Note: UrbanMediaToday's staff wishes Staff writer , JC Coulter and his new bride, Kristy Lynn the best in their new marriage. JC has been a feature writer for UrbanMediaToday for several years and we enjoy his articles and know that you, the readers, do also. We are reprinting his last article today in honor of his new wife and hopefully the many joys they will share together. God speed and blessings to JC and Kristy.
For The Love of Hip Hop
Pittsburgh was named the Hippest City of 2012. I mean did anyone have any doubt? The home of The Andy Warhol Museum, a classy Cultural District, the accordion player stacked in front of Wholey’s Fish Market in the strip district, fine arts students, over a dozen major motion pictures, not to mention the emerging hip hop scene. Pittsburgh is the place to be – just ask up and coming artists The H&T.
Recent rappers such as Wiz Khalifia, who’s song Black and Yellow became the city’s anthem just a few short years ago and the emergence of artists like Mac Miller, who was the first unsigned Indie artist to snag a #1 spot on the Billboards, have the city finally getting the respect and recognition it deserves. You may be asking who’s in the bullpen and ready to come out and close out the game? The answer could very well be Pittsburgh’s own hip-hop artists who call themselves The H&T.
I recently got the opportunity to meet up with them at a performance at the Alter Bar in the downtown strip district of Pittsburgh. To say they were in a class of their own is an understatement. Classy and creative are only two words that can be used to explain them. The other two? Heroes and Terrorists.
Interview With H&T
The H&T is an abbreviation for Heroes and Terrorists. How did the name come about?
H&T: “We wanted to represent balance and the two extremes in both life and in music. The word terrorist we believe is today’s villain and a more appropriate word to represent the opposite of a hero. In Today’s culture we want that psychological shock factor when people see the word hero and/or terrorist it catches their eye and intrigues and for Hip Hop and in the terrorist stand-point we want our competition to raise the alert level when we are around and know a major change is bound to occur. For the people, the listener, we want them to know we are their heroes and Hip Hop, Rap, and R&B is something to be proud of and proud to listen to again.”
With the majority of mainstream hip hop leaning towards negativity, how does The H&T manage to focus on the more positive aspects of everything?
H&T: “We all believe it takes way more time and energy to be negative…at least for us were all naturally positive people and though we go through life’s problems like everyone else we still remain positive. We’re game changers so if mainstream Hip Hop is leaning and being more negative why not have The H&T bring the change? If we don’t who will …or has?”
What and who are some of your influences?
H&T: “With there being seven of us we have many influences from old artists such as “Rakim” and “A Tribe Called Quest” to “Outkast” to new comers such as “Kendrick Lamar, J cole, and Big Krit” but are biggest influence are each other we feed off each other and make something great.”
After the success of your first mixtape, The Epic Project, you recently collaborated with the duo The Rhythm Thief on your most recent release 5234 Forbes. You don’t hear many albums with live instrumentals recorded anymore. What inspired the idea for the collaboration and how was the experience?
H&T: “We all were raised around music so rhythms and grooves are just ingrained into who we are, so when we met Adam and Terrence at the release party for The Epic Project, we just discussed ideas and concepts and gave it a try and knocked out song after song. The experience was nothing more than Epic! We sat down with nothing just blank canvas and minutes later we have music being made around us with drums, saxophones, guitars, basses, flutes, pianos and our lyrics just appeared it felt like. We weren’t sure how the people would accept it, being so different then everything they may have ever heard, but it was greatly accepted. People just kept saying it’s so refreshing to hear music and lyrics on actual music.”
How has living in Pittsburgh influenced your lyrics and style?
H&T: “Living in Pittsburgh really hasn’t influenced our lyrics or styles, we love our craft genuinely and don’t see the people on TV, or who made it from here and say we need to sound or be like this, we stay humble and true to ourselves and just come up with concepts and make it happen and people tend to like it, Originality is key.”
How does The H&T view the recent success of other Pittsburgh based rappers such as Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller?
H&T: “Wiz opened up a huge door and put a lot of eyes into the city and it’s a great thing for people like us but there is also a bad side and that’s because people may think we all are like Wiz Khalifa or catch some bad acts and mess up the new eyes looking into Pittsburgh. Mac even though both being a part of the legendary independent record label Rostrum Records gave us hope by breaking records and having the number 1 album in the country and being an independent artist, a little backing goes a long way hopefully were be right there one day but congrats and respect to them and Rostrum on all the success.”
Your focus is obvious - the love of music and hiphop. You mention that you “don’t trap or sell drugs so we don’t talk about it.” Are there any pressures of crossing into mainstream that would make any of you decide to cross the line and begin to talk about the more infamous subjects like drugs, money, or street life? In a nutshell - would The H&T be willing to sellout in order to get your name out for possible fame and fortune?
H&T: “(Laughing). We all just said No! But just to be detailed we love what we do there is nothing in this world that can replace the feeling of seven different people sitting down, writing then recording together how we individually feel and making something great out of it time and time again. We look at our career like good music speaks for itself, we’re young and people just see that this is what we love…The passion and creativity is all we have and no dollar sign could have us switch. Our name is about being different so we wouldn’t sell out because it’s not just selling out our music and sound, it’s selling out of who we are.”
Anytime more than one person puts their passion out for everyone to critique and exploit, it can sometimes be hard for a group to remain a cohesive unit. How has your diverse backgrounds, goals, and views of success been an asset as well as a liability in remaining a part of a group?
