Monday, August 31, 2009

More Octotber Storm Fallout

It may have happened almost three years ago, but many of us are still seeing and experiencing the effects of the October 2006 snow and ice storm that slammed Buffalo.
Up to an estimated 400,000 people lost power (luckily, Val and I did not) and all sorts of utilities, and trees were knocked down damaging buildings, vehicle, etc., and blocking roads, during the freak snow and ice storm.
Our trees, including the more than 100-year-old, enormous, more than 3-story oak in the backyard, did not sustain too much damage, mostly some cracked and fallen branches, but our Norwood Avenue neighborhood, like many others, still shows some signs of the damge.
Well, new damage isn't exactly surprising still; when I went outside to let Walker Evans out Saturday morning, I noticed that a branch was missing and that there was more light than normal coming through the oak tree. I checked and found more than 20 feet of branch, ranging from one-inch to 4 inches wide, laying broken under the tree. Fortunately, neither Walker nor anyone else was hit by the branch, and the branch did not hit our garage, our fence or any of the property of our neighbor Pat's house.
I have the feeling that this is not the end of the damage we will find from the October storm.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Keep Forgetting - Mike Oliver Review Posted

I have forgotten for way too long, but my review and Val's photos of the Michael Oliver and the Sacred Band show at the Tralf Music Hall are now posted here at our web site,
We have an interview with Gurf Morlix (originally done for another publication, which chose not to use it so far) coming up, as well as a preview article on Music Is Art, so please stay tuned here or at the web site.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Name Game

Local guitarist, singer, songwriter, Buffalo Music Hall of Fame member and neighbor Jim Whitford plays bass and sings backup vocals in the Alison Pipitone Band, or at least I think he does.
The first time the band was introduced by WBFO On the Border host Bert Gambini Wednesday night, he was called Jim Whitford; the second time Gambini introduced the band, he was called Jim Whitfield. As we were talking to him and Holly Christiano just before we left, a couple of kids about age 10-12 at the merchandise table said simultaneously, "hello, Mr. Whitman."
Ah, the ever-changing identity of the mysterious guitar/bass player.

Music and Mosquitos

The Alison Pipitone Band put on a great show at the WBFO On the Border live broadcast from Musicians' Park at the Sportsmens' Tavern on Amherst Street Wednesday night, a fine way to kick off the series of live shows.
There was only one thing to complain about, which was certainly beyond the control of the band, producer Dee Adams or anyone else: the overabundance of mosquitos. I have five new mosquito bites on my scalp alone and several elsewhere, and people were swatting away all night and many eventually went inside the bar.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Car Window: A Smashing Good Time

As I drove away from home to work yesterday, I noticed some broken glass in the street next to Val's car. When I pulled up next to it, you guessed it, I saw that someone had smashed in her front driver's-side window.
So, I parked my car, checked Val's car to see if there was any other damage and tried to determine if anything was missing from her car. I couldn't find anything missing and besides broken glass everywhere (thanks, Grandmaster Flash), there was no other damage.
I went inside and told Val of the damage and called our insurance agent, even though I knew the office wasn't yet open; fortunately, I was given a 24-hour claim number and called there. They were very courteous and helpful, then connected me with the line for the glass claims, and that person was also helpful and courteous and started calling Buffalo companies who did car window repairs and came to the customer's location.
Eventually, they contacted Crossroads Glass, who agreed to add us to their same-day service list. Val needed her car for an MRI appointment later that day, so she had to stay home with the car until the Crossroads people arrived.
As Val spoke to police, she discovered that one other thing was missing, her inspection sticker. Yep, it turns out that some douchenozzle smashed in her car window to grab the inspection sticker.
Everything now appears back to normal, except our aggravation over some idiot's actions. But since we had full glass coverage, at least the cost wasn't a problem.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Alison Pipitone at Sportsmen's August 26

