Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of adoption of the Constitution (1787) and the battle of Antietam (1862).  Holidays include Japan’s Respect of the Aged Day and Jewish Rosh Hashanah.  Birth anniversaries include Chief Justice Warren Burger (1907), baseballer Andrew (Rube) Foster (1879), C & W star Hank Williams (1923), Prussian born Revolutionary General Baron Von Steuben (1730), Orville Wright’s passenger that was killed when the plane crashed Thomas Selfridge (1908) and tennis pro Maureen Connolly (1934).

Holy Cow, business has absolutely unbelievable.  We had an 87% occupancy in August and we will go over that in September!  August I was frequently serving 18 – 20 guests breakfast DURING THE WEEK.  A lot of leisure travelers.  September we have a lot of business travelers.  Even though we’re sold out frequently during the week, I may only have 8 or 10 for breakfast, since most business travelers are single.  And my international trade is way up.  We had a Scottish family in for a week several weeks ago, currently we have a gentleman originally from Iraq that lives and works in Australia, and a couple from Singapore in for several days for the same convention.  I received a reservation today from a couple from Mexico coming in for a Steelers game.  I should sit down and make a list of all my foreign guests to see if there’s a pattern.

The 709 Gallery on Penn Avenue is hosting a show by artist Tina Williams Brewer through November 16.  The show is of her quilts and she does them overlapping printed, dyed and various materials to create her images.  African American of heritage, she reaches back to her heritage to use old hieroglyphs and symbols to tell stories.  Most of her imagines are based on mandalas, the ancient Hindu/Buddhist symbol for the universe.  These circles are the center piece of her work.   Tina needs to update her website, a show from 2011 is still listed and Pittsburgh Trust Arts needs to update their website to reflect this show.  But you can see images of what Tina does on her website and the hours, etc for 709 Gallery are at least on that website.  I love that African/Caribbean art.

They estimate that almost half of Americans have had personal or financial information hacked from corporate computers.  And this is not going to let up, it’s just going to get worse, so prepare for it.  By far, most of it is by Chinese or Russian (many formerly Russian republics).  Why go rob a bank, when they can sit on their butt and hack into computers continents away and they don’t have to worry about the police showing up at their door.  You can’t stop it, but you can take precautions.  Use your credit card as much as possible, versus your debit card.  Credit card companies protect your money much better than banks.  Once hackers have access to your bank account, they can siphon off all your $ and there’s not much you can do at that point.  If your at location that takes your credit card out of your sight (many restaurants have there machines back an a pantry kind of area), use your credit card, not your debit card. In particular, use your credit card for all online purchases.  Most hackers seem to do a test run of maybe $10 and keep increasing it until your dry.  I use Slovak Savings Bank and they are incredibly vigilant.  I also use USAA for my credit cards, they also are extremely customer service centered and watch my back.  As always, get your free credit report directly from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.  You are entitled for a free credit report once a year and more than that if there’s suspicious activity on your card.  Most credit card companies alert you of large and suspect purchases.  You can request alerts for most any amount, if you want. The solution (at least until the hacker figure out how to break this system) is going to the form used by most other developed countries, using a microchip instead of a magnetic strip.  But that’s going to cost a lot of money for the card issuers to create all new cards and businesses to buy the new machines.  But at the rate these hackers are stealing from us, it’s about time we make the switch.

While we are on the subject of money, I would like to encourage you to have a conversation with friends and family.  Don’t make it accusatory or anything that would put people off.  Most states allow credit collection companies to garner 25% of a persons salary to pay off a dept!  They also allow credit collection agencies to confiscate ALL of the money you may have saved up in a bank account.  They main way they get away with this is people don’t show up for a court hearing.  If someone receives a summons for a court hearing on a debt, DON’T IGNORE IT.  They win by default, even if it’s not your debt, a minor debt, a debt you can correctly fight.  The attorneys representing the debt collection agencies make their money on how many judgements they get in their favor, so they ALWAYS show up for the hearing.  Another ploy they use is to request a postponement when you do show up.  They know how they can legally do this and will do it repeatedly until you get fed up and don’t show up for one of the hearings.  Again, they win by default.  Collection agencies are on record for charging up to 200% interest on the amount owed!  Usually the people in this fix are ones on the lower end of the income scale that are busy working two jobs or such trying to make ends meet.  Frequently their recent grads trying to get started and work long hours and trying to create a new life for themselves.   (But that’s not always the case).  If you know someone that might be in such a situation, have a general conversation that you can bring this up without offending them that “they can’t manage their money.”  This is a very scary thing.

Edgar Kaufmann was one of the most innovative merchandisers of his time, and he was a huge fan of the arts.  In 1929, he commissioned Boardman Robinson to create a a series of 10 huge paintings they called the History of Commerce.  Mr. Kaufmann did a radical thing with his remodeling of the first floor of his Downtown store in the early 1930’s, he put the counters at angles and hung this artwork from the ceilings.  There were there for 25 – 30 years and then came down for a future remodel.  These huge paintings (8′ x 15′) couldn’t fit anywhere for easy storage and because of there size, Kaufmann couldn’t find a museum to take them.  Robinson eventually went out to Colorado and co-founded the Colorado Springs Art Center and the paintings are now stored there in a climate controlled vault.

Have I told you lately I love our new mayor?  Other than like last last clown that sent a crew out slapping down bicycle lane stickers all over the place and declaring us a bike friendly city, Mayor Peduto is taking his time and thinking about how to incorporate bicycle exclusive lanes connecting different areas of the city.  These lane will connect to our many trails and bicyclist will be able to safely navigate the city.  I think I spoke about the diverse and highly educated and experienced people he’s been bringing in to run the city, instead of the ole ‘burg thing of appointing cronies to various positions.  Case in point is our new police chief, Cameron McLay.  A thirty five year police veteran that is known for community involvement and inclusion.  This past weekend, he went to FOP softball game in Brookline to meet with off duty officers to see what their concerns are.  And he didn’t take office until this past Monday.  He’s aware of the racial tensions in the city and called from his old home while coordinating his move here various leaders of stake holder organizations around town to introduce himself.  And supposedly this was strictly on his own, no prompting by Mayor Peduto or others in his office (and I believe this).

I’m a big fan of non-conventional things, in particularly banks.  I know I rant about the greedy SOB’s frequently.  I’ve talked about Kickstarter and the other crowd funding sources, but they are basically charity where you might get a tee shirt or something.  There’s a new thing out there for peer to peer lending sites on the Internet.  Lending Club is the largest, closely followed by Prosper.  While traditional bank lending has been decreasing around 2% per quarter, these options have been growing at 84% per quarter.  Now granted, the percentage is huge because they are so small compared to traditional lenders, but the options are there.  Since they are not a part of the traditional banking system, they write their own qualifications.  Naturally, they want to know what you want the money for, what your assets and liabilities are, but they also have the creative options to take SAT scores into account for new grads and other non-traditional ways to determine credit worthiness.  Though the interest rates on these loans can run from 6% to 40%, depending on your credit worthiness, they usually are less than what credit cards charge.  And the cool thing about this is if you have some extra cash, you can become a lender.  A lot better return than the 1% your bank’s giving you on you savings account (if you can get that much).

Enjoy this cool Fall weather,

ed

Hi,

I posted this last night from my old computer and it didn’t seem to go out right, so I’m resending from the new computer.

Tomorrow the anniversary of the first electric lighting by Thomas Edison in lower Manhattan (1882), the founding of Los Angelos (1781) and Captain America premiered on TV (1954).  Birth anniversaries include architect & city planner Daniel Burnham (1846), French poet Francois Chateaubriand (1768), first lady Sarah Polk (1803) and broadcaster Paul Harvey (1918).