H&T: “It hasn’t been a liability were a family in every sense of the word we may disagree or debate but all brothers and sisters do. Our passions are matched, we all love what we do and make each other go harder and grow and it works. Even off music we all have each other in life if anything is going on ever we all know that we could depend on each other. Of course we all want to succeed but we work together to reach what we all want and have fun doing so and it works.”
Each member of the H&T has their own unique style and set of strengths. Have you encountered any challenges throughout the creative process and if so – what where they and how did you manage to overcome them?
H&T: “That’s the beauty of it as previously stated were family if one of us or all of us are suffering from writers block or lack of inspiration we sit together or email music, beats, songs and just vibe out and clear everything going on and refocus then write and come up with new music. We always look at our music and performances like the best amusement park in the world you never been to… you have so many rides one is fast, one loops around, one has waterfalls, and one is scary. With there being 7 of us with different sounds it meets well and keeps the audience on their toes always thinking what’s next. People never know what to expect they just know it’s going to be a great ride. We want them to smile, slow rock, jump in the air, scream, dance, then put their hands up all in one sitting and genuinely just effect people they feel more excited and enjoy us while were enjoying them and capturing their hearts.”
With the group semi-spread out across the East Coast and some members traveling the world, do you find any complications in staying in touch and collaborating?
H&T: “We don’t really have a problem staying in touch or collabing or anything like that it’s the power of the internet, we have Facebook, Skype, and email over songs and do it like that until were all together and we speak to each other probably every day or every two days.”
If The H&T could compare themselves to any professional athlete or team, past or present, who would that be and why?
H&T: “The 1980 Men’s US Hockey team, everyone knows who they are, in the world of sports they are probably the biggest underdogs in history but if you put it in a musical perspective they were a lot like us. Their team consisted of college kids and amateurs competing against in the mainstream eyes of hockey’s best of the best and even though the people didn’t know who they were and the odds was against them for being different and not superstars from the start they stayed humble and didn’t change their game and beat the best now the world knows that. When it comes to major record labels you have to sound like the billboard artist “the best of the best” and we don’t which kinda makes us the big underdog but we stay true, humble, creative and thus far it has caught many eyes and attention and if it comes down to a Miracle on the Ice type of moment don’t count out The H&T.”
Our next project is our debut album entitled All Love No Hate which is exactly what we have done since last summer. We show everyone love, artists and fans alike, and we receive or give out no hate. So we are trending #AllLoveNoHate all year and have an #AllLoveNoHate Cookout and Pool party planned this summer.
You can go see the proof of The Summer of H&T as soon as May 3rd at Levelz on the southside followed up by a live performance at Shadow Lounge on May 4th.
Official website of The H&T – www.hiphopterror.com
Official youtube channel of The H&T – www.youtube.com/user/HHTMovement
Official facebook fan page of The H&T – www.facebook.com/pages/The-HT/188765114467171
The Epic Project Mixtape link - www.datpiff.com/fthe-ht-the-epic-project-mixtape.285587.html
#5234 Forbes the EP link - www.datpiff.com/The-HT-and-The-Rhythm-Thief-5234-Forbes-mixtape.313391.html
Get up Close and Personal and Get into the Minds of The Creative Minds of The H&T on Twitter:
@alumni412 – Alumni
@swagga412 – Swagga
@kairob – Kai Roberts
@luxogotnext – Luxo
@B_Stratosphere – Bilal Abbey
@buttonsz – Buttonsz
@imnamedkyra – Akyra
There are 7 Wanders of the World, and 7 members in The H&T. Coincidence? Probally. But Just when hip hop seemed to be ready to fall off the edge and sink to the dark side for good, this magical combination of the members of the H&T offer up a full plate of creative storytelling and illustrative wordplay that gives us all hope that the future of hip hop is alive and waiting right here in Pittsburgh. Enjoy your summer. The summer that we may very well remembered as The Summer of The H&T.
By JC Coulter. Email me JC@urbanmediatoday.com
As artist director of Balafon West African Dance Ensemble, Kadiatou Conte Forte wears a few different hats. Not only is the New Guinea West Africa native a dancer and choreographer but “Mamma” Kadiatou is also a teacher, mentor and surrogate mother to the community and members of her dance company. “Mama” Kadiatou’s love of dance is felt through her dynamic performances and later this year, she is making African dance available to the city of Pittsburgh.
Recently, “Mama” Kadiatou spoke with UrbanMediaToday’s Allegra Johnson about the importance of African dance, her love for Pittsburgh and why Black Americans should embrace African dance and drumming.
Allegra Johnson: Where did your love of dance come from?
Kadiatou Conte Forte: Well, like I always tell the people; I've been dancing ever since I was 5 years old. I was born in the Republic of Guinea (West Africa) an in the 1970's I came to the U.S. from Australia and Japan and I fell in love with America. I tell people, you have to set goals. I think I am one of those vision people, even when I went back to Africa I always knew I wanted to come back to America. And the Lord blessed me, it's not luck it's a blessing; for me to dance and do what I love to do and have the opportunity to come back here. Being a black women, we are all strong in different ways (we have to be) role models for the children and the next generation.
AJ: So are you a teacher as well?
KCF: I believe in the next generation and that's why I love to teach. I was in Washington D.C. but when I visited Pittsburgh, I just fell in love with it. I'm from the village in Guinea and so when I visited Pittsburgh for just 6 months; I already knew that I was going to live here, work here and buy a house here. So for me, this is my dream come true; to be here and working with young people.
AJ: You are living your dream but for so many women, it's difficult to live out their dreams especially some women of color who face challenges.