The WBFO On the Border concert series will start its Wednesday shows with the Alison Pipitone Band and her raw brand or hard rock, roots rock and what some would call folk music this Wednesday, August 26, at the Sportsmen's Tavern's outdoor concert facility, on Amherst Street near Grant Street in Buffalo.
Guitarist, singer and songwriter Pipitone and her band will be performing music from her newest CD, "Me and Miss Grimes," which will be available at the show, as well as a bunch of older favorites. The doors for the free show will open at 6 p.m., with music starting about an hour later. The band members include Graham Howes on lead guitar, Jim Whitford on bass, Pat Shaughnessy on drums, Natalie Howes on backup vocals and Sheila Connors on backup vocals, accordion and scrub board.
Next week's live On the Border show will feature Mark Norris and the Backpeddlers, and the series is coordinated by singer Dee Adams, who also hosts the Sportsmen's Tavern's Monday open mike.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Different Dog Park Rain Reaction

A couple of weeks ago, Val and I took Walker Evans to the Lasalle Park dog park after a heavy rain day, and we were the only people in the park for the 45 minutes or so we stayed.
Sunday, the three of us got into the car to visit the dog park, hoping to beat the rain; of course, we didn't. The rain started coming down light for only a few seconds, got heavier and was coming down in sheets as we drove down Porter Avenue, only letting up a little as we got to the park. We decided to drive around Lasalle Park to let the rain stop.
It was still raining pretty hard as we got to the dog park parking lot, but we decided to park and try to wait the rain out. Another woman and her dog drove up and parked next to us and decided to wait as well. While we sat listening to "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" by Genesis in 97 Rock, we were able to see three people and three dogs in the park, defying the rain.
The song was not half over when the rain slowed down and then stopped; we waited barely a moment and got out of the car as the sun came out, and in seconds, there were five dogs now playing in the park. Within 5 minutes, there were 10 dogs in the park and by the time we left, there were 15 dogs with human companions frolicking there.
It appears that people have gotten sick of the rain and waiting for it to dry before they go on with their lives around here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Frying is Good

You can tell you're in a certain ethnic region when the hit of the political fundraiser you attended is fried bologna and peppers.
Last night, I attended such a fundraiser in West Seneca kind of near the south Cheektowaga border, and fried bologna and peppers, along with cheese and various related condiments, were incldued in the offerings. People kept going back to the fried bologna (it was impressive to see a guy stack two fat pieces of fried bologna, cheese and too much mayo on a small bun) and were raving about it the entire time I was there.
Not being a fried bologna fan (as you can tell, I am neither of Polish nor Italian heritage, and there really is no Irish cuisine), I got stuck with the usual bland sheet pizza, but at least there were some homemade desserts to sample. My compliments particularly go out to the people who baked the really good brownies as well as the chocolate chip cookie bars.
And, despite the fundraiser being held very close to the old site of the former Seneca Mall, where I worked at Cavages, I got lost on the way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sleep and Stubbornness

In a post here yesterday, I mentioned that due to be tired and having another busy day, I wondered how long I would be able to stay awake last night.
Well, I made it until somewhere between 10-10:5 .m. before I dozed off on the couch downstairs and woke up at 11:15 p.m. I then started Walker Evans' dinner and fell asleep for a few more minutes before watching a dreadful couple of minutes of the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and then turning to David Letterman.
After feeding the dog and going upstairs, as usual, instead of just checking e-mail or turning off the computer and going right to bed, I started to check Facebook, surf the Internet and so on, and go to bed a bit before 2 a.m.
There are no excuses; I simply didn't have the willpower or, in a half-sleep/trance state, enough smarts to go right to bed; I am a bit tired now, although not as bad as if I had stayed up straight until the same time. But I hope I'll smarten up some and just go to bed for once when I come upstairs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tooth Picks, Anyone?

While like most people, I am a bit tired and don't sleep as well as normal during these hot and humid days and nights, for some reason, my eyes in particular feel tired this morning.
It will be a bit busy at work today, but not overly so, and Val and I will actually be able to cook dinner at home tonight, so let's see after all of this how long I can stay awake tonight.

