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The Great Irish Boycott

Filed under: Allentown, Events


While many will be headed to pubs with shamrocks pinned to their jackets to celebrate all things Irish, there is one contribution from Ireland that bears a toast (or two!): the boycott.

Coined in 1880 during the Irish Land Wars, the phrase refers to Captain Charles Boycott, a land agent for Lord Erne. It was a rough year, harvests had been poor, and the tenants had petitioned for a 25 percent rent reduction due to hardship. It had been refused. Boycott attempted to evict 11 tenant farmers. Outraged, the rest of the community began a social ostracism campaign, shunning the captain, refusing to help harvest his crops, and non-cooperating with his eviction efforts.

Irish author George Moore reported: “Like a comet the verb ‘boycott’ appeared.” Within six weeks, newspapers as far away as New York City were using the term.

According to Wikipedia, a “boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for social or political reasons. The purpose of a boycott is to inflict some economic loss on the target, or to indicate a moral outrage, to try to compel the target to alter an objectionable behavior.”

There is hardly a nonviolent movement around the world, out of hundreds of case studies, that has not used some form of a boycott! Think of Gandhi’s spinning wheel and concurrent boycott of British cloth imports, the American Independence movement’s boycott of tea, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the United Farm Workers’ Grape Boycott, the boycott of white-owned stores in South African townships during the anti-apartheid struggle: the examples are numerous. So, this St. Patrick’s Day, while you’re celebrating leprechauns, shamrocks and all things Irish, lift a glass and raise a toast to one of Ireland’s greatest contributions to a more just and equitable world: the boycott.

Sun Rivera

Allentown Hit by Mass Tire Slashing Saturday Night

Filed under: Allentown


Many residents of Allentown woke up Sunday morning to find tires on their cars slashed.  Cars parked Saturday night in the Allentown area, on numerous side streets between North and Edward, had at least one tire slashed each.  Cars on the street were mainly targeted, but cars parked in driveways were also targeted.  The Buffalo Police Department has been recording the license plates of affected vehicles, and talking to homeowners hoping to find video footage of the perpetrators.


The Buffalist: Sep 28 – Oct 4


“I always say, if you are homophobic, you better be positive you’re right. Because is it going to blow [that] all these kids are killing themselves, and … that in 20 years … you get to write a book about how wrong you were. They’re dead. So why don’t you have a soul-searching moment now? Go into your house, shut the door, and make sure you’re positive that you’re making kids feel like crap for no good goddamn reason.”

  WTF With Marc Maron -Todd Glass




 5.  Buffalo Beer Week: San Diego Burger and Tap Night @ Allen Burger Venture (Sep 29)i-can-has-cheezburger

Still haven’t been to ABV?  What the hell are you waiting for?  Allen Burger Venture has a bevy of unique burgers and beers with an awesome rock ambiance that keeps snootier types at bay.  With vinyl records on the wall, heavily tattooed bartenders and absurdly delicious burgers on the menu this dive will certainly continue to do very well on the Allen St. strip.  This week they’ll be holding a San Diego Burger and Tap night as a part of Buffalo Beer Week.  San Diego has some of the best beers in the country, and I’m pumped to see what sort of burger concoctions they come up with.  ABV is open M-W 11AM-Midnight, Th-Sat 11AM-2AM.

Owner Mike Shatzel must have big plans for Allen as he also purchased a few other buildings along the street for future projects.  It is a very exciting time for those who enjoy the edgier part of Buffalo that exists on Allen St.


4. Doug Benson @ Helium Comedy Club (Oct 4)

3. Todd Glass @ Helium Comedy Club (Oct 1-3)


What a week for comedy in Buffalo as stoner hero Doug Benson and one of America’s most insightful comedians Todd Glass will be coming to Helium.  Just watch the above video and you’ll get a great taste of what to expect from both comedians.  Both are podcast staples, with Benson running the always hilarious Doug Loves Movies  and Glass putting out The Todd Glass Show.  Todd Glass was also on one of my favorite podcast episodes ever, where he comes out as gay on WTF with Marc Maron and gives a lot of insight into what his experience has been like and reflections on life and society.  Benson will be here Sunday after the Bills game and Glass will be here from Thursday to Saturday, so don’t miss them.


