Summer of Song

My very first concert was Disney at the Hollywood Bowl. I was a kid, it was a fun kid event. Next, my family saw a series of Grateful Dead concerts in Las Vegas. I was in junior high. That went about as well as you would expect, for a junior high kid going to a rock concert with her mom. Meaning: I hated every minute of it. I clearly had no idea how rare of an experience it was for someone of my generation to see the Dead live, but I was in junior high. It is what it is.

I remember the first concert I picked. My friend Karla somehow convinced her dad to take us to see TOOL at the Hollywood Palladium on their Aenima tour in 1998. I didn’t even know much about TOOL at the time, but I was ALL into anything Karla was into, and away we went. I remember that show so vividly. We rushed up at the front, right by the stage. It was booming. I remember seeing 20somethings in leather jackets coming in after the opener, and thinking “You bought tickets for this, why would you miss any of it???” I learned to boo the opener. Maynard had some sort of crazy suit getup at some point. I got kicked in the head by some crowdsurfer’s boot.Camera phones were not around at this point, so sadly, the internet isn’t littered with pictures from the show like they are today.

Jane's Addiction, Stage AE 2015

Jane’s Addiction

The day after the show it hit me like a rock to the chest, I could see my idols in the flesh. Like with most high school kids, i built my identity on my music choices. I was big into Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Cake, The Offspring, later on Tori Amos. Somehow your music preferences turned into this complex calculation of your social standing in the high school pecking order. Or at least in my mind. In retrospect, it may have all been a massive construction in my mind. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I could openly listen to Britney Spears and really, no one cared.  But this is all a digression.

Grace Potter & the Noctunals

Grace Potter & the Noctunals

I grew up in Southern California. About 60 miles from Los Angeles. Every tour came through LA, but for me it might as well have been on another planet, because I was broke high school kid. For most of the time I had no way to get to and from LA, and then once I had my own car, I didn’t have enough money to go anyway, so it was irrelevant. My mom’s boyfriend one year did take me to a Jane’s Addiction show, and again, amazing. Mom took me and my friends to Lilith Fair, and my friend drew the logo on my back. I got sunburned, badly, with the outline of a naked woman etched out.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Pittsburgh is hardly the live music capital of anything.  Plenty of tours come nowhere near here. But when I started college here, some tours DID come through, and in the 15 years I have lived here, I’ve tried to catch every show I can. I devour them.  Maybe I’ve even turned into the leather jacket latecomers, because why would I waste time on an opener? Sometimes it’s a fun night out with friends. Sometimes I go by myself, surrounded by people I ignore as the music throbs.  Bad Religion at Club Laga my freshman year, I just had to walk a few blocks down from the dorms. TOOL again (twice, actually, once at the Civic Arena and once at the Pete). Dave Navarro at Rosebud. Too many Clarks shows to admit to with any dignity. When I studied abroad in Germany– the Rock im Park festival with Placebo, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson (the most entertaining live music performance). Tori Amos in New York and in LA. Indigo Girls in LA and then in Pittsburgh, twice. The Violent Femmes in LA and Pittsburgh, too (the worst live shows I’ve seen, ever). Jane’s Addiction a couple more times, and then once alongside Nine Inch Nails (my dream concert). Stevie Wonder. Billy Joel. That summer that I had Britney Spears AND Christina Aguilera tickets and then they both cancelled their shows. The Avett Brothers. Death Cab for Cutie, twice (oh, my heart). Arcade Fire. 311. Lady Gaga. Eric Clapton. Fun. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Veruca Salt, twice. The Smashing Pumpkins (at 7 months pregnant). Built to Spill. I have to be forgetting some.

I don't even know who this is, but I was in Austin so I went to the Continental Club, and it was wonderful. Dear lord I love the music of that city.

I don’t even know who this is, but I was in Austin so I went to the Continental Club, and it was wonderful. Dear lord I love the music of that city.

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers

Billy Joel

Billy Joel

I fill my Pittsburgh summers with sound. When I was a kid, I had a friend who moved to Las Vegas, and I asked him what he could possibly like about Las Vegas. “Every concert tour starts or ends here,” he said.  I didn’t get it at the time. I do now.

