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Teen Underground Cafe Is Back–and Bigger Than Ever!

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Teen Underground Cafe, an after-hours performance & arts program for teens, is coming–and it wants your participation!

Through Teen Underground Cafe, we hope to turn Libraries all over the city into after hours showcases of teen talent. As one part, we will soon be scheduling eight Teen Underground Cafe Presents… at the Main Library (in Oakland), in which we’ll be looking for teens to fill two slots of 30-40 minutes of material of all kinds–music, poetry, improv, you name it–as well as one teen to feature their visual art of choice in the Main – Teen Department for a month after the event. (Think of it like your own private opening party.)

Performers and artists will be compensated for their time and efforts. If you are a performer or visual artist and would like to be considered, please submit the following information to teenundergroundcafe@carnegielibrary.org:

  • Name
  • Performing or artist alias or name of group
  • Description of performance or art
  • Link to any recordings or documentation
  • E-mail address
  • Phone number

Additionally, the Teen Underground Cafe is going to travel all across the city for a series of after hours Open Mic Nights. The stage will be yours to feature your music, poetry, and more. And with a full PA system and back line of drums, guitars, and amps, you may meet a fellow collaborator–or even get scouted to feature more of your work at Teen Underground Cafe Presents…!

Our Open Mic Nights will be happening the following months at the following locations. Tune into our events page for more info as it comes:

  • Feburary 2014: Knoxville [Saturday, February 22, 2014 ; 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM]
  • March 2014: Hill District [Thursday, March 27, 2014 ; 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM]
  • May 2014: East Liberty
  • June 2014: Brookline
  • July 2014: Carrick
  • August 2014: Hazelwood
  • September 2014: Squirrel Hill
  • November 2014: Homewood
  • January 2015: West End
  • March 2015: Sheraden
  • April 2015: Allegheny
  • May 2015: Woods Run

Hope to see you there!

~Joseph
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Black History Month Spotlights Return to CLP Carrick!


Every Tuesday in February last year, CLP Carrick’s weekly teen program, Teen Thing, focused on a different African American pioneer with a creative activity related to the accomplishments of said pioneer.  We made stop-motion zombie flicks in honor of Duane Jones, flipbook comics for Frank Braxton, 3D glasses for Valerie Thomas, and watched a documentary about the arts scene in Brooklyn in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

It was all pretty awesome.

So… when the topic of continuing the weekly Black History Month events came up this January, Teen Think, Carrick’s Teen Advisory Group, voted unanimously to continue the spotlights with this year’s theme of music.  Throughout February, Teen Thing will be spotlighting innovative and influential African American musicians who have significantly contributed to the sounds of rock, jazz, punk, and hip hop – and it all starts this week!

Tuesday, February 4th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: Blues and Early Rock and Roll

The mysterious Robert Johnson

Into artists like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Jack White, and The Black Keys??? Come find out about the African American blues and rock musicians that influenced them – artists like Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry.

Oh, and make your own harmonica while you’re at it!


Other events include:

Tuesday, February 11th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: All That Jazz

Pittsburgh’s Mary Lou Williams


Tuesday, February 18th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: Punk 101 – Bad Brains

Washington D.C.’s legendary Bad Brains


Tuesday, February 25th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: Hip Hop and Change

Saul Williams


Find out where the music you like comes from at our Black History Month Spotlights!  Teen Thing happens every Tuesday afternoon from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM and is open to anyone in grades 6-12 or age 12-18.



Jon : Carrick

Welcome To America’s Most Livable City?

The number of stories praising Pittsburgh keep piling up. From Most Livable to Best Places to Retire, from Top City for Geeks to Best Place to Buy a Home, Pittsburgh seems like the new cool place to be. But if everybody all over America saying Pittsburgh is so great, why is Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X calling Pittsburgh “Clicksburgh, Pistolvania?” Is it true, as Jasiri X says, that Pittsburgh has the highest rate of Black poverty among 40 comparable US cities? Is Pittsburgh the “Most Livable City” in the United States?

stopshooting

These are important questions to ask. Jasiri X is talking about Black poverty, and since almost 30% of Pittsburgh’s residents are African-American according to U.S. Census data, that’s three out of ten people.  That’s a lot of Pittsburghers. U.S. Census data shows that the rate of African-Americans who live in poverty in Pittsburgh is around 35.6%– certainly among the highest rates in the country. People who live in poverty have a harder time paying for housing, food, transportation and even the things that would help to lift them out of poverty, such as getting a college degree.

