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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.

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