Girls Night In

Because it’s always fun to follow up posts about pristine urban forests and turn-of-the-century folk art with one about … sex toys (teehee.) Girls Night In is a Pittsburgh-based retailer dedicated to “a feminist vision of sexuality and exploration.”

I mean, come’on, ladies (and gentleman.) Aren’t we sick of the parties with overpriced candles, kitchen supplies and tupper ware? Girls Night In can help you host parties showcasing sex toys, videos and books in a relaxing, non-intimidating, and friendly environment. Think birthdays, bachelorette parties, unconvential bridal showers … and thank God we live in Pittsburgh, because Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi all prohibit “devices manufactured or marketed primarily for the massage of the human genitalia.”

This 2004 article from the City Paper hilariously describes an event and the org’s the mission:

‘Theresa (party attendees asked that their last names be withheld) asks how the company got started. Derzic and Bodenhemier explain that they’ve known each other for years but that it was at an event celebrating the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade last year that they decided to start a feminist-oriented sex-toy business. Their initial plan was to open a bricks-and-mortar store, but they started instead with home parties and their catalog. They intend to open a store in Pittsburgh within the next two years, they tell the partygoers, though they’re not sure where.

‘”I did have a dildo thrown at my car once in the South Side,” Theresa offers. “That seems like a sign, so I think that’s a perfect place for your store.”

‘”They have a lot of Monongahela whitefish there,” says Carolyn, a first-grade teacher.

‘To puzzled looks, Derzic explains that “whitefish” are “the used condoms floating in the river.”

‘Derzic’s capacity to instruct goes far beyond the local lexicon. Girls’ Night In’s mission states that it’s “committed to a feminist vision of sexuality education and exploration.” By education, of course, they’re talking not about how to change the two AAA batteries of their Tsunami G-Spot vibrator (“just right for reaching that magic spot,” $25), but about how to change the way we think about sex.

‘Bodenhemier counts Girls’ Night In among sex-toy purveyors who are moving toward what she calls an “enhancement paradigm.” Rather than a vibrator’s selling point being that “you can’t get a man, or your boyfriend is off in Iraq,” she favors “incorporating couples play” into presentations. That has the added value, she says, of reassuring men who might be threatened by a device that is, after all, more reliable than they are.’

Woo-hoo. See?! There’s no reason to be afraid – all genders are included. To buy products or schedule a party, call 412-951-2488 or

Wishing you the best sex you will ever have in 2006 … Happy New Year!

Beechview – Seldom Seen Greenway

The Seldom Seen Greenway is home to over 90 acres of undeveloped land in the city of Pittsburgh. It’s located off Route 51, near Saw Mill Run Boulevard. It is directly across the street from Brashear High School – right below Beechview and Mt. Washington.

Seldom Seen was actually a small village annexed by the city of Pittsburgh in 1924, and until the 1960s, the area was populated by a few families and farmhouses; families raised their own chickens and canned their own fruit. As people slowly moved out, the area escaped development. The forest has been virtually left untouched and allowed to grow and flourish, but the active Friends of the Greenway organize a biannual clean-up to keep it pristine.

According to a Tribune Review article:

“If you’re agile enough to go under or over the makeshift gate, (it’s there to keep out those who would use the area as a garbage dump) you can leave the noisy highway through the tunnel and stroll in a peaceful valley, with only the gentle lull of Saw Mill Run creek, bird calls and rustling leaves to enhance the silence. Trees hang over the creek from the shadowy cliffs, sheer enough for the Pittsburgh City rescue paramedics to practice rappelling.

“Around the bend is a thicket of trees, better reached from a steep path from behind Brashear High School. Here, Kathy and John Murphy, whose Beechview back yard edges on Seldom Seen, did a bird migration count for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania last December, identifying 81 birds.

To learn more about the fascinating history of this area, read the rest of Tribune Review article.

There has also been discussion about providing an “Emerald Link” – connecting trails – between Mt. Washington, Duquesne Heights, Allentown, South Side and Beechview. The plan was spearheaded by the Mt. Washington Development Corporation, and you can check out the status of the project or get involved here.

Until then, the trails and wildlife of Seldom Seen, only minutes away from downtown Pittsburgh, remain to be explored.

John A. Hermann Memorial Art Museum

When we think of Pittsburgh museums, we think of the Carnegie, the Warhol, the Heinz History Center. But there are other small, neighborhood museums that have amazing art and historical collections. Take the John A. Hermann Memorial Art Museum in Bellevue. The museum holds over 1000 paintings, as well as ivory and bronze pieces. Hermann (1858-1942) was a millionaire who was also a painter; he never sold a painting, yet he desperately wanted to be recognized for his art. Today, according to art students and curators, his collection is one of the most complete collections of one folk artist in the country. There is also an interesting Post-Gazette article about the museum. (The painting to the left is entitled, “The Nervous Patient, 1890.”)

The museum is located at 318 Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue, PA. Admission is FREE. It is open on Friday and Saturday from noon to 4:00 p.m, on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, and closed on holidays. You can also schedule an appointment by calling 412-761-8008.



Ever since I posted about WYEP being a great public radio station, I felt guilty. Why? Because I listen to WRCT 88.3 probably just as much as I do WYEP. Why? Because where else can you hear Democracy Now, Japanese experimental music, the Saturday Light Brigade, yiddish hip hop, and excrutiatingly geeky analysis of R&B lyrics?

WRCT is the radio station of Carnegie Mellon University. It is located in the basement of the CMU University Center and broadcasts from Warner Hall. The station run as free format radio which means that all programming decisions are left to the descretions of DJs and their programs. This means that I can actually drive to work listening to some pumping house music and leave listening to Nina Simone. But there is some convergence: wanna know what the kids are listenin’ to these days? Check out their Top 70 list. (Glad to see local band Modey Lemon sneak in there at #10!) Never heard any of these bands? Well then listen to WRTC! And if you … hate music, then just listen for the promos (which are pretty weird – and funny.)

Like all good radio stations though, ‘RCT offers online streaming, has a handy dandy list of recently played songs and takes requests at 412-CMU-WRCT (268-9728). iTunes users can add it to their playlist as streaming radio. (Just look under Radio/Public/WRCT.)

I remember when I was in high school in the hills of the the ‘Burgh, I had my uber cool band posters, my flannels and my Docs, and I tried to act like I listened to real, live college stations. But the only place I could get it was in one corner of my basement. Luckily for us, the station has come a long way since then! Apparently they’ve expanded (to 1750 “glorious watts”). And get this – the other day, I could hear it all the way out to the airport. So go and program WRCT on your car radio now. And turn it on when you’re stuck in traffic. You might even catch the Brazilian Radio Hour.