Did you know bacteria accounts about 2% of our body mass?  Yet they outnumber our human cells by 10 to 1.  The reason for this is their small size.  They are critical for our survival doing such things as aiding in digestion and fighting off disease.  There’s enough bacteria in our bodies that could fill a 1/2 gallon milk jug.  Scientists have studied how personal bacteria is to us, although we all have bacteria, we all have our own personal group living in/with us.  The scientists have been able to determine who lives in which house by matching their unique set of bacteria with those found in their house.  Almost like a DNA signature.  These people that are obsessed with antibacterial soaps, lotions, and the such are off the mark.  Bacteria is so important for our health, that one of the frequent side effects of using an antibacterial regiment to fight an illness frequently get diarrhea and other side affects.  It’s in our own bacteria’s self interest to fight of new bacteria, that’s why they are so important to our immune systems.  It’s OK to clean up your kitchen and sanitize it, just don’t be overly zealous with this, we need our microscopic buddies.  :)

The hotel industry is learning from the airline industry.  Though hotels have always had their overt fees (like minibars) and hidden fees (like you can’t park your car in their parking facility, you have to pay their valet), like the airlines, they are taking it to new levels.  Your flight doesn’t leave until 6 pm, check-out is by 11 am.  Some hotels are now charging to store your luggage.  Some hotels charge you $2.50 per night for in-room safes, whether you use it or not.  On top of the $5 they charge you for that can of soda out of the minibar, there can be up to an 18% restocking fee.  Some hotels charge up to $25 to store your stuff in the minibar.  Some hotels are taking the playbook right out of the airlines, what express check-in?  There’s a fee for that.  Want an early or late check-in, check-out, there’s a fee for that as well.  When booking, if you want anything specific on the room (farther from the elevator, view, bed size, etc), yep there’s a fee for that as well.  This is one of the reasons I left the corporate hotel scene and opened my own Inn.  What to avoid the hidden fee game, come and visit The Parador:)

West View residents are starting their own food pantry at Ridgewood Church with a Performing Arts Festival at their Bronx Field on Center Avenue.  They have nine acts lined up to perform from noon to 8 pm next Saturday.  They have a wide variety of musical styles from soloists, rap, hip-hop alternative and the closing act will be Johnny Angel and the Halos.  Johnny Angel (aka Jack Hunt) is from nearby Brighteon Heights and has his own store there Ginchy.  They also will have food, games and art.  Admission is canned or at least shelf stable food to stock their pantry.  More info at 412-931-1313.

Also next weekend, A Fair in the Park will be back in Mellon Park in Shadyside.  Friday from 1 – 7 pm, Saturday from 10 am – 7 pm and Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm.  They will again have over 100 booths featuring jewelry, ceramics, glass, wood, metal, fiber, paper, leather, mixed media and more.  Live music, kids activities and food will also be there.  A lot of cool stuff for pursuing and maybe buying.  Besides a list of local sponsors, they even have the New York Times as one of their sponsors.

The Harvest Home Dinner will be celebrating it’s 125th year as a fund raiser for St Alphonsus Church in Pine September 6 from 1 – 6:30 pm.  Fresh produce from Shenot Farm, Soergel Orchards, Eichner Farm and Wexford Farms all donate fresh produce for the event.  Last year 600 volunteers prepared 1,061 dinners, they hope to surpass that. Dinners are just $13 for adults ($15 for carry out) and $7 for children ($8 for carry out).  More info at 724-935-1151.

Another church fundraising food fest with a Lebanese twist will be held at Our Lady of Victory Maronite Catholic Church in Scott.  The Lebanese Food Festival will run from 11 am – 10 pm September 12 & 13 and from noon – 6 pm September 14.  200 volunteers created meals for 5,000 guests at last year’s event.  Things you can expect will be kibbee, roasted chicken, lamb kabob, tabbouleh, grape leaves and  much more.  This fund raiser has been going on since 1979.  More info at their website or by calling 412-278-0841.

On Sunday, September 14, it’s the 50 year anniversary of the Beatles first and only concert in Pittsburgh.  Tickets were $5.50!  :)  There’s several events scheduled, the largest will be Beatlemania Now at the Benedum Center at 8 pm on September 13.  Tickets are $36.95 and $48.95.  Beatles tribute band The American Tour 64 will headline other tribute bands that influenced the Beatles.  The include tribute bands of Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.  Long time Pittsburgh concert promoter Pat DiCesare (who brought the Beatles to Pittsburgh and many other concerts) will be signing his book Hard Days, Hard Nights: From the Beatles, to the Doors, to the Stones, Insider Stories Fram a Legendary Concert Promoter (quite the long title).  :)  Greensburg’s Palace Theater will be having a Beatles tribute band on September 17 starting at 8 pm.  Their tickets are $40 – $65.  From 11 am – 8 pm this Friday and from 11am – 6 pm on Sunday there will be a Beatles Rock Art Show and Sale in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel.  Ron Campbell will be on hand.  Ron is an artist and animator of the Beatles Yellow Submarine movie.

Kyle Holbrook founded Moving Lives of Kids Art Center (nicknamed MLK) in 2002.  He pairs youth with artists and together they create murals throughout the city to beautify neighborhoods and teach kids art skills and discipline.  Kyle also introduce youths to careers they may not have considered like graphic design or working behind the scenes of movie and theater production.  This year, 87 youths have created 15 murals around the city (one right up the street from me by the intersection of Brighton and California which is where the Pittsburgh Conservancy’s garden that The Parador sponsors.)   The kids work four to six weeks creating each mural and earn a stipend for their efforts.  Kyle has taken his program overseas to such locations like Uganda and Portugal.  A great program for kids and the adults that guide them.

Tomorrow, the Travel Channel’s filming at The Parador!  They have that series The Dead Files about paranormal.  They are investigating an old mansion in Homewood and the location is fine for the paranormal, but not real pretty.  So they’re doing the “exit interviews” with the paranormal, historian, etc in our Parlor.  This could be HUGE!

Business is still unbelievable, take care and enjoy,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the civil rights march on Washington (1963), like an early Google, radio figured out they could make money off advertisng (1922) and Jamaica’s Port Royal hurricane (1722).  Birth anniversary include film star Charles Boyer (1889), Vaudeville performer Donald O’Connor (1925), first lady Lucy Hayes (1831), naturalist Roger Peterson (1908) and German author/poet Johann Goethe (1749).

Apparently, when we rebuilt my website, we disconnected my Twitter feed.  It’s back up.  :)

Not to beat a dead horse, we are again setting a new record.  July was the biggest month EVER at either Parador (Pittsburgh as well as Palm Beach) and August is going to beat that, hands down.  We haven’t had less than 10 guests for breakfast each morning.  Generally it’s been 14 to 20, and I’m talking weekdays!  And it looks like we’re going to be on The Travel Channel this fall!  They are going to use the Parlor for the interview of their most popular show, The Dead Files.  They’re not doing a paranormal investigation here or anything like that, they’re just shooting the interview between hosts Steve and Amy and their experts here.  Six minutes, one million viewers.  :)

And of course during all this business, my computer died.  I bought a new commercial reach-in refrigerator and knew it would fit through the door.  What I didn’t account for was the ice machine doesn’t move.  The delivery guys from Penn Fixture had a real hard time getting it in, there’s a number of gouges in the tile floor, a big crease where the new refer fell into the ice machine and the coup de grace was when they knocked the statue of a chef my nephew bought me onto my computer killing my computer screen.  I’m addicted to my computer.  I do all my own marketing, accounting, data base, reservations, Welcome Letters, etc.  And for it to die in the middle of all this business was just nuts.  So as much as I hate big box stores, I went out to HH Gregg for a new Toshiba .  They only had the floor model of the one I wanted, so I told them to un-program the demo software and return it to factory standards.  Billy the sales associate and JC his boss both seemed well informed and knowledgeable.  In the mean time, JC offered me a screen I could plug into my old computer so I could do my work until the reprogramming was complete.  I eventually brought it home, had my computer guy Mike install my programs and carry my files from the old computer to the new (he could do it without the screen).  All is fine, I thought!  Friday, it was working fine in the kitchen that afternoon.  I closed it up, took it to the Office that evening.  I took a shower and settled in for the night and went to check my e-mails and the screen wouldn’t come up.  It was turning on, but the screen wouldn’t work.  I tried several times that evening (what is it they say about insanity is trying the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result?).  :)  So Saturday I took it back to HH Gregg and encountered JC’s replacement Eddie.  What an idiot, he’s why I don’t shop big box.  Someone that doesn’t know what their doing and so they blame everyone else.  He first blamed my computer guy, he then blamed a virus, he kept deflecting the problem instead of trying to figure out what’s wrong.  The screen finally came back on and Eddie said “it’s fixed”.  After a terse conversation (I knew I wasn’t going anywhere with him), I took it home with him saying don’t worry you still have two weeks left on your 30 day warranty.  (Stupid me, I should have backed up my accounting and data base and didn’t).  ):   Sunday, the screen did the same thing.  So Monday, after breakfast, I go out to HH Gregg to return the computer and get a new one.  (My opinion, the demo power system was damaged from being “on” all day long on display).  Luckily, Eddie wasn’t working.  Billy and JC were both on shift and it was quickly, politely and professionally handled.  Now I had to get Mike back to transfer the files AGAIN, and this time I had to recreate all my accounting transactions from receipts, printed checks, credit card receipts, etc for two weeks.  (I made Ty do the data base.)  :)  So I’m back in the saddle with a totally functioning computer and a happy camper.

So this is why you haven’t heard from me for a bit.

