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Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen.
Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen. | Show Photo

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'Thank You, Pittsburgh, For The Greatest Cake America Has Ever Made'

Shadyside’s Prantl’s Bakery got a major shoutout from Huffington Post writer Julie Thomson this week. She proclaimed their burnt almond torte to be the best cake in America. And as she hails from New York City, that’s saying something.

“To say that the burnt almond torte is light and airy doesn't even begin to describe the texture of this cake,” writes Thomson. “It is beyond that. This cake is so airy it tastes like the idea of a cake, one that can only be tasted in the best of dreams.”
 
Except it’s real and you could have it erryday if you wanted because you live in Pittsburgh.

Local woodworking firm wins Best of Houzz 2014 award

Local furniture and cabinetry builder Viking Woodworking received a Best of Houzz 2014 Award.

The South Side shop uses all LEED certified materials and methods to create custom bookcases and cabinets for the Pittsburgh market.

Houzz is a website dedicated to providing resources for those building, designing and/or remodeling a home. It utilizes social media and curated editorial to give homeowners inspiration and the tools they need to get projects done.

“We are very honored to be selected by Houzz.com for this award. This is a tremendous opportunity for a small local woodshop to be recognized on a national level. We take a great deal of pride in our work and the service that we provide to all of our clients”, said Pete Schoonmaker, the owner of Viking Woodworking.

'There are many Pittsburghs, all in very close proximity to each other'

The AP isn’t the only national media outlet singing Pittsburgh’s praises. Huffington Post recent published a piece by David Landsel, a contributing editor at discount airfare site, Airfare Watchdog who touts Pittsburgh for being the crème de la crème of Rustbelt cities.

The piece cites the ‘Burgh’s physical beauty as well as the many cultural offerings from great art to great food. Landsel even compares downtown to New York City.

“In some ways, it's like a little slice of Manhattan, streets filled with people on sunny weekdays, pouring off buses (and even a subway!) in the mornings and back on again at night,” Landsel writes. “Pittsburgh feels busy, it feels alive.”

Casepops, a 2014 DATA Award finalist, makes national news

A local iPhone case company is making national headlines, particularly in the teen magazine market.

Casepops is a fashion iPhone case line that allows owners to customize their phone by choosing different charms, such as studs, skulls and gems that “pop” into and out of locks on the hard plastic case.

Seventeen magazine writes: “Changing your phone case as often as you change your outfit just got easier.”

Casepops is also a finalist for the 2014 DATA Awards.

'A Union Aims at Pittsburgh’s Biggest Employer'

The New York Times’ Jeff Swensen does a fair amount of work in this piece both explaining and contextualizing the current battle between UPMC, Pittsburgh’s largest employer and one of the largest employers in the state, and its service workers who are trying to unionize through the Service Employees International Union.

SEIU is trying to organize about 10,000 UPMC employees to ask for the base rate of pay to be raised to $15 an hour from an average of $12.81. They are asking for this raise so more of the UPMC employees who work as janitors and in hospital cafeterias are able to support their families.

The article quotes Rabbi Ronald Symons of Temple Sinai: “UPMC is a world-class medical facility, we’re asking them to strive to be world-class in their labor relations,” said Symons, who was arrested with others in February for refusing to leave UPMC headquarters, insisting on meeting with the company’s CEO. “We know that you can’t raise a family on those wages.”
 
However, not everyone in Pittsburgh is sympathetic to these workers.

“People don’t like UPMC in this town,” Marty Griffin, of KDKA-TV and KDKA-AM. But he said the demand for $15 an hour gets little sympathy. “People say, ‘If they want $15, they should go back to school.’ ”

Even Mayor Peduto had something to add: “It’s the largest employer in the state of Pennsylvania,” he told Greenhouse. “They have the means to help their workers break the cycle of poverty and join the middle class. They probably have more of an ability to do that than any other entity.”

American Eagle's April Fools' prank becomes a reality

For the past week there has been much buzz about the new pet apparel line American Eagle Outfitters was planning to debut this spring. The retailer created a “dog-umentary” and even gave coupons to shoppers who signed up to be on the American Beagle wait-list, donating $1 of each order to ASPCA.

Though the doggy clothing line was meant to be AE’s official April Fools’ Day prank, the public reaction to American Beagle has spurred them to make the line a reality. The brand confirmed yesterday that they will release a limited edition canine collection for the 2014 holiday season.

The AP points out five free attractions for Pittsburgh visitors

Our Google news alert has been littered with links to national papers picking up the Associated Press’ piece on five free things to do while visiting Pittsburgh.

The story calls out Point State Park, Downtown, The Strip, Frick Art and Historical Center and Mount Washington. Solid choices, though not necessarily free, we think our Pittsburgh bucket list is better.

