Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ballistic Parking Rant On The Way

I'll admit to being a pretty emotional person who holds things in. No doubt, one wonders why so many of the most critical issues related to "livable Pittsburgh" have not come up on this blog more. First reason is that the group blog format has never developed the mass needed to take the load off one or two posters. Also no real conversation has ever developed, leaving me to mostly feel like I'm talking to myself.

The other and much more significant one is that I'm often just too pissed about things to sit down and put together the kind of posts these subjects deserve. Usually, it all ends up with either no post or an explosion of rage.

Let's just say, the recent parking (just the word--sets me off) sale lease issue is building to that level.

Once again, many (not all) of our so called "green" defenders of our environment are shown to be at best Hypocrites.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Carnegie Museum Bagpipe Dance

It's usually the unexpected things that really make a place great. The great stuff inside the Carnegie at the AAP opening was somewhat expected---although this seems like a show well above the average of what I've seen. (As you likely know---No photos were allowed inside)

However, this strangely compelling bagpipe/ African Dance improv was unexpected. There's sort of a reason why this came to be, but why let that spoil it.

Imagine a loud bagpipe.

One For The Money: Film Shoot In Shadyside

I'm a little shy and don't have the time to stalk the load of local film shoots going on. We seem to have had a steady average of about three major studio productions being shot at any given time, plus smaller independent films.

This particular film shoot landed in a pretty big way almost out my front door. so I figured it might be OK, to load a few shots showing the scale of what's going on. I can't say it's not disruptive, but clearly they are getting on with it. Also, Shadyside itself with it's college kid vibe, is hardly a "get away from it all", type place. Luckily, one doesn't have to depend too much on a car for local errands around here.

It seems a bit nuts given how flat the landscape is there, but in this case Pittsburgh is supposed to be doubling as Trenton, NJ in a film about a bounty hunter based on a best selling book. Someone said even the Trenton Makes The World Takes, bridge will be replicated in Kittanning .

Best source of info on local productions is The Pittsburgh Film Office.

A few stories about the film. Who knows how much money and development we would have if there were more "sleazy adult bookstores" on The North Side?

"The Crazy Mocha coffee shop on East North Avenue assures patrons that it's open for business during filming, even if it appears to have been transformed into a tobacco outlet -- at least on one side. Across Federal Street, there's Trenton Tattoo, a hoagie shop and an adult book-video store plus a couple of Trenton police cars, all for the movie."

Celebrity Gossip

Boring Pittsburgh

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Leveraging Akron's Soap Box Derby: The Akron DYI Festival

Trailer for the Film 25 Hill
The above trailer is really pretty over the top (I guess I'm old) and hard to get through, still it's about something that's I think somehow valuable and worth saving.

I guess everyone has their own opinion of brands that are over or undervalued. To lots of folks, the name Soap Box Derby is forgotten, even though for several generations it represented almost everything we like to think of as American.

Exploration, perhaps, teamwork, tinkering and innovation--culminating in a race. Of course even racing cars without engines is linked with 1950's and 60's car culture.

In the mind it gets back to the primordial garage, where we know so much of our innovative economy was always born and reborn.

The Derby has fallen on hard times and a film is being made partly in hopes of spurring more support.

The Derby has lost key sponsors, including Chevrolet and Levi Strauss Co. over the years and in 2009, FirstMerit Bank demanded payment on more than $600,000 in loans.

But a new board is making some tough financial decisions to keep the Derby alive -- and in Akron.

''We are committed to making sure that the Derby survives,'' Bill Evans, the board president, told the Akron Beacon Journal. "The Derby is so inexorably linked with Akron's brand.''

Ironically all of this is happening at the very moment so many people are returning to DYI everything.

I'll take a slim shot and throw out the idea of building the derby into a longer Festival of Do It Yourself Culture. Something for all ages. Imagine for example demonstrations of new power ideas or solar car races. Perhaps it could actually have events spread from Akron to Youngstown or even further--but invite projects from around the country.

Sort of Burning Man for the common man. Science meets art meets fun on very practical level.

The question then comes up. Well, don't both Pittsburgh with it's Art's Festival and Cleveland's Ingenuity Festival attempt to do that? Yes, and really no. Both seem very focused as demonstrations of very local and hyper local creativity. The door is still very much open to anyone who wants to transend that and tap into a very deep powerful international trend.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cannonball: Kids Make The Best Of Hard Times

Cannonball from California is a place. on Vimeo.

Matthew Newton posted this short film about skateboarders feasting on the emptied out pools of California's real estate bust.