Speaking of publicity, we were just in The Trib.  The title of the article, “Who needs coastline? Pittsburgh has its own sandy retreats” and talks about various Pittsburgh businesses that have a beach theme, like Kelly’s Down by the Riverside Saloon, Paradise Island Bowl & Beach, Sandcastle, Cabana Bar, Rumfish Grille, and how can you talk about the beach without including The Parador Inn. They missed a few local tropical retreats like Redfin Blues

Roberto Clemente was the first Latino player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Not only was he a huge superstar on the field, he was a real role model for kids growing up in the sixties and early seventies.  He overcame numerous obstacles and never lost sight of who he was and what he believed in.  Hearing the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza was stealing relief supplies Roberto was involved in collecting and sending down there. Somoza was selling the supplies on the black market.  Roberto decided to fly down with the supplies to ensure the supplies got to the people who needed them.  That’s the famous plane crash that took his life.  New Hampshire playwright Alki Steriopoulos (a Pittsburgh native) has written a musical 21, based on Roberto’s life from childhood in Puerto Rico through his untimely death.  Point Park University will be premiering the musical in October at The Pittsburgh Playhouse.

At the age of 89, Lauren Bacall recently passed away, what a great actress and lady.  The Fashion Institute of Technology is opening a museum showcasing hundreds of items of clothing she donated.  It is slated to open next spring.  Lauren worked with many clothing designers and had an extensive collection of one of a kind garments.  Lauren started modeling at the age of 16 and by 19 she was discovered by Harper’s Bazaar and from there, Hollywood found her.  She possessed a subtle seductiveness and yet was full of fire and self confidence.  She will be missed.

The “Deer” at Carrie Furnace National Historic Landmark was created by George Davis, Liz Hammond, Tim Kaulen, John Latell, Mike McFadden, Joe Small, Tim Yohman and Bob Ziller 17 years ago as a “pop-up” art installation.  It was never intended to last this long and since it has, and is suffering from the elements.  The Deer has created quite the following.  Rivers of Steel, the nonprofit in Homestead that owns the site and is trying to turn Carrie Furnace into a regional attraction includes the Deer in the tours they offer.  I’ve talked about Rivers of Steel in the past.  They occupy this very nondescript building on 8th Avenue in Homestead that you could very easily pass without noticing it.  But they are huge, I forget the number of people that pass through their doors or do their tours, but it’s massive  They started an effort to restore and stabilize the Deer and they started a Kickstarter campaign a couple of weeks ago.  They’ve actually raised the $5K minimum needed and have 18 days left in their campaign left.

It’s that time of year again for you medieval folks, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival is in full swing out in West Newton.  It runs Saturdays and Sundays (also Labor Day) through September 28 from 10:30 am until 6:30 pm.  They feature swordsmanship, jousting and other medieval sports.  The Washing Well Wenches will again be performing their comedy routines and performing pipe and drum shows. As well as arts and crafts and a wide array of food services both contemporary and medieval.

The Pittsburgh Public Market will be opening a new service next month and I’d say it’s long over due for such a facility in Pittsburgh.  They are opening a shared commercial kitchen on September 15.  I have an official commercial kitchen and have been approached on several occasions but start-ups wanting to use my space until they can get on their feet.  It’s a bit of a pain for me, I’m not a traditional restaurant doing breakfast prep, followed by lunch prep followed by dinner prep, but I do use the kitchen throughout the day.  For example when I have a free hour to make bread for tomorrow in the afternoon.  I had one start up I knew and let them use my kitchen, I charged a nominal fee.  Every time they left, if the kitchen was left as clean as when they arrived I was lucky.  Usually I at least had to wipe everything down again.  They mopped the floor once in the four months until I told them they had to clear out.  It’s not in my job description to follow up and point out what they missed.  Being a commercial kitchen run as a rental unit ($17.50 per hour), they’ll be set up with someone who’s job is to be sure the kitchen’s left as it should be and the hourly fee would cover a clean-up crew to do heavy cleaning.  The kitchen’s going to be available 24/7, so if you need to come in at night after your day job, you can pursue your cooking.  They have on-site lockable storage available (I don’t know if this includes refrigerated space as well, or just for your knives, etc).  It will be production designed, so I imagine if you are hosting that party for 100 guests in your home, you could probably rent it, get everything done on a commercial scale.  Doing quantities of food in a commercial space is SO much easier than in a normal home kitchen.  They plan on eventually expanding the kitchen into the vendor area so they can offer cooking classes and demos.  A great addition to the Public Market.  I haven’t been in the Market since they moved to 2401 Penn Avenue several months ago, I need to check out their new digs.

The Pittsburgh Biennial is celebrating their 20th year through November 2 at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside, in fact, it’s grown to include space inside the Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  On display will be the works of two dozen artists with Pittsburgh connections.  Most will be mixed media or installation type pieces.  One of the pieces, Steve Gurysh‘sThe Long Cloud is a print that used 2 ounce of uranium (yes the dangerous stuff).  Don’t fear, it’s encased in thick plastic and concrete with a Geiger counter  attached so you know if there’s any leakage.  There’s Chris Beauregard‘s The Smudge which is an axe embedded in a wall and it’s wrapped in bundles of sage (I’m sure you are aware the belief that to take sage, light it and carry it around letting the smoke drift in the corners of your house/room to cleanse the room/house of troublesome bad spirits/energy).  There also the floor to ceiling creation by Eli Blasko‘s A Plot in Perpetual Flux with an interesting use of pillows, flowers and stairs reminiscent of an MC Escher print.  The show’s put on by non-profits and they suggest a $5 donation.

Tom Atkin’s one-man show, The Chief, will air on WPXI (Channel 11) at 8 pm on August 30.  It’s the story of Art Rooney, the founder of the Steelers.  The Chief was first performed at the Pittsburgh Public Theater in 2003 and had sold out crowds for the seven years of it’s performances. It’s set in Rooney’s office at the old Three Rivers Stadium and features the straight talking, cigar smoking legend talking about his youth growing up on the Northside through the Steelers rough start through the glory days of repeated Super Bowl Victories.  It was recorded in 2009 and it’s pretty impressive that it will air on prime time.

That’s it for now,

ed

 

 

 

Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Atlantic Charter between Britain and the US agreeing to mutual goals (1941), VJ Day (1945), the Social Security Act was passed (1935), the Cologne Cathedral was completed (1880) and the Navajo Code Talkers Day.  Birth anniversaries include biologist Ernest Just (1883) and the comic ballad Casey at Bat author Ernest Thayer (1863).

I had one hell of a day yesterday.  For some reason, payroll decided to take the money out of my account a day early.  Luckily, Slovak Savings Bank is a small bank that watches out for their customers and we got everything straitened out quickly.  The two door refrigerator in the cold kitchen died for the third time this weekend and I went to Penn Fixture on Monday and got a replacement.  Didn’t measure the clearance at the door/ice machine space and I’m not even going to re-live that.  In course of battling the new reefer, that statue of a chef my nephew gave me that sits on the ice machine was knocked down and fell on the little table next to it I use as a desk.  Spoiler alert, I keep my computer on it during the day.  After we got the new refrigerator in, they left and I got it cleaned up and turned on; I went to check my e-mails.  We cracked the screen on my computer.  The mechanics were (are) fine, but I can’t use the Icons to access the different programs, can’t type or do anything.  I am so incredibly dependent on my computer (and business is HUGE this month.  Even bigger than last month-over 200 room nights sold already!).  So I went to HH Greg to get a new one.  Of course the computer I wanted they were out of stock, they only had the floor model.  The sales guy said it would take an hour or so to un-install the floor model stuff and return it to factory specs.   I went back 2 hours later to get it and it was only 50% complete.  The manager said it takes up to 5 hours sometimes.  I threw a minor (but polite) fit and they gave me a monitor I can use until I finish check-ins tonight and run back out there to pick up the new computer.  That’s what I’m using to finally finish this post.  Hopefully I can get the new computer up and running tomorrow with all theprograms I use.

It must be in the water.  You’ve heard me complaining about the developer Buncher in the Strip District that wanted all kinds of subsidies to develop his 55 acres behind the Terminal building.  And he also wanted to tear down 1/3 of that historic building to put a road to access his property.  That was the only thing acceptable to him, he even threatened not to build the project if he didn’t get his way.  Yea, right, like he’s going to walk away from such a massive undertaking because he couldn’t tear down the Terminal Building.  I generally referred to him as the Evil Empire.  Now Charles Hammel from Mount Lebanon who owns Pitt-Ohio Express in the Strip is using a loophole to cheat the city out of $2M in transfer taxes.  He received $2.9M in state grants, $1M in a URA low-interest loan and a ten year tax abatement to build the wildly successful (ie profitable) Cork Factory Apartments.  Now he wants to do a slight of hand in selling it undervalued to avoid paying taxes you and I have to pay when buying or selling a property in the city.  The other Evil Empire player in this game, Dan McCaffery, CEO of MaCaffery Industries says, and I quote “It’s another one of those instances where you do something that’s perfectly legal and those in government have a different view.”  And he followed up with “I think if it’s not something that should exist, they should go about changing it instead of complaining about it.”  Yo, Hammel & McCaffrey, just because you can afford high priced attorney’s on the backs of city tax payers subsidies, doesn’t make it right.  Play the game right or move to another city.  If any of you know either of these dirt bags, please direct them to my blog.