To make matters worse, in some of Pittsburgh’s poorest neighborhoods, there has been an increase in gun violence recently. In 2013, little Marcus Lamont White, Jr., a baby in East Hills was killed when somebody started to shoot at a community barbeque. Wiz Khalifa’s uncle was shot and killed outside the Steak ‘n Shake at the Waterfront in January, 2014. Late that same month, Hosea Davis, the man who saved a girl at the East Liberty Target from a man with a knife was shot ten times with a high-powered gun in the back. Four of the nine homicides in Allegheny County as of January 29, 2014 were African-American. In 2013, 42 of the 62 lives taken were African-American.

Gun violence and poverty levels in Pittsburgh beg the question: if Pittsburgh is the Most Livable City, who is it most livable for? How would the levels of Black poverty and gun violence in Pittsburgh affect national praise for Pittsburgh if they were taken into closer consideration? Is Pittsburgh still “Most Livable” in spite of its challenges? What do you think? How do we explain the differences between some Pittsburghers’ experiences with poverty and gun violence and national articles about how great Pittsburgh is? And finally, what are Pittsburghers doing about these problems?

There are many groups and individuals who are trying to stop gun violence in our city. One of them is Vanessa German, a spoken word artist who lives in Homewood. She exhibits her visual work and performs internationally. Vanessa created the signs that say, “Stop Shooting-We Love You” that you might have seen all over Pittsburgh. They are one of her responses to shooting in her neighborhood and beyond. Vanessa also runs ArtHouse—an after-school house where kids can come to do art alongside her. You need to hear Vanessa German if you want to better understand the strengths of Pittsburgh. She’s amazing! Here is a link to a recent performance Vanessa did about the beauty and challenges of Homewood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aktAjeFqtvw

Another is Sharon Flake, the Pittsburgh author of The Skin I’m In, Bang!, You Don’t Even Know Me and Pinned, among others. Sharon writes about kids who are dealing with poverty and violence. Sometimes reading about situations like yours can make you feel less alone. Reading about kids unlike you can help you to understand the world from many perspectives.

Bang!

Check out some of these great books about gun violence, growing up poor, and how in spite of hard circumstances, people find strength through their connections to other people. And if you want to read more about Pittsburgh’s best-of lists, gun violence in our city and other ideas in this blog article, here’s a list of links:

“30 Years of Hell With The Lid Off to Most Livable: How Pittsburgh Became Cool”

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/10/20/30-Years-Hell-with-the-lid-off-to-Most-Livable-How-Pittsburgh-became-cool.html

“18 Reasons Why Pittsburgh is the Greatest City on the Planet”

http://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetsiris/18-reasons-why-pittsburgh-is-the-greatest-city-on-d56b

Forbes.Com Rates Pittsburgh No. 1 “Most Livable City”

http://www.nationalurbanmedia.com/FORBESCOM-RATES-PITTSBURGH-NO-1-MOST-LIVABLE-CITY/

WYEP Gun Violence in Pittsburgh:

http://www.wqed.org/tv/gunviolence/

Vanessa German:

http://lovefrontporch.com

Sharon Flake:

http://www.sharongflake.com/

Sheila-Hill District

Remembering Elliott Smith

This past Monday marked the 10th anniversary of Elliott Smith’s unfortunate passing.  Like every great artist, though, his work lives on – sounding every bit as compelling and relevant as it did when first released, like a final defiance to time itself.