KCF: I do not have that problem. Some people live with their dreams and some people don't. We are not all going to be good. You know my generation; I'm 58, some people say Mama, why do you have to tell your age? I say my age because I live in the dream. I did have some bad experiences in Africa but I took what I had been through and I threw it all out the window of my life and I kept doing what I loved to do. I would just say to all the women, take care of your business, do what you think is good for you.
AJ: Why is it important for you to bring African dance to everyone but especially, African Americans?
KCF: I think it's a beautiful thing. When I was in Washington, D.C. and working at Howard University I learned a lot and I listened when people talked about American slavery. You know, African people in American couldn't dance and the drum was taken away. The movement and African dance, they didn't want us to do. So I said, since I'm here now, I think we need to bring African dance and drumming back to the people. We need to show the dancing and drumming to the African American community because it belongs to them because it’s a black thing! African dance is a black thing. I just feel blessed to be a part of this and live in this country to share and teach the people. African dance is powerful, the rhythm, the drums. I tell people all the time, when I feel the drum I don’t feel any pain in my knees or my back, I just move.
AJ: Are you surprised that so many people in Pittsburgh have fallen in love with African dance?
KCF: No, I’m not surprised. Thinking back I remember Shona Sharif, from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. She (Shona) used to go to Washington, D.C. to do African dance and then bring it back to Pittsburgh. I remember she engaged me one time about coming to Pittsburgh to help her organization with the true African dance. So the dance has always been here. But when I arrived here through Umoja West African Dance Company I started to do research and talk to people about how it was here, I wasn’t surprised. It was just a matter of time that African dance would take off like it did, now is the time because I live here now. I tell people I don’t want to dance; I want to teach people how to dance because if I do it that way the next generation will have it. For example, people like Chrisala Brown; she’s been (dancing) with me for 5 years now and she works so hard and she loves to do it. She’s now teaching at Sankofa Village. When I go to that studio, there are beautiful kids all over the place and drumming. So now with Sankofa Village we finally have a place in Pittsburgh that’s good for children and where people can feel the rhythm.
AJ: You are an inspiration to so many women but what women inspire you?
KCF: My mother. My mother, my teacher, my inspiration, my role model is my mom. My mom raised me up and she didn’t give me anything but the best. I don’t even know the words to describe my mother in English. I sometimes wish I could speak the language better. Some people still look at me like, what did she say. And I tell people, I speak more than 10 languages, I’ve traveled all my life and you only speak one language; English. But I still go to school four days a week to learn English, because I live here now, I do business here.
AJ: Let’s talk about your upcoming dance conference.
KCF: It’s called the Black River. I call it Black River because it’s black dance, African dance. I want to make sure that we are all a part of this. (The special guest), From Senegal West Africa is Mr. Assane Conte, that man is like my brother. He inspires me. So I’m doing Black River in collaboration with Kankouran West African Dance Company. Assane’s energy and knowledge (is great), he opened the doors for us. It’s May 25, 26, 27th at the Kingsley Association. We are going to talk about the history of African dance and drum. You will see all the beautiful African dancers and drummers. And after that I will have a party at the Kelly Strayhorn to celebrate, I can’t wait.
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Last week the Pittsburgh Pirates finished an impressive 5-4 road trip that gave signs that they were on a positive progressive track to take it to the next level, which mean that they were serious about getting to and above .500 which would give the rest of major league baseball notice that 2011 was not a fluke, but after last week’s road trip, they may want to put their ‘coming out party’ plans on hold. Let’s take a look at the previous week:
Last Monday, the Pirates traveled to Miami to face the Marlins and their new stadium. As impressive as that stadium look, Pirates pitcher Brad Lincoln looked just as impressive (if not more) as he once again filled in for injured starter Erik Berdard and promptly pitched 6 innings while giving up 2 runs, which was sufficient because the Pirates scored three of their own. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen scored the first run off a sacrifice fly which scored right fielder Jose Tabata and catcher Rod Barajas hit another home run. McCutchen then scored on a double by third baseman Pedro Alvarez which gave Lincoln all of the run support that he needed. He eventually turned the ball over to the bullpen that has been excellent and closer Joel Hanrahan shut the door on the Marlins and earned his 7th save. Final score: Pirates 3, Marlins 2. Lincoln improved his record to 3-0 and Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez fell to 2-1.
Game two had the Pirates hoping for their second .500 record for the season, a possible series sweep of the Marlins. Well, let’s just say that the Marlins had other plans. Kevin Correia took the mound against the Marlins Josh Johnson, and after the Pirates took a 1-0 lead off a run-scoring single by first baseman Garrett Jones, the Marlins stole the show. Third baseman Hanley Ramirez hit two run scoring doubles, and second baseman Omar Infante and catcher Joe Buck’s run scoring singles had Correia and the Pirates looking at a 6-1 deficit before a Michael McKenry home run made it 6-2.. Correia (1-4) was charged with all 6 runs, and lasted only 3 innings. He totally looks opposite the all-star pitcher that he was a season ago. Johnson (1-3) who was the NL ERA leader in 2010 got his first win since last April. The Pirates then took their ‘talents’ out of South Beach with a 1-1 series split vs. the Marlins.