And then there’s the River’s Casino.  They have paid $795M in taxes and donations since opening six years ago.  Not only do they live up to the tax code (not that they have much choice here), they have honored their commitments to their neighbors ($6M), they’ve paid $50M towards Consol as well as donating cash and event space for local charities like the libraries, Humane Society Riverlife and many others.  They’ve subsidized the free “T” service from the Northside through Downtown (Along with the Steelers and ALCO Parking).  They also support local businesses by partnering with us.  All of this with no public subsidies, tax deferrals, or other government give aways.  Why don’t Pittsburgh’s Evil Empire businesses learn from decent businesses and and be community leaders instead of money hungry oligarchs?

As part of his 31 day trip across America, Willie Baronet was recently in Pittsburgh on his We Are All Homeless project.  He drives around and offers homeless people money for their signs.  He pulls up to homeless panhandlers and offers to buy their sign, if they come to terms, it becomes part of a piece of an art installation like attaching them to a wall, ceiling, creating digital iterations, etc.  Willie is a Dallas based artist that teaches creativity and design at Southern Methodist University and has collected around 800 signs since he started this endeavor in 1993.  His goal is to create an installation for each city he’s visited on this trip.  If I hear any details of a Pittsburgh installation, I’ll let you know.

On August 16th from noon till 4 pm, The Homewood Cemetery will be celebrating receiving the arboretum certification, there’s only 23 in the entire country.  Founded in 1878, it is the final resting place of many Pittsburgh notables like the Mellons, Fricks, Benedeums, DL Clarks as well as jazz icons Erroll Garner and Walt Harper among others.  There’s 78,000 interred in the well tended cemetery.  To reach the arboretum status, the facility must be well maintained, educational program must be in place, a plan in place to replace trees as they pass on so there’s always a mature canopy, the trees need to be diverse and inventoried and the facility needs to be free and open to the public.  WQED’s Rick Sebak will open the ceremony and there will be refreshments, a scavenger hunt, hoop rolling and entertainment by Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh.  Allegheny Cemetery is the oldest and most visited, but a trip to Homewood Cemetery will not disappoint you.

Chloe Kondrich was born in 2003.  She had undiagnosed Down syndrome that became apparent when she was born.  The hospital staff was very uncomfortable when Chloe was born (probably feeling guilty they didn’t diagnose this ahead of time).  They listed the the things Chloe wouldn’t be able to do and a nurse gave Chloe’s mom printed material from an outdated website.  When the Kondrich’s got involved with staff specializing in Down syndrome, they learned all the things Chloe could do.  They started advocating for the rights of children born with Down and their parents.  So much so, Chloe was in Harrisburg and signed “Chloe’s Law” with Governor Corbett on July 18. Chloe’s Law requires practitioners to give up to date information on Down syndrome as soon as it is diagnosed in the fetus or the when the undiagnosed baby is born to the parents so they are better equipped to deal with the challenges  they are facing and not be left in the dark.  A very heart warming story about Chloe is Chloe’s dad is a retired Pittsburgh Police Officer and they’re friends with Sue Sciullo, wife of slain Police Officer Paul Sciullo.  The Sciullo’s lost a baby during pregnancy 46 years ago.  Chloe told Sue “I see Paul in my mirror” and when Sue asked what she saw Paul doing, Chloe said “He’s holding the baby in heaven.”  Sue & Paul’s loss had never been mentioned to Chloe.

Next Saturday, August 16 from 9am until 1pm Penn State’s Master Gardeners will be hosting their annual Gardens in the Park Field Day in both North and South Parks.  They will be highlighting basil, garlic and tomatoes, but it’s a great way to meet this gardening experts and field questions not easily answered at a nursery (and you don’t always get accurate information at many nurseries.)  :)  More than thirty Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your questions.  Just remember if you are bringing a sample, be sure it is in a zip lock baggie.  You don’t want to expose other plants to a problem.

Be good and enjoy,

ed

 

Have you seen the You Tube video of Casey, the 9 year old schnauzer from Murrysville?  Rebecca, the family’s daughter had been in Slovenia for two years and when she finally comes home, he’s so excited he faints. Its pretty cute.

Pittsburgh’s always taken pride in our ethnic diversity.  Although we never received a huge influx of certain ethnic groups as many other large cities have, we still have our representation from around the world.  We have a number of ethnic bakeries that create a host of delicacies from their home as well as a fusion of items that’s a hybrid of different cultures.  We have several Asian bakeries like The Pink Box Bakery and Cafe  that just opened on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill.  In addition to cakes and cupcakes, they have more adventurous items like pork taro buns, strawberry coconut layered bun and green onion pork bun for the more adventurous.  Also on Murray Avenue is Bubble Pi Baking Arts.  She’s know for her flavored teas with tapioca “bubbles” on the bottom, many western sweets and standard Taiwanese bakery items.  For a Korean twist, also on Murray Avenue there’s Sumi’s Cafe.  She makes red bean bread, mango cream bread, taro buns in various flavors are available.  There’s several well known French bakeries around as well.  There’s some lesser know like Jean Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery on North Avenue in Millvale.  In addition to those pretty confections that look to pretty to eat like their tartelettes and Pari-Brest pastries they have pretty substantial quiche Lorraine and crisp and buttery Brenton cakes.  La Gourmandine Bakery and Pastry Shop on Butler Street in Lawrenceville also as those “too pretty to eat” pastries as well as more substantial fare like the Jambon Croissant  which has sliced ham, melted cheese and is covered with bechamel sauce.  There’s the Greek Gourment also on Murray Avenue that’s more of a deli but also carries homemade honey soaked baklava and some other Greek pastries.  Out in Beaver, there’s a Czech bakery that makes all kinds of Kolache, hence the name Cafe Kolache, a Czech tradition that doesn’t use overly sweet doughs.  So the fit well with traditional sweet fillings as well as more substantial ham, bacon and veggies.  For an Italian bakery, Moio’s Italian Pastry Shop on Wm Penn Hwy in Monroeville has been around since 1935.  Specializing in cannoli with a wide array of fillings and pasticciottie and sfogliatelle.  Main Street in Butler is the location of Dolce Mia, of Italian heritage and bent, she also does many non ethnic pastries like cream puffs, cheese cakes and lava cakes.  Biscotti Brothers is located in Greensburg, but you can find them all over the city (they also ship all over the country).  In addition to the many flavored biscotti’s they are known for, they also make cannoli, pizzelles, cakes and pies.  Over on Brookline Blvd, Pitaland has been cranking out Pitas and other baked on premise Mediterranean fare.  Besides their pitas (which you also see all over the city), they also carry baklava and rolls filled with everything from apricot, coconut, cashews, apples or strawberries.  They serve their Lebanese treats and meals in their Cafe.  It may be the excuse you need to go over to see Brookline’s new street face that was just completed.

Speaking of ethnic and Brookline, it’s one of our neighborhoods with a large diverse options.  In addition to Pitaland, there’s Daree Salam African Grocery,   they sell staple African cooking ingredients and are happy to share family recipes. There’s Las Palmas Carniceria Y Supermercado, they carry a lot of Latin food products not easily found in many Pittsburgh markets.  They also make street tacos right out front!  Their Mexican bakery is set to open soon right down the street.  Brookline also has a barbershop that’s been in operation continuously since 1947, Sal’s BarbershopCannon Coffee is the local coffee shop.  It’s Greek to Me is a Mediterranean restaurant with homemade hummus, gyros, souvlika and lamb kebabs among other Lebanese and Syrian foods.   For Italian fare, Mateo’s owner/chef, originally from Calabria, has been whipping out Italian meals there since 2008.  And for your sweet tooth, Party Cake has been in operation since 1964 with it’s 1960’s facade.

Are your ready to “cut the rug”?  The Pittsburgh Area Jitterbug Club meets twice a month at various locations.  Founded in 2003, they boast 200 members from as far away as Ohio.  And it’s not just Jitterbug, they also do Cha Cha, Hustle, polka, West Coast, East Coast and others.  Check out their website to learn more about they’re all about and schedules.

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont just passed a milestone.  They’ve been doing fund raising for about a year now, trying to buy the new projection equipment they need.  The film industry no longer sends movies out on reels and they are even phasing out DVD/Blu-Ray discs.  The new digital format is done as an anti piracy precaution as well as a better final product with the film.  But it doesn’t come cheap, the new projectors cost of $60K!  A lot of money for anyone, let alone a small non-profit.  When their old projector started dieing in June, they new they had to take a leap to stay afloat.  They started a Kickstarter campaign needing a little over $7k more for the down payment.  They ended up raising $10k and are ready to make the leap.

