMIN
Photo: Corrine Jasmin
Miles Saal
Exhibit commemorates Miles Saal's art // Oct. 9, 2019
Writing this story about the suicide of Miles Saal, aka Pittsburgh artist Yung Mulatto, involved talking to his parents and friends about intimate and painful memories, and I struggled to balance the desire to know more about him and wanting to respect the privacy and grief of the people I talked to. But everyone shared really beautiful and vulnerable stories with me, and I finished the story feeling more hopeful than I'd expected. There's no silver lining with a story like this, but it's encouraging to hear stories from strong people working to turn pain into positive change.

click to enlarge Princess Jafar at Kelly Strayhorn Theater in March - PHOTO: BETH BARBIS
Photo: Beth Barbis
Princess Jafar at Kelly Strayhorn Theater in March
Princess Jafar caps busy 2019 with two shows // Nov. 26, 2019
I've been a fan of Princess Jafar for a couple of years and was thrilled to finally speak with her for this article. Her public persona is fittingly acerbic and hilarious, but our talk was anything but. Generally speaking, questions like "what TV are you watching?" don't deliver the most memorable or relevant answers, but once Princess Jafar got going on Alf and Dick Cavett, it illuminated an unexpected connection to her work and comedy style that I think made it a pretty compelling interview. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Posted By on Wed, Dec 25, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Editor's note: As 2019 comes to an end, I've asked Pittsburgh City Paper's editorial staff to select their five favorite stories from this year. Relive staff writer Josh Oswald's 2019 highlights below. — Lisa Cunningham
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JOSH OSWALD
CP photo: Josh Oswald
Figuring out what the hell they sell at Pool City // March 5, 2019
Pool City's biggest sellers are getting drunk and sitting down is one of my favorite stories of last year, because I got to fulfill my lifelong dream of going to Pool City. I was the only customer in there for most of my visit, there was broken glass on the floor, and I wanted to buy 90% of what they were selling.

Yinzer Mingle // Feb. 13, 2019
I came up with the idea for
Yinzer Mingle (like Christian Mingle) — a dating app for yinzers — during an editorial meeting where other writers were talking about how awful dating apps were. I knew then, I could make the worst dating app. It was great fun to animate a commercial for the app and create a mockup of how the app would work.

I voted for myself and won // Dec. 9, 2019
This story wrote itself. I wrote myself in for a commissioner’s seat in a local election — mainly because I thought HAD to vote for three candidates and I didn’t know who some were — and I won one of the three seats. When I went to a FedEx to get the election forms notarized for filing, the employees told me they didn’t have a notary and that Google has them listed incorrectly. That’s when another customer, who happened to be a notary with her stamp in her purse, notarized my forms for free. This was meant to be.

click to enlarge The Meadows Racetrack & Casino - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
The Meadows Racetrack & Casino
Playing the ponies Western Pennsylvania style // May 1, 2019
This story combined two of my favorite hobbies, drinking and gambling. It is also the longest story I’ve written and the most difficult in trying to find a common theme within my visits to different horse gambling spots. And I got to interview Bob Nastanovich, who would have talked about horses for days if we had the time.

click to enlarge SCREENCAP FROM WENDY BELL'S ANNOUNCEMENT VIDEO
Screencap from Wendy Bell's announcement video
Who invited Wendy Bell again?! // Aug. 29, 2019
I wrote this for all the people of Pittsburgh. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Posted By on Tue, Dec 24, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Editor's note: As 2019 comes to an end, I've asked Pittsburgh City Paper's editorial staff to select their five favorite stories from this year. Relive staff writer Maggie Weaver's 2019 highlights below. — Lisa Cunningham
click to enlarge The housemade cavatelli and sausage, potato gnocchi, and fennel salad - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
The housemade cavatelli and sausage, potato gnocchi, and fennel salad
LeoGreta is a Carnegie treasure // Jan. 23, 2019
In the past year, I've eaten a lot of food. LeoGreta, one of my first 2019 reviews, still sticks out as a favorite. The eatery serves a blissful list of simple Italian food that seems too good for its casual atmosphere. Nothing can replace the awe of the restaurant's house meatball.

click to enlarge The Mai Tai-ger Woods is Back and Lime in the Coconut. - CP PHOTO: MAGGIE WEAVER
CP photo: Maggie Weaver
The Mai Tai-ger Woods is Back and Lime in the Coconut.
Fat-washing cocktails // June 12, 2019
The first time I heard about a duck fat washed cocktail, I was disgusted. But after I sat down with Alex Dando, lead bartender at The Commoner, I came to respect the ingenuity behind fat infusions. Besides, there was no denying the intrigue of a cake-washed campari.
Veganism gets "manly" // Jan. 31, 2019
At the beginning of each year, marketing firms and various media outlets release trend predictions. This is where I first heard about 2019’s biggest prediction: veganism for men.

