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Short List: Week of January 6 - 13


Acclaimed writer Thomas Lynch has surely been questioned about his day job hundreds of times. But how could you not ask a widely published poet and writer about his 37 years as a small-town undertaker? Lynch, whose poetry collections include his latest, Walking Papers, lives in Milford, Mich. It's a town of just 15,000 near where he grew up as the son of a funeral director, but his days are busy nonetheless. "Every year I bury a couple hundred of my townspeople," Lynch wrote to open his first book of nonfiction, 1997's The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade. The work won an American Book Award, was a National Book Award finalist, and has been published in eight languages. Lynch's writing has also been featured in Harper's, The New Yorker and Granta. Lynch doesn't just write about life through the lens of his job, of course. "I write sonnets and I embalm, and I'm happy to take questions on any subject in between those two," he once told literary journal Willow Springs. Still, as he noted in a recent phone interview, "Funeral service is a very good resource for anyone that thinks about life in general." And Lynch, who gives a free public reading Wed., Jan. 12, at Carlow University, is still branching out -- and not just because he spends part of each year at an ancestral cottage in County Clare, Ireland. ("I usually go for literary or mortuary duties," he notes drily.) This year, he published his first fiction work, a novella-and-short-stories collection titled Apparition & Late Fictions (W.W. Norton). "He is an original," went the Irish Times' review. "His writing is lucid, measured and rich in exact images." A smooth transition from poetry, it seems, but Lynch says fiction-writing posed its own challenges. "You have to abide with the characters a little more. Poetry, you can do that while you're doing other things." Bill O'Driscoll 7:30 p.m. Wed., Jan. 12. Kresge Theatre (Grace Library), Carlow campus, Oakland. Free. 412-578-8764



Fri., Jan. 7 -- Art

This is the time of year many galleries close their final shows of 2010. Meaning you have about a week, perhaps less, to catch several notable exhibits. One is Ordinary Madness, running through Sun., Jan. 9, at the Carnegie Museum of Art (412-622-3131). The cannily curated show draws on the museum's huge collection to offer expressions of the mad in the everyday, from Charles Burchfield's visionary landscape paintings to Larry Clark's photos of kid junkies and a gloriously perverse epic animation by Paul Chan. Meanwhile, Pa Bouje Ankò: Don't Move Again, Laura Heyman's series of portraits from Haiti, continues at Silver Eye Center (412-431-1810) through Jan. 15. Elsewhere, two exhibitions mark the closing of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh centennial. At the Westmoreland Museum of American Art (724-837-1500), Associated Artists of Pittsburgh: Celebrating a Century of Art (recalling the group's 1910 and 1911 shows) closes Jan. 9. And tonight, the August Wilson Center for African American Culture (412-258-2700) hosts the closing reception for a show of new work by seven African-American AAP artists, including Vanessa German, Thaddeus Mosley and Tina Williams Brewer. The event is from 5:30-7 p.m.; the show itself continues through Jan. 11. Bill O'Driscoll


Fri., Jan. 7 -- Art

They're the show before it's a show: The artists behind concert posters sometimes define the music nearly as much as the musicians do. Lawrenceville's WildCard boutique hosts Rock Show, Dude, a group showcase for 16 artists including André Costello, Christian Breitkrutz, Jes Lacecchia, Megan Herwig and Seth LeDonne. Tonight's opening reception naturally includes live music, from Trash Knight, Means to an End and Justin Watkins, a.k.a. J-Juice. BO 7-9 p.m. Exhibit continues through January. 4209 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Free. 412-224-2651 or



Fri., Jan. 7 -- Art

Artist Akil Harris left Pittsburgh for Brooklyn -- and the occasional jaunt to upstate New York. It was there he was inspired to craft his latest zines, respectively titled Trees and Leaves. Harris returns to Pittsburgh with a gallery version drawing from both publications. It's titled Trees, it features full-color photographs, and it's on the walls at The Shop art and performance space starting with tonight's opening reception. BO 7-11 p.m. 4314 Main St., Bloomfield. Free. 412-951-0622