From there was another 2 game series in the Nation’s Capital vs. the Washington Nationals. Erik Berdard, who had missed two starts because of injury, took the mound against the Nationals Gio Gonzalez. Needless to say it was all Nationals, and the Pirates Josh Harrison. To be more specific, the Nationals took a 2-0 lead thanks to an RBI single by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and a home run by shortstop Ian Desmond. After Harrison’s single scored Yamico Navarro giving the Pirates their first run, two former Pirates asked them if they missed them by smacking back-to-back home runs. Adam LaRoche, who was basically a bust as a Pirate and Xavier Nady who was LaRoche’s teammate in 2007-08 both connected off Berdard and it was 4-1 Nationals. LaRoche then had a bases loaded double to give the Pirates players and fans a headache, and wonder why he didn’t play like that in Pittsburgh? He also recorded is 1,000th hit of his career.
Harrison’s home run gave the Pirates their second and third runs and first baseman Casey McGahee’s sacrifice fly gave the Pirates their 4th run, but it was obviously not enough as the Nationals beat the Pirates 7-4. Berdard (2-5) was responsible for 4 of the 7 runs and took the loss, while Gonzalez (5-1) pitched masterfully for the win.
Game two saw the Pirates play at their best as their ace James McDonald take the mound against the Nationals Jordan Zimmerman. It was a case of Déjà vu for McDonald as he flirted with another no-hitter before giving up his first hit in the 6th inning. Although he gave up 3 runs, he was superb. The Pirates gave him 5 runs thanks to the red-hot McCutchen who hit two home runs along with another one by Barajas to give them a 4-0 lead. The other run came as a result of a fielder’s choice by second baseman Neil Walker. The Pirates closed the series with a 5-3 win and another split of a season series. They will not play in D.C anymore this season.
Then it was onto Motown as the Pirates began Interleague play vs. the Detroit Tigers. And boy, did they get a big welcome to Comerica Park, from their 2011 Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander, who is truly baseball’s best pitcher (Sorry Roy Halliday) and proved it by blanking the Pirates by not giving up a run, and he also kept the Pirates hitless for 9 innings before Harrison ruined things by lacing a one out single to center field. Although it caused a groan in Comerica Park, and obvious disappointment to Verlander (5-1), he was applauded with his one-hit performance as he beat the Pirates 6-0. He also struck out 12 Pirate batters. Meanwhile, the Tigers truly beat up on starter Charlie Morton (2-4) as he was charged with 4 runs in 6 innings. Designated hitter Delmon Young had the games only home run.
Needless to say, game two was much better for the Pirates as they put on throwback uniforms that honored the Negro Leagues Pittsburgh Crawfords, (the Tigers honoring the Detroit Stars) and McCutchen looked a lot like Josh Gibson as he hit a pair of two run home runs which scored all of the Pirates runs which lead to a 4-3 win. It was McCutchen second two home run game in three games. Pirate starter AJ Burnett (2-2) handled things on the mound as he gave up only 2 runs on 6 innings and Hanrahan secured his 9th save. Tiger’s starter Drew Smyly (1-1) took the loss. First baseman Prince Fielder hit a home run for the Tigers.
In game 3 Correia once again took the mound vs. the Tigers Max Scherzer, and although the Pirates took an early 1-0 lead by another Barajas home run, the Tigers matched them with a 4 bagger of own as shortstop Jhonny Peralta connected to tie the game at one. Then Walker gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead with another solo home run, but unfortunately, it was all Tigers as Young hit a run scoring single to score Fielder, and shortstop Alex Avilia hit a run scoring single to give the Tigers the lead. To make matters worse, that play was made possible by a passed ball by Barajas to move the runners up.
But the main story was Scherzer, who made the Pirates look silly as he struck out 15 of them to secure the 4-3 victory. That strikeout total was 1 short of a team record for the Tigers, which was accomplished by Mickey Lolich in 1969. Scherzer also became the first player to record 15 strikeouts on swings since the Houston Astros Mike Scott in 1986.
Player of the Week: CF Andrew McCutchen-No surprise here. Although his bat left Detroit on Sunday, McCutchen hit 4 home runs in 3 days to lead the Pirates in two victories. He’s now hitting .336 with 7 home runs and 20 runs batted in. His .336 batting average is 7th in the National League. He’s truly headed for another all-star season.
Once again, the Pirates remain on the border of .500 with a 19-22 record as they welcome the New York Mets into town. With a .216 team batting average, things could be worse for the Pirates, and it goes to show that once again, it’s the pitching that’s carrying this team. Alvarez is once again proving to be a disappointment as he has truly disappeared after clubbing most of his 7 home runs a few weeks ago. After manager Clint Hurdle moved him to the cleanup spot, Alvarez had played horrible. You might want to move him back to the 7th sport Hurdle. Shortstop Clint Barmes (.165) first basemen Garrett Jones (.231) and Casey McGhaee (.198) and outfielder Nate McClouth (.143) have been a major disappointment. If the Pirates front office does not do anything to fix this, they must have unrealistic expectations, or they must not care. It is what it is.
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The City of Pittsburgh has announced that it is accepting applications for its Summer Youth Employment Program (PSYEP) until Tuesday, May 15, 2012 through the Pittsburgh Partnership, a division of the city’s Department of Personnel and Civil Service.
The six week long jobs will employ city residents between the ages of 14 and 21 beginning July 2, and continuing through August 10. According to Lillian Reese-McGee, Assistant Director of the Pittsburgh Partnership, this year the program has funding to hire 372 young Pittsburghers for conservation or internship positions.
Funding levels remain the same from last year, according to Reese-McGee, but cost estimates from contractors who provide the jobs “came in a little lower than last year, allowing us to increase our numbers from 346 to 372.”
Funding for the program, which was reinstituted in the city in 2007 by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, comes from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) administered by the city, and this year, $125,000 from the Pittsburgh Foundation and $120,000 from Highmark.