It's hard not to think of the iconic film of Skateboarding's history, Dog Town and Z-Boys.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PostApocalyptic Movie Theater @ Gooski's

While I was out and about in Polish Hill this past weekend for the Polish Hill Arts Festival, I spent a couple hours watching the works of local filmmakers at Gooski's. The PostApocalyptic Movie Theater is an installation of works curated by Jessica Fenlon. A portable and changing installation, the work is meant to be seen on walls that have their own character.

Ms. Fenlon did present one of her own works at the events, which I found very beautiful and compelling. Flight was scored by a live band at a screening in Pittsburgh. The work is richly layered, the color is other worldly.

For this installation, Ms. Fenlon chose works from her library of local filmmakers that ranged from narrative to abstract. Works by Matt Wellins, Ben Hernstrom, and Jessica Fenlon were represented in the event at Gooski's.

Clip from Flight, by Jessica Fenlon

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crown of Appalachia/Book of Life @ Panza Gallery

The Crown of Appalachia/Book of Life exhibit opened at Panza Gallery a couple weeks ago. I was pleased to attend the opening reception on July 3; a great addition to the holiday weekend. The exhibit is a solo presentation of two bodies of work from David Grim. The work is beautifully installed, giving both paths of exploration sufficient space. The one consistency between both bodies is their reference to journaling.

David Grim has been working on his Book of Life for the last few years. He has been carrying the same phone book to various life drawing sessions, recording the human figure on its pages with his pen. For this exhibit, the works from the phone book were scanned and printed out and mounted in one large installation. Some of the original works from a related series were framed and another two were presented as light pieces. Mr. Grim worked on this series with a very stringent set of parameters, using only pen and drawing only in the phone book. All of the drawings in the book of life are line drawings, forcing an exploration of the various expressive qualities of line. It is a compelling journey.

Crown of Appalachia is Mr. Grim's alter, Merge Divide. The blog was begun in January 2010. Each post is accompanied by an image, reflective of events and places in the Pittsburgh region. The images range from narrative to abstract, but maintain a consistency of color and value.

Artist Statements:

David Grim-
Inspired by a childhood escape from religious conversion, The Book of Life presents the opportunity for me to reclaim the act of creation from an externalized “other”. Based on the concept of a holy tome containing the names of all those saved from eternal damnation, this project seeks to render humanity in its purest of form- defenseless and open. The intention of the displayed product is to raise questions regarding authority, transience, privacy, and the relationship between the artist and his subject.

Merge Divide-
Convinced that Pittsburgh is the figurative “Crown” of a vast tract of America marked by the Appalachians, I decided to commemorate my travels throughout the region with an online presence, including words and images. This marks my initial foray into the sense of a partially imaginary place that may indeed exist. I mean to convey the weird netherworld quality of this area in sociological and alchemical terms.

Crown of Appalachia/Book of Life
Through July 31, 2010
Saturday July 31- Closing Party (6-9PM)
Panza Gallery
115 Sedgwick Street in Millvale, PA.
Hours: Wed.Thurs.Fri.10-5 Sat10-3

Image borrowed from Kamau

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Polish Hill Arts Festival Today: Art: Crafts: Poetry and Post Apocalyptic Films @Gooski's

Remember, when Gooski's was the only place people knew about on Polish Hill--other than that gorgeous massive church. The story was this was a place for a few bars and people who now drank to much to leave the area. This was never exactly true, but it also wasn't an obviously, happening place either.

Today, it's all goin on there. 12-8 PM in Polish Hill.

Here's a preview with more details on Blogki, The Polish Hill Blog


The New Yinzer presents… Special Edition

July 18 @2PM
Lili Coffee*Shop
3138 Dobson St.

"Kristofer Collins is publisher and editor-in-chief of Low Ghost Press, co-director of the TNY Presents Performance Series, managing editor of The New Yinzer 2005-09, an occasional book reviewer for The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and owner of Desolation Row Records & CDs. A book of his poems entitled King Everything was published in 2007 by Six Gallery Press, The Book of Names was published by Low Ghost Press in 2008, and The Liturgy of Streets was published by Six Gallery Press in 2009. His most recent collection, Last Call, will be published by Speed & Briscoe in 2010.

Cyberpunk Apocalypse writer -in-residence Elwin Michael Cotman reads from his recently released dark collection of fantasies, The Jack Daniels Sessions EP, which combines urban fantasy, black folktale, punk rock, and magic brought to you by one of Pittsburgh’s most animated readers.