I Don't Understand

I have tried and tried, but I just simply do not get what people see and enjoy in Bollywood movies, the musical movies made in India that are a national treasure and industry there.
I have watched entire movies, clips, so on and so forth, and man, they just do not appeal to me. I would assert that not being part of my culture, that they are hard to understand and get into, but I know many more people not from any Indian culture who really enjoy these movies, and I am confused.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Walker Evans Says It Is Hot

Well, maybe Walker Evans didn't say it was hot, but he showed it on our walk yesterday, Monday.
Normally afraid of water in many varieties, especially from sprinklers, hoses and large bodies of water, when we walked through the neighborhood at about 4:30-5 p.m. Monday, instead of walking in the street or on the lawn and around working sprinklers on Ashland and Norwood avenues, he walked right through them, getting wet. Indeed, he walked very slowly through them, and while he grimaced a little bit, he did not flinch or move away.
Next time, I may get my bathing suit and we'll run and jump through the sprinklers. Well, maybe not the bathing suit part; the neighbors have suffered enough.

Motivation, Republican Style?

Good lord, the advertisements for the Get Motivated seminar being led by Zig Ziglar and his merry band of Republican success jesters will not be missed by me now that today is the day of the right-wing motivational circle jerk.
Hmm, the success strategy of Steve Forboes? Being born into the Forbes family; I guess I would rather be "unmotivated" than follow in the footsteps, philosophically or otherwise, of the likes of Forbes, Rudy Giuliani or Colin "What My Lai problem?" Powell. And Dr. Robert Schuller is "America's best motivational speaker?" Need I say more?
And oh, yay, there will be major traffic problems downtown this morning; another thing to look forward to on a hot day.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weather and This Week

Well, I was all set to mention that I was kind of happy I had some indoor political volunteer work today and tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday, because of the excessive heat and humidity predicted by the National Weather Service. Air conditioning, here I come.
So, with the temperature at 74 degrees already before 7 a.m. Monday, does anyone really believe the NWS now that it has reduced its predicted high temperature today from 89-90 degrees to only 84 degrees? No, me neither; it's almost comical at times what happens with the NWS. I find it, through the years, to be way more accurate than Accu-Weather or other weather services, but for some reason, in recent years, it seems to pull back from predicting warmer weather, as well as higher humidity, even in the face of days like today.
Living about a mile from Lake Erie on the West Side, I suppose that it may be a bit more humid here than at the Greater Buffalo Niagara Airport in Cheektowaga, where the official readings are taken, but the temperature is supposed to be warmer out there because it doesn't have the moderating effects of Lake Erie.
So, let's see where the temperature is versus what is reported to us; yes, I know, not overly scientific, but having lived here my entire life, I can usually tell when a temperature is at 90 degrees or so. Or I could be totally wrong and a fool and the NWS correct.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Bit of Color in the Heat

While the heat and humidity did affect the walk Walker Evans and I just took, the highlight was of a different and unexpected kind.
We walked down Bryant Street to Ashland Avenue and turned going toward Summer Street, and came upon a yard sale. As we were passing it, I noticed a flash of red a little higher than head level, and thought it was a bird; I looked closer and saw a bird land on the porch next door.
As I got closer, I noticed that it had to be a male cardinal for its coloring and length at first, and then, as it landed on a very large tree just ahead of and then above us, I could see the unmistakable shape of its head. I stopped to watch the cardinal about 10-15 feet above me, and Walker gave me the "let's get going, Dad" look, so I told him to wait while I looked at the cardinal. While we see cardinals in the neighborhood in the spring, we rarely see them in the summer.
A couple that had been leaving the yard sale when we walked by was coming up, and the woman asked me, "Is that a cardinal? Really?" I said yes and told her to just take a couple of steps and look up; she could see it without obstruction, and as if it knew that we were watching it, the cardinal seemed to strike several poses before flying away.
After that, Walker was happy the attention and the walk returned to him.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Outlyers at Nietzsche's Friday

The Outlyers, one of Buffalo's best and longest-playing roots rock bands, will perform during happy hour starting at 6 p.m. tonight, Friday, at Nietzsche's, 248 Allen Street in Buffalo.
The current lineup will be joined by former Outlyers guitarist, singer and songwriter Adam Gearing (ex-Riddlers), who took a teaching position in Chicago after years of teaching at City Honors High School in Buffalo. Expect lots of older Outlyers' songs to be played and for Gearing to make a few of his usual political comments (he is a longtime active Democrat).
At 10:30 p.m., the Skiffle Minstrels will perform at Nietzsche's, so if you want to stick arond, there will be a second part to the good musical night here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fitting the Weather Stereotype