2.  Allentown Fall Festival @ Allen St (Oct 3)


Allen St. will be closed off and filled with musicians, vendors, an artisan market and fun activities for children as the Allentown Art Festival kicks off for the second straight year.  The event starts at 11 and goes to around 7 with the band PA Line closing things out.  In addition to the festivities, there is a casual 25 mile bike ride to the Olmstead parks throughout the city that starts at 9 AM (sign up is here).  If you have never been on one of these rides I highly recommend it.  Buffalo is a great city to see on a bike and the weather looks to be pretty decent still.  Once you are done over there, you can just hop back on your bike and head over to…. 

1. Buffalo Porchfest (Oct 3)


 Ah yes my favorite event of the year.  If you haven’t been before, Porchfest is an absolute blast.  The premise is simple- a dozen or so residents in the West Side open up their porches and lawns to musicians and spectators and Buffalo Police look the other way when it comes to drinking in public.  Get your bike out of the garage one last time and spend the day going from site to site checking out some of the best music Buffalo has to offer.  For my money (okay it’s all free) I’ll be hanging out around the corner of Elmwood and Lafayette where the bands usually end up going the latest and the party seems to be the wildest.  Keep your eyes open for the official schedule later this week, I’ll post it on the Facebook page when it comes out. 

Other notable Events:  Cages @ Sugar City (Oct 2), Apocalypse of the Undead @ Central Terminal (Oct 3).

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!

You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook as well for Buffalo event updates.


Infringement Festival: What’s Gone On

Here are some images from this year’s Infringement Festival by photographer joshua underscore:

Bourbon & Coffee at Nietzsche’s 7/24.

Bourbon & Coffee


Infringement Opening Parade on Allen St. on 7/24

Infringement Parade v13n31


Anal Pudding at Nietzsche’s on 7/25

Anal Pudding

Infringement Festival 2014: Downloadable Program

infringement2014The 2014 Buffalo Infringement Festival starts today and runs through July 24th. Look for the opening parade through the streets of Buffalo at 6, heading to Days Park at 6:30, followed by the opening ceremonies at Netizsche’s, starting at 7pm.

Make sure to pick up a copy of this week’s Artvoice! Inside, you’ll find a full pull-out schedule inserted in the middle of the paper detailing every performance, installation, show, and event taking place as part of this year’s festival.

You can also download a PDF version of the insert by clicking here.

For more information about the Buffalo Infringement Festival, including updates about any last minute changes to the program, please visit

The War on Pizza

Gentrification is a loaded term, especially in Buffalo.  As much as we complain about “sprawl without growth”, we play the same game with gentrification. The dictionary definition is: the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents. You know, like bourgeois white kids “discovering” Buffalo’s West Side or New York City’s outer boroughs. 

There’s nothing and everything wrong with gentrification, depending on who you are and to whom you’re talking, but in recent years it’s become an epithet, which isn’t altogether fair. Perhaps because in Buffalo, gentrification is not accompanied by any significant population growth

This article in the print edition of Artvoice hurls the “gentrification” epithet in a somewhat hypocritical way. It highlights the way in which the term has become a weapon, and how threatening any change might be. 

The College Street Gallery, a well-loved fixture of the Allentown art scene since 1997, is being evicted from the space it now occupies at the west end of Allen St. near Nietzsche’s. The reason is to give more room to the gallery’s next-door neighbor Crust Pizza, who wants to expand a full service bar in the gallery’s 500 sq. ft. space. Crust Pizza has been on Allen St. less than a year.

Photographer and College Street Gallery operator Michael Mulley said the changeover would occur this summer. He called it “Gentrification pure and simple,” and contrary to the social and commercial best interests of the neighborhood.

I don’t have any problem with – or any animus towards – either Crust or the gallery.  I think both businesses – and types of businesses – help make Allentown the unique and special neighborhood that it’s become in the last 30 years. But this smacks of an art community overreaction.

In most cases, when a landlord cuts a deal to expand one tenant and displace another, the displaced tenant looks for a new space. It doesn’t become a cause celebre. Have a “lost our lease” sale and start looking for a new space – it’s not a unique or unconscionable situation. 

This isn’t Manhattan’s SoHo becoming a parade of high-end chain storefronts, but it would seem as if Crust is the biggest criminal since Hitler invaded Poland. 

When we came here, to this end of Allen Street, there wasn’t much here,” he said. “Art makes other things happen. People go out to see art, then they say: ‘Let’s go get a piece of pizza, let’s get a beer.’ It’s not the other way around. That was the whole idea of Allentown originally, what made it work. Art first, commerce after. We brought energy to this corner. Now this whole end of Allen is going to be just bars.”