PNC Park is No.7 on list of best ballparks for craft beer

Foodie website, The Daily Meal ranked American ballparks based on craft beer availability and PNC Park came in number seven.  The North Side stadium was lauded for its beautiful views as well as the availability of loads of local beers from breweries including Church Brew Works, East End Brewery and Tröegs.

Beyond local beer, the park also sells brews from national craft brewers including Bell’s, Dogfish Head, Lagunitas and Brooklyn Brewery.

Into drinking beer and baseball? Buy a beer passport ticket, which gets you a discounted seat, plus a pregame beer sampling and $5 of concession credit.

Local startup Astrobotic earns mention in the New Yorker

Pittsburgh-based startup, Astrobotic got a big mention on NewYorker.com this week for their work on creating a lander for what will be the first lunar commercial delivery.

The lander, called Griffin, will hold the time capsule bearing Pocari Sweat, a Japanese beverage. Griffin is the same technology that Astrobotic is hoping will win them the Google Lunar X prize.

Astrobotics’ focus is on developing technology for commercial deliveries to the moon. Right now their prices exceed half a million a pound.

Photos from the Teenie Harris archive at Carnegie Museum make national news

The Washington Post ran a piece by the Associated Press this week on the Carnegie Museum of Art’s new exhibition, “Teenie Harris Photographs: Baseball in Pittsburgh,” which features photographs of Negro League baseball players.

The exhibit runs at CMOA through Sept. 22.

Pittsburgh artist creates 'Normal Barbie'

Pitt alum and Greenfield resident Nickolay Lamm has gotten a lot of press this week surrounding his creation of a 'normal Barbie.' That is to say, a Barbie-like doll that resembles the average proportions of a 19-year-old girl according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He calls his dolls Lammily and you can order one of 5,000 dolls he's planning to manufacture on the crowd-funding site he created.

Not only is Lammily shorter than Barbie, she's also got flat feet and bendable joints. Refreshingly, she is much less made up than Barbie or a Bratz doll.

Lamm urges visitors to the Lammily site to "be the change" and not to wait for toy companies to change their outdated dolls that promote an unhealthy standard of beauty.

“If there’s even a 10% chance that those dolls affect [body image], let’s make it," he told Buzzfeed.

'Thanks Dan' is the new 'Better Call Saul'

Have you seen the "Thanks Dan!" video yet?

If not, you should watch it here.

Actual criminal defense attorney Daniel Buckley Muessig is using the power of satire to lure customers (i.e. criminals) to his firm. He suggests that if you've committed murder, arson, burglary or other "throwback crimes" like pick-pocketing, he's your man, because he "thinks like a criminal"...except he's got a degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

"Breaking Bad" fans will particularly enjoy Muessig's ad, which refers heavily to the show's character, Saul Goodman's "Better Call Saul" ads.

Muessig uploaded the ad he created with local branding firm, Covalent to Youtube on March 5, and less than 24 hours later it went viral. It currently has over 150,000 views.

Esquire.com asked Muessig, a former rapper and Pittsburgh native what kind of business he was hoping to acquire with the commercial.

"I want to let the people in Pittsburgh who do illegal things for a living know that I am here for them so long as they can pay me," Muessig replied.





Pittsburgh is home to the second steepest public road in the world

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Pittsburgh is home to the second steepest public road—and that’s just because of a measuring mistake.The first steepest was thought to be in New Zealand.

Urban Velo ran an infographic featuring the 10 steepest climbs in the US that was created by fixr. Canton Avenue, with its 37 percent grade is second on the list after Waipio Rd. in Honokaa, Hawaii, a road on which only four-wheel-drive vehicles are permitted.

Vote for a LEGO Cathedral of Learning

How cool would it be to be able to buy a Cathedral of Learning LEGO set? Josh Hall, a Pitt alum, is trying to make it happen.

Hall’s model of the Oakland landmark won the S.W. Randall LEGO Build Contest in 2012 and inspired him to enter the design on LEGO Cuusoo, a site on which LEGO enthusiasts can post their projects to be judged by the community. If supported by 10,000 people, the project will be reviewed by LEGO for a chance to become an official product.

Vote to support Hall’s project here.

ID8: Pittsburgh

Entrepreneurship.org started a web magazine called ID8 focusing on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in American cities. They’ve covered Seattle, San Diego, and the research triangle in North Carolina, but their inaugural issue was dedicated to Pittsburgh.

ID8 did their homework and got on the ground in the ‘Burgh, touring the city with William Generett Jr. of Urban Innovation21, making videos featuring the players behind Project Olympus, and creating a map of the city’s entrepreneurial hot spots. It’s definitely worth a look. Check it out here.
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