At the age of 20 Daniel McCloskey graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in fiction writing. At the age of 21 he founded the Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writers’ Co-op, and at 22 he finished a clean draft of his first novel which jumps between comics and prose. Daniel’s work has been printed in Urban Velo magazine, in his own Cyberpunk Apocalypse publication, and he has a two page comic set to come out in Shrunken Wool issue 8.

Amanda Reynolds left Pittsburgh in 2002 for hurricanes and alligators in Florida. There she received an MFA in poetry from the University of Florida and a PhD in poetry from Florida State University. Her poems have appeared in journals such as: Gargoyle, Alimentum, Gander Press Review, Mississippi Crow, and The Aurora Review among others. She has a poetry chapbook entitled Degrees of Separation forthcoming from Pudding House Press in 2010. She has recently returned home to Pittsburgh to teach and write about the city she loves."

Post Apocalyptic Films @ Gooski's

The Post Apocalyptic Movie Theater will be installed at Gooski’s during the Polish Hill Arts festival. The work, created/curated by Jessica Fenlon, incorporates the work of independent filmmakers. Watch this space for more details about the Post Apocalyptic Movie Theater.

Post Apocalyptic Movie Theater
July 18, 4-6PM
3117 Brereton St.

FYI, yes it may be slightly hard to find parking but it's worth it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Free Admission and Discounts At Over A Hundred Museums Could Make A Mattress Factory Membership Pay Off

OK, like most people we are looking at all expenses these days and even considering dropping our Household Membership to The Mattress Factory. (We didn't think too hard about this)

Remember while making any such calulation, that your support is desperately needed and also that Membership also can get you into tons of great art institutions nationwide as well as some in Canada and a few other places.

Members from one of the NARM institutions listed below, who present a membership card validated with a gold North American Reciprocal sticker, are entitled to the following privileges at participating museums: Free/member admission during regular museum hours, member discounts at museum shops, and discounts on concert/lecture tickets. Please note: Some museums restrict benefits. Please see notes at the bottom for more information

Check out the List

For example, this summer and fall, we may be in Virginia,

VIRGINIA Abingdon William King Museum

VIRGINIA Charlottesville University of Virginia Art Museum

VIRGINIA Norfolk The Hermitage Foundation Museum

VIRGINIA Portsmouth The Portsmouth Museums: The Children’s Museum of Virginia, The Courthouse Galleries, The Naval Shipyard Museum and The Lightship Portsmouth

VIRGINIA Richmond Virginia Center for Architecture

VIRGINIA Richmond Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

VIRGINIA Roanoke Taubman Museum of Art

VIRGINIA Williamsburg Muscarelle Museum of Art/Lamberson Hall, The College of William and Mary

And North Carolina

NORTH CAROLINA Asheville Asheville Art Museum

NORTH CAROLINA Boone Turchin Center for the Visual Arts/Appalachian State University

NORTH CAROLINA Chapel Hill The Ackland Art Museum

NORTH CAROLINA Charlotte ***#Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

NORTH CAROLINA Charlotte ***#Mint Museum of Art/Mint Museum of Craft + Design NORTH CAROLINA Durham *The Nasher Museum of Art/Duke University

NORTH CAROLINA Fayetteville Fayetteville Museum of Art

NORTH CAROLINA Greensboro Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art

NORTH CAROLINA Greensboro Weatherspoon Art Museum/University of North Carolina

NORTH CAROLINA Greenville The Greenville Museum of Art

NORTH CAROLINA Hickory Hickory Museum of Art

NORTH CAROLINA Raleigh North Carolina Museum of Art

NORTH CAROLINA Wilmington Cameron Art Museum

NORTH CAROLINA Winston-Salem Reynolda House Museum of American Art

NORTH CAROLINA Winston-Salem Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art

And New York

NEW YORK Albany Albany Institute of History & Art

NEW YORK Albany Irish American Heritage Museum

NEW YORK Buffalo Albright-Knox Art Gallery

NEW YORK Buffalo Burchfield-Penney Art Center/Buffalo State College

NEW YORK Cooperstown **#The Fenimore Art Museum / The Farmers’ Museum

NEW YORK Corning Corning Museum of Glass

NEW YORK East Hampton Guild Hall of East Hampton

NEW YORK East Meredith Hanford Mills Museum, Inc

NEW YORK Elmira Arnot Art Museum

NEW YORK Glens Falls The Hyde Collection

NEW YORK Hempstead Hofstra University Museum

NEW YORK Huntington Heckscher Museum of Art

NEW YORK Ithaca Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art/Cornell University