I found Elliott Smith when I was in seventh grade, just a few months after he had released his third solo album, Either/Or.  For me, at that age, he definitely broke down some self-constructed walls – I was, quite exclusively, into more abrasive stuff (e.g. Glassjaw, Pg. 99, Fugazi, Converge, etc.) but was, like many, instantly and inexplicably drawn to the hushed melancholy of his initial solo material.  While I couldn’t fully explain my interest at the time, I was definitely pulled in by the juxtaposition of his unique songwriting ability – how bleak and gritty yet equally beautiful his songs are; how his painful honesty and personal intensity was still so widely relatable on an emotional level despite being so insular.

Anyways, I thought I’d just share a few of my favorites:

Off the third album from his early 90′s band, Heatmiser:

A short film by Jem Cohen – two originals and his Big Star cover: 





     

Jon : Carrick

The link between rhythm and reading

Image c.o. freedigitalimages.net, by imagerymajestic.

Image by imagerymajestic, via freedigitalimages.net

This just in from the Journal of Neuroscience: researchers have discovered that learning to keep a steady beat can enhance your language skills and make you a better reader.

A recent study tested the rhythmic abilities of a group of Chicago high-schoolers to establish a link between beat-keeping mastery and language aptitude. As it turns out, both of these abilities are managed by the same part of our brains. Moving in time with a beat trains the brain to listen carefully and pick out subtle auditory cues.

Human language is inherently musical– we don’t talk like robots, but let our words rise and fall with emphasis on certain syllables. Our normal speech patterns move with a sense of rhythm, so it makes sense that practicing music may improve the ability to use and interpret language, too. And since reading requires us to understand and anticipate the way that language moves, exercising your rhythm skills can also help to build your reading skills.

Whether you dance, sing, practice an instrument, or just drum your fingers along with the beat, this new info is an awesome reason to keep listening to (and making) music.

You can find musical masterpieces of every genre at the library, or check out Freegal, which allows you to download 3 new songs a week using your CLP library card.

And of course, we’ve got you covered on books, too. Listen to music — > become a better reader —> read cool books about music:

Beats, Rhymes, & Life: What We Love and Hate About Hip HopNick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

 

 

Learn to Speak Music

 

 

 

Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetic of Hip Hop    The Vinyl Princess

Teen Media Awards

On Wednesday, August 14, 2013, Library staff and community members gathered to honor the creative works of Pittsburgh teens at the 3rd annual Teen Media Awards! Winners of the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest and TheLabs “Labsy” Awards shared their writing and creative arts with a packed theater!

Teen Media Awards 2013 @ Carnegie Museum of Art Theater

Teen Media Awards 2013 @ Carnegie Museum of Art Theater

Keynote speaker Shioban Vivian started off the evening with an inspiring (and comical) talk about following your dreams and always striving to be creative and hard working. See below for winners and photos from this very special night in Pittsburgh!

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Keynote Speaker: Siobhan Vivian

Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest

Poetry
1st Place: “A or a” by Rose Swanson
2nd Place: “Hospitalia” by Agatha Monasterios – Ramirez

Short Prose
1st Place: “Bishop and Wash” by Lana Meyer
2nd Place: “Veteran Advice” by Kristen Grom

Screen Writing
1st Place: “cHaos before hArmony” by Justen Turner-Thorne
2nd Place: “On the End of Every Fork” by Tyler Hudson

Labsy Awards

Photography
1st Place:Tanzania” by Olivia Muse
Honorable Mentions: “Flagpole” by Morgan Wable-Keene, “Downtown” by Raven

Design
1st Place:Chronology Poster” by Morgan Wable-Keene
Honorable Mentions: “Submission 2” by Sarah Watkins, “Drawing 1” by Lexi Hall

Music/Audio
1st Place:Short Jam” by David Watkins
Honorable Mentions: “Midas Theme” by Morgan Wable-Keene

Maker’s Studio
1st Place:Space Intruder” by Morgan Wable-Keene
Honorable Mentions: “Speaker” by Ceu Gomez Faulk, “Glam-o-Tron” by Joshalyn and Cassidy

Video
1st Place:Hat Chasers” by Simone Traub, Julian Edwards, Ashae Shaw, Umoja Shaw, Trayvon Ramsey, Jayla Ramsey, and Caliyha Hogan
Honorable Mentions: “Midas” by Cody, Morgan, Sarah, Philppa, Pascal, Kayla, and Pei Pei, “Electric Twist” by Kate Philipps, Hannah Philipps, Tessa Twyman, and Mae Twyman

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For more photos from the Teen Media Awards click here or here or here.