Sat., Jan. 8 -- Words

We at City Paper like to think that reading isn't just a fallback activity for when there's nothing better to do. But when January comes around, it really is book time. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh agrees, and today kicks off its annual Winter Read-a-Thon. Come to the main branch in Oakland and get a pledge form (so that people can sponsor you, and donate to the library based on how many hours you read) and a clock bookmark (to help keep track of the hours you spend reading). Local authors Mitchell James Kaplan, Gwyn Cready, Todd DePastino and Rebecca O'Connell will all give readings. (The festivities continue at 1 p.m. Tue., Jan. 11, at the Squirrel Hill branch, where Pittsburgh-born novelist Stewart O'Nan reads.) Andy Mulkerin 10 a.m.–5 p.m. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Free. 412-622-3151 or



Sat., Jan. 8 -- Art

What does industry mean to us, and we to industry? Three emerging artists take their swings at the question in Manufacturing Identity, a new show at Homestead's artspace105. Daniel Kuhn is a local ceramic artist. Painter Chris McGinnis (whose work is pictured) is an area native who's exhibited and studied abroad. And Aaron Miller, a printmaker now based in Arizona, grew up amidst "Wyoming's coal, oil and methane-gas mining region." The show at the gallery, run by the Steel Valley Arts Council, has its opening reception tonight. BO 7 p.m. 105 E. Eighth Ave., Homestead. Free.

Sat., Jan. 8 -- Music

Talk about "memories trapped in time." Last year saw the return of the Lilith Fair festival after more than a decade, and a new studio album by its founder, Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan -- her first such release in seven years. Just off the Lilith dates, McLachlan comes to Heinz Hall tonight with her "Sarah and Friends" tour, a two-set performance that includes sitting in with guest performers and playing greatest hits and songs from her newest album, Laws of Illusion. She's also answering random audience questions throughout the show -- listeners can submit questions upon arrival. What will you ask? Aaron Jentzen 8 p.m. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $37.50-65.75. 412-392-4900 or


Tue., Jan. 11 -- Stage

What would you do if they sang you a song? Rain is the Beatles tribute so long-running it actually started not much after the Beatles themselves disbanded. Four costumed, Liverpudlian-accented musicians (plus a keyboardist) recreate the Beatles ouevre from Ed Sullivan debut to Let It Be finale, with all singing and playing done live. The show, now wrapping a stint on Broadway, comes to Heinz Hall for eight performances starting tonight, courtesy of PNC Broadway Across America. Reviews from earlier tours suggest that if you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like. BO 7:30 p.m. Continues through Jan. 16. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $21-62. 412-456-6666 or



Thu., Jan. 13 -- Film

Pining for the days when New York City was seedy? Through the magic of movies, travel back to the 1970s, when the Big Apple was rotting, and youth gangs ruled the streets. In Walter Hill's cult classic The Warriors, a gang summit goes wrong, and the Warriors must fight their way back through rival turf to their Coney Island HQ. Loosely based on Greek myth and featuring some of the kickiest gang colors ever, this 1979 flick is an action-packed, stylized drama, a tasty slice of sardonic dsytopia. Co-presented by Pitt Arts in the safety of Melwood Screening Room, the film will be followed by a discussion. Al Hoff 7 p.m. 477 Melwood Ave., North Oakland. $7. 412-682-4111 or


Thu., Jan. 13 -- Rock

Sick Of It All has been around since before some of the New York hardcore band's fans were born; the four-piece has enjoyed a 25-year career filled with screaming aggression and crunchy guitars. Based on a True Story, the band's latest, was released in 2010 by the metal label Century Media, and finds the group revisiting some of the timeless themes of the genre: camaraderie, honor and growing up on the hard streets of the city. Tonight the legends of NYHC appear at Altar Bar along with some younger bands, Alpha & Omega and Outbreak. AM 7:30 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. All ages. $14-16. 412-263-2877 or

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