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Steel City Movie Tours

Starting on May 31, Pittsburgh natives and tourists alike can venture through the city on a tour entitled “Lights! Camera! Pittsburgh!” that showcases the history of movies in Pittsburgh.

The Steel City has made its way onto the big screen with classics like Flashdance and Night of the Living Dead. More recently, Pittsburgh has been the backdrop for movies such as The Dark Knight Rises and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

"People still want to know where the restaurant was in 'Flashdance,” the director of Pittsburgh’s film office, Dawn Keezer, told the Tribune Review.

The importance of BRT

In a piece about the boons and challenges of Bus Rapid Transit running into downtown areas across the country, Atlantic Cities writer Eric Jaffe points to both Pittsburgh and Cleveland as examples of where it's working and the challenges it faces.

"Take the case of the East Busway — a dedicated BRT highway in metro Pittsburgh," Jaffe writes. "The busway has done loads of good for the city: it's stimulated hundreds of millions of dollars in development and contributed to the 38 percent of city commuters who reach downtown by bus. [The Institute for Transportataion and Development Policy] recently gave it a bronze BRT rating."

However, he does point out that bus traffic gets terrible once you get downtown and that angsty businesses have led the Port Authority, with the backing of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Peduto to consider creating a "bus free zone" downtown.

The article contends that many cities have made the critical error of relegating BRT to curbside lanes with mixed traffic, rather than dedicated lanes along the medians of roads. This mistake makes BRT inefficient and has therefore given the form of transit a bad rap. But BRT done right can be extremely effective. However, sometimes it's a lack of political will to address the PR problems that come along with BRT that is the problem.

"But the fight is worth it," Annie Weinstock, a U.S. regional director for Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, told The Atlantic, "because building sub-par BRT — or, worse, calling something BRT when it's not — reinforces negative public perception of the entire mode. Over time, that preconception makes city residents resistant to the idea from the start."

Breath easy yinz- we've got 42 percent tree cover

In honor of Arbor Day, National Geographic rounded up nine cities that love their trees. Pittsburgh had the largest percentage of tree cover of any city mentioned at 42 percent.

Efforts of organizations such as Tree Pittsburgh and South Side Pittsburgh Tree Project among others have helped to plant 20,000 trees in recent years, contributing to a largely reforested metropolis.

According to the Nat Geo piece, our urban forest removes 532 tons of air pollution every year. Breath happy yinz!
 

Pittsburgh-based filmmaker's documentary on Bitcoin premiers today at Tribeca Film Festival

Local filmmaker Nick Mross and his brother, Dan Mross are gaining national recognition for the documentary The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin, directed by the latter Mross and starring the former.

The Mross brothers were inspired to make the film back in 2011 after Dan’s obsession with the virtual currency piqued his brother’s curiosity. The documentary looks at the broader implications of Bitcoin through the lens of Dan’s preoccupation.

The documentary premiers today at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Check out their interview with Fox Business here.
 

Pitt study shows correlation between pop songs mentioning alchohol and binge drinking

According to a recent study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, young adults who liked top 40 hits that mentioned alcohol brands were more likely to binge drink; twice as likely to binge drink as their peers in fact.

The study surveyed 2,500 young people to see if they liked a selection of popular songs that mentioned alcohol brands. The survey showed that there is a correlation between this kind of marketing and a young person’s desire to drink.

“For younger people, the research shows that marketing exposure affects kids, so exposure to alcohol marketing leads to a greater chance of drinking more,” David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told USA Today. “All of this is very lightly regulated- most of it is governed by the alcohol industry which is all self regulation.”
 

'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.
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