Celebrating Gus & YiaYia day

Categories Thoughts, Video

Most people didn’t know the day existed. It’s something the City of Pittsburgh does to celebrate people who contribute to the culture. I think it’s a good tradition that should be continued.

After posting this video, many people shared it expressing great remorse over how they can’t believe they missed the day. That they should have been there to celebrate it.

I didn’t know about it either. Just happened to Google “Gus & YiaYia’s” a few days before and saw an older article by the Northside Chronicle about the ice ball stand being awarded a day – April 25th.

And I’d be darned if I’d miss a chance to celebrate a neighbor. A Pittsburgh icon. A person that I’m surprised let me film everything that I did. He barely ever does interviews. He turned down around 7 just after talking to me about Mr. Rooney passing away.

That’s a firm demonstration of values if I’ve ever seen it. They really don’t make them like Gus anymore. I’m very honored to have made this video with him. Did you know it’s my most viewed video, too? 43K and counting on Facebook.

It would probably have more on it except for the fact I left that stripper story in there. My intuition tells me government, corporate, and nonprofit entities are substantially less likely to share something that has edge to it. They seek to limit the scrutiny they could be under from sharing – or appearing to endorse – content on social media. In general, the formula is: the safer the better. Both in artist and art. But something told me to leave it there. When you mix love, nostalgia, and a dose of the truthfulness; you get a beautiful mix.

Link to video.


Ask Pittsburgh – should marijuana be legalized?

Categories Thoughts, Video

A continuation of my series, this episode we Ask Pittsburgh: should marijuana be legalized?

This series exists for one main reason: I like watching people talk. As mentioned before, the idea was inspired from iamOTHER‘s series StereoTypes. I’m just not nearly as charismatic as Ryan Hall, the host of the show. Really I just want more episodes but it doesn’t look like that’s happening anytime seeing that the last episode came out 3 years ago. I’m not crossing my fingers. But I can remix the idea to my own liking.

The other big reason is it encourages discussion in our city and brings exposure to other opinions in a really cool way, and I’m not just saying that because I made it. I’d watch every episode if someone else had beat me to the punch.

Link to video.

For the near-future episodes, I’d like them to be a bit longer. I’m probably going to have to spend more time out and about. The goal is to get the stronger opinions to represent many of the people watching the show.

I’m looking to fix the wind problem as well. For my camera, I have a quick workaround: a makeshift micromuff.

I’m pretty sure I’ve fixed the out-of-focus issue… for the most part.

And for the record, for every person you see on this video I’ve probably gotten about 15 no’s. It’s a game of persistence if anything.

Thank you to NEXTPittsburgh and Upgruv for featuring the video, and to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for putting it in their 4/20 article.

GPAC 2-Day Artist grants info session

Categories Thoughts, Video
Amy Smith talking with part of the main group about elevator pitches.
Amy Smith talking with part of the main group about elevator pitches.

I was invited by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) to attend a 2 day session called “Nuts & Bolts“, a talk given by Seth Lepore and Amy Smith (of headlong.org) – two very funny and informative artists from Philadelphia. I like what GPAC is doing for artists. They weren’t even charging that much for entry – I believe it was a donate what you can afford event. They served breakfast and lunch and even had a nice selection of healthy foods – which I’m very happy about, the way to my heart is most often food related. And I’ve been steadily (*slowly) moving my food selection to be more healthy.

Plenty of vegan food options were provided.

Anyway, I happened to bring my camera to the event and decided to create this video to help the organization out and expose artists to a local and potentially very helpful nonprofit. As I continue to live in Pittsburgh, my goal is to contribute to the culture in this city by using my voice & perspective.

Link to the video. (Additional Facebook version.)

You’ll notice I’m not speaking at all in this video because on that day my energy and feeling to do it was zapped.

Believe it or not, I really beat myself up over it the rest of that day because I feel like I gave in to my comfort zone. There was a sense of obligation in my mind to have more of a presence for the video, but I really wasn’t feeling it. No idea what could’ve been said on camera that would have made the video any better either. Looking back, everything was completely fine- that’s how I felt, after all. But internally, there was a battle of negative self-talk there that was felt the whole day.

A huge desire of mine is to push to make my camera presence better (a challenge) but it’s easy for me to confuse that with my perfectionism.

If I hadn’t made it how I perceived to be imperfect at the time, there wouldn’t be a video at all. As if to say “all or nothing!” which is a big part of me at this time that I’m actively working to improve. I only just realized a few weeks ago from Brené Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection” that perfectionism is actually a toxic beast. Turns out, it’s not a good thing at all. Here’s how she defines it in her book & I’ll let this finish the blog post:

Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame. Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Additionally, perfectionism is more about perception—we want to be perceived as perfect. Again, this is unattainable—there is no way to control perception, regardless of how much time and energy we spend trying.