The 2014 Teen Media Awards are just around the corner. If you are a budding writer, photographer, filmmaker, designer, creative-extraordinaire in Pittsburgh or Allegheny County, get started on your work today!

Looks for details on the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest in spring 2014 and visit The Labs at Main, East Liberty, Southside, and Allegheny to start working on your designs, photography, and more!

Summer Jams

There is no debating about which song ruled the airwaves of summer 2012.  I think we’re all still trying to recover from that one.  But have we collectively decided what this summer’s omnipresent jam is yet?  I have a solid guess myself, but it seems like the summer has just gotten underway and the title is still anyone’s for the taking.

Thinking about what the unofficial song of the summer of 2013 will be has got me waxing nostalgic.  I started reminiscing about the summer between my junior and senior year of high school and the band, hit song, and album that completely took over my life.  On the night of the last day of school, my friends and I went to an to see a fairly well known band from England.  But it was that night’s opening band playing to a near empty room that stole my heart.  I just had to meet them.  My friends and I wormed our way backstage and buddied up to our new favorite band.  We even ended up in their van at the end of the night driving to their hotel room to hang out until dawn.  I recognize that this sounds very, very stupid and WAY worse than it actually was.  But honestly, it was all very innocent.  We spent the rest of the summer and fall writing letters back and forth with band members (this was before the internet and email was totally ubiquitous) and sneaking into clubs meeting up with them whenever they came touring our way, which was actually fairly often.  But soon, the band got big- like REALLY BIG – and our little friendship couldn’t survive their new-found, massive fame.  Even though I quickly outgrew their music, when I hear those first singles from their first album it takes me right back to a time I remember fondly.  I really felt like I was on the verge of adulthood and my life was shaping up to be very exciting.  I will never tell you which band it was because it really is just way too embarrassing to share, but you guys are all welcome to speculate!

I asked my fellow Teen Specialists to share their favorite (or most memorable) summer jams and below are the results:

Annica from West End:  Listen to this song and you’ll know how my 16th summer went.  Memories come flooding back and give me chills every time I hear it.

Micheal from Hazelwood:  In the summer of ’99 there was one song that was impossible to escape!  I give you, Len’s one hit wonder “Steal My Sunshine”!

Lauren from Woods Run:  It was the summer of 1996 and I was working at Kennywood Park.  My food stand was close to the Musik Express and “1979″ was in such heavy rotation that I swear it played every 15 minutes.  Just like the staff in “Adventureland”, we got very sick of that song by the end of the summer!  When I hear it now, I think back to all the fun I had working at an amusement park.

Molly from The Labs:  When of Montreal’s The Sunlandic Twins came out in the spring of my junior year, it changed my (music) life.  Although I still listen to the album year-round, “Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games)” has always felt particularly summery to me, with its heartbeat-like intro (reminding me what it’s like to be able to run outside again), whimsical lyrics about escaping through imagination, and a fast, danceable tempo.  It’s definitely on my list of songs to put on while driving in the sunshine with the windows down.

Tessa from East Liberty:  “It Must Be Summer” by Fountains of Wayne is perfect for driving to the mall with your windows open, or driving to Sheetz so you can buy food and hang out in the parking lot of the Sheraton (these were summer activities in my hometown).  Fountains of Wayne are the masters of the happy but yearning pop song.

Another from Tessa from East Liberty:  And if you’re just sitting on your porch wishing you had air conditioning I recommend “How Many Cans” by Soul Coughing- it has a slow, fat bass line that is probably just the right groove for the sweat you hate to feel dripping down your back.

So, what do yinz think will be the song of summer 2013?

Want to play this summer’s hit songs on the ukulele?  Join us on Tuesday, July 23 from 2 pm to 3:30 pm in the CLP – Main Teen Meeting Room for Ukulele Mayhem.  We’ll be learn a few simple chords and pop songs and record our epic, ukulele jam session for all of posterity!  Bring your own ukulele or play one of ours.  All skill levels are welcome.  Participation in this program is limited to teens.