Speaking of Kickstarter, Randy from Randyland recently ran a Kickstarter campaign.  There’s that map of the Northside he painted on the side of one of his buildings a number of years ago.  The paint hasn’t held up and the vinyl he used for the street names pealed of years ago.  So he wanted to raise $10k to get the proper materials to make a more permanent map.  He also passed his fund raising goal.

Pittsburgh got a 200th birthday present early (we were incorporated in 1816), the National League of City’s will be holding their 2016 convention in the city.  Although the number of attendees doesn’t make it a huge conference (they estimate 5,000 attendees), those attending will be the folks that run most of the major cities in the country.  Very prestigious.  It is scheduled of November 16 – 19 of that year.

OK, this will be my only rant this post.  There’s a lot of people up in arms (pun intended) about the military downsizing because of sequestration.  #1, we shouldn’t be going through a sequestration, the lawmakers with all their lavish lifestyles should come up with a sustainable budget.  But putting that aside, they fired 1,200 captains last month and 550 majors got the axe this month.  They are going up to these officers, some still on duty in a combat zone in Afghanistan and telling them they need to leave, go home and prepare to be processed out of the army.  How cold is that?  The military are the organizations that “lost” BILLIONS of dollars of equipment in Afghanistan.  These are the organizations that have spend $800 on a toilet seat!  We can’t pave our roads, educate our children, replace aging water and sewer lines and the military has a 640BILLION dollar budget and are complaining about cuts.  Lets get real!

OK, thanx for being patient with me, my rant is over and I do feel better.

I also feel better because the numbers are in for July and we had the biggest month ever since I opened in Florida in 2000.  Thank you to all my wonderful guests, I love you.

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the sinking of the cruiser Indianapolis (1945), NASA was established (1958), Hebrew Tisha B’Av (the destruction of the first and second temples, Norway’s Olsok Eve and the Spanish Festa De Santa Marta De Ribarteme.  Birth anniversaries include new anchor Peter Jennings (1938), French politician Alexis Tocqueville who wrote Democracy in America (1831), first lady Alice Roosevelt (1861) and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883).

Up in Mercer, two ladies have started Bed Dog Restoration.  They specialize in taking vintage things and turning them into furniture and accessories.  They’re not cheap, they have a queen bed whose frame is a 1956 Chevy truck at Artistry in the Strip for $15,670.  Ouch.  It is very cool, but I don’t know if I’m in the mood for a $15k bed.  They also make trundle tables out of old barn wood.  I don’t know if you ever go to Artistry, it’s on Smallman right around the Smallman Street Deli and they have some great pieces.  I’m really on a roll here, I also love the Smallman Street Deli, one of the best in the city.

Some things are just too strange.  In 2004, they planted a pine tree in Los Angeles to commemorate George Harrison, the Beatle that passed away in 2001 from cancer.  George, an avid gardener, would have appreciated the irony of a beetle infestation killed a tree dedicated to a Beatle.  :)

I admit, I’m a 20th century guy, not a 21st.  I do own an iPhone, a computer and have GPS in my car.  But really hate people tracking me and my habits.  I’m always shutting down cookies on my computer trying to track me, I don’t use frequent shopper “rewards” cards. This is one of the reasons I seldom shop Giant Eagle, they are just over the top trying to force me to buy what they want to sell me, not what I want to buy.  Giant Eagle did force me to get one of their rewards cards because I always use the self checkout line and they claimed I had to have a rewards card because they were having trouble with shop lifters going through the self checkout line.  I don’t buy that, they just wanted an excuse to force customers like me into their network and since I do need to pop in a Giant Eagle store on occasion, I signed up for one. With their Advantage card, they track what you buy, how much, when and all kinds of other information, just like Google, but on a different scale.  They have studied grocery shopping  to the extent that they know for every 140 feet further into the store, you typically spend an additional $2.54.  They are now developing an App that can send you coupons on your phone to encourage you to spend more.  It’s like some of those stores (I don’t remember which) that have GPS kind of system set up in their store and even if you don’t have your iPhone turned on, they can track how long you’ve been a particular counters and other data.  That’s just too scary for me.

While we’re talking about shopping, let’s just jump over to vending machines, they aren’t just for sodas and chips anymore.  And they aren’t just in office and school break rooms.  Sprinkles Cupcakes is installing cupcake dispensing machines at all 16 nationwide outlets they have.  These machines can hold up to 760 cupcakes and turn the outlet into 24 hours service.  The machine has been tracked selling on average 1,000 cupcakes a day, 50% of the sales!  Burritobox has a menu of various types of burritos, even fajita burritos that are warmed when you buy them.  You can also order sides like guacamole, sour cream and warmed chips.  For safe food purposes, these machines warm the burritos to 195 degrees internal temperature.  There’s pizza vending machines, burger machines, you name it.  Europe and Asia are pretty far ahead of us in this, they have machines that sell gold bars, eggs, live beetles to name a few.  Wow.  :)

The Pennsylvania Resources Council has been around for 75 years now trying to keep our environment clean and wholesome.  Somewhat ironically, they will be hosting their 75th collection at Boyce Park on Saturday from 9 am until 1pm.  (No, they do a lot more collections each year than one, for the longest time there wasn’t a way to recycle or at least neutralize hazardous materials.  They just been collecting them the last few years).  But, since 2011, the have kept more than 4 million tons of these products out of the environment!  They take paint, cleaning supplies, pesticides and other hazardous materials.  They charge $2 per container, so if you want to be frugal, marry like products together (take three quarts of latex paints and pour into a one gallon can).  Just be sure to marry “like products”, latex paints with latex paints, not latex paints with oil paints.  More info at their website.

As we all have heard, obesity is epidemic in America.  Where do you stand?  They say three out of four people that would be officially classified as obese think they’re actually alright.  Even if you’re not obese (or at least don’t think you are)  :) you really should check out your bmi (body mass indes).  It’s super easy and might give you the added push to take of a couple of pounds.  Go to the Centers for Disease Control’s bmi site and fill in your heights and weight (and you have to be honest here).  I did if for myself and on a mission to drop about 7 pounds.

The House and Garden Tour for the Manchester Historical Society is next Sunday (August 3) from 11 am until 3 pm.  You can pick up the $15 tickets the day of the tour at the Pittsburgh Conroy in the 1300 block of Page Avenue.  PediCabs will be available if you don’t want to walk, the Mark Strickland Group will be performing jazz from 1 – 3 pm, one of the houses has a “Wizard Garden”.  One of the houses on the tour is a restored 1883 mansion, tours will point out historical sites and a modern adaption that was saved from the wrecking ball because of a Manchester initiative a few years ago.  That was amazing.  The city came up with 100+ buildings to be demolished in Manchester.  The civic council said “NO”.  They agree to 10 – 20 frame buildings that were beyond repair.  The rest the city wasn’t allowed to touch.  The the civic council came up with a “package” for about 12 of the buildings.  Because if was a group of buildings, Manchester was able to negotiate a low interest rate with a bank, a property tax deferred from the city and a contractor willing to work good numbers.  Manchester figured out what the house would be worth fixed and worked from there.  Say a three bedroom, two bath would have a market value of $167,000, that was the price they put on it.  The price included total renovations, the deferred tax and low interest rate loan.  Now the price might include Formica counter tops and you wanted granite, you could negotiate with the contractor for an appropriate increase.  Manchester then did a “house tour” of these properties and if you were interested, you signed a form one of the volunteers had at that site.  After the tour, Manchester started with the first person on the list and if they could qualify for the loan, they got the house.  If the first person couldn’t qualify for some reason, Manchester went to the second person that signed the list.  How cool was that?

It’s that time of year, regional county fairs are hitting our local counties.  The Fayette County Fair winds up this weekend.  Next up the Butler County Fair starts Monday and runs through August 9.  The Washington County Fair starts August 9 and runs through August 16.  The Dayton Fair in Armstrong County will be in their 134th year starting August 8 and closing on the 17.  The Lawrence County Fair runs from August 11 until 16.  From August 15 until 23 will be the Westmoreland County Fair.  August 16 through 23 the Somerset County Fair will take place.  The Hookstown Fair will run from August 19 through 23.  And finally the Indiana County Fair will run from August 24 through 30.  Lots of good clean wholesome fun, check one out.

Ty came up to me Sunday and asked if he could run a free night offer through Facebook.  As of now, there has been over 3,000 people have been reached.  If you already Like The Parador, you just need to Like that post and share it to qualify.

Well, that’s about it for this post.  Enjoy your summer and enjoy it safely,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Allies taking Palermo (1943), the Pied Piper of Hamelin (maybe (1376), the death of John Dillinger (1934) and Switzerland’s Dornach Battle Commemoration (1499).  Birth anniversaries include journalist and etiquette expert Amy Vanderbilt (1908), artist Alexander Calder (1898) and geneticist Gregor Mendel (1822).

