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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!

DSC_0018

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!

Fresh Perspectives: A Teen Documentary Series

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main, Teen is screening four documentaries that focus on aspects of the teen experience, including independence, over-coming adversity, self confidence and establishing your personal identity.  All teens are welcome to come watch the films and connect with others on Wednesdays from 6-8pm in the Teen Department (Oakland).
PROOF _1  GSA documentary series_facebookNEWSIZE


May 22:
  Film Series Kickoff & Screening
A glimpse into five Indiana teenagers’ senior year of high school.

May 29:  Now We Can Dance: The Story of the Hayward Gay Prom
The story of the Hayward Gay Prom which has been attracting hundreds of Bay Area youth since it began in 1995.  The creation of this film was a two-year project that trained teenagers to be filmmakers with the help of Hayward Public Library staff members and professional advisers.

June 5:  Girls Rock!
Four girls transform their lives at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls.

June 12:  This is What Love in Action Looks Like*
The story of a 16-year-old blogger whose parents sent him to an ex-gay rehabilitation program and the folks in the community who stood up for their friend.  His blog leads to one of the first examples of social media inspiring change and hope.

*We’ll wrap up this film series on June 12 with a popcorn bar featuring Pittsburgh Popcorn Company popcorn!  Stick around after the film to eat, mingle and talk about the films!

This awesome event was curated by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main’s Teen Gay Straight Alliance, which meets twice a month.

Don’t forget to check out The Labs @ CLP.  They have everything you need to get your thoughts on film, create and record your music and more!  In the meantime, here are some books & films to inspire you:

    Don't You Forget About Me

  offandrunning-poster     rock filmmaker  

Great Movie, Better Soundtrack

the-great-gatsby-soundtrack-sampler

NPR (one of my favorite news and culture resources) just offered a sneak peak at the Jay-Z produced soundtrack to the most anticipated movie of spring.  The Great Gatsby, with an all-star cast including Leo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire is sure to be a spectacle.  With such talented performers and, of course, amazing source material in the form of F Scott Fitzgerald’s Great American Novel, the movie will, no doubt, offer some new insights into the “American Dream,” wealth, class, love, and obsession.  Jay-Z’s task was to re-imagine the decadence, excess and exuberance of the Jazz age using modern genres and performers.  He pulls it off, including artists like Andre 3000 Bryan Ferry, Emeli SandeFlorence + The Machine, Jack White, and Nero.

The excitement surrounding this soundtrack got me thinking…What other movie soundtracks have become as culturally important as their movies?  Check out a few of my pics!

blues cdblues brothers dvd

Dirty_ soundtrackdirty dvdoh sound oh dvdsat sound sat dvd

What’s your favorite movie soundtrack?

~Brooke, South Side

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