Look at that highlighted sentence – isn’t that gentrification? Renewal and rebuilding? What do you call it when you place an art gallery in an empty, underserved, or blighted neighborhood? Art definitely made Allentown what it is today, but it’s a misconception to suggest that people don’t do the exact opposite of what’s being suggested in Mr. Mulley’s statement – go out for pizza and a beer, and then go look at art. 

But by seeking to expand a legal business, Crust is now the enemy. The Infringement Festival had planned to host something there, but has instead decided to take its toys and go home. 

Infringement Festival music programmer Curt Rodderdam, who lives a few doors away, said the Crust plan “hurts the neighborhood.” He said the changeover “bothers me on a personal level and a social level—what it’s doing to the community. They’re taking the last piece of culture in the neighborhood and destroying it,” he said. Who wants to live on Chippewa?” he asked rhetorically.

Infringement Fest programmer for outside performances David Adamczyk said the planned changeover “didn’t represent what we [the Infringement Festival organizers] were all about.”

You would think Crust was selling crack or whores. 

Did Mark Goldman get this much pushback when he displaced a took over a spot most recently occupied by a hardware store? Hardware stores aren’t especially creative, but they are a dying breed, being replaced by Home Depots and Lowes. I figure no one wants to live on Chippewa, but Allen is known for its nightlife, too. Rather than flashy clubs, it has the upscale Allentown Hardware alongside gritty spots like the Pink, Mulligan’s, Nietzsche’s, and Duke’s Bohemian. Expanding a pizza place so that it can have a bar on a street that’s known for its nightlife isn’t going to destroy the neighborhood. It isn’t going to destroy the community. 

Crust, for the record, is a charming little quick-serve pizza place that makes really great “al taglio” Roman- style pizzas.  The crust is baked from scratch, and the toppings are added on demand throughout the day – you pick your toppings and get a great little personal pizza.  Their arancini are pretty great, too, and they serve craft beer already.  Crust’s push to build a bar is its own business, and it has an agreeable landlord. No one likes to see another business be displaced, but that’s business

The gallery is also fantastic. It’s a co-op of local artists, and their work rotates on a monthly basis. Wouldn’t the better way to handle this be to highlight what a great opportunity a move would be to help grow the concept? 

Mulley said the gallery change “is bittersweet. Maybe we’ll come up with a bigger and better space ultimately.” But for the moment he has no place identified, much less negotiated. Mulley said he wants to stay in Allentown, preferably in another storefront–less preferably an off-the-street venue.

“There are a lot of great memories here,” Mulley said. “A lot of good things happened here. A lot of artists got to show here who might not have had another chance to show. And musical groups got to perform here.” He said the gypsy flavor jazz group Babik made its first public appearance on the street outside the gallery. “And I couldn’t name how many aspiring young writers read here for the first time.”

The College Street Gallery is a cooperative, supported by the forty or so artists who show new work there every month. Mulley said there was a waiting list of applicants wanting to become members, if there was room to show their work.

So, the gallery has effectively outgrown its location and it’s being forced (never a fun thing, admittedly) to go and find a bigger one. I’m unmoved by the “things happened here” flavor of “this place matters” nostalgia. How about working with the guy renovating this place

I don’t like it when people demonize a legitimate business that isn’t doing anything wrong except trying to continue doing its legitimate business. Crust isn’t the enemy, and it isn’t single-handedly destroying Allentown. 

To that end, we’ll have a cash mob show up for lunch next week at Crust. Perhaps someone will host a cash mob for the College Street Gallery, too, or you can donate to help fund its search for a new space. But let’s treat business like business, and not turn a pizza place, of all things, into the enemy. 

Everyone just relax. 

PHOTOS: Best of Buffalo 2014

Filed under: Allentown, Local Interest

A few photos from last night’s Best of Buffalo party at the Town Ballroom. (Photos by Cy Alessi)

Frank Goldberg: Still Missing

Filed under: Activism, Allentown, LGBT

goldberg-franknOn the evening of Monday, December 16, Frank Goldberg—a long-time activist in Buffalo’s LGBT community who recently moved to Portland, Oregon—went missing. She’d come home to visit friends and family for the holidays.

Since her disappearance, friends and family, joined by the community she’d served as an activist (and eventually by law enforcement), have mounted a continuing search for Goldberg—pamphleting, walking neighborhoods, reaching out on social media. There has been little in the way of leads.