The art of American Modern Art and Design in Pittsburgh was pretty much headed by CMU professor Samuel Rosenberg in the 1950’s.  Professor Rosenberg taught at both CMU and the Young Men and Women’s Hebrew Association for about 40 years and personally created over 500 pieces of art.  His artwork was even displayed in the 1939 World’s Fair.  To teach his students, Samuel created pieces in this style to show them the technique.  A dozen of these works by him, his colleagues and students have been assembled at Concept Art Gallery in Regent Square that runs through September 20.  There was a lot of corporate money here in Pittsburgh before they all started to bail on us starting in the 1960’s, so there was a lot of artists and designers being brought in for corporate offices in the 1950’s and 1960’s..  In addition to the artwork, there is classic modern design in furniture and accessories from the period as well.  More info at their website or by calling 412-242-9200.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water is just an hour east of Pittsburgh.  A three hour trip to Buffalo, NY is home to a cluster of Wright’s masterpieces.  The sprawling Darwin Martin House, a series of buildings including the main house and out buildings, many of which are connected by cantilevered pergolas in the low slung Wright style.  The Martin family owned Larkin Soap Company in Buffalo and lived in the  house until they lost their fortune after the great depression.  A public/private corporation was founded in 1991 to save and restore the house.  Close by is the Martin’s summer house, Graycliff Estate overlooking Lake Erie.  Since 1997, that also is being restored after being the home to a group of Hungarian priests as a mother-house.  There are several residences designed by Wright In Buffalo that are still private residences.  But Buffalo has taken plans that never left the drafting board and have been recently brought to life.  Rowing Boathouse was completed in 2000.  And the stair step looking Mausoleum for the Martin family was never constructed for the Martins, but the president of Forest Lawn Cemetery was able to raise the funds and had Blue Sky Mausoleum built in 2004.  The Martins had all passed-on by that time, so the vaults are available for anyone.  And just opened this year is the gas station Wright had designed, but was never built for the Tydol Oil Station .  This was built in the Pierce-Arrow Museum and features copper roofed overhangs to keep the motorists dry in inclement weather, gravity fed fueling tanks, a second floor waiting area with a fireplace and you can watch them repair your car.

I like small businesses and the creativity we need to use to succeed.  I also like the impact small theaters can have on small business districts.  Combine all that and you have The Parkway Theater in Stowe (near McKees Rocks).  Owner Aaron Stubna bought the old theater (it had been vacant for 25 years), cleaned it up, did some remodeling and started showing movies in it in 2012.  Aaron is a full time barber at his family’s barbershop Lincoln Barber Shop in Bellvue, and a full time movie buff that’s working on a dream.  He currently has a snack bar that’s a lot more creative than those TUBs of popcorn drowned in make believe butter and super sized sodas.  His goal is to take half the theater out and make a restaurant and bar out front that he can run in conjunction with theater events or as a separate operation.  But he’s theming things up like running Spaghetti Westerns paired with a spaghetti dinner.  He’s had a Stooge Fest (who in theaters hasn’t had one of them?)  :)  Other theme’s he’s looking into is a series of Martin Scorsese’s films, a family night with board games, even a gnocchi making class before the screening of Big Night, the story of two brothers attempting to run an Italian restaurant.  I would love something like that here on Western Avenue, what a great asset to the community.

Speaking of community, I heard an interview with Mayor Peduto the other day.  I miss Mayor Lukey, he was too easy to pick on with the ridiculous things he did, like sending a crew out to slap bicycle stickers all over the place with no thought to it.  It was just a numbers game to him so he could claim so many miles in Pittsburgh are “bicycle lanes” and he can get credit for making Pittsburgh “bike friendly”.  Mr. Peduto is looking to create official bicycle lanes and two are set to be in place by summer’s end, I believe.  These will be bicycle only lanes which dramatically increase safety for the bicyclist and motorists.  Mr. Peduto said he’s not looking for a quick solution, he’s looking into 5, 10 and 20 year plans and goals.  Did you know that in Copenhagen, 36% of their commuters use bicycles?  You can’t get much healthier or greener than that.  Yes, in the process we will loose parking spaces and other things, but to make traveling safe for cyclists would be a huge amenity to the city.

And now, speaking of healthy, did you know PNC Park came in #3 in PETA’s ranking of Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks?  We were bested by Philly’s Citizen’s Bank Park and #1 San Fransisco’s AT & T Park.  Cited were options vegetable roll, BRGR’s veggie burger, seaweed salad, hummus and chips, veggie stuffed pita, grilled veggie toaster and select grilled flat breads.

The Frick’s showcasing their new Orientation Center (we used to call them Welcome Centers).  :)  Pulling in to the parking lot, most people didn’t know where to find the Frick Art Museum, the Henry Clay Frick’s family home and museum, the Car and Carriage House, the Frick Cafe, greenhouse and park.  The Orientation Center is right there complete with a gift shop, resource center, information center on where and what is located on the 5.5 acre property.  This was the first of three phases of renovations they are planning.  The next phase will be to create a new building for the car and carriage collection and turning that building into an educational center.  And the third phase will be to create a community center where groups can be fed and meeting space for groups and the local community.  All toll, the improvements are looking at $15M.  More info on their website.

Northside’s City of Asylum is creating a River of Words public art project.  They will be hosting a community open house next Friday, July 25.  They are using this project to show connections between words, people and locations.  A quick synopsis, City of Asylum houses dissident artists of the written word in their Northside homes.  There’s several up on Samsonia Way, right down the street from The Mattress Factory.  One of them has a poem written in Chinese on the front of the house. CA acquired a vacant lot and was going to turn it into an event venue, but ran into resistance from residents concerned about parking.  CA altered their plan and are turning the lot into a garden near their other houses and plan on building a “trail” between their current locations and their new project Alphabet City in the old Masonic Temple on North Avenue next to the Garden Theater.  Three dissident arts have been working on words trying to keep in mind Pittsburgh’s unique character.  For example, several of the words they selected were zombie (for George Romero’s classic work), pirates in deference to the Bucco’s, and others.  They made these words out of vinyl, metal, acrylic and other media and the artists asked residents on the path from CA’s main campus to the new Alphabet City to allow them to place the words on their house.    The residents got to pick their words.  The kick off is from 6 – 8 pm next Friday at 318 Sampsonia Way.  More info at their website or by calling 412-391-2060.

Many of my guests have enjoyed visiting Randyland.  Randy’s houses are over by The Mattress Factory also and he’s painted them all kinds of colors and his Courtyard is filled with all kinds of eclectic pieces.  One of the highlights of Randyland is his map of the Northside that he created several years ago.  It’s pretty popular, but the paint he used is really tired, pealing and in need of replacement.  The vinyl he used to identify the Northside streets have pretty much pealed off.  So Randy started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10k to make the necessary improvements.  He’s already met the minimum, but would like more to afford other upgrades.  His only source of income for the project (other than his regular income working as a waiter) is a tip jar in the Courtyard that most people ignore (or don’t notice).  If you would like to help Randy out, go to the Kickstarter link.

I understand what a mess the bloated Pennsylvania State Legislature is.  So I don’t blame republican Governor Corbett for failing to get the equally bloated and corrupt Liquor Control System privatized.  I give him credit for trying to enact pension reform, $50B in unfunded obligations obviously is not sustainable. And this is with a republican controlled House and Senate!  I blame him for not making any headway in actually creating a viable state budget and blaming his inaction on not getting pension reform. He’s the one that slashed state funding on education and blamed it on the federal government.  He’s trying to claim a balanced budget by relying on new revenue sources through letting the gas and oil drillers tap our state forest and game lands.  Not to mention his slight of hands use of one time income by tapping reserves and overly optimistic revenue collection rates that won’t bear out his claim.  No wonder he’s the most “vulnerable” incumbent governor in the country.  There’s even talk that the NRC won’t commit to funds to his campaign, that’s pretty bad.

On that negative note on the State of our State, I’m going to sign off for today.  I hope you are having a great and safe summer.  Enjoy,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow is France’s Bastille Day and the anniversary of the Birmingham Riot (1791).  Birth anniversaries include Italian painter Andrea Del Sarto (1486), folk singer/activist Woody Guthrie (1912), President Jerry Ford (1913), actress Ingmar Bergman (1918) and cartoonist William Hanna (1910).