In 2009 and 2010, funding was supplemented by federal stimulus monies, says Reese-McGee, allowing the program to hire 916 of the 1500 applicants who were eligible for the program. “Once those stimulus funds were gone,” says Reese-McGee, hiring levels dropped to just over 300. The number of applicants also declined as potential candidates became aware of newly-tightened budgets for the program.
“The program is geared toward federal poverty limits, and those eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families,” she says. “We can only fund jobs for the ‘poor kids.’ If parent income is too high, they don’t qualify.”
Applications are available for PSYEP in schools, through community partners, on the city website and from the two administrative partners who process the applications: YouthLINK South in the Goodwill Building at 2400 East Carson Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side, and YouthLINK East in the Eastside Neighborhood Employment Center (ESNEC) at 5321 Penn Avenue in the city’s Garfield neighborhood.
These two YouthLINK agencies collect the applications and verify all information in order to determine an applicants’ eligibility. In addition to income and age requirements, applicants must also meet citizenship and residency requirements, as well as application-specific questions. Following verification of the applications, they are submitted back to the Pittsburgh Partnership, who then conduct a lottery to determine who is hired for the positions.
Positions are assigned in government and non-profit agencies and a few businesses throughout the city. This year, Reese-McGee says, there are 12 subcontractors providing internship, or office administrative-type positions, and four which provide environmental, or outdoor, placements. “We are currently negotiating terms and placements with subcontractors, who are approved [for participation] through an independent agency.”
According to ESNEC’s Rick Flanagan, “the great thing is we get some great kids, and some kids with challenges.”
“Kids get put into a nurturing environment.”
“The lottery is applied by zip codes,” says Reese-McGee, “with the number of positions filled from each zip code determined as a relative percentage of the applications received from that neighborhood.” More applicants from neighborhoods where more applications are submitted will be selected, and fewer from those with fewer submissions.
“We wish we could do more, but when you work with a small amount of money, you have to decide,” she says. “The kids are supposed to be the future, but for people who need assistance, this is not a good time.”
Youth who are hired for the program can work up to 30 hours each week, for up to six hours per day, Monday through Friday, and will be paid $7.25 an hour. Starting and ending times will vary according to the work sites.
“They can earn some money, maybe help their parents, and support themselves,” says Reese-McGee, “and have some life experience to show for it. For some, just getting that paycheck in hand is a life experience.”
Reese-McGee says not every applicant hired is a good fit for the available positions, and so the Partnership maintains a waiting list to replace those who “fall away.”
“When someone falls away, there’s someone waiting.”
Ravenstahl says that “in order for our city to thrive, we must ensure the success of our young residents. We continue to work hard to prepare our future leaders.”
Flanagan says that as a part of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation, an organization which also hires youth from the program, he “finds the city very committed around summer employment.”
“We are huge advocates for summer employment for youth as well,” Flanagan says, “but it all comes down to money.”
“These kids work all day, and that keeps them out of trouble,” says Flanagan, “and maybe when they get home, they’re too tired.”
Application packets, which include facts about the program, full instructions to apply and information about obtaining working papers for youth under age 18 are available at city schools, participating agencies, YouthLINK offices or from the Pittsburgh Partnership website at
http://pittsburghpartnership.org/youth/App package SYEP 2012.pdf. Applications must be completed and returned in person with all required documentation to YouthLINK offices before Tuesday, May 15. Both offices are open Monday through Friday from 10 am until 6 pm, and Saturday from 10 am until 1 pm, and are willing to offer assistance for youth through the application process.
“We are intensely campaigning to let people know about this,” Flanangan says, adding that, between both YouthLINK sites, they expect to qualify about 1000 applicants for the available positions following the two-week recruitment period.
Reese-McGee says that many of the subcontractors have end-of-season programs at which applicants and employers relate their experiences with the program.
“It lets us know that kids can bring value,” she says, “and are not a bother.”
By Nancy Hart
1. This just in….Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace still has not signed his $2.75 million restricted free agent tender, and does not plan to, basically giving all indications that he’s going to be the first Steelers hold out since Hines Ward in ’05.
2. To be honest, I would not call what Ward did a holdout; it was more like a car at the Stop sign.
3. Anyway, I mentioned this before: Wallace is not going to move the Steelers (or their wallets) until he comes to camp, and that means he needs to be in the OTA’s (Organized Team Activities) next week, and then the mandatory camp in June.
4. There were only two Steelers players in recent memory that held out, and they could not strike a deal: LB Mike Merriweather (1988) and Safety Thomas Everett (1992) both would eventually end up traded for close to nothing.
5. Apparently Wallace is not paying attention to his NFL Colleagues. A few of them ended up signing their 1 year tenders (including New England Patriots WR Wes Welker) with hopes that they will eventually get a long-term deal signed.
6. The only other big name who has not signed their tender is New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees. But last I heard they’ve got other issues to deal with. (but they might not want to start the season without him)
7. And then there are the unsigned draftees. Truthfully, after the Steelers ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ 7th round pick guard Kevin Beachum signed, that left only two: First round pick guard David DeCastro, and third round pick LB Sean Spence. No worries here, the Steelers will get them signed.
8. Speaking of the offensive line, there are reports that Willie Colon will be moving to left guard, it may turn out to be a smart move-provided he can last the season. As we know, he has played a total of one game in 2 years. That opens up the door for the left tackle spot, and that could mean that 2nd round pick Mike Adams could get it, or they could move Marcus Gilbert back there.
9. I’ve always said that Colon was a good dude. I just did not like him at tackle. It’s going to be interesting once they head to Latrobe.