Artvoice contributor Sarah Bishop spoke with Frank’s sister, Harmony Goldberg, earlier this week, to get an update on those efforts. There will be a gathering for Frank this evening (Friday, December 27, 7-9pm) at the Unitarian Universalist Church
(695 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo), too.

Bishop: Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about when and how Frank went missing.

Goldberg: A number of people have asked for a clearer narrative of what happened the night that Frank disappeared. Frank moved to Portland in late August, and she had returned to Buffalo for a holiday visit. It was a hard-re-entry for her emotionally, and Frank was in a very difficult place personally on Monday night. To our knowledge, she left our brother’s house on the West Side of Buffalo of her volition and without telling anyone. She left a vague note in the apartment. She took her wallet, but she did not take her phone. She was last seen at 5:30pm, and we discovered she was missing around 9pm. We do not believe that Frank was a victim of a hate crime, and we do not think it is likely that there was any kind of foul play. Even though we know Frank to be a survivor and fighter, we are deeply concerned for her safety. We thought she would return home, but—since she hasn’t—we are calling on the community to help find her.

Bishop: What has already been done, and what is being done now?

Goldberg: Frank’s friends and family have engaged in an exhaustive search effort to find Frank. We filed a missing persons report from the police quickly, and we have been calling area hospitals, psychiatric and rehab facilities, and other service institutions since she went missing. She has not used her bank card since she went missing, and there have been no changes made to her itinerary. We have contacted all of her known social networks—in Buffalo, upstate New York, New York City, and Portland—both through social media and through direct communication. We have tried to blanket social media with missing persons notices, messages and videos in order to help find her. Last weekend, we conducted foot searches of the West Side and of Allentown, posting “Missing” flyers in local businesses. After a week of community mobilization and media coverage, two detectives from the Buffalo Police Department looked into the case, and we got a verbal commitment that the police would review the footage from surveillance cameras in the area where she disappeared. The family hired a private investigator on Monday, who will be coordinating his efforts with the police department in order to figure out what happened to our sister.

Bishop: How can the community get involved?

Goldberg: Over the last ten days since Frank disappeared, the search has been driven by community support. It has been deeply moving for Frank’s friends and family to see the outpouring of love and energy from so many different communities. The LGBT community has been the most active, but people who knew Frank growing up, people who had encountered Frank in her work as a service provider and countless strangers have shown up to look for her, sent beautiful messages of support, given us generous donations and helped us to keep breathing and hoping.

At this point, much of the practical work of the search effort is shifting into more professional hands, but we still need the community’s active support and love. You can follow the situation on our Facebook page, “Help Find Frank Goldberg.” We need everyone to keep their eyes open for Frank, and to call us if you see her. Please call both the Buffalo Police Department and our grassroots search effort at 716-863-6906. We are also building a list of volunteers in different neighborhoods who are willing to follow up immediately on sightings, so please let us know (either on our Facebook page or at that same number) if you’d be willing to support us in this way. We will be asking for donations to fund the private investigation soon. We would love for you to come to our community event on Friday evening (details below). And we would deeply appreciate it if you would keep Frank, our family and her community in your throughts and prayers.

Bishop: What else would you like us to know?

Goldberg: We want you to know about Frank as a person. Frank is a loving and strong person, and she is valued deeply by the people in her life. She is both gruff and gentle. She loves taking care of animals, especially cats. She is incredibly caring and sweet, able to hold the hard and rough edges of life with a tender and gentle hand. Frank is proudly gender-queer. She has a masculine gender presentation, but she intentionally and explicitly chooses to use the pronoun “she.” I always say that she is one of the bravest people that I know. She has struggled with many profound challenges in her life, and every time she has summoned the courage to overcome and to keep moving forward.

frank posterShe has been an activist and an advocate in the LGBT community for many years, helping to build a transgender support group at Buffalo’s Pride Center, which has been a valuable space of support and community for dozens of people. She also has a long history of providing support and services for people with addictions and with harm reduction work in particular. Besides her formal role as an activist, Frank was a community-builder, making shy people feel welcome and warmly embracing people who often felt like they were on the outside. And she took care of people. During the search efforts, several people told me things like, “I’m here because—if I were missing—Frank would be leading the search effort to find me.”

Bishop: There will be a gathering for Frank tonight, Friday, December 27. What should the community expect?

Goldberg: We are profoundly grateful for the outpouring of love and support from community members who are dedicated to finding Frank and bringing her home safely. As the search effort shifts into a different stage, we wanted to bring the amazing community that has come together in this search effort together to thank you and to talk about next step moving forward. The details of the event:

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