click to enlarge Top, left to right: collard greens, mac n’ cheese, and yams. Bottom: entrees of ribs and fried catfish, with cornbread on the side. - CP PHOTO: MAGGIE WEAVER
CP photo: Maggie Weaver
Top, left to right: collard greens, mac n’ cheese, and yams. Bottom: entrees of ribs and fried catfish, with cornbread on the side.
The cozy, welcoming soul food of Walmart // Sept. 11, 2019
I never expected to get great food at a Walmart, but that’s exactly what happened at Cornbread, a soul food restaurant located inside the superstore’s walls. Their fried catfish was some of — if not the — best I’ve had to date.

click to enlarge Three spiced rums from Wigle Whiskey - CP PHOTO: MAGGIE WEAVER
CP photo: Maggie Weaver
Three spiced rums from Wigle Whiskey
Pittsburgh distilleries making rum // March 6, 2019
2019 brought with it many things, and among the greats is Kingfly Distillery in the Strip District. This opening rounded out a trio including Maggie’s Farm Rum and Wigle Whiskey of local distilleries turning rum into a spirit to watch.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Posted By on Mon, Dec 23, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Editor's note: As 2019 comes to an end, I've asked Pittsburgh City Paper's editorial staff to select their five favorite stories from this year. Relive staff writer Hannah Lynn's 2019 highlights below. — Lisa Cunningham
click to enlarge CP ILLUSTRATION: JOSIE NORTON
CP Illustration: Josie Norton
Pierogi Mayhem // May 21, 2019
When I first pitched a story ruminating on the purses used by Pirates pierogis, it got shot down. A year later, I got my way, but boy did shit hit the fan! I thought I wrote a funny, mildly insightful article about gender, sports, and mascot culture. The story came out in mid May, when I was in California taking time off for the first time all year. I tweeted out the story in the morning, then went on a hike with my family and didn't have reception for four hours. The next time I looked at my phone, I had more Twitter notifications than ever before, mostly from male sports fans, aghast. Three or four different talk radio hosts talked about the story, and not kindly. A lot of people called me stupid and told me I was outraged for no reason. I was really truly not at all outraged, I just wanted to point out that it's funny that they make girl pierogies carry purses. It was both a scarring and learning experience.

click to enlarge Mia Macdonald and her houseboat - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Mia Macdonald and her houseboat
River life // July 31, 2019
Despite all its rivers, Pittsburgh is an unlikely place for houseboats, partly because the river isn't so clean, but mostly because it gets cold as shit. It was cool to learn about Mia Macdonald and her houseboat, Seamore, which is one of two or three boats docked at the the Bell Harbor Yacht Club in Blawnox. She told me a bunch of stories about craziness that comes with living on a houseboat, like the time raccoons broke in, or when her motorless boat nearly got swept away.

click to enlarge PHOTO: MAYA ELAINE
Photo: Maya Elaine
Learning about Lolita // April 10, 2019
I've always wanted to know more about Lolita fashion, a subgenre that is ripe for being misunderstood by outsiders. I knew almost nothing about the hyper-feminine, ornate outfits, the history, or the people who wore it. For the occasion of Tekko, a Japanese pop culture convention in Pittsburgh, I talked to fashion designers and community members who explained to me how fashion is undervalued, especially at a place like Tekko. They explained to me how it felt freeing to wear hyper-feminine clothing designed for the female gaze, as opposed to the male gaze. I learned that the name is completely unrelated to the sordid novel. I love learning about niche communities and subcultures, especially if they were fostered online, and this was one of the more interesting.

click to enlarge PHOTO: JONATHAN PRIME/UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Photo: Jonathan Prime/Universal Pictures
The derangement of Yesterday // June 26, 2019
Scientists are still figuring out why, but writing a scathing review is just so much more fun than writing a positive or middling one. I knew I would not like Yesterday, due to its batshit premise involving Beatles-related amnesia. But I also knew I would have a lot to say, because I was a huge Beatles fan growing up (my first concert was a Beatles cover band for which I won tickets on the radio). In this movie, the entire world forgets The Beatles ever existed except for one struggling musician who exploits the disaster. Enough time has passed that I can now say bringing back John Lennon from the dead was one of the more deranged things I've ever seen.

click to enlarge PHOTO: PAUL NICKLEN
Photo: Paul Nicklen
Still Life vs. Photography // Dec. 11, 2019
I was looking for a way to mix up the fairly straightforward art reviews I typically cover by writing about two exhibits in two different, but connected museums: A Delight for the Senses: The Still Life at Carnegie Museum of Art and National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. I hadn't been to either exhibit, so was going only on a hunch that there would be a connection between 300 year old still life paintings and modern nature photography. In the end, I probably could've written twice as much as we had room for. It was fascinating to view the two back to back.