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.

no bueno

Another day, another clusterf*ck at Chipotle

As if crapping your brains out from E. coli wasn't bad enough, Chipotle announced it recently detected unauthorized activity on the network that supports its payment system in restaurants.

According to the Associated Press:

An investigation is focused on restaurant transactions between March 24 and April 18, and would not provide further details since the investigation is ongoing.
A Chipotle representative said the company has notified card networks, which notifies issuing banks, which in turn notifies customers.

The company released a statement that said those that visited the restaurants recently should monitor their card statements: "Consistent with good practices, consumers should closely monitor their payment card statements. If anyone sees an unauthorized charge, they should immediately notify the bank that issued the card. Payment card network rules generally state that cardholders are not responsible for such charges," the statement said.

Fifty-three people in nine states were sickened with the same strain of E. coli in 2015; 46 had eaten at Chipotle in the week before they fell ill.

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

a rob rossi column

Four letters that suck for hockey

The phone rings. The voice booms.

"Rob-ERT! How are things, my friend?"

Things suck.

They sucked for former ESPN employees on Wednesday like they have sucked for former employees elsewhere on days past, like they will suck for future former employees somewhere on days to come. They suck in ways equally insulting and indecent. They suck for everybody involved, and that group includes an audience whose connection to a journalist was suddenly severed. But they mostly suck for the journalist that the audience rarely knows.

Scott Burnside is my friend. And it sucks knowing he'll probably begin our next conversation the way he has started all of them for well over a decade.

"Rob-ERT! How are things, my friend?"

In a past life, Scott often pulled me from an abyss I couldn't help but seek. His arrivals in Pittsburgh as a national columnist for ESPN's web site usually seemed perfectly timed to coincide with a professional drama that was damaging me personally.

Covering the Penguins as the Tribune-Review's beat reporter was my dream job. But I never liked dreaming, so I made a bad habit of trying to turn the dream into a nightmare.

How would I have covered Sidney Crosby had I known about my ADHD? Differently, I think. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

I can look back on those days without regrets because I know the guy making mistakes wasn't a jerk. Rather, he was an undiagnosed case of adult ADHD and all the good and bad that comes with the condition. He couldn't let go because of his hyper-focus, or his anxiety, or his obsessive-compulsive leanings, or his depression. He couldn't let go because his body couldn't produce the proper chemicals that "other" people who were "normal" might have in abundance.

He still exists. But I keep him at arms-length through counseling and medication, and the only reason that I'm writing about him is because of the friend that Scott was to me a couple of years ago.

The dream gig had gone away, and with it went the comfort of control that had existed.

As a columnist, I was miserable. The variety of subject matter that accompanied my promotion had driven me to a dull despair. Without the Penguins' world to bury myself in, I began to see mine for what it had become.

It had become whatever I could make of it. And the fear of that responsibility sent me home most nights to reruns of sitcoms I had long ago memorized, re-readings of stories I had long ago finished, and re-enactments of scenes I had long ago vowed to forget.

Ron Swanson would not have approved of how often I watched his personal government shutdown. (Getty Images)

It about a year ago this past January when Scott rang after I hadn't returned a few emails. Whether or not he remembers the conversation, I have no idea.

You can surely guess what was first said.

"Rob-ERT! How are things, my friend?"

My answer was full of lies. After the talk, I couldn't let go of my disgust with having lied to a friend who had phoned only to check on me.

Why? All Scott had ever done was be there for me.

He had introduced me to agents when I was an inexperienced, unknown reporter. He had helped me flesh out ideas when I was transitioning towards chasing national stories. He had counseled me when I was covering my first labor stoppage. He had given me responsibilities within the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He had paid for rounds at Smokin' Joe's Saloon. He had offered his vacation spot as a getaway.

He had been a friend and a mentor and a guidepost and a leader and... well, he had been more than I deserved. And I lied to him when he sensed I needed to come clean with how things really were.

A terrible rest of that day bled into a lustful, lousy night. The next morning, my iPad screen was full with links to profiles of local therapists.

If he would be so kind as to ask again, Scott would be given an answer.

OK, so things are fun, too? (upgruv)

Things are better. Not always great. But better. A lot better.

Things are better for me because of Scott.

I was at a Penguins practice on Wednesday when word came down that Scott, Pierre LeBrun and so many others had been done dirty by the supposed "worldwide leader." A lot of the hockey folks at the Lemieux Complex came up to me and asked if I had "talked to Scotty."

Not yet. Soon

The great thing about a great friend is that you know that person well enough to know when to say what needs said.

Things sucked for a lot of sports journalists on Wednesday. Included in that group is a damn fine hockey writer named Scott Burnside.

But he's a lot more to a lot of people. Hope he knows that more than a few of us in his beloved Pittsburgh are thinking of our friend on another day that sucked.

Rob Rossi is our sports editor

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:

that's some dedication

Man runs into burning home to save beer — twice

You'd think it'd at least be some kind of awesome craft brew. Nope.

A man faces obstruction charges after police in South Dakota said he ignored orders from firefighters and ran twice into a burning building to "save" his beer.

Sioux Falls police spokesman Officer Sam Clemens told KELO that Michael Casteel, 56, ignored a police officer who tried to stop him on Sunday from running into a burning apartment building. He ran into the building a second time, despite protests from firefighters battling the flames, police said.

On his second exit, Casteel carried a pair of Bud Ice beers with him, KELO reported.

Authorities determined Casteel had a blood-alcohol content level of .082 percent, KELO reported. He was charged with obstruction and violating a 24/7 sobriety program.


Just beautiful

Black ice cream — because even goths have a sweet tooth

Just in time to match your dark soul, there's now black ice cream.

The Little Damage Ice Cream Shop in Los Angeles is serving up the treat — a dark gray Almond Charcoal soft serve delivered in a black charcoal-infused waffle cone.

It's $1. And it's blowing up on Instagram.

Danielle Salmon at Follow My Gut has a review:

"Within a few licks it was clear that the flavor was delicious! The almond was a prominent accent within the incredibly smooth and cold soft serve. The charcoal flavor came through subtly and offered a deep richness that lingered long after the ice cream was gone. What I loved about the flavor was that there wasn't any gritty taste that you would assume would be present when you hear "charcoal" in the name."

Oh, black ice cream isn't new.

There's been other versions around the world. (Just last year, Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream in New York did it up.) And if you look, there's plenty of black ice cream goodness out there.

But Little Damage's version seems to be the flavor of the week.

not the sharpest crayon in the box

Facebook Live video helps Pittsburgh police crack case

From WTAE: Investigators said a Facebook Live video helped them get the break they needed to file charges against a suspect in the murder of a 25-year-old woman in December.

Myanne Redman, 25, was shot and killed in Pittsburgh's East Hills neighborhood on Dec. 19.

According to a criminal complaint, police developed Isaiah Booker, 23, as a potential suspect in the case very early in their investigation.

In February, Booker had posted a Facebook Live video in which gunshots are heard along with what sounds like a police officer saying "Stop, get your hands up. Stop." The video goes off after a police siren is heard.

Read more about how police solved the case at WTAE.