NEW YORK Katonah Katonah Museum of Art

NEW YORK Kinderhook Columbia County Historical Society

NEW YORK Long Island City SculptureCenter

NEW YORK New Paltz Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art/SUNY at New Paltz

NEW YORK New York American Folk Art Museum

NEW YORK New York The Asia Society

NEW YORK New York El Museo del Barrio

NEW YORK New York The Frick Collection

NEW YORK New York Museum of American Illustration

NEW YORK New York Museum of Arts & Design

NEW YORK New York Museum of Biblical Art

NEW YORK New York New-York Historical Society

NEW YORK New York The New York City Police Museum

NEW YORK New York Rubin Museum of Art

NEW YORK New York The Studio Museum in Harlem

NEW YORK Old Chatham The Shaker Museum and Library

NEW YORK Peekskill Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art

NEW YORK Purchase Neuberger Museum of Art

NEW YORK Rochester Memorial Art Gallery

NEW YORK Saratoga Springs Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College

NEW YORK Southampton The Parrish Art Museum

NEW YORK Syracuse Everson Museum of Art

NEW YORK Utica Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute

I mean some of those are very important institutions that can set you back a lot. Ten dollars is a pretty standard charge for many on this list, a few are more. Yes some have suggested admissions but how many people stiff museums? The Rubin Museum! The Asia Society! The American Folk Art Museum! El Museo del Barrio! The Albright Knox Gallery (normal admission $12)The Studio Museum in Harlem!

But then there are those little places, that one are hard to make the cut of paying for on their own. For example, The Sculpture Center in Long Island City Queens is a nice thing to swing by if your visiting PS1. but you might feel guilty about not dropping in the $5 suggested donation.

Likwise, I think certain membership levels at the museums on this list allow their members into listed Pittsburgh Institutions for Free. It's a pretty awesome reason to think a lot before dropping your membership. It's a long list including lots of America's must see Museums.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Car Free Saturdays In The Strip? Worth Thinking About.

OK, I am at the start of this going to predict that this is not happening any time soon.

Laura/Lolly @ Reimagine An Urban Paradise, comes to Pittsburgh with a new perspective and I find myself referring to her posts because, she sees the city somewhat like I do and also because, there just aren't many people posting on these subjects at all here, let alone actively debating them.

She, like me was inspired and envious of New York's now very popular and successful move to turn close Broadway in Times and Herald Square to cars. Something I posted about at least once. She wonders if we couldn't do this on busy Saturdays along a stretch of Penn Ave in the Strip.

"If you’ve ever walked down this packed shopping district on Saturdays in Pittsburgh you’ve noticed how crowded every spot is. Traffic moves slowly because there are so many people and those cars could easily be diverted onto the parallel streets.

If they can move cars off the main street of America, we can do it on the main street of Pittsburgh."

Yes, there are strong similarities. Both Times Square and the Strip have hectic active shopping areas in which cars, vendors and people fight for space (although we all know at other hours the Strip can be quite dead). However, the differences are also very big. Closing these small areas to cars was the easy reward New York could reap for having a dense, much more transit oriented city.

Over 1.5 million people live in Manhattan, with likely at several hundred thousand within a 30 block walking distance of Times Square. Many, millions more fill it's midtown office and shopping districts almost all of whom use a form of transit other than cars. In fact, I think, the stats show that 90% of the people in Times Square on a work day got there through some other form of Transit, from Subway, LIRR (To 34TH, Penn Station) ; Metro North (To nearby Grand Central), PATH (To Penn Station) City Bus, Express Bus, Ferry, Amtrak or by walking. Even so, the remaining ten percent was taking the bulk of space. (Although in honesty, NYC would have traffic issues just from delivery and needed service vehicles on a busy weekday)Even if I'm off on these numbers I'm not way off.

Sadly, Pittsburgh is not in that position and most people shopping in the Strip likely drove there.

While I support the idea and the thinking behind it, I'm pretty concerned that a big dead space of parking would be required around the pedestrian shopping area. If it was popular, People might demand a huge permanent amount of parking. Well, that's sort of what they are doing now anyway. But we have to move away from and make the city work for city residents and businesses.

This is part of my response to Lolly.

"If one actually wants to make lots of progress here, a lot more details and meat have to be put on these bones.

What happened in NYC, came after a large consensus already existed among business and property owners that this might be OK for them. They know, their customers are not driving into Times Square. NY or at least Manhattan, has generally engaged in a series of policies which enhanced the benefits of density, and thus progressively maximized the use and value of it’s land. We have done very much the opposite.