Some people like to joke that in Buffalo, if you don't like the weather, just wait a moment and it will change; how true or different than the norm this is is not known, but in the last day or so, we have had some variety.
After several days of heavy rains (downpours causing flooding at times), we have dried out to some extent in Buffalo and Western New York and the temperatures have been in the 80s for highs for several days, the first time this summer. Sadly, the floods and related problems have become fatal, with at least two people's deaths in WNY attributed to the rain.
Yesterday, while Val and I were getting ready to cook some chicken out on the grill, I was in the media room checking e-mail and taking my tie off while Val was checking her laptop's e-mail downstairs. We both started hearing what we thought was rain, but the sky was blue with white clouds and a bit of sun. We both checked and, yes, it was raining out, and did so for about 10 minutes due to a small but very heavy and gray looking cloud over Buffalo's West Side.
This morning, things have been a bit foggy around here and apparently very foggy and moist around other parts of Western New York, and the temperature will be in the mid-80s today with what appears will be high humidity. Oh, joy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Music From the Past Played Today

Despite having some recent concerns about it, driving in my car has been a bit more fun recently due to some music I rediscovered/found.
While cleaning the media room (not even close to finished), I came across two demo cassette tapes from The Moment, one of Buffalo's greatest bands featuring Jim Redden, Jimmer Phillips and Jimmy Chambers. One tape has five songs on it, the other seven songs.
So, as you can imagine, I have been blasting them in my car as I have driven to and from work; incidentally, I drive a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier, so I have a (sometimes barely) still-working cassette player in it.
The very melodic rock, with lots of mod and psychedelic influences, holds up today, 20-25 years later, and The Moment is definitely one of the bands I would love to buy a compilation CD of; as well as these two cassettes, I have other music by them in different places in my collection. I may have to spend some time now, dig that other stuff up and play it again, too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to a Bit of Normalcy

Today appears to be a normal day, as far as waking up, showering, coffee, etc., are concerned, following a not-so-ordinary Monday.
The heavy rain, winds and thunderstorms we encountered Sunday night and Monday morning were expected, which meant that Val and I knew that we would probably be up part of the night with Walker Evans, our brave dog who is scared of thunder, lightning and fireworks.
We were more correct that we wished, because Val and I maybe got one hour of sleep apiece during that period, and by 6 a.m., when I get up for work (Val wakes and goes in a bit later), I was exhausted and virtually zombified. Fortunately, because I have way too much vacation time that I havent' taken, I had a day that I could take off and did so, as did Val.
We then spent the next several hours sleeping as best we could, which, while the temperature was high and things were muggy, we managed to do quite well without the noise or the scared, panting, drooling and scared large dog on the bed.
Another weather effect on Walker Evans was that we waited untl the rain and thunder ended for a while Sunday afternoon and went to the Lasalle Park dog park at about 3 p.m. We were the only people and dog there the entire time, despite the clearing (for a while) clouds. Sadly, one of the new trees had been snapped in half and was partly laying on the ground, apparently due to the weather.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday Morning at Spot

With Val getting a pedicure with her sister Tricia (Tricia's birthday gift to Val) this morning, and after I forgot to buy eggs last week, I made my way to Spot for breakfast.
The order was simple but good, a Mike sandwich with ham on wheat focaccia and a mucho red eye, but the entertaiment, etc., was on a pretty good level and varied.
First, after parking in the Spot/Blockbuster parking lot on Elmwood Avenue, I walked toward Spot and saw, parked three spots away, a really cool burnt red/orange Chevrolet Corvair, in pretty good shape. I was hoping to see the owner, but did not either on my way there or leaving.
Once inside, I got in the line that was stretching almost to the door, and while standing there, I noticed that two single-person round tables were pushed together, with a laptop and a book on them; sadly, the laptop was a Windows machine, but the book was, um, interesting: "The History of Fractures, Third Edition." No doubt the first two editions sold out, and as I expected, a man and a woman wearing scrubs sat down at those tables.
And politics marches on: first, Buffalo Common Councilmember Mickey Kearns and West Side political activist/leader Chito Olivencia came in and ordered coffee, and a few minutes later, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt came in, said hello, ordered coffee and joined the other two politicos.
Driving down Elmwood on my way home, as I passed the Unitarian Universalist Church at the corner of Elmwood and West Ferry, a man was hold a cross, waving/aiming it at the church and loudly praying for the church's salvation. Um, I think they have that covered, sir.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Weekend: Not Enough Time This Time