There’s a book being released featuring Pittsburgh ten years after terrorists obliterated it with a bomb (or bombs).  This is the debut novel by a new Pittsburgh native Thomas Sweterlitsch called Tomorrow and Tomorrow.  It’s a blend of science fiction, detective, romance and high tech.  Ten years after the destruction of Pittsburgh, the main character, John Blaxton, through The Archive for bits and pieces of the wife he lost in the the destruction.  The Archive is like a futuristic Google where all information is kept and accessible not through an external devise but through links in your brain.  John (or anyone) can’t actually come back to the ‘burg because of contamination, so he has to do his research through The Archive.  Thomas, a CMU graduate and now Pittsburgh resident uses many Pittsburgh landmarks in his book.  An interesting thing is this is his first novel and there was a filming rights battle already fought for it and it looks like Sony Pictures will be making a movie of it.  There’s going to be a reading and book signing at the South Hill’s Village Barnes and Noble on July 25 at 7 pm and Thomas will be featured at Writer’s Live August 7 at the CMU campus at 6 pm sponsored by Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures.

The Bricolage is seeking 50 muses to inspire several new shows.  They plan on having a creative Town Hall meeting on July 21 at 6 pm at their location 937 Libery Avenue at 6 pm.  The “muses” will work with actors, writers, directors and a dramaturge to come up with elements such as theme, character and setting.  Participation is open to all, but registration is required.  You can do this at their website.

Will you be Walking with Dinosaurs the end of July/August a the Consol Energy Center?  Well, you may be interested in the next block buster there, Marvel Universe LIVE will be coming in October.  Marvel has put together a show where such super heroes like Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man and two dozen action figures will be in a choreographed show where the superheroes beat up the bad guys, run around in souped up cars and motor cycles and other flashing exhibits.     Marvel is a division of Disney, so it’s probably going to be quite the extravaganza.  By the way, guess who’s their vice president of global creative services, Tom Marvelli.  No kidding.  :)

The Downtown Art Institute of Pittsburgh hosting their annual art show by alumni and students in their lobby through July 20 from 9 am until 7 pm Mondays – Thursdays 9 am – 5 pm Fridays and 9 am – 4 pm Saturdays.  These commercial arts exhibit their mature artwork in the fields they work.  Like Arthur Germer’s sign for the new BRGR located in PNC Park.  He has their trademarked letters in a diamond with the bases in three of the corners, the beef image in BRGR’s normal logo and crossed bats to signify baseball and hint toward the crossed sword Jolly Roger pirates flags.  George Schill (who works for American Greeting Cards) shows a Halloween party invitation he created with some zombies in a cemetery with the words “Of Corpse You’re Invited to Our Halloween Party.”  And there’s a collaborative effort by a group of Alumni Andromeda Quarterly , they used to have a monthly publication, but has since opted for a quarterly publication.  It’s always fun seeing what they come up with and it’s free, always a good thing.  More info on their website or by calling 412-291-6200.

Rose Smiechowski & Carolyn Barber have founded Hidden Harvest.   Based on a similiar program in Carolyn’s native Toronto, they find food bearing trees in the city and see if the owner would be interested in donating harvested food to the food bank.  In 2008, the Toronto group harvested 70,000 of food donating 22,000 to the food bank.  Pretty impressive.  They use a three way reward system, the tree owner gets 1/3 of the harvested food, the harvester gets 1/3 and the food bank gets 1/3 (of course the tree owner or harvester can donate their portion to the food bank, if they want).  If you have an under utilized food tree (I’m using the word food tree to indicate there’s nut trees, mulberry trees in addition to the traditional apple and pear trees we first think of), or interested in signing up to be a harvester, just contact Rose & Carolyn at their website.

Fourteen year old Zack Abel is a cancer survivor.  Diagnosed with cancer at age of 6, a bright spot in his battle came when Make A Wish gave him a seven foot Tyrannosaurus Rex, which he treasured and it helped him through some pretty dark days.  At twelve years old, Zach decided to return the kindness and had his first fund raiser for Make A Wish.  So far, this young man has raised $65K and hopes to have his best this year with raising $30K at this year’s event.  This year’s Zack’s Make a Move for Make A Wish five mile walk/run/bike starts at North Park’s boathouse on July 27 around 8 am.  $25 for adults, $15 for kids.  What a great kid.  You can get more info by contacting his mom natalie.abel@hotmail.com or by calling 412-370-5070.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Twilight Wish Foundation.  It’s a non-profit for granting seniors with limited income the chance to do something they really want.  It’s a national organization with a chapter here in Western PA.  85 year old Clara Parrish wanted to go on a “girls trip” to Las Vegas with some friends years ago.  Her husband didn’t allow her, afraid of what men in Sin City might do.  Mr. Parrish has passed on and Twilight Wish has arranged for Clara and some friends to take a trip on the Gateway Clipper (she had never been on it before).  Twilight Wish has provided a washing machine, a lift chair, even a Neil Diamond impersonator to a gentleman’s nursing home.  How sweet.  :)

Scott Brusaw from Sandpoint, Idaho is working on an interesting concept, solar roadways.  He’s engineered the hexagon squares that are solar panels that link together.  He built a prototype parking lot at his headquarters Solar Roadways.  He envisions roads being built from these panels to create a tapable solar system.  He says they are durable enough to withstand vehicle traffic (including trucks), inclement weather, water, etc.  Now he hasn’t disclosed what the cost of these panels will be and there are many skeptics out there.  I find the whole concept intriguing.  If you know me or follow my blog, you know how green I am.  We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, it’s just not sustainable.  I support (with reservations) solar, wind and hydro powers.  But recognize the negative sides of these like fried birds at solar farms and decapitated birds at wind farms.  But they are movements in the right direction.  And the idea of building roads that could supply our power is definitely thinking outside the box.  He might not have it right, but what a quantum leap outside our normal thought process.  If he starts the idea, someone else can improve on it and maybe we can change the world for our children.

It’s time to support your locals.  Dairy Queen has a contest going on for their S’mores and John Rohlf, Santino Tomasetti and Paul Koudouris are finalists.  Their video is cute, music upbeat and it has Pittsburgh as a back drop.  So click the link and vote for the hometown boys  (you can vote for them even if you’re not a ‘burg native.  :)

The roof project continues.  When I bought The Parador, I added central AC to the Mansion and the Ballroom.  There’s a five foot flat roof between the Carriage House in the Courtyard and the Loft.  Under it, the Knights of Columbus installed the men’s room and access to the Loft, which was their kitchen.  The HAVC contractor wanted to put the condensers on that roof.  My concern at the time was would the roof hold the two units?  They assured me it would.  And it did, more or less.  What I didn’t think of at the time was roofs fail.  I’ve had a leak into the lady’s room for awhile trying to figure out how to fix it.  To repair the roof, the condensers have to be moved.  Either once and put back or a permanent solution needs to be figured out.  I’ve spoke to several roofers and ideas included building a roof over the units, but that’s not fixing the problem.  Another option was to move the units over the one story connector between the Carriage Houses.  Mike, with Energy Savers Windows, the contractor that replaced the 30 windows last year and put the new bathroom in Ruellia and new tub/shower in Lady Palm suggested bringing in an iron worker to permanently build iron bracing attached to either building with cross pieces to support all three units (the two for the Ballroom and one for the Loft).  Once their up on the iron work, he’ll rip the old roof off and  replace it.  They finished the iron work and moving the condensers Friday and coming back tomorrow (weather permitting) to replace the roof.  You pay now, or pay later.  So here’s my relocated condensers:

P1000643

Well, that’s it for today.  I hope you all are having a great summer,

ed

 

Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the  ratification of the 14 amendment to the constitution (1868), the first open heart surgery (1893), the largest Tsunami recorded (1958-300′ wave hit Lituya Bay, AK) and two independence days, one in Argentina (1816) and South Sudan (2011).  Birth anniversaries include actor Vince Edwards (1928), composer Ottorino Respighi (1879) and inventor Elisa Howe.

There are about 39 churches involved in the Family Promise of Southwestern Pennsylvania that aid local homeless families.  Participating churches invite selected homeless families to stay overnight at the church for a week at a time.  A great thing about this program is it keeps families together, a mother with teenage sons would not be able to stay together at a normal homeless shelter.  Church members volunteer preparing evening meals, caring for the children, driving families back to a day center in Crafton, assisting with job searches and finding permanent lodging.  Family Promise was founded 19 years ago in Washington County.

Plum is the latest community to join the Troop Banners program.  I’ve talked about this in the past, a gentleman in Castle Shannon came up with the idea and they initially installed the banners with pictures and information on veterans from that community in a small park.  It became so popular that they ended up lining several major streets with these tributes.  11 year old Richie Hrivnak saw the banners while traveling through Whitehall and petitioned Plum’s City Council about the idea and they agreed.  It costs about $80 per banner which includes the full sized banner, a smaller one for the family, a bracket to hold the banner and the hardware for mounting.

There’s a new recreational boating option in Pittsburgh,Sharpsburg Island Marina is renting pontoon boats for $80 – $360 depending on the day and time.   The boats accommodate 10 people and unlike most other watercraft, people face each other and it creates a much more social environment.  Traveling at a much more sedate pace than a speed boat, they are much more conducive to social interaction, view the great views of the city from a more leisurely pace.