10. I see folks are still trying to make some drama out of the fact that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has to learn a new offense via new OC Todd Haley. Really people?
11. It’s true that former OC Bruce Arians is Roethlisberger’s friend, I’m sure he’s still is friend. The Steelers decided to make a move when the offense was underachieving. I’m glad they did. Besides, Arians has his hands full as the Colts OC and their new young quarterback Andrew Luck.
12. Excellent move by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for heading up a committee to improve youth football helmets. That sends a strong message everywhere. Now get it done for college and pro as well.
13. Poor Philadelphia Eagles tackle Jason Peters. He just can’t catch a break, he tore his Achilles tendon March 27th and then tore the other one this week. He was already expected to miss the season, and will probably miss next season too.
14. As a result, he and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs may miss some pay because those injuries took place off company time. And Suggs was playing basketball-claiming that it was part of the Ravens training program. Who’s crazier? The crazy person who said this or the crazy person who believes him?
15. The NBA Playoffs are heating up, and it seems like every time I pick a potential champion, a key player gets seriously hurt.
16. For instance, my original pick was the Chicago Bulls, and what happens? Derrick Rose gets hurt and is out for the playoffs, now I’m looking at the Miami Heat, and then Chris Bosh gets hurt. (sigh) I still may stay with the Heat, but OKC is looking pretty good.
17. I’m very happy for the LA Clippers who are in the second round for the first time in years. They may not stand a chance against the San Antonio Spurs, but whatever happens, this was a successful season for them. Not sure why Vinny Del Negro did not get NBA Coach of the Year.
18. Hats off to the Pacers VP Larry Bird named NBA Executive of the Year. He’s proven that he can be successful on every level-something all former players cannot do (ex: Michael Jordan)
19. Also hats off to Texas Rangers Josh Hamilton who smacked 9 home runs last week (two more that Pirates team leader Pedro Alvarez) write it down, he’s a beast.
20. Uh-oh Pitt Panther football fans, new coach Paul Chryst has named his starting quarterback for the 2012 season, and it’s Tino Sunseri. (no tearing of clothes and weeping, please)
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are truly battling. Yes, it may have been a long time since they’ve been called the ‘Battling Bucs” (Well, at least through the first half of last year) but with all their challenges at the plate, even times that it even looks like the bats decided to stay in the hotel, the Pirates find themselves 16-18 after finishing this past week completing a 5-4 homestand. And once again the credit goes to the one thing that has kept them in games this season, the pitching. Let’s take a look at last week:
The Pirates began the homestand on Tuesday when they welcomed the Washington Nationals into town for a three game matchup. AJ Burnett took the mound against the Nationals Edwin Jackson and in customary fashion; the Pirates fell behind the Nationals 2-0 thanks partly to a home run by catcher Wilson Ramos. But the Pirates have also been doing something that we’re getting used to, they’ve been coming back. Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen continues to look like he’s earning his $51 million contract as he hit a solo home run to put the pirates on the board, and then right fielder Garrett Jones also added a two run shot to tie the game at 2. But don’t stop there (because the Pirates sure didn’t) second baseman Neil Walker’s sacrifice fly scored pinch-hitter Nate McClouth to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
Unfortunately the Nationals weren’t done yet either as former Pirate Adam LaRoche hit a towering two run homer off relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan to give them back the lead at 4-3. But if you thought that it took the wind out of the Pirates sails, you’re greatly mistaken. In the bottom of the 9th, with pinch hitter Alex Pressley on, National close Henry Rodriguez faced pinch hitter Rod Barajas who was signed in the offseason to play catcher for the Pirates. He’s hit only .181, but he saw a pitch that he liked and hit it over the centerfield wall for a 2-run walk-off home run to give the Pirates a 5-4 win. Relief Pitcher Tony Watson (2-0) got the win, and the flabbergasted Rodriguez (1-2) took the loss. Burnett rebounded from his awful performance when as he pitched 8 innings, gave up 2 runs and struck out 10.
Game 2 brought Pirates pitcher Erik Bedard against the Nationals Ross Detwiler. This time, it was the Pirates who scored first as they jumped to a 3-0 lead thanks to run scoring hits by Walker, McCutchen and when first baseman Casey McGehee hit into a fielder’s choice that scored McCutchen. Concern then hit the Pirates as Bedard left the game after experiencing stiffness in his side. He was replaced by relief Pitcher Brad Lincoln who promptly kept the Nationals quiet for 3 innings, giving up only a hit. Jared Hughes, Juan Cruz, and Jason Grilli also held down the fort as they only allowed one run on 4 hits, and the Pirates added an insurance run thanks to another home run by McCutchen, who also finished 4-4 in the game. Hanrahan struggled, but closed the deal as the Pirates beat the Nationals again 4-2. Lincoln (2-0) got the win and Detwiler (3-2) got the loss.
Usually, the third game (on Thursday) of a series is in the afternoon, but since the Nationals young age Steven Strasburg was scheduled to pitch that afternoon, that game started at 7:05. He would face Pirates starter Kevin Correia. Strasburg did not disappoint either as he struck out 7 Pirates by the end of the 3rd inning. But the Pirates showed (at least a little bit) that they were not intimidated by Strasburg as they scored two runs off him in the 4th inning thanks to run scoring singles by Walker and McCutchen. But the Nationals were not going to let their pitcher down, as they then scored 4 runs on all home runs: Left fielder Robert Bernadina, LaRoche, and right fielder Rick Ankiel all went deep to give the Nationals a 4-2 win. For Laroche, it was his second home run of the series. Strasburg (3-0) got the win as he struck out 13 batters, and Correia (1-3) took the loss.
