By Aaron Jentzen, Pittsburgh City Paper
Peter Divito’s mammoth, Pittsburgh-based music zine 20/20 Proof always takes a while to materialize, but there’s usually enough there to hold you over until the next issue. Issue 4, out this weekend, has a hip-hop theme (which was kinda inevitable, since Divito’s DJ name is “P Divi”). The issue features profiles on the likes of Sadat X, Prince Po, J Zone, Sean Price and Wiz Khalifa.There’s also the usual reviews and the always-hilarious feature “My Mother Hates Everything,” in which Divito’s mom gets her (very blunt) two cents in on current national releases. You can pick up a copy at the release party on Nov. 10 at Brillobox, which will be DJ’d by Divito and DJ Selecta.
A Conversation with Peter Divito, Pittsburgh City Paper
Lifelong Pittsburgher Peter Divito has a master’s degree in criminology, and has spent his post-college years working with kids on probation and with confrontational social issues. Divito founded 20/20 Proof, his music zine in which, besides interviews and reviews, 20 regular fans list their 20 favorite albums and the reasons why. (Plus there’s “My Mother Hates Everything,” in which Divito’s mother comments on indie-rock tracks. For example, on White Stripes’ lyrics: “Do they just look it up in the dictionary and don’t care if it makes sense or not?”) The increasingly popular Pittsburgh-scene favorite sells mostly on the streets and in small independent record shops.
As a criminologist, I have to assume you work for some thrilling, primetime-TV CSI: Pittsburgh unit.
Actually, now I work as a therapist , in an adolescent partial-hospitalization program. So we work with kids with acute mental-health issues. You can say social work has something to do with criminology, I think, because you work with kids on probation, or involved with CYF — I interned with Juvenile Probation, and I liked the people I interned with, but I didn’t feel like that had anything as a career. I didn’t feel like I’d be changing anything.
Isn’t there any primetime action?
I’ve done a lot of restraints lately — I’ve been physically exhausted the past few weeks. I sprained my thumb, my hand’s been messed up — there was a good week or so where it was every day. I need to get bigger.
Can we at least say that 20/20 Proof is a thrilling, primetime-TV OCD: Pittsburgh unit?
I’ve always been an OCD, obsessive music fan. All the people who loved John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity were the people who made lists; people who were always talking to their friends about, “What were your top records of the year? Your top this? Your top that?” I always did that. I grew up listening to hip hop, primarily. I was obsessive about hip hop, and I’d always write lists — best emcees, best deejays, best albums of the year. Then I’d pick up magazines and they’d be asking celebrities, “Who’re your favorite whatever,” and I’d think, “Who cares?” I want to talk to regular people — that’s why the people that do the lists in 20/20 aren’t people who are famous or popular or big, it’s just somebody you’d meet on the street and ask.
So you just get wackos off the street to make lists?
I’ve been doing 95 percent of the magazine myself, so the third issue’s spreading the work around. The first one I had a lot of friends and people who just asked me if they could do a list; the second issue Annie Parkowski, who did a lot of the artwork, recruited a lot of people too. I found a lot of people on the Internet, just finding who’s into what kind of music.
Well, they’re not all wackos, but they’re Pittsburghers, right?
It’s probably 50 percent or more Pittsburgh people writing — and that’ll continue. The third issue’s got a real Pittsburgh focus, so I have a lot of Pittsburgh bands doing lists, making up their own lists. Like, I’ve got Chalk Outline Party tackling rock books, and Black Tie Revue’s doing something like “Top 20 Musicians I’d Like to Bang.”
I’ll probably give my Mom a couple more pages with “My Mother Hates Everything,” because people love that feature. Everybody loves my Mom now, and wants to meet her — she came to the release party for the last issue. She has obviously limited knowledge about music, and that’s kind of charming, I think.
Does your music life cross over into the counseling?
I’ve got a 50-pound box of hip-hop cassettes back at my house, and that’s after having given away a third of my collection to the kids at the group home. They always used to watch Rap City and BET all day, and they knew I knew hip hop. I’d be like, “This is crap,” and they’d say, “Fuck you, Pete, all you talk about is De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest, that goofy shit.” You could say they pushed me a bit to do [the zine] — a lot of these kids don’t know who KRS-ONE is, so they’d tell me, “Why don’t you write something, you’re always criticizing everything.” I ended up taking one of the kids to see KRS-ONE when he came here — he dug it. He was a little cautious, but he dug it.