We need to get beyond the green and traditional leftist moralising and talk about why moves like this are likely to not only improve the quality of life for city residents, but increase business, lower costs, and increase property values. Denser development that extracted more value from the land would also allow for decent city services with lower tax rates.

Did you experience last years snow? Any guess as to what it cost to plow all those remote hills? The whole situation was absurd, since it was so obvious what the problem was. Narrow streets were blocked by parked cars and couldn't be cleared. Telling people to get them off the street for even a few hours was too politically difficult. Meanwhile, much of the best flat land in the city, is wasted on stadiums, surface parking lots, or highways.

The previous car oriented policies have so clearly not worked. In spite of efforts to hide it, the difference between The South Side and The North Side should be obvious to all.

What exactly is Transit Oriented Development and why is it so smart for Pittsburgh? That’s what we need to talk about.

Still, one needs to be somewhat understanding of Pittsburgh’s history. These flat areas were the central sites of Pittsburgh’s industry and many people still equate them with jobs, jobs, jobs. Even though the number of good jobs in the few trucking depots and warehouses in the Strip today is not very significant. A lot of folks still think they should wait and a big new mill will open. (Even though modern steel mills don’t need many workers)

Also, Pittsburghers for the same reason saw most of these places as dirty and undesirable. Notice that houses become fancier and more elegant the further one gets from the old waterfront mill sites?

The North Side’s “Millionaire’s row is a partial exception because it began to develop after Pittsburgh was industrial, but before the truly giant mills came into being in the late 19TH Century."

One very good idea that might help the Strip while enhancing density and promoting pedestrian shopping and development would be a free or very low cost mini shuttle or bus circulator running from The Downtown through Lawrenceville. even if it only ran a few hour it would give people idea of what is possible.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cleveland's Harvey Pekar Dead At Age 70

I am not close to an expert on the life or work of Harvey Pekar but I did see American Splendor. I also, had a fairly long friendship in NY with an ex girlfriend of Robert Crumb who's relationship with Pekar and illustrations for his writings helped create his grass roots legend.

Pekar was not just a guy who became famous who was from Cleveland, or a celebrity like LeBron (actually from Akron) who's legend could have formed anywhere with a big sports franchise. His life's work documented a strange, personal and very mundane life in the aging neighborhoods of a real American city. For many people, he represents Cleveland. Even after substantial fame and success, Pekar kept his day job as clerk at a VA hospital.

Read Merge's take on Pekar on his old blog from a few years back.

"I've since learned a lot about Pekar's life. To be honest, my initial thoughts were that his work was a bit slight. Yet there was something appealing about the quotidian accounts of his life, and my appreciation steadily grew. It's surprising how interesting the life of a file clerk can be. The levels of self-exposure and sincerity in his work make for a fascinating read. They help create a compelling depiction of a little-documented time and place. Most of his adult life was recorded in the American Splendor collections. We learn about his interests in Jazz and literature, and about his relationship with his wife and adopted daughter. He shares stories and observations of his co-workers and others that he interacts with. We see his struggles with money and notoriety."

Pekar on David Letterman

Pekar in a longer interview talking about his work.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More Small Press Tourism in Pittsburgh

As seen on the Short List in City Paper:
Mike Faloon (stories) and James Jay (poetry)
with ArtNoose (zinester)
Monday, July 12th
Cyberpunk Apocalypse House
5431 Carnegie St
Upper Lawrenceville
Free/Donations Appreciated

I'm very excited to welcome writer and editor, Mike Faloon to Pittsburgh tomorrow, Monday, July 12 at the wonderful Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writer's House. Mike will be reading from his new book of stories out on Gorsky Press, THE HANGING GARDENS OF SPLIT ROCK. He is touring with the poet James Jay, whose new book THE JOURNEYMEN, is also on Gorsky, a small press based in LA.

I have had the privilege of working with Mike through his truly great punk zine, GO METRIC, and I can attest to the fact that he's a hilarious storyteller. He also contributed to the Richard Leck Memorial Reading, and although he was not able to attend, you can see Tom Hendrickson reading Mike's very funny tribute to Richard on Youtube.

Do come out to the reading on Monday and support Small Press Tourism in Pittsburgh (Mike and James are on a reading tour from New York and Arizona respectively), the great venue Cyberpunk Apocalypse in Upper Lawrenceville, and three great readers: Cyberpunk resident Artnoose will represent as the local writer. And I can't promise, but there are often vegan treats at Cyberpunk events.