The Pirates then welcomed the Houston Astros to town for another 3 game series. The Pirates James McDonald would face the Astros Bud Norris. Unfortunately, it was one of those games where the Pirates bats were missing in action; they could not get a run across the plate on several occasions, and was also a victim of Norris and his excellent pitching. He struck out 8 in 6 innings for the shutout as he improved his record to 3-1. McDonald (2-2) gave up a run as a result of right fielder Brian Bougsevic scoring on a double play, but he also had a remarkable outing, pitching 8 innings and matching Morris with 8 strikeouts. He took the loss but lowered his ERA to 2.42. The Pirates need to be ashamed of themselves when they can’t score runs to support a pitching performance like that.
Game 2 was better as Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton took the mound against the Astros J.A Happ. The Pirates took a 2-0 lead thanks to a sacrifice fly by Walker and another home run by McCutchen. Right fielder Jose Tabata then homered to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead. The Pirates then scored their final runs off a sacrifice fly by shortstop Clint Barmes that scored third baseman Pedro Alvarez and McGehee scored on a wild pitch. Relief pitcher Cruz got the save and Morton (2-3) got the 5-2 win. Happs (2-3) took the loss.
Game 3 started off with a rain delay, and then Burnett took the mound against Astro ace Wandy Rodriguez. The Pirates scored first with a McCutchen double that scored Walker, and then the Astros took the lead on two run-scoring singles by catcher Jason Castro and third baseman Chris Johnson. Other than that, it was the Burnett/Rodriguez show as each pitched magnificently. Rodriguez gave up a run on 8 innings and struck out 7 and Burnett gave up 2 runs on 8 innings and struck out 2. As for the rest of the game, the Pirates refused to disappoint the mothers who were in attendance for this Mother’s Day game as they tied the score 2-2 on a sacrifice fly by Alvarez that scored Tabata.
The game then went into extra innings, and after another rain delay, the Pirates decided it was time to win this game with a single by Josh Harrison who scored Barmes for the 3-2 win. Relief Pitcher Watson (3-0) got another win, and closer Fernando Rodriguez (1-3) took the loss.
Player of the week: CF Andrew McCutchen-No,he was not Texas Rangers OF Josh Hamilton, but McCutchen was Hamilton-like for the Pirates this week as he went 4-4 twice last week with 3 home runs. He played they way that the Pirates need to play as they keep looking for more consistency in their offense. (Especially since Alvarez disappeared again) and yes, this is the first time that a ‘Player of the Week’ honor went to an offensive person.
The Pirates are now 16-18 and are now on the road trip that begins in Miami to face the Marlins in their new stadium and their new manager in Ozzie Guillen. This would be an excellent time for the Pirates to get over.500, but they have to want it and work for it, and keep battling.’
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Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald and City of Pittsburgh Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl have joined political forces
with Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter.
Thursday afternoon, the three jointly held a press conference at Fitzgerald’s offices in downtown Pittsburgh to discuss statewide issues they feel can be better resolved by their partnership.
“There are things we jointly have in common,” says Fitzgerald. “Mayor Nutter has similar challenges in a large urban city/county in the eastern part of the state.”
“We are concerned that state cutbacks will have an enormous effect, a detrimental effect, on our budgets and on our populace.” Fitzgerald says the social service cutbacks of 20 percent in the governor’s proposed budget, the lack of funding for public transit and the proposed cuts to road and bridge maintenance are of concern to the entire state, but particularly hit Pittsburgh and Philadelphia hard.
“Cutbacks have a serious detrimental effect on continuing to attract businesses to our region and our state. Corporations won’t relocate where human services are not available.”
Ravenstahl cites the successes the city and county have had in rebounding from the recession. “We should be proud of what we’ve done in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” says Ravenstahl. “But this was done in large part with the help of state government. Our future depends on state assistance.”
“It might be popular to say ‘cut, cut, cut,’ but understand that those cuts are starting to have a real impact on real people that are affecting real jobs,” says Ravenstahl. “We need them to understand what our issues are and continue to be a partner.”
Nutter feels that building the relationship between Philadelphia County and Allegheny County is significant. “Philadelphia is also interested in economic development and regional investments, and we are concerned with threats to our continued vitality,” he says. “We represent the two largest regions in the commonwealth and can use our interest in and concern with common issues to benefit both of our communities.”
“We are all Pennsylvanians,” says Nutter. “It is important for all of us to raise our voices, across the length and breadth of this commonwealth.”
The proposed budget cuts, says Nutter, “not only impact our particular region, but every county, every city, and every neighborhood across Pennsylvania.”
Saying his frequent meetings with members of the state legislature have convinced him that the lawmakers are concerned with the impact of the proposed cuts, Nutter says “they need to be mindful of the impact of those cuts. You cannot balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.”
“They have to take into account the full impact of these cuts will be penny wise and pound foolish,” says Nutter, “and ultimately increase commonwealth costs for tomorrow.”
Nutter says Philadelphia County is already expecting some of the effects of the proposed 20 percent cutbacks in human services. Foe example, lack of funding will cause cuts in mental health services for outpatient care, outreach and mobile emergency services.
“The proposed budget cuts will result in an increase in homelessness, criminal justice populations, emergency shelter requests, and institutionalization,” says Nutter. “This will cause a ripple effect across a number of communities.”
“The cost of the proposed elimination of general assistance funding far outweighs the costs of supporting those people,” Nutter says. “They will still need housing, they will still need medical care. Just because you cut the funding doesn’t mean the people will go away.”