By Hallie Pritts, The Front
Heads Up: New Pittsburgh Music Compilation to be Released
Peter Divito, the man behind the music magazine 20/20 Proof, is finally doing what so many others have talked about doing: releasing a compilation disc of Pittsburgh music. Not limiting himself to one genre or scene, Divito has gathered together 19 tracks from local artists to showcase the best of what Pittsburgh has to offer. He calls it, with typical Pittsburgh irony, Steel City Scene: Dead End World. “It will help the whole city, I think,” says Divito. Featuring everything from Ennui to Comrad to Kevin Finn, the compilation will be available at most local record stores as well as on the 20/20 Proof website. Divito is also hopeful about getting the disc onto InSound.com, an independent music site.Divito’s goal is to get Pittsburgh bands a little bit of national exposure. “I love Pittsburgh. I’ve lived here my whole life,” he says, and it’s that love of the town that was the main inspiration behind the project.Some of the tracks are exclusive to the compilation and will not appear on other cds. Others will later be released on the bands’ individual records. And for a few of the bands like The Sexes and Olympus Mons, the compilation marks their first ever musical release. Divito is planning two cd release shows, one all ages and one over 21, for the third week of October, though the compilation will be available through the website beginning in late September.
By Ed Masley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Last week, a local promoter was quoted in this very section saying there’s no local scene in Pittsburgh anymore. You wouldn’t know that from the sound of 20/20 Proof’s new compilation, “Steel City Scene: Dead End World,” which brings together 19 bands, the bulk of which would rank among the best in any city.And it’s not all one sound either, ranging from the raucous indie-pop of Comrad and Black Tie Revue to spunky New Wave from My Sexiest Mistake, a chilly keyboard-driven instrumental from Harangue, a quirkier, more New Wave-flavored keyboard instrumental from Two Sexy Beasts, Shade’s dreamy, post-shoegazer Wall of Sound, the melancholy indie balladry of We’re Wolves, Camera’s quirky Brit-pop, and folkier highlights from the likes of Kevin Finn and Boca Chica. Stick them all on one CD, and Pittsburgh’s local scene is sounding pretty vital, from an artfully percussive Vale and Year exclusive to the first appearance on a record by two promising young bands, the Sexes and Olympus Mons.And these are just personal favorites of Peter Divito, who launched the music fanzine 20/20 Proof in late 2003.
“Some of the bands I’ve known longer than others,” he says. “But I like all the bands that are on it.”
He meant to have 20, of course, but one band pulled out late and he was left without a backup plan. But even with one missing band, it speaks well of our scene, he says, “if you can pull 19 bands together in one city and it comes together like that. I’m sure there’s bands on here that would getattention on a national scale.”
The “Dead End World” in the title, he says, should not be taken seriously. He and Camera’s Cory Allen were watching the Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls” video one day and started joking about titling the compilation “West End Bridge.” Instead, Divito latched onto thelyric “Dead end world.”
“People have this outlook like Pittsburgh is so bad and everything outside of Pittsburgh is so great,” says Divito. “It’s like the grass is always greener. But maybe things are cool here.”
The 20/20 in the title of his magazine is based on Divito’s original premise — having 20 people publish 20 annotated lists. But by the first issue, he’d opened the content to include an interview with Joseph Arthur, and since then, the magazine has featured interviews with TV on the Radio, The Unicorns and De La Soul, while covering Pittsburgh’s thriving local music scene.
“The first issue was really sloppy,” says Divito. “I don’t even like to look at it now. But the second issue got bigger. And I had my mom start writing for me, too. She interviewed the Unicorns and Istarted that little feature, My Mother Hates Everything, where I would play her songs and she would review them.”20/20 Proof’s third issue was 140 pages, with 30 devoted to local bands, including several of the acts on his new compilation.
“I’ve met a lot of great people,” he says, “and I’ve gotten to interview my favorite bands, which is awesome. A lot of people read it and they tell me they dig it. The sales aren’t where I want them to be, but I enjoy doing it. I’m just taking a little hiatus right now to focus on doing the CD and maybe putting out another band, getting a Web site going so I can put up content on a regular basis.”
He’ll celebrate the new release with an all-ages show Friday at Modern Formations and a 31st Street Pub show Saturday. The lineup at Modern Formations features Boca Chica, Between the Waters, Chalk Outline Party, Ennui and Harangue, beginning at 7. The Pub show starts at 10 and features Comrad, Black Tie Revue, We’re Wolves and a band from New York City called Mommyand Daddy.
Each show is $10 and includes a CD. If you go to both shows, admission to the second night is half off.