Daft Punk, “Get Lucky,” and the One Book, Every Decade Challenge

swing-dance-vintageAnyone who’s spent any time around me knows that I have an affinity for dance music.

In fact, one of the best parts of my job is getting to go to CAPA and other schools where, as part of our CLP – BAM! (Books and More!) outreach initiative, I get to rock dance parties in school lunch rooms, while at the same time partnering with other librarians to check out books and other materials, provide crafts, play games, and offer all sorts of fun stuff.

One of the cool things about dance music is that it’s not a recent phenomenon (yes, really). As soon as ancient people were able to carve out hollows in wood and gourds, they were working out rhythms and moving along to them. And that old-timey music your grandparents listen to on the radio might not compare in volume to the synth bass lines of Deadmau5, but they were able to get huge dance halls moving.

Enter Daft Punk and their stripped-down neo disco song “Get Lucky,” which you can download–and keep–from the Library through our new Freegal service or, of course, check out. Part of this song’s purpose, as they outlined in a rare radio interview, is to try to strip dance music to its roots and get back to a timeless feeling of groove:

“Like every song on this record, it was something really organic,” Thomas Bangalter said. “They really represent bridging the generations together and what Nile Rodgers represents for dance music and R&B in America in the Seventies and the Eighties and what Pharrell represents from somehow the same genre of music in the Nineties and 2000s, it felt really interesting to connect all these eras together to create the music of the present and possibly the music of the future as well.”

Picking up on that feeling, one very perky Frenchman decided that he’d remake “Get Lucky” into a mix of what the song would sound like through the years, featuring musical styles from every decade from 1920 to… 2020.

After listening to these ditties, I posed a challenge to myself: could I come up with a list featuring books that take place in each decade of the video? The answer, of course, was yes. So now I pose a challenge to you: this summer, can you read a book that takes place in every decade of the century covered?

If you’re looking for suggestions, here’s my one book for every decade list:

1920s

silhouetteofasparrowSilhouette of a Sparrow
Molly Beth Griffin

During the summer of 1926 in the lake resort town of Excelsior, Minnesota, sixteen-year-old Garnet, who dreams of indulging her passion for ornithology, is resigned to marrying a nice boy and settling into middle-class homemaking until she takes a liberating job in a hat shop and begins an intense, secret relationship with a daring and beautiful flapper.

1930s

watcherintheshadowsThe Watcher in the Shadows
Carlos Ruiz Zafón

When a fourteen-year-old moves with her family to the coast of Normandy, she’s immediately taken by the beauty of the place–its expansive cliffs, coasts, and harbors. But a dark mystery is about to unfold involving a reclusive toymaker who lives in a gigantic mansion filled with mechanical beings and shadows of the past.

1940s

momentcomesA Moment Comes
Jennifer Bradbury

As the partition of India nears in 1947 bringing violence even to Jalandhar, Tariq, a Muslim, finds himself caught between his forbidden interest in Anupreet, a Sikh girl, and Margaret, a British girl whose affection for him might help with his dream of studying at Oxford.

1950s

outoftheeasyOut of the Easy
Ruta Sepetys

Josie, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a French Quarter prostitute, is striving to escape 1950 New Orleans and enroll at prestigious Smith College when she becomes entangled in a murder investigation.

1960s

fireinthestreetsFire in the Streets
Kekla Magoon

In the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968, Chicago fourteen-year-old Maxie longs to join the Black Panthers, whether or not her brother, ex-boyfriend, or her friends like it. Soon, she finds herself caught up in the violence of anti-war and civil rights demonstrations.

1970s

takewhatyoucancarryWhat You Can Carry
Kevin C. Pyle

In 1977 suburban Chicago, Kyle runs wild with his friends and learns to shoplift from the local convenience store. In 1941 Berkeley, the Himitsu family is forced to leave their home for a Japanese-American internment camp, and their teenage son must decide how to deal with his new life. But though these boys are growing up in wildly different places and times, their lives intersect in more ways than one, as they discover compassion, learn loyalty, and find renewal in the most surprising of places.