Fitzgerald, who recently was in Harrisburg with a contingent of local business leaders, was asked about reports that Governor Corbett says there will be no transit bailout from the commonwealth until the Port Authority makes further budgetary cuts on its own.
“They realize there’s a state solution,” says Fitzgerald, “but they need to see savings from PAT workers and from management. It can’t be just for a year. It must be long-term.”
“We need to develop a partnership with the state, labor, management and the county,” says Fitzgerald. “With the state budget done in June, we need all those partners to agree soon.”
Nutting says his region does not have transit problems similar to Allegheny County’s, mainly because the South East Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) is supported by five counties in the east. “But we do need stable funding for transit statewide. It’s a critically important support for the infrastructure.”
“The infrastructure, especially bridges and roads, puts Pennsylvania to work. We’ve seen what happens through lack of funding.”
Questioned whether their Democratic party affiliations might interfere with their effective lobbying of the majority-Republican legislature, Fitzgerald says the issues are not partisan.
“Jobs are jobs,” says Fitzgerald.
Nutting agrees. “We’re not asking for more, we’re asking not to have less. We’re all Pennsylvanians. If you’re potentially homeless, that’s what you care about. Potholes are neither Republican nor Democrat. Make sure you’re not damaging your economy or your own people.”
“The proposed transit cuts would be crippling and devastating to our city,” says Ravenstahl. “If you get a packed bus where there are no seats, I guarantee you you’ll find Democrats, Republicans and Independents.”
“The three of us speak on behalf of a significant population,” he says. “We hope to clearly communicate the need.”
Nutter says that Philadelphia cannot supplant state funds with city dollars. “You have to try to live within your means. We have to realize that we’re all in this together.”
“The more dialog we have, the more impact we have,” says Nutter. “Others are also very concerned.”
By Nancy Hart
A Jacksonville Florida judge has denied a new trial for 31-year old Marissa Alexander. In August 2010, Alexander allegedly fired a gun to protect herself from her abusive husband. Alexander was convicted on three counts of aggravated assault. At the time of the incident, she had a protective order against her husband from earlier in the year when he was arrested for physically abusing her.
With all the evidence, Alexander still faces a mandatory 20-year prison sentence. The issue in Alexander's case is Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law. The same law that prevented George Zimmerman from being arrested, after shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, is also keeping Marissa Alexander behind bars for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband.
Recently, UrbanMediaToday's Allegra Johnson spoke with Alexander's ex-husband, Lincoln Alexander, who is the father of her two oldest children. Alexander explains how his ex-wife was abuse by her husband and why it's so important for him to see justice.
Allegra Johnson: Can you tell me a little bit about what happened to your ex-wife Marissa Alexander?
Lincoln Alexander: The story is, she was a battered woman for over a year and half leading up to the day of her arrest. She was beaten very badly while she was pregnant. He threw her across the sofa, he gave her a black eye while she was six months pregnant. She had an order of protection put in place, because of the abuse. The attack (when Alexander was arrested) started with him reading text messages on her phone. The messages confirmed that she was truly leaving the marriage and moving on. Her husband assaulted her and when his kids came upstairs he told them to get ready because they were leaving. But he didn't leave and Marissa went to her car in the garage. That's when he threatened her life and she raised her firearm and discharged her weapon in the ceiling. He then called the police and falsely reported that she aimed the gun at him. Marissa told the police that she was in fear of her life and had an order of protection in place. And even with all that, she was still arrested.
AJ: The issue in question now is the controversial stand your ground law. Did Marissa have a legal right to defend herself?
LA: She was in fear for her life because of the prior beatings. And it's been an uphill battle since she has been arrested. The prosecution and some people believe because she didn't try to kill him, that she wasn't in fear. But she should have been able to stand her ground and defend herself and that is exactly what she did.
AJ: Can you tell me a little bit about Marissa? What kind of person is she?
LA: She is a caring person. She cared about her husband. She cared about his kids. She did everything for them. Even one of the son's testified during the trial that what occurred was exactly what Marissa said it was. Her husband had lied about the entire scenario. But the prosecutor’s office has maintained that they didn't think Marissa was in fear and it's been a tough battle for us to prove as a battered woman, she was in fear that day. I know about her character, she is not the type of person that would make up stories.
AJ: You are her ex-husband but you are very involved in this case, why is it so important for you to see justice for Marissa?
LA: I am raising the awareness because I am a friend. I truly care about this situation, we have two kids together and my kids depend on me fighting for her. I want to fight for her. I'm doing whatever I can because she wanted me to raise the awareness because there are a lot of other women who are in abusive relationships. So if people can learn from what she had to endure over this time, that will be a blessing in disguise as well. We are not bringing any negativity into the case, we're just trying to get the word out.
AJ: With the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case in the headlines, do you think there is a racial bias when it comes to the stand your ground law?
LA: No, I don't think there's a racial bias. In this particular case or the majority of the cases; the police make the determination if someone should be arrested. And once the police made that determination, it was pretty much over and done with. With all the stand your ground motions that have been presented, from what I've been told; all of them have been shot down. No one has been able to use the stand your ground law, after they have been arrested.
AJ: Is there anything else you would like to add?
LA: We have created a template for people to use to show the judge the number of supporters that she has. If you go to our blog you can find out more information. www.justiceformarissa.blogspot.com. Show your support for her. I know there are other battered women out there. We have had a lot of positive support so far.
Written by Allegra Johnson for UrbanMediaToday.com