Tomorrow is the anniversary of Egypt’s first revolution (1952) and it’s worst terrorist action with the bombing of the Red Sea resort Sharm Al-Sheikh killing 88 (2005) and it is the anniversary of the first American swimming school opened in Boston (1827).  Birth anniversaries include author Raymond Chandler (1888), baseballer Don Drysdale (1936), baseballer Harold “Pee Wee” Reese (1918) and rancher, land baron and politician Samuel Maverick (1803).

Summer is a rough time for food banks in general.  People are busy with vacations, summer activities or just aren’t overly active staying out of the heat.  Generally, people equate hunger with cold, but the need is year round.  Animal Friends Chow Wagon program is in dire need of dry dog and cat food.  This is a program where Animal Friends distribute pet food to area shelters to pass on to needy pet owners.  Some people in need by-pass food they should be consuming to keep their beloved pets fed, some pet owners’ only companion is their pet (particularly with the elderly on a fixed income), some families with children are struggling and the pet is the child/children’s best friend.  I remember Shaddy when I was a boy, he was a truly beloved companion (yes, we had pets even way back then).  🙂  Director Sue Otto of The Center of Hope, in Ambridge, says they provide food for more than 130 pets each month.  Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horn Road in Ohio Township and is open from 11 am -7 pm Monday through Friday, 10 am – 5 pm Saturdays and Sundays if you would like to drop off food.  You can also donate money from their website.

Millvale, home to small businesses Vecenie Distributing (around since 1933), Jerry Kitman Fine Furniture and Lincoln Pharmacy also is home to Esther’s Hobby Shop who’s celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. Bob Mehler, owner and son of founder Esther Mehler, keeps the shelves stocked with model planes, kits, toy rockets and mainly model trains.  He specializes in N scale trains, even hosting the weekly meeting of Steeltown N Scalers.  His customers come from as far away as Germany and the United Arab Emirates.  Although entering there is like a walk back in time, there’s also all the things a modern hobbyist looks for.

Nationally renown tattoo artist Nick Bubash has a second career, he also makes sculptures out of things he collects and there’s a large amount of recycle tattoo needles worked in his art as well.  Son of one of Jonas Salk’s researchers and an artist mother, he moved to New York after studying art at Penn State. In NY, he studied the art of tattoo under one of the fathers of modern tattoo, Thom Vita.  After returning to Pittsburgh, he set up shop in Robinson.  Most of Nick’s sculptures remain in his home or shop.  He has a solo exhibit at The Warhol that runs through September 15.  Nick uses a tribal influence in much of his sculptures and many of his tattoos also express this tribal influence which is quite popular these days (listen to me talk as if I’m a major tattoo connoisseur).  🙂  His exhibit is included in your general admission to the Warhol and follows their normal hours.  More info at the websites or by calling 412-237-8300.

I was at an open house the other day at the planned Allegheny Inn across from AGH for the Allegheny Commons Initiative.  The Commons is a group of people trying to coordinate and expedite the restoration of the Commons.  For one thing, they are fighting the evil railroad company trying to force US to pay for and raise the bridges so they can pull double stacked cars and make even more money.  The other option, would be for THEM to pay for lowering the tracks to accommodate this.  Railroads get enough subsidies, they don’t need me to pay for a raised bridge which will #1 destroy some of the historic nature of the park, #2 expose the trains (and noise) and create even more dust and air borne pollutants in the park.  You know, our forefathers made them put the train tracks below grade for a reason, once our city fathers cared about the populace.  The real reason for this rant is poor Justin & Keili trying to open the Allegheny Inn.  They have taken on this project not even to be Inn Keepers, they want to save a wonderful building that’s been vacant for something like thirty years.  They want to invest their hard earned money into something of value for the city and the Northside.  They have partners lined up to run the Inn, once completed.  The city has had them on hold for over three months now.  The city should have codes that are clear for all to understand and enforced.  People trying to do the right thing by upgrading a derelict building into a safe lodging establishment should not be penalized because city employees don’t want to work eight hours a day for five days.  I’m really getting tired of listening to other businesses trying to start up here as they get frustrated at the city’s bureaucracy and business unfriendly attitude.  Talk to Paul at Benjamin’s Burger Bar right down the street from me about the torture the city did to him trying to get opened.  Small businesses should be able to look to their city government for help and assistance, not obstructionism.  The city only seems to care about big developments like the Penguins redevelopment of the lower hill, Buncher who wants to destroy 1/3 of the iconic Terminal Bldg (there is a reprieve, the Historic Review has agreed to look into designating it as Historic), casinos and the various give aways they’ve given to the Steelers.  I’ve been watching this statistic since I was in college, 93% of business in America is small business.  We’re the ones that work seven days a week, frequently 12 or better hours a day.  We’re the ones paying our employees well because they are more than a number to us.  We don’t look for an OMS consultant to come in with stop watches and try and squeeze another nickle out our employees.

Allegheny County is hosting a hazardous wastes collection next Saturday, July 27 at the Second Avenue Plaza Lot (I believe that’s the lot Greyhound used for awhile just past the 10th Street Bridge) from 9 am until 1 pm.  They do charge $2 per the gallon.  More info at 412-488-7452.

The Clayton has remounted an exhibit by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz twelve years after it’s first appearance.  As the artist in residence from 1999 to 2000, Vik used a 19th century 8″ by 10″ view camera to take photographs around the property and developing the images so they looked like they were taken at the turn of the century.  He even got staff to pose in period clothing in some of his images.  One of the images titled “The Potato Peeler” is Sherrie Flick, associate curator of education at the time.  He kept putzing with the various controls on the camera  and kept assuring Sherrie he would be ready in a minute.  He finally snapped the picture and admitted that he didn’t want her to pose a frown, so he kept delaying until she started to show frustration.  🙂  The thought for this picture was rooted in Vermeer’s The Milk Maid and van Gogh’s The Potato Peeler.  He used his background in art knowledge to frame different classical pictures.  I find the whole concept pretty cool.  It’s on display through October 27 with the Frick’s normal operating hours and admission.  More info at their website or by calling 412-371-0600.

What a fabulous idea.  That nutcase Westboro Baptist Church has been offending Americans for years now.  Particularly insidious has been their desecration funerals for war veterans.  It’s something that has bothered me a lot since hearing about them the first time.  I’m surprised no one has come up with something like this.  A group of gay satanists have performed a “Pink Mass” over the grave of Fred Phelp’s mother  “turning her gay”.  🙂  I don’t know the demographics of my readers, but I call on all gay readers to come up with new ideas to now torture them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Have group kiss-ins on their church lawn, sign them up for gay porn sites, come on, if anyone can be creative, the gay community can.  And for such a wonderful cause, to finally shut them up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And here’s the best part, you don’t have to be gay to join the movement.  Just pretend and you can join this great movement.   A disturbing thing I saw when looking into this is their website has a six out of ten Google ranking, I’m only four out of ten.  🙁  Something that did give me a chuckle was their zip code is 66604, the first three digits are the sign of the devil to some people.  🙂

Well, that’s it for today.  It’s a free day for me, no guests!   I love my guests, but it’s really nice to have a free day.  I’ve been so busy putzing around with no time constraints.  And the heat wave has broken.  I was so cool this morning to go into the Inn and NOT hear the air conditioning running.

Be good,


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