Read more about the books here.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Opening This Weekend: Art Exhibits

Opening TONIGHT 7-9 at Fe Gallery in Lawrenceville, "Cocoons and Mobile Homes". Work by Scott Turri (see above). I love this artist's work.
Also opening TONIGHT "Tar Baby Jane and Doo-Wop: Everything Useful for Your Modern Household Mercantile", a new exhibit by Vanessa German at 709 Penn Gallery, 6-8. Next week the artist will be doing an improvisational spoken-word performances at 709 at the July 16 Downtown gallery crawl. I have never seen one of her performances, so I hope I can get a space there next week....I think it will be jammed.
TOMORROW: The actual opening of Merge Divides (a writer for this blog) and David Grim's exhibit at Panza Gallery in Millvale (last Saturdays opening was actually a pre-opening). Lots of great work here. From City Paper:

If you don't think anyone uses phone books anymore, talk to David Grim. The artist's new exhibit Book of Life centers on more than 400 ink drawings he's made on phone-book pages. The show ("inspired by a childhood escape from religious conversion") opens tonight at Millvale's Panza Gallery. It runs alongside "Merge Divide," featuring photographs from Grim's photo blog of images from Pittsburgh's geographic neighborhood, called Crown of Appalachia. The opening reception is tonight. BO 6-9 p.m. Show runs through July 31. 115 Sedgwick St., Millvale. Free. 412-821-0959 or

Also Tomorrow: Made in Lawrenceville at Be Gallery. This looks really interesting....
it is....just what it says. Includes paintings by yet another DP (ie Pgh. Ohio, Youngstown etc) blogger Susan Constanse, who does beautiful abstract paintings in oils.
On July 10th, be Galleries celebrates Lawrenceville's thriving artistic community with the opening of Made in Lawrenceville (You'd be Surprised to Know), an exhibition featuring a wide range of art, materials, handmade goods, and other works created exclusively in Lawrenceville. The show will also exhibit fashion and textile design, soap-making, clay, printmaking, as well as more traditional painting and sculpture. The materials portion of the show will be curated by Janice Donatelli of Artemis Environmental while the art portion will be curated by gallery owner Joy Borelli-Edwards. Come and experience the creative energy of Lawrenceville live and in person!
Saturday, July 10, 2010
6 p.m.-9 p.m.
be Galleries, 3583 Butler Street, Lawrenceville, PA 15201
Sponsored by:
be Galleries and Artemis Environmental Building Materials,

Conflict Kitchen on NPR

I admit to still not catching the food from Conflict Kitchen yet even though I live pretty close by. Once one gets past the increasingly lame is it art questions and takes it as mostly a new opportunity to experience new foods and perhaps cultures on a different level it's great.

You see, Conflict Kitchen only serves food from countries we currently are in some type of conflict with--although often short of outright war and it's a product to a large extent of CMU's Art and Design departments.

Listen to
NPR's story on Conflict Kitchen

"In a few months, the grant-funded restaurant will switch countries — and cuisines. In September, it will serve food from Afghanistan. After that, maybe Venezuela or North Korea.

"You know what, it's delicious," says Joni Perri, a Kitchen regular who works nearby. "Every bite full, delightful. And it's just smashing that stereotypical myth that just because there is conflict in those countries ... I don't let it stop me from buying good food."

Weleski says what most people know about the featured countries is through the media. To prompt the discussion, she will host events such as live webcam meals with diners in Tehran."

Also read, the great post about it on Reimagine an Urban Paradise where she advocates a violent conflict with somebody with great vegetarian food. (not)

Sadly, a huge amount of historic cultural exchange has come through war as surviving soldiers bring back wounds; internal scars; memories of lost friends and sometimes fond affection for the great food "over there."

Apparently it worked that way in Iraq.

"Minutes after the place opened, Travis Post, a Marine captain from Oklahoma who had been stationed in Iraq for seven months, pulled up in his car. "So you've really got shawarma back there?" Mr. Post asked, referring to the spicy grilled meat sandwich popular throughout the Middle East.

"You want one?" asked Ms. Hazime's husband, Crisantos Hajibrahim, who was working the cash register.

"Heck, yeah!" Mr. Post responded. While training Iraqi police, he had shared meals with locals daily. "There was a lot of lamb in my life," he says."

Thursday, July 08, 2010

OK, I Lied : LEBRON May Come up Again

Should have known this was a promise I couldn't keep. Like it or not it will be hard to ever talk about Cleveland again without a potential follow up or mentioning his name.