Eric Clapton and Jakob Dylan

Eric Clapton and Jakob Dylan

There aren’t many concerts here in the cold months. There aren’t many concerts anywhere during the cold months, for that matter. But this summer, I am again filling my months up with song.  Janet Jackson. Weezer. Beyonce (TWICE). Ellie Goulding. Maybe even The Avett Brothers. Oh I am ready for summer.


Random Round Up

The East End Food Co-Op Winterfest celebration was on January 23.  Usually there are like 5 times more people in attendance than the venue can handle, but this time, due to a big ol’ snowstorm that morning, the crowds were much more reasonable.  There was plenty of food and lots of activities for kids. Baby Beez and I had some fun with the photo booth.

winterfest photobooth

I just finished A Cure for Suicide, and it was such a different, interesting approach from the usual dystopian novel. It was a fast read, and I really enjoyed it, but I also kind of feel like I would have gotten a lot more out of it if I had the opportunity to discuss it.  It would be a good book club book (so tell yer book clubs!!).

A Cure for Suicide

I am watching Baskets and omg.  I doubt that more than like 10 people are also watching it, but it is bizarrely brilliant. More people need to watch this, so that it goes on for a million seasons. It involves: (1) Zach Galifianakis & Louis C.K. (2) Bakersfield. (3) Louie Anderson in a dress. (4) Cloon.


As you can tell from my recent lack of posting, I’m lacking in the blogging mojo right now.  I’ve been to a few new (to me) restaurants lately, and I need to post about them. I feel like all of the adjectives have fallen out of my head and I just don’t have a foodie vocabulary right now.  Pass the coffee plz. And moar. And moar.

Oh, also, I just started Orange is the New Black, and this is the only way I am getting my exercise in right now, because I tell myself that if I want to watch the show, I HAVE to watch it while walking on the treadmill. So walk I do. It’s a lot different than the book, but fantastic all on its own. Also, Jenji Kohan is amazing.


Mr. Beez and I finally became the last people in the universe to finish watching Breaking Bad last week. It was great, blah blah blah, I don’t really have anything else to add about it.  Now that I have Netflix, I am falling down the rabbit hole of TV I have missed over the last couple of years.  Instead of reading 100 books this year, I just may watch 100 TV shows.  We have also just started watching FX’s The People vs. OJ Simpson, and despite my pessimistic expectation that it would be awful, it is not. It’s fantastic. Except for David Schwimmer…I’m like Ross, why are you trying to be buddies with OJ?


Small business shopping– not just for #ShopSmallSaturday

Small business shopping– not just for #ShopSmallSaturday

The recent shuttering of Marty’s Market and announced relocation (or closing) of Pittsburgh Public Market have me sad, but even more so, have me frustrated.  Mr. Beez went to the liquidation sale at Marty’s last weekend, and he told me how people kept going up to the owner, Regina, saying how much they loved the place and how sad they were to see it closing, but you could just see it in her eyes, the thought that “That’s very nice, but if you loved it so much, shopping here would have kept it open!”

#ShopSmallSaturday is a cute idea and well intentioned, but it has facilitated a “Shop Small” mindset that is restricted to novelty, or increasingly, self-publicized social media posts announcing “LOOK I AM SUPPORTING THE SMALL BUSINESSES!”  Yes, I too am guilty of such self-congratulation. (Here and here). Small businesses do not survive, much less thrive, on a single day of celebrated shopping or blog posts filled with praise.  Small businesses survive on dollars.

At the beginning of 2015, I set a resolution to transition all my grocery shopping to the East End Food Co-Op.  This goal was grounded in several reasons, (1) it is a local, member owned, community supported business and I decided I needed to step up my real, dollars and cents, support of that endeavor, (2) the principles that the co-op applies in selecting the products it offers are consistent with my own principles concerning health, fairness to employees, and local-focus, so shopping there dramatically cuts down (if not eliminates) my need to sort through information about the brands and products themselves, and (3) Mr. Beez has long been on the board of the co-op and its success is important to him, so I wanted to step up our financial support from occasional shopping to regular shopping.