1980s

eleanorparkEleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

1990s

whenlovecomestotownWhen Love Comes to Town
Tom Lennon

The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school, and is just a regular guy. A guy who’s gay. It’s a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self–and to whom.

2000s

staywithmeStay With Me
Garret Freymann-Weyr

Sixteen-year-old Leila Abranel was born some twenty years after her sisters. Her elegant sisters from her father’s first marriage have lives full of work, love affairs, and travel. Leila doesn’t know either of them very well, but she loves hearing about them–details of Rebecca’s ruined marriage, Clare’s first job, and the strings of unsuitable boyfriends. When Rebecca kills herself, Leila wants to know why. She starts by spending time with Clare and finally comes to know her as a person instead of a story. With Clare’s reluctant help, Leila tracks down Rebecca’s favorite places and tries to find her sister’s friends. Along the way, Leila meets Eamon. Eamon is thirty-one and writes for television. He thinks Leila is beautiful and smart, but he does not, he tells her, date teenagers. And yet, the months go by and Leila turns seventeen and learns that you can love someone you are not dating. Maybe letting Eamon love her back is a mistake. Maybe she’ll never know why Rebecca did what she did. Maybe, Leila, decides, most people have a hard time figuring out which way is left or knowing when to let go and when to stay.

2010s

wingerWinger
Andrew Smith

Two years younger than his classmates at a prestigious boarding school, fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West grapples with living in the dorm for troublemakers, falling for his female best friend who thinks of him as just a kid, and playing wing on the Varsity rugby team with some of his frightening new dorm-mates.

2020s

whenwewakeWhen We Wake
Karen Healey

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice. But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened. Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Dance, read, and have a good summer!

~Joseph
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

“Oblique Strategies” for Reviving Creativity

Oblique Strategy
Lately, in the midst of promoting our Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest, I’ve been thinking about all of the aspects in a teen’s life that can impede creativity. Is the impulse just not there? Perhaps its there but is just being diverted? I wonder if any of these seem familiar:

Enter Brian Eno…

Brian Eno glam

(b Woodbridge, 15 May 1948). English composer and producer. While attending art school in Ipswich and then Winchester he developed an interest in ‘systems’ music, and much of his work can be seen as continuing the work of composers such as John Cage. He first worked professionally from 1970 to 1973 with the seminal art-rock band Roxy Music, lending their first two albums, Roxy Music (Island, 1972) and For Your Pleasure (Island, 1973), a quirky surrealist edge. By treating the group’s live sound electronically with a tape recorder and VC5 3 synthesizer, he defined a role for himself as an ‘aural collagist’. After leaving Roxy Music in 1973, Eno developed this interest in the timbral quality of music further with the albums No Pussy Footing (Island, 1973; with King Crimson’s Robert Fripp) and the seminal Another Green World (Island, 1975), the latter a brilliant combination of quirky songs and pastoral instrumentals. In 1975 his interest in aleatory music led him to produce with Peter Schmidt ‘Oblique Strategies’ cards, a collection of ‘over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas’, which formed a sort of musical tarot, each card containing a directive on how to proceed to the next creative stage. He then collaborated on three of David Bowie’s most innovatory albums (Low, ‘Heroes’ and Lodger), produced new-wave bands such as Talking Heads and Devo, and released two important ambient instrumental albums, Music for Films (EG, 1978) and Music for Airports (EG, 1979).

Info from our Grove Music Online database of music.

Basically, Brian Eno is a creative genius who is one of the most important musical artists of the seventies. And he’s a critically important part of making the following scene happen (you might remember it).


What I want to focus on today are the “Oblique Strategies” cards, which are a great legacy to leave to people of any creative persuasion.

Brian Eno and his artist friend Peter Schmidt had discovered that they both developed a set of working principles for whenever they were getting creatively stuck under pressure. They mixed, matched, meditated, and ultimately developed a deck of cards with ideas designed to move the creative process forward.