Good luck, Cleveland. Take it for what it was, a relationship with a mortal athlete, with at the least some big problems being sensitive. The issue really is why did you have this much at stake here?

This is the deal, Pittsburgh keeps quiet about King James and Cleveland keeps quiet if the Ben disaster gets any worse. Let's get back to making our cities great.

FYI, I did not see his show but no doubt I will be forced to.

First and Last LEBRON JAMES Post

Warning--if you are looking for an inside dope post about pro basketball and LeBron James's (correct spelling all in caps, in flashing lights) relative merits, stats, as a player, which team should go after him and how much should they pay, this is not it. The bottom line is he's real, real, good at what he does and lots of teams want him. It's also not, a prediction about where he might choose to go--although the safe bet now is that he stays in Cleveland.

This is more a comment on what looks to be the humiliation of an entire city/ region by one person looking to swell his ego.

Just look at the #Lebron James twitter talk

A great Sports Illustrated take.

"But Jordan had a different kind of ego. LeBron needs the adoration. Jordan needed to dominate. When Jordan ended his baseball career and returned to the NBA, he did not go on Larry King or feed speculation for months. He put out a two-word press release: "I'm back." He knew that was enough. He knew that what the world really wanted was Jordan on a basketball court, not Jordan in an hour-long TV special.

In so many ways, LeBron James should be a better player than Michael Jordan -- he is two inches taller and 35 pounds heavier, just about as explosive, a better shooter at this age and with better court vision. But if you could somehow suspend the laws of time and space and get the 25-year-old Jordan and the 25-year-old James on the same court, you would have to go with M.J., because he wouldn't worry about pregame theatrics or postgame speculation. He would spend every minute trying to rip James' heart out."

Others aren't so nice. The word Asshole is coming up a lot, even from some Cleveland fans. LeBron James Is A Cocksucker expresses some things that have come into my head.

It doesn't matter where he opts to go. If he goes to Chicago, he's a cocksucker. If he goes to Miami, he's a cocksucker. Even if he goes back to Cleveland, he's a goddamn cocksucker. He's a self-aggrandizing sack of shit, and ESPN is a bunch of pussy-whipped enablers for giving him a free hour of airtime tomorrow night and inevitably using 55 minutes of it to let Stu Scott give him a rimjob.

Look at what Kevin Durant did today. He signed an extension well before he could have filed for free agency, announced the signing, and then went back about his business. He didn't need all this dog-and-pony show bullshit. James does, and that means he's a dipshit. People have been kissing this man's ass SINCE FUCKING MIDDLE SCHOOL, and he still needs this hourlong AFI tribute special? Bullshit. BULLSHIT.

Without going to far into the metaphor, we know what is meant. The anger is so great because this type of sports star behavior is now so common. Pittsburgh, so far has been lucky until Ben showed up, to have avoided a lot of it.

King James indeed.

But the rational question to ask is how could a whole city respect itself so little, to feel like something like this matters. Perhaps if we paid more attention to the real citizens, businesses and and assets we have and knew more about them and supported them we wouldn't be in these kinds of spots and groveling to these so called kings.

Really, really do you think nobody would want to visit, work or live in your city without LeBron or a tiny number of other teams, or mega asset attractions? If that's true, something has gone terribly wrong.

Cleveland Furniture and Millwork Fair Puts Spotlight On Local Amish Woodcraft

Really overwhelmed with things I should be posting about which almost always results in depression and a brain freeze. The Lebron (oh, I mean LEBRON!!!) and Mellon Arena stuff is making me ill.

I don't think either Cleveland or Pittsburgh have done a very good job at filling the traditional role of cities as convenient places to see and exchange regionally made or grown goods. Yet this is a function that's desperately needed. Trade is the killer Ap of cities and in spite of the convention centers we still seem pretty ambivalent about it.

Pittsburgh is know as The Paris of Appalachia, but have we ever hosted a real big Appalachian music or craft festival playing on the regional wealth so close by?

Likewise, the region to the north and west is filled with many skilled fine Amish crafts. Wouldn't it be easier to show them off in a larger city like Cleveland? Trade is for girly, cities like New York, seems to be the attitude, but in reality, manufacturing can't really happen without it.

People have been batting around the idea of a Downtown Cleveland design district for several years, but the failing economy but it on ice. Now, new energy has been found in the nearby Amish communities of North East Ohio.

"At the proposed District of Design, Amish furniture makers could be a key tenant. They offer a distinctive, regional product that could catch the eye of big buyers, officials said.