Speaking of boating, they closed the locks to recreational boaters in 2012, but it looks like they may be opening them to recreational boaters again on weekends and holidays.  Recently passed legislation allows the Corps to accept donations from private groups and The Allegheny River Development Corporation has funds to give the Army Corps of Engineers to achieve this.  Have you ever gone through the locks?  Kind of scary when the lock is empty and you’re looking up those huge walls towering about you and your small watercraft (the locks were built to accommodate barges and tug boats)!

Sandcastle is celebrating it’s 25th year anniversary this year.  The park has grown to 15 water slides, three pools (the Mon-Tsunami Wave Pool, Mushroom Pool and the Tad Pool-guess who that’s for), Lazy River rafting and Wet Willie’s Water Works.  Of course there’s also the Boardwalk with traditional honky-tonk gift stores and food and concert venue.  You can travel by car or pull your boat up to the dock for a day (and or night) worth of fun activity.

It’s that time of year again for Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.  Running July 6 through July 20 in Schenley Park.  What’s really amazing about this event is it is primarily a volunteer driven event with 1,200 people donating their time.  Another amazing thing about this race is It is not only America’s largest vintage race, but the only one run on city streets – the way sports car racing began.  This is the 30th year for the race and proceeds benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School.

Summer is here and even many Pittsburgh natives are not aware of dining options around, specifically roof top dining.  Some of these restaurants have had this option for years like Six Penn Kitchen Downtown.  Also Downtown on Penn Avenue, Il Tetto offers roof top dining as well.  In the Consol Energy Center is Uptown that offers a roof top option as well.  East Liberty has a BRGR that has a roof top otion as well (I like BRGR’s burgers, but still prefer Paul’s great burgers right down the street from me in Benjamin’s, no roof top but sidewalk and patio options).  Southside has two options in Carson City Saloon and Skybar both on Carson Street.  Finally, over in Mt Lebanon Bado’s Pizza Grill and Ale House has a roof top option.

There’s several interesting non profits out there, Thru My Eyes  and Memories Live does a video taped message of people with potentially life threatening ailments for their families.  With all this media these days like Skype, selfies, etc, I’m surprised this concept is just gaining ground.  What a nice concept, particularly with young parents to leave a farewell video with their voice and face delivering the message.

OK America, you’re doing a good job, but don’t let up.  Since the Great Recession, Americans have trimmed their personal debt by $1T and increased savings by 4%.  When the recession hit, Anna Jones from Denver had $24,000 in debt on her credit cards.  Her salary covered her mortgage and utilities and everything else she placed on credit cards.  She decided to fix it and in 15 months she had eliminated all of it by curtailing her spending.  It can be done.  She has since gotten married, had a baby and sold her duplex and put 20% on her new digs.  She has a website of her endeavors to clear up the mess we put ourselves in, And Then We Saved.  Keep up the good work!

That’s about it for today, enjoy your week,

ed

Hi,

Tomorrow’s the anniversary of Amelia Earhart disappearance (1937), the US Constitution took effect (1788), the first solo balloon flight around the world (2002) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (dah-1964).  Birth anniversaries include English clergyman, martyr and reformer Thomas Cranmer (1489), justice Thurgood Marshall (1908) and tennis star Rene Lacoste (1904).

The asteroid formerly known as No. 1990 AA has a new name, Henrybuhl.  In preparations for Buhl’s 75th anniversary, staffers at The Carnegie Science Center were discussing asteroids named after people from Pittsburgh and realized none had ever been named for the founder of Pittsburgh’s Buhl Planetarium.  Taking steps through the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, they applied to the International Astronomical Union based in Paris that names asteroids.  Buhl passed away in the late 1920’s and his foundation established The Buhl, the fifth planetarium in the country.  Located for many years on the Northside next to what became the Allegheny Center Mall, it was eventually absorbed into the Carnegie Science Center.  In case you are thinking of having a planetoid named after you, here are the rules:  It can be named for people, places, events and even fictional characters, but not politicians or military figures that haven’t been dead for 100 years yet.  No profane names, nor can an asteroid be named after the person submitting the request, so you’ll have to get a friend to nominate you.  :)

Have you been following Shane the Deli guy?  This fictional (?) guy supposedly works at Walmart and it’s a series of posts from “management” to him.

On June 30, 1864 President Abraham Lincoln took time out from the Civil War to sign into law what many call the birth of the National Park System.  He dedicate Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove (commonly known as Sequoia Park) “for public use, resort and recreation .. inalienable for all time.”  The Park Service on the 150th anniversary of that signing on Monday broke ground on a $36M restoration moving the hokey gift shop out of sight and limiting parking and buses so you can enjoy our national treasure with out diesel fumes and garish trinkets in your face.  The famed Wawona sequoia (made famous by well meaning park employees who cut a car path through the middle of the tree) toppled during the severe winter of 1968-69.

The Carnegie Science Center is offering special tours of the USS Requin on select Sunday mornings (July 13 & 27, August 10 & 31 and September 14) from 9 – 11:30 am. These guided tours (by submarine veterans and Carnegie staff) will go places the general public doesn’t get to see like unrestored compartments, the periscope and conning tour.  Visitors will learn what life was like living on a submarine.  Because of the nature of the sub, they are not able to accommodate handicapped or children under15.  Tours are limited to 12 persons, the cost is $20 per person and advanced reservations are required.  More info and reservations at their website or  by calling 412-237-1637.

Through October 5, The Frick out in Point Breeze will be featuring works by French impressionist Edgar Degas.  Of the 100 works on display, 55 are by Degas.  These are on loan from Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts of San Fransisco.  Interestingly, two of Degas’ works feature Northsider Mary Cassatt.  Degas said he drew every Old Master in the Louvre by 1860 which he amassed 700 drawings.

On the corner of Baum Blvd & South Highland is the location of The Last Billboard.  Artist Jon Rubin selects messages submitted to him from artists around the country.  One of the signs he posted was “I wonder some days if Facebook isn’t a broad all encompassing cry for help.”  Since Jon was featured on Buzzfeed, he’s been inundated with suggestions for his next post. Los Angeles artist Marc Horowitz submitted a question mark  and his phone number.  He received a hundred responses a day since.  Marc worked for Crate and Barrel and once wrote on a dry erase board “Dinner with Marc” and his phone number.  Crate and Barrel ended up using the image in one of their catalogs and his phone rang off the hook.  Why would you do that?  :)  Anyway, next time you’re in East Liberty, look up and see what Jon’s latest is.

Did you know there are 422 official bridges in Pittsburgh?  How I picked up that piece of trivia was when the River’s Casino opened, one of it’s restaurants was named 422 and when I asked I learned something new.   Well, here’s another piece of trivia.  The new restaurant going in the old Garden Theater’s name is going to be ARDE and I was curious where they came up with that name.  Domenic Branduzzi, owner of ARDE and Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville came up with the idea from the old Garden Theater sign which is being restored.  He intends to have the G and N dark with just ARDE lit up.  Cute.  He hopes to take possession in a few weeks from the developer to start construction of his latest venture.  The menu is going to emphasize wood fired oven pizzas and pastas.  They’ve taken the back wall out of the old Garden and he’s planning on courtyard dining in addition to the indoor seating.  Full service beverage service and an open floor plan.  Unfortunately (fortunately in many people’s mind’s I’m sure), they weren’t able to save much of the old Garden, but Domenic plans on using memorabilia from it’s past life saved.  He’s hoping to  have his new venture open before the winter.

Next door, City of Asylum’s has plans in place for their new venture, Alphabet City Literary Center.  In case you aren’t aware, City of Asylum is based here on the Northside and they provide housing for dissident literary types.  Mainly poets from Asia, but they are open to all in need.  They own several small house above the Garden where they house these people.  One of the residents (I don’t know if he’s still there) wrote a poem in Chinese on the front of the house.  Pretty interesting people.  They plan on having a bookstore, cafe, conference room, performance space and space for educational programing on the first floor and basement.  They plan on making the book shelves movable so they can configure the space for groups of 20 to 200.

Citiparks has announced their Cinema in the Park schedule for Riverview Park.  July 5 will be Las Vegas, July 12 Thor: The Dark World, July 19 Saving Mr. Banks, July 26 The Hunger Games Catching Fire, August 2 42, August 9 The Great Gatsby, August 16 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, August 23 All is Lost and finally August 30 Oblivion.  All are family friendly and free.  Just bring a blanket and snacks and camp out for the showing.  Riverview Park is a great Northside park up on the hill overlooking the city.  You can even plan an outing and take in the Allegheny Observatory as well.

Have a great and safe Fourth of July holiday,

ed