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'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.

Carnegie Museum of Art hosts controversial Iranian filmmaker

As a part of the 2013 Carnegie International, the Carnegie Museum of Art sponsored the first ever visit of controversial Iranian filmmaker, Kamran Shirdel, to the United States.

“Kamran Shirdel's films have been censored, banned and celebrated for documenting hidden parts of Iranian society — the plight of Tehran's prostitutes, the desperation of female prisoners, and the reality behind false heroes,” writes Kevin Begos for the Associated Press.

Shirdel began his career studying film in Italy under the likes of Roberto Rossellini and Pier Paolo Pasolini. When he returned to Iran in the mid-1960s, he was given a job creating films for the Ministry of Culture and Art, though he was soon expelled for failing to portray the prosperous images the Shah was hoping to propagate. He went on to create several documentaries exposing the margins of life in Tehran.

Until now, Shirdel’s work has not been well known in the United States. A professor of Iranian Film at Northwestern University, Hamid Naficy says his work will be eye-opening for Americans who don’t know much about Tehran.

Though Shirdel’s engagement in Pittsburgh has ended, he will be travelling to California and New York for speaking engagements at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Columbia University.

Where are the heroes for the August Wilson Center

The failure of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in downtown Pittsburgh has become the subject of curiosity for many who question why the institution, in a city that favors underdogs, was allowed to fail.

“Where was the voice and the person who was pointing at the Center, saying, 'Yes! No matter what, yes! Oh no, liquidation? No, we've got this, that's who we are,’” Vanessa German, a Pittsburgh artist told NPR.

It seems that financial mismanagement and construction budget overages found the $42 million center in the red even before the building on Liberty Avenue in the cultural district opened.

An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests that the center alienated Pittsburgh’s African American population by abandoning early pioneers of African American culture in the city and by choosing to open downtown, instead of in a neighborhood such as Homewood or the Hill District.

"There are so many plays contained in this story, he would have a field day," German said of the center’s namesake. "Tragedy, disappointment, betrayal — that's the stuff of August Wilson's plays!"

*Note, this story was written by Pittsburgh's own Larkin Page-Jacobs of WESA.
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