The guild likes the idea and considers the furniture fair a test of the concept, said Shasta Mast, director of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau.

"It's a great opportunity for them to really test the waters as far as exhibiting in an urban setting," Mast said Monday. "It will be the first time many have done that."

Furniture makers and artisan woodworkers will attend seminars July 14 and 15 on the latest designs and color trends, Hill said.

Architects and furniture buyers, including those for college dormitories in Ohio, will attend. Some will lead a seminar for furniture makers to learn how to do business with buyers, Hill said.

"It's a professional show but we also want to celebrate the hardwood furniture industry, because people don't realize how big it is," Hill said."

Really sounds like a killer ap here, if done right, playing on local resources and advantages.

From Cool Cleveland

The activities will kick off Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. with a catered V.I.P. reception to be held at the Halle Building. Fair hours will be held from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Public viewing hours will be from 3 to 7 p.m. both Wednesday and Thursday. The hours between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. will be reserved for furniture wholesalers and other large buyers. Display models will be available for sale to the general public after 5 p.m. on Thursday the 15th.

Halle Building – 1212 Huron Rd.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Youngstown Story on BBC America Friday : "Rust Belt Chique"

Still looking at the Levi's Braddock campaign and up pops another story about the "trendy Rust Belt", this time focusing on Youngstown. Hat tip to Burgh Diaspora.

Friday, the BBC America series will air the third part of it's Rust Belt profiles series with a look at Youngstown.

The stories of these places have never seemed more interesting or relevant to lots of people.

For whatever reason, I was not able to load any of these videos. Hope you have better luck.

Letter From Youngstown : Can The Idora Park Carousel Return?

I may be crossing a bit of a line in publishing this email I received about the Idora Park Carousel, the last major fragment left of a beloved local amusement park. Read my earlier post about it. I replied to the email with a request to post it but haven't heard back. I am taking a shot at publishing it. It's the only small thing I can do to try to make something happen. It's up to the people of Youngstown to show they want it back and can realistically show it the love it deserves.

Hopefully this will catch someone's eye and spark some movement.

"Hello , I am a proud resident of Youngstown Ohio. I was loking for some information on the Beautiful Idora Park Carousel. I call her " Idora" . I do realize that she has been beautifully restored, and resides under some bridge, in Brooklyn, NY. I have also heard that she is not particularly wanted there In her new( hopefully temporary) home. My heart aches, just thinking that Idora ( the carousel) is not wanted there, and we sincerly want her back. Idora belongs in Youngstown Ohio. OK she was put on the auction block. I was pretty young when the Idora Carousel was auctioned off. Not that I had the money to purchase her,but I believed, like I know many here in Youngstown, felt that one of our more well to do, residents would step up and rescue " Our Beloved Carousel" Unfortunatly that did not happen, and we lost Idora. It is a great loss for our area, and we still feel the loss today. We want her back. I realize that a Jane Walensa bought, and restored her, and that is something to be thankful for. Knowing that Jane loves her also help a little. However Idora belongs here in Youngstown Ohio, It's her home. Perhaps Mrs. Jane Walensa can offer to give her back to her hometown. I am sure that even Jane would want The Idora Park Carousel , to be settled in a place that truly loves her , and wants her back. It was a huge mistake to let her be auctioned off so easily, without fighting for her. It was a bad time for our city, at that particular point in time. We had lost our steel mills,and our economy was hiting theskids. We were in shock. Trying to figure out what happened to our economy, and where do we go from here. then the fire hit Idora Park, and the owner decided to auction off what was left. Our town has finally after long last had some great breaks lately, and we are on our way back, hopefully, thank God. all I know is, that whenever Idora Park is mentioned, The next words words are always the same. The Carousel should never have been on the auction block, and let go the way it did. Help us get her back."

Thank you.

It's a strange, sad situation with the potential for a very happy ending.

A little context might help which I might give in a later post. Just like the reader of the letter, what upset me most is that it's mostly not wanted in NY, or at least in the place Jane wants to put it.

This is similar to the Mellon Arena, Lower Hill story, in that you can't easily separate an object or buildings value or meaning from it's historical and cultural setting.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Opening July 3rd Saturday at Panza Gallery, Merge Divide and David Grim

Our own Merge Divide is having an exhibit at Panza Gallery.....Merge Divide "Images from Crown of Appalachia", along with David Grim, "Book of Life". 6-9p.m. for the opening reception. Having seen some of the work, I know this exhibit will be very, very good. For images and more details go to Pittsburgh Art Blog: