Having a brass ball

Beyond Pittonkatonk's May Day blast

From City Paper: Pittonkatonk is not a music festival.

It's a series of community activities that includes a music-bolstered, family-reunion-style party in Schenley Park each May, but Pittonkatonk is active year-round.

It's a protest, it's an educational program, it's a community-organizing catalyst.


One of the Pittonkatonk collective's biggest campaigns is to bring music education to underserved local schools and communities. Some schools don't even have a music-education program, and many don't have enough instruments to go around. Some students have never seen live musicians perform, and the idea of becoming a musician is one that's inaccessible to many of them.

Pittonkatonk aims to change that.


The Pittonkatonk website displays its educational mission with a call to action: "Pittonkatonk may just be a day in the park for you, but for us it's a year-round initiative that we feel is essential in building community, empowering youth voices through musical expression, and an innovative way of producing grassroots events unlike anything else."

Read more about the musical movement at City Paper's site.

And don't miss this year's May Day Brass BBQ on May 6 at the Vietnam Veteran's Pavilion in Schenley Park from 1-11 p.m.

Back on the air

Dish customers get their WTAE back

DISH Network customers in the Pittsburgh area can again watch WTAE-TV.

DISH announced Wednesday night it had reached a multi-year agreement with Hearst Television for carrying the broadcaster's local channels in 26 markets across 30 states, including WTAE.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Heart's stations had been unavailable to DISH customers since March 3 because of a contract dispute.

A WTAE representative could not immediately be reached for comment, but Hearst issued a statement from its television president, Jordan Wertlieb.

"We are grateful to once again have Hearst Television stations providing DISH customers the quality local and national programming which we invest so heavily to offer our local communities," Wertlieb said. "We are thankful to DISH subscribers and to our supportive advertisers for their extraordinary patience during this prolonged process."

DISH Network had about 13.7 million paying subscribers as of Dec. 31, 2016.

— Tribune-Review

Almost like riding a coaster

Kennywood prepping Sky Rocket for VR experience

The news isn't so new: It was reported back in December — via Coaster Hub — that Kennywood would be adding a virtual reality experience to its Sky Rocket coaster.

Then today, this appeared on Kennywood's Instagram:

The comments took a few people by surprise. They had no idea.

Looks like what is already a very popular ride could get even busier.

Of course, not everyone is behind the concept. Here's a comment from Coaster Hub:

If you want to know what's in store for VR riders on the Sky Rocket, check out this very similar experience at Six Flags:

Singles welcome

Air Sex Championships are, uh, coming to Pittsburgh

Time to get your best air sex moves in shape.

You'll need to be limbered up when the 2017 Air Sex Championship National Tour comes to town May 4.

You know: Air sex — where you have jaw-dropping sexual encounters with an invisible partner (or partners!) using nothing more than the art of pelvic storytelling and pure imagination.

It's coming (excuse the pun) to Club Cafe on the South Side.

According to the website, "It's a comedy show that brings people together in a respectfully dirty, unpredictably ridiculous, and oddly touching celebration of sexual freedom and expression. It's a serious competition to see who can fake-fuck nobody better than anybody else.

"Beyond that, it's a show you'll have to experience yourself to believe."

The show, which has played major festivals and events like FunFunFun Fest, the AVN Awards, Cinekink, Green Gravel Fest, Pemberton Music Fest and the Moontower Fest, is hosted by comedian Chris Trew. He did this Air Sex thing as an audition for "America's Got Talent."

Disturbing to say the least.

The panel of judges is usually made up of comedians, pro wrestlers, porn stars and local celebrities. It already has us wondering who they're lining up to judge in Pittsburgh.

Wanna sign up to compete? You can!

It's all in good fun. (We're guessing). Organizers term it as SPART — a mix of sports and art. Each Air Sex show brings together the "pageantry and prestige of professional sports with the excitement and creativity of a first-rate talent competition."

Don't believe us? Check out these highlights from past competitions.

Doors open at 7, and the air humping starts at 8. Tickets are $10.

But, be afraid. Be very afraid.


Pittsburgh's Arts Festival is finally embracing umbrellas

The umbrellas as a piece of art didn't just pop up. This installation was chosen for a reason long associated with the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

"We know it's a running joke that it always rains during the arts festival," said Sarah Aziz, director of festival management for Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, at an April 25 news conference at the August Wilson Center, announcing some of the attractions for this year's festival, June 2 to 11.

"This floating umbrella piece inspired by Mary Poppins is perfect for the arts festival," she said. "It will bring us lots of color and it's pretty big — 15 feet tall — so it will be very visible. And hopefully, it will keep the rain away."

The project in Saint-Chamond, France (Facebook)

The Umbrella Sky Project began in 2011 as part of the Portuguese city of Agueda's famous annual Agitagueda Art Festival. Each year, during the hot summer months of July, August and September, a handful of the city's narrow streets gain colorful umbrella canopies that provide shade for the pedestrians passing through.

Creators of the project, Sextafeira, also have launched offshoots of this work in other cities. It will be set up in Pittsburgh on May 30 in Gateway Center and remain throughout the festival.

In addition to the umbrellas, other art installations at this year's TRAF include the Tidal Shilo Shiv, an interactive large-scale installation with LED lights created by Indian visual artist Shilo Shiv Suleman.

Shilo Shiv Suleman will be using LEDs instead of candles. (Facebook)

Riverlife presents "Take a Seat," where visitors can move chairs around that are tracked by a GPS so festival organizers can determine where more seating is needed.

The Giant Eagle Creativity Zone will have a new location in Gateway Center, in addition to the traditional site in Point State Park. And the Anthropology of Motherhood also will be adding a second area.

The Artists Market will once again be in Gateway Center and Point State Park, as well as the emerging artists market.


More than 60 artists applied, including Lesley Morton from Green Tree who owns Morton Woodworking. She fashions everything from cutting boards to jewelry boxes to bow ties out of wood. Morton knows how to operate a chainsaw and often goes into the forest in search of wood from downed trees. She does custom work and will use a piece of wood that has meaning to the client.

"It's so much fun," says Morton, a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

There will be a variety of films at the Harris Theater, including "The Freedom to Marry." Sweetwater Center for the Arts, based in Sewickley, will have an area to "Show Us Who You Are," where participants can make self portraits using conte crayons and prismacolor pencils to reflect what they see in the mirror.

"This event is extremely vital to the city," Aziz says. "There is so much we love about Downtown Pittsburgh and this is a way to showcase such talented artists and musicians as well as enjoy some great food."

The food trucks return this year, including the Coop Chicken and Waffles, which offers cinnamon roll waffles, apple pie waffles and fried chicken tenders.

One of the musicians performing at the festival will be up-and-comer Grace Rusnica, who studies musical theater at Stage Right in Greensburg. The Irwin resident, who has been taking piano lessons since she was 4 years old, will be singing and playing June 3 on the acoustic stage.

"It's pretty exciting," she says. "It's different than anything I have done before."

The arts festival attracts more than 500,000 people, which is good for the city, says Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

— Tribune-Review

what's up with that?

Why Kenan Thompson is the ultimate 'SNL' cast member

From The Huffington Post: Kenan Thompson took the stage in an oversized three-piece suit and an awkward wig bursting with Jheri curls. He looked, objectively speaking, completely and utterly ridiculous.

Seconds before, a BET logo flashed across the screen as "Saturday Night Live" cast member Will Forte, playing a talk show announcer, introduced the sketch: "It's 'What's Up With That!' Tackling the issues of today with soul," Forte bellowed. "Now, here's your host: Diondre Cole!"

It was Oct. 17, 2009, and unlikely as it seemed, Thompson was finally about to have his moment with the debut of a "Saturday Night Live" skit that would define him.

He boogied in with a silly zip to each step. Perfectly in time, perfectly in tune and perfectly in control, Thompson began to sing, "Ooo―eee! What up with that? What up with that?" along with his two go-go dancers, played by Nasim Pedrad and Jenny Slate.

What, exactly, was happening?

Read how Kenan could make SNL history at The Huffington Post.

Hollywood comes to town

'Steel City Rehab' to debut on HGTV

Pittsburgh will be in the spotlight Sunday as "Steel City Rehab" debuts on HGTV.

The hourlong program, which will air at noon, details a home renovation headed by husband-wife duo and local real estate professionals Kris and Tara Bennett, who own K Bennett Development Group and its sister company, boutique brokerage Lifespace Pittsburgh.

"This has been such a cool experience for all of us," Tara Bennett says. "Pittsburgh is an awesome city, and we're excited to see it getting the attention it deserves."

Throughout the episode, the Bennetts work to acquire, restore and ultimately sell a home in the East End. They enlist the help of colleagues and longtime friends Cameron Nicols, project manager, and Jesse Wig, real estate agent.

The "Steel City Rehab" pilot features the hands-on work of two local professionals: former Pittsburgh Steeler and woodworking expert John Malecki, who works with Tara Bennett to create custom-made furniture, and Abode Pittsburgh founder and creative director Heather Visnesky, whose team staged and styled the property.

star power

Mandy and Milo headed to the 'Burgh

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia, stars of NBC's "This is Us," will be in Pittsburgh on Saturday to announce the Steelers' fourth-round NFL Draft pick.

Moore and Ventimiglia will make the announcement at Heinz Field, an NBC spokesperson said Monday.

"This is Us" is set in Pittsburgh, and Moore and Ventimiglia will shoot promos for the Steelers' in-stadium screen while they're in town.

The Steelers will be celebrating the 2017 Steelers Fan Blitz with events on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Among the planned events is a Q&A session with Moore and Ventimiglia at the FedEx Great Hall stage.