Co-op snacking

At a month in, I found that I had to make some tweaks to how I shopped, but that otherwise it was all going swimmingly.  Now, over a year in, the co-op has become our regular grocery store and the thought of shopping at the normal chain places is exhausting to me.  Sure, occasionally I have to shop at a larger grocery chain because there are things that the co-op just doesn’t have (see: ingredients for buffalo chicken dip).  But the mainstays of our diet now come from the co-op.

Throughout 2015, we continued to make changes to make sure that our dollars stayed in the community.  I guess the co-op principles really struck a chord, and we applied those principles more broadly in our lives.  For the last several years we have had summer farm shares.  In 2015 we got our fruit & vegetable farm share with Clarion River Organics, and then expanded to also get a beef share. I’m not going to fill this post up with links about factory farming, you can go find that yourself. But I decided that if we were going to continue to cook meat in the house, I could at least make sure that I was getting it from local farmers, focused on the quality of life of the animals.

We also made the Pittsburgh Public Market a regular part of our lives– every Saturday we go there for lunch after Baby Beez’ ballet class is over.  She gets her chocolate milk from Family Farm Creameries and a hot dog from Bull Dawgs.  Mr. Beez gets his pint of Red Star Kombucha, and we pick our lunches based on whatever we happen to feel like that day (usually Ohio City Pasta, omg amazing). While we used to only go to the Public Market as an occasional outing, we have since turned it into a regular part of our lives.

Public Market

I’m not writing this to be sanctimonious. Shopping local can be expensive and sometimes inconvenient.  I am not asking everyone to abandon Target and only get non-bleached paper towels at the co-op. I don’t shop local all the time. I’ve got a Starbucks coffee on my desk right now.  But what I’ve been working harder at over the last year is making local businesses a routine part of my family’s every day life, so that supporting a local business isn’t just what we do in our day to day lives, not some isolated novelty.

If our community wants to see these small businesses move forward, we have to spend our money at these small businesses. Yelp posts about how charming the business is doesn’t go very far. It is a kick to the gut, watching small businesses that are so important to us, have to close when the public’s spending doesn’t match its professed fondness.

Public Market 2

So start making small changes. Make small business the priority you claim it to be.

When you are going on a coffee date with a friend, instead of immediately offering to meet at the ‘bux, consider instead: Commonplace Coffee, Zeke’s, Big Dog Coffee, Constellation Coffee, Coffee Tree Roasters, 21st Street Coffee, Anchor & Anvil Coffee Bar or Lili Cafe.

When you are picking up coffee to brew at home, instead of grabbing the bag of Dunkin, consider instead beans from: Coffee 19, Caffe D’Amore, La Prima Espresso or Nicholas Coffee Co.

When you’re running out to pick up lunch on a workday, instead of grabbing Subway, consider: Umbrella Cafe, Madonna’s, Bluebird Kitchen, Market Square Grocery or Craftwork Kitchen.

When you’re picking up beer for the game, instead of grabbing six packs at Market District, consider: picking up bottles at Carson St. Deli, getting a case at Vecenie Distributing, or filling growlers at Grist House, Arsenal Cider, VooDoo Brewery, Full Pint or at Houghs.

When you’re picking up a birthday gift & card, instead of running to CVS, consider: Wild Card, Kards Unlimited, or make a point to stop over at one of the many sessions of I Made it Market!

When you’re ordering pizza for Superbowl Sunday, instead of calling Domino’s, consider: Rialto’s, Fiore’s, Cestone’s, Spak Bros. or (if you’re feeling fancy) Pizza Taglio.

It’s a little tougher in the suburbs, but when you’re in the city, there are small businesses everywhere. It’s not enough to profess our love for them on the internet. If we want them to thrive, we need to spend our money there as part of our everyday lives.

If you’re so inspired, please share your favorite local spots. I’m always up for new ideas for keeping our dollars in the community.