Yes, actually starting yesterday, Thursday, this is one of those official too-much-to-do-at-the-same-time weekends for Val and I.
We are still trying to plan out how much we will be able to do and attend, and things started with us being able to attend the opening of Cheryl Gorski's photo show at the Karpeles Document facility on Porter Avenue. Val had to miss her physical therapy Thursday, and we both were sadly unable to attend the Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center auction.
Tonight, we will try to catch up and go out to dinner with my mother Sheila in a late birthday celebration for Val, and who knows what, if anything else, we will be able to do. Saturday has several events at the same time, and we have no idea if we will be able to get to more than one.
So, of course, there probably is nothing scheduled for us next weekend.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Another Cool House Concert

Marty Boratin and Susan Tanner are hosting another interesting and fun-sounding house concert which will actually be a house concert barbecue when the Ginn Sisters from Austin and Davey O (Dave Ostrowski) opening from 6 p.m.-midnight Friday, August 14, at their house at 7341 Nelson Drive on the Eden/Hamburg border.
Admission for this concert/shindig will be a recommended $5-10 per person, and you can of course bring food and liquid refreshments to add to the fun, and to RSVP or for more information, people should click this link:
If this link does not work, please e-mail Marty, better known as the Rock and Roll Chef, at

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Nice Way to Start the Sesson

Some of the upper-echelon men's college basketball teams get to start their seasons in ways that most of us would like to vacation.
I received my most recent Badger Men's Basketball Insider e-mail from the University of Wisconsin yesterday, and is announced that the Badgers will more or less open their NCAA season at the 2009 EA Sports Maui Invitational Tournament in Maui, Hawaii. Wisconsin will play Arizona Monday, November 23, and then play either Gonzaga or Colorado in the second game.
Maui Invitational Tournament; not a bad way to spend Thanksgiving week, if you have to be away. A bit better than Winona, Minnesota, but that's a whole different story.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fly-By Neighbors

There's little better in the morning that to suddenly hear the Doppler Effect of a large group of geese flying into your neighborhood, making incredibly loud quacking noises, and having the noise just as suddenly die down as they fly through the neighborhood and away.
Yes, that just happened, and things are suddenly silent in this Elmwood Village neighborhood again, except for one car door opening.

These Memories Can't Wait

I had a couple of good ideas for blog posts yesterday, three or four altogether, and do you think I can remember any of them now? Of course not.
A couple came to me while driving home (I heard some great, unexpected music on the radio, but that really wasn't as good as any of the other ideas), and as you can tell, I still haven't started writing these ideas down with any consistency.
I have started e-mailing ideas home when I think of then around a computer, but I have to get a bit better with translating these ideas into posts. I don't want to disappoint you, my fine readers.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Patronizing or Just Me?

You've probably read me comment on ice cream trucks in our and other Buffalo neighborhoods during the summer and the music that they play to let people know they are here.
Mr. Softee trucks play, well, the Mr. Softee Song, while a white "short bus" with orange and green trim that also comes around here in the Elmwood Village plays Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer," the theme from the movie "The Sting." For some reason, the Mr. Softeee song is fine with me, while the repetition of "The Entertainer" could drive me to screaming.
While Val and I were at the Lasalle Park dog park on Buffalo's Lower West Side Sunday, an ice cream truck that was also white in color with some trim, very similar to the one mentioned above but I cannot say from the same company so please, don't assume that it is, drove through while the music it played was "The Cucaracha."
Should I have been pissed off like I felt because of the obvious attempt to play music to allegedly fit in in the heavily Hispanic American part of the city, or was it nothing to get worked up about?