Whenever you’re stuck within a creative activity, draw a card, read it, and trust it.

oblique box

While the original cards are long out of print, and while recent reincarnations are fairly expensive, some Eno historians have made electronic copies available to any creative adventurers. Check out this colorful web recreation. And, of course, there’s an app for that (and for Android, too).

Happy creating!

~Joseph
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

Ladies First!

Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Ke$ha all belong in the top 10 of most-downloaded iTunes songs of all time, but not too long ago women did not reign the music charts. Since March is Women’s History Month, let’s look back at the women who helped pave the way for today’s top ranking ladies.

Disclaimer: There are far too many important women in the history of music to even scratch the surface here. The following women are just some of my personal favorites who all had a positive message for females.

Aretha Franklin

Motown may have had so many amazing girl groups, but Atlantic Records had the Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin. Not many vocalists could take an Ottis Reading song, then turn around and make people forget it was a cover. “Respect” gave African-American women an unprecedented voice and visibility in 1967, a time when our country was still battling both sexism and racism.

Joan Jett

Rock, particularly punk rock, was a predominantly male-dominated genre from its beginning. A member of one of the first successful all female bands, The Runaways, Joan Jett broke down barriers with attitude, heavy guitar riffs and a “Bad Reputation.” She is currently still rocking out & the founder of Blackheart Records, which has signed a whole new generation of female rockers.

Cyndi Lauper

Her debut solo album was titled She’s So Unusual and at the time that certainly described her. She wore funky thrift store fashions, had more vibrant hair color than Katy Perry and a squeaky Queens accent with an adorkable laugh. In 1983, she became the first female artist ever to achieve four top five hits off of one album on the Billboard Hot 100. Cyndi is still recording and now spends much of her time championing for LGBT rights. Her signature song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” has gained recognition as a feminist anthem and the video was the first to win Best Female Video at the MTV Music Video Awards.

Queen Latifah

You may know her as an actress, television show host, and Cover Girl, but back in the day Queen Latifah was the reigning monarch of female rap. Her 1989 debut album, All Hail The Queen is still one of the greatest rap records of all time, regardless of gender. And the album’s signature track, “Ladies First,” was not only a call to arms in terms of feminine positivity, but also lyrically tight, while remaining smooth. *Some of the images in the following video deal with the battle to end the apartheid in South Africa. They may not be suitable for sensitive viewers.

Kathleen Hanna

Kathleen Hanna is widely considered as the founder of the feminist riot grrrl movement. She overturned gender norms with her D.I.Y. punk zines and as the singer and songwriter for the band Bikini Kill. She basically made it her personal mission to increase feminist activity and female involvement in the 90’s punk rock scene.

In an article celebrating Hanna’s accomplishments in the music, The New York Times explains the riot grrrl movement:

“When it took hold in the early and mid 1990s, driven by bands from Olympia, Wash., like Bratmobile and Heavens to Betsy, it represented a new kind of youthful, D.I.Y. feminism, a grass-roots uprising aimed less at liberating women from the institutions that oppressed them than inviting women to create new ones.”

Kathleen Hanna went on to front Le Tigre, an electropunk band, in the late 90’s through the early 2000’s. Their song “Hot Topic” is a musical history lesson filled with feminist icons!

She's a rebel : the history of women in rock & roll by Gillian G. Gaar We gotta get out of this place : the true, tough story of women in rock by Gerri Hirshey. She bop : the definitive history of women in rock, pop, and soul by Lucy O'Brien She bop II : the definitive history of women in rock, pop and soul by Lucy O'Brien Girl power : the nineties revolution in music by Marisa Meltzer Check it while I wreck it : black womanhood, hip-hop culture, and the public sphere by Gwendolyn D. Pough Hip Hop Divas by Vibe Books Girls to the front : the true story of the Riot grrrl revolution by Sara Marcus Don't Need You (DVD) Women singer-songwriters in rock [electronic resource] : a populist rebellion in the 1990s by Ronald D. Lankford Jr

Now it is your turn to reply and share what female musicians rock your world!

lauren @ CLP – Woods Run

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