Tomorrow is the anniversary of amnesty being issued to the Southern Rebels (1865), Constantinople fell to the Turks (1453), Charles II was restored to his kingship (1660), Mt Everest summit was reached (1953), Rhode Island ratified the Constitution (1790) and Wisconsin was admitted to the US (1848).  Birth anniversaries include entertainer Bob Hope (1903), President John F Kennedy (1917), patriot Patrick Henry (1736) and German historian and author Oswald Spengler (1880).

Melon Square is finally re-opening this weekend after two years of renovations.  It was the first park covering a parking garage and the forerunner of roof top gardens.  It covers over an acre.

Located below the Roberto Clemente Bridge (aka 6th Street Bridge) Kayak Pittsburgh is open daily with kayak and bicycle rentals.  The hours are 11 am until 8 pm Monday through Friday with an extra hour added Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Kayaks are $16/hour solo and $21.50/hour for the tandem kayaks.  Bicycles are $8/hour or $32/all day.  Lots of good outdoor healthy exercise right down the hill from The Parador.

On loan to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium until Labor Day are two Galapagos tortoises.  These endangered creatures are estimated to be about 22 years old, they will live to 100 in the wild and have been documented to live up to 170 in captivity! They are the longest-lived vertebrates. They are the largest living species of tortoise and the 13th-heaviest living reptile, reaching weights of over 880 lb and lengths of over 5.9 ft. A captive individual lived at least 170 years. If you have plans to visit the zoo, be sure to check these magnificent reptiles out.

I was unaware of Bunny Yeager until there was a show at The Warhol several years ago.  Quite the lady, one of the most popular “pin up models” in the 1950′s, she broke stereo types when she blazed the trail of a very successful photographer afterwards.  She was frequently the subject of her photo’s.  She would sew the costume for the shoot, set the props, point the camera with the settings she wanted and then have someone push the button!  She passed away Sunday after 85 active years.

The North Dakota Petroleum Council and the American Fuel and Petro-chemical Manufacturers released a study they funded that found that transporting their oil is “no more dangerous than SOME other cargoes”.  OK, so the likelihood of one of the cars carrying their crude is the same as some other crude burning your town down makes it OK?  Tell those 47 poor victims in Lac-Megantic, Quebec whose town was melted.  Or the other 7 significant accidents involving rail transport of crude.  As much as I would like the world to be fueled my fusion and solar power with butterflies flitting everywhere, I understand the realities of life doesn’t make that possible now.  Finally, some sense coming out of the oil industry.  Multimillionaire Harold Hamm, chairman of Oklahoma City based Continental Resources, Inc spoke at the expo Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismark “We can’t have any more issues”, he followed that with “It has to be done in an absolute safe manner.  It’s  going to take all of us.”  We wouldn’t need all this government regulation if industry did what is right, not just the most profitable.  If it costs some dollars to ensure pipelines don’t leak oil into our environment, so be it.  If it costs some dollars to keep another Lac-Megantic from occurring, so be it.  I bet not one of the oil executives lives next to a rail line that could derail and melt their mega mansion!

A new exhibit is opening at The Carnegie next month.  Faked, Forgotten, Found opens June 28 and it will give a new vantage point to art.  They will be highlighting behind the scenes look at what art curators do to ensure artwork is original, steps they take to determine that as well as steps they take to conserve art.  One of the items they chronicle is a 1750 painting of Isabella de Medici that had been painted over during the Victorian age to make it more appealing to that audience.  One of The Carnegie’s curators thought the painting was a fake, but when they investigated further they found the original painting underneath the added painting.

Monuments used to be statues on pedestals with some brief description.  Ever since Maya Lin designed the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, the trend has been to list as many names as possible on many monuments of those that lost their lives.  The DC monument is very powerful and worthy remembrance for those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, but we don’t need to keep a model that was successful.  Our Korean War Memorial is of that sort here on the Northside.   Our memorials that take a more creative slant include the Holocaust Memorial in Squirrel Hill.  It took 17 years for the kids to collect the 6 million soda tabs they used to fill the 960 glass blocks that were used to build walls in the landscaped hillside.  Very low keyed, very powerful.  The Vietnam War Memorial, also on the Northshore uses a canopy covering statues of several vets retuning home.  The canopy was created to symbolize a hibiscus flower pod, an Asian symbol of rebirth and regeneration.  Our newest memorial, the World War II Memorial recently opened and the entrance is nicely positioned so it is aligned with an opening directly opposite framing our famous Point State Park fountain.  Also on the Northshore is a rather ugly (my opinion) of Mr. Rogers facing the city, this memorial really creatively used to old Manchester Bridge pier no one knew what to do with.  And there’s the humble Memorial for Fallen Police Officers also on the Northshore.

Have a great week,

ed